Cruisin' The Loop Aboard Kibon
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Monday, June 23.  The night was cool, and we were not disturbed by early morning fishermen.  We only met one  bass boat as we motored up Prince Creek.  I guess we startled them because they thought the waterway was theirs alone.  We all waved.  There were some miles along this waterway that are being developed with some rather fantastic houses.  It is interesting, some are up on high stilts and some are only 6 to 8 feet above the water level.  That water level seems to be above the normal.  We couldn't really see that along the swamp lands, but now we can see that the level is encroaching upon the waterfront yards.  We soon entered the long ditch dug behind Myrtle Beach.  It was mostly a No Wake zone.  We have seen some trawlers presume that they have no wake and continue ahead at their full speed.  We do drop down to the no wake speed respected by all of the other cruisers.

The trip along the Waccamaw River continues to be peaceful -- nothing but nature to admire, especially since the weekend is over.  We are amazed at the number of osprey nests.  Back on Long Island we get very excited when we sight one nest.  Here we see them on top of the signposts and on top of the dead trees.  Why do they like to be in such exposed spots?  When we cruise past the markers, the birds are following us very closely and telling us to move on.  We left the quiet river and headed into the "ditch" behind Myrtle Beach.  This is a golfing heaven, and the homes and courses are beginning to pack both sides of the ICW.

We stopped at Barefoot Landing in Myrtle Beach -- after all the dock is free.  Since we arrived just before noon, there was a lot of space.  We wandered up to the "buy me now" stores and had lunch at one of the restaurants where we also got a free appetizer.  Pearce tried to feed the fish in the moss encrusted lagoon, Kay went shopping.  Neither of us had any luck.  We continued up the ICW.  Several years ago we had looked at the properties at Lightkeepers Landing.  We pulled into their marina because the diesel fuel price looked great -- $1.01 (including tax) with no discount -- no wounded veteran, no old folks, no nothing else.  As the young man said, "All we have is a good price."  The marinas before and after were quoting 20 cents higher.

We also found a young man that was able to diagnose our outboard's problem.  Aside from the gas sitting for several months (which we had exchanged a while back), the spark plugs needed some coaxing, and there were some rusted spots.  A bit of sandpaper, some rubbing and cleaning, and the engine jumped into life.  Duane took the dinghy out for a spin, and we could hear that it was back to its original life.  It started up just as Greg had said -- one choke, one pull, and it runs.  Loopers -- if you are in the Myrtle Beach area, Duane Cribb can solve your problems -- call 843-385-2216.

We continued up the ICW for only a few miles, turned west into the Calabash River and have anchored here for the night. The sunset tonight was magnificent... not quite up to the Canadian sets of last year, but a close second. Pearce took a picture through our Narrasketuck Yacht Club burgee which continues to proudly to grace our prow.

Tuesday, June 24.  We are traveling with several other boats, none of them Loopers, but we all are headed North.  It doesn't seem to matter how fast or slow you travel, most of  the boats end up in the same area at marinas or at anchor and continue down the same waters.  We crossed into North Carolina this morning -- we almost spent last night swinging from North to South as the tide and winds changed.  We were almost too late for the opening at the Pontoon Bridge at Sunset Beach.  They were waiting for a northbound sailboat when we came around the corner and asked to be included.  Luckily, there were no "No Wake" signs, and Pearce kicked it up to 20 rpms.  There are a few pontoon bridges left in Texas, but this one is the only one on the East Coast and it is lovingly supported by the surrounding towns.  There are regular approaches on both sides, but the bridge itself is a swing bridge floating on pontoons or barges.  It goes up and down with the tides, and so do the cars as they go over it.

We crossed the Cape Fear River Inlet and continued up the Cape Fear River.  It is huge -- almost a mile wide -- and many miles from its mouth up to Wilmington.  The weather is again with us, and the trip across the big river was uneventful.  We watched as a tow with his barge headed toward us, but he made several 360 degree circles.  Pearce asked him if we should pass him on the "one" and he said, "Sure, Captain."  Turns out that it mattered not, we were always on the one, no matter how he maneuvered.

Daughter Cynthia had forwarded our mail to Wrightsville Beach, so we headed that way, trying to get there today before they closed.  Our guidebook talked about all the stores and facilities at the Beach and also mentioned the post office.  So we anchored and dinghied over to the town dock only to discover that the post office is a mile or so to the west in Wrightsville.  Back to the boat, up with the anchor, motor over to a dock, run up to the PO, only to discover that they closed at 4:30.  So much for depending upon a guidebook!  Back to the anchorage, dinner, and watching the Tuesday night sailboat races.  The Wrightsville Beach Yacht Club is right on the channel, and they have a very open area that stretches from the inlet in the south to a mile or more up the harbor.  There were nine (count them Narrasketuck YC) Lightnings -- most of them in the 14000 series--, Lasers, and Sunfish.  They all went around the marks three times.  It was fun to watch them change position as the tide and wind changed.  But isn't that sailboat racing???

Wednesday, June 25.  We're up early so we can get to the post office by 8:30 opening.  Pearce found a boatless bulkhead, Kay jumped off, and headed (much more leisurely) up to retrieve the mail.  There was a bill, which we were not awaiting, but Pearce's pills (which had been ordered from the Veteran's Administration well before we left Florida) had finally arrived.  We ate breakfast and took off again.

Our parakeet Lucky, who has traveled with us this far on the Loop, died last night.  Pearce found her many years ago walking in the middle of one of Amityville's main roads.  She was walking along between the yellow lines.  Pearce stopped his car, opened the door, and Lucky didn't take much coaxing to hop onto his hand.  She has lived in our kitchens and merrily greeted us for many, many mornings.  Lucky didn't like to be out of a cage, perhaps remembering how she came to be hopping along Merrick Road.  She would hop onto Pearce's finger, walk across his hand, and hop back onto her perch in the cage.  During the years when we spent some weeks traveling south, Lucky had a vacation at Amy & Jon's house, enjoying being among their birds.  Amy said she couldn't figure out why Lucky always made a sound like a cat, but we know she was merely testing the other birds!  Lucky was buried at sea, but one of her feathers (left behind in her cage) will finish the Loop.

Today's journey took us past homes that are defying the hurricanes.  We saw docks that have been destroyed by the wind and water, and we watch homes being built high above the flood plains.  The classical structures, beautifully balanced, with curving staircases, are gorgeous.  The waterfront is lined with houses of all description, ranging from those that have survived the hurricanes to those that hope to defy future storms.  The waterfront along this area is unique.  There are channels that lead back behind island so that the boats can be protected from the wakes.  Most of the boats are small to medium skiffs, most with covers and many with cuddy cabins.  But we still see major boats -- forty feet and more -- docked behind the protected areas.  When we have gone to the boat shows, we have looked at boat lifts and have been amazed that they can lift very large boats.  Now we are seeing that.  Lifts for boats up to 30 feet are very common for those docks that at exposed along the ICW.  When you see a 45' sailboat or cruiser in a lift, you look twice.

We have arrived at an anchorage in Swansboro, NC.  The book calls it a quaint village with antique shops.  I've got enough antiques, I don't need someone else's.  Time to enjoy dinner, relax, and go to bed.

Thursday, June 26.  We didn't go very far today, just up Bogue Sound to Beaufort, NC.  We passed a military air field where a pilot was  practicing "touch and go."  We first thought we were being invaded when the low flying plane came from behind, crossed over us at 800 feet, and continued up stream.  When we saw him bank and turn and descend, we realized that we were on the final approach to the airfield.  He soon came back up from behind the line of trees and zoomed us again.  He made 4 or 5 passes before we got beyond his range.  We're sure glad we don't live in this neighborhood!

We decided to treat ourselves to a night in a marina.  The Beaufort Docks are right on the main street lined with many shops.  Skipper Bob lists them at $1.20/foot with no charge for electricity.  Well, they've redone the docks and piers, and the price went up to $1.65/foot plus $6 for 50 amp service.  They have cable hookup, but we couldn't find the cable extension.  The computer jack is free, but you have to use an 800 number, most of which charge by the minute.  Pearce wanted to download some pictures of our Brown Reunion, but our server had been too slow.  He was successful and cleared the photos, only to find that two more sets had been sent, and they are still blocking our successful connection.

We had lunch right on the dock and admired all the beautiful boats.  Kibon is just as beautiful (maybe more so), and we were not intimidated by the fact that we were the smallest boat there.  By the end of the day there were seven yachts over 60 feet tied up to the outer piers.  The smaller boats (50 & 55 feet) were inside at the docks.  The anchorage is very popular here (free mooring and free access to a dinghy dock.)  There were at least 60 sailboats of all sizes and descriptions, and there were a few trawlers, too.  After lunch we borrowed the courtesy car (only had natural air conditioning and the temperature was in the 90s) and went off to shop.  The Marine Store that was one of our reasons for stopping had gone out of business two years ago, and the closest store was the West Marine in Morehead City.  The dockmaster suggested some other places nearby, and we were able to get most of the "fixins" that we needed.  We went on to the grocery store several miles out of town to get our milk, bread, and fresh vegetables.  The grocery/convenience store on the docks only sells beer and soda, but they do have delicious ice cream.

A walk around the town to check out the shops and galleries completed the afternoon.  A vodka and tonic tasted cool while we checked every locker for the cables and connectors that Pearce transferred from the other Kibon, but we were not successful.  TV reception has been hit or miss, so one more night won't make any difference.  We wandered up the street reading the specials on the signboards outside of the restaurants.  The one at the Spouter Inn read "Shrimp Encrusted in Pastry" and "Flounder Baked in a Pesto and Sun-dried Tomato Sauce."  We decided they sounded good, and they were.  We had to ask the waitress for bread, and it was delicious, too.  Back on the boat we were serenaded by the music from the Dockhouse Restaurant as we drifted off to sleep.

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