Cruising the ICW

Day 1: Wednesday 6/19

By 5am Matt, Simon (the captain we hired to help us navigate back) and I were on I-95 heading south.  We ended up renting a Town & Country mini van for the one way drive down allowing us to leave the car in NC and sail back.  At first we were very resistant to the whole concept of the mini van but let me tell you… with enough room to pack up half our belongings AND seat 3 comfortably for a six hour drive, we are now believers. 

We arrived in New Bern, NC around noon, excited to see the boat and to begin prepping her for the trip up the Intracoastal Waterway, or ICW, back to Annapolis. At the marina, we had quite the little reception with other owners stopping by and congratulating us on buying the boat.  Everyone was a little surprised that we were planning to head out later that day and weren’t staying longer to prepare for the trip.  Unfortunately we both have jobs waiting for us Monday morning and needed to get underway ASAP in order to make the 4 day trip back.  Maybe in a few years when we fully transition to the cruiser lifestyle we’ll be able to linger longer.   

Dave & Beth, the previous owners, had contacted one of their cruising friends in the area to help us return the rental car.  How nice was that?  One thing we’ve realized about the cruising community is that everyone is always willing to help you out.

After dropping off the car at the airport, and a quick stop to our new favorite spot, West Marine, we were back at the boat and able to get underway around 4pm.  With limited daylight, we were able to cruise up to Oriental, where we dropped anchor for the night. Unfortunately we were only able to make about 20 miles due to unfavorable currents and winds.  Hoping we make better progress tomorrow if we’re going to make it back to MD by Saturday.

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Day 2: Thursday 6/20

Happy Summer! We were hoping that, it being the summer solstice today and thus the longest day of the year, that we’d be able to cover some significant ground, err, water, today.  Unfortunately, not so much.  Opposing currents and strong wind from the North were working against us once again.  In fact, the Neuse river was so rough this morning, that I had to huddle down below and try to sleep or risk loosing my breakfast over the side of the boat.  Repeatedly.  It was horrible.  Dramamine and/or ginger WILL become regular staples on this boat. Fortunately the rough seas subsided once we got into the narrow man made canal that connects us to the Alligator River.  That almost sounds worse than the Neuse, so fingers crossed that we make good headway before stopping again for the night.

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Overall, the boat has be running great.  We’ve been motoring constantly for the past two days to make up for the lack of wind to sail.  She’s been a consistent performer, if not a little slow due to her size, which is alright by us.  We pretty much have the kitchen put away and have started making quite the little home for ourselves.  We have a few ideas that we want to do, but have vowed to wait to buy anything (unless it’s absolutely necessary!) for the first month or two to give us some time to adjust and figure out what we actually need, and not what we just want. One thing’s for sure.. we’re going to have a BLAST doing it (save for those times like this morning.  I was definitely NOT having a blast hovering over the blue Lowes bucket).

Around 6pm we decided to anchor up for the night in the calm river, rather than continue on and get beat again by the wind & waved in the Albermarle Sound.  We were treated to an air show by two Navy fighter jets on practice runs down the coast. Bettcha they get back to Norfolk faster than we will.  Only 100 more miles to go, then another 150 to Annapolis!  Hoping to get an early start tomorrow so we can get back at it!

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Day 3: Friday 6/21

Today we were up at 4:30am and underway an hour later.  It wasn’t as bad as it sounds considering we went to bed, exhausted, around 8pm last night.  The longest day of the year and we went to bed the earliest we have in months.   

This morning I guided the boat as Matt pulled up the anchor.  It wasn’t totally smooth, and I think I may have ran over the chain once or twice, but the anchor came up and we were proud that we took the first step in creating our own little routine together.  Matt also had his first go at docking the boat when we stopped in Coinjock, NC for fuel.  He did a great job considering the wind was pushing us right into the dock… he only bumped it instead of ramming straight into it which I thought we were going to do.  Good thing I had put a fender right where he was headed to soften the impact… which then promptly fell off the life line because I hadn’t tied my knot properly on the one side.  He refilled the  gas while I refilled the water tanks.  Both were successful and without incident.  We even managed to snag some snacks from the small marina store where we grabbed some bottled water for $10 a case. Talk about premium pricing!

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We spent the majority of the day organizing our stuff and trying to make a proper home for ourselves.  This boat has so much storage!!  Funny, cause we spent the past few months getting rid of most off of our stuff only to realize that we have more than enough storage.  Ha!  Oh well, it feels good to start fresh.  We cleaned, organized and made note of a few little things we would need to fix once we got back home.

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 Meanwhile, our captain, Simon, has been busting out funny sayings the whole trip, like this gem… What’s the difference between yacht owners and boat owners?  A yacht owner says “Hey, let’s go”, and jumps onboard and goes.  A boat owner has to constantly work at it to make it go.  Looks like we’re at it already.179918331843Day 4: Saturday 6/22Because of the lack of wind and opposing currents we have been encountering this trip, we decided to do an overnighter last night to cover more ground.  We all stayed up until we passed thru Norfolk and started the shifts around 11:30.  Matt went to bed first and it was up to Simon and I to exit the city limits via the shipping channel that leads you out to the Atlantic or up north to the mouth of the Chesapeake.  I must admit it was a bit unnerving!  Markers and other boats are not easy to identify by the untrained eye until they are right up on you, especially when you’re tired and can’t make out what you’re seeing.18561869kWe had quite an experience with a tug boat pushing a large barge out to sea around 1:30am.  He came up on us from behind, flashing his flood lights for us to move out of his way.  It was basically the equivalent of approaching a slow car in the left lane on a deserted highway and riding his ass until he got over a lane instead of just going around him.  Meanwhile, because we were at an area where the inland water met with the open water, the waves were really knocking us around and were even coming up over the front of the boat thru the trampoline.  If our parents could have seen this thay would have been freaking out for sure.  After a harrowing 60 minutes, we were headed north up the Bay and back in calm, open waters with nothing more than channel markers to look out for.  Simon went to bed and Matt joined me around 1:30 where we sailed together at the helm for another few hours before Simon resurfaced and our shift was over.  We passed out like babies around 4am with relief and a renewed confidence after experiencing our first overnight.

The rest of the day was a nice and calm trip up the Chesapeake.  God it felt great to be back in familiar waters again where you could scan the GPS for land waypoints and get a sense of where you’re at and how far till we’re home.

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During the last leg of the trip, we got the boat back in order from the chaos of the overnight and washed her down a bit.  We were able to put the genoa in and cruised up the Bay at a steady 7 knots with the winds and tide finally in our favor.  At one point we registered at 10 knots while surfing down a wave! A far cry from the 4 knots we were doing most of the way in the ICW.

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We finally pulled into our slip in Annapolis at around 10pm Saturday night.  It feels so great to finally be home and to officially get this adventure started.  We got things situated and hooked back into the grid (shore power and water) and passed out, exhausted and happy.

 
 

 

 

 

 

Closing Time!

Well, it’s officially official… we are the proud owners of a 1999 Lagoon 410 catamaran!

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We closed this morning and it’s finally, actually ours. It still hasn’t sunk in that we bought a boat and will be sailing it back to Annapolis in about 24 hours.  We’ve been planning and dreaming about this day for so long… a serious build up for something that all just happened so quickly.  Sort of anti-climatic.

(Rereading that sentence it occurred to me that using the word ‘sunk’ to describe any part of the boat may be a bad thing. Whoops).

The actual closing was about 30 minutes and involved much less paperwork than buying a house and was pretty non eventful.  The best part was Matt and I sitting in the conference room right before we got started …

Matt: “So, you ready?”

Me: “Yeah!  I just need to get on the boat to get a feel for how to do things”

Matt: “Like what?  Sailing is pretty easy.”

Me: “So, if you’re going along against the wind, how do you get to your destination?”

Matt: “Against the wind, you can just motor. If you’re going with the wind then you can sail.”

Me: “But what if the wind is coming at a different angle than the way you need to go?”

Matt: “Then you tack back and forth in order to get to your destination.”

Me: “I still don’t get it.”

Then our broker Tim and finance lady Lisa came in and we proceeded to purchase a boat with limited knowledge on how to operate it. Gotta start somewhere, right?  Go big or go home! Ha!

Looking forward to the day that we replay that conversation lying on a beach somewhere in the Bahamas and laugh about how green we were.

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But WHY?

Whenever we tell people that we’re selling everything and moving onto a boat, we get two very distinct reactions…  One is excitement and awe that we’ve decided to make such a bold move, and the other is a look of total confusion and the inevitable, ‘but, WHY?”

We believe that life is an adventure, and the best days lie ahead of us, not behind us.  We spent the past few years stuck, just going thru the motions, and getting comfortable.  That was the most dangerous part for us… the getting comfortable in the every day routine and not setting new goals to challenge ourself to work towards.  For us the call to action was to take a RISK in life and to start doing things that are out of our comfort zone.  Buying a sailboat with no prior knowledge of sailing seemed to fit the bill, so we just went ahead and did it.  It could be anything to anyone – moving to a new city, taking a new job, getting a new hair cut.  It’s all about taking the risk and reaping the reward.

We found this quote on a sailing blog a few months ago that pretty much sums up our new outlook for the future.

“I’ve always wanted to sail to the south seas, but I can’t afford it.” 

What these men can’t afford is not to go. They are enmeshed in the cancerous discipline of “security.” And in the worship of security we fling our lives beneath the wheels of routine – and before we know it our lives are gone. What does a man need – really need? A few pounds of food each day, heat and shelter, six feet to lie down in – and some form of working activity that will yield a sense of accomplishment. That’s all – in the material sense, and we know it. 

But we are brainwashed by our economic system until we end up in a tomb beneath a pyramid of time payments, mortgages, preposterous gadgetry, playthings that divert our attention for the sheer idiocy of the charade. The years thunder by, The dreams of youth grow dim where they lie caked in dust on the shelves of patience. Before we know it, the tomb is sealed. 

Where, then, lies the answer? In choice. Which shall it be: bankruptcy of purse or bankruptcy of life? 

Sterling Hayden

Paperwork Pending!

After a whirlwind 2 day trip to NC and back, we are excited to be the (almost) proud owners of a 1999 Lagoon 410 catamaran (paperwork pending!). We found this one the day after our less than stellar survey on the other boat put us back on the search.  The pictures and description online made it seem almost too good to be true, so we were slightly skeptical wether or not everything would hold true when we saw it in person.

Of course we had been stalking her via Google Earth, so we knew exactly which slip she was in when we arrived at the marina.  At first glance we knew the pictures were dead on… she was absolutely freakin’ perfect.  We both knew it was THE ONE after spending less than 5 minutes on the dock.

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We met one of the owners, Beth, who invited us onboard to peak around while we waited for the surveyor to show up.  We were all a little nervous at first – Beth, with her husband Dave, had obviously loved & cared for the boat for over a decade, and here we were – the inexperienced young couple – about to take her from them.  We could tell she was a little sad to sell, and we hoped that were were making a good first impression so she wouldn’t get cold feet.

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The first part of the survey went well – no issues with the general inspection, which was great news considering we had put it all on the line for this one and were quickly running out of time.  We decided to meet back at the boat early the next morning to depart on a 5 hour sail to the yacht yard where we would have a haul out and inspect the hulls.  We left the marina the first day overwhelmed with emotions – relieved because we loved the boat, nervous to meet Dave, the other owner, and excited that this could possibly be the first day of our new adventure.

Over dinner we dissected every hour of the day and discussed about 20 different scenarios of how Day 2 would play out.  We finally said screw it, and decided to head back to to the hotel exhausted, drained, and ready to sleep so tomorrow would come quicker.  On the way back, we decided to have some fun at the local grocery store. I didn’t think that a Piggly Wiggly actually existed, but here it is in all of it’s glory! Culture Shock!

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The next day we were at the docks bright and early to prepare to get underway.  We met Beth’s husband, Dave, who was awesome (more relief!), and watched in awe as they untied the dock lines and prepared the boat.  It was clear that they had a well orchestrated routine together. Trying to interject seemed like it just messed up the dance. I tried to soak in that moment knowing that one day soon, Matt and I would be doing the very same thing in the same rhythm on this boat.  Just knowing how much this is going to change our lives makes me giddy.

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For the next several hours the surveyor worked around the boat and we worked on Beth and Dave.  We wanted them to trust us to take care of their baby and take her on many more adventures in the future.  We knew that when Dave asked Matt to join him at the helm and started showing him all of the navigation instruments that we had won them over.  And just like that we knew we had a boat.  The feeling was glorious!

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The rest of the sea trial was great.  The boat handled extremely well under sail, averaging about 7 knots on the open water.  There were no issues to report in the survey, and we have enough spares on board to nearly rebuild anything that may go up anytime soon.

So, it’s official,  we have a boat!  The paperwork is processing and we have arranged to drive down to NC to sail her back up to Annapolis next Wednesday.  I don’t think it’s actually registered yet that we’ll be living on a boat and learning how to sail in less than a week. We’ve been working towards this for so long, it’s crazy that it’s finally here.  Everything just fell into place with this one… it almost seems like IT chose US. Either way, we are so freakin’ excited to let the adventure begin!

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What a difference a day makes

Do you ever think that everything happens for a reason?  We’re big believers in this.

After brushing off the disappointment of having a less than stellar survey on the last boat, the search was back on this weekend!  We cancelled our plans to go camping (the weather was crappy, so it worked out) and hit the highway to look at a Lagoon 380 in Lewes, DE.  Not a long trip, but a risky one considering it was Memorial Day weekend and there was a 50/50 chance that beach bound traffic would turn the Bay Bridge into a parking lot. It was a bold move, but it paid off.  Hardly any traffic at 10am.

We had seen this boat before and didn’t really love it, but wanted to look at it to get a feel for the Lagoon layout.  It was OK, not great, and we returned home feeling even more deflated and anxious to find a boat we loved. We even went back an looked at that Charter Cat catamaran… the one that I wrote about that we loved, but it had a bad reputation of being a poorly built boat.  Yes, we were desperate.  It was time for an intervention.

It just so happens, that one of the guys working at the marina we were at, lived on a catamaran.  A Lagoon, no less, a size larger than the one we had just looked at.  He invited us aboard to take a look at it (well, we actually invited ourselves and he was nice enough to oblige us), and guess what?  We fell in love with it.  It was perfect.  Enough space for 2 humans and 2 dogs.  Great flow.  Smart design.  Able to be customized to fit to our needs.  Done deal.  We knew that the Lagoon 410 was the model that we wanted.  And all because we were in the right time at the right place and ran into this guy who invited us to take a look at his boat.

So, a quick search of Lagoon 410 on yacht world lead us to a boat in New Bern, NC.  It’s a 1999 (great vintage – that’s when we graduated from high school) and is in pristine condition.  Also, has been privately owned – Never Chartered! – and the owners loaded it up with lots of additional gadgets that we would have ended up adding anyway.  Turns out, the exact boat we wanted, outfitted to pretty much how we need it, just fell into our laps.  Our day went from Zero to Hero just like that.

Good news is that we put an offer in well below the asking price, and after sweating it out for a few days (darn holiday weekend!) they accepted!  So, we officially have another boat under contract.  However, we’re going to err on the side of caution this time until the survey checks out, then we’ll do the big reveal. We have a good feeling about this one though.  While we were out and about on the river this weekend, we saw the exact same boat – same color and all – on a mooring in Annapolis(but Matt hates the color).  It was a sign.  We were voyeurs looking at our future selves.  And it was so exciting.

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