Great Boats Travel Alike

Brian and I continued to wait out a blasting northeast wind before moving once again to cross the Albermarle Sound. We’d grown quite fond of our anchorage behind Durant Island; waking when the crabbers came ’round to check their traps, watching the local Ospreys hunt, fishing for our own fresh Blue Crabs for supper, and each night watching the sun fade away behind an untouched, North Carolinian wilderness. We tuned into local radio stations to get a good does of NPR news and stories, hip-hop, and country. We were well connected to the outside world with 4G which enabled us to check emails, chat with family and friends, and do some much needed researching pertaining to outfitting the new Alliage 41 awaiting us in France. We had been moving, moving, moving! In truth, for the moment, we were enjoying our solitude prior to our return to the hustle and bustle of land.

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Solitude is…well…it can become quite lonesome even when sharing it with your spouse (some may argue especially when sharing it with your spouse). And so, on this particular evening as we laid out our supper buffet style in the cockpit, we were quite surprised and excited to see a sailboat in the distance moving toward us. The sight of the sailboat ignited new conversation, “It’s coming straight at us,” “Well, it’s 5:30, must be coming over to anchor,” “We should invite them for drinks,” “What drinks!? We’ve got one beer left in the cupboard!” And so the anticipation for the new arrival built as the sailboat motored closer, and closer, and closer until Brian exclaimed, “That’s a Westsail!”

Sure enough, our new neighbor was another Westsail 32. Once within shouting range we heard a loud, “Helllllooooo Rode Trip! I’m SO excited you are here!” We waved and yelled back, “Hellllloooo! Welcome to our anchorage!” The Captain anchored his Westsail and without delay Brian hopped into our dinghy, which was already in the water, and dinghied over to pick up our new friend for a visit. We welcomed aboard Peter. He is also sailing northbound on s/v Onapua. Peter is just beginning his own adventures and sharing on his website: www.onapua.com

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We invited Peter to join us for dinner. As it turned out plain ‘ol black beans, corn, cheese, and homemade tortillas were a tasty meal after a hard day’s travel! We were honored to learn that Peter has followed our travels by reading our blog and that some of our decisions were helpful to him throughout his own sailing preparations. Brian, Peter, and I swapped sailing stories and talked technical about Westsails. Peter’s enthusiasm for his newfound sailing lifestyle reminded Brian and I why we too love this lifestyle. There is a connectedness here with fellow cruisers and an appreciation for the natural beauty that surrounds us.

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Hoppy Hitchhikers Hide & Seek

We’ve had all walks of life aboard Rode Trip, and I’m not just referring to single-handers. I’m referring to critters great and small who despite our home’s watery foundation manage to hop aboard and hitch a ride.  Some are in need of respite, such as birds with weary wings during a long journey.  Some are in need of rescue from the water, not their own natural habitat.  Some may simply be exploring.  Discoveries of these creatures are usually surprising, sometimes alarming, and almost always accompanied by a loud, “AAAHHHHHHH!!!! EEW EEW!!” followed by a long winded sigh from Brian.  Some critters are welcome guests, others are quickly tossed overboard.

Brian and I were motoring in the Intracoastal Waterway through the Alligator River – Pungo River Canal.  We’d stopped that evening at the end of the canal and dropped the hook about one-quarter mile from shore in the Alligator River.  Sometime during the night, our most recent hitchhikers hopped aboard.  The next morning, underway once again, we were bashing against choppy waves created by a strong north wind.  I came into the cockpit presenting breakfast, and as I sat on the port side I noticed something green butted up against the wall of the winch.  “Oh, a chrysalis!”  I leaned over for a closer look.IMG_9772

Hmmm, this was not a chrysalis.  Once again I’d confirmed to myself that I should really be wearing my glasses.  Upon even closer inspection, this was a frog!  A tiny, very green, soundly sleeping frog!IMG_9777

This was a most welcome hitchhiker.  How could I (meaning Brian at my command) toss overboard such a cute little fella?  “Let’s call him Toby,” I suggested.  “I think it’s a girl,” Brian replied.  Since the name Toby happened into my brain without much prompting I had to think for some time about a girl name for the frog.  By then, we’d stopped our trip because once we entered the open Abermarle Sound the 25 knots of north wind right on our nose was slowing our progress too much to continue.  We ducked behind the protection of Durant Island, just north of the Alligator River Wildlife Preserve.  Brian tied the tiller once we’d set the anchor.  He moved aside one of the cockpit cushions and out hopped a second frog!  “Ah, hah!  That one we’ll call Juliet,” I announced.  The second frog found itself a cozy nook in the crevice of the boomkin.

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We identified these as Green Tree Frogs.  Found in North Carolina along the Coastal Plain, Green Tree Frogs are quite abundant in wetland regions and swamps.  They are nocturnal; which explains their sound napping during choppy seas.  At night time they can be quite acrobatic while in search of flying insects to eat.  Just after sunset, Brian and I went to the cockpit with a flashlight to check on the hitchhikers.  Both Toby and Juliet had moved slightly from their previous positions.  While searching for Juliet, Brian found a third…fourth…fifth…Green Tree Frogs were hopping about the boomkin as if it were a jungle gym!  In total, we’d counted eight frogs!  But can they swim?  Had they hopped aboard from a floating log?

The next morning I went to the cockpit straightaway to check on the frogs.  They had all snuggled into nooks and crannies; the boomkin posts, the propane box, on top of the tiller.  I managed to find five of the eight.  The Green Tree Frogs were soundly sleeping, awaiting arrival at the next scheduled stop, Elizabeth City.  IMG_9785 IMG_9786 IMG_9788 IMG_9789 IMG_9792

New Blog Post

What’s new around here? Lots of inquiring minds are asking, “Where are you,” and, “How are you,” and, “When are we going to see you!?” So here is the scoop. We have not been lounging around on the beach or kicking back sipping cocktails. We’ve been moving Rode Trip, day by day, northbound toward the Chesapeake. It’s been a long trip back to the United States from Panama!

After returning to Bocas del Toro, Panama we spent a grand total of two days cleaning the boat inside and out and preparing to depart. From Bocas we sailed an unforgiving, upwind passage. It all started smoothly as we motored east through light winds, trying to make as much east as possible prior to the trades building. Then the wind built and we changed our course to north. This was one of my worst passages as I was terribly seasick! I spent most of my watches bent over the railing, hurling whatever remained of my insides over the side. I simply could not adjust to the motion of sailing upwind; with 20-25 knots of north-northeast wind against us Rode Trip made slow progress slamming into stalling waves though she tried with a reefed main and jib. The motion was jolting, and the crashing waves were loud against the hull. My biggest challenge was to stay hydrated. Brian kept water at the ready and I sipped now and then. I managed to keep down about four pretzel rods and some applesauce. After four days, I was never so happy to reach Providencia!

We spent one week in Provodencia to rest and recover from our trip. Providencia was just as fabulous as it had been during our first visit. The dry season had ended, all the flora was lush and green. The days were hot and the nights cooled just enough for a comfortable sleep. The east winds funneled through the boat like an industrial fan, steady 25-ish knots for days. And when the rains came they were short lived. We reconnected with people we’d met during our first visit to the island. Soon enough, it was time to leave once again.

From Providencia we sailed directly to Key West, Florida. During the first 36 hours we faced the treacherous upwind, but this time the wind was lighter, 15 knots, and we added the staysail to our powerhouse sail plan. I only threw up twice, which was a vast improvement! The remainder of the passage was lovely; we spent a total of eight days on the water. Taking six-hour shifts at watch we were each well rested, but still stifling hot! Most nights we marveled (I marveled, Brian looked out tentatively) at lightening shows from nearby thunderstorms. During the days we lounged about the boat cooking and tidying, reading, and trying to keep cool by dousing ourselves with sea water and fresh water rinsing at the end of the day. Arriving at Key West marked the end of passage-making as we know it with Rode Trip. From there, it would be Intracoastal Waterway and short hops on the outside as we’d continue north along the east coast…

We are still cruising, although treating it like our job to deliver our boat to the Chesapeake. Aside from short visits in areas where we have friends we’ve been moving every day…at a steady 4.5 knots. We hoped outside from Key West to Lake Worth, FL and then slogged through the state along the ICW. We made another hop from Amelia Island at Fernandina Beach, FL to Wrightsville Beach, NC. That was a fabulous downwind sail for two days with one long 24 hours of motoring on a glassy ocean to complete the trip. Most recently from Wrightsville Beach, NC we hopped outside for a long, 70nm day to Beaufort, NC where will continue north from this morning. Our final destination is Deltaville, VA where we have found very affordable yard storage for Rode Trip. But we really would rather see her sell while she is well maintained and sailing. A yard is simply no place for a boat!