Extended Cruise Completed for 2016

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We had a good time, absorbed a lot of history, met a lot of new people, and learned much about sailboat maintenance and cruising.  We sailed/motored ~1400 statute miles over a 10 week period.  The itinerary was from Charleston SC-Southport-Outer Banks-Norfolk-Washington DC, Solomons Island-East side of Chesapeake Bay, etc. and many ports in between.

Probably the most favorite parts of the trip for me were navigating the Potomac River and spending time visiting the sites in Washington DC.  However, our time spent on the York River visiting Yorktown and Jamestown were a close second.  We did have to rent a “land dinghy” from Enterprise to easily access these latter places.

Ragtime is now safe in her new home, New Bern, NC (Northwest Creek Marina).  We will miss Charleston SC and the shorter trip to the boat, but New Bern is much more affordable.  Being retired gives us more time than money!

Rainy Days and Mondays Get Me Down -July 4th

July 1st fried us, and today we are drenched.  Weather is a huge factor when cruising, but you have to learn to roll with it or you will hate this lifestyle. 

Friday we left Deltaville after 4 days docked having boat repairs. Our anchor light had to be replaced and while we were at the travel lift, we had Ragtime pulled to check her bottom.  We had not seen this view since 2009 when we first saw her on the hard in New York. Even I am amazed at the immensity of a sailboat out of water. For my non sailing friends, I thought you would find the bottom interesting. 

While in Deltaville, we did laundry, bought groceries, ate lunch ashore, and spent money at West Marine all thanks to the courtesy vehicle from Deltaville Yachting Center-great marina and nice folks. 

Friday afternoon we anchored in Carter Creek beside The Tides Inn. The Tides is where Jacob did his externship through Le Cordon Bleu several years ago. The inn was built in 1947 and caters to upscale families. We dinghied ashore for a late lunch at the poolside restaurant. Dinner prices were more than we wanted to spend plus the heat and humidity was horrible on Friday. I was drenched in sweat and couldn’t even contemplate the idea of dressing up for dinner!

We had a huge thunderstorm that we had to ride out that afternoon which cooled things off considerably. 

Saturday we left for Urbanna, a little town of about 500 further up the River from Irvington where the Tides is located. For the first time on this trip weather and wind cooperated. We were able to sail with both sails. There was enough wind, we eventually needed to reef. We lucked into a fabulous Independence Day celebration that evening complete with boat parade and fireworks!  I’ll have to post these photos later when I can download from my camera. 

Yesterday it rained all day. Finally we gave up, donned our foul weather gear and went to town to check out Urbanna. What a nice surprise. Glad we did but unfortunately it was so late in the day most of the cute shops were closed. We did manage to find a great little BBQ restaurant that also served great desserts. We all had coconut rum pie except for James who had his chocolate ice cream. 

Today it is still raining, and we are motoring north to the Great Wicomico River for an overnight anchorage. It’s barely 70 degrees and cooler than that in the wind. Can hardly it’s July 4th!!!  I am making deviled eggs, hotdog chili, baked beans and hotdogs for supper. I had hoped to find a watermelon to make our meal complete but brownies will have to suffice. 

Happy 4th of July🇺🇸

Bruises, Bugs, and Bathing June 21, 2016

    We’ve been gone less than three weeks, and my body looks like I’ve been on Survivor!
The first week I managed to trip on the marina sidewalk in Oriental, NC coming away with a badly skinned knee, palm, ankle along with accompanying bruises.  Next came those horrible green headed biting flies and mosquitoes.  The mosquito bites itched, but the fly bites hurt!  Adding to the bruises and scabs were red welts on the ankles and other random body parts.  To add insult to injury I missed a step in the cockpit and fell just missing my skinned knee but succeeded in banging up my other one along with pulling my left arm.  Oh,and I must not forget hitting the top of my head on the boom.  Thank goodness for Advil and Tylenol.  I am truly grateful that I’ve not broken anything.  There’s always something to be thankful for.
    Bathing deserves its own paragraph, maybe a chapter, but I will give the condensed version.  We have running hot water and not all sailboats have that.  We have two heads (bathrooms), but keep in mind they are tiny!  Have you ever watched “Tiny Houses”, been on a RV, or used a porta-potty?  You get the picture. I do like the economy of being able to sit on the toilet, brush my teeth, and wash my face all at the same time :-).  The sink faucet doubles as a shower head meaning you pull it out, get the right water temperature and hold over your head while trying to soap up in this minuscule closet meanwhile wetting down the whole bathroom including the toilet, counter, and floor.  There is a drain to the bilge and the whole bathroom is somewhat
clean, but I either let it dry or have to wipe it all down.  My solution to daily bathing is filling the sink with water and having as my mother would call it- a “whore bath” .  About once a week or more, we dock at a marina and get our “Saturday” bath!!!  Ahhhh…
    Quite a few years ago, we took a dear friend who is no longer with us on a sailing trip.  One of the mornings as I was pulling my hair up into a ponytail and cramming it under my cap, he remarked, “Sailing isn’t for beautiful people.”  I didn’t know whether to be offended or to consider it a compliment as to my love and dedication to the sport. 🙂 I always think of my friend Dave on days like today.  We walked over a mile from the American History Museum on the Mall to our boat at the marina in pouring down rain with only a museum plastic poncho.  Sailing is not for the “beautiful people” or high maintenance, but it is always interesting.

Cooking on a Boat   June 14, 2016

Be forewarned avid sailors, this blog is not about the rigors, adventures, or technical aspects of cruising. In my humble opinion, I think it’s a worthy topic because it is a necessity of cruising unless you’re a bare bones kind of sailor. This is also for my non-sailing friends who ask, “What do you eat on the water?” and “How do you cook?”
I mostly cook what I do at home except for baking cakes (although my fellow sailor friend is baking cake mixes and I did bring a mix). We are actually eating healthier because amazingly we are eating out less than at home, and I purposely have bought less junk food and more fresh fruits and vegetables.
First of all we do not have a microwave, and I do not miss it at all. I cook on a three burner with oven propane stove. We only have two electrical appliances-small coffee maker and a vacuum food sealer that I use when we have shore power. I toast in a non stick fry pan with a little butter. At sea I brew coffee in a French press. My can opener is a Pampered Chef manual that I also use at home. It’s truly amazing how few gadgets one needs to cook a delicious meal.
Weather plays a role in my meal planning. On cold days I bake bread, cook casseroles, and roast meats. On hot days I avoid the oven if at all possible. I have discovered two “how on earth have I survived without” items-a pressure cooker and a heat diffuser. The pressure cooker allows me to cook food faster which equals less propane and more importantly less heat! The diffuser is placed over the burner and diffuses the heat enabling simmering which is hard to do on the propane burners.
I had read on sail blogs and groups about cooking with a pressure cooker and how I should have a diffuser. My pressure cooker dates back to the days of S & H green stamps! I only use it at home to cook black eyed peas and hotdog chili. Thanks to Google and a pressure cooking cookbook, I can now bake potatoes, cook rice, and have plans to cook a roast. The baked potatoes were fluffy with tender skins and only took 20 minutes to cook. I may continue to cook them this way at home.
I kept meaning to search the Internet for a diffuser before we left but forgot with the myriad of other details needing to be done. As luck would have it, I stumbled upon one in a hardware store in Oriental, NC while James was shopping for bolts for one of his boat projects. It was only five bucks!

Pressure Cooker and Diffuser

Sometimes a Plan Comes Together-June 5, 2016

We docked in Southport Marina Friday morning around 10 am.  We were greeted with muggy hot sunny weather.  After little sleep I was somewhat grumpy as the sweat trickled down my back while we hooked up power cord, tidied the dock lines, and stowed equipment. Thankfully our blessed little A/C chugs away once we have shore power. The best improvement we made to Ragtime!

After a nap and shower, we had dinner with friends from Watauga Lake Sailing Club. Jennie and Kevin now live in Wilmington, NC. It was good to catch up even if we did had to wade to the restaurant through the high tide waters.  James advises to always check tide charts whether on or off boat!


Saturday we left Southport, motored up the Cape Fear River to Snows Cut to the ICW.  We saw very shallow water and you don’t need the GPS to tell you how shallow when you see beach umbrellas in the middle of the waterway! Fortunately we didn’t need Tow Boat US’s services, but they seemed to be busy enough without us.


At 6:15 pm we motored out of Masonboro Inlet into the ocean for another overnighter  Overnighters can be as different as night and day  We had a nice breeze and little waves on Thursday night which meant more sleep and a relaxing night of reading, listening to podcasts, light snacks, and star gazing while on watch.  Saturday night was hard from the get go.  The ocean swells were large and random which made for a rocky ride with 15 knots of wind steady.  We only sailed the jib reefed.  I kept thinking this was going to be the night I got sick.  I’ve only been seasick three times in over 30 years of sailing.  Before leaving Southport I had cooked chicken and noodles for supper with plans to reheat for supper.  We ate it cold which really wasn’t too bad.  I catnapped during my off watch, but it wasn’t restful with my body constantly moving.  Moving around was an ordeal, and I found myself slammed against the boat quite often with the bruises today to prove it.  Non-sailors think we are courageous and/or crazy.  We think it’s just part of the sailing life and as in life, there’s the highs and lows.  Without the mix, life would be mundane and we couldn’t truly appreciate the good times.  So it is for the life of a sailor.  Look at this man’s smile.  Sailing energizes him in the way that nothing else does and that energizes me.





Finally Leaving-June 2, 2016

Leaving from Charleston Harbor Marina fuel dock early Thursday morning, June 2nd

Leaving from Charleston Harbor Marina fuel dock early Thursday morning, June 2nd

Our long awaited retirement sail trip got off to a rocky start. James had planned to retire the end of 2015, and then to our fortunate surprise Eastman offered an early retirement incentive package that included a years salary! The only downside was he couldn’t retire until March 1, 2016 which was a very slight change of plans as we had hoped to maybe leave early April. Since we had boat projects to complete, we decided to race one last time in Charleston Race Week with May 1 being our leave date which also corresponded with the end of our marina lease. After several trips to Charleston prepping Ragtime for our extended trip came to a brutal halt when mast troubles were discovered the first day of the races. We feared a new mast was in order which sent us home quite distressed. fortunately it was our standing rigging which ended up being a much easier fix. Still we had lost ground time, because we had put the other projects on hold. It was not meant for us to leave the first of May. We extended our lease for a month and mentally prepared ourselves for another month wait.

You know how hindsight works and providence if you believe in it. May ended up being a tumultuous month for the Littles! We had to have our 15 year old redbone coonhound put to sleep on April 4th. On May the 4th we repeated the agonizing decision for our 21 year old cat. I had had many sleepless nights the past year wondering who was going to care for our aged pets when we left. The Littles’ pets kept the Rainbow Bridge busy. Jacob, our younger son, also lost his beloved little dog during this time. We were thankful to have been home to comfort Jake. Someone recently asked when was the last time I cried to which I responded, “The whole month of May!”

One of my dearest friends lost her father in May. I was eternally grateful to have been here for her. Another dear friend was buying a house which meant I was able to participate in the process with her. And I was able to celebrate my 60th birthday on May 6th with my closest friends.

The whole delay has been a growing experience for me as I have practiced living in the moment. It was a constant reminder that plans are just that-plans. Life on a sailboat is a phenomenal learning laboratory for Type A people like us. We need it!

Tuesday, May 31 was about new leave date. Month lease was up, weather looked good as Bonnie had moved inland and we were stocked and essential projects were done. Except the engine mount that was  to be delivered on Tuesday did not arrive until Wednesday. But the delay meant having some Charleston friends over for drinks and goodbyes and being a tad more rested for the overnighter.

I am writing this on my IPad sitting behind the wheel of Ragtime as autopilot steers with fine tuning of the sails by James. We are clipping along at about 6 knots. We should make Southport, NC by mid morning. We have a marina slip reserved for Friday with plans to visit with some friends from our sailing club back home. Did I say plans?

Southern Collegiate Offshore Regatta, Feb 13, 14, Charleston, SC

Participating Schools:  Coast Guard, Navy, Maine Maritime, Eckerd College, Michigan, Queens College (Canada), Cal Maritime, and the College of Charleston

Dear James,

I am writing to invite you and your J 40 to be a part of the Southern Collegiate Offshore Regatta (SCOR) that will be run by the Charleston Ocean Racing Association(CORA) and will be sailed on Feb 13th and 14th 2016 at the Carolina Yacht Club.   The regatta is sailed in borrowed offshore yachts where the owners participate. Recognizing the importance of exposing the next generation of sailors to offshore racing, the Charleston Ocean Racing Association (a 501(c)3 charitable organization and the South Atlantic Intercollegiate Sailing Association have joined forces to make the Southern Intercollegiate Offshore Regatta a major event. The goal is spreading the fun and team work of big boat racing to as many college sailors as possible. We can only do this with the help of boat owners like you. This is your chance to give back to the sport and help it grow.

CORA is not looking for you to lend the boat to a college team. In our regatta, the owners sail with the teams as the safety officer and coach. Each boat can have a second adult aboard who can be one of your regular crewmembers, the school’s coach, or someone appointed by CORA. We need you to keep things safe for the kids and the boats as well as to teach about how to handle and sail a big boat. The boat owner is still the skipper of record and we make it clear to the students that if the owner ever feels that something unsafe could happen, the owner is free to take the helm or to give a command to change course. The kids are very respectful of the boats and the owners. We cannot insure the fleet so all the boats sail under their own insurance.

The boat owner stays near the helm to insure the safety of the boat. The second adult can coach the kids in the front half of the boat. We encourage the adults to teach boat handling, sail trim and safety, but we ask that you let the kids call their own tactics. Everything about big boats can be new to dinghy sailors, but tactics are universal. If their starting plan is unsafe, then by all means tell them to guess again. To keep boats from pushing the rules too hard, we do not allow the two-turns penalty to exonerate fouls.

With last year’s event being canceled due to extreme bad weather, we are inviting the same schools back: Coast Guard, Navy, Maine Maritime, Eckerd College, Michigan, Queens College (Canada), Cal Maritime, and the College of Charleston.

Our goal is to have three to four windward/leeward races on Saturday and a distance race around the Charleston Harbor on Sunday.

Finally, this is a totally free event for the boat owners and college sailors thanks to the CORA Foundation, Carolina Yacht Club , and other sponsors. The kids bring food and drinks for themselves and the adults, and the Carolina Yacht Club throws a casual dinner for everyone on Saturday night and will provide overnight dockage on Friday and Saturday night.

A similar event is put on by the Storm Trysail Club at the Larchmont Yacht Club. Check out their video


One day we hope to have as many participants as they do. So, please consider in helping with our event. Contact me if you have any questions.


Tripp Fellabom , Organizing Committee

Time to Sail into Retirement

After 37 1/2 years at Eastman, I will join Sandra in retirement on Jan. 1st, 2016 and we will set sail.  We plan on leaving early May 2016 from Charleston, SC and sail north towards Long Island Sound.  I have no idea how long it will take, but no problem, we are retired!

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Here are our initial plans for next year:

-Participated in Southern Collegiate Offshore Regatta on Ragtime (see post)
-Participate in Charleston Race Week in April, three 23-mile races offshore in 3 days
-Leave Charleston early May 2016
-Sail to New Bern, NC to join our friends Rob and Minta Fannon who recently purchased a Catalina 42 sailboat
-Sail around the Outer Banks and Chesapeake Bay for an undetermined amount of time
-Possibly sail up the Potomac to Washington DC area
-Go up the Chesapeake Delaware Canal/Delaware River/Cape May
-Out along New Jersey Coast to New York Harbor and spend a few weeks in NY City
-Up the Hudson River
-Down the Hudson/New York City then to Long Island Sound

Back in Charleston

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

We are back in Charleston Harbor Marina cleaning Ragtime.  After docking at 4:45 am on Monday morning, we managed to sleep for about 4 hours before having to get up to get Matt to the airport.  Needless to say after eating lunch with Rob and Minta, we were worthless.  James took a nap that extended into bedtime.  I took a mini nap and then had several long phone calls with my “besties.”  🙂

Today was the backbone cleaning day.  James washed everything on top, cleaned out the locker, and made multiple phone calls to the marina office regarding our slip.  While we were gone, a different boat was put in our adjoining slip.  We were unsure if we could both fit into the slip, but with help from the marina, we managed to put Ragtime back into E34. We had docked on the A Dock extension on Monday morning because of the tidal current.  I cleaned out the refrigerator, pantry, began packing, plus did laundry.

While packing the multitude of clean clothes that we never even wore, I fully realized I had over packed!  The winter clothes that were sent home with Rob and Minta had all been worn, so I did ok in that department.   I thought we would need more summer clothes because we would sweat more, but it turns out that I was able to wash at least once a week.  Like a dog and a fire hydrant, I never passed up a laundry.  Note to self for future trips:  a week’s worth of clothing is enough.  When I am on the water, I don’t worry about wearing shirts and shorts multiple times.  Just give me plenty of undies!!!  As I was folding HOT clothes from the dryer, I reminded myself that commercial dryers do not seem to have a low setting no matter what the button says.  For future trips, I will rethink bringing tops that say to dry on low.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

We are leaving today.  After hitting it hard for two days, we have cleaned and put Ragtime to “sleep” for a few months.  We plan to have her hauled out for a bottom job this summer.  There are also numerous small repair projects that we left in the hands of our capable boat management guy, Mallory.  We will not be back until the end of August when we will be back for a wedding.  We both have mixed emotions as we leave Charleston.  It has been a great 11 weeks, but there are portions of our lives that we definitely miss back in Kingsport on dry land.

While we were gone, they made significant progress on the new restaurant at the marina.  Fish House is slated to open the end of the month which is tomorrow.  I don’t think they will make their deadline but maybe next week.  There is also a marina store adjoined to the restaurant.  We will look forward to checking them both out in August.

Fish House Restaurant

Fish House Restaurant

Marina Store

Marina Store


May 20, 2013

Dear Cubs,

This will probably be my last letter to you.  Mrs. Little talked on the phone with Mrs. Harrison earlier and said graduation was Wednesday.  Wow!  The year has flown by hasn’t it?  We are in Miamarina at downtown Miami.  Today was a work day to get the boat ready to sail back to South Carolina.  Captain James scrubbed the decks, and I helped wash the dinghy.  There was salt and seaweed all over the boats.  When we left Key West, it was quite windy with lots of big waves that splashed all over the boat.  When the sun dried up the water, it left the salt.  Mrs. Salyer, it was like a science experiment.  I helped Mrs. Little wash the screens.  See the salt crystals.  While Mrs. Little did laundry, she left me to vacuum.



Cleaning salt off screens...do you see the salt crystal in my paw?

Cleaning salt off screens…do you see the salt crystal in my paw?

Even though I am tired after working hard all day, I am excited.  Tomorrow I get to meet Mrs. Little’s son, Matt.  He is flying into the Miami airport to sail back with us.  Another friend of the Littles is coming also, Mr. Rob Fannon.  His wife teaches art at Sevier Middle School.  You will meet her next year.  She is a sailor also.  We are going to be sailing back day and night on the ocean to get back home quickly.  If the weather holds, we should be home by the weekend.  Everyone will take turns taking a watch (a certain number of hours to sail the boat) while others will sleep.  Matt and Mr. Fannon are good sailors, so I feel safe.  I have found a special place to ride on the boat when it gets rocky.  See me in my little pouch.  When it’s calmer, I ride on the compass with Captain James and help steer the boat.

My pouch

My pouch

Helping Capt. James steer Ragtime

Helping Capt. James steer Ragtime

Sometimes I sit in the drink holder.  It is a very comfy seat.

Sometimes I sit in the drink holder. It is a very comfy seat.

Mrs. Little was going through her pictures and realized she had some pictures she hadn’t sent you.

The closest thing to a video machine that I have played in 10 weeks!

The closest thing to a video machine that I have played in 10 weeks!

Bed made of straw in the old fort...wasn't comfortable.

Bed made of straw in the old fort…wasn’t comfortable.

school in St. Augustine

school in St. Augustine

Oldest School

Oldest School

Mrs. Salyer, I will continue to write you if we have Internet connection on the ocean.  I will call you when I get back to Kingsport, so you can come get me, please.