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Bay sailor heads out to find adventure

Christy Rodman, 30, formerly of Annapolis, is a Chesapeake Bay sailor outward bound on a two-year getaway to see the world by sea. By the end of February she was through the Panama Canal and bound for the Galapagos with a Connecticut couple aboard their J/46, Aragorn.

Rodman got hooked on sailing at the age of 24 after a summer working on tour boats out of Annapolis. This led to crewing aboard the local day-excursion schooner Woodwind. Then she became a liveaboard in an old Newport 28 sailboat she bought for $500, and later sold for $5,000.

Next came crewing on a boat delivery to Fort Lauderdale, followed by a transit to the Bahamas and a prolonged stay in St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands, where she completed an instructor’s course in scuba diving.

Last November, she was back in St. Thomas en route to Bequia in the Grenadines where, in January, she joined Dick and Leslie York of Rowayton, Conn., aboard Aragorn on a Blue Water Round-the-World Flotilla Rally. She was a deckhand for the Yorks on their 2002 passage from St. Martin, Netherlands Antilles, to New York.

Rodman originally intended to sail to St. Thomas with David and Charly Holmes of Annapolis aboard their steel schooner, Adventure. They headed for the Virgins from Norfolk, Va., after the Holmeses completed last October’s Great Chesapeake Bay Schooner Race from Annapolis to Norfolk, where Rodman joined them.

But the weather turned against them and they detoured to the Bahamas, leaving Rodman to find another way to reach St. Thomas. Eventually, she arrived by air and began plotting a way to Bequia in the Grenadines to join Aragorn.

Being frugal, adventurous, self-sufficient and enjoying getting away from everything is what attracts Rodman to the cruising life. “I get room and meals, but no pay,” she says. “But I’ll get to go places. Boy, will I get to go places: Tahiti, the Marquesas, New Zealand, Tonga, you name it.”

Rodman appears capable of looking after herself on and off a boat. Before she left Annapolis, she was a bartender at the Eastport Yacht Club and a “tavern wench” at the Maryland Renaissance Festival.

There is, however, a snag in her plan to really get away. She has set up a Web site ( to connect with students and friends.

E-mail is already being hurled her way and she is committed to responding and keeping a kind of diary for all to call up and read on her “ship’s log” link.

After leaving Bequia in February, Rodman says they headed for Bonaire, then cruised the San Blas islands before beginning their transit through the Panama Canal. They spent a week or so in Panama, provisioning and “storming” an Internet cafe. They hoped to reach the Galapagos during the second week ofMarch.

In Colon, they were advised not to leave the barbed-wire confines of the Panama Canal Yacht Club. “Unless we packed a machete and pepper spray. Lovely place, Colon,” Rodman noted.

Duties are shared aboard Aragorn, she says — moving food about from the freezer, cooking, galley work, and general cleaning of the saloon. “We make whatever we want for breakfast,” she says. “Leslie has yogurt. Dick has eggs or cereal, and I usually have just eggs. We graze on cold cuts for lunch and dinner is one kind of meat from the freezer.

“Dick plots our course and enters waypoints into the computer, using Nobeltec software. We keep an ongoing log entry: position, bearing, wind speed/direction. If the computer goes down, we have back-up paper charts. We have a Simrad Autopilot, but hand-steer in heavy weather, rolling seas, or in light air. Sometimes we get phone calls from family on our Iridium satellite phone.

“In port,” she continues, “Leslie and I swim and snorkel and I visit the other rally boats and dye hair, give manicures and pedicures. We scout out beaches by dinghy, visit other boats for cocktail hour, and haul Dick up the mast to check on things.”

The idea for the Web site originally began as a way for Rodman to keep in touch with her mother back home in Maryland.

But she thought it might be more productive to involve schoolchildren in her voyage and get them interested in the outside world through personal lessons in geography. Better yet, they would be able to follow her adventures on the Internet — the dispatches coming from someone they had actually met.

Rodman was greeted last autumn with enthusiastic responses whenever she appeared at local schools with her foul-weather gear, bag of equipment, and charts to explain where she was going.

One of those schools was St. Mary’s in downtown Annapolis, where three classes of third graders skipped recess on a lovely day and sat spellbound listening to her.

“Keep an eye on the Web site for new stuff soon,” she promises in an e-mail. “I can’t wait to share all the new pictures and stories.”