WE ARE OFF!

Palm Beach – Cumberland Island, GA

Day 2

We made it off the dock nearly on schedule at 12:15 yesterday afternoon after a flurry of activity making final preparations for our departure. The funny thing about planning a trip like this – no matter how much time you have to prepare, there will always be last minute items not accomplished and one could prepare themselves right out of taking the trip. Our preparations took on this feeling. Our original departure date – weather depending – was Saturday the 26th of May. The weather was not ideal though so we pushed the departure until Tuesday. Even with the additional 3 days, we still felt rushed and only marginally ready to leave. That said, the delay did allow for us to attend church at our favorite place – St. Mary’s Episcopal in Stuart, FL and we also had an opportunity to see our favorite Priest, Father Christian and his lovely bride, Anastasia. One item that I had really hoped to accomplish was to have Gratitude blessed and after discussing this with Father Christian on Sunday AM, arrangements were made for he and Anastasia to come Sunday night to perform the ritual. Also attending was a dear friend from church whom we affectionately refer to as Grandma Jean. Whoever said you can’t have too many people love your child had Grandma Jean in mind.

The blessing was accomplished for both our vessel and the April K – our summer buddy boat docked “next door”. We enjoyed a lovely meal with great conversation and there is no question, we all felt better knowing that God had been invited on the journey with us. It was hard to argue with the presence felt by all in attendance.

So, our first day at sea….

The seas were forecast to be 5’ with 6 second periods. There probably were several 5’ waves but mostly the ride was incredibly comfortable and felt more like 2-4. This is a huge relief to me as our sea trials have all been in calm seas and this was the first time I had a chance to feel what her motion felt like. The same was true for our last “Gratitude”, a Kadey-Krogen 58. For me, the motion of that boat was a little “uncomfortable” compared to this ride and I only discovered that on her first trip home.

Our broker, friend, and resident mechanic joined us for the first couple of days. Since our acquisition of Gratitude, we have had a very comprehensive work order accomplished on every major system aboard. Since this is the first “real” shake down after performing all of this maintenance, it was wonderful to have a true professional aboard should anything go awry. If anyone ever has a need for Nordhavn work on the East Coast, James Knight is the guy to see.

We arrived in Cumberland Island, GA in time for a celebratory dinner on board Gratitude which included the 3 of us, James Knight and Paul and April from April K. We had an opportunity to try out the new grill installed on the aft deck, the anchor, the windlass (when we pulled up the anchor), the davit -(the large crane which lowers the dinghy into the water) and the dinghy. All systems performed flawlessly. After a peaceful night’s sleep and breakfast on the aft deck, we explored a bit of what remains of the Carnegie Estate from the mid 19th century. It burned several years after falling into disrepair after the Great Depression but it’s old grandeur was truly unmistakable. Additionally, wild horses now inhabit the island and were everywhere. Punctuating this trip was Jack’s first discovery of a real shark’s tooth which he found on the shore of the island prompted by a local woman who herself was beach combing to find the treasure and gave Jack 1 of hers before setting him on a life long journey, Im sure, to find more. So Jack is now 2 shark’s teeth richer!

 

 

Day 3 Cumberland Island, GA – Charleston, South Carolina

After our short visit, it was time to say goodbye and head North to Charleston. This was another 30 hour non-stop cruise which we are now in the midst of. I am back on watch at 5:30 and I went off watch and slept from 1-5. Alec and I try to do 4 hour watches which allows each of us a chance to enter a better quality sleep. By the time we arrive in Charleston Ill only have enjoyed 4.5 hours of sleep – those who know me can attest to how unusual this is for me – only 1/2 of my usual 9 – but for some reason, as I sit here watching the stunning sky come to life with hues of pink and purple, it hasn’t bothered me in the slightest and neither did it bother me on our last overnight where I had more time in the bunk but far less sleep as I had 1 ear open all night waiting for an unusual sound or feeling. Im really loving this off watch bunk though. I am sleeping really better being closer to the helm and Im feeling better being on watch with my partner so close if I need him. Also, due to it’s location mid-ships, it is a really comfortable ride.

Day 4

 

Our plan is to stay in Charleston for a minimum of a few days but may be longer as we have plenty of time on our hands and I have never spent any appreciable time here. (I know! Crazy right). We have a reservation at a resort/marina which sounds fantastic. Ill update again after a few days and let you know how we enjoyed the marina and Charleston in general. Rumors abound about the current in Charleston so we are making every effort to arrive at slack tide. (This is the time when the current is changing from outgoing to ingoing OR vice versa – basically it is the 15-30 minutes before or after the highest or lowest tide. Our slack tide for Charleston is at 10:30 am. We are on track to arrive at 9 into the inlet so this will give us plenty of time to mosey to the marina.

The Plan

All boaters have a saying that the plan is written in sand at low tide, obviously pointing out the necessity of flexibility in doing any type of cruising.  By it’s very nature, a rigid plan can only bring frustration at a minimum or disaster at it’s worse.  We are first at the whim of the weather – meaning we will only go when we have a certain degree of certainty that they weather we encounter will be no worse than uncomfortable.  Rule number 1 is that usually all efforts are made to keep the “pleasure” in pleasure boating.  Additionally, we don’t leave the dock with a known problem mechanically.  See Rule number 1.

That said, our loose plan this summer is to leave in time to have Gratitude North of the Florida/Georgia border by June 1, 2018.  We plan to head up the coast with a planned rendezvous with family in the Outer Banks of the Carolina’s in June.   Another meet up is planned with Alec’s brother’s family in Massachusetts in early July for Jack’s birthday.  We hope to head off from Maine with a group of Nordhavn’s to Nova Scotia in mid-July and then to Newfoundland after that.    Beyond that…. we aren’t sure.  The only thing we know is that we musn’t return to Florida until November 1.    This works very well with our desire to get a very good feel  for how this lifestyle works for us.  We are going to attempt to “home-school” Jack with the oversight and help from his current school at home and the entire trip should take 5 months.  It is our longer range plan and goal if all goes well this summer to return to Florida in November to complete some long-term maintenance and then head for Europe next May.    But the tide is out and the sand is soft – so we shall see where we end up….

 

The Vessel

Gratitude is a Nordhavn 64 hull number 3 in the series.  She was commissioned in 2006 by her original owners, Scott and Pam Marks.  Later she was sold to Martina and Braun Jones who cruised her across the Atlantic and in the Med.  as well as in the Bahamas and up and down the Eastern Seaboard and Canadian Maritimes under the name Ocean Pearl.

She is build in Taiwan by Pacific Asian Enterprises (PAE) and she is a full displacement passage making trawler with offshore capability.  She was designed and built with the range and ability to cross any ocean.  She has 4 staterooms 3 heads and an off watch bunk located in the wheelhouse allowing for the off watch crewman to be nearby should the helmsman require immediate assistance.

 

About The Journey and About Us

Alec and I began the journey really 5 years ago when we began planning and dreaming of purchasing a boat capable of crossing oceans and taking us to places we have only been in our imagination.  When Jack was born 7 years (July 4, 2010) ago, we began considering the options for his childhood.  We both wanted to give Jack something that was different than the conventional childhood.  We wanted an alternative experience.  Initially, we decided to buy a home on an island and take a couple of years to live there when Jack was old enough to appreciate the adventure, but slowly and thanks in no small part to the many bloggers who detailed their adventures before us, we began to see a different adventure for Jack – and for us.  We began to dream about living… well…. everywhere.  And the live aboard, crossing oceans seed was planted.     The watering of that seed was done regularly by those wonderful bloggers before us – 3@Sea, Dirona, San Souci, Grey Pearl and later Ocean Pearl (whose boat we later purchased) and Pendana to name a few.  And they are the reason that I decided to blog.  We owe all of you a debt of Gratitude for sharing your knowledge and experiences with us so that we may “See the Invisible” .  So, while we aren’t even sure where this dream will take us, here we go!