Charleston Welcome!

Thirty years ago I had sailed across the Atlantic and back, and sailed into Bermuda, our last stop before returning home. After being boarded by Customs to clear in, I took the dinghy ashore. And as I was approaching the dock I heard a familiar voice shout, “Hey, Zeke!!” It was my cousin Cliff, vacationing on the island, and by huge coincidence coming to the dock just as I did.

Well, when we anchored in Charleston (because there was no space available at the marina), I was trying to reach Customs on the phone when I hear it again — “Hey, Zeke!!” And yes, it was Cliff! And Cousin Bill as well. Cliff was helping Bill bring his boat Salty Paws north after an East Coast and Bahamas adventure. We each knew of the other’s general plans, but did not know the details, and I had no expectation of seeing them. Sure was a nice welcome!

I had arranged to meet with Galen, son of a close friend…living on a fascinating boat…now in Charleston after trucking the boat from Oregon to the headwaters of the Mississippi and voyaging down the river…Gulf of Mexico…East Coast…who knows where yet to come… We all (Galen, Bill, Cliff, Bob, Joe and I) went to dinner at an upscale seafood restaurant. Great oysters, great seafood, great beer, but especially great company and a very nice way to celebrate returning to the USA.

Salty Paws rafted alongside for the night, and left at dawn. Galen stayed aboard No Regrets, and in the morning we motored up the ICW (intracoastal waterway) a few miles to take him home to his “Channel Princess” riverboat. We were treated to a visit to this unique and very personalized boat. It exudes stories. They kind of bounce off the walls and echo in a ghosty vibration…many people have clearly been aboard…much music…good times…tall tales…and the vessel seems to have absorbed it all and is alive with the energy. I guess you have to be there to feel it!

I wanted to get some miles behind us before nasty weather arrives, so we bought fuel and groceries and filled water (no charge for water!), and we headed out a short cut to the ocean. The chart says 2 feet of water in the Cut, but it was nearing high tide. On the other hand it was windy and there was a nasty chop. Going aground would have been a serious problem! But the depth was fine.

Once we got over the sandbar we had a delightful sail through the night to Southport, NC. I took a pre-dinner nap, during which the crew caught a small fish. And in the morning when I got up, they were busy filleting another one!

Probably my last night at sea for a while… As Hallie wrote to me: You seem so happy when you are sailing thru the night, as if you are connecting to your soul, your spirit and the heart and soul of the earth. Your peace. The ocean is your muse, your mistress.

Certainly there is poetry in sailing through the endless darkness beneath the shooting stars.

Salty Paws looking a little petit rafted next to us
Bill, Cliff and me
Interesting neighbors in the anchorage
I call them gypsies; Bill calls them ghost boats; somebody calls them home.
Celebratory dinner
With Galen
Galen stayed with us
Salty Paws left in the morning (having to make up time lost tarring with us).
Heading up the ICW a piece
There’s the Channel Princess
Bob ferried Galen ashore
We anchored and came back for a visit aboard
Coffee on the upper deck
Then a brief stop for food and fuel
And off through the Cut to the ocean
To Southport Marina in the morning
Cliff’s view of No Regrets
Galen’s view of No Regrets

Nora’s Tale

From all the comments (thank you!), one might think this voyage is over and the blogging done. I suppose I could simply declare a happy ending and say goodbye, but it ain’t over. Expect more posts.

Today’s contribution is from Nora, who graciously agreed to write (not her favorite thing to do) about her experience aboard. Enjoy!


We had just left Mauritius and we were doing an “easy” overnight sail to Reunion. Easy is one of those relative words. If you’ve been sailing around the world and living aboard a boat for a year, sure it’s no problem. However, if you’re used to living in an apartment (which, I’m sure I don’t need to mention, is stationary), constant 3 foot swells take some getting used to. Liam and I had just joined No Regrets, and this was our first passage aboard No Regrets.

I took the first night watch, in which I threw up four times, once every hour. When I wasn’t throwing up, I was deep breathing, trying to stave off the next bout of nausea, making sure we didn’t run into any tankers, and calculating whether it was easier to throw up in the galley sink or overboard. I chose overboard, on the windward side. I was too sea-sick to grab a safety harness, so every time my stomach demanded, I would carefully scoot my butt along the wet deck (directly over Zeke’s bunk) to the lifelines and hoped whatever remained of my lunch wouldn’t be stuck to the side of the boat in the morning.

When Zeke came to start his shift he asked, “What were all the moving-around on deck noises from?”. We were only sailing with the jib; with any more sail we would have arrived in Reunion too soon and in the dark. In other words, there were no good reasons to be scooting around on the deck on my butt, especially without a harness. All I could muster as a response was “Uh, I’ve been a little bit sea-sick” — a huge understatement. It was all I could do to get into bed, and slam my eyes shut. I can be sea-sick or asleep, but luckily never both. I went to bed still wearing my rain-jacket and now soggy pants.

Did I know I was going to be sea-sick? The answer to that is, yes I knew. I have always been susceptible to motion sickness, and it was the thing I was most concerned about before starting the trip.

It has been a long-time dream of mine to travel, and I couldn’t imagine a more exciting and unique way to visit places I wouldn’t have had an opportunity to see otherwise. Prior to joining No Regrets, I had been stuck in a job that wasn’t a good fit, which helped me decide it was time to follow my dream. Before I could leave, I had to quit my job, move out of my apartment, and sell my car. After tackling my fear of quitting my job and living off savings, I was not going to let a little throwing up get in my way!

Once we arrived in Reunion, I got to experience the perks of traveling with the Blue Planet Odyssey. Luc showed up with rented cars which we drove through the incredible mountains, and the Piton de Fournaise volcano. Also, while in Reunion I got to know the lovely people aboard Maggie and Tahawus. Traveling with Rob and Carol, and Norm, Klaudia, and the boys was an unexpected gift of the trip. They became my traveling family and celebrated my Birthday, Christmas, and New Years with me, and countless happy hours, during my months away from home, family, and friends. I will miss having them around!

Reunion was a great break from my intense at-sea nausea. But when we began preparing to depart for South Africa, it occurred to me that I might be sea-sick for the entire 8-9 day journey. The longest ocean trip I had done without touching land was 2 days. I knew I would be sea-sick, but I didn’t know if I would adjust after 3 days like most people. My anxiety began to build the night before we left, and I fervently hoped I wasn’t going to throw up every hour.

When we left Reunion, my stomach was in knots, in anticipation of the nausea. Once we were out of the islands wind shadow we were in the waves of the Indian Ocean. I experienced the same symptoms as before, sluggishness, nausea, but I had discovered my technique for coping with nausea! I would curl in to the end of the settee, close my eyes, and let my body relax. This and some breathing could keep me from getting sick. I would crack my eyes open when I wanted to see what was going on, then quickly close them again. This allowed me to function when we needed to reef the main, or switch sails. After being on deck I would peel off my foul weather gear and curl back up on the settee until I was needed again.

I found the Indian Ocean weather to be predictably unpredictable. If I didn’t like the current weather, I had only to remind myself, “don’t worry”, because It would change in about 8-12 hours to something completely different. This kind of weather made staying hydrated a challenge. Not because I didn’t have enough to drink but because I discovered I hated peeing when we were underway. I had to climb down the stairs, through the galley, and past my bed to get to the head. A nausea-inducing trip, when the waves were large. At this point on windy days, I had to get my pants down without falling, as the boat bumped and slammed its way through the waves. This usually resulted in one hand on a grab bar and one hand for the pants; it’s harder than it sounds. It always took longer than desired, battling nausea and my bladder. Once sitting, I had to learn to time things precisely because on 30-knot wind days, I could “get air” between myself and the seat when a big wave hit. These are the details I learned along the way. No one tells you these things before you go on a long sailing trip!

During this passage, we had a light wind day, which provided us with the opportunity to take showers. So, five days into the passage, I took my first shower on the boat (and by shower, I mean cold water spritz, from a sink-like sprayer) on the back of the transom steps. It is quite an incredible experience showering with a view of nothing but ocean and blue sky around you. From the transom steps, I would watch the water bubble and swish past. It always reminded me how fast we were traveling through the water, when there was no land to watch.

The day before we arrived in Durban, we had 35 knot winds, and huge waves again. We had previously had some calm sailing before so the immediate switch from calm to heavy winds caused me to feel especially sea-sick. I was ready to see some land. The next morning the wind died, so we motored into Durban. I got to see my first whales of the trip as we entered the city harbor. We pulled up next to Tahawus in our assigned slip and were immediately greeted by Edd, our Point Yacht Club contact, who met us with South African beer. Hallelujah! I have never been happier to see a pail of frosty beers. All the difficulties from the passage faded away immediately because I WAS IN AFRICA!

I finally found my sailing groove on our way into Cape Town, our last stop in South Africa. We had unusually calm seas as we rounded the cape, and I remember savoring the hour between 7am and 8am before Zeke and Liam were up. That particular morning, I spent the clear, blue-skyed morning watching a seal play in the surf of our wake, as Table Mountain came into view.

I have learned, there are two types of cruisers in this world. Those who sail to go places, and those who enjoy sailing so much, they would be happy to skip most places and just keep sailing. I am the former, I enjoy sailing, but I think sailing is more interesting when you get to go to a new exciting place.

As we prepared to leave for Cape Town, I became even more aware of which kind of sailor I am. As we approached our date, Zeke couldn’t believe we were leaving Cape Town in only 2 days because he said, “there was still so much to do”. “I know!” I exclaimed. “I still really want to see the Botanical garden, hike Lion’s Head, and check out more restaurants.” While I was listing all the activities still on my to do list, I was watching Zeke’s blank look. It turns out Zeke had a different list in mind, that looked more like this:

· Schedule rigging inspection
· Finish scrubbing port hull
· Provision for the next 30 days
· Lubricate door latch
· Find hinge for cabin table

Trust me, the list was longer. Zeke and Liam’s attention had shifted back onto the boat, while I was still trying to cram in more activities. They had the right idea, surviving the Atlantic crossing was certainly the priority. I just wasn’t quite ready to shift from tourist back to sailor.

In contrast to the Indian Ocean the sailing across the Atlantic was idyllic. Not only were we able to visit the beautiful sand dunes of Namibia, and the remote island of St. Helena, we had beautiful downwind sailing. Downwind is the best sailing angle on a catamaran. Although I needed some time to adjust to the motion again, it was much better than sailing upwind. I truly loved our relaxed, 15 knot winds, and sunny days, as we made our way towards the warmer waters of Brazil.

I departed No Regrets in Brazil to do some traveling in Argentina, then rejoined in Barbados. I sailed from Barbados through the Caribbean to the Bahamas, where I departed for the final time. I’m amazed to say that l traveled over 8,000 nautical miles, to 18 different countries and 32 islands. I feel immensely lucky to have seen the places we saw, thankful for the month I got to sail with my Dad, and all the wonderful people I met aboard No Regrets. I am particularly grateful to Zeke for taking a chance on someone who told him she gets sick in cars. I truly admired his thoughtful leadership and generous spirit and I can’t imagine having a better captain. Would I do it again? I would happily sail across the Atlantic Ocean again. As for the Indian Ocean… I guess it will depend on how much I like my next job!

Circumnavigation Completed!

Winds were light when we departed the Bahamas. But the day was beautiful and the shallow Banks were delicious, so we set the spinnaker and ambled slowly along. Who cares if it takes an extra day to get to the USA…? After sailing all day, the water was still only 15 feet deep, and there were no waves, so it was very enjoyable. At one point when the wind went extra light, Bob and I went for a “swim.” That is, we hung on to a line trailing behind the boat. Two and a half knots may feel like a standstill on a big catamaran, but it is plenty fast when you are dragging in the water behind it!

During the night we made it West to the Gulf Stream (we had coordinates for its path provided by Chris Parker the weather guru). We turned right to ride the Stream northward. The wind was mostly lighter than we would have liked, but as a result the Stream was very tame — none of the steep breaking waves that it is infamous for. The sailing was pretty slow but our progress with the current was impressive. At one point we were going ten knots over the ground, with just nine knots of wind. We easily did a 200+ mile day (though we didn’t track exactly what our noon-to-noon run was).

As we moved north, east of St Augustine and then Georgia and South Carolina, the wind fell to almost nothing, but it forced us more west than we wanted, pushing us to the edge of the Stream. THEN it got lumpy. I don’t understand why the ride was incredibly smooth up to that point, and with the same wind/current it got choppy toward the western edge, but that’s what happened. We motorsailed to move out of the area, and soon it had calmed down but the current was gone — we were across.

I had thought we might continue on to Southport, NC, but being out of the current and with no wind, we motored toward Charleston. I really enjoyed Charleston on the way south two and a half years ago, so it seemed fitting to “cross our wake” and declare my circumnavigation complete there.

YES — I have sailed around the world!

When the wind is so light that the spinnaker won’t fill…
…go for a swim

Photo by Joe
Photo by Joe
Friends stopped by to welcome us as we approached Charleston. I LOVE these guys!

Approaching Charleston…been here before!