Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Final days of North Carolina sailing

After a comfortable stormy night at the Inlet Inn in Beaufort and several sightings of the Shackleford ponies strolling the beach across the anchorage viewed from our balcony,
and a reexploration of the historic graveyard, we reverse traversed the sound back up Adams canal to SeaGate marina where we enjoyed the local good ole boy morning and evening chatter and a glimpse of Masters coverage on the marina tv. The next day we sailed up the Neuse to Fairfield Harbor and Northwest Creek marina, which is one of the best run, amenity filled, friendly big boat marinas we have enjoyed. Our last sailing day we explored Broad Creek under sail then with dying winds we motored the short 5 miles back to New Bern in time to watch the final 2 hours of Masters and Phil Mickelson’s win as we experienced the ambiance of the Raw Seafood Bar, where we ran into some friends of some Michigan people we met at the Northwest marina – as I said very friendly folks all over the place in NC. Definitely our kind of marina and we are always amazed at how many people stop by to chat with us about the Catalina 22 , as it seems the world has owned one at one point or another in their early sailing years and recall this with unusual fondness. Yesterday we finally got the mast down and the boat on the trailer, after a stopped freight train blocked first the railroad bridge through which we needed to go with the boat, then the town through which we needed to drive the trailer for about 2 hours; then the lower tide resulted in moving the boat to a different ramp before we had enough water to pull her out.

The day ended with a relaxing night at the Hilton and dinner at Captain Ratty’s with rooftop views of New Bern and the historic Episcopal church. Then of course their was the requisite photo with one of the New Bern painted bears that are all over town and a stop at Bradham's pharmacy where Pepsi Cola was invented . Jay found nirvana at yet another ice cream place this time enjoying a flavor called "Udder Pecan" Smoothe!!!Today we begin the trek home. All in all a terrific multi faceted vacation. We are already planning to return next year to explore Okracoke and the Pamlico River.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

New Bern, Oriental and Beaufort North Carolina

After a tearful goodbye from Ann to the Balia we trailered same to New Bern where we launched then sailed to Oriental the first day with great close hauled and beam reach winds of 15 to 20mph. Oriental, a true sailing capital of 1,000 permanent residents and 2,700 yachts is a quaint town that reminds us of Northport in Michigan. Everyone stopped by to say hello, and we shared stories with fellow cruisers and there was a tiki bar right at the Oriental marina and the Coffee Bean right across the street where all the locals hang out in the am , a few singing the tune of “High Hopes”. Then the next day it was down Adams Creek to Beaufort, a 30 mile jaunt with in our nose wind that had us donning our foul weather gear. Today we stay over in Beaufort to explore and relax, but the marina here is very welcoming with free drink wooden nickels at the Dockhouse restaurant, one of my favorite places for a fried shrimp sandwich with cole slaw, and there is an ice cream parlor within 30 ft of the boat.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

TBAF Part 2 or Dune Heaven

We returned to one of our favorite spots anywhere, in Southport, being met in Wilmington by our friend Anne who transported us from the terrible throngs of BusWorld to the elegantly extravagant environs of Bald Head Island via the new ferry port at Deep Point Marina. This morning our walk on the beach was a beautiful poetry of conflicting waves at the Cape Fear point, and luxurious sand dune grasses. We said our farewells at the Bald Head Island Light, returning to Southport and the little Balia for our trip north to sail Pamlico

Train, buses, automobiles and ferries Part 1

Train to RDU and bus to Wilmington then Ferry to Bald Head Island. During our 6 hour layover in Raleigh connecting from Amtrak to Greyhound methods of transportation we walked the streets of downtown Raleigh to discover a QT biker benefit (that’s Queen’s Together) and chatted with “007” and “???”(forgive me guys but I will have to fill the rest in later when I find the piece of paper on which I wrote your names) of the Decepkion Biker Club. Phenomenal noise as 150 bikes left the Convention Center, with only one showoff hitting a streetpole. As we waited forager Jay was magically drawn to a Krispy Kreme for a bite of lemon filled nirvana. We then walked back to the train station to collect our luggage (no they didn’t lose it this time) stopping at the Mexican restaurant we had briefly visited on our way south , Ibarra’s, for a terrific authentic lunch and a great conversation with bartender Ted who had been on the same cruise boat our friends Dean and Laura had been on last month just one week before them ( SMALL WORLD). After my diatribe on the bathroom experience of the train in reserved coach, I will leave our bus experience to your imagination. Except let me say that there are still people in the world who need to comprehend the term “waiting in line”.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Florida Friends continued

The next visit was across the state on the Gulf Coast to the beautiful home of Dick and Joyce Ring, whom we first met when they were guests at the Grey Hare Inn last fall, for yet another fun baseball game. This time it was the Baltimore Orioles who got trounced by the Boston Red Sox. During our 3 days here we have absolutely fallen in love with their dog Poppy, and on our last evening after a round of golf at Manatee County’s course we enjoyed a sunset dinner on the Manatee River which leads to Saratoga Bay and the gulf. We also spent a delightful hour during our stay at Jack and Diane Frestel’s condo in downtown Saratoga in the midst of the art district catching up on Jack’s recent restaurant acquisitions and plans for Dirty’s twin brother Dick Deadeye. We have really enjoyed walking the beach on Anna Maria Island, which is almost as white as the one at Coco Beach in Treasure Cay.

Florida Friends

The feelings expressed in the last post remained as our first restaurant meal back in the states was spent with an old friend of Cindy’s from the late 60s and summer camp counseling, Kim and her husband Fred , was at a classic Floridian waterside large openair casual dining experience which under different circumstances would have been very nice. Our reaction was overwhelming nausea to the manner in which most table’s diners were stuffing food into their mouths, as if the goal was speed and volume rather than tasteful enjoyment. We followed this with a trip to the ballpark watching the St. Louis Cardinals spring training game against Minnesota which was dramatically won at the bottom of the 9th with 2 outs and a terrific two run homer.

Return to USA

One of the things we most enjoy about travel out of the USA is being in a place so wonderfully different, but it is always a bit of a culture shock to return to the relative frenzy of our home country which then seems to heighten sensitivity to some of the more negative aspects of our society. The consumption orientation and greedy self absorbed nature of our economic culture becomes all too visible after being in a country with so much less and yet so much more to offer.
For example, and not necessarily in chronological or geographic order. I just went to the car communal bathroom on the train as we are traveling from West Palm Beach to Tampa and discovered not only urine on the toilet seat, which of course is not so unusual, but actually free flowing in a tidelike manner back and forth depending on which zig or zag the train was on. So in order to utilize the facility I was forced to put paper towels down in the path of the yellow stream, then wipe the seat and adjoining areas, use different paper towels (can you already here the buzzsaws cutting down more trees?) to soap and wash the seat, then dry. After my own use I then used even more paper towels to wash and dry the bottom of my shoes. It’s so much fun to make use of such professionals talents while on vacation, but I did draw the line at picking up the urine soaked towels preferring to report the situation to train staff who were very grateful for my efforts but of course why wouldn’t they be.
Now come on guys I know the train’s moving and all but there is a grab bar to hold on to!! As Jay gave me a personal review that this really isn’t all that difficult to manage, I can only assume that the previous pee-ers just don’t care about the effect their inactions have on others. Amtrak does such a nice job of keeping their trains clean but it’s difficult to keep doing that if every time someone walks in to use a bathroom they walk out with urine on their shoes then tracking it a few steps or more onto the train’s carpeted walkways or up on the seat (since of course that inconsiderate behavior is also rampant). Perhaps this is why many public urinals in Europe just gave up and left the holes.

Hopetown Harbor Lodge

Our last two nights were spent at the Hopetown Harbor Lodge where we truly enjoyed reducing our area of interaction to within several hundred feet of our adorable Caribbean beach cabana, and sometimes within even just a few feet; as Cindy endured the Bahamian version of Montezuma’s revenge. This volcanic experience began our last night on the boat where advantageously the sink is but a foot away from the toilet providing double options for cleansing