Monday, October 25, 2010


Engelhard, NC  35°509N | 75°989W

Sailing into the sunrise out of Engelhard, NC.
The happy flow of our lives is so corny that I feel compelled to leave out a lot of the sappy details. For instance, yesterday I was embarrassed to include the part about the rising sun striking the water, scattering a million sparkling Tinkerbells in our wake. And later?  Dolphins kept popping up around us, sometimes one, sometimes two, shoulder to shoulder.

I'm pleased to report there have been no rainbows -- yet.

Schmaltziness aside, I set two goals for myself today:

  1. Make the 54 mile passage to Oriental, NC
  2. Don't cry
Is 50% an 'F'?

Our day started with the most gorgeous, surreal sunrise that packed enough power to provoke tears, but I prevailed. I was going to Oriental, and I wasn't going to cry. 

We turned south for a 9-hour trip through the notoriously sketchy Pamlico Sound:

The Pamlico: What nasty water?

All morning Cara Mia's good-old Yanmar plugged along through dead calm. Chip and I traded one-hour shifts at the helm so we could alternately do chores and learn how to use the radar (a damned fine invention).

Chip thawed bread for lunch using our new "microwave," formerly the floor of the old life raft:

The breakdown came soon thereafter. No, not the engine, not the boat, not Chip. You know who that leaves.

I was cleaning up after lunch and found a tiny farewell note from a tiny girl, who dropped by Engelhard yesterday to see us off. A girl we've been with since the first minutes of her 20-month life. Those miniature pencil marks (to which she had given her entire attention) clobbered me with the full meaning of goodbye.

"I was trying to go the whole day without crying," I blubbered.

To help pull myself back together, I pulled out the staysail. Some 8 knots of breeze had kicked up, and I was anxious to accomplish at least one of my goals. We raised the jib and picked up .2 knots. The wind was almost dead ahead. We dropped the canvas and motored on.

This was not our first approach to Oriental. We came down by car many times over the last 8 years to look at boats for sale and sometimes merely to revel in a community focused on sailing, wandering around as pretenders. Over those years, we've maintained virtual citizenship via the local, cheeky news site,, where Chip faithfully, daily peered through the harborcam, imagining adifferent life.

At 9 hours and 9 minutes, we were pulling into our slip in Oriental, when we heard someone nearby shout, "CHIP!!!"

The moment was captured on that harborcam Chip used to traffic:

A welcoming committee in Oriental? We don't know anyone here, and very few people knew we were sailing in.

We had three lines on the pilings before the shouters came running down the dock. With lines in hand, we turned to see Pete and Suzanne who bought our dear, old boat, Isabella.

"I can't believe it!" Suzanne said. "We never come to Oriental. Isabella is right across the water!"

Here came the tears again, this time I was not alone. Chip had joined me.

But wait! The guy on the boat across the finger dock, 6 feet away, shouted out, "Hey, I have a dinghy that's Island Packet beige!"

We looked where he pointed atop his trawler to see a beige Trinka dinghy the exact same color as our boat.

"My son just bought it."

Chip and I looked at each other. I haven't asked what he was thinking, but I was just thinking, no way. NOT POSSIBLE.

Chip asked, "Did he get it in South Carolina?"


"Did he buy it from someone named Marvin Day?" I asked.

"How did you know?"

Marvin Day was the owner of an Island Packet named Good Company, now known as Cara Mia.

Oriental, NC  35°0248N | 76°6948W