Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Life On A Boat

We have been so busy living our new lifestyle that we really haven't taken the time to reflect on what it really means to us. Earlier this summer we met our new friends Gail and Mark on "C-Soul". They have just bought their boat and purged their things like we had and after cruising the Chesapeake this summer they are about to start their first migration south and beyond. Not long ago they left their boat to go back to Montana for a few weeks to help with the fall harvest. After being back to their previous life for a couple of weeks Gail wrote a post on the C-Soul Facebook page that really hit home. Cruising isn't for everyone, but for us, Gail did a great job of describing what it means and how it feels. With her permission I would like to share her writings. Thank you Gail.

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I haven't posted for a long time! Perhaps I need to write to calm this anxious mind! Our friends are leaving the Bay today for points south. They posted a picture and mentioned how "cool" the weather was! Breathe deep Gail! We have a full cockpit enclosure, we will stay nice and dry on our 190 mile or so journey out of our now beloved Chesapeake Bay. Keep telling myself this! I am terribly worried that I will once again not get out of the icy grasp of winter, that the River Bohemia will be frozen over by the time we get there, that there will be snow.....breathe deep Gail, all will be fine. I have learned much on summer vacation! I have learned that being so exposed living on a sailboat is by far a better choice than that of four walls. I miss the connection to the air, wind, sunrises and sunsets. I was wondering when we started our adventure if this would be to much, if being exposed would be tiring. As it turns out I am not looking forward to being in our enclosure when we get back and that I kinda like waking, going directly to the cockpit to look at the water and smell the morning air. Sitting down and snuggling up against the sides of C-Soul and looking out my back door onto the new world that is opening for us. So there is one thing that I have learned, I don't like being "trapped" in a house. Haha, who would have thought! Another thing I have learned is that life is slower on our boat. Living on land brings with it a lot of stuff! This is kind of hard to explain, and it could be very likely that we are not living in our house and just visiting is contributing to this also. There are schedules, appointments, store hours, and such planning! Now I know we do this on the boat, meet schedules, live by store hours, etc, it is just that we don't care much about them. If we want to swim instead of going to the store, we swim. If we want to sail and miss meeting someone, we sail (this among sailors is a given, if the wind is good, if you are out, chances are you aren't coming back in!). It seems that we can still dictate what, where, when and if it doesn't get done, there is always tomorrow. I understand this might sound as if we are "dropping out", but I like to think of it as just living and we love the rhythm on our boat. Another thing I have learned is that when you are on land the distractions are many, that life is to hectic to just spend time with each other, spend some time in the water, dinghy, or boat to just direct attention to each other. We might talk about the boat, weather, neighbors, friends, or anything. We talk so much and enjoy each other! On land not so much, nuff said!

My musings are ending up in ramblings. The fields of soybeans are half done! The grain bins have all been relined and are filling up. It is kinda like being on the boat when we are combining! Just us in an ocean of soybeans. We talk, we joke, we smooch, we listen to books, we wonder at the richness of the earth, just like on our boat. It is just us, we like that. So we should finish up with the combining this week. There is digging to do and a few more things and we should be off. Back to C-Soul, back to the ocean, back to our incredible lives. But for now.......life is good on the combine! 🚜

Saturday, October 25, 2014

A Day To Remember

Yes! We are on our way south in search of warmer climates. We have been on the move for about 1 1/2 weeks taking our time with one multi-day stop. The first good news is that we have found a new insurance provider that does not restrict where we have to be, even during hurricane season. There are a couple of considerations for NOAA named storms but for the most part we are fully covered from Maine through Texas and south through the Bahamas, Virgin Islands etc all the way south to Trinidad and Tobago. No more frantic racing north to get above Norfolk, VA by June 1 and having to stay there as the cold fall air moves in until November 1.

It was getting cold in the beginning of October and we are happy to be on our way. Its also nice getting off the dock and being with all the other cruisers that have started the migration south now that hurricane season is ending. Just like the birds and geese we see each day flying south, there is a group of cruising boats leaving each anchorage or port each morning for the next hop south. It is fun being able to get back in the mode of meeting new friends every day and running into them a few days later. Each has their own interesting story to tell.

** for those of you reading this that are Facebook friends with me you probably have seen most of these photos. Its much easier to take a picture with my phone and post it to Facebook as we travel down with phone service.

Currently we are in Moorehead City, N.C. after a short uneventful no wind day of motoring/motorsailing. Here is our short trip.


We left Solomons, MD early on a nice clear day. It felt great to be off the dock we had been tied to for 2 months. We had a diver come by two days before and make sure the propeller and the bottom of the boat was clean and free of growth and barnacles. Pearl has been cruising along nicely since then.

Along the way we had a variety of traveling companions.



There is nothing like happy hour at a nice anchorage


Even the crew was enjoying it






The Portsmouth/Norfolk Virginia area was just as busy as always but the bridges cooperated and opened for us on arrival and we pass on through quickly.





We made the last opening of the lock at the North end of The Dismal Swamp and tied up to the free dock with two other cruisers for the night. Robert, the lock master is an amazingly interesting person who has seen it all in 20 years of working the locks. He served us breakfast the next morning before sending us on our way through the Dismal Swamp on a sunny and beautiful day.



We then tied up to the free docks at Elizabeth City to prepare for the crossing of the Albemarle Sound. Little did we know it was going to turn out to be A Day To Remember!

Although the Intracoastal Waterway is generally protected and calm, there are a few harbors and sounds that need to be crossed. The Albemarle Sound is the one that is most discussed because it can be nasty and snotty. Fortunately for us on the way north it was smooth as glass. The southbound crossing turned out to be somewhat different.

We left the dock just at daybreak and motored about 30 minutes waiting for the winds to pick up. They were directly off our stern and we were running before the wind. We raised the mainsail turned off the motor and Pearl was doing what she was meant to do..sail! It wasn't long before the wind picked up more. Knowing it was supposed to get even more brisk we reefed the main to make our sail area smaller just in case. This proved to be a smart thing to do because it didn't take long for the wind to get to a consistent 20-25 knots with stronger gusts. The waves picked up and we were in full sailing mode for the whole day surfing large swells and being rocked back and forth violently by cross chop.

We found some solace in that there were three boats ahead of us and a few behind but watching how each was getting thrown about we realized its every man/woman for themselves. This was the first day since we moved on Pearl where we did not need to turn on the motor and we sailed all day. Calling it sailing is an understatement. It was more like..brace your feet...hold onto the wheel tight enough to make your knuckles turn white and throw the wheel back and forth for hours on end until blisters form on your palms. Pearl is not the fastest boat in the seven seas but she was consistently pushing 8 knots of speed (we are happy if she sails 6 knots). Here is our trip showing a top speed without current of 8.42 knots.


When we finally reached the bottom of the Alligator River and anchored for the night we took inventory of the after effects. It seems that being on a dock for a good part of the summer we got lazy and forgot about all the things we left on the shelves. The sea conditions rearranged things a bit for us.





On top of all the pandemonium was scattered a full canister of oatmeal to top it off. Yes, it was A Day To Remember and the best sailing day we have had on Pearl. Hopefully we get more and next time we will be better prepared.


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