The past four days have been spent driving through the “Ditch”, an inland passage that cuts off Cape Hatteras. It was a pretty interesting although boring experience. We were hoping to see more southern yuck-yuckers but it turned out to be amazingly desolate. It was all motoring, which it turns out, seems to be the usual for cruising. A synopsis of the ditch is as follows:

Day 1- We motored from Norfolk to Great Bridge, VA. This was a short motor, but we had to pass through quite a few bridges and finally some locks in Great Bridge. The lock master told us that we could feel free to tie up to the sea wall before the bridge. When we got there though, there were not cleats or bollards, so we tied up to some small trees. Many other cruisers did the same thing. It was pretty classy. I thought it might be possible to go out to an auto parts store and get the alternator checked and maybe find a new one. Fat chance. When I got to the store, an Autozone, the clerk didn’t know what to do with the alternator. In fact, he told me that unless he is able to hook it up to the machine and find it in a computer there was nothing he could do to help me. Great. That was a failure, so I went to the local Radio Shack to get some multi-conductor wire to wire up a radio handset. The clerk there didn’t believe me that multi-conductor wire existed and said it isn’t measured that way, only by AWG. But they did have speaker wire. Great, another failure. It seems that systemic stupidity has taken full hold on America and we as a culture are no longer able to think outside of a box, given to us by our box-stores. After I get back to the boat, Jon, Heather and Nathan and I go out for some Mexican. I didn’t have high hopes and we had to beg to have more than a splash of tequila in our margaritas. Then the chips came with ranch dressing, in addition to salsa. Weird. We ordered up some nachos, and my god, they were the worst nachos I think I have ever had. Instead of salsa and guacamole and things, they had more ranch and what seemed like cream of chicken soup. Ick. At least the tie up was free.

Day 2- More motoring, down the ditch and through the swamp. Pretty uneventful other than the bass boats zooming by at like 60 miles an hour, throwing rooster tails and everything. As we came into a small sound, a plower boat tried to overtake us, then swerved into us. The depths were shallow enough that I couldn’t really move. They almost hit us and I sounded the horn and screamed out a non-abbreviated WTF. The daughter was driving and the parents were all confused and started yelling at each other. We let them go on and they continued to swerve. The even glanced off a channel marker. I guess cocktail hour started a little early on that boat. We anchored in the Alligator river and it was nice all except the windlass, now nicknamed EM3, seems to be really bad at it’s one job.

Day 3- More motoring. We passed through a certain portion of the swamp where a ton of house flies decided to stow-away on Slick. The other cruisers got them too. Mostly uneventful and we anchored about 45 miles from Beaufort.

Day 4- More motoring. We turned off the ditch to head into Beaufort, and there were lots of benevolent dolphins. The current was pretty strong and we got pushed out of the channel and ran aground in the mud. Luckily it was soft and just the bottom of the keel. I tried to back off, and the boat just spun around 180 degrees and faced back toward the channel. So we gave it a good amount of forward gas and got free. When we came into Beaufort, we stopped at the docks to see what they cost and to pick up beer. It was too expensive but the dock master told us of a free mooring, that we are now on. So many good deals.

Today was a pretty good day. After being on a ball last night, we were able to sleep well. We inflated the skiff and went into town. We walked to a different sort of autoparts store where they could help us but the parts for the alternator were still a few days off. Good to see that chronic stupidity is avoiding this little retirement community. We see no young people. The store was supposed to be only a mile away but I think I was more like three. No worries. We found a short cut on the way back. Plus it turns out that the outboard motor is broken. Also, we had some BBQ. We stopped into a liquor store to get beer and there was a four page report, complete with pictures, of the local arrests for the last week. It’s warm and everyone is friendly too. God, I forgot how much I love the South!