Thursday, October 30, 2014

October 25-28, 2014 St Augustine, FL road trip

Dave had an appointment with the VA in St Augustine, Fl on Monday, so we decided to take a road trip.  We were hoping to be there by boat by now, but we improvised.
Beautiful morning with a little fog at sunrise. our boat's in the middle

Rather than driving there and back in 2 days, we decided to leave on Saturday.  I went to work researching what else we could do between NC and St Augustine.  We have been told that St Mary’s inlet on the southern border of Georgia is a great place to go by boat.  So I checked into what we could do there.  I found the “Woodbine Opry”.  Woodbine, GA is a little town of about 1400 people about an hour north of Jacksonville, FL.  We decided to spend Saturday night there. 

Saturday morning, we left the boat by 8:00 am and stopped at the first little diner we could find on our way out of town.  We went to Shirley’s Diner in Belville, across the river to the west of Wilmington.  There was a sign outside that said “Fresh Spot”.  So we had to ask.  Spot is a local fish.  It was on the lunch menu, but they offered to make it for Dave for breakfast.  He loved it.  
Dave eating "fresh spot" with his eggs, grits and biscuit

We decided to follow the coast for awhile and go through Myrtle Beach.  We won’t go through there by boat, so we thought this would be our chance to see why it’s so popular.  AND there is a Margaritaville in Myrtle Beach.  I am trying to see as many of them as I can.  Now I am up to 12.  Myrtle Beach is REALLY commercialized.  Not a beach we would visit. 

We arrived in Woodbine about 4:00.  We decided to stay in the only hotel in town, the Stardust motel.  It was really old, probably built in the 50’s.  But it was very clean and cheap, $40.  We walked 4 blocks to Captain Stan’s Smokehouse.  It was an old place with a small indoor seating area.  But the majority of the place was outside with partial roofing around the outside and a  parachute hanging in a tree for another part, and a tarp over the bar.  There was a fire pit in the center with picnic tables around it.  The reviews really bragged up the ribs, so we had to try them.  We ordered a full rack to share with one side of potato salad to share.  They were huge and amazing.  We each had 3 ribs, couldn’t eat them all and took 4 ribs home with us.  While we were eating, a band was setting up and started playing about 6:00.  They were a fantastic bluegrass band.  It was hard to leave, but we came here for the Opry and decided to come back before they finished for the night. 

We walked back to the motel and dropped off our ribs.  Then we walked about 4 blocks in the other direction to go to the Woodbine Opry.  It was held in the community center that was the old high school.  It started as a fundraiser years ago and the musicians decided to continue the fun.  Every Friday night, they have a bluegrass jam session and old time country music on Saturday nights.  There were about 6 musicians on the stage when we arrived a little after 7:00.  There was theater seating and room down front for people to dance.  We just stood in the doorway a few minutes taking it all in and a guy came up to us to show us to an open seat.  He asked if it was our first time and led us to two open seats down front.  We sat next to an elderly couple and found out their son was playing the steel guitar on stage.  He had to be at least 65 or 70 and his parents close to 90.  A guy in front of us introduced himself and told us all about the event.  A friend of his was playing violin and singing.  He used to play with Loretta Lynn.  He said all the musicians come here every week from Jacksonville.  They pass a hat to help cover their travel expenses.  They also sold raffle tickets for baked goods and had a 50/50 drawing.  We weren’t sure how late we’d stay, so we didn’t buy any tickets. 

The music was unbelievably good.  They took turns singing and accompanying each other.  And everyone had so much fun dancing.  You could tell they all new each other and took turns dancing with each other.  We had fun dancing, too.  I had a permanent smile on my face.  We were probably the youngest in the crowd. 

At 9:00, the band took a break.  They turned up the house lights and the leader took the microphone.  We had e-mailed him to ask about reservations and cost.  He returned our e-mail to let us know it was free.  Bob asked if there were any first time visitors.  They went around the place and had everyone say their names and where they were from.  Someone was videotaping the whole thing.  Rapid City, SD really got some reactions from the crowd.  Then they had the drawings for the baked goods.  About half way through, the guy that won told the “couple from South Dakota” to pick out something for themselves.  So Dave picked up a plate of pistachio bread.  Later, while we were getting a cup of decaf coffee at their snack bar, a guy had to tell us he had driven truck to Sioux Falls, SD.  By the water fountain, there was a sign posted “caution, this water can cause romance”.  It was a joke because there were several couples who met there and ended up getting married.  It was just an all around, good clean fun loving bunch of people.  They have a website  And the video of our introduction is supposed to be on there.  Maybe other photos of the evening, too.  I would highly recommend this to anyone that would be in the area.  It is a little piece of America that you don’t usually get to see. 

dark part is Dave singing to me
I thought it was so cute that they were holding hands.  Dave thought he probably had a tendency to wander off, so she was just holding on to him :)

We left the Opry about 9:30 and went back to Captain Stan’s for the last set of the bluegrass band.  It was still a beautiful night to be sitting outside.  Everyone at the bar was very welcoming, too.  Our waitress and the bar maid welcomed us back.  Another guy invited us to sit by the fire pit.  As we were leaving about 10:30, one of the musicians from the Opry stopped us.  He knew this band was good and came to listen after they finished.  He walked out to his car as we were leaving and gave us 2 of his CD’s.  He didn’t want anything for them since we were visitors.  It was his gift.  We just couldn’t get over how so many people went out of their way to welcome us and how 2 people gave us gifts.  We will be back some day.

Sunday, we headed to St Augustine and were able to check into our Holiday Inn early.  Just a lazy day.  I guess we spent our fun tickets yesterday.  I went to church at 5:00 and picked up Thai food on the way back to the room.

Monday, Dave had his “new patient interview” with the VA, since this is a new clinic for him.  Plus he had to do the blood work for his exam later in November.  I read a book.  Then we headed back to Wilmington.  We stopped for dinner about 7:00 and decided to spend the night in Florence, NC.  We’re getting lazy.  Plus we were still waiting for the insurance OK on the last parts we need for he boat.

Tuesday, arrived back at the boat and made a plan for what needed to be done on our part to be able to leave here when the boat is finished with repairs.  Then set to work (at least that what I am saying we did). 

Sunday, October 26, 2014

October 14-24, 2014 Wilmington, NC

Yes, we’re still in Wilmington!!  We can’t get over how long this boat repair is taking.  One problem has been that the boat yard would send in one part of a system, install it when it returned, and then discover another problem with that system.  This happened in more than one situation.  If they had sent in all the components together, it would have saved a lot of time.  In another situation, they sent a part to a repair center on the west coast when there were 2 centers on the east coast.  Plus we feel like we have to stay in their face every day for them to continue to work on our boat.  Dave could have done a lot of this himself and he thinks he would if this happens again. 

So in the meantime, we reorganized what is stored under our v-berth.  We are realizing that there are some things we should keep more handy, others store for longer periods and some things we should get rid of.  We are going to continue that process through out the entire boat, since we have been on board for a year now.

We were able to put most of the items we had stored in our aft berth back into that cabin.  That made our living space more livable again.  We had that cabin pretty much emptied so the electronics were more accessible.  It’s nice to be able to comfortably eat at the table together again, simple pleasures. 

We have 4-5 gallon jerry cans with extra diesel fuel.  Dave discovered algae growing in the cans.  Their “excrement” settles on the bottom.  You don’t want this in your fuel tank because it can clog the fuel filters and shut the engine down.  So he researched what we should do: install a system to clean our fuel, pay to have our fuel cleaned, keep lots of filters on hand to change regularly, or add biocide to our fuel.  After talking to some experienced sailors (20+ years living aboard), he decided to go with the biocide.  But in the meantime, he had ordered 4 new jerry cans.  He’ll filter the existing fuel and get rid of the old cans.  We may, down the road, still install a system to clean the fuel in our tank.  It becomes more of a problem if you are buying fuel outside of the US. 

We decided to change our home port to Rapid City, SD.  Right now it is Daphne, Alabama.  We were told that we had to list our home port where the boat was registered.  Well, like everything, you can’t believe your first answer when it comes to the government.  We called the Coast Guard directly and found out it can be any US city.  Your home port in on the side of your boat with the name of the boat.  So it is a good conversation starter with other sailors.  They especially want to know how we got this boat to the ocean from South Dakota :)  So, to change the home port, we had to file a change with the Coast Guard, since our boat is a “documented vessel” with the Coast Guard.  To do this, we had to pull out our printer.  And as long as it was out, we also got our the scanner, and I spent an afternoon reprinting some of our identification info for our “ditch bag”.  We keep copies of our passports, driver’s licenses (that changed to Florida), contact names and numbers, and the phone numbers of our credit cards, and insurance information.  It seems like I am forever updating emergency information or our boat documents.  I still want to organize the boat manuals.  Now that I’ve put it in writing, I’ll feel more committed to getting that done. 

Besides, the paper work, I talked to a local sign company to have the lettering done for Rapid City SD.  We used a company that was recommended by our marina.  Well that involved 2 trips to their office which was about 30 minutes each way.  Once the official document from the Coast Guard returns, we’ll physically change the home port on the boat. 

We have also been spending time scrubbing the deck and cockpit.  We are always fighting mildew.  And it has a green tinge in this environment. 

We showed another boater how to send e-mails using the single side band radio.  Then the next day , another boater showed us how to receive weather faxes from around the world from our single side band radio and they show up on our laptop computer.  Lots to learn when it comes to weather.  And the better we can predict the weather, the safer we’ll be.  When you are on the move, it sounds like you could easily spend a couple hours a day studying weather.  We really learn a lot talking to other sailors. 

Last week, I went to choir practice on Thursday night and then sang with the choir on Sunday at St Mark’s Catholic church.  They were so welcoming and fun to sing with.  I really miss singing 4 part music with other people.  I am welcome to come back, but not sure if it will work out again. 

We seem to fill our days with projects and learning experiences.  And then there is eating out.  We found an authentic Mexican restaurant.  Dave ordered four tacos, fish, beef lips, beef stomach and beef intestine.  He loved them all and wants to go back to try the cheeks.  I had a fish taco and a pork burrito.  Dave called it a “taco wagon with seating”.  They grilled jalapenos for him and they had a salsa bar.  Loved it.

Taqueria Los Portales                                

Holiday Mood

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

October 8-13, 2014 Blue Ridge Parkway and Atlanta, GA

This morning, we left the boat early enough to have breakfast at Carolina Girls with Nancy and Rick and get them to the Harley dealership by 9:00 am.  Rick rented and drove the Harley Road King by himself to our destination so he could get used to handling the bike again.  Nancy road with us to Blowing Rock, NC.  This was a pretty little resort town.  We almost just stayed here a couple days.
Dave, Mary, Rick, Nancy

behind our lodge

Bald Guy Brew coffee shop, took us back 50 years
On Thursday, we drove along the Blue Ridge Parkway.  The fall colors were appearing and it was a beautiful drive.  Rick and Nancy had a wonderful drive on the motorcycle.  We stopped to hike to a waterfalls along the way.

That evening we had dinner at a local restaurant in Bryson City, NC.  I had an Elk burger, first ever.  It was very good, but not much different than a hamburger.  We chose this destination because Rick wanted to ride the “Tail of the Dragon” the next day.  This is a section of highway that is 11 miles long with 318 turns.  It is on every motor cyclist’s bucket list.  Or least on the risk takers lists.  We watched a you tube video and decided we didn’t even want to drive it in a car.  Too many other crazy people that could ruin your day.

Friday morning, Rick and Nancy left early for their ride.  We drove up to the start of the “tail” and just checked out the bikers.  When anyone on a motorcycle arrived after driving though the Tail of the Dragon, I thought we should all clap for them and congratulate them.  Obviously, the bikers thought this was no big deal. Nancy was going to wait at the restaurant here while Rick took the ride, so we thought we might see her and talk to Rick after his ride (or take Nancy to the hospital if there had been an accident).  We later found out that Rick handled it well and enjoyed the ride with no complications.  Way to go, Rick. 
miscellaneous bike parts

Here come a couple crazy ones now
We decided to spend the weekend in Atlanta, GA with SD friends that have been inviting us to visit them for years, Randy and Debbie Louchart.  We had a relaxing weekend in their beautiful, huge home.  We went to a Greek festival on Sunday and drove home on Monday.  
friend Drew, Nicole, Deb and Randy Louchart

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Sept 30- Oct 7, 2014 Back in North Carolina

My flight out of Aberdeen was delayed on Monday because of mechanical problems.  I had really short connections in Minneapolis and Atlanta.  So rather than get stuck in one of those airports, I stayed another night in Aberdeen.  Jim’s aunt Mary and uncle Henry were also spending the night on their way home to St Cloud, MN.  I was able to enjoy a nice dinner and visit with them. 

My flight was at 5:10 am on Tuesday, so my loving sister took me to the airport bright and early.  We discovered at the airport that Jeff Sveen (Sven) of Aberdeen was on my flight.  I met Jeff at Ski for Light in the Black Hills.  We both were guides for visually impaired cross country skiers for many years.  But it has been over 5 years since he last guided.  He was going to Raleigh, NC, but would be in Wilmington on Wednesday.  It worked out on Wed to pick him up at his hotel and bring him to the marina for a tour of our boat.  Jeff is a lawyer, but also has a turkey farm near Huron, SD.  So he was here on turkey business.  They supply the turkey for Disney World, Firehouse Subs, Denny’s and other chains I can’t remember.   Pretty cool. 

The boat is still being worked on.  Most of the parts that were sent in for repair have returned.  So this week they have been testing systems after the installations and still running into problems.  So more parts are being ordered, which will take a couple weeks to receive and install.  Since the repairmen aren’t working on the boat, Dave was able to do his own projects.  He has been working on electrically bonding the metal that is exposed to salt water.  This will help protect any metals from corrosion. 

Since a lot of the electrical parts are accessed through our aft cabin (the garage), we still have the things normally stored in our garage out in our salon area.  We can’t even sit down at the table together for meals.  So it’s a good time for another road trip.  We are going to do some major reorganizing once this is all done. 

While I was still in SD, Dave met another sailing couple from Canada, Rick and Nancy.  They spent 11 years building their own boat and have been living aboard for 15 months now.  We are enjoying their company.  We have gone out to dinner together, spent an afternoon shopping (since we still have the rental car), Nancy and I went to Riverfest in downtown Wilmington on Sunday.  Now we are planning a road trip “together”.  Rick and Nancy are renting a motorcycle and we will take our rental car.  We are heading to the Blue Ridge Parkway through the northern part of NC.  So stay tuned. 

Wednesday, October 1 was one year since we moved out of our condo and onto our boat!!  "They" say that you should reassess your situation every year to be sure you want to continue living aboard.  We decided to give it another year :)
On Carolina Beach