Oh God Jan, are they shooting at us?

No Rusty it is only a live fire exercise. Thank goodness. I am not talking popguns here folks. These were US Marines firing cannons and tanks that made it feel like the world was at war. Now I have never had the honor of military service like the Commander and the Colonel or even Seaman Peeler, but I did win the Military Order of World Wars Outstanding Military Cadet Award in ROTC so I speak with some authority here. What are you all laughing about? I was a smart kid and could shoot the eyes off a fly before my hands got shaky. Anyway we will return to the war zone after this commercial interruption.

The morning came early aboard Cbay and we left at 0715. As we rejoined the ICW we spotted the green hulled monster that had contributed to our grounding the day before. It was just pulling out behind us and I knew it would wake us eventually. But this was forestalled when we scooted under the 20 foot bridge and they had to stop and wait 10 minutes for the 0730 opening. We laughed and had a brief reprieve.

Later I could see him roaring up on our tail as we were approaching another 20 foot bridge that opens on demand. I quickly radioed the bridge master that we would not require an opening and I wasn’t sure about the boat behind us and she should just wait and check with them. Otherwise she would have automatically opened for us and stayed open for them. This probably delayed them another 10 minutes.

Some people along this section of ICW have unique yard art.

Kids on Spring Break will do anything. Here is a boy on a kneeboard with only a swimsuit. He fell off when he hit our wake. The water temperature at that moment was 68.4 F. Brrrrr.

Back to the green hulled boat. When next I saw them coming up I decided to jump up on plane and show them a thing or two about Cbay. Up we went and off at 24.4 mph! They were only capable of maybe 18 tops but they ran that speed constantly and did not worry about wake. All day you could hear other boats asking them to slow down while passing. Soon they were out of sight behind us. This proved to be a good move for two reasons. First, we discovered that our grounding had done no prop damage and we had zero vibration at high speed. Second, it fortuitously got us to the next 12 foot swing bridge just in time to sit and wait on an opening at 1200. As we cleared the bridge I heard the green hulled boat calling the bridge master asking if they would hold for them as they were only one mile out. The lady said sorry you can catch the 1230 opening and closed the bridge. Now they had a 30 minute delay.

Suppose your neighbor painted his house hot pink with bright blue trim, then painted a huge green parrot on the side and built a hot pink lighthouse in the yard. At least this guy built his dreamhouse on an artificial island right in the middle of the ICW with no neighbors. We remember this house from our trip through with the Searls in 2005. I do not believe they had the parrot at that time. Nice addition for those who have seen our backyard.

Miles and miles later we were approaching another bridge that would not open for nearly 45 minutes but there was a tow in front of us. Some of you may not be aware that these commercial tows get priority at all bridges and locks. So I got on the radio and made friends with the Cajun captain of the Sara Kaitlin. I inquired if he had any problem with us coming up closer when he got to the bridge. He said tuck yourself in and follow me. I then called the bridge master and secured permission to go through with the tow. He said we had better speed up all we could and stay close which we did. So we not only beat the odds but we were about to get a fringe benefit.

Earlier in the day there had been a great deal of radio chatter between Navy and Coast Guard vessels about something and pleasure boats were being stopped and boarded for inspections, but we had no idea where this was occurring. No idea until we started through Camp Lejuene where Marines train with tanks and live ammo. We were met by armed Navy Gunboats! It seems that today the Marines had an exercise planned and they were going to explode some ordinance. That means shoot it up for you pacifists.

That is when we learned that they had been holding up the exercise in order for our tow to pass through and they were not expecting Cbay to be there as the tow was supposed to be the only thing coming through. So I guess they assumed we were important and waved us through. We saw many old tanks and armored vehicles that were used for target practice. Jan was afraid to shoot too many pictures. It might be pushing our luck.

As we exited on the other end more gunboats greeted us and a flashing sign said the live firing was about to begin. It was some time later when I heard the voice of the green hulled boat on the radio after the gunboats told him at 1 pm the ICW was being closed until 5pm and he could pull over and anchor or turn back. he was furious. How is that for payback? We laughed so hard I almost wet my pants again. What a glorious day.

We arrived at Casper Marina at 1330 to a 21 gun salute and they have been repeating it all afternoon. How about that?

Dinner at Icehouse Waterfront. I had filet mignon on a portabella mushroom and Jan had seared tuna over pasta. And can you believe it, when we got our food at 1900 they were still firing those guns over the ICW so the green hulled monster did not get through until well after dark. Yes, revenge is a dish best served ice cold.