Still Close to the Water
22 October 2008 | Halifax, NS
It's been almost six weeks since we had Madcap hauled out. It's been four weeks since we moved into our rented condominium. We've left the cruising life to return to land for a year, and yet...
We are perched on the fourth floor of a building right on the Halifax waterfront. We still see the play of light on water, and watch ships pass by, and listen to waves lapping on shore. We still keep the blinds up so that we wake to the morning light, and watch the lights of ships and waterfront at night. We have our backs to the traffic and bustle of the city and our eyes on the harbour. I walk our dogs along the boardwalk, smell the salt air and listen to seagulls and ducks screech and quack along our path. Jim walks along that same route for 12 minutes to get to work and our car stays mostly in the parking garage. We feel like we have found a pretty nice little bridge between ship and shore!
Halifax has an astounding number of visits from cruise ships and this picture shows two of them. In the foreground is the Queen Mary II after it rounded George's Island, turned by our building at Bishop's Landing and headed toward the Cruise Ship Terminal.
We flew to Annapolis, MD to the Sailboat Show both to see boat things but more importantly to visit boat "people". While we have a goodly number of friends here, we were pining for the companionship of folks who are living what we lived last year - and we found it! It was the most wonderful warm feeling to spot familiar faces, to sit and talk and eat together - and yes - drink together too!
We stayed on board Sapphire, with Kathy and Mike as our gracious hosts, and got a feel for what life aboard a Bayfield 40 is like. Although there is only a 4-foot difference in length from our Bayfield 36, the interior has a totally different layout and it was fun to live in this new space for a couple of days. They greeted us with icy cold Kaliks that brought back memories of many such beers we shared in the Bahamas last year; we ate the best ribs we've ever tasted, and spent hours both reminiscing and looking forward.
As we walked with them to Davis Pub, we met up with Nancy and Bruce (Seabird) and soon Steve and Sandi (Princess) came along. The next day at the boat show, Mary and Blair (Strathspey) showed up, having driven down from Ottawa, and Jim and Jeannie (Estelle) arrived. We linked up over lunch with Mary Lou and Bob (Cygnus) and their friends Frances and Jim who will travel with them this year, and with Nancy and Jim (Solitaire) and soon spotted Carole and Richard (Kilissa) and Joe - whose dock we used in Solomon's Island last spring. As we browsed among the vendors' booths, we talked with Christine and Rob (Celebrian) and with Lynn and Peter (First Edition). (Do I sound like Miss...Beth from Romper Room when she used to look through her magic mirror???) These were all folks we met and shared experiences with as we traveled last year. As Nancy and I raced toward each other along the dock with ear to ear smiles and arms spread wide, and as countless others exchanged great hugs and exclamations of "I'm so glad to see you!" both Jim and I were immeasurably warmed by these benefits of our cruising experience.
Here is a look back over that experience:
We traveled just over 6600 nautical miles (about 7600 statute miles) in 14 months. We made landfall in 4 Canadian provinces and 14 American States and somewhere upwards of 30 Bahamian islands and cays. We safely navigated in and out of big cities - Montreal and Quebec and Halifax, Boston and Newport, Charleston, Norfolk, New York City! We nosed our way into tiny little coves and ventured up rivers both wide and narrow. We learned how to negotiate locks - big ones in the St. Lawrence and little ones in Cape Breton and in the Dismal Swamp. We sailed under fixed bridges and through pontoon bridges and lift bridges and swing bridges. We learned to wait in swirling currents for bridges to open and we learned to drift along leisurely because there wasn't any point in hurrying.
We learned about tides and currents - how to use them to our advantage and how to avoid getting stranded. We got towed, we went aground, we banged into docks, and we never got even close to being in serious trouble. We successfully navigated around sandbars and coral heads, and we traveled miles across banks where the depth was never more than 8 feet. We mostly anchored, moored some and rarely tied up to a dock. (I'll have to get the statistics from Jim later.) We never used two anchors and we dragged only twice - both times without hitting anyone! We blew along under 25 knot winds and happily handled 5 ft swells (and grumpily ploughed through them when they were on our nose). We motored more than we thought we would because of light winds or wind on the nose. We found safe harbours when storms were forecast; we crossed over the Gulf of Maine between Canada and the US and the Gulf Stream between the US and the Bahamas and back again. We sailed off shore along both Canadian and US coasts, and we traveled the length of the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW) all the way from Norfolk, Virginia to Lake Worth, Florida just to see what it was like. We sailed in pea soup fog and under glorious blue skies. Our shortest trip was about 45 minutes and our longest was 52 hours.
We exchanged boat cards with over 100 fellow cruisers and learned to appreciate both the folks we'd see again and again, and those we encountered only briefly. We learned much from experienced cruisers and enjoyed being able to help others, and we loved the story swapping and camaraderie of the folks we met along the way.
Now here we are on land, happy to answer specific questions from anyone who asks, living in a space bigger than our boat and smaller than our former house, incorporating things that bring us joy into each day, figuring out ways to handle whatever challenges arise, and remembering to pay attention to what we do and who we meet.
I'll post things occasionally this year to let you know how it goes, how Madcap fares through the winter, and what we do to get her ready for the next adventure. Keep in touch!