Cruising with Cadenza

"I would rather have thirty minutes of wonderful than a lifetime of nothing special." Steel Magnolias

08 January 2022 | Banderas Bay
18 December 2021 | Nuevo Vallarta
14 December 2021 | Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
15 April 2021 | Chincoteague Island
11 January 2021 | Edgartown, Massachussetts
04 August 2020 | Katama Bay
09 May 2020 | Martha's Vineyard
24 April 2020 | Edgartown, Massachussetts
14 April 2020 | Edgartown, Massachussetts
07 April 2020 | Martha's Vineyard
30 March 2020 | Edgartown, Massachussetts
06 February 2020
03 February 2020 | Chamela Bay, Mexico
28 December 2019 | Havana, Cuba
21 December 2019 | Havana, Cuba
01 April 2019
19 March 2019
28 February 2019 | Paradise Village Marina
21 February 2019 | Punta de Mita
31 January 2019 | Paradise Village Marina

No Ordinary Day

08 January 2022 | Banderas Bay
Terri Potts-Chattaway
We were out for a day sail last Wednesday with our friends, Eunice, Brian, Tracy and Brian's dog, Zoey. Zoey is a small dog with short legs. She has been on our boat many times and moves around easily. But for some reason, this day I was worried about her falling off. If she sees something like a bird or a dolphin, she gets excited and runs after it, barking. I was afraid she was going to lose her footing and fall overboard.

I was below in the galley gathering lunch when I heard her start barking and everyone screaming. I ran to the companionway and saw Jay looking back with his arm pointing out toward the back of the boat. He kept it up and everyone was still running about excitedly. When Jay didn't put his arm down, I thought Zoey had gone overboard. My heart dropped. That is the first lesson you learn about people falling off the boat. One person points and never takes their eyes off them.

But it wasn't Zoey. Nor was it any of the crew. (Thank God.) Three humpback whales had breached right next to Cadenza's starboard aft quarter. We have seen whales many times. Most times they are off in the distance. Sometimes we get a close-up view only to watch as them swim away. But this visit was different. They came to us and they followed us. And they brought with them dolphins.

We were motor-sailing because the wind was light. Jay turned off the engine and we drifted along, slowly, through the bay. They circled us. They went under mid-ship and came out on the other side. Their visit lasted over five minutes. I know this because Tracy was trying to capture them on video.

Wonderous. Spiritual. Delightful. What a gift.

Magic

18 December 2021 | Nuevo Vallarta
Terri Potts-Chattaway
Jay, our friends Larry and Yoshie, and I went out for Cadenza's maiden sail after a long absence last Wednesday. I struggled to find the right word to describe how incredible it was. Then I remembered our friends who have a boat they call Magic. It couldn't be a more appropriate name. And I thought, that's it. Magic. Our sail was nothing short of pure magic.

I have sailed on many boats and I know we all have our preferences, especially when it comes to our own boats. But, BUT! Cadenza is special. No. Really. She is. I have often referred to her as a thoroughbred and it is perfectly fitting. When she gets in her sweet spot, and her sails are trimmed perfectly, she just glides through the water. She naturally moves with the rhythm of the sea. And all I can think of is this is ... magic.

I had a talk with her before we left the dock. I told her how I had missed her and I knew how much she wanted to set sail. I thanked her for waiting patiently and told her we would sail many more miles together. I told her this because sailboats are meant to sail and it has been such a long, long time. I know. I know. It's an inanimate object. Well, maybe to you and to those who are practical. To me, she feels like an extension of my body, carrying me through the water with such ease. And we owe her so much as she has brought us safely through many, many miles. I am so grateful to have this moment in time; with Jay, and Larry and Yoshie, and with Cadenza, our faithful sailing vessel.

And have I mentioned we saw whales? And a turtle! And everything worked! With only ten knots of wind, we were sailing along at five knots. Magic. Pure magic.

...And We're Back!

14 December 2021 | Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
Terri Potts-Chattaway
We are sitting at an outdoor restaurant on the Malecon in Puerto Vallarta. I am eating a grilled vegetable quiche with greens and Jay is having Ricardo Zarendeado; red snapper, marinated and grilled whole. Hibiscus tea with ginger and lime is our drink of the day. Jay takes a bite and I can tell by his reaction, he is delighted by the taste. He shares a bite with me. The fish is tender and fresh. "What do you think the spices are?" I ask. It is covered in an unidentifiable red sauce. Jay is not sure. Whatever it is, it is quite good. It seems the recipe will remain a mystery as I am sure the chef would approve; enticing us to come back for more.

It is Sunday afternoon and the Malecon (what we Americans call the boardwalk on the eastern shore) is filled with pedestrians. There are many tourists, of course. There are two cruise ships in port. But many are Mexican nationals. Sunday is a work holiday for most and the Malecon with its beautiful beach is a popular spot.

People watching is a great lazy-day sport. All sorts of people stroll by. Three generations of a family pass, each finding something unique to amuse them, whether it be a souvenir, an ice cream cone, or watching the native performers from Vera Cruz as they unwind and swing upside down from a three-story pole, attached only by ropes on their feet. Others are mesmerized by the rhythm of the surf as it gently caresses the sand. A tattooed couple crosses our path as does a gay couple with their two dogs, one of which has only three legs.

But it is the two men who stand across from the restaurant that capture most of our attention. One is dressed as a Mexican revolutionary with a bandolier across his chest. He stands very still. At first you might think he is a statue. That is his play to bring you close but just as you begin studying him, he moves and you jump! He gets a great laugh out of this and invites you to join him for a photo. (For a few pesos, if you please.) We watch as he plays his game over and over. Today he is having so much fun, he comes out of character frequently, smiling and engaging with the tourists.

Next to him is a table and chairs with a chess set and another gentleman standing next to it. The entire set-up looks like a sand sculpture. Including the man. He, too, does not move, hoping to lure his victims only to surprise them with his movements. He is not so lucky. The Mexican revolutionary is much more popular and I'm afraid the sandman will go home with only a pittance of tips for his day of work. Hot work as we notice the sand and make-up melting off the faces of the two men.

"Would you like to buy some silver?" A man with a slight accent asks interrupting my thoughts. He is carrying an open briefcase filled with jewelry. It is attached to his neck by a strap to lighten his load. "No gracias." I answer as he moves along to the next table. He is just one of many such vendors that walk the Malecon in hopes of earning a living.

I turn my attention back to Jay. After all, it was I who invited him out for a date. We have been here two full weeks and he has been working non-stop putting Cadenza back together. After being gone almost two years, we were worried what we would find. It's a boat. And it sat through two hot and humid rainy seasons. Would the electronics work? How much mildew would we find? How many critters had made Cadenza their new home?

I am happy to report that all in all, she is in very good shape. Sure, there are always things that don't work. Inevitably that is the head. But the electronics are good. The engine is running. The dust and mildew had taken residence but no critters. Cadenza is now cleaned up and ready for a test drive/sail this week. Meanwhile, I needed a little attention from my husband. Thus, this date.

After lunch, we took a walk down the Malecon under the warm sun and light breeze. We visited an art show where I coveted a colorful oil painting depicting a fisherman on his panga with the city in the background. Unfortunately, I have no place to hang it on the boat.
We continued along the river where there are many local merchants selling their wares. I bought a beautiful handmade Christmas placemat to put on the center of our table.

It was a lovely day and good to be back in downtown Puerto Vallarta with its cobblestone streets and varied architecture. In Puerto Vallarta, we are much closer to the mountains and some of the houses and apartment buildings populate the sides of the hills. The lush, tropical foliage competes with the concrete and sometimes wins. Bright pink bougainvillea drapes over crumpling cement walls painted with graffiti. It is quite a mix of poverty and wealth, city landscape and rugged jungle. It is rich in cultural diversity and has a thriving LGBQT community. There is something for everyone and everyone is welcome. It is good to be back.

Saltwater Cowboys and Wild Ponies

15 April 2021 | Chincoteague Island
Terri Potts-Chattaway
We were on our way home from Charleston, South Carolina when Jay and I decided to take a detour to Chincoteague and Assateague islands. (To be clear, we were commuting by car, not by boat. Cadenza is tucked safely in her slip down in Mexico.) I had always heard about the wild ponies and wanted to see what we could find.

From what I understand, wild ponies inhabit several of the barrier islands along the east coast. We found them on Assateague Island which is home to the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge. Legend has it that in the 1700s a Spanish Galleon shipwrecked and the ponies swam to shore and have resided there ever since. Besides the ponies, there are hundreds of other species that find refuge here including over 300 different kinds of migratory birds. There are numerous trails and a pristine beach that lies for miles along the Atlantic Ocean.

We began our day hiking through the trails of Assateague Island. Though we were there for the ponies, it wasn't all about the ponies. As we walked through the forest, we came upon the endangered Delmarva fox squirrel. It crossed our path, nonchalantly, not one bit intimidated by our large stature compared to its tiny frame. It was a beautiful soft gray color. We heard Blue Jays and Carolina Chickadees as they sang in celebration of spring. White egrets stood quietly and elegantly surrounded by the salt water grasses. Two Turkey Vultures hovered above us, looking for their next meal, I suppose.

We were led to an overlook where we could see the ponies. Barely. They were way, way off in the distance. I felt a bit disappointed. But then I reminded myself they were wild and that means they wander at their free will. Luckily Jay brought binoculars. Obviously, if our eyes couldn't quite see them, pictures couldn't capture them.

We continued on and found a clearing. "Come over here, Jay." I told him. "Look!" They were still way far away but we could see them more clearly from this new angle. I looked behind me to Jay and saw a man standing to the side of us, using his binoculars. Upon leaving, we struck up a conversation with him. He was on foal watch as he worked for the refuge and said they thought there were at least five or six mares pregnant. He went on to share his knowledge.

In the section of the island where we were standing, there were two bands of ponies. Each band had about ten to twelve horses. There was one stallion for each band. He was very protective of his mares and could be quite aggressive. One of them had once backed this man up against a tree, showing him who was boss. In each band there was a lead mare. She was the one who directed the other ponies where to go. Sounds about right. Nature and its hierarchy always fascinate me.

The Chincoteague Fire Company owns the horses and has permission for them to graze on the island. Three times a year, the ponies are rounded up; twice for health checks and the third time for the annual pony swim and auction held every July. Because much of the area is salt water marsh, getting access to the ponies is done on horseback. This is done by the firemen who call themselves The Salt Water Cowboys.

Later in the afternoon, Jay and I booked a boat tour of the island where we got to see the ponies from yet another angle. I think we saw more than a dozen grazing. Their stomachs looked a little distended. We couldn't decide if they were the pregnant mares or it was just the result of adjusting to a salt-water diet.

It was a sunny day but windy and cool on the water. An eagle passed overhead. Ducks meandered along with the kayakers.

Our guide showed us where they round up the ponies and send them across from Assateague Island to Chincoteague Island. After the swim, they rest them before they parade them through town. The finale is an auction of the foals. This is the sole source of funding for the fire company. Some purchase the foals for private ownership. Others buy the foals and then donate them back to live forever on Assateague Island. This keeps the island from being overpopulated and enough land for the horses to feed. We weren't there for the swim. In fact, because of Covid it has been canceled again this year. But after hearing about it and seeing the photos, we would love to return to witness it. It must be amazing.

We left our boat tour with mixed feelings. We learned a lot about the area and about the ponies. We saw them from a distance. But we really wished we could see them close up. We had one more opportunity where we might get that chance. The gentleman who worked for the refuge told us about the carnival grounds on Chincoteague Island. "This is where they keep the foals that were donated back." He said. "They keep them there for their first year of life to make sure they are healthy and survive. Then they release them into the wild. They are going to release them tomorrow." He then went on to say if we went to the carnival grounds we could probably see them up close. We did just that.

There were about a half dozen grazing behind a fence. Some were brown with white markings and some were white with brown markings. I was grateful for a chance to see them up close but I was even more thankful to know they would be free the following day. Free to join a band and bond with other ponies. Free to graze and live a life of peace. What a wonderful gift.

A Bend in the Road

11 January 2021 | Edgartown, Massachussetts
Terri Potts-Chattaway
This blog post isn't about cruising. It's not even about sailing. But as all cruisers are acutely aware, life events lead to detours at any given moment in time.

To begin with, there is this thing called Covid. I know there are many people who are out there cruising, racing, and enjoying dinner with friends. All seemingly fine. (Of which I am very glad.) Then I read about the numbers of people who are contracting Covid. I read about overloaded hospitals and bodies filling up morgues. I am so confused.

Jay and I continue to be cautious. We are staying close to home and following the suggested guidelines. (Although I am threatening to break free this spring. We shall see.) We miss the warmth of the Mexican sun. We miss our sailing community. And, of course, we miss Cadenza. Yet, "when one door closes, another one opens."

Jay's son got a fantastic opportunity, working for a government contract company in the DC area. Relocating his family of six from California to Virginia is no small feat. Since he didn't know the area and is required to partake in three months of intense training, we offered our house for our daughter-in-law and four grandsons during the transition. This will give Scott time to scout the area before committing to a lease. What that boils down to is some very special quality family time that is rare these days. So, when we were vacillating on whether or not to venture south this year, it became clear staying at home in Martha's Vineyard was the better decision.

Christmas is always better spent with children and this year was no exception. Their excitement and joy filled our house with smiles and laughter. It has long been quiet. Maybe too quiet.

The boys, ages eight, two eleven-year-old twins and one teenager at fourteen, are all formally enrolled in our local schools - attending remotely. Afternoon and evenings are spent playing games and taking long walks. Saturday we went on a four-mile hike in 32-degree weather. It was cold. Especially when we got to the cliff overlooking Vineyard Sound. The sky was covered with a thick cloud bank except for a slight window of blue sky and sun off in the horizon. We could hear the coastal roar of the surf as it made its way to the shore. The wind was fresh and cold, leading us to quickly turn around and head back. Still, the scene was beautiful, cast in a stark and gray light.

Friday night was a meatloaf smack-down. Team Terri & Jason won against Team Gina & William. No still photography but the boys created a documentary video of our home cooking - such as it was. All gathered in the kitchen, helping and stealing ideas. It was a fun evening with the promise to do more cooking smack-downs. Mac and Cheese next? Who knows, we just may come up with our own cooking show to pitch to the Cooking Channel.

And Sunday - music lessons given by Papa J on trumpet and piano.

Does it get a little crazy and noisy with four energetic boys? Of course, and so what. Honestly, these four are so helpful and polite. It is refreshing.

Oh! And did I mention a dog came with the family? Harley is a King Charles Cavalier. She is the sweetest dog. And now we get our dog fix! We just love her.

All things considered; we are good. We miss the rest of our family and are looking forward to the day we feel we can travel safely. Meanwhile, we are enjoying getting to know our grandchildren.

The Great Getaway

04 August 2020 | Katama Bay
Terri Potts-Chattaway
Photo by Dana Gaines

It has been over four months since "shelter in place" was put into effect and although it is no longer officially an edict, Jay and I still find ourselves adhering to the restrictions; wear a mask, wash your hands, stay away from large gatherings. Simply put; we're bored. Sometimes I feel as if I am in the movie "Groundhog Day" where every day is the same.

Disclaimer: I have a roof over my head and food on my table. I live on a beautiful island. I am healthy. Our families are healthy. I have no real right to complain. Nevertheless, here we are.

Some days, I walk around the house in circles. "I have to do something!" I tell Jay. "What?" He asks. "I don't know, anything. Something different."

We don't do much because there are way too many people on the island. Staying away from crowds is difficult. Even walking on the bicycle path is like the 405. (A major highway in California that is always stop and go traffic.)
When we walk, we look for sparsely populated areas like the farm. We bike. I go to the grocery store every two weeks - at 6:00 am. Whippee! And now that it is so hot and humid, wearing the mask is, frankly, annoying. But wear it we do.

Our great getaway is the boat. Skipjack is our lifeline to a world where we were once free to move about as we please. With no need for a mask, I can breathe in deeply. Nothing better than fresh air off the sea. I can feel the wind on my face. In the words of Christopher Cross...

"Well it's not far down to paradise, at least not for me. If the wind is right, you can sail away and find tranquility. Oh, the canvas can do miracles, just you wait and see, believe me..."

Stay safe and healthy. We miss you all.
Vessel Name: Cadenza
Vessel Make/Model: Hardin 45' Ketch
Hailing Port: Malibu, California
Crew: Jay Chattaway, Terri Potts-Chattaway
About: Jay has owned Cadenza for over 20 years. He originally bought her in La Paz, Mexico (known as Mercury One and before that as Mar y Vent) and brought her up to the Channel Islands. Terri fell in love with sailing and Cadenza over ten years ago and she has been a labor of love ever since.
Extra:
The Plan: We are to leave Channel Islands Harbor the beginning of September, 2013 and head to San Diego for a few months of prep and family time. Next, we leave for La Paz (we love it there) the beginning of November. We will winter out of La Paz, exploring the Sea of Cortez. This is the first [...]
Cadenza's Photos - Autumn in Martha's Vineyard
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Sunset over Sangekontacket Pond
Sunset over Sangekontacket Pond
Added 3 October 2013