Monthly Archives: April 2015

Nearly ours… Pandora and a new era.

It’s Thursday morning and today we should see the final paperwork in order to transfer ownership of soon-to-be Pandora to us.  It seems like much longer than the week it’s been since we first arrived here in Ft Pierce on the 21st to become familiar with Ariel and have her surveyed, the Aerodyne 47 that we have purchased. 

It’s been since mid December since we first learned that the boat was seriously for sale and that Miles and Loreen were going to move on from the boat that they had lived aboard for the last seven years.

Ariel, as she has been known until now, was built about the same time that we took delivery of Pandora, our SAGA 43 and she was only about a year old when we first saw her in Great Salt Pond Block Island.  She’s a very unique boat and I was attracted to her design as a standout from most of the “Clorox” bottle boats that are so common these days.   I would have never imagined that we would one day own her, or should I say “she would own us”.

Well, now we are owners of an even larger “money pit” and I expect that dollars will flow as fast as she sails, which is pretty fast indeed.

I have been living aboard here in Ft Pierce since Brenda left on the 23rd, about a week ago and have been slowly acclimating myself to the many complex systems aboard.  One particular issue that came up in the survey was that the muffler was leaking.  I agreed to take the boat and make the repair myself although it was anything but clear as to how I was going to get the old one out and replaced.

At first I had hoped that I would be able to do a temporary patch to the rusted area and save a more permanent repair for when she is hauled in Ct after I get home.  However, what was a slow but steady drip became a gusher as I used a wire brush on the suspect area.  Here’s what the muffler, about 2’ long looked like when it was FINALLY removed from the boat.  Such is the life of “stainless” steel. It was in a very inaccessible spot and required some surgery and a good amount of cabinetry removal to coax it out.   As hard as it was, I was expecting that it would be much worse.  I am very glad that I am a “handy guy” as to pay someone for the whole job would have cost at least one “boat dollar” perhaps more.

As you get closer you can see the hole, a nasty gash about 2.5” wide.  Imagine what sort of mess this would have created, had it given way when we were at sea.  It would have been a bad day indeed.  Finding this leak that wasn’t clear at all unless you were really looking for problems, shows the value of a good surveyor.

Here’s the new muffler, made of fiberglass.  Note the sleek delivery vehicle.  I have made many runs to local stores with this great set of wheels.   It’s such fun to ride around on this with temperatures in the low 90s.   Happily, it’s now all set and things are back in order and it went back in a lot easier than the old one came out.  As near as I can tell, and I sure hope I can tell well,  that’s about the worst of it.

As I have mentioned, a big draw for us in wanting this boat, is the hard dodger to keep us comfortable and out of the weather when things get nasty.  How about the night lighting?  “Beam me up Scotty”.   I love it.Yesterday as I was doing some errands I happened on a farmer’s market at the Ft Pierce waterfront park. There weren’t a lot of farmers in evidence but there was one vendor selling carnivorous plants that he grows from seed.  I understand that, as they sit in 3” pots, they are about 4 years old.  That’s a long time to grow something that you sell for $10.   I hope that he has a day job too. 

This one is the well-known Venus Fly Trap.  Really neat.  How about the veining on this pitcher plant?   Love it.  For over 20 years we had a greenhouse at our home tried our hand at growing various pitcher plants.  However, they were the tropical variety and not these delicate more temperate varieties that require pure rain water to thrive.

So, with all of the paperwork scheduled to be sewn up today I will move Pandora over to another yard tomorrow for a few days to have davits put on to hoist the dink as well as to serve as a platform for more solar panels.  It’s our plan to put enough solar on board to make her as self sufficient at anchor as our last boat was.  The new logo will also be put on and the name, Ariel, will be taken off.

Crew arrives on Sunday and it is my hope that a good weather window will open up by mid week so that we can get going on our run north to CT.

It’s been a while since I posted a sunset shot as it’s hard to get one in a marina.  However, I was struck by how dramatic the clouds were last evening as a backdrop to all the masts in the marina.  Well, it’s certainly the beginning of a new era for us.  Let’s hope that it’s smooth sailing.  actually, Brenda’s counting on the “smooth sailing” part.  Wish us luck.

Getting ready for sea, well sort of.

It’s Tuesday morning and it’s still dark out as I sit down to begin this post.  I seem to be waking early these days as there are so many details to be worked out prior to beginning our run north with our “new” Pandora. 

After a number of posts about what’s on the horizon with “new” it’s pretty clear that different names for the boats, beyond old and new, would certainly be easier.  However, I am not a particular fan of the designation of “1, 2 or heaven forbid 7” as a designation on how to keep track of the progression or yachts.  However, it would certainly be easier if our new “Pandora” was named something, well new, like “Fred”.  Then the distinction of which boat I am talking about would certainly be easier to follow.

So, for now, let’s try to just go with Pandora as the “boat of the moment”.  The “old” Pandora, well, I’ll just remain silent on that one for now.  Ok, here goes.

A boat like Pandora, an Aerodyne 47, is a much more complex than anything that we have ever owned and I have to say that it is going to be a while until I get used to that.  Right now, I am feeling pretty overwhelmed by all of the systems.  We have never had air conditioning on a boat and this one has two zones, one for the main cabin and a second for the master cabin.  That’s nice but it means that everything is duplicated. How do I reprogram the AIS?  It currently says “Ariel”.  I have no idea but am pretty sure that it involves my laptop.   And, the number of hoses and wires going every which way, is staggering.

As I mentioned in a prior post, the surveyor uncovered a few issues when he went over the boat but fortunately, none will be a particularly big deal.  The biggest one, that we found, and I am sure that the owner had no idea about this, had to do with a leaking muffler.  The surveyor pointed out a slow but consistent drip from the front of the muffler that didn’t look to bad.  However, when I “cleaned” up the area with a wire brush, the drip turned into a gusher as the hole gradually grew large enough to fit three fingers.    I expect that the owner had no idea of the problem as it was buried in an area that was very tough to see.

Some suggest that a boat should be professionally surveyed every 8-10 years and seeing the muffler problem has certainly convinced me that having someone go over things periodically is a very good idea.  It’s pretty clear that more time we spend with something, boat, house, car, the easier it is to overlook certain details that somehow blend into the woodwork over time.   However, had the rusted area in the muffler been missed and broken through…  Well, let’s just say that a LOT of water goes through a muffler.   No doubt, we’d be “dead in the water”  with an engine pumping hundreds of gallons of water per hour along with loads of hot and smoky exhaust.  And, just try getting into an inlet, against the tide, with no motor.  I don’t want to think about that.  Can you say
“Boat US unlimited towing”?  Check!

There are other minor issues that have cropped up like a small leak from the washer/dryer that I expect will be quite tough to fix, if it can be fixed at all, as the unit is shoehorned into the cabin.    And, there is a minor water leak, perhaps best called a “weep” in the water heater.  I suspect, or at least hope, that it’s around a fitting and not something more substantial.   However, over all, Pandora passed her survey with excellent marks.  In fact, at the end of the day I asked the surveyor, a very nice Australian guy, how this boat compared to the many others that he had reviewed over the years.  His answer, “one of the best I’ve seen”, and then he added, “and I have to admit that I am a bit jealous”.   As I was about to take a huge financial leap, that was good to hear.

However, as I struggled, over the last two days, to get a very recalcitrant muffler loose and out, I expect that there aren’t many that would envy me tackling that project.  Happily, the muffler is now out, with a bit of help from a $75/hr guy and an electric saw.   Well, “muffler woes”  should be behind me later today when I install the new one.  Let’s hope that assembly is easier than the demolition. Fingers crossed…  (Ever notice how often that phrase comes up in boat ownership?)   Yes, I am hoping to exclaim as I put on the last clamp, “now, wasn’t that easy?”   Wish me luck.

A few years  ago, I wrote about Tanya and Jay who live aboard their big cat, Take Two, with their 5, count them 5 children.   Well, they are here in the marina and tied up just behind me on the dock.  They are spending a few months here at the marina while Jay and the rest of the family do some work on their boat.  It has been fun to catch up with the “clan” and see how things are going.

I have talked about our plans to head to the Caribbean next winter and I understand that the Take Two gang will be going there as well.  However, their run will be for several years and will take them to South America, the western Caribbean and Panama prior to returning to the US.   I do hope that our paths cross again soon.

As Brenda has headed home to CT, I am alone aboard and anyone that knows me knows that I am not too big on the “alone thing”.    I was also thinking that it might be tough for Tanya and Jay to find someone to watch five kids so that they can get some alone time.  Yes, their oldest Ely, is old enough to watch the younger ones, but with me on the scene the parents could go a bit further afield and enjoy a night on the town “grownup style”.  Anyway, I offered to have the five kids over for a movie night on Sunday.  It was a real treat, let me tell you.

We watched a movie, one of only two that I have that are rated for a “G” audience.   I even provided chocolate candy that won rave reviews from all.   When I passed around the bowl of chocolates it was very cute as each carefully chose a single piece and passed the bowl.  Then one of them tentatively chirped, “can we have more than one?” “Yes,of course, eat as much as you want but not so much that you make yourself sick.  I don’t want your mom to be angry with me”.

They ate everything except the Almond Joy.  I guess that coconut wasn’t their favorite.   That’s good for me.

What a nice group of kids in rapt attention.The youngest, Rachel, born after they moved aboard, is getting big.  She still reminds me of Dr. Seuss’s, Cindy Lou Hoo.   Very cute.  I wrote about the Take Two gang back in 2012, when I last saw them.   A very nice family. 

One more thing before I break.  I saw this manatee sleeping near a boat the other evening.  There are several living in the area but this one should certainly be easy to spot with the “prop scars” on his back.  He’s nearly 10’ long.  Huge.  With all the boat traffic in their home waters, it’s remarkable that any survive. Well, I guess that’s about all I have today but there’s plenty to keep me occupied between now and Sunday when my crew arrives, to get the boat ready for the run north.  Let’s hope I can get everything done in time. 

Next, we’ll need a good weather window.

The “new” Pandora. Getting settled.

It’s Sunday morning and I am here in Ft Pierce aboard the “new” Pandora.  With “Pandora” up in New Bern and under the care of the broker, I have turned my attention to Pandora (soon to be renamed from Ariel) and getting her ready for the run north to begin around May 4th or so.  With crew arriving on the 3rd, I have about a week to get coast guard documentation, ownership fully transfered and become familiar with the boat prior to heading out. There are also some modifications and repairs needed to get everything in order.

The survey went quite well but a few items did show up that need attention.  In particular, the muffler, that was inexplicably made of aluminum, had corroded badly and was leaking.  Hoping that I could stabilize it so that I could make more permanent repairs when I got home, yesterday I set about opening things up to be able to get an epoxy patch in place.  However, as I went at it with a wire brush, the “hole” opened up to a thumb size and it was painfully clear that more major surgery is needed.  So, I had someone over to take a look and I’ll have a mechanic here on Monday morning to remove the old one.   Getting the old one loose is going to be a major exercise and will require some tools that I don’t have. However, putting the new one in should be pretty straight forward.   Let’s hope that this repair ends up being less than a “boat dollar”.  Fingers, and toes, crossed.

I am also having a set of davits put on as I want a way to get the dink out of the water and as an added bonus, I’ll then have a spot to put an additional 300 watts of solar, on top of the 340 watts it already has, which I hope will obviate the need to run my little Honda generator to keep the batteries up to snuff.   The boat has quite a large electrical load.  And, speaking of “boat dollars”, that will certainly add up to a few.

Another issue that came up was with the bottom paint.  The owner had been dutifully getting the bottom painted each year, having it sanded and a new coat of fresh paint applied.  However, as I had painfully discovered myself, too much buildup of an ablative bottom paint leads to adhesion problems as the paint gets thicker over the years.  After a while, the paint will peel badly and that’s exactly what it is doing here.  What is really needed is a full strip of the paint and a fresh start.

Oh well, I guess I should expect to have a lot of work to do in the first year.  Perhaps I’ll just haul it in CT and plan on devoting a bit of time to making it (mostly) right.  I don’t think I have the stamina to take all of the paint off this summer but certainly some touch up and fairing is in order.  Time to sweat, I guess.

I won’t think about that right now.  Perhaps better to focus on what works and to enjoy the view.  Happily, all of the stuff from “Pandora” was swallowed up handily aboard so it’s now fairly livable.  I think that there is perhaps three times the storage on this boat.  However, oddly, we seem to be short on coffee cups, as I can only find three.  Good thing there will only be three aboard for the run north.  As the owner left all of their dishes and anything that was color-coordinated with the boat (can you say green?), we now have all of their dishes as well as those that we moved and let me tell, you there are a lot of dishes.

Happily, everything is now stowed (I expect that Brenda will have something to say about what I put where…) and I can enjoy the view.

Indulge me while I provide a tour of the boat…

Here’s the main salon looking forward.  It’s cavernous compared to our last boat as she is 14.5′ wide verses 12 for “Pandora”.  You wouldn’t think that the extra 2.5′ would make that much difference, but it does. The same view looking aft.There’s a very nice nav station with a proper seat that swings out.    And, there is even room for my sideband radio.The galley is really nice with granite counter tops.  Interestingly, they are granite
“veneer” over a honeycomb base, the sort used on luxury aircraft and they are very light weight.  Notice the washer in back.  I think it can be used with the inverter for washing but certainly not for drying when we aren’t on shore power as the house batteries total over 100 AH.   Brenda’s pretty excited about that, the washer, not the batteries, that is.  The aft cabin is at the bottom of the companionway to starboard.  Here’s the entrance to the cabin.The aft cabin is quite large and has loads of storage under the bunk as well as drawers and a generous hanging locker, one of five on board.  “Pandora” had only one.The forward cabin, the one that Brenda and I will use, has loads of storage and the bunk is a bit larger.  And, believe it or not, there is even a small workshop that has storage to swallow up a huge amount of stuff.  The owner was fastidious about keeping spares on board and there appears to be a backup for nearly every pump etc, aboard. That’s encouraging.  Yesterday I went through everything to get a feel for what was there.  The amount of stuff is a bit overwhelming but will certainly come in handy at some point.  Alas, no spare muffler…And, last but not least, the hard dodger is wonderful and long enough to lay down out of the weather.   It’s a great spot to tuck up in when the going gets rough.  There’s even a remote plotter so you don’t have to stand at the helm to monitor where you are and a remote for the autopilot.  There are instruments for everything at the helm and repeater instruments under the dodger, at the nav station and there’s even a repeater in the master cabin.  I can’t imagine the complexity of all of this.

I guess it’s a good thing that I have a week to sort through everything as I am going to need every moment to get a handle on all of the systems.

Well, the real fun will begin on Monday when we wrestle the old muffler out and order a new one.  Let’s hope that this is the worst “wart” what I discover as I become familiar with the systems. I am certainly happy to be following a fastidious owner who did his best to keep things in proper order.

So far, so good.  Let’s hope that not too many “boat dollars” flush out prior to leaving.   So far, so good.  However, it is a boat… 

Pandora in hibernation and “Pandora” getting ready to sail.

It’s Thursday night and it’s been a while since I have posted.  Since we left Pandora in New Bern, we have driven from NC all the way to central FL and the “new” Pandora.

Brenda flew out this morning and I FINALLY was able to return the rental car that we have driven around for nearly two weeks.   We were both getting sick of driving around in an overstuffed van.  Brenda was so pleased to be able to step aside from the OVERPACKED van after so many miles traveled.

Poor Brenda had to ride in the back seat for a good portion of the run south because, our son Christopher, who’s pretty susceptible to motion sickness, opted to ride up front.   We “carved” a small spot out in the back for Brenda.  Pretty tight but she was a good sport.  At least the boat hook was in place to keep her from falling out if the door was opened. Yesterday we had the survey on “new Pandora” and the owner, even though I have not transferred all of the funds, agreed that I could move aboard and begin to get ready for the run north.  My crew, Jim and Michael are due to arrive on Sunday the 3rd. 

Yesterday was really long with the surveyor on board for nearly the entire day.  Following the successful survey and my signing of the acceptance document, Brenda and I shared some champagne with the seller to toast the successful completion of the deal.   As it took since late December to bring everything together it did feel sort of like a “what took so long” moment but it was also pretty exciting to have it done, at long last.

She was hauled briefly to inspect the bottom.   Nice bulb keel.  You can see how she would be so fast.  Interestingly, the bulb is lead but the keel itself is composite carbon fiber construction.  Very strong and it gets the “righting moment” down low. Nothing particularly traditional about her.  Very modern. I am particularly enamored with the retractable bow thruster to help maneuver in tight places.  And, with nearly 50′ of boat length, EVERYWHERE is tight.   It’s pretty neat.  When deployed it’s in clear water but when retracted, flush with the hull so there is no drag.  After the survey, and a toast with our friends and sellers, we began to move everything out of the van and aboard.  Whew, I was bushed.Actually, even before handing all the stuff down to the deck I had had enough.   Did I mention that I turn 60 in June?  How pathetic. I made a little progress today but expect that it will take the better part of a week to get all the stuff unpacked and stowed aboard.   What a mess.   About 2/3 of the stuff fit in the aft cabin, about as large as all of Pandora.  The salon not looking to “salon like”.  However, she looks pretty nice at the dock.  And, I just love the hard dodger that’s long enough to sleep under, out of the weather. Thank goodness that she has two zone AC as it’s in the high 80s during the day here.   However, we have to manage the energy use as the 30amp service isn’t good enough to run both zones as well as the washer dryer.  Feel sorry for me?  I didn’t think so.

Well, I guess that’s about enough for now as it’s getting late and there’s a t0n of unpacking on the horizon tomorrow.   So, here’s looking forward to selling Pandora and getting “Pandora” underway and north to CT in a few weeks.




Reformating Pandora and that “lost” bag of cat food.

It’s Saturday morning and we are in Columbia SC for a wedding of the son of an old friend.  It will be a lovely day and how convenient to have headed south from New Bern, where we finished “re-formating” Pandora so she can be sold.  After this weekend we will head to Ft Pierce for the survey and delivery of our “new” Pandora, currently Ariel, the Aerodyne 47 that we are purchasing next week.  As much of the survey work has already been done, I am pretty confident that all will go smoothly, and the purchase will be finalized as planned.

Anyway, as I write this I can’t believe that Pandora is all cleaned up and ready to sell.  Well, she’s as ready as she will be.  All we need now is a buyer.  ALL?   Yes, that’s a big ALL.

This is a photo of me standing next to the clean Pandora after nearly a week of packing and scrubbing. Wasn’t that easy?  NOT!!!   The process felt more like this…It is remarkable what can accumulate on board a boat over 7 years. Canned goods, soup…I can’t tell you how much soup I found.   Spare parts.  This is a shot of just some of the stuff that I had packed away for a rainy day.   Yes, it was nearly this bad.  And, it wasn’t that well organized.  Well, at least it didn’t feel organized when we started digging in.  We needed a LOT of boxes.   It was chaotic.   And we had to, sort of, clean up each evening as we were staying on the boat.

Well, I won’t go on about this for too long “Bob, it’s already been too long” but it was a very tough week and when we were done Brenda said, and I quote,  “I AM NEVER DOING THIS AGAIN!” and she really said it in ALL CAPS.

Anyway, Pandora looks pretty clean and even I think that she is up the “Bob’s proper anal standards”.

A few glamour shots of the interior. Now, wasn’t that easy?  “So, where did all that stuff go Bob?”

Well, some went to Jim’s home in Williamsburg VA but the rest, well most of it, went into a rented van.  Big pile…And that was only the first time I put everything in the van only to take EVERYTHING out and try again, this time more carefully.  However, in the end.  Most of it fit with the “extra” items going to the broker’s garage to be picked up at a later date.

Finally, packed.Not an inch of space to spare.Not so easy, not at all.  And certainly tougher than I had expected but Pandora is now “reformated” back to factory specs and ready for her new owner.

Oh yeah, about that bag of catfood that we “lost” aboard for the last few years.  The one I put on board to feed reef fish in the Bahamas.  Nope never found it.

Now we get to drive around in a packed van for a week till we get to FL and the NEW PANDORA.  We are excited…

Pandora’s “Grand” unraveling.

It’s Monday morning and Pandora’s secure on the dock in New Bern NC at the New Bern Grand marina.  It’s hard to believe that we are here after months of saying “we are headed to New Bern…”Well, we’re here, on the dock and it’s time to act.  So, yesterday we began what will take us much of the rest of the week, the unraveling of 8 years of our life aboard Pandora.  It’s hard to believe that after all this time we are finally doing it.  We are selling Pandora.  

However, all is not lost as we will, in less than two weeks, be taking delivery on the “new” Pandora, the Aerodyne 47 that I have written about in past posts.   I won’t belabor this except to if you have somehow missed my incessant ramblings on the subject, you can see a post that I did a while back about the new boat.

I can’t recall if I already posted this photo, but the boat, now Ariel, soon to be Pandora, was photographed in the Bahamas a few weeks ago by a friend.  We made great progress yesterday as we began removing personal items and a lot of “stuff” that has accumulated over the years.  We have not yet gotten to some of the areas that are really deeply buried and I expect that we will find some surprises.  I am fearful that I will finally locate the bag of dry cat food we brought aboard three years ago to feed tropical fish in the Bahamas.  I have searched and searched and have never been able to locate it.  Here fishy fishy…

It’s going to take lots of boxes to get all the stuff into our rental car so we made a run to to pick up some up at the local liquor store.  We thought that we had plenty.  Not even close .  Now things weren’t quite as neat and tidy as is normally the case aboard Pandora. The aft cabin has really gotten out of control.  While I consider myself to a pretty tidy guy, Brenda disagrees and has labeled me a “closet messy”.  Perhaps the aft cabin is often a bit cluttered but this is over the top.   And, that’s not even the half of it. A small amount, so far, spilled out onto the dock.  Off to the van we rented.  And, this is only the beginning.  Hope it all fits.After a long day of unpacking and cleaning we decided to take a walk in New Bern last evening.  What a beautiful city.  This is the city hall building and it’s still in use.  Great brick work. We also visited a local landmark, Tryon Palace once the home to the Colonial Governor prior to the revolution.   What a spot. It was the first constructed in 1770 but was destroyed by fire less than 20 years later.  A major fund raising initiative was conducted in New Bern and the grounds and buildings were rebuilt in the 1950s.  The locals are quite proud of this museum and work hard to keep everything in top shape.  The compound has some terrific buildings.  This is a favorite spot for weddings and we had to work hard to stay out of the way of three, count em three, brides having pictures taken.   The azaleas are in full bloom as is much everything else.   The Pollen count is sky high.  It’s on everything, coating yellow everywhere including my nose. Yuck…The gardens are spectacular.  How about a espaliered apple tree. 

They must have someone on staff that loves trimming hedges as they are everywhere and in perfect shape.
The gardens go on and on…  At home gardens are my problem.  “Bob, wouldn’t it be great if we had a garden here?  Grass is just so boring.”   No, I’ll just stand and enjoy someone else’s work right now. Fig trees.  Bummer that the fruit wasn’t ripe.  I’d have been tempted to snag a sample.  After garden overload we walked around town.  Brenda loved this rose bush.Wisteria is growing everywhere along the roadside.  However, it’s at it’s best when someone keeps tab on things like on this arbor. Well, enough about fun, all this blogging isn’t getting Pandora unraveled.   I guess I need coffee to face that.

Our last visit to Oriental on Pandora…

It’s Thursday morning and Pandora is secure on one of the FREE public docks here in Oriental.  We arrived yesterday after a short 35nm run from the bight of Cape Lookout.  

Our visit to Cape Lookout was wonderful, if a bit cool and rainy.  Perhaps that was for the best as the weather certainly enhanced the primeval mood of the place.   That’s Brenda way-out-there…  “Brenda, can you hear me now?”  Nope…Lots of sea birds.  These are migratory terns, visiting from the Arctic, I think. Don’t ask me what type as we left our bird book home in CT.  Oh well, let’s just call them terns for now. Many dolphins visited us while we were anchored.  It’s maddeningly difficult to get a good shot of these beautiful animals.  This is a dolphin fin, in case you can’t tell.  I guess you had to be there.Brenda and I took several walks on the beach, especially to so some shelling.  Of all the beaches we have visited, we have never been on a beach with more shells.  The selection wasn’t that great but there were tons of them.   This shot is of one particularly rich area.  Loads and loads.  “Bob, is the picture upside down?”  Not sure. With the exception of a few campers we had the beach to ourselves.  No exaggeration, the beach went on for miles.   Pretty amazing.  Why someone would choose to camp on sand is a mystery to me.  Sand on my feet is bad enough.  Sand EVERYWHERE… Yuck!.  .

Nice haul…What a great lighthouse and newly painted. Brenda “set a moment” on the keeper’s house, now museum.Back in the “pre GPS” age, mariners would spot a light during the day and to help them identify, sort-of where in the Hell they were, each was painted with a distinctive pattern.  Cape Lookout light, all 185’ of it, was painted with a very distinctive diamond pattern.  The white diamonds were oriented north to south and black to east to west.  Or was it the other way around?  Not certain.  Sure glad that we have a plotter and GPS.

Big painted diamonds on a 185’ tall lighthouse or not, literally hundreds of ships foundered on the nearby shores.   Happily, not Pandora.  However, when we were leaving yesterday morning, we had to pick our way out of the bight in fog with a visibility of about ¼ mile for the 6nm to Beaufort Inlet.    The sunrise was spectacular.  At least I think it was the sunrise.  Hard to say in the fog.We had heard on the radio that the Coast Guard was re-positioning markers in the Beaufort inlet so we were cautioned to be particularly diligent as we came up the channel.   I wouldn’t want to bump into them.  The ship made the huge marker look positively diminutive.  Either that or the people on deck were Lilliputians.   Hmm…It wasn’t long before the ship faded into the fog.As we made our way through the marsh, north of Beaufort, we enjoyed watching the homes go by.  “Dammit Gladys, why does everything that comes into this house have to be in frigging primary colors?”  Anyway, we are now in Oriental, home to “free docks”.  Now, that’s not something that you see in Martha’s Vineyard.   Nice dock tucked next to the commercial docks.  Can you say “big red boat”.   Sure makes Pandora look teeny.We met a nice gentleman across the dock from England who “crossed the pond”  a while back and is now sailing in US waters with his black kitty.   Mogs, a cute little boy kitty, visited Pandora and perched on the sail cover.  Nice kitty…We couldn’t tell if this tern was scolding Mogs or asking for cheese and crackers as he “stared us down” from a nearby piling.So, here we sit, aboard Pandora in lovely Oriental NC, a stones throw from New Bern, where we are headed tomorrow.  I have to say that we Brenda and I are getting a bit nostalgic knowing that we will soon be separating ourselves from our life aboard Pandora, something that has consumed much of our time for years.

It’s certainly bringing back many memories and I expect it’s not going to feel  great as we remove everything from her lockers and drive away a week from now.  Not terrific, in part, because we’ll soon be two-boat-owners.  I don’t know exactly how many miles Pandora has taken us over the last 8 years but it’s certainly been a great ride (if sometimes less smooth than Brenda would hope for) and we are going to miss her. Editor: I meant miss Pandora, not Brenda to be perfectly clear.

Well, today we will just have to work hard to make our last day aboard Pandora, here in Oriental, the best it can be.   Yes, that’s the spirit.

Enough of that, it’s time to make coffee.  Yes, that will make everything better. Well it will make it clearer, at least.  “Bob, NO it won’t… You drink decaf.”

Got it, decaf.

Lookout at that Cape…Beautiful.

It’s Tuesday morning and we are anchored in the bight at guess what– Cape Lookout.  What a spot.  The lighthouse at Cape Lookout is unique, white with black diamonds painted down the sides.     Cape Lookout is located about equidistant between Beaufort NC and Cape Hatteras.  Actually, to look at a chart you’d think that this was part of Cape Hatteras, which it, sort of, is.  Anyway, a nice place.

This is a very remote spot and as I write this there is only one other boat within view and they are perhaps ¾ of a mile away.

Lookout is an area of miles of shifting sand dunes and as we rounded the point yesterday I was amazed to see that the two buoys marking the approach aren’t on station at all.  If you were to round them normally, you’d run hard aground.  That’s pretty obvious on the Garmin i-pad charts but my Raymarine plotter, with older charts, shows just how much the sand has migrated over the years.   In fact, one of the floating marks is actually in about 1’ of water at low tide.  Not exactly in the right position at all.

However, after rounding and not grounding, we were greeted by a lovely view of the lighthouse in the late afternoon light. After a few days in Wrightsville Beach we left yesterday to make the run here, an ocean shot of over 75nm.  We had debated going on the inside but there is so much shoaling in the ICW along the stretch to Beaufort that we expected it would take three days to make the run because of the timing of the tides, low at mid day.  I have gone through that section twice before but the tides were high in teh middle of the day so it worked just fine.  Transiting much of NC needs to be managed that way.

We headed out of the inlet with Kismet at dawn and were greeted by a beautiful sunrise framing our friends and their boat. Actually, there’s was the only boat we saw for the whole day.  I guess everyone else was at work after a long Easter weekend.

By going outside we were able to make the run in a single day what would have taken three short days inside, and all during daylight.  However, it didn’t turn out to be a great day for Brenda as there was a swell coming in on the beam the entire day and there was only a light breeze on the nose which meant that there wasn’t anything to stabilize the boat.  After about 11 hours of the boat rolling from side to side in the swells, a nice breeze finally picked up, but not until we were only a few miles from our destination.  Oh well, not a lot of knitting for Brenda yesterday.

However, we were able to anchor in time to enjoy the sunset and a nice steak dinner.  A good ending after a long day.  We had decided to visit Cape Lookout as our new friends Laurie and Jim of Kismet had told us about this spot and encouraged us to visit. 

So, we plan on staying here for two nights and then we’ll make the rest of the run to New Bern beginning early Thursday for a Friday arrival.  Happily, the flood up into the Beaufort area coincides nicely with our plans to make the 10 mile run to the inlet from here on Thursday morning.

This is an amazing place and while it’s only a short distance from a populated area of NC (there’s even pretty good cell coverage) and yet it looks like a spot that could easily be a thousand miles from anywhere.

This is the view of the lighthouse that greeted me at sunrise today.   After a few shots, I was even able to time the photo to coincide with the flash of the 15sec light.  Wow!  Can you say Wow first thing in the morning?  I did…Today we’ll be heading to the beach for a walk and some shelling, something that we’ve been told is terrific here.

I am excited and yes, this truly is a great spot to “look out”…at.

Wrightsville Beach for a few days, or not.

It’s Easter morning and I have to say that it feels a bit weird to be sitting here as if it’s just any day of the year.  However, it’s blowing pretty hard and we didn’t feel like heading ashore just yet.    However, I did make fresh biscuits for breakfast so it felt a bit special. 

Just in case you were wondering how our run with the current up the Cape Fear River  (Brenda just loves the name of that river) went, well wait no longer.   Here goes…

My plan was to hit Southport and head up the river at slack tide, about 2:00, two days ago.  Unfortunately, I neglected to note that the river doesn’t turn with the tide at Southport at all.  “That’s right Bob.  It’s CURRENT, not tide”  So, as we headed out into the river we began bucking a 4kt adverse current and did so ALL THE WAY up the 10 miles to our destination.   Fortunately, there was about 20kts of wind on our stern so, while the water was plenty lumpy, with wind against the current, we were able to motor-sail with the jib all the way.  In spite of our boat speed of nearly 9kts at times, we crawled up the river, against the current at a crawl, sometimes less than 4kts over the bottom.  Had the current been with us, we would have made the 10 miles in about an hour but it took us 2.5 hours instead.

Anyway, we made it, even if it took a lot longer than expected.  I guess we were just paying penance for our good run, with the current, going to Calabash the day prior.

We picked up a mooring in Carolina Beach which was a good idea as the wind blew hard overnight and we definitely felt more secure on a mooring as the wind gusts peaked at nearly 30kts.

Yesterday we made a short 10 mile run from there to Wrightsville Beach where we are now.

Along the way we only ran aground twice but that was to be expected as we passed a number of small inlets where the currents cause lots of shoaling, a particular problem here in NC.  And to make matters worse, the tide was low mid morning so we had even less water to work with.  I recall that on our run here two years ago, we had problems then too.

With all the shoaling problems to address, we passed a number of dredges, one was over 400’ long working in a major inlet.  This one was much smaller.  I was struck by just how tiny this tug pushing the dredge barge was.  I can’t imagine that it would even float without being attached to the barge.We also passed a number of shrimp boats tied up on local docks.  They look great in this picture but close up they clearly need a bit of TLC.  It’s got to be tough to compete with the low price of farm raised shrimp.  Nice lines though.From here we have about 80 miles to Beaufort where we will head north to New Bern.  I mention this because this next section is particularly prone to shoaling and low tide is late morning each day.   This means that we will have a very tough time making distance with the lowest water happening in the middle of the day.  The best way to make it over shoals is to time our passage when high tide hits in the middle of the day, something that we were able to do in GA which made it possible to cover some pretty good distances in spite of grounding hazards.  

We had a nice couple, Jim and Laurie from Kismet, over for cocktails last night and they mentioned that they planned to make the run to Beaufort offshore because of the shoaling and tide problems.    And, as the run from here if 70 miles, they planned to jump out at dusk tonight and time their arrival in Beaufort for dawn and a rising tide, which will make it easy to run up the river.

Brenda, who doesn’t really like sailing in the ocean and much less at night, seems intrigued by the idea of sailing in company with them so perhaps we’ll do it.  The only negative is that it’s pretty windy as I write this and it’s from the wrong way.   However, the winds are supposed to drop considerably this evening so perhaps we’ll give it a try.  It will be a motorboat ride anyway but much more appealing than bumping along the shoals of the ICW.   Besides, because of the timing of the tide, it would take three days on the “inside” to do what what we will be able to do in a single night on the “outside”.

I don’t know what we will do yet as it depends on what the winds do this afternoon.  If they settle down I expect that we will make the jump outside and if we do, we may very well stop at Cape Lookout National Seashore, just south of Cape Hatteras for a few days as we have heard that it’s a very beautiful area.

So, is it Wrightsville Beach for a few days or will we leave tonight?  I guess we’ll have to see what happens with the winds this afternoon to know if we are staying our going.  And you, dear reader, will have to check back to find out.

I guess that’s all for now.

Nearly there. Calabash River on the SC and NC border.

It’s Friday morning and I am not certain if I am in South or North Carolina as it depends on whether I am on the south side, north or perhaps the center of the Calabash river that marks the border of the Carolinas.   Oh well, I am definitely here in “the Carolinas” and not far from our destination, New Bern, which is only about 200 miles from here.   Considering that we have gone over 1,500 miles on this trip since leaving St Mary’s in early January, it’s just stone throw.

Our plan for today is to head about 30 miles to Southport at Cape Fear (Brenda just loves that name and all that it conjures)  with the hope of timing our arrival at the Cape Fear River to coincide with the tide flood as that will give us a boost with the incoming current for the remaining 10 mile run up river to Carolina Beach.

We understand that there is a restaurant there that will let boats tie up for the night if you have dinner with them.  That sounds good to me so I guess the only question is if they will have room at the dock for Pandora.  If not, we’ll take a mooring in the harbor and explore the town via dink.  Being on a dock would be a nice change of pace.

Yesterday we had a very nice run of about 55nm through some of the most beautiful “low country” we have seen yet.  As a special bonus, we were able to carry a fair current nearly the entire way, something that hardly ever happens.  The only foul current we encountered was for the last few miles before we arrived at the Calabash River as the tide had started to flood.   It was important for us to make good time to get here as there are very few places to anchor along this particular stretch and the only option before Calabash was hours south and the next anchorage quite a few miles further up the line.

Along the way we went through miles of marshes lined with Bald Cypress, so named because they loose their needles in the winter.  We particularly enjoyed watching seeing the wildlife as we motored slowly by.

There were turtles lined up on logs everywhere as the water in this area is fresh.  I wonder if the one at the end started there or was “pushed” along by late arrivals.  “Hey Yurtle, yeah you, move up a bit and make room?”We also saw many osprey nests.  This one was perched on a navigation aid, a very popular choice, it seems.It’s always fun to look at the homes that line the waterway here and along with the huge monstrosities that are such a part of “waterfront living”, we were struck by the color of this one.  Boy, I sure hope that the neighbors like purple and pink.  Yow-za…I’ll bet that they will have to reconsider their paint scheme when it comes time to sell. 

I can’t begin to count how many bridges we have gone past in our travels but I guess that the SC highway department has decided that they need one more.   It surely looks like a huge job .  I wonder how long it takes to complete a bridge of this magnitude.  Years?   We will just have to wait and see how progress is going on our next trip through the area.

Well, writing this isn’t getting the coffee on and Brenda’s up so I guess I’m done for now.