22/10/2008/2:30 pm, 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!
18/09/2008/9:17 am, Ottawa, Ontario
A quick post-script: we enjoyed a fabulous, conversation filled lunch with former neighbours, Dorothy and George from Ottawa, and their relatives Steve and Barb from Cherry Hill. We spent a day with my dad in Amherst, met Mary Beth for breakfast in Moncton, and then drove to Ottawa to see Alex and Liam. We are currently sorting through our storage unit and getting things in order to move a load to Halifax next week. Then we'll spend a couple of days at the Lusby family cottage in Nova Scotia, finish off the boat-winterizing, and move into our apartment on October 1.
12/09/2008/9:15 am, South Shore Marine, Chester, NS
This posting is long overdue. I'm not sure whether I really was so busy, I couldn't find time to write it, or whether I just didn't want to write an end of journey posting.
At any rate, I'll give a brief update so you'll know we aren't floating around any more.
We did get our one last anchorage - around the corner from Martin's Point, wonderfully protected from the North wind that blew through on Wednesday. We motored leisurely over to Stevens Cove on Thursday morning under clear skies and wonderfully fresh, crisp air. These are fabulous days to sail if you are able to go out for a few hours each day. The crispness of the air, the wide open bays and empty coves beckon enticingly, and all it takes is good warm clothes to be comfortable.
Alas - we had endings to think about. By 9 o'clock, we had attached ourselves to a mooring ball at South Shore Marine and prepared to spend Thursday getting ready for dismasting and haulout on Friday. It was not to happen quite that way. Cam came roaring out in the Marina launch and said, "Come on into the dock. We'll take your mast off this afternoon!"
We pulled up against the dock by the masting crane, took down sails, unhooked electrical wires at the base of the mast, grabbed a quick sandwich and at 12:30 were boarded by a hoard of men who went about detaching our radar, wind generator, bimini, dodger. Once those were safely out of the way, they detached the stays and shrouds, tied a loop around the mast, attached it to the crane and started lifting. Madcap has a keel-stepped mast (meaning it goes right through the deck to the bottom of the boat) and like any sailboat, a mass of stays (fore and aft) and shrouds (port and starboard) that hold the mast steady as it towers above the deck. While Jim and I watched, the crew of 5 held everything in place and had that mast off the boat, on the dock and all trussed up in no time at all.
Then it was our turn to winterize the water systems, stow things away to be ready for haul-out on Friday. Then came showers and clean up, and a very fine dinner at Sea Fire, the restaurant on the Marina property.
Saturday dawned bright, cool and calm, and by 8am the crew had us positioned for haul out. I was just getting my camera out of the locker when I felt us moving, popped my head up and saw that we were indeed being moved into position by four men with lines! Jim and I stood waiting on the dock while the straps were fastened into place under the keel and the lift began.
The last time we had the bottom cleaned was in Marsh Harbour in February. We had scrubbed the waterline on several occasions to rid it of the garden of algae that tended to grow there, but we hadn't had a look at the prop or the bottom since we got into cold and murky water. I was particularly anxious to see how our bottom paint had held up since I had spent many hours applying it a year and a half ago.
We each breathed a sigh of relief to see that although, as we expected, there were barnacles on bottom of the keel, the thru hulls and the base of the prop, and the zinc anode was gone, it all looked pretty darn good. The last (black) coat of Micron anti-fouling paint had rubbed off some along the water line, allowing the red coat and traces of the white barrier paint to show through, but the rest of it was just as solid as the day I applied it. Yahoo!!
I'll do a technical posting later on with details on prep for the trip and how it all worked out. Suffice it to say that despite normal weathering and wear and tear of bottom paint, gelcoat, brightwork (teak) and stainless, Madcap came through in excellent shape.
We cannot say enough about the professionalism of Steve Moody and his crew at South Shore Marine. They lifted the boat, thoroughly pressure washed the bottom, scraped off the worst of the barnacles and trucked Madcap up the hill to her winter resting place. Because our steel cradle is still in Ontario, she is on jack stands this year - nice sturdy ones, chained together. We'll have her winter cover moved down and that will go on to protect her from the snow this winter.