Madcap Sailing

24 March 2018 | boat in Gold River, NS and crew in Halifax
22 May 2017 | Whittaker Creek, Oriental, NC
15 May 2017 | Boat in Oriental, crew in New Orleans and Nova Scotia
26 April 2017 | Oriental, NC
26 April 2017 | Oriental, NC
20 April 2017 | Ocean Isle Marina, Ocean Beach, NC at Mile 335.6
17 April 2017 | Dewees Creek, near Charleston, NC
14 April 2017 | St Simons Island
12 April 2017 | Fernandina Beach, FL
11 April 2017 | St Augustine, FL
07 April 2017 | Vero Beach, Florida
03 April 2017 | Ft Pierce, FL
30 March 2017 | Ft Pierce, Florida
28 October 2016 | Madcap in Ft Pierce, Florida and crew in Halifax, Nova Scotia
06 April 2016 | Riverside Marina, Ft. Pierce, Florida
23 March 2016 | Riverside Marina, Ft. Pierce, Florida
20 March 2016 | Vero Beach, Florida

Almost a Year Later... back in Canada

24 March 2018 | boat in Gold River, NS and crew in Halifax
Beth / still in fleecy jacket and gloves
It has been so long since I updated this blog that I almost forget how! And there are certainly many events that just haven't made their way into my usual day to day and week to week journal. Here is an update though, just so you know we are still sailors!

We moved Madcap over to Sailcraft Boat yard in Oriental NC as planned last May, and with help from the crew there, we spent several depressing days tearing her all apart: sails off, mast out and rigging inspected and wrapped for travel, radar and wind generator disconnected and poles down, dodger and bimini canvas off and frames taken apart. We distributed galley provisions among friends, and packed everything as best we could for truck travel. In hindsight, I laugh at myself for being so careful to secure locker doors and bookshelves; Madcap had far rougher journeys on the water than any road trip could possibly be.

In true Madcap style, we managed to balance all of that with fine meet-ups with other boaters in the yard - a delicious potluck with the regulars, a couple of evenings at the Silos for pizza and music, a day's outing to New Bern with Mike and Kathy.

And then we headed for home, leaving Madcap at the yard, waiting to be picked by VMG Marine ( A couple of weeks later, we drove from Halifax to Gold River Marina on the South Shore of Nova Scotia (, to see the big red truck backed down by the waters edge and a crane ready to lift the boat off the truck and onto jackstands. Despite my fearful nighttime images of Madcap swinging wildly from the crane, there was none of that as she was gently lifted from the truck and settled onto jackstands. Then the work of putting her back together started, and that really did seem like work. It took us longer than we had planned, and I began to wonder if we had saved ourselves any time at all. Perhaps not. Perhaps we simply traded boat travel for boatyard work, but at least we could combine it with family time, garden time, spring activities in Halifax, rather than being focussed on wind and weather every day in an effort to get north as quickly as possible. At any rate, we were very glad when launch day came and we could be boaters again!

Launching at Gold River was a new experience for us - they use a marine railway rather than a travel lift so Madcap travelled via truck across the yard to the slip and into the sling. With the framework well secured to a heavy chain, the motor started and she crept inch by inch down the slope into the water.

We rented a mooring ball in the town of Mahone Bay for the summer (the name, Mahone Bay, applies to both a big gorgeous bay with picturesque islands and channels, and a small town with cafes and shops) and enjoyed some lovely nights aboard and daysails around the Bay, We didn't get as much summer sailing in as we thought we would - mostly due to other commitments - trips to Newfoundland, cottage time on the Northumberland Strait - but it feels good to have Madcap back in Nova Scotia waters. We know we made the right decision regarding bringing her north.

In September, we hosted family and friends from all across Canada, New Zealand and the UK for a local celebration of Liam and Alice's marriage. (the first ceremony took place in New Zealand in Dec '16).

Our winter was certainly a little different this year - we enjoyed lots of family time including welcoming our wee Duncan (almost 2 now) along with Mary Beth and Graham for Christmas in Halifax, and a fairly mild (if long and drawn out) winter. A 3 week trip to Spain in February/March gave us a lovely break and now if the recent series of nor'easters ever ends, and the days get longer and the temperature warms, we are looking forward to some new spring adventures. We have some varnishing and painting to do on Madcap once we get the winter cover off, and we plan to move aboard for 2 weeks this summer to make sure we get in some quality cruising time.

It was a wonderful grand 10 years of cruising southern waters, and now we plan to spend more years cruising around our beautiful Maritime waters. Stay tuned for more stories!

A Madcap Decision

22 May 2017 | Whittaker Creek, Oriental, NC
Beth / dripping in hot humid sunshine
We have been back aboard Madcap for a week now and are still loving the feeling of being in our cosy little space on the water, and able to meet up with friends old and new.

The magic of Oriental continued the very next day after we got back. We went down to "The Bean" for coffee, and as we were walking back, a car passed. We were deep in thinking/conversation mode and didn't pay too much attention as it passed. But it turned around and came back toward us, and slowed, and I thought, "Oh dear, they are going to ask directions and I won't be able to help them." Instead, the guy in the front seat said, "Elizabeth?" And I thought "Dave? But it can't be! They are in Nashville!" But it was! Dave and Alex (Banyan) were touring around Oriental with their friends Finola and Harry (Escape Velocity) who have a home here. Banyan is from Dartmouth - just across the harbour from Halifax, and while we have kept in touch, we haven't seen them for several years as they sailed the eastern Caribbean and we sailed in western Caribbean waters. To top off the fun, Gail and Peter (Jabiru) came flying along on their bikes and stopped to chat. And I asked Finola if they knew Mike and Kathy, our good friends who live here, and she said "Of course!" What a wonderful small world this is.

We joined Mike and Kathy at Open Mic night at the Silos again, and found more magic. Gail had mentioned that Lyn (Kaiulani) who was at the Sailcraft yard near them, played the flute and would be at the Silos that night. We had chatted on the radio with S/V Kaiulani back in Mosquito Lagoon, and sure enough, when I went over to the flute player's table that night and said, " I'm Beth from Madcap. Are you on Kaiulani?" the answer was, "Yes!" It was a treat to chat with Lyn and Rob in person, and to meet their friends Kitty and Scott (Tamure) also at Sailcraft Boatyard. These experiences never fail to delight both Jim and me. We have met so many wonderful friends as we cruise - those we meet and enjoy for a short time, and those who remain part of our lives for many years. They are all special and valued.

The music was good, the pizza delicious, the company sparkling, and we walked home feeling content and fortunate.

And the Madcap decision of the title?

Well, we have decided to load Madcap on a truck and take her home to Nova Scotia that way. The plan was to sail all the way, but we hoped to be back in Nova Scotia by early June (Jim's plan) or mid June (my prediction). We could see that it would be possible but tricky, since we didn't want to just go offshore and make a beeline north. We would be working with weather considerations and a schedule, and we know that sailing to a schedule is fraught with difficulty. It became increasingly clear to us while we were home in NS that we just want to have Madcap back in Nova Scotia waters where we can enjoy sailing her.

We sailed all the way down from Ontario to the Bahamas and back to Halifax in 2007/2008 and loved all the stops and the passages, exploring new territory every day. We ended up shipping her from Halifax to Solomon's Island in the Chesapeake Bay in the fall of 2009 because we couldn't get away before cool weather set in and we had the same feeling - we wanted the boat to be where we could have fun sailing her. We went back to the Bahamas then, and later went on to Cuba and to Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, Honduras and had a glorious few years.

But we were feeling different about this trek north and once again we began to wonder about a shortcut from one place to another. Maybe having done it once it is easier to do it again? I don't know. But we were each mulling the idea around in our minds - balancing time, the value of the Canadian dollar here in the US, the "enjoyment factor" vs pressure, and we would check in each day, "Where are you now? 50/50? 30/70? 80/20? And we both eventually ended up at 90/10 - enough to say, "Let's do it."

I know there are things we will miss about skipping the rest of the coastline, places we had looked forward to revisiting, people we had looked forward to seeing along the way. But as we listen to Chris Parker talk weather on the SSB radio in the mornings and look at the calendar, there is a distinct feeling of relief. Where once it was part of the challenge and excitement, it doesn't feel quite the same now. Are we just feeling 10 years older? Maybe. Do we just want instant gratification? Maybe. Whatever it is, this decision puts us back in Nova Scotia in time for a whole summer of sailing, where we will certainly be gauging weather and routes and destinations, but we won't have the pressure of putting in the miles to get home. We can go sailing in our own gorgeous waters and also have time to enjoy the garden and our family and the festivities of summer in Halifax. We have a mooring ball rented in Mahone Bay and we look forward to exploring Canadian waters again, 10 years after we left on our first Madcap voyage.

So - instead of leaving our slip and heading north again, we have spent the last week "undressing the old girl" as our boat neighbour says. We will move over to Sailcraft Marina tomorrow morning to get hauled out; Jim and I will leave at the end of the week, and a truck will arrive next week to load and deliver our Madcap back to Northern waters for the next chapter of our cruising life.

I wonder what Madcap discoveries are in store for us now?

On the Road to NOLA and Through the Skies to NS

15 May 2017 | Boat in Oriental, crew in New Orleans and Nova Scotia
Beth / Warm in the south/cool in the north
While Madcap sat in her slip at Whittaker Creek Yacht Harbour, we hit the road.

Our 2 ½ day trip cross country took us to Greenville SC where we loved walking through the vibrant city, along paths and gardens by the falls, admiring sculpture and architecture that beautifully complement Mother Nature's beauty.

We stopped in Montgomery, Alabama for a reminder of a much less beautiful picture. Our visit to the Dexter Parsonage was so moving. It was where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his family lived when he was the minister there - where he sat in that very kitchen and despite death threats and venomous phone calls, felt called to continue the battle against oppression and segregation - where our guide, Mrs. Foley, met with Mrs. King and other young women as part of the "Young Matrons' Club" - and where the strong words of Dr. Cherry, another guide, followed us out the door, "Remember! Education and Poverty are the keys!

And then we rolled into New Orleans - NOLA - the Big Easy - where people greet each other on the streets and call out, "How're y'all doing today?" and where there is music on every corner and the food is delicious and the French Quarter is beautiful and walkable, and Bourbon Street is ... well ... it's Bourbon Street!

Our daughter, Mary Beth, was attending a radiology research conference, and when she said back last fall that her husband, Graham, and 1-year-old Duncan were going too, I quickly invited us along as well. (Fortunately, they both said "Great!" Bless their hearts.)

What a city! The two-bedroom condo we rented was just a block away from Canal Street, easily walkable to the French Quarter, the riverfront and even to the Garden District. We parked the car after we picked up the family from the airport and didn't use it again till we took them back for their flight home.

We followed the music from street corner to park to bars - during both days and nights. Along with Graham and Duncan, we took a historical walking tour through the French Quarter with its French and Spanish architecture, and Jim and I set off on a Buzz Nola cycling tour till we got just too soaked to continue. Mary Beth and I took Kevin Belton's cooking class and learned from a local how to make gumbo and jambalaya. We ate our share of pralines (and learned that they are "praw-lines" here) and beignets and drank café au lait (and bourbon and sazaracs). Jim and I slurped down wonderfully sweet/salty oysters one night and went back the very next night with the other three - and ordered platter after platter of them, and were rewarded not only with wonderful oysters and rosemary fries, but also the warm and gentle server, Rashad, who said, "I really like looking after you. Y'all come back again soon."

We visited the insectarium and butterfly garden where Duncan was enthralled with the fluttery beauties. We rode the Charles St trolley, and the other three spent a delightful morning at the aquarium (while we got soaked on our bicycles!) And oh the music! We went twice to Fritzel's European Jazz Bar to hear good old style New Orleans Jazz - and marvel at Richard Scott's flying fingers on the piano - and to the Spotted Cat and Bagalousa's on Frenchman Street, and Jackson Square - and of course we took in the sights and sounds of Bourbon Street.

Along with all the fun of the Big Easy, we loved having time to enjoy Duncan and his parents. He is cruising around the furniture now, full of smiles and curiosity, eager to explore and willing to snuggle up for a short cuddle too. It was good to hear about hospital and family life from Mary Beth and Graham, and to take turns babysitting. Grampy didn't even get fired from the job when he remarked, "Duncan is such a sound sleeper now - I had to poke him once or twice to see if he was still OK!"

And then it was time to go our separate ways. I flew to Halifax NS, the young folks flew to St John's NL, and Jim drove the rental car back to New Bern, NC before joining me up north. It is a good time to be home (despite the continuing cold damp weather)- the forsythia and daffodils are in full bloom, the tulips are just starting. We enjoyed visits with family and friends, gathered up many bags of leaves and twigs from the garden, did a lot of planning for the summer, and are now ready to head back to Madcap tomorrow. I'll fill you in on what happens next as soon as we get our plans finalized.

The adventure continues!
Vessel Name: Madcap
Vessel Make/Model: Bayfield 36
Hailing Port: Halifax, Nova Scotia
Crew: James D Bissell (Jim) and Elizabeth Lusby (Beth)
About: Beth and Jim have spent the last several winters sailing southern waters on s/v Madcap. They love Halifax in the summer, but plan to spend the winters exploring warmer places - currently the Guatemala, Belize, Honduras area.
The Madcap crew left Ottawa in 2007 to go sailing in the Bahamas. After a highly successful year, they returned to Canada, settled in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and in the fall of 2009 they left to do it again! Journey #3 (2010/11) took them back to the Bahamas and then on to Cuba for several weeks [...]
Madcap's Photos - Mad Cap Sailing (Main)
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our Oct/Nov 2013 trip to New Zealand
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Guatemala pics starting Nov 22, 2012
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trip to Zion National Park and Bryce Canyon National Park (via Las Vegas)
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