The Outer Banks — Wanchese, NC, Manteo, NC, Nags Head, NC, Kill Devil Hills, NC, Kitty Hawk, NC, Duck, NC, Corolla, NC, Cape Hatteras, NC; November 1 – 15, 2019

They say that perseverance is best friends with patience. 

Along with so many other insights, I believe that this is the lesson that Sea U Sooner is teaching me on this leg of our journey, perhaps with the need for a little bit of grit, courage, faith in one another, faith in God, and a sense of humor thrown in.

We departed from Coinjock, which is one of our favorite marinas in North Carolina, most well known for it’s restaurant and its “out of this world” prime rib dinner, not to mention it’s friendly and professional staff.  There are a lot of boats travelling towards Florida at this point in the season, striking the fine balance between lingering in the North to avoid hurricane season and heading South quickly to avoid wintery weather and freezing winds.

We departed Coinjock and were about 5th in a string of 15 or so vessels migrating south.  Beautiful day, slight chop, and … whack, an uncomfortable noise and the immediate realization that we had had hit something dastardly.  A quick look back and we caught a glimpse of a submerged six foot or so long log, and some other insidious and mysterious debris.  Unbenknownst to us, Hurricane Dorian has left a unforgiving trail of flotsam in its wake, still wreaking havoc in the waterways of North Carolina and beyond.  I wouldn’t wish this on anyone else, but it’s hard to fathom how we hit the junk given our position in the middle of the floating line-up.

We immediately lost power and steering and multiple alarms sounded at the same time.  Mike went below to check the status of the situation, and came up as pale as a ghost, deadly calm, and announced the unsettling news that we were taking on water.  We called the Coast Guard, donned our life jackets, (not a welcome or easy task for our two brave kitties), and prepared for the worst even as we hoped for the best.  Mike went back down below to check the status of the situation again, and was even more shaken than before.  Notable because, typically, Mike is unshakable.  Sea U Sooner started to list.  I was entirely certain we were all going in the water.  In and of itself, that is not frightening for me, but I was worried about the cats and thinking that the water was going to be cold!

We both remained remarkably calm.  The Coast Guard officer made a number of suggestions to Mike, while putting out an all points bulletin to nearby boats that we were in distress, and taking on water.  The CG suggested Mike go below and check the “stuffing box” as they suspected we might have expelled a drive shaft and hence the flooding in the bilge.  Mike followed through, just as the CG suggested, and discovered a one-inch hole where the drive shaft had been.  He plugged it. Saved the day, and returned to the bridge where we informed the CG we had stopped the inflow of water.

As an aside, the folks at Coinjock heard the distress calls and the dockmaster immediately headed out with a pump to assist with the rescue, although we didn’t end up needing it.  A yacht that had been following us at a distance, Dyre Straights, pulled up behind us.  They diverted their course and stayed with us for over two hours as we limped along until Sea Tow showed up, and only then continued South toward their original destination.  Such is the camaraderie and the good will of the yachting community and we will be forever grateful to Coinjock and to Dyre Straights and always stay motivated to pay it forward.

The Coast Guard noted, and the Sea Tow Captain who escorted us in to Wanchese, remarked that in his entire career 35+ year career that he has only encountred two to three pleasure boaters who have had the wherewithal, knowledge, sense of calm and determination to plug a leak and make a repair in a flooding bilge and emerge without total and catastrophic damage to the boat.  Once again I have been astounded by, and am so proud of Mike’s exhaustive knowledge and expertise on Sea U Sooner.

Here’s the good news:  if you are going to be hung up somewhere, the Outer Banks is a beautiful place to be, and we would not have been here if not for our mid-adventure.  Also, there are some very high-end boat builders and highly competent ship-yards here, so if you need repairs, you couldn’t ask to land in a better place.  Although the repairs have taken close to three weeks, we’ve made the most out of the gift of our time here.

We loved Kitty Hawk and the Wright brothers memorial, the history museum and aquarium in Manteo, the four lighthouses that stand watch along the coastline here.  Also, we just happened to be here when the Outer Banks Half Marathon was run, so I got to experience another great race. At the finish line, I met a group of gals from Colorado who had travelled here on a “girls-trip” to run the half, and they most generously adopted me into their group and took me under their wing after the race, filling an abyss I am feeling towards my own girlfriends from Colorado — and reminding me that God generously and creatively provides exactly what we need, exactly when we need it, even if we aren’t fully aware of the need in ourselves. Spectacular sand dunes, daring hang-gliders, festive kites, and wild horses are just some of the other highlights that delighted us on this unexpected tangent.

I’m anxious to get back to Florida and establish a home-base, but have been forced to ponder in some very constructive ways the question “what is home?” Is it more than being with the one or one(s) you love most,  to opening your eyes to the unexpected gifts around you, to understanding that there are good people everywhere you go who can anchor you to what’s most important?  I am learning, being reminded, that home may be as much a state of mind as anything else.  Patience and perseverance.

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Chesapeake City, VA, Detroit, MI; October 16 – October 22, 2019

We stored the boat at Top Rack, Marina in Chesapeake City, Virginia and took a side trip to Detroit for the Detroit Marathon and Half-Marathon.  It was a great weekend with friends and family.  Highlights included a stop at Pewabic Pottery where we learned more about Mike’s grandfather. Joseph Ender, a renowned potter, and the beautiful, luminescent glazes and artful ceramics that Pewabic is so famous for.  We strolled through Detroit’s Eastern Market, which is a farmer’s market to end all farmer’s markets.  Also, the race activities, a trip to Blake Farms, where we picked Apples, shot paint-balls at Zombies — and thoroughly enjoyed the crisp autumn weather and harvest festival, hallowwen atmosphere.  A trip to Blake Farms is always an adventure and this could not have been a more exciting or enjoyable weekend.

Cindy Blake and Sarah Macchonachie hosted a pre-race dinner for us, which was a perfect pre-requisite to amazing races on the next day.  Dani did a great job in her 10K lead off  leg of a Class of ’75 high-school marathon relay team, wherein the class of ’76 went down in flames.  My niece Nancy and nephew Mike both did PR’s in the half, and Brian crushed the full marathon setting a new PR by over 45 minutes.  Dorothy, Ken and I all ran solid half marathons, enjoying the sights and sounds of Detroit all along the way.   Detroit is a fascinating, beautiful city.

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Yorktown, VA, Williamsburg, VA; October 14, 15, 2019

We did a brief history swing, which we loved, by stopping in Yorktown, Virginia and making the short trip while we were there to nearby Williamsburg.  We have been to Yorktown before, but had never been to Williamsburg.  Next time we are here, we will also stop at Jamestown, to make it a perfect travel trifecta focused on American history!

As we were arriving in Yorktown harbor, we were passed by a colonial sailing schooner called the Alliance under full sail.  At almost the same time, we had to alter our course slightly to allow a nuclear submarine and its naval escort heading in our direction at full tilt to pass us by.  An interesting juxtaposition of the past and the future, to be sure.

We love the peaceful, pastoral and well-manicured feel of Yorktown, the quiet battlefield, colonial homes, and the sea-side tavern packed with gregarious locals and visitors alike.  I did some long runs in anticipation of the upcoming Detroit Half, and loved traversing the battlefield early in the morning.  I particularly love Surrender Field, the site where the British surrendered to the Americans, against all odds,  and concluding the Revolutionary War so many Octobers ago.  It is hallowed ground.  You can sense it, you can feel it, — it is a beautiful place to be.

We thoroughly enjoyed historic Williamsburg and eeked out every ounce enjoying the full day that we spent there, walking the grounds, touring the buildings and enjoying and interacting with the actors who make Colonial life so vividly real here.  It was perfect, Indian summer, fall day.  Nicely crowded but not overwhelming.  You c andould spend 3 – 4 days here and not run out of things to see.

Definitely worth another stop and a longer stay to incorporate Jamestown into the mix.

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Chesapeake City, MD, Rock Hall, MD; October 1 – October 5, 2019

We travelled from Cape May, New Jersey to Chesapeake City, Maryland on the most beautiful Indian Summer day.  We arrived in Chesapeake City in time to poke around in the town’s quaint shops and had dinner at the Tap Room, world famous for it’s local blue crabs and down-to-earth, no-nonsense service.  Ken enjoyed the local lobster, crab and seafood feast with more gusto than anyone I think I have ever seen.  He swears it was the best meal he has ever had, but that was not the first or the last time those words have come out of his mouth.  This is one of the things I love about Ken.  He so agreeable and easily pleased!

The Chesapeake was unusually unkind — the wind kicked up, white-caps all around, and trouble in our ‘midst.  A far cry from the beautiful Indian Summer day just 24 hours before.  Usually a sailor’s dream, the Chesapeake gave us a brief glimpse of its potential for fury today, we were happy to arrive in Rock Hall.

When the weather settled down, we rode our bikes to the Eastern Neck Wildlife preserve.  20 miles of pure bliss. wetlands, wildlife, local fishermen, the Eastern Shore at its best and one of the best bike rides of all time.

Rock Hall is one of my favorite stops on the Chesapeake, and on this visit, Dani, Ken and I participated in a local triathlon.  We entered as a relay in the Olympic event (Trish: swim, Dani: bike, Ken: run) and all did the Sprint Triathlon the next day.  We actually took third place in the relay, just keep going!

Mike is the most enthusiastic triathlete fan ever, following along on his bike, cheering and encouraging all along the way.

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Glen Cove, NY, New York, NY, Cape May, NJ; September 16 – September 30, 2019

We stopped in Glen Cove, NY for a wonderful visit with our niece Beth and her husband Corben, as well as their three beautiful children, George, Blake and Corby.  Such a beautiful family and such a beautiful part of Long Island.  It is easy to see why they have chosen to make this town their home.

We then travelled on to New York City, where it is always thrilling to travel past the iconic landmarks of Manhattan, especially on Sea U Sooner.  Cruising by this teeming, magnificent, awe-inspiring city is one of the many moments on this trip that have been truly heart stopping, inspiring.  When we lived in Manhattan all those years ago, I don’t think we ever dreamed that we would one day be sight seeing in and around this city on our own boat.  Mike and I have been on quite a journey together, starting 28 years ago, and it seems to be coming full circle in some very adventuresome ways.

Who knew that when in New York you can call Uber and request a helicopter?  Amazing. I’d like to try that some day just to say I did it.

We picked up our friends Dani and Ken at Liberty Landing in Jersey City.  Enjoyed a few beautiful runs along the waterfront, toured the city and visited some Big Apple favorites , such as the Empire State Building, which, if you haven’t been to in a while, I highly encourage you to go.  It is more spectacular and entertaining than I eve remember it being.

We travelled from Manhattan to Cape May, which started out as a beautiful trip.   By the time we reached Cape May though, we encountered high, rough, sees and we tucked into Utsch’s Marina, just in the nick of time.  Stayed in Cape May for a few days to let the wind settle down.  Did lots of great runs and bike rides, including to the Cold Spring Historic Village and brewery, where we were lucky enough to make friends with sweet Ginger the pig along the way.

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Northport, NY, Port Jefferson, NY, Shelter Island, NY, Montauck, NY, Mattituck, NY; September 10 – September 16, 2019

Exploring the Long Island Sound, that’s the theme for this portion of the trip!  So pleasantly surprised, more beautiful here than we ever imagined.  So close and yet so far away from ordinary.

Loved the town of Northport, New York, especially the Copenhagen Bakery, perched right on the edge of town and offering the most delicious fresh bread, cookies, sweets and breakfast sandwiches.  We enjoyed staying at the town dock (a freebee) and the friendliest locals around, lifelong Northport residents, so proud of their hometown.

Port Jefferson was amazing.  We anchored in the harbor and took the Port Jeff launch in to town each day.  I loved running along the Setauket Greenway Trail, a verdant, canopied oasis just past the downtown area.  Mike rode his bike along the trail too.  Then we met and cooled down at the Port Jeff Brewery — we were there at the same time as a group of New York Firefighters,  toasting, celebrating the bravery and the heart of their fallen friends from years ago, as it was September 11.  New York’s bravest. America’s bravest. Beautiful, poignant, a privilege to be an unobserved observer of this loyalty and camaraderie.

On to Shelter Island, which, along with Cutty Hunk, has been one of my favorite stops on the trip this year.  Quiet, pretty, beautiful Victorian style houses, great running and biking on winding, hilly roads.  A peaceful, pastoral haven capturing the essence of simpler times and days gone by.  Stayed in Picozzi’s Marina and enjoyed the steps-away Marie Effel local market, fresh produce, baked goods, delicious food.  We took our bikes on the ferry and rode to Sag Harbor, also a beautiful town.  Perhaps my favorite part of Shelter Island was hiking at the Mashomack Preserve, miles of the most beautiful trails, meadow, coastal, salt marsh, so pretty.

Loved Montauk, especially the Montauk Lighthouse … pulled into the marina just in time for a wedding party photo.  Enjoyed spending time at the Liars Saloon, a perfect hideaway for a town full of fisherman, the working waterfront, the enthusiastic, avid, “Foreva Fishermen”, and the Fish House restaurant,  unassuming, unpretentious, unexpectedly delicious.

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