Monday, November 28, 2011

Cumberland Island

One of my favorite places we have visited is Cumberland IMG_4815Island, GA.  You can see Florida from  little tip of South Georgia. The island is now a National Park and Seashore, and has a great history. In recent years large portions of the island were owned by the Carnegie family of New York as their private winter getaway.  In the late 1800’s and early 1900’s They built 3 mansions on the island, one of which has been restored by the National Park Service and is available for tours.  As part of their donation of the island to the Park Service, The Carnegie family asked that their horses be allowed to roam wild on the Island.  So as IMG_4800you hike or ride bikes around the Island you see the horses often.  It is a very pretty Island.  It has beautiful canopy of gnarled live oak trees with spanish moss hanging from the branches.  It has a huge shoreline of sandy beach on the ocean, and a wooded shoreline along the river.  We were able to anchor in the river just off the island and enjoy the area for a few days. 

Matthew came down with the croup while we were here, soIMG_4807 Sunday morning, not wanting to repeat a long night of listening to Matthews shallow breathing and coughing, David and I found ourselves in the dinghy crossing the inlet between Georgia and Florida headed to the nearest urgent care that we could find open on a Sunday.  We paid to dock our little dinghy at a Marina in Ferdinand, FL, less than 5 miles where we were anchored.  From the marina we took a taxi to an urgent care center where we waited to see a Physician's Assistant who ignored Matthews IMG_4805shallow breathing and the fact that I told him he had a bark cough all night.  He suggested that he probably has strep “…because it’s going around.”  At this point I asked if he would run a quick strep test, at which he replied “No, because it is 30% wrong.”  He then wanted to give us a prescription for strep rather than a steroid for the croup.  Now I was upset.  First of all, strep in children under the age of 2 is extremely uncommon.  Second, he had no signs of strep,a little red in the throat but no white bumps. What he did have was all the signs of a viral respiratory infection—which causes croup.  I asked the PA why he didn’t think it was croup, and he said “Well he’s not coughing right now”.  And as I reminded him, croup presents the strongest at night, so he’s not coughing much now, but at night it’s terrible.  Still ignoring me, he wanted to write his prescription for strep.  I asked him which antibiotic, expecting amoxicillin, but he wanted to give him a non penicillin antibiotic, claiming that penicillin antibiotics aren't working on strep anymore.  I was starting to wonder why we were here with him, DR’s have prescribed Penicillin for strep for decades and decades, and still do.  I was totally bewildered by this guy.  Finally he said," “forget it, I’ll just give you the steroid, it’s all you want anyway” and he left the room.  David, was concerned that maybe he was right and we were wrong.  I was pretty darn sure I was right, but if David wanted to get the antibiotic too, than fine.  I did remind him though that he wasn’t prescribing the $4 antibiotic, but one in the $75 dollar price range.  David went out to talk to the PA and he sent in a prescription to Walmart for both medications.  We paid our $85 fee and left.  Writing this now, makes me want to write that clinic a letter to let them know how terrible that PA was. 

After 1 day on the steroid Matthew’s breathing and coughing was sooo much better, I didn’t need the steroid anymore.  I had started him on the antibiotic at the same time “just in case”  but after 2 days he had terrible diarrhea that I had to take him off it.  And he just got better and better.  No one else came down with strep throat—but Benjamin also had a little cold too.  So I am now positive that PA was just wrong.

After that crazy Sunday, I still love that visit to Cumberland Island.  We spent another day there seeing more of the Island and enjoying its beauty.  You can camp on the Island by taking a ferry over to the island.  I don’t think I would have ever visited this pretty place had we not been passing thru on RCabin.  The kids, of course, earned a junior ranger badge during our visit here.

Friday, November 25, 2011

The path to Jekyll Island

Before reaching Myrtle Beach, SC we noticed some marks on the back of the boat, near the waterline.  David guessed we had probably run over a crab line at some point and wrapped it around our port propeller.  A couple days after arriving at Myrtle Beach, David hopped in the water to see what we had caught.  It was hard to see in the muddy water, but he did his best to pull out and cut off the tangle of rope he found wrapped around the propeller shaft.  Thinking he had gotten it all, when we left Myrtle Beach we didn’t think much of it.  After a day of driving we felt like the boat seemed a little slow and the auto pilot wasn’t as responsive, so we decided that maybe we still had something caught on the propeller.  So we dropped our anchor in an open area and David hopped back in to see, he found a little more line and cut it off.  And on our way we went again. The next morning I was still in bed when David started pulling up our anchor to get underway.  As I was listening to the props spin in the water I noticed when he put the port side in reverse that it sounded different.  So I hurried up to tell David to stop what he was doing, because something was wrong with that propeller.  We traded jobs, I drove the boat, while he went to listen to the noise.  And he agreed something was different with that propeller.  We decided the best thing to do was to drive with that engine off, and the propeller tied off so it can’t spin in the water.  So that is what we did.  We drove that way for a couple of days.  We were anchoring at night, so we just adjusted to the bit slower speed during the day while we debated where we should get it looked at.  We were passing thru Jekyll Island, GA and decided to pull in and stay at the marina.  We needed water and an afternoon exploring the Island sounded fun.

Getting to the marina was nerve racking.  It was low tide and the channel in that area had reports of depth anywhere from 4.5 feet to 6 feet.  We draw 6 feet, so we were worried we worried we were going to get stuck on our way in and have to wait till tide came in.  We took it slow in the reported shallow areas, but made it just fine. 

As we pulled in, the marina advised we tie up starboard side due to wind and current.  It was a long face dock and they had a good 80 ft space for us to squeeze into.  We attempted to dock as they suggested, starboard side, and with the bow thruster we were able to get our bow in, but we just could not swing our stern in with out the port engine running.  I hollered over to the dockmaster that we forgot we were only running our starboard engine, that we had a problem with the port, and she hollered back, that we probably should flip ourselves and tie up port side.  So we hustled to switch our fenders(bumpers) and our lines over to the port side while David flipped us around.  Setting up the fenders and lines is Savannah and Calvin’s job, and they were great helpers in getting everything switched to the other side in a hurry.  Now docking was easy.  With the starboard engine we just pushed the stern in after we used the bow thruster to push the bow in.  Once we had lines over to the dock, the dockmaster and a fellow boater pulled our boat the last 5-6 feet into the dock space.  Once we were tied off and set up with water and power, Grandma came out and said it was amazing.  She didn’t think we would fit in the space they gave us to dock in.  There is a boat in front of us and behind and she was amazed at the control over the boat and ability David had to dock the boat.

It was almost 3pm when we arrived, Matthew was still taking his nap, so we had the afternoon to explore.  Grandma took the kids for a short walk while David unloaded the bikes.  We loaded up the kids and rode off to see the island.  Grandma stayed behind with Matthew.  Jekyll Island is a little resort in itself.  The island is beautiful.  We rode to the beach, and then into town. They have bike trails all around the island for easy access for tourists.  We passed people playing croquet on the lawn in front of their resort.  The resort area was built in the 1950’s and was a winter getaway for the rich.  It still has that 50’s era family resort feel to it.  They are building a new convention center and shopping area that I am sure will attract even more vacationers to the area.  It was beautiful to visit and we wished we could have stayed more than an afternoon.  They have a new turtle research and recovery center their that you can visit.  If we’d had more time we would have like to have checked it out.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving and David’s Birthday



David’s birthday fell on Thanksgiving this year. We decided we wanted to spend the weekend at Cumberland Island on the south tip of Georgia, so we needed to spend most of the day traveling.  We passed by Savannah, Ga and lots of beautiful Georgia waterfront.  We put the turkey in the oven while we drove and reached our anchorage around 4pm.  After setting the anchor we finished up our Thanksgiving fixings, sat down to eat and watch the beautiful sunset.  We had the little creek we picked out to spend the night on all to ourselves, no one around, it was peaceful and quiet. We had a lot to be thankful for.  David picked a pecan pie for his “birthday cake”.  So we sang to him and enjoyed our dessert.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Fort Sumter



 IMG_4741 IMG_4748

Fort Sumter

We left Myrtle Beach early and headed on our way.  We stopped a few hours before Charleston and anchored at a beautiful anchorage.  When we first pulled into the creek the wind was against the tide which made the water a little choppy.  David suggested we go up the creek a little further and around a bend to anchor.  As soon as we hit the bend the water changed and was smooth.  We put down our anchor and enjoyed the beautiful sunset over the marsh land.
The next morning we travelled just a few hours to reach Charleston before lunch time.  Our only stop by boat in Charleston was Fort Sumter. It is built on a small island in the middle of the Charleston Harbor.  The fort encompasses the entire island.  We called the day before to see if their dock would accommodate our boat, and they said “sure thing, just don’t dock on the end of the T-Head where the ferry docks.”  So as we pulled up, we took in the current and wind and the ferry, and david decided to try to dock where the current would push us off the dock.  It was tight quarters trying to dock and we were struggling against the current to try to get the boat turned the right way to tie up.  The sign on the dock in bold letters says “please use cleats to tie up”.  So I attached our front line to a cleat on the side of the dock.  For those of you that don’t know, a cleat is a metal hook like thing you tie your line to. They come in different sizes, but this one was about a foot long and metal.  We got the bow line attached to the cleat on the dock and I tied it off to the bow cleat on the front of our boat.  I was waiting for david to turn the boat and move in closer so I could tighten the line before going to attach another line on the back.  As I was waiting, crouched over our bow cleat,  the boat drifted back and the line pulled tight, often we can use the tight line to spin the back of the boat in to where we want it, well as the line pulled tight, I heard a SNAP, and I thought our rope broke.  But soon a metal cleat knocked me in the head and I knew our line had held, their cleat hadn’t.  We have netting along the front of our boat to keep the kids from falling thru our railing, and luckily as the cleat came flying thru the air, it got wrapped up in our net which slowed it down, before hitting me in the back of the head.  Had it not been slowed down, it really could have hurt.  Instead I was left with a sore spot for a few days.  I am so grateful for that netting and will be cautious here on out of flying cleats.
We decided to move the boat to the other side of the dock where the current would push us in.  It was much easier to dock, and a few Park Personnel had come down to help us tie up. Having seen me get knocked in the head they recommend we use the pilings to tie to, rather than the cleats.
Once we were tied up, we enjoyed the exploring and learning about the fort.  The kids enjoyed earning yet another junior ranger badge.  By the time we returned to the boat, the tide had shifted and we were getting blown off the dock which made for an easier departure.  It would have been tough if we had tied up on the other side as first planned.  The current there is quite strong and hard to overcome without the room to really power the boat.  So being where we ended up was really the best situation.  We still had a few hours of daylight so we headed south of Charleston to anchor for our last night in South Carolina down in the Hilton Head area off a little creek. Tomorrow we enter Georgia.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Myrtle Beach, SC

Once we left Cape Fear and headed south, we were in new territory to us.  When we headed north in the spring, we left Savannah, GA and went out to the ocean and headed to Cape Fear.  That took us 30 hours in the ocean.  This time we stayed on the intra coastal waterway to head south.  We headed into South Carolina and made a stop at Myrtle Beach.  We stayed on the south end of the area at a great Marina.  Osprey Marina.  Not only did they have a great price, but they were very friendly and helpful there. David was happy to stay several days as after the first 3 nights their price dropped 75%. They had a great price on fuel and we were low.  We decided to fill our tanks here rather than Florida, as Florida tends to be a little higher in fuel prices. 

The next day we picked up a rental car and headed to the beach.  It was a beautiful day, a little cloudy, but the temp was in the high 70s, however the beach was windy.  The kids donned their wetsuits, grabbed their boogie boards and headed for the water.  They had a great time playing in the waves and digging in the sand.  David and I rested on the beach just enjoying the day and watching the kids play.

We booked a ticket that morning to send Kylynn home the next day.  So early the next morning we all loaded up in the van and headed south to Charleston.  It was a 2 hour drive to the airport there.  After dropping Kylynn off and waving goodbye we headed to visit the Charles Pinckney Farm and    Fort Moultrie.  The kids earned junior ranger badges at both places.  Charles Pinckney was only 27 years old as a member of congress that helped write our Constitution.  He also signed the Declaration of Independence a few years earlier as a representative of South Carolina.  At Fort Moultrie we learned about how the fort was used during the American revolution to defend the harbor of Charleston.  There is another fort in Charleston that is only reachable by boat, the more infamous Fort Sumter.  We saved our visit there for when we came through in a week by boat. 

We stayed a few days in Myrtle Beach, re-stocking the boat.  It had been 2 weeks since we had been to the store and we were happy to stock back up on fresh veggies and fruit. It was nice to attend church too.  It had been a few weeks since we had been able to go.  We had also talked Grandma into coming and spending 10 days with us on the boat before Suzie is able to come out to help us.  Grandma flew in late Sunday night, and David and Savannah made the drive to Charleston again to pick her up.  Early Monday morning we waved goodbye to Osprey Marina and headed south, again.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Dolphins in North Carolina


IMG_0968I remembered when we headed north in the spring that the last place we saw dolphins was in the Pimlico Sound of North Carolina.  We woke up Sunday morning to beautiful flat calm waters and started on our way across the Pimlico Sound and south.  And along came some dolphins.  It was my birthday so it was a fun treat to watch several of them swim off our bow riding our wake.  We saw multiple pods of dolphins through out the day as we continued south to our anchorage for the night.

Again the next day we headed south with dolphins throughout the day.  We made our way past Cape Hatteras and south to anchor in the Harbor of Swansboro.  The next day we reach Cape Fear where we decided to stop and stay at a Marina. Between the free docks and anchoring we had paid to stay at a marina in a week.  We were due to refill on water so it was a good time to stop at one for the night.  However, next time we pass through that area, I will pick a different Marina.  This one shared its docking space with a ferry that runs every hour.  We were lucky enough to get docked right next to the ferry.  Not only did it rock us a little every time it came in and left, it also honked it’s horn upon leaving every hour.  It ran until 11pm and started again at 5am.  It wasn’t the worst ever, but I didn’t like it much. 

However since we were docked in a town.  David off loaded the bikes and he and I rode into town for a date night at a local restaurant called Mr P’s Bistro.  The key lime pie was silky smooth and delicious. 

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Dismal Swamp Canal

To get from Southern Virginia to North Carolina there are 2 routes.  The popular route-which we took in the spring is called the Virginia Cut.  The other route, not as popular because it requires a slower speed is the Dismal Swamp Canal.  We choose this route to head south for a couple reasons.  One, it was suppose to be a beautiful route to travel.  Two, we wanted to stop in a city near the outer banks to rent a car to take the kids to the Wright Brothers National Memorial.
IMG_9943Beautiful it definitely is.

With the fall colors in full force, and no wind, the water was like a mirror reflecting the beauty above, it was gorgeous to travel thru.  The Dismal swamp canal is the oldest working lock system in America.  The 22 mile canal was built in the late 1700’s, finished in 1805.  George Washington, among others, funded the canal as a business venture to log the area.  We entered the canal thru a lock that rose us 8 feet to match the water level on the canal.  On the south end we exited by another lock that sank us 8 feet to the river level below. 

RCabin is on the large side to travel thru the canal.  Because it is narrow and shallow, some places no more than 6 feet deep, we had to travel at a very slow rate so as not to displace too much water around us and to not rub the bottom too much. The canal is fed by a fresh water lake near by.  While fresh water makes me think of clear water, this water is anything but clear.  It is full of tanic acid from all the vegetation along its banks.  As the vegetation dies the tanic acids are released into the water causing it to be a very dark brown color. 

After traveling 17 miles thru the canal we reached the Dismal Swamp Welcome center in North Carolina at dinner time.  We were able to dock there for the night for free.  In the morning we went for a hike thru the woods and visited the nature center to learn about the area.  You can reach the the Dismal State Park and National Refuge by car, so if you are ever driving thru the area, it is worth the visit.  It is a beautiful place. 

After our morning hike, we loaded back on the boat and headed down river a few more hours to reach Elizabeth city, the City of Hospitality.  They allow boats to dock for free for 48 hours at their downtown Dock.  We didn’t fit in their finger piers so they allowed us to tie up alongside their water front park face dock.  Here we were able to rent a car to see the area.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Colonial Williamsburg, VA

On Sunday we left Tangier Island and headed south across the Chesapeake bay for several hours before we reached the Elizabeth river, just Southwest of the mouth of the bay.  Just a few miles down the Elizabeth River is Norfolk and Portsmouth Virginia.  We stopped at Ocean Marine Yacht Center.  We had also stayed here in the spring heading north.  They have great customer service, so we were happy to stay again.

Monday morning we picked up a rental car and drove almost an hour north to Williamsburg to visit their historic town.  This was a great city in Colonial times, Thomas Jefferson among other great leaders, lived here.  The Historic area has been restored to its former time and many homes and shops are open for learning about trades and what it was like during colonial times.  Many people are dressed in the era and perform their trades for a living just as they did back then.  We saw a blacksmith making nails to build a new shop for himself.  The brickyard was stacking 12000 bricks, made over the summer to be fired, they are going to be used to help build the new shop for the blacksmith.  The silversmith was making a bracelet.  The basket weaver, a basket.  We watched her strip down wood till she had a thin strip for weaving.  The cooper was making barrels.  At the farm, they were plowing a field with 2 ox and a hand plow.  Did you know that an ox, is not a special breed of cattle?—it is merely the term for a trained cow or bull.  Never knew that.  The kids loved helping the wool spinner spin string and seeing how wigs were made.

We toured the governors mansion, as Williamsburg was once the capital of Virginia.  Thomas Jefferson was the last Governor to live in the mansion, then the capital was moved.  We also toured the Capital building.  Both were beautiful to see.  As the day drew to a close we decided to stay for dinner and made a reservation at the Kings Arm Tavern, a loyalist spot for dining we were told.  We had a great dinner that included live music played tableside from the colonial times.  They even played a round of Yankee Doodle, and the kids had a great time singing along.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Tangier Island, VA

We left our marina in Maryland just before lunch time, and with the sun setting early, that only gave us a few hours of travel.  So we headed for an anchorage halfway to our destination- Tangier Island.  We anchored just in the mouth of the Patuxent river, where we had anchored on our way  north in the spring.  It was a great spot last time we were there, but this time, it was quite rolly.  We survived the night, but by 7am, I woke David up and said I was done with the rolling, it was time to haul up the anchor and move on.  We made it to Tangier early afternoon. Tangier is located just south of the Maryland/Virginia border on the Chesapeake Bay.  It was windy, and the current in their channel is rough.  Our docking situation was a short pier with some outer pilings to tie up to.  This is a very small Island that lives off the water, the “marina” is really just a few docks in front of the owners (who is 80 years old) house.  He wasn’t around when we pulled in to consult with so we tied up where we thought was good but it was tough with the current pushing us hard into the pilings.  We were glad to have the thruster to help push us off the pilings enough to drop in our fenders (bumpers) to put between our boat and the pilings. 

Once tied off, we got the bikes down and went for a ride around the town and island.  The channel is lined with crabbing boats and shacks for sorting and equipment storage.  This island makes their living off of crabbing. In all our time spent on the bay we have not seen some sort of mass gathering of crabs, it seems to still be done the old fashioned way, with gathering from your set out crab pots (cages) or by running a line with bait along it and netting the crabs on your bait.  Either way, it is a manual, labor intensive job.  I guess the price of a Maryland blue crab in a restaurant reflects this. 
In town the homes were simple, but well cared for, and the people were friendly.  Talking with them, you could hear an accent, but not much of one, but listening to them talk to each other was almost like listening to a foreign language.  It was cool.  There were only a car or 2 found on the Island.  Most people get around via golf cart or bike.  There is no bridge connecting to the Island, but a small ferry that runs between the eastern shore and the Island.
After reading the weather report, we decided to spend another day at Tangier.  We weren’t interested in crossing the bay in 3-4 foot waves, as the weather was calling for.  It was a windy day, but pleasant in the sunshine.  David and Kylynn bundled up the kids, loaded them into the bikes and off to the beach they went for the afternoon.  Matthew and I stayed behind for a pleasant nap.  The kids loved the beach, even though it was windy 60 degree weather.  They had a great time digging in the sand.  I think this would be a great place to visit in a bit warmer weather.  We will have to come back sometime.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Heading South

November has come, and it is time to head south.  We were sad to say goodbye to my brother and his family, but happy to head out and explore as we make our way to a warmer destination.  We are excited for the days ahead and have some fun stops planned.  So check in for updates!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Mega Battery

IMG_4342This was one of our large projects, and the last one we were waiting on before we could leave the area.  We were upgrading the power system of the boat with a new mega battery—as I am calling it.  Along with a new inverter, charger, and alternators, we should be able to cut our charge time to a minimal amount  This means the amount of time we need to run the generator each day to re charge-when out at anchor will be down to 2-3 hours.  We had been running them 9-10 hours, half in the morning and half in the evening. IMG_4363 Plus the new battery will be able to run more things on it then our old system—like our new washing machine.

The battery was suppose to be delivered on Oct. 17th, but was delayed.  Thankfully it was delivered to us early on the morning of the 31st.  The battery was built on order, and are normally used in forklifts and pallet jacks and such equipment.  The company we ordered from had never built one for a boat-that they knew of. 

The battery has 12 cells and had to be split into each cell to get it on board.  We moved the boat over to the working dock at the Marina so that it was a short push from the parking lot to move the battery alongside the boat.   Then each cell at a time was hoisted out of the steel box and onto the back deck using the crane. (Boy we have used that crane for all kinds of projects!)

Since it was Halloween Savannah, in full costume, was the IMG_4390crane operator up on top.  She controlled the crane, moving it up and down with the remote controller.  David and Kylynn then moved the cells aboard.

Once on the back deck, we used a dolly to move the cells from the deck to the front stairs, and then lifted each 150lbs cell down the stairs, one step at a time to the hall by the engine room where they would be installed.  Once the cells were down, the Marina sent over 3 workers to help carry 200lbs steel box from the back deck, down the stairs and into its resting hole in the engine room floor.  David was a little worried it wouldn’t fit.  But it did.  He had measured and re-measured as he built a frame for it to rest on in its hole.  It fit perfectly.  Then David and Kylynn, using a board for leverage, lifted each cell back into its place in the battery box.  

Next it needed to be hooked back together and then connected IMG_4394to the inverter and charger and to the electrical panel. By Wednesday it was done, completed, and we were ready to head south. Although David consulted an electrician in his planning phase, he designed and installed the system all on his own.  I am continually impressed by his abilities.