The Fourth Brings Friends, Fireworks, and Our First Gale Aboard UbiQ

When you decide to buy a boat (or a bigger boat) and start cruising (or cruising further and longer) one of the first things to cross your mind will be: friends and family.  When will I see them again?  When will I be back home to visit?  When/how can they come visit me?  Can they stay aboard?  These questions will impact the type of boat you might think is right for you.  Do we need/want to cruise a boat that can easily host 4-6 people?  Or, is that too much unused space/systems for the perhaps rare occasion(s) when we’ll have company aboard?  These are tough decisions.  Just as deciding to leave shore and start a new chapter aboard (and perhaps abroad) is a tough decision.  When Phillip and I were deciding to sell our smaller Niagara 35 to upgrade to a larger boat that would let us cruise further, more comfortably, one of our desires was a boat that was not too big for us to handle alone but that would also allow up to two people to visit and stay aboard comfortably with us as we were planning to leave our local friends and family for longer stints.  This meant an additional cabin, comfortable and spacious enough for two, additional storage, and (perhaps) two heads would be welcomed.  Not required, but preferred. 

The Outbound 46 and the impressive layout and design of Ubiquitous, easily checked these boxes.

As Phillip and I were shopping and negotiating for Ubiquitous back in Dec 2020/Jan 2021—it’s wild to think that’s coming up on a full year ago—we told friends and family who feared we might sail off over the horizon (because we might! : ) that they would be welcome to visit us anytime or any place.  You just can’t pick both,” we would always tell them.  And, we were excited and thrilled when the first brave souls stepped up to come join us aboard UbiQ in July, 2021, a couple I have written about before on this blog as their humor, resilience, and thoughtfulness have endeared them to us: Stephen and Beth, the Cattywampus crew.  In all, the Fourth brought us our first friends aboard, fireworks, and our first gale on UbiQ! July was quite an adventure. Let’s let this story roll! : )

July, 2021:

After our surprise, boisterous Eastport Oyster Boys on-the-water concert in West River back in June, Phillip and I eventually made our way across the Bay over to St. Michaels on the eastern short for a week-long retreat on UbiQ.  It was a small cruise, but our first time to leave the relatively known waters of Back and Spa Creek in Annapolis and venture out on our own on the new (to us) boat, so it was exciting.  We were thrilled with the quaint little town we found in St. Michaels, the inviting little downtown strip (Talbot Street) with its colorful shops, restaurants, bars, juke joints, and ice cream shops (a favorite of Phillip’s).  The indoor-outdoor interactive Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum there at St. Michaels, where you can sail in and snag a slip was also quite impressive.  The rich history embedded in the waters of the Chesapeake is infinite and mesmerizing.  Phillip and I had a fantastic time on our first “little cruise” to St. Michaels.

Once we made it back to Back Creek, where we kept Ubiquitous during the summer of 2021, we were eager and anxious to welcome our first visiting crew aboard the boat—Stephen and Beth—who were set to fly in on July 1st.  Everything was trending nicely with a flight on time, a rental car available, and an arrival time at the BWS airport in Baltimore mid-afternoon.  That was … until … a storm started brewing on the horizon and a tornado warning fell over Annapolis.  Phillip and I watched from the boat as a dark, boding shelf cloud formed over downtown Annapolis and began rolling toward Ubiquitous as she sat secured on a ball in the main mooring field of downtown Annapolis.  We had two dock lines (one looped from each side of our pulpit bow cleats) to the ball but it felt like two lines too few with what we saw coming.  While we trusted the balls in the main mooring field, as we had seen the divers come several times over the course of the summer to check them, it was still a bit of a scary place to be—just one boat length away from every other person in the field there on a ball—with a storm that wicked coming.  But, there was no stopping it.  The clouds rolled and roiled towards us as the winds picked up. 

Ubiquitous, as heavy as she is (28,000 pounds), was whipping and yanking on the ball, heeling heavily to each side as the winds swirled and sent her skittering off in either direction. At its height, I saw 42 knots of wind on the B&G, and that’s about 20 more than I would like to see … ever.

My biggest fear was the many other boats around us, just as heavy if not heavier, held by one line alone that (I envisioned) could snap at any minute, sending them careening into us.  It was a very … crowded place to weather out our first gale.  But, weather it we did!  After an intense 15 minutes of gale-force winds, almost as quickly as the storm had rolled in, it neatly packed its bags and rolled out, leaving only a sparkling sun and wet decks as proof that anything had happened.  It gave Phillip and I just enough time to scoot into town in the dinghy and pick Stephen and Beth up.  The aftermath in Annapolis, however, was visible everywhere we looked with several felled trees, flooded streets, and cars covered in leaves and debris.  It was an intense, pop-up storm that surprised many, even the locals. 

But it did not deter Stephen and Beth!  Seeing them jogging toward us in Eastport was a sight to see.  Here they were, our cruising buddies, our boat friends, our Pensacola posse, in Annapolis ready to board UbiQ for the first time.  The many, many hours the four of us had been spent with mulling over our decision to purchase the Outbound, as well as equally pressing life decisions of their own, made finally having Stephen and Beth in Annapolis with us to share this new chapter a real treat!  And, the real surprise was how comfortable everyone was aboard.  Even Stephen, who himself will tell you “I’m a big guy, I need space,” said he felt he had plenty of room.  Phillip and I had cleaned out the port-side aft berth and a few lockers for Stephen and Beth and their stores.  They also had our aft head very near them to use at their leisure, leaving Phillip and I the forward head behind our closed vberth door to use at our leisure, which worked supremely well.  The four of us were all surprised, truly, at how easily and comfortably the boat fit four people aboard.  UbiQ definitely sat back and smiled as we gloated on her all evening.  Well … most of the evening.  I’ll be honest, there was a lot of rum involved and I can’t vouch for what tall tales were told, if any, in the final hours.  But, it was a grand Pensacola cruisers reunion!

Our goal while we had Stephen and Beth aboard was to explore many of the things Annapolis and Eastport had opened up to us during our summer there: breakfast nacho brunch at the Iron Rooster,

drinks and fried bar treats at Davis’ Pub in Eastport,

all the glistening goodies at Weems & Plath, the slick, killer foulies on sale at the Helly Hansen, Musto, and Sperry stores on Main Street, ice cream from Storm Brothers,

watching the ducks and people (equally entertaining) at Ego Alley, day sails out in the Bay with the iconic Woodwind schooner,

and, most importantly, fun nights aboard cruising on the boat. 

We were also “Chasing the Works” (as many cruisers in Annapolis call it), sailing to different locations and anchoring out over the course of the July Fourth weekend to catch as many on-the-water fireworks shows as we comfortably could.  Some great new friends, Richard and Idarae on their Beneteau Moltobene, invited us for a raft-up in Round Bay which was just a short motor up to the end of the Severn River and provided quite an impressive fireworks show from the local community dock there. 

The next day we came back down the Severn River to sail out in the Chesapeake Bay all day with Moltobene, which was a real treat and offered us our VERY FIRST photos of UbiQ under sail!  (One of which you may see soon in an upcoming SAIL Magazine article … I’m just saying … stay tuned!).

Then we rafted up with the full (8+ crew) aboard Moltobene near Horn Point (where Spa Creek meets the Bay) for a five-star on-the-water Annapolis fireworks show.  It was a full house on UbiQ with incredible new and old friends:

From left to right, back row (Moltobene):  Richard and Idarae (with a waving Phillip in between), and their friend Mark on s/v Moltobene, followed by Ann (of Jim and Ann, UbiQ’s former owners) with our Pensacola friends, Beth and Stephen, standing on UbiQ’s port deck.

Front row: New cruising friends (whom you will see more of on the blog when we set off for the Bahamas in the fall of 2021) Spandana and Dev, who sail on their 1993 Caliber 40, s/v Turtle, our former owner Jim (love that big smile), next to me! : ), followed by more new Annapolis cruising friends, Patty and Peter, who own a 2001 Outbound 46, s/v Serendipitous.  I will cherish this photo for a long time as it captured such a joyous moment filled with friends new and old.

I don’t think Phillip and I will ever forget that evening.  It told us we had made incredible new friends in Annapolis, that we had incredible friends from home who (this visit had told us) could easily come stay aboard with us and visit us on UbiQ any time (or place, but not both!), and that UbiQ was a gallant, spacious, capable boat meant to take us—and any friends who wanted to come—to incredible new places.  Our minds popped and exploded with the many new possibilities!  Happy Fourth of July from UbiQ!!

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