So, we settled into our new life in Arlington. One of the nice things about this location is that it’s about halfway between the Chesapeake Bay/Atlantic Ocean and the Blue Ridge Mountains. For the first few years, we explored. We went to the mountains, the Bay, the Ocean. We love driving almost as much as we love sailing, and we drove down to Florida, up to Maine, and we journeyed across the whole US five times, taking different latitudes each time. The only State that we haven’t seen is Mississippi. But while that was all fun and exciting, we missed Kantele and we missed sailing.
[ Editor’s Note: See Christine’s entire Series HERE ]
We found a very good yacht broker near Annapolis and started to look at smaller sailboats. We realized that the Bay is fairly shallow, and we wanted to be able to “gunk-hole” – sail up rivers and drop anchor, rather than have to go to marinas. We wanted a more classic hull form than many of the more modern boats – something with a longish, straight keel. We eventually found a 32” Ericson at the right price. She was nice, had been well kept, and had 4 berths – a V-berth up forward and 2 berths in the saloon. Her name was Time’s Passage, which appealed to us.
We had friends who suggested a very nice Marina to us – located in Deale, just South of Annapolis. It was very convenient, only 45 minutes from home, and with a few bars and restaurants nearby. It was a completely different sort of sailing to the N. Sea and the English Channel. The Bay was quiet, peaceful and very beautiful. Occasionally freighters would sail in and out of Baltimore, but they were slow moving and had to keep to their channels. There were plenty of fishing nets and crab pots to avoid, but they were usually well marked and in specific locations. We spent many peaceful summer days sailing up and down or across the Bay.
There was one risk of which many people were unaware, and that was of barges that were being towed. Occasionally, when the towboat slowed down, the tow chains would drop in huge catenaries below the surface of the water, so there appeared to be a large gap between the towboat and the barge. The risk to boaters, who were unaware of what was happening, was that they would think that the danger of the tow-boat had passed, and then sail over the loop in the chain and run the risk of colliding with the chain below the surface, or having the tow boat speed up, pulling the chain taut at just the wrong moment.
Our favorite destinations were on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. And the names of the towns were evocative of England – Oxford, Cambridge, Salisbury, Lewes – as this was one of the first areas that were settled back in the 16th and 17th centuries. We found that the people there were so friendly and there were always nice places to berth or anchor. We didn’t have room for a dinghy, so we started out with an inflatable that we kept partially inflated on deck. It was OK, but it was a bit of trouble, in that it took time to clean and dry it off, and bring it on board. Between that, and then the fact that it got so hot in the summer, we began to stay in marinas that had showers, rather than anchoring out somewhere. We discovered that the people were more gregarious than those in the UK, Europe, or perhaps it was a function of the weather being better, but there were far more parties and BBQs than we had experienced previously, and it was fun.
One day, the yacht broker who had sold us, Times Passage, came to us and said: “Have I got the perfect boat for you!” He knew we were thinking of sailing further afield, and while Times Passage was easy to sail, we were getting a bit concerned about her engine. This new boat, Gracious Lady, was a Pearson 35 with a centerboard. It had just been completely overhauled and refurbished and was beautiful. We had never sailed with a centerboard before, but the advantage was that we could sail with it up in the relatively calm waters of the Bay – and could go places that were shallower than we could go in Times Passage. Then we could lower the centerboard and go out into the rougher parts of Hampton Roads and out into the Atlantic. Being larger, we were able to have more friends on board for day-sailing and weekends. We had a mixture of experienced sailors as friends, as well as complete land-lubbers, with whom we had some very funny experiences. One woman friend knelt on the cockpit floor with her arms around my knees or Kirk’s knees, every time the boat heeled, which was frequently. Another friend decided he was going to show off by leaping ashore from the bow. He missed and sank deep into some very foul-smelling mud. His wife was furious and made him strip down in the cockpit, while she hosed him off. But it was all good fun.
One of the real differences between sailing in the Mid-Atlantic region and England was the weather. In 18 years of sailing in the UK, there were only two occasions when we did not have to wear oilskins – either for rain or cold wind. Here we never had to wear oilskins in the summer. It was wonderful.
Yet, much as we enjoyed our boats, and loved to be out there sailing, we missed Kantele. Kantele was ours. We had helped to design her interior. We had watched her being built. We had lived aboard for 12 years. One Sunday evening in February, we were eating dinner, and talking about how much we loved to sail, and wondering about where we might sail in the coming year, and the conversation got around to Kantele. We wondered where she might be, where the new owners might have taken her. What state she might be in… We looked at each other, and Kirk said he’d call her owners (assuming they were the ones who had bought her from us) the following day.
Kirk called. They said “She’s on the market!” And that was the start of another saga.