05-31-09 Solomon's Island MD

We have spent the past two days at Solomon’s Island. The trip from Deltaville was 63 miles and the weather was almost perfect. This is a wonderful old timey sea town, with sailboats and power craft everywhere. Much like Deltaville, there are many more boats than people with mega marinas. Even the Comfort Inn and the Holiday Inn have marinas. Many people get around via dinghy. The Solomon’s Yachting Center is very nice with floating docks and first class facilities. The town is busy with tourists and the restaurants are hopping. We attended the Solomon’s United Methodist Church. The preacher stood in the front of the church and preached about Pentecost Sunday with very little notes. He was very good and the presentation was excellent.

On Sunday afternoon, we once again visited the Calvert Marine Museum, which we had visited last year. This is one of the finest local museums you can find. We were particularly interested in the Predator Exhibit, fish and animals that are not supposed to be in the area, but are, and upset the ecosystem. The snakehead fish and the green crab are examples.

We spent about 15 minutes watching the otters. Much of their activity looked like synchronized swimming. They are so much fun to watch and they are so active. When we turn to port out of the channel tomorrow heading for Annapolis, we will be in new territory for us. Betsy's been studying the charts and plotting the way. Rick

05-29-09 Deltaville, VA

Rick writes: We made the easy 37.5 mile journey from Yorktown to Deltaville, VA. Deltaville is a very old sea town. They have 800 permanent residents and over 3000 boats here. There are 6-7 marinas, mostly all full service. There are 5 sail and canvas shops in town. They have 2 West Marine stores, about 4 blocks apart. Almost every store has something to do with boats. Most of the restaurants will send a car for you and after you eat, take you back to the boat. All in all, a sleepy little town with a nautical character. One of our dockmates, also a looper, from Memphis TN, just happens to have taught at St Andrews when I did, back in 1969. It really is a small world.

Since there is so little to report today, let me digress a bit on an important topic. When we left Great Bridge to go to Yorktown, we discovered that we did not have a trail or route on our GPS chartplotter from Portsmouth to Yorktown. It had been erased or something. The Chesapeake is a big body of water and with so many markers and buoys, it is easy to get lost. What could we do?? We got our out CHARTS, marked the route and proceeded with confidence. This incident underlines why the Power Squadron teaches to have charts on board at all times. If you are out of sight of your house, you need charts. GPS is a wonderful tool, but there can be malfunctions or interruptions. Getting lost in the Cheaspeake Bay will ruin your day…….

Tomorrow, Solomons Island..

05-28-09 We get by with some help from our friends

Today’s Blog entry has a title:


Thanks to neighbor Tom Hayden for taking care of our mail and keeping an eye on our home while we're away.

Thanks to friends Toad and Dauna Gable for lending us their Dinghy, which we haven’t used yet but plan to soon!

Thanks to friends Bill and Sara Epperson for selling us the fold up bikes at a great price! We used them first at Coinjock, then in Chesapeake several times and are really enjoying them.

SPECIAL thanks to St. Andrews friends Duncan and Camie Mills for picking up our replacement air conditioner, then driving 2 hours to and from Richmond to deliver it to us boatside. We enjoyed having lunch with them and catching up. We look forward to seeing them again in November.

Thanks to our Wilmington friends, Jimmy and Gay Thomas, for calling us when they realized that they would be in Chesapeake dropping off an engine at the same time we were. We had dinner with them and a great visit.

To bring you up to date, the air conditioner, hand delivered from Richmond by our friends that live near there (see above) is now fixed and working perfectly (replaced with a factory refurbished unit).

The throttles have been worked on and seem to be working better…they did not need to be replaced, just needed a little massage.

We had an uneventful 4 hour trip from Chesapeake/Great Bridge (finally, after 4 wonderful nights there) to Yorktown this morning. As we passed by Ocean Marine in Portsmouth, we saw the boat that nearly sank sitting in a lift at the marina. Yesterday morning, a tug boat came to push it on the hip to Portsmouth. The name on the boat was "Her Way", but I think if the woman on board while it was sinking has her way she'll never go on a boat again!

We are sitting in Yorktown, in a thunderstorm but perfectly dry and comfortable. We are very thankful for our “den” addition, which stays remarkably dry. We met the same three looper boats we saw in Dowry Creek. They had come via the Dismal Swamp route.

Tomorrow we will head for Deltaville, about 50 miles up the Bay…we have not been there before.

Thanks to all who read this for keeping in touch and for following along with us on this great adventure. We love hearing from each of you and appreciate all your encouragement!

05-26-09 Great Bridge VA Atlantic Yacht Basin

Betsy here, with some real excitement!
It’s Tuesday and we’re sitting under the pine trees waiting for the AC repairman, when we hear from the dockmaster that a sinking boat is trying to make it to this very dock…employees are frantically running with every pump they can find so they can be ready IF the boat makes it this far. I turn on my VHF radio and start listening to transmissions, and sure enough I hear the boat asking other boats to move out of his way so he can get to this marina ASAP. Shortly, we see him coming, bow riding very high out of the water as the stern is sinking. This is a BIG boat, an 82 foot Sunseeker (looks like a huge Sea Ray, its actually made in England…see As soon as they are near the dock, dock hands are jumping on board with pumps and hoses, and the water starts flowing, but the boat keeps sinking. We watched the stern go down at least 5 feet, and think it was actually sitting on the bottom before they finally started making headway. Divers were brought in, the local police, marine environmentalists, lots of excitement.
We had a front row seat, being docked just in front of where it came in. There were 2 people on board, the husband and wife owners. After very efficiently handling the lines, the poor woman sat on a step shaking and chain smoking. Her husband was very active with the rescue effort, as were at least 10 or 15 marina employees. I spoke with the woman to see if there was anything I could offer her, and she was very friendly in spite of being very upset. Later I also talked with the husband, who had a wonderfully cavalier attitude about it all, saying over and over “it’s just a boat!”
We learned that they had hit bottom hard just as the Alligator River enters the Albemarle Sound, a place we had navigated carefully just a few days ago. We had been warned of a dog leg that was a little different than even the most current charts, but we found the markers to be clear and had no problem. This owner was relying entirely on his GPS with a brand new chip, rather than following the markers, and went flying through and hit hard, by his own admission. Thinking he was taking on a little water, he stopped in Coinjock and had the shaft looked at (by a diver I think) and had a “minor” patch done that they said should get him to Portsmouth for a more permanent repair.
Then as they were waiting for a draw bridge about 7 miles from here (and 30 miles from Coinjock), the man put it in reverse and must have broken something loose and that’s when it started taking on water FAST! They made it through one more drawbridge (which I think opened just for them) and got here just before it was too late. Unfortunately also for them, in their rush to get here they threw out some major wake causing major damage to other boats and finger piers!
It took several hours and much manpower and pump power for the stern to finally start rising out of the water…and this only after a diver had gone under and put something over the bottom…we don’t know those details. The poor woman was concerned because she heard there was water in the galley! I told her it didn’t look like she was going to be cooking tonight, and there is a nice Japanese Steak House across the street! She also knew there was water in the master stateroom (one of 4, plus captain’s quarters). These folks were from Canada, and spend the winters in Florida. Although they’ve made the trip back and forth several times (the boat is 2 ½ years old), they usually have a professional captain on board, but decided to do it by themselves this time…OOPS!
The man was very talkative and friendly in between trying to be helpful in the rescue attempt. He admitted that he had a HUGE deductible and that the boat was way underinsured, but after all “it’s only a boat” he kept saying.
Mid-afternoon, right when things were settling down, our AC man finally showed up. As anticipated, this one is irreparable so we need a replacement. A new unit the size we need was nowhere to be found, but he was able to find a refurbished unit with full manufacturer’s warranty in Richmond, about 2 hours away and can get it for us tomorrow. Rather than pay him to drive to and from Richmond to pick it up, Rick called one of his old college buddies that lives near Richmond and we keep in close contact with, and he is going to pick up the unit and bring it to us. So hopefully that will be taken care of tomorrow and we can get underway. Duncan Mills of Richmond gets an attaboy!!!!!
We’re still hoping to get the throttle looked at here but that hasn’t happened yet, so we may just move on with it as it is and have the Glacier Bay dealer in Yorktown take a look at it.
So, in 8 days we’ve been just 250 miles. At this rate, this trip will take way longer than we expected! And for those that didn’t understand our lack of a specific plan, this is why you don’t plan ahead when boating! Our original “best guess” called for us to be in Yorktown last Friday. It is Tuesday and we will probably not make it tomorrow. Betsy

Someone has to wait for the Air Conditioner guy..

05-24-09 Great Bridge, VA

Rick Speaks.
We made the 38 mile trip from Coinjock, NC to Atlantic Marine in Great Bridge Va. Very easy run of about 2.5 hours. We will be here for at least 3 days as we wait for the AC guy on Tuesday. We have also scheduled the Atlantic guy to look at our throttles as the starboard one is beginning to stick a little too much.

Betsy is sitting back reading a Grisham book and Beamer is in a sunbeam, as usual. We are sticking to our plan of eating breakfast and lunch on the boat and, if convenient, eating on shore at night. We need to eat more from the boat to lighten the load. We are about 2 inches below the normal water line and when full of fuel, cannot make any good mileage. Just had a good rain shower, which cooled everything off. It has been hot the past 3 days, after that windy, cold first four days.

We need to say a little about this marina. It is wonderful. It is very peaceful, overlooking a pine forest. They have a reputation for excellent work. They do any type of marine work. They even have a dockmaster on duty, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Day 7 and the adventure continues.

05-23-09 Coinjock, NC

Betsy here:

We had two very relaxing nights in Dowry Creek, near Belhaven, NC. There were 3 other loopers there, one from Michigan, one from Guntersville, AL, and one from England! We had a nice visit with them at the Dowry Creek Marina clubhouse last night and shared war stories…of course they all had more than we did so far!

We pulled out of Dowry Creek at 0800, and our crossing of the Albemarle Sound was picture perfect…water was just one ripple above being glassy smooth. We are glad to have the Neuse, Pamlico and Albemarle behind us! We arrived in Coinjock just in time for lunch. My mouth was watering for the homemade potato chips I remembered from last year when we stopped here, and they were just as good as I remembered! The restaurant here advertises itself as the “Home of the 32 oz. Prime Rib” but we’ll probably pass that up for more potato chips for dinner!

Tomorrow we’ll make the short easy run to Chesapeake, VA, where we will sit for at least 2 nights waiting to get the heat pump repaired or replaced…being a holiday weekend we’ll have to wait til Tuesday morning to get it taken care of, but at least there is a dealer there that seems to have what we need. We also have a slight concern about the starboard throttle not responding very well…we had mentioned this to the marina that serviced the motors right before our departure but they neglected to fix it. The major concern is that it will lock up when I’m docking and I’ll look like an idiot through no fault of my own! If the marina in Chesapeake can’t fix it, there is a Glacier Bay Dealer in Yorktown that can!

Blog will probably continue after AC repair on Tuesday. Betsy

05-21-09 Dowry Creek Marina, Belhaven, NC

We left Morehead City this morning about 0900 and arrived at Dowry Creek about 1430. The Neuse was 2-3 feet waves and the Pamlico a bit better. We traveled about 72 miles. Dowry Creek is one of the best marinas around. Excellent facilities and great staff. We plan to stay here two nights, then on to Coinjock, and on to Atlantic Marine in Great Bridge, VA. We have the AC guy scheduled for Tuesday morning, after the holiday on Monday.

05-20-09 Morehead City Yacht Basin


It is now Wednesday and we are still in Morehead City. We anticipate leaving tomorrow morning heading to Belhaven. The winds are to get down to 10-15 and the waves 1-2 feet in the Neuse and Pamlico rivers, so we should be okay.

A technician came today and he indicates the Air Conditioner is shorted out, requiring a new compressor. We have made arrangements for a Cruisaire dealer to work on the unit in Chesapeake Va next Tuesday (this being a 3 day weekend). He has a unit in stock if it is indeed necessary to change units. We are not the first to have problems early in the trip. We personally know of others.

Except that this place is so close to home, it is a very nice spot to be stranded. Close to town, very clean, and all amenities. We want to thank all who have signed our guestbook, called us on the phone, or visited the website for your support. We feel like we have a flotilla with us as we begin this journey.

See you in Belhaven, where we will probably stay a couple of days since the tech cannot work on the AC until Tuesday.

05-18-09 Morehead City, NC

[Betsy] If things get much worse, this trip will last 9 days instead of 9 months! We had a wonderful sendoff with nearly 20 friends and family present for mimosas prepared by a neighbor. I knew my brother Steve was planning to come see us off, but was thrilled that brother John also made a surprise visit. Our Power Squadron, Church, neighbors and Topsail Beach friends were all well represented, in spite of the weather which was cold and rainy.

We pulled out of the dock at approximately 11:20 after a special prayer from our preacher, Tim Croft. Friends huddled together in the cold and rain to wave good bye. With me at the helm, we were barely out of site when we got stuck in the mud and had to wait nearly 30 minutes for the tide to come in enough for us to continue on. The boat is so weighted down we’re riding several inches lower than usual, and our channel just isn’t deep enough even at mid-tide. Fortunately Rick had planned our departure on an incoming tide, so we just cut the engines and waited. (A note to our power squadron members: this grounding DOES NOT qualify us for the bent prop award!)

More bad news…we were well underway when I asked Rick what he had done with the Champagne friend Bill Morrison had brought for us to celebrate the first night out…oops! He left it on the sun porch. I heard later from a neighbor that one of my brothers had taken it, so I’m sure he will present it to us on our return (Steve, I hope you heard that!)

Our goal for the first night was Oriental, but by the time we reached Morehead City the winds had picked up even more, and we made the wise decision to stay here rather than attempt the Pamlico River in such awful weather. We were both pretty much exhausted by the time we reached here. The Morehead City Yacht Basin is a wonderful place to stay, within walking distance of several restaurants and with the finest shower facilities and lounge. That’s the good news.

The bad news is that we returned from dinner and decided to turn on the heater just to take the chill off. We immediately heard strange sounds coming from the heater, so turned if off and then noticed a faint burning smell. We opened the hatch where it is located, turned it on again just for a second and saw sparks flying…not a good sign. So we will probably stay here in Morehead City til we get it fixed…not a bad place to be for boat repairs. And with the weather, we were probably going to have to wait a day or two to leave anyway…(look on the bright side).
We said it was going to be a great adventure, and it has certainly started out that way!

1 Day to Go

It is Sunday, May 17 and it is raining cats and dogs. Hope this is not an omen for our departure tomorrow at 1100. The boat is filled "to the gills" with our stuff and food. We will have to eat our way off the boat. I think we have tried to put the contents of our home into the boat, and it is not working.......The tech from Wilmington is on way to fix the connector on the AutoPilot. Hope goes well and quickly. Our preacher brought us up to the front of the church this morning and went over our planned trip and then prayed for our safety and good health on the trip. It was much appreciated. Tomorrow is the big day. If all goes well, we will be in Oriental, Belhaven, Coinjock, Norfolk and Yorktown over the next week, spending most of Memorial day in Yorktown.

5 Days to Go

Well, it is Wednesday, May 13. We have put the boat back into the water. The guys came and got the Autopilot going today. After 6 weeks of bad parts, fuses, etc. It finally worked. Then, a tech was working on my bilge pump and accidently broke a wire and a connector to the AUTOPILOT. Life is full of unexpected twists and turns. So, the AP guys have to come back and fix the wire and broken connector.

We are loading the boat, everything in its place and a place for everything.

Stay tuned for more exciting developments.

10 Days to go....

Well, we have the boat back from the 400 hr service, we have all the bilge pumps working correctly, we have installed a fuel hose for fueling the generator and the 2hp Honda motor. We have decided on using Toad and Dauna's dinghy for the trip. It is 9ft, very stable and the 2hp Honda really pushes it along. Burt is installing some anchoring rings on the forward rails. So, by Wednesday, we should be ready to put the boat into the water, and fill it up with stuff. Then we wait for Monday and Git-R-Done. Check back often and see how we are doing.