We fly into Norfolk International and Saturday morning we’re loading the boat with the help of our good friend, Thomas. Meanwhile, Richard has sent the word to all our diving buddies and the boat got a great send-off from Richard, Al and Linda, Becky, Monroe, Kenny, Scott, Thomas and Hambone's Dad. So starts the journal.
Off at 10:05 and a great day. Had trouble with the depth finder but got it working after we docked for the night. 6 hours of running, pulled into Great Bridge about 4:00 p.m. Fueled up, got showers and moved the boat across the water to another dock. Thanks for the tip, Thomas. Munk, Richard, Al & Linda, Jonathan, and Frank & Paula showed up and we had dinner at Hodaddy’s. What a great group of friends we have. First night sleeping on the boat. It was wonderful.
1/27/02 Sunday 0600
The sun was rising and the morning was chilly, hell it was down right cold. We cranked up the heater and wondered whether to make breakfast or just shove off. The decision was made when we saw headlights coming down the road. Jonathon and Debbie brought sausage biscuits, coffee and newspapers to start our first day off right. At 0645, we pulled away from the dock, bound for Florida. GPS won't lock in, which we found to be normal for the entire trip. And the depth finder was out again. We kept motoring, making sure to stay in the channel. Tried out the steering from the wheelhouse for the first time. Worked great and knew it would come in handy during the next 2 weeks. Suddenly, we feel a bump. As we looked at one another, we realized that we had hit bottom. What a sinking feeling. Lesson one, don't trust the charts. They said we were in the middle of the channel but the channel had shoaled up. Anyway, Hambone did his best to try and motor out but we kept hitting mud. Finally, he decided to crank up the dingy and take the plow anchor out to deep water. Then we pulled the bow so we were facing the right direction. During one of the tries, we heard a metal snap. When we looked, we saw that we had bent the steering arm up. The only thing Hambone could think to do was bend it back and, oh my gosh, it didn't break. He reclamped it and we crossed our fingers. Lesson two, don't try to steer in reverse. Finally, after numerous tries, we see two fishermen in a bass boat coming towards us. They offer to help and with their pulling and Lorrie motoring, we were able to pull out. We pulled into the Coinjock Marina, hoping to buy a new depth finder. They had nothing and knowing the Albemarle Sound was coming up, we decided to stay put for the night. We needed a little relax time anyway. Lord, this trip was starting out wrong.
1/28/02 Monday 0600
We had a good nights sleep. Ate a good breakfast. I like cooking on the boat. We pulled out about 0700. The weather was a little warmer, GPS was working, bottom machine was working. We were headed towards the Albemarle Sound. We hit the Sound about 0900. Let me tell you about the Sound. The whole time we were planning the trip, we were talking to people who had come down the Intercoastal Waterway. The one thing everyone agreed on was to watch out for the Albemarle Sound. You see, it's pretty shallow, only about 15 feet deep, and it comes real close to the Atlantic Ocean so the winds can get up a bit. We were told we have to be very careful when we cross because it can get real nasty. So, as we approach the Sound, all these warnings were running through our heads. But someone was smiling down on us because the Sound was smooth as glass. We couldn't believe it. We got about halfway across and Hambone decides to take the dingy, row out and get a picture of the Lorrie. There are no words that can describe the feelings of that morning, mostly relief. The thought of having to cross that body of water without a depth finder, with a new boat, had my stomach in knots. But things were looking up. We had no wind, no current and we were moving about 7 knots. The hope was we could make our anchor spot, mile marker 127.
We hit the Alligator River/Pungo River Canal at 3:30 in the afternoon. It was getting late but we decided to push it to get to our mark. Hambone pushed her up a bit and at about mile 112, he decided to stop and check the oil and transmission fluid. We added a little of both, went to start the engine and nothing. Engine would not start. Now, let me say a few words about the canal. It was a main cut-through for barges, very narrow and stumps on both sides. Not the best of places to be stuck. We pulled as far out of the channel as we could, anchored up and hooked up the battery charger. Meanwhile, I'm trying to reach someone on the radio. Tried to call SeaTow but the cell phone had no signal. Finally, I reached the Dowry Creek Marina. They relayed our call to BoatUS (SeaTow doesn't service up north) BoatUS was sending a boat out to jump us. So we wait. And wait. We reposition the boat a little closer to the stumps but we have to be careful. If a barge comes by and causes a big wake, we could end up hitting one of those stumps, putting a hole in the bottom of the boat and we sink.
As we're waiting, we look up ahead and see the fog rolling down the canal. We get a call from the marina. The tow boat had to turn back. The fog was so bad they couldn't get to us. Looks like we were here for the night. Hambone puts out a stern anchor and pulls us a little bit closer to the shore and out of the channel. We didn't sleep much but thank heaven, the fog that kept us there also kept the barges home because we had no traffic.
1/29/02 Tuesday 0615
Up early and still fogged in. Checked the charger and it was still reading low. I asked Hambone to hit the button, just for the hell of it. Motor started right up. Didn't know what was up but didn't care. We pulled anchor and headed up the canal. We called Dowry Creek Marina to let them know we were under way and headed there. We pulled in about 10:00 and Ted was waiting on the dock to meet us. He was my voice at the other end of the radio last night. We fueled up, gassed up and went to town in the Marina car, looking for a bottom machine and lunch. Found lunch but no luck on the depth finder. We left there at 12:30 and headed for our anchor point @ Bonner Bay. We had a great day and got there about 6:15. The sun was setting and Bonner Bay was a cove off the ICW. The charts said we had about 10 feet of water but without a machine, we were a little leery. After all, we ran aground the first day out, despite what the charts said. So Hambone took his trusty "manual" depth finder (boat hook) and started poking. Depth was good. We dropped anchor and I started supper. Spaghetti tonight. Hambone check the engine. Everything looked fine. The moon started coming up about 6:40. What a great day. The best so far. We plan to sleep in and tomorrow, we shoot for Morehead City. We should be able to get a new bottom machine plus a backup.
1/30/02 Wednesday 0600
So we didn't sleep in but we had a great night's sleep. We had a leisurely breakfast and headed to Morehead City to get a bottom machine. Crossed the Nuese River. Not too rough. Went though the Adam Creek Canal. Ended up following a barge out. We were making 8.2 mph, with the current and wind on our stern.
Pulled into Morehead City Yacht Basin, just ahead of the fog. We decided to walk across the street and look at the Portside Marina. We liked it better so we decided to go around to that one and dock. What a great marina. Nice folks and someone waiting at the dock as we came up. The current was ripping and we had a heck of a time docking but we managed. We heard what was to become our favorite phrase, "You can leave her tied up where she is". We took a cab to West Marine to exchange the bad bottom machine. I talked Hambone into buying a cheap backup, just in case. Went back to the boat and mounted everything. Finally, all our instruments worked. Called our friends, Pete and Cindy. They didn't want to come out, kids and all, but offered us a bed for the night. We declined, we're getting real comfortable on the Lorrie. Had a great dinner at a place called the Ice House. Highly recommend it to anyone going to Morehead. Fantastic scallops and cornbread. Did some chores, laundry and shopping before turning in. Hoping the fog lifts so we can head out in the morning.
Well, as you can see, we were fogged in. This picture was taken in the middle of the morning. We decided to finish our laundry, hoping that the fog would burn off by 10:00. That was kind of our deadline to get moving to make our next anchorage. We got talking to some Coast Guard guys. They weren't going out either and they thought the fog might last all day. You know what happens when you have time on your hands? You start thinking of things to make the time pass. One of my ideas was taking apart the transmission. First maybe I ought to explain how the clamming rig was set up so you don't think I wanted to disable the boat.
Like I said, the Lorrie Lynn was a clammer. She had a mast that held a boom. The boom was operated by a transmission that came off the front of the motor. The transmission turned the spool of rope, which raised and lowered the boom, thereby, raising and lowering the tongs. In addition, there was a brake assembly (from a car) that was worked with a foot pedal, that controlled the speed of the tongs. Sounds complicated but it was surprisingly simple. Anyway, the spinning transmission had me worried because if you bumped into it and put it into gear, lord knows what would happen. And anyone knowing me knows that I'm not the most graceful person around. Remember the incident, docking at Cobb's? So, I had been wanting to take that thing apart and since we had time on our hands and tools in the cabin, that's what we did.
We gave Larry and Anita a call and arranged to see them later. Meanwhile, we explored the marinas. Ended up at a place called Gilhooley's. It looked closed but the door was open so in we went. We found out it was a private bar and not open for business but we met the owner and got the full story of the bar over a couple of beers. We ended up joining the club, $10.00 a year, and spending a pleasant couple of hours. Later, Larry and Anita came by the boat and we gave them the grand tour. Then we went to supper at Rap's. It was good to see them. It's been too long. We had a great time but made it a early night. Hoping the fog lifts, we hit the sack at 9:30.
Up at 6:00 and no fog. We left the dock at 7:00 and made great time with the tide running, averaging 8.5 mph, but we lost our advantage at Bogue Inlet. We still averaged 6 but we hit high winds and strong currents. But we did get lucky. We were approaching the Surf City Highway Bridge and the book said that it opens on the hour. We figured we'd get there about 4:15 but those strong winds worked in our favor. The bridge didn't open at 4:00 and they had a couple of boats waiting. They opened at 4:30 so we actually gained 30 minutes. This let us make our anchorage before the sunset. We pulled into a pretty nice marina and found out that the staff goes home at 1:00 so we couldn't get fuel. But then again, there wasn't anyone around to pay either. We ended up leaving them money in a envelope because they had great facilities, hot showers, etc.
We docked next to a nice gentleman by the name of Richard. He and his dog Oxy, were heading south to Florida from Mass. We asked him to join us for supper but he had eaten. He took us up on the offer of a drink after dinner and we enjoyed his stories. He had quite a dog, understood commands in German and was a perfect boat dog. Calm and just laid at his feet the whole time he was on our boat. We had a nice evening and made plans to head out early in the morning. We had the Cape Fear River to cross.