Miles Under the Keel…

We made it out of Deltaville as we hoped – the wind was still blowing 20+, but from the right direction.  It was our first shakedown sail in some seas and wind for Intermezzo and she performed very well (I’m not sure the younger crew had their sea legs yet, and the evidence of that could be seen in the gunwale!)

Our destination was Hampton, VA.  There was another cold front coming through – the same one that was felt all over the East Coast, and brought with it gale force winds, so we got a slip at the town dock and spent the next day at the Mariner’s Museum.

For the record, if you do find yourself in Hampton, VA, the Mariner’s Museum is one of the best museums we’ve been to.  Of course the subject matter was interesting, but the layout of the space and presentation of the content was second to none.  The new exhibit featured at the museum focused on the USS Monitor (Civil War History buffs – the Union Ironclad), there was also great info on the CSS Virginia (or Merrimack) and the 4 hour battle that ended in a stalemate, but changed Navel Warfare forever.IMG_0897

A bit interesting for someone who is living on a boat, but Tali is fascinated with the Titanic.  The highlight for her was seeing the model.

We survived our first night on the boat with the external thermometer reading 32 degrees…  the heat worked fine, but the trip the next day was COLD!  We hit a major milestone that day however…. Mile 0 of the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway! (and that only leaves 1200 more miles to get to Key West, totally not intimidating at all!!). We also experienced our first lock – there is a two foot difference between the Chesapeake Bay and the  Albermarle Sound, thus requiring a trip through the Great Bridge Lock. We finished our day “pulling over” on the ICW and anchoring off the channel, happy to have arrived in North Carolina with minimal fanfare. An early start on Sunday and we continued south to the Alligator River with a marina stop for electricity and heat overnight, and finally, today we transitted the Alligator River/Pungo River Canal – basically a thin patch of water that goes on for 30 miles in the middle of nowhere NC, where we are anchored in Pungo Creek…further bringing us into the middle of nowhere, with no other boats in sight.

The cold is really no joke… We should have had ski jackets on, not foul weather gear!!!


Tali and Savy were the line handlers for the 2 foot trip up in the lock.

It would be great if there were photographic evidence of this, but there is not, so you’ll have to take our word for it.  During our trip through the canal today, 3 deer (bucks actually), decided to go for a swim and crossed the canal right in front of us.  Two made it across, causing only a minor directional change for us; but the third was a little late getting started and was on a collision course for the boat. He eventually made the wise decision of turning around, before Becky had to resort to beating him off with the boat pole! You drive long enough, eventually, you have a run in with a deer, but who would think that it would be with a boat???

Heading further south tomorrow with a good weather window to cross the Pamlico Sound and head south on the Nuese River.

American History 101… or waiting out bad weather

We’ve made some progress south, but Mother Nature put the brakes on us for a few days.  We have spent the last three days in Deltaville, VA with howling wind and cold temperatures (getting colder according to the forecast).  So what do you do, when you can’t sail south, you rent a car and head to Colonial Williamsburg and the Jamestown Settlement.

Clearly Savy on the left was not happy about being locked up…

This picture was taken on the Susan Constant, the ship that brought the original Jamestown Colonists from England.  We did not go crazy with pictures, but this ship was small – less than 120 ft, and she carried 71 people on a 6 month trip across the Atlantic. The helmsmen steered the ship from below without a window, and instructions were shouted down to him.  Standing on the dock, next to that ship, it was hard to imagine looking at her in England, and voluntarily getting on her to cross the Atlantic.  

The adjustment to life aboard continues.  It is amazing how much you take for granted about routine, but then again, this whole trip is about challenging those routines, and the status quo.  We’ve had great meals on the boat, ranging from turkey meatloaf and sweet potatoes to a sausage tortellini soup.  We re-provisioned, and we’ve sampled some local fare, including our favorite, Pimento Cheese Dip (for the record, it did not compare to the Nashville version).  I’m not sure that ‘schooling’ has hit a routine yet, but the content and progress is definitely happening.  Be sure to check out Tali’s blog which she just started.  Seeing this experience through a child’s eyes can help you see things you may have missed…  Click here for a direct link.

On the boat side of things, we had our first issue, which we addressed today.  The challenge with the timeline is that the boat has not really had a ‘shakedown’ cruise.  These first two legs 8 hours to Solomon’s Island and 10 hours to Deltaville were the most the boat’s engine has been used in over two years.  Diesel engines are great, when they are used… when they are not, things start to get rotten – so the seal on our raw water pump started leaking oil.  Not a lot, but that particular leak is an indication of a problem, better preventative maintenance, then getting stuck, causing damage, and getting towed in.  Also, as you start repairing things, you see how the boat was maintained (it always looks great when you put it up for sale) – in this case, there may be a few lurking gremlins.

The weather is still a little iffy tomorrow, but definitely improving.  We have a bit of ‘slip fever’ and need to get out, so hopefully we’ll be able to continue south tomorrow with a favorable breeze and calmer seas. 


Settling In

We talk about settling in when it is in regards to a new house, well we’re settling in to our new home – there are more similarities than differences…

November 1st – Moving Day…  you know that pile of stuff that  you don’t put on the moving truck – it’s not that much, just some stuff to put in the trunk and bring with you…..We all know that small pile of stuff requires multiple trips or a van – for us, it meant a three and half hour ride from NJ to MD with things piled high on everyone’s lap.  You can only plan so much ; )

November 2nd – Provisioning…  well we didn’t start that until afternoon, when we had finished stowing those “few things” we brought down.  In addition, there was one remaining maintenance item, held over beyond the target date. We enjoyed a delicious dinner in our new home, with one extra uninvited guest!!  Imagine sitting around your dinner table, and out of the corner of your eye, seeing a furry animal walk by your feet – yes, the local boatyard cat liked what she smelled and hopped aboard to say, “Hi!”  You might think that this is not a big deal, but remember, we’re on a boat – furry things on boats that you don’t bring on just don’t belong!!!!

November 3rd – Last Minute Stuff… the maintenance item wasn’t done until noon and our first leg is a a good 7 or 8 hours – so we decided to stay in the marina for one more night as the cold front passes, and we’re off first thing tomorrow morning for Solomon’s Island.

In all honesty, moving aboard was as crazy as you’d expect, we’re trying to add pieces of normalcy where we can, and settling in just fine!

More to come!


Big Milestones…

We’re getting back to the nitty gritty of moving from a house onto a boat and sailing south. We’ve had three key milestones since the last update.
#1 – Intermezzo is now in the water, where a boat should be. It was a long 5 weeks of climbing ladders, installing a stainless steel frame to support a solar panel, lifting hundreds of pounds of chain and a new anchor, dropping the sails to have some repairs done, and let’s not forget about the dinghy and engine… That phase is done – with only one trip to the urgent care facility ; )

#2 – We spent our first night together as a family on the boat at anchor. We traveled a whole 5 miles from where the boat is being kept, but that 5 miles, including dropping the anchor, running the 12-volt system, and inviting friends who joined us on their boat for dinner was basically a dry run for our liveaboard life, and things went well. Of course there are small things that came up, but no show stoppers, so 11/1 as a departure date still seems doable.

Folks have asked about what is after 11/1. Our journey is divided into a few rough sections…

route1) Intra Coastal Waterway (ICW) to Charleston for Thanksgiving, 2) ICW from Charleston to Sourthern FL/Keyes for Christmas/New Years, 3) Crossing the Gulf Stream to the Bahamas in mid-January, 4) a bit of a figure 8 through the Bahamas down Eleuthera and the Exumas to Long Island and up to the Abacos, 5) Crossing the Gulf Stream back to the US the end of April/Beginning of May, and 6) Keyport Harbor (Home) the end of June/Beginning of July. That said, taking a twist on a well known quote – “Captains plan and Neptune laughes.” This is clearly about the journey and the experience – not any particular destination.

I did save the biggest milestone for last – Savy’s 5th birthday celebration. When we asked her where she wanted to spend her birthday, she said, “On Intermezzo.” Before you say how great that is, she quickly followed up with… “and I’d also like a party at home the next weekend.” Tali’s 8th birthday will be celebrated somewhere between Annapolis and Charleston. These are the milestones and memories that will last a lifetime.

Experiences have disproportionate impacts…

We’ve been a bit delinquent with updates, but progress continues.

The plan was to add a map of our route and a little more detail – we don’t have it all figured out yet, but more clarity comes each day. That said, the wrath of Mother Nature over the past few weeks has really caused us to stop and think about how certain places and experiences have had disproportionate impacts on our lives.

Specifically, the devastation of the British Virgin Islands and St John from Hurricane Irma, has been affecting us. As many of you know, we spend 2 weeks each year visiting these islands and the people that live there — Cow Wreck Beach on Anegada, BVI is the location of our family picture on this website.

When you think about the actual impact of the storm, in numbers of people affected or insurance losses, it is very small; but somehow, because of the intensely positive experiences we have during short periods of time each year, this has had a disproportionate impact on us.

While these islands are not very close to where we are sailing this year, if the opportunity presents itself, we will look to take a break to head down and help where we can.

If a 2 week experience each year can create such an impression, we can only wonder what impression the next 9 months will leave.

Back to the updates next week…


No Turning Back…

The timing is almost uncanny…  Chris’ official last day at his job was on Friday, August 25th, and we closed on the boat on Monday, August 28th.  Talk about closing one chapter and opening another.

For those that don’t know, closing on a boat is much like closing on a house.  There are titles to be checked, mortgages to be paid/disbursed, inspections (or surveys) to be completed, insurance to be in place, and a whole lot of signatures.  The reason I share, is signing all those documents, puts into perspective the commitment to this journey.

The survey was generally clean, meaning we have a solid boat.  It doesn’t mean that we’re ready to sail away, but it’s good to know she’s ship-shape in all the critical areas.  Over the past week, Chris headed down to Annapolis with his Dad to measure every nook and cranny on the boat, so we can start planning how to store all the critical items and downsize from a house to a boat.

We also brought the girls down to see her for the first time, they were ecstatic, to say the least.  Of course they were most excited about seeing their ‘room’ and making sure the TV worked. I’m not exactly sure what signal they plan on getting, once we get out there; but it’s exciting nonetheless.

Becky notified her boss about her intentions which went very well… There will likely be a spot for her when we return.

Last major conversation – school…  We met with Tali’s and Savy’s teachers to get a reality check on what boat-schooling was going to look like.  We were pleasantly surprised to see that the experience itself, with careful explanations and involvement, will be the foundation of their education for the next year.  Of course there are some workbooks that Tali will need to work through for Math and Reading to make sure she stays current, and there will plenty of time to read (whether Tali reading herself, or us reading to Savy), but in general, just let the experience drive the education.  The other recommendation was for Tali to start a blog, so she can share with her classmates her journey, and at the end of the trip… a powerpoint presentation!  I’m not sure Chris expected to have to look at another powerpoint presentation for awhile : ) — so look for Tali’s blog to start in the upcoming weeks.



Mark Twain said it best…

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
– Mark Twain

While there is plenty to do prior to throwing off the bow lines, we’re leaving safe harbor to head for points south, we’re starting this blog to share and document our story of exploration, dreaming, and discovery.

You’re invited to read more about our story, our family and how we came to this decision. We also hope you’ll follow along with us on our journey, post comments and questions.  The scariest part of this trip is not the sailing, the storms, the weather or the ocean; but disconnecting from colleagues, friends, and family.  So please stay in touch…