Sunset Over McCotter's Marina in Washington NC

McCotter's Marina in Washington NC
Sun Setting Over McCotter’s Marina on the Pamlico River

This photo is part of my Stories section in an ongoing series called Throwback Thursday, and this shot is from a marina where we use to have a slip for our sailboat back in 2004. The story behind this photo has actually taken on more significance after seeing what happened to this marina last year. McCotter’s Marina is a medium sized marina located just outside Washington, NC at the tip of the Pamilco River. We use to live a few miles up the road, father up the river, but kept our sailboat, called Jackpot, among the masts you see in this photo. Jackpot was a classic 1976 Chrysler 26′ Sailboat, a boat with a shallow draft and swing keel, something perfect for the unpredictable areas of the Pamilco River. And it seems last year was not friendly to McCotter’s Marina as this video of a huge boat fire on the marina shows, and then heavy damage done by Hurricane Irene.

If you have not spent a lot of time in a marina, it is somewhat of a magical place, just ask my friend over at Sailingbo (and check out his blog while you are over there). The constant rocking of the masts turns the entire place into a giant wind chime. The lines endlessly slap the masts with the periodic metal on metal knocking of buckles and cables. No matter how tight an owner ties his lines around his mast the sound never stops, and it something you hear even when you are away from the marina.

We didn’t get to sail out of this marina nearly as much as the time as we spent in the marina, but that’s not all that uncommon for sailboats. The Pamilco River is one CRAZY place to sail. The Pamlico is a shallow river that runs from Washington, NC down to the Outer Banks, and is known for its unpredictable changes in tides. One day the wind could blow all the water out of the upper river areas completely, and your boat would be left sitting in the mud, and the next day water would cover the marina docks while your dock lines straining to pull the boat back down to pre-flood levels.

Because of the low tides, we had to keep Jackpot’s keel raised, and one super blustery day caused Jackpot’s keel chain to snap, swinging this 800 pound cast iron keel immediately to the extended position, causing it to separate from its hull slightly. We had to move her to dry storage while she was repaired. Nothing is more sad to see than a sailboat up on blocks, but sometimes that’s what needs to be done.

McCotter’s Marina was our second of four marina’s where we housed three different sailboats over the span of 10 years or so, but the sounds of the marina never leave your mind, nor do images like the one above. There is just something so peaceful about the sun setting over the masts in a marina… until hurricane season arrives.

Our 1979 Morgan Out Island 33 Sailboat has Sold

Scott and Deborah When They Bought LAUGHALOT

Sailboats in the Bear Point Marina

Today we have officially moved on to a new chapter in our leisure time life.  We have sold our sailboat in Orange Beach, the 1979 Morgan Out Island 33 which we bought in Tampa in April of 2007.  We had big dreams for this particular sailboat (over the other two sailboats we have owned) but we finally decided the distance from Auburn to Orange Beach was just to much to maintain. Plans are to replace her with a tiny little camper and go back to our camping roots and get to know some of the land and parks here in Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, and Florida.

We first officially put the sailboat up for sale on June 3rd (For Sale: 1979 Morgan Out Island 33 Sailboat in Orange Beach) but decided by September that we needed to go ahead and sell the boat.  Our philosophy has been pretty much the same every since we got married.  If we are not using it, and well, then we don’t need it and should not keep what ever that happens to be at the time.  Having sold on eBay full time for many years, and the Internet in general, people tend to want to get what they paid for on items when they go to resell them, we know this just isn’t the case (see also What is Your Blog or Internet Business Worth // eBay or Sitepoint?), so, when we want to sell something, we sell it.

This is good for the buyer of course, but when we have made up our mind to do something, we would rather do it than sit around for month after month working on it.  When we started looking for this boat, a Morgan Out Island, there were not many on the market, but the ones that were on the market, are actually still on the market, 18 months later.  Not because they are not good boats, they are, but because these people refused to sell something for what someone else would pay for it.  A concept we don’t get.  So we sold it for half of what we paid for it, but we had some wonderful times on the boat and great memories, worth more than what we paid or sold the boat for anyway.

Now it is time to move on, although we will both miss having this sailboat, she was great.

Continue reading “Our 1979 Morgan Out Island 33 Sailboat has Sold”

1979 Morgan Out Island 33 Sailboat in Orange Beach For Sale

Morgan Out Island 33 For Sale

This is probably the saddest post I could make on this blog but we have come to the decision that we can not keep up with our house here and the boat we love down at the coast.

I will be posted more photos and information as time goes on but you can look through this blog and all the posts and history of the boat to know what we are selling. It is a 1979 Morgan Out Island 33 in great shape. We had put a lot of hard work into her since we purchase her in Tampa in 2006. The only issue she has at all is the 50hp Perkins motor needs a new head gasket. The Perkins has been serviced, a new heat exchanger installed, filters changed, and she runs GREAT. Starts right up every time, but she does need the header gasket replaced.

Comes with all sails and equipment needed to take an off-shore cruise to the keys or Bahamas. I will post the latest survey soon. We did not have one done as we did not continue the coast guard registration process. Along with all the normals for a boat this size, it also has a GREAT marine a/c and heater unit. We used this all summer last year and this winter and it works great. It is a very roomy cabin, perfect for a live-a-board with the headroom and sleeps at least 5 comfortably. The interior is very clean and in very nice condition. Floors and wood work on the inside are in great shape. Two water holding tanks that hold about 50 gallons of water, a 35 gallon diesel tank, working head and fresh water shower.

To see the history of the vessel please visit the history page, you can also see the most recent survey as well. We had not completed the name change so it is still technically called the s/v LAUGHALOT. The boat is located at the Bear Point Marina in Orange Beach Alabama. You are more than welcome to visit the marina to see the boat. The current asking price is $19,500. The current NADA price is about $23,000 but we have discounted the header gasket work that needs to be done, which should only be about $1500 or so. The marina is VERY nice and the slip is very reasonable at $350 per month, which includes electric, water, phone, and cable.

Any questions at all please let us know through the contact page above and I will be happy to return your email. You can also ask your questions through the comment box below and I will post answers there publicly.

Here are some recent photos. I am sure the new owner will enjoy it as much as we have. We spent many weekends on the boat and enjoyed each one.

Deborah on the Sailboat

Morgan Out Island 33 For Sale

Inside the Cabin












History of Morgan Out Island 33 Sailboat, Hull Number MRY02337M79B

the Island Zephyr

History of the Morgan Out Island 33

Below you will find a brief history of our vessel as best we can put it together. If you are a Morgan Out Island owner or recognize the hull number and have more information we would be thrilled to hear from you. Please go to our contact page and let us know. If you have a site that shows the history of your Morgan Out Island we would love to see it as well.

Vessel Background and History

  • 1979 Morgan Out Island 332 Sailing Sloop
  • IMO Hull Number – MRY02337M79B-333
  • Hull [USGS Documentation] No. 599460 Net 12
  • Manufacture – Morgan Marine, Largo, Florida: Main Plan; Morgan Yatch, 7200 Bryan Dairy Road, Largo, FL 33543 [813-544-6681]
  • LOA – 33′
  • LWL – 27’6″
  • Draft [Tirant d’eau] – 3’9″
  • Beam – 11’10”
  • Displacement – 14,500 lbs
  • Net Registered Tonnage – 12 tons
  • Sail Area – 525 Square Feet
  • Hull Speed – [1.34] [27.5] = 7.02 kn
  • Vertical Clearance – 48’9″ [with 30″ antenna] Stated 46’3″
  • Water Capacity – 50 U.S. Gallons [30 gallon v-birth / 20 gallon bunk starboard]
  • Engine – Perkins 4-108 50HP [Serial # ED22195U611945D]

1979 – 1995

Little is known about the history of our boat prior during this time. We can find no records but can assume the owners name and information from a 1995 vessel survey that was completed, which we have now converted into a pdf file. We were told that extensive log books existed and very detailed records about all the vessels voyages were kept until an angry wife through everything away around 2004.

  • Owner -Unknown
  • Christened Name – s/v Chablis
  • Home Port – unknown (Chesapeake Bay Area)

1995 – 2004

As far as we can tell, the boat traveled extensively throughout the Bahama islands. We recovered a very very old GPS which still had track and route data that could be downloaded and we were able to pinpoint the waypoint locations.

  • Possible Owners – David Salinger / Don Fletcher / J Guy St. Pierre
  • USGS Documentation No. 599460 Net 12 appears on paperwork
  • Christened Name – s/v Hopewell
  • Home Port – Palm City, Florida
  • Destination Ports –

2004 – 2006

At this time it seems to owner for many years had taken ill and was not able to travel on her much and it sat in the marina from this point until we purchased her and had her delivered to us in Alabama. Not much was done during this time, no maintenance of any kind as far as we can tell. It did ride out two hurricanes anchored out with many of the other vessels from this marina and suffered no damage during either storm.

2006 -2007

The boat was finally sold to a broker close to the marina (as a personal boat of the broker), which also (reportedly) had health issues and had to sell the boat. The new owner was told there was not a thing wrong with it (proof from the survey) and kept it one month before she decided to sell it herself.

  • Owner – Margo Robison
  • Christened Name – s/v LAUGHALOT
  • Home Port – New Port Richey, FL

2007 -2008

The boat was purchased by the current owners in May and delivered to the Gulf Coast of Alabama by a delivery Captain from the New Port Richie Florida area. It was determined at that time that the heat exchanger needed to be replaced and the main head gasket on the Perkins also needed to be replaced at some point. The sail from Tampa to Orange Beach was an uneventful one and she sailed beautify according to the delivery Captain. The next 12 months were spent in the slip doing cleaning and general maintenance and enjoying long weekends on the boat (see coastal). We decided to sell her in 2008 to someone who could spent more time with her than the schedule we now have to keep. It is a great boat and we hope the new owner will be as happy with her as we were.

  • Owner – Scott and Deborah Fillmer
  • Christened Name – s/v LAUGHALOT / s/v Island Zephyr
  • Home Port – Bear Point Marina, Orange Beach (Gulf Coast of Alabama)

Survey Value

The 2004 survey is posted here (download 2004 survey in pdf) lists the value at $33,000 and a replacement value of $125,000. Additional photos will also be placed on the website at The NADA guide value is also listed between $20,100 and $22,600 in standard used condition (which is the case here).

Additional Blog Posts About the Morgan

Leave the Boat in Orange Beach to Sit in Traffic on I-65


Well, we had to leave the boat and come back home. It was such a great weekend we didn’t want to leave but all good thing must come to an end I guess. It was nice to get back to the house though and take a nice shower and enjoy the rest of the afternoon.  We left the boat around 9am and took our normal routine (which includes a stop for donuts) back up to North, LA. Along the way, unfortunately, we were stopped by a horrible accident on I-65 that was said to be a fatality. When we finally got up to the wreck, we could see only one car left, a black Chevy Suburban from Alabama, which obviously rolled at least once.

We thought we saw a careflight type helicopter, but we were only about 45 miles south of Montgomery so it would have gone north of us on takeoff. One of those things that makes you wonder why some of these drivers are so careless when this can be the outcome for more than just themselves. At least I had my camera but I wish the best of the family of that car, it was in horrible condition, unrecognizable.

While traffic in California may be bad, we rarely get stopped, but in this case we sat on I-65 for more than an hour with MANY other people. As a photographer, did I mention that I love head shots (and my wife), so, isn’t that a great shot of Deborah.

Update to This Blog

After I got back home I decided that “My Life in LA” needed to be complete. I imported, added, and re-posted all the blog entries from when we moved to LA, which was early 2006, up to this point. My apologies to those rss subscribers would are now spammed with all my previous blog posts. I am sorry, just want this to be an accurate historical record of our life in Alabama, which, at this point, began in January 2006. I did spend much of this weekend working on previous blog entries and updates to my other blogs for organizational purposes, hopefully that work is now done. Tomorrow and this week will be busy.

Nature in View

Once we got back home today we did find a female Red-Breasted Grosbeak at our feeder, along with two males. This was the first time we had seen any females and Deborah and I were both surprised to see them still here at our feeder.

Dolphins Came to Visit Us and Mate in the Marina

dolphins came to mate in the marina

The first time we saw dolphins from right here in our slip Deborah and I were very excited. Now, they seem to be here every time we come, but not like they were today. Today, a pair came into the marina (which is a dead end), went all the way to the end, came back half way, had some fun, they made their way out.

We filmed this a few weeks ago but I just now got the chance to upload the video to youtube.

It was so exciting to get to see them so close, and from right here in our slip. The dolphin boats here in the marina are always full (it seems) and I am sure they all have a great time, but we get to see them without having to go anywhere, what a treat. Not only did they come in where we could see them, we ended up getting some great (to me) video and photos too.

You can see from the video that they came all the way up into the small marina cove here. They are really neat animals to see in the wild and not in some trained setting. When they get into a feeding frenzy it is really quite something to see as well.

Slipping Into a New Home at the Marina in Orange Beach

We have been at slip E-12 for about a year now and it was not the most comfortable place for our sailboat. It was a little small and we never could get the lines tied off correctly to keep her from smashing into a pier once in a while when the winds or wakes peaked.

So, we moved. We are now in E-13 and we are enjoying this new location. Yes, we moved one slip over, farther out towards the inter coastal. Doesn’t sound like much but we have a dock that comes all the way out, almost to the aft of the boat where we had almost no dock space before, and, we now have no pier for the anchor to bang up against.

That’s us, last one of the end (left side of photo). We still stick out quite a bit but it is a better slip for our sailboat. Moving was not the easiest task in the world since our Perkins has a blown head gasket and once we were out in the channel it seems our prop or drive shaft or something was not giving me the power I know this thing has. It could just be lack of a cylinder or two (it only has four), but I am NOT a mechanic to know what the lack of power came from, but we muscled it into the slip and tied off without much issue.

I am sure we gave someone a good laugh and pure entertainment value for the 30 minutes or so it took us to move over one slip, but that is the fun of a marina. You watch everyone else screw up and vice-versa. We are now happily in E-13 and just in time, the wind is blowing just under gale force now.

Pressure Washing a Sailboat in a Gale Warning, Really

scott washing laughalot

Before we left from our other home, we had planned on using this weekend down at the boat as a cleaning weekend. We were trying to beat the Spring breakers who were arriving soon, along with all the regulars for the summer. We were hoping to hit a slow time in between Spring break, snow birds, and regulars, and I think we managed to do that just fine. Of course, there was just one reason for that. GALE FORCE WINDS.

Temps that dropped down in the 40’s would generally keep most people away from a marina, but the winds were something else. Prior to this weekend it had been starting to get up in the 70’s so we thought winter was over. No such luck. When Deborah starting taking photos of me doing the pressure washing it was rather nice, but a little cool.

As the day went on, it got colder and colder and colder and the wind started blowing so hard that I turned on the weather radio to hear, “gale warning in effect” for the next two days. Oh well, this is when we were going to clean the boat. There were two tasks to complete today, a complete pressure wash, and removing all the vinyl lettering. A job that didn’t really seem all that hard when we left Auburn and arrived at the marina to a nice sunny, and rather warm day, but oh how things change.

Pressure Washing and a Little Wind

So, I started washing to boat from top to bottom, or as much of it as I could reach. I started off in shorts and a hat and put on more cloths as the day went on. Being able to pressure wash a boat in the slip is a great advantage to having to haul it out or use a scrub brush or something.

Each winter an unbelievable grind and gray matter clings to the fiberglass and finds a home that seems impenetrable. A pressure washer does a cleaning job like nothing else I can imagine. I would highly recommend one to anyone looking to clean anything that can withstand the power of a real, genuine gas powered, not available in California, pressure washer. They work great.

scott pressure washing

Time To Remove all Lettering

Deborah and I decided to re-christen our sailboat, named the s/v Laughalot, to the name of our company, motto, and a name we picked together about a year earlier, the s/v Island Zephyr. The first step of course would be to remove the lettering and measure for the new graphics.

scott removing letters

From some of the photos you can see that this was far harder than the washing and I think I had a headache for two days after I finished with the transom graphics. We are planning on putting the name along with the registration numbers at the bow, port and starboard sides, then a larger graphic in the back that has the name of the boat, home port (that would be Auburn, AL), and the website address. I will do another post with the actual graphic I have designed and hopefully we can get it made and put on the boat very quickly before someone gets upset with a boat that has no lettering. It won’t leave the slip at all so it shouldn’t be a problem.

scott removing transom letters

As you can see from this last photo, the winds are now blowing quite hard, I am now in long sleeves, and all sane individuals are inside and warm. The photo of the tow boat at the top should have been an indication, they were pulling over and stopping along the inter coastal waterway because it was to dangerous to move the barges. At least we are done. Cleaning and all this is just part of the fun of a sailboat. Everyone else around here will be doing this same thing when it is nice and warm outside and I will be done and up in the cockpit, watching.

When Batteries Explode, Remove Them and Return to Walmart

We came down to the boat this time to find that we had a little battery issue, one didn’t like being charged over the last few weeks and just blew its top (or side as it looks). Most boats and sailboats have a battery compartment and we have three batteries on board. One starting battery and two “house” batteries.

Much like an RV, the house batteries are supposed to be deep cycle batteries but when we bought the boat the person who “preped” the boat said they put in new batteries, and of course they were all starting batteries. This wasn’t really a bid deal since we weren’t going to use them much at first anyway, but one of them didn’t like being charged like a deep cycle does.

Batteries, Charging, and that Deep Cycle Thing

I removed the coverings to find that the side had completely blown off the side of the battery and of course all its contents were in a puddle underneath the battery. Thank goodness the plastic that lines the battery compartment kept the battery acid and all things wet, contained (also thankful it didn’t start a fire as well).

exploding batteries

Since the lead plates were visible I was not real thrilled with getting in there and removing it, but someone had to do it, so while I prepared, Deborah took a few shots here. You can see from the battery shot, the yellow piece to the left is actually the side of the battery that blew out and up.

removing batteries

Disposal of Said Bad Battery

What to do… well, we put a box in a garbage bad, pulled the battery and put it in the bag, then mopped up all the remaining acid and water, sealed it all up and went outside for a breath of fresh air. What in the world do you do with a battery like this? Disposal needs to be done properly, so, Wal-Mart here we come.

The conversation with the automotive center guy went something like this.

wm – Do you want to return it for a refund?
me – Nope.
wm – Do you want to exchange it?
me – Nope.
wm – Do you want your money back?
me – Nope.
wm – What do you want?
me – Nothing, just take the darn thing and dispose of it for me
wm – (opening the bad to inspect)… ummmm
me – ahhh, don’t do that, it is pretty bad in there
wm – ok, anything else.
me – Nope. Thanks.

People are always dealing with power issues on a sailboat, nice to see some of the other posts about some of these issues, like House Battery Shelf, which looks like he shouldn’t have this problem, its great to do it yourself. We now make sure the charger is turned off when we leave since the remaining battery is still a starting battery, but in very good shape.

Cold Day on the Beach in February is Empty and Fun

Sunset at the Marina

Some days a cold day on the beach is better than a warm day inside. The beaches, in most parts of the country right now, are completely empty, but put a nice cool breeze and January into the mix and you get this (see beach image below). Not only is there a rare February thunderstorm in the distance but the only visible moving object on the beach is a tiny little bird in the very center of the image. The sunsets at the marina are always so dynamic and each one is different. The thunderstorms here made just enough of a hole in the sky to give us a great sunset today.

This image was actually taken by my cell phone. I am really amazed at the quality of images that can be taken by a cell phone these days. Not that it is worthy of publication but for just sticking a phone up in the air, its not bad.

Gulf Shores in January

This weekend we did spend the day on the beach (see all the photos below) but we came down to be on Laughalot. We did enjoy the peace and quiet that the marina always has around this time of year, and of course on the beaches too.

We have several favorite beaches down here, some are in Florida, some in Alabama, but depending on the time of year, you can usually walk several miles in either direction and enjoy a quiet walk. As is customary for me, I try to get in about 5-7 miles while I am on the beach, here I am on my way, yes, it is cold. I don’t look all that thrilled but I really am glad to be there, even if the weather is a little harsh.

Scott going for a walk

Of course, DK has here own way of keeping warm, stay in the tent, don’t move much and have a ton of layers on. We do have some larger shots of the tent area on the beach but this close up gives a better idea of how cold it really is down here today.

Deborah's Beach Tent

It still made for a very nice sunset at the marina and we had a great weekend on Laughalot.