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Notes from the Summer Thor

Claudia and Roger Sundman - On their way to great adventures!

Itsundmans make ready is with mixed feelings that we see the Sundmans off today. On the one hand, we are envious as all get-out as we see them heading off for a great adventure, and, on the other hand, we'll sure miss their smiling faces around the Boonedocks. The good news is - they'll be back for a short visit later this summer!

claudia posesClaudia and Roger use Pocketmail to keep in touch while they are aboard the Summer Thor, and Claudia makes trip reports from time to time. When we receive those reports, we'll post them on this page - that way you can keep up with the Summer Thor even if you're away from your email. We're starting off with two recent emails from Claudia regarding preparations for their cruise and getting on their way today (below). Oh, and we didn't bribe Claudia to say all those nice things about us - honest!

Claudia tells us, by the way, if any of you have questions for them about their travels, equipment, challenges, whatever, that you should feel free to ask questions via email. Roger and Claudia may be busy, and it may take them a while to get back to you, but they'll try to answer any questions eventually and are happy to share information, lessons learned, and that sort of thing.



[editor's note: Claudia recently sent us an email introduction for those of you who never met or didn't get to know the Sundmans very well before their departure. Personally, being more or less land-based all our lives, we find the Sundmans' story fascinating and think you will agree. You can follow the link just below or simply scroll to the bottom of this page to discover more about Claudia and Roger's background and years at sea.


                     Introduction  |  April 17, 2003  |  April 23, 2003  |  April 29, 2003  |  May 9, 2003


Note #1 - April 17, 2003

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From: summerthor@pocketmail.com
Sent: Thursday, April 17, 2003 7:53 AM
Subject: Moving aboard again

Hi All,

leaving the dockDid it seem like we had fallen off the face of the earth? When last heard from by most of you, we had left SummerThor in Oriental, NC and driven down to Florida to help care for Roger's mother for a month while she recovered from an illness.

We arrived back in NC in early December... to some of the coldest weather we have seen in NC. There was NO WAY we were going to move back onto the boat in THAT weather! So we have remained pretty much in a holding pattern, waiting for warm weather.

It seems to be finally close to time to get back to the business of cruising. We have, of course, kept ourselves quite busy. I have made clear plastic cockpit curtains to keep us out of the wind and rain, as well as other sewing projects.

Roger has done his usual amount of taking things apart and putting them back together. We are in the middle of switching out the anemometer... you may recall the last one was 'done in' by an encounter with a tree branch going through the Dismal Swamp Canal. Roger had to make two trips up to the top of the mast. There are some wonderful pictures of his trip up to the top and the view from there which can be seen at boonedocksmarina.com. The new owners of the docks are web-whizzes and have posted the pictures. If you find the picture of me, please note that the wind was blowing... while I admit to having a large belly, It's not as large as it appears in that picture!

in the cockpitThe webmistress also promises to add our "trip reports" to the website, so if you miss a report, you should be able to catch up there!

Anyway, we should be underway by the beginning of next week. We think that we will head South for a few weeks... probably hang out in Charleston for a while, then head North with the weather. We'll spend a week or two in Oriental again on the way through to take care of some doctors appointments.

Actually we're not really too concerned about WHERE we go, we just want to get ourselves away from the dock! The hardest part is always leaving the dock! But we do plan to head North for hurricane season and then will head South again in the fall. Hopefully we'll reach our goal of a full tour of the Caribbean Islands down to Venezuela this time around!

We'll keep you posted!

Life's a trip!
Claudia

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Note #2 - April 23, 2003

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From: summerthor@pocketmail.com
Sent: Wednesday, April 23, 2003 7:53 AM
Subject: Finally off!

Hi All,

We're finally ready to leave! The new dockmasters at Boonedocks have invited us for a good hearty send-off breakfast (read this "high in fat and cholesterol") this morning. We're really looking forward to this, as we know how good their breakfasts can be! They cooked breakfast for the whole dock last Sunday. It was delicious and a great way to get to know the other boaters. They have plans to cook breakfast for their little community every sunny Sunday this summer. We were tempted to stay until next Sunday just for another plate of yummy forbidden stuff like whole eggs and bacon! Thankfully they invited us for our own private breakfast this morning!

sun on Summer ThorPaul and Mitzi have also said that they plan on taking pictures of our departure from Boonedocks later this morning to post on their website "boonedocksmarina.com", so look for them to appear sometime in the future. They're in the middle of a publishing project though, so the webmistress may not get them posted RIGHT away. Just keep checking in at the website.

So we're OFF! The house is all put away and the phone disconnected! Stay tuned for more adventures on the high seas or Intracoastal Waterway as the case may be!

heading out to the soundLife's a trip!

Claudia


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Note #3 - April 29, 2003

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From: summerthor@pocketmail.com
Sent: Tuesday, April 29, 2003 8:02 AM
Subject: Charleston by ICW

Hi All,

Well, we've made it to Georgetown, SC. We have had a wonderful trip down the IntraCoastal Waterway so far.

Now, I know that most of our "sailing" friends are sniggering right now... "The ICW? You might as well have bought a trawler! Why bother to have sails?" With an undercurrent of "chickens!" thrown in for good measure. But I assure you... we aren't more than the 'prudent' amount of chicken-hearted.

No siree! We're LAZY! We like to get a good night's sleep each night and enjoy a good dose of caffeine in the morning before setting out. Around this section of the East coast, you need to go SO FAR out to get around the shoals, and come SO FAR back in, that you really need to stay out at least a day and a half. I like my sleep too much to do this AS LONG AS THERE IS AN EASIER WAY. We've done over night ocean trips when necessary, and we'll do lots more when we get to the Islands, so I can't see doing any more than necessary right now.

And besides, we like to sightsee. My whole purpose of being on the boat is to SEE places. We've spent YEARS out in the ocean (on commercial vessels) watching the waves go by. If you ask me, one stretch of ocean looks pretty much the same as the next. The interesting part to me is seeing new places and meeting new people.

So... that's where we stand! I'm sure glad we got THAT straightened out!

We had a really pleasant motor down the ICW. Roger and I like to watch the "dream homes" go by. Through most of North Carolina and Northern South Carolina the ICW shores are rather densely populated with single family homes and condos. Each house is someone's idea of what their "dream house" should be. A lime green geodesic dome? Not MY dream home, but obviously it was SOMEONE'S. A lot of the homes are expensive, massive mansions. We like to play a game called "If we had all the money required to build this house in this location... would we?" Invariably the answer is "No", but to each their own.

South Carolina is predominently undeveloped shores, at least so far. We've seen dozens of nesting ospreys, countless herons and egrets, and get a real kick out of seeing logs piled high with basking turtles of all sizes.

We feel like we are bucking the tide, though. Everyone else seems to be heading North, we are the only cruising boat heading South. But it is still just a little too cold for the Northern migration in my book! When we are anchored with others we have overheard complaints about the cold, and anyone passing us who did not have the benefit of an enclosed cockpit was looking MIGHTY cold! The wind on the water can really chill you to the bone.

We are thrilled that we managed to finally enclose the cockpit. It's like having a whole extra room on the boat. We were able to sit comfortably dry through two days of rain and stay out of the wind-chill throughout the trip. We wish we had done it sooner!

We expect to arrive in Charleston late tomorrow or early Wednesday. We'll see what she has in store for us this time around... but we'll keep you posted!

Life's a trip!

Claudia


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Note #4 - May 9, 2003

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From: summerthor@pocketmail.com
Sent: Friday, May 09, 2003 7:26 AM
Subject: Charleston

Hi All,

Charleston was great! We really enjoyed our visit. The weather was nice and warm... beginning to be too hot. We anchored in front of the city marina and payed $5 a day to use their dinghy dock, necessary as the city's free public dinghy dock is high and dry for about half the day. Timing our shore excursions to the tide would have been too difficult.

We've been here before, so we knew our way around. The new Aquarium had not yet been opened the last time we came through, so that was high on our list of things to do. But almost immediately off the boat someone collared us to take a timeshare tour.

Hey! We know that we're not in the market for a timeshare, but these people always insist that they're not REALLY trying to sell you anything... they just want you to see their beautiful facility and are willing to PAY us to do so! We were given $125 worth of gift certificates for tours and resturants for two hours of our time. Frankly it has been a LONG time since we earned THAT kind of hourly wage! Oh, and it really WAS a beautiful facility!

So, we enjoyed ourselves... largely on the timeshare company. We recieved 2 free tickets to both the aquarium and a horse drawn carriage tour. And in addition we were given three $25 gift certificates to our choice of about a dozen downtown resturants. Twenty-five dollars buys a nice lunch and we were home most evenings in time to watch the sundown from the cockpit. One evening they even had a fireworks show in the harbor! That was nice of the city to do just for us!

We are heading back North again today. Our plans are to get back up to Beaufort, NC. In Beaufort the local Maritime Museum has "courtesy cars" which they keep available for transient boaters to use free of charge (a donation is always welcomed) for up to two hours a day. This makes it very convenient to do grocery and other shopping. We'll restock the pantry and then head for Cape Lookout!

Cape Lookout is a short 6 mile jaunt out into the ocean from Beaufort. Cape Lookout Bight is a lovely, natural anchorage surrounded by National Parks land. Beach combing along the ocean side always yeilds large welk shells and other treasures. We plan to "hang-out" at Cape Lookout until around May 29th. We need to be back in Oriental for a May 31st meeting of the landowners of our little subdivion. After all these years we are finally going to start up a landowners association!

Cape Lookout will be a 'vacation' for us... no schedules, no "must see" list... just time to relax! And do some boat work!

Life's a trip!

Claudia


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Meet Roger and Claudia Sundman

For anyone just beginning to follow our adventures on the S/V SummerThor, I thought that it would be nice if I told you a little about who we are and how we got here.

Roger is a Marine Engineer by trade. He spent about 25 years on oil tankers, a cruise ship doing one week circles of the Hawaiian Islands and a fish processing mothership which operated mostly in the Bering Sea.

We are originally from Long Island, New York. We spent 20 years in New Hampshire before quitting our jobs, selling the house and moving to Oriental, NC.

The last eleven years of our working lives we spent together on ships. First on an ill-fated cruise ship that went bankrupt after only 9 months of operation. We had lived 6 months in Finland while the cruise ship was retro-fitted. When it was time to leave, I managed to "hitch" a ride back to the states onboard, made myself useful and ended up with the crew purser's job.

When the Monterey was a few days from bankruptcy and the whole crew was about to be jobless, one of the mates picked up a Honolulu Times and read a "help wanted" add. A fish processing company was looking for an entire deck and engine crew for their newly refitted mothership. And here we had an entire crew out of work! Well, why not?

Roger landed the Chief Engineer's job once more and brought his entire engine crew over to the new ship. I landed the purser's job and so we were fortunate to be able to have the same work schedule and time off. It wasn't as glamorous as working on the cruise ship... it was smelly and dirty and the cold seas of the Bering Sea don't hold a candle to the tropical blues of Hawaii. But, hey! The pay was a darn-site better!

After ten years of getting paid well but having little options for spending it while onboard... and it seemed we got less and less time off each year... we decided to "retire". Not that we are exactly drawing a pension or anything. We just decided to make living our lives more important than making money. And that's what we've done!

We sold our nice four bedroom home in New Hampshire. We had some land in Oriental, NC already and on it we built a garage with a one bedroom apartment on the second floor. This serves as "home".

Then we set out to find a boat. We were looking at Morgan OI's in Florida, were shown a 1980 Whitby 42 as a fluke, and fell in love with it. We spent six months moving on board her and bringing her back to North Carolina for a "few month's overhaul" by the engineer in the family.

TWO YEARS LATER I finally managed to get Roger to finish putting the poor girl back together so that we could GO someplace! You have to understand that from MY point of view the boat was in great shape to begin with. But Roger, the engineer, just wasn't going to be happy until he had torn the whole thing apart and put it back together again... at least ONCE!

And, I've got to admit, she's a much better, safer and sounder boat since Roger worked his magic on her, but now it's time to GO someplace!

So last summer we took her North through the Chesapeake, into New York, through the LI Sound and landed in Stonington, CT, where we spent six weeks visiting Roger's brother and enjoying the free use of a mooring ball. We made it as far North as Rhode Island last summer, and were heading South with an eye to a complete Caribbean circuit when we found out Roger's mother was ill and needed our help.

So, we "parked" the boat at Boonedocks in early November, drove down to Florida where we spent a month with his mother while she regained her strength. She's doing fine now.

We made it back to Oriental in early December... to some of the coldest weather we have experienced in North Carolina! It was too late in the season to start for the Islands, and too cold to want to move back onto the boat, so we spent the rest of the winter in Oriental.

So we just moved back on board SummerThor mid-April of 2003. We used the extra time off the boat this winter to do some boat-projects... there's always SOMETHING to do when you own a boat! We're glad to have had the time for extra projects, and very glad to have been able to help Roger's mother out when she needed us.

We are currently heading South for a quick trip to Charleston, SC. Then we plan to turn North again for the summer to avoid hurricanes and try to make it to the Islands THIS fall... barring any more emergencies!

I have been sending out my "trip reports" to friends and family for a few years now. Mitzi, webmistress extrodinaire, promises to post them on her website so others can follow along.

If the cruising lifestyle is something you are thinking of doing and have some questions, feel free to contact us at SummerThor@pocketmail.com. I'll do my best to answer in a timely fashion. If it is a question that I think might interest others, I'll send my response to Mitzi to post.

Life's a trip!

Claudia


                     Introduction  |  April 17, 2003  |  April 23, 2003  |  April 29, 2003  |  May 9, 2003


About The Boonedocks  Cabin Rentals  Maps of our Location  Photos from the Boonedocks  Dock Cams  Weather at the docks, on the Neuse, and in the Sound  Broad Creek Journal  Local Links of Interest  How to Contact Us 

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