Bringing my boat home – 3rd leg and home

It’s home, at the dock as I type. My boat, my dream, resting well in her new home. She’s had to put up with me learning along the way but she survived and so did I. We’ve gotten to know each other better over the last couple of weeks. This last leg was from the beginning of the Albemarle Sound down the Alligator River over to Pamlico and finally Little Washington. She’s stubborn and prefers to be with plenty of wind. Her engine is electric and has an attitude of its own as well.

If she’s not fully charged she’ll let you think you’re OK until she decides you’re not. Then she just slows down, creeping forward, eternally slower and slower… you begin to notice the land isn’t moving next to you and that you’re giving her all she’s got… The ICW requires motor power unless the wind is absolutely perfect, which it wasn’t. It’s beautiful for sure, but, without a way to recharge my engine it begins to look very, very long. I can see the last bridge in the distance. I know that afterward I’ll have a chance of more wind but alas, I stare at the bridge for over an hour, it never gets closer. Such a lovely bridge, less than a couple of miles away. I could have probably swam that distance faster than my boat was going. Sigh. No wind, darkening skies, engine slowing and now not even moving forward…

I can see the bridge in the distance…

I finally make the call. I call for a tow boat. I really don’t want to but I’d like even less to spend the night on the ICW with no batteries and no way to charge them and no hope of more wind in the morning. It has to happen. I make the call, and we wait. It’s dark now with the bridge just slightly closer and we see them rushing towards us and then slowing to ask us if we’re on the hook. No. We’re not on the hook, we’re just not moving. They come and tie ropes onto us and then off we go. Six plus knots now, the icy wind in our faces for an hour, maybe more? As we head to our destination marina for the night to charge up and begin all again, I ponder why I wanted to do this in the first place. With less thought than was required to give them a call, I discover that I don’t mind the icy wind, nor the quiet night. I don’t mind having to take more time to get where we need to go. I just love being on my boat regardless of the circumstances. I discover I have no regrets, none.

We make to Belhaven, set the boat to charge up for the night and go to bed. Next morning, the charge still isn’t complete and I worry. I wonder what is wrong and if I’ve done something wrong. Yup! I sure have. I didn’t plug the 30 amp cord in correctly. I’ve melted my cord and it’s a wonder I didn’t set my boat on fire. We still have some battery and the winds today are supposed to be stellar. We plug in better with another cord and go get breakfast. A little more charge makes me feel better. After breakfast we’re off to a great start. Once we are out of the marina the wind is perfect, we’re sailing now. 6, sometimes 7 knots with the wind at our backs. My boat is loving this! She’s meant for weather like this. Before we know it we’re already on the Pamlico heading toward home. There’s another marina we consider stopping at to recharge some over lunch but the wind is so good we don’t want to waste it so we keep on sailing.

As we get closer to the river leading to Bath, I notice we’re not moving as well. The wind is a little less and off our side so I adjust the sails some and we’re still doing well, about 4 knots. I look over and notice the land isn’t moving again. What have I missed? There’s still a little wind but it’s not enough to keep us moving forward. I try tacking and do pretty well for a little while. Then when we turn I use the engine a little to get us ready to tack again. We’re at least moving forward again. But what is going on? Why is it so hard? The tide! The tide is going out, against us. We use the engine more but the battery is already complaining. We’d passed up the marina we could have charged at. The only other option is Bath. Bath is a mile and a half up the river just to our right. I might have enough battery to get there. I radio them and decide to go for it.

When we do finally arrive at Bath we are moving along at about a knot and a half. It took us over an hour to make it there with our engine slowing down the entire way. We plug in using the owner’s cord since I don’t trust mine, walk to the local Family Dollar to get some sandwich meat and then go back to the boat. It was a good stop, we met a few people, enjoyed some conversation and learned some more about my engine. What we failed to do, though, was stay. About 4 o’clock, I got antsy. I wanted to get home tonight and I really thought we could do it. We took the boat and motored back to the Pamlico and made our turn, no problems.

Then, then the damn thing decides it’s not going forward any longer. The battery slows but the wind picks up a little and we’re begin moving forward at least, just not quickly. It’s starting to get dark again and we still aren’t at our destination. Looking at the map, we just aren’t that far away. Why can’t we make it there? Do I really have to call for a tow, yet again?? I hate asking for help. Yes, I know that’s a problem but it’s just the way I am. I’m learning to ask more often but I still don’t like it. I wait. We are sailing somewhat after all. It really is getting darker, though, and colder. I make the call, again. AGAIN! Can I not get home without help?? No. I can’t. I have to allow others to help me and I have to learn to ask. They say an hour, and an hour passes. An hour fifteen, an hour and a half… I call again. That boat got into the crab pots and a different one was heading our way but would be another hour. We wait. Finally we see them and they make their way to us. I’m relieved beyond belief! It’s time for us to get home.

The sun is setting and the boat is slowing.

Thankfully, we arrive at our home marina full of health and in time to catch our ride to the house. My boat is home, resting, and charging with her shiny new 30 amp cord. We’ve made it. Our journey began in Norfolk, Virginia and ended in Washington, NC. We followed the ICW most of the way and we learned a lot. I’m no longer clueless with sailing. I’m not an expert but I’m much better than I was when I began. I started out not knowing anything. Instead of giving up or never trying I kept at it and I’ve become captain of my own sailboat, one that I can sail on my own if I choose. I’ve faced my fears and I’ve allowed myself to grow. I can’t imagine having not at least tried.

I look forward to my adventures to come. What would life be like if we all lived our dreams and didn’t let fear stop us? Thank you for allowing me to share mine with you,

thank you for reading,



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,


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


Bringing my boat home – the first leg

Previously… At the beginning of November, on Thursday evening the 2nd, I drove myself up to Virginia in order to begin a trip to bring my boat home. I began my new life, my new way of living, my new hope in an amazing future. I became a boat owner, one that I can live in if I choose to do so. That first night I went onto my boat for the first time as mine and the first time by myself. I brought my things aboard and then sat down in the cockpit and ate a Wendy’s baked potato with cheese, bacon and sour cream. I just sat there and wondered at the newness and the craziness of what I had done. After eating, I made my bed and went fast to sleep. My life had begun a new trajectory, one that had never been attempted so far.

4 Degrees – Mine now, renaming later

About three in the morning I had to pee. I wasn’t quite sure how to use the toilet on board yet so I went to the marina house and relieved myself there. The night was so bright, a full moon, I didn’t need a flashlight. The peace and the calm of the mid night air, with the freshness of the unknown, was riveting. Back to bed, back to sleep, the morning comes quickly and it’s time to arise. I sit up and smile. I’ve made the right decision. I don’t know much about sailboats yet, but I have a hunger to learn. I place my things as best I can and go back onshore to take a shower.

A little while later the previous owner arrives, brings her things aboard, and we begin to prepare to sail. She has graciously offered to help me take the boat home and to teach me as much sailing as possible along the way. She’s patient and cautious. She never shows frustration nor gives up. I have a hard time at first realizing it’s my boat, and keep asking her if I could do something. She finally tells me, “It’s your boat now,” and laughs. Over the next three days we work together and I begin to gain confidence in my abilities. We stayed at a marina on Friday night and are off to a great start in the morning. I’m anxious to get on our way because our first stop was short of what we had hoped to reach. I really wanted to get her to her final destination for this trip where I could dock her for free for a week. Money is tight, I did just buy a boat after all.

Beautiful day but not much wind…

Saturday looks good but then when we enter the Portsmouth area the winds die down. We travel along the intracoastal waterway (ICW) and are at the mercy of our electric engine. We had fully charged it and it was fine but we wanted to use it carefully to maximize how far we could go. Night comes and we anchor in the middle of the canal, set the generator on and go to sleep, hoping for her to charge well over night. The battery is low but not too bad, not yet. When the generator goes off in the middle of the night, about 4:30 that morning, I get up and check the batteries. Nothing. It didn’t charge. Problem. We can’t sleep anymore and fix us some breakfast. The sun rises beautifully, removing the night and showing us the grandeur of our surroundings. Peace. God is here somewhere. His presence is in everything I see. The wonders of his creation are all around us.

The beauty of the ICW at dawn.

Sunday we make way and head toward Coinjock. We’re getting closer, hoping for winds enough to get us there. The engine is down to its last three percent and there’s no way to charge it. I’m counting the markers and the wind is dying down. It’s time to call for a tow. Always safety before comfort, we continue sailing in slow motion getting as close to our destination as we possibly can. We are being passed by yachts more than twice our size and finally I see a boat speeding towards us, coming to pull us in the rest of the way. The waters in the channel are plenty high but just to each side it drops to as little as 2-3 feet and without our engine and so little wind it’s all I can do to keep us from grounding.

Attached to the side of the tow boat… Relief!

Seeing him pull along side of us was a huge relief. We dropped our sails quickly and stayed I stayed as close to the center of the channel as I could. Once we were tied up, I could finally breathe. I’m not certain how it must feel for him to pull another boat but on my side it gave me a chance to rest. Being towed is interesting. He pulled us to our docking and our adventure for the weekend was over. We’re picked up by her husband, drive back to Norfolk and I drive myself back home… Home by midnight isn’t bad. I’ve accomplished more than I could imagine and there’s more to come.