And Now… We Wait.

Long before Mavis developed her recent engine trouble I had looked into the costs of repowering her.  I had checked out various diesel options as well as the less desirable (to me) option of repowering with a gas outboard.  Some people do it and are very happy but we plan on long range cruising and I think diesel is a must.  I had decided that when it was time to repower Mavis, we would go with a Beta Marine 30 which is a Kubota Diesel engine marinized by Beta Marine.  These engines have an incredible reputation for being smooth, efficient, and dependable powerplants.

Cindy and I at Beta Marine, US Headquarters

I had no idea we would be putting an engine into Mavis while traveling down the ICW but imagine my surprise to learn that we broke down about 10 miles away from Beta’s USA headquarters…  So today, Stan Feigenbaum,  one of Beta Marine US’ founders came to our marina and scooped us up for a visit to their Minnesott Beach, NC headquarters for a look at our new engine and (of course) to finalize the exchange of funds.

Stanley took lots of time showing us around his warehouse of new engines and we discussed our particular engine, the installation ahead, breaking her in, our first oil changes, etc.  He confirmed for us that the mechanic we had selected to do our installation was respected, reputable, and capable of getting the job done.

We’ve been in Oriental over a week now and it’s starting to feel like it.  This is a great place to be stuck but we are itchy to get going.  The people here are amazing.   We go out for several walks a day to keep Willow occupied and to stretch our legs.  The local supermarket, Piggly Wiggly #1 even has Boar’s Head cold cuts!  This may not seem important but from the Chesapeake down to here the cold cuts have been what Cindy and I lovingly refer to as ASS MEAT.  It’s nice to have access to good meats.

The Inland Provisioning Company is a few steps away from our boat and the people there are super nice and they go out of their way to accommodate the parade of boats making their way south on the Intracoastal.  They’ve got some meats, fresh greens, even unwashed fresh eggs.  Cruisers on many boats prefer their eggs unwashed because they don’t require refrigeration.  So even though it feels weird, we have a dozen eggs sitting on a shelf here on board even though we have a perfectly good fridge about 10 feet away from it.  I suppose chickens don’t pop out refrigerated eggs.  I also remember being in a Super Walmart in Mexico and seeing cases of cases of unrefrigerated eggs stacked high in the middle of the store.  Turns out, it’s kind of a a USA thing putting eggs in the fridge.

We’ve noticed that the dogs here in Oriental are largely FREE RANGE animals.  They all have homes.  They’re all wearing collars.  But many of them are allowed to roam around.   I think it’s kind of cool but Cindy worries about them getting run over.  So what happens is we walk down a block and a dog will run off the porch or the yard of a home and say hi to Willow.  Sometimes they walk with us for a while before going home.  Other times they stick around for a quick sniff and that’s it.  But Oriental seems like a great place to be a dog…  Or a human… Except.

The shrimp are delicious here.  The shrimping fleet is right off our bow!

Except for the hurricanes.  The Carolinas have a giant bullseye painted on them for any tropical stuff forming in the Atlantic.  And Oriental, being coastal and situated on the Neuse River, gets it hard when it comes.

Everywhere we look there’s evidence of what happened here about 50 days ago.  There are piles and piles of debris on the front lawns of many homes.  The street itself in some places has been completely destroyed with huge 7′ chunks of asphalt having been moved by the intense power of the floodwaters.  In our marina, the laundry room was submerged so the washer and dryer don’t work.

Some of the local businesses have reopened.  Some haven’t.  I think some never will.   And we are still about 70 miles or so from Wrightsville Beach which took the direct hit.

We have met some really cool and interesting people here in Oriental but my faves, by far, are fellow cruisers Kit and Dace on their absolutely gorgeous 50′ trawler, Sea Traveler.   Stuck together in Oriental while we figured our stuff out and they upgraded electronics, we shared a few great meals and some much needed drinks with this couple before they left us behind today and continued south without us.  They’re a bit older than us and I got a glimpse of what Cindy and I will probably be like a few years down the road.  I also got some inspiration and sage advice from Kit about my career.  I tend to reinvent myself every 10 years or so and I’m way overdue for the next chapter of my professional career.  I learned more from Kit than he probably knows.  We really enjoyed their company.

Kit and Dace aboard Sea Traveler

The past few days have been a bit of an emotional roller coaster.  We have gone from living the dream and getting closer and closer to the tropics to thinking about how to haul the boat and get home to thinking we might be able to fix the engine after all to deciding to buy an engine and forge forward.  There were moments — ok days where I lost my positive outlook but I had Cindy there to remind me that we are not the kind of people to give up on our dreams.  I don’t know what I would do without this amazing crazy person by my side.  Somehow, I’ve got her convinced that I know what I’m doing and can Captain this boat to Florida and maybe the Bahamas…  I better figure out how that’s happening.  🙂

Even though we aren’t going anywhere soon,  every day I pore over the charts planning the next legs of our adventure.  It’s amazing how close everything looks on the chart.  Today I considered that for every hour we travel on I-95 when driving, its about a day of boating — and we have not been cruising every day due to weather, exploring, or… engine troubles.  But now that we are south of Cape Hatteras and will (hopefully) soon be underway, I plan to make some significant progress south.  We aren’t in a rush.  But when I look at the charts and see the sheer number of miles ahead, I feel motivated to start knocking them down.  I don’t think I fully appreciated what a 1,500 mile boat trip was but I guess I’ll be more prepared for the trip home in the spring.

Aside from our friends and family, I’m not missing much.  I expected to.  It’s just not happening.  Our bed on board is very comfortable but a bit firmer than our super-thick pillow-top mattress at home.  We have our technology, a few laptops, phones, iPads.  Some clothes…  I find myself wondering what the heck we have this large home full of crap we don’t need back at home for.  I think it takes a trip like this to realize what you really need — and what you don’t.  I recommend that if at all possible, everyone try to cut themselves off for a few months.  And just as I say that, I realize how incredibly fortunate we are to be able to pull this off.

Our cozy bed on board.

For now, we are sort of just waiting to be towed over to the marina where we will be doing the engine swap.  Once the old engine is out, I’ll have some work to do cleaning out the bilge from 15 years of oily mess and I’ll probably paint the bilge but then I just sort of have to try and stay out of the way until its time to begin sea trials on the new engine.

Thanks for being interested enough in our journey to keep tuning in for updates.  I’ve heard from lots of people who are getting into the blog and that keeps me wanting to write.  

Capt Frank
S/V Mavis #816