Sail sail sail sail sail…sleep   Leave a comment

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Charleston at last! I never thought this city would feel like such an important destination on our journey. It turns out Charleston is special for several reasons. One, it’s our first stop in South Carolina (a new stat for us). Two, we sailed here offshore overnight in the cold and wind without mishap or disaster! Three, as a coincidental reward, we will be staying here for a week before flying to Seattle to visit my mom for Christmas. Pirat will have a snug berth in a marina while we’re gone.

Charleston seems pretty cool. The marina where we’re staying has great rates and is really nice but it’s far from downtown. The marina guy gave us a ride in their free shuttle over to the grocery store yesterday but we had to take a cab back. Some combination of bikes and bus should work in the future but we’ve been warned against biking through the local neighborhood at night. I’m looking forward to exploring an old Southern city, seeing the sights, and just relaxing in one place for a little while.

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Le put the new wind generator on before we left. The blades aren’t

actually bent. This is just what it looks like when it’s spinning

really fast and you take a picture.

The sail from Southport, NC to here started with some entertainment. A funky little sailboat with three texans on it pulled into the fuel dock at Southport before we left. They were friendly and we chatted withe them about the trip. They had just bought their boat and were taking it home to Texas, mostly by way of the ICW. They were considering going out in the ocean for part of the leg to Charleston and became more enthusiastic about the idea when we told them we were sailing there overnight. They ended up leaving before us and when we pulled out it looked like they were heading towards and inlet part way to Charleston. After we raised our sails and set our course they altered theirs to follow us. It was pretty comical because we blasted ahead of them in no time and they couldn’t follow our dead down wind heading because they didn’t have a pole to wing out their jib.

We sailed wing-n-wing with full sails all evening. The wind was light (10 or below) and we flogged around a bit. The highlight of the sail was the pod of dolphins that joined us after sunset. Lee and I went out on deck to check the chart plotter before the first night shift. Lee thought he heard dolphins but I told him it was just waves. After listening for a second, though, we both agreed that there were dolphins surfacing alongside the boat. We could hear them breathe and even heard some chirping dolphin speak. From the bow, I could see dolphins swimming all around us, dashing under the boat and racing the bow wave. The water was so clear, I could see their bodies under the surface and then glistening as they rose to breathe. I spent quite a while lying on the foredeck on my stomach with my face poked under the lifelines. It felt like I was swimming along with the dolphins.

My shift started then. I was in charge of the boat from about 7:30pm to 10:30pm while Lee tried to sleep. The rolling boat made sleeping hard and the shifty wind kept me busy. I was constantly adjusting our course to keep the wind directly behind Pirat. In between, I read my book, drank tea, and listened to my ipod. The shift went by so slowly!

Lee took over for the second watch and the wind increased shortly afterwards. He jibed onto a reach. I finally got comfortable then, since the rolling stopped, but my sleeping time was almost over. Lee was so sweet, he gave me an extra hour and a half to sleep, taking a long watch himself. I was back on duty at 3am. By then we were blasting along on a broad reach. The wind was up to almost 20 knots and the waves were steep at our stern. Pirat surfed like mad and set a new speed record: 13.6 knots!

When I couldn’t keep my eyes open any more I roused Lee, who wasn’t sleeping anyway. We considered reefing, since the wind was gusting well above 20 and heading us to more of a beam reach. Reefing didn’t seem too urgent to either of us and it was nice to go fast so I turned in and Lee went on deck for a wild ride. I don’t know if I slept at all. I was listening to a boat we’d met a while back broadcasting various things on channel 16. I got up in time to fix us both breakfast before we turning into the harbor. First we reefed the main and switched to the solent for a turn upwind. We avoided a freighter in the channel and felt intensely proud of ourselves as we scorched past a few southbound boats coming from the ICW. We sailed here! We sailed really fast (our average speed was well above 7 knots overall and more like 8 knots from midnight on)! The two of us can handle the cold and the ocean!

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Enjoying my breakfast after a long night.

After tying up at Cooper River Marina Lee and I kind of collapsed. Lee literally fell asleep after taking a shower and I bustled around frantically, trying to keep moving because I knew I’d zonk out if I stopped. I did my zonking after we’d gone to the grocery store and eaten our meal in a couple days that included fresh vegetables. We made up for our lack of sleep on the sail.

Today it is rainy. We’ll probably go for a run eventually but right now we’re relaxing. This morning I accomplished a few things I’d been putting off for a while. That felt good.

Posted December 11, 2010 by Rachel in Getting started

0 responses to Sail sail sail sail sail…sleep

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  1. Wooowwwww, dolphins! Right there, in the wild, up close! No pictures?

    Send a big hello to your mom from me. 🙂 Merry Christmas!

  2. Hello there,

    It is such a joy to read your blog, the adventure, living in the moment of wind, waves,
    life on the ocean.
    I loved the description about the dolphins, true natural scientist at work.” observing with all your senses… the sounds that lead to know you had dolphins where about your boat, then being able to just lay there belly down and watch!!

    What journals are about. Lewis and Clark, other adventures… having the time as well to write. Like the trip on the ” Gravina” for me from Alaska to Anacortes.. Etched in my memory and journal. Not busy driving in a car, down a cement/asphalt road at 80-mph, encased in plastic, metal not feeling the elements that surround one. Feeling too busy to feel like returning a call or e-mail. Most current lifestyles are so full of outside created demands beyond, socializing, survival and destinations. On ward with your adventures…..

    You two are blessed!! Happy Christmas and enjoy Seattle. A great home to adventure too.

    Celia

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