Posts Tagged ‘Perfect Day’

Sailing South for the Winter Part I

11/04/2009

Flying Dutchman

It was the middle of November and we were already off to a late start for heading south.  The temperatures at night had dipped into the low 40’s.   A sure sign that colder weather was on its’ way.  People were applying for the position of crew, to sail to the west coast of Florida from the outer banks of  North Carolina.  This would be a situation where the crew member paid for their passage way in exchange for experience on the  45′ single masted, sloop rig sailboat.  A colorful selection of people were willing to go, but only a very few seemed reliable.  The Flying Dutchman was a comfortable boat with three staterooms , two heads, a large saloon and workable galley. This would be a trip of comfort mainly.  All that was required was someone to man the wheel on a regular schedule and we broke it down into shifts.  Three people were committed for the trip.  There was Bruce and Felicia, a mid-aged couple from New England, and a young solid, muscular lady named Linda from North Carolina, along with the Captain Michael and myself.  I was mainly a deck hand due to the limited amount of time I had spent on the water.

A time was arranged for everyone to meet on the Flying Dutchman at 6pm , the night before departure.  Each of us filtered on board, one by one, introducing ourselves to each other.  We were all feeling a bit apprehensive about the long journey ahead.  Bruce brought on board several expensive nautical “toys”/electronics and was overjoyed and eager to share them with the Captain.  Linda’s nervousness had surfaced by her quick, constant chatter and Michael was geared up and had already started telling stories of “I remember when and what to expect ahead”.  I began looking around for Bruce’s wife, Felicia, who was no where in site.  When I discovered a pause in conversation I jumped in to ask “Where is Felicia?”.  It was then that Bruce broke the news that she had been ill and would meet us later on the trip.  Michael wasn’t too happy to have just learned that he was one crew member short and was contemplating finding her replacement but decided against it.

The following morning I was awaken by the sound of the engine running and people moving around on deck. As I made way up top,  I was just in time to see Michael on the wheel and Bruce tossing the lines from the pilings on deck.  Our journey had begun. The first day we made it as far as Beuford, North Carolina.  It was a salty looking water town with many boats that looked like they had been at anchor for a long time.  We dropped the hook as well, had dinner and off to bed.  The next morning was much like the first.  The men were up early and ready to roll.  The day before we had traveled down the Pamlico Sound. Today we would go out thru the channel to the Atlantic Ocean and go on the outside all the way to Charleston, SC.  The weather had been great so far and this day was no exception.  The temperature was in the 60’s and the sun felt good.  It was one of those feelings again where you could sit on the front of the deck, smell the salt air and watch the world go by.  Sailing was better than any dope you could buy and the feeling of freedom made me want to lay down and take a nap, I’ve said that before.   I must admit, that life on land conditioned my mind to go fast.  Everything was go, go, go.  This trip had of way of forcing me to slow down.  It was tough to do at first, but I adapted quickly.  When we arrived at our destination for that evening, it was  at a marina where the people were very hospitable.   When the sun went down it was cold and your winter coat was in order.  There was a deck hand to greet us that took  our lines, tied up the boat and then proceeded to tell us what was in the area.  Bruce had arranged for Falicia to meet us there.  When she arrived we all decided to go to a nice seafood restaurant and have dinner.  The restaurant had a delivery service where they would come to you and pick you up and then bring you back.  The moment we got into the car and began ridding, I had a feeling of dizziness and felt like we were speeding excessively down the road.  I leaned over to Michael and said “Geez, how fast are we going?”.  Michael laughed and said “Not even 40 mph”.  Motoring and sailing all day we never exceeded 8 mph, talk about slowing your mind down,  and that was two days of sailing that got me to that point.  Our dinner was enjoyable and getting off of the boat for a short while was a nice diversion.

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Weekend Cruise

10/28/2009

breezin upThe time of year was Autumn, ironically, and this was going to be my first “long trip” cruise.  We were headed to a place that would take six hours by water. Didn’t need to bring much in the way of clothing; extra shirt, jeans, warm jacket and rain gear.  So it didn’t take me long to get ready.  As for Michael, the captain of the “Flying Dutchman”, 45′ Sailboat,  he had more to attend to than I was aware of, such as checking over the engine, batteries, filling the water tanks and I can’t leave out socializing with all the other neighborhood boaters. Upon my arrival I was handed a handful of cash and was asked to run to the store for food. He said pick up anything, I like about everything.  (His famous last words.)  When I returned with the groceries it became evident that he didn’t like most of everything I bought. He was a good sport about it and said hop on board and grab a line.   Then we were off.

It was a gorgeous day. You know how vivid blue the sky gets in the autumn and how the trees will turn bright yellow, orange, red and hot pink, right before they fall off the trees?  Well it was that kind of day.  We headed out into the Roanoke Island Sound.  It was wider than any river or lake I had ever seen and there was no one else in sight. Such a rare experience for a landlubber.  Not many places you can go where there isn’t someone else around.  I loved it!  As we headed around the port island and turned the nose to the north, the sails were pulled out and the southwest wind filled both sails.  Then it was time to turn off the engine.  The only sound now was the wind and boat moving thru the water and the occasional seagull or osprey. The boat was large enough that you could talk awhile, wander to another part of the boat and soak in all that the wind, water, and sky had to offer.  It was difficult to not take a nap.  Funny how nature alone can make you forget all the loud noise in your head. The time went by quickly.

As the sun was going down we were approaching the 65′ bridge that spanned the outer banks to the mainland.  Being that Michael had a wicked since of humor, while studying the chart,  he told me that the mast on the boat was too tall to go under the bridge and we were approaching the bridge at a good clip.  My stress-less day just came to an end and I began to get a mind picture of the mast hitting the bridge, the boat sinking and us swimming to shore.  As the mast approached the bridge it looked as tho the radio antenna, at least, was going to hit the bridge.  But we passed smoothly without a collision. I can still see  Michael now with that big “shit eating” grin.

On approach to the town of Edenton, the sun set and the sky was filled with streaks of colors of red,  yellows, orange and grays.  Once it got dark, it seemed to take us forever to get to where we were going.  Eventually the moon came up, the lights on shore came on, making it difficult to see the markers.  Navigation at night became a whole different  set of rules. Thankfully, Michael had done this before and navigated his way to the town docks. We had arrived.

After spending two nights at Michael’s sisters beautiful Victorian Home, and one day touring the quaint sound-side town, we were back on the boat early headed back to Roanoke Island.   While underway I went below and fixed myself a bowl of cerial, went back up on deck, sat down and ate.  I remember thinking ” I could do this everyday”.  The freedom that I felt went down to my core.  I could feel it in my veins. Sounds silly, but the feeling was Real. We took our time sailing back that day. On a scale of 1 to 10, the day was another 10.  The wind was on our side.

Michael took the opportunity to tell me a few things about sailing such as navigation, man overboard drills and weather.  At one point he was so into what he was doing that he turned the wheel hard to the right and until the boat was turning in a large circle, after all we were the only ones out there so it seemed.  It wasn’t too long until we heard, over the vhf radio, someone hailing the sailboat asking if we were alright.  We knew then that we weren’t alone. In a way it was good to know incase we ran into trouble.

Later that day we arrived back at our home port, Roanoke Island.  As we approached the dock, I grabbed a line and took a turn on a piling, then the next piling,  while Michael at the wheel turned off the engine and the electronics.  We stepped off of the boat and walked down the dock. It was then that I felt like I had left a part of myself behind on the boat. Once again, we had a perfect day.


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