New England Contd.: Ship Shape and Bristol, RI (Fourth of July) Fashion!

Since 1785.  2022 was going to be their 236th straight year running, on the very same street where we were standing.  Do you know what Bristol, RI’s biggest claim to fame is?  The longest-running annual Fourth of July parade.  And, for its 236th year, we were planning to sail from Newport to Bristol to see it.  I was expecting big things.  Elephants.  Ladies juggling swords.  Pyrotechnics.  What we got was a completely different, mesmerizing experience.  And, I wouldn’t have traded it for any sword-juggler in the world.  Come with us, folks, from Newport to Bristol during our cruise in New England this past summer to experience a true Bristol tradition: the longest-running Fourth of July parade in the nation!  

July, 2022: 

While it is very hard to say which port was our favorite in New England.  Noank Village was quaint and genuine.  Block Island has its own charm, and bluffs, and island pride.  Martha’s Vineyard has hydrangeas in every color of the rainbow and exceptional dining and shopping.  But, Newport.  I think the sailing in Newport is what stole our hearts and put it #1 on our New England list.  It is such a historic port where boats have been sailing to, often from across the Atlantic, for hundreds of years.  The many varied sizes, colors, and crafts of boats in the harbor is dazzling.  And, the quaint brick streets, salty taverns, and new additions—like the Sailing MuseumCliff Walk, the Mansions, and Tennis Hall of Fame—made the place a real gem.  

This doesn’t even mention the popular little beaches where the sight of surfers made my heart leap, and made Phillip jump at the idea of gifting me a lesson for my big Four-Oh!  Story here.  

And, the place was so cruiser-friendly, with a “water barge”—basically an easily accessible floating dock in the harbor—that you could dock up to at any time and fill the tanks, a free dinghy dock behind the Sailing Museum with a great work space there for cruisers as well as bathrooms, showers, laundry, and a book exchange – my favorite!  But, I think our favorite part about Newport was just sitting in the cockpit on the hook watching the dozens of different sailboats go by, from big tall-ships, to pirate-esque sailboat charters, to Bristol fashion craft boats, to little racing dinghies, even mega yachts, and vagabonds.  Everything in between.  The harbor itself can easily be enough entertainment for happy hour.  

Phillip and I love Newport.  I think the only thing that could make it better is … Bridgett!  We invited a good friend of ours up from Pensacola to stay aboard the boat with us for a few days to visit these cool New England ports (and I do say cool because Pensacola in July was in the 90s while Newport was in the 70s, so much more comfortable).  Bridgett has been long-affiliated with HaveWind.  She was the originator and facilitator of our Progressive Boozer Cruiser Back in 2015.  We bonded then, and we’ve been inseparable friends ever since.  

There she is trying to hide behind her exceptionally gregarious blue-tongued friend (ha ha … me! : )

We enjoyed several days strolling around Newport, extending and accepting fun sailing challenges at the Sailing Museum, and enjoying some lovely rooftop “bevies and bites” (Bridgett’s words) with our amazing friend.

We then whisked Bridgett up the Narragansett Bay to Bristol, RI aboard the gallant (and fast!) UbiQ.

Why Bristol? We were not going to miss the nation’s longest-running Fourth of July parade from a lovely little perch that Phillip booked us (something we heard was a long-standing tradition in Bristol): viewing the parade from Linden’s Place.  

As we settled in our chairs with a front-row view of the street, I was astounded at how many people began to line the streets.  On this tiny little island in Narragansett Bay, folks really turned out for this parade.  And, I now know why.  It wasn’t the pyrotechnics, the acrobatics, or any flashy, razzle-dazzle.  It was Mayberry.  Straight-up back to the 1950’s good old wholesome USA Mayberry.  

It was amazing to realize this same parade has been marching down this same street, Hope Street, for over 200 years!

In addition to the traditional “small-town” elements of parades I love: horses (I always hope to see Clydesdales); baton twirlers (I love when they throw them up and spin around), and marching bands (I am a sucker for the drum line), this is a list of just a few of the folks and little “floats” (often carts pulled behind bikes) that I remember marched in the Bristol Fourth of July parade: 

  1. The oldest person in town (her banner boasted she was 102!);
  2. A guy named “Bob” whom we learned sat on the Board of Commissioners (everybody knew him, some even called out asking about his wife and girls);
  3. The local milkman (I’m not kidding, he still delivers bottles to folks’ doors, everybody knew him); 
  4. The local postman (everybody knew him); 
  5. We then joked we would see next the utility company and water authority (we squealed with delight when we did, everybody knew them);
  6. Bristol’s elementary school spelling bee winner that year; and
  7. This cute little 2nd grader who had won the art contest for Bristol’s 2021 “town button” (in Bristol they still wear buttons).

The whole thing felt so local.  It was beyond charming.  We had the great fortune to sit next to a long-time resident of Bristol who educated us on each person and float in the parade.  It was fascinating to see this microcosm throwback to times when everyone in town knew everyone.  Phillip, Bridgett, and I left the parade feeling uplifted and giddy.  It’s tough for me to recall a Fourth of July parade I have ever enjoyed quite so much.  I hope Phillip and I find ourselves back there in July of this year to experience it all again.  

After the parade we strolled ourselves over to the Thames Waterside Bar & Grill (pro tip: live music always helps to steer us in your direction) and spent an absolute hilarious and entertaining few hours hanging out with a flock of Navy guys on leave at the bar as well as a handful of other colorful characters, Joey from Boston who invited us to his restaurant if we ever we sail through Boston, an English teacher named Dan who invited us to come hear his band play if we ever sailed into Greenwich (on the other side of the Narragansett Bay).  It was just an incredibly memorable day.  Bridgett always plays a heavy hand in an experience like that.  She’s like the flame every moth in the room is attracted to.  Bridgett, we had such an incredible time hosting you aboard UbiQ!  We hope you’ll come visit us again soon!

And, of course, no Fourth of July should ever end without fireworks. Back aboard Ubi anchored near Bristol in the Narragansett Bay, Bridgett, Phillip and I were treated to fireworks from every direction. I finally got those pyrotechnics I’d been craving.  360 degrees! Wherever you looked, lights were bursting like popcorn on the horizon. It was a real treat!

And, folks, if you ever find yourselves in the Narragansett Bay around the Fourth of July, you now know where to go and what to do!  Next up on our New England, we’ll continue our travels to the quirky little island of Cuttyhunk, and the regal, storied Martha’s Vineyard.  Stay tuned! 

‘Twas the Night Before My Birthday, and All Through Newport

Not a surfer was stirring, not even those serious about the sport.

My wetsuit was hung in the cockpit with care, in hopes that in the morning a hot instructor would be there. 

My 39-year-old brain was nestled snug in our vberth with visions of what me at 40 would look like on this Earth.

With Phillip’s promise of a birthday surf lesson on my mind, I closed my eyes to leave my 39th year behind.

Phillip’s scrambling the next morning woke me with a clatter: “Get up, it’s time to go!”  “What bikini?”  “It doesn’t matter!” 

For the water in Newport in summer was a brisk 65, but with a wetsuit it made you feel fresh and alive. 

We topped the hill on Memorial Boulevard and to my eyes did appear, the little crook of Easton beach with lapping waves I could hear.

A slick long board was brought to me nice and quick by my “tasty waves” instructor whose name was Nick.

After a few practice pop-ups on the beach, Nick took me to the water where there was a lovely swell, 1-2 foot each.

On my tummy the rise of each wave felt strange and new as Nick pointed me to shore and, shouting, told me what to do.

“When I tell you to paddle, dig hard, don’t give up.”  “Now PADDLE, now PADDLE, DOUBLE PADDLE and POP-UP!”

And just like that, to my utter disbelief and surprise, my body was propelled in a way and by forces I could never surmise.

I did it, I thought.  I surfed a wave.  Popped up from my belly.  I could see Phillip ashore looking astonished and (I hoped) a little jelly.

As I coasted to shore and his joyous face came into sight, Phillip shouted: 

“HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU, ANNIE.  YOU SURFED WITH ALL YOUR MIGHT!”

So … this is 40.  Not too shabby I’ll say.  

This impromptu surf lesson from Phillip was the perfect gift to celebrate my big day.  While we kite-surf a ton and I’ve “surfed” plenty of waves that way, I’d never “popped up” and truly dropped into a wave.  It was mesmerizing, thrilling, seemingly miraculous.  My brain could not convince my arms, right before each pop-up, that it was going to work, and then you just have a little faith and jump up and (most times) there you are, suddenly surfing.  I will relish any chance to surf, in the traditional way, like this again.  What an incredible feeling!  We are also looking forward to sharing more of Newport (then Bristol, RI for the Fourth of July!) with you all here on the blog.  (But I love the tradition of writing a unique ‘Twas the Night Before’ piece here each Christmas (2017 and 2020); I hope you enjoyed this one).  Phillip and I wish you all a wonderful holiday.  We’ll see you here next year (2023, can you believe we made it?) to continue sharing our first summer in New England!  Stay tuned!  And, happy new year!

“Boat Trash Here” at Block Island, RI – Our First Taste of Summer in New England

It’s hard for me to find words that capture the feel of New England.  Mossy stone fences?  Steep grassy hillsides?  Squiggly boat reflections in the water?  Fleeces in July?  Raw oysters and rosé?  It’s tough to say, exactly, but it was this cool feeling in our lungs that told us “We’re not in Florida anymore.”  In May/June of this year, Phillip and I sailed back up through the Chesapeake and into the Long Island Sound to spend our first summer in New England.  We had heard of many cruisers who do this every year—sail north to Rhode Island, Maine, Massachusetts, etc. to get out of the hot temps and hurricane box during hurricane season and then sail back down the east coast in the fall to enjoy the tropical temps and Bahamian/Caribbean islands in the winter.  Like snowbirds, in a way.  Call them sailbirds. 

Since work obligations and travel restrictions kept us in (or close to) the States last winter, Phillip and I decided to find out what these sailbirds knew that it seemed we didn’t.  In April, Phillip and I decided to point Ubi north to the Long Island Sound to sail around New England for the summer.  What did we find?  The ports were cool, accommodating, most only an easy (and fun) day sail away.  The experience was vastly different than all the cruising we had done before in the States.  Phillip and I soon became staunch fans of summering in New England.  Have you ever done it?  Wonder what it’s like?  Come with us, and experience what we felt was our first true taste of New England: Block Island, RI.

Our sail back up the east coast found us stopping in many of the same ports we did on the way down in the fall of 2021: South Beach, Miami, St. Augustine, Charleston, SC, Hampton, VA.  We then sailed back up the Chesapeake to Annapolis, MD and took the C&D (Connecticut and Delaware) Canal headed to New York. 

Some fun highlights along the way:

  • Having Chris and Megan, our adventurous Pensacola friends who purchased our 1985 Niagara 35, fly in and join us for a sporty passage (their first overnight) from Miami to St. Aug in April.  Megan and Chris did great on passage and—very cool—found it so inspiring they set off on their first overnight in the Niagara this past October.  We’re really proud of these two!
  • Hosting our equally amazing Pensacola friends, Stephen and Beth, on UbiQ for a few days in St. Augustine (the second oldest city in the United States after Pensacola … Pensacola people know what I’m talking about), but a very fun “ancient city” to pilfer.
  • Celebrating my big FOUR-OH on May 28th with a “passage feet” selfie in Solomon’s Island making our way back up the Chesapeake toward Ubi’s home port of Annapolis.
  • Catching up in Hampton, VA with these two incredible cruisers, Spandana and Dev, whom we cruised around the Abacos with in December of 2021. Spandana and Dev had quite a rollercoaster of a year, but they are back in the swing of cruising and sharing their eclectic stories at For Sun and Stars on Youtube. Check them out!
  • Enjoying a visit with Ubi’s former owner, Jim, and his partner, Ann, in Annapolis and enlisting his invaluable help putting a new set of lithium batteries (540 Ah) in the boat.
  • Traversing the C&D (Connecticut and Delaware) canal for the first time on our way toward New York City with a thick shelf cloud threatening to drench and toss us that, thankfully, just ended with a little drizzle and a glorious rainbow.  Whew!
  • Sailing around in the New York Harbor by the Statue of Liberty for the first time with the grand skyline of NYC in the background.  We anchored behind Ellis Island to enjoy the view of the Big Apple from Ubi at night before making our way with the tide through Hell’s Gate the following day headed toward Port Washington, NY for our first foray into the Long Island Sound and New England for the summer.

Port Washington, NY

It would be difficult to put the feeling of the Long Island Sound into words, to explain why it felt so different than the hot salty waters of Florida and the Bahamas.  Phillip and I have cruised plenty of islands, strolled crystal white beaches, baked in the sun and salt, but Port Washington felt new.  The reflections on the water were clearer.  The morning fog thicker.  The short cruising season (before the ice of winter sets in) making the “summer window” seem more savored.  The ancient lighthouses and stone fences.  The quaint little village feel of the city.  Everything about the place told us this summer was going to be a new experience.  And, what we found we really loved about Port Washington was not only the beauty but the convenience.  A mooring ball that was only $45/night and came with a free water taxi most business hours of every day.  Great shopping downtown and a diverse range of excellent restaurants (La P’Tite Framboise (the “little raspberry”) for French, Nikkei for Peruvian, Diwan for Indian).  The dinghy dock located right across from the Stop ‘n Shop for groceries and just a short walk from the laundromat, the wine/liquor store, UPS, Walgreens, Ace Hardware, Target, etc.  Not to mention (I mean … holy cow) Port Washington is just a short, $10, 40-minute train ride on the LIRR then you’re in Penn Station, with a full day in NYC to explore (while only paying $45/night for NY lodging)?!  We rode the wheels off the LIRR.  Why wouldn’t you?  NYC, right there! 

We stayed 4-5 days in Port Washington getting some office hours in, provisioning up, and enjoying the big city before bumping back and forth across the Long Island Sound to our next extended stop in Noank Village, CT.

Noank Village and Mystic, CT

Noank had the same New England charm that Port Washington did, but it was like the amplifier was turned up.  It is a small village so there aren’t near as many shops and restaurants, but that’s what made it feel that much more intimate—the cladded houses, steep drives, rolling lawns.  The kaleidoscope of boats in the harbor.  We grabbed a ball from the Noank Village Boatyard that, too, came with a launch.  We started to notice many New England cruisers don’t carry or commission their dinghy when they come into a harbor.  They just grab a ball and call the launch.  There is an elegance and ease to that.  A great opportunity to dawn your best boat dress and wedges for a fancy dinner ashore.  In Noank, I also got to know this incredible life-long sail maker, Katie Bradford with Custom Marine Canvas, while we were there.  Katie launched her marine canvas business in Noank in 1985 in an unheated warehouse ( … in Connecticut?!) with only one employee, her cousin, and she’s been killing it ever since.  Katie was a hoot.  Just a real Noank character.  I love when you get to know a place like that.  We also enjoyed eating at Ford’s Lobsters looking out over the harbor.  And, Mystic, CT, was just a short and very cool dinghy ride away (through an old swing bridge).  The incredible marine history at the Seaport Museum was a real treat.  If you do, do not (do not!) miss a dinner at Bravo Bravo.

Block Island, RI

Phillip and I have been struggling all fall to decide which of the New England islands and ports were our favorite (a very tough problem to endure).  Newport is exceptional, and likely our top choice.  But, there’s Martha’s Vineyard.  Cuttyhunk.  Bristol.  It’s really a tough call.  And, for me—at least until we got to Newport—Block Island was my favorite.  And it may still be.  It was our first island, and maybe that’s what did it.  And, it is an island in the Atlantic Ocean.  That offered its own extra element of magic.  The hilly terrain, sprawling lawns, and charming lighthouse captivated us as well.  The monochromatic bluffs and river-stoned beach took your mind to another place.  We biked the entire island and loved the challenge of the rising hills and thrills of the drops.  Drinks and snacks at The Inn at Spring House was a real treat.  Made me feel kind of like someone who could say “We summer in the Hamptons.”  It was surreal.   But, that’s just the fun and elegance.  Block Island is also just a short day-sail away from Montauk and Sag Harbor to the west, Naragansett Bay to the north, and Martha’s Vineyard to the east.  It also offers an easy inlet and nice large harbor for cruisers, convenient access to the dinghy dock, the entire island is walkable with a great fish market (Dick’s) and lots of quirky shops (home décor, books, trinkets, toys). 

Mostly, what Block Island taught us, is that these New England villages bloom in the summer when cruisers and travelers flock to their refreshing temps and warm waters, because they hibernate in the winter when the population dwindles to a few dozen hearty locals and the place undergoes a complete transformation from fluffy hydrangeas and bicycles and ice cream cones to an uninviting frigid, snow-covered terrain.  The bounty of summer on Block Island can really only be experienced over the course of a few months, so the Islanders really open their arms to it.  For this reason, in New England, we found, cruisers are not simply tolerated like it can sometimes feel in Florida—pushed into shrinking anchorages and asked to tie their dinghy to a rusty pole and crawl up to the dingy back door.  In New England, they’re welcome.  They have “water barges” that offer free water for cruisers, numerous well-maintained (free!) dinghy docks, launches and water taxis, and (to mine and Phillip’s immense delight), designated dumpsters for our trash.  I’m not kidding.  Come to Block Island in June and you’ll experience the open-arm feel of a summer in New England.  “Boat Trash Here” the sign read.  And here we are, Phillip and I thought.  Thanks for the hospitality Block Island.  We’ll be back.  And, we’re excited to keep sharing here the many other wonderful ports of New England that stole our hearts this summer.  Stay tuned!

Sistership Shipping!  Article in SAIL Magazine

“Speak to a human!” I shouted at my phone. 

“I’m sorry, I know you want to talk to a human,” the UPS Bot dismissed me, “but first I need your …”

“Z2519996757,” I spat at him.  It was our tracking number.  I still know it.  I still scream it sometimes waking in a hot sweat.  “SPEAK.  TO.  A.  HUUUMAN!”

Our riser/elbow saga made for a fantastic article in SAIL Magazine’s September 2022 issue.  

Phillip and I were also very pleased to see the featured image SAIL chose for the article was the elegant s/v Orion, Outbound 46 Hull No. 74, whose owner, Leo, saved us last fall from a winter spent hauled, wrapped, and on the hard.  No thank you.

Thank you again, Leo!  Phillip and I were also able to meet up with Leo on several occasions this past summer when we were cruising around the Long Island Sound in Newport, RI and Darien, CT and thank him, and his lovely wife, Diane, proper in person.  We have found it is a wonderfully small, congenial community of boats that cruise New England during the summer, an experience we look forward to sharing with you all here over the next few months.  For now, we want to thank the creative team at SAIL Magazine for printing this fun piece.  If you haven’t already, pick up a copy of the September 2022 issue and let us know what you think! 

On Bravery

On Bravery

“You’re so brave,” she said.  “To stay on the boat by yourself and handle all that alone.” 

Undertaking a solo generator repair on Ubi to keep her batteries running.

This was an old friend of mine, Bridgett, I was talking to recently during one of my extended solo stays on UbiQ.  To make full-time cruising and working aboard work for Phillip and me this past year we’ve had to be flexible and agree to some very different living arrangements at times, one of which has required me to stay aboard alone and manage the boat (sometimes at a marina, but other times on the hook or a mooring ball) while Phillip flies home to handle in-person work obligations.  Is this ideal?  No.  But the thought of Bridgett calling me brave for it struck me.  I felt there was some response inside of me to correct her, or clarify, but I couldn’t find it at the time.  Well, it finally came to me, and I thought it would make a good contribution to HaveWind and our attempt, here, to share the realities (not the romance) of cruising.  So, without further adieu, I give you Annie …

ON BRAVERY

The older I get (I did turn 40 this year, you have to be a little brave to do that), I don’t see the things Phillip and I do—the ways in which our lives differ from traditional land-based lives—as bravery.  Do our choices sometimes put us in situations that are frightening or worrisome?  Absolutely.  How does that saying about cruising go again: Days of paradise punctuated by moments of sheer terror?  Something to that effect.  We’ve definitely had our share of panic-ridden moments. 

But they were all self-induced.  We chose to put ourselves in those situations.  We weighed the possible risk against the likely outcome and made a decision.  I think that’s what struck me about Bridgett’s comment and what I’ve come to discover about myself, my life and decisions, and what I would consider true bravery.  Here’s the thing I could not formulate at the time.  It’s like that perfect comeback that you couldn’t come up with in the moment it would have been perfect to say, but it strikes you like a bolt of lightning in the middle of the night as you’re replaying the whole affair.  What I realized is, in my opinion:

IT’S NOT BRAVERY; IT’S JUST A MISSION STATEMENT

What is a mission statement?  Feel free to try to answer that for yourself before reading on.  Both defining it and coming up with one for yourself (or your team, or company, or whatever you choose) are fantastic goal-driving exercises.  Webster defines it as a “concise statement of your purpose.”  Don’t let the seeming simplicity of that deceive you.  Coming up with your own mission statement is extremely difficult because it has to be short, simple, with all of the fluff and fat boiled out—much like good writing, which is why I love that challenge as well.  For Phillip and I and UbiQ (because I see us as a team and this blog is meant to address our lifestyle and choices) this is what I believe to be our mission statement:

TO EXPERIENCE THE WORLD TOGETHER

What does a mission statement have to do with bravery?  Cultivating your true mission statement and approaching each decision you make by selecting the choice that best fulfills your mission statement can—I have discovered—make you do things other people may see as brave.  But you will just see it as a step toward fulfilling your mission statement.  Example: A baker who wants to exchange cupcakes for smiles takes out a loan and buys a dicey property for his bakery in the city.  Is he brave or just driven?  A woman who wants a large family decides to proceed with a risky pregnancy.  Brave or just dedicated?  A sailor wants to teach and raise his kids while cruising around the world takes them out of school and moves aboard.  Brave or just determined?  I believe one of the most challenging things in this life is finding what makes you happy, what you truly want.  However, if you do find it—which I’m incredibly grateful to feel that I have found what I want, both in Phillip and in cruising (and in writing)—you won’t have to feel like you’re summoning courage to take the steps that bring you closer to fulfilling that purpose.  You’ll simply be confident in the direction your perhaps-brave-looking steps are taking you—because they are toward your ultimate goal, whatever that may be for you.

For me, Phillip, and our amazing boat, Ubiquitous, who carries us to each new shore, any choice that keeps us and the boat safe and healthy and is geared toward giving us more time, in the end, to sail around and “experience the world together” is the right decision for us.  Even if that means I have to stay aboard by myself at times because we cannot find a marina or safe place to leave the boat alone for a bit.  Even if that means Phillip has to walk some seedy streets at night to get on planes and fly back and forth (even on 9/11 – that one freaked me out a bit).  Or one of us has to climb our mast to make a necessary repair. 

Phillip up the mast of a fellow Outbound, s/v Serendipitous

It especially means if we have to buck up and make an offshore passage when conditions are not ideal but it’s required to move the boat to safety, that’s just what we have to do. 

Annie on watch offshore Charleston, SC to Cumberland Island, GA

These are not acts of bravery in my opinion, they are simply risks assumed and accepted as necessary for the greater cause, the mission statement.   

The more I thought about Bridgett’s comment, the more I felt true bravery comes from an act of courage in a situation not of your own making and not for your own benefit.  Example: A passerby steps in to protect a woman from her violent spouse even though it may cause him harm.  A welder decides to back a fellow employee who claims she was sexually assaulted even though it might cost him his job.  A reverend leads a mass of nonviolent demonstrators toward a blockade of state troopers and attack dogs in the name of justice.  These are acts of bravery.  But, then again, perhaps people like this simply have a more deeply rooted, selfless mission statement: EMBODY JUSTICE.

But, what do I know?  Only that I keep uncovering more answers for myself with each passing year.  There is no greater teacher than time.  And the constant passing of it means no greater reason to create and accomplish goals. Which makes me want to ask each of you: What is your mission statement?

Many thanks to my wonderful friend Bridgett for inspiring this piece.  Love you my friend!

Bridgett joining us aboard UbiQ for a few fun days in Newport and Bristol, RI for their famous longest-running 4th of July parade

Top East Coast Anchorage #3: Ft. Lauderdale, Lake Sylvia and the Clothing Police

Yes, you read that right.  The Clothing Police.  We’ll get there, don’t worry.  Oddly enough, this anchorage was one Phillip and I agreed on immediately as one of our Top Three.  And, it wasn’t so much the place as … the people and the experiences we had there.  But, shouldn’t that always be the defining factor?  Phillip and I had never come to Ft. Lauderdale by boat, so this was an entirely new anchorage for us.  Our friend, Pam Wall (some of you might know that name ; ), lives in Ft. Lauderdale and we were hoping to get a fun visit in with her while we were there as well as explore such a big boating hub by water.  Pam recommended we try to anchor in Lake Sylvia if we could find room.  Thankfully, if cruising the east coast taught us anything, it’s how to squeeze into tight anchorages (and (try our best to) avoid collisions).  When Phillip and I came to Ft. Lauderdale, in February 2022, we found Lake Sylvia had about a dozen or so boats anchored in it.  It was tight but not too uncomfortable.  Lake Sylvia is here.

Not much of a lake, but I didn’t name it.  Know that you do have to do a little zig-zag on the way in to avoid some shoaling on the east side of the inlet. 

But, other than that, it’s quite easy (and fun) to come in under the 17thStreet Bridge (opens every quarter and three-quarters of the hour) and motor up the Stranahan and New River to make your way in.  Plenty of mega yachts to ogle.  Unfortunately, there are some deeper pockets in the middle of Lake Sylvia—20- to 25-feet or more of depth—but the majority of the anchorage is 9-13 feet, perfect for a bit of a shorter chain drop to accommodate others.  We typically had 75 feet out and we held fine and hit no one.  Phillip and I did have to monitor boat movements closely (particularly during tide shifts), and we moved several times to avoid a bump, but that’s just part of east coast cruising we’ve found.  We liked to settle UbiQ in right about here, near the inlet.

UbiQ, floating happily on her hook in Lake Sylvia, Ft. Lauderdale

In addition to the handful of beaches and parks we found we could dinghy up to for free, you can also dinghy around all the little waterways and canals (feels a little bit like Venice!) scooting under the many bridges and dock up at the Southport Raw Bar for a minimal $5 dinghy dock charge (that goes toward your bar tab there, so no pennies lost in our opinion). Everyone needs a dinghy drink for the buzz home.

And, there’s a Whole Foods just down the road, as well as a Piggly Wiggly and many other amenities (shipping, laundromat, etc.) on, or near, 17th Street. So, it is a convenient place to anchor. It’s also a good hub for marine service providers in case you need some work done. Isn’t that always the case?

But, aside from the protection and conveniences … whhyyyy did we like this location so much that we picked it as one of our Top 3 East Coast Anchorages?  Just a few stories might help: 

Pam Wall Overhaul

This woman.  So much spunk and spirit packed into one tiny little body.  Pam Wall has inspired Phillip and I in many ways.  Her sailing resume is simply astounding.  And, the amazing part?  She laid down all those years and miles on a boat she and her late husband, Andy, built—the gallant Kandarik.  I still baffle when she tells the story of her driving the forklift to pour the lead into the keel.  That’s really getting to know a boat from the inside out.  And, while we were in Ft. Lauderdale back in February, Kandarik was hauled and undergoing some very extensive and exciting repairs.  A complete re-paint and new Kandarik graphic.  It was a real treat to see the transformation in person while we were there and get the opportunity to travel aboard Kandarik—even if only for a bit to help Pam motor from the Playboy shipyard back to her dock—and enjoy a day on the water with the Pam Wall.

Pulled My (Wo)man Card

This was priceless.  I totally got my woman card yanked.  (Don’t worry; I earned it back!)  Phillip and I met a fellow Outbound 46 owner who was also anchored in Lake Sylvia on s/v Fisaga.  Surprisingly, we’ve typically seen another Outbound at most anchorages, cities, or islands we visited.  We had followed the Fisaga crew—Eli and Hayden—via dinghy to the Atlantic side to kitesurf.  It had been blowing 20+ for days, which was great for the kite.  But, that meant some serious chest-high surf for Annie.  The only part of kitesurfing I don’t like is big, rough surf.  I have many talents.  Navigating rough waves under kite is not one of them.  When I first saw the conditions, Phillip and I both readily decided this would likely not be a kite day for Annie.  I also saw dozens of Portuguese man o’ war (literally about every 3-5 feet) strewn along the waterline on the beach.  Those things freak me out.  I’ve heard the sting can cause paralysis and permanent nerve damage. 

Ummm … no thanks.  With that combo, I was out.  We got Phillip pumped up and riding and I decided to take a nice stroll along the (man ‘o war-laden) beach, congratulating myself on my stupendous decision.

As I was making my way back to our kite gear, I noticed a woman there caring for an infant.  The little baby had to be a month old … maybe two?  She had some kite gear there, too, so I started chatting her up as her husband made his way to our site and Phillip came in for a landing.  The husband began pulling a kite out of a bag and blowing it up and I just assssuuuummmed (never do that) he was going to go kite while she stayed with the baby.  I was wrong.  So wrong.  Lord, was I wrong.  He set everything up for her, then sheeee strapped on a harness and started getting ready to launch.  The gal had just had a baby, like a month … maybe two ago and her husband tells me she hasn’t kited in like six months (I mean, she was preggers) and she picks this gnarly, nasty day to just get back on the horse while I’m standing scared and worried on the shore?

There went my woman card.

NopeNot gonna do it.  As I saw her body drag out past the surf with ease, slip her feet into her board, and sail off under kite, I knew I couldn’t do it.  I couldn’t just stand there and watch that and not even try?  Maybe I’d get all tumbled and crash my kite and make a mess.  So what?  At least I would be able to say I tried?  (Thankfully, I forgot entirely about the man o’ wars when I saw her go out bare arms and legs without a second thought.  Truth be told, had I remembered them, I might not have gone).  But, go I did.  Phillip could see my face as she just scooted out into the Atlantic like there was nothing difficult about it at all.  I think he knew my decision before I did.  I suited up.  And, off I went.  I’m not going to say it was my most elegant kiting ever, and it was short lived.  But I did it!  And got my woman card back in the process. 

Here is a little video Phillip took.  I’m on the yellow kite and Rene is on the blue.  Two ladies out there in the big surf taking charge!

Backgammon Bonds Friends Old and New

And not just a single backgammon game.  An entire four-board round-robin championship.  This was some serious backgammon.  And, it also coincided with a wonderful rendezvous with some of our very good friends from back home in Pensacola who were cruising up the East Coast (while we were cruising down) and who had anchored near us in Lake Sylvia: Neal and Janet on Midnight Sun III.  We’ve met up with these fine folks many places—Annapolis for the boat show, Pirate’s Cove, AL for local shenanigans, even La Rochelle, France, where we all departed in 2018 headed across the Atlantic!

Neal, Janet, Phillip, and I enjoying dinner at Coconuts, one of our favorite restaurants in Ft. Lauderdale.

While we have many old cruising buddies in Pensacola –this won’t surprise you—we’ve made many new friends while cruising this past year.  Jamie and Sheryl on s/v Pacific High and Sarah aboard Caribbean Gem are just three of them.  Although we hadn’t met Jamie or Sheryl at the time, we rounded Cape Hatteras with Pacific High in our wake on the AIS.  We then crossed wakes with them in Beaufort, NC, and Wrightsville Beach.  You’ll find the world of boats out there starts to shrink when you’re a full-time cruiser moving from anchorage to anchorage.  But, we finally got the opportunity to meet (and befriend) Jamie and Sheryl while we were anchored together in Lake Sylvia.  We also got to learn how serious they are about backgammon.  

If you’re ever anchored near their 65-foot custom ketch, Pacific High, you’ll hear the dice rattling and clanging all morning while Jamie and Sheryl play backgammon over coffee, and then again in the evening while they play over cocktails.  Jamie moves the pieces so fast I can’t count his moves or even attempt to keep up.  Phillip and I play occasionally, with our cute little leather roll-up set, but we were no match for these two. 

Thankfully, however, backgammon is a game that involves a great deal of luck.  A luckier player can beat a more skilled player any time.  I think that’s what makes it never get old.  At the outset, it’s truly anyone’s game.  Since we had so many fellow friends and cruisers in Lake Sylvia with us, Jamie decided to host a backgammon championship on the wide expanse of his aft deck on Pacific High.  Several cruisers brought their own backgammon sets for use in the round robin.  Phillip and I snagged Neal and Janet and made it an all-out friends, old and new, backgammon championship and rendezvous.  We were rolling dice, drinking, and laughing too hard to take any pictures. It’s all up here (as Annie taps her temple). Although I wouldn’t have thought it possible, his blissful backgammon event was even topped by a special invite aboard our new friend, Sarah’s, 62-foot Sunreef catamaran, which was anchored in Lake Sylvia as well, for a Super Bowl party where Phillip and I, along with Jamie, Sheryl, made homemade pizzas and watched the game on her 55” inch saloon TV screen.  Memories like this simply cannot be matched.  *cheers*

The Clothing Police

Gees Louise.  This gal is hilarious.  Louise.  Matriarch of the insanely cool Arakai family, a four-member crew that (much like Pam Wall) built their welded aluminum catamaran from a mold and have been living and cruising full-time aboard all over the world (Australia, where they are from, to Thailand, the Caribbean, the Bahamas, the U.S., etc.) for over ten years.  Louise is a licensed captain and jack of all trades.  Her husband, Lach, is a talented and creative engineer.  They’ve been homeschooling their two kids, Siara (15), and Kai (9), aboard while cruising.  Kai has never known a home other than Arakai, who is an impressive aluminum beast, a sailing machine, and a creative hub for the kids and their many artistic and athletic pursuits.  Getting to meet and befriend super cool people like this are one of just many reasons Phillip and I love to cruise.

But, if the boat is your home, at some point you have to have laundry day, right?  And, if there’s one thing we have learned big fancy, bazillion dollar-homeowners in Ft. Lauderdale do not like to look at or talk about, it’s their laundry.  As you can see from the map above, Lake Sylvia is surrounded by mega mansions.  Beautiful three-story glass and gold homes, many with fountains and pools, most seemingly unoccupied most of the time.  They’re probably second or third homes, places to simply vacation a few weeks out of the year.  Who knows.  But, it turns out these bazillionaires do not like to look out on Lake Sylvia, which they refer to as “their backyard,” and see (God forbid) your boat anchored there with beach towels on the lifelines.  For shame!

It was a sad day for Louise.  She got busted.  I’ve been written up for many things in my life.  Speeding tickets.  Parking violations.  Failure to appear for jury duty.  But, I have never received a clothing citation.  Louise can say she has, though.  The cop, however, was even sadder. He was sent out to troll around the anchorage and write cruisers up who had too many articles of clothing hanging around their boat.  We’ve now shared several anchorages with Arakai and I’m not sure I’ve ever seen them on the hook without a single stitch of clothing drying on the lines.  There’s always some towel or bathing suit or something that needs drying.  That’s just part of boat life. 

But, it’s not permitted in Lake Sylvia, at least not so many to the point it looks tacky.  We all were watching (from below decks) the marine patrol boat that had saddled up to Arakai wondering what the cop was doing on their boat and saying to Louise.  When we finally got to catch up with Louis later and she showed us the actual violation—where, in the “Offense” section, the cop had handwritten “CLOTHING”—we all died laughing.  Louise said “the copper” (in her thick Australian accent) was really a standup guy who hated the fact that he had to get on their case, but it was his job.  Louise said “I had that capper rolling when I told him tomorrow I’d been planning to wash all of her bras and panties hang them out to dry later that afternoon, so it was a good thing he stopped by when he did. He wasn’t too keen on that,” Louise said, chuckling.  In the end, it turned out to be just another adventure and great boat story.  Louise got busted by the Clothing Police. 

If you go to Lake Sylvia, don’t let the Clothing Police get you!  I’d also recommend bringing a backgammon board.  You never know what new friends you might make over a game!  Or, if you’re lucky, a championship.  As long as you’re having fun out there that’s all that matters. 

Phillip and I have definitely had fun sharing our Top 3 anchorages when we traveled down the East Coast this past winter.  Phillip and I have since sailed UbiQ back up the East Coast and spent most of the summer soaking in all the wonderful sights, temps, anchorages, and islands the New England coast has to offer.  It’s a shame we haven’t been sailing these parts every summer.  But, it’s on our list now.  We can’t wait to start sharing our New England adventures here at HaveWind, too! 

Top East Coast Anchorage #2: Flagler Island, South Beach and the 25th Street Cleat

This was our first SQUEAK. After the first time, I vowed never to do it again.  Or, at least, never to look when we did.  Phillip asked me from the helm if we were going to make it and I had no answer for him.  No words.  Were we?  I had no clue.  It sure didn’t look like it.  Not from my angle.  *nnnggh* I closed my eyes.  And then it was over.  We had just motored our 62.5-foot mast under an (alleged) 65-foot bridge.  The water table said it was 67 feet.  I didn’t buy it for a minute as we passed under.  I will never look again.  But, I’m glad we did it, and we’ve done it comfortably several time since.  Because our first squeak took us to our second favorite anchorage during our cruise down the East Coast this past winter:

South Beach Miami, anchored near Flagler Island

A fun collage from our stay in South Beach!

We would have never even known this anchorage was possible for us without having fortuitously met and befriended some fellow cruisers in No Name Harbor who told us about it.  (Glen, Debbie, if you’re reading this – thank you again!) Even after you navigate the two semi-scary (but not so scar