Pungo Canal, NC – Bellhaven, NC – Oriental, NC – Beaufort, NC – Camp Lejeune, NC – Southport, NC – Bucksport, SC – McClellanville, SC (November 12 – November 22)

Each day of our adventure I marvel at the sounds one hears on the water. The lapping of the gentle waves, the seagulls crying as they fly about, the wind as it blows, the church bells playing tunes in countless towns, and, of course, the steady rumble of the engines as we move. But as we move farther along, we hear new sounds to add to the familiar ones. Dolphins now splash and spout water through their blowholes, fighter jets fly overhead rehearsing their maneuvers and, in Camp Lejeune, guns, mortars, and helicopters keep our Marines trained and ready. Sights change too. Shrimp boats are commonly seen with their huge nets, beautifully spread out in the water and amazingly colorful when hanging above the boats. The towns along the way often have Victorian homes lining the streets and now, as far south as we are, we are finding palm trees, huge live oaks, and Spanish moss. We are moving south and we are excited to be doing so.




We left our anchorage just north of the Alligator River early on Thursday, November 12 to take advantage of the calmer seas the mornings bring. Up while still dark, I was able to get a few shots of sunrise before we hauled anchor and headed out. We arrived in the Pungo Canal in the early afternoon and at sunset we were treated to a spectacle of nature that will long be remembered. The sky changed from gold to orange to deep red and purple over about one half hour’s time bringing an end to a beautiful day on the water.


Bellhaven, NC


The next day brought us to Bellhaven, NC. It was a windy afternoon and more wind was predicted for the evening so we chose to dock in town. River Forest Marina in Bellhaven is part of a lovely resort that includes an old restored mansion, now used as an inn. They offer free golf carts for boaters to run to town for errands or dinner or just a little sightseeing. We enjoyed riding around and visiting downtown.


Jake really loves the boating life.


Oriental, NC


Aftermath is dwarfed by these boats!



Saturday we moved along to Oriental, NC. This is a working fishing village and the fishing and shrimp boats there are huge! The town provides free docks for boaters and we pulled into one right next to a big red ship. AfterMath looked so little there! I was able to get some delicious fresh shrimp in Oriental and John and I had a feast for dinner.


Do you see what I found so exciting about this house and the one below?  PALM TREES!!!!!  The first we had seen for a long time!


And this house has the tropical spirit, so I loved it.


Beaufort, NC







The biggest tourist attraction in town is this graveyard from the early 1700s.  It actually was beautiful and interesting.


This is a grave of a little girl who died in the early 1800s on her way to America.  Her father promised her mother she would make it here, so he refused to have her burial at sea.  Instead, he bought a barrel of rum and put her in it to keep her.  He then buried her in the barrel in this cemetary.  

Our next stop was Beaufort, NC. Both North and South Carolina have Beauforts, but they are pronounced quite differently. The North Carolina version is pronounced BO-fert and the South Carolina one is BEW-fort. We went to Beaufort, NC with the plan to have an engine checked as it has an oil leak. We arrived on Sunday and had mechanics scheduled for Monday afternoon. This worked out wonderfully for me as I had time to take the dogs for a walk, borrow one of the marina’s cars to go to the grocery store, and then set out on my own for some photography time. All went well and the kindly mechanics told John not to worry about the leak until we get to Florida. They didn’t even charge for the visit, saying it was just a courtesy call.


The first white pelican I have seen since Florida.


Scenes along the Intracoastal Waterway


Entering Camp Lejeune


Again we left our dock very early in the morning. With the recent time eliminating daylight savings time, John likes to get up and be on our way to assure that we arrive at our destination before dark. I have to say that I’m not always as excited to get up and get going as he is, but it does make sense and I try to be a good sport about getting up while it is barely twilight outside. Tuesday proved to be a very interesting day as we made our way through Camp Lejeune. Along the way signs are posted warning of the danger of explosives, and firing ranges. There are abandoned tanks and trucks in the grass and the water, and an Osprey helicopter/airplane was constantly flying overhead. We anchored in Camp Lejeune and it was quite the experience! It was noisy as guns were fired and that never-ending chop of the Osprey circled us. All of the time we were in the anchorage a security boat kept watch. At night a Sikorsky helicopter joined the fun and I really wondered if we would sleep at all, but, at around 10:00 it quieted down and we had a great night’s rest, safe in the hands of the Marines.


This is my third time I have taken pictures of this sea creature and the giraffe below.  The first was several years ago on Jeff’s boat heading south, then last year on Jeff’s boat heading north and now on our boat.  It’s a tradition now!


What a great dog!!


Southport’s shops are wonderful – especially this Christmas store.



Such good friends and such wonderful times.

We put in a long day on Wednesday the 18th as the weather for Thursday was predicted to be stormy and uncomfortable. We were anxious to get to our next destination of Southport, NC because there we would be visiting with Vera and Rolf Redin and Jan and Don Kirk. We have been friends with those two couples for almost 40 years. We all lived in Bethel, CT and our children all grew up together. Both the Redins and the Kirks now live in Bolivia, NC, near Southport. We were exhausted on Wednesday, but they all came to the boat Thursday for a visit before we went to dinner at everyone’s favorite restaurant that happens to be at the marina. Rolf brought us a car to use Friday to do errands, which was incredibly wonderful. We used it during the day and then drove to the Redin’s house for dinner where the six of us again had a wonderful time visiting and catching up. We really loved being with them and hope to see them all again soon.


This boat has seen better days!


Can you believe how high this stack of boats is?


Myrtle Beach, SC

Leaving yesterday, Saturday, we made our way down the Intracoastal through Myrtle Beach, SC. This is a very different sight at this time of year than it is in the summer. During the warm months, boats, jet skis and anything else you can think of are on that narrow stretch of water, but yesterday it was quiet and wonderful. The weather was warm and sunny and I really began to feel we were making progress toward my goal of an endless summer. We docked in a little town called Bucksport and had an enjoyable happy hour with a couple we met while we were in Southport.


John spotted these birds today.  I’m so glad he did!  I ran out with the camera and got a few shots.



How serious are these duck hunters?  


Because we have always done the Intracoastal in a sailboat in the past we could only see the edge of grass.  This was from the fly bridge.  It was fun to see what is out a little farther.


A tiny church in McClellanville.  I was taking this picture and a gentleman came along who I assume was the priest.  He invited us in, including the dogs, and told us the church is never locked.


There is AfterMath out in the distance.



Today we continued our travels to McClellanville, SC. Along the way, over the last two days, we have really been noticing the high water on the rivers. All of the rain from the storm Joaquin a month or so ago still keeps homes flooded and docks close to underwater in places.

We are docked in a quaint marina tonight and shrimp boats are right near us. In fact, I waited for a while after one shrimp boat had docked and walked over to ask if he could sell any shrimp from his boat. He told me he could not as he sells them to someone in town. I understood and asked him if he had a good day. His answer was, no, his engine had broken down twice. I came back to our boat to work on my pictures and before long we heard a “hello”. It was the gentleman I had asked about the shrimp with a huge bag full of just caught shrimp for me. I asked what I owed and he would not let me pay. He was worried that he had sounded rude when I went to his boat, which he had not. Needless to say, we had a delicious shrimp dinner tonight and there is a bagful in the freezer to cook when Jason and Lisa come later this week.

We will leave early again tomorrow to make our way to Beaufort, SC where we will spend Thanksgiving. I have always wanted to stop in that area so I am happy to have time to do some exploring while we are there. I bought a South Carolina fishing license today so hopefully I will change my luck when Jason is around!

Here is where we are today.

Cambridge, MD – Solomons Island, MD – Reedville, MD – Deltaville, MD – Norfolk, VA – Chesapeake, VA – South of Coinjock, NC (November 6 – November 11)

It’s a long way from Cambridge, MD to Jacksonville, FL when you travel at six or seven knots. Jacksonville is our next long stop. There we will spend time with Kelly and family and have more work done on AfterMath before we leave for the Bahamas and then the Caribbean. While we would have loved to have more time cruising in the Chesapeake Bay, we know that we need to get to a warmer climate as soon as possible. If anything were to happen to the boat, we don’t want to end up in a cool weather climate where we could get stuck for the winter. We are a little behind the crowd that makes its way south each year, but the time we spent with Jeff and family, as well as the installation of the electronics, the new floor, and other work now complete, was so worthwhile.


Skipjacks dredging for oysters.



Obviously the pelican population is thriving in Virginia.


A typical fall scene


We pulled out of Cambridge around 8:00 in the morning on Friday, November 6th, after taking a minute to say goodbye to the men who were so much a part of our daily lives during our time at Mid-Shore Electronics. We then crossed the Chesapeake Bay and made our way to Solomons Island where we anchored for the night. It was a bumpy ride so I really didn’t take many pictures, but I did manage to photograph a couple of skipjacks oystering on the bay. They are a beautiful sight and, now that I have learned so much more about them, I was thrilled to see them under sail dredging for their oysters.


Menhaden fishing boats


The last remaining smokestack in Reedville


The processing plant at night

Saturday, we anchored in Reedville. While we never went to shore, we found it was an interesting place to be. The first sight we saw was a fleet of large blue ships that had two other large fishing vessels on the back. I quickly went to Google to find out what they were. It turns out that they are boats that fish for menhaden, better known, to those of us who cruised Long Island Sound, as bunker. The blue boat takes the two others out as a transport ship. The smaller boats stretch a net between them and scoop out huge quantities of these fish. They are taken back to the processing plant where they are largely used to make Omega 3 supplements. It seems that this is a rather controversial topic in the area as some people think menhaden is over harvested and, as a result, populations of birds and other fish that feed on them are compromised. All I can think of is those years in Connecticut when there were so many bunker in the water that my kids would snag fish as fast as they could pull them in. They then used them for bait for blue fish, another fish that seemed overabundant to us. Some years there would be so many fish in the water that they would end up dying off and floating all over Black Rock Harbor where we kept our sailboat, Solitude. It was not a pretty sight and I have a true aversion to that particular species of fish! Menhaden fishing in Virginia is limited now, but at one point there were lots of processing plants in Reedville. Each had it’s own smokestack. The only one left now is the one pictured here, and it has been made into a monument of the town’s past.

The next two days on the Bay were days of wind, rain, and waves. Kirby was very nervous and spent all of both days travel time huddled up in his crate. Jake didn’t like it either; he prefers to be outside, but it was too wet so we kept him in. He settled down, but it was difficult for him for a few hours. As for me, thankfully I had scopolamine patches on board to prevent seasickness. John was fine, which was a blessing, as he wasn’t getting any help from me. I learned that the shorter the wave period, the more uncomfortable the ride. Normally a period of eight seconds is acceptable, but yesterday those three and four foot waves had a period of only three seconds and I felt tossed and turned by the time we anchored.

While we are usually trying to travel about 40 miles each day, we motored less than 30 Sunday to Deltaville, mostly due to the uncomfortable wave conditions. We stayed in a peaceful anchorage along with only one other boat.   Monday we got up early and made it to a huge anchorage at the entrance to the Elizabeth River. There we were in front of the Norfolk Naval air station where a lot of action was taking place. A security boat was keeping an eye on us while helicopters were doing training runs; it seemed their low circles were directly around the boat much of the time. I questioned John over and over to make sure we were in a legal anchorage. Also, on the VHF radio, there were almost constant calls from Naval war ships reporting their plans to be leaving for sea. It was a little unsettling, as besides the Navy surrounding us, the winds picked up strongly, leaving us swinging around the anchor. All was well, though, and yesterday morning we headed up the Elizabeth River for Norfolk.


Scenes from Norfolk


A Naval warship heading out to sea

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Note the Coastie ship on the left

IMG_0929 IMG_0931 IMG_0933 IMG_0949 IMG_0952 IMG_0957 IMG_0976 IMG_0984 IMG_0994 IMG_1000 IMG_1012 IMG_1013 IMG_1024 IMG_1027 IMG_1032    IMG_1043 Norfolk is the actual Mile 0, or beginning, of the Intracoastal Waterway. It is also a boat and ship lovers delight. There are more kinds watercrafts in this area than you can possibly imagine. We have been through Norfolk a few other times by boat, but each time I have been fascinated by the huge military ships, the colorful container ships, the monstrous cranes loading and off-loading boats, and the brightly painted tugboats pushing barges. Yesterday was dreary and foggy, but Norfolk was not a disappointment. To make it even more interesting, we saw some of the Navy war ships heading out to sea with their crew lined up on the stern.


The entrance to the Dismal Swamp


Construction on a bridge


Almost immediately after leaving Norfolk, the Intracoastal becomes serene. As we traveled, we passed the entrance for the Great Dismal Swamp, which is one of my favorite places on the waterway. We were not able to “do the Dismal” this time as we wanted to get fuel in Chesapeake, VA and the swamp would have taken us out of the way from what probably is the cheapest diesel fuel on the Intracoastal. We bought 500 gallons at $1.93 a gallon and would have bought more, but we are keeping the boat as light as possible until we get to Jacksonville. The waterway is known for its shallow depths and we want AfterMath to float as high as she can until we get to deeper water. With four fuel tanks aboard, we can move fuel around so that the stern will sit high and the bow low. We do the same with our three water tanks to further enhance the draft of the boat. This worked very well when we cruised the Rideau Canal in Canada which has a controlling depth of 5’0”. Aftermath has a draft of 4’9” but with the above approach we never once ran aground (yet).


Locks again?????


Do you think they really mean it?

On our way to the marina where we bought diesel fuel, and stayed for the night, we encountered a lock. I remembered doing locks before this trip and I always was a bit terrified of them, but after the number we traversed over the summer, this tiny one-foot lift lock was as easy as could be!  We have now transited 219 locks since June.

Coinjock, NC



A Veterans’ Day Celebration in Coinjock


Pleasant fishermen


Along the way


Sunset tonight

Today we entered North Carolina and are now anchored in the North River just south of Coinjock, NC. When we get close to the South Carolina border we have plans to visit with our good friends, the Redins and the Kirks. Then soon after will be our Thanksgiving visit with Jason and Lisa. It is so hard to believe it is almost the holiday season again and equally hard to believe that we have now lived on AfterMath for almost seven months. Time goes so quickly. Remember to live every day to its fullest as we never know what tomorrow might bring.

As promised, here are pictures of the new helm chair.


The new helm chair


A comfortable captain

Here is where we are today.

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Cambridge, Maryland – October 27 to November 5

Our stay in Cambridge has been a time of contrasts. Each weekday, for almost two weeks now, we have been up early, as the crew at Mid-Shore Electronics begins their day at 8:00 AM. AfterMath has been pulled apart, had wires run everywhere you can imagine, and had up to three gentlemen at a time climbing in holes, under beds, and over a once again dropped mast. John worked along with the crew, so he stayed busy every day. Kirby had tons of fun greeting the workers when they came aboard, and Jake maintained his relaxed posture of a furry rug that everyone needed to step over countless times. Meanwhile, I have had time to relax and read, to walk around with a camera in my hand, and to sew a seat cover for the dinghy and new covers for the fenders. I’ve loved learning about the history of Cambridge and of its boats, and I have really enjoyed watching the watermen on their commercial crab and oyster boats passing us by both mornings and afternoons.


The doors of the courthouse where once a free black man was convicted and put in jail for owning a copy of the book, Uncle Tom’s Cabin.

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Along the Historic District are large and small homes.

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This is a replica of a lighthouse that was once about two miles out in the Chesapeake Bay.

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From the balcony of the lighthouse.


The town marina at Long Wharf.


A lovely fall day on High Street

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The refurbished downtown area.

IMG_1038 IMG_1040 IMG_1042 IMG_1048 IMG_1050 IMG_1051IMG_1053 This mural truly sparkles!!



From the water.  We took AfterMath out for a ride one day.

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The bridge right next to us.  These are the nicest bridgetenders around.  They open the bridge quickly and immediately whenever a boat calls them.

Cambridge is a small city on the Choptank River with a population of about 12,000. It was settled in 1684 and is one of the oldest cities in Maryland. In the past, it was a home to large plantations, and its pier was a trading center for slaves. With the help of Harriet Tubman, Cambridge became an important stop for the Underground Railroad. The city developed food-processing industries in the late 1800’s and became home to Phillips Packing Company, which employed 10,000 workers. Eventually, that business declined and unemployment began to cause many social problems. With the desegregation movement, large race riots took place in Cambridge in the 1960’s, partly contributed to by the social unrest that was already present in the city. The state of decline continued until 2002 when the Hyatt Regency boosted tourism with a new resort. Now Cambridge has a revitalizing downtown, a lovely wharf with a lighthouse replica that is opened for self-guided tours, and a beautiful historic district. I thoroughly enjoyed my walks around these districts and to a local market in downtown. In fact, after doing some shopping, rain started to fall and the owner offered me a ride back to the boat, which I gratefully accepted.


Offloading crab bait

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Waiting for tomorrow.



To be filled with crabs.  Although, really, crab season is ending soon!

The workboats here have really caught my attention. Maryland is famous for its crabs and oysters, and every day the boats on Cambridge Creek, where we are docked, leave to get their catch. I have loved watching them return in the afternoon, but I really hadn’t been able to see what they were bringing back. One day I hurried down the creek as two returned, quickly putting some cash in my pocket hoping to buy some fresh-from-the-sea goods. When I got to the boats, though, I saw bags of a clam I have never seen in a grocery store. It turns out that the clams these men had are sold to crab fishermen as bait. According to one oysterman I spoke to, the commercial buyers meet the crab and oyster boats out at the wharf. They must sell to the commercial buyers first according to state laws, so I never ended up being able to buy from the boats.


The dinghy on the skipjack

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An interesting boat in this area is the skipjack. Of the hundreds that were present in the late 1800’s only 35 of the originals are left. Skipjacks do not have an engine to propel the boat, but they do carry a dinghy that can push or pull them to the oyster beds. There are strict laws on oyster fishing in Maryland: a boat with a motor can only take 24 bushels of oysters per day, but a skipjack can take 150 bushels each day. There is a catch, though. With the skipjack being pushed by the dinghy, fishing can only take place on Mondays and Tuesdays. All other times, the boat must only be under sail to dredge for oysters, although the dinghy is allowed to move the larger boat to its fishing destination. There are two skipjacks next to us at our dock. One, the Virginia W, was built in 1904 and is designated a Maryland Historical site. The other, Fortune, is a replica that is so accurate it has been granted a dredge license. The men on these boats seem to work non-stop. We have only seen one of the boats leave the dock so far, and, in talking to them, they said they got 50 bushels that one day.

As for the electronics, we now have a new autopilot, chart plotters (one on the fly bridge and one in the pilot house), a new VHF radio, a new radar system, an anemometer, a camera in the engine room and one to view the stern, a Rogue wave antenna to help boost Wi-Fi power, an LED light on the mast, and a digital TV antenna. The chart plotters are really interesting in that you can control them from your phone or iPad. We are happy to have all of these new tools and we are thrilled that they will help to free John up to use the fly bridge, which previously did not have autopilot, and also allow him to head outside on the bow with a remote in his hand. The other big addition is a helm chair. It’s in the process of being installed today, so pictures of it will have to wait until the next post.


Don’t you just love little boys in their pajamas?

We were happy to be visited, on Sunday, by Jeff, Sarah, Walt, Rush and Sarah’s mother, Susie. Cambridge is about 40 miles away from Annapolis, so they decided to come down and see us and give Susie a tour of the boat. I snapped a quick shot of Walt and Rush having a wonderful time playing with light switches that were just at their level, but somehow I missed Susie. We were thrilled to have her here though!

Tomorrow we will leave Cambridge and continue our trek south. We are not yet sure where we will be and when, but Jason and Lisa are going to come to AfterMath for Thanksgiving this year. Jason hasn’t seen the boat yet and we are as anxious for him to see her as he is to be aboard. I’m also hoping he will change my luck with my fishing pole! He’s very knowledgeable about fishing, so I will finally get some good instruction and maybe actually catch a fish!