Friday, May 8, 2015

Requiem for a Boat Slip

At some point, early in our plans to go cruising on a sailboat, we sat on our back porch and mused, “Wouldn't it be something to just sail away from our own dock, right here, sail all the way to the Virgin Islands and then all the way back here, right to our own dock”. It seemed like a very distant dream at the time but the vision was taking form.

So, we got the boat, built the dock (our own little mini-marina) and parked our baby right outside our back door. It was wonderful to have that easy access for projects, learning the systems and taking care of SeaClearly. The cost of the dock was, partially, offset by not having to pay for a marina.

We made our trip to the Bahamas last year and then, this year, a bigger trip. We sailed away from our own dock, surrounded by well-wishing friends, and journeyed to the Virgin Islands. We have had a wonderful trip down the island chains. We have met people and challenges that have inspired us. Now, we are on our way home. We arrived back in the USA a couple of weeks ago. SeaClearly is floating in a slip at Harbortown Marina in Fort Pierce, Florida. The offshore weather was going to prohibit a smooth trip up the east coast so we left her there, under the watchful eye of a friend, and traveled up to North Carolina by rental car. This would give us a chance to open up the house and take care of a few items that had been put off while we were traveling for the last seven months.

Unfortunately, we have a problem. The troublesome inlet into Colington Harbour has finally shoaled to a point that prohibits us from taking SeaClearly home. The latest soundings are not good. The entrance is tricky at best. Boats with less draft than SeaClearly are routinely dragging the bottom. We already had significant difficulty finding days with enough water to get in or out. Our daysailing opportunities had been severely reduced by our worries about running aground or being caught outside with no way in. Or, my worst recurring nightmare, the possibility of getting into the harbor and never getting out again. Or being floated out on airbags.

Short story – we won’t risk taking SeaClearly back into Colington. We have to find her a new home. We were heartbroken at losing this perfect situation. We know that we have been lucky to have this option for so long. We always realized that we had a big bluewater boat that we were floating in a small pond. We may have blinded ourselves to the inevitability of this development but who can blame us for our optimism.

SeaClearly, last year, in her (now former) home behind our house. 
We have made arrangements to keep SeaClearly at the York River Yacht Haven in Gloucester, Virginia. She won't be in our backyard anymore but we think this is a better overall solution. It is closer to the kids in Virginia. We hope the location will also afford us more opportunities for sailing the Chesapeake Bay. 

What about the dream of sailing back home to our own dock? Well, we do regret that we won't be able to close the big loop and sail back to our point of departure. But, as good dreams often do, ours' has grown and changed into more than we could ever have imagined. We are embracing this as a new and different, if unexpected, chapter in our story and we are looking forward to the experience. It turns out that the dream was all about sailing away. We will figure out where to sail next.

7 comments:

  1. Oh, great! That means that we may sail in company again. When are you moving her? I'll be sailing (I hope) the Bay in July and early August. Funny, but I believe York River Yacht Haven was Puffin II's previous home port.

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  2. Good! Another positive aspect to this development. We are going back to Florida mid-week but may not move until late May. Should be in York River by middle of June. Looking forward to seeing you and Curlew! (or Puffin II)
    Duane

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  3. We hit bottom in the channel several times and were lucky to plow through. But, it seems like the water has been lower than normal too. We can't get out of the slip even with a southwest wind for a few days. Southwesters have been few and far between up until now. If we get out today, we'll sound the channel with the dinghy's sounder and report back.

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  4. Jim, Thanks for the information. It sure is frustrating and we wish it could be better. Hope it stays good enough for you guys for a long time.
    Duane

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  5. Duane, I'm probably displaying my ignorance here, but what about some of the inlets south of Oregon Inlet, like Hatteras and Ocracoke? Aren't they deep enough? Or is it the extra distance that is the deciding factor?

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  6. Hey Randy.
    The 'inlet' that we have trouble with is actually just entering our neighborhood from the Albemarle Sound. Literally, almost within sight of our house. They are doing some emergency dredging but I don't believe they will fix the problem enough to accommodate our draft.
    Regarding the ocean inlets you mentioned, they are all too sketchy for us to come through - except maybe in extremely mild conditions with extenuating circumstances. Closest ocean points for us are Beaufort to the south or Norfolk to the north.
    Thanks for checking on us!
    Duane

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