The Route South

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Sugar Toads and a Bad-Ass Hurricane

Wednesday, October 3 was the beginning of this year’s Krogen Rendezvous.  It was our eleventh consecutive Rendezvous and we wouldn’t miss it for the world.  Actually, Wednesday was the official beginning, but some folks started showing up earlier and we started docking boats on Monday.  By the time Wednesday arrived, half the fleet was already there.  As usual, the boats were packed in and once again, no insurance claims had to be filed. 
Wednesday there was a man-overboard demonstration.  Captains Patti and Carol of Sea-Sense put on the program for the ladies.  John Loving and Mike Warren took one for the team and served as the crash-test dummies, spending more time in the water than they originally bargained for.  It was an eye opening experience and most of us came away realizing that we needed to improve our equipment and processes.

We had meetings and presentations through the week, docktail parties, potluck dinners, a closing night feast followed by dancing till we dropped.  Once again the music was provided by Classic Case, the group who has reached “house-band” status with our crowd.  Sunday morning we broke up the raft and sent most of the boats on their way and another Rendezvous was history.

Man Overboard!

Packed in like sardines!
Randy made a quick trip back to Clearwater while Cindy took Morning Star over to the boatyard for shaft and cutlass-bearing replacement.  True to form, there was more work than anticipated and a four-hour job turned into three days.  Fortunately, Cindy was able to bunk in with Brian and Jackie on Gotta’ Smile.  Bob and Nancy from Puffin helped out by driving Cindy and our damaged shaft to Baltimore where a new shaft was fabricated.  A BIG THANKS to you all!  Like the Beatles, we get by with a little help from our friends!

As seems to happen every October, I turned another page and I’m another year closer to Medicare.  Sister Jane did the same.  Bob from Puffin and Jill on LiLi also turned another year older.

Saturday October 20, 2012
At 0930 we left Solomon’s, kind of a bittersweet time.  We were anxious to get under way but sorry to leave.  We really love it here.  Over the next few days we traveled south with Bob & Nancy on Puffin (KK39), stopping in Reedville and Hampton.  The crew of Puffin had never been to Hampton and really liked it so they stayed a few extra days.  We decided to move on. 

Puffin going south.

Monday October 22, 2012
Today we officially left the Chesapeake, passing the huge Navy yards in Norfolk and Portsmouth, traveling down the Elizabeth River.  After a quick stop at Top Rack Marina to top off with diesel fuel, we headed to the Dismal Swamp Canal.  Robert, the genial lockmaster at Deep Creek Lock, locked us through and we continued on to the North Carolina Visitors’ Center.  As usual, there were more boats there than space alongside the dock so, as is customary, we rafted up to another boat for the night.
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Cranes and security patrol at the Navy yard in Portsmouth.

Tuesday October 23, 2012
At 0730 we are away from the dock at the Visitors’ Center for the one-hour trip to the next lock at South Mills.  It only took a half-hour to lock through and then we were chugging slowly down the Pasqoutank River toward Elizabeth City.  Although we aren’t traveling earlier this year than on previous trips, the fall colors really haven’t arrived just yet.  At 1145 we docked alongside the wall at the town park in “Liz City”, one of our favorite stops along the ICW. 
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Wednesday October 24, 2011
We are away just before 0730.  It always surprises us how long a trip it is down the river – two full hours.  It takes another hour-and-a-half to cross Albemarle Sound, which is mercifully smooth.  The Alligator River seems to run on forever and it takes three-and-a-half more hours to get to the southern end.  But that’s not the end of the day.  There is still time to travel through the Alligator/Pungo Canal before dark.  At 1740 we have the anchor down and set in the Pungo River – the end of a long 10 ½ hour day!
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Thursday October 25, 2012
It’s going to be a long day!  The engine is started before sunrise and the anchor is up by 0715.  It’s foggy, the running lights are on and the radar is running.  The visibility is down to ¼ mile at times.  It’s slow, disorienting travel.  We talked on the radio to a sailboat just ahead of us.  He saw a black bear swimming across the river in front of his boat but we completely missed it!  Before 0900 the fog lifted and we were able to shut down the radar and turn the running lights off.  By 1000 we had crossed the Pamlico River and entered Goose Creek on the way to the route through the Bay River.   Cindy served up lunch as we rounded Maw Point Shoal and entered the Neuse River, on our way to Adams Creek and Core Creek.  There is a hurricane on the way and we are pushing to make it to Morehead City Yacht Basin where we will wait out the weather.  By 1715 we are snuggly tied into our slip.  It was another 10 ½ hour day but we have all day tomorrow to prepare for Hurricane Sandy.
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Friday October 26, 2012
Although we aren’t expecting a direct hit from Sandy, the weather guessers are forecasting rain and winds of 50+ knots, gusting higher.  We spent much of the day preparing Morning Star for the storm, doubling our dock lines and tying things down.  Throughout the day Betty and Jill on LiLi (KK48) arrived as did Al and his daughters on TwoCan (KK42).  Jim and Robin on Adventures (Defever 49) and Ted and Nancy on Aloha Friday (Defever 44) are already here.  Throughout the day the marina fills up and everybody is hunkering down.  Sandy turned out to be a huge storm, devastating New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.  We were lucky!

Betty, Robin, Jim, Cindy & Randy went to Floyd's in Morehead City to celebrate Jill's birthday.
I won't say which, but its one with a "0" at the end!
Hurricane pot luck dinner in Morehead City aboard LiLi.
Cindy, Randy, Robin, Ted, Al, Nancy, Betty, Sarah, Jill & Jim (clockwise from left).

Oh yeah…what about the Sugar Toads? 
While in Reedsville we went to dinner with Bob and Nancy.  One item on the menu was Sugar Toads!  WHAT??!!  Turns out they are Northern Pufferfish.  I always heard that puffers were poisonous and only the most skilled Japanese sushi chefs know how to prepare them.  But these guys are different.  At least we hope so.  We ordered up a platter of them and had them as appetizers.  Nancy declined, playing her gluten-allergy trump card.  Well, they were breaded and quite tasty.  When you are in tidewater Virginia be sure to try the Sugar Toads.

Before and after.  Pufferfish...

and Sugar Toads.