Our Annapolis TOP TEN

Whew! We had to give it a week to let the dust settle (and our lungs settle). The day after Phillip and I got back from Annapolis, my chest turned into a raging, burning battlefield. I can’t imagine there is anything left in my head and lungs to hack up, but it somehow miraculously keeps coming. Phillip and I both got monstrously sick after we returned from Annapolis. Did anyone else get walloped with the cold/flu last week? Man, it makes me appreciate my health! The good news is we are on the mend this week (with at least one lung each still in tact), and I’m eager to share some of the awesome highlights from our first trip ever to the Annapolis Sailboat Show!

While the entire week was jam-packed with events, talks, boats, and beers, ten very fun memories seemed to bubble to mind when Phillip and I reflected back on our week in Annapolis. From #10 down to #1, here they are!

10.  Seeing Bob With His Bitchin Award (the Sailing Industry Distinguished Service Award, a handsome Barometer from Weems & Plath)

While I was going to say “getting a bitchin hug” was number ten on this list, Bob’s goofy, happy face when he showed me his award was even better than his massive bear hug.  The moment after he let me out of his grip, Bob tugged me into his booth and started telling me about the award he had been given just that morning.  

“Only Gary Jobson, Alastair Cook, Peter Harken, and Olaf Harken have got this award in the past,” Bob told me. “I guess the world went crazy this morning and decided to put me up there with the lot of them.” Ever the humble one. But, Bob was so cute holding his award (a stunning Weems & Plath barometer engraved with his name) up high and pasting on a goofy smile to pose with it.  I was proud to snap the photo and be able to share the moment with him.  His genuine humility and excitement from it were infectious.  Well done, Bob!  No one deserves it more! And, seeing Bob and Jody at the boat shows always brings a smile (and a hug!).

9. Watching the Show Flood Out

This was not so much a highlight as a shock. On Friday while Phillip and I were walking around the show, we watched as many of the entrances and exits from the show began to fill with flood waters, making it difficult to navigate our way out and back to the Calvert House on State Circle where we were staying.  (That is also where a portion of Cruiser’s University was held.) On Saturday morning, we were told that the combination of seasonal high tides, a full moon, and Tropical Storm Melissa, which stalled off the eastern seaboard, caused flooding throughout downtown Annapolis, leading city officials to close Spa Creek Bridge and Compromise Street, among other streets. 

While walking around the boat show on Saturday, we began to see water creep up to a foot or more around many of the booths. Flooding forced visitors to trudge through water when making their way to boats and between booths. Unfortunately, we saw an older gentleman trip on a pallet and fall into the water near one booth. As attorneys with our red liability flags definitely up at that point, Phillip and I were sure they were going to cancel the show any minute to avoid injury. It was sad to see some vendors suffer damage to their goods, although the running joke was that Gil and the other foul weather vendors were killing it selling boots and waiters left and right. Bob Bitchin even caught a video of a guy paddling through the show. It was wild! 

Studies show between 1957 and 1963, Annapolis averaged roughly four floods each year. That jumped to nearly 40 floods each year between 2007 and 2013, according to data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. You can read more about these stats and the flooding during the boat show here.

8. Knowing No Matter How Many Fancy New Boats We Stepped On, Ours Is Still the Best!

It’s true! In our minds anyway. Every new boat we toured made me appreciate the simplicity, capability, and comfort of our 1985 Niagara 35. The perfect boat for me and Phillip. Perfect because we made it that way, and perfect because it has only the bare necessities and only the necessary luxuries, and nothing more. No matter your boat preference, I found it hard to swallow several myths like these which were touted as truth at the show:

New Boat Myths (Do NOT Fall for These!):

  • Newer means better.
  • Catamarans are always more spacious, more comfortable, and faster.
  • No heeling means no seasickness.
  • Two helms and a wider cockpit make for smoother, drier sailing.
  • Handholds and fiddles can be sacrificed for a pretty interior.
  • Natural ventilation can be sacrificed for AC.
  • The more AC, gen-power, and thru-hulls the better. 
  • In-mast furling mains are a good idea.

Call me a purist, but I thought 59-North’s Swan 59, Ice Bear, was the most capable offshore boat I stepped on at the boat show. The minute I saw a boat that had a dumbwaiter from the galley below up through a hole in the deck to the cockpit, I knew I had stepped into some alternate universe where boats are designed more to entertain than perform.

That’s not to say all of those shiny fiberglass beauties wouldn’t be fun to travel and live on, I just bet an older, 35-footer would out-perform many of them in an offshore sail. Hands down. And, that was a good feeling to have while tip-toeing around on many million-dollar boats: a complete lack of envy or desire knowing the best boat for us is already ours.  Plaintiff’s Rest, you rock!

7. Honor, Courage, Commitment: Touring and Jogging the United States Naval Academy

Phillip had his eyes set on the United States Naval Academy from the moment we booked the trip. While I believe the Marines don’t like to say it out loud, they technically are a branch of the Navy, so, as a Marine himself, Phillip was really excited to see the campus and learn more about the history and traditions. The USNA offers tours on the hour every hour, from 8:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. weekdays for only $12.00 and it was well worth it. Even without a military background myself, I was still very impressed with the rich history of the buildings and the many monuments inside that are testaments to great battles and achievements of the Navy and its many sailors.

The Statute of Tecumseh, which faces Bancroft Hall, the dormitory for 4,400 midshipmen attending the USNA was a highlight. Tecumseh has become not only the “God of 2.0” — the passing grade point average at the academy — but also the idol to whom loyal midshipmen give prayers and sacrificial offerings of pennies. Midshipmen offer a left-handed salute in tribute to Tecumseh, and they toss pennies his way for good luck in exams and athletic contests. We also learned about USNA Heisman trophy winner Joe Bellino and Roger Staubach and saw many of the impressive athletic records held by USNA students dating all the way back to the early 1900’s in a dizzying array of sports from wrestling to swimming to football to soccer to diving to lacrosse to golf to tennis. The USNA students spend approximately two hours each day in rigorous physical activity, which is why they feed them 3,500-4,000 calories a day in the Mess Hall. 

Two things about the USNA stuck out for me: 1) the tradition of capping the Herndon Mount; and 2) our morning jog around the campus on Andy’s recommendation. The Herndon Mount tradition marks the end of “plebe year.”  All freshmen entering the USNA must spend the summer before their first school year at the academy in rigorous training where they wear the traditional sailor whites (think the Cracker Jack guy) complete with a white dixie cup hat.  At the end of their plebe year, the plebes must work together to rush Herndon Mount (a monument on campus, that is greased to the nines for the occasion), scale the statute, and replace the dixie cup hat on top with an upper classman’s hat. Seeing the images of the plebes working together to build a human pyramid to accomplish this was really something. (We won’t mention the fact that it’s a pile of ripped, sweaty men – that had nothing to do with it for me … nothing at all : )

And, my second favorite memory of the academy was the bright early morning jog Phillip and I took around the campus on Friday morning of the show. We had just met Andy Schell from 59-North (more on him below) the previous day and had mentioned our tour of the USNA. If you know Andy, you know he’s a pretty fit dude (and he knows we pride physical fitness, too). I mean, health and time are really the only commodities worth protecting and stockpiling. So, Andy recommended Phillip and I jog the USNA campus in the early morning, right at sunrise. While I figured it would be refreshing, I did not think it would be so transformative. These was just something about running with all of the other young Navy students who were out that morning in the crisp fall air as the sun rose above the Chesapeake Bay that made Phillip and I feel strong, young, and connected to something bigger than us. I imagine many USNA midshipmen feel that way often when they work together to accomplish something momentous, be it an offshore sail, a football game, a swim meet, or a capping of Herndon Mount! Our hearts pounding and our lungs filled with cool, crisp air that stunning morning, I think Phillip and I got just a tiny sliver of what the team spirit of the Navy must feel like. The Naval Academy definitely rubbed off on us.  

6. Getting Front “Row” Seats for Our Best Meal of the Trip

And, let me say first of all picking a top meal was exceedingly difficult in a place where everything starts with fresh, Chesapeake Bay crab. I think ate a total of four crab-themed omelets in the course of three days, then there were the lobster rolls at Mason’s, the breakfast bowl at Iron Rooster, the hot Nashville cornmeal fried-oyster sandwich (that Phillip devoured) at Miss Shirley’s Cafe, the Senator breakfast at Chick and Ruth’s Delly. Lord, stop me now. I’m gaining weight just thinking about it again. The food in Annapolis was jaw-dropping, and I don’t regret a single bite. 

But, our favorite meal of the trip—as it almost always is every time we travel, the one that has that special je ne said quoi—was the one we had aboard a friend’s boat who was anchored up in Spa Creek for the Boat Show. I’ve mentioned Russell Frazer on this blog several times before. He is a long-time delivery captain and he and his wife, Lynn, are exceptionally capable and knowledgeable sailors who Phillip and I have had the pleasure of knowing for several years now through the blog. Russell and Lynn gave us some great advice on how to rig our whisker pole and about swapping to a composting head, both of which I have written up here on the blog. So, when we learned Russell and Lynn were going to be aboard their boat, a gorgeous Kelly Peterson 42 s/v Blue Highway in Spa Creek for the boat show, we knew we we definitely wanted to meet up. What we did not know is that Russell and Lynn were going to invite us for a fantastic Moroccan lamb dish (Lamb Tagine) and Key Lime Pie aboard their boat (the cockpit is always the best seat for dinner), complete with a chauffeured row from the dinghy dock on the end of Market Street in downtown Annapolis. That meal was such a treat! Thanks again, Russell and Lynn, for the invite and superb job hosting!

5.  Meeting Long-time, Online Friends for the First Time Face-to-Face

Andy and Mia with 59-North

That’s right. All these years emailing and chatting with Andy and Mia from 59-North online, following their offshore travels, and listening to Andy’s exceptional podcastsOn the Wind and How I Think About Sailing, and Phillip and I had never before met the two in person. Meeting Andy and Mia was something Phillip and I had been looking forward to for months before the show as we really admire Andy and Mia, both for the adventure and offshore education they offer and the mutual passion for offshore sailing that we all share. Andy’s serious side, his philosophical nature, and his respect for all aspects of boat-building, maintenance, and handling, in particular, speak deeply to Phillip, and I know Phillip was eager for the chance to shake Andy’s hand and thank him for the incredible knowledge he continues to share with sailors all over the world. 

For me, meeting Mia was a real treat as I have admired her tenacity and courage in jumping on a boat with Andy to sail the world (much like I did with Phillip) and for pursuing her Yachtmasters license while showing the world you don’t need formal training (or testosterone) to be a good sailor, and more importantly, a good captain. You just need a level head, good instincts, and listening skills. Mia was also much more bubbly and giddy in person than I would have expected, and she brought out my inner girl, which was really fun!  Proof: Girls rock.  They just do!

Rob and Liz Miller

Remember when I was on Patreon, using the crowd funds to give several lucky winners the Gift of Cruising?  Well, Rob and Liz Miller were our 3rd Gift of Cruising winners, and I partnered with Andy Shell of 59-North Sailing to send Rob Miller on a 10-day cruise along the Leeward Islands from the BVIs to Grenada and back.  

Rob and Liz have been long-time followers at HaveWind and have followed mine and Philip’s travels from the beginning, finding inspiration in our content to fuel their own cruising dreams.  Rob has been working on renovating a beautiful Slocum 42 boat and rig it out so he and Liz can shove off on their own cruise through the islands next year!  Having emailed and spoke with Rob and Liz for years, it was wonderful to finally put faces to names (and big bear hug arms around them) when we got to meet in person at the boat show!  Ironically, we had so much fun chatting we forgot to snap any photos of the four of us, but Rob and Liz joined us on the sail on the Woodwind that Andy and Mia hosted and we had a fantastic time!  I took this photo of Liz and Brian Trautman – what a great one!  : )  

Rob, Liz, it was such a treat to finally get the opportunity to give you two a hug and share a drink (or five!).  We can’t wait to see where your own cruising dreams take you. Phillip and I hope the next time we meet up it will be out on the water on our boats!

4. Getting a VIP Top-Down Ride to Weems & Plath for a Personal Tour

That’s what happens when you travel with Pam Wall. That lady can open some doors, I tell you! Weems & Plath sponsors Pam Wall on her talks and boat show presentations, so she is always eager to share word of their fantastic products and encourage many boat show attendees to stop by their shop in Annapolis for the “dent & bent” sale they host every year during the boat show. Pam wanted to take Phillip and I by so she called the Weems office and asked for a ride and what would you know: a convertible pulls up to take us there in high style!

We got a personal tour of the facility by Drew and learned a ton about what they are doing with OGM lights. These things burn for 50k+ hours and can be seen for miles. They are phenomenal safety devices with technology in the LED field improving every year!

I also picked up their Road Rules and Light Rules sliding rulers which are great nav aids to keep in the cockpit to make sense of all of the different light combinations you can see on passing ships at night, as well as buoys and markers and rules of the road. They were half-off at the sale! I was also impressed with their CrewWatcher product: a bluetooth device the crew member on watch can wear around his or her neck. In case they go overboard, it sounds an alarm on a phone on the boat with GPS coordinates to easily find and retrieve the man overboard. What a (literal) life-saver!

3.  Sailing on Woodwind with 59-North, Delos, and Sailing Totem!

We didn’t even know Delos was coming to the show until a few weeks before the event. While Andy and Mia had been planning to host an informative, fun presentation on Friday night as a “happy hour” event with a talk, we were totally down with them deciding to cancel that when they learned Delos was coming so they could host an afternoon sail and joint YouTube sailing panel discussion instead. What a treat! Andy and Mia hosted a large party on the schooner Andy used to crew on in the Chesapeake Bay, the elegant s/v Woodwind, and invited Brian and Brady from Delos, along with Behan and Jamie from Sailing Totem aboard for two wonderful hours out on the water with a stunning view of the boat show in our wake. While I had met Brian earlier in the week (do NOT miss #1 on this list ; ), this was my first time meeting Brady, and they were both beyond chill, just great guys who love to sail and have a good time. It was a real honor getting to hang out with them, as well as Andy and Mia and Behan and Jamie. The boat show was my first time meeting Behan as well, with Pam earlier in the week during Cruiser’s University, and she is an incredibly sweet, knowledgeable sailor. Phillip and I both felt like we were having mini star-struck moments all week, and our sail on the Woodwind was the explosive finale!

2.  Speaking with Pam Wall

This just warmed my heart. Hearing Pam step up time and again to share her story, her sailing background, how she met Andy Wall, how they built the most beautiful Freya and sailed around the world with their two darling kids, Jamie and Samantha. I never get tired of hearing it; which is great, because Pam never gets tired of telling it! Bless her sweet, salty soul! Pam is committed to helping any person with the dream to go cruising to shove off tomorrow and make it happen. She is an abundant wealth of information (frankly, it shocks me how much she can remember with all of the world-travels and adventures she has packed into one lifetime) but also a humble, kind, caring friend. I will cherish forever the day I met her (and took her to lunch!). We are bonded for life, and I cannot thank her enough for allowing me the honor of standing on the stage with her and sharing what little, but important, lessons I have learned the last six years sailing with Phillip. Speaking with you, Pam, was a real honor.

1. Getting Recognized Right in Front of Delos! : D

This was probably the coolest thing that has ever happened to me in my “HaveWind” career (if you can call it that – I just call it one helluva good time!). So, we all know Brian Trautman from Delos, right? He’s like a mega-celebrity in the world of sailing. (And boy you should have seen the lines that formed around him and Brady day in and day out at the show! Yet, they were always so humble and patient; they shook every hand and smiled for every photo – thousands of them!) Like many of you would be, I was super star-struck when I saw Brian for the first time. It was when Phillip and I were touring Andy and Mia’s Ice Bear, and Brian just happened to be aboard. Phillip and I both spotted him but he was talking to another gentleman at the time and we didn’t want to barge in, so we both waited (I was in the galley talking to a very interesting Ice Bear crew member and Phillip was in the saloon).

As soon as the man Brian was talking to seemed to be wrapping up and getting ready to head topside, I started to mozy toward Brian so I could meet him and shake his hand (and gush like a little girl). But, suddenly, they guy he had been talking to turned around and shouted “ANNIE DIKE?! The Annie Dike?!” Right in front of Brian, the Captain of s/v Delos … this guy has an Annie fit? What would you do? I tossed my hair over my shoulder, giggled and said “Why yes, yes it’s me!” while hugging the man and giving Brian a hilarious this happens all the time look. I couldn’t have asked for better timing. Thank you fan dude, wherever you are, for giving me that Delos-worthy ahhhh moment. I felt just a bit famous! Phillip said Brian looked like he recognized me without the spotting; I’ll take his word for it. But, after I finished with fan-man, I got to give Brian a big hug and meet him, too. That was probably our favorite moment of the trip! Star-struck!

Was I holding on to him too tight? Maybe just a little! : ) Wouldn’t you?

What a wonderful time we had in Annapolis. It was so much fun meeting both our “sail-ebrities” and feeling like some ourselves when folks would stop Phillip and I with a “Is that HaveWind?” look on their face and tell us how we inspired them. Phillip and I were humbled time and again and had a great time meeting so many diverse and entertaining sailors. We all have a story, and we all have dreams ahead. Life is about living and sharing them, and Annapolis really solidified that for us. We hope you’ve enjoyed the recap. We’ll return with some more Exumas wonders next time! Stay tuned!

#55: First Gift of Cruising Winners!

This is it!  Our first Give the Gift of Cruising Giveaway and I’m so excited I could almost fart!  Almost …  Congratulations to Lance and Shelly Hopson, winners of our first Gift of Cruising: Pam Wall Cruising Consultant’s “Find Your Boat” Package!  I have unleashed Pam on Lance and Shelly and will be providing an update soon on their boat-shopping journey!  And a big thanks to Lance and Shelly for being such good sports about their video contribution.  (You’re going to die laughing!)  Enjoy!

I am super pumped now about giving my next gift.  Get inspired, get on board and let me know in the comments below what you think it should be!

I’ll pick a new gift soon and put it up on the website so you all can watch the new countdown.  THANK YOU to all who supported this awesome cause.  Plenty more gifts to come!


Boat Shopping Should Be Fun

“It should!  It should be a fun experience,” she said.  “Not a frustrating one.”  

Pam Wall told me this, just recently when I was speaking to her over the phone to get her contribution for the Gift of Cruising announcement video.  We’re getting so close I knew I had to get my ducks in order!  And, Pam said this sort of off-the-cuff, but it stuck with me:

“Boat shopping should be fun.”


Many of you out there may be boat shopping now or will be soon and maybe you’ve found the whole experience stressful, overwhelming, aggravating.  I’m here to say: “Don’t!”  The shopping is a fundamental part of the whole cruising experience.  You are finding your boat, your vessel, your ticket to world travel.  She will carry you, protect you, enlighten you.   Once you begin to sail her, learn her finicky ways, crack open her chest, her ribs and start working on all the tiny little wires and hoses inside, you will see she has a soul.  She will become the most integral part of your cruising plan.  If it takes time to find her, then it takes time.  Don’t rush it.  Savor every bit of the journey.  


Looking back on mine and Phillip’s initial boat-shopping days, I realize it’s a good thing I was so blissfully ignorant about the whole cruising experience then.  It freed me from over-analyzing the boats we stepped aboard and worrying too much about whether I would want a drop-down table or a permanent one, whether a separate shower stall was “a must” or whether we simply had to have a generator.  Because it was all so new to me and because I really didn’t know what life on a boat was going to be like, I just went with the flow and soaked it all in.  Phillip was saddled with the task of worrying about everything, but he really didn’t.  He had a few key features he knew he wanted.  Aside from that, all that was required was an affordable, well-maintained seaworthy yet fun-to-sail boat that “felt right” when he stepped aboard.  Those were his very words.  So, that was my only indicator: which boat “felt right” to me.  It eliminated all stress from the equation.  


This one certainly “felt right” to me.  The interior of our Niagara 35 before she was gutted at the yard.

With that factor gone, our boat-shopping experience turned into an adventure.  In fact, it was so much fun, the story that came out of the first boat we looked at─you may recall the tale of my very first sail, HookMouth and “I’m buried to port!”─still stands as my first post on this blog: February 16, 2013 ─ My First Sail.  It was also my first article published in Cruising Outpost and even made its way into my first Amazon best-selling book, Salt of a Sailor.  If a story that good can come out of it, surely it’s an experience worth savoring.  

photo (21)

Pam Wall inspired me to write this post as I worried many of you who are boat-shopping now may be cursing the whole endeavor.  Maybe you’re finding it frustrating, irritating, stressful and my goal is to turn that around.  “Boat-shopping should be fun,” she said.  Try to treat each new boat you look at as worthy of being “The One,” assuming it─as it must─”feels right” when you step aboard.  If it doesn’t, give it the opportunity to at least become a great story to tell some day:

“Remember that boat we looked at in Tarpon Springs?”  

“Oh Lord …  and the owner.  What was his name?”

“Oh yeah.  Sammy the self-proclaimed snake-handling expert.”

You never know what can come out of it.  Savor it all.  Your boat is out there waiting for you.  I can assure you.  And, you want to find her, not a “she’ll-do” filler because you grew weary of looking.  Be patient.  

You can’t hurry love.


WHOA.  Only $10 more to go.  This is happening kids!  Who wants the last opportunity to say you were part of it when it all started?


#50: Rig Quotes and Wrong Notes

Let’s KICK OFF this third season, shall we!  With a trip to Ft. Lauderdale where we get a great visit in with the super-knowledgeable Pam Wall, get some initial rigging hardware quotes on rod versus wire and … well a funky little surprise at the end with my bad-ass brother, John.  Bring your jukebox money!

Only $48 to go?!  Shut the front door.  That’s awesome.  Just a teeny bit more to go.  Get inspired.  Get on board!



Kids I need help.  It’s obvious.  I crack myself up with the stupid questions I keep asking in these boat tours.  I have to admit it is far more difficult than I imagined to both 1) keep an engaging conversation going with the boat owner, while also making sure I 2) hold the camera steady, 3) get a good shot and 4) don’t put my finger over the microphone.  And, I’m blonde people.  It kind of makes editing easy, though.  All I have to do is CUT! every time I start talking and pick the footage back up every time I stop.  Seriously … watch this and you’ll see:


Now, how many times did he say “It’s electric?”

Two, right?  Yes, twice.  And, what was my first question?


“So, that’s-a-what powers it?”  Really Annie … 

You can see why I just resort to humor often to try and gloss over my sometimes hideously-poor questions.  But, I do believe I am getting better and I hope you all are enjoying the boat tours.  I’m getting some great feedback on YouTube, Facebook and the blog, where you all have let me know how helpful you’ve found them and that you’re looking forward to more.  Awesome!  Because I have already filmed several more boats.  Coming soon, I’ll have a Sabre, a Gulf Star, a Tartan, a Nonsuch and more.

So, now I pose the question to you.  As you know, my primary goal in doing all of this is to help folks like you looking to get out and cruise.  If you’re finding the content helpful, please support my Give the Gift of Cruising campaign on Patreon!


But, in order to truly help you all, I want to make sure I’m asking the questions you would of these generous (and patient) boat owners and getting you the answers you need to help you find your boat.  So, lay it on me!  What are the most important boat features you want me to discuss during these boat tours?  I can’t promise to include them all every time (nor can I promise to not goober them up on occasion — you’ve met Video Annie),

Screenshot 2016-02-23 at 11.26.40 AM

but I vow to try to touch on each of them as often as I can.  Send me your top ten questions list and I’ll put together a conglomerated master Q list for my boat tours and share with you all.

Okay … GO!