All is not Glamour

We know we will be staying at the Atlantic Yacht Basin for a while… they come highly recommended for Yacht work, and we have some things going on.  More on that in a minute.  Because we will be here a while, we have rented a car.

Having a rental car extends our reach on land considerably.  On our way to church, we saw a sign advertising a Symphony Under The Stars in Chesapeake City park.  Bring a chair, sit on the lawn, soak up the music!  The Virginia Symphony Orchestra played a wide variety, from Beethoven, Bizet and Verdi to Richard Rogers, Andrew Lloyd Webber and John Williams.  A magical evening!


A Ride through the Great Dismal Swamp

That sounds really attractive, doesn’t it?  The Great Dismal Swamp (yes, its real name) really is famous, and one route of the ICW goes right through it. It was a popular place even in the mid 1600’s for people to hide from the law.  George Washington had proposed making a canal right through the middle of the Dismal Swamp to expedite commerce and transportation.  It was eventually completed by 1805, entirely dug by hand, mostly by slave labor.  I guess it’s fitting that it was later an important stop on the underground railroad, where many slaves could rest and regroup in their flight to freedom.  There is a story about a hotel built on the canal, in the middle of the swamp, on the border of Virginia and North Carolina.  Gamblers loved it, because if “the law” came, they just moved to the other end of the room, out of their jurisdiction.

There is another route called the Virginia Cut, that avoids the canal through the Dismal Swamp.  We’ve heard that there are too many shallows in the swamp canal, so we opted for the Virginia Cut.  But we did have to check it out that infamous Swamp Canal!  So we loaded the bikes in the car and set out to ride the Dismal Swamp Canal Trail, an old road along the canal that is now restricted to feet and feet pedaled wheels. The Parks and Recreation folks have signs and brochures all over saying be careful of the bears.  Lots of signs!  So I really hoped we’d see a bear, but no luck.  We hardly saw the canal!  The forest (jungle?) is so thick that even though the road was only maybe 100 feet from the canal, we could only get glimpses of it occasionally.  One place they have cleared so we could see not only the canal, but a stone mile marker.  Apparently they had these 1,000 pound stone markers all along the canal, but when it was later widened (Steam power this time) they just plowed the markers under.  Several have been found, and who knows how many are still buried in the mud?


Cape Hatteras

Cape Hatteras may have the most recognized lighthouse in the country.  Congress decided one was needed there, and completed the first lighthouse there in 1803.  It was 90 feet tall, which proved too short to be seen far enough away, and its raw sandstone exterior was hard to distinguish from the background.  In 1853 they added 60 feet to the top and painted the top half red and the bottom white.  Because of structural problems, it was replaced in 1870.  When they tried to create a foundation for the new lighthouse, they hit water at four feet deep.  So they made a clever “floating foundation” of large timbers placed below the water table, and huge stone blocks placed over those.  The new lighthouse was almost 200 feet tall, and painted with the now famous black and white candy cane spiral.  The lighthouse was 1,500 feet from the shore, and now tall enough to warn ships farther out to sea.  But the sea was eating away the island!  As the shore got closer and closer to the lighthouse, every attempt to stop the erosion failed.  So in 1999 they decided to move the lighthouse.  Probably because of the unique foundation, they were able to jack it up, build a rail system to the new location, and push it to its new home!  It was placed 1,500 feet from the shore again… and I was told the sea has already eaten over 100 feet of that away.

There are supposedly 269 steps in the circular stairway set along the inside of the walls.  I didn’t count them, but I did step them.  Signs warned that it was strenuous, and temperatures could reach over 90 degrees inside.  It was over 90 outside!  But after the hot climb, the view and the breeze on top was well worth it!




Sunsets are so amazing, but I can’t shoot them all the time!  So here are a few reflections instead:





Now for the not so glamorous 

I think I mentioned that we have gotten some water in our hydraulic system.  That’s a bad thing.  The only points in the system where that could happen are in the hydraulic oil coolers, which are like radiators that run the hot oil through tubes surrounded by cooler seawater.  If one of the little radiator tubes leaks, we can get water in the oil.  But there are three of these coolers.  So we have sent them all off to get tested, cleaned or replaced as needed.  I just heard the biggest of them has a small leak, so good news is it looks like we found the problem, bad news is it’s the biggest.  Whatever.  Not sure how long that will take to get replaced.  In the meantime, we are trying to get contaminated oil out of 8 miles of high pressure hoses.  Not easy.

We are also getting new sumps put in to catch the water that the air conditioners suck out of the air.  The old Venturi vacuum system that has worked for years seems to be worn out, and I’m tired of trying to fix it and having all the water end up in the bilge.  So with the new sumps in place we will have a dry bilge again.  I can hardly wait!

We had some confusion with the AIS and the corresponding GPS and VHF antennas.  (Does this sound high-tech and impressive?)  (Maybe if anybody cares enough to ask I’ll try to explain it sometime)  They found some sort of feedback loop that was confusing the network, and now with that removed it all seems fine.  Only half a day’s work.

We also need to upgrade a failing video board that is making my new cameras cut in and out, mostly out.  Hope that gets installed next week.

And last but certainly not least, our battery bank is showing its age.  We will probably need to replace 24 batteries, each about 100 pounds.  And get a new inverter to replace our backup system that doesn’t work.

Our dingy was in pretty sad shape when we got it.  (It came with the boat)  We have cleaned it up on the outside, but not until this week could we thoroughly clean inside the console, the anchor locker and the aft compartment where the battery and bilge pump live.  Well, the bilge pump sat there, but didn’t live.  I found corroded wires that when redone let it work well.  There was a VHF radio that was also dead – corroded beyond repair.  So I removed it, and removed its antenna.  I got a new antenna installed, and a new radio and Chart Plotter are scheduled to arrive next week.  Some of the backing for the seats were bad, too, so we’ve gotten new backing and are having the badly worn/stained upholstery redone as well.  By this time next week our little dingy should be almost like new!  We still don’t know what to call it… any suggestions on a name??

So here is a short video of a long day’s work… you’ll see me install the new stern nav light on the back of the outboard, discover we’d gotten the wrong spark plugs, replace the antenna, solder or heat shrink all connections, and finally get the right plugs installed.

So you can see that this week has been a lot of work, and we are only partly done.  Cherryl has made some more fantastic sourdough bread… you can see through the hatch in the galley the back of a tech working in the engine room, and Cherryl’s latest sourdough bread cooling on the counter!  Everyone is working!  Unfortunately, a lot of the working time is really waiting time… waiting for guys to show up, waiting for ordered parts to arrive, waiting for parts to get repaired or remade.  So working on patience is still work, right?

If you need to stay in one place and have work done, this is a very pretty place to do it…

Looking aft, at Southern Star behind us and across the canal
A museum across the canal is scheduled to open soon…
Tug and barge going quietly past us (really!)

A beautiful wooded trail runs along the canal on the other bank:



The other day I noticed a big Nordhavn (Another brand of trawler) going north on “our” canal.  Shortly after that I saw a large trawler north of us, but headed back our way.  At first I assumed it was the same boat, returning from fueling up at the marina.  But then I decided it was prettier than the Nordhavn (Prejudices showing up here) and decided it just might be another Selene!  Yep, it is a beautiful Selene 58, and it is now docked right in front of us.  A very nice couple, who have only had this boat less than 2 months!  He told me they had looked seriously at a Selene 53 a couple of years ago, a sister ship of ours named Voyager.  I corrected him… That was not a sister ship, it was this one!  We renamed her.  He may know more about my boat than I do!  A very nice couple I hope to get to know better.  They have sailed around the world in a sailing yacht, and now are in this gorgeous Selene trawler. Way cool.



music by   –  royalty free music


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