Smith Mountain Lake Mystery Writer

Contemplations from a quiet cove on Smith Mountain Lake.

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Location: United States

I'm a Southern gal who loves life, my husband and our family (which, to date, includes 13 grandchildren). I enjoy being with friends and family. But I also like being alone and thinking up plots for future books. I've published two novels, both mysteries, and I'm working on my third. For more about my books, visit me at If you ever hear me say, "I'm bored," please get me to the ER immediately! Paddling my kayak and snapping pictures of the critters I see relaxes me. Beach music has the opposite effect--when I hear those old "doo-wops" I want to dance.

Thursday, June 27, 2013


I grew up a couple of hours from Morehead City and Atlantic Beach, North Carolina, spent many happy weeks basking--and baking--under the summer sun. My friend Gene and I nearly drowned once as the undertow carried us out to sea.

Atlantic Beach at sunset.

Last Saturday Ron and I joined my brother Mack and sister-in-law Susan at Atlantic Beach for a few days. The old beach-front Pavilion, the gathering place for teenagers to dance and mingle when we were young, is gone. Emerald Isle and Salter Path, mostly sand dunes during my youth, are jam-packed with modern condos and houses and shopping centers. A modern, four-lane bridge over Bogue Sound has replaced the old drawbridge I liked so much.

A Place at The Beach III

The condo was small, but it had two bedrooms, two baths, a decent kitchen, small living room and covered deck. And it was clean. In the above picture, the water slide and ocean are visible in the distance. This was the second time we have stayed here. Click to enlarge.

We spent one day in Beaufort, one of my favorite towns. Ron and I considered retiring to Beaufort instead of  Smith Mountain Lake.

The boardwalk in Beaufort.

We ate lunch on the covered porch overlooking the water at Spouter Inn. If you crave really good seafood, eat here. 

Porch at the Spouter Inn on Taylor Creek 
which connects to Bogue Sound.

I miss the old Atlantic Beach. But the sand feels the same, the breakers still lull me to sleep at night, the air still has that indescribable beach smell with a hint of salt water, fish, and sun tan lotion, and the restaurants still serve scrumptious seafood. And no matter how it changes, I still have my memories.

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Tuesday, June 18, 2013


Saturday before last Ron walked down to our dock to see if the baby birds had finally flown from the two bird nests wedged onto one of the pontoons on our boat.

 This was mother bird sitting on eggs a few weeks ago.

 Click on the picture to enlarge and you'll see the four 
babies as they looked two weeks ago.

Because of these feathery fellows, we've not put the boat in the water this year. We're eager to take some boat rides, but we don't want to drown the babies. Alas, both nests and their babies were still there.

Two days later, Ron checked again, but was horrified at what he saw. Our pontoon boat, still in the boat lift, was jammed into the roof of the boathouse. It normally hangs in the position below.

Boat with it's snapped-on winter cover.

Boat jammed into the ceiling of the boathouse.

The ceiling had crushed the bimini top and the metal pieces that support it. The thing is, we hadn't used the boat. When we winterized it last October, the bimini top and its support pieces were folded up, and the winter cover snapped in place. What had happened?

In the picture below you can see the black steel rod that supports the roof. Just a little to the left and just over the top of the boat cushions is a white control box with the lever to either raise or lower the boat. It normally stays in the horizontal--or off--position.The lever was pushed in the down position to lower the boat. But the boat was at the top of the boathouse.

Enlarge the picture to see the small dark lever just to 
the rightof the white control box. We always 
keep the lever in the horizontal position.

What happened? How had the lever been pushed down? Had someone tried to steal the boat? Could some animal have been on top of the covered boat and jumped to the lever which lowered the boat? If so, what kind of animal could do that? A cat? A raccoon? And if the lever were down, why was the boat up?

Ron, my smart engineer husband, figured out that when something pushed the lever down, the boat descended until it hit water, then floated. The boat lift continued downward until it ran out of cable, reversed itself and started back up. In the meantime, the boat had floated a little out of position, was crooked, but still got picked up by the boat lift and journeyed upwards until the whole thing blew a fuse in the house and stopped all activity. He managed to get the boat down to hang where it belongs. (I told you he's a smart man.)

On Father's Day we gathered our books, newspaper and camera, and took them down to the dock to relax for the afternoon. You know what? The lever was in the down position again! The good thing is that Ron had cut all power to the boathouse. If not, the boat would have hit the roof again!

This will cost some $$$$ to repair. One of the tubes is damaged, and the bimini top and the supports are totaled. A section in the stern is also damaged. We have insurance, and that will help, but our family may not get to ski, go tubing and knee boarding, go for sunset cruises, feel the wind in our faces and watch grandchildren's faces filled with delight.

Yep, it's a mystery. Any ideas, folks?

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