Sunday, October 5, 2014

On our way!

The SeaClearly 2014 - 2015 cruising season is officially underway! On October 4 at 9:00 am, we, the unlikeliest of sailing cruisers, left from Colington Harbour (definitely one of the unlikeliest
homeports for blue-water sailboats) on our quest to sail to the Virgin Islands. We find it a little difficult to believe. I don't think anyone would have voted Junie or me 'Most Likely to Sail Off to the Islands'.

What is really astounding is our friends. We were given specific orders not to try and sneak out of town under the cover of darkness because there needed to be an escort and a send-off. We assumed everyone was just saying nice things. Surely, they had better things to do than watch us sail away.

As the days went by, we watched the weather and tried to anticipate a departure window. Our friends checked on us daily for a status. They offered to help load the boat, watch the house and check the mail. Jack, our creative stained-glass artist friend, presented us with a beautiful piece based on the Legend of the Seahorse to bring us good fortune on our journey. (Picture later.)

We settled on Friday to leave but the weather did not bring us the water level we needed for a clean escape. We were contacted several times to make sure we were seriously delaying our departure and not just creating a diversion.

The Saturday forecast did not look pretty. But we have learned to read our own weather a little bit and we saw a clear potential for high water, reasonable winds and not enough rain to scare us off. Saturday delivered just what we needed. We did all of the final prep, shut down the house, started un-tying the docklines (you really don't have to cut the docklines) - and started getting calls and texts. Were we going? Was this it?

Now, Junie and I are not really used to such attention. We were getting nervous.What if we wiped out a piling, ran aground, had engine trouble. The pressure to pull off a classy exit was getting tough!

Backing out...
Our official photographer (Jeff) showed up to help with the lines and take pictures. We backed out (pretty gracefully, I must say) and were met with neighbors and friends waving from their porches. And more photographers. (Thanks to Lisa for the aerial shots!)
Junie waving good-bye

And, then - the escort boat showed up, filled with more friends, to deliver us through the harbor to send us on our way. We were overwhelmed. We are still overwhelmed. We both said that we have never felt more special. We are truly fortunate to have found such a wonderful group of people.
Captain Jack and our entourage

Our goal for Day One was to just make it across the Albemarle Sound, down the Alligator River and into a decent anchorage before the predicted 25 - 30 knot northwest winds arrived. A modest goal and a short trip to get back into the swing of things. The Albemarle was, as it can sometimes be, snotty and in your face. SeaClearly doesn't really mind that much. We turned into the Alligator River, got a fast opening from the Swing Bridge operator (who can also be snotty and in your face. Today, he was pleasant and accommodating. Go figure.) and were then able to shut down the motor and sail south down the entire length of the river and into the anchorage.

What an incredible day, a wonderful send-off and a great finish to Day One. We can only hope that this is an indication of our travels for the months to come. Thanks and love to all.

Tonight, we are anchored in Slade Creek near Belhaven. You can always check the 'Where Are We Now?' link on the right side of the blog (Yes, I fixed it.) to see our location and track. No making fun of our speed. The weather is beautiful, a little chilly and fall is in the air. Time to head south!

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