turtle and loving my friends

by sarah hair Email

I woke at my friend's house from a girl sleep-over last night. I was extra tired from staying up late and making melted plastic figurine bowls and eating brownies and chips and hummus and salsa. It was a great slumber party, but I had to be at yoga at 8:30, so not enough sleep even though I got the top bunk!

On my way back home from her house, which is in Camden, I got lost. I have been informed maybe seven times today by seven different people that Camden has only three lights. I guess this is significant because it should help me to orient better if I don't see any street lights, thereby making it more difficult to get lost. It was easy though. Have directions, miss the turn, get stuck in a detour loop, rinse, repeat, 25 minutes later end up where you began. This is the basic recipe. I could write you a better one if you were really interested.

So, once back on track, I ran over a turtle. A super-cute turtle who went directly between my tires and sucked himself into his shell in the nick of time. I saw a little cartoon version in my mind of him spinning on his shell as I zoomed past. I pulled over and dove through traffic wildly waving at the intersection (one of only three which have lights, I am told) to get the other cars to go around me while I retrieved the little cutie from certain death.

I made my way to the studio, and not knowing what else to do with him, I put the little turtle into my utility sink. I went to yoga and resolved to think about him once I had stretched and relaxed a little.

When I got back to the studio, he was still in the sink, but had some grasses and a little bowl of water! One of my friends had stopped by and taken care of him, just because he was found in the sink! This was the single most proud moment of my day. I saw the little turtle and I thought about how my friends are the kind of people who would see a creature and try to make it comfortable. THey would not ask questions, they would not ignore it, they would not try to get rid of it. If they see an animal in distress in my sink, they assume I had put it there for safety, and they try to make him as comfortable as possible. This is why I love my friends. This is what makes my friends special. This is why I love the relationships I have. Absolute trust, trust that I had intended to keep him safe there. Absolute kindness, doing something just because it would better the life of another being even if it may go unappreciated. Absolute selflessness, giving of one's time and self when there likely is no actual payoff other than the feeling of having been selfless.

I spent some time and researched what the turtle needed for habitat (fresh running water, soft bottom, lots of bottom dwelling critters and water plants to eat), wether or not he needed to be returned to his area or his family (he did not), life expectancy (about 55 years!), and several other things about the turtles so I could share them with the girls and their friends.

The turtle ended up hitching a ride with another friend who offered to relocate him to a more isolated area with fresh water. Another selfless act performed voluntarily by a friend who just wanted to help this little creature have a better life.

I am so happy with the kindness and generosity of my friends. I just adore each and every one of them and I am so proud that they are mine. This is what makes life worth living. The connections we have to the earth and to one another are what defines the richness of the experience. I am thrilled that my experience is rich and my connectedness to my friends and their connectedness to the creatures on this planet are what makes me feel alive.

Nyquil

by sarah hair Email

The past week had been full (FULL) of smoke, and my lungs have been killing me for days. I thought they would let up a little once the wind changed or the wildfires burning out of control all around us were either contained, burned out, or just able to unleash their noxious fumes out over the ocean or somehow away from my house. But, I have not as of yet been so fortunate. As of today, my lungs are just starting to let up a little. I can lay down without coughing only with the aid of Nyquil, but at least I can lay down without coughing, which is more than I can say for the past several days.

Besides the aching in my lungs just during the day, I have been trying not to talk too much. My voice sounds all scratchy, like one of Marge Simpson's sisters, just not nearly as sexy. I am mostly alright as long as I neither talk nor breathe. Everything else is just fine.

I had a coughing fit last night that lasted for about 10 minutes and was so ridiculous that I couldn't stop laughing during the entire episode. I was with a friend, and I was trying to communicate with him when the coughing just went out of control. It hurt so badly , yet was so hilarious, that I was crying visibly with tears streaming down my face, unable to speak, unable to breathe, just me coughing and wildly making hand gestures and trying to get my hair out of my face which was quickly covered in tears, snot, and spittle from my hacking. I decided I had enjoyed enough of this spectacle and I just reached for the botlte of Nyquil, fiddled for a while with the child safety mechanism, and eventually just chugged it down. Very shortly thereafter I was unconscious.

Since Thursday, I have been trying rum. Mixed with juice, it is tasty and effective at either making my lungs not hurt so badly or helping me to not notice that my lungs hurt so badly. I have to say though, the Nyquil kicks rum's ass at making my lungs not hurt or me not care that they hurt.

Dear Nyquil: I love you long time.

Staying in Elizabeth City

by sarah hair Email

Well, it has been many months, in fact, nearly a year and also several lifetimes since I have written a new post here.

There is little use in trying to go back through that year and those lifetimes in this one post, but suffice it to say that I am in Elizabeth City, working, raising the girls, making friends, enjoying myself, and generally living yet another lifetime.

This life is full of friends, affection, kindness, fun, excitement, challenges, art, creativity, and especially love. I think it is the best one I have lived so far.

Summer is here, the kids are out of school, the studio is hosting summer art camps, I am creating constantly, and I am discovering new things about myself and enjoying new things in my life. I have discovered hooping and skating and like to do both in the park when I get the chance. I also have discovered ladies night with my girl friends, and had really until recently forgotten how much I appreciated how incredibly important it is to me to have special women to talk with and share with.

Am I living in Elizabeth City forever? No, I would highly doubt it. However, it will be the geographical location which marks the change in my path. It will be the place where my life began to be all about the experience of enjoying friendships and loving connections. It is the place where I first found that love is indeed everywhere. Especially here.

Vegan Biscotti

by sarah hair Email

I can't even guess why this was not posted yet! I had written it up several years ago, and when I made it, it was so amazingly delicious!

Coconut Lime Biscotti

3 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons flax meal (ground flax seed)
1/2 cup coconut
1/2 cup oil
1/2 cup shortening or margarine
zest of 1 lime
juice of 1 lime
3 tablespoons water

mix together dry ingredients, mix wet, add them together.
stir until mixed, they should be rather dry, and should roll into a big ball easily. If it needs more water to stick together, add more water or even more lime juice if desired.

break into two halves. Roll into two logs. Place onto baking sheet and flatten. Bake at 325 for about 30 minutes.

Remove from cooking sheet and let cool. Cut into 1/2 inch slices. Place slice onto baking sheet and cook again for 10 minutes on each side.

Orange Rosemary Biscotti

3 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons flax meal (ground flax seed)
1/2 cup oil
1/2 cup shortening or margarine
zest of 1 orange
juice of 1 orange
3 tablespoons water

mix together dry ingredients, mix wet, add them together.
stir until mixed, they should be rather dry, and should roll into a big ball easily. If it needs more water to stick together, add more water or orange flavoring if desired.

break into two halves. Roll into two logs. Place onto baking sheet and flatten. Bake at 325 for about 30 minutes.

Remove from cooking sheet and let cool. Cut into 1/2 inch slices. Place slice onto baking sheet and cook again for 10 minutes each side.

Elizabeth City, North Carolina

by sarah hair Email

Deciding to hole up in the Dismal Swamp, we motored around turns and up stretches until we saw the most perfect spot. We met the kind people who owned the property and they allowed us to tie up for the night even offering a warm place to stay indoors if the hurricane turned nasty.

We set to work removing all the canvas and every possible removable piece of hardware or other prospective projectile. Avalon looked so naked when we had finished, but it allowed us to do a deeper cleaning than we had done in months. By late afternoon the boat was transformed into a hurricane-ready stripped version of her former self, though still with the crunchy carcass carpet.

Having properly prepared as best we could under the circumstances, we caught a ride into town and bought hurricane preparedness foods. This primarily consists of ice cream, apple pie, brownies, chips, salsa, guacamole, bagels, and beer.

We stayed up until late waiting to see if we would be hit hard or if it might pass and we explored the munchies while playing cribbage and Scattergories. THe storm turned out to be little more than an exercise in preparedness, which was quite a relief even though part of me always screams out, "You mean I did all that work for nothing!" Being tied to our new friends' place did afford us the luxury of cleaning off the bugs and getting a decent washing while we put the boat back together. Not a complete loss when we consider the deep cleaning that really was needed.

We headed back to Elizabeth City where they have an amazing free dock right in downtown in front of a park where upon arrival a festival was just beginning and we were able to greet everyone from town who came out to welcome us while listening to live music. We went out to sushi also, which I highly recommend here in Elizabeth City. They have better sushi than we found anywhere in Fort Lauderdale at better prices, and tons of vegetarian options which we sampled each and every one of and still made it out under $80.00 for the four of us.

The weather since the hurricane scare has been significantly cooler in the evenings and mornings, so we are loathe to go any further north having started so late in the season this year. Everything in Elizabeth City seems to be conspiring to keep us here for the year, so we may just give in. We rented a dock for the month and are currently looking for work. Keep your fingers crossed!

The Dismal Swamp

by sarah hair Email

Hurricane Earl was bearing down on us and we needed to get out of the way. We left Oriental in a hurry and hustled up toward an area called 'The Dismal Swamp.' The 'swamp' around here is amazingly and surprisingly beautiful, with trees, grasses, and animals. We have seen so many beautiful swamp paces with the accompanying animals that besides the hurricane protection offered by the grasses and trees which absorb the waves and the tight bends which absorb the surge, we were really looking forward to seeing the nature as we waited out the threat.

Barely up the narrow ICW we started with engine trouble. John managed to take the entire engine apart and put it back together, changed the fuel filter, found the issue, and true to every crisis came up with a gimmick since we did not have the correct part. It took several hours off our estimated time of arrival, but at least we were not dead in the water with a hurricane on the way.

Those missing hours turned out to be critical however, when we arrived at a swing bridge which was undergoing upgrades while we along with another boat waited until morning to be able to pass. This alone set us back an entire day's travel and we were more than a little frantic when we finally decided to go no further and to simply find a spot.

One curious thing about that stay in the river waiting for a swing bridge is that we managed to pass through a swarm of some kind of creature. They had wings, looked a lot like mosquitoes, did not bite, and had antennae that were feathered like that of a moth. Odd as they looked, their behavior was the kicker, since they REALLY liked our boat, to the tune of tens of thousands of them making their permanent residence on board. Everywhere we looked was a black spot. The entire hull, deck, sails, masts, even just lines were covered with these little flying critters. Motoring became absurd, as steering the boat by even the tiniest movement stirred them something fierce and the swarm would buzz up all around for a minute or so rendering seeing and breathing impossible. This was the first honest insect infestation we encountered in the swamps, unless we count the dozen or so dragonflies who hung out with us for a few days. Speaking of the dragonflies... where were they? Just a few of those guys could have helped us out of this mess!

infestation of moth creatures

There were other beautiful things along the way, including this otherworldly stretch of river that widened out and misted over to look like we were floating in the air with the still water reflecting the sky and neither betraying where the other was hiding.

I have to admit, I had very low expectations coming in to the ICW and preparing to go for hundreds of miles through swamps. I am thrilled to report that I never could have imagined how beautiful it is and how much life and nature we have seen and experienced, even if some of it has been of the swarming or biting variety. Later in our day we had an unexpected visitor who helped a bit with the critter population, but even this big girl could not do much about the tens of thousands of carcasses blanketing the entire boat like a crunchy carpet.

Oriental, North Carolina

by sarah hair Email

Everything is moving so fast that I keep forgetting to keep track of it. We have been traveling at high speeds, often exceeding 5 knots per hour, as we were avoiding Hurricane Earl. Unfortunately, we have missed some of the most amazing places we have traveled through just because of our hurry, though we are all eager to come back this way and really take a good look at the awesome North Carolina towns and nature.

Even through our haste we have still found amazing things. One place we really enjoyed was Oriental, a small town with some of the friendliest people around. During our two days ashore there we managed to make several new friends, have a jewelry show, and eat at an all-you-can-eat buffet breakfast. One special feature of the place is that we made half a dozen new friends and played with three dogs in the course of the 5 hours it took us to go for a two block walk. Typical walks that only go for two blocks take about 3 minutes, so one might wonder why we are so very slow since we are all able-bodied, healthy, and energetic. The answer is simple; fun. We got almost a full block when we found a breakfast buffet that soaked up about an hour of build-your-own waffles and omelette bar, fruit, muffins, danishes, potatoes, grits, and even meats, if you are into that sort of thing. We gorged on the goodies, especially the fruits, which we all go crazy for and then we were off and running on our day's walk yet again.

The next distraction was not even all the way across the street, where we met two other sailboating couples and their awesome dogs. The girls spent some time with the pets throwing sticks and romping around while John and I gained valuable local knowledge and planned out what we could do if the hurricane presently known as "Earl" came too close for comfort. We never seem to get enough time for pet romping, so we let this go on for well over an hour even though we realized that our walk had come to a complete circular gallop through the park.

Our next stop was just across the street and a few hundred feet over to where we found Matt and Douglass, a wonderful couple who were selling sailing-theme print shirts and dresses on the street corner. They offered us a spot and we set up and sold jewelry with them while Madison and Malia played with the various dogs being walked by.

We managed to use up nearly all of our daylight before we finally walked past the two blocks we had traveled so far. A bit before sunset we managed to get out to the marine consignment store and picked up our purchases as the kind lady who worked there gave us a ride back to the boat with our goods.

One thing about Oriental is that everyone wants to offer rides. The first day we arrived we walked to the grocery store. A woman near the produce section overheard me telling the girls that they could not get ice cream since it would melt before we made it back to the boat. Before I even finished the sentence, she told the girls to go ahead and get the ice cream because she would just drive us back to the boat! I was startled, pleased with her kindness, and confused simultaneously, but I still made the girls wait until the next day for ice cream. I guess I am just mean like that.

We did manage to do the neighborhood scavenger hunt, which consists mainly of dragons. Malia spotted and counted several dozen each day we went out incuding these awesome dragon eggs decorated around town. We saw several more, but photographed four of them. If you find yourself in Oriental, be sure to try to collect the whole set. There are at least 6.

Cape Lookout, North Carolina

by sarah hair Email

We spent the day in Cape Lookout and just knew that it would not be enough if we did not camp out. Despite the mosquitoes, we endeavored to stay overnight to get the full experience and camp out for the first time in many years.

Cape Lookout is part of the Outer Banks of North Carolina, an amazing and special group of huge islands of sand dunes that form a skinny ribbon of sand around North Carolina. It was so beautiful and amazing to be there and experience something so huge and natural, especially after having spent so long on the boat and in the Bahamas where everything is either plastic or dead or just plain flat. THe beach here had real sand dunes, which the girls had never seen before. Malia even learned to run down the sand dunes like I did when I was a little girl.

The beach on Cape Lookout is the nicest we have seen in years! It has a nice gentle slope with decent surf of about 2-5 feet so we could body-surf. The girls had never done any body surfing before, and the last time I had was when I was pregnant with Madison! It was such a treat!

They have a beautiful lighthouse among the forest and the sand dunes as well as a ranger station. The lovely people there told us about the jr. ranger program they had for the kids which sent us out on science excursions, experiments, scavenger hunts, and hikes. In the end, Madison and Malia had finished tow of the four days of jr. ranger tasks offered on the island. It was the most amazing experience! We all agreed that we want to come back here as soon as we can. We did not have our full before we had to leave, so we are dying to try it again!

We all agreed this was the most fun we have had in years!

Morehead, NC

by sarah hair Email

Starting out from our last anchorage, we had just a short trip up to Morehead, NC. The motoring was not so bad, just a couple hours. Malia saw a whole bunch of dolphins and managed to get a good shot of a few of them surfacing at the same moment.

We could see the anchoring basin just ahead as we entered the channel. A few minutes later we were aground - again. It had just rained and our dinghy was full of fresh rain water, so the girls decided to go for a "swim" in the dinghy while we waited for the tide to turn around and float us off the shoal.

A kindly Sea Tow fellow let us know that there was another, safer, channel where sailboats could enter the basin without running aground, so we headed on and took it. Minutes later we were safely anchored in a very nice and cozy spot.

So far we spent yesterday and today checking out the area. Unfortunately, the closest grocery store and post office are over 3 miles away in another town. This means we will not be getting any fresh veggies or shipping any packages from here. We did however meet King Neptune of the fiberglass variety. The girls posed for a picture with him, then another little boy came over and insisted on getting his picture taken as well.

Today we checked out the little island next to the anchorage, Sugarloaf Island. It had a great hike mapped out and marked with numbered posts. The woods there were wet and smelled like life itself as we walked through to the beach on the other side. THe island walk offered beautiful views of the water but also a nice view of Morehead itself from just the other side of the channel.

We got a chance to beach comb and found a few more of those little frosted stones which we had dubbed "mermaid eggs" on our previous beach combing in Surf City!

We put them in our pockets and headed back to the boat just before it poured down rain again. We hope to spend the day tomorrow at the National Park at Cape Lookout where I just found out that we can camp and even make a campfire! I have not done that since I was a child, so certainly worth mentioning!

in Topsail Island, North Carolina

by sarah hair Email

We found ourselves without a place to stop for the evening, with just us on the very skinny stretch of ICW just past the swing bridge that goes to Topsail Island. Having already run us aground twice today for a grand total of twice in my lifetime, I pleaded for the rest at a bonafide marina rather than taking my chances driving in the darkening evening as the tide fell through this stretch of tricky navigation.

Topsail Island turned out to be a hoot. We did not find mini-golf, ice-cream after 9:00pm, or a restaurant we were willing to eat in, but we did find some amazing jewelry, a fun beach-combing (and appearantly surfing) sandy beach, and a home-made donut place that even had brownie-topped donuts!

We also found public restrooms, a nice park, and some trails we hiked around in. On the beach I found several stones which are translucent and perfectly shaped discs and ovals. I am not sure what the stones are, but perhaps some type of quartz. The range from clear to grey and also there are orange, yellow, and greenish ones. The gay stones look a little lavender even. I am so excited to make something with them! They reminded me of eggs, so I kept telling the girls to look for the "mermaid eggs" while we were walking around the beach. They thought it was apt but disgusting, so they talked me out of calling them that when I make them into jewelry.

All told, let's hear it for Surf City! Saved us from uncertain death and a fun time too!

Birthday Bliss

by sarah hair Email

I wanted a shower for my birthday, yes, it is not much, until you see the circumstances.

We are out at anchor, in a pretty busy anchorage with passers-by on boats, swimming, on jet-skis, on cars over a bridge, walking by, fishing, pretty much everywhere you look there are people. Now, our showering system has a couple disadvantages, first off, we can only use it if we have enough water. Check. We watered-up a couple days back. Next, we have to be on deck, so the weather has to cooperate to make sure we do not freeze to death in the cold or wind. Showering at night tends to be chilly, even in summer, as the cool breeze chills the water as the shower bag is emptied and the water is chilly to begin with, which makes the soap never really wash off. Additionally, wit all the people around, we have to shower with clothes on. Also, to fit under the nozzle, we have to scrunch down or sit down, so it never feels (or gets) very clean in the nethers.

So, as I mentioned, all I wanted was a shower. If it could be with warm water, standing up, naked, that would be awesome! But, just a shower would even do, so in a way I was not asking for much, except that in a way, I was asking for a very lot.

My day was blown out of the water right from the start! John got up and made me macadamia nut pancakes with bananas, nectarines, and coconut on top!

My girls made me a bunch of amazing presents including a new purse, outfits for various stuffed toys I have, and a new hand made hat. They had ben staying up in the middle of the night sewing for the past couple weeks, but the results are stunning!

We played card games for a while and hung out and played with the new presents, then headed to shore for an early dinner.

Upon reaching the shore, all my birthday dreams came true! There was a surf shower right on the landing for the dinghy dock, where I busted out my shower stuffs and went to work. Madison held the button for me and I lathered up and scrubbed down! I was so clean, right in the middle of the day, standing up, with as much water as I needed coming all around me! It was so much fun!

There were slim pickens in this area for eateries which did not have the word Grille in them, so we went to the only place we found, which had Mexican food. We filled up on delicious salsa and chips, then got our entrees and packed and took most of them home.

After dinner we went for a walk along the beach and found a bunch of cool bits and pieces of shells and even some stones which were clear and veined with also being frosted by the sand and surf! THey were like sea glass made of crystals or something. We brought several home, and I am thinking now of how to make something awesome with them.

Madison made us all the best cherry pie ever all by herself while I read a book. We all ate it and hung out late into the night, then signed off on another brilliant birthday celebration.

Also for my birthday...

NEW HEAD not connected to my bed at all! It works like a charm, flushes every time, and flushes easily.

Poop Happens

by sarah hair Email

We repaired our rigging with a brand new new piece that was a better fit for the home made piece that it was replacing. Including overnight shipping twice and a weekend at the dock waiting for its arrival, it was several hundred dollars to replace this piece which cost around $20.00, even though we did the work ourselves. The work itself was fun enough, with me on the main climbing line, Malia on the winch, and Madison on the secondary lifeline. We still need John to actually climb though, even with the mechanical advantage on the winch and the 3 to one block and tackle. I guess we are still pretty wimpy.

New rigging installed, we tried our hand at sailing the ICW again and headed north toward somewhere. We eventually reached an area that was claimed to be ruins, though all we really saw around there was an old bridge. It was very pretty though and we anchored for the night. In the morning we opted to try sailing again rather than exploring given our lack of landing options ashore.

Sailing proved elusive that next morning and we had to turn to motoring as the tide changed and was rushing past us at about the same speed we were making. We got about an hour of motoring and were headed away from a small town with an amazing-looking park just off the ICW when John did an emergency anchoring maneuver and killed the engine. Turned out we were having sudden engine failure. Everything was overheating.

We spent the afternoon all four of us working on the engine. Madison passed tools from the toolbox like a professional and Malia started and stopped the engine upon command from the cock-pit. John took things apart and put them back together including replacing an impeller which was down to one little half-flap and another quarter-flap from its intended dozen or more requisite flaps. No wonder it stopped working... poor thing was dead dead dead.

Epitaph:

"Little black impeller didn't give us much warning, but at least had the decency to break apart on the one and only stretch of ICW we have seen in over 300 miles which had readily available anchoring for several hundred feet. You will be fondly remembered for your consideration."

I cleaned the strainer and other bits and pieces and scrubbed down those hard-to-reach-places that were suddenly exposed while the engine room was torn apart. In the end, the engine was running again and we were able to go whenever we were ready. We decided to stay in Carolina Beach and look up that park a mile or so back.

We ended up staying two days and also checking out the beach, the grocery store, the mini-golf, and a falafel joint. I highly recommend all, especially the mini-golf which had a lot of shade and a well planned and beautiful course. In stark contrast to the mini-golf we played in Myrtle Beach, every hole was a shining example of how to put together a tricky green with 2-3 par but a capacity for a hole-in-one. We all enjoyed the scorching heat on that course where we found a lot of shade and comfortable benches and lawn to sprawl out on while waiting for the other players ahead of us or just taking a break.

Upon returning to the boat last night and deciding that this morning we would move on to the next place, our head stopped flushing. The head, for all you land-dwellers, is the marine version of a toilet. Of course, it stopped flushing in the middle of needing to be flushed, since otherwise we would not have been flushing it and would not have known that it had indeed stopped flushing. John waded through the stinky mess, took it apart, knocked in some ill-placed hair ties and headbands, yelled a lot, cleaned up the strainer and other parts, showered, and declared the head also to be dead dead dead.

Epitaph:

"It had been a mediocre head. Easier to flush than most, but took too much electricity. Saw more years and butts than it should have since we ran out of money and couldn't afford to replace it years ago. It will not really be missed but rather replaced."

So far, of losing our sailing capacity through broken rigging that could have killed us, losing our engine, and losing our head, the head is the most inconvenient. I guess you can't really imagine what it is like until it happens to you. Luckily, we have an "auxiliary" head located under my jewelry bench next to my bunk. You can imagine how quickly I want the real head replaced, but until then, everybody poops. Two feet from my bed, under my jewelry bench, everybody poops.

More from Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

by sarah hair Email

We have stayed in Myrtle Beach much longer than anticipated, but have been able to do more than we had hoped also, as long as we temporarily exclude the hope of fixing the rigging.

We are enjoying our time here, though it is a very touristy place. We visited the beach which I declared, "The most crowded place I have seen in my life" and we visited the mall and the tourist trap areas near the resort we are staying in. The swimming pool also rated as, "The most crowded pool I have seen in my life."

Other than all the tourists (seriously, more tourists than anywhere I have ever been, including Honolulu and San Francisco) it has been a hoot going around and doing the tourist things. We sent the girls on this contraption where they jumped on a trampoline while being held in a harness with bungee cords. The were slingshot high into the air and Malia even did a flip!

Today we went to play miniature golf, which as it turns out is entirely different than putt-putt golf. For one thing, miniature golf has a professional aspect and even a PMGA tour (that is professional mini-golf association) while putt-putt has windmills. Another difference, I was informed by the proprietor at the mini-golfing establishment, is that mini-golf has banks and curves with uneven ground while putt-putt is flat. Imagine that.

Well, I rocked it all the same. Here I am hitting a home run! I made it on my first try!

The last time we played miniature golf it was in Fort Myers, Florida for about 1/3 the price and there were alligators under the pirate ship, so it really was quite a bargain out there. We were rusty, but we did alright considering the reader board next to us said it was 102 degrees! No one died or even passed out, and we were grateful for the sun, since it meant we were able to golf at all considering how much thunderstorming had been going on the past few days since our arrival.

After our rousing and exhausting game of miniature (not putt-putt) golf, we headed to the Mongolian grill restaurant across the street for some amazing vegetarian food. My grand-mother used to tell me that there was no point taking me to a buffet, since I was a waste of money at those places when I didn't eat the meat. Well, right here in Myrtle Beach we found an all-you-can-eat buffet that has sushi and mongolian grill! They do offer meat, in about 25 different varieties, but it is not by any means the main attraction! They made us all the veggie sushi we could stand to pack in, then we headed through the veggie line and piled on the fresh veggies for them to fry up on the grill! Every single one of us vegetarians got our money's worth! Gramma would be so proud!

For our trip north...

Rigging was ordered and arrived, we sent John up the mast, it was the wrong size, so we brought him down with all of us unfulfilled. We ordered the new larger part, are waiting for it to arrive tomorrow, then will send John up the mast etc. again and prepare to leave Myrtle Beach the following day headed for North Carolina.

Madison also lost a tooth yesterday, so everyday life is also still going on along.

In Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

by sarah hair Email

Well, North Myrtle Beach, actually.

We got off the ground around 3:00 am and went all the way to the dock and crashed. Exhaustion had set in by then, since I waited on deck with a book until we came free, which was from about 8:00 pm until 3:00 am.

We actually worked on the boat today and sent John up the mast. I had to grind the screws off the old mast head light fitting while he dangled up there, but he did some other things like removing the forestay and replacing a pin.

Unfortunately, our fancy dancy mast head light which is approved by the coast guard and everything arrived with a big problem. It interferes with our vhf radio so badly that we can use only one or the other. A navigational disaster when you think about it. Do you want people to see you? Or do you want to hear them coming? Choose wisely. You only get one shot.

At our request the manufacturer kindly replaced the defective unit rather than recalling them, but before we installed the newest new one, the defective new one which we have not even had for a year burned out and shorted to the mast. The housing is actually designed to ground to the mast, which seemed not-so-good to me, but we had to replace it anyway, so today was the day.

Good news was that John had to go up the mast to replace it and while there he found out that a key piece of hardware was completely split through leaving the forestay on a tiny shred of mangled and compromised steel with a large fissure. It could have snapped at any moment and sent the mast crashing down around us all, so finding it is a good thing.

This piece appears home made and the stainless steel was bent and cut without being ground down. The edges are rough, so it is no wonder it had so many points of failure. The amazing part is that we had the mast down a year ago (almost) and we hired a professional rigger to go over it with us, but none of us noticed the failure in this piece. Even without the cracks and breaks, the design itself should have set off alarms in us all.

In other news, there is a swimming pool here! As soon as we finished our lunch of home made baked beans, veggie hot dogs, and mashed potatoes, we headed for the pool and soaked it up!

e might go out for a walk and see the area. For now, we have seen the marina and will be waiting to replace this part...

Hard aground, again

by sarah hair Email

This time in the middle of the ICW.

I understood there would be a minimum of 12 feet through the whole way up the east coast of the US... weird that.

We did talk with several people on the radio as we prepared to spend another night on the ground, though this time it is at least not a tree. There was mention from one man that there used to be a marker here telling boaters about the shoal under us. Maybe someone hit it. Another said that they made it through just fine - most of the time. A third offered a tow, for a small fee.

We will be awake at 2:00 am to watch the high tide pull us off our spot. No pictures this time, it was too dark by the time we tried our remedies.

Oh, by the way, no sailing for the next few days and today was a motor only day. We sent John up the mast yesterday to replace our broken light and he found that we have a broken toggle which would be holding up our mast if it were not broken. We had to emergency repel him down and rig up a temporary halyard to keep the mast in place until we can get and install the replacement part.

Also today...

We went ashore at a restaurant called Hanna Banana. THey had veggie burgers worth dying for. In the true southern style, they deep fried the tomatoes, so eventually that dying for them would creep up. Yes, it was worth every calorie. THey also served deep-fried macaroni and cheese. The South. I think we have arrived.

On the way in the restaurant, we first used their marina to fuel up and pump out. Total success.

And, the most important part of the story? Well, we saw a giant snake swimming on top of the water! He must have been about 4 feet long with brown and black markings. Really pointy head like an arrowhead. John thinks it might be a water moccasin. More reasons to stay out of this water...

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