Sunday, November 18, 2012

Like a phoenix rising

Listening to "Swallowed In The Sea" by Coldplay

I sit here, in our slip in the marina, bathed in a new calm and with a smile lingering in the corner of my lips.  After four long months on the hard, plus the year before that filled with countless tasks, Paragon has become a sailboat once again.  


A most beautiful, and long awaited, sight

Going back into the water made me breathless.  There were honestly times while we were living on the hard that I felt there was no way we were EVER going to finish the list that allowed us to get back into the water, and that my sanity was going to be one of the casualties of this whole process.  It was the combination of the million little inconveniences that made it unbearable.  Perhaps if you have to deal with just one (no toilets, living in a work zone covered in fiberglass and toxic grot, twenty foot ladder, insane summer heat, etc) then it would be possible to tackle this task cheerfully, but with it all piled together I felt such despair of ever finishing.  

Now, however, I can once again see that illusive light at the end of the tunnel.  Drake and I spent a couple of days in a slip at the Sailcraft Boatyard while Mark the rigger installed our new staysail and we worked on stowing and cleaning the disaster that Paragon had become.  It's amazing how much you accumulate if you remain the slightest bit sedentary, and accumulate we did.  It took us almost three full days, and many trips to the local consignment store, to whip the boat back into sailing shape, or rather close to sailing shape.   We were not ready for an offshore passage, but a four day sail around the Neuse River was just what the doctor ordered.

The morning of the day we left was spent gathering laundry, stowing the bikes, and a quick trip to the local Town & Country grocery store for some provisioning.  Oh yes, and a jaunt up the mast. 

Even though we still did not have the mainsail on, we needed to attach the topping lift which meant Drake was going to get a chance to test out those new mast steps as I belayed from below.  Besides one step that is rather awkwardly placed (a shroud crosses in an inopportune place) everything held and, I heard, the view was spectacular from such a height.  In hindsight I should have given him a camera to take to the top, eh?

 It was early afternoon by the time we were finally ready to go, but a quick check of the tide table brought us back to a rather somber reality.  We were on a rising tide just past low tide, and with all of the shoaling left over from Hurricane Irene it meant that getting out of the creek with our almost six foot draft could be tricky if not done at the optimal time.

We both sat down with disappointment and decided to get up early the next morning and take off with the high tide and calm early morning conditions.  An hour went by, then two, when Drake suddenly jumped up and said we were leaving.  Even if we ran aground we were on a rising tide and that could only work in our favour.  

He turned on the engine (started on the first try!), friends helped with lines, and we were off.  For the first time in almost two years Paragon was going out to sail and anchor.   We actually did end up running aground (sorry my beautiful bottom paint), but Drake was motoring at such a slow pace that he quickly ungrounded us and we continued our journey.  


not so serious and glad to be out of the channel

We ended up spending four beautiful days and three nights in a lovely anchorage called South River.  We raised anchor the second day to go sailing, but returned to the same lovely spot that evening to enjoy the solitude.  

first time out at anchor in over two years

our first sunset could not have been more beautiful

We knew that a storm was rolling in, and we could have cut our trip short by a day, but instead decided to stay in our anchorage and weather the rain for the third and fourth day.  The time before the nor'easter hit was truly the calm before the storm, but winds quickly picked up to 20-25 knots with gusts up to thirty and remained through the night and next day.  

this storm blew across in no time at all

I can't begin to explain how absolutely cozy this time was with the storm raging outside, but the two of us snuggled inside a warm cabin while munching on popcorn and watching movies.  The anchor held, the rig held, and it made all of this work so, so worth it.  It also gave me a renewed sense of purpose.  This is what it is all about.  The sweat, the frayed nerves, the worrying, and the work all fade as you get out on the water headed to the next anchorage.  I cannot wait for the next voyage.  I cannot wait...


  1. That was a lovely blog post. How enjoyable to read of the fruition of your labour and the pleasure of sailing again.

    I'm interested to know if as time goes by you are happy with your mast steps. I have steps up to the first spreaders but not beyond. I honestly don't know what use that is and wonder if I should install them to the top. However, they do create windage which may be an issue on my 31-footer but may not be such an issue on your longer and larger displacement boat.

    I love the fact that you guys do what you do. :)

    1. Thank you Roger, it was lovely to be back on the water in our own boat.

      As to the mast steps, Drake is quite particular about wanting the steps despite some of the detrimental concerns. He has had a few situations (on his last boat, a Westsail 32) where he needed to climb the mast while at sea, and feels that it is the best and safest option. Being able to cling to the steps while tied in, or in case a line fails or is not available, is vital for him.

      More than windage, his concern is with lines getting tangled in the steps which is why we are going to tie a string going down from step to step on the outer edge. If does not impede access to the steps, but does prevent the halyards from snarling and getting stuck.

      Fair winds,

  2. Wow, you just made my morning :O As my lovely Rubaiyat has just completed her 1 year rest in the barn, my brain just flew to our favorite anchorage!!!

    Bonus, now you will have LOTS to blog about, keepem commin,

    Thanks, Dean

  3. Thanks Dean,

    It was an amazing and restorative trip and I can't wait to go back…and beyond! Where is your favourite anchorage?

    Hope construction is going well on the tiny house. I just watched "We the tiny house people" documentary again…love love love. I'd be interested in seeing some pictures of your friend's house. Is this for a permanent residence, or a pied-à-terre?

    Take care,

  4. I enjoy your YouTube posts. Made a offer on a boat. Between your posts and LeaLea video's your two have dragged me back in to ownership and curising....Just when I thought I was out. I came across this marvellous YouTube of a family sailng... You might enjoy it.

    1. Congratulations on the boat offer…what type of boat seduced you back into the fray?

      Oh, and what a lovely video. I especially liked it when one of the children was "surfing" on the sailboat. Some of the coolest children I've met have been cruising kids. It's not the easiest life, but it offers such a rich tapestry of fun, excitement, responsibility, exploration, and learning…what a great way to grow up!

  5. My first time coming over here and reading your blog. Really nice!

    1. Thank you so much. I promise I'll try to get on here more. Today is the first super sunny day which means the solar panels are finally able to charge my computer after about a week of grey skies. Ahhh, wind generator is next on the "must do" list…they certainly would have come in handy over the past week.

  6. Hello Drake, Monique,

    I've stumbled across your youtube site, and have been watching all the videos - many dozens of them already - over the past couple days. What a find! There are many sailor's blogs and videos to be found on the net, but they typically are cam-tours of the bow breaking the water. Your videos are in depth - and show the whole environment of sailing - not just the sunset shots. Very good stuff. I'm intending to sail myself, and have my sights set on the south pacific. I live in NC (Raleigh area). I note that your cruising goals are for planet exploration, but I see that so far you've done a magnificent job of exploring the closer (caribbean) destinations. Do you plan south pacific in the near future, or are you still finding the interesting local stuff?