It was a long three weeks at the dock in Norfolk, Virginia. Not because we weren’t enjoying our boat or the area or the people, but because I (more than my husband, surprisingly) was anxious to literally and figuratively “untie the dock lines” and trade the comfort of the marina for the wild unknown of travel.
But there was much to do to prepare to leave and now I am grateful for each extra day, hour and minute we stayed buying, repairing, improving, and provisioning. But in the midst of our preparing and planning we took time to enjoy the area around us and create family memories. We celebrated Hannah’s third birthday and enjoyed a couple of days (the only couple of days warm enough) playing at the beach.
As we prepared our boat to start traveling, filling settee lockers with cans of food, buying extra diapers and paper towels, there was one question constantly rolling around in our minds: would we travel the Atlantic Intracoastal waterway (ICW) or would we travel on “the outside?” (What cruisers call sailing on the ocean). There were pros and cons to each. Sailing on the ICW isn’t common; you have to motor, so the ICW takes longer and costs more because you’re paying for diesel along the way. The ICW is narrow at times and shallow at times, so it has it’s own concerns. Running aground isn’t much fun. The ocean, however, is wild, a little unknown and there the weather matters a lot. But could we handle an ocean “hop” as new cruisers? Would there be any other boat to travel with? As the temperatures keep falling, how much time do we want to spend cruising south along the coast? Heaters, marinas, and diesel all cost money, after all. We had these questions and many more.
As it turns out, one of our boat “neighbors” in Norfolk knew of a cruising family who, for the last eight years, was sailing around the world with their kids. A family on a boat named Totem. We knew of them as well and had eagerly read their blog when we were learning all we could about cruising. It happened that they were in Washington D.C, making their way to Norfolk after Thanksgiving. We got into contact with them and it was decided: we would stay in Norfolk longer so we could meet them. After meeting them we would decide where we would go and how we would get there.
It was during this time I began learning the often difficult lesson of waiting. I was anxious to begin our journey. It seemed becoming comfortable happened fast and I didn’t want to settle anywhere just yet, I wanted to go. It was difficult not being able to plan in advance; not knowing where we would be a week from now, not knowing if we would leave next week or in two days or if we would have the weather window we needed. But I learned and am learning, to let go of any expectations I might have had (and they are there) and just let it happen the way it happens. Resting in each moment, knowing that this is not only our story, but the story that God is writing for us, and when we get impatient we often miss out on his best.
But then the day came. We had listened to the weather on the VHF radio each night that week and it seemed that that Thursday would be a good day to say goodbye to Cobb’s Marina. And it was. The rain had passed and the sun was out; it was beautiful, albeit cold, and we were ready. A new couple we had met on our dock helped us shove off and we were finally on the move. The wind in my face felt really good.
We anchored that afternoon in the Lafayette River, an anchorage near the Norfolk Yacht and Country Club, the marina where s/v Totem was staying. That night, over finger foods, we met them: Jaimie, Behan and their three kids. Full of warmth, experience, encouragement and advice, much like the other cruisers we have met so far, we loved being able to pick their brains and get to know another family who lives their life in such an unconventional way. We stayed in that anchorage for six days, walking to a nearby library for the kids to play, finding the local laundromat, and even being invited to the Norfolk Yacht and Country Club’s Christmas lights party.
When we learned that Jaimie and Behan were thinking of traveling south on the ICW, for lack of good weather on “the outside,” that confirmed for us which way we were to go. A friend of theirs, Bill on s/v Solstice, arrived at the anchorage also, so it was planned that all three of us would begin our journey together south.
I was ready.
Our next stop, leaving Norfolk and traveling the ICW! Bridges, a lock, rain, wind right on our nose, staying behind, and getting stuck in the mud…Stay tuned!