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Questionable as to whether or not there is any

We are adding to our list of things we would rather not experience again whilst cruising on the boat: (1) hurricanes; (2) snagging a crab pot with the propeller; and the new one, (3) visiting Swan Point Marina, Snead Ferry NC.

But let me back up. (I wrote this on Tuesday, 6 February 2018, ie yesterday.)

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Can’t help looking back when the view is this good

We try plan the tides/current so that we get a push rather than fight the current and for the most part, we have managed this OK. Have come to the conclusion that so long as there is not interference from inlets and rivers, flood tides flow north and ebb tides flow south on the Intracoastal Waterway. I am open to discussion on this.

With this in mind, we timed our trip up Cape Fear River perfectly and got a good 3.5kt push up to Snow’s Cut. Logic and looking at the charts would suggest that the current would continue flowing with us through this very narrow cut but no, as you enter the channel, boom (not literally) the current goes from being your friend to being your not-so-friend – a complete reversal to a 3.5kt punch on the nose. However, we followed all the advice shared by previous sailors and navigated without incident. You don’t want to meet another vessel coming in the opposite direction in Snow’s Cut; it isn’t really wide enough to pass.

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Incoming

The rest of that day was a race to get to our destination before the gale force winds kicked in and the rain came. We made it to Bridge Tender Marina, Wrightsville Beach in time but with the current in full flood, sucking us towards the swing bridge about 200 yards away from the dock, docking was rather tricky. Paul had to move the boat sideways while maintaining station with our space on the dock, not hit the boat in front and certainly not clip the bridge with the stern. And the wind was blowing upwards of 20 mph by this time; all adding to the excitement.

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Me, watching where we are going

I paid for our dock for the night which was the most expensive so far on this part of our trip, then was told that the only facilities were restrooms in the restaurant next door which didn’t open until 6pm (actually it didn’t open at all) and closes at 10pm. The dock was OK but for that price with no facilities, probably won’t be visiting that one again.

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The dogs watching the dolphins

The redeeming features of this place were: the beach was just 1 mile away and dogs are allowed on the beach between November – February so guess where we went for a walk before the rain. Got back just as it started. And, there was a Starbucks and a West Marine and a Harris Teeter a half mile away. To these, we walked in the pouring, nay, torrential rain. What one will do for coffee! The dogs were not impressed but at least it washed off most of the sand they had collected earlier.

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This is as close as we could get on the ‘deep’ side of the dock

We watched the first half of the Super Bowl using Paul’s iPad while the boat shook with the wind gusts and the rain pelted down. Now the thing about the rain is that when we bought the boat, the interior of the cabins got soaked from leaks somewhere. Whilst on our way to the boatyard after Hurricane Irma and since we have been back on board, we have ‘sealed’ the windows to see if they were the source of the leaks. Touch wood, this storm was a good test and there were no leaks.

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While waiting for the tide, Capt Jack Sparrow and the Black Pearl came by

To get to last night’s (cough) marina, we had to pass through 3 swing bridges – all three opening on the hour though the second one also opened on the half hour. The distance between 1 and 2 was just too long for us to make the half hour opening so we had to wait 28 minutes until the hour opening. After that, fortunately with the aid of the current, we beetled our way down to the third bridge and made it with 13 minutes to spare. Phew. Stressful. After that it was an easy cruise to Swan Point (cough) Marina.

I had made a reservation earlier and was advised to call the dock master’s phone on our approach. I called on Monday morning on our way to confirm that there would be sufficient water etc for us and was again advised to call the dock master. This really should have raised red flags but we ignored them – how bad can it be? Hmm.

Well I called the dock master on his cell phone and got no reply. Left a message. Called on the radio – no response. Nothing for it but to dock ourselves. We turned into the entrance and promptly slowed – running in the mud. The dock sticking out towards us was listing to the right so we decided to go on the higher side. After disturbing lots and lots of mud and silt from the bottom, we finally settled starboard side to. There was no-one around. No-one. But what there was, was very loud country music blaring out of a tub in the back corner and lots of derelict boats. Just weird. Ghost ‘town’.

IMG_7275Went for a walk. What a god forsaken hole. Then a short plump guy turns up, says he is the dock master and adamantly  suggests that we move the boat to the downside of the dock. Why? Because there is more water there. Hmmm. How much more? Oh, a good 6”.  That will be important at low tide. It will stop you leaning over. (How bad can this really get?) You want me move the boat now? Well, I would because in a few short minutes you will be stuck fast on the bottom. Needless to say, Paul was fuming by this time.

The idea was to back out, turn around and back into the dock. Nope, not going to happen. I remained on the dock during the maneuver and at one point, thought he wasn’t going to make it back to the dock in any direction. But thank goodness for Lehman engines. He came back in bow first. About 30 min later we were hard and fast on the bottom and as wavelets came in the boat flopped from one side of her keel to the other. We never got closer than 2.5 feet to the dock; just sat there. Even at high tide during the night, we still didn’t move closer.

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Wrightsville Beach

The internet didn’t appear as an option never mind using the password. I didn’t check out the facilities. The docks rocked and/or tilted as you walked on them. There was nowhere really for the dogs to run. There was one road in/out; every other one was a Dead End. We couldn’t get out of there fast enough though we did have to wait until 2 hours before high tide to have any hope. The dock master said that our best bet was to back out and put our stern towards the wall and then we would be able to turn and go out forwards. Every time Paul tried to put the stern towards the wall, we stopped. In the end we backed out all the way to the channel and then gunned it. Absolutely a place to be avoided at all costs.

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Camp Lejeune’s targets

Had a glorious cruise today though as if Mother Nature was trying her best to erase last night’s memories. We went through Onslow Beach Swing Bridge then heard on the radio later that it was broken and would be closed to boat traffic for at least 2 hours. It wasn’t us. We passed through Camp Lejeune firing range to the sound of live fire and jets overhead. Made it to Spooners Creek Marina just as the current was switching against us. Perfect timing. The marina is lovely – plenty of water. There is a place for the dogs to run. There is a Lowes, Wally Mart, Starbucks and West Marine all within walking distance. What was that place yesterday? Oh I can’t remember.

Thank you for reading.

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I was going to write something a couple of weeks ago about our night out at Put-In-Bay but life got in the way and so did the CrossFit Games Regionals in Atlanta GA.

unnamed-1P-I-B was fairly empty from a boat point of view; plenty of people on shore. We made use of the water taxi to take us ashore so that the dogs could go pee etc; what a bind though. They are going to have to learn soon.

We did also launch the dinghy to try out the new electric motor which worked fine, actually really well, once we figured out how we had screwed up the ‘start’, ’tiller operation’ and ‘forward and backward’. Thank goodness we had the paper version of the handbook onboard. Paul started to download it from the internet (cell time) and of course, because the motor is from Germany, the first half of the book is in German. There was no option on which to click for just an English version. Anyway, I took it into the boat after Paul declared that he was going to ‘rip the Germans a new one’. Not sure what.

unnamed-2I think I have mentioned before that the dogs quite like going in the dinghy. Well, Ebba took it to a new level this time. The doggy ramp to the swim platform was left out for a future trip to shore and the dinghy was left on a long painter. This did not deter our intrepid sailor dog; she waited for the dinghy to swing close enough to the swim platform, jumped in to the dinghy and was happy as a ‘pig in sh.t’ drifting 12ft behind us. She would bark at the geese, jump about trying to catch flies and then just chill, lying across the tube.

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This the look Paul gets when he is procrastinating about taking the dogs out for a joy ride in the dinghy. And a head resting on one’s leg accompanied by little whines and big sighs.

IMG_5352But then it all changes. Happy dogs.

This was a very short trip. We had to get home to help keep the gym open as Anna and Brad had to leave for Atlanta GA.

I left on Thursday evening, met up with several of our group at Pittsburgh airport because we had coordinated our flight times. Got a text from one young lady saying she was at security and would join us shortly (we thought 10 mins max). Thirty minutes later, she comes storming down the hallway. “They thought my Miralax was explosives and I ended up being patted down everywhere. My Miralax, which was a powder anyway, was put through the screener 3 times along with my shoes.” She was pretty pissed. We all had a good laugh. Turns out that the guy in our small group also got searched extensively.

Eventually arrived at the hotel, starving, so went on a food hunt. The first place we tried, we didn’t have the required reservation so were turned away. The pizza place next door smelled so good, but they stopped serving at 9:00pm and it was now 9:20pm. Were recommended to Hudson Grille, further up the street. No reservation needed. We ordered and ate. Talk about hangry!

While we were waiting for our food and while eating our food, there was a steady stream of wait staff coming from inside the restaurant to out in the courtyard, where we were sitting, carrying trays of shots. They visited one particular table where 3 guys were sat. Not sure if it was a game, a bet or they were just drowning their sorrows but without a doubt, they were all going to be feeling pretty rough the following morning.

The weekend for me was quite stressful and exciting and I finally came to the conclusion that I can’t win on the stress level – if I go to the events, I stress it; if I don’t go to the events, I still stress it. Same level of stress, so what to do, what to do.

18882069_10211548933333172_7105308475668389835_nThere were laughs and tears and ooohhhs! and aaahhhss! and us standing in the stands kipping to help Anna into her muscle ups or through her ring dips. We tensed our shoulders during the overhead walking lunges and cleaned the 100# sandbag 10 times.

And then there was the coffee run. Hmmm!

Anna had texted me, asking if I could get her and Brad a tea each. Absolutely, no problem. It was lunchtime, we had plenty of time to get back for the first round of heats after lunch. Dana came with me and we took orders from some others in our group. Eight cups in total.

The weather was just perfect on our way to Starbucks, no indication of what was approaching. Kinda snuck up on us while we were getting our order. As we rounded the corner from the coffee shop to the outside door (we had probably about 150yds to go outside and the rest of the way, we could make it inside), we realized that all was not well. The rain was coming down so hard, visibility had been reduced considerably. The rain was bouncing 6+ inches off the ground and lightening and thunder were flashing and banging around just to add to the excitement.

18922052_10211557598989808_6014878220324453126_nAt first, we thought we might get away with rolling up the freeby tote bags we had just acquired and making hats out of them. So we took off our shoes and socks, stuffed them into our other bags and bravely went out the door. Ha! Funny. Not. Decided that that was a really bad idea.

We tried to sweet talk our way through some hall of fame but the security guys weren’t biting. The only way was to go back out the door through which we originally arrived and brave the elements. We had almost decided to wait out the storm when Dana made a comment about the umbrella bags – shame we can’t use these somehow. The umbrella bags were way too small but it got me thinking. I have spent many a pre-start to a marathon wrapped up in a garbage bag so we went on a garbage bag hunt. And Subway delivered. The girls behind the counter did look at me as if I was rather peculiar but we got our bags, diligently made the required holes for head and arms, removed our shoes and socks again and ventured out into the monsoon.

We were greeted by a flood of at least 6 inches deep and a good 20 feet across and then it was run as fast as we could while carrying 4 cups of Starbucks coffee and tea in papermaché cardboard cup carriers. As soon as the first drop of rain fell on the cup carrier I could feel it give. The water just spread as through a sponge. And then it completely disintegrated. The garbage bags did their job though and we were not too wet. However, because it had taken so long to get back, Brad couldn’t come and get their tea. Oh well, we tried.

18951146_10211557834795703_438707423650375555_nI got to visit with some of Anna’s sponsors, FitAid, LuRong Living, Ice Age Meals, Inov-8.

18838872_10154015382392824_72548649684870031_nAfter a nail biting last event, Anna finished 5th which was good enough to qualify her to go to the Games again for the 5th time. This is the small group of Anna’s Army left after the awards; everyone else had left for the airport. Anna and Brad flew back Sunday night. Well, they were supposed to but their flight was delayed so much that they eventually arrived home at 2:30am. Despite the lack of sleep, Brad was at the gym to coach the 5:30am class.

And then the dogs’ Bark Box arrived.

Thanks for reading. It turned out a bit long this time.

Joanna

Boating with Dogs

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It is now a few hours after completing the 2017 Dick’s Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon so I decided to put down some thoughts.

I signed up back in October with the long term goal of easing back into marathon training but with injury and weather, my plans went a little awry. However, with the help of Coach Anna Tunnicliffe Tobias and my CrossFit training (#bradletes), I re-adjusted my 3 goals and met 2 of them. So thank you.

The race itself went according to my plan. I started at a good pace, the one I had originally hoped for but I knew I wasn’t going to be able to maintain it. My strategy was to run to the 16 mile mark and then switch over to walk/run for specific time intervals; which I did. I did managed to run all the way up the hill from the Birmingham Bridge into Oakland about which I was very pleased. There were support runners running up and back down the hill to help encourage us participants to make it to the top. Can’t imagine how many times they ran that hill. Ugh! God bless them.

That hill was one of the milestones in my head that I had to beat in order to be able to finish the run. As it went well, I ran through Oakland, Shadyside, Homewood etc with more confidence, knowing that if I stuck to my plan, I would finish.

The next milestone for me was the relay exchange at mile 22. I forget where it is located but I remember last year, when I ran the relay, watching the ‘full’ runners coming through there with their heads down and really struggling. I needed to run through there with my head high in order for me to make it.

I did. All was good with the world. Though I do have to admit, I was struggling just a little by then. Conscious thought: left foot, right foot, 1,2,3,4……. All the way to 100 and then start again.

I love the downhill finish into Pittsburgh. Knowing that there is considerable loss in elevation after the incline as we turn on to Liberty Ave is a great motivator to get up the hill. And let’s face it, by the time you get to that point, it is less distance to keep going than turning around and going back the way you just came.

The neighbourhoods did their thing and came out to cheer for us. It was cold but they stuck with it, even the little kids. Always tried to ‘high five’ them if I could. They get so excited, it makes me smile and smiling is good running therapy.

Homewood/N Braddock area was amazing. They were so full of energy and encouragement, it was impossible not to smile, wave to them, say thank you for turning out in the cold, offering their own water and chopped orange stations. Other areas did that too but the vibes that came from these people were wonderful. Thank you.

The other group I have to really give a ‘shout out’ too were the small group of supporters just before the 22 mile mark. They were offering chopped oranges but then things got real. They had popsicles. Such a good way to hydrate when the last thing you really want to do is drink. By that time, lifting one’s water bottle to one’s lips is quite an effort.

A few of ‘funnies’ that happened on the way.

The weather was such that when running with the wind and the sun was shining, it was really warm. So much so that I had to take off my long sleeved shirt. I had made it a T2 shirt by applying a car sticker to the front of it. So when I took it off, I tied it around my waist with the T2 sticker showing; runners coming up behind me could see it. I had just crested the Birmingham Bridge/Oakland hill when a girl (running the relay) ‘sprinted’ past me and commented, “A bit longer than a WOD but you can do it.” Again, made me smile.

A little further down the road I heard, “Hey, Jo” and a big smile from Libby Jones (one of our members) as she ran past me. Thanks Libby, I picked up my pace for a little bit.

One of my favourite running tunes is “Chariots of Fire” and blow me, as I ran down Highland towards Bryant, there it was playing full blast. And further down, I heard “Flash Gordon”(?) by Queen, another of my running songs.

I passed the 26mile marker and decided to look at my watch to see my elapsed time. I had, probably, just over half a mile to go, and my watch said 4:25: and some seconds. I was so close to my 2nd goal. Could I keep going to the finish? Running along Smithfield to the Boulevard of the Allies seemed to take an eternity. It just didn’t seem to get any closer until, boom, it was there. I turned the corner and there was the finish line. I tried so hard to push just that little bit harder. I crossed the line with 4:30 on the clock, which was all I wanted. Then I got emotional. But I always do. I walked down the finish chute, collected my finisher’s medal (what a weight), collected Dole fruit cups, a banana, a bottle of water and thanked as many volunteers as I could – many of them had been there since very early this morning.

I collected my bag of dry clothes, changed shoes (have two blisters) and then hit up Starbucks. Oh my goodness, coffee and banana nut bread (absolutely not Paleo) never tasted so good.

Caught the T back home – nearly got on the wrong train – and listened to a couple of guys complaining about how the marathon really wrecked their day because they had to take the T rather than drive into and out of town. Ho hum. It’s not like they didn’t get any warning.

And then Paul was there to give me a huge hug when I got out of the car. Thank you Paul for being patient with me by humoring me and my whims. Love you. Also got licked to death by Ebba and Bella.

I wasn’t fast enough to qualify for Boston but I hadn’t even thought about it until I got home. But that’s OK. Wasn’t a goal.

I had something to prove to myself with this race. I can still do it; maybe not as fast as I used to be able but I am a little older than I was back then. I don’t have to beat myself up by running countless miles just to run 26.2 miles. With my strength training, CrossFit training and cross-training along with limited running, I can do it.

And yes, I am wearing my Skins USA recovery tights! Feeling better already.

Thanks for reading. And I know it’s not really Boating with Dogs but we will be soon.

Joanna