Sunday, October 24, 2010


… how people arrange their lives to go sailing full time? I sure did, because that was our goal. I scoured blogs and books and magazines, but every story about cruising full time began with "We threw the lines…." But how did they do it? Did they sell everything or keep a storage unit somewhere? How did they choose their cruising boat and how did they outfit it? Which clothes did they keep, and did they take along the stapler and the dictionary? Did they ever feel alone and tired? Was their To Do List so long they feared that they would never reach the end?

I started this blog to leave a blueprint for those who came after us, a daily log of each decision we faced, each land tie we broke and each footprint we made on our plod toward the water. My first post was on July 19, 2008.

Over on the left, you can find links to two years of posts on topics like how we chose our cruising boat, those endless To Do Lists, the rigors of downsizing, the emotional toll of reinventing our lives, and a surprising and horrible financial crisis that threatened to derail our plans.

But we did it!! We successfully completed a 5-year plan to sell everything and sail away on October 24, 2010!

If you haven't already made the leap, come on over to our new blog: We sailed for four years and have set off on ever new adventures. Don't miss a thing.

Friday, October 22, 2010


Manteo, NC -- Tomorrow is the first day of the rest of my life.

I know what you're thinking. Every day is the first day of the rest of my life, but let me explain.

Tomorrow, at long last, we will untie the lines and leave this dock in Manteo, sail out of the Roanoke Sound and leave our home waters. In this marathon plod to the water, tomorrow is the finish line, the successful culmination of a 10-year plan. We made it. We did it. Our plod to the water is complete.

While I don't know yet exactly how I'll feel tomorrow, today is an emotional salad bar. Tomorrow is the first day of school, graduation, every vacation rolled into one, an appointment for a root canal, my final exam in calculus, the first day of a new job, Christmas and birthdays and anniversaries. Tomorrow is everything.

And as we head south, we'll be following Old House Channel, notoriously treacherous, strewn with markers that tenuously guide the way. As our navigator, I study the charts to determine what lies ahead and then scan the horizon, watching, waiting with faith that the next mark will not only appear but make the path clear. And just when my nerves start to fray, my faith wavering, knowing that a wrong turn means running into underwater perils, the mark appears.

But at some places along the way, the water, the marks and our movement through them conspire to create an optical illusion, and I experience moments of utter confusion. The only way to find perspective is by looking back at the last mark and then looking ahead to the next, lining them up to make sure we are on the path.

As we have navigated this long, long plod to the water, through the dense fog of an economic downturn, so many times I scanned the horizon ahead with faith that a mark would materialize in time to show us which way to turn. And each time, at what felt like the very last moment, there it was, tardy in my book, but there all the same.

Just as on the water, that next mark points us to where we were going but not how to get there. It is the path behind us that gives us the perspective we need to make our way. It is this blog that reminds us where we've been. This is where we look to line up all the marks behind us together with the one ahead to know we are in the channel, to assure us that we are on the right path.

And tomorrow, as we finally leave the dock behind us and set off into the wide open water that is our future, we laugh, we sing, we weep, we tremble in fear and jump with joy.

And then we scan the water ahead, looking for the next mark.

Chip and me and Cara Mia, we three. May we always sail on fair winds and kind seas.

TO OUR READERS: This blog, has now ended. Our long plod TO the water is now complete. You will now find us We hope you'll come along for the ride.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


Bridgeville, DE -- A four-night stop at Chip's parents in Delaware to provision.

Monday, October 11, 2010


Annapolis, MD -- As we stood at the gate of the Annapolis sailboat show this morning, I felt overwhelmed by how very far we've come in one year. When we entered the show last year, sad and wistful, Isabella, our old boat, was back in the Outer Banks having her belly repaired. We were living in a small apartment with no viable prospects for the business, wondering if the waiting would ever end.

Last year, we watched with aching hearts as a long line of sailboats headed south from Annapolis, their bows pointing toward the Bahamas.

This year, we enter the show triumphant, no longer dreamers but cruisers, inexperienced, yes, but ready to take our place in line heading south as soon as we return to the Outer Banks.

Our shopping list for the boat show was titled "Mission Critical." This was not intended to be melodramatic but rather was descriptive of the contents:
  1. Life Raft
  2. Life Jackets
  3. Foul Weather Gear
  4. Anchor
We were waiting at the gate at opening time with our friend John, who came along as part moral support, part sherpa, part tempering agent and part court jester, all well served.

We were among the first 20 people to enter the show (nerds) and were escorted out at closing (nerds). In the meantime, we snagged an amazing deal on a Revere life raft and two Mustang harness life jackets, all the while trying on every major brand of foul weather gear.

Mission accomplished.

One amazing year. One amazing shopping trip.

One happy toast to good times -- despite the fact that the bartender was pissed at the world as embodied by Chip, and dumped half a bottle of nutmeg in his painkiller. Look at that!

Saturday, October 9, 2010


And below:

Manteo, NC -- Our friend Pete helping us with electronics installation. He'll be continuing his help from above and below while we drive to the Annapolis sailboat show.

Thanks, Pete!!!

Friday, October 8, 2010


Manteo, NC -- Boat projects sound so easy in theory, but the old formula about tripling your time estimate when planning a boat job seems conservative to me.

So, the new radar and GPS arrived, but the old stainless steel stand is too short, so we had to order a new one.

The new standard for a stainless steel helm stand is 1.5", but we had to order the old 1" pipe, so it would fit the current (old) pedestal. Why does it matter? All the instrument wires have to be threaded through the stainless steel tube.

The new equipment comes with plugs that are just over an inch wide, and just a little wider than our old 1" pipe. All the wires will have to be cut, threaded and spliced or traced back to their source, disconnected, pulled back to the helm, threaded through the new pipe, pulled from the helm back to their original source and reconnected.

And those wide plugs that make the new equipment so easy to just plug and go? They are wider than the PVC conduit inside the mast -- the conduit that keeps the wires from clanging around inside the mast, which is a hollow metal tube. Nothing to do about that, so now we have two wires free-ranging in there, lying-in-wait to torture us on rough nights.

Top all this off by chasing the old wires through hatches, under tanks and behind the walls -- and then threading the new wires through the same paths. We did this today, only to discover that the new wires aren't quite long enough to reach the helm, so we now have to figure out how to get them extended.

Retro-fitting. This is how sailors learned to curse.

Thursday, October 7, 2010


Manteo, NC -- Our new GPS and radar have arrived. We're taking apart everything at the helm to make way for the new configuration to be installed.

I had the compass out and was peering down into the well beneath it. When I setting the compass back in place, I thought, "Wow, we better be sure to get the compass back in with north pointing the right way!"

I'm not making this up. I actually thought this.

Sometimes I really scare myself.