First Mate hops aboard…Earl taken to the ER

Sneeds Ferry, NC

After a quick stop at the grocery store to stock up on provisions, I departed Ellicott City MD in our Jeep, for a 6 hour drive to Sneed’s Ferry, NC. Somewhere just below Richmond, while driving on I-95 southbound – Pat calls. He suggested I check the air in the left front tire. Apparently there is a slow leak. Now hey…this could have been useful information BEFORE I started the trip? So, I pulled into a gas station in Petersburg VA…and sure enough the tire was nearly FLAT. I filled her up with air…lots of air. A real lotto air. Ok, I didn’t really know how much to fill it – up. Um…maybe I overfilled? Dunno. so I’m gonna drive well under the speed limit for the remainder of the trip. Don’t want the tire to explode. No gauge anywhere. Feeling blonde.

Arrived in Snead’s Ferry NC at around 2:30pm. Unpacked a jeep load of stuff – including dinghy davit’s, groceries, inline skates, computer and my pink ‘bag of stuff’. Armed with endorphin toys and food, I’m ready for boat travels now.Pat filled up the 400 gallon water tanks on Cat Maudy, and we positioned heavy items (i.e. my pink bag of stuff) and other materials into the cockpit and the salon, to help the boat “sit low” on the water. We would not be performance cruising on this journey. It was more like getting as much weight on the boat as possible so that we could have maximum advantage for crossing under a total of 12 fixed 65′ bridges between Sneeds Ferry NC and Charleston SC. The success of our travels would depend on timing the crossings under the fixed bridges – i.e. low tide, heaviest possible boat weight to lower our profile, no wake, no waves. The conditions needed to be perfect – as our height to the top of the mast measured 64.5 feet. Pete had climbed the mast earlier in the day to remove some unnecessary items that added to the mast height (wind anemometer) – and of course the anchor light had already been ripped off from a previous fixed bridge.

It’s hard to describe Americana when you scrape off the outer layer. Mostly we see landscapes and strip malls from a roads eye view. Who takes time to look closely? We are so busy multi tasking — that appreciating “the moment” without interruption seems foreign. From the water, the Intra Coastal Waterway (ICW) — are scenes that transform right before your eyes. Sneads Ferry, home of shrimp boats, friendly folks and the local’s only inlet to the Atlantic – is filled with spectacular, simple and mesmerizing views. The folks who run the Swan Point Marina…are completely down-home and delightful. These are the people who give you a ‘courtesy car’ – which is their car to take anywhere you want. There is a genuine 1950’s feel to this area. 2 miles down the road is an indoor roller rink – and Saturday night seems to be the ‘happening nite’. I could be persuaded to stay here for awhile.

While at the marina…we checked out an incoming shrimp boat…Fishermen were unloading their catch — a combination of shrimp and fish. Piles of shrimp and fish cargo were transferred to awaiting hands for further commercial distribution. It was apparently a good catch. One fisherman showed me a large fish with human like teeth – called a Sheepshead. The fish would accrue to $6K….minus fuel….and boat operations…a few hundred bucks for the crew and captain. Doesn’t seem like much for very long days of work.

Earl is not doing well. He’s very weak…curled into fetal position, didn’t greet me…no talking…no moving. He needed intervention. At 7pm, we decided he needed to be seen by a vet. We have access to a car – and I searched the Internet for local emergency vets. We got a referral to an emergency vet in Jacksonville NC. So at 7:30pm…we all piled into the jeep and headed to the Jacksonsville NC. I had Earl in my arms. He was barely moving. After wasting 20 minutes going in circles and getting lost – we finally found the Vet emergency room. They did blood work..checked him out…and everything came back 100% NORMAL. Which is good…but hey – what gives with this little guy? The doctor gave Earl an IV to pump up his liquids, and cortisone to encourage him to eat…and antibiotics. I’m feeling better. I hope Earl is too.

On the way back to the marina, we stopped at a the Thirsty Turtle — a convenience store drive thru. That’s right, a convenience store drive thru. It’s a big building….with the middle cut out so that you can drive thru like a car wash. Once inside…you stop the car…and some teenage kid comes up to your window and asks you what you want. You tell him soda…chips whatever…and he brings it to your car…you pay…and drive out the other side of the building. I love Snead’s Ferry.

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