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Christmas in Paradise

January 6th, 2009 No comments

Happy Holidays Everyone, despite the sunny beautiful weather, we will be thinking about “home” and everyone we will miss seeing this holiday season.  Lest you feel too bad for us, we have been basking in wonderful weather since we arrived and are having a great time.

After we left Roadtown on Tortola, we went to Virgin Gorda for nearly a week and spent time at Saba Rock, the Bitter End Yacht Club and Leverick Bay–all in Gorda Sound.  From there we visited Anegada where we had the best local lobster we have ever tasted and did some snorkeling off one of its many reefs, and of course visited Foxy’s at Jost Van Dyke.

There are so many islands, inlets and harbors that we will never visit them all in the time we have allotted for the BVI’s.  We leave here next week for the USVI and after a brief stop in St. John (possibly for Christmas) will go to St. Croix to visit Kent’s family over New Year’s holiday.  After that the Spanish Virgin Islands of Culebra and Vieques.

Carol’s mother and aunt visit early to mid-January in the USVI after which we will leave for St. Martin and be working our way down the Leeward and Windward Islands of the Caribbean.

If any of you have some vacation time scheduled down here, please stay in touch as we would love to catch up with you and depending on our schedule we’d love to have you join us on Destiny.

So far, our blog has been a dismal failure–it seems too much like “work”.  But we do plan to document the trip down on the Caribbean 1500 at some point with some pictures on the website.  A few pictures of our recent adventures are included.

We wish you all the best, and you will be in our thoughts during the upcoming holidays. MERRY CHRISTMAS & HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

Categories: Caribbean Tags:

The First Months

November 22nd, 2008 No comments

DESTINY: THE FIRST MONTHS

Destiny Prepares to Leave from Dolpin YC Dock

Destiny Prepares to Leave from Dolpin YC Dock

Destiny sailed out of Marblehead Harbor on August 14, 2008 as the EYC cannon announced colors. We were seen off by long time friend, Dudley Welch, who rowed out to say fair winds.

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The sky was gray, but quickly turned sunny as we approached Minot Light off Scituate Harbor enroute to Onset Harbor at the Buzzards Bay end of the Cape Cod Canal. By the time we reached Onset Harbor we were treated to a beautiful sunset, the first of many to come.

Final view of Marblehead Light

Final view of Marblehead Light

We arrived in Nantucket for Opera House Cup weekend from August 15th to 18th and enjoyed dinner and sailing with friends and watching the race.

John & Joan on Destiny

John & Joan on Destiny

Nantucket Farewell Dinner

Nantucket Farewell Dinner

Opera House Cup 2008

Opera House Cup 2008

Next we were off to New Bedford on August 18th for some refrigeration work and to have the new windlass installed. One thing you can count on is something breaking, and as Kent says “Boat stands for bring out another thousand.”

We left New Bedford on August 20th enroute to Block Island but the wind was on our nose and in keeping with our “go where the wind blows” philosophy we changed course for Stonington, CT and had a glorious, but long day making 7 kts. under sail most of the way.

Stonington, CT

Stonington, CT

Over the following two weeks we worked our way down Long Island Sound mostly motor sailing between the CT and NY shores due to strong currents and either no wind or unfavorable wind direction. We alternated long and short sailing days. From Stonington, CT we sailed just a couple of hours to our next port. We moored at Noank Village Boat Yard on August 21st and took a short dinghy ride up river to Mystic Seaport. While there we met Jorge and Isabel on an Amel 53 “Excalibur” who will be joining us on the Caribbean 1500 Rally.

 

The next day we crossed Long Island Sound (totally flat and with the current) through Plum Gut to an anchorage in Coecles Harbor on the west side of Shelter Island. We bicycled across the island to Deering Harbor and reprovisioned along the way. Jolie had her first onboard bath.

Over the next several days we made overnight stops at Branford, CT, Milford, CT (anchored off Charles Island), the Sagamore Yacht Club in Oyster Bay, N.Y., Byram, CT (anchored off Calf Island). We arrived in Manhasset, N.Y. on August 27th which was our last stop before NYC and spent a lay day resting and provisioning (although the two are mutually exclusive.) Our “provisioning expedition” included taking the dinghy up a creek, beaching it and walking to the nearby supermarket. We looked like a couple of homeless people pushing our cart full of groceries across the parking lot and busy highway to unload it on to the dinghy. Living on board has its challenges and grocery shopping and laundry are two.

On August 29th we left Manhasset early in the morning for one of the most exciting days so far which was motor sailing through Hell’s Gate where the East River meets Long Island Sound. Sailing up the East River, past the United Nations and arriving at the Hudson River with the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island off the bow was a breath taking experience.

The Manhattan skyline is so different from the water, and we had a magical nighttime view of the city from our slip at the Lincoln Harbor Yacht Club in Weehawken, N. J. directly across the Hudson River from the Empire State Building.

We spent Labor Day Weekend with Kent’s family and celebrated our fifth anniversary on August 31st with a motor sail through NY Harbor. It was a glorious, sunny day.

On Labor Day, as family dispersed, we left Lincoln Harbor Yacht Club mid-day and sailed out the Hudson River, under the Verrazanno Bridge to Sandy Point, N.Y. where we anchored in Horseshoe Cove and belatedly celebrated our anniversary with a late afternoon swim and champagne.

From there we sailed down the Jersey coast, most notable for miles of sandy beach punctuated by water towers that marked the various shore towns. Our travels took us from Sandy Hook to Manasquan, N.J. and then to Atlantic City where Kent’s sister, Susie and her husband Richard joined us overnight and brought some packages. Susie and I drove to Cape May while Richard joined Kent on Destiny for the trip. In Cape May we hunkered down for the arrival of hurricane Hanna, which fortunately was a non-event.

Leaving Cape May we headed up the Delaware River, along with many large ships to the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal. The C & D Canal is a much larger version of the Cape Cod Canal. You have to time your passage to the currents, and the scenery is not very interesting. We anchored overnight in Engineer’s Cove at Chesapeake City about two thirds of the way through the canal. The next day we exited the canal into Chesapeake Bay and then to Havre de Grace, MD at the mouth of the Susquehanna River through a thunder and lightning storm. We were met there by a representative of Ocean Options to give us an estimate on repair/replacement of our refrigeration which had died about the time we were in Atlantic City. It turned out to be replace not repair, and the work could not be scheduled for another two weeks in Annapolis.

So, we worked our way down the Chesapeake to Annapolis visiting numerous rivers and harbors. We traveled down the Sassafrass River to Georgetown, M.D. (where Susie and Richard once again met us with packages) and then had a lumpy trip to Rock Hall, M.D. where we spent two nights and attended the local Chicken Neckers Festival. An explanation of that event is best saved for telling in person. From Rock Hall on the Eastern Maryland shore we crossed the Chesapeake to an anchorage off Dobbins Island at the Magothy River.

By this time, we had been moving the boat almost daily and when we anchored just off the Maritime Museum in St. Michael’s on the Western M.D. shore where we chilled for three nights before heading back toward Annapolis.

At the Seven Seas Cruising Association Gam at Camp Letts on the West River from September 19th to 20th, we met some fellow cruisers and learned a lot.

After several days in the yard for the refrigeration work, we picked up a mooring in Annapolis where we spent a very rainy weekend with our 1500 Rally crew member, Galen Hake and his wife Elizabeth.

On October 1st we started up the Potomac River enroute to Washington. It took two rather boring days to get to Washington, but the view of the Washington Monument from Capital Yacht Club was worth every minute. We walked through the city on a balmy fall night taking in the Lincoln and Jefferson Monuments. Spending time with Kent’s sister Laurie and her children was a highlight of the visit.

As we left Washington on October 6th our final destination was Hampton, Virginia where we would prepare for the Caribbean 1500. The days are getting colder and we are using the cabin heat in the a.m. to take the chill off. After overnights along the Potomac and in Deltaville, VA we arrived in Hampton on October 9th where the Bluewater Yachting Center will be our “home” until we depart for Tortola.

We spent two weeks in Montana resting before returning to Hampton on October 27th to finish final preparations. It has been a hectic but exciting, and we continue to work during the day readying the boat and partying at night with fellow cruisers, many of whom like us are making this trip for the first time. There will be approximately 45 boats making the trip with us once the weather window opens. Our 11/2 departure date came and went and we are now hoping that the November 7th one will hold. In the meantime, we have made some new friends and learned a lot as the excitement and anticipation grows.

We have been blessed with mostly wonderful weather and more amazing sunrises/sunsets than we can capture in words or pictures. We are so grateful to have this opportunity, and hope that we can share this adventure with you, in person as well as on line.

Categories: Caribbean, Marblehead Tags:

The Adventure Begins: 2007 Marblehead to Halifax Ocean Race

September 17th, 2007 No comments
What better way to prepare for our retirement plan of living aboard Destiny than to do a long distance offshore race? At least that was the rationale behind our signing up for the 2007 Marblehead to Halifax Ocean Race.
Destiny

Destiny

Preparation for the race started months in advance with a required safety seminar at MIT sponsored by the race organizers that covered everything from weather to first aid to customs and immigration considerations. The voluminous written materials were invaluable. . .and daunting. What had we gotten ourselves into? 
Next came preparing the boat, which included such upgrades as a new life raft and other safety equipment required by the race and which we would need for long distance cruising which was our ultimate goal. Many thousands of dollars later, we and the boat were ready to race. Our plan of a “shake down” cruise was moving forward.

We were fortunate to have Kent’s sons, Spencer and Tyler agree to crew for the race–a wonderful opportunity for the brothers Bradford to spend some mano/mano time together. Kent was thrilled to have them join us, and a little apprehensive to have “three of the most important people in his life”–to quote him–dependent on him as Captain of Destiny.

Capt. Bradford Awaits Start

Capt. Bradford Awaits Start

The Brothers Bradford

The Brothers Bradford

Joined by former boat partner, John Coller and long time friend, Bill Clarke, our crew was complete, except for Jolie of course who was “sea dog” extraordinaire for the trip.
Navigator John Coller

Navigator John Coller

Bill at the helm

Bill at the helm

Jolie aka Seadog

Jolie aka Seadog

The race began early on Sunday afternoon, with several classes departing ahead of us. By the time our class was scheduled to leave the wind had died and getting across the start line took some effort. Everyone was in good spirits and we were raring to go, so Kent put up the light air sail that we had borrowed from a friend for the race and we moved along at a decent pace. Then a few hours into the race a front came through with 20 kt. winds that built quickly. By the time the crew got the sail down it had ripped and became useless for the rest of the trip. What I had been assured would be a downwind race was upwind all the way, and so the adventure began as we slogged our way to Halifax.

So much for the light air sail

So much for the light air sail

 

Ty sets sails

Ty sets sails

 Over the next four days before our arrival in Halifax at 4 a.m. on Thursday we experienced driving rain and high winds, followed by beautiful sunrises, fog and no wind. As we approached the Nova Scotia coast our knot meter was reading zero and the strong Bay of Fundy currents were pushing us backwards. We drifted around on a sea as flat as a lake in fog.

Spencer "OMG"

Spencer "OMG"

Gorgeous Sunset

Gorgeous Sunset

A Hearty Breakfast for the Crew

A Hearty Breakfast for the Crew

Becalmed

Becalmed

Now Fog

Now Fog

Jolie & Ty Get some down time

Jolie & Ty Get some down time

Spencer & Dad Take 5

Spencer & Dad Take 5

On Tuesday evening, after consulting with John Coller our navigator and considering the conditions we were in it was decided that even if the wind came up and we could make decent speed we wouldn’t make Halifax by the cut off time for the race. Kent started up the main engine which promptly died. After he successfully replaced three filters, the engine still wouldn’t keep running, so he called the Canadian Navy vessel that was escorting the race for information on options if we needed assistance.

John does some naviguessing

John does some naviguessing

 

Tight Squeeze

Tight Squeeze

Yeh, I did it

Yeh, I did it

By this time it was approaching midnight, and the next thing we knew “Warship 702” was a dark shadow on the horizon behind us. Out of the dark came a high speed inflatable carrying men dressed in black and wearing green glow sticks. We later joked that we were boarded by the Canadian Navy but that it was a friendly boarding. Thanks to the chief mechanic on the warship yet another filter was changed and we were on our way, motor sailing to Halifax.

We arrived at the Royal Nova Scotia Yacht Squadron, the termination point of the race at about 4 a.m. in the morning in dense fog and were greeted with a six-pack of beer–a race tradition.  We had spent four nights and four and a half days at sea and covered approximately 400 NM.  We were DNF for the race but happy to be in Halifax.

Halifax Arrival

Halifax Arrival

Celebratory Beer--we made it!

Celebratory Beer--we made it!

Destiny Moored at Nova Scotia Yacht Squadron

Destiny Moored at Royal Nova Scotia Yacht Squadron

 

The crew stayed for post-race festivities and then departed for home.

 

Destiny's Crew at RNSYS

Destiny's Crew at RNSYS

Seeing the Boys off by Limo--nothing too good for our crew!

Seeing the Boys off by Limo--nothing too good for our crew!

Our return trip was most memorable for the one excruciatingly long day we spent in dense fog picking our way mark to mark from Halifax to Shelburne, Nova Scotia arriving at the Shelburne Yacht Club at midnight. Faced with successive days of fog and needing to return to Marblehead on schedule we aborted our plan to cruise back along the Maine coast and hired a crewman we met on the race to meet us in Shelburne and accompany us offshore to Marblehead—another three day offshore passage.

All in all, this adventure was as expected. We learned a lot about the boat, and about the additional maintenance that would be needed before we shove off permanently. Some repairs, like a new manual bilge pump, had to be taken care of before the return trip to Marblehead. We also learned a great deal about our sailing compatibility. Jolie and Carol did great off shore, although Jolie still likes terra firma under her paws. Carol  loved being out of sight of land. She did not love the fog, wind and rain, but with proper clothing it was tolerable. Our crew was great and reportedly enjoyed the adventure as much as we did.

Only once or twice did the thought “what were we thinking” come to mind.   It wouldn’t be the last time.

Categories: Marblehead Tags: