Sunday, September 9, 2018

Keeping The Dream Alive

One thing I've learned from this experience is that it takes a lot of planning. Young attractive couples can sell everything, move on their boat, develop some clickbait, and be off and running on patreon with supporters. I think that is great for them and support them living their dream while they are still young. Their videos on youtube are enjoyable and I know they put a lot of effort in building up their audience. I don't begrudge them a bit. It would have been nice to have taken a year or two off after college to do the same thing but love and family were a higher priority for me and I've been happily married for over 32-years now to my best friend.

I'm referring to couples nearing retirement that want to sail off in their early retirement years without having to return to work. We started thinking about the sailing cruising lifestyle in 2014. Right now we have set a date for sailing off on October 10, 2022! It's a Monday and Columbus day so that seems like a good choice. It's sailing superstition to never set sail on a Friday, so why not Monday? That is a little over 8-years from concept to reality. Ruth and I (Drew) thought it was important to set a date otherwise this would just remain a dream. Now we have a real goal to attain. I think it's the engineer in me that wants to plan this and just not take off without being ready.

In terms of the planning, here's a list of the things we wanted to accomplish before setting sail:

  • Take ASA sailing classes (DONE!) (I'd still like to do a multi-day ocean passage though)
  • Charter a number of bareboat trips (Ongoing process but we've done quite a few already)
  • Learn about diesel engine mechanics (Plan on taking a class next year)
  • Understand paper navigation (DONE!) (100% score on ASA 105)
  • Gain knowledge of celestial navigation (Ongoing process)
  • Save enough money so we won't have to go back to work when we return (Ongoing)
  • Prepare the home for either selling or renting (Ongoing)
  • Organize a mail forwarding service (one of our children?)
  • Setup a blog and youtube account (DONE!)
  • Buy the cruising sailboat (Ongoing)
  • Read and learn as much as possible (Ongoing)
Of course there is more to do, but I think these are our highlights. We have been researching boats and have a pretty good idea of what we are looking for. Everything I have read says don't buy your boat too soon, so we are anticipating another two years before we start seriously looking for a boat. We have a list of things we want in a boat instead of a specific boat in mind. Hopefully we will find a good deal as boats can be difficult to sell.

Ruth and I also ran through a fun exercise in which we sat down and talked about WHY we want to do this. Here's the list we came up with:

  • Fun
  • Togetherness
  • Learn new things
  • Get away
  • Spent time alone together
  • Freedom
  • Exploration
  • Travel
  • Being responsible for oneself and your actions
  • Help local communities
  • Immerse with local and different cultures
I know that four years will go by very quickly. Til next time....

Saturday, August 4, 2018

Glacier National Park & Banff

Ruth and I (Drew) love to sail but we also enjoy hiking and the great outdoors. I completed a bicycle trip through the Glacier National Park (GNP) area 8-years ago and always wanted to go back. Whitefish Montana is one of my favorite towns. Ruth went with me this time and we turned it into a hiking trip.

Our first stop was in Whitefish Montana. We found a great B&B called the Garden Wall Inn. Garden Wall is named for one of the famous areas in GNP. Our hosts were great with a short walk into town and very comfortable accommodations.

Garden Wall Inn

Hike Up Whitefish Mountain Resort

It was cold for early July with winter jackets, hats and gloves being the norm. We decided to hike to the top of Whitefish Mountain Resort and enjoy the views. After the long hike, we took the Gondola down. I had an excellent emu burger at the top of the mountain and Ruth got to watch the world cup soccer game.
Snow at the top

Tired after a long hike
New Friends
Being sailors we decided to stop down at the local lake to check out the boating scene. It was mostly power boats but we did run into one couple that was renaming their boat (notice the branch on the front of the boat) and needed some help with the renaming ceremony. We were happy to help them tie up their boat, go through the ceremony, and share some rum with them and Neptune. Good luck with the new boat!

From Whitefish it was off to Waterton Lakes Peace Park in Canada. This is also part of GNP but on the Canadian side. We stayed in the Prince of Wales Hotel and did some interesting hiking. They had a huge fire last year but firefighters managed to save the town and this historic hotel. Many of the trails were closed but we did manage to hike a few. 

View from our room, not bad

Prince of Wales

Still cold, July 4th!

Fire Damage

Next stop was Banff. The town is pretty busy but we found a nice little place to stay called the Banff Avenue B&B. You did need to drive out of town to get to the hiking trails but it wasn't far. This time of year it's also light until about 11:00 pm (23:00 for you sailors) so there's lots of time to enjoy the day. Eating dinner at 10 did take a little getting used to though.



Lake outside Banff

Leading edge of a glacier

Tea House after a long hike

After Banff it was down to the east side of GNP. We stayed at St. Mary's and Many Glacier. They had a "problem" bear at St. Mary's that the park ranges kept trying to scare away. It is very important to not have the bears associated people with food. As they say, "a fed bear is a dead bear". By this time it was warming up and winter coats were put away.

Rustic cabin and our vessel for the two weeks

Lots of snow still


Hidden Lake - we found it

Ruth with a novel approach to going down

Grizzly county, we carried pepper spray and made noise

View from Many Glacier area

Little Red Hiking Hood

Iceberg Lake

Beautiful Vistas

This was a fantastic trip and highly recommended. They say in a dozen years there will be no official glaciers left in GNP so now is the time to visit. Hope you enjoyed the hiking and next blog back to sailing!

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Middle Chesapeake

We just returned from a four day sailing trip around the middle section of the Chesapeake Bay. Ruth and I went with our good friends Bruce & Karen and this was our 5th time chartering together. Three Chesapeake trips, one Spanish Virgin Islands trip, and one Bahamas trip. We're starting to become a nice cohesive team. Not to mention we have a lot of fun together!

Day one we left Solomon's Island on a 39' Jeanneau monohull. The boat has a 4'-11" draft with two cabins. Bruce booked the bareboat charter with Sail Solomons. They couldn't have been nicer.

Freedom 38

This wasn't the boat we chartered, but it's a really nice Freedom 38. This is one of the boats on my short list, and we did get to speak to the owner about it a little bit. Really easy boat to handle but it is more cruising relating than performance related. The mast is pretty far forward which leave a lot of room down below. Nice boat!

The wind was not cooperating for us the first day. We've learned to plan our trips around the wind rather than force where we want to go whenever possible. So we sailed out into the bay and then returned to the Patuxent River for an overnight anchorage on Mill Creek. Decent wind on Wednesday with 25 nautical miles of sailing.

View leaving Solomons Island

Calvert Cliffs

Bridge Over the Patuxent River

Mill Creek Anchorage - Our Neighbor

Quiet Anchorage on Mill Creek

Working Waterman

Thursday morning we picked up anchor and headed down to the Potomac River. It was a really nice sail and we were on a nice beam reach for the 25 nautical mile jaunt down to the mouth of the river. The Potomac is 10 miles across at the mouth. We saw LOTS of crab pots, pelicans, osprey, and even some dolphins. 

Ketch Heading North


Point no Point Lighthouse

Interesting Helm Position for Ruth

Point Lookout Marina
We stayed the night at the marina and had a nice dinner ashore. Pretty quite marina at Point Lookout but they make a nice crab cake and we had an enjoyable stay. The channel in is well marked with a nice "S" turn to come in. Just follow the marks and you'll be fine. Friday found us traveling back up the bay as Saturday had thunderstorms forecasted. 

Fish Trip

Bruce & Ruth

Adjusting the Traveler for Sail Trim

Leonard Creek Anchorage

More Leonard Creek

Nice Sunset

Securing the Dinghy
Thanks to Bruce for a great Beef Bourguignon for Friday night dinner! We enjoyed a nice quiet anchorage with only one other boat with good holding just off the mouth of the Leonard Creek. We all enjoyed swimming and finishing up the rum drinks before our return on Saturday. Thunderstorms did hit on Friday night into Saturday but held off on Saturday until after 3 pm. The winds were pretty light Saturday so we didn't sail too much and had the boat back in by 13:00.

We're Back!
This was a great part of the Bay to check out and a lot more quiet than going out of Rock Hall. Amenities are in short supply and the eastern shore is pretty shallow without much to stop for cruisers. I think we'll venture back into this area and stop at either Smith or Tangier Island. I'd definitely recommend Sail Solomons if you are interested in chartering out of this area.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Long Cold Winter

It's definitely been a long, cold winter. I can't add "lonely" to match the song due to my great family and weekly visits to my mom. It looks like spring has finally sprung though and we're ready for it. Ruth and I have just finished our spring cleaning chores including the following:

  • Wash windows and bring out the screens
  • Get the small fish pond up and running
  • Full cleaning inside the house
  • Detailing the cars, winter takes a pretty hard toll on both the interior and exterior
And finally, my favorite chore, getting the boat ready for another year on the lake. There wasn't too much to do to the Turtle this year but I changed oil on the outboard, put the new docking lines in the boat, replaced a fair lead for the port jib sheet, and did a little touch up on the bottom paint. Since we cleaned the bottom pretty well after taking the boat out last fall there wasn't much to do and we're ready to launch the boat.

My wife is having her high school anniversary next Saturday so the boat launch is scheduled for 4/29. We are ready to go and just need the weather to cooperate. The plan will be to take the boat out in the morning, do a little sailing, and then put her in the slip. Since it's been so cold, I doubt there are many boats that have launched yet. Our slip-mate usually doesn't put his boat in until after Memorial Day.

We do have a few fun trips planned this year that we will include pictures in future blogs. We're chartering the middle Chesapeake with our friends Bruce & Karen in June and then have our rescheduled BVI trip in November. The rest of the year will be spent sailing on the Lake.

Fair Winds!

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Northern Exumas - Bahamas

We just got back from a weeks sail in the Bahamas. Trip started on New Providence with the Nav Tours company. We sailed from New Providence over the Northern Exumas and stayed over at Highborne Cay, Shroud Cay, Warderick Wells, Norman's Island and Allen's Cay. The wind was pretty strong all week with 20 to 28 knots the first day for our 30 nm crossing across the yellow banks. The coral heads were pretty easy to spot and as long as you are vigilant, the crossing shouldn't present too many problems. Ruth and I went with our good friends Karen and Bruce.


Bruce relaxing


Beautiful water

It took us about 6 hours to cover the trip across the yellow banks. With 5' seas at 6 second intervals the trip was a little bouncy and we had to sail a close hauled course to get there. Nothing like a good salt bath to start the trip. After an overnight at Highborne Cay we headed down to Shroud Cay with nice 20 to 25 knots of wind on a beam reach. Part of our tour was the northern river on Shroud Cay where you can motor from the banks to the sound at a slow speed.

On the ball at Shroud Cay

Sitting on the ball, not many boats around

Motoring down the river

We did hit a little storm

Captain and Admiral

Sound side

From Shroud Cay we sailed down to Waderick Wells and the Exuma Park. We decided to stay in the southern mooring field and ended up right next to Emerald Rock. There was only one other boat that night and we pretty much had the place to ourselves. We explored the park and hiked up to the famous Boo Boo Hill. Legend has it that you hear the howls of ghosts on top of the hill. Ruth and I also had an interested experience with a 4' barracuda following us back to the boat on our snorkel trip. I've heard that barracuda think we're larger predators and follow snorkelers hoping to grab a morsel from our catch. Never really concerned but I did keep an eye on toothy the whole swim back.

Karen on the SUP

Ruth relaxing

Happy at the helm

Karen at the helm

Boo Boo Hill, short hike

Tree growing out of the rock

Small creek to cross up to Boo Boo Hill

Top of the hill

Our boat in the distance

Beautiful sunset

Next stop was Norman's Cay. We anchored off the western shore and had dinner at the Norman's Bay Beach Club (aka McDuff's). I thought it would be nice to have a manhattan but they had no idea how to make one. They seemed to think they had bourbon and sweet vermouth and offered to let me behind the bar to teach them how to make a good manhattan. Unfortunately, there was no sweet vermouth so it was back to run. Next time through I'm bringing sweet vermouth and bitters and we'll redo the manhattan making class. Dinner was great at McDuff's with a casual relaxed island atmosphere.
Being passed by a cat

McDuff's is behind these cottages

Harbor at Allen's Cay
After another overnight at Highborne Cay, it was 30 nm back from the Exumas back to New Providence. Someone we managed to have to go close hauled on the trip back also with winds piping up again to 20 to 25 knots. The sail back was pretty fast and in 5 hours we were back at the Palm Cay Marina and Nav Tours base. The trip included sailing from Sunday through Friday and we totaled over 135 nm for the week with two 30 plus nm crossings of the Yellow Banks.

Nav Tours was a great company to charter with and included a pick up at the airport, provisioning trip, and the first and last night docked at the marina. We'd highly recommend them as a company to charter with. The rest of the sailing season will be pretty quite for us until it's time to launch the Turtle again in the spring.

Happy to be back?

38' boat for the week

Sitting on a conch by the bay

The dark spots are sharks in the water