The Great Loop Cruise of the Salty Turtle    

 
  
 

April 01, 2007

The Journey Starts Again!

On April 8th we will be leaving Oriental, NC and headed south to the Great Loop Rendezvous in Charleston, SC. While there, April 16-19, we will attend seminars and socialize with other boaters who have either done the Great Loop in the past or plan to go this year or in the future. We will also spend time going aboard other peoples’ boats which is fun for new outfitting and decorating ideas.

From there, we will head north and begin our cruise. I PROMISE that we’ll be posting our adventures on a more regular basis once we begin our travels!

Winter in Oriental, NC

December 2006 - March 2007


Oriental Boat Parade

Oriental shrimp boats

Santa on Parade

Mid-January, Steve and I made the decision to stay in Oriental for the winter. At first, the lure of the Bahamas was enticing, but we figured out that the travel time spent going to and from almost exceeded the time we would spend in the islands. Plus it was amazing the boat projects that we created once we got started. Steve replaced both heads (toilets) on the boat, replaced all 15 batteries, put in a new windlass, anchors and chain, new VHF radio, new single-sideband radio, new icemaker and new freezer. I had several sewing projects, remade all the portlight screens, plus spend lots of time polishing and waxing the wood, brass and stainless throughout the boat.

Steve also completed 4 captain’s courses and now has his 100 ton Captain’s License, with towing and sailing endorsements. The school was World Wide Marine Training located in Oriental and the classes were taught by the owner, Capt. Larry Walker. Steve dreaded the initial idea of sitting in a classroom, but after taking the courses, he speaks highly of Larry and his curriculum. The classroom time totaled 13 days (plus a first aid-CPR course, a drug test, and a physical). Then we had to go to Baltimore, Maryland so Steve could be fingerprinted and give his oath in person at the Coast Guard Exam Center. We celebrated by spending the rest of our day at the National Aquarium in Baltimore, which was great fun. With his new license, Steve will have the option of delivering other people’s boats or chartering our boat for guests. Nice to know we can add to the cruising kitty if necessary.

 We have thoroughly enjoyed our stay here in Oriental. The town is small and friendly. The boats outnumber the people here by 3 to1. Anyone that knows our habits will not be surprised that we frequented all the restaurants, especially for lunches. M & M’s was our favorite for overall tasty dishes and good service, but the fried chicken buffet at the Village Restaurant (with collard greens and black-eyed peas) was a Thursday must, and the Tuesday night all-you-can-eat shrimp at Oriental Steamers was also irresistible.

The weather was unseasonably warm in December, but made up for it in January and February with some temps as low as the teens and a winds exceeding 40 mph a couple days. Luckily we have great heat on the boat! The blue sky days outnumbered the gloomy ones though, so it wasn’t bad. Clancy’s Marina worked out perfectly for our needs and Greg Bohmert (the marina owner) was both friendly and helpful. The new floating docks made life aboard quite easy.

Highlights of Our Stay in Oriental included:

 Spirit of Christmas: Dec. 8-10 All the local merchants had open house with free food - chili, chicken soup, hot cider and more. The Parade was reminiscent of the New Meadows Labor Day Parade with kids, dogs, small floats and even a tractor. Santa was in a Coast Guard dingy.    

Christmas Day: Richard Johns and his wife, Rene joined us for dinner on our boat. Roasted chicken, mashed potatoes, dressing and the trimmings. Cooked in courses in our little oven! Fun day.    

Running of the Dragon: Dec. 31- At least 200 people gathered to watch the town mascot, an Oriental dragon, weave through the street. Lots of whistles and clanging pots and pans. Everybody brought their dog which was entertaining, too. Two performances. 8 PM and Midnight. We went to the early one! Richard, Rene, Becky and Jerry came for champagne on the boat afterward. It was so warm that evening that we sat on the aft deck!

Steve’s Birthday: Feb. 24- Had Richard and Rene over for lasagna and to play cards. Told Richard it wasn’t polite to beat the birthday boy at cards, but he didn’t listen. Won both games!

Bearfoot Band: Feb. 25- A group of college kids from Alaska who played fiddle, bass and guitar. As a promotion for the local “performing arts association”, they provided a tasty bar-b-que dinner plus the performance all for only $12 per person. Fantastic evening!

Trip to Baltimore, MD: Mar. 5-7 Steve took his Captain’s Oath at the Coast Guard Exam Center in Baltimore and we celebrated by spending the rest of the day at the National Aquarium. We got our fill of Baltimore, so we won’t have any desire to stop there as we travel up the Chesapeake in the boat this summer.

Ham Radio Test:  Mar. 17, Moorehead City- After a couple weeks of intense cramming, we both took the ham radio test for an upgrade from Technician to General status which gives us a broader range of frequencies to choose.

Visit from the Bales:


Jack, Alwynne, Steve & Nancy

Capt. Jack

Jack & Alwynne

March 21-24, Jack and Alwynne joined us for three days on the boat. We took an overnight trip to New Bern and stayed at the Sheraton Marina. Jack treated us to some tasty seafood restaurants, including Gary’s in Arapahoe. It was so good to see friends from Idaho! They were great guests and crew. The trip was a good shakedown cruise for all of the new systems on the boat since we hadn’t moved after arriving in Oriental in December. Everything worked great except the old VHF radio on the flybridge packed it in. We use the VHF constantly when we are traveling to hail other boats and to talk to the marina where we are stopping for the night. It was an easy fix to replace it.

George Winston: March 26 One of our favorite jazz pianists, who we actually saw perform in McCall several years ago, put on another terrific show at the local play house.

2nd Annual Dog Parade:


Best Dressed?

Farmer Weiner

Ballerina

March 31- This was a hoot! Perfect weather and well behaved dogs; only a couple small spats. Owners and dogs were all dressed to the hilt. Hysterical!

Once a Week With R & R: Some of our most enjoyable evenings were spent with Richard Johns and his wife Rene. Richard is 83 years old, but runs circles around most 40 year olds. He is currently refurbishing a 37’ Defever Trawler, when he’s not racing his 25’ sailboat. Steve and he have been friends for over 30 years and share lots of common interests as private pilots (Richard sold Steve a Cherokee 4 in the 1980’s) and boat owners. This winter we alternated playing host for an evening of dinner and cards. We shared lots of laughs and old stories. Richard was an invaluable source for local information for outfitting our boat and Rene (a watercolor painter) helped goad Nancy into going to some art classes. They are great friends and we look forward to spending more time with them in the Chesapeake in May.

Wiley Adventures:


Doing Christmas Cards

Reading the charts

Looking for Dolphins

Wiley, our cat, has adapted well to his new cruising life aboard the trawler. He survived two more plunges into the water (chilly I’m sure at 40 some degrees!). He had an infected tooth which made him rather sluggish for a while, but he was good as new after an extraction and 10 days of antibiotics. He also survived an encounter with 5 river otters who were swimming around the boat and under the dock. For the most part, he’s decided it’s safer to stay on board and enjoys basking in the sun on the foredeck on the warm days. He’s ready for summer!

 

    

60 MPH WINDS!

Charleston, SC 
April 15

 


Charleston Storm

Charleston Storm

Charleston Storm

 

We left the dock in Oriental, NC early Easter morning and headed south to Charleston, SC.  Our goal was to be there by the following Saturday, so we had plenty of time to travel the 285 miles, even at an average 8 mph.  The first night we anchored at Camp Lejeune, NC (Marine training area) and were pleased how well the new chain and windlass performed.   We enjoyed a leisurely trip south, stopping in Southport, Myrtle Beach, and Georgetown, before arriving at the Charleston City Marina on Saturday midday.

 

As predicted by the weather service, the wind began to blow early Sunday morning.  Thankfully, we insisted on an inside dock, since we had experienced some high winds last October when we stayed at this same marina.  The winds on April 15 topped the ones we had felt the previous fall.  Our wind indicator showed well over 50 knots at times and the new spaper the next day stated 60 mph!  Unlike other windy squalls we have experienced in the Bahamas, this storm went on and on for hours.  Luckily we had no damage done to the boat, but others on the outside dock were not so fortunate.  One Hunter sailboat fought for hours trying to keep their fenders in the water to protect the hull from the concrete dock.  They reported that some of their inside bulkheads actually collapsed from the stress of the slamming waves.  Ugly.  We like Charleston, but we’ve decided that the City Marina may not be the best place to weather bad storms. 
    

     

The Great Loop Rendezvous

April 16-19

 

During the next four days Steve and I met so many interesting people on all types of boats, from all over the country, but with the common goal of doing the same boating adventure (or some variation thereof): THE GREAT CIRCLE LOOP.   Many were already halfway through their journey, having started last summer or fall in Michigan or Chicago.  A few had already completed the loop, and some were planning for the future, but a huge majority were only a few weeks into their trip and continuing north like ourselves, after the meeting.

 

The seminars were good (some more informative than others), but what we enjoyed the most were our discussions with fellow boaters before, during, and after.  So many fun boating stories and such a positive inspiration for the whole adventure.

 

I’ve come to the realization that this is not only a boating adventure, THIS IS A SOCIAL EVENT.  We will not be traveling as a group, per se, but we will be running into the same people from time to time as we follow the waterway.  Some boats go faster than others, and we don’t all stop at the same anchorages, marinas or even towns. However, fellow “Loopers” keep track of each other and get together for meals and progress reports on a daily basis. I’m boning up on my appetizer recipes and story-telling skills.  When we don’t see each other in the evening, many of us correspond by email.  Some people post general comments to the Looper Blog, so everyone can see their warnings and recommendations of what they have experienced to date.  It’s both interesting and helpful.

 

Steve and I will be lagging behind some here in the beginning, because we are returning to Oriental for 2 weeks so Steve can finalize some boat projects and I can visit my parents in Ohio. We’ll catch up, though, because we know of several other people leaving their boats for a week or two later in May to go do business elsewhere.

 
    

Nesting Ospreys, Alligators, and a Water Moccasin!

April 22-28

 


Bucksport Restaurant
    

Turtles sunning
  

Surfer at Surf City
   

Morning on the Waccamaw River

Nancy at the helm

Cypress trees on the Waccamaw

 

 We took a leisurely cruise back to Oriental, NC.  Along the way we anchored alone for two days in the cypress swamp on the Waccamaw River in South Carolina.  The guide books describe this as one of the prettiest areas on the Intracoastal.  Nestled in the cypress trees, we listened to the owls and alligators and decompressed after a fun, but intense social gathering at the Great Loop Rendezvous.

 

 We went out in our dingy and saw lots of sunning turtles and a couple alligators.  The ospreys were nesting and some had both Mom and Pop sitting on the nest.  We bought sausage at Bucksport Marina (their special recipe) and enjoyed a delicious warm peach cobbler.  As we headed north early Wednesday morning we saw a water moccasin slithering through the water beside our trawler in the flat calm water.    

 

Thursday we enjoyed another day at Surf City.  We figured out the boys enjoy carrying their surf boards as much as they enjoy using them (babe magnets!).  Friday, we checked out Casper’s Marina at Swansboro and had two good meals out.  Yanas was for lunch, which is a fun “50’s” diner with huge burgers or fritters if you are there for breakfast.  Did I tell you that eating is a big part of this boating adventure, too????

   
 
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