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!
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!
“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/elbowsaga 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!
“You’re so brave,” she said. “To stay on the boat by yourself and handle all that alone.”
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 …
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
Nope. Not 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!
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!
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 scary) 65-foot bridges to get there, on the chart it doesn’t look like there is enough depth to motor along the Venetian Islands to get into the anchorage. But Glen and Debbie explored it via dinghy, checking the depths throughout the inlet, and they found it quite doable. So they did it! While I’m sure their first trek in with the “big boat” was a little hair-raising, by the time we met them, they had anchored there several times and were confident and comfortable with it as long as they made it from No Name over to the two 65-foot bridges that were required on the way in at low tide as the mast height on their Island Packet (with instruments) is approximately 64-feet. Hence, the squeak.
This reminded me a lot of the “bear rule.” You don’t have to be the fastest person running from the bear, just faster than the person behind you. Terrible thought, but true. One of our rules of cruising had always been: If you’re going to navigate into a shallow anchorage, always travel behind a boat deeper than you. We were now learning the same rule applied to potentially short bridges and boats taller than us. Phillip and I more than happily followed Glen and Debbie—and their 64-foot mast—into South Beach.
This anchorage is approximately a two-hour motor/sail from No Name, so it is fairly easy to plan and time it to accommodate the tide. Sailing around in the Biscayne Bay is also very fun—nice depths and no crab pods—and the Rickenbacker bridge is very tall, so no trouble there. One issue is the crazy Miami boat traffic that can make the narrow channel just after the Rickenbacker Bridge feel a little tight and uncomfortable, so it would be ideal to make the move on a slower weekday, as opposed to a busy weekend day. Phillip and I didn’t plan that incredibly well the first time and found ourselves making the trip over on Easter Sunday which proved to be quite chaotic on the water in Miami. There were a lot of “Jersey Shore” type motor boats and yachts blazing through that were courteous enough but not fully aware of (or concerned about) our significant draft and clenched fists.
But, Phillip had a plan. We deployed what he dubbed our “dragon wing” (the mainsail) while motoring the channel to remain highly visible and remind other boaters: yes, we are a sailboat, with a big tall mast and a deeper draft which means less maneuverability. I doubt that’s what the Miami dudes thought when they saw us, but at least—with the dragon wing up—they saw us. Coming just after low tide, the two bridges were 67- and 68-feet respectively, so we felt confident enough. Not comfortable, mind you, for our first time. It still looks decidedly not doable every time I look up. But we made our way under both bridges behind Glen and Debbie with the 62.5-foot mast on our Outbound, and we had no problem. Here is what we saw coming in:
Low tide was at 14:28 that day. We came to the first bridge at 14:02 with the tide at -0.26 ft. The water table showed 67′ under the bridge.
We came to the second bridge at 14:08. The water table showed 68′ under the bridge. We dipped under both just fine.
We had decided to come right before low tide, as opposed to just after. Although in hindsight, we should have come just after to give us more depth after the two bridges coming in near the Venetian Islands. We have a 5.6’ draft on the Outbound, but we always like to consider ourselves 6’ for good measure and the chart showed several patches of only 6′ of depth. But, with the zig zag pattern Glen and Debbie had advised us to use, we had no issues. After navigating the bridges, the lowest depth we saw coming in near the Venetian Islands (at 14:17, seven minutes before low tide) was 6.7′. Whew!
We anchored here, just to the north of Flagler Island.
With the ~ 3-foot tide, our depth ranged from 9 to 13 feet. The holding was great. We had 25+ knots of wind (with gusts of 30) blow through for days and we never budged. The dinghy ride in was a little longer than our normal treks, but still an easy 5-7 minute ride in. It also took us through “Shantyville,” a hodgepodge of boats that have been anchored (likely for years) with tons of barnacles and other strange growth on them. Odd kayaks and makeshift floating rafts tied up to them. That was one down-side of Florida. Lots of ramshackle, unattended boats just anchored out making some anchorages look derelict and rendering them a bit dangerous as many boats were not anchored well and they were unattended. But the temps and waters of Florida are beautiful so you have to take the good with the bad. Thankfully, Shantyville was across the channel on the other side and not a threat to us near Flagler Island. We only saw 3-4 boats anchored near us at any time (often 1-2 of them being our cruising buddies).
When we dinghied in, we docked here. It is a bit of a ramshackle floating dock, but the cruisers use it. Ironically there is a sign there that says “No Docking” yet I saw many dinghy lines tied right to it. Oh the irony! We never had anyone give us trouble docking there, and it is just across the street from Publix (super convenient for provisioning) and just down the road from Fresh Market, Trader Joe’s, a hardware store, UPS, a laundromat, etc. The wealth of cruiser amenities this South Beach anchorage offered was one of its biggest draws.
Not to mention the plethora of restaurants at our fingertips. I mean, it is South Beach and offers a particularly wide variety of ethnic food, which Phillip and I love. We ate exceptional Peruvian at Ceviche 105,
Italian at Pane & Vino, and exquisite cocktails and bites (I had a fried anchovy I can still taste) at Tropezon.
We drank on the rooftop bar and saw flaming fire dancers at Mila.
We spent an afternoon biking through the Wynwood District, a reclaimed art ghetto where exceptional street artists showcase their talents on every building surface imaginable. It’s like strolling through the most eclectic graffiti art gallery for free.
We decided to check out Little Havana inadvertently when they were hosting a huge 40-block street festival on Calle Ocho with live music, sizzling meat grills, plenty of cigars, rum, meat, cigars, and more rum.
We jogged on the beach and pretended to be like some of the beefed up P90X folks who work out at Muscle Beach.
We booked an Art Deco tour that fascinated me and has prevented me from forever not seeing buildings with curved corners, movie marquees, pastel colors and parsed into threes.
We saw an incredible play, When Monica Met Hillary, for its world premiere at the Colony Theatre. Highly recommend.
Although every drink cost $20.00 and the meals were quite pricey, the price for lodging (on our hook) was right. We spent many days perusing the streets and shops and eating an interesting lunch out during the day then cooking aboard at night. The many party-goers and bachelorette parties that liked to blaze around Flagler Island provided more than enough free entertainment from our cockpit. Thankfully, the marine police patrol frequently and stop anyone who tries to throw up a wake around Flagler Island. This not only prevents us from suffering a rolly anchorage but also lets us watch the show every time a jet skier gets pulled over. Sweet revenge!
In all, South Beach offered us protection, convenience, entertainment, a kaleidoscope of exceptional food, shopping, and theater options. And, I haven’t even mentioned the best part. For us, anyway. Phillip had heard they regulate kitesurfing pretty heavily at Miami Beach, allowing it only at designated locations and sometimes for a fee. Meaning, you cannot just pump up and kite anywhere. For this reason, Phillip and I hadn’t planned on being able to kite in South Beach … until. We were walking the beach one day and saw a few kites in the sky about a half mile north. Phillip and I walked over to them and found about a 50-foot patch of beach that is reserved for kiters. The fact that it was so confined actually made it quite pretty to see 10-15 colorful kites covering the sand on only one patch of beach. Phillip and I were intrigued.
We started scouting around to see if we could dinghy to that location (rather than schlep all our kite gear the half mile along the beach we had just walked—a lovely stretch, but it would be a haul with our boards and pumps and kites and harnesses). And, what did we find? The canal we had been taking into town this entire time snaked around and (in theory) could take us right to where we were standing by the kite beach, on 25th Street. What’s more, there at the edge of the canal on 25th Street was a lovely, lonely cleat. It felt like the Kite Gods had put it there just for us. “The 25th Street Cleat!” we dubbed it. The next windy day, Phillip and I decided to pile all our kite gear in the dinghy and see if the canal was deep enough to let us dinghy all the way to the 25th Street Cleat. Turns out, we could. Dinghying the canal even felt a bit like a nice, cruise down the river on a gondola in Venice. Almost. Once at the beach, we kited our brains out. And, I got to see some of the highest jumps I’ve ever watched kiters perform. They were even jumping to incredible heights. On foil boards no less! It was amazing to watch! And, I got out in some pretty big surf that several other female kiters were a little hesitant to get into. It felt nice to not be the most frightened one on the beach that day. Another little fist bump from the Kite Gods.
While it was a little tough for Phillip and me to narrow down the East Coast anchorages to our top three, this anchorage made it pretty easy to say: “Oh yeah, South Beach, that’s definitely one.”
We liked it so much we stayed about 10 days on our way down (a long time for us at any anchorage) and a whopping 16 days on the way back up the coast. It was that good. Next up, we’ll share our Favorite East Coast Anchorage #3. Any guesses where it will be??
Our choices may surprise you. This past cruising season was a wildly different one for Phillip and me—beginning where we purchased our Outbound 46 in Annapolis, MD and taking us down the Chesapeake, around Cape Hatteras, and down U.S. east coast for the first time. Every anchorage was new; every inlet was novel. There was a lot of learning involved and local intel required. Phillip and I made many new cruising friends, several of whom gave us the critical scoop that allowed us to get in/out of these places safely. Some were quiet and isolated. Some were wild, whooped-up parties. But, of the dozens of stops we made along our way down the coast October, 2021 through March, 2022, Phillip and I definitely discovered a few spots that stood out. For those planning to cruise the east coast, we wanted to share our top three, show where we anchored, how we got to shore (and what we found there!), and the reasons these three anchorages were our favorite while cruising down the east coast:
Cumberland Island, GA and Lady Carnegie’s Impressive Dungeness Estate
Flagler Island, South Beach and the 25th Street Cleat
Lake Sylvia, Ft. Lauderdale and the Clothing Police
ANCHORAGE #1: Cumberland Island, GA and Lucy Carnegie’s Impressive Dungeness Estate
We should have spent a week there. Next time we will. After a glorious overnight passage from Charleston, SC (roughly 200 miles north) down to Cumberland Island, GA, Phillip and I navigated Ubiquitous into the St. Mary’s River to anchor near, and explore, Cumberland Island. Phillip chose this magnificent place for a reason, of which I was unaware. I had no idea what awaited me ashore. The might and gumption of the woman who assembled this kingdom. The sprawling breadth of the estate she built. The crumbling structures laying testament to the elegance that once was. The wild, tangled beauty she spent a lifetime preserving. Simply put, the Dungeness remains are stirring and breathtaking. I have a distinct memory of one of the wild horses who roam the Island, standing in what was once a tiled, heated pool in the Recreation Hall of Dungeness, munching grass and blinking at me while he chewed—completely unaware of the grandeur that once stood there.
Everything around me was in decay. But I felt like I could close my eyes and see the magnificence of the past mapped into the present.