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Lots of boats come to Oriental, some tie up at the Town Dock for a night or two, others drop anchor in the harbor for a while. If you've spent any time on the water you know that every boat has a story. The Shipping News on TownDock.net brings you the stories of the boats that have visited recently.

6 legs aboard 30 feet
January 16, 2018

our and a half months on the hard in Oriental. Tom Carter had not intended to stay so long, or to be caught in a deep freeze, but cruisers know there are no strict schedules. They also know that sometimes you have to leave, whether all projects are finished or not.

Benediction waits at Town Dock two while Tom gets one more cup of coffee.

Tom stopped briefly in Oriental on his way to the Bahamas last year. He returned when he needed a boatyard where he could also live aboard. He planned to make modifications to his Cape Dory 30, Benediction, “to get the boat more secure for voyages further afield.” Tom single-hands Benediction and wanted to change from wheel to tiller steering. Tom says a tiller setup works better with his self-steering wind vane, leaves more room in the cockpit, and he just likes the feel of a tiller better.

Isaac, traveling companion.

As a child in Ohio, Tom’s father would take him sailing on the local reservoirs and, later, on Lake Erie.

He hated it.

Between the ages of 8 and 10, he took a course sailing Lasers. Learning how to sail, and learning about boats in general, changed everything. Sailing became a passion.

Tom helps Isaac in and out of the cabin.

Benediction is not Tom’s first sailboat. Tom lived in Paris between 2008 and 2012, sailing a Halcyon 27 in Northern France and the English Channel. He had dreams of sailing it down the coast of Spain and Portugal, possibly heading down the west coast of Africa and then across the Atlantic. However, “things weren’t right. I had a job I needed to get back to and I was interested in. I would have had to take a year off work, which would have made it a little more rushed.”

Interior details, including Tom.

Instead, Tom returned to the States and found Benediction in Virginia. Built in 1985, the Cape Dory 30 was exactly what Tom was looking for. The name came with the boat and Tom didn’t believe in changing it.

While in Virginia, Tom also picked up crew – Isaac. At the time, he had no plans to cruise, but to sail in the Chesapeake and nearby waters. Isaac adapted to the boat with ease. They spent several years in and around Philadelphia before Tom tired of sitting in traffic every day.

He quit his job, put a few things in storage, and set out with Isaac for the Bahamas. The pup proved to be no problem, staying out of trouble by sleeping in the softest spot he could find.

The new tiller.

Tom has few plans for his trip, except to go. When pressed about his eventual destination, he says, “there really is no end goal.”

He doesn’t plan to sail around the world, but allows he may end up doing just that. “I don’t want the pressure of having to complete a circumnavigation in four years. That’s not my goal.” Right now, Tom is interested in the journey. “When you’re out there, plans change on a long-scale basis. They change on a daily basis.”

There are some tentative plans, however.

Tom talks about the possibilities.

Tom has long dreamed of sailing the South Pacific. He says it’s okay if he doesn’t make it there; some dreams are never realized. But to that end, Tom plans to head south to the Bahamas, once again. From there, he is considering sailing to Columbia, and on through the Panama Canal. He thinks he might spend hurricane season in the Sea of Cortez.

But there is another option: sail east from Bermuda to the Azores. From there, Tom could sail the trip he planned years ago, taking Benediction to Europe and Africa. But that may be another dream. As he said, “it could be you’re planning to change the oil in your engine one day, and someone comes along and says, ‘hey, we’re gonna go dive and pull some lobsters,’ and you change.”

Tom got a new Cubic Mini Wood Stove, made in Quebec. Despite the cold, it isn’t installed yet.

Where ever he ends up, Tom is making sure Benediction is ready. In addition to a new mahogany and ash tiller, he also switched out the alcohol burner for a propane system. The installation of a Cubic Mini Wood Stove was also on the list, though the addition of the flue pipe will have to wait until they reach points further south. “I could have stayed here for another 6 months, getting everything just right,” he said. “But you can’t do that. You’ve gotta just leave and fix other stuff along the way.” A new coat of non-skid on the deck will also wait until the next port.

“Every day, you’re fixing something. The definition of cruising is fixing a boat in exotic places. Sometimes, it’s no more exotic than Oriental.”

The cutter rigged Cape Dory 30 Benediction.

Posted Tuesday January 16, 2018 by Allison DeWeese

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