Crossing the Atlantic

No, we didn’t cross the Atlantic, but this gentleman did…in a rowboat! This morning in the marina store where I have my coffee this guy asked me how far Little River was. I told him about 25 miles and asked him what kind of boat he had. He said he had a rowboat. “A rowboat” I asked?? You’re going to row 25 miles to Little River? Then I asked him where he started from. In a very calm manner with no fanfare, he said, Africa. “Africa” I asked!? You mean you rowed across the Atlantic Ocean? “Yes”, was his answer, as if people row across the Atlantic everyday.

And that’s how I met Victor Mooney. After letting him take care of his business and getting squared away, I walked to his boat and was immediately engaged in a great conversation. He was that approachable and easy to talk to. We talked about his voyage and everything in-between. His heritage is that of Seminole Indian and we talked about that and tied it into racism and politics, which led into a conversation about love and tolerance. All in all it was pretty cool getting to know him, even if just a little.

If you would like to follow his last miles up to New York, which will be no piece of cake, here is his blog.

Once in New York he is going to donate his boat to the United Nations in support of Aids awareness.

P1050231 P1050232 P1050233 P1050234 P1050235 P1050236 P1050237

Until then…

Almost There….

Dropped the hook in Calabash Creek today, which is right by the little River Inlet. This is the last stop before Myrtle Beach and as you might imagine, we’re a little antsy and more then a little excited. Yesterday was a pretty cool day in that our daughter, Genne, surprised us with a quick drive down from Myrtle Beach to meet us at Southport. She said she just couldn’t wait any longer to see us! We hadn’t seen our granddaughter, Eliana, or Genne for six months, so the surprise was very welcome.

So, backtracking a little bit, after we left Oriental, the next stop was Mile Hammock Bay. MHB is a part of Camp Lejeune and you never know what you might see coming and going from the anchorage. One night it was blackhawks flying over us at what seemed like mast height. Heading south there’s a six mile stretch of the ICW that goes though part of their live fire range. At times when they are shooting across the ICW, they will close that section.

From MHB, it was on to Wrightsville Beach. The only thing we needed there was more bottled water. We found it and paid the tourist price of 7 bucks a case. Later that night the wind shifted and picked up quite a bit. When that happens I will venture outside and take a look around to get our bearing and generally check things out. As I looked over to our port side here comes this monohull dragging his anchor at a pretty good clip. He’s about to drag into this 60 foot powerboat and at that point no one was aware of what was happening. I blew our horn trying to attract attention and then got out the spotlight. When both of those failed, I broke out the green laser and starting bouncing the beam off the boats. That worked. They managed to not hit one another or get their anchors tangled up, so all was good. I was a little surprised though when the power boat re-anchored right back behind the monohull. No lesson learned there..

Wrightsville Beach to Southport was just a slog all the way there. Wind and current conspired against us. With the wind blowing 25-30 knots and the current in the Cape Fear River flowing at 2-1/2 knots, we could only manage 3.8 knots of headway. Our plan was to anchor at Pipeline Canal but the dingy ride back to Southport to see Genne would have been way too rough. We ended up tying up at the Southport Marina. While there we took advantage of the laundry and filled our water tanks.

With the wind down from yesterday, the run to here at Calabash Creek was fairly easy and pretty quick. The powerboaters however, were merciless in the wakes they produced, even failing to slow down for kayakers and canoeists’.

P1050174 P1050175 P1050177 P1050181

Shrimpers working the Sound and the only dolphin picture I managed to get..


You never get used to seeing the shallows so close to the channel…

P1050195 P1050196 P1050197 P1050203 P1050205 P1050207

Part of the live fire range at Camp Lejeune..


One day I’d like to visit this place. Looks cool from the water..

Until then…

R.E. Mayo and Oriental

One of the places we always look forward to stopping at is the R.E. Mayo Co. shrimp dock at mile marker 157. It’s a working commercial dock with at least one or two shrimpers docked at any given time. Don’t let the rugged look fool ya, the folks who work there are very friendly and helpful. This time they had fresh, medium size shrimp, head on, for the outstanding price of 2.50 a pound! How can you beat that? For larger head off flash frozen shrimp, the price was $9.50 a pound. The same size shrimp at the market would be 15-16 bucks a pound. We bought four croaker fish and they were 2 bucks a pound. Awesome. To make it even better, James who always helps us, scaled and cut up the fish for us as well as de-heading the shrimp.

Next stop was Oriental, a place we had never been before and now realize what we had missed. The population is only 700 and everyone we met there was extremely nice and welcoming. The town has four free docks for transients and a nice anchorage. It took us a while to get in because of two thunderstorms that rolled through the area. With a reduced speed we waited outside the harbor and let the rains wash off the boat. Next morning at The Bean, a local coffee shop right across the street from where we were docked, we had coffee with the locals. Once again, they were very kind and welcoming. After everyone finished their drinks it was off to do whatever you do in Oriental in the summer. For us it was on to Mile Hammock Bay, home of Camp Lejeune…


It’s always nice to see another Lagoon on the water..


Sunset over Pungo River..

P1050159 P1050160

The RE Mayo Co shrimp docks…


Ya never know what you might run across out here..

P1050170 P1050171 P1050169 P1050168

Beautiful Oriental, down by the city docks…


Until then…

Robert Peek…Lockmaster

I can’t believe I forgot to mention the most interesting part of our trip down the Dismal Swamp. And that was meeting Robert Peek, the lockmaster. When we entered the lock he welcomed us with a hardy hello and motioned us into position. Once lines were secured he asked if we had any questions and we really hadn’t thought of any. Well, that didn’t deter Robert from giving us a pretty complete history lesson on the Swamp. At one point George Washington was involved in the Swamp, since he had owned a bunch of land around it. For those interested, Google the Swamp’ it’s surprising the history there. Anyway, back to Robert. Once the history lesson was over, he again asked if we had any questions. We didn’t, but once again that didn’t stop Robert. He related how he was the newest employee having been there twenty some years. And not only does he work the lock, but when the lock opens, he jumps in his car and runs ahead to open the bridge. When he’s not on lock duty, he controls the dams on the feeder ditches.

I was surprised to find out that his main duty wasn’t to get boats though the lock, but to control the Swamp water level using the dam and lock system. Cool huh?

By this time we felt like we had a great education on the Swamp, courtesy of Robert. Then one last time he asked if we had any questions. We did. Michele asked him where he got all the conch shells which must have numbered a hundred or so. He said he got them from cruisers bringing them back from the Bahamas and asked if we had one to give to him. Unfortunately, we only had one and told him we were sorry. Then he asked if it was a horn conch and if we knew how to blow it. I told him yes, that I had made it so that you could blow it and that yes, I knew how. At that he asked to see it. I tossed it to him and from there we received a lesson in conch blowing! Turns out he used to blow the conch in Key West competitions. Robert showed us how to change the note and tone using one or more fingers placed in the opening of the conch. Incredible, and all this while waiting for the lock to fill.

So, I believe that will be our lasting memory from the Swamp. Thank you Robert for all the great stories and kindness you showed us…