North Again

Not back, just north. On a cold, frosty morning, I (James) hauled the anchor with my new gloves – yay! – and, just like that, we were underway. I (Dena), at the helm, grabbed the camera because it was a strange and gorgeous morning. Full moon to one side, sunrise on the other. The pic above is just before. This is just after, by James. It was such a beautiful morning. Broke, unemployed, and completely motivated, we headed north up the ICW. Wrightsville Beach has some attractions – 4G, a tourist season about to begin – okay, so it only really attracts us for the internet access. Oh – and a beach! Anyway, we’re anchored again (not back, just again) on the Banks Channel, with a municipal dinghy dock right next to us, a job opp upon the turning of the earth, and good hardware and grocery stores nearby. We’re here. We’re home. We’re together. We’re happy. The end. No. The beginning. Again. Whatever.

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The Story of Fuck

I (James) read a book in 1992 called “Fuck Yes”. It was by someone using the pseudonym Wing F. Fing and in this very funny good read, the author tells the story of a man who dedicates his life to answering every question posed to him with the word “yes” first. As you can imagine, this poses quite a few hilarious challenges for the protagonist but in the end has a very positive effect. The book was also the first attempt I had ever read on the etymology of the word “fuck” and as it turned out, this pre-wiki attempt was a pretty good one. Anyway, if you can find a copy of this little book, I definitely recommend it. The word fuck has a profound history for me. You see, in the mid 1990’s myself and a small group of very dedicated radio enthusiasts got together and built an unlicensed frequency modulated micro-radio transmitter on Capitol Hill in Seattle and we named it after the one word a broadcaster could never legally use on the air. We called it FUCC89.1fm. In other words, we built a pirate radio station called it”fuck” and for the next three years we broadcast the greatest radio I have ever heard in my life. The only “rule” on FUCC89.1fm was that no one could impose any kind of censorship on anyone else. I honestly believe that that one rule made that station great. I (Dena) second that. I came in after the initial building of the station, but before several emergency relocations, required when the powermads-that-be sent officious letters to the owners of our sheltering buildings. My musical tastes and collection were constrained by decades (only two at that point in my life) of corporate radio and I had only begun to discover even[…]

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The North Carolina ICW

The sail from Ocracoke to Oriental was one of those “Sailing Adventures” that we (sailors) sometimes talk about with that far away look in our eyes, lots of deep breaths, and long pauses that end with a head shaking sigh… In other words, it was hard. After the gales eased, we saw a tiny window of opportunity that promised 10 to 20 knot winds from the northwest, which according to our travel direction put the wind on our starboard beam for most of the expected 9 hours it would take to cross the Pamlico Sound and transit the Neuse River to Oriental from the Outer Banks. We woke long before light, hoping to get underway around sunrise. There are two ferries that run to Ocracoke Island from the North Carolina mainland, and the channel leading out of Ocracoke is treacherous enough on its own without having to dodge a giant ship. We called the ferry (which was running at the dock) on the VHF to find out what time they were taking off from Ocracoke so we could follow them out without having to worry about them creeping up our asses in that channel. They told us that the first ferry would be taking off at about 0700 and the second one at 0930. Now when you consider that most VHF communication is sketchy at best and add a North Carolina-ferry-boat-captain accent on top of that, that second estimated time of departure could be a little off. Anyway we weighed anchor and followed the first ferry out of the channel with bare poles. Once we got out of the protected boat basin in Ocracoke the seas were in a full-on churn with white caps from the cold wind (directly in our faces) and steep, choppy growlers left over from 3[…]

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Manteo to Ocracoke

I kinda like these blog posts with titles that say we’ve traveled. Being so far north at the beginning of January wasn’t part of the plan, but the southwesterlies that trapped us in Manteo finally gave in and let us leave. The long Roanoke Sound Channel (leaving Manteo for the Pamlico Sound) is thin and mostly straight while heading south. Dozens of duck blinds spotted the waters but only a few hunters were out. The channel goes between rock and sand islands, but mostly just between shoals that lurk under one or two feet of water, waiting to grind the keel of the unwary sailor. (We aren’t that sailor.) The Bodie Island Light came into view as we motored along, a light wind hinting at the possibility of sailing once free of the channel. Then we came to the crossroads. The rule of thumb in marking a channel goes “Red, Right, Returning”. This means that the red markers are on your right hand side, to starboard, when you’re heading into somewhere. They’ll be to port when you leave. This simple rule gets complicated when channels meet up. The entire way down the Roanoke Sound Channel, we were leaving the sound and so the reds were on our left. There’s a place, however, where what seems to be the same channel becomes the Old House Channel, which is considered the return from offshore via Oregon Inlet. This means that the reds and greens…switch sides mid-trip. With shoals on both sides. As we were motoring along, approaching the change point, I (Dena) realized that the markers weren’t even shown on the charts. The bottom shoals so fast and the channel moves so often, that they don’t make any promises about where it is safe to go. Okay. I pulled out the binoculars[…]

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What a year…

…Although one could potentially say that about, well, any year, this one in particular was of special significance to us. 2015 was the year we took off! Generally speaking neither one of us are really into year-end retrospectives but this year, wow, what a year! At the beginning of 2015 we were both retail-wage-slaving and commuting by train 20-odd miles from downtown Boston through the worst (weather-wise) winter in our history aboard. It was about as hard as it could get for us as live-aboard sailors but we had a plan and by January 1st 2015 that plan was well into its “when are we going to quit this bullshit job” phase. We had a gig traveling Maine contracted by late in November of ’14 so by the time the 119 inches of snow had fallen on our boat late in February we were freaking (the fuck) out to get underway. All through the winter Dena had been working the finishing touches into her novel Heart of the Liliko’i but by the end of January when she’d sent that one off to her publisher. I think it’s safe to say, she was well into the cabin-fever stage of her winter. By the beginning of April when our contract was up with the evil marina we were tied to in Boston we were both ready to jump! So jump we did, we threw off the dock lines from that over-priced dump of a marina, set the sails and headed out of Boston Harbor for… Hmmm? We didn’t have a place to go, we didn’t have any real connections in the area we needed to be (somewhere near our wage-slave gig). All we had was a general idea of the geographical location where we were going and a plan. The plan, at[…]

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