Saturday, July 11, 2009

July 2, 2009: Headed Home

We packed up to leave the Next Thirty Years today and reflected on the marvelous journey. It was filled with new experiences and sights of nature and culture. We left on April 20, 2008 and returned on July 1, 2009 – 14 months and 2 weeks in duration (although we did spend some time at home). We traveled 7000 miles in our 46 foot cruiser and it has really been a cozy home, navigating rivers and creeks and canals and locks and great lakes and even the Atlantic to the Bahamas. This has been a once in a lifetime adventure never to be forgotten.

How could we forget:

  • Mackinaw Island
  • Cruising around Manhattan at night and seeing the lights of NYC
  • Anchoring out for a couple of days in secluded Lake Champlain
  • Watching the fireworks over the Jacque-Cartier bridge in Montreal
  • Tangier island and the crab hotel
  • Our Beaver Island rescue after running out of fuel in Lake Michigan
  • The Big Chute Marine Railroad
  • The massive rocks in the terrain of the Georgia Bay
  • The engineering of the see saw lock
  • Cruising through Chicago
  • The colonies of white pelicans
  • The turbulent and silty Mississippi with her loaded barges
  • Being stranded in Ottawa, Ill by the flooding of the Illinois River
  • Cheering at the Titans football game in Nashville
  • The flying fish in the deep Atlantic
  • Snorkeling in the Florida Keys
  • Being caught in the thunderstorm at Edisto Island
  • The white sand and turquoise water of the Abaco Islands
  • The Old Bahama Baptist Church worship service
  • The primitive beauty of the still waters or Black Creek, Fl
  • Taking the dinghy to lunch across Bogue Sound to the Crab Shack
  • The sunset over the railroad bridge in New Bern

Friday, July 10, 2009

July 1, 2009: New Bern, NC

We had a wonderful last day of the journey. It began with a cruise from Morehead across the bay around Radio Island to Beaufort. We saw wild ponies grazing in the marsh grass on the western edge of Carro Island. What an exotic taste of nature. We passed the boats on the pier at the Duke University Marine Lab and docked across from the tall commercial fishing boat, the Morgan Grace. These piers were part of the charming Beaufort Inn where Tom had arranged for us to have breakfast. They served a yummy warm quiche with a wide selection of pastries and juices to our table where we were seated with round backed wooden captain chairs. The last time we were here, we had brought Tom’s mom with us, so we had bitter sweet memories.

We squeezed in a quick ride through lovely Beaufort along the water front and enjoyed the old white frame homes on Ann Street some dating back to the 1740s. Back on the boat, we waited for the opening of the Cedar Street, Beaufort Bridge. Passing through we found a bevy of little colorful sailboats congregated at the red channel marker, apparently a boating class. There was a huge tug boat, the Island Progress, pushing a barge full of sand. Heading up Adams Creek towards the Neuse River, we saw the Joy Boy II, the YMCA Camp Sea Gull vessel full of campers on their way to the beach. It brought back memories of Penny’s summers there as the Art Director we really are almost home where everything has instant recognition. At lunch time we tossed the anchor out in the intersection of Adams Creek and Back Creek and took a swim in the brackish fresh water.

Entering the mouth of the Neuse River, we encountered the wide waters near the Pamlico Sound. The Neuse River is 7 miles across here and often the water is rougher than it was today. There was a class of sailboats out enjoying the breeze and you could barely see the shore on either side. Moving upstream we passed the Havelock-Arapaho Ferry near Minnesott Beach. This ferry cuts miles of the commute time of people living “down in the county” and working at the Cherry Point Marine Air Station at Havelock. We could make out the little camp buildings of Camp Seafarer as we passed it on our starboard side.

I took a lot of pictures on the approach to New Bern. It was fun to see the huge camp pier covered with swimmers just before we reached the spaghetti bridge. The Neuse River Bridge wraps around the three way connections of New Bern to Bridgeton to James City and is an amazing example of civil engineering. We could see the gazebo on Union Point and the First Baptist Church four posted steeple over the trees. The curved green dome of the Convention Center gave a backdrop to the water front. The Trent River Bridge is still under construction and it took a few minutes to figure out where boats could pass through while the lift opening was filled with a working barge and crane. It is going to be a wonderful bridge with beautiful curved supports for the water way.

The Grand Marina was filled with boats and has a classic historic presence on the water front with its bronze roof shining in the sun. We pulled into the Bridgepoint Marina were we have a slip facing the railroad bridge. It is a great place to enjoy the dramatic approach of evening and the glorious sunsets.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

June 30, 2009: Morehead City, NC

Our route this morning was very nostalgic in that it took us up the ICW to the high bridge where NC Highway 58 crosses over to Bogue Banks. This is the regular route from Raleigh to Emerald Isle and the view of green grass and sparkly water from the top of this bridge is beautiful.

So how do we know we are back in North Carolina? Today was the first time in months that we have seen a field of tall leafy corn stalks waving their tassels in the breeze. This farm was a narrow strip between the water way and a ball field. You also see little models of the Cape Lookout Lighthouse in someone's yard. We passed the NC State Center for Marine Sciences, a beautiful, 4 story brick lab and learning center on the edge of Bogue Sound.

We anchored just off Homer’s Marina and took the Caribe on a mission to find the Crab Shack, one of our favorite local seafood places, in the heart of downtown SalterPath. We looked for a tall landmark on the north side of the sound to help us in finding the long way back across. Tom did a good job of navigating and after our 20 minute ride, we were able to dock the dinghy at Homer’s Seafood and Marina. The food at the Crab Shack was wonderful, and a quick trip to the Seafood market included a purchase of local shrimp and a pound of backfin crab meat packed in Oriental, NC.

We continued along the way pass the Atlantic Beach Bridge, the tall arching bridge connecting Morehead City with the barrier island. We was a huge barge being filled with sand by a crane dredging the channel there. A tug boat was and down the the US Coast Guard Station. We rode around the point at the Fort Macon State Park until the waves began to be the ocean swells and then turned around. We went to shore briefly to take a swim off the wide sandy beach rimming the fort property. The small dunes there were filled with gaily swaying sea oats.

For dinner we had planned to meet Bob and Penny at the Sanitary Fish Market. However when we turned in behind the little island that buffers restaurant row, there were already 3 boats tied up at Tony’s. We were not sure what to do, but as we continued along the little creek, we discovered that at the end of Sixth Street, there was a public pier. Amazingly enough, this short city dock was totally empty and hence there was room there for us to dock. We shared the dock with a tall white egret who was looking for his dinner.

We pulled in right next to the Carolina Princess in her own slip next to the public dock. The decks of the big red and white deep sea fishing boat looked like a bee hive. People were unloading and lining up with their catch of the day for one of the three fishing guides to clean their fish.

So having safely docked the boat, we walked down to the Sanitary Fish Market and met Bob and Penny for supper. I had the Crab and Corn soup and it was delicious. We also walked over to DeeGee’s book store across the street. It has become one of our family traditions. DeeGee’s was run for years by Edwin Vorhees, and avid water color artist. Tom has one of his originals that came by way of his father’s friendshop with Vorhees; it is a scene of sand dunes, sea oats and light. DeeGee’s is the oldest book store in North Carolina; although my personal experience visiting there doesn’t go back that far, opening in 1934.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

June 29, 2009: Swansboro, NC

As we left Southport this morning, we passed a huge red and black freighter pulling into port.
We cruised the North Carolina coast today enjoying the beauty of the water and natural landscape. We saw the UNC Wilmington vessel - how could summer school be better.

So what are the signs that we are really back in good ole North Carolina. Well, one of course, is the appearance of NC flags along the waterway.

We saw old docks damaged by earlier storms, new lumber going up for dock constructions. We saw long narrow docks with no railings and wide docks built for play. All of them good investments as avenues for people to get to the delight of the water.

We passed by the inside passage behind Carolina Beach and Topsail where the water wanders through acres of marsh grass and tiny cottages can be seen on the beach in the distance. We stopped at lunch time in Wrightsville Beach, tied up at the Dockside Restaurant pier and climbed the steps to their glassed in and air conditioned porch. Yea for hushpuppies and cole slaw.

There were amazing open waterways like Alligator Bay where there were riverlets crisscrossing through the waving green marsh grass and glistening pools of water.

We pulled up behind an US Army Corp of Engineers vessel at the Little River Marina. It was a two story boxy ship used to do dredging and pile repair in the ICW. We were both there to buy diesel fuel. This spot fills the tanks of many fishing boats and is widely known as the cheapest place to get fuel on the East Coast. We were glad to be able to get 300 gallons at this price.

We passed by the US Marine target grounds near there where you can see old rusty vehicles parked randomly on the beach for shooting practice. Fortunately, there were no activities today, because that closes the ICW through here.

We saw the last ferry coming back from Hammocks Island State Park in the late afternoon sun. Tonight we are anchored by the Highway 24 bridge near Swansboro, NC.