Hello to all our friends and family,
After six wonderful years cruising the oceans aboard Caris, we have come to the end of our Caris Adventures. Our last voyage in May and June was about 2000 miles from the British Virgin Islands, through the Bahamas and up the Chesapeake Bay. Caris spent the summer in Annapolis MD, was shown in the Annapolis Boat Show in October, and is listed for sale. Sharon and I sailed her down to Solomons Island a few weeks ago and she will spend the winter there out of the water awaiting her next lucky owner.
I have been putting off writing this last posting because it represents yet another goodbye to what has been a wonderful chapter in our lives. And it also represents less contact with some of you who have followed this adventure via our sailblog. We have enjoyed your enjoyment and your comments and thoughts. Thank You!
I have collected a "few" (read about 80) of our favorite photos from these six years and put them on a gallery on this website. You can access the gallery titled "Caris Advenures 2010-2016" by clicking on the "Gallery" link at the top of your screen.
I have also put together a few videos of our trips and posted them on Youtube. You can see these by clicking the link below.
There is also a video of a pod of dolphins swimming with us.
We have learned again some old truths on this journey. "The hardest part of any journey is leaving the dock", "Life begins at the end of your comfort zone", and "Wherever you go, there you are". We have had some incredible adventures, seen some amazing and beautiful places, made some new wonderful friends, and have learned to be together as a couple in a deeper way. We are amazed at this wonderful world we inhabit, and have a deeper appreciation of the awesomeness of God. As Elizabeth Browning wrote, "Earth's crammed with heaven and every common bush afire with God". And not only the bushes but the beaches and the oceans and the people and the skies.
Now we are moving into yet another transition and a new chapter. We are calling it our "re-retirement"
since we are retiring all over again with a different set of challenges and opportunities awaiting us. This summer and fall we have really "swallowed the anchor" and settled into a land-based life here in South Bend. We have finished reworking the house a bit and have created an "Ocean" room, with some of the colors and memories of our sailing adventures.
For the first time in 40 years, I have been cutting my own lawn and cleaning up all the falling leaves from about 50 trees on the property. It is a good feeling to get connected to the ground again. We are also anticipating (and dreading) our first real winter in 50 years. When I left Michigan in 1966, I vowed I would never return to live in a place with snow. Never say never! If you doubt the seriousness of my commitment, check out the new snowblower!
Of course we are here to be with some of our family and this "trumps" winter weather. (Pardon me, for some unknown reason I have come to have an intense dislike recently for that word. Somehow it connotes something very very sleazy. I will try not to use it ever again.)
Sharon is eager to return to her profession as a child psychologist. She has already completed her Continuing Education requirements and is renewing her professional license. She is actively exploring professional opportunities and is especially interested in working with children with severe and even terminal illness.
I am going at this a little more slowly but I am also reactivating my psychology license. As I get back into land life, I find myself very interested again in the art and science of couple therapy and I am enjoying getting reacquainted with this literature. In some form or another, I will be doing some of this again before too long. I will be doing some writing and probably develop some couple seminars as well.
We are getting settled in our home here. As I have said before, "You can take a woman out of the house, but you can't take the house out of the woman".
Sharon loves being in a home again and I am coming to love it as well.
Joe's 76th Birthday
I turned 76 the other day and realize that I am now in my final quarter. It is getting a little late to figure out what I am going to do when I grow up. I will miss the joy of the open sea and the challenges involved in maintaining the boat and keeping everyone safe but I am also relieved at not having to face all these challenges each day. And I am enjoying the new cognitive, emotional, and personal challenges this new chapter is bringing.
I am seeking out some further "OPB" (Other People's Boats) sailing opportunities. Hopefully, I will be somewhere in the Caribbean or even the South Pacific for some time this winter. Lake Michigan is not far away, about 45 minutes, and I will try to develop some new connections at nearby marinas. Right now I don't feel an inclination to get another boat. After Caris, everything else doesn't come close. People often ask me if I miss the sailing. The answer is complex. In a way these have been some of the best times in my life. On the other hand, I am ready for something new even though it is not fully clear what that will be.
We had a pleasant 2000 mile voyage back to the US from the British Virgin Islands. I reported from this trip in some short blogs on this website between May 7 and 28 along with some pictures. One of the big highlights was catching a big Mahi-Mahi near the Abacos
There are more pictures of our last few months in the Caribbean and our return trip in the "Gallery" section on this website. See the gallery titled, "Back to the USA-May 2016". We took about three weeks and had several stops along the way.
We left Jost Van Dyke Island in early May in the company of our friends aboard Blue Pearl, another Hylas 54. We sailed West on a course that took us North of Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, and the East section of Cuba. The first night out we experienced a big weather front with lots of wind, thunder and lightning. But after all the past storms, this seemed like no big deal and we weathered it fine.
After skirting just South of the Turks and Caicos Islands, our first stop was in the Southern Bahamas, at Abrahams Bay on Mayaguana Island. This is a mostly unpopulated cay and we spotted an abandoned US missile tracking station near our anchorage. The next morning we parted ways with Blue Pearl which was having autopilot problems and decided to detour to Miami. We headed North and after a few days anchored in George Town on the Exuma Island chain. The Exumas are a collection of 365 cays, all with dazzling white sand beaches and surrounding reefs. Sharon and I had spend a lot of time there a few years ago and love the area. We stayed in the George Town anchorage until we had to leave and then headed North up the Bahamas chain to the Abaco Islands at the North End. We stayed at Marsh Harbor there for a few days before tearing ourselves away for the long 700 mile trip back to Norfolk and the Chesapeake Bay.
After a few days heading almost straight North to Norfolk we hit some nasty weather and diverted to Charleston SC. We cleared US customs there and spent a few more lazy days seeing sights before our last push up around Cape Hatteras and into Norfolk Harbor. We were running out of time by then so after a brief overnight anchorage we headed up the Chesapeake, stopped for one night part way up and finally arrived at Annapolis the next day. It was a great final trip.
Thanks to all of you who have enjoyed our sailing adventures these last six years. We love hearing back from you and wish you and yours the very best in this holiday season.
Joe and Sharon Venema