Well, Al and I finally got away from the dock that Christmas Eve morning. We were needing to make a 53mile trip to our new slip just off the Pungo.
We had only had the boat for 3 months, and other than the short sail I had done to bring her to the marina we were fleeing from, (without Al due to work constraints), We had not taken her out. We had a chart, Al had a basic GPS, we had a non-functioning depth finder, and we had never sailed the region we needed to cover.
Let the adventure begin!
Now you have to understand, I was still wishing for "street signs " on the marker buoys, so we both knew we would never identify the ICW junction where one can cut around 30 or so miles off the route by sailing the Bay river to the Hoboken channel. Al had poured over the charts and decided we could "skim" around the "restricted area" off of Maws point.
Whatever. He was the navigator; I was busy sailing. Al set up the chart below, and would periodically poke his head up and order a course change. Life was good.
He was peering through the binocs, looking for a marker where he said, we were to hang a left and hit the Pamlico River. "There it is!" he cried. "Hang a left." I started towards the 15ft tower." Hey, there's writing on it!" I'm excited, maybe there's hope for plain English on buoys after all. "Umm... honey." DANGER was the word written on the side. "I don't think we should be here Al." "It's probably just marking a wreck or something, just give it a wide berth as you go by."
Ok, not so hard. But... "Al, I think we are in that restricted area now. What exactly is it restricted for?" Al pops his head up, looks around and disappears below again. "Honey?" "Shut up, I'm plotting!" Right. Head up again, looking all around. "Ummm..... turn around and head back out. Wrong marker."
Right. "So Al, why is the area restricted?" Oh, no worries, some research guys from the University do fish counts and such here. I was asking them about it at the shop, no big deal. Hey, where are you going? I thought I told you to head back the way we came." "Well, Al, there's a different marker over this way. It's still out of here, but I want to see what it says. See, it one of the marker towers that mark off the restricted area. Maybe it will tell us why it's restricted."
We passed the marker, turning and staring at the words on the sign. DANGER BOMBING RANGE KEEP CLEAR DO NOT ENTER If I'm lyin' I'm dying. The next sound was that of 2 jaws hitting fiberglass. Eyes met, "Fish counts, huh?" Al scurried below to plot. "What course now?" I asked. "Just keep right of the markers all the way around the area. I wish I could figure out where that marker I was looking for is on this chart though."
5 minutes later..... "Al, the water's getting awfully shallow up ahead. What's the chart say?" "Just keep on course; I'm still working out the plot. What makes you think the water's shallow anyway?" "It's light brown. I'm going to come about to starboard." Wait a minute, I'll be right up." Then I saw them. "Coming about! Hang on." I eased sheets, put the tiller hard to port, and swung the boat.
"What's going on up there?" Al burst up scanning in the wrong direction. "Why do you think the water's too shallow?" "Look left." There on the port side about 20yards off, were nearly 50 seagulls, STANDING where we had been headed. Eyes met.
I like those quiet moments when so much is communicated sans words.
"I'm good." Just figure out what this sandbar is and how far it goes out, cause we're headed in the wrong direction now." A few minutes later, Al comes up and informs me that this is Brant Shoal and it goes out a few miles before it comes to .... Wait for it..... the marker he has been hunting on the chart!
Chalk up those goof points; I think we have a winner! If we keep making mistakes like this we will soon know the Pamlico and Neuse like the back of our hand.
Oh yeah, our first major purchase for the boat was a chart plotter, and yes, we read and plot on the charts quite well now. We even know how to find the Hoboken shortcut!
We may have named our boat Journey, but the name I was campaigning for.... student driver!
In August 2004, Al and I bought Journey for a dollar. Yes, you read correctly. Sometimes the sail god just smiles down on you and says," I will now enable you to have your heart's desire." "Cheap."
We found a lovely marina, rustic, quiet, natural woodsy feel, and had just settled in when--- THEY DECIDED TO GO CONDO!!!!
Well! I wasn't going to have any of that; we back into our slip, and the idea that people were going to be suspended over us on a second floor balcony, reading their papers, drinking coffee, and watching me wipe the sleep from my eyes through my open hatchway was unacceptable!
Add to that the fact they tore out the pool to "make way" for the condos, AND the rate increase from $165. Mo. to $365. Mo. (that's what I thought too!) and I had a sudden urging to leave. No problem, I put my best man on it. "Honey, can you find us a new home for the boat?" Al found us a perfect slip on Jordan Creek, and we needed to move the boat 60miles before December 31st. We finally got our chance on Christmas Eve, and it was a beautiful, sunny, warm day.
But it didn't start out that way. We rose at 04:30, as to make way before sunup. (10 hours of daylight in Dec.) Al mentioned that the water had left, and we were sitting with our keel in the mud. The finger dock was way up out of reach for me, but Al wanted to see how the Neuse River was looking, so he got off the boat.
I was down in the cabin when I heard it, a grunt and a curse, then "Hon, need a little help here." I went to the cockpit, and saw Al hanging like a sloth by all fours under the dock. A large yellow sloth, as he had his foulies on. I made a kind of snorting sound as I tried to choke off the laughter. All the things that ran through my head in unison, "where's the camera, there's no way out of this, he's gonna get wet, do I have time to run grab the camera, how in the world can I help him out of this, camera?"
I finally let loose one of the stern lines, maneuvered the boat as close under him as I could and let him sort of fall and be grab handed into the cockpit. Alas, no picture. Then the giggles started. And they wouldn't quit. Do you have any idea how insincere it sounds to ask someone you love if they are hurt while laughing uncontrollably?
Ice had formed a skim sheet on the water in the dew of the morning and also on the finger pier. Al had slipped right off, and amazingly caught himself. He was sore from hanging on to the slippery pier while I tried to think of what to do. (Admittedly, I think very slowly when I first wake up, and my mind was cluttered with the camera thing) Thankfully, he didn't fall in, and wasn't really hurt, and I tried to tell him between guffaws, that someday he would look back on this and laugh too. Funny how we feel the need to justify our laughter in times like these. I felt guilty for the laughter, but I surely couldn't stop. That was four years ago, and I don't know if he's laughed over it yet, but I know I still roll on the floor every time I think of it. And now you can too. Share my guilt.
Grace under fire...NOT!
For several years, Al and I led a trip of divers to Key Largo for Lobsterpalooza. In the mornings, we were terrorizing the lobsters on the reefs, and in the afternoon, it was kick-back time.
In 2000, we started trailering the Hobie behind us. We moored it for the week and sailed every afternoon. Bliss! One day, I took it out myself, since Al didn't want to go. Now I'd like to be able to say that this was the first year we had her, but no, this was 2005, after I'd had plenty of experience with the boat.
I was heading back into the beach after a gloriously long sail, I was thirsty, tired, and the wind had kicked up quite a bit. I probably should have factored that into what happened next.... I noticed the beach was full of kids (some of them MY precious grandchildren) and put some port into the helm.
My idea was to sail in to the small area bordered by 2 docks and swing around 180 degrees into the wind and stop it on the mooring, jump off, and tie up in the waist high water. Piece of cake. Been there, done that, had the t-shirt.
Then I saw her. A lady was sleeping in the water, in a lounge chair, right in the path I was planning on using. Did I mention the wind had gotten up? I was flying, right down on her, and I needed to make a course correction faster than my brain functions. I pulled the boat HARD to port, missed her by about 3 feet.
Now I was on the correct approach to slam headfirst into the dock, I mean that sucker was right there! I could've reached forward and touched it! I kicked the rudders up, let fly the main and jib, and tumbled off the back. Well, tried to, my feet got caught in the steering rods and then the mainsheet, and I nose-dived into the water. Came up sputtering and sore, and much to my delight, the raunchous laughter of all our divers, who had had a front row seat to the afternoon's entertainment!
Grandma, the great sailor, now just a memory, as my grandkids gawked at the spectacle. I'm still trying to redeem myself, but gosh, it was a great sail up to that point.
It's creative licensing... really.
Back in 2000, Al and I found ourselves to be the proud owners of our first sailing craft, a 1980 Hobie16. I made the deal with the owner to trade my Nikonis camera that had been given to me (and never used by me) for the boat and trailer. We spent a few weeks fixing her up, and registered her.
Then I went to title/tag the trailer. The previous 2 owners had not bothered to title and tag the trailer, so the DMV said I had to find the last owner who had. Enter the $27. useless title search. While I now had the name of the last owner who had bothered to do the right thing, I soon found out that he was nowhere to be found. (Besides, if a stranger called you up and said, "I need your signature on this item that you sold somebody else 15 yrs. ago" would you figure that it was in any way your problem?)
Enter the fix. I found out that the state would not under any circumstance issue me a title/tag to make my trailer legal. However, if I had a "homebuilt" trailer, they would bend over backwards to get me legal (and that's all I was trying to do here) they even sent a DMV guy out to my house to check out the trailer and see that I had proper lights, etc... Boy, that trailer sure looked good with a new coat of paint too!
Now, all of this has a point, and that is that in 2005, Al and I bought a Plastimo 7ft9in dinghy at the Miami boat show. They ran my card and said they would ship in a few weeks. It arrived, sans packing slip or invoice. OK, I have my CC statement. ($450.00 to XXXX Company)
Last summer, a friend gave us a 2hp outboard for that dinghy. Took my CC statement to the agency to register it. No can do! They need a Manufacturers Statement of Origin, or a "real" bill of sale. I saw where this was going.
Went right home, jumped on that agencies website, printed out their bill of sale template, and went to work. I called my husband and told him to meet me at our bank for lunch. In front of a notary, I had him sell me our dinghy, and went right down and got my registration. The hoops through which a person will crawl to simply comply with the law is staggering!
I went home with my sticker and new letters/numbers, and blew the boat up and stuck them on. Next morning I let the air out and my carefully applied compliances peeled/fell off!
Was karma messin' with me? I jumped on a few sailing discussion boards and searched for an answer. I blew up the boat again, and with 5200 and a thick magic marker, successfully completed what I wanted to do all along, just be legal.
Last summer, Al and I were sitting on our boat at a slip at Discovery Divers/Beaufort, when one of the liveaboards came over to see the boat and introduce himself. "Where've ya been?" he asks.
We tell him about how we sail all over the sound and the rivers; how we would love to do some "real" ocean sailing, maybe head down to the Bahamas when we get a bigger boat.
"Go now!" he says. "Wait right here" and off he scrambles. He came back laden with charts and pictures of his trip to the Abacos in a 25 footer! "Go now' he says. "Don't wait to get a bigger boat. This is more than you need right here."
Well, before the week was out, Al had announced that if I wanted to (Do coconuts grow in trees?) we would plan on taking a 3 month sabbatical to sail to the Bahamas in November of 2009. (I love this man!)
Of course I want to do most of the trip offshore, and Al is thinking a ICW route would be more conservative, but the die is cast either way... we are going.
Prepping the boat has been an ongoing project. We started last fall, making our lists and chiseling away at them. so much to think about; and on a budget too. It's been an interesting mix of compromises.
For example, Al wanted an EPIRB. My thoughts were of group suicide for allowing my boat to sink out from under us. I didn't share that with Al - we bought the EPIRB.
I wanted new lifelines; ours are rusting and loose. Al felt that they weren't that bad. We are removing them to take to the rigger this weekend.
Other things are beyond us. Budget, remember. A reefer, SSB transmitter. We just got our Sony SSB receiver, and are grateful for the small victory that affords. We can listen to the weather at least.
We will continue to improve and outfit, and I will add to this as I can.
Well, we just put our sails back on Journey, after sending the 30yr old tatters to Sail Care, for cleaning, repairs and treating. We also purchased a Strong Track for our main track from them. WOW! What a difference. Truly, Sam and Jerry are magicians! We were able to make contract at the Miami Boat show, thus getting a show special and hence the Strong Track, which we wanted, but hadn't planned on right yet. Everything came in under budget, and there were numerous repairs made to both sails, including cutting off and reshaping our 150% before applying a new sacrificial. The sails looked and felt like an old pair of jeans before, but are now white, crisp and slickery! Love them!