SimplySailingOnline.com shows by example how easily you can eliminate stress, become more independent, raise your children in a safer environment (while spending more time with them, instilling values not based on the mighty dollar) and avoid the traps of commercialism. Because we live and sail simply, we have been wandering for 11 years with no intention of stopping. This is not a trip for us; it is our life, and I hope to share our success with stories of laughter and tears, as well as how-to tips and DIY projects for preparing, sailing and making a boat a home, so that others can join us.
While looking for a quiet place to serve as a home base while we researched options for storing Walküre for a few months, we realized we did not want to be too close to Wilmington, NC. Yes, we have a son there, and no, it's not because of him. We have spent enough time in and around Wilmington to know that our sailor pace just won't cut it there. It had been six months since we'd last traveled any faster than a fast walk and trying to keep up with the crazy Wilmington traffic was not going to fit into our slow-paced lives. We decided, therefore, to get as close as we could but still be just on the edge. Carolina Beach State Park Marina had not been an option for us the few times we had sailed past in Eurisko, but Walküre's 13-inch draft allowed us, once more, to enjoy comforts previously denied us.
We slowed Walküre's progress so we could drop the sails and ship the boomkin. Past experience has taught us that Dave is not at his best when docking: we just don't visit enough marinas for him to practice those skills very often. The office assigned us a slip on the last dock to port, meaning we had a retaining wall behind us to potentially run into and snap off Walküre's boomkin. It's easy enough to ship, so we followed the most prudent route.
Dave slid Walküre around a few corners and had her lined up for the slip and then the gods of docking took over. With a lot of fending and a bit of blood loss, we finally got her snugged into the tight slip. She sure seems bigger when you're trying to stuff her into a little hole!
Carolina Beach State Park Marina was an unexpected treat. We thought we'd be there a day or two, but our plans changed. Shocking, I know. Luckily the marina has a 2-week live aboard limit, so we had plenty of time to get our act together. Our slip was very well protected, though those directly in front of the opening to the marina are less so. Because of their live aboard limit, we were the only people in the marina (and the only people in the park besides campers) after the gates closed at 10:00. Rarely have a spent such a quiet night at a marina. At $30 a night, the marina has a lot to offer: fuel, laundry, showers and a small store--with ice cream!
The State Park adds to the allure of the marina for us. There are miles of trails. One day I saw a doe and her two fawns not far from the trail. We both stopped to stare at each other until she decided I was no threat, then she led her brood through the woods. There are free ranger-led educational hikes, as well. We joined one about carnivorous plants that lasted just over an hour, but was very educational. Fishermen hang out along the water. Couples stroll the beach along Snows Cut hand in hand. The entire park has a slow, easy, southern feel to it.
A short drive away, Carolina Beach offers a boardwalk with the typical holiday feel. The beach, shops, restaurants and nightlife are punctuated by carnival rides, adding to the festive atmosphere. Though not of Ocean City, MD caliber, Carolina Beach was still worth exploring. On summer weekends, however, there are too many tourists for this particular sailor.
Continuing south on US421 you will arrive at Fort Fisher which served a major role in the Civil War. The area is not lacking in history and I found myself wishing I were still homeschooling: field trips and teachable moments abound in coastal North Carolina.
But of course our real reason for being in the area was to find a temporary home for Walküre. We made a dozen phone calls, spent hours online and days driving around to various marinas, trying to find an exact set of circumstances: far enough from the water to be relatively safe from high winds, high enough elevation to not be affected by coastal flooding, not so expensive as to put an early end to our future plans, safe, close enough to our son so that he could keep an eye on her, and accommodating enough to allow us to do a transfer from the boat to land life at our leisure. We found a spot that was close to perfect and reluctantly sailed away from Carolina Beach State Park Marina. Our entire cruise up the East Coast has been a series of lasts. As we left the marina we knew there was a chance that this was our last sail on Walküre. CBSP Marina had made our last stopping spot a pleasant end to an amazing cruise. And the beginning of our next, somewhat less conventional, adventure.
MONDAY: How we spent our hurricane season.
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