We broke our streak!

After sleeping aboard for 107 consecutive nights we finally broke our streak. We spent last weekend with my cousin Tom and his wife Luz at their home near Saluda, VA. We only see each other every few years or so and always at family gatherings, which leaves little time for extended conversation. So we spent the entire weekend talking, and eating. In addition, they had us use their washer and dryer, took us to get groceries, and even drove us around Yorktown as a preview to our stay here. (I’m writing this at anchor off the fishing pier near the Yorktown beaches.) We had a great time catching up, and truly appreciate their hospitality. If you’re reading this, thanks Tom & Luz! I never did take a picture of the four of us, just Dave playing with their dog. Alas!

I took readily to sleeping once again in a bed that doesn’t rock, and it’s amazing how much sleep one can get with light block shades over windows. It was also a welcome respite from twelve days of touring DC by foot, followed by eight consecutive days of 5-6 hour cruises to get from DC to Urbanna where we anchored Lady before going ashore with Tom & Luz for two nights. That was our longest stretch of daily travel, and something I don’t care to repeat because it’s tiring.

We’re spending the weekend in Yorktown with a side trip to Jamestown, courtesy of Tom who is going to join us for a day while Luz is traveling to visit family. After that we have less than 2 weeks left before we dock Lady at a marina and fly home for a couple of months. The time has gone by both too fast and (sometimes) too slowly. Does that make sense? At any rate, I can’t believe we’re almost finished with this leg of our journey, although I am ready for some time at home.

Ramblings

I’ve been having a difficult time deciding what to blog about today. It figures, because I actually remembered it’s blog day and I have time. So I’ve decided to just ramble, a sort of stream of consciousness. Grab a cup of your favorite beverage and settle in.

I miss having an exercise routine and I continue to struggle to develop one onboard. We’ve gone ashore exactly once since we left DC last Saturday morning, and that was to hunt for more shark teeth at Shark Tooth Island on Tuesday. I can’t really call that exercise. Other than that, we’ve been either in transit or hanging in the hammocks at anchor in the afternoon and evening. Some mornings I’m able to get in a little yoga before the sun is full on the bow, the only space aboard where I can do yoga. We can’t really swim, especially now that we’re in jellyfish territory. I expect that once we’re in the Caribbean I will have an easier time getting exercise. I won’t mind slathering on sunblock and doing yoga in the sun and trade winds because I’ll be able to swim to rinse off afterward. Plus we will likely dive or snorkel most days, and there will be walks ashore. I’m following other cruisers, some of whom share how they stay in shape while cruising. For now I’ve resigned myself to walking and doing yoga when I can. 

I’ve got driving the dinghy down pretty good, so I no longer have to rely on Dave to get me ashore and back. That gives me a new level of freedom to do what I want on my own schedule. I’m becoming more comfortable handling Indigo Lady. I now frequently drive us out of and into anchorages which for this trip tend to be bays or harbors off of rivers. I still need to work on docking, an experience difficult to come by because we so rarely pull up to a dock, and I’m not yet comfortable doing it in anything but ideal conditions. I’m getting better at anchoring but am still adjusting to our new Rocna, which joined us in DC. It tends to set quickly if there’s any current or wind pushing us back, so I have to be sure I let the chain out at a good pace, which I find a bit tricky while watching for the first (50’) distance mark on the chain. It’s difficult to spot when the chain is moving quickly. I also need to work on choosing a location within an anchorage area and driving the boat while Dave handles the anchor. I have abysmal distance perception on land and it’s even worse on the water, so I’m not sure choosing a place to drop the hook will ever be my strong suit because I can never tell if we’re too close or too far away from land and other objects. With more practice I will learn to read the water and wind so I can properly handle the boat while Dave tends to dropping the anchor. Perhaps I should practice at this afternoon’s anchorage. 😉

We had a lovely chat with Brian yesterday morning before we left Smith Point. He paddled out in his kayak to chat with us and give us a visitor’s guide magazine about this section of The Chesapeake. He also took a picture of Lady at anchor and sent it to us, which I used in this post. (Thanks, Brian!) It’s meeting and talking with local people like Brian that are one of my favorite things about traveling. Each conversation reveals something about the community and its people. Locals have shared with us the history of their towns, suggested things for us to see and do, inquired about our unusual boat, or simply passed a few minutes in simple conversation with us about everyday things. We’ve been offered rides, invited to cookouts and provided WiFi access. On one of the first really bad heat advisory days, the director of the outdoor museum we were touring drove us to and from its remote parts so we could see everything without worrying about heatstroke! At the marine supply store in DC where we ordered a part that was supposed to arrive next day but didn’t, the employee who placed the order for us made sure it was forwarded to our next land stop and convinced the shipper (who was responsible for the delay) to pay for the expedited overnight shipping. These may be tense times in our country, but kindness still abounds and this trip reminds me of that repeatedly. 

On the flip side, these pleasant interactions are all too brief and we have to keep moving on; there’s no time to forge friendships. I find myself missing my family and friends a little more each day. Thank goodness for social media and cell phones, because they provide a link to the folks back home. If it weren’t for these means of communication, I’m not sure I would have decided to give this lifestyle a try. Still, it doesn’t replace visiting with someone in person, which I am starting to sorely miss.

Thursday marked the end of our 15th week on the water. We have 2-3 weeks left before returning home for a bit. I’m ready for a good chunk of home time.

On the road again

We are finally on our way back down the Potomac after our extended stay in DC. We had originally planned on 7 nights with my cousins on board for six of those, elected to stay an additional 2 nights after they left so we  could finish up a couple of museums, and stayed 3 nights beyond that waiting for replacement cables and connectors so our starboard battery bank can once again communicate with the system control panel. So all told, 12 nights on a mooring in DC.(We got the connectors, but the cables are going to have to catch up with us in St. Mary’s City in a few days. So much for next day delivery.)

We had a blast in DC, but I didn’t realize how exhausted and over-stimulated I was until we got to this (mostly) quiet anchorage. There are a few power boats pulling water skiers and tubers around, tossing up wakes (and rocking the heck out of us in the hammocks!), but they’ll be gone by sunset and it will be real quiet here. They’re not constant anyway, so their buzz is punctuated by the quiet lap of water and the sound of birds. It never truly got quiet in DC; there was always some level of background noise, even late at night. It’s a city; it’s to be expected. We even went for a swim after we set the hook this afternoon, something we couldn’t do in DC (too much debris- natural and trash).

I will miss the convenience of land showers and free laundry at the marina, museums, restaurants with fabulous food, iced lattes, and the city skyline at night. However, I am looking forward to recharging in the peace and quiet of the next several days anchoring in beautiful surroundings with no onshore amenities, and simply enjoying the view, a good book or two, and the company of my sweetie.

I posted an album of DC photos on my Facebook page. Us the Facebook ‘Follow Us’  link at right. Enjoy! 🙂

 

Diggin’ DC (plus some boat issues…)

Sorry I didn’t post this past weekend, but we had guests aboard followed by boat issues. So let me catch you up on our week-plus (and on-going) stint in DC.

When we realized we had plenty of time to get to Indigo Lady’s landing spot for September and October, we decided to trek up the Potomac to DC and check out our Nation’s Capitol by water. We are so glad we did!

We arrived Monday, July 22nd, and picked up the mooring we reserved from The Wharf Marina (formerly Gangplank Marina), after watering up and pumping out our holding tanks. Can’t beat the price of $35/night. (Apparently they were also supposed to charge us $10/day to land at their dinghy dock and use their laundry and showers, but they never did. Shhhhh.) 

We were impressed from the first! Dave & I went ashore to explore this new District Wharf area here in the SW corner of DC, not far from the National Mall. It spans one mile of the Potomac from the 395 bridge and down river. Phase I was completed and opened in October of 2017; Phase II is slated to be finished in 2022 (more marina). It’s an impressive area, with restaurants galore, ranging from the long-time fish market (fresh and cooked options) to Shake Shack to casual and white-tablecloth dining. There are of course shops, businesses and residences. There are several outdoor gathering spots on three different piers and along the waterfront. There’s a gas fire structure they light at night on the end of Recreation Pier. We saw another wood fire pit in front of one of the restaurants. And we did see people all over the public spots during our stay- meeting, eating, resting, etc. It’s a very vibrant area. They provide a free shuttle that makes a four-stop loop between The Wharf, L’Enfant Plaza Metro, The National Mall, and the International Spy Museum. How convenient! Read more about The District Wharf if you like; you don’t have to come here by boat.

My cousins Bob & Jolene joined on the 23rd arriving just in time for lunch ashore. We spent the week together exploring museums and sampling the cuisine. After lunch on Tuesday we started to wander The Mall, ending up at the Capitol just in time for the final tour of the day, unplanned by us.  Score! Then we set out for some of the memorials. We managed to see the WWII and Korean memorials before we petered out and headed back to the Wharf for dinner at Mi Vida (awesome Mexican food!). We’d all forgotten how HUGE The Mall is and were tired and foot sore! Over the rest of the week we explored the Thomas Jefferson, FDR, MLK, Lincoln and Vietnam memorials, plus the museums of African American History and Culture, Native American History, and Natural History. Dave & I spent the entire day in the new Fossil Hall at the Natural History museum, while Bob & Jo spent the morning there, had lunch with us, then went to the Bible Museum. On Saturday the boys went to the off-site annex of the Air & Space Museum to see the large aircraft, including the Shuttle Discovery and one of the Concord jets. Jolene and I went to Arlington National Cemetery and then Ford’s Theater and Petersen House. Sunday we all went to the US Holocaust Memorial. I’d been there before quite a while ago, but the others had not. Thank goodness that was the only venue we planned for that day because we were there for four hours and were quite overwhelmed by the time we left. 

We saw Bob & Jo off the morning of this past Monday for their trip back home. We had originally planned to leave the same day, but partway through the week opted to spend Monday night here as well after Bob & Jo left us. So Monday the 29th was a bit of a chore morning for us; we pumped out and filled our water tanks, and Dave installed a replacement part for one of our battery banks that we had hoped would return it to working condition; it didn’t. So he sent off another email to Oceanvolt with an update, but since they are 7 hours ahead of us in Finland, their work day was over. We had lunch aboard and then spent the afternoon back in the Natural History Museum- me in the Human Origins hall and Dave in the Ocean hall. As we left the museum at 5pm, we decided to extend our stay into Tuesday night and fortunately the mooring was still available.

Tuesday morning Dave worked on some more trouble shooting while waiting to hear from Oceanvolt. I did a solo trip ashore to do laundry and grocery shopping. I’m getting better at running and landing the dinghy, of which I am quite proud. 🙂  When I returned to Lady, Dave had arranged for a call with Oceanvolt early the following morning (Wednesday) before we had to vacate the mooring. So after wrapping up our chores and having lunch aboard, we returned ashore to finish touring the exhibits at the Native American History Museum. 

And because boats always have issues, the systems saga doesn’t end here, and neither does our stay in DC…

This morning (Wednesday) dawned and while I was doing yoga at 6:30am, Dave was in a Skype call with Oceanvolt, which did not solve our problem, but resulted in both Dave and them doing a little more homework and Skyping again tomorrow morning. Shortly after the call, more hell broke loose. Our controllers stopped fully communicating with the solar panels (we can see how charged they are, but not what they’re bringing in). I went ashore for coffee and WiFi while Dave tried to trouble shoot that. Okay, and I wanted a donut from District Donut right at the head of the pier which had been calling to me all week until I could ignore it no longer. I returned to Lady to hear Dave say, “Bad news, I no longer have any control over the starboard motor.” Another email to Oceanvolt with the new issue and Dave determined we needed to order some new cables in case one or more were fried. This resulted in a trip ashore to order said cables, and another call to the marina to extend our stay through Friday night. Good thing they have nobody coming in for this mooring in the near future; it’s the only one that can handle a boat this size!

So the saga continues, but with parts arriving tomorrow and a call with Oceanvolt in the AM. We’re giving ourselves some downtime today, but will probably make use of our extended time here and visit the International Spy Museum tomorrow between the AM call and parts arriving in the afternoon. There are worse places to be stuck. 

I will try to post again this weekend with an update. Until then, enjoy the rest of your week 🙂

Fossil hunting during a heat wave

The Chesapeake is part of the heat wave much of the U.S. is experiencing this week. It started here on Wednesday and is supposed to break late Sunday night. Ugh! It has been unbearably hot, especially from about 3-9pm each day. Even the breeze is hot and humid! Still, we’ve managed to enjoy ourselves. 

Today we struck it rich! We spent four hours this morning hunting for fossils in Wade’s Bay off of Purse State Park, MD. We didn’t know this was here until we decided a couple of weeks ago to cruise up the Potomac to D.C., so our “equipment” consisted of our colander, and two dinghy bailers (a Folgers coffee container and a Chlorox bottle cut into scoop shapes). Our morning search was entirely in the shade and spent wading (and often sitting) in the water. Yay for comfort! The pictures in this post show our bounty, although some of them we’re not sure are fossils. There are more pictures, with captions, on my Facebook page (link at right).

We returned to Indigo Lady for lunch, but it was much too hot to stay aboard. So we returned to shore shortly after for refuge and more fossil hunting. It’s not a real beach, but there are many spots to sit ashore, even at high tide. We hunted fossils (sitting in the shallows) for a bit, but then just sat back and read in the shade, dipping into the water to re-wet ourselves and cool off when necessary. It was a busy place; I counted about two dozen small pleasure craft, but the bay has plenty of room and we had a shady spot to ourselves. 

I write this from my hammock back on Indigo Lady, swinging in the humid breeze after snacks and an icy drink of ice, fruit juice and rum. The air isn’t stagnant, but it’s still hot, and I am anticipating sunset when it should cool down a bit. The projected low tonight is 80 degrees, but that’s 20 degrees cooler than it is now. Relief!

(Note: I’m posting this Sunday morning. It cooled only a little last night and not appreciably inside Indigo Lady. I did not get much sleep, alas!)

I need to take a weather course!

I used to “teach” ninth graders about weather. Kind of funny looking back on it, because I’ve come to realize over the past eleven weeks how little I truly understand weather. So any former students who may be following me, you go ahead and chuckle now. 

I’m obsessed with the weather. I have never spent so much time checking land and marine forecasts as I have these past eleven weeks. I repeatedly check the My Radar app and our real-time on board radar for hours as storms play around and approach us, simultaneously watching the skies and trying to read patterns. I hope that as I continue to watch over time, the skies will make more sense and I won’t need to stare at the radar for hours. I religiously check the (sometimes inaccurate) marine forecasts so I know what kind of ride we’re in for on days when we move to our next location. I don’t mind a bumpy ride, but I prefer our bow seats are not repeatedly dunked into the sea. My hope is always to make it to anchor before any predicted afternoon thunderstorms. Although, really, being at anchor during those hasn’t been great. Our four anchor dragging experiences haven’t helped my state of mind regarding storms. The last one hit us in Smith Creek with 45+ knot winds and a wall of water we couldn’t see through. We dragged about 200’ in the short time it took us to take evasive action to avoid the pylons that were suddenly about 150 feet behind us. We have decided that we will be purchasing a new style anchor soon so we can sleep on stormy nights.

I never worry about thunderstorms when I’m home, but on a boat in the middle of the water I feel very tiny and exposed, even if land and civilization are only a couple of hundred yards away, like in Smith Creek. Mother Nature’s power is awesome, and I respect it…and fear it a little out here. I have been amazed and entertained watching rain clouds approach only to mostly pass us to starboard, lightly showering us with rain from the edge, while the port side remains sunny. At a fireworks display in St. Michaels, we watched Mother Nature compete with her own light show. (I was very thankful that stayed in the distance!) and I’ve been equally terrified by how quickly she can get cranky.

Fortunately, there are weather classes for cruisers. I plan on taking a few to combat my ignorance and increase my peace of mind. Why wait? First one is a webinar next week.

Oh the places we’ve been!

I’m keeping it simple this week. I’ve wanted to create a map of our stops for a while and finally found the solid WiFi connection needed to do so. It’s also nice that I’m in an air conditioned coffee shop sipping an iced latte. The Chesapeake is experiencing a heat wave this week and it has been hot, hot, hot, and humid! So the A/C is very welcomed.

The image with this post is a static image of our stops, but the one below should be interactive. If it’s not, I’ll have to fix it later today. I’m hungry and need lunch.

Happy trails!

Feelin’ hot, hot, hot!

It’s hot! Not as hot as western Europe with their temps over 100F, but it has been in the upper 80s/low-mid 90s for the past week, and humid many of those days but thankfully not all of them. We’ve relished the lightest whisper of a breeze on the water on the more still days, although sometimes we had to be in the hammocks to catch it; how unfortunate 😉 .

This is a good test run for the Caribbean, because it’s giving us the opportunity to determine where the sun does and does not reach, both inside and out, so we can decide how to reduce its heating impact. Having a new 600 square foot roof over us has certainly helped, but not when the sun reaches a certain lower angle in the mornings and afternoons. Indigo Lady came with roll down sun shades on the rear arch of the cockpit, made of Sunbrella fabric. I ordered some of the same fabric in February and made smaller sunshades for the sides before we left. We didn’t need them for the longest time, but the temperatures in Annapolis finally prompted us to install them. Dave & I added the needed snaps and grommets and mounted them on the velcro we’d installed before we left in April. The picture with this post shows one rolled up and one deployed. I made them narrow so we could still get up to the bow when necessary, but that left a spot for the sun to intrude on our cockpit space and heat it up (it happens fast). Our current plan is to make an additional panel for each side that is simply weighted to hang straight, but can easily be pushed aside to get to the bow. We’ll probably have to modify that idea for when it’s windy. For now we use clothespins to secure beach towels in those spaces, over the hand rail that surrounds our entire roof. It really does reduce the temperature of the cockpit.

Our next challenge is the windows in the salon and galley. When the sun hits those, it gets hot inside, and the heat stays even after it has cooled down inside, despite running our (tiny) fans. Of course the walls are all slanted, so curtains are out. We think we’re going to start with those reflective yet still see-through stick on sheets people use on their home and car windows. It’s cheap and easy to install, and we can find it at a hardware store, once we are within reach of one again. If we don’t like that, I may make shades out of Sunbrella that attach by velcro and can roll up out of the way when not needed. At the moment, I have a paper bag cut open, flattened, and taped to whichever part of either forward facing window is getting the direct sun at the time. Whatever works!

We are fortunate to still be in the mid Chesapeake Bay before stinging nettle season (jellyfish), so we can swim to cool off. As we head further south and as the summer wears on, we will lose that option when the jellyfish move in <sigh>. We’ll just have to spend more time in the hammocks with icy drinks. Poor us 😉 .

The pleasures of town and river

We are in Annapolis, MD. What a zoo of boats and people! A friend of ours (I’m looking at you, Ian) told us Annapolis is like Newport, RI on steroids. Yup. I was far too exhausted when we arrived yesterday to enjoy the people watching, but perhaps after a good night’s sleep I’ll appreciate it more today. Pictures can’t really capture the craziness, but the top part of the picture in this post is taken from the Harbor Master’s office looking toward the town dock at Kunte Kinte- Alex Haley Park, with restaurants on the far side where one can dock to eat. The lower picture is our anchorage last night, at the far end of Spa Creek and away from the fray. This end reminds me more of Back Channel at our mooring back home in the peak of summer; it’s more my speed. However, it is a very historic town and I look forward to touring some of it over the next couple of days.

I want, and need, to be in a town every once in a while, though I prefer smaller towns (Annapolis is a bit much).  Okay, I need to be in a town at least every 1-2 weeks. An isolationist I am not. I need interaction with people, even if it’s a 1-minute conversation with the barista at a coffee shop.  It’s in the small towns we’ve visited that I’ve had some lovely conversations with local people. There’s a lot of pride of place in small towns, and folks want you to learn about their lives past and present, the contributions their communities have made. That’s a prime reason I enjoy traveling; it reminds me how much all humans have in common. I’ve been able to have these expderiences in Scituate and Cuttyhunk, MA; Block Island, RI; Mystic, New London and East New Haven, CT; Shelter Island and Port Jefferson, NY; Atlantic Highlands and Cape May, NJ; Havre de Grace, Rock Hall, and Chestertown, MD.

Between all those stops have been the quiet, remote anchorages where sometimes we were able to dinghy ashore to stretch our legs, while other times we could only sit on board and observe nature all around us and relax (unless we had to do boat chores or fix something). I very much enjoy those days, too. I used to hike a lot in college and just after, but I didn’t make time for it as I got older. So now I get to reconnect with nature, but from the water (and once we’re in the Caribbean it will be under the water too!).

I sat in the hammock last night here at anchor in Annapolis, reading unitl there wasn’t enough light, listening to the splash of boats going by and the sound of conversations in the nearby park and on nearby boats. I watched the sun set and the stars come out. I listened to the noise slowly abate as it got later. Not too bad for a big city.

At some point I will post a map that pins all the places we’ve been on this trip, but I’m going to have to wait until I have time to sit in a coffee shop with WiFi for a couple of hours. Maybe next week 😉  

What’s that noise?

There are many noises on a boat, and it’s important to be able to identify them. I’m still learning. Some come from the boat itself while others result from interactions between the boat and Mother Nature. I’m not sure I can do the sounds justice in words, but I’ll give it a try.

Boat noises

  • A light hum– the sound our electric motors make when we’re underway.
  • An abrupt and deep “thrum thrum”– the sound of the diesel generators starting up, fading to a steady hum once they fully engage. Then there’s the abrupt “thrum splutter” when they shut off.
  • Rapid machine gun fire in the distance– the sound of the fresh water pressure pump. The saltwater pressure pump makes a similar sound, just a bit louder.
  • A sucking/slurping noise- the sump pumps in the heads pumping water overboard from the sinks and showers. One night I heard ours go off when nobody was using the head. Hmmm. Dave investigated but found nothing and the sump well was dry. In the morning he investigated again and realized rain had trickled in from our open head porthole, run down the wall and into the shower drain thus triggering the sump pump. Mystery solved. Close your portholes when it rains, silly!
  • A soft whirring– the bilge pumps. Fortunately we haven’t heard those come on other than when Dave tests them to ensure they’re still functioning.
  • A whirring/buzzing sound followed by a whirring/buzzing/garbage disposal sound– the first is the head as salt water is pumped into the toilet, the second is the macerator grinding the contents and pumping them into the holding tank. (Gross, I know, but necessary.)
  • A deep whirring sound that becomes higher pitched after about 2-3 minutes- another macerator pump emptying our holding tanks overboard (only when we’re more than 3 miles offshore) until the tank is empty. You know they’re empty when the higher pitched sound starts.
  • A low hum that continues after the engines are shut off- the cooling fans in the engine room make. It’s like our Priuses when we shut them off and still hear the cooling fans.
  • A loud, constant whirring inside– the water maker, requiring us to close the door to the cabin in which it is located, otherwise conversation is difficult. Fortunately it makes about 30 gallons an hour, so we don’t have to run it for long to fill our tanks, and we try to do it on nice days when we can be outside rather than inside.
  • A faint beeping sound (usually heard at night when the winds have kicked up)- Ah yes, the anchor alarm. That is not a fun sound to hear, and we’ve unfortunately heard it several times this voyage. It sounds like our coffee pot telling us it’s done brewing, only the anchor alarm doesn’t stop until we tell it to. It seems I am the only one aboard who can hear this alarm. Fortunately it wakes me when I’m asleep. (Dave can’t hear it over his snoring.) You’d think such an important sound would have been programmed to be louder.  

Boat + Nature noises

  • Water hitting our hull makes a variety of noises, some of them downright scary, but harmless. They range from splashing, to a light slapping against the hulls, to thunderous booms that scare the hell out of me, especially when they wake me out of a dead sleep. If you’ve ever been to Thunder Hole in Acadia National Park, you now have a reference for this alarming sound.
  • The wind makes our American flag and our Seven Seas Cruising Association burgee flap. Depending on the speed of the winds, this can be a light “flap, flap, flap…tink, tink, tink”, or it can sound like someone is beating a rug with a broom handle.
  • The wind also runs over our cabin and under our roof, which makes it howl at varying frequencies, again depending on the speed of the wind. The fabric rain gutter we mounted under the roof over the gap between its halves also flaps making a “whoompf, whoompf” sound.

My favorite noises to date occurred around 4:00 and 4:30 am today. The earlier sound was a light, irregular drumming low on our hull. I got up and went outside to investigate and saw something slowing moving away from the hull. I went back in for my glasses (duh!) and saw two ducks swimming away. They may have been eating algae off our hull 🙂 . Only I’m not quite sure about that, because minutes later I heard my Dad get up and check the fishing lines he and Dave had left out overnight. There was a catfish on each one! So perhaps we were hearing them fight a bit and the rods were knocking in their holders. We’ll never know for sure. What I do know for sure is the source of the sound I heard at 4:30 am right over our heads- “patter, patter, patter, patter… pause…patter, patter, patter” (repeat a few times) . “Those are feet!” I exclaimed, and got up (again) to check. I found a pair of mallards pattering around on our bow. How cute! I left them alone, snapped a couple of pictures and went back to bed.

After that, all I heard were the typical sounds of morning as the sun rose over the calm waters of the Sassafras River- the quiet swish of water on the hull, early bass fishermen in their small boats, osprey hunting for breakfast, and other bird song in the distance.