Bringing My Boat Home – 2nd Leg

This time I had ‘parked’ my boat in a marina near Coinjock, NC. What a lovely area! The people there were great and the entire atmosphere was beautiful. Someone asked me why I’m so far from home. “What brought a girl from inland out here?” he asked. “Simple, it’s not there and it’s not inland.” I answered. I smiled. Why wouldn’t I want to be on the coast or near it? Why would anyone want to live so far from the water? These questions seem trivial but they are so real for me. I breathe better when I’m away from people and chaos. I feel better when I can see and feel the water, oceans and rivers. Since I finally have a choice, why not choose for a life that I love?

My adventure this time began with my son dropping off myself and his two sisters at the boat. I was the captain this time and it was going to be a girl’s journey. I expected we’d be at our destination by the end of the day if we started bright and early in the morning. We said our good byes to him and made certain he knew where we planned on needing to be picked up. Inside we went and rested until morning. I love sleeping on the water. The gentle and constant movement of the boat makes sleeping easy. Morning came quickly.

In the morning I awoke and began breakfast. We ate and then set off for our destination. Problem number one arrived before we left the dock… we couldn’t get away from it! What on earth? All I had to do was go forward and all the boat wanted to do is sit there. The engine was working fine, the ropes were all stowed and we just couldn’t get away from the dock. I was beginning to question my sanity already and we hadn’t even moved! (I think the problem was we were at low tide and the current was working against us.) We did finally manage to push away from the dock enough to go forward and we were finally off. There was no wind and so we motored along the intracoastal waterway until we were out of Coinjock. Once we passed the bridge it felt there might be a little breeze so we set the sails…

Problem number two… setting the sails. Remember this is my first time on my boat as the sole captain. I know how to do this and I know what needs to happen and yet… the main didn’t want to go up. I double checked all of the lines, nothing was tied that needed to be loose, there was something else going on… Problem solving 101, use your eyes. One of the lines was wrapped around the sail wrong. Drop the sail… fix the line… raise the sail… It’s much easier this time, raising sails is supposed to be easy. Remember never to force it!  We were finally on our way. The wind helped push us along a little better, even though it wasn’t great. We were able to move along and able to save our engine battery longer. The girls and I were having a great time.

We made it through the ICW with very little problem, slowly but surely, using our sails as we were able and motoring when we weren’t. The only thing that was bothering me was that we weren’t going particularly fast. I kept hoping for a good breeze when we got to the Albemarle Sound. I was watching the winds and they were coming from the NE, which was perfect for when we would make our turn to the west on the Albemarle. Things were going to be fine. I am forever optimistic! Exactly what does ‘fine’ mean? Fine means, we’re in a good boat, we’re not going to sink and if anything goes wrong we can call for help and the weather is good.

We did make it to the Albemarle and the wind was fantastic for a while. Life was so good! This is what sailing is all about. The wind rushing around us, the boat going forward on its own. The land flying by, the waves perfect. Peace, ultimate peace. And then? Problem number three…

Problem, the wind dies down some… and some more… we angle a little different and keep going.  There are absolutely no marina’s between where we are and where we want to end our trip. None. So, we keep going forward, but slowly. We take advantage of the wind as much as we can, saving our battery for our motor. The day is speeding by and we aren’t. We see our destination ahead of us, we know where we need to go but it never seems to get closer. This is November… days are shorter… the sun begins to set. I’ve not yet sailed in the dark, I worry some. But, I’m the captain of this ship and no one is going to get hurt and I am going to get to our destination tonight. My determination makes no difference on the speed of my boat. We turn the lights on. We are the only boat within site for miles. It’s a chilly day and there’s no wind and we’re not on the ICW any more because we’re taking a stop at another’s personal dock where I can keep the boat for a couple of weeks until I can bring her the rest of the way home.

The big problem… number four… we stop. Not just stop moving forward, but suddenly stop. Hit bottom, stop… grounded, stop… now what. Optimism? Yes. I still know we will be fine, safety is my first concern and so long as we are safe I don’t care what time it is or where we are. My youngest freaks out and I’m forced into a different part of my brain. We aren’t hard stopped but we did stop. Motoring backward doesn’t help. Drop the sails, stow them quickly so what little breeze doesn’t get us more stuck. Take a breath and take charge so everyone knows that we are going to be fine, still are fine. Tell my youngest not to worry, the worst that could happen is we sleep here tonight. We’re fine. (Fine… I’m getting tired of that word. I’m not fine! I’m frustrated, I’m sorry for putting them into this situation, I’m tired, I’m cold, I want to get to land as much as they do. But I promise them we’re fine and I keep going… praying… hoping.)

I call for a tow, the tow driver that answers me is the same one we met last time. “You’re not anywhere near me. Why did we get sent to you?” I ask. There’s only two in the vicinity and so he took my call since he knows me already. “Why are you over that way? I thought you were heading toward Washington?” He asks. I explain what we had decided and what happened. He’s not able to help us until morning and suggests we throw an anchor and settle down for the night. I’m not ready to give up yet. He’s worried we’ll get stuck on crab pots or get stuck worse. I notice the depth meter and that we’re not stuck any longer. The waves had moved us off of the sandbar we happened upon. Still, I’m scared, there’s a lot of shallows around me. What on earth do I do?? Play it safe and anchor? Or move forward a little at a time…

See that circle? That was me trying to find a way through the shallows…

Problems solved… it’s about 9 o’clock at night and we finally, carefully, approach the dock where we will leave the boat for the next couple of weeks. The boat is fine, we are all fine. It took us about three hours to get there and we had to turn ourselves around more than once to avoid grounding again. I spoke with the people who lived there and they helped me to navigate the area better. We docked, we packed up, we thanked everyone and we began to drive home… (I called the tow driver and told him we made it and were safe, he was glad to hear it and told me to touch base if ever in the area again.) After driving for about an hour I began to fade and convinced my son to continue the trip for us. I laid down in the backseat and passed out until we were home. Exhaustion, peace, accomplishment all overwhelmed me. We had done it, we had made it. I had successfully brought my boat closer to home and learned even more about sailing. I still love it all, the getting stuck, the getting unstuck… the land being so close and yet so far away… the night-time air, the chilly breeze, the wind and the stillness… loved it all. I had faced my fears and won, again. Life is good.

thanks for reading,

me

ps. last leg of bringing my boat home coming up…

 

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