First Flight, Great Light

As Joy Girl, her feline officers, and human crew continue to make their way northward, it would only be appropriate for a man with 35 years of flying to visit Kitty Hawk, NC.  As you may well know, this is the site of the first powered, manned flight in history.  On that glorious December 17 way back in 1903, Orville and Wilbur Wright’s years of research, dreams, and efforts finally came to fruition in a short 12 second, 120 foot long flight along the windswept sands.DSC04861 crif

In addition to the life size recreation of the famous (and I believe only) photo of the historic event, the National Park Service Wright Memorial includes a placard at the very spot from which their aircraft first became airborne, reconstruction of their 1903 workshop, living quarters, and hangar, as well as a full scale model of the rail from which they launched their flyer.20180511_135341

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Out in the distance, 4 stones mark the landing points of each of their successively longer four flights that day.  This is picture shows Craig at the touch down spot of the famous first flight, with the landings of flights 2, 3, and 4 behind me:DSC04847 crif.jpg

Several years ago while touring the Boeing factory in Everett, WA, I recall them saying that the fuselage of a 747 is so large in both length and breadth that the Wrights could have completed their entire flight inside of the jumbo jet!  A lesser known fact is that enhanced images of that flight suggest that pilot Orville may well have been wearing a hat from the vessel Joy Girl:20180511_144256 crif.jpg

While we were out and about, we took our rental car down to Cape Hatteras to visit the iconic lighthouse.20180511_160517_001 crif.jpg  Built in 1870, 20 years ago the famous brick tower was in danger of being reclaimed by the sea.  The shore, once 1500 feet way, had eroded to within 150 feet of the lighthouse, so they moved it!  After digging down around the foundation, they actually jacked the entire structure up a bit at a time, got it onto a rail system, and moved the nearly 200 foot high lighthouse 2900 feet inland.

Climbing the light involves 258 steps, roughly the equivalent of going up a twelve story building, in a dizzying spiral around the perfectly cylindrical interior of the tower (the cylinder, inside the conical exterior, is some of what gives the lighthouse its strength).  It took some breathing to get our aging bodies up there, but the view from the top, well, it took our breath away and was definitely worth the effort.  No picture can do it justice, of course, but we’ll leave you with this shot looking out over the tip of Cape Hatteras and hope that someday you will be able to take in this view in person:DSC04884 crif.jpg

The Cure for Dock Itch

We’ve now been docked here at Shelter Cove Marina on Hilton Head for three full months, and it’s about time for a change of scenery.  Don’t get me wrong. We love it here.  The marina, the people of Hilton Head, the fellow boaters, are all admirable.  And there’s nothing quite like the sight of a trio of dolphins playing joyfully in your bow wave:Dolphin trio crif.jpg

But it’s definitely time to get underway on our big adventure, the primary reason for which we purchased this boat.

To be sure, we’ve had our share of events and circumstances that have slowed us down.  But at long last, we now have a tender and outboard engine that are fully functional:Tender ready to go

We have some very groovy new hats with the boat’s name and hailing port embroidered on them:Joy Girl hats red stone

Everything that we can think of to work on (for now…) has been done.  We’re presently the proud owners of six brand new house batteries (to run most all things electrical on the boat when we’re not in a marina), a functional and legal anchor light for peaceful nights on the hook, and a growing and eclectic collection of spare parts and supplies, none of which will I waste your time with pictures of.

Yes, the itch to get going is getting stronger by the day.  Last night, just for the halibut, we slipped our dock lines and headed out for an impromptu sunset cruise.  It was mostly just an excuse to get out of the marina, but I guess God approved of our decision, as our efforts were rewarded with this glorious view which Niki captured from the pilothouse of Joy Girl:Sunset flare 04-24-2018.jpg

Ashore, the urge to get out and go somewhere or do something is often referred to as “cabin fever”.   But on a boat, many terms are a bit different, and I felt this one needed a nautical translation as well.  Like this Anhinga sitting on our dock, spreading his wings and running his final preflight checklist before takeoff, I believe we are finally ready to go!Diving bird ready to fly off pier after drying wings

So I came up with a new term to describe the irresistible urge to leave the docks and friends of Shelter Cove Marina and be on our way.  I call it…Dock Itch!

And now, it’s about time to go scratch that itch!

 

 

 

You do WHAT? HOW?

Living life on a boat can be, in many ways, similar to life on land.  But if you are actively cruising (or planning to be, as we are) and have no car, certain otherwise simple activities can get a bit more, well, interesting.20180305_083538 crif Lying in the sun here is as good as it gets, according to Scully, but simple chores like doing the laundry or going shopping take on a whole new dimension of difficulty and thought from what we were used to back in Colorado.

Take, for example, a simple food run to the grocery store. We’re blessed to have a large Kroger (South Carolina’s version of what we call King Soopers back home) located just down the way from our marina.  But without a car, we have to open the lazarette (a large hatch for storage under the aft deck), pull out a bike or two (our folding Dahon “Mariners”, made for just such a time as this), and assemble and adjust them.  In earlier posts to this blog you’ve seen the ramps up and over to the land; riding along a dock and up a steep ramp on a 20 inch wheeled bike is entertaining.  Then down the paths, through the parking lots, and over to the store, where we limit our acquisitions to those that can be placed in the store’s smallest carts.  “Why?”, you ask.  Because whatever we purchase must go into a backpack or be hung on our bikes for the ride home.MVIMG_20180222_111124 crif.jpg  The result can take on quite a Beverly Hillbillies appearance, often leaving us singing “So they loaded up the bikes, And they moved to Hilton Head. Tug boats, Dolphins…

Going shopping for other essentials (as Captain Jack Sparrow despairs, “Why is the rum always gone?”) or larger items can involve longer rides or, with a bit of good luck and a lot of gratitude, we borrow a friend’s car. We are very blessed to have two of Niki’s cousins living here on the island, and Nancy and Shari have been more than gracious in helping us out when we needed to transport larger things from farther away.

Another adjustment we’ve made is not having laundry equipment on board.  Joy Girl used to have a washer/dryer, but it was removed and never replaced.  The overwhelming majority of boaters we’ve queried have opined that most all-in-one, non-vented laundry units end up being used for storing extra bedding or keeping pet food away from hungry mouths and radar-like noses, at best, or for getting clothes more wet than clean and almost never drying them, at worst. So, we gain a cabinet and dodge a potential headache.

Our marina, Shelter Cove, has wonderful laundry facilities, which are free to use by boaters in the harbor.  And, they’re only about 250 feet from our boat.  That’s a short walk if you’re Jesus, but since I’m not able to walk on water (my wife will gladly confirm this), it’s right at a two mile footslog out and back as we circumnavigate essentially the entire 175 boat harbor.  So, rather than schlep our well loaded laundry sack that distance or attempt to balance it on a bike, we take the nautical route: a kayak!MVIMG_20180308_133915.jpgLaunch the little orange baby bateau, toss in the laundry tote, and a few quick paddle strokes later we’re at the marina and ready to get to work! It looks a bit bizarre, but it beats going treking without a sherpa.

The other big adjustment to which we’re still attempting to acclimate is the rapidity with which the owner of a boat can go through “boat units”.  Several things on Joy Girl were not quite as they should have been (in my opinion) and some maintenance had been a bit deferred.  And things on a boat seem to have a way of going awry at the darnedest of times, much more than I had ever realized.  There’s probably not much another “boat unit” or two, or some time contorting an old body into a small space or spending some time in the engine room won’t correct. MVIMG_20180320_170828 crif.jpg Still, keeping the boat even close to shipshape and Bristol condition is certainly an ongoing process at best and a sleep stealing headache at worst.

What’s a “boat unit”?  You can find that on Google… 😉

How Lowwwww Can You Go?

As an inland lake sailor who grew up sailing the waters of Wisconsin and then those in and around Colorado and the Caribbean, the word “tide” to me mostly referred to the laundry detergent my mom preferred (and that kids now allegedly eat).  The idea of water getting noticeably deeper and shallower twice every day simply was not part of my boating background.

Now we’re living on a boat less than a mile from the Atlantic Ocean as the seagull flies and about 5 miles by water, so tides are very much a part of our lives.  Our tides here at Shelter Cove Marina average about 7 feet, twice each day.  That means the view from our boat of the ramp to the wharf on land typically varies from something like this:20180201_090645

to something about like this about every 6 hours and 15 minutes:20180201_152725

Occasionally the full moon teams up with Mr. Sun to exaggerate the high and low tides, and yesterday we had a pair of exceptionally low tides.  One took place in the middle of the night as we lay sleeping, the second occurred mid afternoon to share with us all its (in this case, rather ugly) glory.  Here was the view we suffered off our stern at low tide:20180302_145551.jpg

The surface you see exposed is a nasty, gooey muck called “pluff (or plough) mud”, accurately described on one website as “a Carolina Lowcountry entity — the slippery, shiny brown-gray, sucky mud, with a distinctive smell like none other”.  I couldn’t begin to better describe this disgusting stuff myself!

Things tend to sink into this slop as if it were quicksand, but if enough of it is present and the water recedes far enough, even a 35,000 pound boat can be pushed up out of the goo.

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This is the stern (back) of Joy Girl, sitting nearly a foot higher than she normally would (the normal waterline is just below the red “boot stripe”).  She is so stranded that the stern thruster (the tube under the swim platform) which is normally totally under water is now almost fully exposed.  The water intake for our heating and cooling units is just forward of that on the other side of the boat, so they were totally unusable for about 3 hours.  Providentially, we were blessed by glorious weather that required neither heat nor AC that day.

Fortunately, dredging operations to deepen the entire harbor are proceeding 7 days a week, and last night the boats on the other side of our dock were moved to make way for the dredging crew.  Our side of “K Dock” is on deck after that, so with any luck we should be in deep water (the best kind!) in about a week!

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Georgia On My Mind

This past Saturday we took our first real trip aboard Joy Girl, heading south to Savannah, GA.  By car the drive would be less than an hour, but in our trawler it was over three hours.  Yes, that’s slow, but the comparative level of relaxation more than makes up for the speed differential.  Adding to the lesson of not being too committed to a schedule, dredging operations in our home marina (to make it deeper) delayed our planned early morning departure by well over an hour.  Still, the tides and weather were more than cooperative for a smooth journey to the south. Niki’s cousin Shari joined us for the trip and served as our tour guide and concierge ashore, having been there many times before.20180217_110949 crif.jpgUpon arriving at our destination, we docked at the Westin Savannah Harbor.  Joy Girl looked so proper, sitting right there in front of the grand hotel.  Directly across the Savannah River from the heart of the old city, the Westin is a more secure place to leave one’s boat than the city docks on the other side, and a short and free ferry soon took us right to where we wanted to be.

As we crossed the river, we were greeted to the sight of the Georgia Queen, an immense, four story tall paddle wheel boat, docked near the golden dome of Savannah’s City Hall. Maker:S,Date:2017-9-17,Ver:6,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar02,E-YThis grand lady made Joy Girl look pretty tiny by comparison.  But considering that Savannah is a busy port (the fourth busiest in the county!) and a city proud of its long history and heritage, the Georgia Queen seemed to fit right in with her surroundings.

A bit later the three travelers were savoring lunch at Tubby’s (which is what I would quickly become if I ate food of that quality and quantity often).  Suddenly we heard the booming blast of a horn.  The waitress announced “ship shots, everyone!”, and an enormous container ship came into view, making her way down the river toward the ocean.  20180217_122347 crifLook just in front of the big ship’s bow and you’ll see Joy Girl, looking way too much like a tiny minnow about to be swallowed up.  As she sailed majestically by, I was reminded of that old drawing of a little fish about to be eaten by a bigger fish, who in turn was about to be ingested by an even larger fish.  I have no idea how many containers these monsters can carry, but the larger containers (such as the red “K-Line” at the top of the sixth or seventh row) could each probably contain nearly our entire vessel and are stacked in rows 15 or more across and 6 layers high. Yikes!

Due to low tides, we took a slightly different route home, including a brief foray into the Atlantic.  Then as we headed back toward Calibogue Sound (at the south end of Hilton Head Island) we were met by a small bank of fog. MVIMG_20180217_164408 crif.jpgOur radar is somewhat antiquated and your author is thoroughly untrained in its use, but using the screen for guidance, combined with the hawk like vision of Niki and Shari, we successfully piloted our way back to clearer skies and safe arrival back home just before sunset.

Shelter Cove Sunrise

After a enjoyable meal and convivial time with local friends and relatives aboard Joy Girl, it might have been easy to think things couldn’t get a whole lot more idyllic.  Ah, but then we woke this morning, peered out the window, and saw what looked like an amazing sunrise in the making.  Tossing on a Fort Collins Cat Rescue hoodie but skipping my Tevas, I strode up the ramp to the wharf and was rewarded with this magnificent view:

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It was so glorious I almost forgot how frigid my bare feet were becoming on the 35 degree cement.  Well, almost….

The Officers Move Aboard

After several trips for preparation and on board training by their human crew, the feline officers of Nordic Tug 42 “Joy Girl” have made the long journey from Colorado and moved aboard and assumed command of their new boat.

Here we see Roswell, sitting and looking stately as he prepares to take command from the pilothouse.Maker:S,Date:2017-9-17,Ver:6,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar02,E-ve

Meanwhile, Scully was spending some time checking out the view to starboard from the pilothouse screen door.  She was fascinated (and, seeing that she’s a cat, perhaps a bit concerned) to look out and see all that water,Maker:S,Date:2017-9-17,Ver:6,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar02,E-ve and was quite intrigued when the boat in the next slip started shooting out water (perhaps from their gray water tank).

Happily and much to the relief of their human crew, Scully and Roswell are adapting to their new home quite well.  With their “Cats On Board” flag proudly  hoisted to the masthead, these two officers of the ship are enjoying exploring their vessel and meeting new friends here at Shelter Cove Marina on Hilton Head Island.