Saturday February 24th is a day of anticipation. Today, Mark Zaleta will bring our dinghy back all finished from two weeks of cosmetic repairs and cleaning. We’ve been hoping that Alex would be done with fiberglass repairs to the cowling by now, but we’ve not seen it come back yet.
Anyway, Mark calls in the morning and says he’ll be able to meet us at 2pm at the loading dock where he’ll go over all the work they did and return the dinghy to the water where she belongs. At 2 pm Tracy and I grab our pfd’s, oars, cushion, tender box and seat and walk over to the loading dock to meet Mark.
He shows up on time and the dinghy looks great! We have a new bow handle, new identification plaques, new seat handle, new reinforcing at the transom joint and new repairs to the underbelly and she cleaned up real nice too, so its good to see her back in the water.
Mark realizes that he left our two lines in his shop and he runs back to Arapahoe, gets the lines and brings them back to us with no issues. Offshore Rafting has been great with us and we really feel we made a good decision bringing the work to them. We still don’t have the cowling cover, but Mark give us a large plastic garbage bag to protect the motor until we get the cowling back. Now, we can go fishing off the dinghy and not have to worry about the ‘no fishing’ signs on the marina docks. Although it doesn’t help us, we still haven’t caught a fish in North Carolina waters.
On Monday morning while I’m walking back from the marina office, I look on the walkway ahead of me and see something slithering off the walkway into the riprap stones and headed for the reed grass just before the water. We’ve been looking ever since the Alligator River for an alligator and now I’ve spotted a snake in the grass! I’m not a snake charmer or a snake identification expert, so who knows what type of snake I’m looking at here, but from now on, I’ll keep a sharper lookout for wildlife especially when we’re walking Frankie. If he’d been with me, he would’ve gone ballistic with barking and possibly lured the snake out of the grass and back in our direction for a showdown!
Also on Monday, we spend some time trying to determine when we’ll get our cowling back because we’ve now made plans to meet Art, Lisa, AJ and Nicole in Topsail next weekend, so we have to start planning the two day cruise to get there before Friday. We finally find out that they are done with the actual fiberglass work, but they’re waiting for the gray paint, which will be delivered first thing Tuesday morning and then Alicia will deliver the cowling back to us Tuesday afternoon.
Looking at our resources and guidebooks we select Topsail Island Marina for the time we’ll spend with family. The marina is convenient to groceries, restaurants, Wal-Mart, etc. and it’s a competitive dockage price so we start making arrangements to get a reservation for Topsail Island Marina from Thursday, March 1st to Wednesday, March 7th. On Tuesday, we get confirmation from Snag-A-Slip that we’re in so we’re looking forward to spending time with family next weekend.
Tuesday is spent doing chores that we’ll need completed prior to departure and prior to entertaining guests, so Tracy is busy with the re-upholstering project in the Salon while I spend some time transferring fuel from the aft storage tanks up to the main engine room tanks. This brings the main tanks up to 75 gallons each. This will get us to a location where fuel is cheaper and we’ll re-fill all the tanks then. And in the early afternoon, Alicia shows up with the cowling. The job is so well done it looks like the original! Tracy gets in the dinghy and puts the cowling back on the motor where it belongs and we’re all set with our dinghy now. I’ll lift it up on the roof tomorrow morning before we depart.
For our last meal in Oriental, we take a walk over to what has become our favorite location, M & M’s Restaurant. It’s a nice family-run restaurant with specials every night and always spectacular desserts. Most of the wait staff knows us by now so its fitting to make this our last meal stop in Oriental. On this night, Tracy orders the lamb and I order the duck. Of course, we also spring for pecan pie and carrot cake for dessert, however, they’re out of pecan pie, so we split the carrot cake and walk out very satisfied. We’ll get a good night’s sleep and fire up the engines tomorrow for a 42 nautical mile cruise to Swansboro, NC.
Oriental has been a wonderful place just like all the other spots we’ve visited along this voyage. Mac and Sheila Ernest have been wonderful Harbor Hosts for the three plus weeks we’ve been here. Since their boat is only two slips over from ours and they’re working at a feverous pace to ready her for a Bahamas crossing, we see them nearly every day here. Mac is a wealth of local information and we also get a chance to share some cruising stories with them while he gives me some navigation advice for heading south on the AICW. We are really appreciating the value of AGLCA Harbor Hosts. We’ve met some other really nice people here particularly Pat, Theresa, Hanna and Dan in The Island Provisioning Company. When we walk in there, I feel like Norm from Cheers!
Now we get to look forward to spending a weekend with Lisa, Art, AJ and Nicole in Topsail. That will be fun and they know the Topsail area very well, so we’ll get to maximize the short time we’ll have together.