Cruisin' The Loop Aboard Kibon
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Tuesday, November 18, 2003
We enjoyed a leisurely breakfast that included some muffins Eulene had made.  They were a treat because even though we have an oven, when Kay makes a batch of muffins, there are too many to eat fresh.  We borrowed their truck (Bob said that even though this is North Carolina, there was definitely NOT a shotgun under the tarp) and drove into Oriental.  There is a great boat provisioning store, (the Inland Waterway Provision Company) and we thought we might find some needed parts.  They were very helpful and gave us some leads on who to contact, but they had nothing in stock.  We stopped at the grocery store and then returned to Kibon.  Pearce had bought some bait, and he put the dinghy in the water to go fishing.  He disappeared around the bend in the river for a while, but he came back empty handed.  Then Bob and Pearce went out to look at the sights along the river.  They ended up back in town where the owner of the Provision Company convinced Pearce that he didn't need new oarlocks and oars.  He sold him a single paddle instead that would be enough to get to shore if the dinghy motor stopped.  They also looked for shrimp for dinner, but the boats don't come in until Friday, so we were out of luck.  It had started to rain before they got back, so they were soaked.  Time for a cup of hot tea and a good book for a rainy afternoon.

Wednesday, November 19, 2003
The big storm is predicted for today, but the morning was calm.  Kay used the Smith's laundry facilities to wash Pearce's sweaters and was just about to return to the boat when the heavens opened up.  Rain in a forest is not only pretty, it is also melodious as it hits the leaves and branches.  Kay ran out between showers and was safe aboard Kibon when the storm blew in.  Our position on the dock is sideways to the wind, but since Bob has a boat lift on the outside of the dock, we had no choice.  We also were so secure in the mud that the gusts only rocked us a little bit.  Winds of 25 mph and gusts over 40 were predicted.  We were also under a tornado watch.  We didn't have to worry about high water because the storm is blowing the water out of the creek, but we are looking at the trees around us.  Hopefully, Isabel blew down all the loose trees and branches.  At one point the rain was so heavy that it was sheeting down the windshield and pouring off the sides.  The scuppers couldn't empty the rainwater fast enough, so we had little rivers running down the walkways.

The tornado watch was lifted at 5 pm, and the rain became light but steady.  We ventured up to the Smith's house for cocktails before heading out to dinner at M & M's where Pearce could admire the needlework.  The rain had let up by the time we returned, and we snuggled down because the cold front has come through.  Yesterday we had on shorts, and tomorrow we'll return to long pants.

Thursday, November 20, 2003
We said good-bye to Bob and Eulene.  We'd had a wonderful visit with friends that we had not seen in several years.  We met them when they lived in Amityville, and we came down to Oriental when we were looking for a retirement place.  The town has grown, but it is still friendly and full of sailors (or retired sailors), including a lot of people from Long Island.  We had decided that since it was a long drive back to New York and family, that we would prefer the warm winters of South Florida and the good boating on Great South Bay in the summer.  We hope to make Oriental a regular stop on our trips north and south.

We were heading out of Adams Creek Canal when we saw our first Pelican, and then just a short time later we were joined by seven dolphins.  Even though the temperature is still going down to the 40s at night, we must be getting to warmer waters.  The sun during the day is very warm.  We originally planned to stop in Morehead City because we had stopped in Beaufort on the way north last June, but it was still early in the day. 

As we were heading down the very narrow channel of Bogue Sound we encountered two tows heading north.  Pearce pulled over toward the side of the channel to give them a wide berth, but some idiot in a go-fast express cruiser decided that he would zoom between us.  His wake bounced us on the bottom several times, but thankfully we did not go aground.  He had already put a boat behind us hard aground.  Pearce could hear the conversation between that boat and another that had got the cruiser's name and number and was willing to be a witness to a law suit.  Soon thereafter the Coast Guard passed by headed north.  We don't know if they were going to the aid of the grounded boat or were following the tows because one of them had bumped into a mark and removed it -- not a safe thing along this narrow waterway.  Sure enough, we watched a sailboat bounce right up onto the shallow and windward side of the channel, probably close to where the mark no longer was.  Pearce got close enough to them for Kay to catch a line and secure it to the windlass.  They slid right off, and we were all underway again.

We decided to anchor in Swansboro where we had stopped on the way up.  We debated about tying up to a dock, but we didn't need anything.  The town was already decorated for Christmas, and Pearce decided not to let Kay loose in the shops.  We thought the excitement for the day was over until a Canadian sailboat came in to anchor near us.  First he tried to drop the anchor down wind, and then when the boat turned into the current he backed down on the anchor at a ridiculous rate of speed.  He must have read the guidebook that suggests "to back down on your plow anchor" because he tried that 6 or 7 times before he got smart and reduced speed.  You would think that a boat that has come all the way from Canada would know how to anchor by now!  Two more sailboats came in for the night, the sun set, and we enjoyed the holiday lights of Swansboro.

Friday, November 21, 2003
By the time we woke up and got some heat in the boat, the sailboats were long gone.  We finally passed them 15 miles down the ICW.  When we went through this stretch last June there we lots of small boats and people enjoying the water.  Now all we see are fishermen and snowbirds.  Camp Le Jeune was active with patrol boats and helicopters.  There is an anchorage basin right next to the Marine Corps property.  Does that mean that you are safe and protected there?  You have to be alert to the "we will begin firing exercises in an hour" announcements.

We missed the bridge opening at Surf City by 10 minutes.  The sailboat in front of us was less than 5 minutes away  when the bridge closed.  The waterway guide warns that if there are boats waiting to go through the bridge tender will open on time.  That's fine because they've been waiting awhile, but we were amazed that the bridge closed before the sailboat got through.  We dropped the anchor and had lunch.  We could hear the cars going over the bridge.  There was usually several minutes between them.  When we did go through on the hour (this bridge only opens on the hour between 7 am and 7 pm) there were 15 cars waiting on one side and 20 on the other.  We sure are glad we didn't hold too many people up.  The next two bridges south have similar schedules -- the Figure Eight Bridge does open every half hour, but the Wrightsville Beach Bridge only opens on the hour. Lucky for us both bridges are listed in  the charts at 20 feet above mean high water and we're only 17 feet high. When we got around the corner into Wrightsville Beach and the anchorage area with a dinghy dock near-by we found out that boaters are low men on the totem pole around here.  Small -- and large -- boats speed through the area because there is no designated anchorage.  Only boats that want to pay big bucks are welcome, and they have to adhere to the stupid schedules.  We think these schedules are even more dumb during the off season.  Boats are more welcome down in the fancy places in Florida.  So, we will be sure to not go ashore or dock in the overpriced marinas here.  We'll spend our money where we like the people.
We contacted Pearce's sister's sister-in-law.  If we had thought about getting in touch earlier, we might have been able to honk as we passed by.  By the time Kay contacted Bill Crawford, we were several miles south.  (Picture of their house will have to wait until next year.)  They already had plans for the weekend, so we will contact them on the way north next spring.  They have friends in Boynton Beach, so we may see them sooner.  We were low enough to go under the Figure Eight Island and Wrightsville Beach Bridges.  Otherwise, we would have been held up for two more hours because of their schedules.  We stopped at the Motts Channel Seafood Store to buy some tuna for tonight and oysters for tomorrow.  Then we headed over to the Wrightsville Beach area where we anchored among 20 other boats. If the local speedsters find their way home, or wherever, for the night, this should turn out to be a rather calm anchorage. So, goodnight from Wrightsville Beach, NC.

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