The Great Loop Cruise of the Salty Turtle    

 
 
 

Cypress Trees, Eagles and Another Cold Front

Nov. 1-3

 


Osprey Nest

Bald Eagle

Pontoon Bridge

 

We saw some changes in the coast line as we ventured further north.  Lots more Cypress and deciduous trees.  There were hints of autumn color, but it was a very dry summer, so many trees are just turning brown.  We spotted 6 bald eagles.  It’s tough taking nature photos on a moving boat with a small camera, but I managed to capture at least a couple shots.  We also noticed large bird nests on almost every channel marker.  No nesting birds this time of year, so it would be fun to see in the Spring.

 

We spent the night of Nov. 1 in Myrtle Beach at Dock Holidays.  My impression of Myrtle Beach was much as I had anticipated.  Lots of condos, McMansions, restaurant chains, and LOTS of golf courses (even right next to the waterway). 

 

 Cruising north on Nov. 2 we went through a pontoon bridge, which is one of the last in the country.  The bridge floats and is pulled to the side by cables so that boats can pass through.  Interesting.

 

 Our next stop was Bald Head Marina on the Cape Fear River in North Carolina.  We decided to stay put for a couple days while another cold front blew through.   The only access to Bald Head Island was by private boat or their ferry.  No vehicles were allowed on the island (except for construction vehicles), so bicycles and golf carts were the means of transportation for residents and visitors.  It was a pretty place to ride our bikes.  Half the island is preserved in it’s natural state for native plants (palms, live oaks and sea oats) and animals (including alligators and deer).  The rest has been developed with vacation homes, many on the ocean side with a long sandy beach.  We did see one buck with a rack of antlers cross the road which was a surprise!

    

We’re Here! Oriental, NC

November 6

 


Camp Lejeune Warning

Cormorant Landing

A break from navigating

                                                  

We pulled into Whitaker Creek Marina about 10 AM Monday morning.  On October 11, we left Ft. Myers,FL.  Now, over 1000 miles later we are in a little town named Oriental, North Carolina which is on the Neuse River near New Bern and Beaufort.  What a great trip this has been!  And the cat still likes us (I think…).  He has really made himself at home on the boat.

                                                                     

Next, we are off to the Bahamas to pick up our sailboat. Stay tuned for that saga.

                                             

Crossing the Firing Range-Camp Lejeune 

Nov. 4-5

 

Traversing the Cape Fear River was a cold, choppy proposition.  Temperatures were in the 40’s and the current was going opposite of the wind direction which made it a bit bumpy.  The current did give the boat a boost on speed, however, so we were going 9.5 knots.  Our average speed is 8 knots, so we thought the Turtle was flying!  We had to throttle back for the last hour of travel, because the Surf City bridge only opened on the hour and we were arriving in between openings.  Many bridges open on demand, but heavily traveled bridges usually have some kind of schedule so that they don’t interrupt car traffic more than necessary.  Our cruising guides generally tell us what to expect (although it can vary from the book) so we can sometimes alter our schedule to fit the bridge openings.  Sometimes, you just have to wait!

 

Our stop on Nov. 4 was Surf City, NC. 

 

We stayed at the Beach House Marina and walked into town.  In spite of the cool weather, there were at least a dozen surfers bobbing in the ocean.  There was no surf to speak of, but they seemed to enjoy the camaraderie of floating around together with their wet suits and surf boards.  At another popular hangout, at least one hundred fishermen were lined up on the fishing pier.  It cost 50 cents to go out on the pier as a spectator or $144 per year if you lived there and used it all the time.  I was waiting for one of the fishermen to hook a surfer, but luckily it didn’t happen.  There were also cars and trucks parked on the beach.  One truck was outfitted with 6 rod holders on the bumper.  These people were serious!  Surf City was quite the honky tank surfing/beach town with lots of t-shirt shops and hamburger restaurants.

 

November 5 was the coldest morning yet.

                                                                         

Thirty-seven degrees!  Steve warned me that we were going through Camp Lejeune where the US Marines do artillery maneuvers from time to time, test firing tanks across the Intracoastal Waterway.  Can this be for real??? The cruising guide warned that for a several mile stretch of the waterway, it can be shut down for a few hours or even a few days.  There are large signs with lights that flash, plus warning boats on each end of this “firing zone” if it is being used.  Luckily we went through on an “OFF” day!

 
    

We Sold the Sailboat!

November 6-Dec. 10

 


Lazy S Cruising Chute

Steve & Aggie on Nellie Bly

Truman cleaning the catch

 

After tying up and getting settled, we weren’t really thrilled with the boat slip at the first marina in Oriental.  It only had about 1 foot clearance from the pilings on each side and fixed docks.  They catered mainly to sailboats, so our trawler was too wide for the space. Since we were leaving the boat for an indefinite period of time while we were dealing with the sailboat in the Bahamas (anywhere from 2 weeks to 2 months), it made us nervous. It was impossible to tie the trawler for water level changes due to storms. There is no tide here, but storms can dramatically increase or decrease the water level up to 4 feet.  We experienced a big blow on Nov. 7, so that clinched it.  We found another small marina, Clancey’s (named after their Springer-Spaniel and located on Midyette St.), which has floating docks, only 14 boats, and the marina owners Greg and Candy Bohmert live on site.  We’re so glad we made the move, because as you may know, North Carolina had horrendous weather later in November and flood watches in Oriental.  The boat did fine at the new location, and Greg kept a watchful eye on the boat.  We doubt it would have faired so well at the first location.

 

 We flew to the Bahamas on Nov. 14 and Truman (our Bahamian friend and Lazy S caretaker) surprised us by having the Lazy S newly waxed and stainless winches and stanchions polished (neither of which we had done in the 4 years we owned it!).  We had asked him to put a new coat of varnish on, which he did, but the other was his idea to make the boat show better for the prospective buyers.  It made a huge difference, so we were thrilled.  We spent the next couple days clearing out the aft cabin, stowing tons of personal clutter at Truman’s house so the interior of the boat would show it’s best, too.

 

 The first potential Buyer showed up three days later.  He was Texas lawyer, George Henry, who found our listing through Steve’s ad on the internet.  The Buyer and his sailing friend spent two days of thorough inspection including a sea trial and diving the bottom. To make a long story short, over the course of the next two weeks, George purchased the boat and we personally delivered it to Miami, where George is adding a new holding tank, new heads, bow thrusters and more.  George got a good deal, and we were satisfied with the price.  Most of all, we’re happy to be one boat owners again.

 

 During the middle of all the heavy negotiations, we enjoyed 2 delightful Thanksgivings.  One with our new friends Steve and Aggie from “Nellie  Bly” (another Island Packet) who graciously served us a delicious roasted chicken, stuffing, potatoes and homegrown beets on their boat on Thursday and then another celebration on Saturday at Truman and Lyn’s house with turkey, dressing and the works!  Steve cooked the turkey and dressing.  It was a joyous holiday.  We had so much to be grateful for!

 

So now, there is no need to stay in Oriental this winter if we don’t want too.  It’s a great little town. We enjoyed the local Christmas parade yesterday and it brought back fond memories of the New Meadows Labor Day parade.  Fun small town stuff and lots of friendly people.  BUT the Bahamas look pretty good to us right now, too.  It was in the 20’s this past weekend in Oriental!  Thank goodness we have good heat on the trawler.  We’re really glad that we’re not huddled in the cockpit of that sailboat, bringing it up the ICW as originally planned…  What WERE we thinking!

 

I’m scheduled to fly to Ohio next week (Dec. 12-19)for 7 days to see my family and my friend Treinnia.  Steve is signed up to take his 6-pack (6 passenger) captain’s test here in Oriental starting Jan. 6.  We have ordered a new anchor and chain, single-side band radio, and a new head (Steve says this toilet will be fail-safe!).  So, tentatively we will head to the Bahamas late January.  However, I think we are staying here through the coldest months right now, so we may stay put for a while, get the boat the way we want it, and relax a little before we take off North again.  Stay tuned.  It changes by the minute…

 
   

Wiley goes for a swim…

Nov. 17

 


Wiley on guard

Wiley after swim

Ready to go

 

 The night before our first potential buyer came to visit (as if we weren’t stressed out enough already), Wiley came running inside the boat and his hair looked funny.  After a few seconds, we realized that he was soaking wet!  A minute later, someone was knocking on our boat hull and they asked, “Do you have a cat?  We saw something running towards us on the dock and we think we startled it.  The next thing we knew, it was in the water and then instantly back on the dock and onto your boat.  At first we thought it was a rat, but then we decided maybe it was a cat.  Do you have a cat????”   Wiley didn’t say a word (which is unusual when he is excited.  Usually he meows like crazy, like he’s telling us all about it).  Instead, he vigorously gave himself a bath for at least the next hour.  I wanted to rinse him off with fresh water, but Steve said the cat had already been traumatized enough for one night.  So I rubbed Wiley down a couple times with dry towels which seemed to help. 

 

The “incident” happened so fast that the witnesses couldn’t figure how Wiley got out of the water so quickly.  Their guess and ours too, was that he climbed up the nearest dock piling.  We knew this would happen eventually and are glad to know that he is such a good survivor (even in water at least 8 feet deep).  He acted like nothing happened the next day, still runs up and down the docks whenever he gets an opportunity, and seems none the worse from the experience.

 

    

Café Bluefish, Ft. Lauderdale FL

Our good friend Chuck Feltman (proprietor of the Café Bluefish located at Sunrise Blvd. and A1A one block off Ft. Lauderdale Beach), has graciously let us spend the night on both his boat and in his apartment on several occasions during the past few years and has treated us to countless delicious meals and beverages served at his fine establishment, which has the ambiance of a Key West sidewalk café .

BUT, even more important than his generous hospitality, Chuck has loaned us a complete set of navigational charts, which we used on the first leg of our trip and will continue to use next year when we follow the Great Loop Cruise. Chuck did the same trip in his boat a few years ago and has offered many valuable tips on how to prepare for our adventure. THANK YOU CHUCK!

So, if you are ever in Ft. Lauderdale, please stop in to see Chuck at the Cafe Bluefish, and mention our names. It might even be good for a free drink!

 
    
   
 
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