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

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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