Author Archives: bwehmer

Surviving Florence…and getting ready to go

9/30/18
Southport, NC
Posted by Bill

It looks like Florence has tampered with our departure plans. For those we have not spoken with, we decided to weather the storm here in Southport. No problems with the house or the boat…thank God, but it was a crazy couple of weeks for us.

We prepared early two weeks ahead of the storm getting bottled water and making lots of ice and food. A week before the storm we prepped the boat: all sails off, dodger off, bimini off, solar panels off, secured wind generator, doubled all lines and added fire house at chafe points, capped and taped dorade openings, taped all vents, taped electronics, taped lockers, and sealed the companion way hatch with duct tape. This took several days. We also removed our Engle portable refrigerator/freezer, 5 gallon water jugs, Honda generator, gasoline jugs, solar showers, and dinghy, and took it all to the house. At the house we secured everything on the outside or brought it in, took down the gas lantern, filled bath tubs with water for flushing toilets in case we lost water, filled 5 gallon jugs with water for drinking/cooking, bought 20 gallons of fuel in jugs for the generator, and made sure all of the flashlights had fresh batteries.

The storm hit Friday (9/14). Thankfully, it hit north of us at Wrightsville beach, and we got the better side of the storm. Areas north of there got the bad side. Unfortunately, the storm stalled to a crawl and punished us for 3 days. We lost power at 7:15 Saturday morning. Our neighbor has a whole house generator and offered room in one of his refrigerators and to plug an extension cord into an outside outlet. We powered the Engle, our internet modem, wifi router, and charging for all phones, computers, and tablets. Tricia had a great setup for our house refrigerator and freezer, using the ice blocks we made to keep them cold, and re-freezing them in the Engle. The internet went out with the power, but we could use our cellular connections for all but one day of the outage period. The public water mains were compromised and we lost water Sunday morning. The eye wall of the hurricane came through about a mile north of us on Saturday and we were getting gusts that shook the entire house and many more that shook the bed. Amazingly, they had power restored early Monday afternoon.

All roads out of Southport had bridges washed out or were flooded. We had plans to go to our niece’s wedding on 9/22 in Dayton Ohio, but weren’t sure we could get out in time. Tuesday, some friends on our dock came from Winston-Salem and told us how to get around all of the road closures, but the rivers were going to crest and cause more closures. We cleaned up all of the yard debris in our yard and in most of the neighbors yards around us, and decided to head out to get to the wedding. We left Wednesday morning, just as the water was restored, attended the wedding (congrats to Anna and Andrew…a fantastic wedding!), visited family and got back to Southport on the 28th, just as the water boiling alert was lifted. It still looks like a war zone in Southport, and there are several roads blocked due to sink holes developing from the large amounts of rain. We got more than 30″ of rain from the storm, had a meager storm surge of around 3 feet, and had winds over 100 MPH. I have never seen it rain like it did!

Hats off to the all of the authorities, governments at all levels, and especially the work crews. They did a fantastic job of getting utilities and roads back in order. I feel for the people who are still dealing with flooding…it looks awful.

Our experience as cruising sailors helped us be comfortable during this ordeal. Having a portable freezer, portable generator, water jugs, gas jugs and solar showers, really helped. Now we have to put everything back together and try to get ready to leave. Our original plan was to leave 10/15. We lost several weeks of prep time to the storm and wedding, and the ICW (Intracoastal Waterway) is shut down between Little River and Winyah Bay until 10/19, so we will not be able to leave as planned. We will re-evaluate in a week or so and keep you posted.

Some pics:

Island Bound ready for the storm:
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Flooding on West Street at the neighbors house:
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Our front yard:
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Welcome summer

6/11/18
Southport NC
Posted by Bill

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Well we are glad winter is over! We picked a hell of a year to skip traveling south in the boat…coldest winter in NC for over 10 years! We were glad to have our house to be in, instead of the boat. There were many days where the docks were frozen over, and lots of people had issues with their boats because of the deep freeze. There is typical no need for winterization of the boat here as long as you keep a small heater running, but that was tested big time this year. Thankfully, we did not have any issues with Island Bound.

We thought we would be able to use the boat some, especially after February, but we only made one trip to Wilmington for St Patricks day, and had a great time. Spring brought more than the usual amount of rain and record cool temps, so that affected our time at the boat. To top it off, the dredging of the marina was delayed a year. Because it has shoaled over, we cannot leave or come back to the dock unless we have mid tide or above. That has put a damper on boating for sure. They tell us they will dredge come this fall…fingers crossed.

So, we have spent most of our time on the house, and we needed to! Still haven’t hung any pictures, but the outside is pretty much done, and the inside still needs a couple of projects and some decorating. We have been able to have parties and overnight guests, so I guess that is what is important!! Life is so different going back to the house. Lots more room, real flushing toilets, really good internet access, a fantastic shower, but most of all we spend our time so differently. Lots of TV watching, unfortunately, and only a fraction of the time with nature as compared to our cruising lifestyle. It was a nice break but we are itching to get moving again.

The weather got back to normal in May for the most part, and we have been going to the boat daily to work on her, and just to sit and hang out on the water. Many of our happy hours are sitting in the cockpit or on the dock with other friends. Also, the seasonal happenings around town have kicked in, and there is almost always live music within walking distance. Actually, that is one of the best things about living in the historic district…we walk everywhere, and the boat is only 3 blocks away. We will go for days without driving, which is awesome.

Now we start to focus on getting the boat ready to head south. We are planning to leave mid-October and take our time. We really enjoy stopping and spending time at what have become our favorite places to hang for a few days. We have a reservation for a month in Key West again starting mid-December, but that is our only scheduled commitment. Let’s hope hurricane season doesn’t wipe out our cruising grounds this year!!! The Keys really took a beating last year, but most places have done a great job recovering.

If you are cruising south this fall, or doing a beach vacation nearby, come visit!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

12/30/17
Southport NC
Posted by Bill

We hope you all had a Merry Christmas! Here is what has been happening since the last post…..

Most of the time has been spent on house related stuff. We sold or donated most of our furniture when we sold our house in Powell OH (Columbus area), so we have been shopping for new furniture. Thankfully, we are only a couple of hours from Highpoint NC, the furniture capital of the east, and we were able to knock off a few things during a trip there. In addition, Tricia is making all of our curtains and blinds, so we needed to find fabric and all of the hardware items. Most of the searching was online but you really need to see the material to know if it is good for your application. Then there is the ongoing construction of the house, which we pitch in to help if we have the skills, and also all of the associated decision making. This all led up to Thanksgiving. Our oldest daughter Sarah, her husband Pete, and 4 of the grandkids, all came to Oak Island for the week of Thanksgiving. Oak Island is about a 10 minute drive from Southport and has lots of beach rentals, and since the house was not done, we rented one on the beach and had a magnificent time hanging out with them. In Columbus, we lived about 20 minutes from them and got to see them on a somewhat regular basis, but we have spent several weeks at the beach with them the last couple of years, and it amazes me that the quality of the time we spent is so much better than when we lived close by! We just wish it could be more often!!!!

By the first week in December, we were able to start to have some furnishings delivered. We had a bit of a cold snap the end of the first week, and Matt made the push to get enough done on the house that we could sleep and eat there, and get off the boat. The following week we got a permanent occupancy certificate and started moving stuff from the boat and storage unit. We did a little bit each day. Tricia was able to start making curtains, and we put up sheets where we needed privacy. The middle of December led into the holiday festivities and the remaining construction work that was needed on the house was put on hold until January. It was really strange living in the house for the first 3 weeks. We have been living aboard for 3 1/2 years and just having the space of a house had us freaking out. Then being able to cook in a real kitchen with professional appliances:
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And also having a decent sized bathroom, steps away! A refrigerator that is easy to get things in and out of…fast and reliable internet…the list goes on…all the things we take for granted in normal dirt dwelling. I have also found that I miss being at the marina and on the water. We have been so busy at the house and have not spent any time back at the boat. It will be nice when things slow a little and we can enjoy both the house and the boat.

We spent Christmas Eve with our friends Larry and Diane, and Christmas Day dinner with our friends Mark and Jane, and had a great time. Even so, we missed our families! There is a group getting together for New Years Eve, and I am sure a good time will be had by all!!! Next week is going to be very cold by Southport standards, and low temps will be in the upper 20s….brrrrr. We are glad to be in our house for that crap. By the end of January we hope to have all of the construction work completed, and all of our stuff moved in, and most of the curtains and blinds done!! Then the task begins to prepare for leaving next November. We are going to take everything out of the inside of the boat and give her a deep clean, then reinventory her for another trip south.

This blog was created to document the cruising lifestyle and keep our family and friends appraised of our shenanigans. I did some of the content about the house mostly for our family to see. Given that, I was not planning on taking more blog content on house related stuff, but I did create a gallery of photos on a cloud based service for our family to see some pictures. If anyone else is interested, drop me a comment or an email and I’ll be glad to share that with you.

Have a fabulous 2018!!

Transitions

10/31/17
Southport NC
Posted by Bill

Well…this has been the longest stretch of time between posts since we started cruising. A lot has been happening, but not much to report about from a cruising perspective. As we do each summer, we have settled into life in Southport, and we have been enjoying the lifestyle living here…a few trips to the beach (although we thought we would go there more than we have), taking the boat to Carolina Beach for several days, taking the dinghy to the sandbar/low tide island, participating in the Stede Bonnet pirate sailing regatta…etc…

In addition to that, we attended a wedding in Maryland and went back to Ohio for a few days to winterize our house at Lake Erie (which is for sale if anyone is interested…it just isn’t being used enough to justify keeping it). The balance of the time we have spent dealing with the building of the house here in Southport, which is about a month from being completed. We noticed that we are going through a transition from cruising to dirt dwelling.

Many people write about this transition, and most find it more difficult than going from dirt dwelling to cruising/live aboard. For us…at least for now…it is a bit different, since we are not giving up totally on cruising, but plan on many more years of partial year cruising. Believe me, this helps. We have decided not to go south this winter, and take a season off. After over 3 years of traveling and living aboard, it will be nice to have the comforts of a house for a period of time. We would normally leave November 1st, and we see the transient boat traffic moving through and past the marina, making their way south. In addition, most of our friends that we met cruising, are either moving or getting ready to go. A big part of us is wishing we where going, especially when we have a couple of mornings like the last 2, where temps are below 50 degrees (not normal for here). We have been living in summer conditions for 3 1/2 years, and it will be difficult for me to deal with even the mild winter of Southport! I hate being cold!!

The transition to dirt dwelling has been interesting. For us, it started with having a car. Last summer we brought our 1994 Jeep Wrangler to Southport. After having lived here the first summer borrowing cars or riding bikes in less than desirable traffic, we realized we needed our own wheels if we were going to “park” ourselves again for a full summer. The Jeep is in good shape and is great for running around Southport/Oak Island, but it is not great for longer trips, like Wilmington or Myrtle Beach. Certainly not good for anything over a couple of hours. Having the Jeep gave us the ability to live what most would consider a more “normal” lifestyle here. We got used to driving again, which is a big transition! This year, when we decided to build the house, we figured we had better get a more practical vehicle, and bought a new Toyota Tacoma (I missed my Tundra the last couple of years…lol). This has given us more range of travel, not to mention, air conditioning…a must for summers here…and something the Jeep does not have. The introduction of each vehicle has enabled a further transition away from a true cruising lifestyle. We spend more and more time away from the dock with each transition, and working on the house as much as we have, has also resulted in less time at the water. This results in less time doing the things that we enjoyed so much in our transition to cruising…like sitting at the end of the dock each night to watch the dolphins and pelicans and watching the sunset EVERY day. Our focus and attention has shifted from nature based to mankind based. Fortunately, the boat will only be a 10 minute walk from the house, and once we get through building, I expect we will have more time to keep in tune with the natural world around us. This was one of the most stark revelations when we started cruising. In “normal” life, we spent so much time and attention to man made life, and so little time was spent immersed in the natural world. Immersion in the natural world has its challenges, but is so much better than man made, and most of the people in the US will never gain the experience to know the extent of the difference. I never want to lose sight of that again. Our transition has been gradual, but many just up and quit cruising…sell the boat and move back on land. For them, the transition is much more challenging, and I can see why so many people struggle with it.

As for the house…we are getting close. Since the last blog post, the walls are completed, the inside has been painted, we have gone through one iteration of fixing knot holes and imperfections in the wood walls, the counter tops are installed, the bathrooms have been tiled, the lot has been graded, and bushes have been planted. A brick walkway to the back of the house, and patio is being installed this week, as well as the wood floors. Appliances are on order. After the floors, the final electrical and plumbing work is completed, and we will be ready to move in. We promised our family members that we would post pictures during construction, but I want to wait a few more weeks before we post any more.

Transitions can be difficult, but at least ours has been gradual, and we are transitioning in a fantastic place to live! We absolutely love it here!!!

Here we were, anchored at Carolina Beach:
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Note about the older blog posts:
I noticed that blog posts from 2014 up to 2016 have lost the links to the photos. During the first years, I tried to save money and use a free photo site to store the pics. They have since removed the ability to directly link to the pictures via a URL, thus breaking the link to the blog. Maybe over the winter I will have the time to fix those link errors. I do have each month of posts saved in printed format in PDF files. If anyone would like to see those posts with pictures, just contact me and I will send the files to you.

Fretting the hurricanes

9/11/17
Posted by Bill

There has been a lot going on since the last post. A couple of weeks ago, we along with Matt and Shirley on Sofia Jeanne, and John on Annali, took our boats south to Myrtle Beach to watch the eclipse. Myrtle Beach was in the 99% viewing zone. We stopped first at Myrtle Beach Yacht Club in the North Myrtle Beach area. We had never rented a slip there before. Really nice people, and a nice pool! We came in with winds over 20 knots and a strong thunderstorm closing in. The wind caught us when we turned into the slip and a concrete pier clipped the wind generator pole and dinghy. Dinghy was fine, but the wind generator pole got jacked up…nothing serious, mostly just embarrassing! We didn’t get to enjoy the pool because all hell broke loose with the storm, but we checked out some local dining options. The next day we went to Barefoot Landing and proceeded to have an two day eclipse party. It was fun. 20 minutes before the eclipse started, a giant black cloud moved in over us and it didn’t leave until 20 minutes past the eclipse…lol! Oh well, we still had a good time and a good party.

Those who know me, know that I am a weather geek/fanatic. Weather fascinates me, and during hurricane season I watch every tropical disturbance, no matter the probability of becoming a storm. When Irma was approaching the Leeward Islands in the Caribbean, it was first forecast to come directly into the Cape Fear River inlet, which is where Southport (our home) is. The path shifted around a bit for a week, but we were still in the “cone of uncertainty”, which means we could get our asses kicked. Last Thursday and Friday had very calm winds and we were still in the cone, so we took the sails off the boat in preparation for the worst. The storm wasn’t supposed to hit us until Monday (today), so I delayed taking all of the canvas off, stowing the dinghy, and all of the other prep.
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On Saturday, the path shifted far enough away from us that we were not in the cone, and all of the forecast models were starting to show the same path. Winds were only supposed to be in the high 30 knot range (mid 40s MPH), and we have been through plenty of that type of weather, so we decided to leave the dinghy and canvas on. It has been blowing from the mid-20s to the mid-30s today, and just a little rain so far. We have many friends in Florida and feel terrible for everyone that is suffering from the devastation. We are hearing that many of the places that we cruise to each year have sustained severe damage. One friend in Marathon posted that Boot Key Harbor has been devastated and half the boats are gone (there are several hundred moorings in there). This is the mooring field that we stay at, and is the place where the locals take their boats for hurricanes. Our hearts go out to those that have been affected. We are so fortunate to have been spared the brunt of Irma.

As far as the house goes…work continues on the inside. Almost all of the walls are now covered. In keeping with the historic time period that the houses in our neighborhood were built, we are doing ship-lap wood walls, which takes much more time than sheet rock. It also generates lots of nail holes, which Tricia and I have been covering with putty. We have used over 9 thousand nails on the walls so far, so we have our work cut out for us! We also have many “built-ins” that take quite a bit of time, and we still have a couple of months to go until the house is done…still shooting for November. Here is the latest round of pics:
Master bedroom:
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Entry way and partial living room. The opening on the far right side of the picture is an office area that will have sliding doors hiding all of the mess:
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Built-in above the fireplace for a TV:
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Kitchen cabinets:
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Pantry cabinets:
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Fireplace:
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A few weeks ago we hauled the boat and had the bottom painted. It had been 3 1/2 years since the last paint job and it was badly needed. I waxed the hull and did some below the waterline maintenance while she was out.
Slime bottom at haulout:
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Nice, clean, fresh paint at launch:
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While working in the boat yard, we had a visitor crawling out from under the boat:
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Thankfully, he wasn’t interested in us!

Where has summer gone?

8/16/17
Southport NC
Posted by Bill

Wow…mid August already! The last 2 weeks have been crazy busy, mostly with selections for the house, but we have gotten a lot done. They are painting today on the outside:
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We went with a gray exterior with white trim, and a dark blue color for the exposed rafters around the house and porch. The porch ceiling is a special light blue color that is used to deter insects, and it is amazing how well it works:
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Inside, all of the rough ins are done, and this week the ceilings were completed and they got a start on the walls:
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Master bed room with rafters (looks amazing!):
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Master bath with rafters:
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Again…the fit and finish of the work is incredible. We have a TON of light fixtures, switches, outlets and vents, that all of this wood has to go around, and the workmanship is fantastic. The front steps and walkway were also completed this week:
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It is really coming together and it fits right in with the historic homes in the neighborhood…very cool. We have most of the vanities and plumbing fixtures picked out, the kitchen cabinets have been designed and ordered, a copper gas lantern has been ordered for the front porch, a historic style door bell was ordered, a special spice rack door has been designed and ordered, and we have finalized the counter tops. Lots of agonizing over options!!!!

Thankfully, we finally spent a day at the beach and a day at the “low tide island”. The beach is so close, and we couldn’t believe we hadn’t spent any time there!!! The “low tide island” is a shoal in the Cape Fear River that is exposed at low tide. Lots of people go and hang out with beach chairs, and we took the dinghy over for an afternoon:
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We need to do more of that!!

This weekend we are going to take the boat to Myrtle Beach for a few days and run down the Waccamaw River to Butler Island to see the eclipse. It will be the first trip we have taken since we got back into Southport from our trip south, and we are really looking forward to it. I’ll try to get some pictures to post.

End of July update

7/30/17
Southport, NC
Posted by Bill

We have had a busy couple of weeks again, since the last post. There has been great progress on the house, and we have had several visitors to the area (one of the reasons we love it here). As for the visitors…a couple of our traveling partners and good friends, Mark and Jan on the other Island Bound, came for about a week. Their boat is still here in Southport Marina, and they came down from Kentucky to hang out. Then we attended the wedding of our friends Ben and Marguerite, in Chapel Hill.
Ben and Marguerite
It was a great road trip, an absolutely beautiful wedding and reception, and we had a really good time. I haven’t drank that much beer in a long time, and it bloated me out like a pregnant lady, but we ate well and had lots of fun. There were several other good friends there from D dock (Ben and Marguerite have their boat there with all of us) which contributed to the fun. We are all very happy for them!! After that, we met Tricia’s brother Rob and wife Sue, with nephew Patrick, and their aunt Doris, in Wilmington. Doris lives near by and the rest were vacationing in Topsail Beach. It is always fun to hang with them! Then we visited our good friends from Ohio, Andy, Kevin and Scott. They were hanging out at Kevin’s condo in Myrtle Beach, which is only an hour away, and it was good to catch up with them. Then we drove to North Topsail to visit with our close friends/family, the Hiltys. They were on vacation and we had a great time catching up with them.

The exterior of the house should be done this week. The inside has been roughed in for electric, gas and plumbing, and all we need outside is the front steps, paint, and the metal roof. Here is how it looks now:
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We have had many people walk by the house while we have been there. Everyone tells us how great it looks. We couldn’t be happier!!! The quality is superb! In the next couple of weeks the interior will start. Wood ceiling first, and then wood shiplap walls…just like the old days! The decisions on everything related to the build have consumed us. There are several unique aspects to the interior that have taken quite a bit of our time, but we think it will end up being very cool.

Long time…no blog

7/10/17
Southport NC
Posted by Bill

Wow! A lot has been happening! Since my last blog over a month ago, we have made significant progress on the house, have been settling in to a “dirt dweller” mode of living, and made a short run to Ohio to get our lake house ready to sell, and move all of our crap in storage to a storage facility in Southport. As a part of all of that, we realized we needed a more practical vehicle than our 1994 Jeep Wrangler and bought a new pick up truck. We also rented a 26 foot U-haul truck and drove it from Ohio to North Carolina…that was a trip I never want to repeat! Many thanks to Pete and Sarah for helping us load up in Ohio, and to our friends Larry and Dianne, and Matt, for helping us unload in Southport. I think I am getting too old for this crap!!!!

As for the house…..
Around mid June, they finished the foundation:
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Then a few days later they laid the trusses for the first floor:
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From there, it didn’t take long to frame the rest of the house:
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This week, they got the exterior doors and windows in, and Matt is working on the front porch:
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We selected Marvin Integrity windows and mahogany wood doors, and we are very happy with the quality of both!

This week, the heating and air, plumbing, and electrical guys will be here to do their thing. The bad news is…we need to have our plumbing and lighting selections completed, and decisions made for where everything is going to go…yikes! In the past month we have visited several showrooms and spent countless hours on-line looking at all of this stuff, trying to narrow down our options. Matt and Shirley have been a tremendous help, and have great taste and ideas, which has made the process less stressful.

I have had 3 other homes built in the past, but I have never seen anything close to this level of quality of construction. Matt and his crews have done an excellent job. The construction is tight and solid, and they have used top notch materials.

In addition to all of the house activity, we had visits from our good friends from Ohio, Jim and Laura, and also our youngest daughter Jessica, her husband Eric, and four of our grand kids. It was really great to see them, and show them around Southport. We weren’t able to get them out on the big boat, but they really had fun riding in the dinghy:
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Over the 4th of July, our good friends and traveling partners from Byrd Ketcher, Kurt and Sharon, along with Kurt’s sister Kim, and husband Mark, all came to visit. A good time was had by all!!!! There was a lot of activity associated with the 4th, as the North Carolina 4th of July festival is held here every year. As you can see…we have had a busy month and a half!!!

312 N Lord Street – Footer

6/2/17

Last year we bought an old house…a turd…and had it demolished. It is in an area of Southport NC the locals call “Old Town”, and is on one of the first 100 lots in Southport. We were lucky to get it as they are in very high demand. I’ll attempt to document the construction process in a series of dedicated posts.

Background: When we left Ohio on our boat, one of the goals of our adventures was to evaluate places along the east coast to settle back down after our cruising was done. We wanted the following: Walk or short drive to the beach, walking distance to our boat slip, not too cold in the winter, walking distance to shops/bars/restaurants, not a big city but close to big town amenities. Southport was in the sweet spot. We also wanted a house with very little yard, small square footage, but big enough to entertain and to accommodate visitors. The preference was a new build versus existing house. Having scored a prime spot in historic Southport, we are building a house that will have the same architecture as the homes that were built here 100 years ago. We are fortunate to have two of our closest friends building for us, MW Custom Homes. Matt and Shirley have their own construction business and are a great team. Matt has built hundreds of homes over the years and done many restoration projects. Over the last three years, I have watched him, and occasionally helped him, build three homes in Southport, and let me tell you…these guys are GOOD! If you need a house built in this area, you need to talk to them.

Here is a sketch of what we are building:
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Front porches are a big thing in Old Town, and we really wanted a second story porch in addition to the first story one, but the second story floor plan would be compromised, so we opted for a first story porch only. A couple of days ago, Tricia, Matt and I cleaned up the lot. We cut the grass, pulled weeds, cut down vines and saplings along the fence line, and raked the debris into yard bags. It has been YEARS since Tricia and I have done that kind of work (no yard work living on a boat…lol), and we were worn out! Then we helped Matt lay out the house in preparation for the footer. I have never done this before, and found it fascinating. Measuring from the lot line pins, we used re-bar stakes and string to lay out the outline of the footer, and then painted orange lines on the ground. When finished it looked like this:
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Then the next day they dug the footer trenches:
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The next day they tamped the trenches down and then poured the footer the following day:
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Next week they will lay the foundation.

Settled back in Southport

6/1/17
Southport NC
Posted by Bill

It has been nice not having to drive the boat almost every day! We got settled back in to our summer home on D Dock at Southport Marina. The boat got a good washing for the first time in months, we have been working on deep cleaning both the inside and outside. The stainless steel on the outside was looking particularly bad, and I have been working on it a little each day. The first week back we also had to make several decisions about the house we are building…roof pitch, finalizing floor plans, exterior colors, exterior doors and windows, width of the porch, second story porch or not, brick column bases for the porch…and we spent lots of time walking around town looking at what looks good in the historic area of Southport and in the building materials stores. It has been wonderful having Matt and Shirley building for us. They are so good at what they do, have good taste, and an eye for what looks good as well as what saves cost when building. They have been a tremendous help as we struggled with all of the options we had to consider so far. I am going to make separate posts for the house construction project as most readers may not be interested in that.

It has also been awesome reconnecting with our friends in Southport. We had the usual dock parties over the holiday weekend, which are a blast:
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We have also had a visit from a resident alligator:
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Needless to say, we are going to give him a wide berth! It has been nice having a car again, and we made our first run to Myrtle Beach yesterday to Costco and Sams club for general provisions and liquor. It is only about an hour away, and the liquor prices are 35% less than here. We are looking forward to visitors from Ohio in the next few weeks. Jim and Laura, good friends from Columbus are going to stop by for a couple of days on their way home from vacation, and our youngest daughter Jessica, her husband Eric, and 4 of our grandchildren are coming for a week at the beach after that! We are excited to see them all! Then we are planning a trip to Ohio to see family and friends and put our Lake Erie house on the market. We sold our house in Powell (Columbus) before we left on the boat, but kept the lake house thinking the family would use it, but everyone is too busy to enjoy it. We are tired of dealing with it, so we are going to sell. If anyone is looking for a great summer house, let us know!