What a month it has been, so sorry for not keeping you all up to date. Hopefully this post will catch you up on our unplanned and chaotic life aboard. Things took an unexpected turn a little over a month ago as Kristy explained in our last blog post. If you haven’t already read it, you can find the post here. (Unexpected Adventures!) It seemed to come out of nowhere, and in a split-second, Riot and I were on our own. Shortly after Kristy and the kids left, we received a solid offer on our house, and the closing was set for the last day of June. Which meant, I now had to prepare for the long drive back to Colorado.
When we moved onto the boat we used a 5’x10′ enclosed cargo trailer we had purchased just before leaving. Since half the things we brought to NC didn’t fit on the boat, the other half of all we own was in the trailer. The plan was to use the trailer as storage at Kristy’s moms place for all our sentimental items. This would work out well, I’d drive the trailer back, do the closing on our house, and drive the family back to the boat.
It was a plan then. Riot and I had the next few weeks to ourselves, so I decided it would be a good time to get some surprise projects done for Kristy and spend some more time getting acquainted with sailing our new home.
Project number one started with creating a locking mechanism for our gimballed stove. This went quick thanks to a couple of pins through the bracket. Next on the list was to make use of the giant hole where the old oven used to be. Our new stove, an Origo 3000 is a two-burner alcohol stove that is considerably smaller than the three-burner with oven it replaced. The boat, like most boats, didn’t have a very good solution for a trash receptacle. The Oven void would be perfect for this and some deep storage, so I got to work. The fiberglass pan needed a hole in it, and a drop board was needed to keep the storage containers in place while the boat heels over. As a bonus, there was just enough space left over to hide away the dish strainer which was always awkward to store.
With my projects complete, the boat was due for a good cleaning and my favorite part, some good SAILING! With no real plan, other than try to put as many miles behind me as possible, I left the dock with a little more than a week to cruise the Neuse river. Each day I would pull anchor and sail as long as I could before dropping the hook again. I saw many different conditions, ranging from light wind to 35mph blows during a thunderstorm. I experimented with different sail trims on all points of sail, and really learned a lot, not only how to sail our boat, but how to squeeze as much speed out of the sails as each point of sail would allow.
Unfortunately, I spent Father’s Day alone while out sailing, it was an eventful day to say the least. The night before I lay at anchor, about half a mile from Blackbeard’s Sailing Club. First thing in the morning, I loaded Riot into our dinghy (Moana) and headed across Upper Broad Creek to take him for his morning walk at the club. After a quick visit on shore, I was eager to get back to sailing as the winds started to pick up. As I motored our 10′ boat out of the marina the motor came to a sudden stop. By the sound of the abrupt stop I knew I had fouled the prop on something. A quick lift of the outboard revealed a weather balloon completely wrapped on the lower end and prop. I knew this wouldn’t be fixed while afloat, as the dinghy got tossed from side to side in the three-foot waves that were building to four feet. I quickly locked in the oars and rowed the boat back into the breakwater of the marina before the wind could move me too far away. I pulled the boat onto the beach, borrowed some tools from a local diver friend and began pulling balloons out of every orifice of the motor.
After a lower unit rebuild on the beach, I left Riot tied to the beached Moana and headed down the dock to return the tools. As I visited with Kirk on the dock, movement in the marina caught my eye. I turned and saw Riot swimming down the fairway of the marina with the boat in tow!
I couldn’t believe my eyes, that little dog of mine had pulled the boat off the beach and was somehow ‘tugging’ it in search of me. Without hesitation, and knowing that he was about out-of-steam, I jumped in and swam through the murky, “stinky” river water to rescue my boat and my dog. When I pulled Riot into the boat he looked at me with excitement as if to say, “Hey dad! You forgot the boat!” He will forever be, Riot the Tug Dog! As if all this morning excitement was not enough, I later lost the fuel cap to the outboard during a mid-river refuel on the way back to the boat. Thinking that there wasn’t anything else that could go wrong, I pulled the anchor and spent the rest of the day sailing in heavy thunderstorms with winds reaching 35+.
It was quickly clear that in extreme conditions, our boat handles it far better than I do. Night Music, under double reef and a sliver of head sail, majestically grabbed the wind and climbed up and down the seas, moving quickly and solidly, really falling into her elements. Meanwhile, I was being beat by the wind and rain, then and there I was convinced we needed a full enclosure for our cockpit, so we could handle the weather as well as our beautiful boat.
Unfortunately, it’s not all fun and games, and I had to eventually return to our slip. Upon returning, my work was cut out for me. I needed to; rearrange the trailer, clean the boat, and hurricane proof her in the unlikely, but entirely possible chance a storm could move through while away. A few days of hard, hot work later, Riot and I loaded in the car for our trip back to Colorado. We would do it the same way as when we drove out.
The trip was uneventful until Kansas. Kansas?! Yep, you heard me right, excitement in Kansas. Shortly after stopping in Oakley KS, a severe thunderstorm warning came over the radio. I wasn’t surprised because I was driving into the dark abyss of the storm. Immediately there was heavy rain and wind, not a big deal with some slow driving, but soon the rain turned to hail, then the hail led to golf ball sized hail. I thought, how lucky because as soon as the falling torpedoes started to threaten the integrity of my windows, I came to an overpass where I crowded in with about twelve other cars. The Nissan Xterra was safe from the hail, however, the trailer caught the full force of the assault. After the ice storm, I was attacked with a full-on tornado. I was now parked in the worst area during high winds, the overpass acted as a funnel and concentrated the furry which literally pushed us across the road and out from under the overpass. As quickly as the storm was on us, it was gone again. The sky opened, and the sun went to work melting the roads free ice. Though shaken, I continued back down the road driving my dented car, pulling my even more dented trailer.
I was glad to be back in our homeland, Grand Junction. Colorado greeted us with her dry air and warm hugs from my three-favorite people. Over the next week, we celebrated our countries Independence and closed on our house. We finished our last dental and doctor visits, and prepared for the drive back to our boat.
This would be our first long road trip with two littles. Knowing that Sofie and CJ would be irritable sitting in car seats over the next 5 days of driving, we made the decision to drive through the nights to allow the kids to sleep in the car. This meant I would spend the days sleeping in hotels, while Kristy and the kids maintained a semi-normal sleep pattern. Just before getting to Kansas, we made our first stop where we decided to detour onto a more northern route across the country, so we could stop in Atlantic, Iowa to visit Kristy’s oldest brother Isaac.
Once at Isaac and Sarah’s house, we were having such a great time visiting that we decided to do a layover day there. We now had time to see Kristy’s old summertime stomping grounds and spend some valuable family time, not to mention get some rest and allow me to transition to my new sleep schedule. It came time to leave far too quickly, but we hit the road anyway. We spent the next day in Indianapolis, which was absolutely the worst hotel stay we will ever have. This poor ‘day’s’ sleep was followed by a drive to Wytheville, Virginia where we had a fabulous stay at the Days Inn. Kristy and the kids had a good day exploring this unique town, while I lounged around and visited with the hotel manager and now Gypsy follower. Thank you for joining our adventures Dottie!
Finally we had 5 hours of driving left, from Wytheville before reaching the Marina. It felt so good to see Night Music sitting in her slip waiting for our return. Now we could try to get back to our normal routines and back to writing on here! We look forward to bringing you all more as we continue the Windswept Gypsy life. Stay Tuned!!!