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Friday, March 23, 2012

In Which Willadine Meets the Dock at Potters and We Go To Town

13 March 2012

Still dark when we wake, wondering if it’s morning.  Cloudy, but warmer at least, a better night’s sleep.  Something was ticking in the stern all night, making me worry about drips or leaks, but all is well.  Eric opens the hatch to peep out and we’re inundated with skeeters.  He closes the hatch and we slap at them for the next hour or two while we prepare for the day.  Breakfast is a minor mishap as I’ve forgotten to pack the salt and oat bran just has no taste whatsoever.  We try without success to doctor it up and just eat it anyway.  Oh well.

The rain stops and I towel off the cockpit.  Eric pulls the anchor while I motor us away.  We go up Bailey Creek, admiring the houses and the nice big sailboats along the way.  We pick out a nice spot for a future anchorage and then head back and go up Ross Creek.  More nice houses, all new-looking.  The weather is solidly cloudy and cool with the wind kicking up out of the south.  I’m thinking we should be out sailing while the wind is good, but since I didn’t bring any foul weather gear and more rain is likely, I accept that going back to Potter’s is the way to go.  We’re running low on water and the porta-pottie is full.  Nasty bit of work, that.  We’re thinking the “double dooty” bags in the bucket are the way to go.  Probably more information than you needed, right?

We head back up North Creek toward Potters but as we round the corner, I sense something is amiss.  I look up and feel like we’re going in the wrong direction.  I look at the GPS and my suspicion is further confirmed.  I ask Eric about it and his head swivels around and he blinks and says I’m right.  I’m surprised, because usually his sense of direction is keen, but I’m glad I spoke up.  With all his kayaking experience, he’s a great navigator.  I have much to learn.

Going up the creek we debate about where to tie up and how to accomplish it.  The wind is less strong up here, but it’s still steady at five knots or so.  Enough.  I pull out the fenders and dock lines and start lashing one of the fenders on as we approach Potter’s.  There are several options and we choose one where we’ll come in from downwind.  Eric’s at the helm and I’m on the bow with the boat hook.  We make a slow approach and the wind catches the bow and we blow off.  Luckily, there is nothing in the way to run into.  Eric swings her back around and I watch on the dock shouting back directions:  Steer to port, give her a forward bump, steer to starboard.  We go in perfectly and I step off onto the dock with the boat hook, but oh shit, where is the dock line?  I grab the boat with the hook and get hold of the bowline, no problem and Eric kindly refrains from giving me any shit about it.

We drag the porta-pottie three quarters of the way to the bathroom before I realize we could have used the dock cart.  It’s super-disgusting and we agree to leave it in the truck and try the bucket and bags, which by the way are supposedly totally legal, go figure.  You do your business in them, tie them up and put them in the dumpster.  Can’t be any worse than that porta-pottie and it only held two days worth of poo.  Not enough to be worth the trouble of flushing it and emptying it, which was all a drag.  I miss Skybird’s flush toilet, but Willadine is the absolute perfect boat for us right now and for this area.  With a minimum draft of eighteen inches, we can go anywhere.  And she’s been sailing like a dream.  Yesterday we make 6.7 knots, past hull speed, as we surfed the following sea in a steady ten-knot wind.  It was awesome.  Eric says it was a rollicking ride.  It was fun, if mildly hair-raising.

Driving into Belhaven, we stop on impulse at a welding shop Slotesbury Welding.  The door to the shop is open and we peer in and call, but get no response.  I walk out the back door and find an enormous V-shaped bulldozer thing with giant teeth.  It’s rusty and fascinating.  Eric calls the phone number and reaches the owner, a man named Tim.  They talk for several minutes about the job of replacing the rusted uprights on the trailer and Eric offers to put a deposit down for the materials.  He asks about coming back later and the guy says, “Where are you?”

“We’re here at the shop.” Eric replies.

“Well, so am I,” Tim says, “I’m just in the bathroom.”

I spot the Dollar General on the way into town and we agree to stop there on the way out for salt.  The Ace Hardware is deserted, but we find a young clerk and ask about Internet.  He laughs and says, “Washington,” about forty-five minutes away.  I ask about the library and he says they don’t have wireless, but happily he’s wrong and I sit in the truck and collect my seventy-six emails and send one or two while Eric walks over to the corner drug and gets us a couple of cold diet cokes.  It’s not even that hot in the truck.

Back at Potter’s Eric cranks up the grill for supper and I load beef, zucchini and garlic on skewers, which was Eric’s excellent idea:

The garlic cloves are small and hard to peel, but they go on the sticks just fine.  On the grill one falls in the drink and I hand Eric the boat hook and he fishes it out.  Extra marinade.  A fish jumps off the stern and Eric says, “Do you know what that fish is saying?”

I say, “He’s saying thanks for the beef trimmings we threw out,” and Eric laughs hard.  I know that fish is just trying to get away from some predator, but still.  I ask about alligators and he says there’s a picture on Potter’s website of a four-foot alligator here.  And to think I considered swimming!  This leads me to wonder if Potter lost his leg to an alligator and I decide I will have to ask him.  I’ll just explain that I’m a writer and my imagination is going crazy with stories and I just need to know the real story so I can quit making them up in my head.

Secure at the dock, we duck inside when the skeeters start to come out.  It’s cozy inside and we experiment with lying with our heads in the bow, which feels much more comfortable to me.  We’ve been sleeping the other way but I feel like my head is lower than my feet, which makes me very uncomfortable.  Eric says he feels too cramped in his shoulders in the bow.  We end up sleeping head to foot, which suits me fine, but Eric doesn’t like it.  He felt cramped for some reason.  So we’ve got some experimenting to do on that.  I still think the aft berth would be the most comfortable, but we haven’t tried it yet.  Who knows what tomorrow will bring?


  1. This is awesome, Beth! I could so sense every move, as I've experienced similar versions of sailing days that I'd stuffed back away. While I love to relive the sunny, serene ones, these "interesting excursions" memories are more the norm! You are right about the head in the bow position - just get your heads fairly close, and "fan out" the rest of your body so the legs have freedom of movement. At least that's my two cents worth! Keep writing all of it - you're good! Sending good vibes for you and Eric maintaining that adventurous spirit and sense of humor! :)

    1. Hi Ginny! Thanks for reading!! It's fun for us to relive it too. Can't wait to get back to Willadine!! Hugs!