Thursday, May 29, 2014

 Atlantic Yacht Basin - Life in a Boatyard
 A brief word of explanation:  please forgive any weird spacing in this post.  Google's blogspot program has been unusually recalcitrant, and since this entry is already way overdue, we decided to post as is.  If any of our readers know this program, let us know. We'll take any help we can get to make creating the posts easier and the final result better.

Nearly a month ago, on Thursday, May 1st, we arrived at Atlantic Yacht Basin in Chesapeake, VA and settled in for repairs. Because our fuel injector pump was being rebuilt, we had to be towed from the dock to the work shed. Russell, at the helm of the tug, delivered us with ease and expertise. This little workhorse moves boats far larger than our 38' trawler and makes it look easy. 
Russell at the tug's helm
We spent 18 days in the shed, protected from the wind and rain. The drawbacks?  It’s gloomy, and the wifi signal can’t penetrate the corrugated metal, so we hung out in the Marine Store “lounge” when it was hot or raining or at the picnic table on pretty days to do our internet surfing.  And when the South wind blows hard enough, it pushes enough water into the shed and the work barn in front of it to create a three inch deep wading pool, covering the walkway to the boat.  Midas didn’t mind, but Mike and I would rather not wade bare-footed through water that may be contaminated. We invested in rubber boots for both of us on one of our trips
Wading to the boat, pre-boots
to Walmart and will find more uses for them along the way.   

The repair work is done, and the various craftsmen – no, artisans – at AYB have Midas Touch looking better than she did when we bought her.  Dave, the canvas guy, installed the new bimini top, and the workmanship far exceeds the original. AYB and its various contractors have now installed a new VHF antenna, replaced the broken section of windscreen, and added the final coat of trim paint along the port side rail.  Mike and Marian's tasks:  clean, clean, and clean some more.  The outside of the boat had a fine coat of dust from fiberglass sanding and reflected our general lack of routine “boatkeeping” while it was in the shed, so we devoted most of last Wednesday to getting Midas Touch truly shipshape before we started cruising again. We also cleaned the top of the aft deck roof, scrubbed the aft deck, and cleaned the windows. And there’s always vacuuming, using the small shop vac, Marian's favorite boat accessory.

So what do you do when you’re stuck in the boatyard for repairs?  From May 
5 – 8, we attended the Spring Rendezvous of the AGLCA (America’s Great Loop Cruisers’ Association) in nearby Norfolk, where we learned tons about the territory we’ll travel over the next several months and met fellow Loopers – past, present and future, and we toured the area between boat projects. 
Norfolk - Mermaids Everywhere
Norfolk is known as the Mermaid City.  
This is just one of the
The Duck - Chrysler Museum
dozens of mermaid statues we saw. 

The Chrysler Museum of Art re-opened while we were in the area, and the 40' duck in the pool behind it was part of the celebration.  We had to see it in person.

 There's always something interesting to watch at AYB,  like resetting a mast that had been "stepped," or to admire, like the classic boat "Scout," one of our shed neighbors. 

Scout - beautiful mahogany
Up in the bosun's chair

Bosun's chair in action
Washington and Jefferson worshiped here - Bruton Parish
Episcopal Church in Williamsburg

Williamsburg - mustering the troops


We visited the Historic Triangle of Jamestown, Williamsburg and Yorktown, but in reverse historical order.  
Just one of 40+ models by August  and Winifred Crabtree
Another Crabtree model
We spent one Saturday at the Mariners’ Museum in Newport News and still didn’t see everything this superb historical site has to offer. We recommend adding it to your must see list if you plan to travel to eastern Virginia or the Washington, DC area. (

Then there were the days devoted to laundry and running errands, shopping for the round fenders we’ll need when we travel through locks, provisioning the boat, adding a high water bilge pump, replacing the flushing mechanism for the aft head toilet, rewiring a “pigtail” so that we can plug our 30 amp shore power cord into a 110 volt outlet, straightening and stowing items to reduce clutter…. there’s always work to do on a boat. 
Jamestown sailor  
Our fold-up little red wagon

We thought that Memorial Day     
Weekend would not be the time 
to resume cruising; seasoned 
Loopers tell us it’s best to travel 
during the week and stay anchored 
or at a marina during the weekends, avoiding all the recreational small boat traffic.
But the work was done, and we were ready to get back on the  water.  
Friday we cleaned the outside of Midas Touch, washing off the dust she had accumulated in the shed and getting the aft deck better organized. Since Midas wouldn't use his potty patch, we discarded it, moved the big ice chest to a spot behind the starboard bench on the upper helm, and secured our folding tables and two wooden chairs to the inside of the aft deck rails. Mike had bleached the chairs and Marian treated them with teak oil; they don't look new, but they look much better.  Big improvement! Saturday: one more trip to Walmart for miscellaneous items and provisions, including a folding cart that will be especially useful when we walk to grocery stores, a trip to West Marine, then rental car return.  We had decided to leave Sunday and head north through the Chesapeake.

Sunday morning:  we were up early, had a quick breakfast, backed out of the shed, swung by the face dock for a pump-out, said good-bye to Dockmaster Ed, then joined the line of five other boats waiting for the 7:00 AM opening of Great Bridge and our first lock.  The Great Bridge lock lifted us about two feet, and we were on our way through Norfolk, passing industrial areas, the Navy Base, and the downtown area where we had attended the AGLCA rendezvous the first week we were here.  
Leaving Great Bridge Lock, #5 of 6

Industrial side of Norfolk, approaching downtown

Ships in a Portsmouth boatyard
Still in line as we reach Norfolk 

Sheraton Waterside, location of the AGLCA Rendezvous

Just one of many BIG ships

The weather was gorgeous, the winds were light, the water was calm, and we reached our anchorage in East River, off Mobjack Bay, by 3:00. We launched the dinghy and took Midas ashore to "get busy," then settled in for a quiet Sunday evening on the hook.  While Mike grilled chicken and chatted with a local friend of fellow Loopers Beth and Ray, who had anchored there the night before, Marian prepared our favorite salad.  We ran the generator long enough to watch the PBS Memorial Day broadcast, then turned in early.  On Memorial Day, we reached Deltaville, where we took advantage of a door prize from the Rendezvous to spend a free night in a town that the veterans say is a must see stop.  
Instead of spending a second day in Deltaville, we were "off the dock" by 6:55 on Tuesday, taking advantage of clear skies and a light breeze to continue north along the Chesapeake's western shore. The Bay had only a light chop for most of our trip, and we had reached Smith Point, our planned destination on the south shore of the Potomac, before noon. With a light southerly breeze at our stern, increasing our speed to 8 miles per hour, we decided to cross the mouth of the Potomac while we had ideal weather, knowing that storms were predicted for the next two days and that the Potomac can be treacherous.  We reached the excellent Point Lookout Marina, six miles west of the Bay, by early afternoon, and Midas made another new friend, Jasmine, whose people run the show.  Her sister Carmen is not as friendly, so her treat came later.

New friends; "Sit" = "treat"

The engine had cut off several times as we moved north, and we didn't want to push further until we diagnosed the problem. The weatherman was correct about the storms, but wrong about their arrival time.  After a hot afternoon, a swim and a shower on the dock for Midas, and dinner aboard, the promised thunderstorm and wind arrived at dusk.  We felt the impact of the wind, but thanks to boat neighbor Dave's advice, our bumpers are tied to the dock pilings, not the boat, and the wind and rain did no damage.  We're settled in here for Wednesday night, with another storm threatening, waiting for replacement fuel filters to arrive tomorrow. Mike, with a few phone calls to Yacht Doc Ken, figured out that it was time to replace the fuel filter. Depending on what time FedEx arrives, we'll stay at Point Lookout one more night or push on toward the Solomons, at the mouth of the Patuxent River. 
                                                                                                                     Osprey nest at the end of our dock, including the daily delivery of lunch from local fishermen in the top picture and a close up showing the eggs in the bottom view.

Notes from the Captain: Life in the underworld
You gotta learn to love the smell of diesel to keep this old gal going. Let me make it clear that I’m talking about the Ford Lehman here.  So, when you hear loud and clear the words, “HOLE IN THE DECK,” you’ll know Mike has put on his knee pads, pulled the cover and is crawling down below in the engine room to talk sweetly to Betty, my name for the engine.  That’s the Ford Lehman 120.  If you treat her well, give her clean fuel to drink, cool water to take the heat away, and change her dirty oil on a regular basis, she’ll take you any where you want to go, as long as you have at least four feet of water under the keel.  If you don’t, she’ll get very moody, stubborn, and sometimes, like crossing the Potomac, she’ll just quit and refuse to talk to you.  (I told Marian I might try to find a job as a diesel mechanic after the Loop because I’m serving my apprenticeship here on the Loop.)
The Midas Touch has two fuel filters and you can switch from #1 to #2. I have always run on #1 fuel filter, because when I switched to #2, the engine quit. While we were in the yard for repairs, Yacht Doc, who replaced the bad injector pump, recommended that we upgrade Betty’s #2 to a newer, drop in cartridge fuel filter.  We ordered a new fuel filter and I installed it.  However, I didn’t have the chance to switch to it and test it until the clogged #1 fuel filter caused the engine to conk out as we cruised up Chesapeake Bay and into the Potomac River.       

  Once we were docked at Point Lookout Marina, I could do some diagnostic work, and discovered that #1 filter was very dirty. On Wednesday, since we had to wait on #1’s replacement fuel filters the boatyard here had to order, I decided to get Betty running on the new #2 fuel filter.   The plan was to clean out the old #1 fuel filter so I could get her running, then switch to #2 to run on it.
New fuel filter installed by Mike

You see, when you change the fuel filter, you have a chance of getting a little air into the lines. Betty does not like air in her fuel, doncha know.

So, here we go. “Marian, hit it!” She would crank the engine; it would run a while and then die. We repeated this process over and over, hoping the air would work its way out of the lines, with no luck.  I finally crawled back out of the hole, called Ken, the “Yacht Doc,” back in Chesapeake, and we talked it out.  To help Ken visualize the situation, I suggested sending him a photo of the filter hanging on the bulkhead in the engine room.  When he called me back, I was frustrated and about ready to call in the troops (code for calling the local mechanic for help). Ken said, “Go back down and take a look at the #2 filter.”  I crawled back down once again, this time with my phone. He said, “Take a close look at the #2 filter and see if you can read where the fuel line goes into the head of the filter.” I looked closely at the line coming from the supply tanks and it read “OUT.”  He said,  “Captain, you’ve got your filter installed backwards.”  The only word that I could think to say was “Doofus.” A quick turn around and Betty was running on #2 and purring like a kitten. Ken and his family will be receiving a two pound box of assorted goodies from Dahlonega's Fudge Factory.

Comments are welcome.  Please let us know what you think. 

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Rain, rain, go away/come again another day...
It’s raining, it’s pouring/the old man is snoring.
I’m singin’ in the rain, just singin’ in the rain/what a wonderful feelin’/I’m happy again.

You get the idea.  Tax week in Eastern North Carolina was wet, rainy, dreary, and cold. After waiting out predicted bad weather in Hobucken, Midas Touch spent four days docked in “Little Washington” waiting for good cruising conditions.  We had enough decent weather while we were in town to hike to Piggly Wiggly for provisions and to do a bit of exploring.  The town docks, a very reasonable $1/foot including power, made a great base. Just one block off Main Street, we could walk to several restaurants.
Saturday morning, the day we had planned to head back down the Pamlico River to the historic town of Bath, was drizzly and rainy.  Midas and Marian were happy to stay in the boat and “veg out” with a Ken Follett book and a comfortable place to snooze. Mike got cabin fever and set out to find something to do; at a local art co-op, he found a group jamming to bluegrass, and later moved on to the Coffee Caboose, where we finally joined him. 
One of many crabs in Washington
Sunday, April 20th,  was equally rainy, but we dodged showers long enough for the six-block walk to the Wash House.  Mike and Midas were the advance party, then called Marian to report they had found a good laundromat. Thanks, Grandma Martha, for your luggage cart. With a couple of bungee cords to secure the load, it made the trek with two big bags of clothes an easy, if somewhat soggy, walk.  Once the clothes were dry and folded into the bags, the next challenge was the walk back, through a light but steady rain. The Wash House attendant had disappeared, but another customer overheard our garbage bag discussion, went to his car, and returned with one. Two bags of clean clothes secured in the garbage bag and on the cart, we headed back to the boat. Our benefactor spoke little English, but understood enough of our conversation to offer help, with a smile.  Kind people are everywhere; all you have to do is look.

Monday was sunny and clear, and after a holding tank pump out at the town dock and a new supply of ice, we turned back East to the historic town of Bath and a night at the free town dock.   
Town Dock at Bath - we had company
Founded in 1705, Bath is North Carolina’s first town and the home of the first public library in the colony. That library is now up-to-date, and we took advantage of the wi-fi to catch up on emails, Facebook, and bills.  Another plus: used paperback books are free for the taking, and our on-board library has four Nora Roberts novels to keep Marian entertained.  She would have donated Dangerous Fortune, acquired at Harborwalk Marina’s book exchange and finished the day before, but the library’s copy is in much better condition.   

Embroidered Altar Cloth
We strolled on to St. Thomas Episcopal Church, founded in 1734 and the oldest existing church in the state.  It is truly a gem, both inside and out.  How many towns do you know where a church can be left unlocked so that anyone who wants to visit can simply walk in?
Churchyard in Spring
Banner above the altar - He
Interior - the peace that surpasses all understanding
Back to Main Street, where Midas made a new friend, a huge Golden Retriever aptly named Creek, since his house is on the banks of Bath Creek.  We also met Debbie, who with her husband owns the local marina/motel, and enjoyed a glass of wine and homemade pita bread and pizza at their home.  Midas scarfed up several slices of pepperoni, thanks to Paul, and we returned to the boat with fresh spinach from their garden, homemade strawberry vinaigrette in a Bath Marina mug, and a new ball cap for Mike.

As we cruised slowly out of Bath Creek toward the Pamlico River, Mike at the helm and Marian securing the lines and bumpers, Mike spotted what we first thought was an osprey swooping ahead of the boat.  As the huge bird approached, we realized it was a bald eagle, fishing for breakfast.  He dove to the water, extended his talons, and the Pamlico River had one less fish. We saw, live and in person, a National Geographic moment, and it happened too fast for our cameras.  Bath is a charming town, with beautiful homes, lovely gardens, azaleas and dogwood in bloom, and warm, friendly people: everyone from the librarian to Debbie and Paul to the owner of Country Kitchen, where we enjoyed spinach omelets and huge biscuits. It was worth the half-mile walk along Highway 92.

Belhaven was our next destination, and soon after we turned north into the Pungo River, our friends from R.E. Mayo Seafood Company, Beth and Ray on S/V Anastarcus, hailed us on the radio.  They had stayed at Hobucken to wait out the weather that kept us in Washington and were also bound for Belhaven.  They joined us at the town dock, which has power and water at $1/foot, but no facilities.  After we walked to the municipal center to sign ourselves in, we decided to have a late lunch/early dinner and got our fill of fried food (shrimp for Beth and Ray, flounder for Mike, and chicken for Marian) on the deck at Farm Boys, across the street from the dock.

Diana, the town’s self-appointed greeter, had introduced herself as we were docking and offered to take us to Food Lion later that afternoon. Beth and Marian gratefully accepted the offer, leaving Mike and Ray to reminisce about their Navy days.  An experienced sailor, Ray suggested we reconsider our plan to go all the way up the Hudson River to the St. Lawrence Seaway.  He pointed out that we would be traveling up river, against the five-knot current, and that we would be surrounded by large commercial vessels on this route.  Our single engine 120 HP engine chugs along happily and we average 7.5 – 8.5 miles per hour when we cruise with the current. Fighting the current would make for a very slow voyage and burn fuel at a much faster rate.  (So far, we’ve used 174 gallons of diesel.)  It looks like we’ll probably be taking the Erie and Oswego canals instead, but we’ll still use the Trent-Severn lock system to get from Lake Ontario to Georgian Bay.  We’ll save Montreal for another adventure.  Ray and Beth generously shared their cruising guide for the NY state canal system, and we’ll purchase our own at the Spring Rendezvous in Norfolk.  Since reconnecting with Ray and Beth, we’ve met other cruisers who’ve offered other options.  The Spring Rendezvous in Norfolk will include sessions on cruising Canada, and we’ll decide based on all the information we can gather.

Later Tuesday evening, Mke ventured to The Tavern at Jack’s Neck for wi-fi, coffee, and, after Marian joined him, dessert:  lemon chess pie and tiramisu.  Once again, we met terrific people: owners Doug and wife Jimmie Southerland.  They opened The Tavern recently, after gutting and restoring an old building within sight of the dock, and they are enthusiastic boaters, with a wealth of knowledge.

Wednesday morning, we met Beth and Ray for breakfast at Gingerbread CafĂ© and Bakery. We had an even better omelet and hash brown casserole almost as good as the one our daughter-in-law makes at Christmas, then returned to our respective vessels for a cruise up the Pungo-Alligator canal to an anchorage that feels as if we’re in the middle of nowhere.  The wind had picked up, and the waves were too choppy to launch the dinghy, so we settled in for another evening on the Loop, listening to waves lap against the hull and enjoying the quiet – no TV, no Facebook, and minimal phone service.  Instead, we were treated to an air show – four jet fighters (F-4 Tomcats, perhaps) zooming around and around and around and around the area where we were anchored. The planes were silhouetted against a beautiful sunset, and we saw some Top Gun flying. 

Dawn came early Thursday morning, along with a brisk wind and waves in the two-three foot range. The sailboats that had anchored near us stayed put, but after running the genset long enough to make coffee, we raised the anchor and motored on, arriving at the Alligator River Bridge/US Highway 64 much earlier than expected. It’s a swing bridge, and we again stopped traffic while the bridge master opened it to let us through. We counted at least four cars eastbound to the Outer Banks (Kitty Hawk, Kill Devil Hills, and Nags Head) and about six cars and three big rigs westbound to sparsely populated eastern North Carolina.  Midas was delighted to see Stanley, his Golden Retriever friend from our stay at Harborwalk Marina in Georgetown, SC and we were happy to see more Loopers.  Stanley’s people, Gale and John, joined us at the convenience store/marina office/restaurant for lunch, and we watched three other Looper boats arrive.  Boat cards exchanged and more new friends made, including a beautiful Cocker Spaniel with the longest eyelashes we’ve ever seen on a dog.  
Killdeer eggs at Alligator River

 Friday, April 25th, with a favorable weather forecast, we turned west into Albemarle Sound to visit Edenton, another historic town. Wanda, owner of the marina, had warned us to ignore the charts as we entered the sound.  The channel markers have been moved as shoals developed on the west side of the river, but the Garmin 740S chart has not been updated to match. In hindsight, we should have checked, as another of the Loopers we’d met at Alligator River Marina had done. Instead, while Mike followed the markers on the chart, Marian went below to brush her teeth.  Engine slowed, boat stopped, and we were aground.  TowBoatUS arrived from Manteo in about an hour.  With Captain Harry at the helm and able assistance from his helper, the tow boat attached a line to our bow, pulled it around to face the deeper water, then applied full throttle. Its prop wash created a tunnel under Midas Touch, and we were underway again after 20 minutes.  Fortunately, this was a “soft” grounding, and our unlimited towing coverage with BoatUS came through.
Despite the delay, we decided to continue to Edenton.  Once again, the weather forecast was wrong. Instead of diminishing winds, dark, ominous clouds built in the west, the wind blew harder, and the waves grew larger. We finally reached Edenton Harbor, the city docks, around 4:30, only to learn that the alongside dock we had requested (also called a face dock or T-dock) was already occupied by a 42 – 44 foot boat. With a strong wind blowing us away from a slip and little room to maneuver, we simply could not get Midas Touch into a slip. Finally, with help from the harbormaster, another city employee and a couple of willing volunteers, we were tied to the eastern wall of the harbor, near the pump out station.  It was a long jump for Midas from the boat to land, but he gathered his courage and made a mighty leap, welcomed by Looper friends from Alligator River, John and Pat. They had passed us while we were aground and went on to Elizabeth City, then rented a car to visit Edenton. 

We enjoyed drinks and a delicious dinner with them at Waterman’s, a block from the boat, but lingered too long.  When we left the restaurant, raindrops were falling and lightning flashed to the West; the wind was even stronger than when we docked.  We got Midas aboard, and thought we’d settle in to ride out the storm.  Mike donned his rain gear and went back on deck to add more bumpers, hoping to protect the boat from the short pilings along the wall that is not intended for mooring. He was outside in the downpour when a huge lightning bolt struck a magnolia tree only 30 yards away.  Minutes after he was back inside, we felt a surge as the boat lifted, then slammed into the pilings.  Mother Nature wasn’t done with us; she took a deep breath, then blew the bimini top off, slamming it into the antenna for the upper helm VHF radio and bending one of the support bars. Good-bye, two year old bimini top and side curtains.  We should have taken it down before we went to dinner, and would have, if we had known that the area was under a tornado warning. The wind we experienced was a microburst, a precursor to the tornado that skipped from Edenton to Elizabeth City, leaving a swath of destruction.
Rub rail damage
And more damage
 Saturday morning was bright and sunny, and we found a nearby coffee house, with great pastries and friendly townspeople.  We learned that the storm had blown the roof off one of the historic homes on the waterfront and damaged others.  Later that day, we also learned that an eleven-month old baby had died when his mom, trying to protect him from blowing debris, fell on top of him. The storm had continued east, with damage to Elizabeth City as well as Edenton. Mike took many pictures of the boat damage, and we then called ACE Recreational Marine to report the damage.  The weekend representative said that the company would assign an independent adjuster and that he would call us on Monday.
Between an “Easels in the Gardens” tour and a 5-K run, it was a busy morning in Edenton, and the city park where the marina is located was a popular spot for visitors.  One of them, a county commissioner and boater, stopped by to offer help and check out our Weaver Lever davit system for the dinghy.  He also insisted that we attend a Garden Party at Cupola House later that afternoon.  After a day of putting the boat to rights, as best we could, and contacting our insurance company about the damage, we were ready for a break.  Midas, as usual, was a perfect gentleman and made many new friends at the event.  The gardens at Cupola House, filled with iris, tulips, wisteria, and thousands of other spring flowers, had survived the storm with no apparent damage The beauty of the setting and the warmth of the townspeople lifted our spirits and once again proved that the best part of the Loop is the people you meet along the way.
We went to the garden party...
We stayed in Edenton through Sunday, recuperating, doing laundry (thanks to the loan of a city of Edenton truck to drive to another Wash House laundramat), and doing boat maintenance with the guidance of more new friends. Orville and Teresa had docked Saturday on their way home from Florida.  The boat at the face dock left Saturday, and Orville helped us move Midas Touch to a spot where it was much easier to get on and off the boat.
Monday was supposed to be a favorable weather day, and we were “off the dock” by 9:30, heading east on Albemarle Sound toward the Pasquotank River, Elizabeth City, and the Great Dismal Swamp.  We called ACE before we left to let the adjuster know that we would not be staying in Edenton, then emailed pictures.  (Connie later confirmed that ACE will not need to assign a surveyor; they can work from the photos and estimates.) Mother Nature wasn’t finished with us yet; the waves got rougher the farther east we traveled.  Marian took the helm for a couple of hours while Mike tried to rest below, then returned with a can of ginger ale, hoping fresh air would calm his queasy stomach.  (The fajitas he had at Mamasita’s on Sunday while we did laundry in Edenton didn’t help.)  The sky darkened as we made slow progress against the wind, hoping as we approached the turn north into the Pasquotank River that the water would smooth out a bit.  We didn't find out.  The engine began to cough, we were able to re-start it a couple of times, but it finally quit. Our only option: another call to TowBoatUS, then an almost two hour wait for help to arrive. The BoatUS skipper is based in Coinjock, farther east on the Elizabeth River, and Captain Eddie prudently waited for a helper to arrive before setting out in rough seas and darkening skies. When we tried hailing him from the VHF radio at the lower helm with no response, the Coast Guard responded.  The chopper overhead was able to see TowBoatUS about a mile away, radioed to let us know and to make sure we were not in distress (meaning life or limb in danger), then left when we assured them that we were OK.
Securing the tow lines in the wind and rain was difficult, but Mike did it, after pulling up the anchor (and losing one of the guide rollers in the process).  Twenty minutes after the tow boat arrived, we were on our way to Coinjock. Eddie told us that he knew there was dock space available and that we would be better protected from the wind there than in Elizabeth City.  At 2:00 AM on Tuesday, we crossed under the bridge over the North River, after riding through a nasty squall.  We had been warm and relatively dry in the cabin, helping steer to keep our boat behind the tow boat. Eddie and Danny were out in the rain and wind.  They are truly our heroes. When we reached the dock at Midway Marina and Motel, we had to cut our lines to separate Midas Touch from TowBoatUS because the knots were wet.  Eddie then tied the tow boat along our starboard side and carefully pushed us to the dock, with Danny, who had climbed aboard, directing him.  Marian and Mike had the lines ready, and Danny secured us. Eddie then joined us inside for a ginger ale and the inevitable paperwork. Midas was very glad to get to land and to gobble down a very late dinner.  He usually snoozes as we cruise along, but he was alert and clearly uneasy for most of a very long, very stressful day. 
Mark at the marina office suggested Yacht Doc to determine what had gone wrong with the engine, and Ken arrived Wednesday morning.  He diagnosed the problem in about twenty minutes: a bad fuel injector pump. Since the Ford Lehman diesel engine is no longer manufactured, new parts are not available, but Ken works with a man who rebuilds pumps. Ken used to work at Atlantic Yacht Basin and recommended them. One of the boaters we met at the Edenton garden party had also recommended AYB, and our ACE claim representative confirmed that this is a reputable shop and that they do excellent work.  Mark also recommended a canvas repair contractor, and he’ll begin the work after measuring for a new top.  This can’t take place until AYB straightens the support bar, so we may be topless for a few weeks or so.                                                                                                                                                                                                         
Eddie was back on Thursday to tow us from Coinjock to Atlantic Yacht Basin, and this trip, under mostly fair skies, was uneventful, except for a southbound cruiser (whose boat carried the AGLCA burgee, but whose name we could not read) that did not slow down as it passed us.  We hailed him on the radio to make sure he knew we were under tow, but to no avail.  His wake came close to swamping the BoatUS center console vessel, with its low freeboard, but Eddie skillfully navigated across the large wake.  Common courtesy, as well as the navigation rules that most boaters follow, dictates that when you meet another boat, you hail it on VHF Channel 16 to confirm on which side you should pass. All of the other boaters followed this practice on our trip from Coinjock to Chesapeake, and we are as grateful for their consideration as we are disappointed with the blatantly thoughtless action of the one apparently ignorant cruiser we met.  
Under Tow - Eddie led the way
When we reached AYB, Eddie turned his boat’s bow to our stern and tied the two together, then with great care and skill, pushed us into dock space that had looked impossibly small.  Dockmaster Ed was waiting, ready to catch our lines, and he was right:  we had enough room to fit between two other boats. As usual, Midas was eager to go ashore, and Marian climbed off. Midas jumped – about a four foot drop. Ed later brought a set of sturdy steps to make it easy to get ashore and for Midas to “load up boat.” John and Pat, our friends from Edenton, were here when we arrived, and we were happy to see them again and to meet other fellow Loopers who are going to the Rendezvous.  We were not the only Looper boat that had come to AYB for repairs, and we all commiserated with one another. 
Sunset over Great Bridge, Chesapeake
Being docked in Chesapeake has its positive sides - a beautiful sunset and a visit to the 
USS Wisconsin - a mighty ship
Hampton Roads Naval Museum, where the USS Wisconsin is now docked. Just across the river from us is the Great Bridge Battlefield memorial park. Midas and Mike have visited, and with a good nature trail along the water, we'll all be back.
Barges travel this river day and night

Welcome news: AYB manager John took a look at the boat Thursday afternoon and confirmed that it is not necessary to haul her out of the water to repair the hull damage.  Instead of moving to a motel, we can stay aboard, even in the shed.  He told us on Saturday that Midas Touch will be moved into one of the work sheds on Monday, where we’ll still have shore power and a set of steps. 

It’s now May 5th, a beautiful Monday afternoon – sunny, clear, and 64 degrees, with a brisk breeze.  Laundry is done and put away, Mike has the bilge pump working again and added a high water pump.  To quote our friend Kelly, the job's not done until all the tools are put away, and we followed his maxim, then brought out the mini shop vac and removed at least a week’s accumulation of Midas’s hair and general dust and dirt. 
This afternoon is registration for the Spring Rendezvous, followed by three days of seminars and presentations that will make us better boaters.  While we’re in meetings, Midas will be living a dog’s life at Happy Tails Resort, a doggie day care center near Old Dominion University.  It has an indoor swimming pool, and his trial run Saturday, while we found a great barbecue place, was a big success.  We don’t know yet how long the boat repair will take, but there’s plenty to do and see in the area until then.  Despite the setbacks, we’re determined to finish the Loop and to have a wonderful time, making new friends, seeing new places, and living our dream.