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Sunrise: Chasing the dream
Life filled with adventure, both actual and spiritual.
Seven Seas Cruising Association
11/28/2010, Oriental NC

Let me tell you about the Seven Seas Cruising Association (, especially about Joan in Norfolk area. She was tracking the boats int he Caribbean 1500 as we left Hampton, worried about the weather. When Joan saw that Sunrise had gone in at the Oregon Inlet, she called us on our cell phone (where did she get the number?). Hearing our story, she immediately offered to drive down with "warm milk and cookies, if that is what you need."

As it turns out, she put us in touch with local sailors, who put us in touch with a sailing couple who lives here. They invited us to dinner and offered the house to Bill while the girls were up in VA. (They return around the 1st, so now we have to find some housing for the whole family.)

Joan also put us in touch with a marine surveyors who specializes in fiberglass to make sure we didn't miss anything.

Joan also drove down from the Norfolk area to pick Lara and Isobel up, and brought them home to her house for dinner and the night... then took Lara to a car rental place so she could drive to Onancock VA to be with her family.

I am so proud to be part of the Seven Seas Cruising Association and can't wait to fly their burgee and "pay it forward". Thanks to Joan and those who she put us in touch with. We really feel that we have an extended family out there.

"the incident"
11/28/2010 | Howard
Hi Bill, we met in Hampton - I was last minute crew on "Starbound". I have to say that I agree with your assessment completely. I was always leery of rallies for the very reasons you state and my experience in this year's Carib 1500 reinforced those thoughts. While we made it without too much trouble, I would not have left in my own boat with the weather forecast as it was. The rally can claim to offer all the help they want, but when you're at sea you're on your own.

Good luck with your repairs and the rest of your cruising.
11/28/2010 | Joan
Bill and Lara and Isobel,
We are just an extended family of cruisers. Just pass it on --to the next sailor who has challenges that you all meet.
The weather off Hatteras is something to respect, just glad you are safe. Boats Glenlyon(Sue Stanley and Rodney Carlson), Chardonnay (Scott Berg) and Babe(Jerry and Diane Wheeler), and many others have all assisted. As for cell number its good to have a database with contact numbers, may be SSCA should add float plans/contacts as well.
Fair Winds
11/29/2010 | Starbound
After hearing about your experience with SSCA we quickly dug into the storage locker and found our SSCA flag and are now flying it proudly for you! We miss you!
What was I thinking?
11/26/2010, or

This is a photo showing sunrise over Long Island Sound after our night-time run to Port Jefferson.

One of the things that I was looking for when we joined the Caribbean 1500 was to depend on more experienced people for weather and routing. Of course, what I found was that no one will have our interest in mind when they make their calls to go or not go. In retrospect, it was ridiculous for us to have gone out to sail down the coast of VA and NC with the forecast. Those who were making the call for the 65 boats to go were making that call in their own self interest.

Of the 65 boats that were signed up to sail, 8 never made it to Tortola. One boat was lost, one crew was lost and multiple boats had damage. The larger, faster boats "had a good experience". We did not have a good experience...

So, in the future, the weight of "go/no-go" decision is squarely on my shoulders. Only I can make sure we leave in weather that is appropriate for our boat and crew. Clearly a bunch of guys in big fast boat will tolerate more abuse than our family show. Our boat is designed to take Ocean storm conditions, and yet we are not seeking that kind of experience.

In a way the Caribbean 1500 was a great learning experience for us as we learned to trust our own intuition regardless of what the pack is doing. We allowed peer pressure and "experienced sailors" override our own judgment. Never again!

In the past there was a lot of anxiety for me surrounding routing and weather planning, it will be easier now as I know that I will certainly do better than anyone for us. I can't wait to get the boat back in order so we can carry on with our renewed confidence.

"the incident"
11/26/2010 | Diane
Try to put this experience behind you. Valuable lessons learned and hopefully fellow sailors can learn from your candid expression of following the well established Caribbean 1500 when your gut feeling tells you not to. Hope to see you once again on the water with fair winds and following seas.
11/27/2010 | Randy
Hey Bill and Lara,

Diane said it all - live and learn. You're good and seasoned sailors now and you know what is right for you. As expensive and time consuming as this event has been for you, it is relatively minor compared to the boat and life that was lost. In the end, you made the right decision not to press on and you've lived to tell about it and you can count that as a success. Happy Thanksgiving - keep in touch!

11/27/2010 | Henry & Sally Stevens
So thankful you are safe. We have followed your sails & glad Sunrise will soon be ready to sail again. Look forward to seeing you if ever this way again.
11/27/2010 | Joan
Just glad you are all safe. Yes, will take time to get Sunrise patched up--but sounds like you are getting there. We also have had weather lessons, and the more we sail the more we learn. Give Isabel a hug, she is a sweet little darling. And we hope to keep in touch!
11/28/2010 | Anastasia
Could not agree with your post more. The more experience Jen and I get, the right decision is staring us in the face. Variables make the decision difficult...stressful and sometimes the result of the decision is a major inconvenience, but 9 times out of 10 later we look back and say-"yeah that was the right call for us". We just got into St. Thomas yesterday morning...can't wait to see you guys when you get down here.
Risks of the sea
11/17/2010, Oriental NC

As Randy points out in his comment below, one of the boats in our class, Rule 62 diverted to the Bahamas and hit a reef at on Saturday at 11 pm. After launching the life raft with all four crew on board, the raft was overturned in the surf as they tried to reach shore. three of the four crew made it to the beach and the forth is still missing...

On Sunrise, our hearts really go out to them as we had a taste of what they must have gone through. We diverted after only 24 hours, they were out for 5 days in very rough conditions, which is exhausting. We were able to let the Monitor Wind Vane steer, the four on Rule 62 had to hand steer for two days after their Autopilot failed (we heard them trying to trouble shoot it with another boat on the SSB). Hand steering in a big swell and gale conditions is physically exhausting. We had daylight to make our inlet, they were in the dark. We had current, wind and waves with us: Rule 62 had the current against the waves and wind... something that creates what the Bahamians call a "Rage", very intense conditions.

Like many tragic events, it is hard to come to terms with... and everyone is trying to figure out how it happened and why.

Even though we are upset by the condition of our boat, we are thankful that Sunrise was able to take the abuse, and protect us.

"the incident"
11/17/2010 | Tom Sawtell
Best wishes to you guys, I have been following your blog for close to 2 years, can't wait to get back out there. Although this is certainly the "down" side to this lifestyle, I know you will come through stronger and wiser for it.
11/17/2010 | leann Rossi
I amglad that you, your family, and the other sailors are all safe. Thank you for your blog, i have been searching for a better understanding as to what the conditions were out on the open wate. You see, Laura Zekoll is a dear friendof mine, and although it comes with great sorrow that this tragedy has occured, I at least have a sense of acceptance that she transitionedwhile in her element. I wish you all knew her as well as Ibut in essence you already do. She is a sailor....enough said...I will miss her, she gave many people a new outlook on life. If you have a chance, get to know her by helping someone see, that is what her life was all about, giving a hand up...not a hand out. I have just one request, eventhough i dont know you, place some flowers at the finish line for me, in her honor, and say the serenity prayer....she would like that...hugs from leann in Atlant Ga.
11/19/2010 | elizabeth doucette
heartfelt- and no words are acceptable. i am SO glad to see you all on board- thinking of you hard since we left hampton. not enough thanks, not enough hugs. you may just pass us again yet. prayers into the universe for your sailing comrade, laura. may she always rest in the arms of the sea.
Glad we are in Pamlico Sound
Bill, 55 degrees, wind 10 knots N
11/11/2010, Long shoal, NC

Bill and Pete readies the Dingy for a quick deployment should something happen to our boat. the little girl takes the oportunitiy to swing

We departed Wanchese after doing several more checks on the boat, mostly engine: cooling water screen and impeller to see if we had sucked sand during the "incident". Everything seemed normal with the Engine. Glad we have the new BetaMarine as it has been very solid even in the face of danger...

In the Pamlico today it blew 30 knots which gave us 3' seas. We are worried about our friends who are on the open ocean with forecast for 18' to 25' seas and 30 knots of wind with gusts to 40. For us we ran with the engine and a tiny handkerchief of a genoa out so we could put the least stress on the boat. Sunrise seemed to not care that she was damaged and happily scooted along in the following seas. It was good for the crew to be under way also, although everyone was a little on edge. We are hoping that tomorrow might be sunny at least...

35 34.261'n 075 48.016'w

"the incident"
11/12/2010 | Anastasia
Sending good thoughts your way!
11/12/2010 | Estelle Crew
Just read your blog and are so glad to know that you are safe and sound, what an experience. We highly recommend Deatons boatyard in Oriental. Had very good work done there and they are terrific to work with. What are your plans re cruising now??
the short haul
11/11/2010, Wanchese, NC

Well, it is hard to see in the photo... we obviously banged the rudder at some point in the "incident". Banged hard enough to crack the fiberglass at the top of the skeg and pop the fairing compound around all the hinges. Note the wet spot above the prop. the bottom paint has vertical cracks in it that indicate that the skeg was stressed there. I have more photos, of course...

Other damage is to the base of the mast post, where it is tabbed into the keep and hull. We have not done a rig inspection to see if there was any damage from the shock.

We are now back in the water and plan to motor carefully across the north side of Pamlico sound to where we can get some knowledgeable people to help repair the damage.

For the crew: we discussed PTSD and continue to share our emotions and feelings left from the ordeal. Of course it helps to make jokes about different moments that at the time were not so funny. For me, one of the most bizarre moments was when I called for everyone to put on their Type 1 PFDs, maybe because it was the first time I verbalized that I felt we were in serious danger. We hope to get everyone to post their rendition of the event.

Of course we also discussed what we can learn: Lots... Don't go out when we know the conditions are gnarly, regardless of what others say and others are doing... And we feel we made the correct decisions... aborting the crossing, picking the right crew, sailing the right boat, having new standing rigging, securing everything on board, not having stuff lashed on deck, spending time making sure the little right details were taken care of...

"the incident"
11/11/2010 | George Mora
I got such a feeling in the pit of my stomach when I saw your course change dramatically back towards land. What an ordeal. I'm so glad you're all safe, if rather battle-scarred. But so sorry to hear about the boat. Sending healing energy to all, Sunrise herself included.
Had to be there...
11/09/2010, Wanchese, NC

There is a fine line between a tragety and a really good story. Here we pose with our Type 1 PFDs and have a story to tell!! A really good story.

24 hours since we left Hampton... Wish you were there... and we weren't! Or something like that:

Although leaving the Chesapeake was nice and peaceful... and everyone went to bed allowing the 3 hour watch schedule to start with Bill and Pete taking turns.

As the night went on, the north east swell started crossing the wind chop which came from the NW. The wind built to 25-30 knots. the main was reefed then eliminated completely. The genoa was finally furled to about 30%.

As we approached the outer banks we made the call to end our agony and head in. We picked the notorious Oregon Inlet...

Pete was at the helm and bill was looking for marks. The channel was well marked... and while we were in the middle of it, all of a sudden we started to see breaking waves ahead of us. Before we could react, the boat thudded on the bottom. We looked behind us and waves were cresting, ahead the water was dirty with sand. There didn't seem to be any clear water. The keel crashed on the bottom again. And again, and again... We gave it full throttle and let out the genoa... All of a sudden we saw some clear (no breaking waves) to the north. While Pete struggled to keep us from ending up broadside to the wave, Bill called the Coast Guard on the radio. The girls put on PFDs and continued the discussion with the Coast Guard. Pete drove the boat between crashes toward the clear water... And we were off in deep water...

It felt like eternity but was probably less than 5 minutes... Emotions ran hi as we raced toward the bridge under full genoa and full power the coast guard cutter arrived on the scene. We were happy to see them. As we followed the cutter toward Wanchese harbor, we checked for damage, finding only a small leak at the stern. We will have the the boat hauled out in the morning to inspect the outside for damage.

"the incident"
11/10/2010 | Randy
Holy crap! Man, I am glad you guys made it in. I remember the Oregon Inlet and thinking I would not want to try that. Hope the damage is minimal. Most important: you guys are safe. Let us all know how things work out.

11/11/2010 | Green
Yikes! I hope the haul out went well. Take care and say hi to the girls for us.