Thursday, November 02, 2006

Lovely Days in the Dismal Swamp 11/2

The trip has changed once again now that we’ve entered the Intracoastal (not Intercoastal as I previously wrote) Waterway (ICW). Instead of sailing, we must motor now (bad), but the waterway is very protected, so the weather can scarcely slow us down (very good). As luck would have it we’ve enjoyed stunning weather the past three days -- clear skies, warm temperatures, low humidity.
The Dismal Swamp canal is enclosed by two locks and borders a wildlife refuge. This is one of the lovliest areas so far. As the accompanying photos suggest, we seem to have caught up with with some of the southern boating migration. Every boat we encounter is destined for Florida, the Bahamas, or farther down in the Carribean, and our Cal 33 is typically the smallest (and least expensive) boat about.
The folks are all very friendly and helpful. Mary Ann met a lady in a marina laundry room who, almost immediately, offered us the use of her car to run for groceries and propane.
The ICW seems largely bounded by undeveloped land, much of it saltwater marsh. We frequently see pelicans, osprey, eagles, and Wednesday morning on the Neuse River we encounered a pod (12, maybe more) of dolphins, the first dolphins of the trip.
Later that day the engine overheated due to a defective thermostat. Luckily, a marina in Oriental, NC, had the right thermostat in stock, so we limped into Oriental and replaced the coolant and thermostat Wednesday afternoon. I can’t tell you how quickly Sam seems to undersand and resolve these minor mechanical problems. Frankly, Annie has been no help as a diesel mechanic, but she did prepare a a fried rice dish (including rice, chicked, cashews, and peas) that evening which we all enjoyed and appreciated.
Oriental is a favorite ICW stop which has just about everything sailors need: marine gear, repair facilities, food, used books, overpriced coffee, restauants, and several bars. Mary Ann and I have decided to celebrate our thirtieth anniversary a couple of days early, have a nice dinner and spent the night ashore after spending five weeks straight sleeping aboard the boat.
So far harmony reigns, and Annie is still learning algebra.