Up Annapolis St Michaels Smithfield Great Dismal Swamp Elizabeth City Manteo Ocracoke Beaufort,NC South Port Georgetown






Well, we left the boat yard, remarking at what nice people they were.  We quickly maneuvered our way out through their maze of posts and headed back out over the harbor to the public docks.  An elderly guy wearing a WWII Veterans hat waved us to our slip and helped take our stern lines.  Meanwhile, I wrestled with the posts off the bow and beam.  It was another of those dang docks with posts but we’re getting the hang of it now and got settled pretty quickly.  The “wedge” of a dock was about the smallest wedge yet but you can’t complain as the dockage is free and the people are friendly and hospitable. 


“Scuttlebutt” had just come through the bridge and ignoring the dock master poked her nose into the slip next to us though there were a slew of them to choose from.  The dock master waved them out to another place more appropriate to their size I guess.  Reluctantly, they followed orders, but just a few moments later, they were back again and insisted on going into the original slip smack dab right next to us.  They said they didn’t like that other slip as it was too small for them.  Sam, the dock master, just shrugged his shoulders.  So there we were again, with all these empty spaces, snuggled up next to scuttlebutt only a few feet away again.    


Turns out Scuttlebutt has done quite a lot of cruising up and down the Intracoastal and a good part of the Great Circle in that little scuttlebutt of a boat.  We couldn’t imagine doing all that cruising in that cramped boat.  We wondered how they had room to sleep, let alone room to do other necessities that need to be done.  But they were happy as clams and weren’t complaining.  Their most urgent need was to get some ice and go to the nearest grocery store.  So I can only surmise that they don’t have a refrigerator on the boat if they need ice so urgently.  Even though they may have some inconveniences, it sure wasn’t putting a damper on their long distance and long term cruising as they seem to be enjoying what this lifestyle has to offer, freely floating from place to place. 


Minutes later, the Mayor showed up at the docks this time to greet any boaters that may have just arrived from the Dismal Swamp.  We soon found out that this was a daily tradition for the Mayor and the volunteer crew, called the “Rosebuds.”   They are quite well known among traveling boaters for this bit of hospitality.  As we spent a good amount of time here we noticed that they would arrive at the docks at the docks just a bit before noon when boaters would be just making it here from the Dismal Swamp all timed by the 9:00 lock opening. 

The greeters are called Rosebuds because they are known to give the boaters a cut rose upon arrival.  The town also provides 48 hours of free dockage to boot.  There isn’t power or water though but there is just about everything else you need right near by including some things you don’t need which is an occasional whiff from the sewer pumping house several yards away.  That only happens if the wind is blowing the “wrong way” we were told.  It’s not that bad though as the wind is usually blowing the “right way”. 


The mayor says they have plans for rerouting the sewer lines to the new sewer plant located up the river.  Then they can make use of the pump house, remodeling it to provide new showers, restrooms and a nice club house for visiting boaters.  He said they’ve already rerouted 75% of the sewer lines, which back in the old days, used to dump right out in the harbor.  The mayor has ideas to change the harbor, eventually building new slips with power and water.  It all takes time, lots of red tape and money from the government but I think if anyone could pull it off, this mayor will.  He has visions of Elizabeth City someday being like another Annapolis where boaters come for rendezvous. 


The mayor is about the greatest promoter that any small town could hope for.  He makes sure you know what and where all the things to do and to see are within walking distance, including the specials at the local restaurants on each particular night, what the first run movie is that is playing at old local theatre (which serves a sit down dinner and cocktails!), what fresh produce and homemade local products you can expect see and buy at the Farmer’s Market (that sets up Saturday morning right on the lawn in front of the public docks), where the new must see and free Albemarle Museum is located, just down the block, how to call to get a courtesy ride to the local upscale grocery store and what his additional future dreams and plans are for the waterfront.  He is full of energy and enthusiasm and we really admired this guy. 




The mayor says that if at least five new boats have arrived at the docks on a given day, the Rosebuds will provide a “get together party for the boaters” on the waterfront patio of a nearby restaurant.  They provide some wine, snacks and more information about their city.  Only two of us arrived the first day so no get together was planned.  In fact, the mayor remarked that the amount of visiting boaters was down this year. 

Five new boats have arrived


They thought it was due to the high fuel prices and the drastic things going on with the economy.  We said similar comparisons could be made on the West Coast. 

But, no matter what the economy is doing there are always those out there boating still migrating, exploring because the next day four new boats did come in and they put on a welcome party for everyone.  I have to tell you that it was so touching how these people go out of their way to welcome us small handful of visitors.  The mayor justifies the expense and time put forth by these socials as being good for the local economy.  If the boaters stop they will spend time and money so it can only help to be friendly and hospitable to them.   But even though they may prosper by the visiting boaters, I really do think the town’s people are genuinely and unselfishly hospitable regardless.  I agree with the philosophy though believing that they can only prosper from more boaters coming to visit their town.  Since boaters get free dockage, a nice welcome party, and help from the locals to point you in the right direction for things you need, then the least you can do is pay back by going supporting their restaurants, farmers market, theatre, art galleries, book stores and museum by spending a little money. The restaurants are so good and so reasonably priced that there’s no excuse not to reciprocate though we saw a few boaters taking advantage of the situation.

The Farmers Market


The Mayor and Sam immediately took Larry under their wing when they heard he wasn’t feeling well and in need of a doctor.  They not only gave Larry the name of a good ophthalmologist but they insisted on driving him there to make sure he got in to see the doctor personally.  Larry had been suffering for days now from horrible headaches behind his eye and on the side of his head.  He was even more worried now though about his vision which was getting blurry and foggy in the one eye.  So, lickety split, before you knew it Steve put Larry in his pick up truck and took him straight to the doctor while Ziggy and I stayed on the boat.



It was too hot to leave Ziggy in the boat alone, so there we waited and worried.  It wasn’t long before Sam brought Larry back.  They got an appointment first thing in the morning as it was too late in the day today to get him in.  Sam said without being asked said he would be by tomorrow morning at 9:00 AM to pick Larry up and take him to his appointment!  The mayor came back by again a bit later to make sure things were OK with Larry and to make sure that he got an appointment with the doctor.  Can you believe the kindness of these people?  We were so grateful to them.

We felt like we were in good hands.  Imagine having a medical problem like this in an unfamiliar place and to luck out by coming here where the local folks go out of their way to take care of you and check on you like this? I’m not sure what we would’ve done besides just going to another Urgent Care Center or Emergency Ward, which we’d done twice already, and received good help but no remedy. 


The public docks are on the waterfront right in the center of town.  Everything is very convenient for boaters.  There is a nice grass park just in front of us, which as I mentioned has a great farmer’s market every Saturday (in season I guess) and along the waterfront is a long boardwalk lined with benches.  While we were there it seemed like the whole town at one time or another on each given day comes to the waterfront park to see what boats have come or gone, some come just to ponder the view out to the sound and others just come to say hello and make you feel welcome.  The “Rosebuds” too always seem to be nearby sitting on the park benches watching and waiting for any new arriving boaters no matter what direction they might come from whether it is the Dismal Swamp or from Albemarle Sound.  If you are docked here, you’re never lonely as everyone says hello and talks with you.  One afternoon I got a knock on the boat and it turned out to be the Jehovah’s witnesses!  Now that could be considered a good or a bad thing I guess but I thought it was comical.  We've never had that happen before.  These are the friendliest and most religious people I think we’ve ever met in fact. 


We took it easy though because we were worried about Larry.  Thank goodness everything is close by which made it the perfect place to be under these circumstances.  We had some really good restaurants just a short walk away.   The food was simple, delicious, and reasonably priced.  The service everywhere we went was friendly and appreciative.  It’s really nice to spend money and be sincerely thanked and appreciated for your business.   I’m sorry to say that that is a rare thing these days.  No matter where you go, even walking down the street, people say hello and they may ask where you are from, or where you’re going and if you're are lucky, much more.   One day I was walking through their residential area which is filled with wonderful old homes, just like it was a hundred years ago.  I was talking a few pictures and one home owner came out to tell me all the history of his house and others along the street.  These are real people here, down to earth, kind and hospitable.


That next morning, Sam was there promptly at 9:00 AM to take Larry to the doctor’s appointment.  Hours later Larry called on the cell phone.  Looks like he’s got a pretty serious problem but treatable requiring some immediate attention, including filling about 8 prescriptions which will require hourly eye drops and pills for the next several weeks and many follow up appointments.  Right now Larry had serious swelling behind his eye and if they can’t get the swelling down right away he may have permanent vision damage!  This was Thursday and the doctor wanted to see him back first thing the next morning and after the weekend.  He told Larry he wasn’t going anywhere until then as they had to get this swelling down. 


So it looks like we were going to be here for at least four more days.  That also meant we were going over the 48 hour limit on dockage at the public docks.  The Mayor and Sam said "not to worry" that we can stay as long as we needed.   We said we might have to move regardless as we may get low on water.  "Not a problem" they said, "we’ll just hook up a garden hose to the drinking fountain to fill your tank if needed".  

We were worried though and decided to just lie low while we diligently applied the medications and Larry rested.  We didn’t know what would happen if the swelling didn’t go down behind his eye, and didn’t want to know.  We just wanted the swelling to go down, PERIOD.  It was really a job doing 7 or 8 different kinds of eye drops every hour on the hour.  You almost had to set an alarm clock to keep up the rigorous schedule, which at times we did with the microwave kitchen timer as every hour the routine started, and then once it started each application had to be done precisely 5 minutes after the last one.  Also, one of the prescriptions had to be refrigerated too so if we went any where we had to carry that one in a cup of ice to keep it cold.  You could never let your mind wander or rest as you always had to think about that next drop or pill to take.  It was exhausting and stressful.

The mayor came by frequently to check in on Larry and even brought his wife by one day to see the boat and meet us.  Sam too was always checking in too to see if we needed anything and again said he would take Larry to his Monday appointment and would remind him about it (like as if we could forget). 

Larry’s eye, and actually his whole being, began looking and feeling better very quickly with the medications.  Finally, something was improving after suffering for almost three weeks.   We sat tight patiently applying medications and eating at the local restaurants and in between I would take Zig for walks down their lovely historic residential streets or take short visits their new museum nearby.  We’d also watch the ever changing landscape on these docks. 

Each day the big event would be to see what boats would arrive.  We'd watch as the greeting ceremonies would be repeated all over again and then also at dawn, when no one was around we'd watch the boats would leaving as the sun would come up, getting a head start on their long day ahead of them out the sound to their next stop on their southerly migration.  They would leave across placid waters drenched in the most magnificent sunrises full of color.  There’s always a longing feeling when you are at the dock and you see other boaters leaving heading to their next journey, but there we stayed waiting and hoping Larry would get better. 


We also began to worry about staying at the docks too long.  There is a limit on the time to stay at these “free docks”.  Though we knew the mayor and others understood Larry's condition, we could see that one sail boater thought we must have had a good thing going here with this "free dockage" and he suddenly developed a bogus back problem which meant he needed to stay indefinitely.  It was obvious he didn’t have a back problem but how do you tell one boater you’ve got to go and another you can stay?  Larry was feeling much better and since he was doing better we thought we could move the boat across the harbor to a small marina. We discussed it and decided we’d move the boat and rent a car as it would be a bit of a walk to town from there.  So we told the Mayor and Sam our plans and after the Farmer's Market on Saturday we moved.     


We were getting cabin fever and felt we needed a break so decided to take a Sunday drive to see Edenton, the next port town over which is about 30 miles drive but a long sail by water.  What a charming historical town Edenton is and it has a great little harbor marina too!  If we had more time and were just cruising North Carolina it would be a great place to visit by boat.


 Of course we didn't know this at the time but in this neck of the world everything closes on Sunday because everyone goes to church.  In fact, as we drove through the countryside there may not be a lot of houses or other buildings but you'd always see lots of churches, Baptist, Episcopal, etc.  Even out on the rural country roads, it was not unusual to come across church after church just plopped down right by cotton, peanut or tobacco field, or on an unlikely bend in the road.  The countryside drive through the rural areas was amazing.  We passed one amazing historic farm after another, unchanged since the Civil War.   The large white colonnaded farm houses still looked the same, cradled by huge old trees and fields and the roads leading to the houses were old roads, still unpaved, grooved with ruts from the days when they used horse and buggies.  This is wonderful country to see. 



I had read about a small antique car ferry that was still running.  It was privately owned kept active by the locals.  It could only take at the most two small cars at a time across a creek.   It was a local secret used mostly by the locals as a shortcut to avoid all the extra driving to get around a long finger of land.   The little ferry was cable drawn and over a hundred years old.  According to what we were told there is only one other of its kind still left and operating in the country.  Well that peaked out interest right away and even though it wouldn’t take us in a direction we needed or planned to go, we couldn’t pass that experience up.  To find the darn thing though, we had to stop several times to get local directions as it was off the main highway and you had to take one country back road after another to get there.  Directions went like this, “Go past the Baptist church then turn right at the old farm house and go by the cotton field but you need to turn left before the pond.." and etc. 

We had to stop and talk to locals here and there as we wound our way around the little country roads to get more directions.  Finally, still following the guidance of locals, we went down what looked like a an unlikely road to a ferry as it was nothing more than a muddy old driveway, heading into what looked like a marsh with over grown bushes hanging over it, but, by golly, we found it.  We arrived at the ferry landing.  It was nothing more than a mud ramp that went down into the muddy creek.  There was a rustic posted sign that said “Blow your horn for the ferry”.  We could see the ferry on the other side across the creek.  We felt a little presumptuous but honked the horn and out of nearby house comes the ferry captain.  He gets on the ferry and into his little pilot house.  Pretty soon we hear a couple back fires from the muffler that is projecting from the top of his “pilot house” which also spits out a big puff of black smoke and then we hear the engine begin chugging as he warmed her up.   Pretty soon he started making his way across the creek being pulled by the old cable that was just barely visible as it surfaced from the murky muddy water.    He pulled the ferry up to the mud bank where we watched and waited and then motioned me to drive on.  Larry said it was fine and to go ahead.  Once we were on, there was no hello or any chit chat from this guy.  He immediately reversed direction and the little ferry loudly chugged its way back to the other side.  Once we got there, the old guy put the ramp down and said “wher’r ya all frum?”  We said San Juan Island, Washington.  His eye brows lifted as I’m not sure if he knew exactly where that was but then all he said was “We nev’r hed eeny un frum outta state!” 


We thanked him and drove on up the dirt ramp like we had a definite destination but really the ferry takes you no where, but to a few farms and nearby shacks and mostly about 50 miles out of your way to any place you needed to go but the experience was worth it!  We love to find places and people like that, so untouched by this goofy modern world we live in.  So that was a highlight of our trip.



Back to the doctor we went on Monday and guess what?  Larry got great news!  The swelling had gone down but he wasn’t out of the woods yet.  The doc said his eye “had improved 1000% from what it was on Thursday” when she first saw him.  Two other doctors looked at him and confirmed his condition.  They reduced the dosages a bit but said it was imperative that we still keep up the medications as he wasn’t out of danger yet.  They said he would have to see another doctor in three days and then again in another 3-4 days after that and so on every week or so for a few months to monitor the situation and to properly reduce the meds without bad reactions. 

Wow, how are we going to do that and continue to cruising we both wondered?  Larry asked if they could refer him to a doctor in Beaufort, NC, a town further south so we could continue our journey south.  She did and made an appointment for Larry in 4 days.  So we could head out again and we were ready to go.  We didn’t have time to say any personal goodbyes to Sam or the mayor.  We tried to hail them on the radio but got no answer back.  We decided we'd find some way down the road to contact them to express our appreciation for how they took care and watched out for us. 

So, with medical records in hand, we rushed back to the car rental, turned the car in and then got back to the marina.  We paid our bill and off we went.  It was about 2:30 in the afternoon and we needed to get going to make it to our next stop before dark.  We were headed for a place called Manteo, NC on the Outer Banks.  There was a front headed this way but we had some time before it was scheduled to hit.  We were on a schedule now which we don't like but there was no choice as we had to see the doctor in a few days and now everything will have to be coordinated and planned around that.  The seas were already stirring up so we didn't want to wait until tomorrow.  So off we went! 

What a great place Elizabeth City is.  We felt so fortunate that this was the place we came to get Larry on the right track.  If you can make a stop at Elizabeth City, do so and enjoy the people, restaurants, and their dinner theatre.  You won’t regret this stop.





That morning we got the boat ready to leave if we get the go ahead from the doctor.  We'll need to make hast as a front was coming in.  Even the power cord was stowed.    As I mentioned earlier we wanted to officially say goodbye to Steve, the mayor, and to Sam, to thank them for helping us.  We took a quick detour on the way to the doc, just to see if Sam was at the docks so we could say goodbye, but it was too early and no one was there.  We look back now as we are just posting this and again say to ourselves that if it wasn't for the efforts of these wonderful people helping us get to the right place; Larry could very well have lost sight in one eye or had at least some permanent damage to his eyesight.


It was good news from the doc.  We got the go ahead to leave but not without making another appointment with a doctor down the way.  We headed over to Enterprise Car Rental and dropped the car off which they then drove us back to the boat.  We tried to hail Sam on the radio but were not sure if they even had radios to monitor.  We got no response back.  We didn't have the car anymore so couldn't quickly drive over to see if they were at the docks now.  It was so frustrating not being able to thank them again.  It seemed so awful to just leave the dock and head out down the river to the sound without a goodbye.  We promised each other that we were going to get in touch with them again some where down the road to let them know how much we appreciated their help.


It was after 2:00 in the afternoon and we needed to get to Roanoke Island.  We had to cross the Albemarle Sound before the front came in.  I drove the boat the whole afternoon so Larry could rest.  As we headed out the river, we passed the Coast Guard Station and the big blimp hangers on our right.  Guess this was where they filmed the movie, The Guardian, starring Kevin Costner.  We learned that info at the Welcome Party put on by the Rosebuds.  An ex Coast Guard Captain gave a little talk at the party.  He said "You might think that the movie was filmed in Kodiak, Alaska but it was filmed right here in Elizabeth City, with tons of fake snow spread all over".  I loved the talk given at the Welcome Party as not only did we hear about the things to see and do in Elizabeth City, but the ex Captain told us about the nearby waterways, the maritime history, interesting things to see along the way and even local knowledge about short cuts to take. 

As Larry rested and I drove the boat, I had plenty of time to think and reminisce about our stay.  I thought of the people wet met in Elizabeth City and their generosity and also of the funny things that happened. 

Dare I mention it?  I guess I must as it's too darn funny not to and surely other boaters can relate.

During our stay at the public docks we admitted to having one problem which  was that we were running low on water but we didn't want to mention the other bigger problem and that was that we were running near full in the holding tank, more commonly referred to as the "poop tank" in my vernacular.  It was kind of ironic as I think back on it now as we were only yards away from the city sewer pump station, which occasionally during the day would exude a whiff of the interior mixture and depending on which way the wind blew that particular day, it was a definite reminder of what was going on in that ole pump house.   So even though the city was diverting it's sewage to the proper place (most of it anyway) we had no way to divert ours.  


So here we were in a predicament.  There was no way to get rid of the poop in our little ship as there are no pump outs at the public docks.  We would never consider pumping it over the side even in the most dire emergency as we were on a river, not out in the ocean way off shore and also we were sitting right in front of the main gathering place for the whole town of Elizabeth City for Pete's Sake! 

So, we didn't tell Sam or Steve the more immediate reason why we needed to get over to the marina which was the need to properly dispose of the "poop" and decided to let them think it was to take care of our more secondary problem to fill up our water tanks.  They still may not have understood why we left because they had offered to solve our water problem by hooking up a garden hose to the public drinking fountain nearby and filling our tank but it was solely because we were too embarrassed to mention the other reason.  Who knows what they would have suggested to solve that problem?  We knew these people were accommodating no matter what the problem.


So after the Farmer's Market when Larry was feeling better we headed over to the marina.  Luckily they gave us an easy place to dock on an outside dock (their tee dock) and not in between any of those gall darn posts in the usual slips we've been encountering on this trip.  We surely didn't feel like tackling one of those again, not in Larry's condition.  So we nicely tied ourselves to the outside dock and settled in with a great view of the Pasquotank River, the low skyline of Elizabeth City and all those coming and going along the water including their wakes.  The first thing we did when we arrived, besides hooking up to power, was to tell the dock boy that we needed a "pump out" which is a polite way to say for the non boater that we need the poop pumped out.   The charge to get the tank pump is twenty dollars.  No problem, just get it pumped please. 


This marina is rustic to say the least but had everything we needed.  Above the tackle shop which serves as the marina office is a modified room built into the attic which provides showers, toilets, and washing machines for boaters.   I proceeded to do several loads of laundry and took a nice shower while we waited for the "pump out".  I finished all my chores and we still didn't get pumped out yet.  We waited and we waited and waited some more and finally Larry went to the office to see what the delay was. 

We got one excuse after another which all may have been true but I think it was that no one wanted to pump the poop.  First, the guy was on his lunch, then the guy needed another guy to help and so it went for several hours.  Finally it was getting late in the day and Larry began to get irritated.  He decided to bug them by hanging out in the tackle shop just standing there waiting so they'd get the idea that we needed to get this done.  To me, anything to do with pumping the holding tank is embarrassing and icky and I don't want anything to do with it so I could understand their delay and multitude of excuses. 


I guess the presence of Larry in the tackle shop was more than they could take so three of the guys came down the old wooden dock to size up the situation for the removal of the poop. 

And size up the situation they did, first they took a long look at the hole where the "poop" is going to come out and did a lot of mumbling about this and that of which I couldn't hear all the details (nor did I want to hear them).  Then they (three of them) head back down the dock to get the "equipment".  Well, the equipment was nothing more than a plastic drum jimmy rigged to a home made pump with a plastic accordion hose and nozzle. 

I decided to just keep my nose buried in my computer and work on the log hoping this would experience be over as soon as possible.  But it wasn't. 

They were all standing there by the boat analyzing the situation again and talking about how they were going to do this job.  I guess the main guy was trying to show the other guys how to do this for future reference but it really didn't seem like the main guy knew how to do it either, or rather I should say, had much confidence in the procedure that was about to begin. 


Finally, they plugged the pump in to the electrical outlet nearby, started the engine and stuck the nozzle into the holding tank hole of our boat.  You could hear a lot of disgusting sucking noises but apparently nothing was coming out of the holding tank.  They were all talking and trying to figure out how to get "it" out.  Larry was getting involved now making suggestions. 

They all agreed that the "machine" needed to be "primed" so they rolled the drum, pump and hose over to the side of the dock and stuck the hose in the river water.  They turned the pump back on and again I heard more icky noises and from what I could tell from their conversations, they successfully got it "primed" now with a lot of river water which by now had filled the 50 gallon drum up over half way. 

So back they came rolling the equipment to the side of the boat again and put the "primed" nozzle into our holding tank outlet and tried again.  This time I could hear them say "it's" coming, and "look there's some".  Well, that's when I just couldn't take it any more.  I could no longer sit nearby as they were discussing our poop coming out.  I made a quick bee line for the stateroom and decided I wasn't coming out again until this ordeal was over. 

To stand by as they pumped it, talked about it and looked at it through the transparent drum to see how much they got out of the tank, and the wondering of much more of "it" was left in our tank was more than I could tolerate. 

Before you knew it the drum was full to the brim.  I came to the surface again as heard them rolling the drum on the dolly back down the dock towards the tackle shop. 

I told Larry "Boy, I'm sure glad that's over with". 

But Larry answered back, "They aren't done yet as they filled the drum with so much river water that it left no room to empty our tank". 

"Oh no, you mean they're coming back?" 

"Yeah with another drum" he said.    

Yikes, how embarrassing!  Two whole drums of poop!  Whenever we've had the stuff pumped before it was all very incognito.  You never could see it through a transparent drum, nor have they ever had to roll it down the dock on the dolly for all to see.  Eek, I hope none of the other people at the dock are paying attention to this. 

Oops, I'm outta here again as I see them heading back down the dock with another empty transparent drum to hopefully finish the job.  I head back down to the stateroom.   

When they finally finished this embarrassing job, I heard the dock guy say it's going to cost us $10 more for the extra drum (even though the first drum was filled with river water to prime it).   

Whatever.  We're not going to argue about it, no way.  Hey, I know I personally wouldn't do that job for a mere thirty bucks and was very grateful to have it done and over with!   


Hey, pumping the tank is a problem everywhere you go and especially going up and down the Intracoastal in these remote places as more and more people are concerned about our water ways and just pumping out into the water is out of the question.  Unfortunately though some places haven't the services or funds to keep up with this demand to provide the pump out services so you know some bad behavior still happens as some boaters probably just don't want to bother with the inconveniences (or pay when you can so easily pump it yourself over the side).  (Although, I have to say we had pump outs at our individual slips in Solomon's which is hopefully a new trend.)  


In Roche Harbor on San Juan Island, Washington where we live we have what they call the Fecal Freak!  It's a little pump out boat that is decorated with all the obvious humorous images concerning the subject and is operated by college students working their summer jobs who make the most out of the silly job of pumping out the tanks of thousands of boats.  Sometimes they putts around the harbor in their little Fecal Freak boat singing silly songs about the "dirty" job they do and it turns a dirty job into something funny.  In Friday Harbor they have something similar, but it's called Humpty Dumpty


This year though, while cruising the Intracoastal, the pump outs haven't been the easiest and it has given us the impression that maybe they don't do it very often around here.  In fact when we got to Ocracoke a few days from now we met up with another boater that was trying to get his tank pumped and we heard them from our boat as they went ballistic when the dock guy said it would be $30 to pump the tank!  They complained ferociously about the price and then declined to get it pumped.  We were all stuck there for two more days of bad weather and you just have to wonder if they just let it out during the night at the docks when no one was looking.  I just don't remember this pumping thing being a factor in the Nordhavn but I guess that was because we did the dirty deed while traveling out to sea. 

The best thing to do we've concluded is just use the marina restrooms whenever possible because of the difficulty getting the tank pumped out.  Most of the restrooms we've found are surprisingly clean and private so it hasn't been a problem so far. 

I have nothing more to say on this subject thank goodness! 


Also during our stay at the dock we met a family that was living aboard a 36 foot trawler.  The unusual thing about it was that they had five children from 11-16 years of age!  The dad was a doctor and he said they were building a house on a piece of property they bought nearby so were living on the boat until their house was done.  We just couldn't believe they were all packed in that boat for so many months.  We'd see some of them sleeping up on the fly bridge and others inside the salon. 

I'll never understand how they managed but they were all very friendly, polite and seemed happy as clams. 

There was another family living on big sailboat on the opposite dock that had been cruising the world, did a stop here and haven't left for 9 months.  They too had a family of kids and the kids from both families would all get together to play, swim and swing by a rope off one of the masts into the dark river off the boat.  These kids were having a ball living here on the river.


We also had a great view of all the boats heading out the river in the early morning hours and well all hours of the day.  Some were cruising boats heading south and others were sports fishers and then there were a lot of hunters.  Yes, hunters, there were a gazillion hunters racing by in their flat open skiffs, disguised in camouflage with huge monster engines hanging out the back.  They think nothing of racing by spreading big rooster sprays and waking the crap out of who ever is at the docks.  I'm sure they must not realize what they are doing at such a long distance away but it was non stop rock and roll on our boat and it became impossible for Larry to get any rest and actually Zig and I were having a hard time with it too.  It was like being out in rough seas.  We were getting so sick of it that we'd get in the car to take a drive just to get some peace.

Elizabeth City though was a great stop and regardless of the wakes we had a good stay there and are grateful this was where we stopped to get Larry better.


Though the front is coming the seas were very calm, in fact most of the day the water was like glass.  We meandered our way through mile after mile of endless crab pots put there by a new influx of Vietnamese that have moved to the area.  We were told by the ex Coast Guard Captain at the Rosebuds Welcome Party that they have no sense of leaving a path open for boaters nor can you call them on the radio as they are chattering away in their native language and don't speak a word of English.  It was exhausting watching out for them and weaving left and right making the trip double the length.  Good thing the water was like glass because if it was choppy they would be difficult to see and this would be a mine field.


No one else was out on this grey white day on the water today.  We'd pass home after home nestled in the trees along the water front and a few farms too, and finally left the Pasquotank River and headed into the great Albemarle Sound. 

It was strange as we crossed the imaginary line of the Intracoastal again only visible by the markers and magenta line across the chart.  It's the path that others take coming out from Coinjock but they instead head across Albemarle up the Sound towards more protected waters of Alligator River. 

We finally lost all sight of land as everything that resembled a tree or building disappeared along the surface.  It was like being out in the ocean again without the swells. 



A couple hours later we began to see the mirage like image of trees and land, reflected and doubled in the distance.  It reminded me of being in the Bahamas coming up on the next flat cay of land where the image is distorted like a mirage in the desert.  Off to the right of us was a nature preserve populated with migrating birds and strangely a big population of bears.  Somehow I never imagined bears in swamp lands but learned that this trip.  We could see a bridge connecting one low flat patch of land to another.  It was the bridge to Roanoke Island (our destination today) connecting it to the mainland. 



Larry took over at the wheel as we began to try to spot the markers to lead us through the now shallow dredged waters to Manteo.  The markers seemed long and too few between and one or two missing from what the charts showed so it was difficult.  We headed up towards the bridge and then made a sharp left heading to the next marker.  The water depths on the chart looked like we could make a short cut across a big wide area without going all the way out to the next marker only to double back.  Larry thought he'd take a short cut but then I saw fish nets spread across the whole area only identifiable by little thin barely visible sticks one after another protruding up out of the water.  So we quickly turned back and went the long way.   Wow that could be a dangerous situation in bad seas with poor visibility or at night.  Guess you have to follow the markers exactly around here and don't think about being creative around here.

It was a bit tricky finally making our final turn off the main dredged channel of the ICW and into the narrow shallow channel into Manteo as the channel marker threw us off at first.  I think we got mixed up when the Intracostal markers merged with the harbor channel marker.  You had no time to react.  We think we went the wrong way around it actually but thankfully we only touched bottom for a few yards.

As we got closer we hailed the marina.  This looked like it was going to be an interesting stop as we saw a replica of an old sailing ship at the dock across from the marina, probably a replica of the one the first settlers used as this is the sight of the countries first settlers who mysteriously disappeared and to this day we don't know what happened to them. 

Also just off the point was a beautiful little lighthouse and clusters of buildings like a little village. 


The dock master directed us to one of those dang inside slips again with posts.  Once we started to back into the slip he suddenly changed his mind and yelled at us that the slip wasn't going to work for us we needed us to move over and tie to the bulk head!  I told Larry to stop not knowing what was going on.  I asked what the problem was and he said he didn't think we'd be able to get out of our boat and up onto the dock from the slip. 


Okay, so we moved over to where he wanted us but he had us hanging out over the end of a turn in the bulk head.  It worked out just fine though, that is until after we got settled and later I saw this sign that said "do not swim or fish here as there likely is human and animal sewage in the water".  That bothered me quite a bit during the stay needless to say. 


But for now, we were at a dock, and not interested in moving.  Just as we plugged in the wind from the approaching front was picking up.  We quickly grabbed a quick dinner at an outside table of a nearby restaurant with Ziggy in tow and barely finished before the wind was blowing the umbrellas and napkins every which way. 

Stomachs full and bodies tired we all ducked into the boat and slept like logs as the wind and rain pounded the outside of our cabin during the night









Home Up Annapolis St Michaels Smithfield Great Dismal Swamp Elizabeth City Manteo Ocracoke Beaufort,NC South Port Georgetown