Category Archives: Homeward

Back to Abaco (Bahamas)

Update to previous post about Teresa: actually she IS my next boat. I joined an existing partnership; I am 1/3 owner. Hallie and I spent three weeks in Abaco, spending the questionable weather (we had a lot of cold and high winds and rain…) at a cottage owned by one of the other owners. And we did a little sailing. It was not a “vacation” —- it was a fabulous adventure.

Thomas’s cottage on Green Turtle Cay. Thankfully John convinced me we should rent the cottage to have available in foul weather. We spent more time there than expected, and were glad to be off the boat during that time.

Below is a trimaran named Scrimshaw. It was Jim Brown’s boat, for those who know of him. I met Bruce and Charlie aboard, and really liked them, and the boat. Maybe a Searunner 31 trimaran is in my future… I sequenced the two photos so it looks like we are catching them. But in fact they were going about twice our speed!

Photos below from Green Turtle Cay and Manjack Cay and Man O War Cay.

Imagine my surprise to take a walk to the beach from Hope Town, and see this! The boat had been on the beach for two weeks. We were told the owner lost his house when Irma hit Puerto Rico, and the boat was also damaged. After some repairs he took on a crew and headed for the USA. They had minimal safety/navigation equipment. Another storm got them into trouble, and they drifted for five days uncertain of their position. Luckily, they drifted right through a narrow pass in the reef, and stepped ashore on a beautiful beach… The boat was totaled in the surf.

Remaining photos from Hope Town, where we visited the iconic lighthouse, and got my favorite photo of the boat anchored outside the harbour.

Teresa is a cool boat, with heart and soul. But sailing her made me appreciate and miss some of the qualities of No Regrets. Teresa is heavy and unresponsive in comparison. And it is a big commitment to get her sailing —- to raise the heavy sails with no winches. I found I would motor on short hops where on NR we would simply unroll the jib or screecher.

I felt like I was doing a sail training stint on a tall ship. It was fun to learn how, but I don’t think this is a long term relationship.

NOTE TO ANYONE NEW TO THIS BLOG: I realize it is awkward to try to browse through the story of my circumnavigation. The newest-to-oldest structure of the blog makes it difficult. But I am working on writing a book about the adventure, and it will be much more readable! “FOLLOW” the blog to get a notice when the book is published.

Teresa de Isla Morada

No, this isn’t my new boat. But she could be, and therein lies a tale…

A month ago it seemed that my sailing adventures were fading into the haze of time, and I was seized by a panic that I would have no plan for escaping the Maine winter, and no next voyage to be my waypoint on the course to the happy future. Perhaps another way of saying it is…I was bored. So, naturally, I turned to the Internet. I found a great site for used sailboat listings, and I thought: I can probably find an older oddball trimaran, maybe 35′, for not too much money, that I could park in FL and sail to the Bahamas when I’ve had enough of winter. And when I’ve had enough warmth I can park it in FL again until the next winter.

I found a possible match, located just a few miles away. The listing was dated two years ago, which didn’t bode well, but I sent an email to the owner and five minutes later he was calling me. Turns out he has an addiction to trimarans. When he likes one he buys it, even though he owns too many already. So he lists each for sale right away, knowing that he will have to sell one of the fleet at some point in order to afford the next! In any case, I went to look at the one nearby, and found that it was way too much of a “project” to serve my needs.

So perhaps, I thought, I need to expand my search. Maybe a catamaran instead of a tri, as there are far more to choose from, plus they have better accommodations. I went back to the online listings, and looked through just about every kind of sailboat imaginable. A 40′ James Wharram catamaran in Guatemala held my attention for a while, but that, too, would have been a project boat. And then as I was scrolling through thumbnail photos of hundreds of boats, this one caught my eye:

The Reuel Parker one, of course.

Why? Not because I thought I wanted to own an old sharpie schooner! But because when Liam was sailing with me some months ago, he had introduced me to Reuel Parker designs, which were at the top of his dreamboat list. I recognized the thumbnail photo as a Parker boat, and I thought of Liam, and for the heck of it I clicked the More Details button. And for some inexplicable reason I took it a step further and sent an email off to the owner, saying: nice boat, but you are asking too much given the boat’s age and construction. (Given how many ads I had looked at, I now considered myself an expert on such matters!) To my surprise I not only got an email right back, but it said I was right, and they (there were two owners) had just reduced the price to $89K.

They sent dozens of photos. Appealing, but what I saw was gobs of maintenance. I just wanted to fly to FL and go sailing, not keep up the brightwork on a wooden boat. When I said so, I got an intriguing response. After explaining that much of the “brightwork” was in fact epoxy paint, John suggested that there was no reason to include Florida in the plan. They had a perfect place to keep the boat in the Abacos, they had a fabulous boatkeeper who did better work than anyone in the USA and for less money, and there was a boatyard there that would handle common needs. Why not leave the boat in the Bahamas, safe and well cared for?

What started as a lark was holding my attention. So I went a step further and asked if maybe they didn’t really want to sell the boat, and instead I might buy a half share, since I would only want to use it for a few weeks in the winter. I won’t relay the long conversation that ensued, but the bottom line is yes, we could do a partnership, but only with the understanding that I would buy 100% within two years. And they would be happy to introduce me to the local Bahamians that I should know.

I haven’t mentioned that in June I crewed aboard the palacial Chapter Two, on a short passage from Charleston to the Chesapeake. I thoroughly enjoyed my time aboard Pat and Janet’s floating home.

My flight back to Maine was overbooked, and I decided to volunteer to be bumped to a later flight. For that I received an $800 voucher. Well, that was just what I needed for a quick trip to Marsh Harbour in the Bahamas last week…

I went for three days. Two of the nights I stayed alone aboard Teresa (on the mooring; she’s all put away for hurricane season, sails taken off, etc). The third night I spent at Tom’s (second owner) cottage on Green Turtle Cay. Tom picked me up with a rented speedboat, and gave me a quick tour of the Abacos as well as feeding me lobster and grouper in his delightful little island cottage.

So, back home again, here’s my take-away. The boat is cool; she has “heart.” Nothing like what I was looking for, of course; it feels more like Teresa was looking for me! But she’s not the sort of boat where Hallie and I would enjoy spending a couple of months together. First and foremost, her accommodations would not work for inviting another couple to join us. And they would be perhaps too “rustic” even for the two of us. So I told Tom and John that I need to go back to the drawing board, and together with Hallie figure out what adventures we will embark upon. Reluctantly, I said goodbye to Teresa.

The end. Maybe… The thing is, Hallie and I did have a talk about future winter adventures, and we decided that…at least for now…there isn’t just one answer. There isn’t one ideal boat we want to live on. There isn’t one ideal place we want to be. For now we will dream up new smaller adventures as we go. This winter we’d like to visit New Zealand. And maybe try out a week at an AirB&B in the SE USA. Maybe try St Augustine. So forget searching for the one right answer.

But…I still want to do some sailing, with or without Hallie, with or without guests. Why not…Teresa? Her price is rather high for just occasional use. But…what about a partnership…? If I could find one or two partners to share the cost/use, she could still be a unique and happy opportunity.

Anyone interested??

Next Big Thing?

We closed on the sale of No Regrets today. They say, only somewhat in jest, it is the second happiest day of a boat owner’s life, and indeed I am very happy to be out from under the burden of owning a boat that I am no longer sailing. But it certainly comes with sadness, too. No Regrets has been a good home, and a great chariot carrying me across the seas with speed, relative comfort, safety and style. Kudos to Chris White, the designer, and to John Lombardi, the builder.

My transition to home life was eased a bit by being invited to help Norm deliver his new Tahawus II, a 47′ Catana catamaran (!), from Florida to Virginia. What a treat to join him aboard his beautiful new boat, and head back out to sea for three days of fast sailing in the Gulf Stream. We made good 284 miles in our first 24 hours! And we averaged about 250 miles per day. The boat sails very nicely. It is bigger than No Regrets, and had an easier motion in the 30+ knots and 4+ meter waves. But I found I longed for our forward-facing cockpit, instead of always looking astern. Of course, at the dock Tahawus II takes the prize for spaciousness and comfort.

Upon arrival in Hampton, VA, we docked near the original Tahawus, said hello to Klaudia and the boys, and then all hands turned to moving Everything from their old home to their new. Ugh! Suddenly 47′ didn’t seem so big, as the boxes and bags covered the cockpit and the salon and most of the floor space…

Next day I was on an airplane back home, but it turns out I’m not done with sailing. I received another invitation to crew for a few days in New England, starting today. I like it — keep the invitations coming!

Meanwhile, Jesse earned his mechanical engineering degree. Hallie and I attended his graduation and, even better, got to see his prototype of a rig to generate electricity from ocean waves. He demonstrated the system in the university’s wave tank. If you know of job opportunities for a new mechanical engineer with a keen interest in renewable energy systems, please let us know.

Of course I am also facing the questions of what’s next for me. Several people have urged me to write a book. But I feel that the blog tells the story, and I haven’t much more to add, so I don’t feel drawn to the book idea. There is my ongoing boatbuilding project, begun 25 years ago (!). I would like to complete that. The issue is where can I find a satisfactory space. I have a generous offer of a barn, but…it’s full of stuff…no electricity…no heat…not a flat floor…I have concerns about how it would work out. But I will look into it further.

There is my desire to make use of solar energy, and to create a community solar farm nearby. This project also hinges on having viable space. A neighbor has expressed interest in selling land for this purpose, but whether it would make sense financially remains to be seen. Again, I will look into it further.

There is the nagging recollection of the solar powered desalination system in Komodo, Indonesia. The one that wasn’t working, and as far as I can tell is still not working. Okay, I get it that the system was “inappropriate technology” — too high tech to be maintained by the local community. Which has me thinking about what more “appropriate” system could provide drinking water for such communities. Could a solar still be designed with sufficient capacity, and yet be cheap and low tech? Again, when life settles down a bit I want to look into it further.

A friend recently commented that it was apparent from my blog how much I love to be in motion. This got me thinking about what it is that I find so alluring about sailing. There is the warmth of the tropics, the beauty of the tranquil ocean and the magnificence when it turns wild. Alluring yes, but that only scratches the surface.

It has been wonderful to see so much of the world, and I’m grateful to my partners and to Jimmy Cornell for leading me into so many ports — places I probably would not have visited on my own. The people were so welcoming, their cultures a constant lesson that there are many ways to live and be content in this world. But I rarely wanted to stay anywhere for more than a few days, and my heart would soar each time we put back to sea. Yes, I like to be in motion, but there is more that makes sailing special.

Sailing sparked my imagination when I was a teenager trying to figure out who I was. I read about Chichester and Slocum and Robin Lee Graham and Donald Crowhurst and Webb Chiles (whom I met in Durban) and many others. I hated studying history, but I was intrigued about Magellan and Columbus and Cook — not as we judge their actions by today’s values, but what was it like to captain a tiny ship across uncharted oceans with uncertain crew. Sailing for me was freedom; a way to get outdoors, away from the confines of society, communing with the eternal. Freedom plus beauty and warmth and learning and motion…all good…but still there is more to it.

I notice at home now I feel pulled in many directions. Many competing tugs…tasks to be done…calls to return…sharing the car…managing finances…responding to the disparate schedules and priorities and expectations of other people…even deciding when to get out of bed in the morning. People think that life is simpler on a boat, but that is rarely true. What was special was not that life was simple, but that all the tasks, and all the crew, were aligned…were contributing to the same goal: the safe and comfortable and fun passage to the next destination. There was a single measure for prioritizing all our actions, and all our actions were steps in a single dance. The dancing was special; it fed my spirit, nourished my soul.

For me the dance has been a circumnavigation, but the dance is not limited to sailing. You could find the dance anywhere. I think it comes when one commits to something big. When you are clear about your commitment to a Big Thing, then the cacophony of distractions begins to subside and the dance music remains. Life doesn’t get simple, your choices do. You choose the steps that gets you closer to the Big Thing. The endless internal voice that my friends call “monkey chatter” is no longer front and center, because you make your choices easily, confidently. And I believe our choices are the deepest expression of Self…of who we are.

I’ll wrap this up. When I’m crossing an ocean I am expressing myself. I know who I am, I know my purpose, my self-expression is joyous and the dance steps are satisfying. Now my voyage is done, and the clarity of purpose is fading. Perhaps I will identify another Big Thing that I will commit to, and find a similar joy in that dance. It doesn’t have to be sailing. In fact, I would love to find a project that more directly contributes to others. If you have an opportunity that you think might spark my imagination, tell me about it! And if you are in motion toward your own Big Thing, or are about to take that first step, may you thoroughly enjoy the dance!

Tahawus II
Formerly Tonga Time. Note the escape hatch on the inside of the hull. One opened on its own while we were sailing, and we were alerted only by the bilge pump alarm. Luckily it was not the hatch over my berth; it was in Norm’s head/shower. Ironically, we then discovered that the manual bilge pump didn’t work. Ah, the joys of a new boat…
Windy and fast.
284 miles noon to noon. But always looking astern…
…unless you sit in the helmsman’ seat, exposed to the elements.

Moving in.