Back on the Rode

Brian and I didn’t waste any time getting our sea legs back in motion. After many hugs, several kissed babes, and no goodbyes (because we aren’t dropping off the face of the planet for heavens’ sake!) we bid farewell to our beloved friends and paddled our dinghy out to reunite with Rode Trip. It had been a fabulous visit on land but the facts were that September would soon end and it was darn chilly in New England! Time to move south! We spent one night aboard Rode Trip re-settling; putting back into place our freshly laundered mattress cover, cushion covers, pillow cases, comforter, curtains and finding places for all our new provisions. The following morning we cast the lines off the mooring ball and sailed out of the Piscataqua River.

We set sail without a predetermined destination, not typical for passage planning. The five day forecast predicted 10-15 knot northerlies and we figured we’d check the weather en-route and ride the northerlies as far south as we safely could. If the forecast changed dramatically we had designated bail out stops, Newport, RI and Cape May, NJ, where we could enter and anchor for protection. We were confident with this lack of a plan and said farewell to New England as the sun set behind the Boston skyline.

The forecast held, although the wind did build to 15-20 knots with gusts of 25 knots (confirmed by our singing rigging). We continued onward with rolly, downwind sailing. Our biggest challenge was that our new main repeatedly broke the plastic track cars that Brian had installed. While underway, Brian sewed new track cars on three separate times and the fourth time when two more track cars snapped off we said, “That’s enough!” At 10:30pm that evening we changed out the new main for our old main and determined the new main would return once we had obtained metal track cars. We cruised along averaging four knots with a double reefed main and jib, no doubt due to our new provisions weighing us down…four days, 18 hours, and 518 nautical miles later we landed in Norfolk, VA. Talk about heading south in a hurry!

Inquiring Minds Want to Know…

It’s been quite a while since we’ve received any questions to spark an Inquiring Minds post, but since we’ve been on land we’ve been overwhelmed with questions which leads me to believe everyone is wondering the same things.  So with the hope of reaching out to the silent wonderers, I’d like to share and answer the questions everyone is dying to know!  These are great questions and if ya’ll think of any others I’d encourage you to let us know with a comment or email so we can best explain how and/or why we do what we do.

1. How does it feel to be back on land?  We live in close quarters atop the water, so it always feels great to come ashore and stretch our legs for a walk that is farther than ten-yards without holding onto something to steady ourselves.  While at anchor, the boat is rather stable and we do get ashore just about daily.  While traveling on passage our stabilizer muscles get lots of exercise because the boat is rockin and rollin!  Sometimes, yes, we actually do sway a bit when we’ve reached solid ground especially upon return from a long ocean passage.  And, yes, land sickness is real!  Those first steps on land after a long passage can cause some dizziness but it quickly fades as we get our bearings.  But how does it feel to be back on land living in houses and driving cars??  It feels overwhelming and hectic.  We certainly enjoy the conveniences of pressure water, hot water, and refrigeration (we’ve also been reminded to flush a toilet now and then) but we miss the simplicity of our boat and our uninterrupted time together.  We also feel a bit displaced because the boat is our home and while visiting we are staying in other people’s homes.  Everyone has been extremely welcoming and entirely accommodating, it is just not our space or our belongings.

2. How was your trip?  I have interpreted this question in two ways:  1. How was your travel to said destination?  and 2. Did you enjoy your time sailing around to various destinations?  Answering the first interpretation is difficult because our primary mode of transportation is also our home; so travel to said destination could be described by our most recent ocean passage or by how the rental car handled.  Typically we try to specify and then share how our trip went from point A to point B.  Answering the second interpretation is less difficult; of course we enjoyed sailing around to various destinations!  We aren’t finished yet, just making a detour to visit our loved ones and stock the boat on easily attainable goodies in the USA.  This is a lifestyle for us and we’ll be making many, many more trips!

3. Have you gotten boat insurance?  Most of you know that we changed our plans of traveling to the Mediterranean because it was difficult to attain the required liability insurance at an affordable rate.  At this time we have decided to not insure the boat (in fact, it hasn’t been insured since December 2012).  There are several other places in the world where we are able to travel without any mandate for liability insurance.  This was a difficult decision, but boat insurance is expensive and adds stipulations on when and where we can travel. We believe that we can and do make weather conscious decisions in order to avoid most bad weather scenarios.  We also believe that we sail conservatively, practice good seamanship, and soundly anchor our boat.  Are we taking a risk?  Yes!

4. When are you going to the Med?  Our plans for visiting the Mediterranean have been put on hold.  See #3 – we’ve many other places to explore!

5. Have you wanted to throw Brian/Stephanie overboard yet?  This is the polite version of:  Do you fight like cats and dogs in that small space?  No.  We didn’t fight on land and we don’t fight at sea.  No, we are most certainly not the perfect couple, of course we have spats, disagreements, arguments…call it what you will but we don’t all out fight and certainly don’t spat, disagree, or argue very often.  In fact, we get along quite nicely and we actually enjoy spending every moment (and I do mean every moment) together.  Our biggest challenge, and believe me living aboard a 32′ boat presents challenges not only for oneself but also for one’s marriage, is that I get bored quickly when there aren’t people in our vicinity and poor Brian cannot entertain me on his own.  We do everything together, remember, so we can’t sit down for a chat about our day because we’ve both experienced the day together.  Our conversation would be something like, “So remember that time…Yup…That was cool…Yea, that was fun,” and then we’d go about our business cooking, reading, etc.  When connected to the World Wide Web I get my person-person stimulation from emails, blog comments, and Facebook and do stay in touch with many, many people.  I didn’t get the position of Communications Officer by sailing off into the great blue yonder and becoming a hermit.  But when not connected, when in remote locations, and certainly when on an ocean passage it takes about five days before I proclaim, “I’m done!” and Brian has to talk me down from nonsense conversations with our in-house stuffed animal giraffe.

6. How are you surviving without refrigeration?  I miss cheese!  Oh, do I miss cheese!  Brian, as hunter/gatherer/chef, misses the ability to store all of his delicious fishes.  Brian, as captain, misses the clink of ice in his G & T’s.  But we’ve adapted and we continue to eat fresh foods while at anchor.  We purchase time sensitive produce in quantities that we can consume within a few days and we stock long-term produce such as root vegetables, cabbages, apples, oranges, grapefruits, etc. that will keep a bit longer.  We purchase meat for two-three days’ meals in quantities that won’t generate many leftovers and we tend to incorporate any leftovers into breakfast; chicken omelettes, breakfast burritos, pork and rice, you name it we’ll heat it up for a hearty start to our day.  I’ve learned many tricks of the trade from fellow cruisers who were out on the water long before refrigerators were a common occurrence in boats.  For instance, eggs keep for several weeks if you give them a turn now and then and especially if they are farm fresh and have never been refrigerated (none have hatched on us yet).  I have a few other tricks for time sensitive foods.  We also store dried goods and canned goods so that we always have the basic staples and we can create simple meals while underway.  Hmmm…it seems another blog post is in the works…but you get the idea, we certainly aren’t starving.

7. Where are you going next?  Ah, the age old question which is always difficult to answer.  Wherever the wind takes us!  Well, that was last year’s theme but this go around we actually do have plans in the works for destinations that have caught our attention and are presently researching those locations and related weather patterns.  What we do know is that we’ll skip down the east coast as quickly as safely possible, and wait in North Carolina for a hurricane free window to arrive in the Bahamas by early November.  During our time in the Bahamas we’ll visit islands we’ve not yet experienced (there are over 700 Bahamian islands) and we’ll be welcoming friends aboard for Rode Trip vacations.

Sewing Machine Fairy

Brian and I continue to be amazed by the support we receive from our readers. While visiting Pennsylvania, we were contacted by a faithful reader, Marilyn, who has been following our journey every step of the way. Having learned of our torn main sail, she thought we might have use for a sewing machine aboard and offered us hers! We simply couldn’t refuse!

This is our Singer portable, straight stitch, upholstery sewing machine. I use the term portable loosely because back in the day Singer wasn’t messing around when they built these sturdy machines and our reader was not joking when she said we could add the weight to our ballast! This thing must weigh 50lbs! This machine was purchased in 1955 for a car dealership with the intent to repair upholstery. Soon, however, it was determined that the upholstering job was easier done by sending it out to professionals. The machine sat until it was revived in the late 1960’s for a few personal sewing projects, only to have sat once more until now. We have big plans for the sewing machine, having already compiled a list of projects to complete. Brian oiled and greased the sewing machine and it ran like new! As for stowing the machine…I’ll be working on that.IMG_sew

Thanks Marilyn; it’s been a joy to have been in touch and to have finally met in person! We truly appreciate your generosity (and Rode Trip does too!) We hope we can continue to bring some adventure into your days!