Beyond the swamp

For those of you who were left wondering how we managed to escape the Great Dismal Swamp, here is a little update on some of the details of the last few days. After motoring and sailing through the remainder of the Swamp, we arrived in the town of Elizabeth City, which apparently has an international, legendary reputation for welcoming boaters coming out of the Great Dismal Swamp. Their reputation is well deserved. It was like a surreal dream coming out of the swamp into a sunny harbor, where several very friendly people waved to us from the shore and assisted us in tying up to a free dock provided by the city. We were told upon arrival to come to the free wine and cheese party sponsored by the city as a way to welcome boaters. Seriously?! Ok, we’d love to! Our guidebook said that there was a fitness center in town who offered a sauna, hot tub and showers to boaters for $5. SIGN US UP! We had been looking forward to this for days. Was this town for real? Free docks, wine parties, and hot tubs, all just for us?!? I guess it was our reward for surviving the Great Dismal Swamp! The main street looked like a movie set, perfect and calm and clean, like something from the 1950’s. We got to the fitness center to find out the guidebook had lied. There had never been a hot tub or sauna there, but there was a hot shower, which we enjoyed, although with a little disappointment! Back at the wine party, we met up with a large group of people heading out early the next morning to continue south and have been traveling more or less with them for the last few days. Tonight we are all “rafted up” with them in the harbor of Oriental, NC, where we were also offered free wine by a wine tasting party that was happening on someone’s porch! I like North Carolina!

4 boats "rafting" together

We also met a guy who has even less sailing experience than us!
He bought his boat on Ebay, picked it up and sailed out of the harbor on his trip south without EVER having sailed before, not even once! He said the people who he bought the boat from told him which rope to pull on to raise the sail, and that’s about all he knew when he left. He seemed to be doing fine though, and he was a great inspiration to me!
Today I had somewhat of a breakthrough in understanding how to sail. I’ve been increasingly annoyed with how much we have had to run our motor the last few days on the Intracoastal Waterway. Mostly it’s because we are in channels that are too narrow for sailing. And also because sometimes we need to cover a certain distance to the next harbor before it gets dark, and motoring is the only way to get there fast enough. This afternoon we entered into a large bay with a nice wind and immediately everyone in the sailing fleet put the sails up and turned the motor off. Ahhhh, so lovely! A silent break from the annoying hum of that motor! Then we had to make a turn towards our destination, which put us directly into the wind. All the sailboats took the sails down and put the motors back on, because everyone knows you can’t sail directly into the wind. But remembering some tips that our friend Rene the sailing instructor told us, I realized that we COULD sail into the wind, at least ALMOST into the wind. K. was not feeling so well and was resting inside the cabin, and so I experimented by myself in getting the boat to sail into the wind. It meant we had to zig zag a little, but it was so much more enjoyable than motoring, and I really increased my confidence in sailing. And it was much slower. That is the trade-off. That is why our whole culture is so addicted to motors. We want to go the speed WE want to go, not the speed the wind or other power will take us. I’ve spent a lot of time the last few weeks thinking about this trade-off. I plan to write more about it as I refine my thoughts on this subject. We are exploring an interesting edge of being on a different timeline, one that is best not measured in miles per hour.

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2 thoughts on “Beyond the swamp

  1. Jay Gordon

    In regards to your comments on not being able to sail more and having to use the motor, I don’t understand why this would be a surprise to anyone anymore. The romanticism with sailing has been sold by songs, stories and boat salesman but at this point all you have to do is read just a few blogs to cut through those lies.

    We all need gas and lots of it.


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