Wrap up for Summer 2018
As we wrap up this summer’s cruise, Im reminded of an adage commonly told to new and inexperienced student pilots: “All new pilots begin flying with an empty bag of experience and a full bag of luck, the object of this game is to fill up your bag of experience prior to emptying your bag of luck”. The similarities in the two fields of knowledge: Aviation and boating – are remarkable. The long hours spent gazing at the horizon in the quiet solitude (when everything is going well), the amazing feeling of being the tiniest of specks relative to the vastness of the space surrounding you – above, below and as far as the eye can see in every direction – vast open space. Its as blissful and peaceful in a boat with hundreds of feet below and absolutely nothing on the horizon in all directions as it is in an airplane in exactly the same conditions. The absolute humbling reliance one must have in his skill, his craft (or boat), and the multiple factors that are beyond ones ability to control, the weather chief among them.

But back to our bag of experience and luck… Without question, we have used a bit of “luck” on this trip – largely “luck” we have created by preparing ourselves and our boat (thank you Alec) to the extent that we were able. We have researched multiple sites to compare weather reports and we have even hired a weather router to check and re-check our understanding of the weather and the causes for what we are experiencing. Additional “luck” we created was by deciding to “shake down” our new boat with a long 5 month coastal cruise where we could get help, should we need it, reasonably reliably. (Again, thank you Alec). We attempted to avail ourselves as a crew of every opportunity to learn and to stretch and to grow in our knowledge of ourselves, our boat, and each other. And so here we are, way off shore, enjoying the single most beautiful day of cruising we have had in 5 months but knowing that all of it can and will change. Again, we are attempting to tempt the fates and improve our odds of a successful 4 night passage – knowing that circumstances change, minds change, the cards in our hands at any one time will change, and we will make the next decision based on that new information. Again, just as in aviation, when we depart, we know what the forecast is but even in the space of a few hours, all of that could and frequently did change. Weather that we thought would be good turned bad and the opposite was true also. We make a new plan, we choose a new option. Just as in aviation, the crew of the Gratitude is facing that as I type. It is nearly 1900 on Tuesday having departed Monday morning. At the time of our departure the weather was forecast to be good Monday and Tuesday becoming less so Wednesday and possibly downright lousy on Thursday. Sorry – these are not technical terms but when I refer to weather as lousy or not good, mostly Im talking about the ride and the sea state. Any reader can put to rest any concerns that we would EVER continue into known unsafe weather. That we will NOT do. But to push our limits a bit in terms of comfort was something we have yet to cross off of our list of goals for this summer. So here we are.

At our last update, the router encouraged us to get as far South as possible while the weather is good because the area of concern was on the Florida/ GA border on Thursday. Alec and I discussed this the day before we left and we both decided then that trying to push the speed a bit more might be a way to improve our weather odds. We did push it up to between 8 and 8.5 kts. At the higher RPM We burned nearly twice as much fuel per hour but we also increased our milage per hour so ultimately, the cost was closer to 25% greater. If we didn’t have weather to be concerned with – we wouldn’t have done it but in order to improve the odds of making it past weather moving in, a price we were willing to pay. A decision to be made. Further down the road off the coast of North Carolina we again decided to bump up the power to 1500 RPM for a greater advantage of speed and now we were at 9.3. Given the pristine calm conditions that we were in, this was the time to do it. In terms of filling up our bag of experience, we have both learned a valuable lesson. First, anytime we are considering a long off shore passage, ensure that we have the bottom (or at the minimum) the prop cleaned. Also, ensure that we have the fuel to make the decisions that we want to make. But also never leave the dock with a known problem if it is within our power to fix it. More on that below…

We had a starter on our No 1 generator fail to cutout on our leg from Oxford – Deltaville. While underway and on my watch, Alec and Jack smelled a strong electrical odor. Alec quickly shut off all power to the electrical panel and notified me of the condition. I rapidly scanned the cameras in the engine room and notified Alec that there was no apparent fire that he was clear to enter the engine room. While trouble shooting this issue, we both remembered that we did maintenance on the no 1 generator and one of us – not sure who decided to shut it down. The smell began to dissipate and Alec checked all temperatures with his heat gun. Very quickly he diagnosed the problem with the extreme heat on the starter of the generator. I believe we both on our own decided that this was simply not a problem that needed to be fixed in Deltaville. We were going to be tied to the dock until we left for Palm Beach and then we could use the No 2 generator. Further, should something happen to it, we have hydraulic alternators which we have used under way but have recently opted away from them do to “strange” readings on our inverters and batteries and also their inability to take very much of a load. Anyway, long story short, we never fully discussed this as we were both on our own comfortable with waiting to get to Palm Beach where Gratitude is going in for a major trip to the spa. We both felt we had adequate redundancy with the remaining electrical options. Unfortunately, the first time we really talked about it was while underway and dissecting our weather issues in the next couple of days. Unfortunately, this was nagging Alec in the back of his head that he wished he had 2 generators. Simply a comfort thing. Another lesson learned and dropped into our bag of experience. When a crew has stuff playing around in the back of their head – better to have dealt with it rather than have it nagging there when other factors begin piling on. So, how does the story end????? We all have to wait and see, as I said, it is only Tuesday at 1900 🙂
Filling up our bag of experience part II

So, several hours after the above was written and in the middle of my 0200-0600 watch (2am-6am) I noticed flickering red lights on the overhead panel Flickering red lights in an airplane cockpit just as on a boat – not good. I discovered with some light on the subject that they were high water bilge lights – but no accompanying alarm – I figured OK – thats good. And they were flickering – not consistent. Again, I figured – thats good. The sea state had picked up considerably and we were now in quartering seas of 3-5’ with about a 6 sec period. I thought at the time that this new condition of water in the bilge was likely the result of the quartering seas. I really wanted Alec to get his rest so I waited a bit to see if the lights came back on. They did. Time to wake the Captain. Alec turned on the high water bilge pump and reminded me (I totally forgot this conversation that we had while tied to the dock in Deltaville after he cleaned the AC sea strainers) that he discovered that the low water bilge pump wasn’t working. Again, planning the big Spa trip for Gratitude, it was simply added to the list. Still, a bilge pump, I would rather have had that fixed at the dock. Plop – another item added to the bag of experience. That said, we still have the far more effective high water pump. Alec investigated the bilge after turning on the pump for about 30 seconds. All well in the engine room. Back to sleep for Alec. Seas continued to build.

We got another weather brief from the weather router and learned that the seas today would be building continuing overnight with winds to 30-35 kits. 10-12’ seas overnight. New cards – new decision. Lets duck in and formulate a new plan. Options include Savannah and Hilton Head. A little bit of research and Hilton Head is the winner. ETA 1515 Wednesday (3:15pm).

At 0600 Alec relieved me on watch and I went down to sleep. After about 2 hours I felt some unusual motions with the building quartering seas (now 6-8) as if we were being lifted from behind and being pushed up and over to a 40 degree turn. Which, of course, we were/are. I checked on Jack – Alec had given him a 1/2 dramamine and though he had vomited after awaking – he felt “great” now. I checked with Alec how things were and did he need anything? I rechecked that everything was stowed and went back to bed for 2 more hours. It is now 10 and Im back on watch. Alec and I have talked about the new plan for the divert and the all important lunch plan. As with turbulence on an airplane, the most dangerous thing about wave action is what happens when the occupants are not in seat belts or in our case, holding onto the boat. I suggested that since we were diverting to Hilton Head, why not get by with energy bars and grapes keeping everyone seated as much as practicable. That decided, Alec went down to nap in the salon with Jack. It is now 1110 Wednesday afternoon. Hilton Head is a mere 4 hours away.

So clearly this isn’t finished.  The newly revised plan now is to stay here until the weather lifts on Saturday (we hope).  But stay posted 🙂

St. Michael’s, Oxford, MD

St. Michael’s and Oxford, MD

If Mystic, Annapolis, and Washington were all characterized by rushing, running and trying to get one more thing done, St. Michaels and Oxford would be the relaxing vacation which followed. For the past week or two we have been getting caught up on rest, homework, boat chores and otherwise relaxing. St. Michaels and Oxford are the perfect places for this. Each town is, in it’s own right, adorable but completely different. Right now the Star Worlds are happening here in Oxford, MD. Think Olympic trials for the Star Class sailing boat – in fact it is probably just 1 step below the Olympics. If you are a Star sailor, this is a big deal. With12 countries here to participate and represent their flag we are able to watch it happening right in our back yard so to speak.

This respite has given me the opportunity to reflect on the past 4+ months of cruising and all that we have seen and done – and to look to the trip home and what that will entail. At the start of this, we had no idea how our boat would perform. We certainly felt as though we had done all that we knew to do to prepare her but ultimately, the test would be in the months to come. Also, we had no idea how we would handle the time underway. 5 months is a long time to be rarely farther than 64 feet from one another. Well, the jury is in and we all can say with confidence that we have the experience to go boldly in the direction of our European dreams.

Gratitude has performed admirably – truly remarkably. Buying a boat from someone else assumes the whole of the work that they have either done or failed to do for the past 11 years. Thank God, She has been amazing. We couldn’t be any happier with her mechanically or functionally. All of the items that were on our wish list for a live aboard were met with her and we are all so happy to say that we haven’t felt cramped or uncomfortable in the whole 4+ months since we left. We have certainly made her our home this past summer and while she definitely looks well loved and inhabited, she has held up beautifully. Each of our kitties on separate occasions have gotten ill and left evidence of that all over the carpet. With the exception of the mishap with Alec’s toe, it has cleaned up perfectly. We had one small issue with the seam on one of our salon settee’s but that will be cleared up as soon as we get home. Aside from that, Gratitude looks as lovely as the day we moved aboard.

In terms of the Gratitude crew – We all love it. Certainly there have been times that Jack (more so than either of us) has missed his bedroom or toys at home. He has missed his swimming pool and the space of the house. He loves experiencing a new town every week and having Pratt and Whitney with us and of course, he loves us. Having Uncle Paul and Aunt April has been a terrific addition to our summer cruise that we hadn’t planned on and they are coming for dinner tonight and Jack is always happy to see them. We have made friends, and spent time with family and friends along the way. In fact, an interesting fun fact, since we left Stuart we have seen 15 family members and 3 friends whom we may not have seen but for our trip. We met a terrific family and we cruised with several others whom we wouldn’t have ever met. Before we left, I might have thought that this could possibly be isolating but the truth is, we are actually far more social than we are at home. It isn’t at all unusual for a perfect stranger to come knock on the hull to say hello while at home that would be unheard of. It is not unusual to have an impromptu cocktail party with some fellow cruisers and share experiences about what we each have seen and where to go to next and the moment we arrive in any marina we instantly have a kinship with all of the other boats there – regardless of size or type. It isn’t at all that we aren’t social at home, its just that we are all on a different “schedule” at home. There are so many more “things” competing for our family time. With the typical school day ending at 3 and any after school activities ending at 5, there is little time for more than a quick meal and kiss goodnight – and this isn’t only our reality at home, but most of our friends have an even more scheduled week than we do with multiple children and 2 working parents. There is no question that in terms of quality of life, this cruising life ROCKS! If there is anything that has “suffered” it would be my alone time with Alec and all of our “alone” time with ourselves. I have found – interestingly enough – that I don’t depend as much on my alone time. I haven’t felt that if I didn’t meditate AND SOON someone was going to get hurt! Alec and I have found times to be alone and to spend time together and while it has changed – the trade off I believe is worth it. Also, another “down side” has been the absence of a real mirror and a working scale. Without scrutinizing any change to my body in a large full length mirror, I hadn’t noticed until looking at pictures taken a couple of weeks ago that ooops – the river of denial has indeed run deep this summer. All of those trips to the ice cream shops up and down the Eastern Seaboard to see which city has the best was indeed showing up in the dress size. Time to get that under control and make sure we fix this going forward. What has worked incredibly well though has been the elliptical machine! It has been used underway and at the marina or anchorage. It has been used in cold weather and warm weather and it has done beautifully. Thank God! I would hate to see what the scale would read without it and probably that has fit the bill for the “alone” time as well.
So it is with great anticipation and excitement that we confirm our plans for Europe in May. Roughly, we plan to leave May 1 (totally dependent on mother nature – we will go when she says go). We will head to Bermuda (5 days running non-stop) refuel, spend a week, leave with the weather for Horta, Azores, (another 12 days of running non-stop) spend another week or two, then head to Ireland (7-8 days non-stop), Scotland, and England for the summer before running in October/November for Porto, Portugal for the winter. We have done a lot of soul searching and this is tough but we have decided NOT to bring Jack on the crossing. The ONLY reason to bring him is because we will all miss each other. Not a good enough reason! The trip is a working trip. We will all need our heads in the game and we will all have a job (or more accurately, several jobs to do). Jack has had intermittent sea sickness and this really added to our thought process. Him getting sick takes one of us totally out of the loop. Plus, this isn’t on his bucket list – its our dream not his. No reason for him to suffer through it if he isn’t really doing the work. So, Kelly has volunteered to bring him over to Horta after we arrive and spend a week. Speaking of visitors and crew members….

We are hoping to have 1 or possibly 2 others do the crossing with us. We will train anyone interested but we fully expect it to be challenging and fulfilling. Since everyone will be keeping watch for a minimum of 2-3 times per day, we will be operating a “dry ship – no alcohol”. All crew members will assist with galley and cleaning detail. We will be in daily contact with our weather router for any updates or changes and we will be able to send basic text messages so that anyone interested can see where we are. This is definitely NOT cruise ship stuff! and I would not expect this to appeal to any but a couple of readers of this blog. Please let us know if you are interested though and we will talk more about it.

Visitors, however, are also welcome on the non-passage type cruising. During those visits it is fun fun fun and all are welcome. Let us know asap if you would like to come to visit us. We have 2 extra cabins aboard each with 2 bunks so multiple family members are welcome!!!

Phew! That was longer than I thought it was going to be but my fingers just kept moving while my mind was spinning so I went with it. It has been so much fun this summer doing all that we have done and sharing it with all of you. We love you so much!

Here are a couple of shots of the Museum in St. Michaels, the lighthouse and some ice cream stops and boat trips here in Oxford.

Tons of love,
Laurie, Alec and Jack

Annapolis, MD and Washington, D.C.

Annapolis and Washington, D.C.
What a town Annapolis is! Kelly recommended it after spending time here this summer for a wedding and having had corroborating recommendations from boaters, we decided to add it to the itinerary and we were NOT disappointed. The town itself is loaded with history and we availed ourselves of this with a tour of the city. While many others large cities “bulldozed” their history to make way for greater harbors with the advent of larger steamer ships, Annapolis decided to stay small and historical. The entire town, in fact, is a historic landmark and the inhabitants may make no changes to the exterior of their home without consulting the historical society. As a result, there are homes here dating back as early as the mid 17th century and most of the homes are from the 1800’s. To say “charming” would be an understatement – even the shops dotting the Main Street must comply with authentic historical facades – only the interior hinting at the current times. Unfortunately, the first several days were rainy but not to be deterred, we hit the ground running and filled the first few days with tours of the town, a tour of the Naval Academy and several wonderful dining opportunities. One notable stop was the most amazing restaurant, Mission Bar-b-q  – the best Bar-b-q we have ever had. The taste alone would have warranted multiple stops on this short week long visit, but in addition to the tastiest food, (they don’t have a freezer or microwave in the store – everything is made fresh) they are certainly the most patriotic restaurant we have ever been to. Every day, no matter how busy, at 12:00 sharp – all activity in the restaurant halts while the loud speakers announce “Every day at 12:00 we ask that ALL STAND WHILE WE SING THE NATIONAL ANTHEM”. Employees and patrons alike stop, stand and hand to heart sing the national anthem. It is hard not to get a little teary eyed to see that in the crazy rush of every day life, this one little bastion and haven of American pride exists – a place which pauses to pay tribute to the flag and those who serve to preserve the freedom that it represents.

Annapolis being the yachty town that it is, we were able to treat ourselves to a few indulgences, the first – a spa day for Gratitude- She got her first “professional” wash since we left Palm Beach. In addition, we hired someone to give the wheelhouse carpet their best effort. After two attempts of cleaning to get the blood out from Alec’s toe mishap, it remained. The pro did a better job – still, there is a slight albeit, faded reminder.

The other notable 2 days were spent in Washington, D.C. A little bit of geography here –

The Chesapeake is the largest estuary in the United States fed by fresh water from several rivers (notably the Potomac, the Miles and the Susquehanna Rivers) and of course, the Atlantic Ocean. We entered the Chesapeake from the barely visible on a map C and D canal, near the Delaware bay. We are now headed down the Chesapeake Southbound. We haven’t even neared the Potomac River yet which is quite a bit South of our position. To bring Gratitude to Washington, D.C., which we considered doing, we would have had to travel up the Potomac river for approx. 100 miles each way. In addition, with all of the rain and extreme weather the area has had, the runoff which includes large debris such as logs and “deadheads”, logs which remain largely submerged. Having survived the minefields of lobster and now crab traps, none of us had the desire to push our luck with this side trip. Ultimately, it was incredibly simple to pay the $5.00 fee per person to hop on a very comfortable bus and ride it to the front door of the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum where we spent a full (and rainy) day inside touring the multiple amazing displays. Honestly, we could have spent another week inside those walls. I could fill pages with the artifacts contained therein but the most personal of all of the exhibits is the one pictured below. What are the chances that in the SAME display case I would see both the start and the end to my own airline career? An Eastern Airline Flight Attendant uniform on the left (and behind my head) and a Southwest Airline Pilot uniform on the right? Funny right?


We spent the night in D.C. at a lovely Hyatt Regency and then hit the ground running the next day with tours of… Are you ready for this:
The White House
The Capital Building
The Lincoln Memorial
The WWII Monument
The MLK Monument
The Korean War Monument
The Vietnam War Memorial
The Roosevelt Memorial
and a drive by the Washington Monument. I think I left something out here but who could blame me.

Alec and I had seen several before but the ones we really were most impressed by and which we had not seen before were the Korean (my father served) and the Roosevelt. Also the MLK was incredibly well done. Jack’s favorite was the Lincoln. All in all – it was a fantastic and memorable trip. Of course, 2 days is not nearly enough time but we certainly made the most of it.

Arriving back in Annapolis, the weather cleared and we enjoyed a couple of days of beautiful weather. Of course, after the non-stop movement of the past few weeks, the crew of the Gratitude wanted a couple of “lay days” – so we mostly enjoyed it at a leisurely pace.

Next stop…. St. Michaels further south down the Chesapeake but on the Eastern Coast.

Mystic, CT – Annapolis, MD

At Sea – Mystic – Long Island – Manhattan – The New Jersey Coast – Around Cape May – into the Delaware Bay – to the “cut through” (Chesapeake and Delaware Canal) and into the Chesapeake Bay
During my time with Janie, we talked a little bit about Face Book and what we perceive are some of the shortcomings of the platform – among them, Janie said was that “Nobody takes a picture of themselves in their curlers”. The point of course being that we usually only show the great days and successes without including some of the human challenges we all suffer. It got me thinking – “Am I doing this in the blog”? Am I being as honest and forthright as I could be or am I varnishing over the tough challenges only to report on the successes? Well, the short answer is of course, yes but I think my motives are mostly pure. My reasons are not really to make people believe that it is all roses out here living in 64 feet in all types of weather and human frailties but rather, given that Im so incredibly filled with Gratitude for the experience, I don’t ever want to be perceived as complaining – even about the tough stuff. So, in an effort to be as honest and vulnerable as I can possibly be, from this point forward, Im going to make an effort to include some of the less than fantastic stuff that happens to us day in and day out.

We left Mystic 4 days ago and traveled 12 hours to the Long Island Sound where we anchored for the night. Believing that we had found the “perfect” anchorage and the best possible conditions for that anchorage, we relaxed our efforts of securing, as much as possible, the boat for the night. Alec and I fell into bed exhausted and both of us drifted off to sleep. The next thing we heard was things clanging and falling and as we jumped up to investigate, the motion became much more severe – rocking Gratitude in the unusual orientation of side to side rather than forward to aft. Making an effort to hold on we both jumped up to see what could be done to mitigate the “damage” – me with closing lockers and securing loose items (the large pumpkin on top of the salon table “flew into” the chair knocking both over) – I will be forever grateful that pumpkin goo wasn’t added to the list of carpet damage we experienced. With the lights out for the night, Alec ran up to the wheelhouse (flew is really a better word) and realizing that he didn’t have wings, plummeted unceremoniously down crashing onto the stairs leading up to the salon and wheelhouse. I heard the wing engine start and Alec attempted to thrust us into the waves bow first and bless him, he really tried everything mechanically possible to mitigate the horrendous roll we were experiencing. “Knowing” that a 64’ Nordhavn can’t “tip over” and “believing” it are 2 very different things as your home, and the items that make it so, are being tossed about like rag dolls. After things calmed ever so slightly I caught sight in the very dim light of something on the carpet – turning on the lights revealed nothing short of an absolute “crime scene”. Apparently, while attempting to fly to the bridge, Alec injured his toe (nearly ripping the tip off) and not feeling the pain due to the adrenaline, he then proceeded to leave a very messy trail of blood from one end of the wheelhouse to the other and back again. Honestly we have never seen anything like this. We now had a more pressing problem and I ran to get the first aid kit and attempt to get the bleeding under control. Convincing Alec to lay down and elevate his bleeding toe was tougher than it sounds. I had, at one point, considered getting the sutures kits that Dr. Mike and Marcie had given us but Alec (preferring to take his chances with gauze and tape) nixed this idea. 2 days, several hours of scrubbing including using the bissell carpet steam cleaner and the carpet is still pretty rough looking. Oh Well – Maybe we can have it cleaned professionally in Annapolis. One of the things that I have learned about myself on this journey is that I have a tough time dealing with physical frailties – myself or other’s. Sorry Alec. Ill have to work on that.

I had an uneventful but nervous nonetheless arrival into the Delaware Bay with a cascade of very large boats exiting or waiting to exit (think 600 foot+) Alec was sleeping and I was very reluctant to wake him given our 4 on 4 off watch schedule. The arrival was in darkness so complete I couldn’t see the bow of our own boat. I have never been in this canal before and forming a picture based on the navigational aids on board while adequate was disconcerting. Once the sun rose, I felt far more reassured and the trip inside the Chesapeake/Delaware Canal became more interesting and less terrifying 🙂
We arrived in an anchorage yesterday at 1400 after approximately 31 hours of non-stop running to spend the night. We all enjoyed a deep sleep but this time, the boat was completely secured before turning the lights our for the night. So, here we are, in the Chesapeake headed to our marina for the night. Our trip here has included many memorable events, among them, a bucket list item of passing under the many storied New York bridges to view up close and on our own boat the beautiful Statue of Liberty which I did and documented in several photos below.


Please let me know if this is info you are interested in hearing 🙂 We love you all!

Laurie, Alec and Jack

Onset (2.0), Martha’s Vineyard, Mystic, CT

Onset, MA (2.0)


So much has happened since our last posting – I hardly know where to begin! Right now we have just departed Mystic, CT and we are traveling up the Long Island Sound headed West. Our destination today is Oyster Bay where we hope to spend the night at anchor and leave in the morning. Tomorrow the plan is to travel through the East River passing Manhattan and cruising under all of the bridges that for years we have flown over. For as long as I can remember it has been a bucket list item to pass under these bridges in our own boat, passing “Lady Liberty” close enough to see her, while under our own steam. If all goes as planned, tomorrow we will have that chance. We will be dodging ferries and hopefully NO USAIR airplanes as we make our way past Sandy Hook and down the New Jersey Coast into the Delaware Bay – then through the CD Canal and into the Chesapeake. Below I have cut and pasted a map of our trip over the next 2 days. Keep in mind we only left the Mystic River in CT this morning. We are traveling at 8 kts.

Screen Shot 2018-09-21 at 11.48.23 AM
At the risk of bouncing back and forth too much, when last we posted, we were on our way to Onset, MA where we planned to wait out the storm. We were also awaiting the arrival of Janie and Elizabeth, two friends who were planning to visit us in Martha’s Vineyard. Since we were uncertain of what the week’s weather would bring, we changed the plan a bit and delayed our arrival into MV, preferring instead to have Janie and Lizzie meet us in Onset. They did both arrive on time but Lizzie, not feeling well, departed and went back to Miami. What a trooper to have even gotten on the plane to MA feeling so lousy!!! We had a fantastic evening and short cruise the following day to MV enjoying a lovely lunch on the fly bridge and perfect weather conditions for the short 3 hour trip.


Arriving in MV just in time for dinner, we found the ever popular (and nearly synonymous with MV) – Black Dog Tavern. Janie treated us to a wonderful meal overlooking Vineyard Haven and we enjoyed a nice ice cream treat while walking around the town. Having lost a few days of our original plan of a week here, we hit the ground running the next day and walked to Oak Bluffs, took a bus to Edgartown and had a terrific lunch there followed by shopping and a trip to the book store. It is amazing to me that the conversation about Chappaquiddick continues today and there was an author of a newly released book Chappaquiddick Tragedy giving a talk at the local book store. For those unfamiliar, Chappaquiddick is a tiny island to the East of Martha’s Vinyard which is served by a constant small ferry from Edgartown. Janie and I couldn’t resist but the boys went for more ice cream giving us time to enjoy the lecture. We stopped in Oak Bluff on the way home to participate in a festival there and then we walked the couple of miles back to the boat. It was a super fun day. The next day we took the bus in the opposite direction to the cliffs and lighthouse on the Western most point of the island.


Leaving MV we traveled for 10 hours to reach Mystic, CT. If Im totally honest, I could have given up the trip to MV and spent another week in Mystic. We only had 3 or 4 days there but they were non-stop adventure, fun and learning. Just down the Mystic River and two very cool bridges later, you will come to the Mystic Seaport Museum. This “Museum” is located on the river and it completely depicts a mid 19th century whaling village. There is a fully functional boat yard which is currently in the midst of a 2 year project to restore the MAYFLOWER II just in time for the 400th anniversary of the Pilgrims’ landing on Plymouth rock. On our first trip to Onset on the way north, readers of the blog will remember that we visited Plymouth and were disappointed to discover that the Mayflower had been moved for renovation. Not to be deterred – the plan was set in motion to see her in Mystic. She is 1/2 way through her renovation and we were able to see it happening live! One of the very cool things about this boat yard is that it is not only fully functional but it is also open to the public. At all phases of the renovation, guests are free to interact with the artisans carrying out this beautiful work. The Mayflower II was a gift to us from England for our role in WWII. It was built with an effort to, as closely as possible, depict the original ship and here at the Mystic seaport, the carpenters and boat specialists are carefully replicating this process, using only those tools which would have been used initially if it is on a piece that can be viewed. Not only is the Mayflower II here, but having just visited the Whaling Museum in New Bedford, MA, we learned all about the Charles Morgan and the important history of “Whaling” in not only our country but also world wide. New Bedford is called the “city that lit the world”. Back in the mid 19th century New Bedford was the whaling capital of the world. Their ships and crew would leave port for 3-5 years at a time traveling the world fishing for whales. The whale oil would be extracted at sea and large casks filled and placed in the hold. The Charles Morgan is a ship built in 1841 and housed here at the Mystic Seaport Museum. Below is a picture of her and just behind and to the right you can make out our boats. The very cool thing is that after the gates are closed and the last visitor departed, we remain free to roam the “streets” of this 19th century village.

Other highlights of the week included being given a private tour of the incredibly vast collection of artifacts and valuable boats, motors, scrimshaw, art, and even silver. So comprehensive is this collection it includes over 400 boats, many with 1/2 models, log books, photos and artistic renderings of the boat and relevant awards if any. Im sure it is the most comprehensive collection of it’s kind in the world and it is housed in a building (called the vault) apart from the museum. To say that it was memorable would be a gross understatement.


And for Jack a Mystic highlight included the trip to the Mystic Aquarium. The thing that I appreciated the most was that the collection was made up of either animals which are nearly extinct and they are breeding them in captivity or animals which were rescued with the goal of rehabilitation and release. When release was not possible, the animal remains at the aquarium as an ambassador. At every turn and as a part of each exhibit, the goal was to educate about ecology and the environment. We all found it to be an incredibly worthwhile trip and included 2 Beluga Whales (None of us had ever seen one) and South African Penguins (endangered and we have never seen them) We also saw poison dart frogs (on Jack’s bucket list believe it or not) and sharks – always a highlight for Jack. For a short stop – we never stopped! All of this and Alec and Jack managed to get the school work done each day. So you see why I haven’t gotten to the blog! We have had super fun filled days and have fallen into bed exhausted at the end of each one!


We are headed to the Chesapeake next but specifically where, we aren’t yet sure:-) We still have a couple of days travel before we get close so we have time to figure that our. One goal that we have is to take the train or bus to Washington DC for a couple of days and stay in a hotel to do some sightseeing. Since the trip on the boat would involve a couple of tough sea days traveling up the Potomac, we would rather just take the bus an hour and spend the time enjoying the city. More on that later though.

Lots of love!

Laurie, Alec and Jack

Dolphin Marina, Harpswell, ME

Dolphin Marina, Harpswell, ME

The plan continues to evolve and we with it.

We were originally planning to spend my birthday here at the Dolphin Marina and my dear sister and friend April arranged for there to be an ice cream cake at the ready for our dinner the night of our arrival. Well – and I thank God it wasn’t my idea – our plan changed and we ended up arriving 3 or 4 days later – I lose count of days these days.

We did have a smooth day of travel leaving Southwest Harbor but the fog was pretty thick as were the lobster pots. We went for 8 hours to a small anchorage for the night – going much further would have been not only unsafe with the lobster pots but we were all getting pretty tired with the constant course corrections to avoid traps. In fact, Alec and I usually take 4 hour watches but with the work involved in this passage, we opted for 2 hour watches to prevent either of us getting to fatigued. Typically we would have preferred to go all night rather than stop for the night but we couldn’t do that with all of the these traps in our path.


So day 2 we left the anchorage and arrived in Dolphin Marina in Harpswell, ME. It was the sweetest little marina and the staff there exemplified customer service, even arriving in the morning with coffee and fresh warm muffins. The restaurant was lovely and after dinner, the server promptly arrived at our table with a very large, very delicious ice cream cake. So the birthday celebration continues… and based on the size of this cake, it will continue for some time.


We left Harpswell this morning with a plan to go to the Wentworth Resort and Spa in New Hampshire for a few nights. Looking at the weather forecast for the next several days, together with the likelihood that we may have to deal with the remnants or possibly worse weather of Florence within the week – we decided that we really needed to make a plan for where we would like to be for the next week – 10 days and what would be the safest harbor should Florence pose a real threat to us.

Midstream (so to speak) we called Anne Thyrre, our sister in law who together with Peter is in Onset aboard the stunning MY Aries. You may remember that we stayed in the same marina with them on our way up. We asked her if she could make inquiries as to dockage availability for the week there with them. We feel like there is no better place to weather out a storm than with loved ones so we have adjusted course and we are headed directly to Provincetown, MA. We hope that we can get there before too much light has passed (eta 2030) to make navigating the lobster pots a problem but at least they aren’t nearly as bad as in ME. April K is close in our wake and we will be together with them as we all wait to see what the weather will bring in the next week. Plan now is to anchor off of P-Town and head into the Cape Cod Canal tomorrow with the tide pushing us downstream to the Onset Marina. Hoping for an arrival before dinner tomorrow night.

Thanks for reading!
Lots of love,
Laurie, Alec and Jack

Southwest Harbor, ME (2.0)

Moving on from Maine

When last I wrote, we were leaving Halifax and as yet, undecided as to whether we would make it to ME or stop short in Lunenberg to await better weather. The weather did improve as we moved West allowing us to continue to Maine and we arrived in good spirits. After an uneventful visit from the US Customs and Border Patrol to clear us in, we all went to sleep for a nice 11 hour slumber.

The week in Maine was perfect in terms of weather and fun. Milt and Judy loaned us their car which we took to the Jordan Pound trails and enjoyed a 6 mile hike to the top of Penobscot mountain where we dined on a picnic lunch of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches with apples while sitting in the clouds. We were rained on and wet and tired and dirty when we emerged hours later to finish the hike around the beautiful pond, hiking on logs and rocks the remaining mile to the car. Rock jumping and hiking is Jack’s favorite, and anything to do with water is Alec’s favorite so we all finished the day incredibly happy and well.

Later in the week we took the bikes on the free LL Bean shuttle bus back to the Acadia National park in order to ride on the carriage paths built in the early 20th century by John D. Rockefeller Jr. Miles long and closed to all but foot or bicycle traffic, these carriage paths were built and later donated by the Rockefeller’s to be used exclusively by carriages. Readers may remember that when we were here last with the Lovett’s we took a carriage ride and learned a great deal about these paths, the park and the 16 stunning bridges that flank and connect these paths. The bridges are built from artisan stone workers and built to harmonize with the natural surroundings. I had hoped then that we could return with our bikes and spend a day enjoying the freedom of riding without concern for motorized traffic colliding with the 8 year old. Return we did and we had an amazing time enjoying the park in this way. The trees are just beginning their metamorphic change with the earliest red leaves just emerging. It was a great time to be in the park.

Another highlight of the week in Mt. Desert Island was the celebration of my 52nd b-day. Alec, Jack and Paul and April and I went to dinner at the lovely Asticuou Inn which has an outdoor patio overlooking Northeast Harbor. The weather was perfect for the entire week and we enjoyed high 60’s and low 70’s every day. Alec had several trips to Bealls for his favorite crustacean dinner and we managed to solve a couple of maintenance puzzles with the help of Paul aboard April K. All in all, the week couldn’t have been nicer. In fact, we were supposed to leave on Friday and we decided to stay a few days more – this time it wasn’t my request! It was April who wanted to stay and so we did – and none of us was disappointed. Next stop – The Dolphin Marina in Harpswell, ME.


So Long, Halifax

So Long Halifax….

We departed from Halifax (2.0) this morning at 0600 and it was with mixed emotions that we said goodbye to this wonderful city. Some of you will recall that we only re-visited Halifax due to the necessity of acquiring legal paperwork necessary for the sale of a piece of property. This second visit; however, proved to be even nicer than the first and the reasons for this are many. First, our friends whom we met in Baddeck live in Halifax and in addition to sharing with us “local info” on places to go/eat etc, they visited and played with us. Truth be told, there is nothing that brings a city to life faster than spending “real” time with the people who live and work and thrive there. The Langleys truly thrive in this lovely city and they shared with us the many reasons why.


This second “go round” included amazing trips to several fantastic “world class” dining establishments. On the first trip we sort of meandered around near the waterfront and found places to eat – never really disappointed but certainly not raving days later about the experience. Funny how I forgot one of my rules of travel which is to, whenever possible, get as far from the hotel (or tourist attractions) as possible to find the best food. Following Amanda’s advice on restaurants took us (except for one notable exception – AMano Italian on the waterfront in Bishops landing) much further away than the waterfront but not further than a walk or bike ride. We also found our way into several shops, the library, Canada’s oldest children’s bookstore, another bookstore and the most amazing charcuterie shop there ever was. The Langley’s came over for dinner one night and they spent the day with Jack yesterday afternoon so that Alec and I could enjoy an afternoon together finishing our sentences and focusing on each other while we were still awake enough to do so:-)

All in all, there is little that could have made this week any more enjoyable – whats more- we spent more time waiting for the weather to depart than we did waiting for the paperwork to arrive. This has also been Jack’s first week of school and while we are definitely working through some growing pains with all of us learning new skills, it looks promising.

So whats next…

We departed 8 hours ago and we are following the beautiful Nova Scotia coastline dotted with the most fantastic rock formations and picture post card lighthouses one has ever seen.


Jack and I have taken our medicine to combat our recent onset of mal de mar – which even despite the larger swells from fairly consistent and organized seas on the bow, we are doing very well. It is my hope that we can continue until we arrive in Southwest Harbor, Maine tomorrow afternoon around 1400. We left it as a possibility that we could “duck in” if the seas were too uncomfortable but with a forecast of improving conditions through Sunday am – we will likely just continue on our present path. I took a photo of the route this morning before departure. It is pictured below.


We aren’t certain for how long we will stay in SW Harbor but the next reservation we have set is in Martha’s Vineyard for September 10th. We have 2 friends scheduled to come visit us and Alec’s brother and SIL may be able to join as well. This together with a possible stop to visit them should ensure lots of fun family and friend time.

Thats all for now – Thanks for reading

Little Harbor, Liscombe and the Bras d’Or Lake

Little Harbor and the Bras d’Or lake

If you read the last post, you were probably expecting to see Prince Edward Island at the title of today’s post. One of the best things about this type of travel is that, on a whim and at the last minute, plans can be altered. In fact, holding too tightly to a plan when traveling in general but traveling by boat in particular, can have devastating consequences at the worst and at the least, will probably result in frustrated or exhausted crew mates. Going with the flow is essential. So when we got the call from the Bahamas that we would need one additional document notarized and certified, there is no way we could leave the province without having this taken care of. A certification is a document from the capital of the state or province in which you had a document notarized verifying that the person notarizing a document is authorized to do so. In our country this would likely have taken several weeks but in Halifax it only took 5 days the last time we were here. The sale of our property was to have closed on August 1 and dragging it out any longer could have very costly repercussions. So the decision was made that after PEI we would head back to Halifax for another week. Unfortunately, after discussing this with our buddy boat and sleeping on what this would mean for the overall timetable, it was decided that leaving PEI for another time would be more prudent. All decisions in life have an upside and a downside and this was just such a decision. While we missed seeing PEI, we did get a chance to enjoy the Bras d’Or lake and its many cuts and inlets. We were able explore by Kayak and dinghy and saw lots of eagles, a mink, seals (or otters), and we were able to do so in pristine conditions. Nova Scotia is well known for it’s fog outside of the lake but we had no such conditions during our entire stay in the Bras d’Or lakes region. It could not have been lovelier with near perfect temperatures and weather. We also had a chance to re-connect with other buddy boats Bluewater and Happy for another evening of cocktails and laughs.



Having gained the windfall of additional time, we decided to leave ourselves enough time to explore some of the anchorages and cities that we skipped heading East and what a windfall that was. Working our way to Halifax we stopped in Liscomb for what we thought would be just a night. After a 10 hour run in what we anticipated would benign conditions, we had a rather confused sea state with 2-4’ waves off the bow – ideal conditional for mal de mar (seasickness). Jack and I felt lousy the entire day. A perfect opportunity to re-valuate the timetable and make some adjustments. Upon arriving in Liscomb we anchored and called the “lodge” to make reservations for dinner. What a treat this place was! Not only did we enjoy one of the nicest and most delicious meals we have had in Nova Scotia, but we also discovered that there is a 10km (6 mile) trail along the river. This together with the wonderful kayak opportunities, we decided that there was no rush to press on. We ended up staying here for 3 days enjoying 2 delicious meals at the lodge, hiking the 6 mile trail – which was moderate intensity in places but stunning and well worth the effort. As we were walking up to dinner, the dock-master asked us if we had been to the town of Sherbrooke Village which is nearby. Of course we hadn’t and in such a remote area, we had no ability to rent a car. April (April K) not to be too subtle asked “how might one get there with no car?” to which Chester, the dock-master replied, why you would drive my car!. So we did in fact, borrow Chesters car and head to that 150 year old town.


I remember vaguely going to Williamsburg, PA when I was a young child and I believe this was probably the same. What we loved about it was that we have been teaching Jack (and re-learning ourselves) so much history lately, and this helped to solidify those lessons. Since we just learned about Alexander Graham Bell, this little town represented the time of history in which he lived. Mostly this town aimed to replicate, as closely as possible, what life was like living in 1867 and they did so with authentic period dress and speaking to us in first person on many occasions inviting us to “play along” – which we did. Jack’s favorite stop was the blacksmith shop where we watched craftsmen make pot hangers, hooks etc. Jack inquired about the Blacksmith making swords (an idea borrowed I think from Pirates of the Caribbean) and the man said that he made them on the off season when he had time for longer bigger projects. My favorite stop was the printing shop where we saw a printing press from 1867 still in use making menus for the restaurant and she printed up recipes from her own family 8 generations prior. It was here that I got my pie crust recipe and the recipe for butterscotch pie. Believing as I do that things come to you at exactly the right moment, I took it as a sign that today would be the day to tackle my pie challenge. Not only did I find the recipe for a pie and crust, but later in our tour we came to the wood maker shop where I was able to purchase a pie dough roller. So, in one fell swoop, I was ready to tackle my summer challenge.

At the start of this trip, I asked Jack for 2 goals for the summer. He said he wanted to learn cursive and he wanted to master division. I am so proud to say that Jack mastered both of these goals that he set for himself. Unfortunately, the goal that I set for myself, to make a pie crust – something that I have tried and tried for years to accomplish, still had alluded me. I finally discovered why… about a month ago when doing to light research for my pie project, I discovered that if my equipment or kitchen ever got above 73 degrees F, I would have to cool everything down again. This information was extremely timely because that was clearly my problem with making a pie in Florida in the summer. There is rarely a time that our kitchen is ever below 80 degrees. So, on this day -so cool in Nova Scotia that we wore sweaters and foul weather gear, I decided today was the day. Jack and I, having returned from the Sherbrooke Village decided to get busy and make my goal a reality. Success! We both did it!


Another highlight of the week was Jack Face Timing his friends on the first day of school. Getting a signal was a challenge but we managed, however briefly, to connect, and Jack got to say hello to everyone for a few moments on Wednesday. So began Jack’s first day of school. Bridges Montessori provided us with some books and suggestions for study material and we have gotten busy putting it to use. We have done some work this summer to ease the transition into school time but we are trying to commit to doing this in earnest from this point forward. It really is harder than it looks finding the time to commit to school. One may think we have nothing but lazy days and time on our hands but our days are surprisingly full . I think that we are going to have to commit to less time underway and longer periods in each stop.

We are presently offshore traveling on a Southwesterly course approximately 65 miles East of Halifax. We are still undecided if we will anchor in one of the sheltered coves for the night or press on to Halifax for an arrival today – we are letting Mother Nature decide for us. If is is rough, we will tuck in for the night, and smooth sailing… we will press on.

Amanda and Adam, our new friends from Baddeck, live full time in Halifax and have graciously provided us with a ton of new discoveries to explore in Halifax so even though we are going to take care of this document, we will certainly avail ourselves of the “local view” of things on (as Amanda put it) Halifax 2.0. On our list is the art museum, the children’s book store (we have run out of books), and hopefully time spent with the Langley family.

We are still planning on a September 1 arrival (possibly a day or two on either side of that) for Maine.

Thats all for now!

Alec, Laurie and Jack

“Connection” and Baddeck

“Connection” and Baddeck

“Connection.” That was the word that Amanda, our new Canadian friend used twice when describing, on two separate occasions, what she sought when traveling in new communities.
This got me thinking about my own traveling experiences and what we all seek on our “great explores”. Absolutely who could argue that when traveling it is those connections with other cultures that leave us with the most profound and lasting impressions of a place and truly the single greatest predictor of the litmus test “shall we return”.

Since arriving in Canada, we have had experience after experience with the people here who have left us feeling absolutely “connected.” Day after day we shake our heads in amazement at the kindness and generous nature of these beautiful people. From the vendors in the farmers market who, even with a line forming behind me wanted to find our where we were from and for how long were we staying and the lovely bartender who wanted to help us make change for the ferry and while doing so, explained the history and difference in Canadian currency. With ferry’s arriving and departing every 15 minutes, she most certainly missed her ferry but that didn’t seem to phase her as she, with total genuine kindness chatted with us for several minutes. And Im not referring to that sort of polite kindness that we expect when interacting with service providers but that genuine kindness that comes from “being” in a comfortable and peaceful internal space. Canadians have that peaceful kindness in spades and they so generously share it with the visitors to their country.

Back to Amanda and Adam and their 2 children Elle (10) and Gray (8). We met Adam in Halifax as he is the Director of Operations for Develop Nova Scotia (formerly Waterfront Development; and he manages the wharf in Halifax and in Lunenberg. Adam was, of course, kind and friendly in his work capacity but also engaging with Jack, not only because he could immediately relate to him due to his own son, but it just seemed that that was the kind of guy he was. Adam mentioned that his family had a home in Baddeck, which just happened to be the next stop on our planned trip. We made a very loose plan to get together when we arrived and I knew that Jack would be over the moon to have a friend to play with. Connection… we all need it, even 8 year olds. Funny thing, all challenges bring reward right? At home Jack is a little shy with other children when he first meets them. Not so when traveling. He has no trouble at all since we have been aboard jumping right in to meet another child. Must be that he sees that he has no time to waste – we could all learn that lesson couldn’t we?


Since arriving here in Baddeck we have had one more fantastic experience after another. Connection. Pictured below is a drone shot taken by Milt Baker (Bluewater) after a day of jumping from our boat deck – kids and adults alike. (Yes that water is cold but not as much as you may imagine.) Jack has had the opportunity to play with Gray, being pulled in the tube, jumping from their wharf, and Gray spent some time aboard Gratitude playing with legos. Amanda came shopping with April and I for an afternoon and, together with Milt and Judy (Bluewater), Paul and April (April K) , and Sally and Whitey (Happy), we had a drink at the local yacht club.


We had April and Paul over for dinner to watch the boat parade and there have been sailing regattas nearly every day including today – rain and all. The town had their annual festival to celebrate Natal Day. Nova Scotia has been a member of the Canadian Confederation since its inception on July 1, 1867. The term “natal” is derived from the Latin word for birth and, hence, Natal Day is the official “birthday” of the province. And today is a perfectly wonderful rainy day. Just in time too since laundry is piling up and Jacks school work is a little behind. We did spend most of 1 day at the Alexander Graham Bell museum. We all know that Dr. Bell invented the telephone (even he knew that it wasn’t always appropriate to have it around even banning it from his own study). But he also spent a great deal of time and energy experimenting with flight. Baddeck was his summer home and we are anchored in the same spot where, in 1909 the Silver Dart made it’s first flight on the ice covered harbor. The Wright Brothers’ first flight was in 1903 of course but ailerons, the control surface on the aircraft which allows for directional control was invented here and also simultaneously in France. These were monumental advances in aviation. Who knew? 🙂 So we have been able to get in at least a little school work.

So, what is next? We enjoyed a tremendous meal last night and talked over the loose plan for our next stop. We will probably leave Baddeck when the weather clears on Sunday and head back down toward St. Peters, the canal where we entered the Bras d’Or lake, and then to the Canso Canal which will take us Northerly to the top of Nova Scotia and then to Prince Edward Island. We have reservations secured there from Monday-Friday (thanks to April our fleet cruise director). Still working on rental car arrangements and tourist plans but we will have time to figure that out. We will probably take 2 days to get there as the trip involves locks, and unfamiliar lake territory. Better to cruise in day light.


Thanks for reading! We miss you all