This is the 4th installment of our big sailing trip from Fort Lauderdale to Rhode Island. To start the trip from the beginning click here.

Friday June 28, 2019
We woke up in Beaufort, NC and got ready to set out. I wanted to tidy up, take the trash out, spray down the deck. Deb and Sean borrowed the marina car and went to a supermarket. My left eye was still driving me crazy. I rubbed at it. Todd called the doctor we have on call and texted him a picture of my eye, and Dr. Turshen diagnosed me with pink eye and called in a prescription.

“I don’t think I have pink eye” I protested. But it turns out there are a few different flavors of pink eye. Remember the one that spread like wildfire when we were all in elementary school? It’s not that kind. He suspects that I may have scratched up my eye a bit. Deb drove me back into town to get my eye drops.

“Must be a long drive down 95 from Rhode Island to get this prescription,” the pharmacist from CVS laughed.

“Actually a long sail up from Fort Lauderdale,” I joked back. I read the label; 5 drops 4 times a day. Todd put them in my eye, and then we went to set out when Deb noticed that our topping lift was frayed.

BJ Knapp author of Beside the Music sailed her catamaran 1,213 miles

The topping lift is the rope that connects the end of the boom on the main sail to the top of the mast. In other words it’s what holds up the entire boom. It was literally holding on by a thread. A thread! It was frayed in 3 spots, where the batons in the main sail have rubbed against it. It would have been an absolute disaster if it failed while we were out to sea. The entire boom would brash down on the the roof of the boat and probably do some serious damage. Todd and Sean got recommendations on where to go to get it replaced. They learned about a local store that caters to sailboats, and set out to go there.

When they arrived at the address they found a burned down building. The googled and followed another address to an unmanned storage locker. Off to West Marine then.

They returned with the rope, and running the new rope up the mast to replace the old one was a pretty quick job, we untied our lines and made our way out of the channel. Todd plotted 8 waypoints that would guide us to Norfolk and I programmed them into both of the chart plotters—we have one at the helm and one inside. They function independently of each other so that in case one breaks we have another one. It’s also pretty cool to be inside the boat, sitting at the table, looking out the window and checking our progress toward our waypoints from inside the boat.

My watch ended at 7. I’d begun reading “You Are A Badass At Making Money” by Jen Sincero. Normally I avoid self help books but thought I’d check it out. I read “The Secret” a million years ago and found it to be a bunch of hooey. Yeah, just wish for money and it’ll come. Yup, that’s how it works, totally legit, just tell the universe you want money and it will arrive.

“You Are A Badass” isn’t as all woo woo as “The Secret” basically what this lady is saying is “yeah, put it out there in the universe that you want money. But then make a plan to get it.” So it was a bit more practical, and it’s something I need to get a bit more focused on with my book and making real money off my book. I have long said I need to make some sort of plan and don’t really know where to start on that plan to make money off my book.

Had Indian food for dinner that we bought in Lauderdale and froze, and it was awesome! Shower and sack time.

Saturday June 29, 2019
We are too far offshore for me to send a text to my friend Mindy for her birthday. My alarm went off at 12:30 and I hit snooze. The only time I ever hit snooze. I woke up at 12:45, did my eye drops, looked in the mirror at my hair standing on end and said “Let’s party.”

BJ Knapp author of Beside the Music sailed her catamaran 1,213 miles.

Refilled my water bottle, got a Bai water, grabbed a snack and kept reading “You Are A Badass” while Sean was on watch. I dozed a bit, which I kind of don’t like to do when I am supporting the person at watch. If he’s awake, I should be. Todd told us what to do when we approached the next way point, which would be in about an hour of my waking up. We would have to make a sharper turn north when we made it, and would have to change the sails. He and Sean did all that anyway.

During my watch I watched Oceans 8 while I scanned the horizon and kept an eye on the radar screen. I could see the lights from a few boats here and there, nothing to be concerned about as they were well away from us. I don’t want to jinx it, but the weather on this trip has been rather amazing so far. The sun came up at 5:45, I finished my movie, finished “You Are A Badass” and started “How To Be Famous” by Caitlin Moran and got itchy until my watch ended at 7.

I brought 2 pairs of running shorts with me that are absolutely perfect for watches. Most of my shorts are skorts or jean shorts which are kind of hot for this south weather. These running shorts are great because they are so light weight. I washed one pair in the sink as I am wearing the other. Tonight I’ll wash the ones I am wearing right now, and I hung my newly washed pair on the lifeline with some clothespins. I made a bagel for breakfast, did my eye drops and went to sleep.

Woke again around 11, did the eye drops, journaled. Soon it will be leftover cous cous for lunch and back on supporting Sean at 1.

“Dolphins!!” Sean shouted from the helm. This has been a thing on this trip, spotting mostly dolphins and flying fish. The flying fish are a sight to see, they travel so far above the water’s surface. But the dolphins love to play near our bow in the wake. This time it was a sizeable pod, at least 10 that arched themselves to the surface to take a breath. I am not sure who noticed, I think it was Todd, that one of the dolphins had a calf by her side. And it was a tiny calf. I think Todd was the one who got video of the calf staying beside Momma, exactly mirroring her movements up to the surface and back, left and right. The baby was glued to her side. I didn't have my phone on me so I could take pictures, but Sean tried to capture the baby on video but it didn't come out.

My watch was uneventful, there was a storm cloud off to the east that I kept my eye on, and it faded to nothing in a matter of minutes. We’ve been extremely lucky with the weather on this trip—not a drop of rain, and I am amazed at how warm it’s been in the middle of the night out at sea.

When I woke up to do my watch the plan for our destination had changed. All along we had planned on going to Norfolk, VA. But Todd determined we were 12 hours ahead of schedule and the three of them had decided we’d move on to Atlantic City, NJ instead. I find that rather exciting. I know that Atlantic City really isn’t what it was in its heyday, but I think it may be more interesting than Norfolk.

I remember going to Atlantic City for the day with my family. I think we were driving back from our family vacation to Orlando in 1982, and my parents decided we’d check it out for the day. From the back seat of the station wagon me and my siblings read the names of the street signs, as they are the same streets as you have on a Monopoly game board. The original Monopoly game was based upon post depression era Atlantic City. Then we got to the beach, found a spot on the sand, walked the boardwalk a bit, swam, went to the mall, then drove back out toward the highway.

Todd and I went there twice in the early 2000s. In January every year there was an event called the Sail Expo, which was a gigantic boat show devoted to sailboats. Early in our sailing career we went and took some seminars with famous cruisers like Tom Neale and his family. We went to some other webinars that other successful cruising couples had held. They all had this look about them. This glassy eyed evangelical look about them that I’ve seen on cruising couples. “Just drop your life and go. It’s worth it.”

The first time I’d ever encountered that was when my Mom was dying and me and my sisters were caring for her in her final weeks. I had a day off from caring for her and we were in our yacht rigging shop getting caught up with our friends who worked there. Our friends knew what was happening with my mom and they were asking me about it, and of course I had burst into tears over it. Then this woman who had been cruising came into the shop and I was thankful that the conversation shifted to her. She told me to just drop everything and go that day. This woman, of course, had no idea about who I was and what I was going through with the possibility of losing my mom. She was so insistent, though. “Just go! Quit your job and just go.” I had just gotten done updating Maggie, who was one of the owners of the yacht rigging shop and remains a dear friend to this day, about Mom’s condition. Maggie, a nurse by training, had said “How long can you and your sisters do this? At some point you’re going to need to do something else….” As in put Mom in a nursing home. That simply was not an option for us, and was something none of us dared even think of—the mere idea of it preposterous. But when Maggie said it I burst into tears. At that point Mom had us in a holding pattern, I insisted still that she’d beat the cancer so long as I was there to help her fight it. I had no other choice. And I burst into tears. Then this cruising lady came in and told me I should just drop everything and go sailing… Mom and all. I completely fell apart and stormed out of the shop. I never saw that lady again, thankfully, as she was simply at a stop on cruising the world.

Todd and I watch these cruising couples on YouTube. And that’s how they make their money to finance their travels. At a certain number of views, Google pays YouTubers. And yes, it does look like an amazing lifestyle. And yes, we would just have to drop our life and go, just like all those couples said at the Sail Expo.

So, I’ve been to Atlantic City a total of 3 times, and 2 of them were in the dead of winter for Sail Expo. I am looking forward to going at the peak of summer again, though I know it won’t be as vibrant as it was in 1982. Many of the casinos have been closed and been torn down. But I am still looking forward to getting there and I hope we can manage to patronize casinos and establishments that are not owned by the Trump family.

Here's our approach to Atlantic City at sunset.

BJ Knapp author of Beside the Music sailed her catamaran 1,213 miles

Read the next installment here.

BJ Knapp is the author of Beside the Music, available for purchase here. Please sign up for the Backstage with BJ Knapp mailing list to get updates on events, signings, dog pictures and so much more.

BJ Knapp is the author of Beside the Music, available for purchase here. Please sign up for the Backstage with BJ Knapp mailing list to get updates on events, signings, dog pictures and so much more.