Back in Elizabeth city, the “harbor of hospitality” that is listed as one of the top-100 places to live on the east coast, we met up with a bunch of cruisers that were heading south on the ICW. We took the opportunity to join up with the fleet and travel together with them on the great migration south. Since then we’ve been making very good progress and have been getting to know the other cruisers.
One couple is from Deltaville, which is just south of Annapolis. They are traveling on a 47 foot steel hull sailboat that they purchased for $100 and saved from the scrap-yard! Yes, they got a 47-footer for $100! Now that was just the hull. It came with no masts, sails, engine, or rigging. They’ve spent the last year living aboard (to save on rent) and fixing her up to sail. They just put her in the water last week with a new (but used) engine and new (but used) masts, and this is their shakedown cruise. Ann and Owen are overwhelmingly good-hearted and gracious, and we’ve been enjoying “rafting up” with them at night for the last few nights. It’s inspiring to hear about their huge $100 find and to see with our own eyes that this cruising lifestyle does not have to be expensive, and it is not just for the rich! The name of their vessel is Steel Dreams.
We met a solo sailor named Calvin, who has never sailed before in his life. He just purchased a 25-foot Hunter sailboat named “Woodstock” in Annapolis from the Chesapeake Region Accessible Boating association, and he is sailing it south now. They showed him how to hoist the sails, and he’s off and sailing now! One sure hopes that he’s reading about sailing technique and all that, but it is inspiring to see how someone can get the sailing “bug” and then just commit and go and do it like we are!
Now, towards the other end of the spectrum is “sol mates,” a 2007 32-foot catamaran that the owner just sold for $172,000! We met Mike (the previous-owner) and Daz (his hired help) in the dismal swamp, and we locked-through with them a few times and had burgers together in Elizabeth City. IT’s funny, because we saw the name of the boat and thought that since they were two guys, they must be gay! But after getting to know them we learned that’s not true. Mike hired Daz to help him deliver the boat from Annapolis to Florida to it’s new owner. 🙂 Still the difference between our wee happy vessel and the almost brand new 32 foot catamaran way like the difference between an old camper an a new condo.
We also met a French-Canadian couple traveling with their 10 year old son on a vessel named Turbulence I. What a weird name for a boat! Bryan, the skipper, has wanted to take his son cruising for years, and they finally got a boat and launched to make sure they did it before the boy reached his teenage years. They have a nice boat, a 1988 Catalina 33(?), which is spacious and comfortable and has a full cockpit tent, but it set them back by $70,000. So they have a mortgage and the boat is not paid-for. They’re also run into technical problems along the way and had to cover for a few costly repairs. Just yesterday while traveling with the fleet, their propeller broke, and they had to get towed back to a marina with the capability of performing that repair. This is terrible news for them, as we were all planning to spend Thanksgiving together in Wilmington Beach. Now they are stuck, alone and without power, in a marina where no one will be working because of the holiday! That means that in all likelihood they won’t be repaired until early next week.
The last man that we’ve been traveling with is Kimbel on a 28 foot vessel named Kestrel. He’s a rugged and stalwart individual with a wonderful sense of humor and a warm smile. Last night he had us over to his boat for a delicious dinner. He installed a RV three-burner stove with oven before he left on the trip, and he baked a butterball turkey and rosemary potatoes for us. His boat is a bit rough around the edges, but he’s installed the new stove/oven, refrigeration, a good new VHF radio, a new flushing toilet (aka “head”), and a strong bimini.
All in all, traveling with the fleet makes for a more enjoyable trip. If something breaks then people are right there to help you. We don’t feel so all alone, and we are making much better progress now that we leave early in the morning with the fleet.