Thursday, November 12, 2020

What we did on our summer vacation

As you know, I don’t write in the blog during the summer. Actually I guess I don't write in this blog as often as I think!! Trust me, in my head I am writing all the time.  

In the summer, it is kind of boring to hear me say, “Kermit messed around with a boat and I worked.” Now that we are moving back on to the Hatteras, we have some excitement to report!! So, I pick up my pen again and share!!

Changes to our Family

We are pleased  to report that our son finally married his partner, and the love of his live, Julie!! They had a small, pop-up wedding on September 19, 2020. It was beautiful!!

We had another addition to the family when Marissa adopted a little dog, Briggs Riley Burik. He is a tiny dynamo, a Havanese. Briggs is always busy and provides no end of entertainment and responsibility for Marissa.

In June 2019, Kermit brought a new vehicle into our family, a Cadillac SRX he affectionately nicknamed Scooter. The bloom fell off that rose quickly. Kermit decided it was too small. This fall I must have been smoking something fancy because one evening I said to Kermit that perhaps he would like a muscle car of his dreams to celebrate his upcoming 70th birthday. After he regained consciousness from this shock, he said he really wanted a Suburban like the big black truck he had before.

So, Kermit began the great search for a new vehicle. He traded in Scooter for a 2018 Cadillac Escalade ESV, same length as the Suburban but with more gingerbread than a huge pile of Christmas cookies. He calls this one Big Scooter! He is VERY happy!! I must admit this vehicle rides like a dream and has plenty of room for all the crap we seem to drag around.

Visiting friends and family this summer

We had some fabulous socially distant socialization this summer. Char Houser and I met up with Connie Dobransky for lunch and a long delayed catch-up. We had such fun, we got the whole gang together  (Housers, Ruegamers, Simos, and Helms) and finally met Connie’s fella, Larry. What a  great guy!!!

Unfortunately, Connie’s daughter, Shelly, was gravely ill and has since passed. We extend our deepest sympathies to Connie and her family.

We had some wonderful adventures with the Houser's, Hoffman's, and Steiber's, both before and after Tom Steiber got sick this summer. He is getting better, which is all that matters! We laughed and teased the Houser's as they  finally got that patio built. I should say “supposedly”  because no one has verified its existence yet!

We went out several times and had some wonderful backyard dinners with the Lipka’s, Vellucci’s and Bate’s. It takes a bit of creativity, but it is possible to safely distance and still see friends.

Kermit visited his mom for lunch every Wednesday, bringing over Chik Fil’ A, especially Helen's favorite, the lemonade. We miss family  a lot when we go south for the winter so we do everything we can to indulge in the summer, even in a pandemic.

Changes to the Summer Boating Experience

Like most of the country, we spent the summer in quarantine looking for  ways to get out of the house safely. The Lake Erie  boat,  1991 Four Winns 365 Express, was finally coming into its own. But we realized that our years on Lake Erie were sort of coming to an end. After 26 years at Venetian Marina, we were ready to have a few months out of boating every year.

In the past 2 years since we owned the Hatteras, we realize that owning two boats  is no longer feasible. We love the time we spend on the Hatteras from November through May. Then we run up the East coast to New Bern NC to put the Hatteras in summer hurricane storage. By the time we got to OH it is mid-late June. Then we need another flurry of activity (waxing, bottom paint, etc.) to get the Lake Erie boat out of winter storage, cleaned up and in the water sometime around July 4th. It is exhausting to even describe this effort. Kermit is tired!

This year we only visited Lake Erie and the Four Winns four or five times.  We planned to pull the boat for the winter in October only to repeat the effort for the Hatteras starting in November.

So, we were doing all this work for a few weekends with our friends on Lake Erie. We want to enjoy the friends but reduce our hassle factor. For the cost of the second boat we could stay in the fanciest hotel nearby and visit our friends! Even take them out to a fancy dinner on us!

We decided to pull the plug on Lake Erie boat ownership. The Four Winns sold in about a month for more than we put into it. 2020 is a great year for selling boats! The family that bought  it has never owned a boat before!! Imagine that?

So now we only own one boat! We feel relieved, especially Kermit who carries the brunt of the effort on boat ownership.

Hatteras Update

The Hatteras Good Karma spent the summer safely at New Bern Grand Haven Marina on the Neuse River in North Carolina. Kermit and Paul Bates visited in the summer to move the boat from one dock  to another dock in the same marina. These docks are privately owned, called a “dockominium”. Someone else owned the slip we were in so we had to move to another vacant slip.

Here is some of the maintenance we did this fall:  

Tank Monitors: Paul and Kermit installed tank monitors on the holding tanks. We have 2 holding tanks for waste. One is 120 gallons and the other is 60 gallons. Unfortunately, we never knew exactly how much waste is in those tanks until they overflow. We are much better guessers after a few years on this boat, so we never have overflows but having tank monitors allows us to visually check to see how full the tanks are – a big innovation!!

To install the tank monitors, they put aluminum tape in 2 stripes on the outside of the tanks. Then you mount the sensor in the middle and run a wire to each strip. Then you run another wire to a battery. Once it is installed, you hit a button and you can see how full the tanks are.

The monitors are called “SCAD TM2”. It only works on the Hatteras this way because on this boat, all holding tanks are ¾ solid fiberglass. This system reads through the fiberglass. Cool, huh?

Dinghy Storage: The first summer hurricane season in 2019, Tom Stieber, Paul Bates and Kermit deflated the dinghy and strapped it to the bow of the boat. This meant we had to reverse the process in the fall with the help of several strapping dockhands. It was a hassle because the dinghy and especially the motor are heavy and awkward. There had to be a better way.

In June, we rented a storage unit here in New Bern. Kermit drove the dinghy over to a nearby ramp and I drove Scooter with a trailer over to the ramp. We manhandled the dinghy and motor into that trailer then unloaded at the storage until. I can’t believe how heavy that 4 stroke Honda is!

This November when we arrived back in New Bern, we had to repeat the process in reverse to get the dinghy back on the boat for our journey south. We tried a new innovation to reduce the manhandling.

We bought 2 cheap Harbor Freight dollies to put under the front and back ends of the dinghy. This meant we could roll the dinghy out of the storage unit and up into the rented trailer attached to Big Scooter. He strapped the motor to a rented refrigerator dolly so we could roll the motor onto the trailer and lay it on the floor. A short trip to the ramp and we reversed the process putting the dinghy in the water. .

We gracefully slid the dinghy off the trailer. It smoothly went down the ramp, into the water.  No effort at all! And the front dolly floats! We  collected both dollies, storing them safely in the storage unit until next spring.

We stood up the motor and glided it to the dinghy stern. This was a little more problematic. Kermit had to walk it into the water, then jiggle around with the mechanism to bend the motor so the blades were out of the water and not hitting the ramp. With the motor in place, he rowed out to deeper water and tried the engine. After a few pulls it started! He was off!

Over the summer, Kermit purchased a new dinghy hanging system, a Trilogy Lift, a roller system like cranking the dinghy up a boat trailer. Kermit hates the current set up in which the dinghy hangs on two arms like a sailboat dinghy structure. The new system needs to be mounted when we get to FL but for now it sits safely in pieces in the back of Big Scooter.

Dinghy in place, we finalized engine maintenance necessary before leaving.

Engine Maintenance & Repair

  • Barnacle Buster – cleans all the gunk out of engine cooling system
  • ·        New impellers on both engines and generator
  • ·        Barnacle Buster in Air conditioning system
  • ·        New fuel filters on engines
  • ·        New water pump on starboard engine. This is a funny story. Last year this was supposed to be replaced. We discovered that the mechanic walked down the steps to the galley, turned left to the engines and opened the engine door for the starboard engine. Or so he thought. He was facing the rear of the boat. All you boaters out there know that the starboard is the right-hand side when facing the FRONT of the boat! That mechanic put a new water pump on the PORT engine, replacing an already new pump. So the starboard water pump still needed to be replaced!!! LOL, only in boat world would someone find that funny…

All this work took a week, during the week of November 1, 2020. We were all set to leave on Saturday, November 7.

We make new friends

One day last week Kermit said a guy walked over and said he was the former owner of this boat. I said, sure, of course. HA!

Turns out, he was the former owner. Dave and Paula owned this boat from about 2000 to about 2008, before the fellow we bought it from. They called it Laurentide, based out of Milwaukee’s McKinley Marina, the same marina we were marooned at in 2018 when the starboard engine went bonkers. How  crazy is that?

This is the couple that redid the entire boat!! They redecorated, bought all the lovely furniture, made the curtains, remodeled the kitchen, and rebuilt the engines! Isn’t it a small world?

They only sold the boat because they were transferred to new posts in Hawaii. I guess that is a great reason to sell a boat!

One afternoon Dave and Paula came over for docktails and an eager tour of the boat. They seemed pleased that we are taking such good care of their boat! When we got delayed this week with the generator, they invited us over to their home across the river for dinner. Now they have a 36’ Grand Banks. We had a delightful time!

On our way!!

We left at 6:30am, as the sun was coming up on a perfect day for traveling! Ah, it was glorious… until it wasn’t. About 2 miles down the Neuse River, we noticed that the generator went off. That’s odd. Kermit went down and checked. We turned around and headed back. We need the generator to power the fridge and outlets while under way.

Then he got the generator going again. We turned around and headed out. Until the generator stopped. This time steam was coming out of the generator compartment! We turned around again. Kermit got on the phone with Mike at Bridgton Boat Works, across the river from New Bern.  Mike directed us to come on over. He had the mechanic in the yard and could take a look right away.

It took us some time to get back. We passed the historic district, something we overlooked in our walks around New Bern. Then Mike said we were going the wrong way and we should head back and cross the river in a different place. All in all, we tied up at Bridgeton Boat Works around 10am after lots of screwing around.

Chad, the mechanic, came on board, fiddled with a few things. It should work. We untied and headed out. In the middle of the river the generator went off again. We turned around and headed back. This time they wrung their hands. Nothing they could do. They needed the generator expert out of Beaufort but he was not available until this week.

We turned around and headed back to New Bern to wait. This was Saturday November 7. On Wednesday afternoon Nov 11, Keith, the generator expert knocked on the boat around 3pm to take a look with his trusty sidekick. These expert  mechanics all seem to have young sidekicks learning the ropes. Right now, they hand the expert his tools but eventually these kids become full fledged talented mechanics. It’s a good system!

Anyhoo, after fiddling with generator stuff, he asks to borrow Kermit’s heat sensor and turn on the generator. It started immediately. And kept running. Keith checked the heat all over the generator compartment. Time for the diagnosis.

Get this. The mechanic changing the impeller forgot to open the sea cock! The generator was getting enough water intake to start the engine but not enough to keep it running. When it got too hot, which is what happens, the generator shut off! When Keith opened the sea cock, the water entered to keep the generator cool. The generator stays on now!!

YEAH for Keith!! Problem solved!!

We can leave now!! Or  can we? 

While  all this nonsense maintenance was  taking place, something else was happening. A  little tropical storm named Eta  wandered  around the Gulf like  a  ping pong ball,  making its fourth landfall in Tampa and heading northeast across the state. Today as I write this (Thursday Nov 12) the storm is heading out to the Atlantic northeast brushing the coastline on its way to Nova Scotia. At the same time, another storm is heading east  with  heavy rain and flooding  extending from Savannah to Boston. It has been raining for 2 days now heavy.

Why do we care? Because  this  kind of storm system causes storm surges, flooding, and churned up water exactly where we want to travel. It will be a mess out there. It is already a mess here on the Neuse River. We are rocking and rolling. Yesterday I got a little green in the gills and had to go for a walk in the rain  to get off this roller coaster.

We can’t leave in this weather. No matter how much we want to.  We are heading back to Ohio to celebrate Thanksgiving next week with our family, as best as we can during a pandemic. We will begin again in a few weeks.

Here is our float plan  for the two-week journey to FL:

Day 1

Mile Hammock

Day 8

Cumberland Island

Day 2


Day 9

St. Augustine

Day 3

Barefoot or Osprey

Day 10

Daytona Beach

Da  4


Day 11


Day 5


Day 12

Vero Beach

Day 6

Hilton Head

Day 13

Stuart FL

Day 7

Walberg Creek or Wahoo River




Depending on weather and water, we might go outside in the ocean to cut off some time. This general concept gets us to Stuart FL around Dec 10 – 13. We hope to see friends along the way if we can and if the pandemic permits.

I will write again when we return to the boat and get under way. In the meantime, have a wonderful Thanksgiving!!!

Saturday, April 13, 2019

The journey north begins April 7, 2019

Sunset at Titusville

We truly enjoyed our time in Fort Pierce. Time passed too quickly probably because we were so busy. We opted not to go to the Bahamas because it took us so long to get to Fort Pierce. Maybe next year.

We had a final lunch with Bunny and Evan and a celebratory key lime pie. 

Early in the morning we threw off our lines, hugged Stella the dog and her dad Gary one last time and took off. We met Michael and Judy on One September at Vero Beach to continue north.
Seen along the ICW south of

Just minding his own business - life is good!


This bridge tender was a jerk.
He almost insisted we take down our
antenna but we refused so he opened
the bridge. NASA bridge

It is fun to travel with another boat, particularly such accomplished boaters as Michael and Judy. We took turns leading, switching in the afternoon to give the lead boat a rest. It is easier to follow than lead.

See the rocket?

Meeting One September at
Titusville. Our first night we anchored near Titusville, on the north side of the bridge. It was a calm night with a great view of the next rocket that will launch later this week. In fact, we thought we could see it the next night but the launch was postponed. 

Daytona Beach
Michael and Judy met us at Titusville the next morning. They can travel faster so it was no big deal for them to leave Vero Beach and drive quickly to Titusville to meet us. 
Driving and working;
working and driving
Daytona Beach - Halifax River Yacht Club Monday April 8 and Tuesday April 11, 2019. We stayed two nights because we expected (and received) a big thunderstorm. It was awesome! Thunder and lightening while we enjoyed a mediocre dinner at Chart House. 
A panorama view of the town - cute, huh?


A colorful duck

the road to Daytona Speedway
looks like a speedway
Good Karma at Halifax River Yacht Club
the view from the back deck, my office view!
We had a fun evening. Some friends of Judy and Michael, Don and Diane, drove all the way from Orlando joined us for docktails and dinner. We had a great time! Don went to college with Michael and Diane is a wedding planner. She shared tidbits of her favorite weddings. Turns out she is organizing a wedding at Dreams in Punta Cana where our son and daughter-in-law, Dan and Julia were married in January. Small world, huh?

I took a long walk the first day, ostensibly to find a cash station but really to get so exercise off the boat. Such a cute town! The cute little shops and built along the river which has walkways and parks for blocks and blocks. The Daytona 500 takes place across the river. The roadway across the river looks sort of like a speedway too!!

The next night we had a delicious dinner at Halifax River Yacht Club. I had duck and Kermit had steak au poive. We could smell the delicious steak when the server entered the room. 

This yacht club is lovely. It is the oldest US yacht club continuously in one place. The new building was built about 15 years ago and is magnificent. The docks are wooden fixed shaped like kind of a rabbit warren. We got a wonderful spot, easy in and easy out. 

We fueled up in the morning - 201 gallons

Then on our way out of Daytona Beach

We drove from up top!
Hammock Bay - we stayed
here a few times before
This part of FL ICW is narrow
kind of boring

Passing St. Augustine

Jacksonville Free Dock Wednesday April 10, 2019. We traveled a long day again to get past Jacksonville. We never stopped at this free dock before but it sure was lovely. There were four other sailboats already tied up. We saw a spectacular sunset while grilling chicken and enjoying a bottle of wine.

The fort at St. Augustine

St. Augustine from the water

Repair facility near St. Marys

Free dock at Jacksonville
The view from the dock
before sunset
Following One Sept

Jacksonville Free dock

Just past Jacksonville, entering GA

The river changes - more marsh,
more twists. We must
be in Georgia!!

Crescent River anchorage at dusk

Crescent River anchorage  

Crescent River GA Thursday April 11, 2019. We followed a river upstream a little to a lovely wide and deep anchorage. We tied up together and enjoyed another lovely dinner with One September. This time we had steak and they had tuna. 
Anchored at Crescent in GA
One of our favorite restaurants
on Jekyll - just passed by

Getting going in the morning
Dead boats

The big hotel at Jekyll Island

By Fernandina Beach
Savannah - Isle of Hope. Friday April 12, 2019. This travel day was more complicated. The water is pretty shallow in a few places, particularly the important cut, Hell's Gate. We stayed in line with several other Looper boats and tried to stay in the deeper water. Deeper water here means only about 6 or 7 feet under keel. 

This marker shows a water
line at least five feet below
high water mark. Watch out!
At one point just prior to Hell's Gate we spaced out and found ourselves in 1 foot of water, slowly moving out of it while pretending we intended to go that way all along. Thank goodness I was not driving. 

One of the reasons for such crazy water is the tide. We avoided traveling at low tide because in SC the tides swing 7 to 8 feet. So at high tide the water level might look fine but at low tide you could be on the ground.
Wormlea Plantation, next to
Isle of Hope where they
filmed part of Forest Gump

We passed a Looper boat that appeared to be awfully far out of the channel. We thought he was anchored but no, he was stuck. We asked and he agreed that we would try waking him to see if we could dislodge him. We waked him alright. And he moved a little, enough to start backing off the low spot. I asked if they wanted us to make another pass and he said no. Then a quiet voice came on the radio. "This is the Admiral. I am overruling the Captain. Please make another pass." Isn't that funny?

Lovely homes along the water in GA and SC
Kermit, Katherine, Judy, Mike, Joy and Jim at Pearl's
Isle of Hope is another one of my favorite places. It is quaint and slow, located in a simply beautiful neighborhood filled with lovely old homes. I regret not having time for a long walk.

We put on another 250 gallons of diesel yesterday at Isle of Hope before tying up.

We had dinner last night with Jim and Joy from Jim's Joy and Mike and Judy from One September. A reunion of sorts!! A wonderful dinner too at Pearl's. Seafood all around (except Kermit who got chicken).

A fun stop at Walmart for Simple Green to resolve a nagging sewage smell in our bilge and we were home for the night!! Such a lovely group of people. 

Leaving Isle of Hope
This morning we left Isle of Hope at about 7am bound for Beaufort NC. If we have time this afternoon we might keep going to anchor closer to Charleston. We see a bad storm coming in on Sunday afternoon. We would love to be in Charleston in the morning before the storm arrives.
Osprey nesting!!

We plan to stay in Charleston a few days while One September visits their mechanic. Their mechanical problems make them uncomfortable driving their boat long distances. What a great place to spend a weekend!!