Lifelong Learners

Updated: Oct 30, 2020

Robert and I have both been sailing a really long time. Growing up in Florida, Robert sailed small boats such as an O’Day Sprite and graduating up to a 27 ft. Erwin. He learned the mechanics of sailing. I sailed with my Dad first on his Rainbow and in the 80s and 90s on Solveig. I learned to keep a boat on course, to tack and to coil lines but admittedly spent most of my time on the bow sprit, bouncing over the waves or trying to keep the kids contained once I started my family.

When we took possession of Solveig in 2017, we still had lots of learning to do! Neither of us had ever been in charge of a 35 ft. sailboat. We read and got coaching from my Dad, friends, and people we met in Oriental but mostly learned by doing. Experiential learning is the BEST in my opinion. Every chance we got, we were out on the water, sailing the Neuse, Pamlico Sound and adjoining rivers and creeks. Since we were both working, we often sailed in less than ideal conditions as we pushed the envelope to get back to work. We learned Solveig....what she felt like when she was overpowered and when she could handle more sail. Sail trimming for different wind conditions, especially using the main, is still a work in progress. We often sailed on just the 155 Genoa because it was so much easier. Going on lots of trips with our sailing club, the Neuse Sailing Association, we learned to navigate to a specific place, practiced docking, anchoring out and using our dinghy. It was nice to learn in the safety of a group and everyone in the club was very generous with sharing their knowledge.

We get to develop a whole different set of skills as we navigate down the intracoastal waterway. We’ve only had the sails up a couple of times, to give us a little boost when the wind direction was present. We’ve been primarily motoring along with our buddy boat Sea Escape and intermittently with Dream Catcher. It’s so nice to be around people who have experienced this same trip before.

I love nature but never really paid much attention to its’ “workings”. Now I get to learn about lunar cycles and how they affect tides, how tides affect currents, how currents affect the speed of travel. On average we can cruise at about 6 knots, but we’ve been slowed down to 4 and sped up to 8 just based on the current. It’s helpful to learn these things so one can time bridges that open on the hour or half hour and to do overall planning of the trip. We’ve been flexible and following the lead with the more experienced people in the group.

We’ve also had some hands-on learning about inlets and shoaling. At Lockwoods Folly, Robert literally poked the bow of the boat around in different directions until he found deep enough water and wound a path through the inlet. Depending on the tides and currents, inlets can cause you to actually have to crab walk or move sideways through the water!

On top of all of that learning, we get to become experts on the weather! As I’m writing this, the winds are howling at 20-25 knots. When we saw Zeta could be a threat, we were unable to find an open marina so the 3 buddy boats worked together to find a place where we could be protected from the wind and would have the ability to swing around as needed. Watching the weather forecast becomes critical when your home is a 35 fit sailboat floating in the water! We thought we’d be here for just the day but it may be awhile unless the wind forecast changes. We're comfy and enjoying the break time to do boat projects and relax and so far, our new Rocna anchor is holding like a champ!

I’ve always been interested in learning new things. Throughout my work career, I was always anxious to learn the newest therapeutic techniques, attend conferences and read books. I don’t like to be a novice though. I like to master things that I set out to do. I’ve always been a bit of a rebel…The fastest way to get me to do something is to tell me I can’t! In this time of my life though, I know I don’t have all the skill sets I need. My independent rebel self needs to take a back seat and chill out awhile! There’s A LOT to learn!

I’m grateful to have a brilliant sweetheart who has figured out all the mechanical systems of the boat and who has the analytical skills to solve problems as they arise. My Dad’s following along with us via Facebook, our Spot tracking and website and is serving as the “expert in my back pocket”. He and my step-mom Barbara, traveled up and down the ICW for 10 years so he’s seen a lot and I’m so grateful that he shares his wisdom! Finally, we’re so grateful to Maryellen and Billy who are graciously mentoring us through this first trip! Not only are they fun and interesting people, they’re good democrats so we agree on a lot! It sure makes dinner conversations easier. 😊

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