Windsong Sailing Academy
|Join us as we follow Kim and Pierre Russell and their 3 yr old twin boys during their dream voyage aboard their 41' Lord Nelson, Victoria. We will post their journal entries as we receive them over the coming months as their journey unfolds. Join us regularly as we live "Vicariously" through their stories.|
Weíre driving south on I-75 with our van packed full of our belongings as we write our first journal entry. The decision to take off and sail for a year or more was an easy one.
The tough part is doing the
mundane things you need to do to leave your old world and start a new life.
Canceling bank accounts, selling cars, health insurance issues, renting our
house and much more. Initially, this was going to be an attempt to simplify our
lives but right now our lives are full of decisions.
Technical gadgets are a way of life now for our society but how much of
that do we want or need on the boat? Most are not necessary but they sure can
make communication and gathering information a lot easier. We decided on a
laptop with CD-RW/DVD drive, camcorder, digital camera, cell phones and Delphi
XM satellite radio. The boat is equipped with GPS, radar and single side band
radio. So much for simplicity. Space considerations dictate what and how much
you can have on board. It is real important to have a good stowage plan which
enables you to get to things quickly and easily. This makes for some hard
decisions about what you can bring as every item on a boat needs its own place
or you invite chaos.
Our plan of quitting work and setting sail for a couple years sounds romantic and adventurous to many. Itís when we mention that weíll be doing it with our twin three year old boys that make most jaws drop and that thought of envy disappear.
Lucky for us, Thomas and Patrick are very easy-going and adaptable. It should be interesting to see how they do offshore. We plan to have safety netting on the lifelines and they will always have their life jackets and safety harness on when they are on deck. Space on the boat is limited so they were only able to bring a few of their toys. Books, educational CDís, puzzles, scooters and fishing poles to name a few. Weíve tried to explain to them what we are doing but we donít think they have any idea. Their main concern is what theyíre doing in the next 5 minutes. It shouldnít be too long now before they get a feel for what our lives are going to be like. How old do you have to be to take a dingy ashore to go buy a newspaper for Dad?
Getting our house in order and things packed away or thrown away took much longer than anticipated. Itís amazing what youíll find when you start emptying drawers that havenít been touched in many years. We worked every day for a full month to get our house ready for the renters. If it was just the two of us it would have been easy but when you have toddlers running around undoing everything you just did it can be quite frustrating.
Our last two weeks were chaos. Patrick stuck a rock up his nose the day after our Kaiser insurance ended; Pierre found out heís going to need a root canal. Saks called saying someone just tried to charge $800 on our credit card. Fortunately, we got through all that and are finally on the road to the boat.
Victoria is a Lord Nelson 41 built in 1983. Sheís a 41-foot traditional cutter rig with fairly heavy displacement and a long keel. She tracks very well in a seaway. For those who havenít experienced it, sailing on a heavy displacement, long keel boat is a different ride than on most fiberglass production boats. Although there is a little loss in performance, the trade off is a wonderful ease of motion and a boat that tracks so well that you hardly have to steer it. Aesthetically the boat looks a lot like the more familiar Hans Christians. She has a 6 foot bow sprit. Itís equipped with a wind generator, solar panels, a self-steering vain and a 50 hp BMW engine. Sheís not going to win any races but we should have a safe steady ride. She was built in Taiwan and has exceptional overbuilt teak joinery work down below. She also has teak decks which are in need of several weeks of overdue maintenance. We have a lot of small projects to do but the two main things are to bring back the bright work and maintenance on the teak decks (i.e. replace bungs, fix exposed screws).
Weíve spent the past 4 days trying to get our boat packed efficiently. Each day we bring a few more items from our van to the boat. We still have several boxes to bring aboard. It is a slow process.
Weíve learned to expect the
unexpected and that you canít be in a hurry when you are dealing with
sailboats. We hope to get the dinghy taken care of on Monday and possibly depart
north on Tuesday if the weather is favorable. Our primary destinations are the
Itís the night of Wednesday,
June 25th as Pierre
and I do some last minute preparation for our departure to
I awake suddenly at
I awake suddenly at
A couple hours after weíre under way, Pierre realizes he is wearing my shorts and it doesnít seem to bother him one bit. Iím not sure if itís a positive or negative if your husband can fit into your shorts.
We are a few hours into our trip when
Iím amazed at all the boats cruising the waterway. While we were passing through one of the narrow stretches, a tugboat pushing a massive barge appeared to be heading right for us. We inched over to the far side of the channel and allowed him to pass.
I learned the hard way that the
toilet or ďheadĒ in nautical terms is a delicate piece of equipment on a
boat. As I was at the helm
We arrived in
In the morning we were able to
have our dinghy and outboard motor picked up by the local
Our day was consumed with trying to find that pesky baby wipe that was clogging our head. We had to disassemble several hoses and part of the head and 5 hours later we found it. There is a saying in the marine world that states ďNever put anything down a head that you didnít eat first.Ē I think I learned my lesson.
Friday morning we prepared the boat for our trip offshore. By we were on our way out the channel. The weather was clear and there was about 10 knots of wind which meant we would be able to put the sails up. I elected not to use anything for seasickness because the weather looked pretty good. That was a mistake.
The weather was nice but the seas were higher than I expected and after going down below to get something for the boys I began to feel sick. The large rolling waves rocked the boat and when down below I felt like I was in a washing machine as I was tossed around from side to side. I immediately came up to the cockpit and tried to fight off this sick feeling. Only three hours into the trip I found myself hanging over the lifeline feeding the fish. The boys were fairing much better. Thomas said he was scared of the waves and his wide eyes affirmed it but he sat quietly in the corner of the cockpit. Patrick proclaimed he was not afraid at all.
Iím not sure what I was thinking when I thought Iíd be cooking spaghetti and chicken breasts for our dinners. I didnít want to go down below for anything but sleep. I didnít eat anything for 32 hours. The boys and Pierre ate light.
Pierre and I decided to do 4 hour helm shifts during the night. My shift was from Stars filled the sky but it was dark because there was no moon. The sea was black and the sounds of the waves and wind were magnified. I wondered what it would be like if I fell off the boat. It seemed like we were the only boat out here but occasionally, off in the distance, I could see the lights of freighters. I listened to music to help keep me awake but the last hour of my shift I could barely keep my eyes open. I set the boat on autopilot for short periods throughout my shift which enabled me to leave the helm for a few minutes at a time if necessary. We were averaging 6 to 7 knots.
I collapsed in my bunk like a
medical resident coming off a 24 hour shift when
The rolling waves continued throughout the next day and I tried my best not to go down below but itís tough when youíre dealing with 3 year olds who constantly need things. A lot of people pass the time reading on a sailboat but that isnít an option when youíre seasick. I tried to read but it felt a lot like reading in a car on mountain roads. So if I wasnít at the helm I was sitting in the cockpit trying to keep out of the sun and stay cool. The time passed slowly.
Thomas threw up once that day but otherwise he was fine. Patrick was very confident and seemed content. The boys passed the time looking at books, sleeping or hanging all over me.
By nightfall the waves had
subsided and my seasickness had abated. It was
and we were about an hour and a half away from our destination of Morehead City,
This day and a half offshore jaunt was a good experience for me. I would love to sail to the South Pacific but Iím not sure how I would do at sea for 30 days straight. A day and a half was enough for now.