Bit by Bit Cruising

Rob Temple
Bit by Bit Cruising

Ever look at the constantly-changing  fleet of anchored sailboats in Silver Lake and wonder who these folks are and where they come from? 

Well, as some alert readers may have noticed, I occasionally make an effort in this column to waylay some of these hardy mariners and get a story out of them.

Tending my wife’s nautical shop in these lazy, pre-season days puts me in a prime position of ambushing these cruisers as they moor their dinghies right off our porch.

That’s how I came to meet Erik and Debra Dammeyer yesterday morning as they came ashore with their little sea dog, Mazy, a 3-year-old mini-schnoodle.   The fact that they had sailed their 38’ Hunter sloop to Ocracoke from Oriental was not at all unusual.  Undoubtedly more sailors arrive here from Oriental than from any other port.  But not many of them have begun their cruise from as far away as Eden Prairie, Minnesota!

The Dammeyers had owned and sailed a couple of smaller boats before buying Selah in Mobile, Alabama and having her trucked home to Minnesota in 2006.  Then they pointed her bow south and brought her right back down to Mobile and beyond via the Mississippi River and Tenn-Tom Waterway.

I recognized the name Selah from the Book of Psalms but had to be reminded of its meaning.  While the Hebrew translates literally as “God has spoken,” the word appears at regular intervals in some Psalms and is believed to have meant, “pause and reflect” or “take a minute to think about this.”  For Erik and Debra, the name fits their cruising style which they call “bit-by-bit.”  

As it turns out, the trip from Minnesota to North Carolina, which many cruisers cover in a matter of weeks, has taken them six years.  They like to cruise on the boat for 6 to 8 weeks at a time and then tie her up somewhere and return home to Eden Prairie and their law practice which, luckily, they are able keep up with via the internet when they are not in the home office.

Bit by Bit Cruising

Like many cruisers from other states, they’ve decided that Oriental is as good a place as any to “swallow the anchor.”  They’ve purchased a waterfront lot and a dock slip there and plan to build a home there this year.

In the meantime, Oriental has served as their cruising base.  Last year they sailed up to Washington, D.C. and got chased home by Hurricane Sandy.  “Our first hurricane!” Debra told me with excitement.  

When asked what they like best about Ocracoke they said, “The seashore.  Everyone is so friendly and we can buy really fresh fish.”  They had obviously been charmed by Patty at the fish house. 

A person could do a lot worse than taking a sailing cruise to Ocracoke at this time of year.  Selah!



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