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Sea Spell anchored along the ICW. Photo by Joanne Lucey
Sea Spell anchored along the ICW. Photo by Joanne Lucey

Back at the Helm

Nine years ago my wife and I sailed out of Houston with no plans to return other than to eventually empty out our 10-foot storage unit. We’d sold whatever didn’t fit in that unit or onboard our 38-foot Morgan sloop Sea Spell: condo, cars, furniture – everything gone except personal keepsakes.

I’d lived on an Endeavor 32 for a few years, preparing to go cruising. Then I met Jo and we bought the bigger boat and really prepared to go cruising, together (much better).

Many people dream of cruising. Some talk of it. We made actual plans to go cruising and stuck to them.

When we cast off our lines and sailed out between the Galveston jetties, we barely looked back. For three years we traveled, eventually island hopping down the Western Caribbean to Venezuela and back up, but most of those years we passed exploring the Southeastern waters of our own great nation.

I’m originally from Rochester, N.Y., and grew up in landlocked Dallas, Texas, so I came to the water relatively late in life. Jo had just moved here from the U.K. when we met and was new to sailing. We both had plenty of new places to visit.

Our time cruising the Gulf of Mexico and western Florida, including a prolonged engine repair stop in Pensacola, put us in the proper frame of mind for cruising. We tossed out all schedules and treated each fresh port as a discovery.

One of our goals along the way was to choose a new place to call home once we had satiated our cruising desires. We traversed the Keys, snorkeling, reeling in our dinners and hiking along Highway 1, feeling the funky vibe of those tempting islands.

We sailed up the East Coast and explored the fabled boating grounds of Chesapeake Bay, even cruising up the Potomac to our nation’s Capitol.

Many towns tempted us with their historic charms, picturesque waterfronts and salty spirits as we plied the Intracoastal Waterway ducking in and out of ports. But we didn’t feel at home until we dropped anchor in North Carolina, a state neither of us had ever visited before. There we found the perfect blend of many of the traits we’d learned to love along the way: scenic beauty, cultural opportunities, heritage and plenty of water.

The biggest attraction was the friendliness we found in one particular town. The village of Oriental dubbed itself the Sailing Capital of North Carolina, and we believed it as we found boats tucked into almost every one of the many creeks branching off the Neuse River. Every person we met seemed to be a boater, and many had far more miles of water under their keels than we did. All were overwhelmingly welcoming to the steady stream of mariners passing by along the ICW.

It was decided. When we grew weary of the sea, we tied our docklines along Whittaker Creek and there we launched a regional boating magazine called Carolina Currents. That mom and pop operation kept us busy for three years. We were ready for a break when Jo received a job offer and we found ourselves back in Houston.

Earlier this year I was offered a chance to get back into the boat writing business, and now I’ve been invited to take the helm of this magazine. The greatest thing about All At Sea Southeast is that, through its pages each month, I get to revisit the many places we explored aboard Sea Spell. I am ready to go!

Rob Lucey will officially take the helm as the new editor of All At Sea Southeast for the September 2012 issue.

 

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