New Friends, New Plans, and a Tour of La Rochelle, France!

It isn’t a bad place to have to wait for the Lagoon, I will say that.  La Rochelle is exquisite right now.  Mist that fills the harbor every morning.  Vivid yellow leaves the fall leisurely from the trees to the cobblestones, always mesmerizing me when they fall right before my eyes.

And the food! Fruits de mer!  There are a thousand little restaurants, pubs, bistros, and—my favorite—fromageries!  I’m afraid I have knowingly cultivated a full-fledged cheese addiction, and I, in no way, regret the decision.  They eat cheese for dessert here.  I mean … I love these people.  J’aime La Rochelle!

Hello crew!  From the stunning Atlantic-coast village of La Rochelle.  I wanted to write you all a quick note from France before we shove off next week and begin our Atlantic adventure! I wanted to share a little more about our plans, our new friends, Kate and Cyrus, and why Phillip and I made such a drastic change to our cruising plans this year.  When we were working in the shipyard this past summer, we had pretty-set plans to sail our Niagara 35 slowly and intermittently from November through the Spring of 2019 from Pensacola, to the Exumas to explore what we missed last year, then eventually to Grenada for hurricane season. Yet, we decide instead to hop on a new boat, with new crew, and sail back across the Atlantic Ocean?!

We must be crazy right?

We kind of are … : )

Or just in full-fledged pursuit of adventure!  So, how did this whole opportunity unfold?  How did we meet Kate and Cyrus?  As Kate and Cyrus would tell you, all great stories begin with either “Once upon a time,” or “This ain’t no shit.”  Well, this, my friends, is no merde!

We actually crossed paths with Kate and Cyrus while cruising but did not know it.  Phillip and I were making our way back up the west coast of Florida after our cruising in the Bahamas this past season and we made an unplanned duck into Destin to get out of some not-too-comfortable conditions out in the Gulf: 18 knots on the nose that was set to continue well past midnight, well before we would be able to get to Pensacola Pass to get out of that mess.

So, we navigated the entrance to Destin Harbor for the first time, which was not easy.  It’s a bit of a tricky zig-zag, shoaly entrance, but we made it. And it was one of those moments, when you finally get out of the stuff, the boat is settled and in one piece, and you drop the hook and feel your nerves finally start to settle out.  Once the hook was set, Phillip and I both promptly made a boat drink (because that’s exactly what you do in that moment) and were kicked back in the cockpit heaving happy alternating sighs of satisfaction, when this large catamaran cruised by.

I saw a gal on the bow filming, which, being a bit of a fellow videographer, caught my eye.  I could see she had a remote for the winlass around her neck, and I shouted some comment about how it would be awesome to be able to drop and raise the hook with the push of a button.  We shared a lighthearted exchange or two and said “Cheers!” before their catamaran cruised on out of the anchorage.  I had no clue at the time that cheery blonde on the catamaran would soon become one of my very good friends, someone I would cross the Atlantic Ocean with, but it was.  That was Kate!

Kate and Cyrus were sailing with a captain to gain sea time towards their RYA licenses, and they were making the overnight run from Destin to Pensacola for bluewater experience.  The catamaran they were sailing on, s/v Makarios, actually stays in a slip in Pensacola just a dozen or so boats down from where Phillip and I keep our Niagara 35.  While Kate and Cyrus noticed our boat name, s/v Plaintiff’s Rest, as memorable when they were cruising through Destin Harbor, they didn’t think much more of it until they went the next week to Sea School for the necessary credits toward their USCG licenses.  Ahhh … STCW Sea School, that was a fun time.

It was their Kate and Cyrus saw the insignia I had left on the Sea School wall, put two and two together (HaveWind with the boat they saw in Destin), and Kate then decided to reach out to me.  There were here exact messages!

It’s connections and stories like this that will always make me feel grateful I created this (once very little) traveling sailing blog that has somehow reached so many.  Seeing young cruisers like Phillip and I, and many others who are sharing their stories via blogs and videos, Kate and Cyrus decided to similarly sell the house in Minnesota and downsize to life on a boat.  It was really neat, as we began to chat further, to learn about their plans to start a crew-chartered boat, CruiseNautic, on their Lagoon 42 in the USVIs as their quote-unquote retirement.  Kate and Cyrus had already created their platform and signed up with Dream Yacht Charters to act as the broker for the boat purchase by the time we connected.  The boat, a brand new Lagoon 42, was supposed to be completed early- or mid-November and their vague plan was to sail it from France to the Canaries to the USVIs from mid-November to early-January.  A very fun plan indeed!

I’ll admit, Phillip and I get offers to crew often at HaveWindWillTravel, which is very cool but most of them do not work with our schedule or our own cruising plans. This one, however, seemed to fit a particular niche for Phillip, the offer of an amazing journey during the holidays when his work is a bit slower.  When I told Phillip about the offer—mostly in jest—one evening while cooking dinner, I was surprised by his response:

“We would complete our first Atlantic Circle,” he said.

And, I remember thinking, then and there, there was a real chance this was actually going to happen. Phillip is an avid sailor and lives for offshore sailing and once he was thinking the voyage would fit with his work schedule and offer him something that is a true bucketlist item for him—completing an Atlantic Circle by sailboat—it was very likely he would work hard to make this happen.

That was July.  Only three months before Phillip and I had planned to set sail in our own boat headed eventually for Grenada.  But, the more we continued to talk about Kate and Cyrus’s offer, the opportunity to cross the Atlantic Ocean again was like this luminous jewel on the horizon.  Another epic voyage.  Another month of amazing challenges, memories, and bonds between new friends.  How do you turn that down if it’s even remotely possible?

Look at these two.  The answer is you don’t.

Phillip and I figured we would have plenty of time to sail our boat all over the Caribbean in the coming years, but another Atlantic crossing with a young fun couple felt like an opportunity we could not turn down.  And, we are very grateful for the commitment and work we have put toward making our lives, careers, and income as flexible as it is so that we can seize opportunities like this when they come along.  Phillip was the man who initially taught me the incredibly important concept of time-value.  That is, to make sure I valued experiences and time more than money and things, and it was his support and creativity that helped me begin my online marketing business (which has since grown across many avenues and platforms) that allows me to say, with resounding excitement—“YES!”—to adventures like these.

Once we began emailing, at first, then Skyping, with Kate and Cyrus to both get to know them and to discuss more details about the voyage, their travel plans, etc., Phillip and I started to get that tingly “Holy crap this is really happening” feeling.  It’s a prickle beneath our skin that tells us there is one amazing, eye-opening adventure in our future.  And, each conversation we had with Kate and Cyrus told us the four of us were very like-minded, in pursuit of the same goals, with a similar approach to challenges and provisioning, and collectively a very knowledgeable and fun crew.  While Kate and Cyrus do not have the extent of bluewater experience that Phillip and I do, we all compliment each other in different ways.  Cyrus is a mechanical engineer by trade, capable of dissecting and repairing virtually any system, with a good bit of sailing miles under his belt on he and Kate’s Precision 26 on Lake Lanier.  Big plus for an offshore voyage.

Kate also grew up sailing with her father on Lake Lanier, and is an adventurous, fun-loving, talented singer and songwriter.  Another huge plus for an offshore voyage.  Here is Kate jamming out with her Fleetwood Mac cover band!

I can’t wait to sing a duet with her during the passage!

The four of us clicked very easily and we all had a good feeling about crew comraderie for the voyage. The good thing, though, we knew we would be spending several weeks together in France in a tight little Airbnb—a great place to see if we really did mesh well together, before shoving off for good.

Kate, Cyrus, Phillip, and I been here a week now, cooking dinners together, sharing stories, laughs, worries, concerns, and we all get along fabulously and foresee an amazing experience ahead. It’s a goal worth every 12-hour days’ work we put into it.  Offshore voyaging is such a reward.  And, doing it with friends and fellow sailors who share the same joy and awe of it as Phillip and I do, makes it even more memorable.  We cannot wait to share this voyage with you!

Here is a fun video tour of La Rochelle—our haling port for the moment—as well as some very fun photos from Paris and our rendezvous with the infamous Captain Yannick from our first Atlantic-crossing in 2016.  We are soaking up every minute of this journey and looking forward to seeing and getting on the new Lagoon 42 next week!

Pics from Par-eeh!

This guy …

Boy did we miss Yannick!

And, it was great to have such a personal and knowledgeable tour guide in Paris!

Who me?  More to come about this medal of honor.

Love this man!

Pere Lachaise Cemetery in Paris.

This guy had a happy ending.  Google Victor Noir Pere Lachaise Cemetery.  Fun story there!

Shopping in the sail gear shop brought back some fun memories from our first Atlantic Crossing!

The Louvre!

Made it to La Rochelle!

High fashion.

This entry was posted in Atlantic Crossing, Good Grub, Good Juice, Landlubber Outings, Sea School, Videos. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to New Friends, New Plans, and a Tour of La Rochelle, France!

  1. Janet Davies says:

    Great article Annie. Loved reading it

  2. Jack Stringfellow says:

    Awesome Annie update !
    Especially now that I read the connections with Cyrus & Kate to Our Gulf Coast. This is “why” we love the wind and the good friendships made at sea. ~Cheers to all ~ Capt. Jack

    • anniedike says:

      Thanks Jack. We are definitely stoked about this opportunity and the voyage. It seems the more we cruise and continue to meet people doing the same thing we are, we tend to make connections all over. It’s an awesome cruising community out there.

  3. warren149 says:

    Annie,
    This is going to be a great trip , I hope the shake down cruses goes well , new boats always have issues!
    You are going to be the “experts on this trip”!!!
    Any idea of your intended itinerary? or did I miss that?
    Enjoy! This is why you took this life style to take these opertunities
    Cheers Warren

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