“Good morning all stations, this is Chris Parker on Bel Ami”

Chris Parker’s daily call on our Single Side Band radio has been as routine and welcome as our morning cup of coffee.  Chris is the Chief Forecaster for the Marine Weather Station.  He began forecasting the weather when he was 8 years old and turned pro after years cruising the Caribbean in his sloop Bel Ami.  He came to our attention when we were in Zihuatanejo Mexico.  After hearing of our plans to go through the Panama Canal, our bar companion (a cruiser who had been in the Caribbean) praised Parker’s thorough and insightful reports.  We began picking up his reports while still coming down the Pacific Coast (anyone can tune in for free).  After listening to his reports and his tailored recommendations to his subscribers, we began our own subscription in the fall of 2015.  For the last year we have listened avidly to his reports and called in with specific questions to supplement our other weather sources.  Just recently, we renewed our subscription.  For more information about his services see the link below.

https://mwxc.com/

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“Every new friend is a new adventure” Patrick Lindsay

While old friends and relatives have added joy and perspective to our East Coast travels, new friends and their kindnesses  have contributed renewed energy to our journey.  Bill Rand in Gloucester shared the waterfront that he has loved since childhood and in so doing breathed fresh wind into Elizabeth Jean‘s sails.  Mason and Catharine Newick opened their York home and feted us with our first soft shell lobster and hot showers (not necessarily in that order).  Andy Williams and Courtney DiBlasio toasted our arrival in Stonington Connecticut after securing a mooring ball close to the dock as we waited and watched Hurricane Matthew churn its way north.  Scott and Kitty Tamure hailed us as we headed to anchor north of Hell Gate.  Their tales of their two circumnavigations replenished our psychic cruising kitty.  For future tales of newfound friends watch for the upcoming post “Paying it forward on the ICW.”

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Vice Commodore Rand shared a morning with us in Gloucester.

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Andy and Courtney squeezed in a round of cheer with us on our Stonington arrival.  Andy also picked the brains of his cruising community for Long Island Sound hurricane holes as we headed south at the same time hurricane Matthew was heading north.

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Catharine Newick in her York, Maine Kitchen with her nephew and our Seattle friend, Dave Carlson.

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Our first Maine lobster of the summer, particularly succulent because they are “soft shells.”

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Tamure’s invitation for cocktails was the first time since Florida, months before, that a sailing vessel with which we were sharing an anchorage asked us to swap cruising stories.  Their hospitality reminded us that plenty of adventure still lies ahead.

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Albatross on Eagle

Elizabeth Jean albatross

The resurgent eagle has stoically observed Elizabeth Jean‘s journey up and down the East Coast.  Albatross makes an infrequent appearance to celebrate Eagle’s return to our shores and waterways.

When Eagle comes flying into your life:

It is time to reconnect with your spiritual path. It’s time to listen too and heed your spiritual directives as well as your heart and to allow them both to lead the way for you at this time. When you can find yourself in this state of flight then all the doors will open and the directions you need to follow will be made clear. Like a beacon – your heart will follow the light.

If Eagle is your Animal Totem:

When Eagle is a part of who you are you carry the symbol of air, but have strong legs to walk on the earth and often live near the water for food. Through these qualities you can be guided to balance in all dimensions and achieve inner-growth. As you soar to spiritual awareness, you will remain well grounded in reality and can purify yourself with cleansing waters.

If Eagle has soared into your dreams:

If the Eagle is perched and looking at you it brings a message of self-examination and introspection. Meditate and look within.

If Eagle takes to flight it may symbolize your ability to rise above your current problems or position.

If the Eagle soars above it can be a symbol of your higher consciousness, or higher powers communicating to you, listen carefully to your intuition.

To dream of two eagles mating means that you have attained the spiritual goal you have been striving for. Your hard work has paid off.

Lastly, if the Eagle is diving in, or consuming a kill, it may be a portent of danger or ruthlessness. Do not step on others to achieve your goals, and be warned that someone in your life may be willing to step on you to achieve theirs. http://www.spirit-animals.com/eagle/

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Happy Eagle by Ravenari

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“The World Turned Upside Down” Old Scottish Ballad

Yesterday, Elizabeth Jean scudded past Virginia’s York River under a reefed Genoa with 25-28 knots of north winds. The York was the scene of the British surrender to General George Washington, the end of the colonies’ revolution, and the United States’ entry onto the world stage. Legend has it that the British Band played “The World Turned Upside Down,” a traditional Scottish Ballad, as the vanquished Cornwallis paraded his troops past the victorious Continental Army.

Two days ago on November 9th, we awoke to our own upended world. As we prepare to head south through the Carolinas, Georgia, and Florida, we have some appreciation of how the British troops must have felt as they moved past people who shared a common heritage, but who were on the other side of a deep and bitter divide.

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With centuries of history providing perspective, we can reflect on how Great Britain and the United States found common ground. In time, the two nations together unified to defeat fascism during World War II and rebuild a free and democratic Europe during the Cold War.
We, however, live in the present and do not have centuries within which to enjoy the fruits of our shared roots. How then do we navigate our immediate uncertain times and the chasm that separates us from our fellows?  Elizabeth Jean and her crew have watch words that serve as our compass as we travel. We turn to them now.

We live in joy. Now, more than ever, we will find and create joy in our lives. We will do so in the everyday moments—a brisk sail to a quiet anchorage—and the major milestones—such as daughter Jean and Max’s June wedding.
We surrender to this moment. Surrender has many meanings. Here we commit to live in the present even when we cannot help but worry about the future that may unfold. We do not surrender to that future’s inevitability.
We share our lives. We are now on a different adventure than the one that might have been. With those of like mind, sharing this adventure will be easy and a comfort. With friends and family on the other side of the divide, such sharing is essential if difficult. We choose to believe there are common values on which we can build the community and world in which we want to live.

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“Zen and the art of [sailboat] maintenance” Robert M. Pirsig

Working well, and caring “is to become part of a process of achieving an inner peace of mind,” according to Robert Pirsig whose description of maintenance in his book on traveling by motorcycle with his son, elevated maintenance, (properly performed), to a life philosophy.   At Stingray Point, near Virginia’s Rappahannock River mouth, it  helped to think we were achieving inner peace, rather than sanding, stripping paint, rebuilding leaking plumping, and otherwise getting Elizabeth Jean ready for our trip south to Florida.  Fortunately, the first week of November offered flawless clear skies as we prepped and painted.

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The Rappahanock River is known for its quality boat work at a reasonable price.  We had professional help on installing new seacocks and resealing some windows and hatches, but we did much of the work ourselves.  The River is also strategically positioned for cruisers heading south as it is a day’s travel from the Chesapeake Bay’s Mouth or Norfolk and the beginning of the Intra Coastal Waterway (ICW).

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Testing bottom paints for compatability.  No we are not changing colors.  Once we knew the brands were compatible we ordered red.

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Our dinghy, Schooner, sporting her two tone look.  The green stripe is frog tape that will be removed leaving a very clean line.

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She’s too sexy for her Tyvek suit.

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The prop will be test driving some new fangled anti-foulant paint.

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Seeing Elizabeth Jean gleaming in the late November sun, we think Pirsig had a point.  After “working well and with care” we proceed south with a sense of accomplishment and, dare we say, a touch more inner peace.

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Cousins: memories’ keepers

Before we had friends we had cousins. Both our parents had siblings living near us when we were young. Early family photographs show us celebrating various Thanksgivings and summer vacations with assorted Sullivan, Susen and Laschever cousins.

A number of our closest cousins have settled along our summer cruising grounds. Elizabeth Jean brought us to them and they, in turn, brought tales of growing up together as well as updates of their full lives.  A strong chin, winking eye, copper hair, or keen wit poignantly remind us of our parents’ closest siblings and our earliest years.

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“Newport . . . stud farm . . . of aristocracy” Mark Twain

Despite sage counsel from Steve Sands, who helped outfit Elizabeth Jean for our journey, we did not run our Espar heater for the three years we were in the tropics.  The idea of adding more heat to our cabin was logical, just not reasonable.  So, as September turned to October we arrived in Rhode Island to replace the heater, dead from neglect.  Our Rhode Island stay allowed us to explore two of sailing’s touchstones: Newport and Bristol.  Newport, one-time home to the America’s Cup, lived up to its reputation as American aristocracy’s play ground.  Bristol’s Herreshoff Museum offered its abundance of vintage wooden boats designed by America’s premier designer Nathaniel Herreshoff.

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An albatross-eyed view of Newport’s extravant estates.

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Newport’s cliff trail divides the rugged coast from many estate’s ocean views.  A sunset saunter along the trail revealed a glimpse of the life style of the extremely rich and famous.

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Up Narragansett Bay from Newport, the Herreshoff museum documents the Herreshoff brother’s prolific production.  Over 2,000 of Herreshoff”s designs survive, including Reliance, the 1903 America’s Cup winner.  The video that tells the brother’s story is well worth the time.

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Reliance and Shamrock.

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Martha’s Vineyard: “[T]he collision of harbor and shore, the subtly haunting briny quality” William Styron

By late September we had reached Vineyard Haven, after visits in Massachusetts to Gloucester, Marblehead, Boston, Provincetown, and an anchorage near Woods Hole.  The Vineyard’s collision of harbor and shore was gentler than Styron suggests, although the town was decidedly briny.  We rendezvoused with our friends from Tandemeer, a vessel we first met in Grand Cayman, that delivers medical and school supplies in Haiti and other Caribbean countries.  With Anne and Sequoia, Tandemeer’s crew, we sampled the freshest lobster rolls while giant soap bubbles danced hauntingly along the water as sun set on our anchorage at Menemsha.

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Sunset at Marblehead.

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The monument in Provincetown celebrates the Pilgrim’s arrival in Massachusetts.  After learning of the sandy soils poor quality, the Pilgrims moved on to Plymouth.

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Gay Head light house.

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Vintage wooden crafts studded the mooring field in Vineyard Haven.

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A soap bubble diverts the eye from Elizabeth Jean anchored at Menemsha.

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The bubble meister.

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Elizabeth Jean‘s anchor light pierces the twilight as calm descends on the anchorage.

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“[W]here grooves have been worn into the floorboard by women pacing . . . looking out to sea” Sebastian Junger

Fog shrouded Gloucester, the storied fishing community, as Elizabeth Jean cautiously probed the harbor entrance after a long day moving south from our anchorage on the Piscataqua River (the boundary between Maine and New Hampshire).  Our spirits had ebbed after leaving Maine.  We had not yet found a goal to replace the Big U and our adventure, therefore, felt somewhat adrift.  As the morning sun warmed Elizabeth Jean‘s cockpit, our new best friend Bill Rand pulled aside Elizabeth Jean.  His guided harbor tour refreshed our appetite for further exploration.

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The Fishermen’s Memorial lists the vessels and their crews who have gone down to the sea and not returned.  Included is the Andrea Gail lost in the 1991 storm described by Sebastian Junger in The Perfect Storm.

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Bill Rand, a boyhood friend of our Seattle friend Brad Bagshaw generously spent the morning showing us the Gloucester waterfront.  His kindness jump started our energy for the trip south.

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Bill and Brad learned to race at the Eastern Point Yacht Club of which Bill is now Rear Commodore.  The Club’s lawn looks out on the vessels large and small.  

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The Fishermen’s Wives Memorial.  Women now participate in the fisheries.  Among them, Linda Greenlaw, Captain of the Hannah Boden, who was in contact with Andrea Gail before she went down.

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“A time of innocence, a time of confidences” Paul Simon

Our east coast sojourn has been rich with visits with old friends.  Perhaps the oldest was Eric’s friend from elementary school, the first who lived beyond Eric’s street.  Stopping at his home on the way home from elementary school became a ritual, made sweet by the Entenmann’s pastries that his mother stocked.  Eulalie reconnected with her best friend from high school, who fondly recalls night time rendezvous after Eulalie climbed out of her bedroom window.  Long walks and highly personal talks typified time with these friends from our youths.  For Eric, there were marathon tennis games.  Eulalie honed her racing skills on Long Island with her friend.  These visits provided a window into these friends’ adult lives, familes, and accomplishments.  Poignantly, these visits also reaquainted us with our more youthful, unformed selves.

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