A day in Oriental, NC

I’ve been aboard a week. This life isn’t easy. Trying to live with two men, each of us with our distinct lifestyles; living in a small space; gear everywhere; endless projects; an occasional shower. Trying to adjust to getting up with the sun and going to sleep many hours earlier than my old routine. Missing the comforts and relationships of home.

We spent the entire day today at a boatyard in Oriental, NC, because we have once again had problems with dirty fuel causing one engine to stall. The yard has been cycling our fuel through a filtering system all day long. We changed the oil in both engines today, which is a messy job (as is most any job in the cramped “engine rooms”). We started working on problems we have with the plumbing of our heads/toilets, but we have lots more work to do there. We got a fuel gauge working that had stopped. We failed to fix our wind speed indicator, which works occasionally, but mostly not. We did most of the rigging of a bracket to hold our outboard motor securely, rather than leaving it on the dinghy when we’re out at sea. It’s been a productive day.

Everyone we have met in Oriental has been delightful. Everyone at the boatyard is knowledgeable and helpful. The town seems to be a very pleasant place, though maybe a little too sleepy for my taste. Seems like lots of people travel here from away (many by boat), find that they like it, and decide to retire here.

The weather, after our initial gale, has been wonderful. Until this evening’s rain, that is, and tomorrow it is supposed to get cold, and below freezing tomorrow night. But with the cold front comes a north wind, which we can use to our advantage. We’re thinking of going as far as Beaufort, NC, tomorrow; spending the night; then heading out into the ocean for an overnight (again in strong winds and cold) to Charleston, SC. In one overnight of intense sailing we can go as far as in 3 or 4 days of motoring down “the ditch.” We’ll re-check the weather and again consider the plan tomorrow night.

It should be interesting getting out of this marina in the morning, as the boats couldn’t be packed in any tighter!

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Southbound / ICW

Eighteen months of planning; now it is time to execute the plan.

We left Longport, NJ, on November 7. Very windy — 30 knots and gusting higher. Sailed most of the night under jib alone, under a bright moon, making good time. We stayed “outside,” meaning we did not go the more protected, but longer, route up Delaware Bay and down Chesapeake Bay. We all used scopolamine patches for seasickness, and glad we did. And glad our boat has a pilot house, providing shelter from the heavy spray. The morning brought a beautiful sunny day, but light winds, so we proceeded under power. NJ, DE and MD quickly behind us. Then into the mouth of Chesapeake Bay to Norfolk, VA.

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Norfolk is a busy ship building port. Pretty amazing to see all the naval vessels — makes my local shipbuilding town of Bath, ME, seem puny. Norfolk also has a small boat anchorage at “Mile 0” of the Intracoastal Waterway (“ICW”). 1200+ miles to go from there to Key West.

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After a peaceful night’s sleep we started down the ICW, turning into the Dismal Swamp canal. This was a new experience for me — motoring mile after mile through a straight ditch. But it was far from dismal; the trees and the water and the sky were pretty. We went through two sets of locks. The lock tenders could not have been more different. The first was gregarious, and told us about the history of the canal system, which was built in the 1700’s so that harvested wood could be floated out of the wilderness. The second lock tender answered questions with the fewest words possible, aside from adding “Captain” after the Yes or No.

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We spent the night tied to shore in a “back alley” off the canal, now in North Carolina. We walked to a road, found a gas station that sold fried chicken with cole slaw, and had an easy dinner. Walking back to the boat, you see the mast emerging from among the trees. What a weird place for a big catamaran to be!

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We made an early start, hoping to get across Albemarle Sound.

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It turned out to be a beautiful day with a following breeze, so we had a great sail across the Sound and made it in early to a marina on the Alligator River. Showers! And another dinner ashore. And wi-fi, allowing me to post to the blog.

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Letting Go

Hallie and I used to live in a cohousing community, where we built a house and did most of our child-rearing — a beautiful place and delightful people (www.two-echo.org). And I had a boat-building project in the basement. When we moved out 3+ years ago, I decided to keep building the boat (ever so slowly) in the basement, while we rented out the rest of the house. But when the round-the-world plan took hold, the house needed to be sold and I needed to start letting go.

My boatbuilding project went to long term storage in a barn. The house I had designed, that I loved, was passed to a new owner. My ties with the community receded. Then two months ago our beloved cat Edward didn’t come home, and a search turned up his remains in the woods. Then I sold my old boat, that my father and I had purchased jointly a few years before he died. Last weekend I sold my car, which had served me unfailingly for four years of zipping between my home in Maine and my office in Massachusetts. And yesterday was one of the biggest “letting go” events — turning in my laptop, surrendering my business email address, cleaning out my office, saying goodbye to my coworkers and walking away from my job (and my income!) that has been an all-important aspect of my life for the past 28+ years.

It’s a lot of changes. I want to curl up into a ball and just try to breathe for a couple days. But no time for that. I have a day and a half to pack, and organize as best I can what I’m leaving behind, before Hallie drives me to the boat. And that’s the easy part. The hard part is there is more letting go to be done. It’s time to let go of the comforts of home. Sitting on the sofa watching a favorite TV show, eating dinner that is easily prepared in a kitchen that isn’t moving, with fresh food readily available a few minutes away… Nearly unlimited hot water for a shower anytime. Gathering with friends. Meeting with my mens team. Being with Hallie. ┬áSleeping with no worries about the wind shifting and the anchor dragging. Yikes, is it too late to turn back!?

Onward. No regrets.