Saturday, March 2, 2013

Passage

After eighteen months aboard their Passport 40, Thalia, our friends Pat and Judy have decided to radically change course. They are returning to Colorado, leaving Thalia to be delivered by our good friend Barry to Annapolis for sale.

Pat and Judy sailing on the Neuse New Year's Day 2012
Their adventures aboard extended from Connecticut to The Bahamas. They enjoyed the beauty, serenity and excitement of being offshore, the tension of night voyages through shipping lanes, the middle-of-the-night storms that drag anchors. They learned, as all cruisers do, that life on a boat is full of bumps, bruises and inconvenient surprises, some natural, some self-inflicted.

They are lovely friends with whom we had a weekly game night during the winter of 2011-12, mostly Mah Jong and poker. We joined them to sail Thalia in the stunningly pleasant 2012 New Year's Day Instead of Football Regatta, Cameron dangling legs to windward as our token rail meat.

Pat and I met regularly at The Bean for coffee to trade stories, discuss boat stuff and quietly solve not one of the planet's big problems. Pat introduced me to Rachmaninov's Piano Concerto No. 13 and the smoky flavor of chipotle chili pepper.  Judy and Beth -- along with LuAnn -- formed a book club that they continued virtually when they could while Judy was under way.

Thalia departing for points north

From Oriental up the ICW through the Pungo-Alligator River canal to Hospital Point in Portsmouth near Mile Marker Zero to Yorktown on the Chesapeake and offshore to Sandy Hook, New Jersey and eastward off Long Island to Block Island and Mystic Seaport, Connecticut. Then back. With a new Beta to push her, Thalia made a late season passage south hopping in and out of inlets from Beaufort to Masonboro to Charleston, Fernandina Beach, Ft Pierce and Miami before crossing the Gulf Stream to Bimini.

Thalia departs for the south on a frigid winter morning
When their anchor dragged at Stirrup Key during a passing cold front (at 0130 in higher winds than forecast), they headed north into raging, dark and angry seas for seventeen hours to reach the safety of Lucaya Harbor, Grand Bahama, where Judy injured her good knee. They rested a while to let Judy's wounded knee heal, then departed for a return to the States for medical care. The weather seven hours out of Lucaya was, once again, not as forecast, the crossing of the Gulf Stream rougher than planned.

In heavy seas cooking a meal is not always practical and even boiling water can be challenging, if not dangerous, when the cook is being tossed around the galley by the rush and buck of a boat in short period seas. This part of the cruising life is fun only for a masochist, but it is part of cruising -- facing the sea and wind conditions that nature presents and adapting to them as best a sailor can.

Pat at the helm on an overnight sail to Masonboro Inlet
With another week of watches at sea and several nights in harbor, Pat and Judy had lots of time to consider options and next steps. By the time they made the overnight hop back north from Masonboro Inlet to Beaufort, on a night when the temperatures inland plunged into the low 20s, they had decided to return to the Rockies.

All voyages end, somewhere, sometime. Pat and Judy's saltwater voyage has ended where it began, here in Oriental. Their mountain sojourn begins here as well. We will miss them.

1 comment:

  1. Glad to see that Pat and Judy are back in Oriental. I like that they took the chance and went for it on their boat. Not enough people have the guts.

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