Monthly Archives: July 2016
So I know this was much bigger news on October 19, 1781, but we sure enjoyed strolling around Yorktown and visiting the scene of this county-creating event!
We decided to sail to the Chesapeake for our first hurricane season because we wanted to experience some of our country’s heritage via sailboat since so much of the trade, transportation and communication during our “founding years” took place on these waterways. Traveling by boat along the Chesapeake Bay is an opportunity to better understand the distances between famous locations along the eastern coast.
I have been amazed how much closer these major gem stones of U.S. history are to one another than I realized. Maybe living in Texas, where everything is so spread out, skewed my mental perception of the distances between major cities and battlefields in the Colonies. Or maybe I just didn’t pay enough attention to history when I was in grade school, but I have been surprised at the proximity of these landmarks of our nation’s history.
After leaving Beauford, the first stop in the Chesapeake on our history sail was, quite appropriately, Yorktown where General George Washington accepted Britain’s surrender, thereby ushering in GB’s recognition of the new nation. It is a little mind boggling to realize how important that surrender was and where it took our fledging nation.
Yorktown has done a nice job of retaining some of the historical sites while still pressing forward to make themselves a desirable stop for those more interested in the now than the then.
Along the York River near the bridge is a very nice wharf where boaters can tie up and join other visitors strolling the land. The wharf has restaurants and shops, plus signs along the sidewalk that describe local history, vegetation and critters. There is a sandy beach that was crowded with families and young adults enjoying the waterfront.
Across the parking lot from the beach is a cave that Cornwallis used when avoiding artillery fire during the American Revolution. A juxtaposition of historical figures ducking enemy fire and modern citizens ducking the intense heat of July.
Captain enjoyed the shade and lush foliage.
After walking past the throngs of people, we walked the old plantation road that led us uphill to the visitors center, the battle fields and an area of restored buildings.
Next we sought out Grace Episcopal Church which was built in 1697. It was here that we stumbled upon the most unusual event of the day. In the church graveyard an orchestra was setting up and folks had arranged folding chairs under the sprawling trees that shaded the gravestones. We were a bit surprised to learn that on summer evenings, Grace Episcopal sponsors a variety of musical entertainment. We were invited to “pull up a headstone and have a seat.”
Some locals brought snacks and beverages!
Admittedly we were a bit surprised by this casual invitation, but upon further reflection we decided the music and visiting was an unusual but positive way to “liven” up the cemetery.
The 25 piece orchestra played patriotic, turn of the century tunes and a moderator introduced each piece with a tad bit of its history. We thoroughly enjoyed the time we shared with the locals and the deceased!
Frank, Captain and I strolled through Yorktown, reading the historical markers placed along the roads and imagining what Yorktown would have been like when the 49 year old General Washington was fighting the British. Despite its’ epic battle history, the town had a peaceful, relaxed vibe and the evening cooled down nicely, so we stopped for dinner on a patio by the river.
Let It Be was anchored in Sara Creek just across the York River and after dinner it was time to fire up Day Tripper and head back. Our return to LIB was timed perfectly because the setting sun had drenched the sky in vivid oranges as we dinghied back “home.”
Sunset under the York River Bridge.
One of my greatest concerns about leaving our hometown and moving onto our boat was leaving friends behind. I knew we would keep in touch with family and I certainly hoped we would stay connected with friends. But how would we make new friends while constantly on the move?
As much as my husband and I love each other, we want and “need” other people in our lives and not just virtually!
While contemplating a cruising lifestyle, I asked cruising women I met how they made friends and if they were lonely. They assured me that friendships would come, but I was skeptical.
After nine months afloat, I can assure those concerned about making friends while on the move that strangers quickly become friends in this cruising lifestyle. In fact, friendships are formed much faster and more easily “out here” than on land. We have thought about this phenomenon and have decided that there are several reasons that sailing strangers rapidly transform into longterm friends.
The obvious reason cruisers quickly make friends with one another is the common interest of sailing. Everyone knows that common interests are an excellent basis for friendship. Conversation topics are easy to come by as everyone can contribute to subjects like “where have you been,” “what kind of XYZ do you carry on board,” “where are you heading next,” “do you happen to know how to repair ABC?” and other live aboard topics. And if those don’t start a conversation, just ask a cruiser which anchor he has and why he chose it. A lively conversation is sure to follow. (You might not care, but an opinion will be had!)
Another factor is interdependence. Much like land neighbors of long ago, cruisers are likely to borrow from fellow cruisers since getting to a grocery or marine supply store can be arduous. These days on land, stores are so convenient that we tended to simply drive to the store and buy what we needed rather than disturb a neighbor. Not so on a boat.
Sunset in Christmas Cove, USVI.
In December 2014, we were anchored in Christmas Cove, USVI when our dog, Captain, stepped on sea urchin. The poor puppy had spines protruding from her front paws. The internet remedy included soaking her paws in white vinegar which we didn’t have. Buying vinegar would have meant a dinghy ride, a long walk or taxi ride to the store and then reversing those steps to get back to the boat. Probably about a 3 hour process and it was getting dark so going to the store was time consuming and unsafe.
Since we really needed the vinegar, my son, Clayton, and I hopped in the dinghy and asked neighboring boaters if they had any vinegar we could borrow. Happily, Jody and Peter, on sailing vessel Mary Christine, had vinegar and graciously gave us some. To this day we are in contact with Jody and Peter via their blog, our blog and messaging. While we were in the BVIs this May, Jody and Peter pulled up to the anchorage where we were already anchored. This was an unexpected meeting and we immediately hopped in our dinghy and motored over to visit with them.
Peter and Jody provide day cruises in the BVI. I highly recommend them if you are looking for a day adventure on a sail boat in the British Virgin Islands.
Cruising in foreign places often means being in remote areas with few resources if something on your boat breaks. While most live aboard sailors carry a lot of spare parts and tools, often a neighboring boater can offer advice about a problem because he or she has already experienced it. Or perhaps the job requires the one tool you don’t have. A neighbor is always happy to lend his tools. If the repair is labor intensive and another pair of hands would help, fellow boaters are willing to step up.
While we were in Pointe-a-Pitra, Guadeloupe, our boat neighbors, Kristie, Rich and Tyler on Sail Pending needed to fix their davit. Frank happened to have material and tools onboard LIB which significantly reduced the repair time and cost for the davit.
Tyler supervises Frank and Rich
Back on land, Sail Pending would have called a repair person or driven to the hardware store for said materials. Out here, neighbors extend a hand or a tool, and friendships are formed by lending aid. Kristie expressed her appreciation with homemade cinnamon rolls which were delicious and a rare treat for us!
Wouldn’t it be weird if tomorrow while you were running errands, you saw the same person in two different parking lots, so you walked over and said hello to that person? Well, while sailing, if we see the same boat in two different anchorages, we often make a point of going over to say hello. Kinda strange right?
Tobago Cays, where we first met Katahdin
We met Cathy and Larry of Katahdin this way. We had admired their boat when it was anchored in Jumby Bay, Antigua. Perhaps 300 miles south of there, Katahdin happened to anchor next to us in the Tobago Cays, so Frank stopped by their boat and complimented them on Katahdin’s lines and beautiful maintenance. That evening Cathy and Larry joined us for sundowners.
I guess it is a little different, but since cruisers are transients, they usually don’t have a circle of friends nearby so there is an openness to friendship that is less common on land where neighbors are longterm and friendships remain the same for years on end.
Take that idea of making friends out of strangers in an anchorage one step further…. while lending a hand or discussing anchors, one boat crew will probably ask where the other is heading next and if their paths are similar, the two boats might just agree to sail in tandem to the next anchorage, or two or three! A “buddy boat” has been found.
Buddy boats sail from anchorage to anchorage together as long as their plans align. They might spend a week or two or perhaps months in tandem. Then, just as easily as they joined itineraries, one or the other might decide to head out in an independent direction.
Sailing is well represented by special interest groups on-line and this has become a resource for information and friendships. We have met several sailors because we read their blog or they read ours. Our very first “sailing friends” were a direct result of mutual blog reading.
We met David and Amy of Starry Horizons way back in 2013 when they were ordering their Helia and we had our Helia in charter. Our first meeting was before Fountaine Pajot had finished building Starry Horizons! We keep up with David and Amy’s adventures and have met with them five different times – two on land and three in anchorages. Our meeting places have been as varied as Ft. Worth, Dallas, the US Virgin Islands, St. Martin and St. Lucia! One time we sailed within half a nautical mile of Starry Horizons near Antigua but our schedules precluded a meeting. Instead we had a nice chat on the VHF radio as we sailed in opposite directions.
Starry Horizons anchored to starboard.
David and Amy are literally young enough to be our children, but sailing erodes age barriers and we consider these two our very dear friends!
Which leads me to age. The range of ages for the sailors we consider friends is much more broad than the ages of our friends on land. It isn’t that we cannot relate to an equally wide range of ages on land, it is that we simply tended to interact within a more narrow age group. I’m not sure what causes the age barrier to callapse in sailing, but removing it has widened our friendship experiences and enlarged the pool for friendships.
Similarly, financials are less defining among boaters. Small boats or large, we all share the same “neighborhoods” and similar systems on our boats. Big yachts or minimalist cruisers, each have unique yet overlapping experiences which allow them to contribute to conversations about favorite anchorages, preferred electronics, upcoming weather patterns, etc.
One afternoon while avoiding my next boat project in Puerto Rico, I received a message on Facebook from a fellow Texan I had never met. Renee assured me she wasn’t a secret stalker, but she and her husband were nearby in Puerto Rico and wondered if we wanted to meet for dinner….
Palmas del Mar Marina, where Alegria and LIB shared many dinners
Frank and I were new to cruising at that time and a little surprised by the invitation but we are SO glad we accepted. Renee and Dave of Alegria have become some of our favorite cruisers. We ended up moving to “their” marina in PR and we have been fast friends ever since. We make it a point to see them any chance we can; like when we altered our route back to the US and added a stop in the BVIs so we could hang out with Alegria and revisit our favorite haunts from charter days.
I could wax on about new friends and how we have met, but rather than bore you with the stories, I will list the factors we believe contribute to quick camaraderie between cruisers:
- a common interest
- reduced access to goods creates interdependence
- making repairs without hired experts encourages cooperation
- lack of repair shops or local parts encourages asking for help
- boats generally travel with only a few people on board, so we all seek out friends
- limited internet so you can’t just “Google” answers, instead seek advice from others
- comfort in numbers and sharing experiences encourages “buddy boating”
- random introductions are considered normal not odd
- age and financial means are not a barrier
Of course this list is not complete and I would love to know what other factors you believe allows strangers to become fast friends when cruising. Or maybe you disagree completely? Feel free to share your thoughts.
In essence, cruising recreates a neighborliness that has been lost on land where independence and immediacy are sometimes more valued than creating friendships.
This is not a condemnation of “land life,” but an observation of how living on a boat and living at a slower pace has, in our opinion, recreated the neighborliness of a past generation.
Old Glory was a welcome sight.
The picture isn’t very good, but the sight of the American Flag flying at Fort Macon by the Beaufort Inlet, N.C. was a grand welcome to the end of our crossing from the Bahamas to the U.S.
We have been out of U.S. territory for six months and off of the mainland for almost nine months. I was ready to be “home.” The contrast of Beaufort and the Caribbean is stark. That is not to say one is “better” than the other, but being back in our home country and enjoying the culture we grew up with is certainly agreeable!
Arriving for the Independence Holiday weekend accentuated the patriotic feeling of our return and gave us the chance to truly celebrate being American.
American pride dotted the Beaufort neighborhoods
Beaufort is a darling town that feels almost Mayberry-esque. For those too young to understand this reference, it feels old fashioned; it feels small town; and being American is a statement of pride.
Alluring homes along Taylor Creek
The homes along Taylor Creek are very well maintained and the creek is a busy boating lane. Although we saw some very nice homes scattered throughout the Caribbean, the equitable, manicured waterfront and neighborhood homes here in Beaufort were a pleasant change.
We chose to rent a slip at the Beaufort City Docks and the experience has been excellent. The folks here are incredibly nice and very accommodating. In addition to great slips, free wifi, free water and consistently available electricity, Beaufort City Docks offers a free loaner car which we happily borrowed for provisioning.
Rocking a 1995 wagon!
I felt like I was 12 years old again riding around in this old station wagon. I wanted to sit on the tailgate while Frank was driving like we used to do when we were young….but I’m quite certain we would have received a few tickets for that!
I had friends tell me that when we got back to the States and went to the grocery we would be overwhelmed. I wouldn’t say we were overwhelmed, but we bought WAY more than usual because we were so happy to find such rarities as seedless grapes, cherries, peaches and other fruits and veggies. The plethora of options was delightful and hard to resist!
We Americans are spoiled by the plenty – and I kind of like it.
The neighboring boaters here are amazingly friendly. We have visited with many people and marvel at how open everyone seems. One couple, Sue and Michael, had stopped on the docks for a few minutes before heading out to Carrot Island to meet friends. They kindly invited us to meet them, so we packed some snacks, grabbed Captain and headed over in Day Tripper.
Wow, boat picnic-ing is a popular activity for the 4th of July weekend! Just for fun we scouted out the scene before meeting Sue, Mike and their friends. We have not had to deal with tides and currents while sailing the Caribbean, so it has been interesting to see how the locals use those tides to their advantage. When the tide goes out, several sand bars appear and these become day stops/party spots for local boaters.
One small section of day boaters and a lot of flags.
We completely enjoyed hanging on the beach with our new friends and hope to meet up with them later in the year when we begin working our way down the ICW. They will be back from their Caribbean charter and we want to hear all about it.
As one would expect of a patriotic small town, there was a July 4th parade. I loved watching the locals call out greetings from the sidelines to paraders.
Pirates are big in Beaufort.
The wreck of Blackbeard’s ship was found near the entrance to Beaufort Inlet, so pirates play a major part in Beaufort celebrations and themes.
Captain did not appreciate the large costumes or the skeleton on the bike!
I loved seeing these sweet, little kids jabbering away as they walked behind the large form of the pirate and the skeleton riding a tricycle. If you look, you can see two firecrackers walking down the street in front of the big pirate.
Main Street (Front Street) is right off the docks.
Beaufort also is home to Shackleford Island where wild horses still roam today. This sanctuary is directly across Taylor Creek from our bow. Wild ponies roam the island undisturbed, eating the tender grass and drinking from fresh water lakes.
A younger me would have tried to catch and tame one of these horses.
Frank and I toured Beaufort on our bikes. We had a great time coasting around without a bit of worry about traffic or road rage. The spokes on Frank’s wheel seem to be having issues as a couple of them broke. But my super handy hubby knows how to fix a broken spoke if he has spare spokes. Beaufort Bikes to the rescue!
Steve sold Frank the spokes and allowed him to work in the shade by the garage
Steve, the owner of Beaufort Bicycles, arrived here over a decade ago in a boat. He was thinking about returning to land and found the people in Beaufort the nicest he had every encountered. So, he bought a house, set up a bike business and has been here every since. He is a great guy and if you need anything while visiting Beaufort, he will happily help.
Recently Linda and Kevin contacted us via this blog and shared with us their love of sailing and told us they are buying a Helia! One conversation led to another which eventually led to them agreeing to drive to Beaufort to share drinks and dinner with us. Linda and I hit it off immediately and not long into our conversation, we realized we both grew up in St. Louis, MO. Then things got really weird…. turns out, Linda and I both graduated from the same all girls, Catholic high school! (Though she is TEN years younger than I am.) YEP, low and behold, we two St. Joseph’s Academy grads have found each other through sailing. What are the chances?!
Frank and Kevin with two (St. Joe) Angels!
If you are interested in chartering a brand new Helia, Counting Stars will be available this fall!
I write this blog primarily because I enjoy it but also so we will have a journal of some sort whenever this adventure concludes. I have learned from my past that I am not a ‘scrapbooker’ and I stink at putting together paper journals. This electronic medium is a bit time consuming when we have slow internet, but I like to think that if someone is interested in the cruising lifestyle, they can get a little feel for it from our blog. Finally, I write so our family has an idea of what we are doing and where we are.
I never imagined that other people might reach out and contact us because of something they had read in this blog. I am very flattered just knowing that someone is reading what I have written and I am thrilled that we have actually met a few people because of this blog.
SO, if you have the inclination, we would very much like to hear from our “readers out there.” You are welcome to ask questions about sailing, our boat or whatever piques your curiosity.
Before I get this question several times over….. yes, Captain does go to the bathroom on the boat. We have a piece of astro turf she uses – but she doesn’t like it and much prefers real ground!
Thanks for reading! We would love to hear from you…
We skipped ahead in our blogging to tell you about the sail that earned us our “Big Boy Sailor Pants” and the fun we had with our guests in The Bahamas. But we never had a chance to share the joy we felt when we backtracked from Martinique to the BVIs.
We left the beautiful, very French island of Martinique and 44 hours later spotted the familiar beauty of Virgin Gorda, BVI. Our sail was comfortable and uneventful with some dramatic sunset paintings.
Gold sunset at sea.
Then the stunning hues of water and land greeted us as we entered North Sound, BVI via Oil Nut Bay channel. There were scattered clouds but the sun pierced them and the air was clean which allowed the full pallet of colors to show.
To say seeing familiar land was welcome is a inadequate as saying the view was “nice.”
After anchoring and swimming to shore with Captain so she could enjoy some terra firma, we “had” to go to Saba Rock for painkillers and bushwackers. The drinks were cold and the waitresses friendlier than usual. Or maybe the alcohol was strong and we were just happy to be back?
The wind allowed for a quick kite set the next day. Frank has become a huge fan of launching and landing his kite from the boat thereby avoiding sand, so we moved LIB waaaay up by the reefs in front of Saba Rock to allow boat departure and landing.
That little building back there is Saba and Frank is to the left.
Bitter End Hotel huts are in the background.
A big highlight of our return to the BVI was meeting up with Dave and Renee of Alegria. We first met them in Puerto Rico and we were looking forward to catching up with them and swapping stories about travels over the last 6 months.
Of course I dragged Renee on a hike so Captain could run around and we could have some much desired “girl talk.”
Sweat, laughter and stories shared while hiking Bitter End.
Frank and I made sure to visit Norman Island where we enjoy walking the deserted trails and seeing the uninterrupted expanse of ocean from the hilltops.
We hiked on Norman Island to get Cappy some exercise and to enjoy the view.
We even saw some famous people from our childhood while we were hanging out near Pirates.
Gilligan and crew!
These “youngsters” dressed the part well, but we had to teach them the words to the TV theme song. Apparently they were part of a group of 25 or so and this was their entry into the costume contest. Others in their party had dressed as Poseidon which was very cute as they arrived to the dock, but once on land they dropped their inflatables and they looked like any other tourist in a swim suit.
Poseidon had an unusual following
We had noticed that our spinnaker had some transparent areas so we returned it to Doyle Sail Loft and they repaired it during our stay in the BVIs. Since Doyle is directly above TMM, we had a chance to visit our former charter management company. It was great to see everyone at TMM and hear all about what was happening. TMM has a ton of new sailboats so it was fun to look around and see some of the most popular new cruising sailboats which they have available for charter.
Jost Van Dyke and that people watching mecca of White Bay was where we met up with Dave and Renee again. We spent the day strolling the beach, lolling in chairs and generally enjoying ourselves as we observed the antics of adults at play.
Foxy’s Taboo has some of the best food available in the BVI, at least according to my taste buds. So while we were anchored off of Sandy Spit, we dinghied over for lunch. There was live entertainment, excellent food and the usual post card view.
View from our lunch table.
The familiarity of the BVIs ratchets up our relaxation and removes the slight stress that accompanies new places. Frank and I loved absorbing the surroundings and taking in the plethora of beautiful anchorages.
Dusky sunset on Jost Van Dyke
We visited most of our BVI favorite spots and enjoyed sailing within the calm that is the Sir Francis Drake Channel. Seeing all the vacationers and their intense joy in their surroundings reminded us how fortunate we are to be “living the dream.”
Our weather waiting spot – not a hardship!
Our final few evenings were spent in Cane Garden Bay as we waited for a good weather window to leave for the Bahamas. Those last few days we definitely questioned why we were so intent on leaving the Caribbean and heading to the U.S. Neither of us has spent any time on the east coast in a sailboat so we don’t know what to expect. We are leaving a comfortable, sailing paradise for the unknown conditions of the east coast…