Day 217 – PBR Street Gang

Miles cruised 35, fuel purchased 0, slip fee $35, daily high temperature 74°f. We have cruised 4,133 miles and burned 4,133 gallons of diesel as of today.

It poured rain all night. CL got a good bath to wash off a lot the salt that has splashed on her. We wash her with a hose but nothing beats an all night rain. We cast off at 8.00 am and were the second to last boat out of fourteen to depart the Alligator Marina. We had a flat 35 mile cruise over the Abermarle Sound to Elizabeth City.


On the way we had a minor crisis. The forward head (toilet) would not flush. The holding tank light showed mid full. The easiest solution is to pump out the holding tank and see if that fixes the problem. The pump out at the Alligator Marina was broken when we fueled up. We would have pumped out yesterday. Our plan was to tie up at the free public dock in Elizabeth City but they do not have a pump out. Our only choice was the Pelican Marina.  I called them on the phone to make sure their pump out was working and was surprised to get a recording that said they were only open from noon to 6:00 pm. I have never heard of a marina that opened at noon. Dale called them on VHF as we arrived – no answer. As we approached the dock, we saw a sign that said “pump out” so we tied up on the end pier at 10:00 am and planned to wait until they opened. As we pulled up to the dock Andy lassoed a piling. The piling broke off. Fortunately the other pilings did not break off. The owner watched us pull up to his dock on his AIS and called us on the radio. He said he could do a pump out and we could stay overnight. The slip fee is $35. Deal!

On the dock at the Pelican Marina is fully restored PBR (Patrol Boat River) from Vietnam.  The 50 caliber machines guns operate on propane and give a very loud blast.  This would be the perfect Looper boat.  If some jackass boater is coming in fast out of the rising sun on the ICW and going to roll you gunnel to gunnel and break your liquor bottles with his massive tsunami-like wake, you can have Chef give him a blast from the forward 50’s.  That will slow him down. In the movie Apocalypse Now the radio call sign for the PBR is Street Gang.


The horror, the horror.


Chef on the forward 50’s.


The man that does pump outs was not immediately available. We waited a few hours and checked again. It was noon and Mike the owner said the pump out guy just went to breakfast. I gave him my phone number and said have him call me when he gets back from breakfast. As I walked down the dock a guy yells out – do you need a pump out? I said yes. He said when? I said how about now? A miracle – it is the pump out guy. He shows up with a helper and a cart with a 30 gallon drum, a hose and a tiny pump motor. He has his hose all wrapped up on the cart and tries to pump us out. He drops the hose in the water and builds suction and hooks it up to our holding tank six times with no success. He says maybe the pump impeller needs to be replaced. The mechanic should be here later today to replace it. This is my holding tank that needs pumping, he is not going anywhere. I suggested he unroll the suction hose and straighten it out. That will lower any resistance in the hose. He unrolls the hose and it works perfectly. Our head works perfectly. All is well.


Elizabeth City is a small town but they do have a few claims to fame. The Wright Brothers slept here and bought supplies on their way to Kitty Hawk.

The Wright brothers, Orville (August 19, 1871 – January 30, 1948) and Wilbur (April 16, 1867 – May 30, 1912), were two American brothers, inventors, and aviation pioneers who are credited with inventing and building the world’s first successful airplane and making the first controlled, powered and sustained heavier-than-air human flight, on December 17, 1903, four miles south of Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. In 1904-1905 the brothers developed their flying machine into the first practical fixed-wing aircraft. Although not the first to build and fly experimental aircraft, the Wright brothers were the first to invent aircraft controls that made fixed-wing powered flight possible.

The brothers’ fundamental breakthrough was their invention of three-axis control, which enabled the pilot to steer the aircraft effectively and to maintain its equilibrium. This method became and remains standard on fixed-wing aircraft of all kinds.


The Wright Brothers has a machine that flew and was heavier than air but Elizabeth City also had machines that flew that were lighter than air. They had a huge blimp base is WWII.

The carnage unfolding in the Atlantic justified the hurried construction of a blimp base. U-boats sank Allied freighters and tankers by the score. In a little more than five months in early 1942, they torpedoed at least 63 ships off the Carolina coast. On the day officials commissioned the Weeksville base near Elizabeth City — April 1, 1942 — at least three ships were sent to the bottom there.

Blimp hanger – photo by Andy


Our worst menace on the Atlantic Seaboard is the activity of Axis submarines,” Rear Adm. Manley H. Simons ( no relation to me ) told an audience of 200 gathered for the ceremony. “As a consequence of the submarine’s efficiency, we are forced to constant vigilance in the air and on the surface.”

Blimps, the Navy hoped, would guard American ships against German submarines, which wreaked havoc during the First World War: U-boats claimed 11 million tons of Allied shipping and tens of thousands of lives, most of them civilian.

From the deck of a surface ship, a submerged sub was invisible. From the gondola of a blimp, however, a U-boat at shallow depth was plain to see. Depending on the wind, a blimp could be slowed to a hover or goosed to highway speeds, and it could stay in the air for two full days without refueling. If a sub dived deep, blimp crews could sniff it out with an array of tools the Navy perfected — sensors that detected the vibrations of turning screws and the magnetism of a hidden boat’s steel hull.


The other gem in Elizabeth City is also related to flying.
Coast Guard Air Station Elizabeth City is a United States Coast Guard Air Station co-located at Elizabeth City Regional Airport along the Pasquotank River near the opening of the Albemarle Sound. It is the largest and busiest Coast Guard air station in the U.S., operating missions as far away as Greenland, the Azores and the Caribbean.


Thursday’s musings from Captain Jack Sheppard

Forward or Back

Frequent rains
will soak the Plains
hail too
will fall on you
as wind shifts
the pattern drifts
hard to track
forward or back
at any rate
it’s April 28
it doesn’t look great.
Cap’n Jack

We have once again joined a herd.  Boats we have docked with in recent days joined us at the Pelcan Marina.  Sundowners with a cast of thousands aboard Fredrica Lady.  On Friday we will cast off at 7:15 am to catch the 7:30 am bridge opening and cruise 17 miles up the Dismal Swamp Canal to the first lock. The lock only opens a few times a day.  We will catch the 11:00 am opening.  If we miss that lock opening the next opening is at 3.00 pm.  The plan is for the herd to tie up at the Dismal Swamp Canal Welcome Center for the night.

Bonus photo


Carl (Carl) Wooden – quote of the day.

“Every time I stand before a beautiful beach, its waves seem to whisper to me: If you choose the simple things and find joy in nature’s simple treasures, life and living need not be so hard.” – Psyche Roxas-Mendoza


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