A Travellerspoint blog



I still hear the siren's song, music urging travel to distant waters breaking on foreign shores. I had another trip in the planning stages, charts, charters, certifications. But, on reflection, this is it, the end of the adventure.


Now, the final curtain has fallen, the play has ended.

So …….. was it all worth it?

We owned our Živeli for six years; we have chartered sailboats four times. All told, we have way more than three full years on the water and have traveled way more than, or close to, 10,000 nautical miles.

In all those days, over all those miles we saw and experienced most of what nature has to offer in weather: dead calm, delightful weather, one tropical storm and more gales and near gales than can be counted.

In all those days, over all those miles we experienced the entire emotional spectrum: joy and despair; triumph and disappointment; confidence and terror; tedium and awe.

So …….. was it all worth it?

Carol and I purchased our boat on August 1, 2007, just a few months shy of our 40th anniversary. I am aware of no data in this area, but I will postulate that after 40 years of marriage the number of couples that share a dream is much less than 100%. Of that number, how many actually get to pursue that dream? Probably not so many; but we did. Many dreams prove false and end with the bitter taste of ashes. Our dream ended with a sense that we had great fortune in our adventures and misadventures. More importantly we have had great fortune in each other. We did something difficult, we did it together, and we did it reasonably well, not possible without a solid foundation of trust and respect, patience and love.

So …….. was it all worth it?

Most memorable good moment: it was probably February of 2009. Carol was invested with helping Joan during her time of trouble; we were moving the boat north in stages while Carol commuted between the boat and Tallahassee, FL. We were headed to Ft. Pierce, and the first leg was an overnight passage from Boot Key Harbor in the Florida Keys to Miami's Biscayne Bay. It was around 0400, I was at the helm. We were riding the Gulf Stream and were somewhere along that powerful river where East starts to transition to North. It was a clear, dark night. As always, there was a low cloud formation on the distant horizon and stars speckled the inky sky. As the moon started to rise behind this cloud bank, it backlit the clouds to an incredible light amber color, brighter in front of the moon, less bright and darker at the edges. Then, beauty became awe when a meteor shower rained down over the moon. If only I were a poet and I had the words.

Most memorable not so good moment: Actually, it was terrifying; I was sure that I was going to de-mast the boat. As recounted in the blog entry of 02/08/2010:

The hardest day of the trip is over, a transit of only three miles. St. Augustine is the flop sweat capital of the ICW. Since we decided to stay an extra day here before heading south Carol suggested that we move the boat south of the Bridge of Lions, which is undergoing a major renovation, a really good idea.

There is a big shoal in the middle of the harbor which requires a course almost into the ocean inlet before making a sharp "V" course change back southwest toward the bridge. There is a close-set pair of buoys, a gate, through which a boat must pass; if you turn to soon, the shoal will get you; the tow boat operators get rich on this mistake. I knew this from last year. So, Carol and I are intensely focused ... counting out marker numbers to get to Red 60, which is the turning point. And, we're doing great until I look at the depth meter ..... 7-ft. and getting shallower. Oooooops!!! We, I, whatever, were committed to and steering toward the wrong red marker. Big mistake! We dodged that bullet, got back into the channel and finally found the right marker.


We arrived at the bridge about 10 minutes before the scheduled 11:00 am opening. Bridges never open on time, so I had to hold the boat in a waiting position, bow pointed away from the bridge and into the current, for about 15 minutes. There was a 4-knot current pushing us into the bridge while the wind was pushing us towards the mainland. I must have had a brain cramp, or something, because after one turn we were way too close to the unopened bridge, going stern first toward it at four knots. The engine has never worked that hard before and probably won't again. Somehow, I don't quite know how, we clawed our way back against the current and out of hazard.

The trifecta of troubles was complete when the operator only opened one span of a two-span bascule bridge because of the construction, and by the way, that span didn't reach true a perpendicular. Not only was the margin reduced by 50%, or so, the usual visual markers don't apply: you cannot center the boat between the bridge supports. So, I put Carol on the deck to give me hand signals. The thing is, that to control the boat, have positive rudder action, while going with the current you have to be going faster than it is. So, our accomplishment this day was to thread the needle at full ramming speed. The only good thing was that I could not see overhead because of the bimini, so ... I didn't have a reason to panic.

Places that quickened the heart: I wanted to limit this to three, but it has to be four. In alphabetical order:


1. The Exuma islands: Shroud Cay and Waderick Wells Cay. These two adjacent islands form the bulk of the 176-square-mile Exuma Cays Land and Sea National Park, the Bahama’s equivalent of our Yellowstone or Smoky Mtn. national parks. The entire Exuma Island chain is a 130-mile long parking lot for boats. These islands are generally less inhabited than the Abaco Islands to the north. As a result, many still have a natural austerity and beauty, some places seemingly untouched by time or man.


2. Nantucket Island. Nantucket was, until about 1850, the whaling capital of the world. I had read all of Melville’s books at an early age and any other books that I could find in libraries that dealt with whaling on square rigged ships. Had it occurred to me, I would have thought it ridiculous that I would ever sail, motor actually, into Nantucket Harbor. But, we did. The sense of history in these sorts of places is palpable, Nantucket being no exception despite the fact that a fire leveled the town in the middle 1800’s.

The Japanese have a meal concept, shun; the premise is that any food should only be eaten at its peak of flavor. Nantucket was our shun visit; we arrived just when the climbing roses, the American Pillar, were in full bloom adding a veneer of beauty to the commonplace, a veneer of resplendence to the already beautiful. It was a magical place at a magical time.


3. Newport, RI. An unusual choice, not an island. Carol and I both have a deep interest in history. Newport fairly drips with history having been established about twenty years after the Pilgrims arrived. It was also the place of choice for robber barons of every ilk during the Gilded Age. Seeing that 250 years of history on display, in a continuum, street by street, regular houses next to mansions defies my ability to describe it. Only Charleston, SC comes close, but not very close.

What pushed Newport onto the list is its harbor. Annapolis, MD fancies itself the sailing capital of the East. Not so!!! It was beyond my imagination that we would ever moor our boat a few dozen yards away from America’s Cup entrants and America’s Cup winners. Sailboats of every type, size and configuration were moored or berthed there, including some private dreadnaughts well over 100-ft. long. Serious drugs for a sailboat addiction.


4. Princess Louisa inlet. The only true fjord in North America and we were there … surrounded by mountains rising more than a mile from the water’s edge, capped with snow in June; the melting snow feeding dozens of waterflows that merge and become waterfalls, large and small, cascading thousands of feet down the mountains’ bare rock faces. Majesty and awe are not big enough words to describe it; no picture could ever capture it. It has to be experienced. It is our good fortune that we did.

So …….. was it all worth it?


Posted by sailziveli 14:59 Archived in USA

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