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Couple shares 277-day Bahamas cruise experience

Grand River Sailing Club members, Lorraine and Phil Dolsen, relate the high points of their 277-day sailing adventure.
Grand River Sailing Club members, Lorraine and Phil Dolsen, relate the high points of their 277-day sailing adventure.
Photo by Sandy Woodthorpe

On September 4, 2010, Grand River Sailing Club members, Phil and Lorraine Dolsen left their dock at Grand River Yacht Club, sailing their 34-foot sloop, Changes, from Grand River, Ohio to Geoergetown, Bahamas. There, they spent a warm and windswept winter, making many new friends before returning home in the spring of 2011.

Earlier this month, the Dolsens shared the story of their 277-day cruise with an enthusiastic group of club members.Talk of sunshine, fresh-caught fish, cocktail "sundowners" and loads of advice on cruising was the perfect anecdote for winter blahs on the bitter cold, snowy night they gave their presentation.

"The key factor for us going on the trip was selling the house and the determination by Lorraine that we WERE going on the trip," Phil commented.

Lorraine explained that the couple had been thinking and talking about the trip since they first got married, six years before. Then, it took at least several years of planning, making arrangements with work (Lorraine is an RN with Hospice of the Western Reserve while Phil is a retired engineer), discussing plans with family members, saving money, preparing the boat, and finally, working out all the details.

Pointing out images on the screen, the couple named off people as though they were family members. In a way, they are family members. When you sell your house, pack and store your life's belongings and say goodbye to what's been home for decades, the friendships you make while cruising often run deep and true.

The Dolsens' funny, and often touching, anecdotes were entertaining and their presentation was punctuated by questions from the floor about the finer points of ocean cruising and island hopping, answers to which they provided quite generously. A lot was covered -- from the rigors of blue water sailing to choosing whch side of an island offered safe anchorage and where to get most accurate weather forecasts. The Dolsens talked about the costs of food and supplies and described local cultures (stateside and in the Bahamas). They stressed the advantage of Phil's sturdy, home-made dinghy in a place where inflatables are easy pickings for "enterprising" thieves.

Interested in crusing? Read Lorraine's blog of the 277-day journey, which she began before they left Ohio and kept up nearly every day of the trip. It's at www.changesgoingsouth.blogspot.com.

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