The Motor Vessel "Once Around"

The Motor Vessel "Once Around"
The Motor Vessel "Once Around" in the Florida Keys

Monday, May 30, 2011


Who's your friend...

We just had our first visitors from home, and we have had a blast the last four days around the Inner Harbor of Baltimore with Rob and Denise (more on that when I get some time).  Tonight we celebrated Carrie's birthday at La Tavala, one of the best Italian restaurants I have eaten at in a long time, and as you know, I'm very picky about Italian food.  Carlo, the chef and partner in the restaurant, came out for a visit with us after sending us a special dessert plate and a round of Limoncello on the house.  (I think the two bottles of super Tuscan wine might have had something to do with the attention we received!).  My bride has excellent taste (in Italians and wine).  The meal was spectacular.  Carrie's birthday dinner was a success.  But we had to bid our friends arrivederci at the end of a great evening.  Thanks for the visit Robbie!  We're off to Deleware in the early morning.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

No Such Day as "Someday"...

Is all modern wisdom now being passed on by T-shirts?  Here's my latest favorite:
"Monday...Tuesday...Wednesday...Thursday...Friday...Saturday...Sunday.  See, I told you there was no such day as Someday!"

Until three weeks ago, our loop dream was a "Someday".  When I saw this shirt I kind of smiled inwardly, knowing that my someday had come!  I would have bought that damned shirt too, but there were pictures of sailboats on it...still, I felt the thought was worth passing on.

We spent two nights in Oxford at Mears Yacht Haven.  After a couple of nights anchored out, we enjoyed being on the dock.  As we pulled in, we saw two other looper boats and another pulled in right behind us a short time later.  Great excuse for a "docktail party" at 5:00 PM.  Not that we need the excuse.  Below is a typical Oxford street.

Oxford is a quiet little town with about a half dozen eateries and not a lot else.  Just what we were looking for.  At the John Morris Inn I had one of the best Bloody Marys I have had in years.  There was an old bartender years ago by the name of Dick Leonardi who made his own mix, with just the right amount of horseradish.  He used to mix it up, taste it, shake his head and say, "This is almost too good to sell!"  I told the bartender at the Inn that, and since this was her special recipe, I made a friend for life.  Maybe the crab spring rolls I had with it helpled...

We had an interesting discussion with Garth and Kathy, our Canadian friends on Algonquin the evening before we both left Oxford.  I know that John and Linda, who cruised Mexico a few years back, will understand.  We spoke about how each time we left a port, we said farewell to our friends, not knowing if or when we would see them again.  And, that's a bit sad, but it's totally OK.  We are all on our own on this trip, and none of us would have it any other way.  Nevertheless, it's wierd.  We may see them in a few days, weeks, or months from now.  But, our paths will eventually cross and we will enjoy our time with them once again.  If nothing else, Garth and Kathy said when we get to their neck of the woods to call them.  Now, how the hell do you pronounce that city name?  Pennatanquishin???  I'll know it when I get there, I guess.  The photo below is Garth, Kathy and Zeke, their Portugese Water Dog.

We had another easy cruise of 40 miles or so up into Eastern Bay to St. Michaels, MD on Tuesday.  We had planned to stay here two nights and head up to Annapolis, but, St. Michaels is a gorgeous little town, so we booked a third night here and will skip Annapolis (great town, but we have been there before) and head straight for Baltimore on Friday.  Last night (and the night before) we launched the dinghy and took a sunset cruise of the area.  The homes along the water are completely unbelievable.  During one cruise, we got in the middle of a sailboat race,  although it was hard to tell who if anyone was leading, (booorrring).  Nobody crashed, flipped, barrel rolled or sunk, so from my perspective, it wasn't much of a race.  Since the race offered no excitement, I thought you might like to see some of the homes and buildings.  

Carrie says the movie Wedding Crashers was filmed here using the resort shown in this photo.

Yesterday (Wed.) we went to the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum.  It was totally cool, with everything from the history of the bay and a "screw-pile" lighthouse which they had moved to the museum, to an actual working carpentry shop where they are restoring some of the old style boats.  By the way, there was one type of boat built in Oxford called a "Bugeye".  It was used in the crab trade, and as many as 500 of them were built there.  The very first was named, "Carrie".  The Admiral liked that!

This is a photo of the lighthouse from across the harbor.

This is a shot from the top of the lighthouse of part of the museum grounds and buildings.
There is a 94 foot yacht tied off just in front of us named "Misty".  It is blue hulled with a white superstructure.  She is completely gorgeous (our boat looks like a miniature).  This morning, two of her crew were out washing her hull as I strolled the deck of our boat with a cup of coffee.  I gestured to Once Around and said to them, "Don't forget to wash your tender when you're done with the mother ship".  They grinned, but...we had to wash Once Around ourselves!  Here is Misty:

Today was a "down day".  We refueled, both literally and in spirit.  Once Around soaked up 312 gallons, we had a great lunch at the Town Docks Restaurant, and Mrs. Howell even got her toenails painted, or was that Ginger??? 

Tomorrow we are off on another 50 mile leg of our journey, this time to Baltimore Inner Harbor for the Memorial Day weekend and four nights with our first visitors from home, our great friends Rob and Denise. 

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Paddle Faster, I hear Banjos!

This T-Shirt kind of sums up Vera's White Sands Beach Club on St. Leonard Creek, off the Patuxent (aka "Pax") river Maryland.  Vera's is sort of hard to describe otherwise.  It is a South Sea's Tropical theme river bar.  Kind of like Jimmy Buffet meets the musical South Pacific meets backwoods Americana. 

Carrie really liked the leopard skin motif on the bar stools and bar:

But, I am getting a a bit ahead of myself.

I guess that after leaving Norfolk, Carrie and I were ready to get a little off the beaten path.  The first night we stayed at a little marina in Carter's Cove, off the Rappahonnak River on the west side of the Chesapeake.  We were (no kidding) the first transient boaters (not a bad word for boaters in these parts, the marinas actually compete for your business) that they had ever had!  The owner of the marina actually ran around the nearby towns, Weems and Irvington, after we called ahead for a reservation and gathered up little brochures from all the shops and tourist places to give to us when we arrived.  This is what all the big marinas do.  We have collected quite a pile of the stuff.  We were more interested in the closest place to buy a battery for our dinghy, a story for another time.  So, Tim, the marina owner, gave us a lift the eight miles to...yep...Walmart.  On the way back, we did a "fly-by" Christ Church, which if I remember right was built by the Mr. Carter (of Carter's Cove, and pretty much all the land around these parts) in the mid-1700's and is one of the oldest standing pieces of architecture in America.  We saw it at about 25 mph, but Carrie was able to snap this photo:

To describe the peacefulness of Carter's Cove after Norfolk is difficult.  These pictures do a better job than I could.  The following shots were taken from the boat the morning after we arrived.

OK, maybe that's not quite fair.  The last photo above is not at Carter's Cove, it is my ever vigilant navigator as we came up the Chesapeake.  Nice, huh???  The next photo is actually her at Carter's Cove.

We could have stayed several days, but were anxious to get moving up the Chesapeake.  We had planned to go across the bay to Onancock, but got a tip from some friends who had that it was pretty dull.  The way she put it was, "...the people were really nice and the flowers were very pretty".  It reminded me how Illa (my buddy John's mom) used to try and hook he and his brothers up with girls, but when they asked if she was good looking, Illa would tell them only, "She has pretty eyes".  That was a dead give away that the girl was homely at best.  So, reading between the lines of "nice folks" and "pretty flowers", we opted to head directly up to our next planned stop, the Solomons.

The Solomons is a boating Mecca for not only Loopers, but locals from Washington DC, Baltimore and Annapolis as well.  It is a very busy recreational area, with dozens of marinas.  So, naturally my bride and I go five or six miles up river from the crowd, and find the quitest, tiniest cove ever.  We had it to ourselves, almost..

It was so small I actually anchored outside first and took the dinghy in to check the depth.  There was plenty and we anchored at what I thought was the very end of Leonard Creek.  Turns out I was wrong.  The aforementioned Vera's was a half mile or so up the creek.  We dinghy'd up for dinner our second night there and enjoyed a little of the local flavor.  This was not a "yachting" crowd.  A sign at the door had about twenty rules, including, "caps cannot be worn backward or to the side", and "no biker colors permitted".  As we entered I noticed one of the bartenders with his hat on backwards and a biker complete with black leather "colors" and headband.  So much for the rules.  It reminded me of Moore's Riverboat years ago on the Mokulumne River back home, minus the ladies underwear pinned to the ceiling of the bar.  But, I wouldn't have been at all surprised to find that at Vera's too!

Today we again crossed the bay into Oxford, MD.  There were small craft warnings for late afternoon, so I was a bit apprehensive, but we got a very early start and the bay was like glass, literally, you could have water skied most of the way.  We arrived, washed the boat (long overdue) and had a "docktail" party with a few looper friends, then a quiet dinner in town.  The other three looper boats here are leaving tomorrow, but we need another down day.  Besides, the small craft warnings are for all day tomorrow, and we're fair weather boaters!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Norfolk and Random Thoughts

Entering Norfolk directly from the Great Dismal Swamp was a bit of culture shock.  After miles and miles of trees and still water, we turned the corner to find ourselves in one of the largest ports and shipyards in the Country.

Our neighbor across from the Waterside Marina was a huge working shipyard, with mostly US Navy ships being repaired and refitted.  We saw everything from aircraft carriers to submarines in the docks and yards.

Since 911 or maybe the USS Koll incident in Yemen, the navy has no sense of humor if you get close to their ships.  Small gunboats patrol the perimiter of the yards.  There is no mistaking their intention if you misbehave!

Since we raced up to Norfolk several days ahead of schedule due to Carrie's thumb, we ended up with a rather long stay (10 days, I think) here.  Given that was more than twice our planned stay in Norfolk, I would like to say we saw all the sites worth seeing.  But our time was spent mostly doing things around the boat, hitting the chiropractor every other day to try and get my back fixed, and yes, partying with our fellow loopers.  We caught up again with Moonstruck, and also met another Algonquin, this one from Canada with a couple of terrific folks, Garth and Cathy. 

Carrie and I did manage to rent a car one day and go through Jamestown, Colonial Williamsburg and the Yorktown battlefield (our favorite).  The National Park rangers at Yorktown are quite passionate about honoring the place where the last battle of the Revolutionary War was won by Washington and his troops (with some help from the French, back when they used to know how to fight).  As the ranger put it, "We declared our independance in Philidelphia on July 4, 1776, but we won it on October 17, 1781 when General Cornwallis surrendered at Yorktown."

We also took time to cook up a batch of Nono's spaghetti sauce and I learned something.  You don't need to make five gallons of it if your three kids and their tuperware containers are 3,000 miles away!  We made about a gallon which should last the Admiral and I quite a while.  But, truthfully, I wish the kids were here to scrounge some up.

I learned a couple of Looper quotes I think are worth passing on:

1)  (with regard to friends and family who want to come visit you on the loop) "You can pick the date, or you can pick the place, but you can't pick both"...and,
2)  "I'm NOT on a schedule...and I'm sticking to it!"

Carrie (in Mrs. Howell mode) made a corollary of her own.  During a looper seminar a guy in his planning stage asked the group how much money to budget to do the loop.  Well, that generated about ten differing answers.  During the free for all discussion that ensued, the lovely Mrs. Howell leans over and whispers in my ear, "I'm NOT on a budget...and I'm sticking to it!"  Ya gotta love her.

In that regard, we found that our fellow loopers were great sources of information.  We had been told that there was no replacement for our built in refrigerator, which seemed to be running about 90% of the time and barely keeping things cool.  Barb, on Tropical Breeze which happened to be docked right behind us, disappeared for a few minutes and returned with an invoice for a very expensive Italian made refrigerator that fits perfectly.  Mrs. Howell made her move and the new one was installed this morning.  Likewise, our Canadian buddies hearing us complain about our sore backs brought a brouchure for a custom mattress they purchased from a company in Fort Lauderdale.  After Mrs. Howell and I went aboard and laid down for a minute on it...well, the new matress should catch up with us in Baltimore or New York. 

We attended the AGLCA (Looper's) Rendezvous over the last four days, which was our original planned length of stay here.  We met a ton of fellow loopers in boats of all sizes and shapes.  We also opened our boat up to what they call a "looper crawl", which allowed other club members to wander through and check out your boat.  We enjoyed that when we attended the gathering last year and felt obliged to reciprocate.  It was kind of fun and our boat (and dinghy lift) were a big hit.

Tomorrow we are finally moving north and plan to spend about eight days in the Chesapeake Bay before meeting up with our good buddies Rob and Denise from home in Baltimore.  We'll get there...sooner or later.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The Great Dismal Swamp to Norfolk

We really did see some beautiful country between Elizabeth City, NC and Norfolk, VA.
Some quick facts, all of which I have on good authority from the very talkative lockmaster at the Deep Creek Lock, the 2nd lock we passed through along the way.  (At the first lock, the lockmaster said, in total, "Ugh" or something like that, so we didn't learn too much from him). 

The canal known as the Great Dismal Swamp is the oldest locking system in North America.  It was actually surveyed (and its construction supervised) by George Washington, who was the first president of the canal construction company and later of course, the first president of the US.  It was completely dug by hand!  It runs through some 44,000 acres, all of which used to belong to good old Mr. Washington.  Patrick Henry, a famous signer of the Declaration of Independance, was the first governor of Virginia and also the first president of the Great Dismal Swamp Canal Co.  During the Civil War, the North controlled the canal most of the time, and it was an integral part of the effort to transport freed slaves to the north.  OK, that's the extent of what I learned in the 30 minutes or so that we transited the second lock of our tirp.  Oh yeah, except he (the lockmaster) had a pit bull named "U-Turn" who had been trained from birth to sleep with his two pet rabbits and he also cherished his conch shell collection.  I am told he actually plays tunes on them for some of the loopers.  We missed out on that.  Like many of the folks we met in North Carolina, the lockmaster was really, really nice, and interested in teaching us about his part of the world.

We enjoyed the trip through the swamp.  It was a long day (10 hrs) of travel.  Most all of the way we followed My Dream, a Krogen trawler owned by a couple of fellow Californians from Placerville, Ted and Sue.  We were treated to a smell Carrie said was "Honeysuckle" (I'll take her word for it) and lots of tulip trees in full bloom.

This is what it looked like for miles from the helm.

We are waiting for the first lock to open, following My Dream.

Yours truly at the helm in the Great Dismal Swamp.

Once Around, safely tied up in Norfolk.

You're So F*#%ing Fired!

This edition was meant to be posted a few days back, but it was pre-empted by Carrie's more spectacular broken thumb.  Since it involves pain, I almost hate to post it.  We are scaring the kids with reports of boat bites, and my nephew Joey even e-mailed to inquire if handicap stickers and parking facilities were available to boats!  I would like to note however, I was somewhat vindicated on the issue of my thigh injury on the cleat by an e-mail we received from Elaine, the former commanding officer of this vessel.  She says she sports a large scar on her thigh from the same cleat!  I was tempted to write back, "If you'll show me yours, I'll show you mine!", but I don't know her quite that well.

What I haven't mentioned until now is that I managed to throw my back out (provisioning back in Morehead City, NC), just as I had each of the past two years preparing for long cruises to Catalina Island.  After only commenting once that, "For such a bright guy, I would have thought you would have figured out it happens every time and been more careful", my first mate was very concerned, helpful, and sweet...for a couple of days.  Which brings me to the somewhat graphic title of this post.

A few years back after a great company Christmas party, my partner Bobby, our LA area manager Vic, and a then fairly new project engineer who worked in LA, Chris and thier wives (in Chris' case a girlfriend) were driving back late.  There had been much good cheer (translated, all were a bit inebriated, except hopefully Bobby's wife, who drove).

As I later heard the story, Bobby in the front passenger seat, controlled the stereo.  Chris' girlfriend, in the way way back of the Suburban, took issue repeatedly with his choice of music.  Bobby, being the devil he can sometimes be, egged her on with more and more ridiculous choices.  She cranked up her displeasure considerably until Vic finally stepped in and asked, "Do you know who you are arguing with?"  The girlfiend replied, "No, who?"  "That is my boss, one of the two owners of the company!"  Instead of a meek apology she simply turns to her boyfriend Chris and states flatly, "You are so F*#%ing fired!"

Not only did it crack up everyone in the car, it soon became a standard phrase with our management team for any occasion any of us screws up (which by the way, contrary to Donald Trump's or anybody elses wishes happens quite regularly in the real business world).  When we deadpan, "You are (or he/she is) so F*#%ing fired", we obviously are joking, but...

A few days ago when I had to ask my first mate for the zillionth time that day to help me with some minor chore, like rolling up the shore power cord or something, she lost her patience.  Suddenly I was looking eye to eye with the Admiral, and she didn't say it, but I could read in her eyes, ..."You're so F*#%in fired".  I felt like at the very least I was in jeapordy of soon being voted off the island!

Of course, the sea gods were looking out for me, if not her, and a few hours later she was sporting a thumb splint and I was performing tough tasks for opening a botttle of water.  So, I have been spared for now.  As usual, she and I need each other to get through this...go figure.

After spending Mother's Day cruising through The Great Dismal Swamp (catchy name, huh?) we arrived in Norfolk, VA.  Our first order of business yesterday morning was to find an orthopedic surgeon to look at the x-rays of Carrie's thumb.  Of course, the "What If Monster" was planting all kinds of seeds in our minds.  What if surgery...what if this...what if that.  So, we were scientific about chosing an orthopedist, we yellow paged on our iphone and picked the closest one to the port.  Turns out, he was formerly a hand specialist, which made us feel really good until we found out he made his living now mostly doing plastic surgery.  But what the heck, he could see us that day and had a hole in his operating schedule Wednesday, if needed.

On the way over I was working myself up to deal with a plastic surgeon, who by reputation try to talk people into surgery, with a lot of skeptecism.  Although he was quite a character (see photo below) my fears were pointless.  After looking at the (poor) x-rays from the hospital, he said he wasn't even sure it was broken and was pretty sure no surgery would be required.  He cracked us up though when he said, "But, before I committ myself to doing absoloutely nothing, let's get some better x-rays".  These confirmed that though she did have a small break, it was nothing to worry about and would heal quickly on its own.  We were overcome with relief, but in the back of my mind I thought, oh, no, I better get my butt to a chiropractor pretty soon or I'm so F*#%ing fired!

I asked the orthopedist if he could refer me to a chiropractor, which I reflected later is kind of like asking your MD for a referal to a Witch Doctor.  He personally did not do so, but Mickey, his super nice nurse, did.  Off we went and although it seemed to help last night, I am hunched over a bit again today, so I'll be seeing him again this afternoon or Wednesday.  Don't panic, I'm in no immediate danger; her thumb is not healed, yet.

Note the words on the sign in his office!  Perfect!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

The Motorcycle Frankie Theory - Boat Bites Part 2

First, a couple of new terms to add to our glossary of boating terms:

Gunnel-the side wall of the boat

Cleat-the (usually) T shaped piece of hardware used to fasten lines to boats and/or docks

Once Around has really nice high gunnels, which make for increased safety when moving from one end of the boat to the other outside.  However, it also has a cleat on the inside of the gunnel about three feet off the deck.  Last week when we were preparing to depart from Moorhead City, I was striding up the port side deck of Once Around and jammed that damned cleat into my left thigh.  I winced in pain and uttered, "boat bite".  Although it swelled to about the size of a half of a baseball and turned purple almost immediately, I probably wouldn't have ever mentioned it in a post.  It was just another boat bite.

Before I go on, I need to tell you about a guy I knew some 35 years ago when for a time I raced hydroplanes.  (Did I ever tell you I love boats?)  Anyway, there was a real strange character who also raced with us who we all called, "Motorcycle Frankie".  Some of you reading this out there remember him, and know how really strange he was, even before he did a face plant on his motorcycle through a construction barrier at about 50 mph!  For the rest of you I offer the following.

Motorcycle Frankie loved his cat, Zoa.  All the boat racing crowd knew that, because we often saw him sharing his food, booze and cannibus with the little feline.  Zoa was a bit strange, too.  Also, Zoa would disappear often and at all odd hours you could hear Frankie calling, "Zoooaaaaa" through the pits, searching for his pal.  One race day in particular, cries of "Zzzoooaaaaaaaa, here Zooaa" were heard for what seemed like hours.

However, come time for Motorcycle Frankies race, and he forgets all about Zoa and jumps in his flat bottom runabout and heads out for a particularly rough riding five lap heat.  At the end of the heat, as Frankie pulled into the pits, he had a grin on his face as big as if he had won the race...and he hadn't.  It seems Zoa had chosen to sleep off his hangover from the night before in the bow of the race boat.  When the race was over, he looked something like this:

Zoa lived through the ordeal, but to our knowledge he never raced again.

Motorcycle Frankie also had a particular wierdness, that whenever he hurt himself, he would immediately do it again.  Several times I witnessed him for example, bump his head, and then repeat it full force.  He swore it made the original pain go away.  And here I finally get to the point of all this...

As I was refueling at Alligator River Marina two days ago, a sailboat pulled in in front of me, totally lost control, and began to drift back headed for a collision with Once Around.  I was busy with the fuel hose, but the Admiral standing alongside on the dock yelled, "Get up there before he hits us", and off I sprinted...right into that same damned cleat, in the same damned spot on the same damned thigh.  My eyes started watering from the pain, and I muttered, "Screw you Motorcycle Frankie", to which the Admiral said, "Huh???"  Once the situation (and my pain) came under control, I explained Motorcycle Frank's theory of the double hit, and how I damned sure did not agree with it.  Neither did my now grapefruit sized thigh.

Then today, on the crossing of Abermarle Sound, things got pretty rough, and the sea gods took their toll again on my first mate.  A rougue wave hit us from the port side just as Carrie was moving around the back of the helm chairs on the fly bridge.  Although she was holding on with her left hand, she lost her footing and while stopping her fall, she jammed her thumb into the seat back...hard.  After a trip to the Ablemarle Med Center in Elizabeth City, NC, she is sporting this on her broken right thumb:

When we get to Norfolk, VA, she gets to go see another orthopedic surgeon! (Just to make sure no permanent damage). Score, Once Around 2, Carrie 0.

Then tonight at dinner the strangest thing happened.  Our waiter took one look at her thumb and said, "I can tell you how to make it feel better", and he slammed his thumb down on the table and told Carrie to do the same.  She and I looked at each other and said..."Screw you Motorcycle Frankie"!

Remember, "Boating is Fun!"

Friday, May 6, 2011

Finally...We're Off!!!

After a great bon voyage party thrown by our kids last Saturday, Carrie and I flew out to North Carolina on Sunday and caught up with our boat in Morehead City.  The captains who brought her around from Sarasota said all systems were go, no problems whatsoever.  We sent them on their way home and spent Monday and Tuesday stocking up on provisions and doing a few minor chores, like installing a spare anchor.  We met a few fellow loopers (experienced) and got a few good tips on anchorages in the upcoming stretch.  We also tried to dispell the rumor (apparently started by our hired captain) that we were brand new to boating.  People had been told we just bought a 45 foot boat and were going to hit the waterways!  Some couldn't wait to see what kind of misadventures we would have, while others were overly explaining every detail ahead...cracked us up.  Anyway, the weather report for Wednesday looked bad, with thunderstorms predicted, so we reluctantly planned on staying one more day at the dock.  I figured I could use the time to study charts and maybe get a post in.

In typical Frank and Carrie fashion, we changed our minds about 9 AM Wednesday morning after an elderly couple of loopers asked for our help getting off the dock in the wind.  Hell, if they could do it we could do it. (Yes John and Linda, we did check the weather and confirm that the storm had been downgraded considerably).  So, with only a quick photo taken by a nice couple from Canada who were passing by, we slipped the lines and began our yearlong journey.

We did catch a bit of rain periodically, and the wind did stir up a bit in the afternoon, but thanks to the loopers the night before, we knew that Slade Creek off the Pungo River near Bellhaven would provide a good protected anchorage for the night.  Here was our view at sunset:

Thursday we ran up the Pungo River, through the Pungo/Alligator River Canal and most of the way up to Abermarle Sound.  

A bunch of gulls seemed very interested in us as we transited the Pungo.  We hadn't left any food outside, so couldn't figure why they were swarming around us.  Maybe they were just hopeful...or maybe we need to shower every day.  Anyway, they lost interest pretty quickly.
We also got buzzed by a couple of military jets along the way.  One was (I swear) only a few hundred yards above us and our chests thundered as he flew over.  The admiral said it scared the (expletive delted) out of her, and she was hereby removing fllying in a jet fighter plane from her bucket list!

There are some gorgeous (and not so gorgeous) homes along these backwoods waterways.  This one looks like a place I could hide out for awhile, how about you?

We also saw a few interesting boats.  We liked this one best:

We opened our first (of a zillion on the loop) bridges, along Alligator River,

and stopped into a cute little marina, aptly named the Alligator River Marina.  As we refueled, several loopers (including our friends Doug and Judy from Moonstruck!) greeted us and invited us to a cocktail party and a taco feed aboard some new friends' (Jim and Linda) trawler, Jeremiah.  The margaritas flowed, oh yeah, happy Cinco de Mayo!

At least 10 looper boats left the marina together this morning.  We needed a down day, so waved them off as they left.  There isn't a town to visit within 10 miles, and this morning at least, few boats in the harbor.  I've precisely timed getting this post in with my first mate completing our laundry chores...I think it's about nap thirty...but first, (just in case we don't get wifi in the next few days) a great big HAPPY MOTHERS DAY to all you moms out there. Now, about that nap...