Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The End.... of this chapter

You may have noticed the long delay since the last blog, which is partially due to our move but also due to reluctance to finalize the blog and thus the trip.

After a wonderful couple of weeks in Maine we ended the journey back in Rhode Island on July 15, 2012, two days short of one year of our departure.  We have been busy since then setting up our house and getting ready for Pablo to go back to work.  Even though we haven’t been away from the boat for more than a couple of days at a time, we miss it.  We miss the simplicity of life, the nice organization of everything on the boat and the adventure and excitement of being in new places.  But on the other hand, we are really enjoying consistently reliable, fast internet, having a washing machine, access to library books and a few other luxuries of land life.

Looking back on our trip, some of the most unexpected pleasures included meeting and getting to spend time with really great people along the way.  And spending A LOT of quality time as a family---the girls are growing up fast and we feel very lucky to have been able to take a year to focus on expanding their world view.  Being outside all the time was wonderful, being very physically active (needing to walk everywhere, carrying groceries and laundry in addition to all the sail/line handling) was not only great for our health but something we already miss and need to incorporate more into our land based life.   Exploring new places made for new adventures every day, we were never bored and were always in an environment rich with interesting experiences.

We feel a huge sense of accomplishment not only for making the trip a reality but for it being very successful.  It took some motivation to extract ourselves from our very comfortable life and set the wheels in motion but well worth all the effort.  We sold our house, got rid of a TON of stuff and came back feeling we have way more than we need.  We leave the adventure feeling we could spend another year sailing, another mark of success when everyone is left wanting more.

We all have grown, sometimes in unexpected ways.  Though we expected it may take a while for the experience to sink in with the girls, we see interesting insight from them already.  The girls have grown closer to each other, matured and show more appreciation for the quality of their life. 

Below are some statistics from the trip. 

Miles traveled:  7281 nautical miles (8300 statute miles)
Overnight passages:  28
Days at Anchor:  172 (rest is either on a mooring, underway or at a slip)
Number of countries/provinces visited:   16
Number of  US States visited:  10
Number of islands/cays visited:  67

Borealis anchored in Merchant Row

Enjoying time with friends in Maine

Blueberry picking at the Bishops

Our new home
As the sun sets on this adventure, we look forward to the next...

Friday, July 6, 2012

Day 362- Perry Creek, Vinalhaven, ME

We stopped in Greenwich Bay, RI to organize getting our car and secure housing for the fall.  Returning to our home base marina, Brewers Cowesett, where we left 11 months ago, felt really nice. 
The marina is well run with a wonderfully competent staff and we were welcomed back warmly by many of the other boat owners. This has made the drudgery readjusting to a land based life much easier. The girls have enjoyed the marina as well, hanging out in the pool with friends, searching for shells and sea glass on the beach and netting all kinds of creatures near the docks.  They have been incredibly patient with us while we catch up on what feels like a year worth of errands. 

We plan to move into a house in Stow, MA in mid July.  Until then we'll explore more of New England aboard Borealis.  We're enjoying visiting some of our favorite places, especially those we haven't visited before by boat.  It was great to catch up with Lorna and Imre (aka Nana and Papa) in Wellfleet.  Their raucous welcome back was unforgettable.   From Cape Cod we did an overnight passage to Tenants Harbor, ME.  Maine is absolutely gorgeous and very quiet.  Even though our feet are numb from the cold water after spending a few seconds in it, we love it here.   We bought a bucket full of rock crab for $5 yesterday and had a feast.  

Mia doing halyard maintenance

1st swim in New England waters, off Weepecket Island

The Welcome Back committee

Papa boogie boarding in Wellfleet Harbor

Can you believe it, fog in Maine?  One of the shadows is Borealis

Negotiating for crab in Tenants Harbor, ME

Near Dix Island, ME

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Day 340- Newport, RI

Newport, where we've been for the past few days, is a sailing mecca.  We've been here many times before but never on our own boat.  The level of activity, even in crappy weather, is astonishing.  There are small boat races daily, preparations for the America's Cup series to be held here next week, the Newport-Bermuda race is scheduled to leave tomorrow and a parade of tall ships will be here in early July.  Our heads are spinning from the amount of activity around us.  When it gets overwhelming on land, we retreat to the boat anchored at the entrance to the harbor and watch the endless activity on the water.  It has been gray, rainy and in the low 60's since we've been here.  It feels miserable to us after months of warm, sunny weather.  But does not seem to faze the true New Englanders around us, who paddle, sail, row, motor happily through the foggy drizzle.  I think we may have some adjustment ahead of us...
We're starting to deal with the realities of incorporating ourselves back into a land based life.  We plan to take a break from cruising next week and try to secure housing for the fall.  If all goes well, we hope to spend a little more time exploring on the boat before starting school and work in a few months.

Foggy Newport harbor
Cool museum in Newport

Monday, June 11, 2012

Day 337- Block Island, RI

After a mellow 3 day passage up the coast from Virginia we're enjoying Block Island.  With only 5-10 knots of wind, we motor sailed about a third of the way.  The moonlit nights made night watches more enjoyable.  We saw a lot of traffic off the New York City Harbor entrance even though we were about 100 nm off the coast.  The most challenging part was dodging fishing and research boats that had gear deployed in the water.  It wasn't always clear where exactly the gear was, especially at night.
Block Island has a New England feel.  Not sure how much of that could be attributed to the cool weather,  which doesn't feel so good right now.  Hot water for showers has become much more valuable than it has been for months and we've had to put fleece jackets and down comforters to use.  Other than the "cold weather" it feels nice to be back in home waters.  Looking forward to catching up with friends and family.

The biggest fish caught on this passage, a sea bass we think

Another nice sunrise on passage

Getting caught up on school work

New Harbor, Block Island

One of the old grand hotels on Block Island

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Deltaville, VA to Block Island, RI

We pulled up anchor in Deltaville this morning around 6am and have made approx 75 miles since. We are now off the coast of Chincoteague Island, VA. The winds have been light but we've been able to sail most of the day. Other than almost hitting a really big, red, highly visible buoy, the trip has been uneventful. Somehow this particular buoy snuck up on Pablo. It seems to take us a day or two to get settled into passage life so tomorrow all this will seem routine again. As long as the weather holds out we aim to arrive in Block Island, RI in 2-3 days.

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Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Day 331- Deltaville, VA

Borealis was hauled four days ago and Pablo has been working on projects almost non stop since.  He has replaced a few thru hull fittings, re applied bottom paint and over hauled the head.  The yard did a fantastic job polishing the topsides.  Borealis is looking pretty spiffy and not showing the 6000+ nm we've traveled.  The girls have enjoyed playing on land for hours and hours with friends from sv Gadjo Dilo and sv Puff.  It feels good to be back in the water after way too many trips up and down the wobbly ladder and numerous trips to the local West Marine to pick up parts.  And it was odd to be on the boat on the hard... and not feel the movement of the water.  We did feel some shaking when a series of tornado producing thunderstorms passed over.

Yes, that is the head in the cockpit, it was on deck for a few days and now back where it belongs!
It turns out nail polish application is more successful when not on a boat

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Day 324 -Norfolk, VA

Wow, what an experience it has to been to arrive in bustling Norfolk after the serene ICW. The world's largest naval base is here. There are destroyers, aircraft carriers, submarines, jets, helicopters all around us. We stopped for a night smack dab middle of downtown Portsmouth, VA. The city provides free dockage in a few basins amid the waterfront skyscrapers. There is a great ferry that runs across the river to downtown Norfolk. It was a very nice place to explore and reminded us a little of our walks along the Boston waterfront. We are now anchored on the northern side of Norfolk, in Willoughby Bay and are being entertained by helicopters doing various training maneuvers near us. We plan to move to Deltaville tomorrow where we'll have the boat hauled for a few projects before heading back to New England.

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A lone tree in the middle of the ICW

Borealis in downtown Portsmouth, VA

USS Wisconsin in Norfolk

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Day 322- Coinjock, NC

Time is no longer marching by as fast as it did in the Bahamas and Caribbean.  In fact, the last week seems more like a month.  Probably partly due to the fact that we're motoring along day after day in the ICW.  Parts are very scenic but also fairly monotonous.  We are limited to traveling during daylight and often can not use the autopilot and thus are stuck at the helm for long periods.  Other than the surprise we get from the depth alarm every once in a while it is not overly exciting.  It gives us plenty of time to contemplate questions like 'How are the dolphins able to navigate in the brown, murky water here?'  They must have some keen sonar!  And 'Why do they hang out here?'  The abundance of shrimp is one reason we can understand and relate to.

Hurricane Irene did a fair amount of damage as it made landfall in this area, last fall.  We met a group of college guys salvaging a 41' sailboat that had been blown ashore.  It seemed like quite an adventure with a lot of boyhood excitement mixed in.  They were working hard in muddy, wet and critter infested conditions.  I wish we could have stayed long enough to see them get it in the water. 

The difference in the color of the water in the ICW and the water in the Exumas.

Shrimp boats along the ICW

Boat stranded by Hurricane Irene
Not sure what this 'Danger' sign was warning us of

Pablo always doing maintenance (or maybe just messing around)

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Day 318- Oriental, NC

I'm happy to report that it has warmed up, thus we are no longer wearing winter gear. Unfortunately the water color is still brown and murky, but obviously water clarity of the Bahamas is unrealistic and a nice cherished memory. We've spent the past couple of days exploring parts of the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW). The ICW is a network of canals and rivers that connect the eastern seaboard from FL to NY. Many parts are too shallow or have low bridges that limit our travel so we have picked a only few sections to explore. The shifting depths of the channels require our complete attention. It is not unusual to come across a spot that is significantly shallower than surrounding areas. Tow boats are busy pulling off boats stranded in the area. After a day offshore between Wrightsville and Beaufort where we enjoyed setting the autopilot and leaving the helm, we anchored at Cape Lookout. We had the large anchorage almost to ourselves and watched seals and enormous loggerhead turtles surface all around us. The nearby Shackleford Banks are home to a herd of wild ponies. Remi is working on a report about them which I'll insert soon. We are now in a small town well-known to sailors on the Neuse River called Oriental. We are enjoying the slow pace but highly functional and friendly environment. This is cruisers paradise. There are trash bins for us at the dingy dock, there are courtesy bicycles for our use, and great low key restaurants. The locals have a great 'can do' attitude that make things happen. We needed a printer and fax machine and were directed to the offices of the local newspaper. The friendly secretary took time out of her schedule to help us for about half an hour and would not accept any payment. We are enjoying some of the benefits of being back in the US, like all the fresh snap peas we could eat for $4 from the local farmers market and some of the best peel-and-eat shrimp we have ever had, fresh off of the shrimp boats that are based out of the small harbor. We have had the fresh shrimp two days in a row and may stay one more day to enjoy more!

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One of the many Coast Guard boats we've seen in NC; this one was making sure we weren't a threat to the 500ft tanker nearby.

A nasty squall passing in front of us

Riding to the grocery store

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Day 314-Bald Head Island, NC

Bald Head Island, a barrier island two miles off mainland North Carolina, has been a very comfortable place to re-enter the US and decompress a little after our passage.  It is a planned community with very friendly people and a big emphasis on conservation.  There are protected salt marshes, estuaries, and 10 miles of ocean beaches where loggerhead turtles are currently laying eggs.  Very impressively, the newly opened Barrier Island Research Center ( $2.5 million) was entirely community funded.   But make no mistake this is first and foremost an upscale resort.
We were aiming to depart north along the Inter Coastal Waterway (ICW) tomorrow and then offshore toward Beaufort, NC the following day.  Tropical Storm Alberto, slightly south of Cape Fear, may put a kink in our plans.  Pablo is keeping a close eye on all of his numerous weather sources.  So far the only affect we have felt are the below normal temperatures.  It was 56F this morning!  Needless to say more than a shock to our tropically tuned bodies, thus we had to turn the heat on.
We noticed that our position report hasn't updated to our current position.  There seems to be a problem at yotreps.  Hopefully it will be resolved soon.

The very protected marina at Bald Head Island

The primary transportation on the island is golf cart and bicycle

Spanish Moss lined golf cart boulevards

The croquet court; we didn't have our 'whites' so didn't partake

Note the hat and sweatshirt on the beach

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Day 312- Bald Head Island, NC

We're back in the States!!  Leaving the Abacos sooner rather than later worked out well for us.  We avoided waiting for another weather window and or hopping up the Florida coast.  The down side was lack of wind.  We motored most of the time.  We were aiming for Beaufort, NC but decided on Charleston, SC after seeing nasty weather moving down the East Coast. We made such good time once we hit the Gulf Stream (northerly current 2 to 4 knots) that we were moving at 10-12 knots and would of arrived in Charleston in the dark.  We decided to go a little further north to the Cape Fear area.  After calling 5 different numbers for Immigration and Customs we were cleared back into the States, AND without an inspection.  Good all around.  I was a little concerned that some of our fresh produce could be confiscated if we were boarded.  Of course we had way more that usually since I had just stocked up in Marsh Harbor thinking that we wouldn't be in the States for another 2 weeks.  Turned out the kids really didn't need to eat that whole bag of carrots, celery and 5 apples for breakfast...

We seem to have access to decent wifi and our cell phone (with data plan) is now turned on again so I plan to update the blog after a little sleep.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Day 310- Marsh Harbour, Abacos to Charleston, SC

We only spent a couple of days in the Abacos before heading off on a passage back to the States. Pablo didn't like the look of upcoming unsettled weather so we decided to leave rather than risk having to wait longer than we wanted for the next opportunity. Our current destination is Charleston, SC but that may change depending on weather. It seems like a good place to wait for favorable winds to head further north. Leaving the Bahamas is definitely bittersweet for all of us. It feels likes the fun part of the journey is behind us. The girls are excited about returning home but said they'd rather keep cruising (preferably in warm, clear waters).

After being in the Exumas for weeks, the Abacos seemed very populated. Marsh Harbour, though a little shallow for us at low tide, was a good place to provision, get fuel (in jugs since the depths at the fuel dock were questionable), and fill propane tanks. Wish we could of spent a little more time exploring the beautiful cays and numerous reefs, but also looking forward to returning to the US.

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The Mahi Mahi we had for lunch and dinner

Cruising at 12 knots thanks to help from the Gulf Stream

A visitor who slept in the salon overnight