Saturday, December 30, 2006

Oriental, NC

0 nm
Wind: light and variable

The sun's beating on my shoulder so hard I can barely see the computer screen, I'm munching on a bagel, and I have wireless access at the free dock in Oriental. Life is good. This is perhaps my favorite town of the trip so far--there's a cute coffeehouse just across the way, a kayak shop and outfitter with an end-of-season sale going on, a nautical outfitter with charts, a West Marine a mile away, a restaurant with a great blue-cheese burger (my fatal weakness), and friendly locals.

We've already met a bunch of new cruisers here, too--a couple from Texas who's cruised all around Puerto Rico and Grand Turk, a single-hander with a 26-foot boat, and two powerboaters who've cruised from Annapolis in three days. We spent all night last night making new friends, first, eating dinner with the group of sailors, and then being invited over to the 46-foot power boat belonging to our new "stinkpot" friends.

And they say powerboaters and sailors can't get along. We had a great time, poking around the ginormous powerboat. The thing does 20 knots and burns 25 gallons of diesel an HOUR. It costs $500 to fuel it for a day, our budget, for everything, for an entire month. Then again, they'll be in Florida by the end of the week, and we might just make it there in time to meet them on their way back, in February.

The evening took on the familiar character of those of our adventuring days, meeting acquaintances who immediately become new friends. People are continually floored when we explain to them what we're doing. They don't understand how we can do it, so young, so poor, so schedule-free. We explain to them that we're just frugal (aside from the occasional blue-cheese burger) and that we don't have any debt. And we occasionally poop in buckets. It's just really not that hard, when it boils down to it. You just have to not spend money. You earn it, and you don't spend it. You save it for what you really want to do, and for us, right now, that's sailing.

You can easily make $6000 in a winter and have an extravagant budget for a six-month summer-long thru-hike, and people were continually amazed at how we managed to afford that. Sailing's even easier--anchoring's free, and you carry your house with you. You don't even need motel rooms to sleep in a bed, like we did on the trail.

It was just further proof of my evangelistic hypothesis. Just by sailing, by going new places and meeting new people, and showing them how we live, we open their eyes to new ways to live. How it's possible to free yourself from the curses of commercialism and appearance and over-medication of our decadent society. How easy it is, when it boils right down, to live a dream.

We were supposed to leave today for Beaufort, but we're being sucked in to stay for the annual Oriental New Year's Eve running of the dragon, the major event in the life of the town. It seems almost too coincidental that we happen to be here in time for it. I can't decide if it's worth trying to stay another day. We keep getting sucked into these towns, and as much as I love meeting new people and seeing new places, I miss the seclusion and peace of our beautiful days sailing and silent nights at anchor.


Ellen, John & Sophia said...

did you eat at M&M's? i loved that town so much! you'll like beaufort too if you can't go outside- beware the cape fear river- the tides versus wind can make for some real stinkers. we buried the bow more than once! we can't wait to see you guys down here-

Anonymous said...

All that time on the water and no good fish yet . We will have to have the boys teach you how to fish someday.

Melissa said...

Hey, the catfish was great!! If we could get a decent fishing pole, we'd be fine. I guess Karl has a lot of living up to do.

We ate at M&M's--mmm, mmm, mmm. And we're still here, two days later. They sucked us in to their New Year's parade, and then they tried to talk us into the race yesterday, but it was pouring down rain, so we're leaving this morning. Lord willing and the creek don't rise.

Anonymous said...

Happiest of birthdays to you, my dear! I love you!