Thursday, July 29 - Hoboken Cut, ICW Mile 160
The good news was that by borrowing a scissors jack from a fellow named Kent who was hanging around the hardware store in Oriental, I was able to raise the engine and swap the port motor mount with relative ease. I disconnected the drive shaft at the coupling, took off the port cooling hose from the transmission, and was able to get the five inch high jack underneath the engine. I decided not to change the starboard rear mount today because it was going to be more difficult, and I wanted to see how the first mount worked first.
The bad news is that the new mount--at least in tandem with the three older mounts--doesn't work very well. We get new and very "throaty" vibrations at idle (does Harley build sailboats now?) and we still have knocking at higher RPM's as well. In short, my hose-clamped older mount worked better, although I will admit the hose clamps were cutting into the rubber and would probably have destroyed the mount eventually.
The other good news was that the new seals for the raw water pump finally arrived, which was appreciated since I'd already taken the pump apart. Good news: the Volvo Service Manual I have contained instructions for changing the seals. Bad news: the instructions were vague. Step 1: remove pump from engine. Step 2: disassemble pump. No details, but fortunately a drawing gave me enough clues. A snap ring (what I used to call a "circlip") was removed only with the help of Owen from the Southern Cross 35 Kokopelli, anchored nearby. Lucky for me folks around Oriental are helpful. I especially appreciated the nice folks at Inland Waterway Treasure Company for looking out for my packages and letting me use their bicycles for my many trips to the hardware and grocery store.
I couldn't wait to test out the new motor mount and pump, so we pulled up anchor in late afternoon and headed out. As astute readers already know, the mount was a disappointment. Fortunately, the day wasn't a total loss because the newly repaired pump worked fine and wasn't leaking any water into the engine bilge for the first time in a long, long time. Before going far, we filled up with 13 gallons of diesel at Whittaker Creek Marina, with 734 post-Sale Creek hours on the engine. Today's total was twenty miles, most of it down the wide Neuse River, to ICW Mile 160 where we anchored just after sunset at Hoboken Cut. This is really just a wide spot of fairly deep water alongside of the waterway, exposed to wakes and somewhat congested with crab traps, but we won't be here all that long. This is the most "buggy" night we've had on the expedition so far. Deer flies were swarming around the cockpit out in the lake (what do they expect to find out there, more than a mile from the nearest land?) and a bunch of mosquitoes got into the boat somehow.
We have 200 miles to go to get to Godwin and Sylvia's Dock over the next four days. I expect we'll be up and motoring early in the morning, mosquitoes and all.
Friday, June 30 - South Lake, ICW Mile 82
Today we did a lot of "ditch," that is, straight and narrow land cuts, but also a fair amount of more open water, including the Pungo and Alligator Rivers (where I actually did see an alligator...hope the anchor doesn't hang up on anything in the morning). The question of the day--or more accurately tomorrow morning, when we come to the junction--is whether to take the allegedly faster route up the Virginia Cut or the slow, shallow, and more scenic route up the Dismal Swamp. I called the Dismal Swamp Welcome Center and they confirmed the swamp is open, but they did not tell me that all the rain had made it deeper. The swamp has two locks that only open four times each day; the Virginia Cut has lots of restricted bridges. Either way it looks like we'll be three more days to get to the dock.
Saturday, July 1 - Norfolk, ICW Mile Zero
I had decided last night not to take a chance on the Dismal Canal, so we took the "sure thing," the Virginia Cut. Despite the holiday weekend and resulting boat traffic, most of the trip was very scenic. Upon arriving in Norfolk, we looked at the "south basin" at Portsmouth, which actually looked like it might be a great free dock close to an interesting downtown, but the sign said "no overnight" and I have to believe that's what they intended even if they don't enforce it. So we went a short distance downstream to Hospital Point, a rather exposed place where we are rocked by the wake of every passing vessel, but after thirteen hours at the wheel I am happy for now just to be sitting still.
Monday, July 3 - Wilton Creek, Virginia
Our motorsail up towards the Piankatank River took all day, but by late afternoon we were approaching Wilton Creek. Godwin came out in the dinghy to meet us, so we took him aboard as a pilot and the day took a dream-like quality as we were guided into a wonderful vacant slip overlooked by a beautiful home. When Godwin started pulling up traps full of crabs for steaming right there at the dock we knew the dinner would be something special, and it was. Sylvia and Godwin's hospitality makes this place a resort for tired, broken down cruisers like us.
We plan to leave the boat here for about a week while we travel to Gallastar for Laura's birthday party.