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Where has the time gone? I’ll tell you: It has been swallowed up by poor weather and bad auto pilot! When last we met we were homeward bound for Christmas in Iowa. Well, family time was fun and the train rides were relaxing. We continued our vacation by going to Beaver Creek, CO for a week of skiing. On the way out we had dinner in Denver with our old friend Woody, who had sailed with us from Florida to N.C. My dad turned 89 in October and we decided to go spend another day skiing with him. He still tears it up on the slopes; until the slopes wear him down. It usually ends in a draw and a Sarsaprilla (Jim Beam & Diet) at the lodge.

NOCE for the holidays.
Christmas with Max Wellman and Co.
Colorado with the folks.
Stopping for elk crossing the tracks

Our previous rail trips had been so relaxing that we decided to head back to Chicago on the California Zephyr. It was a beautiful snow-covered trip down the mountains, we even had to stop the train to wait for several herds of elk and deer.

After a couple nights in Chicago we flew down to Charleston, S.C to spend a few days with Roy, AmyMarie and the twins. We took the carriage ride around town ate well and the girls shopped. Then we rode the train back to Norfolk to wait out the winter.

Soaking up the Chicago opulence at the Palmer House.
The Art Institute of Chicago
A chilly Charleston carriage ride.
Fun with AmyMarie and Roy.
Waiting for our dinner reservation, hanging with the band
What! No cocktails?
There’s something for everyone at the market in Charleston.
A fun, relaxing visit with Anita and Gary in Annapolis
We loved the glass sculptures at the Glass and Light Hotel in Norfolk…
Barefoot in Norfolk?
Some fun times with sister Pat in Norfolk

Towards the end of February we decided it was time to head around Hatteras to Beaufort, N.C. We had spent nearly two years there when we first bought ZEPHYR while refitting, and figured it would be warmer than in Norfolk. So, we departed dear old Norfolk and headed around the Cape. The first thing that happened was our trusty, but temperamental, auto pilot Hammie finally gave up the ghost. I tried all my Hammie tricks to no avail so we HAND STEERED for 49 hours all the way to Beaufort. It was quite a sporty sail, too. Winds were in the upper 20’s with seas steady at 12′ with an occasional 16 footer sweeping over the starboard beam. We stood 3 hour watches and slept like babies when below. By that I mean I slept well and cried when it was my turn to go back on deck. The weather was chilly to say the least and we were deprived of the comfort of the dog house. But aside from Nancy getting a total drenching from a wave that filled the cockpit (thank Steve Dashew for giant drains) we actually consider that one of the best trips we’ve had. The wind was aft of the beam and we never raised the mainsail. We only set the Jib or staysail. The boat was well balanced so we didn’t have to fight the helm, and it didn’t rain on us. We averaged over 9 knots for the trip and reached speeds of 12+ for fun time! Woo Hoo! Sorry there are no photos, we did not have the energy for such luxuries.

We arrived in Beaufort and the sun shone down on us! We’ve been tied up at Town Creek Marina for a couple months now and are finding it hard to leave. Steve and Carol, the owners have welcomed us back with open hearts and Daniel and Chase are hard-working friends on the docks. The town of Beaufort has what Nancy and I call gravity: It pulls us to stay here. The folks are easy going and welcoming, the music scene is diverse, the farmer’s market has all you need and the Backstreet Pub is doggy heaven! I get a beer and some dog love and I’m good for the next day of travails.

Hangin’ with the dogs at Backstreet Pub.
Chatting with friends at Backstreet.
Nancy’s art show at the marina.

Speaking of travails, part of the reason we have been here so long is that we are installing a new auto pilot. Now that may seem like a simple task; out with the old and in with the new, right? Well, we have cable/quadrant steering and hydraulic AP. This requires a way to bypass the hydraulic pressure when disengaged. The old system used a nifty cable/lever/valve device that was straight out of the Gemini rocket program. The new dual system needs a bit more complex operation and we are on the third and hopefully final arrangement when the parts arrive today. Everything else is working great, so….

Pulling wires and more wires.
Tearing out the old autopilot!

The other holdup is the weather. We haven’t had a decent window for Bermuda (Bermuda you ask? I’ll get to that in a bit) since we got here regardless of the AP status. It has been crazy windy here at the dock since February and the weather offshore has been nasty with TROUGH after TROUGH with LOWs in between. Perhaps by the end of next week? Oh yeah, about Bermuda: We have decided this is the year to cross the Atlantic and see Ireland and Scotland. We plan to go by way of Bermuda and the Azores which will break the trip into more manageable legs of 4, 12 and 10 days.

Touring Ft. Macon at the Beaufort Inlet.
Old school chums Deb and Nancy.
Ponies on Carrot Island.

So what have we been doing with all this free time? Well, we had our rig inspected and replaced some worn blocks and machined some new fairlead sheaves and did some dinghy maintenance and painted the aft deck and had the satellite pole powder coated and cleaned the bottom and made cushion backs for the dog house and tore out the old AP and installed a new one (I pulled out 2 miles of assorted old wiring and replaced it with 1/2 mile of new) and rerigged the lazy jacks (so much handier now) and painted and rearranged the forepeak (you could live in there now, baby) and had my eye laser polished and went to the gym every morning and jumped out of an airplane and redid the crushed walnut non-skid on the cabin floor and…. Wait! What? You jumped out of a perfectly good airplane?

Sewing new cushions for the Dog House.
The girls at the gym… and Randy.
Building a new instrument panel.
With Justin, half-a-brainstorming the AP project.

Well, it goes like this… there is a little airfield across the road from the marina and at this little airfield is a skydiving club. This club offers tandem jump opportunities for fools who are willing to part with a couple hundred dollars. Every weekend we could watch as this plane would go up in the air and people would fall out and float to the ground. So we decided we could fall out of an airplane also. And we did. We both did a tandem jump and it was actually quite exhilarating except for the cramped confines of the jump plane, which was a stripped out Cessna 150. Let me tell you, if you ever saw a plane without the interior you would never get on a plane again! It is just a bunch of beer and soda cans riveted together! You could read the Budweiser printing on the inside. I got nervous when I saw that the pilot was wearing a parachute and I wasn’t! Nancy and I were simply hooked to the chest of two men we didn’t know and Nancy’s guy was wearing FLIP FLOPS ! Anyway it was relief to get out of the plane at 10,000 feet. We freefell (freefalled?) 5,000 ft in about 30 seconds (that’s 120mph for you doing the math) then floated gracefully to the ground. Except for the two or three “spins” we did which rearranged my internal organs (John, you were right). Nancy landed on her feet, while I sat on my butt. Always graceful. Sorry, no photos of this either, just a great view and nice certificate of achievement.

Our parachute certificates!
They’re made from real Girl Scouts you know.
My pal Orion overlooking a Beaufort sunset.
Idyllic Beaufort morning.
Some neighbors at the marina.

So here we are with a clean, well prepared boat waiting for the weather to let us get going on the next adventure. It’s hard to believe that we’ve been on the hard or at a dock for a year now. That’s not how we had planned it. Ah well, we’ve had some fun, met some great people, and got a lot more traveling around the U.S. All in all it’s just part of the adventure. Keep following or come join us. Be sure to subscribe and check out the Book Nook and Art Gallery for new installments.


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  1. Tracey Wade


    What a great update on your journeys 😀. Cant wait to hear more from Ireland and Scotland!

    You guys are amazing!!

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