The craziest thing I’ve ever done

June 14, 2019

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Sunrise at Green Turtle Cay, Bahamas

After waiting for some rainy weather to pass by, we sailed to Manjack Cay in the afternoon.  We anchored for one last hike on shore and to cook dinner.

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Eric staring at the ocean

We were mentally preparing for the journey.

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Last sunset in the Bahamas

 

From Brendle’s dock, I watched a spotted eagle ray cruise around the anchorage.

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After eating we finished prepping the boat for our voyage, checked the weather one last time, and began our greatest sailing adventure at 10:30 pm, sailing off into the moonlight.

From Manjack Cay we were roughly 500 miles from our destination – Beaufort Inlet, North Carolina.

 

June 15, 2019

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Squalls up ahead

It was a fairly uneventful night, however the sunrise showed squalls moving in, so we reefed for a rainstorm first thing in the morning. We struggled with light winds for most of the afternoon, and motored through becalmed times.  At this point the seas were rather confused, and we both puked, breaking my winning streak of having never puked on the boat.

 

June 16, 2019

Ocean sunrise sequence:

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I never can get over how  blue the water is out here:

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Today we got out the spinnaker for sailing in calm winds. In the afternoon, a rugged looking swallow landed on our boat.  The poor thing is over two hundred miles from the nearest shoreline. I think this bird must be crazy, just like us. I leave out a cup of water and some sesame seeds, but it soon flies off again. Fair winds my friend.

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Swallow perched on a jib sheet

Squalls are all around us, but somehow we manage to avoid most of them.

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Squalls on the ocean crossing, June 2019

 

In some respects, I’m doing better than I thought I would. Although I puked once, I’ve been able to mostly carry my own weight as crew on this journey. But I’m stressed, tired, and constantly in fear of the water, the weather, the wind. I am not cut out for this, but I’m doing it anyway.

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Toughing out a five night ocean passage, June 2019

During my night watch one of the traveler pieces that controls the mainsail broke. I made sure to collect all the pieces with the hopes that we could reassemble it, and rigged the mainsheet to be controlled by a winch. It seemed brutish, but it worked. And we kept sailing.

My fix was sturdy enough that we were able to keep using it while Eric had breakfast, drank his coffee, and then once he felt alert enough, could put the pieces back together. It’s somewhat comforting to know that when things go wrong, I am able to handle it. Even if I don’t like it. I guess I’m tougher than I realized.

Sunset on the ocean:

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June 17, 2019

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Eric at the helm

Sleep deprivation is getting to us. It seems to be affecting Eric more than me because I’m able to nap during the day but he can only fall asleep at night. Apparently when I fall asleep Eric can’t wake me up even if he shakes me, and so a couple times on this passage he’s tried to wake me up to change watch, but instead he had to go back to the helm until I wake up on my own. I’ve tried to take most of the night watch so that he can get some sleep, but he is definitely running a deficit. And even with the patch I am loopy with motion sickness and delirium.

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The sunsets are always so beautiful on the ocean

 

June 18, 2019

The wind is finally blowing strong.  A bit too strong for my taste. We’re cruising at 8 knots, the fastest speed I’ve ever seen the boat sustained. The boat feels like it’s gonna shake apart.

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The map says – the western extent of the sargasso sea

By dinner time we’re surfing down six foot waves. I’m sitting at the helm as my view oscillates from looking up at the sky to looking down the water. At least the wind is coming from directly behind us, which makes for the smoothest possible ride, but still I’m starting to panic.

I couldn’t take it anymore and curled up fetal position on the couch.

Then, Eric calls out, “Dolphins! Dolphins riding our bow!”

I crawled out of our bedroom hatch because I felt too exposed to walk along the side of our boat. I counted a group of five, and then a different group of four dolphins riding our bow wake. There are dolphins to our left, and to our right, surfing the waves with us. I watch a mother and baby dolphin jump out of a wave, their bodies hovered completely out of the water alongside us before they splashed down.

I estimated a pod of about fifty dolphins swam with us as we sailed towards North Carolina waters, and they stayed with us for about an hour. My stress level came back down to a tolerable level. We were gonna make it.

 

June 19, 2019

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All three sails deployed – main, jib and jiblet sandwiched between

The blustery wind allowed us to make good time this morning, and once we were within range we checked into customs through an app, which turned out to be a lot easier than we expected. We arrived at Beaufort Inlet to a noticeable amount of swell with wind against current, and the wind continued to pick up speed as we approached land. But we had to press on, knowing it wouldn’t get any better.

We tried to dock at the city marina in Morehead City, however the conflicting wind along with shallow rocks made it far too challenging considering our sleep-deprived state, so we abandoned that plan and found another marina that could take us, which turned out to be the best option available. This marina was positioned on the leeward side of the island and made for an easy parking job to tie to the dock.

After we took showers, our friend Brendan picked us up and we enjoyed a glorious dinner at a local pub. I was far too exhausted to remember the name of the place, but they had a delectable burger. We stopped by a friend’s house for a bit and chatted with a group of marine biologists, and then hit the grocery store on our way back to the boat. Brendan wore such a pained expression on his face when we confessed that we had failed to catch any fish on our sail from the Bahamas –  I wished he’d been on our crew, we would’ve been eating fish every night!

I fell asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow. That was definitely the craziest thing I’ve ever done.

 

June 20, 2019

I think we both slept for a solid twelve hours.

It was a good thing we left for our ocean passage Saturday night so that we arrived Wednesday afternoon, because the wind only got worse today. We walked to the hardware store twice, and that pretty much took all my energy.

We enjoyed pizza at a nearby pub for dinner, bringing home their homemade Bailey’s chocolate mousse cake. I’ll snack on that deliciousness for a few days.

I’m so glad we stayed at the marina a second night – the wind screeched at over 37 knots at our sheltered dock this evening, it was pretty miserable outside. Our bimini shade shook violently, trying to leave the boat. I don’t think we’ve experienced winds like this since we moved onto the boat.

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An ominous sunset at the marina in Morehead City as the wind whips by

Sleep is all I can think about, but the wind howls so loudly.

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