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.