And I Would Sail Five Hundred Miles…

One week. Six hundred and fifty miles on the ocean. It sounds more insane every time I say it. Due to all the bizarre setbacks we had through the trip, we were very behind schedule going into the last half of our journey. There was only one solution. Push out twenty five miles off the coast and straight shot our way to Ft. Lauderdale. This entailed twenty four hour sailing days as we made roughly one hundred and twenty miles of progress daily. Fly fish would jump out in schools and soar across the water with no land in sight. Dolphins consistently swam with the boat with occasional sea turtles giving us a wave. The water turns more blue and clear every day.

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The crew in Charleston before Dom had to depart.

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After we left Southport, we headed for Charleston, South Carolina. We had a beautiful sail and reached the Charleston City Marina after two days travel. After a night in Charleston, Dom had to take a plane back to the real world in Massachusetts and become an adult. It was a rather sad moment as we sailed off the dock as he stood there waving goodbye. If this trip was the Fellowship of the Ring, this would have been the moment when Frodo tried to continue on his journey alone without Sam after the death of Boromir etc.

Dom did not jump in the water after us, however, which broke up the Lord of the Rings analogy pretty quickly. He will be the “People of the Ocean” feature of the week, but that can wait until the end of this post.

One of the highlights this week for me, occurred when I was writing and singing with my ukulele, feet swinging off the bow of the boat. We were cruising twenty miles  off the coast, and I was strumming away when a pod of dolphins appeared out of nowhere right below my feet. Usually during the trip dolphins would leave after thirty seconds or so of swimming with the boat, but as I sang and played, they remained and would jump out of the water almost brushing my feet. It was a special moment, and I almost felt like they connected to the music. It was as though they were sharing a love of music and enjoying the performance. Definitely one of the most special musical experiences of my life.

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After Charleston, we stopped briefly in Jacksonville, Florida. One of my good friends from high school Ansley Beaver is currently living in the city there. She drove to our dock, and we grabbed a bite to eat. It was surreal. I hadn’t seen her for six or seven years and suddenly I was in her town after sailing over a thousand miles to get there. I thought back to high school and wondered how I would have reacted then if someone told me I would be briefly reuniting with Ansley on a sailing trip down the East Coast. I probably would laughed and considered the person telling me this to be clinically insane.

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Departing from Jacksonville, we continued South down the coast of Florida, only stopping for less than an hour at Cape Canaveral to grab fuel for our 15 horsepower Yanmar engine. The transition of climate and water color from Cape Canaveral to Ft. Lauderdale was extreme. During our last overnight sail, I took an extra long nights sleep, since I hadn’t done so in over a week. During this, apparently the Coast Guard hailed down the boat in the middle of the night and turned a spotlight on Matt when they were ten feet from the boat. We are in international waters now, and I am still not used to this kind of security. They gave us no trouble.

During some of the more monotonous hours of the trip, I have been reading the Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, which has been a series of accounts I can relate to surprisingly well. Benjamin Franklin ran away from home at the age of seventeen, boarding a ship from Boston headed to New York City and then continuing to Philadelphia. He sailed many of the same routes I have, navigating Block Island and also traveling the East coast to Pennsylvania. Reading his accounts makes me so thankful we have GPS and general means of repairing our boat. Like Benjamin Franklin, we also hit a submerged uncharted rock at one point, but we were able to fix the boat on the dry dock and continue. He, on the other hand, had to bail and pumped out the boat constantly as they continued their journey. There’s your history lesson for the day!

We are now in Ft. Lauderdale, and it is truly America’s Venice. We cruised water streets with boat traffic and water taxis everywhere. I found a beautiful spot to dock at the city docks where we are currently staying. Last night we played pool with a fascinating guy from Miami who is currently pursuing a career as a muralist. After seven years in the Coast Guard, he is now a full-time artist.

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Ernesto Maranje, muralist

He talked of incredible stories of rescue missions gone wrong in his Coast Guard years and also showed us his new art masterpieces. Check them out here! Amazing what he has accomplished in only three years as an artist.

Finally, the spotlight of the week is Domingolos Nieves. Dom Nerves is one of my closes friends from college. He is an “Anselmian” and works to fulfill his Benedictine values on a daily basis. Domingos or “Mingus” is known for making sailing trips hilarious and also being a crucial part of our crew through some dangerous and stressful passages. Congratulations, Dom on being the blog’s “People of the Ocean” feature of the week. Here are some snapshots of the man, the myth, the legend. He never heard no bell.

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