So we are not really bloggers, but then we are not really ready to become homeless either.  In any event this website hopefully will help anybody interested to stay somewhat current on our travels and travails.  If you want to know more about us, you can read the “About Us” page.  Duh.  The “Follow” button apparently will get our updates delivered to your email in-box.  These updates may range from a sentence or two to Doug’s awesome drone videos or Dana’s even more awesome photos of sunsets and sunrises and landscapes and seascapes and wildlife.  And if we don’t make it back from the high seas–and by high seas we mean shallow waters near sheltered marinas–at least our electronic diary will allow future generations to marvel at our stupidity.



Finally at the beginning

We start The Great Loop from Washington DC next month and had planned to arrive three weeks ago, so just getting here feels like a big accomplishment.  We slipped the lines at Colonial Beach in a slight breeze last Friday and cruised pretty easily, although the tide and winds kept us at about 6 knots.  For perspective, that’s about half the speed of a school zone.  Pretty dang slow, but we are all about smelling the roses, right?

The Potomac River shoreline has some cool stuff to see.  Not only is there a naval installation at Dalghren, but Quantico has a Marine base with planes and helicopters at the water’s edge.  Mount Vernon tour boats loomed on the horizon as we zoomed—at six knots—past George Washington’s plantation.  Next up was National Harbor, which is about where the water traffic started increasing.  Nothing like the land traffic, of course, although it will get worse when the warm weather finally arrives in 2020.


At the confluence of the Potomac and the Anacostia, we took a right, passed under the Frederick Douglass Bridge and found our slip at The Yards.  Of course, a day without a problem is, well, pretty dang unlikely.  When we plugged into shore power,  we tripped the marina GFI.  After some quick elimination we discovered that our battery charger is leaking AC current in an amount greater than the trip threshold of newer marinas.  That’s a concern.  Unfortunately the guys who know our boat the best are not waiting around next door.  They are hours away and busy.  Nobody can recommend any local marine electricians.  At least we can survive with the generator until help arrives.

img_3220We squared things away our first night just before the Nationals baseball game started, and listened to the Anthem from our back porch.  The Washington Navy Yard is about  200 yards away so we also get the Anthem every morning at 8 a.m.  (And yes, we did give up on using military time.)

On Sunday, Jim Blomo arrived after visiting his daughter at William & Mary.  He not only was the last to see us off in Arizona but also our first guest.  Because we are great hosts, Blomo enjoyed a not-yet-set-up boat, no shore power, and a trip to a sketchy Home Depot.   On his img_3233last morning we had a fantastic breakfast next to a liquor store that featured Wyoming Whiskey, which is distilled in Kirby, Wyoming by our old friends Brad and Kate Mead.

We brought with us from Arizona what at the time seemed like an aggressively small amount of stuff.  Now that we are living in a tiny house, however, it’s clear that we still will be leaving the DC storage unit pretty full.  There just isn’t room for everything that we thought would be essential.

Mallory spent the night with us and found her bed comfortable but not quite big enough to accommodate a person and a dog.  We can’t wait for her and Shannon stay for a while.

The electrician is supposed to resolve the charger issue on Saturday, and the electronics guy is supposed to set up the KVH dome so we can access DirectTV next week.  Maybe by then we will have jammed everything into place and will start to feel settled.

One small step

After we learned about the aftercooler delay, we decided to blow Deltaville and rent a cabin along the Blue Ridge Parkway.  We envisioned long hikes with the dogs since those may be hard to come by in the Nation’s Capital.  Assuming we ever get there.  We now have good reason, however, to believe that the weather in Virginia almost always sucks:


That’s right, we were hit with what forever will be known to history as The Great Blizzard of 18.  Ok maybe it was only three inches, but in April at most we are supposed to get May flower-bringing showers, not snow.

If only to keep us from constant complaining, Mother Nature finally supplied a georgous day that coincided with a break from mechanical bad news.  Today we cast aside the shackles that had held us at the service yard.  Mac Davis was wrong; Happiness actually is Deltaville, Virginia in our rear view mirror.  We left the dock at 0740 heading for Colonial Beach.  (Because the Belknaps now are a seafaring family we morally if not legally are obligated to use military time nomenclature.)

Oscar and Benny proved they really can go 10 hours without a potty break.  We couldn’t be more proud of them.  Oscar also served as co-pilot for a stretch of the trip.


The wind whipped up just as we arrived at our stop for the night but we managed to tie up, wash the salt off Misty Pearl, and get surprisingly good shrimp tacos.

We have to get out by 0630 if we want to get to DC tomorrow.  That’s because we are 10 NM from a naval installation at Dahlgren and they actually close off the Potomac River at 0800 for some sort of military exercise.  It would be just our luck to get hit by a Tomahawk missile or some such thing.  If the wind is too much we may stay here.


Deltaville is nice, but enough is enough

Right outside Deltaville, Virginia, is a historical-site sign that reminds us–every time we pass it–that so far our plans seem foolish:


Although the weather has cleared for us, Poseidon has decided to jack with our little boat just a bit more. We might as well have changed her name.

As a last minute item, we asked ZMI to check the engine aftercooler just to be sure it was okay. Thinking it would be easy and quick, we headed up to DC to watch some softball and enjoy Easter with the girls and the dogs. Back Sunday night for an early start Monday morning. To quote Lee Corso, however, “Not so fast my friend.”

The aftercooler uses seawater for cooling. The seawater enters the engine room via a thru-hull. A sea-cock valve is supposed to close off that opening so that the aftercooler can be serviced. The sea-cock is pretty important because if a hose or fitting fails, one would hope to stop water from being places it shouldn’t be. We are green but we still know that water outside the hull is good and water inside the hull is bad.

Unfortunately, the aftercooler sea-cock won’t close. So (1) nobody can service the aftercooler and (2) if we need to close off the hole in the hull to stop water from rushing in, we can’t. And since we also can’t decide what to grab in the minutes before sinking, we have to fix the sea-cock. Now ZMI has to haul the boat again. That means more delays of God knows how long. Grrrrr.

Unexpected short break

In Phoenix, about the only outdoor condition of interest is the temperature.  As in “How hot will it be this week?”  For us big weenies, the arctic snow and rain hitting Tuesday and Wednesday promised misery but we figured the sunshine predicted for Thursday and Friday would provide a good window for moving up to The Yards from Deltaville.  We cooked in the galley, hung out with the dogs, and slept very well our first night on Misty Pearl.

Cold and wet are conditions that suck but generally won’t keep a boat from traveling.  Wind, however, is a deal breaker.  A 7-knot trawler heading into a 25-knot wind won’t get very far.   River current compounds the problem.  The bottom line is that we simply can’t move until the next predicted storms pass and spring arrives.

We will fly up to Rhode Island this weekend, likely to find that the Georgetown series with Providence is snowed out.  Hopefully we can spend some time with Mallory.  Shannon has been in Nicaragua on a spring-break service trip but will be joining us over Easter.

While going through Misty Pearl this week we found a few more service items for ZMI to address before we return on April 1.    If conditions improve we can move to Colonial Beach and then up to our slip in DC just in time for baseball season.  We recently learned that our marina is a favorite for Washington Nationals fans since the ballpark is a short nine-iron shot away.  The harbormaster assures us that the hoopla on game days ends at a reasonable hour.  However, we serously doubt that his definition of a reasonable bedtime is the same as ours.

Reunited (and it feels so good) or Whose idea was this anyway?

After more than four months apart, tonight we got to see Misty Pearl again.   She now hails from Scottsdale, which we acknowledge is a bit odd but we think it looks cool.


The cross-country trip was uneventful as hoped.  Classic country songs provided a great soundtrack, referencing—among other places we passed—Phoenix, Tucson, El Paso, Abilene, Fort Worth, Dallas, Shreveport, Bossier City, Jackson (where Dana was hotter than a pepper sprout), Atlanta, Charleston, and Richmond.  2600 miles with only one low-fuel warning.  Amazing.

A moment to address weather.  It was about 75 degrees with blue skies when we left Arizona.  We enjoyed temperatures between 65 and 75 and those same blue skies the entire way to South Carolina, which of course we took as unequivocal proof that we would have great weather forever.  The plan to meet Misty Pearl and delivery captains Jerry and Wendy Taylor in DC tonight was as good as done.

As the Taylors got underway yesterday out of the yard in Mathews, VA, however, they discovered a leaking hatch and a bum heater in the master cabin.  The heater is no big deal because the weather is perfect, right?  Wrong.  Turns out the government and the traffic are not the only crappy things about Washington.  The weather sucks too.  Tomorrow and Wednesday we face below-freezing temperatures and snow.  SNOW.  Unbelievable.

Given the forecast, the heater became pretty dang critical.  Zimmerman agreed to work on it today—and to rebed the forward hatch and fix a few other things that cropped up—at the yard in Deltaville.  Since nobody wanted to battle the Potomac River upstream in snow and freezing rain, no way we were moving on board in DC today.  But we still had a trailer full of stuff that we needed to store.  The soundtrack for this segment was a wailing baby.   Grrrrr.

Oh well, no time like the present to realize the liveaboard need for flexibility and patience.  Up to DC, rent a car, put the trailer stuff in storage, park Dana’s car at our marina, and drive the rental car three hours to Deltaville.  We will do the interior systems during the foul weather and leave the rental car.  If the storms break on Thursday, we will take the Taylors about 30 miles up the Potomac to Colonial Beach and drop them off.  We will try to get to National Harbor on Friday before the next snow/rain storm hits this weekend.  We have no idea when we might get to The Yards, which still is our final destination until we start looping in earnest towards the end of May.

Tne dogs have been fantastic travelers.

And we’re off

  • Take care of clients.  Check.
  • Sell office.  Check.  (Thanks to Tom Jacobs at CBRE.)
  • Sell house.  Check.  (Thanks to Ben Walter at My Home Group.)
  • Obtain enough dog medicine to start a medium-sized veterinary pharmacy “just in case.” Check.
  • Sell truck.  Check.
  • Load two large storage units like Fibber McGee’s closet.  Check.

Plus a zillion other things.  Somehow we jammed forward and are on our way.  Over the past month or so we managed to have a final meal or visit with many old and dear friends, culminating with The Last Supper with George and Erin Cravens at their home.  With literally a couple of hours left to get out of the house this morning, Jim Blomo provided invaluable help finishing up.  We choose to believe he did it because he’s a great guy rather than because he wants us gone.


In the way of Tom and Ma Joad, we packed up our lives and headed across the country in search of a different life.  (The dogs are in the car but refused to pose, probably to retaliate for us steadily removing all of the soft or fuzzy surfaces from the house until nothing was left but wood floors.)

Because we have been working from before dawn until late at night the past few days, we both were  exhausted as we headed east today.  One of us, however, mistakenly took Super-Duty NyQuil at 3 in the afternoon, so the trip to El Paso was painfully long only for the other three.

The newsworthy thing about today is that we actually jumped off the proverbial cliff. This isn’t just a weird dream that will end with us waking up 2,000 miles from Shannon and Mallory and heading off to our offices as usual.  There really is a hotel in El Paso that will be surprised tomorrow to find a few black dog hairs on the white comforter.

We anticipate nothing exciting as we travel to Charleston SC and then up to DC, where we will meet Misty Pearl in slip E18 at The Yards Marina on Monday.