Gosh, it’s been a long time since my last post in February. After my Florida Trail hike, Suzanne and I went for long walks on the beach at Hilton Head. Here is a typical winter scene – a wide windswept beach with only a few people (and no other dogs) in sight. It’s low tide in this picture; at high tide the water is well up the sand, allowing only a few yards of sand on which to run. Rusty is on the lookout for seagulls; he loves to run after them! (Audubon Society members, rest assured that he is always on lead and not allowed to catch one!)
March and April were two of the most frustrating months we have ever endured. As many of you know, we were on an open-ended sailing adventure from 2003 until 2006. We had sailed across the Atlantic on our 1980 Morgan 46 sloop Liberty, thinking about a circumnavigation, and were cruising the Mediterranean when we got word that my daughter Susan, a Marine Corps sergeant, had been struck and killed by lightning back in North Carolina. She was 6 months pregnant with our first and only grandchild. After returning for her funeral, we went back to the boat for a couple of months and I decided to give up sailing and return to work. Suzanne started on her spiritual and mediumship path and the rest is history.
We always missed sailing, and after visiting friends aboard their Jeanneau sailboat in April, we decided to get back into boating We found a similar boat just an hour’s drive away from home. She was “on the hard” in a cradle, and met all our desires. The boat was only three years old, and had very low hours on the engine. We went aboard, met the owners and broker, and loved the boat. Our offer was accepted on March 3, and we made arrangements for a pre-purchase marine survey two weeks later.
On the drive home, Suzanne asked if we should consider a power boat – less likely to suffer lightning strikes and less work. (To sailors, that is called “Going to the Dark Side”.) I said, “What, do you think I’m getting old or decrepit? Don’t answer those questions!” On arrival home, I fixed dinner and she really went to work. In two hours she had found a power boat in Maryland and I had booked a campground. The next day we made an offer contingent on a personal viewing, survey and sea trial, and she set everything up for the following Monday (broker, owner, marine surveyor, engine surveyor, and boatyard for haulout). That never happens so quickly – usually it takes weeks to get everyone’s schedules coordinated.
We drove up Friday and Saturday, and met the broker to see her on Sunday. Here she is preparing for a short haul the next day, where we and the surveyor could inspect her hull, bottom and running gear. She is in splendid condition.
The survey and sea trial went beautifully, and we are now her proud owners. She will be named Gratitude. She is 19 years old, and was lovingly built by Cherubini Yachts and ordered/supervised/cared for by her previous owner over two decades. (Jim, if you are reading this, we are eternally grateful to you!) We truly feel we were led to this boat by Susan, and that it is no coincidence the sailboat was struck by lightning. As we drove away from the survey on the new boat, even Susan’s song came on the radio. Gratitude is a fitting name.
While in Maryland, we enjoyed a celebratory dinner at The Hobbit in Ocean City, near our campground. GREAT MEAL and TERRIFIC SERVICE!!!
We returned to South Carolina and prepared for our (now abbreviated) summer RV trip. Now it’s early June, the latest that we have ever started our summer tour, and I am not a fan of heat and humidity. In past years, we have been in Flagstaff, AZ, or even Montana or Wyoming by now, enjoying cool dry weather and wearing fleece in the evening. Instead, we are in coastal North Carolina, New Bern, to be precise, on our way to join Gratitude. We are very happy campers!
We departed Hilton Head last week and spent one night in Myrtle Beach (too crowded for us), getting a long walk in on the (crowded) soft sand beach there. We are used to the hard packed sand back home, and more trees near the beach than in the more touristy (and crowded) Myrtle Beach. (Did I mention that we aren’t fond of crowds?)
The next night was spent in Wilmington, NC. Those who are not geographically challenged may note that we aren’t driving 300 miles a day this summer. Part of the reason is the OUTRAGEOUS PRICE OF DIESEL FUEL that we are seeing: $5.75 – $6.15 per gallon, whereas under the last administration (summer 2020) diesel averaged $2.25/gallon.
But I digress… back to Wilmington, where a riverfront walk took us to a viewpoint near the retired US Navy battleship, USS North Carolina (BB-56). During my Navy career, I served aboard USS Iowa (BB-61). She is also retired, and is moored in San Pedro, CA. Battleships are a sailor’s dream assignment, and I enjoyed two fabulous years aboard Iowa.
We just finished a walk through a riverside community near New Bern. We had been talking about the differences between men and women, and Suzanne pointed to a colorful house and said, “Now, Ty, even you can tell that this home has a woman’s touch.” I admitted that yes, it was sorta cutesy…
A short distance away, we saw another cutesy house… “Oh, Ty, again, you see that women do have more style consciousness than men – isn’t that house nice?” “Harumph… yeah, it’s cute, I admit…”
I was feeling just a little picked on… guys can have style as well! Fortunately, I found two examples of houses with a guy’s touch, and pointed them out to My Lovely Bride. “Well, My Darling, even you can see that this house has a man’s touch!” She was speechless.
We walked another block, and I didn’t even need to say a word. She said, “Yes, Ty, I know… another man’s touch, right?”
Tomorrow we move on to Virginia Beach, VA, and then to Chincoteague, VA. Each stop is merely catching our breath after driving before spending two weeks aboard Gratitude. Here is our bus and the beautiful view we are enjoying in New Bern.
New Bern is a charming town on the Neuse River, with lots of marinas and a rejuvenated business district with lots of shops, restaurants and bars. So far we have eaten all our meals in the bus; hey, I can do a mean BBQ chicken, and MLB made gourmet marinated pork chops with a fig glaze the other night that foodies would love! And yes, we do have a modest wine cellar in the belly, stocked with some drinkable wine.
Here is a photo of sunset over the Neuse River, reflected in a pond at our campground. As the sun set, I heard helicopters taking off for night maneuvers at nearby Marine Corps training areas. Our Sergeant Susan was a helicopter airframes mechanic who worked on helos at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, just 15 miles away. Ooh Rah, Susan! Semper Fi!
Finally, as I hit the “publish” button on this post, we note that June 8 is Susan’s angel date. We miss you Susan, and Liam, your unborn son. God Bless you both. We know that you are still right here with us!