15 April 2019 | Tortola, BVI
Greg Koski | 82 degrees, winds 15 from the east
Back in January, just after our last post, Matey Anne and I, along with our friend professional delivery skipper, Andrew Burton, waited patiently I. Beaufort, NC for the end of what seemed like an endless progression of late season storms to pass over the waters south of Cape Hatteras. After a terrific small town New Year's Eve celebration at the town dock, we set off on the long offshore passage to the British Virgin Islands. Whatever people say, the North Atlantic is never really the best place to wander in January, but the weather gods were graceful and we made a terrific 9-day run in mostly following seas, some 10-14 feet, with a good breeze on the quarter. We crossed the Gulf Stream the first day out without much fanfare, but we knew we were in it when we were in it! We got out to 25N65W and turned south with the iron genoa until the easterly trades picked us up and carried us abeam down to Jost Van Dyke, where we anchored in Great Harbor, Q-flag on the spreader arm, about 0300 on January 14. Clearing customs later that morning, we rested for a day and enjoyed Foxy's before heading across the north side of Tortola and around Beef Island to Fat Hog's Bay where we set up our new cruising base at Penn's Landing Marina.
Penn's has been home for us and Veneeni for three months now. We have settled in with many new friends, both at the marina and in the surrounding community where we have gotten to know the local shop keepers and restaurants. From here we have been able to provision and get most of the boat supplies we have needed as we do brightwork, sew sail covers, replace pumps...the usual stuff. As they say in the Islands, "No problem!"
We awaken to each day in a very different world than we knew, different in many many ways....sure, High of 82, Low of 78, Winds 15 out of the east and a chance of an afternoon or evening tropical shower...again, no problem. We have had to learn how to find internet and avoid daily cell phone charges, and figure out how to get mail and packages...Amazon Prime and FedEx don't work overnight down here! All that seems somewhat trivial however as we talk to our new friends from the neighborhoods around the Marina. Our little inconveniences pale in the light of their experiences and efforts to recover from the hurricanes that devastated these beautiful Islands not so long ago.
Yes, we sail off each week to another island--Cooper, Norman, Virgin Gorda, Guana--we swim, we eat, we drink and meet new people. Then we come back and nothing has really changed. There seems to be a lot of inertia standing in the way, a bit like a stunned boxer trying to shake off a hard blow to the head, upright and moving, but not quite recovered. But they keep on working.
We originally made a lot of jokes and references to "island time". We learned that officially, "let's get together at 10:00 island time" means around 10:00, but not before. We have learned to live on island time--learning to be more patient, less on a hurry, less pressured--a welcome change after nearly 50 years in academia and medicine. Takes some getting used to but, actually, but we don't expect many of our friends to have much sympathy for our "hardship"! No problem....
But do have some sympathy and respect for what our neighbors here in East End, Tortola and the rest of these beautiful islands across the Carribean have gone through...they have more than earned that!
The winter has passed into spring here in Tortola as it is also happening in the lovely NE we departed from only a few months ago...here the changes are less noticable...an extra degree or two, a few more clouds and fewer snow birds in their chartered motorcats (makes no difference whether or not they have a mast and sails!). Veneeni heads south to Greneda in June at the behest of her insurers, let she end up to like the man thousands of boats lost in Irma. Life will be different there--not sure just how much or why, but we look forward to the journey--hey, mon....no problem. We be limin'.
Capt. Greg and Matey Anne
Aboard Veneeni at Penn's Landing
Fat Hog's Bay, Tortola, BVI
Weather Windows, Destinations and Living Life as You Choose
01 January 2019 | Taylor Creek, Beaufort, NC
Capt. Greg and Matey Anne
When I titled our last entry "A Pause in the Action", little did I think that it would be so long between that post and this one! Much has happened over the past several weeks...completed the work on Veneeni's new rig and bottom work, a surprisingly beautiful trip from Annapolis down the Chesapeake to Norfolk and a first experience down "The Ditch", better know as the Intra-Coastal Waterway, and an entire holiday season in Beaufort, NC, including a lovely Christmas, a host of new friends, and the local New Year's Eve celebration when Captain Shack walks the plank at the Beaufort Town Dock, leaping in, carrying all the previous year' troubles, mistakes and bad feelings, drowning them and letting them be carried away in the swift current of Taylor Creek so that the New Year can begin renewed! What fun!
Veneeni has been here in Beaufort since early December. We didn't expect to be here so long, but first weather, then the holidays fostered delays of our departure to Tortola...everyone in town knows we are going to Tortola, one of these days! And as of this evening, it looks like that departure will be this Saturday. But over these past few weeks in Beaufort, we have come to realize better than ever that when we leave is no one's choice but ours. Yes, we are largely governed by Mother Nature, who answers to a higher authority, but we will leave when we are ready, because we chose to leave then. This is the first time in our lives that we have been in this position, looking through a weather window and deciding what we want to do.
We are about to set off on a 1600-mile ocean passage, which may take 10 days, or more, but the simple fact is that we will get to Tortola, or somewhere we choose to go, when we get there. The trip is not about the destination, it is about the journey itself. Sure, this sounds rather trite, I suppose, but as we think about our lives up until now, they were all about the destination, not the journey.
I realize now that there are many windows through which one can look out on life--my friend, Andy Burton, who is making the passage with us, was complaining about the traffic and gawking sightseers in his home city of Newport, RI when he was reminded by his lovely wife Tami that he gets to see the beauties of Newport every day! How unfair it would be to deprive the visitors who may have never seen the views, the boats, the shops, the mansions before, of this experience? She was clearly looking at life through a different window, and is was not about the destination.
A couple of weeks ago, before we decided to stay here in Beaufort and enjoy the holidays, Matey Anne and I found ourselves feeling restless and wondering when we were ever going to get out of this place and get to Tortola!!?? Until somewhere along the line, we realized that we were actually having a great time right where we were, with cruising friends like Scot and Deb on Expedition, and Brian and Rachel on Equus, Tami and
Andy on Masquerade....and Jeb and the guys in the dock office, and the sea birds and the fishermen, the wild horses on Shackleford Bank. It has been great here, and now the winds of change are blowing and we will be heading out Saturday morning, Mother Nature and God willing, if we choose to....
Happy New Year to all our friends and loved ones...
Greg and Anne
aboard Veneeni in Beaufort, NC.
On our way....a pause in the action! Or the turmoil....
21 October 2018 | Back Creek, Annapolis, Maryland
We have all experienced that moment where we have pushed to the limits of mental, emotional and physical tolerance and finally get a break--a chance to let down, regroup, recover. Well, here we are!
After weeks of getting lives and things in order through what seemed a rather disorderly process, we cast off the lines from the Constitution Marina in Charlestown, MA on Friday, October 12 at 1400hrs, having waited for Hurricane Michael to head out to sea. Hard to see a hurricane as a blessing, but it gave us two extra days to fill dumpsters and stuff bags aboard. We didn't really have time to know what was actually in the bags, but we felt like we weren't just leaving everything behind. In fact, Roy Greenwald, our fearless crew for this passage wondered whether we had left anything behind!
Anyway, we had a lovely sail across Cape Cod Bay before motoring through the Canal and out the channel into Buzzard's Bay where we set sail for Cape May. The Sunday sunrise found us in gray and blustery conditions off Cape May Harbor. When we tried to charge our batteries, the engine seemed as tired as we were and just wasn't interested. Needing the engine for the upcoming trip through the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal, we decide to put into the Canyon Club Marina in Cape May Harbor for troubleshooting and repairs if needed. Running the inlet in 30 knots and 4 foot seas under sail made no sense, so the assistance of Towboats US was much appreciated. Tim from Down Jersey Marine taught us some things about Raycor filters that most of us have probably never heard of, and we set off Monday afternoon for the long trip up the Delaware Bay ship channel against the wind and current.
The trip through the C&D Canal was as beautiful as I remembered from my prior excursions--a lovely meander on glassy water with golden reflections everywhere. Leaving the Canal, the choppy tan waters of the Elk River and it's tree-lined shores were a welcome change, especially with the wind now directly on the nose and building. The breeze hit gale force by the time we got to the Bay Bridge, sustained 38 knots until we cruised into Back Creek and things settle down. G23? Two thousand slips, 5 marinas....where in the heck was G23?
It felt good to find the slip, and with some friendly assistance from Pete and Kathy aboard the Puffin, a Nordic Tug 42 in G24, we got in, secured Veneeni to the pilings and enjoyed a hearty round of hugs and high-fives.
And suddenly, there we were ...in Annapolis. No longer scrambling to get ready to go, no longer worrying about weather and talking about what it would be like. We we're there. After three years of preparation and perseverance, we we're there. In fact, here we are. There is a old saying among sailors and navigators--"wherever you go, there you are!"
Yep, good trip, good friends, good karma!
Here we are...until we aren't. Stay tuned!
28 September 2018 | Tokyo, Japan
Greetings from Tokyo! Yes, Tokyo...I know, it's a bit hard to be getting ready to sail from half a world away! But while I am here in Japan at the International Conference on Pharmaceutical Medicine, Matey Anne is back in Sudbury, Massachusetts, sorting through, packing up and getting rid of the no longer needed items in attics and closets and basements, a 25 year collection of a family with four kids--by herself--a good demonstration of why she will be such a great partner for this voyage!
Apart from my presentations here in Japan, I have been sorting out the details of insurance for offshore passages in international waters, ordering and making arrangements for all sorts of things--installation of new standing rigging, a new Hydrovane self-steering unit, bottom work, marinas and moorings in the USVI, Veneeni's first port of call beyond the waters of East Coastal US. So far, the arrangements are progressing well, and we will leave the Chesapeake with a sound, well-prepared vessel.
One of the lessons we have learned so far, even before we depart from Boston (yes, still planned for October 10!), is that it is a lot harder to cast- off the lines that tie one to the things we accumulate in our lives ashore than it is to leave the dock! We acquire so many things over the years, saving many because "one day the kids will want these", or "that was my grandmother's favorite sweater".
Our propensity to hang onto things we don't really need and will likely never use again probably reflects our deep-seated fears of not knowing, of not having control. And making the decision to let them go in favor of accepting a new life with so many unknowns, including risks and pleasures, is contrary to the ways we have lived for so long. Yes, this is hard, and for good reason!
And yet I am struck by the reaction that virtually everyone has when we tell them of our plans to cast-off those lines and set sail, yes, as Mark Twain said. People get excited, their eyes open wide and smiles cross their faces--"wow---really?!" There seems to be a longing in many of them to be able to let go too. So many friends are supportive and happy for us! And it feels pretty good, gotta say.
Getting ready is less about packing up and getting rid of all the stuff we own than it is about saving the things that are really important--memories of Eagle Scout ceremonies and first days at art school, and kids reactions when Santa Claus surprised them with a trip to Disney World--of loons calling on the lake on a late summer night in Maine, or the view from atop Mt.Washington after a climb (not a drive!). These are the things that have made our lives rewarding, and we have so many, so wonderful memories. Our lives have been blessed. Not always easy, but blessed.
So, we are getting ready, getting rid of the things that anchor us and could hold us. A boat, even a Lord Nelson 41 like Veneeni, has a limited amount of space aboard. But the beauty of it all is that there is no limit to what we can take with us as long as we take the things that mean most, the wonderful memories of our friends and families and experiences, a collection to which we are about to add so many, many more, even if we have no idea what they may be! Stay tuned!
Capt. Greg, sailing on....
Before we go--Safety and Fun Offshore
21 September 2018 | Constitution Marina, Charlestown, MA United States
Greg Koski and Anne Fogarty
Thanks to the many friends who have expressed their good wishes and interest in our blog. We are tying up a lot of loose ends before we go--
After we got Veneeni two years ago and this voyage drifted from dreaming to planning, we joined the Blue Water Sailing Club, a great group of sailors and friends who share a love for sailing off-shore. As mentioned previously, safety has always been an interest. When Commodore Roy Greenwald (who does the Bermuda Race single-handed) asked for volunteers, we agreed to take responsibility for running the Club's biennial safety-at-sea symposium. The course is given to support skippers and crews participating in the Marion-Bermuda Yacht Race, and the Marblehead-to-Halifax Race. It sounded like good preparation for our trip too!
So, as we prepare to head out into the blue water, we are also finalizing plans for a new and exciting safety-at-sea program. I am mentioning it here because many of our sailing friends, whether or not they are going to race to Bermuda or Halifax, may want to take the course and expand their horizons. Working with experienced members of the club, we designed an exciting new program that covers several advanced topics of interest to all bluewater sailors, including specific race preparation. The new program, entitled "Bluewater Sailing--Safety and Fun Offshore", fully-sanctioned by US Sailing, builds upon the highly regarded Offshore Safety at Sea course offered on-line by US Sailing.
The new BWSC program emphasizes hands-on experiences in fire-management (yes, putting out REAL fires), emergency signalling (ever used those flares?) and communications, and off-shore crisis management, along with advanced training in storm management, unexpected damage to the vessel, and evacuation procedures. The program includes survival strategies and in-the water training (with full foul-weather gear, PFDs, and life-rafts--oh my!). The family-friendly curriculum will cover a variety of topics essential to making a fun and safe offshore passage, whether racing or cruising.
Everyone who successfully completes the on-line US Sailing Offshore Safety at Sea course and the full hands-on training will be eligible for US and World Sailing Offshore Safety at Sea certification, which is now required for 30% (at least two members) of the crew of every vessel competing in the Marion-Bermuda Race. Together with a host of BWSC members who many sea-miles and Bermuda races among them, we are working with Capt. Bill Biewenga, a US Sailing Certified Moderator, with more than 250,000 sea-miles under his keel, to deliver this special event.
The course will once again be held at the University of Massachusetts Boston campus on March 9-10, 2019. Stay tuned for additional details and be sure to sign-up early, as places will be limited.
When: Saturday, March 9 and Sunday, March 10, 2019 8:00 AM- 5:00 PM
Where: University of Massachusetts - Boston
100 William T. Morrissey Blvd.
Boston, MA 02125
We have had great fun working on this with so many friends. We hope we may see some of you there. Get more information and register at the Blue Water Sailing Club, https://bluewatersc.clubexpress.com/
Stay tuned for new about the latest addition to Veneeni's crew!
Greg and Anne
Aboard S/V Veneeni
Welcome to the Voyage of Veneeni
20 September 2018 | Constitution Marina, Charlestown, MA United States
Greg Koski and Anne Fogarty
Just about two years ago, we set sail from our hailing port, South Bristol Maine, aboard Veneeni. She is a Lord Nelson 41 cutter, Hull #49, built in Taiwan in 1986 and first commissioned in 1987. The plan was to sail the oceans of the world without an itinerary--just follow our hearts and minds and go with the winds and currents. We started that voyage with an exciting night across the Gulf of Maine in 42 knots of breeze and 12 foot seas--quite a shakedown sail!
After wintering over on the hard at the Dodson Boatyard in Stonington, CT, we sailed Long Island and Block Island Sounds for a season before heading to Boston on a very cold mid-November day (16 degrees that morning!) to settle into the Constitution Marina as year-round live-aboards.
Veneeni cruised the waters of Boston Harbor, Massachusetts Bay, Cape Cod Bay, Buzzards Bay and Vineyard Sound as we planned for the beginning of "the adventure"--a decade of sailing wherever and whenever we choose--seeing new places, meeting new people, sharing new experiences.
Well, having spent most of the past two years preparing our selves (minds and bodies), our employers, co-workers, families and friends, and the boat for all this, the time for departure is rapidly approaching. We will be spending most of the next three weeks preparing ship and crew for departure.
We plan to leave Charlestown on or about October 10, initially heading to Annapolis (where we will have new rigging and a self-steering vane installed and the bottom painted) before heading on to St. John in the US Virgin Islands just after Thanksgiving.
We hope to spend Christmas Eve in Christmas Cove, USVI. See it at:
http://www.bwsailing.com/bw/2014/09/christmas-cove-u-s-virgin-islands/ After that, we have no plans but to safely live every day filled with as much happiness and fun as reasonably possible.
As we head off on what for Greg has been a dream since he started sailing in 1977, we will not be thinking about what we are leaving behind as we cast-off lines, but instead will be living in the moment and looking ahead to new adventures with each sunrise. For Anne, this is a whole new exciting life for which she has been preparing for eight years. We have gotten rid of pretty much everything that doesn't fit aboard Veneeni, as life is no longer about having things. We will be focused on where we go, what we see, who we meet. We are adopting the cruising lifestyle, such as it is!
We do plan to keep in touch and want to share our adventures with all of our friends and family members who care about us and our adventures. This blog is one way in which we will do so. We will post news, stories and updates when we can, and we will read with joy your comments.
We will also communicate where possible by e-mail. The address is email@example.com. Cell phones will work in some places close to shore, but they may not be on all that often...getting away from them is one reason for going, after all!
You may be able to track Veneeni with an app such as Vessel Finder downloaded to your Android cell phone, or with MyShipTracking on your computer or iPhone.
So we invite you to join us from time-to-time here at Veneeni's blogsite and look forward to your messages as we plow the seas, explore the surroundings and meet new people all over the world.
We have always placed great emphasis on safety and Veneeni is a very well-found vessel. We will be fine, and we will stay in touch.
Love and best wishes to all. Sail on!
Captain Greg Koski and Mate Anne Fogarty
Aboard the S/V Veneeni