Friday, January 30, 2015

Our old and rusty Blazer is waiting for us to return in the parking lot at Northwest Creek Marina.  Let’s hope no important parts fall off while we are gone.

On a small spit of land just south of North Carolina’s New River, this gaily painted house stands all by itself.  It has its own lighthouse, pool with water cascading over a rock wall, dock, gazebo, artwork…  All the toys are there.

Sunsets are always nice.  It is so much clearer in the wintertime.

The Waccamaw cypress swamps go on for miles and miles.  Even in winter with their grey colors on, they are pretty.

We had a brief shower north of Charleston, but we quickly left both the rain and the rainbow behind us in our wake.

When we crossed the Savannah River this orange ship was coming at us.  We got easily across ahead of her.  As she passed we could see that her name was “Tiger”.  With the orange paint job, I wonder if she is a Clemson fan.

Greetings from onboard Irish Eyes.
Bill and I have been on the boat for a little over two weeks.  We had a busy busy Christmas week:  Christmas Eve service at St Paul’s, Christmas Day Free Dinner for about 300 at St Paul’s, two Christmas Day parties at friends’ homes after the dinner, a Boxing Day party at our house, our daughters, their husbands, and the grandchildren with us in the days after Christmas, New Year’s Eve with all of them together, the Watauga Lake Sail Club Frostbite Race on New Year’s Day, and then the Epiphany Sunday lunch for the congregation of St Paul’s.  With all that out of the way, and with things just beginning to settle down, Bill woke up on January 5th and said, “Let’s leave for New Bern tomorrow.”  Tomorrow???  I was ready for a little rest!  But, the Captain persisted, the Christmas tree came down, the decorations were put in the attic, last minute shopping was done, clothes were packed, and we hurried around getting our stuff together for six months on the boat.  Bill’s ‘tomorrow’ turned into six days, and on Sunday morning January 11 the 1978 Chevy Blazer was loaded, and we took off.

A 400 mile drive in a rusty 37 year old Blazer with over 265,000 miles on the odometer is always a little risky.  But, it made it to New Bern without any problems, took us on numerous shopping runs, and made two trips down NC 55 to Oriental.

Bill had projects to complete, and I had a boat to stock.  He flushed and filled the water tanks, loaded diesel, gasoline, and propane aboard, and worked his way down the long maintenance list.  I drove the Blazer, something I don’t do often, twice into New Bern filling it with groceries.

One of Bill’s projects was to finish installing a bus heater on Irish Eyes.  The heater works like a car’s heater.  While the boat’s engine is running and the heater’s fan is on, hot air pours out into the cabin.  It has been a major improvement in winter boat life. The cabin warms up and dries out as we motor during the day.  When we stop, we quickly dive below, close everything up, and enjoy the seventy-eight degree warmth until it finally all fades away as bed time approaches.

On January 19 with most of our projects completed, with most of the food bought and stowed, and with most of our stuff put away; we started the engine, untied the dock lines, and left.  At last we were on our way south!

It was a cold but beautifully sunny day.  The first thing to break was the alternator belt on the engine.  That happened just twenty minutes into the trip!  We anchored Irish Eyes in middle of the Neuse River, and Bill replaced the belt.  We were underway again in about half an hour.  Tools and parts; we have a boat full of tools and parts.  They do come in handy.

The temperature outside was in the forties, but down in our warm cabin it was in the seventies.  I can’t say enough good things about our bus heater.

It took us four days to get to Little River, SC.  We spent three nights there visiting with my sister and waiting for a patch of rainy, windy weather to pass.  When the sun came out, we were on our way again. 

The trip down the Intracoastal Waterway in Myrtle Beach was uneventful until we stopped.  With the engine shut down and everything quiet, Bill heard a motor running.  We tracked it down to the fresh water pump. The line from the water heater to the galley faucet had split dumping all the water in one of our two water tanks into the bilge.  With the water gone the pump was running dry.  Bill, of course, had a piece of spare hose, hose clamps, and little brass things to stick in the ends.  Tools and parts, yes, we have tools and parts.  He cut out the leaking section of the old hose and had a new piece installed in time for me to fix supper.  I just stayed out of the way while he worked in the bilge and cussed.

The next morning, Bill discovered the engine oil dipstick was not right.  The dipstick has a rubber bit on it that stops the dipstick from going too far into the engine and seals the hole in the engine. The oil level is supposed to be between two marks on the end of the stick.  The rubber bit was loose and sliding up and down on the dipstick.  Who knew where the rubber bit was meant to be?  How far should the dipstick go into the engine?  Bill called the Yanmar engine distributor in New Jersey to ask them.  They didn’t know, but they did offer to sell us a new one for $71 plus shipping.  $71 for a dipstick???  And anyway, how does one ship it to us when we are anchored in a South Carolina salt marsh?  Even Amazon doesn’t have its drone delivery fleet running quite yet.  Bill finally found a sketch of the dipstick in his Yanmar parts catalogue.  He did some measuring and calculating, and put the rubber bit where he thinks it should be.  Duct tape now holds the rubber stopper in place.

We spent the next night in a marina in Beaufort, SC.  That let us refill our water and fuel tanks, take a long hot shower, and enjoy a restaurant meal.

Yesterday we crossed the Savannah River and entered Georgia.  We left the Carolinas behind.

Right now we are anchored just north of Hell Gate.  The word on the internet is that the water depth in the channel ahead is 4-1/2 feet at low tide.  Since it is low tide and since Irish Eyes draws 5 feet, we have stopped.  In a couple more hours the tide will rise enough to let us go on, but for now it’s time for knitting, reading, and lunch.

It has been cold at night, but it warms up during the day.  Every day we are a little farther south.  Every day it is a little warmer.

Stay warm where you are.

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