For the last 1,000 miles, we’ve been steering Wee Happy by hand mostly. K got our bought-used-on-craigslist auto pilot to work for a little bit here and there, but mostly it’s a piece of junk and is destined for the trash. Sailing down the Jersey coast hand steering the boat through the night in the cold was the most difficult time we’ve had yet. We need an autopilot if we are going to go offshore at all again to make any crossing, and having one means that we can have our hands free to deal with other things on the boat. It also means that for the most part, you can sit back and read a book while on watch, and you can steal away for a few minutes at a time into the cabin to make coffee, etc.
So we’ve been looking at every marine supply store that we’ve found for the last 1,000 miles, and we finally found one in Morehead City, NC that had one in stock. Since the store is ten miles from the city docks, we had to get a bit closer with the boat in order to make the store accessible to us. So we found an inlet with a marina that is only a mile and a half from the store and went in for fuel. Took the folding bike to the store, got the new beautiful piece of engineering magic, and headed back to the boat.
On the way I passed an old jalopy of a farm truck on the side of the road with a scrappy sign that read “mixed greens” so I had to stop. This guy loaded mounds and mounds of freshly picked kale into a bag for me. His farm was hidden right behind the big box stores on the strip mall of urban sprawl that went on for miles and miles from Morehead city out to the west. He would only take one dollar for that huge bag of kale, and he was gracious and just plain thankful for having a customer stop! If only we could have gotten more! All these hundreds of cars pass this guy every minute on a four lane road bound for wal-mart or some other mega corporation that makes billions by paying workers in third-world countries at the expense of US jobs, and none would stop at this little farm stand for the deal of a lifetime on FRESH local produce with no middleman and no big bonus check for corporate executives. Needless to say, the freshly picked local farmer grown kale made Lala very happy when I got back to the boat!
I was so overjoyed about finally having the autopilot, and Lala was grinning from ear to ear because we had fresh crisp local farm grown kale to eat (a nice break from the junk-white-sunbeam bread that is the only bread we’ve been able to find recently)! So the day really turned around for us from there.
We jumped back out into the ICW and started heading southwest again, as I hooked up the new marvel of technology and Lala cooked up kale and eggs and hash for a late breakfast.