Getting Ready to head South Again
12 March 2017
We had a fabulous trip to New Zealand and you can start reading about it at www.madcapashore.blogspot.com. I discovered that I couldn't keep the postings up to date as we travelled so I have been doing it this last week - and have more to go!
So far, I have the North Island travels up, with Christmas, the wedding and the South Island adventures yet to come.
And I have to get cracking because we are flying to Florida soon to return to the sailing life. We will see what needs to be done on Madcap pre-launch, then get her in the water and start heading north.
While we have had a wonderful time ashore, it will feel very good to be back aboard.
This picture shows our mode of travel in New Zealand!
So Where is Madcap and Where are Beth and Jim?
28 October 2016 | Madcap in Ft Pierce, Florida and crew in Halifax, Nova Scotia
rainy, windy and 6 degrees C
Finally! The missing in action blog writer is back at her computer!
When I last wrote, we were returning home from Florida after getting Madcap all wrapped up for a stay at Riverside Marina in Ft Pierce. The plan was to spend the spring and summer in Nova Scotia enjoying our home and cottage, with frequent visits to Newfoundland where Mary Beth and Graham were expecting our first grandchild. We would go back to Florida to move Madcap farther north in the fall.
Well, we did the first part. We are delighted to tell you that Duncan Lorne Cook was born on April 26, 2016. Jim and I were both there for the occasion and what a thrill it was to welcome this new little baby into the world. Mary Beth and Graham brought their wee babe from Newfoundland to Nova Scotia when he was 2 months old to spend a month at the cottage on the Northumberland Strait - a favourite spot for the whole family. He had his first "walk" on the sandbars in my arms, his first nap in the hammock on his Grampy's chest, and got introduced to many family members and friends. Graham's parents came from Calgary for a visit, Uncle Alex came from Ottawa, and the local aunts and cousins and his great-grandfather cherished every bit of the time they had with him. Now, Mary Beth is back at work as a radiology resident at Eastern Health in St John's, and Graham is embracing his new job as full time caregiver to Duncan.
And so the summer passed. And then fall approached. And we were nowhere near ready to think about heading back to Madcap!
We took a road trip to Ontario to visit our son, Alex, and sailing friends. We drove down to Annapolis, Maryland to the sailboat show - meeting up with more sailing friends. Jim flew to Florida to spend a week near Madcap - checking on her and doing some odd jobs. I will write another post about these delightful trips, and just finish this one by updating our plans for the winter. (But you will be pleased to know that Madcap survived Hurricane Matthew's wind and rain in fine shape.)
Our son, Liam, who went to New Zealand for a year - in 2013 - has fallen in love with not only the country but with one of its daughters! He proposed to Alice McCubbin-Howell this summer; she said yes; and they have so thoughtfully decided to get married this December when we are there for our planned visit. We will fly down there via Vancouver (and a packed 3 days of visiting) at the end of November, spend Christmas with Alice's family, and celebrate the wedding on Dec 29th. During the rest of the time until our return at the end of January, we will be touring around in a camper van. I will be keeping a blog about our land travels as well - stay tuned for the link to that.
We will spend February back at home and head to Florida in March to pay attention to the preparation and launch of Madcap. Really truly - that has nothing to do with the fact that it will be very definitely winter in Nova Scotia!! Although the timing or our cruise north changes regularly, our intention is still firm: Madcap will return to the waters of Atlantic Canada where we will have fun exploring the coastlines of our native land for the next few years. And then? Who knows??
Sorry about the sideways pic - I will change it when I can figure out how.
All Wrapped Up
06 April 2016 | Riverside Marina, Ft. Pierce, Florida
Beth / -2C in Halifax, NS, probably warmer in Ft. Pierce!
The end of a sailing season is always bittersweet, and this one has extra layers of seasoning. We left a place we love and ended up over 1000 nautical miles northeast - on the way back to another place we love.
We didn’t plan it that way – at least not at first. Yes, each individual move was planned – there were no accidents - but the plans evolved from week to week. We changed directions according to our gut feelings, and we changed our timing according to the weather (with backup from our gut feelings).
In November, we were going south. In December, we were going a wee bit north, but only for a while. In January we were hurrying north. In February we were lingering. In March we were saying, “This is enough for now – let’s go home.” We never did say a proper good-bye to our dear friends in Rio Dulce. We didn’t anchor and play among the cays and reefs of Belize one last time on our way through. We relied on our own company far more than usual; we swam less and we sailed less. And in the end, we didn’t get as far north as we had thought we would.
We experienced our worst passage ever and survived without mishap. We experienced our slowest passage ever, and survived that one too. We forced ourselves to adjust to a “hurry up … and wait” pattern. We benefited from excellent mechanical and refrigeration experts in Rio Dulce, excellent medical care in Isla Mujeres, and excellent haul-out crew at a new-to-us boatyard in Florida. We didn’t encounter a single cranky or unhelpful customs and immigration official in Guatemala, Belize, Mexico or the USA. We spent waaaay more time on a dock than in any other year – and chalked it up to reasonable use of the cruising kitty. We visited only 4 new anchorages this year, had 2 great land trips, 5 overnight passages.
We didn’t run out of propane in the middle of a meal, or before the morning coffee was made. We didn’t lose any boat poles or fenders – just one jacket and a phone. We did lose weight! We dragged a few times despite the new Manson Supreme anchor, but we didn’t hit anyone or go aground. We still don’t like re-anchoring in the middle of the night. Our most spectacular day of sailing was near the end of the trip – from Key West to Marathon. Our worst was from San Pedro to Isla Mujeres.
We loved spending the prelaunch weeks with fellow cruising friends at Tortugal Marina in Rio Dulce, and the Christmas season with old friends in Placencia, Belize, and with even “older” friends at the end of the season in Vero Beach, and meeting new friends here and there in between. One of the greatest joys and blessings of our cruising life is the new friendships we have made – some that last for a season or two and some that will be forever – both so valuable and so welcome.
Besides the people, we have enjoyed the company of iguanas, dolphins, pelicans, ospreys, frigate birds, herons and gulls. We still get excited whenever we hear the breath of a nearby dolphin or see the flukes and shiny backs as they curve up above the water’s surface, and we rush to the foredeck to watch them play. We grab the binoculars for a closer look at ospreys and frigate birds; we laugh at the sploosh and splash when pelicans hit the water to capture their dinners.
We still marvel at the stunningly blue-green-aqua-turquoise-emerald-jade colours of the Caribbean waters, at white icing-sugar sand, and pebbles that rattle and roll in the tide, at frothing surf and mirror-still water. We still love the ability to live so close to nature – under the moon and stars at night, and the hot sun or cloudy skies of day, and even in downpours as long as they don’t last too long; we love seeing the exact times the wind shifts, and feeling the change in temperature and humidity; we notice how small we are, sitting in our cockpit not even a metre above the sea that is a thousand metres deep, and sailing (or motoring) with not another boat or sliver of land in sight.
And now Madcap is high out of the water at Riverside Marina in Ft. Pierce, secure on jack-stands with heavy blocks and tie-downs at the ready as hurricane season approaches. The sails are at Mack Sails in Stuart for inspection and minor repairs. We covered the top with garden netting to protect her from some of the sun’s rays, and stuffed the through hulls with stainless steel scrubbies to keep out the bugs. We washed down the interior surfaces and lockers with vinegar and water, removed all the food, and plugged in the dehumidifier, and climbed down the ladder one last time.
Jim and I are home in Halifax now, shivering as a final bit of winter deposits a dusting of snow across the lawns. We will go back to Florida in the fall to move Madcap farther north, and next spring we will bring her home to Canada. At least that’s the current plan!
We’re planning trips to Newfoundland, where Mary Beth and Graham are about to welcome our first grandchild into the world; we will enjoy visits with family and friends at the cottage. As we say goodbye to our last season of Caribbean sailing for now (but not forever) we look forward to new adventures sailing back up through the waters of the North Atlantic, and a trip to New Zealand next winter.
And that’s a wrap for this year. Check the gallery for some more pictures.