Daily Archives: November 1, 2017

New Adventures in New Bern!

New Bern, NC (Saturday, 10/21)
We left Belhaven just as the sun was coming up and was treated to this great gift:

Sunrise over Pungo River

We followed the ICW south for a short distance before coming to the Pamlico Sound, which was calm and which we uneventfully crossed in 15 minutes.  From here the ICW enters Goose Creek, a small and narrow waterway that is lined with some houses, but mostly trees and marshland.  We cruised past the Hobucken Coast Guard station and the Hobucken Bridge.

CG Hobucken Station – on Goose Creek

Just south of this area, there is a shrimper’s marina and dock (“RE Mayo” Docks) where you can stop and buy fresh and frozen shrimp and scallops that is supposed to be really good.  We were not able to stop on this trip, but will definitely make plans to do so the next time we come this way.

R.E. Mayo Seafood & Docks

Not long afterwards the ICW enters the Bay River which then dumps into the Neuse River and from there the course turns a bit west for a short duration. We however continued to cruise up the Neuse River passing the turn of the ICW which heads south; we continued north for another 20 miles to the town of New Bern.  The Neuse River is very wide and is mostly tree-lined, but there are many homes along the way. There is also Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point that is on its southern shore, about half way up the river.

Houses on Neuse River

Neuse River Bridge – approaching New Bern

We pulled into the New Bern Grand Marina, located near the Doubletree Hotel in downtown.  This is a large marina and can house many boats, and there were quite a few open slips. However, they are scheduled to host the MTOA (Marine Trawlers Owners Association) rendezvous later in the week and they will fill up the marina. Although we are members, we do not have plans to attend as we hoped to be further south and did not sign up.

Our main reason to come here was for Denise to see this town that Mark has stayed at, and for Mark to visit a client for 2 days. The result is that he will get 2 billable days out of the 4 planned days we have here.

Shortly after checking in the marina, we took an Uber to the New Bern airport to get a rental car that Mark will use to go see the client, and will enable us to run some errands.  The first was to go to a grocery store, and we were so excited as we could shop at a Publix – our first time shopping at one since leaving FL in April. Oh how we have missed this place!  We also went to Walmart to pick up a few things, including a new printer cartridge for the portable printer we have on-board.

First Publix in south

Since we knew we would be dining out for the next few nights, we opted to eat dinner on the boat and clean out some of our left overs and doggie bag items from previous dining adventures. As we did not have a good internet connection we could not stream any movies, and there was no cable tv here as well.  We spent the rest of the evening planning our stops further south, and developing contingencies if we got delayed.

New Bern, NC (Sunday, 10/22)
Our day started with 8:00 mass at St. Paul Roman Catholic Church. It was a good thing we had the rental car because the church was located 3 miles from the marina.  In downtown New Bern they have one of every type of church you can imagine, however the old Catholic Church is small and they only have Friday morning services there.  The “newer” church is on beautiful grounds that have a pond and their own cemetery.

St. Pauls Catholic Church

Inside St. Pauls Catholic Church

Grounds of St. Paul’s Church

After mass we went to Staples to drop off the old printer cartridge, and then back to Walmart to pick up a few things we missed during yesterday’s trip. On the way back to the boat we drove by the historical place known as Tryon Palace; North Carolina’s first state capitol.  You can learn more about this place here.

Tryon Palace

In the afternoon, Mark drove Denise to get a pedicure, and while waiting went to get some marine silicone from West Marine. However, he discovered they had closed the WM and ended up going back to Walmart to get what he needed.  Fortunately, the nail salon was right around the corner from Walmart and he was back in a flash.

In the evening, we met up with Bob & Mary Griswold, whom we have known for years and who now live in New Bern. Originally from Massachusetts, Bob was at a client site that both of us have worked at, and when he retired we put him to work as one of our 1099 employees.  We invited them to meet us onboard Island Office for drinks first, then we went to dinner at “Spunky McDoogle’s” and then to their new house which they had built and was recently completed.  It was a fun evening and we enjoyed connecting up with them.  They are both very involved in the politics of their community and are staunch conservatives, so we had much to discuss about our current political environment.

Bob & Mary Griswold

New Bern, NC (Monday, 10/23)
Today was a work day for Mark, who left early to drive to the client site in Washington, NC – about a 45 minute drive away.

Sunrise over Neuse River – Red sky in morning…..

Shortly after he left, Denise went for a run around the town. She headed first to the south around the Tryon Palace, the NC History Center, and then back through the streets of downtown New Bern.  Her path also took her along the waterway near the marina, and then over towards the banks of the Neuse River. Here are some pictures from her run:

North Carolina History Center at Tryon Palace

New Bern historical homes

Trail along the Trent river

New Bern Firemans Museum

New Bern Federal Courthouse

Riverwalk along the Neuse River

Homes along the Neuse River

New Bern City Hall

Later in the morning, Denise did a little cataloging of pictures and worked on writing some of the previous day’s blogs.  The connection to the internet was so slow and although we have a hot spot, we use this primarily for emails and work related items. In no time we would consume our monthly data allotment if we used it to update the blog posts.

After lunch, Denise went exploring all the shops in town – something Mark was not interested in doing anyway. After a few stops into women-type stores, she went to the birthplace of Pepsi Cola.  Originally formulated by Caleb Bradham who was a pharmacist, the store marks the location of his pharmacy. Today the store has a “soda fountain” counter where you can buy any Pepsi soft drink (Mountain Dew, Diet Pepsi, etc.) and watch a video on the evolution of the company. Behind the fountain there is a souvenir shop and a small area that contains some artifacts from the founder.

About Caleb Bradham

Birthplace of Pepsi Cola

Denise then passed a small shopping area called Kress Mall that has a few small shops and an Indian Restaurant.  But more interesting is that it houses the offices of the Nicholas Sparks Foundation – created by the famed author of such books as “The Notebook”,  “Message in a Bottle”, “Nights in Rodanthe”, and others.  The foundation’s mission is to provide scholarship program for students from low-income families in rural communities.  You can learn more about this foundation here.

Kress Mall

Nicholas Sparks Foundation

Next she stopped was a place called the “Cow Café”; an ice cream shop that has a cow theme and some terrific popcorn which made for a great afternoon snack.

Cow Cafe

Denise’s last adventure was to Mitchell’s Hardware store; a place that has anything you could possibly need or want.  It makes Miller’s Hardware in Winter Park look like a convenience store.  After this, it was time to go head back to the boat as it was starting to sprinkle and the heavy rain was coming.

Once Mark had returned from his day at the client, we went to dinner at The Chelsea. This was a restaurant located in downtown near the marina where Mark had eaten before.  It was delicious food with a cool bar and murals of art on the walls.

Mark at The Chelsea

During the evening the weather started to deteriorate and by nightfall the rains began and we crashed early as we were both quite tired.

New Bern, NC (Tuesday, 10/24)
During the night it stormed violently.  We were woken up at 1:30 am by the howling wind. Mark got up to check the boat lines and make sure the boat was ok.  We could see the canvas on the flybridge of a boat on the dock across the way from us get ripped to shreds in the storm.  In the morning we learned there had been tornadoes in South Carolina and severe storms in North Carolina, and felt very lucky that we were in a secure spot.

Like the day before, Mark left to go to the client site early.  Denise continued working on cataloging pictures and writing blog posts in the morning, but the internet connection was even worse than the day before and was unsuccessful at getting them posted.

In mid-morning the rain had stopped, so Denise went to check out the farmer’s market. It was pitiful with only about 8 vendors, only two of which offered food items, the others were arts and crafts.  She went back to the boat empty handed, and continued working on the blog posts. Perhaps the farmers market on Saturday has more to offer.

Farmer’s Market

In the afternoon more MTOA boats who had waited out the weather somewhere else started to come into the marina.  It took no time for the place to fill up.  Since we did not really know any of these cruisers, and since we had already decided we were leaving as planned tomorrow, we made no effort to try to attend their rendezvous opening event that evening.

Once Mark returned from the client site for the day we went to dinner at Morgan’s Tavern & Grill, located a half a mile from the marina.  It was very good food and we had enough leftovers for a second meal later in the week. We then took the rental car back to the airport and got an Uber ride back to the marina.

In the evening we looked at the weather, and although it was going to be quite windy in places, we should have no issues leaving tomorrow as planned.  We may hit some high winds getting around Morehead City but once we get to Bogue Sound we should be ok. If by some chance it is really rough, we had reservations for a marina in Beaufort (NC) and could stay there for the night.

Notes about this area and the marina:
New Bern has a bear as a mascot and like a lot of other cities in the US they have statues of their mascot throughout. Here are some of the bear statues that are all throughout town:

City Hall Bear

Bear statue for dentist

Admiral Bear

Realtor Bear

“Har Bear” town Racquet Club bear

“Mitchell Bear” – Mitchell Hardware

The New Bern Grand Marina is well protected as it is located on the Trent River, just off the Neuse River. The staff is friendly and helpful, and the bathroom/shower facilities available to marina guests are part of the Doubletree. This means they are always clean and really nice.  However, the marina Wi-Fi is really awful and for no reason; we have stayed at larger places that have excellent Wi-Fi. This made it difficult to work on the boat or do the blog.  It also limited our ability to watch a show or movie, a desired distraction when the weather was so bad on Monday night.  If we were to come back here again, we would look to stay at another marina, even if it means walking further to get to downtown restaurants and shops.

New Bern downtown is a fun place with some nice shops and pretty good restaurants.  If you are a history buff or if you have a car, then there are more things to see and do. However, as a cruiser unless you know people, rent a car, or use Uber you will be limited in provisioning options. We are glad we came here.

Bye Bye Virginia – Hello Carolina!

Hampton, VA to Coinjock, NC (Thursday, 10/19)
It was the mad dash of boats at 0-dark thirty that would continue for the entire day.  As we left the docks at Bluewater Yachting Center, so too did at least 10 other boats – mostly sailors.  All had the same idea in mind to get through Norfolk and get to the Great Bridge Lock.  Once outside of the harbor, they all headed the “short cut” route to Norfolk.  However, not wanting to have to slow down to pass each of these slower boats (so we don’t rock them with our big wake), Captain Mark took us the longer – but certainly faster route into the harbor in Norfolk. It was a very calm and beautiful morning and we got to see an awesome sunrise.

Sunrise over Hampton Roads

Here we passed lots of military vessels in the yards, as well as other industrial boats loading and offloading their wares.  As we passed Norfolk Navy Yard we could hear first reveille, and then the playing of the Stars Spangled Banner over the loudspeaker; no kneeling here.  The water was calm and there was no one near us at this time.

Capt. Mark driving through Norfolk

Norfolk Naval Shipyard

However, soon we came to the Gilmerton Lift Bridge which we can clear without requiring it to be opened.  But there is a railway bridge (Norfolk Southern #7) immediately afterwards that was down for approaching trains, so we had to wait.  Unfortunately, so did the other 10 or so boats (including a huge yacht and a big sport fisher) that required the opening of the Gilmerton Bridge.

Boats in queue for the Gumberton & #7 RR bridges

Gumberton Lift Bridge – RR bridge behind

Normal protocol is to wait your turn, but since we were the one boat that could get through the first bridge, we slowly approached the front of the line.  There a sailboat (who was first) attempted to block anyone from “cutting in” by turning their boat horizontally as the railroad bridge was lifting.  However, Captain Mark was too quick for the other captain and was able to pull in front of him and get us through the first bridge and eventually the railway bridge while it was still opening.  We were first through, and it allowed us to take off and not have to slow down for the sailboats for the run up to the lock.

Leaving #7 RR & Gumberton Bridges

We had a reason for wanting to do this. We had to stop and get fuel at “Top Rack” marina – known for its great fuel prices.  We were also afraid the yacht and/or sport fishing boat would be going there too and we did not want to have to wait behind either of them to get fuel; a process that could take hours.  Also, we were trying to get to the lock for the 8:30 entry so we could be in the 9:00 opening of the Great Bridge Bridge (GBB). The lock and bridge work together as they are so close, but the GBB only opens on the hour.

We stopped at Top Rack for fuel and filled the tanks, hoping we won’t have to do so again until we reach South Carolina where it is really cheap.  During our 20 minutes tackling this familiar task, we watched all the power boats cruise past us and some of the sailboats too.

We finished the fueling and headed towards the lock, just 3 miles south. Now it became an issue of how many boats would fit into the lock, and how many would have to wait an hour on the next opening. Of course we were able to pass a few of the slower boats, but the jockeying for positions had already started and by the time we arrived in queue there were at least 20 boats waiting. Not all of us would get into the lock and unfortunately we were one of those unlucky ones.  So we had to wait, motoring in place with several other power boats and a slew of sailboats.  And some of those we passed along the way had caught up to us.  This had us reminiscing about the long (4 hour) waits we encountered on the western rivers during our Great Loop Adventure in 2015.

Queue of boats for the Great Bridge Lock

Eventually, at 9:30 we were able to get into the lock, along with 15 other boats. It is only a 2’ drop so it takes no time, but of course you can’t get far until the GBB opens on the hour. 

Waiting our turn at GB Lock

Shortly thereafter, we were able to get through the GBB too and able to take off.   It ended up being 3 other power boats in front of us, and one behind us (a Sabre), all in a hurry to now make the next bridge (Centerville Bridge), which open on the half hour only.  Along the way we had to pass some of the slow boats that we had already passed once today, but were in the first lock down, and we had to make sure the railroad bridge in between stayed open – it did.  We arrived at the bridge, but still had to wait 10 minutes for it to open.  And that is how it went for the next bridge (North Landing) too.  Finally, we were through all the encumbrances between us and Coinjock.

We crossed the Currituck Sound without incident, but again having to slow down to pass many sailboats and trawlers that were ahead of us. This was like I-95 traffic with only one lane of traffic open, and everyone heading south for the winter.  Adding to this mass migration is the fact that a secondary route (The Dismal Swamp) has been closed since last October when hurricane Matthew did so much damage to it, that it cannot be used. The Army Corps of Engineers is working to get it re-opened, but for now it is impassable.  So all the slow boats that usually take that route were now on the same “freeway” as us.

And of course, most of these same boats were arriving into Coinjock all about the same time.  It was a mad house and as we expected. Several boats went to Midway marina (across the canal from Coinjock), and several did not stop, pressing on for another destination south – something we probably could have done as well.

We were told to continue past the main (1200’) dock to the south dock where they would put us and one other boat.  Initially this did not make Denise happy as it is a hike to the bathrooms and restaurants, and the internet signal was very weak.  Later, however we enjoyed being far from the noise of the bar and got to see more stars as we did not have as much light pollution.

IO at Coinjock

Once we settled the boat we went and checked in at the marina office. Here we could see on their big dry erase board that more boats were still due in, they were going to be full up for the evening.  Afterwards, we walked the long 1200’ dock to see the boats. There were several yachts, a handful of trawlers, and a dozen or so sailboats that were rafted up 2-deep; a definite full house tonight. We walked back the boat to clean it and get showers, thankful we were not asked to have someone raft to us.

We had made reservations for dinner at the restaurant, but they were not really necessary.  Unlike in the spring when we were here, tonight the restaurant was not full at all.  Either we were too early, or the boats headed south were eating onboard as there is nowhere else to go.  Our table was nicely decorated and we had a good meal, but not their notorious prime rib (we feel is over-rated).  By the time we left the place was filling up, but it would not be the crowds we had seen in the past.

Reserved table at restaurant

We were not back at the boat long before we decided to go to bed early. It had been a tedious day and we were exhausted. Tomorrow we would leave early to get ahead of the slower boats currently tied up to the long dock.  Now we were happy we were on the south dock with no other boat to encumber our planned early departure.

Dowry Creek Marina near Belhaven, NC (Friday, 10/20)
Maybe there were 5 boats ahead of us leaving at the crack of dawn. We were off the dock as soon as there was a hint of daylight.  We wanted to maximize the advantage of being ahead of all the slower boats so that we would not have too many to pass once we got into the confines of the Alligator – Pungo Canal.  We were also trying to time the opening of the Alligator River Bridge so that we could get through it before the traffic stacked up there.

Deck cleanup after leaving

As soon as we pulled away from the dock we could see the fog hanging on the shoreline, just past the Coinjock Bridge.

Morning fog leaving Coinjock

As we continued through the marshes along this part of the ICW, we saw patches of fog and then a glorious sunrise on the eastern side. Once the sun had come up, most of the fog had lifted and the timing could not have been more perfect as we were entering the Albemarle Sound.

Foggy Albemarle Sound

The passage across the Albemarle was uneventful and we made good time.  We entered the Alligator River, made our way through the Alligator River Swing Bridge, and out into this large body of water that reminded us of the Indian River through Cocoa. The river is wide but only has a narrow channel in which to navigate, as it is shallow (3’). We made good time through this area as there were few vessels to pass and we could cruise at 20 kts.

Going through Alligator Bridge

Shortly thereafter we entered the man-made “Alligator – Pungo Canal”; used to connect the Alligator River with the Pungo River. This is a fast and protective way of transiting south without having to go into the Pamlico Sound.  Had we not been heading to Belhaven and New Bern we may have considered going the Pamlico River route through Manteo like we did going north.  The canal itself is not very wide, and is tree-lined the whole way with its banks looking like FL waterways.  Here we passed only one boat (“Oceanis”) the whole time, and transited the area without incident.

Alligator-Pungo Canal

Passing Oceanis

Once through the canal we entered the wide Pungo River and it was not long afterwards that we approached the Dowry Creek Marina.  It is easily recognizable from the ICW as the three-story building is located on the hill above the marina.

Entering the Pungo River

Approaching Dowry Creek Marina

Dowry Creek Marina

We received instructions for a side-tie on the main dock, and “Thomas” assisted us in tying up the boat and connecting our power.

Dockhand Thomas

We finished getting the oat all settled and then went to the marina office (located on the second floor) to check in. We immediately signed up to use the loaner car for that evening so we could go into the town of Belhaven for dinner, and to explore a bit.  As luck would have it, no one else needed the car, but we had offered to take any other cruisers with us if they wanted to go.  The loaner car was one of the benefits of this marina and why we chose it over the other marinas in downtown.

One of the other nice things about this marina was they have free laundry.  They have two washers and dryers, and one of the washers takes quarters. However, the marina leaves a bunch of quarters on the top of it and you just use these as necessary.  Denise took advantage of the free laundry while Mark washed the salt off the outside of the boat.

While waiting on the laundry to dry Denise sat out on the porch overlooking the marina, and its spectacular view.  Here she met “Mack” who lives in the apartment on the 3rd floor. He and his wife have a house in town that was flooded and FEMA made them raise it, so they are in the process of rebuilding. The house is due to be completed in November and they are going to put it on the market and sell it; they have grown accustomed to the smaller confines and want to downsize.  She also learned that he is involved with a restaurant right on the ICW south of Southport and suggested we consider staying there if our timing works out; they have a free dock if you get there late enough in the day.

In the afternoon a 96–foot (Broward) motor yacht (“Crown Jewel”) pulled in behind us and we had a chance to talk to the crew. There were 3 aboard; the captain and his wife (chef and steward) and a first mate.  They were all very nice and we enjoyed talking to them about heading south for the winter. The owners are from New York and will spend the winter in Florida.

Crown Jewel – Broward yacht at Dowry Creek Marina

That evening we used the loaner car to drive into the town of Belhaven; about a 10 minute drive.  The route took us through a very nice neighborhood near the marina, down a two-lane road to the highway, then a turn to the next highway, and finally into town.

houses in neighborhood near marina

Sign on highway on way to town

Marina Courtesy Car

The downtown itself is very small (one third the size of Park Ave. in Winter Park), but they have two great restaurants and we had to choose between the two.  We decided on “The Tavern at Jack’s Neck” and were not disappointed. The food was great, and the entire restaurant decorated in carved wood was beautiful.

Bellhaven hardware store

The Tavern at Jack’s Neck

Inside The Tavern at Jack’s Neck

After dinner we drove around the town, but it was getting dark and we were not able to see too much. On the way back to the marina we noticed how really dark it was, especially on the two-lane road back to the marina.  But in that darkness, we saw the beauty of the area and the millions of stars that were in the sky. No light pollution here at all and it was spectacular.   Add to this the backdrop of the now very calm ICW and Pungo River and it was like paradise. This is why we cruise.

Once back at the marina we returned the loaner car and found the office still open (way past 7 pm).  The owner (Neal) was there with his son and Mack, and we had a chance to talk to them.  Neal is looking to sell the marina as it is his “fun job”, but still takes way too much time away from family. He is a pharmacist by trade and he owns 4 pharmacies (Walgreens-like) in the area called “O’Neil’s”.  Yup, his real name is Neal O’Neil.  If it wasn’t too far from our home, we could have considered this as a project.

A little bit more about the Dowry Creek Marina.  This is a great stopping place for cruisers with a large lounge area and a pool.  The lounge has a kitchenette setup and is great for hosting “docktails” and other gatherings, especially when the weather gets bad.  It is also a great place to kayak or paddle board as there are lots of little canals and tributaries to explore.  If we had more time we would have easily stayed here a second night.

Here are some pictures of the place:

Pool at Dowry Creek Marina

IO at Dowry Creek Marina

Dowry Creek Marina – Street view

 

Dinghy Delays!

Poquoson, VA (Tuesday, 10/17)
It was wonderful to actually see blue skies today, but the wind had picked up through the night and was blowing so much that we had 1’ waves in the marina.  Plus it was cold this morning at 55 degrees, and we had slept with blankets on the bed and the heater on.  Fall has finally arrived, and now it will be ok to move south to warmer weather.

In the morning, Denise worked on cataloging pictures and posting blog update, while Mark did some work for a client and confirmed the dinghy repair would be done tomorrow and ready for pickup in the afternoon.  Not wanting to pay their nearly $160 fee just to deliver the dinghy, Mark then started scheming about how we could get the dinghy picked up and delivered to our boat at Bluewater Marina in Hampton; where we will be moving the boat tomorrow.

After lunch Russell (“Overdraft”) stopped by the boat to offer his hospitality and use of his truck. He is retired and stays on his boat, so he is usually around. We discussed our dinghy situation and he offered to help Mark go get the dinghy and pick it up with his truck. This became our plan and we made arrangements to connect on Wednesday after we had arrived at Bluewater Yachting Center in Hampton – our next destination.

This afternoon we also received a call from the folks at Harbortown Marina, our home port.  They advised a slip had opened up for us and we could come in to E-dock any time after 11/1.  We were delighted that we could now be in this great hurricane hole.

Now that we had a resolution on the dinghy, we took the afternoon to plan the itinerary for the coming days.  We called a few marinas regarding their status post-Matthew and Irma and were happy to hear that Jekyll Island is back in business.  We plan on stopping there again as we had so much fun there on our way north.  We also planned for 2 – 4 days in New Bern, NC – depending on if Mark will go to visit a client there.  With all ports laid out and with few passages having weather issues, we should be home by 11/5.

Because we liked the place so much, we decided to dine at Surf Riders again for dinner.  The food was good and it was not near as crowded as it was on Sunday night.

Capt. Mark at Surf Rider Poquoson

Here are some other pictures of the area near Whitehouse Cove Marina:

Trailer condos at Whitehouse Cove Marina

Pool at Whitehouse Cove

Boat houses at the marina

Hampton, VA (Wednesday, 10/18)
During the night the wind calmed down, but the temperatures were a bit cool.

Morning temperatures

Morning at Whitehouse Cove

Denise managed to get in a run around the homes near the marina once it warmed up a bit. She was back in time for us to untie the dock lines and head out onto our final day on the Chesapeake Bay.  We first had to exit the Poquoson River and round the very shallow area known as the Poquoson Flats, passing by the house owned by Chris’s boss (Christen’s husband).

Chris’s Boss’s House on point

Once past that area we headed almost due south and continued along the coast to a little bumpy, but not untenable waves.

Out on the bay there were lots of boats, most all heading south as it was a beautiful day to be on the water.  We passed along Fort Monroe and saw the lighthouse, as well as the Chamberlain (formerly hotel and now senior residential home) that Jeff (“YOLO”) had told us about on Sunday.  We saw a bit of Navy traffic as well.

Old Port Comfort Light – Ft. Monroe

The Chamberlain at Ft. Monroe

Inbound Navy ship – on our stern

Eventually we came into the channel for Hampton, pulled into a slip at Bluewater Yachting Center, and settled the boat.

Approaching Bluewater Marina – Hampton

Pool at Bluewater Yachting Center

As if we had perfectly planned this, Russell contacted us and said he was nearly there to meet us with his pick-up truck.  He was going to take us to get our dinghy.  He showed up and we treated him to lunch at the restaurant onsite at the marina – a Surf Rider!  Of course the food was very fresh seafood and we enjoyed our time talking to him and getting to know him better. He is a great guy and hopefully this will be the start of a wonderful friendship.

Russell (“Overdraft”)

After lunch we drove to Davis Boat Works and picked up our dinghy. In less than an hour we had retrieved it, drove to their business office up the street to pay the bill, returned to the marina and deployed the now repaired dinghy.

Repair patch on dinghy

Capt. Mark – dinghy redeployed

Along the docks, we encountered Ericha & Curtis (“Mamie Lee Too”) whom we had met at Liberty Landing in Jersey City.  After Russell left, Curtis helped us get the engine on the dinghy and then Mark helped them move their sailboat to the pump-out dock and back. This is the friendships that develop in marinas – boaters helping out other boaters. It is the way it should be!

Later in the day we had a “Happy Hour” onboard “Mamie Lee Too” and got to know these new cruising friends a little bit more. They are with a whole group of other sail boats who are heading to the Bahamas for the winter, and this is their first time this far south. They had to leave for a captains meeting with their flotilla so we headed back to our boat.

Ericha & Curtis Thompson (‘Mamie Lee Too”)

Just as we returned to our boat, our niece Shannon called to say she was 5 minutes away.  She and the girls would be picking us up for one last night together. Her husband (and firefighter) Shawn was working and Christen and her family were unavailable, so it would just be the 5 of us.

We went to a local joint called the “The Barking Dog” that is known for its awesome hotdogs of all types.  But they also serve other very good food as well.  Denise got their special for the night; chili – just what was needed on this cool night.  Mark got an Italian sausage dog and Shannon got the crab cake sandwich; all of which was delicious.

“The Barking Dog”

Shannon and the girls

Afterwards, Shannon graciously took us to a Walmart so we could buy a few things before leaving, and then we said our final goodbyes at the marina.  Tomorrow we will leave the area and head for home.