Posted by: nosmokingsails | November 30, 2010

Sunsets, Sunrises, and Possibilities

We made it to Beaufort, NC, a beautiful little town at the bottom end of the Outer Banks of North Carolina.  We’ve had no phone signal since we left Elizabeth City, and we spent three days motoring or sailing as far as we could.  This is me trying to sum those days up.

***Photography Notice: If you’ve tried to open my photos and they seem to take a long time to load on your computer, that is because I’ve been uploading photos with a much too large file size!  From now on, I am taking Rob’s advice and my photos will be a smaller size so they will open faster!***

My one picture from Elizabeth City:

We left Elizabeth City on Saturday the 27th, after docking there since before Thanksgiving.  We found it to be a fairly quiet place with many people who told us what they thought of it:

Kids at the park said: “There is absolutely nothing to do here.”

The Assistant Harbormaster said: “Elizabeth City is a great place to raise a child!  You should stay here!”

Multiple people said: “You HAVE to go to the China Buffet!”

I think we agreed with the China Buffet supporters, since we ended up eating there on Thanksgiving and it was really amazing.  The best part of the city for us (which is either sad or charming, I guess!).  I did like the Museum of the Albemarle, though.  And the free town docks were great!

Our crossing of the Albemarle Sound, which is notoriously stormy and has a bad rep due to it’s shallowness and the fact that it only has wind currents.  This creates really choppy waves that just end up smashing against the boat over and over as you cross.  We picked a good day with NW winds so we were able to sail across it despite the, once again, “small craft advisory”!  (Why do these keep happening to us?)  This one was pretty tame, though and we even sailed through the Alligator Bridge once we crossed the sound!  It was a little scary and fun to sail through an opening highway bridge, but Rob did it perfectly!

The Alligator River was wide and the woods around it supposedly have a lot of animals in them, but they were too far for us to really see anything.  We anchored near the top of another canal, right before sunset and this was our view:

We paddled our dingy down this creek and scared some birds, played with pussy willows, and made pathways through the tall marsh grass.  I was nervous about animals, though I was also dying to see them.

This is our boat in one of the most beautiful anchorages we have found yet:

And Rob thought the sunset reminded him of Arizona:

We woke at sunrise the next morning and motored through the canal and down another river to Belhaven.  Belhaven seemed to be a neat place to spend more time, but we wanted to push onwards.  We got fuel at a marina, and the man there said, “Here’s what you gotta do: you anchor down near the bridge and dingy down the creek to the convenience store and get yourselves some cheap beer, then you sit on your deck and drink and it, and you think about how lucky you are to be on a boat.”

It was really funny, and we did anchor in another great spot, close to that creek he mentioned, and now we know that the convenience store actually is a HESS Gas station that sells much cheaper gas than a marina (obviously), and when they couldn’t take my credit card because their machine was down, we walked outside and saw yet another HESS Gas station across the street!  Very strange, and sooo convenient for getting a dingy-full of gas for the boat in the future!  A definite stop to remember!

The only problem we had with Belhaven was this:

In case you can’t tell – this is my bare footprint in the FROSTY ICE that was covering our deck when we woke up at 6:30am.  We both slipped on the deck and were not happy.  Actually, our exact words to each other were, “Ahh! Let’s get the f_ _ _ out of here!!”  While shaking and drinking coffee and hustling to get moving.

For my mom, this was the beautiful sunrise as we left Belhaven:

We sailed down some wonderful rivers on our way south and were overjoyed to be able to sail downwind and motor, covering almost 70 miles in one day, from sunrise to sunset!  Yay!

This is Rob helping our jib sail us downwind faster:

When we were almost in Beaufort, I saw this house on the side of the canal and I think my mom should buy it for herself:

We anchored in what the charts say is 2 feet of water in Beaufort, which is actually okay for our boat, since although at low tide we sit on the ground with our cute little keel nestled in the sand – with a trimaran it is really okay to do that.  We even plan to beach her somewhere at some point to inspect the bottom!  And at a higher tide we can easily motor away!

Beaufort is really amazing.  We’ve seen pelicans and relatives of palm trees and it is warmer here!  No frost on deck in the mornings and we actually don’t like to keep our 20 degree sleeping bag on us throughout the night now!  I love how small this town is – and the wild horses that are on an island nearby (though I have not and probably won’t see them this time).  There are pecan trees here and a sweet old man offered us one to try!  We also were able to find showers for less than $5 dollars each!  And they were great showers.  We definitely LOVE Beaufort.

One funny thing about this town is – the library is inside what used to be a grocery store.  we had to walk up a four lane road with no sidewalks (for a few blocks anyways), and almost turned back.  But then we saw Rite Aid right next to the Public Library in a plaza.  So strange!  And the library is really cool – I wanted to sit in the children’s section because they have these wooden boats with stuffed animals for kids to sit inside of and read!  Ah!  But I decided to act like my age, and sit in the proper computer study areas while Rob is out wandering in the darkness.

Disclaimer: We will be going through some really remote parts of the ICW in the coming week or more – so updates here might not be too frequent!  But I will write when I can!  (And Rob WILL write on here — eventually.)

One more fun fact:  people from the north who sail south for the winter are called “snow birds” – so pretty!

Though I have to admit, I realize more and more that I don’t really want to live in the north much longer…maybe it’s my frequent trips to India, Kenya, and the north island of New Zealand that have killed my love of winter, but regardless, I can only be thankful for Rob’s ease of adaptation to my needs and his own adventurousness that allows him to sail with me so far – with a completely open horizon before us.  We can really just decide to end up anywhere we wish to, and that’s such a beautiful feeling to have and know inside your heart.  (Though Mom and Dad, be warned, if I do decide to settle in the south, I will be coming up to get my doggie!)

Posted by: nosmokingsails | November 24, 2010

Dreamy Colorful Trees

The Great Dismal Swamp was the most incredible, peaceful and amazing part of our trip thus far.

I have a zillions photos to go through before I can add, but I do plan to add some to this post later!

We motored slowly down the glass waterway of the canal, framed on either side by arching maples, pines, cedars, and sycamore trees.  The sycamores impressed me the most here: they look as if they are ghosts dressed up like trees, but where they get close to the sky they shed their bark and turn white.

We were utterly aghast at the difference between this type of traveling and the sailing we have done thus far.

The day and two nights we spent at the Visitor Center inside of the Dismal Swamp were filled with forest walks in the light and darkness and our own sensing of the deep history of this place.  The human ghosts of the Underground Railroad still seem to be here along with the black bears that stay in hiding.

I also loved seeing the mostly yellow foliage here.  There were patches of brilliant reds which stood out even more because there were less of them than what we are used to from New England.  A part of us has probably remained anchored here.  Tied against the trees that grow out of the canal edges, loving water as much as we do.  Loving to cast their arms and leaves across the surface of the canal, dancing.

The visual:

The view ahead.

The view behind.

No Smoking at the free NC Visitor Center dock.

The ghostly sycamores.

The path.

We walked through leaves of gold…


Posted by: nosmokingsails | November 22, 2010

Follow the Mermaids

Norfolk, being a major port city, has taken the mermaid as its symbol and all over the city you can see artsy mermaid sculptures pointing as if towards the ocean.  Of course, I got very excited and the cover of my scrapbook/guidebook of the ICW has this phrase taped onto it: “Follow the Mermaids”, cut out of the brochure of our favorite Norfolk marina.

Here are the results of my photo shoot:

The fountain mermaid.

The floral mermaid.

The pagoda mermaid.

The sailing mermaid.

The library mermaid.

The gold mermaid.

Posted by: nosmokingsails | November 21, 2010

Norfolk, VA

We left Cape May at 8:30am on Thursday, November 18th, and sailed past the Delaware Bay mouth with ease and fair winds and currents pushing us along at 5-7 knots!

By evening, however, those pesky little “small craft advisories” were starting up again.  This time because of NW winds at 15 knots and gusts of 20-30.  We managed this with a heavily reefed main sail (meaning we rolled the sail up along the bottom so not as much of it was out and catching the wind), and using our storm jib (the front sail on the boat, which looked like a thong compared to the full coverage jib we usually use!).

We still traveled at 5-7 knots during the night with only our tiny storm jib, the reefed main, and the mizzen sail up.  I drove from midnight until 7am, and didn’t have to wake Rob up for any help!  Yay! (though he later said that if he knew we were going over 6 knots, he probably would have wanted to take down the mizzen or at least reef it, but I just really wanted to go faster – AND we had very little wave action due to the NW winds, so the wobbling was not bad at all).

It was a beautiful night with hardly any ships along the horizon and Rob made contact with a cute little 30 foot Cape Dory sailboat who did the same trip as us and arrived in Norfolk just a bit before we did on Friday night!

My sailing friend John advised us to not enter Norfolk after dark due to the insane amount of Navy ships and other giant ships, but we found that with the other sailboat also traveling through the city ahead of us, and with all of the lights, we felt confident we could make it to the anchorage within Norfolk (rather than anchor outside the city first, then have to sail there today).  This was our longest sail thus far – we anchored at 7:30pm in Norfolk (35 hours total)!

Norfolk is SO BEAUTIFUL!  We are anchored right beside the channel, so we get to see the pretty city lights from the boat and there is a free dingy dock in Norfolk by the Nauticus Museum, which is also at what they call “Mile 0” of the ICW (Intercoastal Waterway).  It sounds so badass!  They mark all the points along the ICW “Mile 47” or “Mile 600”.

The first Florida town on the ICW is at Mile 600-something.  Yikes.  And the place where we need to sail across the Gulf Stream to Bahamas is at Mile 1000-something.  Double yikes.  I didn’t realize it would be THAT far!  But we will enjoy it.  Next part we are doing is called the Great Dismal Swamp Canal.  Fun!

And I like that it is warmer, but the nights are still nippy enough for me to want to get a bit more south soon.

Pictures will follow!  Until then, I must get caught up with work and wander this new city where you can get frozen yogurt buffet style with any toppings you want at a cost of .27 cents an ounce!  Ah!  (Rob did not agree that gummy bears are a proper sundae topping though.)

A couple night shots:

I like being the blur in the foreground of the beautiful cityscape!

New haircuts definitely call for artsy light shots taken by myself on deck!


Here is a sunrise photo of our view of Norfolk from our anchorage, just before we motored south:

Posted by: nosmokingsails | November 16, 2010

Cape May and the New Jersey Shore

We finally left the marina in Jersey City, NJ, at 7:30am on Saturday, November 13th, a little sad to go but anxious to get to warmer weather!

Sailing the New Jersey shore: we had beautiful weather, though very light winds during our longest sail thus far (time-wise) — 32 hours straight.  We were forced to anchor in the marshes across from Atlantic City because of the weather and wind changing.

The passage into the open ocean past Sandy Hook, however, was not without some issues:

Kris:  “Aren’t you going to eat your oatmeal?”

Rob: “After I get us past the 10 foot breaking waves!!”

Kris looked up and finally noticed what they were sailing through while she was peacefully making their special garlic and veggie oatmeal down below.  Funny!  And actually, the waves were really not that bad and our trusty little tri got over them very easily!

Kris then ended up taking her longest shift thus far as captain of the vessel, 12 hours, from about 1pm until 1am.  This was a truly deep experience for her, much deeper than the sound of Madonna and Counting Crows blasting through her headphones as she steered the boat under the glow of a quarter moon and a million stars.

In Atlantic City, Kris got a bit anxious to get further because she was starting to come down with a cold and the wind today was supposed to be coming from the east, which is a bad wind to sail along the Jersey shore with.  She was afraid they would be trapped in Atlantic City (or was it Dubai?) for many days and just wanted to get to Cape May.

Rob gave her command of the ship again and she made the decision to leave Atlantic City as soon as the fog lifted around their boat about 12:30pm on Monday the 15th.  Kris stupidly hadn’t realized that the fog did not lift over the ocean.  So – they ended up sailing through fog for a while, with Rob at the bow of the boat in his red foul weather gear blasting a horn every now and then and Kris with her hands on the wheel and constant eye on the GPS and the charts spread out before her.

What resulted was one of the most amazing sailing experiences of their life together thus far.

(One view of the ocean as the fog was beginning to clear up, or seemed like it…)

They really worked together without much bickering (possibly none?!) for the entire 10 hours or so that it took them to sail through fog until dark, when the fog did finally lift and the glittering shore of New Jersey shone off the starboard bow for the remainder of the trip.  They both had fun spotting clusters of tug boats in the distance towing barges via their glowing white and red lights.

And Cape May was really all they had hoped it would be.  Easy to navigate at night, as the channel going in by the giant coast guard station had two tall towers on either side with glowing red lights.  Everything went smoothly and they grabbed a mooring just past the coast guard house, safely within the inlet.

Today Kris has been wandering around this cute little town, searching for the elusive power outlet so she can work and charge her computer.

Here is one reason why Kris loved Cape May:

And here is another:

And another (loved seeing more Autumn foliage here, and with pumpkins and black fences!):

And one reason my mom is DYING to come here (not specifically this house but apparently Cape May has the most Victorian houses of the country outside San Francisco):

Okay, one last shot of the vacant beach, sooo nice:

Um, I also did not mean to write most of this in third person!  I think the novel I am working on this month, for novel writing month, is influencing me here!

Much love to everyone reading, though, and don’t worry – I won’t be deciding to sail through fog anymore!  I learned so incredibly much yesterday though!

Posted by: nosmokingsails | November 7, 2010

New York Pictures by Kris

Here are some of my NYC impressions:

The Queensboro bridge was really what began my new appreciation for bridges.  When you sail under them and truly see the way they dig themselves into the water and allow so much to travel over them—it’s breathtaking.

It was the most incredible experience to sail to New York.  Seeing the city beside the white sails of my home.  Bringing my home to a city of such energy and culture.  I am starting to see that you don’t really know a place until you see it from all angles.  And seeing it from the WATER is like seeing its soul.

Any place with seals swimming in stone and autumn leaves is a place I want to go running!  (the Greenway paths along the East River of NYC)

The leaf-filled cracks of a painted labyrinth dedicated to trees, circles, and harmony.

LOVE the autumn trees of New York.

A lovely pumpkin from one of the Community Gardens.

And a lovely Japanese girl, Mami, one of our sweetest new friends.

Rob took this one of me.  I am thinking he was trying to make it look like I have fairie wings!  (But I’ve told him, my wings are invisible and no one is supposed to know about them!)

Does anyone who knows me think that I can actually walk past a Mother Earth mural without taking a picture?

A really cool metal sculpture in Brooklyn.

Rob tried to tell me the other day that one of my animal totems was a squirrel.  I completely denied it (obviously, who in their right mind would want to be a squirrel!?), but IF I was connected to squirrels in some way, I think I’d like to be as bad ass as this one.  Speaking of squirrels, we saw a BLACK squirrel in a park off Avenue B today.  Seriously.  A BLACK squirrel.  It was almost as startling as if we had seen an alien!  Or a three-headed dog!  Wow.  New York is really filled with wonders.  It is almost like a circus.

Posted by: nosmokingsails | November 7, 2010

New York, New York

Okay so here is a log of our actual miles and hours:

Counting our trip from Block Island to Point Judith, we have traveled a total of 235 miles in 54.5 hours!

We are currently docked at Newport Marina, in Jersey City, because our beautiful friend Dave had a free spot there (his boat is out of water)!  And we are staying in Dave’s amazing apartment in the East Village.  I got to run 5 miles along the East River on greenway paths, and wander the city taking pictures and seeing the community gardens that I really didn’t ever realize existed.  I loved seeing the creative and unique ways that humans have reached out to Nature in this city.  It’s really incredibly inspiring and I am filling with stories here and writing more than ever!

We are stuck here for a while due to way too much wind along the New Jersey coast…but I really can’t be disappointed.  New York is an incredible place to be stranded.

Pictures coming soon!

Posted by: nosmokingsails | November 4, 2010

Bridgeport, CT, a quick stop…

Rob and I didn’t leave Guilford in the rain until 11am or so, and we rode 4-8 foot waves in 10-20 knot winds south-west until 5pm when we reached Bridgeport and were greeted by this lovely view:

We decided to not leave the boat tonight, since we plan to get a super early start tomorrow morning towards NYC!!!

Today was fun for me, I had to constantly keep my hands on the wheel to keep the boat in the right direction, and the waves were like a roller coaster ride, but the fact that we didn’t use our main sail at all and kept the engine running slightly helped make us feel safer and more stable!  I felt like  a weeble wobble toy!  We wobbled and wobbled until we anchored down…now back to reading, writing, and studying tide tables.


Posted by: nosmokingsails | November 3, 2010

Guilford, CT pictures by Kris

Breakfast on the port bow.

The little red shack Kris likes.

A lovely little green sailboat at the docks.

Posted by: nosmokingsails | November 3, 2010

Our sail begins…

Okay, so we left Block Island on October 21st, sailed 18 miles to Point Judith and up into the pond to anchor down.  Engine troubles and fog kept us there much longer than we had hoped…though it was pretty special to leave on our journey south on the day I celebrate as New Year’s Day, November 1st.

Our first long sail of the trip was from Point Judith pond to East River in Guilford, CT.  This took 25 hours and was about 114 miles of sailing.  The overnight sailing was so hard for only two of us, taking shifts of 3-4 hours long, and I was definitely scared of the waves and movement of the boat in unknown waters in the dark.  I think it’s something I just need to get used to though.

Guilford is a pretty little town that reminds me of Wickford, RI.  I’d say more but I’m still pretty tired today, and have a lot of work to catch up on in the library…must go write and work until we walk back to the boat in the dark, eat good food, and sleep early to be ready to sail again tomorrow!


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