The Motor Vessel "Once Around"

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

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

I Love Crab...but NOT Crab Pots

Our stay in Manteo was enjoyable, but by Monday we were ready to go.  We returned the rental car on Sunday afternoon and walked back to the marina.  It was Mother’s Day so I cooked chicken marsalla for my First Mate, which we served with rice and a salad on board Once Around.  After dinner we readied everything for an early departure on Monday.
Unfortunately, the weather was a little off the forecast, (imagine that!) and 20-30 knot winds caused the Coast Guard to issue a “Small Craft Use Caution” warning for the Albemarle Sound.  Those of you who followed our Loop blog might recall it was on Albemarle two years ago where Carrie was thrown against a helm seat and broke her thumb!  The Coast Guard warning was due to expire at 11 AM, so we played it safe and waited to see if the wind and waves actually would settle down as predicted in the afternoon.
It appeared good to go by 10:30 AM, so we cast off the lines and started to pull away from the dock at Manteo. 
Cling, cling, cling…as soon as I put the port transmission in gear, another new boat noise…and NOT a good one.  I pulled back to the dock immediately.  This was perhaps our shortest day’s cruise ever…we travelled about fifteen feet!
After the initial shock wore off, we realized (translate that as “hoped”) that the metallic clinking we heard could not possibly be the transmission.  How could it so suddenly go bad, when we had no problems coming into Manteo a few days earlier?  The new noise was not one we could have missed.
Four hours later, Matt, the local diver,
This would be Matt...

verified that we had sucked up a crab pot in our running gear.  Now with the thousands of crab pots I have dodged in this boat, I was due to finally hit one, but how the hell it remained silent coming into the dock a few days prior is still a mystery.  In any case, Matt had to take bolt cutters to the rebar cage trap that had become lodged under the boat in order to get it free.  Luckily, other than sheering off the rope cutters that are supposed to cut the trap lines before the trap gets into your propellers, there was no apparent damage.  We took a picture of the mangled crab trap after we got it up on the dock:

I'm not sure what Vanna White here is smiling about... 

The Admiral saved a small piece of rebar from the trap.  She placed it in a basket in our stateroom that also contains a piece of Canadian rock which she had saved as a reminder of my not so wonderful experience with a couple of rocks in Georgian Bay.  I think she’s accumulating evidence in the basket for use at my court martial…
Anyway, by the time this was all sorted out it was too late to leave Manteo, so we settled in for a final night there.  This morning the wind had almost completely died down and we had a nice ride to Coinjock Marina.  We could have easily gone further than the 42 miles we travelled today, but the restaurant here is famous for its prime rib.  No kidding, you don’t need reservations for dinner, but you do need to make a reservation if you intend to order the prime rib…which we did.  I’ll let you know if it was worth the build-up…
Coinjock Marina Restaurant

Doug and Judy from Moonstruck II are only a day or two behind us.  They need to have some electronics work done so we are planning on going only another 36 miles tomorrow and waiting for them at the Atlantic Marine Boatyard.  If things work out I may have the yard do a bit of maintenance on Once Around as long as we are hanging out there for a few days.
We're here and doing fine!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Ma'am, Which Way Did the Preacher Go?

Yesterday, Carrie and I visited the Orville and Wilbur Wright Memorial at Kitty Hawk.  We learned the amazing story of two bicycle shop workers from Dayton, Ohio, who through their own ingenuity became the first persons ever to achieve motorized flight.  Most of us probably recall hearing about the Wright Brothers from our school days, but the story of how they came to be the first to achieve flight was really impressive.  The National Park Service does a great job of explaining it all, and I would encourage anyone who is anywhere near the Outer Banks to make the drive down and see the Memorial.
Much of what we learned we absorbed from listening to one of the National Park Rangers give a very passionate 30 minute lecture, with full scale models of the original airplane as his backdrop.  He was a very animated character and very loud.  Sometimes he talked so fast I had to strain to understand him.  I wondered what the several dozen scouts and other youth groups in attendance thought.  Not a one of those kids moved an inch though, as the Ranger told the tale of the three years of the Wright Brothers’ trial and error in an almost fanatical tone.
Did you know that…
…although conditions were perfect the day before, the first successful flight was December 17, 1903, a Monday, because the Brothers had promised out of respect for their father (a preacher) not to attempt a try on a Sunday.
 …the first “flight” was made by Orville (luck of the draw), lasted 12 seconds and covered only 120 feet.
…Wilbur, on the second attempt flew only 175 feet, followed again by Orville going 200 feet.
…the fourth and longest flight was Wilbur’s at 852 feet and lasting 59 seconds?
…and the guy who took the famous photo of the first flight, which has been reproduced millions of times, had never before taken a photo of any kind, and claimed to have never taken another for the rest of his life?
These and many other bits of trivia and history flowed from the avid Ranger until he had worn himself and the rest of us out!
After the lecture, as Carrie and I were walking around the pavilion reading further details, a little boy of about 8 years came up behind Carrie trying to get her attention pleading, “Ma’am, Ma’am, which way’d that preacher go?”
Just as Carrie turned towards him, he was distracted by something else in the room and looked away for a moment.  Carrie started to move away, but again heard, “Ma’am, do you know where the preacher went?”  Realizing with a smile the park ranger must have sounded to this youngster like a “preacher” he’d heard somewhere, Carrie pointed the boy in the direction she had last seen the ranger heading.  Carrie noticed his mom watching from a short distance away with a smile.  Apparently the boy simply wanted the man’s autograph!  We chuckled to ourselves how close to a fire and brimstone speech we had just heard!
Well, today is Mother’s Day, and something we saw on a local church sign made us think of the little boy again:

 I am betting the little boy will never forget his scouting trip to Kitty Hawk.  He may even remember the ranger.  But, he will always remember that his mom was the one who took the time to take him there.
So, here’s wishing a Happy Mother’s Day to all the scouting, little league, soccer, ballet, teaching assistant, carpool driving, and every other “duty as required” mom’s out there.
Know that your kids love you, even when sometimes we forget to tell you.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Dear Anchorage Inn Marina,

My wife and I thoroughly enjoyed our stay with you the past few nights.  Your facility is clean and your staff is friendly and helpful.  However, I must speak to you about the Gremlin/Trolls that live under or near your docks!
This morning prior to our departure for Manteo, I told my First Mate to stop worrying about the BZZZT thing that we had been stressing about the past few days.  I fibbed that I had had a revelation during the night that the BZZZT noise was NOT coming from within our boat, but despite what your dockmaster said, had to be due to something in your marina.  She looked unconvinced, and asked, “And what might that be?”
I had to come up with something quickly, so I told her that since we had completely exhausted every “on board” alternative, I was reasonably certain there were some kind of little Trolls or Gremlins that lived under the docks where we had been berthed for three days.   She looked dubious, so I expounded that I was fairly certain that the Gremlin/Trolls had been hired by Apple to test their new underwater iPhones, and that was precisely why we had had the random BZZZT noises.  The little devils had been placing them against our hull, and driving us nuts for three days.
As Admirals are known to do, she rolled her eyes, shook her head, and ordered me to the fly bridge as it was time to shove off.  It was pretty obvious that we would continue this discussion in Manteo, thankfully a seven hour cruise north.
The 78 mile trip up Pamlico Sound was awesome.  A wise boating friend once told me to pick your weather…the rest is easy.  We did well in that regard today, and pulled into the Manteo Waterfront Marina around 3 PM.  We tied off, showered, and enjoyed a great meal at “1587”, right on the waterfront.  We plan to stay a few nights and are looking forward to seeing the sights of the surrounding area, including Kitty Hawk and the Wright Brothers Museum…but I digress…
We are sitting here at 9:15 PM Eastern Standard Time, and we haven’t heard a BZZZT since we arrived.  Grrr’s, beeps, rumbles and (thank God) thunks, yes, but not even one BZZZT!
So, I am sticking with the story that I told my bride this morning. 
Please have the Gremlin/Trolls removed before we return.
Captain Frank
M/V Once Around

PS  To Pat in Michigan:  Had I received your suggestion sooner that the BZZZT was Once Around “complaining” about salt, and yearning to return to the fresh water of Lake Michigan, I might have gone with it…but now I have to stick to my original story!

Thursday, May 9, 2013



Boat noises…God I’ve missed boat noises.  Every boater knows exactly what I am talking about.  You know your boat like the back of your hand and each and every chirp, thunk, grrrr, blub, whhzz, beep or rumble is immediately recognized by you and your First Mate. 
Maybe not so much after a year off!
Yes, despite our best intentions, real life interfered with our proposed east coast boating schedule after we completed the Great Loop in April of 2012.  I won’t bore you with the details, some events that kept us busy were wonderful…others, well…not so wonderful.  Suffice it to say had Carrie and I not picked the precise 12 months that we did to take time to do the Loop, it might never have happened at all.
The good news is we are finally back!   And, we still like each other!
We arrived in New Bern, North Carolina, late last week, provisioned, and sat there until the weather broke on Tuesday.  We didn’t care that we were stuck in port!  To be back aboard Once Around after a year felt surreal…yet we also had the feeling of stepping back into a comfortable pair of old slippers.  And, we could use the time, because our boating brains did need a bit of retraining.  The sounds may have been familiar, but where the heck had we left the __________ (fill in the blank).  It took us those few days to re-start our boating brains, and still we made a few (thankfully minor) blunders.
In any case, Tuesday we made the 68 mile trek down the Neuse River and across Pamlico Sound to the small town of Ocrakoke, on the islands of the Outer Banks.  We enjoyed great weather, smooth water and Once Around performed perfectly.  We grinned all the way, just happy to be back on the water.   We tied up at the end of a dock at the Anchorage Inn Marina and poured ourselves a cocktail to celebrate a successful first leg of our summer voyage.
As we sat quietly in the silence of our first evening out, our minds worked through identifying the various boat noises:
Whoosh-the refrigerator starting.
Grrrrr-the water pump re-pressurizing the system.
Thunk-(one of my favorites)-the icemaker dumping another load of ice in the tray.
BZZZTT-…what was that?
Voopah, Voopah-the head pumping.
Beeeep-the chart plotter…doing something.
BZZZT…there it goes again…
BZZZT…and again.
What the hell is it, and where is it coming from?  It seems almost throughout the boat, although a little louder in the bow.
Now any of you who even remotely know my Admiral, knows that stuff like this drives her nuts.  Me, I can let it go for a while, and hope it goes away.  The Boss…no way. 
So over the last couple of days, we have spent some great time seeing the sights of the Outer Banks, including taking a ferry crossing to explore Hatteras Island today.  But every spare moment that we would normally spend relaxing on Once Around, we have been spent tearing apart every nook and cranny trying to identify the source of the BZZZT noise.  Honestly, it sounds like an iPhone that has been muted, put on vibrate, and set down against the hull somewhere so it reverberates throughout the boat (very softly!).
The buzzing sound is not a perfect pattern.  It will go off several times at about ten second intervals, then go silent for a minute or two, then start up again.  At first it was a nuisance.  Now it’s driving us both crazy.  Or rather, it’s driving the Admiral crazy and she’s driving me…well, you get the point.
We have tried turning off every 12 volt and 120 volt circuit on the boat…BZZZT…still there.  We checked a few things that are wired ahead of the breakers, like the windlass and the bow thruster circuits, turning them off as well…BZZZT.  We checked the shower sump, the bilge pumps…BZZZT.  I turned off the inverter…BZZZT.  Last night I called my “go-to-guy”, John on Poseidon, and even he is stumped! 
I have only gone into such great detail about this so that if any of you can think of something I have overlooked, please contact me with your suggestions.  And yes, I even swallowed my pride and asked the dock master if it was something emanating from his facility.  He looked at me like I had lost my marbles.  I clearly have, but that’s another story.
So, OK, we’re back on Once Around.  I am not sure for how long.  Our summer cruise plans originally involved going all the way back up to Canada, cruising with our friends Doug and Judy from Moonstruck, (which is now Moonstruck II, more about that later), but we are not sure we can take that much time off this year, so we are just taking it a couple-few weeks at a time.  Moonstruck II is somewhere in the Carolinas south of us and should catch up to us in the next week or so.  We plan to at least do the Chesapeake Bay together.  From then on, we’ll see.
Once Around docked in Ocracoke, NC

Yours truly on the ferry between Ocracoke and Hatteras

The ferry system between the islands is free

A passing ferry

As for blogging, I had decided on the flight out here that I was NOT going to blog this trip.  I wasn’t sure I had too many more stories in me.  It seems that was a rather unpopular decision in some circles.  So, when I feel it, I will post.  If I don’t, just know that we are having a blast again…
…BZZZT…or crawling around in the bilge!
Remember…Boating is Fun!