Back to Sea

This August 2017, it will be 10 years since we returned from the 14-month sailing adventure we took with our two young sons. Our oldest son will graduate from college this spring and our younger will enter – time passes too quickly! My husband said a final good-bye to his remaining parent last year and these life events have us evaluating the finite time we each spend on this earth. Certainly, Tom and I are still young by several measures but the exploration we long to do requires a physical strength and vitality that will not always be as readily available to us as it is today. So, we’re headed back to sea, at least part-time … for now!

Our initial plans have us embarking on the ‘Down-East Circle Route’. For those not familiar, this route will take us from our home port of Portsmouth, New Hampshire, down the Massachusetts coast, through the Cape Cod Canal, along Long Island Sound then up through New York State on the Hudson River, on to the Erie Canal and into the Great Lakes. The route completes the circle by heading out the St. Lawrence Seaway — which draws the boundary between the US and Canada – into the Gulf of St. Lawrence, around Nova Scotia and back down the coast of Maine to New Hampshire. We plan for six months on the boat and six months off for the first couple years and that is as far out as we are currently looking!

Most common question we get – “… so, is this … like … ‘retirement’?”

Our most common answer is this  – “Maybe … at least for a couple years – we don’t really know how either of us will respond to this change and what, if anything, we will miss from our current lives so we have decided to not decide!” In our months off of the boat we hope to connect with current and old friends, enjoy mid-week skiing and hopefully do some on-land travel excursions.

Tom has a huge check-list of boat projects he is working through since he left his job a couple months ago and I am winding down my last couple months of employment. I’m telling my team this week and that will be bitter-sweet, for sure. I think I work at the best company in the world. Tremendously intelligent people, lots of healthy competition and maybe a little too much fun to call it ‘work’!

Stay tuned as we write about our preparations and launch. Connect with us if you have enjoyed, are in the midst of or plan to be part of the cruising life! We love to share our experiences and to learn from those of others.

To New York, ICW Style!

After nearly a week docked in Hampton, VA, and with the thrill of Busch Garden’s many rides still tingling our spines, we cast off the lines on Sunday. Our destination was a short hop away, across the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay to Fisherman’s Island. I felt a combination of excitement and trepidation – we were truly underway again, no comfort and safety of docklines and no protected ICW; we had to use our sailing wit once again to get us through. Perhaps, too, it was the small craft advisory being issued and the 170 mile haul we had offshore to get to the next reasonable anchorage at the mouth of the Delaware Bay. I could have easily accepted another night at the docks, but we had miles to cover and Mattapoisett, MA still seemed a long distance away. Still, it was pleasant to have some wind to work with, and we brushed off our sailing skills and made Thalia prove to us that she was more then just a little 50 hp powerboat. At Fisherman’s Island, we were within earshot of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel, crossing between the tip of Maryland – Cape Charles – and the outskirts of Norfolk at Cape Henry. This 15 mile long bridge is an impressive engineering creation. Owing to the shallow depths of the Chesapeake Bay, they were able to build the bridge low to the water and then drop the roadway into a tunnel under the bay in two locations to accommodate the ship channels. This is the biggest of three such bridge/tunnels in the Norfolk area. I guess the engineers felt like they had a good thing going so that made a couple copies!

Continue reading “To New York, ICW Style!”

Men, Get Your Testosterone Here!

With our new crewmember, Grampa Wells, aboard, we cast off the lines from the public dock at Elizabeth City, saying goodbye to the gracious hospitality of the ‘Rose Buddies’ and their quaint, small town. With little wind, we motored about 35 miles back out into the Ablemarle Sound, then up the North River to rejoin the ICW at the beginning of the ‘Virginia Cut’. The ICW here splits into two routes to nearby Norfolk – the Virginia Cut and the Great Dismal Swamp. While the later sounds unappealing, it is considered to be the more scenic of the two routes. Opened in 1805, it was not just scenic but much safer compared to the ravages of the North Carolina coast for transporting cargo north and south. Flatboats were the name of the game back then, and they carried lumber and other critical supplies in and out of Norfolk, as that city became a major supplier to troops in the Revolutionary War. But, as the flatboats gave way to steamships, the Great Dismal Swamp met its demise due to its shallow depths. The deeper Virginia Cut came into being in 1859, and although traveled now by larger boats and commercial craft, it is no less stunning in its beauty. We dropped anchor at the small uninhabited Buck Island. According to the chart, we could expect depths of 7-8′, and thankful there is virtual no tide fluctuation here, as you can see that we had a measly 0.3′ under the keel!

Continue reading “Men, Get Your Testosterone Here!”

Being a Little Normal

This past week, the residents of Thalia participated in several activities and events which fell neatly into the “normal” range — something new for us! Although, with just over one month left of our adventure we are anticipating an abrupt return to lives filled with “normalcy”, day in and day out! I don’t think we are able to articulate — from our current perspectives — what this next major shift will mean to each of us. I, for one, have such a mixed set of feelings about our life back on land that I am truly perplexed with how I will respond. Time will have to tell this one.

Continue reading “Being a Little Normal”

Graduation – Better Late Than Never!

After three nights in Wrightsville Beach, NC, our New England roots were pestering us to put the pedal to the metal! At first light, Karen and I motored out the nearby Masonboro Inlet, one of the few inlets to the sea in this area that is easily navigated by sailboats. We decided to go ‘outside’ again to avoid several shallow areas in the ICW and to try to put some more miles behind us. Camp LeJeune, the infamous US Marine Corps base in North Carolina, was also right squarely along the path of the ICW, and the guidebook warned us that a military vessel blocks the ICW when they are firing across it. Yikes! No Thanks!

Continue reading “Graduation – Better Late Than Never!”