Last night we lifted the dingy. A few moments ago I switched
off the anchor light and turned on the solenoid switch. I have been doing that every
morning for months now. Outside I can hear a sea gull cawing, the sounds of the early
ferry, land birds chirping and in the distance a cricket singing. I suspect that this
is the last time that I will use the anchor light. It is possible that we will
anchor out one more night, but not likely. I am reasonably certain that we have
lifted the dinghy for the last time.
I feel some sadness that this is the end. My daughter has pointed out that this is just
the end of one adventure and the beginning of another. I think that my sadness
has a lot to do with how wonderful this adventure has been. I am in the middle of
going through the 40,000+ pictures that we have taken in 5 years. When we were
doing all the things in the pictures it all happened so easily. Looking back it
seems that we did so much in a short time.
There have been challenges. Things have broken, but we fixed them. There have been
unpleasant passages, followed by beautiful beaches. The challenges have molded us
into better people. The beautiful beaches and the wonderful people along the way
are the things that I will remember.
I plan on taking all of the unpublished blog entries that I have been accumulating
for the past 5 years and filling in the blog. I have the pictures partially organized.
Perhaps it will make a story that Corwin and Chantelle will tell to their children.
Perhaps it will just cement our journey in my own mind.
In any case…
This is our 7th time in Ocracoke, but it isn’t until this trip that I feel like I got to know the place. The first time we came it was in the middle of the extremely busy tourist season. I felt like I was in the way of cars and pedistrians. This time we are here at the beginning of the season.
In the five days that we have spent here, Chantelle has gone to her favorite bead store 3 times. She made me a lovely necklace and earrings.
We’ve walked the half a mile to the local grocery store. This is the first store that’s been easy for us to get to in the U.S. Then we had to make all the choices we haven’t been able to have in five months. What kind of chips? Cheese? Meat?
Now that we are back in the U.S. we are running our refrigerator. Our diet is still pretty much the same, except now we can have leftovers. That means we can have more variety at our meals. Before this if we didn’t eat everything it got thrown away. Of course we all had our cravings of things to eat. Chantelle wanted a grocery store Rotessire Chicken. Philip and Corwin wanted steak. I wanted cheesecake.
At Manteo we rented a car and revisited the Hattaras Lighthouse. When we were here two years ago, it was closed and we were unable to climb it. We made the climb and looked out to where our boat has been offshore. It was stunning. Next we went shelling and found smooth, flat sea shells. Then we had our culture shoke by visiting a Harris Teeters grocery store. it was bigger than all of the grocery stores that we visited in the Bahamas combined.
We spent two days at the kid’s favorite museum on the East Coast, the Roanoke Island Festival Park Museum. It’s very close to where our boat is docked.
We’ve been very luck with the weather temperature wise. This has been a cool spring for us. So we haven’t suffered from the heat to much.
We are now in the wind down phase of five years of cruising. It’s always good to have a dream of something to look forward to. After having lived on board a boat for five years, that’s a tough act to follow. Looking forward, Corwin, Chantelle and Philip hope to pursue hang gliding out West
So we found a perfect place to find out if this is a sport we want to be involved with. They have lovely, big, soft sand dunes to launch yourself off of with a hang glider. It makes for much better landings than hard dirt. For four hours we spent 65 seconds soaring through the air!! Needless to say, flying is in my family’s future.
A couple of people have asked about how I take underwater pictures. I want to put down
some decent answers to that.
The camera I have been using is a Canon D10. It has been an absolutely wonderful tool.
You have to take care of it if you want it to work long term. This winter I have taken
2572 underwater pictures with it and 572 pictures on the beach. I think that the beach
pictures are more of a danger to the proper working of the camera than the underwater
pictures. If you get sand in the 2 little doors of the camera the sand can cause the
camera to leek and that is the end. Dead camera. To prevent this I have been using
blue painters tape over the doors every time I take the camera out of the boat.
I also put some silicon grease for O-rings (available at most dive shops) on the
little O-rings in the doors. This makes it easier to open and close the doors and
helps to get a good seal.
Lots of practice helps in getting good pictures. Nobody is seeing any of the bad
pictures that I took at the beginning.
Lots and lots of pictures to go through helps too. I take way more bad pictures that
I take good ones. Sometimes the camera focuses on the wrong thing. Bad picture.
Sometimes I forget to hold my breath and keep still wile taking the picture.
It is not that easy to keep still while trying to stay 10 feet down especially
when you are more buoyant than the water. Go down. Hold your breath. Keep motionless.
Don’t float up. Point camera in correct direction. Don’t scare fish. Take picture.
Remember to put the camera on underwater. That will help with the color balance.
It will make your originals passable. If you forget and take a bunch of pictures
then they will all have a very green look to them. Photoshop “Image” / “Auto Color”
will fix it.
Always edit your good pictures before you show them to anybody. I use Photoshop
Creative Suite. So this will detail what I do with Photoshop.
Use “Auto Tone” and the “Auto Contrast”. Usually these will improve the picture.
Then I go into “Images”, “Curves”, and split out the “Red” from the RGB. The deeper
the picture the more I increase the Red color. If the picture is very deep, 15 feet
down I will also decrease the green a little and the blue a little. Then I go over
to the “Filters” menu and find “Sharpen”. After this point it is just standard
photo editing. Are the fish the correct color? If not it is back to “Curves”.
Is the exposure correct? Can I crop the image and get a better image?
Should this image just go in the trash? How is the focus?
On an average 1 hour snorkeling trip I usually took approximately 150 pictures. Of those
usually I will get 3 to 5 that I like. Luck plays a big part. Lots and lots of
trips in the water is the kind of luck that you need if you want to swim over a
sea turtle. Look under a lot of rocks and you will find a sleeping shark or a
giant lobster sooner or later. Either one may make a really classy picture.
The Cannon D10 is very good with battery usage. Usually I get around 700 pictures on
a fresh battery. I have never filled the memory card. I always wash the camera in
fresh water after diving. I always take all the pictures out of the camera each
evening after diving. Quite often I have gone back the next day to take pictures of
some particular things that I took bad pictures of the previous day.
The most important rule is to have fun! Swim lots and get exercise. Remember when
snorkeling to not breath under water. If you are not wearing snorkel don’t breath with
you face pointed down in the water. Try to keep water out of you nose. Don’t sneeze
inside your snorkel mask. Laugh a lot – remember that the fish are all laughing at
you – you just can’t hear them. Don’t float too long without moving – it feels
weird when a sea gull decides to land on your back.
Having 125 V shore power has given me the opportunity to stitch some pictures together.
This is the first one: Sunset in Georgetown SC.
We came into Georgetown, SC at around 1:00am and anchored. The next morning I noticed that there was a piece of metal sticking up out of the water about 100 yards from our boat! Philip didn’t tell me that there was a ship wreck near where we were anchoring. If I’d known I’d have never gone to sleep.
This is the story of the sinking of the sinking of the Harvest Moon.
And a picture of the model of the ship in the local maritime museum.
Georgetown is a very quaint, quiet town. The marina we are at does mostly high and dry storage for small fishing boats. That means the boats are stored on land and when the boat is needed it is lifted into the water. We are the only transient boaters here and have the ,marnia to ourselves after closing hours. The local boardwalk is beautiful.
There is a lovely boardwalk here that goes along the waterfront with interesting stores and restaurants. While we were out enjoying the town, we found out about the ship wreck that we anchored next to.
We are enjoying the advantages of being in a marina. We now have refrigeration for the first time in 5 months. Now that we can store leftovers, we have more variety to our meals. Also it’s truly a joy to be able to use as much water as I want.
We finally made the passage from Bahamas back to the US. This was not one of our best
passages. We left as the first named storm of the year was to the north of us and with
a building tropical depression to the south. The tropical depression is now a 70% likely
hood of becoming the years first hurricane. So it was squally, calm, light and variable, and
far more bouncy with ocean swells that I would have preferred for a passage. Not
dangerous but also not in the very comfortable category.
The important part is that we made it into Winyah Bay, Georgetown South Carolina, in the
dark and anchored by 1:15AM. Anchoring in the dark with unknown circumstances is
not my favorite but it was the simplest place to put the hood down for a few hours.
We considered waiting off shore for dawn but the seas were already building when
we came in.
This morning was the usual set of stuff to get us put back together. First we
listened to NOAA weather radio and found out about the local conditions and the
building likely hood of a Hurricane to the south. If a hurricane comes this way we
still need to be aware of it and prepare in advance. Then we had to get our cell
phone turned back on. That took a while. Then move to a dock and call customs.
Customs was not thrilled that we came in at Georg Town as it is not an “international”
port. However since we came in to hide from bad weather they made an exception
and sent a customs official to us.
We got permission to get off of the boat before he came and get the children
some lunch. Also we all took showers. That was really important! We had some
difficulty with the pressure water system during the passage and nobody had a
shower for 4 days. I think that without showers the customs and border
protection people would have sent us back based on smell. I know that I could
tell in the dark who I was down wind of at a 5 foot distance!
We also had to call our credit card companies and get them to turn our credit
cards back on.
We called Grandma and told her that we had made the US. That made her feel
better! She could not smell us through the phone.
A big part of retuning to the US is the culture shock. The cars drive so fast.
There are green lawns. The bate-and-tackle shop at the marina is bigger than
most grocery stores that we have seen for 6 months. Businesses have air conditioning.
There are side walks! We have not had the Walmart shock yet – but it is coming.
The faithful day has arrived. Corwin and Chantelle wanted to go swimming before breakfast
today. That is the sign that it is now too warm for us in the Bahamas. There have been
a bunch of other signs too. We opened our last bag of cookies 2 nights ago. We have
5 cans of chicken left and 15 cans of Vienna sausages left. We had to buy a bag of
rice. No more corned beef hash left. No more mashed potatoes. No more pineapple chunks.
Out of Mama Murphies pizza crusts. Out of Pepperoni. Only 20 boxes of Kraft Mac-n-Cheese
left. Down to just dried onions – no more fresh ones. All of our Bahamian bread
eaten. No more Irish butter. We do have enough food to make the United States.
We probably have 2 or 3 weeks of stuff left – but it is near the end. Our last serious
grocery store shopping was in Annapolis Maryland in October of last year. We added
about $150 of last minute stuff in Brunswick Georgia just before the 73 hour trip
to Andros, Dec 28 to Jan 1. That means that our provisioning effectively lasted from
October to May. That’s a jaunt.
The Final Swim in the Bahamas
The other sign is our weather window. We have just had tropical storm “Alberto” form
north of us. It is moving away and there is the potential for a more serious
tropical depression forming in the southwestern Caribbean. It will not reach
the Bahamas until this upcoming Wednesday. That gives us 3 days to move
north of it in calm weather and fair seas. Today will be motoring in less than
5 miles an hour of wind. Hopefully tomorrow afternoon we will get about 10
miles an hour of wind from the South East – that is the forecast – and it will
make for a pleasant sail for 24 hours.
We are headed off to Green Turtle Club to get our last jerry can of Diesel and
get rid of a little trash. Then out into the North Atlantic just north of Manjack
We are at Manjack – it is a private Cay where the owners are X-Cruisers and invite cruisers
on the island. It has good protection from 3 sides and fair from the 4th.
Spring time has a new set of challenges in the Bahamas. There are afternoon thunderstorms
with significant wind and rain. The rain has filled our tanks. The wind means we need to
be extra careful with anchoring and being out in the dingy when we get a batch of icky
weather. The other challenge is mosquitoes and sand flies. If you anchor too close to shore
you get sand flies ( no-see-ums ). If it is calm at dawn or dusk you get mosquitoes.
We have screens for the mosquitoes and we can anchor far enough out to prevent the sand
Tomorrow we have a bunch of small boat maintenance items to attend to. Then hopefully
we will go off snorkeling. This may be our last day for snorkeling in the Bahamas.
After this we are off north, either by a day trip to Great Sail Cay or directly
out the passage to the north of Manjack.
Yesterday we went into Green Turtle Cay. We purchased diesel and spent the last of
our Bahamian money on junk food and some ice. We also purchased our last Diesel – filling
up all of our jerry cans. Now all we need is a batch of good weather and we go