1200 miles and three weeks later… pull out the toques! (in Maine)

If the toque and fleece jacket that I just hauled out of the bottom of the locker weren’t enough of a clue, the “S” pattern of our route as we dodge lobster buoys should be more than enough: we’re in Maine!

We left Georgia three weeks and 1200 miles ago.

We made the trips in a series of overnight hops — 8 nights in total to get here — starting with a 2-night passage (Brunswick, GA to Carolina Beach, NC), a 3-night jump (Carolina Beach, NC to Cape May, NJ), and then a series of single night hops (Cape May to Sandy Hook after our starter went up in a poof of smoke off Long Island, then Sandy Hook to the Cape Cod Canal where we stopped to change fuel filters — again! — and get some sleep, and finally Cape Cod to Maine).

We’d originally conspired to try doing it in one single-week-long passage, but life had other plans. We’ve at least made it in August 🙂

Jon and I joked that while the majority of cruisers are leaving Maine over Labor Day weekend, here we are just arriving! Nothing like shoulder season cruising to guarantee empty anchorages (and many layers of fleece) in our future!

Zephyr has been a champion through all of this. It does seem that he gets a little green on the first day of passages, especially if it’s not just completely flat, but he bounced back remarkably quickly each time.

Oh and when I say “bounced back”, I mean it quite literally. He’s discovered that he can use the momentum of the waves to propel his little body hurling across the settees, using the handrail to get a flying start as he leaps from one side of the boat to the other.

It’s a built in jungle gym and while I’m pretty sure my parents NEVER let us jump around on the settees when we were kids, it’s one way to burn some of his little body’s energy off!

We had a few “exciting” moments along the way — the first day out of Georgia being the absolute worst, but the starter smoke show, the persistent fuel issues (which caused the engine to either die or hunt RPMs — a sound that strikes terror in my feeble heart, especially knowing we had some serious current passes to navigate, like the Cape Cod Canal), and leerily watching Hurricane Henri come for us also make the list.

These were balanced by some of the magical moments — spinnaker sailing around Hatteras and actually again on three other days, watching a whale put on an incredible splash show at 2am (okay that was half in the anxiety category too haha), spotting three 5-foot sharks checking out the surface off Long Island, and even seeing a good-sized tuna leap right out of the ocean (maybe related to those sharks???) which neither of us remember seeing on this coast.

And now we’re here! Brio II has never been to Maine — at least not with us — and we haven’t sailed in Maine since we left with a 6-month old baby in 2018 — so it feels pretty damn wonderful to be here.

You know, before all this — when we were still sitting on the edge, debating the merits of keeping a full-time paycheque vs quitting my job and giving cruising a real go again — I told a friend that I just wanted to feel alive again. The juggle was catching up to me, and it felt like we were doing the work of boat life without the benefit.

I listened to Enya’s “Wild Child” on repeat, holding on to that opening verse for all its worth —

Ever close your eyes

Ever stop and listen

Ever feel alive

Like there’s nothing missing?”

And then my friend reminded me of something critical: feeling alive doesn’t mean feeling happy 100% of the time. Part of being alive is that there’s a 50/50 of ups and downs, and that’s a good thing — cuz if you were just 100% happy all the time what would be the point of any of of it?!?

We need the hard times, the sad times, the challenging I-want-a-condo-in-Colorado-times to remind us of just how special the sunrises and spinnaker sails really are.

Three weeks in, I can confidently say the Brio trio are feeling very ALIVE these days

Bring on the pumpkin spice and toques 🙂

Leah

Passage Musings (Carolina Beach, NC to Cape May, NJ)

We thought we’d do a few days “on the inside” (in the ICW), anchoring each evening and mostly motoring along the coast…

But the very first bridge we came to gave us some serious attitude about “sailing over the horizon” (aka: doing loops to try to not smash into the dang bridge when the current is rushing you towards it) and refused to open for us.

We hemmed and hawed for about 25 seconds, and then said, “screw it!” and took a hard right out the Masonboro Inlet.

3 nights and 420 miles later, we’re in Cape May, New Jersey. Or as Zephyr calls it, “Cake May”. Bring on the cake.

We had light spinnaker winds around Cape Hatteras – something I never expected to experience! – and a good hard rolly bit for our last night.

Otherwise it was an extremely pleasant 10ish knots from the SW, giving us a comfortable 5.2 knot average.

People often describe sailing as “extended periods of boredom interrupted by moments of sheer terror”, and while I would tend to agree I have to say that not a minute of this passage was boring.

Kevin got a lifejacket too

There was a new moon, so the stars were bright enough to read by — the Milky Way painting a brush across the sky and Jupiter reflecting on the ocean.

There were infinite numbers of squeaks and groans to investigate (and fret over) — the dinghy on the davits (we hadn’t planned on going offshore!), the mast reminding us to do one more tune, the Centerboard and its annoying thwunk, the toddler waking up looking for snacks, dolphins ee-ee-eeeing underwater, waves changing sounds as the autopilot steers a wind course towards Africa (wind shift!)… and on and on and on 🙂

But the weather just kept being wonderful and the blue skies kept sparkling, so we kept on going… and could have honestly done one more night, if the lure of a soft bed and a night in an anchorage wasn’t so appealingly close.

We’ll stay a few nights — look for a beach and that alluded “cake” — and then continue the journey north!

Two “hops” down!

Leah

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As we get closer to leaving Georgia (looking for a weather window next week), setting up and testing our offshore comms systems is on the list 🙂 With luck, we’re hoping to be able to post little blog updates while … Continue reading