Friday, July 22, 2016

Land Lubbers For A While

Blossom under cover 

Well, we’re back in CA now. After 10 hours of travel we found ourselves 3000 miles away, 30 degrees cooler and land-bound once more.

Our last week at AYB was crazy busy. We were so sad to say goodbye to Jo & Robbie after spending the most wonderful time with them coming up from Charleston. We enjoyed our last dinner out at the Pirate’s Cove and then said goodbye the following morning as they continued their journey northward.

Neither could believe that this “corn bread” was not a sweet cake, it was that sweet!

Us saying goodbye (thanks for the pic Jo!) I forgot my camera :/

The heat index was over 100 degrees the last few days and we were melting. It was so bad that they had to send the yard folks home in the afternoons, it was just too much. Thankfully, we could leave the AC on until the very last minute. It was still tough, especially for Martin who had a lot of outside tasks.

Yup, that says 102F and it was just as humid :/

We enlisted the help of an employee at AYB, Levi, for three days and he was amazing. Blossom is cleaner today than she has ever been! It proved very fortuitous that we had help too, as the first day of cleaning I managed to fall down/off a stair and twist my ankle. I hobbled for a few days but managed fine.

 Ouch, ice at night helped 

As for the prep work we did on Blossom, we have an extensive list that we used last year when we left her at River Forest in Florida. This year we made some changes since we’re leaving her in the water (fresh/brackish) and under cover (in a shed) rather than on the hard. The basics, however, were the same: clean, prep, wrap all vents in plastic and leave with a dehumidifier on and fans blowing.  Our list from last year is a long one so I thought I’d just link to it here if anyone would like to see it. I'm quite sure it's overkill but hey, she's our baby! Of course, we didn't do any of the things that required being out of the water.

Blossom resting

Here’s a list of some "boat business" items we took care of and some things that we did differently this time:
  • Ballast. Martin moved a total of 1500 lbs of lead from the port side of the laz to the starboard side. (In that heat, yeah, it was a drag.) This significantly improved our left-lean. We should only need to offset the current lean with about 100 gallons of diesel, a much more acceptable amount.
  • Weevils. I couldn’t figure out what they were eating and they were all over the boat. So Blossom got bug-bombed a couple days after we left. The exterminator said he’s only seen a weevil infestion a dozen or so times in his 20 years on the job but that it can happen. Lord knows what they’re eating but they are in every room of the boat and there is NO food on that boat. I’m suspicious of my quilt batting so we removed it all. (My 3 quilts from the boat are currently living in our freezer in the garage. 1 frozen week and they should be dead!) The bomb should take care of any other little creepy crawlies that try to get near the boat for a few months as well.
  • Rugs. We steam cleaned the rugs, carpets and couch with a Bissell. It’s small and portable and yup, it was life changing. (I bought one the day we returned and just finished doing all the rugs in the house – if you have pets and/or allergies, it’s amazing!)
  • Spiders. AYB is known for spiders – specifically, spiders pooping on the boat from the roof of the shed. She was cleaned and waxed early this week and will be washed down monthly. Hopefully a full wash and detail in the spring will keep her looking like new, despite the spidy poop.
  • Winterizing: the folks at AYB will be winterizing B this fall. Their winterizer guy used to work at Deltaville and knows Nordhavns well. He and Martin went over the plan and we feel confident all will be well. (We shouldn’t expect a “deep freeze” but best to be safe…)
  • Diver. We'll have a diver check periodically on our bottom growth and zincs (or aluminums as they are), 
  • Canvas. We spoke with a contractor and ordered a few more pieces. We’re replacing the large piece that covers our kayaks as the one we have is too lose and flappy. We’re also having a cover made for the dinghy helm and the storm plates.

We celebrated our last night in Virginia by going to see The Secret Life of Pets and having Mongolian Barbecue for dinner. Such the rowdy couple!

We’ve only been home for a few days but we’re adjusting to life on land. We both miss Blossom but I think we’re also ready for some off-the-boat r&r. It was a fabulous, busy cruising season and now it feels decadent to be home without the list of boat chores to attend to! We’re looking forward to our time in CA, knowing that we’ll be itching to get back to Blossom next spring!

See you all in March…

Safe travels and fun adventures to everyone!

 Our new view for sundowners (note fleece jacket and slippers), it's summer (near) SF after all :)

ps: This is actually the penultimate blog post of the season, though my last. Martin will be posting a map of our travel route and stops for 2016 as he did last year!

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Cruising up the “inner banks” of NC

The past two weeks have been truly lovely. We’ve had an amazing time buddy boating with our friends Jo & Robbie, cruising through NC and into Virginia via the ICW. The area is as beautiful as it is remote. We’ve enjoyed several pretty anchorages, exploring in the dinghy (looking for bear, fox, deer, alligators – without much success!) and honed our 500 card game skills. We feel extraordinarily fortunate to end our 2016 season in the company of such warm and wonderful friends.

Here are some photos from our travels which I’ve broken down by anchorage. Our first stop was just east of Oriental, NC, seeking shelter from s/sw winds.

Barge on the waterway

Mellow day on the water

Gratuitous pretty photo of Southern Star 

Several osprey were nesting on the markers, only red though, they must not like the green!

Calm before the storm

Anchored just off the river

On our way to Oriental

Small town America, everyone we met was so friendly!

Easy dinghy ride in but not so easy on the way back

 One big gust and we did a 180

One heck of an evening storm

Jo & Robbie treated us some amazing grilled prawns that evening (prior to the storm!)

Our second night we tucked in to Bonner Bay, NC. looking to shelter from the sw winds. It was a gorgeous area and we were happy we chose this anchorage when a mean storm blew in that evening (again).

Coast Guard training: towing 

Anchoring in Bonner Bay, NC

Exploring in the dinghy. Man was it hot!

Yet another evening storm, one gust was up to 50!

Our next stop was a popular anchorage just west of the Pungo Canal. Normally there are a few boats here but we’re late in the season and I think most folks are already well up into the Chesapeake and beyond by now (and it’s too late into hurricane season to see many boats heading south).

Passing by Hobucken some dolphins came to play

Our anchorage just SW of the entrance to the Pungo River canal

There are some very big bugs here and equally large dragonflies to eat them

Another evening storm came through that night, it started off so pretty!

We spent two nights there and took the opportunity to go exploring. We headed out in the morning to beat the heat as it was forecast to be 95 degrees that afternoon with a “feels like” in the low 100s. Heading west on the Pungo River, we travelled up the Pungo River until it turned into Dogwood Run, covering about 12.5 miles. We stopped when we came to a bridge that Petal couldn’t fit under. It was Gorgeous! I took far too many photos but it was stunning, I have to share a bunch. Wildlife sightings included an otter or beaver carrying a read to its nest, a big black water snake, numerous hawks, a turtle, an osprey and a bald eagle. The evening was topped off with a game of 500 and one of the best curries I’ve ever had. It’s really, really nice to have friends who cook so well J (Actually, the evening was ultimately topped off by yet another mean night-time thunderstorm).

Photos from our morning exploration up the Pungo River/Dogwood Run:

Friday morning we headed out early for the longest travel day of this trip. We passed through the Pungo River Alligator River canal, up through the Alligator River, across the Albemarle Sound and tucked into south end of the North River where we anchored, again looking for shelter from west wind and a possible evening storm. Along the way we spotted deer and an enormous turkey. Apparently we just missed a black bear swimming across the canal - we chatted with a sailboat who had sailed right past him, even making eye contact!

Saturday we had a very short run up to Coinjock Marina. This marina is known for 2 things – cheap diesel and excellent prime rib. We’ve only been once before and they had run out of prime rib so I called ahead. She asked if we wanted the 16 oz. I thought that sounded like too much so I asked what other portion sizes they had, thinking to down size. “16 or 32” was the reply. So what I took away from this is that no one leaves Coinjock hungry!

Hanging on the dock at Coinjock

Reality set in Saturday afternoon as we both started working on our “to-do” lists for getting Blossom ready to be put into storage. That night we all ate prime rib, of course, we ate a lot, in fact, and it was delicious!

Prime rib at Coinjock

Jo working the cards for our 500 game

Mama duck and 6 ducklings crossing the river at dusk


Sunday we headed out early and made it to AYB by early afternoon. We had to squeeze through a bridge that can only half open (it’s been repeatedly smashed by towing vehicles - ouch!).

Southern Star squeaking through

Barge coming by

But otherwise it was a quiet trip full of osprey. (Up here they seem to prefer the greens)

Osprey nesting on the (green) markers

We arrived at AYB early afternoon. We're at opposite ends of the dock so there's quite a walk to get together!
Blossom on the south end, Southern Star on the north

Barge waiting for the bridge at sunset

It was a nice surprise to find that there are several restaurants within walking distance so we enjoyed a nice dinner out on the water.

 View from the restaurant

Guys and beer

And now the work begins! The plan is to spend the next few days prepping Blossom for her off season. She’ll be in the (brackish) water and under cover for the next 8 months or so. We’re pushing our cruising season forward next year as we plan to cruise the northeast, exploring the Chesapeake, going up to New York to visit family and possibly as far as Boston. Our thought is that the following year we would head farther north to Maine or possibly beyond. So our 6-month season will shift to April-September for a couple of years.

This is our penultimate post of the 2016 season. I’ll be back with one last blog post (obviously, with some input from Martin), detailing our preparations to store/winterize Blossom. That will likely be one big “Boat Business” blog post.

Boat Business:

  • Engine starter battery/smart charger. For the second time this year, our smart charger decided to take a little break. We realized the battery was critically low when the engine wouldn’t turn over. Martin paralleled the start batteries and we were on our way but we need to trouble shoot why this happens every once and a while.
  • Seeking balance. We’ve been running lighter than we ever have over the past week or so. We’re down to just over 300 gallons of fuel, had very little fresh water and not a lot of black either. We were shocked at how differently she sits when so light! All things being relative, it felt like we were bobbing like a cork in the evening storms. We figure we’re about 4 tons lighter than “normal” and all 4 of those tons are from the bottom of the boat so it really makes a difference. We prefer her heavy! She’s also “dressing left” more than usual. We don’t have enough fuel to balance her out. One of Martin’s to-do’s is to move around some ballast this week so we aren’t so left-heavy.