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During Fall break, Outdoor Adventures took a group of Trip Leaders to Oriental, North Carolina to spend some time sailing off the coast and practicing their skills behind a tiller or helm. We started with a couple of days sailing on some small 16 ft FJs to prepare ourselves for bigger water. The first two days were perfect with plenty of wind and sun to test our sailing knowledge. On the third day, the students were met with much anticipation as we boarded and prepared a 42 ft, 3 bedroom Catalina Sloop Rigged boat to spend the next 2 days on.

“What a perfect way to learn how to sail!” one of the student Trip Leaders exclaimed. Starting with the smaller, tougher to sail boats, and graduating to the large cruiser, they quickly learned the nuances and differences of maneuvering the larger boat while taking turns at the helm and the others learned how to help when sails or rigging needed to be changed.

The first day went by fast as they tacked back and forth across the Pamlico Sound  and headed northeast towards Ocracoke. The wind was light, but enough to speed along at around 6 knots (that’s moving for a boat this size!). As the day started to wane, we steered into a protected creek to anchor for the night and start dinner. We were blessed with a rare blood moon moonrise on the eastern horizon as the sun set to our backs. At first, it looked like something out of a science fiction movie, a giant crimson death star rising above the horizon. Once we realized that it was just the moon, we consistently switched between watching the sunset and moonrise, our heads switching back and forth so as not to miss both shows of beauty. The full moon grew lighter and lost its red hue as the waters stilled in the windless evening, so we moved below decks to prepare dinner for the evening in the galley.

All hands helped in some way by either chopping vegetables, cooking on the stove, preparing tea, or checking the anchor lines and boat position for the night. Once dinner was ready to eat, we sat around the galley table for a full crew meal, laughing and reminiscing the experiences of the day followed by an ANCHOR meeting to prepare for the next day. A couple of card games and an infamously funny game of Bananagrams followed dinner and dishes. Everyone commented on how tired they were from the sailing and being observant and in tune with the wind. Sailing can really tire you out but working and moving with the powers of nature is truly a magical way to travel. Some would say it’s the best way to travel!! Some retired early to their cabins, casually rocked to sleep with the small waves, while others took some hot chocolate to the top deck and star gazed for a while, enchanted by the lack of light pollution and how many stars and asteroids are visible to a person when they get the chance to enjoy the view.

Morning came early as the sounds of birds woke up the boat and reminded them that the sunrise was about to happen. We all took tea in the cockpit, with cozy jackets on to ward off the night chill, and welcome the sun's first rays and we made plans for the day. We had a lot of sailing to do, and students were eager to flex the skills learned from the days of sailing. We cruised south back towards the harbor, using the wind at our backs to gently guide us to our home port. Once we docked the crew, the experienced sailors worked to unload the boat and prepare for the drive back to Durham. It wasn’t until then that they realized, as we drove away from the boat, our home on the water, that they missed the motion of the ocean. They yearned for the freedom of the seas and the environmentally conscious way of traveling to beaches and water, not often visited.

Time taken to appreciate the people around you, and the sights that nature posses were suddenly missed but they all felt relaxed and ready for the rigors of the last half of the semester. Renewed and ready to succeed. This wasn’t just a trip; this was preparation for bigger things.

Things like a Spring Break Sailing Coastal Liveaboard Sailing Trip where these Trip Leaders will get to give this same experience to a group of students for an entire week. Those future sailors will then too, know what it's like to experience coastal sailing as they cruise the Outer Banks for Spring Break and be a member of their own armada of community and crew. Do you want to learn how to cruise the coast and captain your own yacht? Join us for Spring Break! More info for our Spring Break Sailing Live Aboard Trip can be found on My Rec, Registration will open on Jan. 11th.

Image Credit: Nathan Rector, 2022

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