Patty's Words 

Friday, December 15, 2023

We've been at the New Bern Grand Marina and Yacht Club in New Bern, NC since last Tuesday. Tom keeps in touch with the couple who bought Victory, and they have graciously given us use of their slip while they make their way to the Bahamas. We are staying here till we drive to MD for Christmas (leaving here on the 21st), so this is really a money saver. Thank you, Jim and Lexi! 

The marina is at the edge of downtown New Bern. It is a lovely little town, and all you need to get around are your feet. (Although we did hire an Uber to bring us to the Walmart Super Center so we could provision.)

The weather is only a little warmer...it is sunny and mid-50s. Tom has been busy wiring spreader lights, going to the hardware store, tearing up the boat and putting her back together again. Yesterday I did some Christmas shopping, and today I did laundry at the very handy laundromat (that doubles as the mailroom for liveaboards here), and walked around town some more. Tonight we're going to walk around and look at the Christmas lights. 

My brother's Mass is set for Friday, January 12 at St. Clare of Assisi, our childhood church. I don't know if I will be going as we will probably be shoving off for the Bahamas right around then. I would really like to be there, but it's hard to make plans right now.

Friday, December 8, 2023

We just left Elizabeth City, NC after two days tied up (for free!) at the town dock. What a cool little town! We had a fantastic dinner two nights ago at Hoppin' Johns. Tom had a North Carolina bbq sandwich, but I got the chicken and waffles, which were superb! Highly, highly recommend. Tom ate his sandwich, then finished off what I thought I was saving for lunch the next day. So good. 

Today we have 42 miles till we anchor in the Alligator River. The anchorage is near the town boat ramp, so it'll be easy to take Blackberry to shore. Right now the temperature is 35 degrees F, but it's supposed to warm to 56 degrees. We both are tired of the cold! Sick of wearing the same things every day, wiping condensation from the windows, and getting dripped on while we're sleeping. 

On the plus side, since we left so late, most of the folks heading to the Bahamas are already well on their way if not there already, so we have had very little competition for docking, and rarely see any other boat traffic at all. On the minus side, it's cold. But not for long!

Sunday, December 3, 2023

Yesterday we arrived at Jackson Creek Marina in Deltaville, VA. That was after leaving the derelict marina in Reedville, VA, on the second try yesterday. The fog was so thick that it was just too dangerous to be out there. After a few hours, though, the fog was better, and we decided to get out of that place. About four hours later we pulled into the channel and tied up at the fuel dock. We didn't have a reservation, but we were able to get ahold of a marina worker who told us we could tie up there since they were closed till Monday. It's a much nicer place than Reedville, that is for sure. Tomorrow we have about 40 miles till we get to the next marina. If it wasn't so cold and if we didn't have Blackberry, we would be anchoring and dinghying to shore, but the weather is typical winter weather here, so until it warms up, we're staying in marinas. 

Last year the words, "You're going to have to jump off onto the dock and tie us up," would have set my heart racing and anxiety level through the stratosphere. (I never had to do that, though, because dock hands would usually show up or other sailors would grab our lines that I nervously tossed to them, praying the lines wouldn't end up in the water.) I dreaded tying up to docks. So, imagine my utter surprise when I grabbed the spring line, hopped onto the dock, tied us up and said, "This is actually fun!" (Now, it wasn't windy and the current wasn't bad, so it was easy.) Tom is an excellent driver, and gets me close enough that I won't take a dip! It has taken me nearly a year to get to this comfortable and feel like Lyric and I understand each other a little better. 

Last Thursday, as I was dedicating my post to my dad, my brother Dan was dying. He passed away sometime that day, at home, of natural causes. It was such a shock to everyone, and his death has hit Susan, Greg and me hard. He was only 57. We are still coming to terms with this loss, and praying for the three young children he leaves behind. Out of respect for our family's privacy, I will just leave it at that. 

Life goes on, so on we will go. 

Thursday, November 30, 2023

(I am dedicating this page to my dad, who passed away in August, just a little over four months after Mom passed away.)

When we got back home after a wonderful summer sailing in Maine, we didn't plan on getting such a late start to the Bahamas. But, as any boat owner knows, delays in getting boat work done as well as other life events (namely deciding to sell the house and build a brand new one that will allow us more time on the boat), can really put a kink in the best laid plans. So here we are. Day 1.5 of gunkholing our way to the Bahamas. 

We just arrived in Tilghman Island and are tied up at the fuel dock. We're both looking really forward to warmer temps as we head south. Yesterday the high was 39 degrees, and today it should be in the lower 50s. Still a bit chilly for our blood! (Blackberry didn't even want to be topside yesterday...she preferred the warmth of the cabin because she is a very smart dog :)

Our plans at the moment are to make it to Beaufort, SC, in a couple of weeks. We'll rent a car and drive up to Baltimore around Dec. 23 for Jillian's birthday and Christmas. We'd like to leave on the 26th, but of course, all of this depends on weather. 

We'll spend tonight at Calvert Marina in Solomon's Island before making our way to Hampton, VA. (I think that is the plan at least.) 

Just thinking back to last year...I remember sitting in the cockpit, wishing we didn't have the house to worry about (beautiful waterfront property, but the work was never ending). We had toyed with the idea of selling it, and when we couldn't find tenants for this year, we decided to sell it. Took 10 days to get an offer, and we closed on it last Monday. At the same time, we contracted with Koch Homes to build a house on a lot in a neighborhood called Cooke's Hope. (It's just a couple miles outside of Easton.) The hoa is very strict, but they take care of the front yard (we have about .25 acres), and we can literally just turn the key and go sailing without worrying about upkeep. We just have to pay someone to mow the back. No biggie. Most everyone who knows us can't believe we're moving into a neighborhood like that, but at this point in our lives, it's perfect. House should be ready in June or thereabouts. 

Thinking about my dad, too. He passed away as I was enroute to St. Louis  from Portland, ME. I will always be grateful for the time I got to spend with him late last spring. He and Mom had been married for 62 years, and I think he just wanted to be with her. My sister and I had rings made incorporating his January birthstone, and I wear mine everyday. 

Tom has just pulled away from the fuel dock. Time to see if he's ready for breakfast. Grateful for him and this life!

Sunday, July 16, 2023

Well, we decided to stay here for another day. The weather is unsettled with lots of squalls in the forecast, and while tomorrow will be a long day of motoring till we arrive at the Cape Cod canal, conditions today look uncomfortable. Tom took the dinghy ashore to provision before we leave early tomorrow morning. The wind is up, so it's going to be a wet ride. 

We had planned on leaving Oxford in late June, but family obligations (and while we had to deal with hard things, I had a wonderful time in St. Louis with my family. I miss them.) kept us tied to the dock longer than we had expected. July has always been a fairly hot and stagnant month, and in the future, if at all possible, we'll be further north this time next year.

Block Island is a lovely spot, though. It's quite walkable, and while it's been hot, we've gotten lots of exercise. Blackberry is quite the trooper, and knows when it's time to take a rest under a shady tree, picnic table or the high top bar table at Old Island Pub (a local gathering spot filled with very colorful characters). Tom takes her swimming a couple of time a day, and she knows that when he's putting on his hat, and gathering up his stuff, it's time to hop in the dinghy. I honestly don't know who has more fun...Tom or Blackberry!

Just now Aldo's bakery boat is making the rounds. We have bought yummy pastries from them nearly every morning, and today I bought two chocolate croissants and a slice of blueberry pie. Yum.

Friday, July 14, 2023

After a lengthy pause to share in family loss and family joy, we are anchored in Great Salt Pond, RI. We arrived here on Wednesday from Cape May, NJ, which we discovered was more of a sport fish town than a sailing town. It was still a nice stop, though, and the Corinthian Yacht Club graciously let us use their dock to tie up our dinghy so we could go ashore. 

Our new crew member, Blackberry, has made herself quite at home aboard Lyric. She had lots of time to get used to the boat before we took off. Our wonderful neighbors, the Kennerlys, let us use their dock for a couple of months, so Blackberry had plenty of time to get to know her floating home. So far, she has not gotten seasick or anxious. She jumps right into and out of the dinghy like she's been doing it her whole life. She hasn't quite mastered relieving herself onboard. She held it for 32 hours from Chesapeake City to Cape May, but slept most of the time. We shouldn't have too many of those passages to make in the future as we plan on stopping in the evenings so she can go ashore. 

Tomorrow we're leaving for the Cape Cod Canal. We'll anchor for the night, then go through the canal the next day. We'll eventually make our way to Maine after a stop in Portsmouth, NH, where we'll meet up with Tom's cousin Steve and his wife Ellen. They have an Airstream, and made a reservation at an RV park. We're looking really forward to seeing them and their new dog Sandy. (We actually went to an Airstream dealer in NJ, because we're considering going out West during hurricane season.) 

I must admit, getting reacclimated to the sailing life after seven weeks in St Louis, and then another quick visit to help settle Dad into assisted living, was hard for me. Leaving the dock felt like I was being pulled up by my roots, and I struggled to find my sailing groove. I remember being in tears one night (I don't remember why), and the next day Tom and I talking about how hard the transition was for me. Luckily, I feel like my old self now, and boy do I ever miss the Bahamas! Still, it's pretty here, and once we get to Maine, I look forward to less crowded anchorages and cooler temperatures. For Tom's sake, glad the wind is supposed to pick up because since we left Oxford, we have been motoring. 

Monday, April 3, 2023

Looks like we are leaving Marsh Harbor Marina either late this afternoon or early tomorrow morning. We've said "So long" to Wind Trippin' (Penny and Brian) and Brown Eyed Girl (Fred and Wendy), who left yesterday and today. Again, thankful for making these new friends, but miss them already. Perhaps one day our blue paths will cross again. This sailing life is one hello and one good-bye after another. 

Friday, March 31, 2023

 Mom passed away around 5:00 am today. Life and loss go hand in hand, yet being so far away during great moments of loss is very hard. So very grateful that Susan, Greg, Dad, and most of the grandkids were able to surround her with love and compassion during her last few days. I spoke a few words to her by phone, but Mom was not able to speak. I said my good-byes, wiped my eyes, and let Tom be extra kind and gentle. 

It was so strange heading to the bar for birthday drinks (it was Tom's bday yesterday) like nothing profound was going on. In fact, boat neighbors showed up, and we all chatted like it was just an ordinary day, like my mom was not dying. I kept that knowledge to myself. As Susan said to me this morning on her way to Texas for a visit, "Life is about moving on." That is true in so many ways. And moving on is what we shall do.

We're now in Marsh Harbor Marina in the Abacos. We spent the last several weeks in Rock Sound, Spanish Wells, and in Hope Town. The crew of Happy Pancake (whom we met our first day in the Bahamas) met us at Elbow Cay, and we spent many happy moments with them including having the kids for a sleepover, going to the gorgeous beach, eating delicious meals together on our boats, etc. We became very close in a short time, but when you click with folks, you just click. A true gift. We're now at a marina preparing to make a short passage to Brunswick, GA, where we will get some boat work done before we leave for Mom's service in St. Louis. We should be leaving here on Tuesday, and be in Brunswick on Thursday. 

Had to take a pause just now to read a text (not at liberty yet to spread this good news, but it's been much anticipated) that just shows how life really does move on. God is good.

Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2023

It's been brought to my attention that I am overdue for a blog post, so here goes. We're loving our time here in the Bahamas! (Which may explain why I haven't posted anything for awhile.) We are anchored in what has become one of our most favorite spots so far, Little Bay off Great Guana Cay. One of the highlights of our visit here has been meeting up with Victory, owned and loved by Jim and Lexi Gardner, from Myrtle Beach, SC.  Tom and I were so excited to see our old boat, that as soon as we caught sight of her entering the anchorage, we hopped in the dinghy and went out to meet her. They are sailing with their standard poodle and cat. Tom and El Jefe (Spanish for "the boss") played fetch for hours in the calm water, and chased the pair of fish that were swimming around. I can certainly tell Tom misses Blackberry. I do, too.

Jim and Lexi are a very fun couple (a good 10+ years younger than us), which explains why Tom and I were worn out yesterday after hanging out with them for two days at the gorgeous beach, followed by sun downers, dinners, and island shenanigans. We have no plans to leave this beautiful area any time soon. (Although our permit ends March 23, but we may ask for an extension.)

The island itself has several very nice restaurants, a couple of markets, a laundry and a population of around 125 folks. It's easy to walk around, and we have really enjoyed talking to the locals and other cruisers. We have found the Bahamian people to be so friendly, accomodating and open. Some folks might think they treat us so well because we are a source of income to the island, but I don't think that's the whole story. Cruisers wouldn't come here in the first place if the people here weren't so genuine and warm. This morning Tom went into town and bought a loaf of famous coconut bread and a loaf of delicious (still warm) white bread from a woman who bakes the bread and sells it from her kitchen. 

Thursday, Feb. 9, 2023

The last couple of weeks have flown by like Lyric running downwind. We spent several days in George Town, hanging out with Charlie and Mally, who rented a cottage for about 10 days. They had a rental car, and took us to the breathtakingly beautiful beach, The Tropic of Cancer. Uncrowded, unspoiled, sand as soft as powder, clear, calm water. So gorgeous. 

We were in George Town (also known as "adult day care" because of the many activities available) for four days, then headed to Calabash Bay off Long Island. That was a beautiful place. A lovely beach resort was a short dinghy ride, and we had dinner there with our new friends, Jos and Erica (Endless Summer) and Tim (Logos, an Outbound 46, hull #77). As beautiful as that anchorage was, we all left after a couple of days because we were tired of rolling, and the winds were forecast to really pick up. Which they did! (We had planned on returning to GT to pick up Charlie for a few days, but the weather forecast didn't look good for sailing, so Charlie decided to fly home with Mally.)

We're now anchored in a very protected bay, called Thompson Bay (further south on Long Island). There isn't much happening on Long Island, but we did rent a car the other day, intending to hit a laundromat. Tim went with us, and was a great tour guide! We blew off laundry in favor of taking a tour of Hamilton's Cave, visiting Shrimp Hole, and Dean's Blue Hole. We also stopped off at a market, picked up a few things, and had an early night. 

The winds the last few days have been blowing somewhere around 20 knots, but the bay is fairly calm. I have laundry drying on the life lines. We have to return to GT on Saturday to pick up a hand held radio, and then I guess we'll see where we're going after that. We plan on staying in the Bahamas for a couple of months, which makes me happy. 

Thursday, Jan. 26, 2023

It always amazes me how fast time goes. It's a week now since we left PR and embarked on the Mona Passage. It was actually a beautiful trip, even though the passage has a nasty reputation. We sailed 270 miles and anchored in the dark near Matthew Town, Great Inagua. The next day we moved a little closer to shore, and eventually secured a berth at the town dock, situated between Customs and Immigration. (See Tom's post on Clearing in Under the JuJu Tree.)

As any arriving vessel has to make a stop here to clear into the country, this was the place to be. It was our happy luck to meet the Happy Pancake captain and crew, Olaf, Annie, Lisa (age 6), Felix (age 3). They are from Sweden, and absolutely delightful. We spent two days (the first day was spent on our boat as they waited for Immigration to open) together. We set the kids up with packets of powdered lemonade, a faucet and cups and all the kitchen utensils they could find. We enjoyed a feast of lemonade, vanilla wafers and stale lemon Oreo thins. 

The next day, they arrived at our boat at 9:00 am for a  9:30 tour of the salt factory and Windsor Lake, home of the flamingos. In true island style, Norman, our guide, had to wait for the quarter tank of gas he put in his truck, and we were off by 2:30.  (In the meantime, the Coast Guard had intercepted a boat carrying almost 400 Haitians. They spent hours ferrying them from their vessel to Immigration. Twelve hours later, I saw the last migrants walking in a line around the building. Presumably they were going somewhere to spend the night before being flown back to Haiti. Very sobering sight. Tom will be writing a blog in more detail.) The tours were fun, but I got bit up by some awful mosquitos, and suffered an allergic reaction. For two days I just wanted to rip my skin off. It took lots of allergy meds, an epi pen, and a Trazadone before I could even sleep, but I feel better now. Just going to wear bug spray from now on. It's called Skeeter Syndrome, which is when you get bit by a mosquito your body isn't used to. I hope now I have some immunity to those little critters.

I just got off the radio with Annie of Happy Pancake. In about an hour, we're getting in their dinghy for a little snorkeling, lunch, and maybe some fishing near Castle Rock.They arrived in Sugar Bay this morning, and are anchored nearby. Gotta go!

Thursday, Jan. 19, 2023

Our time here at Marina Puerto Real is coming to a bittersweet end. We're leaving early morning tomorrow for the Mona Passage, which we have to cross in order to get to the Bahamas. We'll be clearing in at Great Inagua, which is supposed to be isolated and beautiful. It should take us about three days. This will be the first overnight passage Tom and I have done by ourselves. I'm actually looking forward to it. We have a good weather window, so while the Mona Passage has a reputation for being salty, I am looking forward to good sailing conditions. We haven't really set our watch schedule yet...we figure Tom will take the dog watch (midnight till he gets tired), then we'll switch. Four hours on, four off, or whatever works. We'll sleep when we're tired, eat when we're hungry. 

Tom and I have loved our time in Puerto Rico! (With the exception of the drivers here, who really just do what they want.) When we arrived at the marina on Monday, the wind was blowing fairly hard, and after three valiant tries at docking Lyric, Tom slipped her in stern first.  A lovely couple (Victor and Jane) gave us a hand with our lines (Victor is from Ireland, and Jane is from Oregon, where they have a house. They just bought a Grand Banks two months ago, and are right around our ages, even though they look a lot younger! We had a few sundowners on their boat a couple of night ago, and really had fun. Really nice people, who are so excited about their future adventures. They'll be leaving Padre Pio (their boat) here for several months while they visit family, but they have signed a year long contract with the marina. Tom and I had no idea we would love this island so much, and now wish we were doing the same thing. Everyone we have met on the dock are friendly and helpful. (Had a lovely sundowner get together with Troy and Evelyn last night aboard their 96 foot yacht, and our sport fishermen neighbors gave is some black fin tuna they caught yesterday.)

Cabo Rojo proper is a bustling and busy town, much like any suburban area. (Complete with a Walmart, Marshalls, and Home Depot!) The immediate neighborhood, though, is small, and we can walk to the delicious bakery, restaurants, hardware store. It isn't a fancy area, but the food is delicious, and the people are warm and welcoming. So far, PR has been our favorite stop. Truly Isla del Encanto...The Island of Enchantment. We will definitely be back someday. 

Saturday, Jan. 14, 2023

We are in a marina in Selinas, PR, and leaving tomorrow for Cabo Rojo, where Tom is expecting delivery of some boat parts. We have a rental car, but Miguel is picking it up this morning. We think it's his personal car because the key ring has house keys on it, and his office is in his house. He isn't Enterprise, that's for sure! 

A couple of days ago we decided we better provision and hit the Home Depot before we leave here tomorrow. I told Tom I would meet him at the Walmart after he finished at the Home Depot. I was not prepared for the loud party music that ushered me inside and then made it hard for me to concentrate. No matter. The aisles were crowded, just like the roads and interstates.  Now I know why the drivers here are so unpredictable. They start out pushing carts in what Tom and I call "The Party Walmart." 

We stocked up on provisions, and even bought a table top TV. After paying (if we could even find it) a fortune for meat on the  VIs, we were really glad to see the prices here were about half of what we had seen in other islands. 

Yesterday we drove into Old San Juan. We toured the very old and interesting Castillo San Cristobel, a fort which was built over the course of 250 years. The last time it was used was during WW2. The views over the water were absolutely incredible. The town itself is beautiful. Colorful buildings, historic architecture, and narrow streets made it feel like we were in Europe. Loved it. 

At a marina bar two nights ago, we met a couple who are also transients, DeAnn and Eric. The've spent the last three Minnesota winters in the Caribbean. DeAnn invited us to join them for pizza last night on Willie and Mark's ketch just down the dock from us. There were several other couples, all older than us. One woman (I forgot her name, but she was really nice) had just had hip surgery, and Willie was saying how she'll need a knee replacement soon. But these women don't let a few physical issues get in their way. They have all been cruising for years. We are the newbies by far. 

April and her husband Curt, are 73 and 75 respectively. They have been cruising for 12 years, so they were around our age when they started. (They even had to learn how to sail!) We sat topside in Mark and Willie's cockpit and foredeck, and listened as April and Mark and Curt described the various islands they had been to (Trinidad and Dominica being favorites). I am sure they just scratched the surface, and as we were leaving, Tom asked Mark if he would be around to talk to later today, and he said sure. His wife Willie said she hoped to talk to me some more, too, so we're planning on getting together with them later today. Last night was the first time we had actually met a group of cruisers, and they were a wealth of knowledge. What struck me, too, was how relaxed and happy everyone seemed. Definitely a healthy lifestyle.

In case you're wondering, we eventually made it to Flamenco Beach on Culebra. We took our fold up bikes, and rode the hilly 2.5 miles to the beach, which is one of the most beautiful on Culebra. Highly recommend. There were food trucks which sold beer, kabobs and other fare. By this point, though, we had seen so many gorgeous beaches, that we were ready for something different. Which we definitely have here in Marina Salinas! 

When Tom and I first set out, we thought we'd be gone a year, maybe two, with a few breaks now and then. I am not sure I want to live on land again, though, at least not full-time. While living on a sailboat (even though Lyric is a very comfortable and capable blue water boat) can be exasperating at times, the lifestyle is so freeing. Plans can change at the last minute based on weather and your own whims, and I love exploring new towns, cultures, and immersing myself in the sailing life. 

Our new friend, Mark, just stopped by. He is telling us about Trinidad and Granada...destinations we had not even considered. Till now.

Saturday, Jan. 7, 2023

We never did make it to Flamenco Beach yesterday. Tom's putting in 12 volt power outlets so we can charge our devices a little more efficiently (and, as he says, he's "a man of many talents."), which means the boat was torn apart, and beach time became happy hour time. No biggie. We dinghied over to the dock (and this time a nice man helped us tie up, and we didn't slide under the dang dock), grabbed a table at a restaurant that was one of the few businesses open. Our waiter explained that The Feast of the Epiphany means a three day weekend. He also said, 'Puerto Ricans don't need a reason to celebrate. You go to a party, and ask what's the occasion? Someone says, oh, the cat just turned two months old.' He shook his nearly toothless head, laughing. I love Puerto Rico!

Tom loves Puerto Rico for an entirely different reason. Let me just say the women here in Culebra are gorgeous, and not shy about embracing their beauty and femininity. You don't see them wearing shorts and t-shirts. They make an effort. Every curve is dressed (or undressed) to its best advantage, and self confidence spills out like cleavage in a low cut top. No wonder their men seem happy. I know mine is! 

I finally feel settled back in to the cruising life. Boat projects, sunshine, sundowners, happy hours and happier nights...and this morning, a rainbow. Grateful for this life.

Friday, Jan. 6, 2023

Happy to report Tom's back is feeling much better! Soon it'll be back to beaches, day drinking and soaking up the beautiful scenery. :) We'll be heading to Flamenco Beach later (It's 8:30 am), which is only a couple of miles away. It gets its name from the flamingos that used to live there. We'll tie up to the town dinghy dock and grab a taxi. (I almost beheaded myself the first time we tied up there when the dinghy started to go under the dock when I tried to tie if off. I screamed a little. But Tom pushed us off, and here I am. I heard laughter from a nearby restaurant, and I can't say for certain if someone told a funny story or they were watching the spectacle below.)

Thursday, Jan. 5, 2023

We're anchored off the south end of Puerto Rican island of Culebra. We took a walk yesterday through the rather depressing town, and returned to the boat feeling rather deflated. The north end is known for gorgeous beaches, but we can't anchor there. You're supposed to take a cab or rent a car, but we're not going anywhere for awhile because Tom hurt his back lugging the StarLink box he had shipped to Shannon's, along with everything else we had to carry back to the boat. He's been in pain for several days, and we're hoping rest and otc meds will help. 

We did have a great visit with friends and family! Our flights to and from were delayed due to the winter storm, and we couldn't get out of BWI till New Year's Day. We stayed with Shannon and Ronnie most of the time (always fun, always good food, always lots of laughs. Thanks, you two!), Murph a couple of nights (thanks, Murph!), and Tom's younger sister Cindy and her husband Reilly. (Will never forget the cat museum! Thanks so much for your hospitality!) It was wonderful spending time with everyone. Also, big thanks to Charlie, who organized a little party at OBY clubhouse. He made a delicious chili, and everybody brought yummy food and drinks. It was so good to see our friends, and catch up with everyone. We really miss you all! (P.S. Fran!! Your Christmas night party was great! So wonderful catching up with you!)

We got back to the boat (American Harbor Yacht Club on St. Thomas) on New Year's Day. Not big fans of St. Thomas, but we were only really at the marina. There were the usual bars, restaurants and gift shops, and further west is the the capital (Charlotte Amelie) which looks like it caters to the cruise ship clientele with lots of lovely shops. We only drove past it back and forth to the airport. 

Once Tom feels better, we'll either rent a golf cart or take a taxi to the beautiful beaches on the north end of the island. 

An observation...I was totally in the cruising groove before we left for Christmas. Now I feel like I am having to learn all over again the skills I had nearly mastered after two months of sailing and cruising. (Throwing lines, tying certain knots, getting in and out of the dinghy without hurting myself, etc, etc.) Gone, too, is the vacation attitude. Reality is setting in...we are liveaboards. I am happy to be here, but I miss the beautiful BVIs, the gorgeous beaches, the rum punches. Maybe once we get going again we can recapture that spirit. Truly, it was like a second honeymoon. 

It's almost like I can divide time into Before Christmas and After Christmas. I am watching Tom now try to walk. His back  really hurts, and I think that's what has put a damper on things for the moment. He tries to do too much, and it is hard for him to slow down. Now he has no choice. Fingers crossed he'll feel better soon!

Thursday, Dec. 22, 2022

We said good-bye to the BVI, and cruised on over to the USVI about five days ago. We spent a couple of nights in Cruz Bay, then headed to another bay called Little Lameshure Bay. Most of St. John is a national park, so we moored (no anchoring allowed) in front of a lovely beach. After all the fun we had in Cruz Bay, a quiet anchorage was just perfect.(However, if  you go to Cruz Bay, don't miss the beach bar called High Tide, and in keeping with the "high" theme, walk past Cap's bar at any hour, and you will smell what I mean. One of the shop owners (a lovely young woman who owns a clothing boutique where I bought a cute sundress, and Tom got a couple of t-shirts) told us the bar opens at 5:30 am, so the construction workers can get a little boost before going to work. By the looks of some of the guys, I think they probably spent the night there.

Yesterday we arrived at a marina called American Yacht Harbor in St. Thomas. It's nothing like the lovely Nanny Cay marina in the BVI, but they had space, and we needed a place for Lyric to stay while we fly home for Christmas, so here we are. 

Earlier, Tom dropped off three loads of laundry, and just got back from picking it up. "Well, we just got ripped off," he said, walking down the companionway with three bags of clean laundry. For a second I thought someone stole our dirty clothes. But no. He was talking about the cost. "Guess how much this was." 

I shrugged. "Thirty bucks?" 

"Sixty-three dollars!" Then he let loose with one of his favorite expressions, which I will not put in print. ;) I  suggested we stop wearing clothes. 

We are supposed to fly out of St. Thomas this evening, but many flights are canceled or delayed (ours has been delayed twice so far) due to a monster winter storm hitting the midwest and the east coast. We hope to make it to Shannon's some time after midnight. Fingers crossed!

Merry Christmas to all of our family and friends! 

Monday, Dec.12, 2022

We're at Nanny Cay marina where we are waiting for the sailmaker to show up so he can fix the Genoa. We arrived today after a night in the most beautiful anchorage we've ever seen. (After reluctantly leaving Gorda Sound, which I absolutely loved. Saba Rock and The Bitter End Yacht Club, I won't forget you!) Not a mooring ball in sight. We practically had the place to ourselves.

The anchorage was off Peter Island, and anyone who knows me knows I am terrible with directions and names, so I forget the name of the anchorage, and exactly where it was, but it so peaceful. Only a handful of boats were anchored. The water was dark blue, clear, and so calm. We took a dingy ride to check out the coast line, and as we were admiring a 28'' Bristol sloop, we saw the captain in the cockpit working on fixing the swim stairs. (We think.) Tom called out, 'You have the most beautiful boat in the BVis!'  Just then his wife came up through the companionway, and I realized I knew her! The woman's name is Nica, her husband is Jeremy, and their gorgeous boat is called Calypso. Nica taught a class I took (She's a Cruiser) through Cruiser's University in Annapolis. Such a small world. (Tom has his own small world story, but I'll let him tell it.) We chatted a bit, but boat projects wait for no man, so we said our good-byes and went back to Lyric, amazed at how small the world really is.

If we didn't need to get our sail fixed, I don't think we would have left that idyllic spot. We chose it because it was just around the point from Nanny Cay marina. Took us less than an hour to motor here. 

It's kind of nice to be in a marina instead of anchored. We get wifi, we can walk to a very nice grocery store, there are restaurants, and I made a new friend. (Lindsey and her husband are from Toronto, and spend the winters in the BVIs.) I just drank in her company...she was so friendly, offered good tips, and told me all about the marina. I hadn't realized how much I missed my girlfriends!

We hope to be able to stay here another night, even though we only reserved one. The girl (Jillian! I told her that is my daughter's name) at the desk told me to check back with her later tonight. She said they were full, but would try to move some boats around so we could stay. I need to provision and do some laundry.

While we were in Virgin Gorda, we didn't have Internet. We had used almost all of our data for the month in just eight days, so unless we dinghied over to Saba Rock or TBE Yacht Club, we were out of luck. I imagine unless we are in a marina or bar with wifi, we will be out of touch, and that is really ok. 

Same day, 12:07 pm

While Tom was topside scrubbing the decks and giving Lyric some much needed attention, I was down below looking through "The Boat Galley Cookbook" and making a grocery list. And then it hit me. There is a lot I've left out of this blog, and it just goes to show how I take for granted the sailing skills and hard work of Captain Tom. (And no, he didn't tell me to write this lol). 

It is due to his skill, his knowledge and experience that we made it safely to the BVIs. Of course our crew was awesome, too, but without Tom's leadership (and willingness to listen and consider other ideas), I don't know where we'd be. There were many tense moments, but Tom helped us through them. I am really proud to be his wife.

Saturday, November 26, 2022

It's just me and Tom now. Allen and Charlie left the boat yesterday to stay at a hotel on the other side of the island. We spent five weeks together floating in 350 square feet, and parted amidst a few tears (mine), numerous hugs and a shared sense of pride and accomplishment. 

In a weird way, I am glad our passage was so challenging. (Tom said it was the roughest passage he has ever been on.) I had no point of reference. I just knew sailing close hauled with winds up to 25-30 knots, waves up to 10-12 feet, and fighting to stay upright down below was not fun. I remember telling myself that if this is what sailing is like, you can count me out. Somehow, now, those hard times are a distant memory, and all I really recall is the overwhelming sense of gratitude and relief as we popped open the champagne last Wednesday at 7:30 am. 

We celebrated Thanksgiving at the marina restaurant. (Red Rock at Penn's Docks). We drank rum punches and painkillers with our turkey dinners after face timing with family back home. Tom called me a "bad ass." We were all a little high, and not just because we officially ended "The AA and Weight Watchers Cruise." (As Charlie called this passage. No one drank a drop of alcohol for 12 days, and many days it was too rough to cook. I think we all lost weight, but as nature would have it, the guys more than me. Another injustice.) We were so proud of ourselves. 

Yesterday and today are boat cleaning days. Later we'll dingy over to the grocery store, and tomorrow we're leaving the dock to drop anchor so we can explore the beauty of nearby islands.

While we are thrilled to be here, our thoughts are never far from loved ones back home, especially this time of year. Back home everyone is getting ready for Christmas. It is 37 degrees in Oxford this morning, and 82 degrees here. Doesn't feel like Christmas, but soon I will have to add a little Christmas cheer to Lyric. Maybe some colored lights, a little Gene Autry, and cookies!

Wednesday, November 23, 2022

After 1,535 miles, 12 days at sea, eight days at Morehead City marina, and four days on the ICW from Hampton, VA to Morehead City, we are now anchored outside of Spanish Town in Virgin Gorda. We decided not to sail to Antigua because we didn't want to sail close hauled into high winds and high seas anymore. We were tired of getting beat up for hours on end. So we fell off the wind, and headed to the BVIs.

Our anchorage is beautiful. Tom broke out a lovely bottle of champagne at 7:30 this morning, and we toasted to our safe arrival. We took a dip in the turquoise water after breakfast (thank you, Tom!), and now Tom is checking us in at immigration. Once he comes back, we'll probably dingy into town. We have loads and loads of laundry to do. And of course we have to find some bars and restaurants!

ABSOLUTELY could not have done this without Allen and Charlie, who were awesome. I had some very black moments when I wanted off the boat because just trying to get around below usually resulted in me being thrown against something hard. I was exhausted (we all were), and so tired of being bounced around like a pinball. Towards the end, I just slept.

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. So very much to be thankful for. I'll write more later, but first, a beer!

Friday, Nov. 11, 2022Veteran's DayYesterday afternoon we decided that conditions did indeed look favorable for a Saturday departure, so we took an Uber to the grocery store with a bar (Lowe's!), armed with lists and a sense of excitement. The guys grabbed a beer, Tom brought me a glass of pinot grigio, and thus armed we cruised the aisles and filled two carts. Most of which was beer and wine. Go figure. After we paid, we parked our carts at a table at the bar and had a couple more drinks. The place was packed! When it was time to go, another Uber picked us up, and we unloaded everything onto the boat. We were all feeling quite festive after our very successful shopping trip when Charlie and I decided we would write a country song before the end of this trip. He plays guitar, and took a songwriting class. The idea sprung from this classic Charlie one liner, "If I could learn how to drink, I would be a better man." I told him that sounded like a line from a country song. I added "Whether from a glass or a can, I could be a better man. But I like myself the way I am." That's as far as we've gotten. We may or may not have a hit on our hands. This morning Allen made the watch schedule for the first several days of the trip. I'll be with Tom for my watches on Saturday (each watch is 3 hours), then one of the guys will be with me for two hours the following day, then I'll be holding watches by myself. Over coffee this morning, we talked about feeling a little anxious about the passage, and Charlie said, "If you're not anxious, you're not paying attention." Right now they're lashing the dinghy to the foredeck, I'm waiting for the washing machine to finish up, and then I'll tidy up and break out the pressure cooker. I'm going to make a few meals and freeze them for when we're underway. (Still deciding, but for sure a beef stew and some kind of chicken soup.) After today, I don't believe I'll be able to post any entries till we arrive at Nelson Harbor. May the good Lord watch over us and all vessels sailing His powerful and beautiful waters. 
Thursday, Nov. 10, 2022Forgive the delay in updates...Internet access has been touchy, and yesterday when I went to the library to use theirs, they didn't have it either. This morning, though, the Morehead City Municipal Library is up and running. A nice lady escorted me to the Large Print Room (which struck me as kind of funny. I am at that age, after all!), where I am settled into a rather lumpy desk chair at a very adequate table. Over the last six days we have been snugly tied up at the city dock waiting for a decent weather window. The winds have been 20-25 knots with gusts up to 30 knots. Today is cloudy, 74 F, and the winds aren't quite as fiesty as they have been the last couple of days.The crew have been busy adjusting rigging, going to the grocery store on the portable bikes, checking systems (the water maker and washer/dryer work!), and exploring the town. Leave it to the guys to find a grocery store (Lowe's) that has a beer counter that serves beer on tap. Today is half price beer starting at noon, so I may have to cut this entry short, although I think I will let them go and stay behind to make some meals we can eat when we are finally underway, which should be Tuesday. But then again, I still have time! We are listening to the weather router's forecast at least once a day. Between Hurricane Nicole and other tropical lows, high winds and high waves, we are starting to wonder if we'll ever make it to Antigua. As it stands now, a Saturday departure is off the table. We had thought as recently as yesterday we could leave then, but Chis Parker, the weather router, suggests we don't. Seems like the Gulf Stream could be very uncomfortable until probably Monday or Tuesday, so we are shooting for a Tuesday departure. I remember when Tom, Allen and I left Oxford on Oct. 26, we anticipated being in Antigua by mid-November, but now it looks like we'll be celebrating Thanksgiving on the boat. I am thankful that Mally and Lori are ok with their husbands not being home for that day. Overall, everything is going fine. We are doing our best to stay positive and to go with the flow.Everyone is retired, so no one has to be anywhere, which is good. We're settling in to our own routines, and I am adjusting to tight spaces, deep spaces, and not many empty spaces. I would like to close this entry today with a nod to Captain Tom, Charlie and Allen, who are working so hard to make sure Lyric is in tip top shape before we head off. From cooking, cleaning, fixing stuff and being just good company, they do whatever needs to be done. I am a lucky woman. 
TGIF Nov. 4, 2022We woke up to cloudy skies that soon became the backdrop to a gorgeous double rainbow. We could see the beginning and ending, a perfectly beautiful arc. Looked like we could reach out and touch it. The sailboat Dutchess, also anchored in South River, was framed beautifully. We tried to hale them to get a phone number to send the pictures we took, but they didn't answer. Hopefully we see them somewhere along the way. I spent a couple of hours at the helm with Allen guiding me along. At the end of this trip, I just might know how to steer a course without freaking out. I remember an instructor I had once said that sailing isn't brain surgery; and the more I do it, the more I understand how it works, how to follow a course, how the wind blows, etc. We're at Morehead City Docks now. I think we arrived around 3:00. Wherever we go Charlie is the first to make a friend. He'll talk to anybody. Mr. Congeniality, that's him! He and Tom took the portable bikes around town to find a worthy substitute for our usual Friday hangout, Doc's Sunset Grille. (Aka Headquarters) They came back and said Yellow Fin looked like a promising dive bar, so I guess that's where we'll be this evening! This dock is going to be home for at least a week, possible 10 days as we wait for a weather window. Before Tom left with Charlie, he looked at me, and said, "Well, honey, this is cruising. Getting someplace and hanging out." We shared a quick kiss and a smile. 
Thursday, Nov. 3, 20229:25 amWe're near Belhaven, NC, anchored in lovely Pungo Creek. We've been motoring down the ICW since we left Hampton. We only have 45 miles today until we get to the next anchorage near Oriental, NC. (We did 70 miles yesterday. The highlight for me was driving us under a 64' bridge and hearing applause from the locals when we cleared it. Tom yelled, "That was my wife driving!" Allen guided me perfectly.) From there we'll head to Morehead City, NC.The forecast will keep us in Morehead for about 10 days. There are hurricanes and tropical storms forming South, so we need to wait till they are gone. Chris Parker (weather router) suggests a 10 day wait. We're been scoping out things to do and bars to visit. (Charlie's specialty) I am looking forward to getting laundry done and possibly a pedicure. ;)Allen and Charlie are excellent crew! (We joke about the MVC award-most valuable crew...so far Allen is leading, and Charlie wants to give up, but the competition really works to my advantage!) We're eating well. Last night I made penne pasta with the family favorite vodka sauce and salad. Big hit. Charlie had 4 helpings!The hook just came up, and Tom is at the helm. Weather is partly cloudy and 63 F. All is well!
Sun. Oct. 30, 2022We actually shoved off on time! We loaded everything on board (good-bye, closet space!), sailed down to Solomon's Island and docked for the night at a friend of Allen's. The next morning we sailed to Bryant Cove off of Mobjack Bay, which is absolutely beautiful. The winds were gusting up to 25 knots, and it was quite a lively sail. We made it to Hampton, VA, Friday and are docked at The Hampton Yacht Club after a little bit of drama (which I won't go into at the moment), but let's say Lyric left her mark. The weather has been cool, windy, and a mix of sun and clouds. Yesterday Allen and I went to West Marine, Lowe's, and Kroger, while Tom tried to figure out why we weren't getting hot water. It's related to the diesel heating system that was incorrectly installed by the "clown" employed by Total Boat Works. Clown being the nicest of the adjectives Tom has used. We had a yummy dinner at The Deadrise. I highly recommend the buffalo shrimp!Today Charlie arrives via EZ Air! (Having a good friend with a plane is a huge help!)  He didn't join us at the beginning because he tested positive for Covid a couple days before we left. Allen will pick him up from Rick Aviation. The forecast looks a little scary. We have to be out of the gulf stream by Tuesday night to avoid heavy seas and dangerous winds, so we're taking off early tomorrow morning. Listening to the weather briefing made me wish I had put on my seasick patch. I definitely felt a little queasy listening to what was in store for us. We actually may have to stop in the Bahamas while we wait for a TROF to clear from the Caribbean mid November. 
4:35 pmWe all went to the weather briefing at 11:00 am today. The rally organizers strongly suggest waiting a week or taking the ICW to Beaufort, SC., then crossing the Gulf Stream over the next few days. After the briefing, Tom, Allen, Charlie and I decided that cruising the ICW was the way to go. I am very happy about that! Tom and Charlie are at another weather update meeting, so there may be more or different information than this morning. As of right now, we'll be leaving for the ICW in the morning. I am so thankful Allen and Charlie are with us. These guys are hardworking, easy to be around, and excellent sailors. Right now Allen is topsides cleaning the deck because Tom ran out of time. They are truly so happy to be here. I am doing my best to feed them well!Allen told me yesterday that he and Charlie will teach me how to sail so that Tom can focus on captain responsibilities. I often feel like a square peg in a round hole when it comes to sailing, but with a lot of practice, I think I'll be okay. I'll have plenty of practice since this is going to be my life for the foreseeable future. 
October 23, 2022 Three days to go! I look around the house and still see the unfinished back splash, the food that still needs to be stored, and the general upheaval that comes with trying to figure out what to keep, what to store, what to donate, what to toss. I did such a great job of packing, that after my shower today, I realized I packed all of my undies, and had to raid a storage container that is still sitting in my room. My to-do list for tomorrow:
  • Bring Jillian back to Chestertown
  • Meet Alan at Easton Airport 11:30-ish
  • Meet rug cleaner at storage unit and stow rugs (bet 12-1)
  • Buy beer, wine, other drinks
  • Store clothes, etc at Murph's
  • Store food onboard
  • Have a glass of wine, and make dinner!
October 19, 2022One week to go! Last weekend we took a wilderness medicine course, which, after a lot of complaining (by me) about having to be in Annapolis at 7:15 am and losing an entire weekend, was well worth it. We learned that if someone is "eating, drinking, pooping and peeing," then it's not serious. But, we also learned how to splint, how to reduce a dislocated joint, how to treat symptoms and not to try to diagnose a problem. (There were moments when I thought that I had missed my calling!) We drove the dogs out to St. Louis about four weeks ago. They are excellent travelers! Annie loves having Tanker, and Blackberry (aka The Shrubinator) is having a grand time with Pudge and Sox. We miss them. (As Susan says, God bless Dan Noonan!) Glad they are in good hands, although we may have pay for a landscaper when we come back to get Blackberry ;)  Still a lot to do before we shove off, but we have packed, stored, and sold a lot of stuff. Our tenants move in Nov 1. Will the siding be done? Probably not. The back splash? We're hopeful. Will we care? Nope.
August 22, 2022 (Our 30th wedding anniversary!)You know how when important events are months away (if not years) and seem like they are so far off that they don't seem real? Weddings, births, graduations, summer vacations, retirement? Well, that is how I feel right now--I can't believe in about 2 and half months we will have rented out the house, sold a car, stored our stuff, and moved aboard Lyric to head South in early November. It all seemed like a pipe dream when we started talking about this so many months ago.I look around the house and think about all we still have to do...new siding, windows, refinishing the floors, selling furniture, a car, packing and storing stuff we aren't taking with us. We also have to get the dogs out to St. Louis in four weeks and take classes through Cruisers University during the Annapolis Boat Show in October. All a tad overwhelming, I must admit. Last week, with the help of our two good friends and crew members, Charlie and Allen, Tom put on the wind vane, painted the boot stripe and bottom painted the hull. (Lyric was on the hard at a local boat yard.) He still has to replace the 4 batteries that weigh 175 pounds each, install diesel heat, and hook up the washer/dryer. Plus all the other stuff we still have to do between now and the end of October. It's a lot.But he's retired! August 12 was the big day. All this stuff that has to get done doesn't seem to faze him since he doesn't have meetings, etc. He isn't freaking out. He's busy all day doing house and yard projects, getting stuff done. I know we'll be ready when the day comes to head to Hampton, VA, to join the Salty Dog rally to Antigua.