Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Looking back

Hi fellow sailors,

The last couple of nights have been spent sleeping in a real bed, with no worries about tide changes, wind shifts at 0300, or dragging anchor. I am still in a bit of disbelief that the trip is over. White Seal tests comfortably on her old, familiar, mooring in Kingsland Bay, waiting for me to get the mast back up.

In retrospect,  it was a good trip overall. There were plenty of concerns along the way, but every delay and obstacle was overcome. The Bahamas are a wonderful destination, but the East Coast is equally so. This is the 5th time I have made the trip, and every time I discover new and beautiful places, as well as meeting great people. For this trip is, more than anything, about people. More than anyone, my daughter Mary, who joined me for 3 months. I am eternally grateful for this time with her. Also, my wonderful friends Roger Holzapfel, Tom Hickley, and Carroll Maxwell; who joined me for a few days along the way. They were great, and I apologize for talking too much! I was so excited to have you aboard. Mary's friend and college roommate,  Maggie Smith, was also wonderful to have on board, and I am happy to have her as a new friend. My brother in law , Mike Homza, was also a great crew member to have aboard for  a few days.
Most importantly,  my wonderful wife Meg, who decided not to join me on this trip, stayed home and kept things going during what turned out to be an arduous winter. She stayed employed and somehow managed to keep the homestead solvent. Thank you Meg!

When making a trip like this, you make lots of people along the way. Sailors are all in it together. You'll meet in an anchorage, strike up an acquaintanceship, then bump into them in another harbor a thousand miles away. It is very, very cool. And nowadays much easier to keep in touch via email. And the Bahamians are awesome. Naturally welcoming and gregarious,  they make the Bahamas a wonderful place to cruise. I would love to spend more time living in a small Bahamian town, like my friend Kathleen Patten does in Black Point, Exuma, and really get to know a specific community. One thing that amuses me is when folks here in the US ask if I have any concerns about piracy when I sail in the Bahamas. I respond that there are more pirates in Ferrisburgh!

Another thing people ask about are storms. Sure, you are going to get them. Fortunately,  with good forecasting, I am usually able to be anchored someplace with good protection. I did go thru a pretty serious storm with my buddy Tom Hickley on Chesapeake Bay. That was the worst on this trip with winds gusting to near hurricane force. Glad when that was over!

It is interesting how we tend to forget the unpleasant and sometimes terrifying aspects of cruising. A few days ago, my main focus was on just getting home. But it is impossible to extinguish that desire to make long trips in small boats. And so, the dream continues.

Fair winds to all, Charlie

Monday, June 10, 2019

Domestic tranquillity

Hi everyone,

It is really great to be back! I am unable to post on a variety of other devices, but will consult with my IT advisor, (Mary) to see if I can get something that allows me a real keyboard. So stay tuned for some sort of a summation of the trip.

It is so beautiful here in Vermont right now. I am convinced there is a lushness in the vegetation at this time of year that has been unequaled on this trip. It seems that after a harsh winter, plant life has permission to run wild. To really appreciate it, you need to have gone through the winter, so yours truly is not allowed to enjoy it as much as those who stayed put, like my dear wife Meg, and dealt with the snow and the cold.

Best to all, Charlie

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Finis!

Hi everyone,

I picked up my old familiar mooring in Kingsland Bay at about 5PM today! It was emotionally rather overwhelming and I am very excited to be home for good. An excess of sun and a couple of long days have left me rather wiped out, so expect to hear much more from me in a day or so.

Best to all, Charlie

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Sand Road

Hi everyone!

Yes, I am home, but without my boat, which is still in Waterford, waiting for the canal to open. I have been chastised by my dear friend Gretchen who was shocked when I answered the front door last evening. I had actually returned Sunday evening. So I apologize for not keeping this post up to date.

It is great, and rather overwhelming to be back. I am sitting here on an easy chair in the living room, a picture of domestic tranquillity,  and reflecting on the lonely islands, the stormy nights, the challenges of singlehanding, but most importantly the people I have met, and it is all pretty gratifying. I will keep posting as I bring White Seal the last 100 miles and attempt to summarize my thoughts on this wonderful experience.

Stop on by if you are in the neighborhood!

Best, Charlie

Saturday, June 1, 2019

Yup, still here

Hi everyone,

The Champlain Canal remains closed and a community of stranded boaters has settled in at the town dock in Waterford. I have decided to take advantage of my time here and to that end set out on an excursion to Albany this morning. My destination was the USS Slater, a WW2 destroyer escort tied up on the downtown Albany waterfront. My father had served on one of these ships in the Pacific, and I have been wanting to see this ship to get a sense of what life was like for him.

I rode a couple of city buses to get there and arrived well before the ship opened up at 10. It was a beehive of activity with at least a dozen volunteers visible engaged on various tasks aboard. I was struck by the small size of about 300 feet and the fact that well over 500 of them were built. Standing on the dock it appeared as if the ship was being very well maintained. A few minutes later, I was to find that indeed, that was the case. But first, our guide Paul, had a short movie to show us. It was a great introduction and very helpful as I toured the ship and could see how the various elements worked. Paul was absolutely stellar, and did a really great job showing us around. There was only one other visitor when the gangway opened and he had served on a DE in the Viet Nam war. His name was Roger, and he turned out to be a fellow cruising sailor as well. I was really fortunate to be with these two guys for the visit. The level of authenticity is very high on this ship, as is the quality. She is shipshape and looking wonderful. There are still projects and goals to be pursued, but it is obvious that this ship has a phenomenal core group of supporters. And there were plenty of visitors circulating thru the ship after us.

What an amazing experience! I look forward to going back!

But wait, there's more! I was only about a mile away from Phillip Schuyler's house, and so I made my way there. This house was built in 1761, out of brick, and is really quite remarkable given the fame and importance of its many visitors. Schuyler was very prominent as a Revolutionary War general, but he may be best known these days as the father in law of Alexander Hamilton. Hamilton had married Elizabeth Schuyler in the parlour of the house, and I got to take it all in. Other notable visitors included George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Lafayette, etc. Very, very cool and inspiring. Much in the way of original items from that time. Our guide Ian, was fantastic with a real passion for and knowledge of the history.

What a wonderful day! I learned a lot!

Best to all, Charlie

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Rain, rain

Hi everyone,

Pretty dreary around here but I took the opportunity to do an oil change and tighten up the v-belts. Yesterday, I varnished the coamings and the undersides of the spreaders. If the rain stops I will try to visit the old Matton Shipyard, which I remember seeing the first time 50 years ago. And the canal museum as well. I really like this town.

My friend Carroll may be able to join me for the canal portion on Saturday, assuming it opens. When I came thru the federal lock at Troy the other day, it really made me aware of how helpful it would be to have another hand. There was a ferocious current running with the high water, probably the reason they haven't opened up the Champlain portion yet.

Hope everyone staying dry, Charlie

Saturday, May 25, 2019

Marooned

Hi everyone,

It is official, the Champlain Canal is closed for 'several' days, due to high water. So I am stranded here in Waterford along with a number of other boats, some of whom have been here for 3 weeks. Happily, it is a delightful little town with friendly folks and dockspace that is free. So I will endeavor to make the most of it. I have already done my laundry and a bit of grocery shopping. Will probably pick up the Sunday NYT tomorrow and may do an oil change also. Some rain in the forecast which may affect the canal opening.

Best regards, Charlie