Video Supplement to "Chas in Charge"
Friday, November 21, 2008
And then along came Chas to fill the void that Jim left. Well, not exactly. The queen is no longer being pampered. “I’m on leave till next Wednesday, so James, Anna, and I can cruise with you guys!” Hold on, I just provisioned for two and suddenly we’re a party of five? He didn’t take over the galley. “I’m hungry Woman!” “What’s for breakfast?” “Let’s just order a pizza.” “Lori, make me something dee-licious with a side of tasty!” He didn’t much help Gary with the navigating. “Wake me when we get to Georgetown.” And boat chores weren’t high on his list. “I’m on VACATION!” But it sure was great to have him and his friends on board! “I’m not sayin, I’m just sayin…….” After hearing this nearly a thousand times in five days, I think I’ve figured out what his favorite saying really means. If his sentence begins with “I’M SAYIN” it means he’s about to state something that he believes is correct and true and will stand behind. If he begins with “I’m not sayin, I’m just sayin” it means he’s about to state something that may not be totally accurate, that he doesn’t want to be held accountable for, that he’s pretty sure is true but may not be, and may or may not contain a hidden slam or insult for which he wants to appear innocent of saying. Our time with Chas began in Southport when he came to visit the day Jim left, November 1st. We watched the Pirate Races, Chas and Gary did some work on Tessa‘s Mizzen Mast, then went into town to check out the restaurants. Had a dee-licous meal at Mr. P’s and soaked up some local knowledge from Amy, the friendly bartender. Thanks to our new friends at the Provision Company, on Sunday morning we moved Tessa from the expensive Southport Marina to a “complimentary” dock at the restaurant. Paul, the owner, is happy to allow customers to dock there, but went a big step beyond that and granted us free dockage for as long as we needed it. Their season was winding down and he knew we were waiting for parts for the crippled Mizzen mast. THANKS PAUL!! Sunday was family day. Gary’s nephews live in Fayetteville and Wilmington, close enough to drive down to Southport for a visit. Greg and Barbara brought their son Dillon, and Brian and Kendall brought son Peyton and daughter Mara. The adults caught up while the kids took turns playing Captain on Tessa. We enjoyed lunch and dinner at the Provision Company to show appreciation for our free dock. Monday morning Chas headed back to Fayetteville. Gary and I made arrangements to rent a car to drive to Fayetteville Tuesday, so that Gary could do some CamTimer programming for Ford. We were looking forward to a dinner party that night at David and Mary Lou Karafuto’s (from Vermillion) along with Walter and Brenda of “Brandaris”, another cruising couple from Port Stanley Ontario. David and Mary Lou were the ultimate hosts. David played chauffeur while Mary Lou prepared great appetizers and a wonderful meal. They live in St. James Plantation, a lovely area with beautiful homes. Their warm hospitality was just what we cruisers needed, as it had been cold and rainy all day and forecast to be the same for the next day. We had a great evening of lively conversation, laughter, and lots of good wine. Perfect! Tuesday we hurried off to Fayetteville and got down to business…after a mandatory lunch at Hooters with Chas and James. That evening, we cooked up the rest of those pretty shrimp, and Chas made a fantastic London Broil for Gary and I and his friend Anna. Wednesday Gary got into programming mode, I did laundry and babysat our Grand Dogs, Maggie and Bell, Chas’s Great Danes. Wednesday afternoon Chas requested that we prepare the Milson family recipe, Rolladen. Thursday Gary continued programming while I broke down and got a hair cut and color from someone other than Jaclyn. It was quite traumatic, so Gary claims he will wait for Jacklyn when we go home in December. He may have a ponytail by then! Thursday night we drove back to Southport and prepared to depart for Myrtle Beach, where Chas, James, and Anna were planning to meet us. We found the perfect spot, Barefoot Landing, to hook up with the kids. Located on the ICW, it combines shopping, dining, and entertainment, surrounding a lake where boardwalks connect the different areas. Definitely a tourist trap, but lots of wing joints for Chas and Gary and a good place to leave their car. Their car came in handy that night. I had been battling an uncomfortable bladder infection since Fayetteville, and that evening my lower back began to ache. From past experience (remembering the trip from PIB to Magruder Hospital one July 4 weekend) I knew a kidney infection was in my future. So instead of having wings with the kids, my poor Captain had to sit in the Emergency Room with me for four hours. I sure know how to put a damper on the party. Saturday we began the “party of five” cruise to first stop, Georgetown. The Waccamaw River is very scenic, with moss-draped cypresses lining the banks. The water is the color of tea, which leaves a nasty stain all along Tessa’s waterline. The good news is, every other boat on the ICW is stained, so there is no urgent need to get in the dinghy and scrub. We’ve seen various shades of this dark, dirty looking water since the Chesapeake, and are very much looking forward to shades of blue when we venture out to the ocean again. Historic Georgetown was an enjoyable stop. I did my marina research and took the only available slip at Harborwalk Marina, even though the guy said their showers were out of order. We can live with that, our first priority is always RESTROOMS. The guide book described the Harborwalk Promenade, which extends along most of the waterfront, as the place to be. The location was perfect, but Leonard wasn’t quite up front about the facilities for $1.75 per foot. They had just torn down the showers AND the restrooms, so we had our choice of ONE port-a-potty! Leonard immediately became defensive when I questioned him on it, replying that he wasn’t trying to “bait and switch” anybody. Who said anything about bait and switch, LEONARD???? I’m not sayin, I’m just sayin……… We enjoyed Harborwalk and grabbed a bite at one of the pubs. It was James’ birthday, so the kids continued to celebrate while us oldtimers went to bed. $175 bar tab later, the birthday celebration was concluded. Next port, Charleston South Carolina. We chose the City Marina for their complimentary shuttle service into downtown. After tying up at the slip, we were assaulted by this loud shrieking sound coming from the boat next to us that. Anna thought it sounded like a potbellied pig. I suspected a bird tangled up on something. A guy close by thought it was a “cat about to bite it”. Then the yuppie couple sipping wine in the cockpit nearby (who must have enjoyed our confusion) announced that it was a recording to keep flocks of defecating birds away. Initially, I was annoyed. Until Chas and I were bombarded as we walked through the parking lot with splat-splat sounds all around us. On second thought, crank up the screeching and keep those birds away! We loved the history and charm of Charleston. The colorful old south architecture is breathtaking. Charleston combines numerous high end shops, restaurants, rustic pubs, and the Market Place flea market. Anna and I noticed a slinky gown displayed in a fancy shop, and ducked in to inquire about the price. “It’s $1800.00, that does not include the broach, which is $300.00.” Maybe next time. Monday, our second day in Charleston, Gary and I warned the kids that we needed to anchor out and dinghy in, as the marina’s $2.00 per foot was straining our cruising kitty. James surprised us by generously taking care the dockage and we breathed an grateful sigh of relief. Let’s have some more fun! Off to Red’s Ice House for all-you-can eat crab legs. Anna surprised us again by buying our dinner as a thank-you for having her on board. Tuesday we sadly loaded up the kids in our rental car for the drive back to their car in Myrtle Beach. After five days, our party of five was feeling very good. It was so refreshing to experience cruising with these three impressive young adults… who seemed to enjoy hanging with us old folks, who eagerly participated in every aspect of the trip, and who were so appreciative of our hospitality. Everyone we know should feel very thankful, safe, and secure knowing that our “soldier boys” Chas and James are protecting all of us. James, stay safe in Iraq for the next year. Chas, keep making yourself proud. I’M SAYIN, you have made us so very proud, and we love you very much!
Monday, November 10, 2008
Myassis Dragon Visit October 16 to November 2 Myassis Dragon is no longer just Jim and Missi’s boat name. It’s now a condition. The “JIM JORDAN COOKED FOR 18 DAYS AND NOW MYASSIS DRAGON AN EXTRA 10 POUNDS” syndrome. Seriously though, even if they hadn’t prepared grilled Thai coconut chicken, herb crusted rack of lamb topped cabernet reduction sauce with roasted rosemary fingerling potatoes, pan seared duck breast finished with cherry pinot reduction sauce with roasted button mushrooms and sweet potato gnocchi, pepper crusted filet mignon seared in truffle butter with pasta aglio e olio and steamed green beans, Old Bay steamed shrimp and panko crusted fried oysters, hearts of romaine salad topped with fried goat cheese medallions, freshly caught blackened drum fish, freshly caught speckled trout tacos, apricot walnut stuffed pork loin, mesquite grilled pork loin, herbed roasted chicken, Crabby Eggs Benedict Maryland style (twice!), French Toast, Gran Marnier Crepes, Caramelized Apples, and a dozen variations of Jambalaya, we STILL would have loved having them on board! I regret letting so much time pass without an update, but we have been running fast and hard, and sitting at the computer has not been possible until today. So let’s backtrack to everything that has transpired since Annapolis. We had a lot of miles to catch up since we lost a week working the second show, and planned to run dawn to dusk days if possible. The weather quickly changed from cool, sunny, autumn to bitterly cold gusty winds for our departure to Solomans Island, Maryland on October 22. It was an arduous trip but some very challenging sailing, which we mostly enjoyed…up to a point. By the time we pulled into the beautiful Zahniser’s Yachting Center, the only amenity we prayed for was a hot tub. Forget restrooms and showers, just give us a boiling hot tub to thaw out in. No such luck. Missi and I warmed up down below while the guys went provisioning. They came back giddy with the goodies they found, and we had a great dinner accompanied by wonderful wine. The 23rd it was off to Reedville Virginia, another long cold day with strong gusty winds. I located a semi- deserted dock in the fishing port of Reedville, where we were welcomed to tie up and plug into power… which meant HEAT! Upon approach, the mizzen mast roller furler jammed and broke as Jim was trying to haul in the sail, which sent he and Gary scrambling about doing damage control. Meanwhile, Missi and I were holding our breath as we motored by the fish processing plants, praying that the smell wouldn’t follow us all the way through the channel to our dock. We were lucky! The only other concern was the arrival of a small beat up sailboat whose occupants included three questionable looking guys and four dogs. We shushed Gary when he wondered out loud what that boat must smell like down below, as Jim was preparing another fantastic meal and we didn’t want to lose our appetites. Jim said he thought he heard a familiar banjo tune playing through the night and didn’t sleep very well. Friday the 24th was yet another day of the same abusive weather, but ONE of us was having the best time! Tessa happily charged through the 4-6 foot Chesapeake Bay waves and maintained a consistent 7 to 8 knots speed, hitting 9 knots periodically. The guys were having a ball, while Missi and I struggled to maintain order down below. The first port tack, just as I said “I think we have most everything secured”, we were covered with an avalanche of everything starboard, which had Missi doubled over underneath the pile, screaming. Captain Gary yelled down that he hoped we were screaming in laughter and not pain, which we were. Give it up, we’ll put everything back together when we get to Hampton Virginia, Missi’s birthplace. On the way into the channel, we spotted dolphins playing beside Tessa, one almost jumping on board, which really topped off the long day. We needed to stay at a dock to recharge our weakening batteries (Tessa’s and ours!) so we pulled into the pricey BlueWater Yacht Club. We only had Missy with us until Sunday morning, so we had to maximize our last days together. Saturday morning we provisioned again and made the mistake of walking to the Food Lion…hungry. The walk back was a comic struggle, carrying dozens of bags of groceries and 12 packs of Diet Coke. After showers, we took the marina water taxi into quaint downtown Hampton and kicked off Missi’s going away party with a round of Martinis. Or was it two rounds? Who’s counting? After all, only one of us had to get up at 6:00 a.m. the next morning to catch a cab to the airport! Missi was a real trouper and even insisted on a champagne toast to close out the night. Earlier, we ran into Bob and Connie from Meredith, who we first met in Chesapeake City, so they joined us for drinks and appetizers. It was a great evening with great friends and new friends and lots of laughter. Not many laughs Sunday morning. We were all so sorry to see Missi leave, as well as feeling her pain of getting up so early after the festivities of the night before. Waving goodbye in the dark as she walked toward the waiting cab, she still managed a beautiful smile for us. Since the three of us left behind were already up, we took off for our next stop, Great Bridge Bascule Bridge in Chesapeake Virginia. All these stops being based on the farthest we could travel from dawn to dusk. A free dock was written up in the Waterway Guide, first come first served, and it was a pleasant surprise to get to this spot early enough to have some time to relax before dark. Especially since it was finally WARM, and we broke out shorts and t-shirts. Except, no one is allowed to relax until their chores are done. I finally got a second coat of varnish on the starboard rails, Gary was working on battery problems, and Jim was supposed to catch dinner. After I caught him sleeping on the job, he got a new assignment. Take the leftover Watco and see if another coat on the teak decks will revive them. Which it did, thankfully. Three quarters of a can made it all the way down the fifty feet, port side, so our next goal was to find more Watco at each stop along the way. (Jim made it a point to beat us to the shelves and hide all the Watco, just in case he was expected to finish the job.) We found a sports bar which Jim labeled “Hooters With Tattoos” where we had some great fried oysters for an appetizer, then headed back to Tessa for dinner. Monday, we celebrated crossing into North Carolina by docking at the highly recommended Coinjock Marina. The trip from Norfolk to Coinjock reminded Gary and I a lot of the Erie Canal. Protected, mostly calm, and scenic. Protected being the key word, after the “dusting” we took all the way from Annapolis to Norfolk. Almost immediately after we tied off in Coinjock, another front moved in and blew high winds and rain all night. No spirits were dampened, however, as the boys were looking forward to Coinjock’s famous 32 ounce Prime Rib, which they both finished. They needed to stock up on energy for crossing the Albemarle Sound on Tuesday. We were warned by other dockers not to venture out in the predicted 25 knot winds, as the Alligator River Swing Bridge on the other side of the sound will not open in high winds. Let’s sleep on it and see how the morning looks. Tuesday dawned chilly but sunny and calm. We heard that the bridge was currently opening, so Captain and Crew decided to go for it. After all, we are Lake Erie sailors! How much worse could Albemarle Sound be, even in 25 knot winds?? Entering the sound, we were radioed by two boats that had turned around and returned to Coinjock due to the rough conditions. As it turned out, it was a “piece of torte” for Tessa. I even had the nerve to yell out “IS THAT ALL YA GOT ALBEMARLE SOUND??” , and got a stink eye from Jim since we were not quite through it all yet. We made it to the Alligator River-Pungo River Canal at dusk in time to search for the Waterway Guide’s recommended anchorage. which did not resemble anything protected from the buffeting winds. We had to pick our way through hundreds of crab pots. By the way, did I mention yet that WE HATE CRAB POTS!!!! (A LOT) They are the biggest nuisance of the entire trip, planted like land mines waiting to blow up around our prop. There is no rhyme or reason to their locations, many of them right smack dab in the middle of the channels. Each day, Jim and I intensely searched for them and shouted out locations in time for Gary to maneuver around. Tuesday night was quite the celebration after surviving the trying day and finally getting a good hook. I broke out the Martini shaker and the party began. Martinis never tasted so good! But the most wonderful part of the evening was dinner. Earlier in the afternoon, Jim announced he was going down below to stuff his chicken. (His words, not mine.) He created this mouth watering herb roasted chicken and combined it with roasted rosemary potatoes, both of which made the cabin smell heavenly. It tasted even better than it smelled. What a memorable meal and evening it was. Wednesday morning was also very memorable, in a painful sort of way. It was so cold that we saw our breath down below. And down below is where I stayed! Let the men tough it out in the 30 degree wind. They had to bring out the wash down pump to spray the gunk off the anchor as it came up, which made them even colder. This is one of the many, many times I was so thankful that Jim was on board. We had a nice sail past the popular port of Belhaven in order to make time to Beaufort North Carolina by Thursday night. This route took us along the Pungo River and the Pamlico River, both very scenic. We still had our foul whether gear, gloves, and hats on. It was COLD! The Waterway Guide referred to R.E. Mayo Co. as a commercial fishing dock with possibly room to tie up for the night. And the price was right, 60 cents a foot with electric. Upon approach, we saw huge fishing boats and very old, unstable looking, rickety docks. Gary and I fully expected Jim to go crashing through when he jumped on the dock to tie us off. Hold on Gary, back it up a bit, we smell FISH from the fish cleaning station. Jim claimed he never saw Gary reverse so fast. Bad luck for Jim, it was our turn to pay for dockage, and it was the best value of the trip. Not for the facilities, but the experience! We searched out the office located “right behind the guy cleaning fish” according to the lady who answered the phone. Here is where we met 90 year old Roy Watson, who warmed our bodies and hearts around his wood burning stove. What an interesting, proud man. While Gary listened to stories, Jim and I got down to business discussing shrimp and fresh fish with the sweet lady at the counter. Jim’s charm was not wasted on this one. She invited us to follow her to another shrimp freezer where she would pick us out “some pretty ones”. Then we went into the fish storage area so Jim could check out the fresh catch. She laughed behind my back because I had to hold my nose. Normally I enjoy the smell of fresh fish, but this was overwhelming. Jim was like a kid in a candy store and we headed back to the boat eager to steam up those “pretty ones”. Roy Watson reminded the guys to visit “the Governor’s Mansion”, aka the outhouse, which they did indeed visit on Thursday morning. I passed. Thursday was destination Beaufort North Carolina via the Neuse River/Bay River, past Oriental. Gary pooh-poohed Oriental being referred to as “The Sailing Capital of North Carolina” with only two marinas with enough depth to accommodate Tessa’s six foot draft. The farther we get, the more we realize that a six foot draft is definitely a docking obstacle. Not to mention a sand bar magnet that attracted us, entering the Beaufort channel. As our friend Mike Quirk from the boat show said, there are three kinds of boats on the ICW. Those that have gone aground, those that are about to go aground, and those that lie. WHAM we hit bottom, as though Tessa had pulled on the emergency brake. The dock hand admitted they have seen people thrown to the deck during the very common groundings. Gary skillfully maneuvered us off the sand bar and into the slip we went. We really enjoyed the town of Beaufort. It was off season and chillier than usual, but we could tell that town would rock during the summer. After wandering around, we hit an inviting pub for some good conversation, good beers, and buffalo shrimp. A local recommended the Blue Moon restaurant for dinner, which was a great suggestion. We are not sure if it was Jim’s animal magnetism or the fact that the female wait staff hadn’t seen anyone enjoy wine and food so much, but they sure seemed intrigued by him. We sat at the bar with Barbara, and shared two great wines and wonderful appetizers. Can’t head back to the boat without stopping for a shooter at the marina bar. And whose idea was it to open the Mexican Liqueur for a nightcap?? It seemed fun at the time…. Friday we borrowed the marina’s woody station wagon to provision and fill the propane tank. Not sure if it was the size of the vehicle or my rusty driving that made the ride exciting. At the grocery store, I proclaimed that I was going on a food strike when Jim left on Sunday. Food is no fun if Jim isn’t there to prepare it. Just throw some hot dogs in the cart for Gary and head back to Tessa. Our chart plotting determined that we should leave Beaufort by noon in order to travel “outside” (meaning the ocean vs. the ICW) through the night for an early morning arrival at Southport North Carolina, where Capt Don Dunn suggested we stop. It was too calm to sail, so we motor-sailed most of the twenty hour trip. Even though the weather was significantly calmer than what we previously experienced on the Atlantic, I was not yet comfortable being out in the ocean in the dark of night. After sunset, a spectacular view of the moon and a bright star (maybe Venus) was right above us. I decided to crash, but Gary and Jim were fine with night time cruising until the Auto Helm decided to go haywire a couple hours after dark. Manual steering for another 10 hours was not in Gary’s plan for an enjoyable evening. Originally the guys were going to do four hour watches, but neither of them felt comfortable deserting the other in the cockpit. They took a few turns dozing but for the most part were awake all the way to the Southport Marina at 8:00 Saturday morning. Once we got settled in to our dock and enjoyed nice hot showers, my worn out Captain jumped in the bunk for a well deserved rest. Jim got a second (or third or fourth) wind, so he and I walked into town seeking the similarities between Southport and Put-In-Bay. In other words ACTION. It is a great historic looking town, which did remind us a little of PIB, but where were all the people and bars?? We were looking in the wrong direction. Head for the waterfront, and there you will always find sailors…drinking. The outdoor Provision Company bar and restaurant hosts the Pirate Sailboat Race each year, and as luck would have it, the race was about to begin! Jim started exchanging racing tales with the committee boat guy, and in no time we knew everyone at the bar. David Karahuta heard us mention PIB and announced that he was from Vermillion. Then the small world gets even smaller. We mentioned Tessa, and he asked “Is it the same Tessa that hails from Shelby Township Michigan? I know that boat!” I nearly forgot that Shelby Township was our original hailing port for the first couple years we had Tessa, yet David remembered seeing us at the Bay. He became our ambassador of South Port, giving Jim and I a lift back to the marina, and inviting Gary and I to dinner Monday evening with he and his wife Mary Lou. Next comes the unwelcome departure of Jim. His was flying out of Charleston South Carolina on Sunday, so he rented a car to drive there Saturday afternoon. I wanted to fall to the ground and latch onto his legs to prevent him from leaving. Please don’t leave us Jim! Who will shop for us? Who will feed us? Who will make us laugh? Who will Watco Tessa’s decks? Who will help Gary with all the tough boat jobs so I can continue being the pampered queen? Life as we knew it for 18 unforgettable, fun filled days was over. It was worth every calorie!