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Posted By Robin & Jim

It's not all fun and games on the water, and every two years we have to have the boat hauled out for new bottom paint and a few other things.  We left Cape Lookout and headed straight to the boat yard where the lift was ready for us. 

out of the water

When our boat is "on the hard", we still live aboard even though we have no air conditioning when we're out of the water.  It's a bit hot in North Carolina in July, but we managed with some 12 volt fans and mid-afternoon breaks to run errands in an air conditioned rental car.  

One maintenance item we needed to do was to have the stabilizer seals replaced.  The stabilizers are active fins that help smooth our ride in rough seas, and the shafts that drive the fins wear on the seals.  It's a bit of a job to do, and we called our old friend Bert to help us out.  He puts a special fitting into the fin and uses a hydraulic pump to blow the fin off the shaft, and after the seals have been replaced, he uses a 6' long torque wrench to put the fin back on.

stabilizer fins

We had our own chores to do while the boat yard put new anti-fouling paint on the bottom and PropSpeed on our running gear.  Did I mention that it's a little hot in July?  We also waxed the hull while we were out of the water, sometimes working in the early morning or after dark to avoid the heat and direct sun.  But after a week of hard work we heard the happy sound of the big travel lift coming to put us back in the water.  That's the happy sound that comes after the unhappy act of paying the boat yard's bill.  But these things have to be done from time to time, and it's better that we keep up with the preventative maintenance to minimize the field repairs.

new bottom paint

We were tired and the boat was filthy inside and out from living in a dusty boat yard so we headed to Morehead City Yacht Basin for a few days - to clean the boat up and to visit some friends.  And for air conditioning!
When the wind settled down we resumed our trip north, anchoring in the Alligator River (yes, there are alligators in North Carolina) on a hot summer night.

alligator river

From there we stopped for a night in Coinjock, and were grateful for the marina pool to cool off.  We trekked through Norfolk, admiring all the activity - tugs, barges, freighters, Navy ships, trains, and airplanes - it's a bee-hive of activity.  But most impressive is the long row of mighty Navy ships...

navy ships

Heading into Kilmarnock, VA we had to shut the starboard engine down - the fresh water cooling pump and several belts went belly up.  At least we could bike to our engine parts supplier in Kilmarnock, and we had a marvelous time visiting our friends.  But we're getting tired of things breaking!


 
Posted By Robin & Jim

We finally made it to a place that we've wanted to explore for many years!   Cape Lookout is a National Seashore located at the very bottom of North Carolina's Outer Banks, about 10 miles from Beaufort inlet.

cape lookout

Cape Lookout is best known for its lighthouse: 163' tall, painted in a distinctive diamond pattern that indicates east-west (white diamonds) and north-south (black diamonds).  The current lighthouse was built in 1859 to replace the smaller one built in 1812.  Only 93' tall, the original lighthouse was too short to be seen by mariners trying to avoid the Cape Lookout Shoal, which extends about 16 miles from the Cape out into the ocean.  The original lighthouse could be seen about 10 miles out in good conditions, and the new one can be seen for about 19 miles. 
On certain days of the week the Park Service lets people climb up the lighthouse, and the views were well worth it!  We could see far to the north towards Ocracoke...

view

...and across to Shackleford Banks, home to several herds of feral horses and a maritime forest... and across the dunes and beach to the Atlantic Ocean. 
The Park Rangers and volunteers do a great job explaining about man's interaction with the Cape as well as nature's.  The Cape used to be connected to Shackleford Banks but a 1933 hurricane opened up a new inlet and left the two islands separated to this day.  Wildlife is abundant, especially birds and sea turtles.  We saw three loggerhead sea turtles near our boat in the anchorage, and they are known to nest at Cape Lookout.  The variety of sea shells is impressive - even conch shells, and the water is pretty clear and very clean and nice.  Fishing is a probably the most popular activity in this part of coastal North Carolina, and that is evident everywhere with everything from shallow draft flats boats to big sport fish boats roaring here and there. 
The birds were wonderful - lots of different terns, gulls, and black skimmers as well as American oystercatchers. 

oystercatcher

I would kayak early in the morning along the beach to look for shells and birds, since there are miles of beach inside the Cape and along the outside, with natural dunes and sea oats to protect the shoreline. 
You can only get to Cape Lookout by boat - either private boat or by ferry from Harker's Island.  It's a great place to enjoy uncrowded beaches and to fish, but the lighthouse and the wildlife are the highlights for us. 
All good things must come to an end though, and the weather was about to turn ugly with strong winds predicted for at least a week.  We also needed to head to the boat yard for new bottom paint and out-of-the-water maintenance that we do every two years.  I could have stayed out at the Cape for another week or two!  But we left early on a Monday morning heading straight to the boat yard where the travel lift was ready to hoist us out of the water for a week of hard work.  It's all part of cruising.

adventures cape lookout