What could be scarier than Creech’s Porch on Hallween? Well we could not imagine, so we had to come see!
Creech’s Porch NC might not show up on many charts, maps, or cruising guides, but it shows up in hundreds of log books of Loopers who have come through Southport NC. Pull into the Provision Company’s free dock and walk a block or two to the head of the harbor where Kay and Robert have lived for a few decades.
Not to be outdone, Kay had her costume hat on! … a bit less intimidating for the little munchkins seeking candy.
Thank you for helping us re-provision, Kay and Robert!
We entered with ease at low tide with 6.5 feet of water, and a 2.0 knot cross current in the ICW‘s Bogue Sound,. We’ll stay here again.
We arrived here Friday night with the intention of staying only one night. But the fresh water pump failed, and so a dinghy ride and Uber adventure ensued to get a replacement. Fortunately West Marine was less than a mile away, and they had several in stock for me to pick from.
The Walmart was a safe walk from here, but West Marine was on the opposite side of US Rte 70, and there are no pedestrian crosswalks. So Uber got the call, and a couple of other WM customers gave me a ride back to the dinghy dock. The day was shot after putting away all the tools. So, we stayed another night… it was blowin’ Saturday too. So, less hassle to leave on Sunday’s better forecast.
Let’s face it, there are a lot of good choices when coming through the Belhaven area on the ICW. This, our second time through, we hoped to stay at River Forest. We succeeded!
Lots of Looper’s excellent reviews and positive comments about this “Henry” character made this our first choice for our fall migration.
Owner Henry Boyd was competent and responsive at talking us in on VHF from R10 and calling us with his weather observations hours before our arrival. He and Mike were there to catch our lines and help us feel welcomed to their spot in this great port.
Once we took one of their golf carts into town, Shelly met Teresa Van Staalduinen co-owner of the famed Spoon River restaurant. It was a Wednesday, which means the restaurant was closed for the day. But she and husband Mark are expanding into retail in this town. Shelly visited their Artworks & Market.
Teresa explained how much they LOVE Loopers, the two “girls” connected and Teresa proceeded to gift Shelly with a red wine she though we would like!
… all while I was getting more exciting stuff at the ACE Hardware store next store.
Then we went to Food Lion for other essentials which we figured out how to fit on the golf cart for the ride “home”. Guess what we found there in addition to food. A fly swatter! We’ve been trying to find one for months!
Once back at River Forest Marina, my brother Russ and his wife Kim pulled in, driving a small RV that they are delivering to Ft Lauderdale FL. We had arranged for this rendezvous weeks ago, and fine tuned the time and place a couple days ago.
Belhaven and River Forest is certainly achieved “favorite” status in Shellerina’s log book and blog.
“Special Thanks” to Henry and Teresa! They both expressed their LOVE for Loopers. River Forest is an AGLCA Sponsor and gives a discount when he sees the AGLCA burgee!
The RV Van framed up with Shellerina Thursday before both “vessels” depart their berths here at River Forest.
From this same spot we could take in a beautiful sunset last eve to the right, and now we are soaking up a sunrise from the same spot. This phenomenon won’t be possible during the summer months, but it should last from now till February 20th or so. ((Equinoxes plus 1 month on either end.))
From our 2-night anchor spot on ICW mm 26.4 we are now anchored in the upper Alligator River area, having crossed the Albermarle Sound. Seas were calm and wind was under 10 mph going with us, so the overcast skies were of no concern.
We are looking forward to meeting my brother Russ and wife Kim in Belhaven Wednesday! Then we get to meet up with Gold Loopers Deb and Mac of Janthena at their home port of Oriental on Thursday! So its a big week for us.
Interesting Note: Our boat is still all set up for nm or nautical miles. Whereas, all the ICW mile marker (mm) references are in statute miles. So, this January 1, 2023, we will be converting all our navigation system units to statute miles, which is not only what the ICW uses, but also what the Erie Canal, and western rivers are standardized on.
It started with changing out our fuel filters. We have two: a Racor 30 micron, and a CAT 2 micron on the engine.
Old Racor filter element shown below. (It was new Feb 2022):
New Racor installed today:
The first thing you do when changing fuel filters is close the fuel shut-off valve. Today I learned that after changing the filters, it helps a lot to re-open that fuel cut-off valve before trying to start the engine. <wink> The engine ran like shit, until I realized my mistake! LOL
After all the work was done:
We exchanged hugs and kisses with Colleen and Tony of Lady Kadey, then headed down the ICW (Intracoastal Waterway) from MM zero, Norfolk VA. We knew we had a chance at a couple of free walls and Atlantic Boat Basin at MM 12. But we also knew there were anchorages within 12 miles further down, if needed.
Addendum: I just realized that where we filled up at Chesapeake Boat Basin, in Kilmarnock VA, had diesel at $4.86 per gallon beating this price!
Then we got to Great Bridge VA, where there is a lock. So gotta take a lock pic of Shelly!
This lock and four bridges that had to open for us (read: we had to wait) made the 26.4 miles take a bit longer than expected.
There is a Gale Warning out for these parts tonight and tomorrow. So we may be here for a bit. Friends we made along the way today anchored a bit close and directly upwind of us. So we politely asked them to move which they did.
Tomorrow? Stay put and hunker down OR make a play for Coinjock NC (MM 50.0) where we have never stopped (yet).
Today we took a quick 2-hour hop south and anchored in Fishing Bay, Deltaville VA. There are three ways to get into Deltaville, from the north (narrow, shoal-ly), from the south (same), and in this bay that is risk-free. About 20 boats came in here to anchor before and after us. There is plenty of room for all.
Today’s jump shortens our next hop to Norfolk. We are trying to minimize the long days of 50 miles or more. There are not a lot of good stop options between here and Norfolk (40nm) that are on the way.
Mile Zero (MM 0.0) of the American Intracoastal Waterway AICW or ICW, starts in Norfolk and continues all the way to Plantation Key FL (MM 1153.4). (It is tracked in statute miles.)
St Johns River FL, our “hailing port” intersects the ICW at about MM 740. So that’s where we hope to be in about a month, (mid-November).
There is also a Gulf Intracoastal Waterway (GICW) that goes all the way to Brownsville, Texas.
Perfect cruising day: light wind, waves, and current on our stern. We arrived in Kilmarnock VA, took on fuel and ice at Chesapeake Boat Basin. Nice to see them selling diesel for under $5 / gallon. We got fuel here for $3.999999 last spring! Well under the norm both then and now. It’s all self serve here. They have completed construction of their transient docks and transient shower house and laundry. Very nice.
Well, they also have a decent Ships Store that had a few key items that I needed to finish our solar project. They even had AWG 2/0 cable and crimp ends, ANL fuse block and fuses, and other ancillary electrical stuff I needed to finish up this project right! I was very excited.
This final step was to add a DC-DC Charger to keep the main bank charged up when at anchor. The main bank is a traditional flooded lead acid bank of Interstate batteries. The new Victronenergy.com charger didn’t have a “preset” menu option for charging lead acid batteries?!?! Odd! “Consult your battery manufacturer,” is what the manual said to do. So I called and left a voice mail to Interstate seeking that information.
I got a call back from “Jeff” in Engineering at Interstate Batteries. He directed me to use 14.4 VDC for both Bulk and Absorption stages of the charge cycle, with a 6 hour maximum time limit. He further instructed me to use no more than 13.3 VDC for the Float stage. This is very helpful information indeed… which I could not find anywhere online. Thanks Jeff!
This DC-DC Charger is the only connection between the new solar system and the rest of the boat’s electrical system. Two different chemistry battery banks require this type of interconnection (if any) as the optimal charging profile is different enough between the two. Charging and using two different types of batteries will do damage to one bank or both over time.
The reason for us selectively interconnecting the two is because our (lead acid) main bank on the starboard side still has some house loads on it (e.g. anchor light, cabin lights, etc.) These drain the starting battery bank when at anchor. Changing that would require a wholesale rewiring effort to move those loads off the main bank to the LiFePO4 bank on the port side.
So, now we can use this DC-DC charger; the solar system can charge both banks as want… whenever needed.
We got a slip at Beacon Marina in Solomons again this fall like we did last spring. Reasonable dock rates, walking distance to West Marine, and a spirits store, and an on-premises restaurant were all taken advantage of again.
Last night we dined with Vitaly, a single-handed sailor who is good friends with Christian and Heidi of Aurora whom we met early on out Loop last year on the Erie Canal. Aurora just crossed their wake in Boston this week.
Also in-port with us this day was Laurie and Hal Goldschlag of Gemini. They bicycled over here to our marina to come visit us. I cannot believe we forgot to take a “team photo” together during their visit. Like us, they lived and worked on Great South Bay Long Island NY for years before starting their Loop. We never met until all of us were on The Great Loop together!
In lieu of a great team photo, all I have for pics of this marina is their laundry room.
Shelly often sends me on Recon Missions to check out the facilities of places we stay, to see if they meet her approval. This Laundry was a “go”. So, we have clean laundry again aboard Shellerina tonight!
FYI, Beacon Marina uses Dockwa.com … for slip reservations. (We use it when we have no other choice.)
This may not be the most elegant marina in this popular port of Solomons Island, but it suffices for us. (+++ walking distance to West Marine). Plus it was nice for Hal and Laurie to be able to easily get through [non-existent] “Marina Security” to come visit us.
We hope to return to Chesapeake Boat Basin in Kilmarnock VA. CBOFS (Chesapeake Bay Operational Forecast System) shows us that an early start at sun-up will give us favorable tide currents all morning!
Here is what 10:00am tomorrow looks like. All the tidal current is going in our direction at our halfway point.
I was all excited to finally deploy my new Mantus S2 swivel. I’ve been carting it all around for almost a year. The ol’ standard style shackle was working fine, but I figured this style would pull up more smoothly through the bow pulpit.
The old one never did this.
If this happens again the old shackle is going back on!
Addendum: six weeks later…
We‘ve anchored out at least a dozen times since this event, including in rivers with tidal current changes. Thankfully, this problem has not happened again.
The most important thing to note is that the V3 “fits” in the anchor locker where the old one was. The V3 is about 1” longer. No modifications were needed to make it fit, except as noted below.
The wiring was identical. So, I did not replace any of the switches, relays, wiring, or anything electrical. I simply hooked up the new unit the same way as the old one was wired in.
The biggest challenge I wanted to fix was the elongated mounting holes (below) and to counter the torque / rotational forces that caused them.
Thanks to my friend George Menezes for his advice on fiberglass repair & construction.
1/8” thick, 1-1/2” angle aluminum stock was used to fashion a custom “Torque Bar” which would be mounted to the aft two mounting bolts beneath the deck. It would ensure both: the windlass would not be pulled up thru the deck, AND, more likely, it would increase the rotational mechanical advantage from 3-1/2” on this deck construction to 15” apart. Basically, it makes it impossible for this new windlass to rotate in-place.
Of course, working in tight spaces in this anchor locker made the whole project very challenging. The torque bar only made that part of this more difficult. However, my confidence in this new system makes the extra effort worth it!
Lewmar model V3 with 003 Gypsy (3/8” chain, 5/8” laid rope, or 3/4” 8-plait rope. 2248 pounds pull, 85 amps @ 12 VDC, (1000 watts). For 40-50 foot boats. Defender part # 013385 2000 Mainship 390.
Rocna 25kg – 55 pound Vulcan (anchor)
Rode: 200 feet of 3/8” G4 chain + 250 feet of 5/8” nylon laid rope.
The windlass should be “baby-ed” on your boat. Use a “snubber” as shown in the link above, to take the strain off the windlass when at anchor in any moderate wind or current.
Never use the windlass to “pull” your boat up to the anchor against a wind or current. Use the main engine(s) to position the bow above the anchor so the windlass only has the weight of the rode and the anchor-in-mud to lift.
Windlasses are expensive and they are a pain in the arse to repair or replace. So, Baby yours!
002 vs 003
Lewmar stamps their gypsy part number on the gypsy as shown. Again, our 3/8” G4 chain fits the 003 better (smoother) than our 002 ever did.
Securing in a slip at Utsches Marina (Cape May NJ) was a good move, as the winds have been very strong for the past 24 hours. Utsche’s basin here offers good protection, shore power, showers, all the comforts of home.
We were saddened by the news of the sinking of thousands of boats on Florida’s west coast, including that of our Looper friends, Marilyn and Jimof Spinning Dreams III.
On one of the trawler forums there was also a picture of a sunken Mainship, similar to ours, which sank at the dock only 10 days after its new owners closed to purchase her. There were also pics of surviving Mainships after the storm which miraculously made it through unharmed, while other boats around them were severely damaged or destroyed.
Hurricane Ian certainly left its mark.
Fortunately, our favorite places survived damage in the St Johns River area of Florida where we hope to be in a month or so.
We figure we will be here until Thursday when calm seas up the Delaware are predicted. This gives us time to work on projects like the windlass. Here are some early progress pics.