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Carolinas feel familiar to sailor on solo trip

Charleston, S.C., and Camp Lejeune, N.C., hold significance for a woman on a journey to help people with disabilities.

By JON WILSON

© St. Petersburg Times, published June 21, 2000


ST. PETERSBURG -- It was almost like sailing into home ports.

Although her journey's end is at least six weeks away, solo sailor Alder Allensworth visited familiar places last week as she maneuvered up the Carolina coast.

She learned to sail in Charleston, S.C., so a weather front that kept her in port provided a welcome chance to become reacquainted with the historic city. A few days later, she passed her birthplace, Camp Lejeune, N.C.

"Dad said I was swimming in the Atlantic and laughing at the waves when I was here in diapers," Allensworth wrote in an e-mail.

On Friday, Allensworth reached Swansboro, N.C., about halfway through the series of Carolina sounds, the channels separating coastal islands. She will navigate them on her way to Norfolk, Va., the next major stop in a four-month trip that began April 11 in St. Petersburg.

Sailing a 12-foot dinghy named Prevail, the Gulfport resident is on a journey to show others how they can overcome handicaps and live their dreams.

Allensworth, 42, survived cancer that took her left eye. She is speaking to civic clubs and organizations for disabled people on a trip up the Atlantic coast that will end in August in Camden, Maine.

Sailing Alternatives, which teaches sailing to both disabled and able-bodied people, organized what it has named the "Passion for Life" expedition.

Neighborhood Times last touched base with Allensworth on May 31, soon after she had reached Hilton Head, S.C., just ahead of a thunderstorm.

She left Hilton Head sailing into an 18-knot nor'easter combined with an outgoing tide.

"How do you spell choppy water?" Allensworth wrote.

But conditions improved and much of her sail into Charleston through sounds and marshes proved calmer.

While in the city she spoke to a group called Anchors Away, which teaches sailing, water-skiing and water scooter piloting to people with special needs.

In Swansboro, Allensworth planned to lay over until the end of a busy fishing tournament in nearby Morehead, N.C.

"The boat traffic will be outrageous," she wrote.

And she noted that the wind was beginning to pick up again.

"Ask everyone to start praying for light air and no seas for the North Carolina sounds."

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