Brandon and I have been looking at houses for well over a year now. Since we already had a great home – albeit just a bit small – we were in no rush. We mostly just browsed Zillow and drove around on weekends we were in Rhode Island seeing what was out there. For us, having land already meant we didn’t want to give that up but we didn’t want to be far away from Jamestown/Newport.
In the late summer, a house popped up that caught our eye. They were having an open house one weekend but we were of course away sailing. We did still drive down the long driveway and took a poke around peeking in windows – assuming no one was living there (apparently we were wrong but didn’t learn that at the time!) Then we asked a friend of ours who is a real estate agent to reach out to see if we could visit it.
It is a beautiful 4 bedroom Cape built in 1960 with a 2006 master suite addition sitting on 2.5 acres and butting up against 57 acres of conservancy land. It was reasonably priced in a good neighborhood – so we were thinking: “What’s the catch?”
Well on our first visit we got the disclosures to learn it has a cesspool – which are now illegal in Rhode Island. New owners will have 1 year from the date of closure to put in a proper septic system. This new home is also in a “critical resource area” due to proximity to water tables. So… $$$$$ septic tank.
After some negotiations (and low offers) and even the house being taken off the market, the sellers (a retired couple who raised their family here then has moved South) accepted. Then started the stressful, drawn-out mortgage, inspections, and closing process but on October 22, we got the keys and started the move in.
It’s the best of both worlds as we are keeping the other house and Brandon’s mom is the new tenant. Moving is a slow process utilizing Brandon and my dad’s trucks.
Side note, on the same week of the closing, my car decided it liked Fletcher Road too much and couldn’t handle the move across town – having already moved me across the country twice and the state a few times. So after 10 years, the little-Honda-Fit-that-could ended it by popping herself out of gear, putting down the e-brake, and rolling out a nearly flat driveway to hit a tree 6 inches in diameter at 3mph. No one humans or animals were hurt or even witnessed her demise – the neighbor came over to let us know she ran away into his yard. The dent in the rear corner was enough for the insurance company to total her.
So now back at the new house, we have a list of projects to make the home our own, so far Brandon is making the garage his haven with insulation, more power, and heat and I am taking down wallpaper.
Facebook Marketplace has been a wonderful place to find some furniture – as we now have to furnish a house double in size. So far, my favorite room is our den. It has a wood fireplace, a beautiful view of the woods behind us and plenty of light. It has become my new defacto office due to its warmth and general hygee (Danish for coziness).
Scruffy has been adjusting but has already come to think of this as his territory – so squirrels of Congdon Hill beware! He is also a fan of the new chairs by the fire just not all the banging Brandon does in the garage.
The grand plan is to host both of our families (18! + 3 dogs) so stay tuned for that!
Lastly, Persistence came out of the water on November 1. We didn’t go on any big adventures this year, just a Cuttyhunk and a last Columbus Day weekend to Block Island. Hopefully next summer we will get away. We have grand dreams to do a honeymoon crusing trip to Maine.
Speaking of the wedding… persistenceadventures.com/wedding has more information about that.
Well, it has been a while since writing but it sadly is not because we have been out adventuring all over New England waters onboard Persistence but because it has been a Summer of work, weddings, and weekends away from our boat.
However, we have still managed to get in a lot of sailing in – just not always onboard the Persistence. Work has kept me very busy and I have managed to get more use of the Nav Station down below as an office than the sails on deck. We actually realized in August that the mainsail never even went up once in June or July!
The highlights of Summer 2019 thus far with picture below (we still have over a month of sailing weather ahead of us so we don’t plan to put her away yet!)
Launched on May 15th!
Mitchell Regatta (Memorial Day Weekend race to Block Island) – Tied (with good friend Morgan) for the best appetizer: Bacon Wrapped Japenpenos Stuffed with Dates and Goat Cheese.
NYYC Annual Regatta sailing with The Cat Came Back Crew
Block Island Race Week – I did the media for the event but Brandon sailed with the Cat.
4th of July – Brandon was off to a Bachelor party so Scruffy and I hung out in Jamestown on the boat and sailed with friends
NYYC Race Week – I sailed IC37s onboard Chesapeake Racing
Camden Classics Cup – Brandon and I headed Downeast to join Verissimo for a weekend of sailing. It was my first time racing there and it was beautiful. We took 2nd in the regatta.
August 1st! Our first cruising weekend of the SUMMER! Friends were headed to Block Island so we headed out to our favorite spot for a weekend of swimming, mudslides, and even made it out to see a band on Saturday night. Sadly the wind did not cooperate either direction and while the sails were up, we motored sailed both ways for much of the journey.
Justin and Perri’s Wedding – NYC. Amazing time with friends at the Bronx Botanical Gardens
Back to Block. We had another weekend free and while we would have loved to go to Cuttyhunk the wind was SE so it was just too good to not set sail for Block once again. Morgan and Jay joined us on Saturday for a relaxing weekend in our favorite place. However, the light winds once again led us to motor most the way.
August 15th – Took the Newport Yacht Club junior sailors out for a day on the boat with 2 other big boats. I think it is important the kids get to experience something other than an opti. We went to Mackrol Cove to swim and eat and everyone got to try something different.
Bristol Wedding weekend – Alex Longo, Brandon’s friend from high school was getting married in Bristol at Mount Hope Farm so we set sail on Saturday morning with another friend and stayed on a mooring in the harbor. Sunday was breezy but from the North. Got the boat going 7.5 knots at one point under jib only!
Labor Day Weekend – And like that it was September. Brandon did the Vineyard Race (Stamford CT to Buzzards Bay and Around Block) onboard a customer’s boat – Jules, a Baltic 53. And I sailed The Cat for the CYC Around the Island Race while simultaneously handling the media for the event.
Now we head into another wedding weekend for Holly Huffine, one of my oldest friends, here at home. We will probably stay on the boat Saturday and race Sunday on the Cat for the Fall Series but as the temperatures cool. We know there is still much more sailing time still ahead in the coming weeks.
Our first big adventure of the year was off to France for a week of exploring, eating, wine tasting, and a small life event 💍(more on that below…). Brandon has an annual training in Finland around this time each year so with a free flight to Europe for him, frequent flyer miles for me, and European friends with guest rooms, we try to tack on a visit to a new city. each year.
Our first trip was in 2015 when I joined him in Finland (in January!) followed by a trip to Copenhagen, Denmark – where I used to live – to show him my old stomping grounds.
Then in 2016, we visited our good friends Alexa and Jonathan in London. This time, I met Brandon in London and skipped the cold, dark northern, Finland.
This year, with our friends Justin and Perri having just moved to Paris (just 3 weeks ago!) we headed to France for a few days. We did some serious touristing averaging 5-8 miles per day of walking around the City of Lights sprinkling in frequent stops in their quintennialy quaint cafes to sip on wine and indulge in all the French delicacies that make this one of the gastronomical capitals of the world.
Some of the Paris highlights:
On the first day we went to the hilltop that holds the charming Montmartre where cafes, winding alleys, and the domed Sacré-Cœur basilica overlooks the city. It was the perfect kickoff to our city as we got a sense of the city from above.
Underneath the city, the bones of 6 million Parisians can be found in their final resting place. Around the time of the Plague, vast quarries below the city provided the materials to build the city, then in turn, became a solution for a growing problem of spreading disease and lack of space for a growing population. The bones were blessed by the Church then stacked in a way to honor the dead. As creepy as the place was, it was mindblowing the sheer number of remains and realizing this was all built in the Middle Ages.
The world renowned Spanish artist settled in Paris developing Cubism and Realism in the early 20th Century. When he died, his family couldn’t afford the estate taxes so donated many of his works to the State to be sold or displayed in a public museum. Located in the old Hôtel Salé, in the 3rd Arrondissement, the works show the development of the beloved artist over his years living in Paris. We always get the audio guide when we visit a museum because the extra history and explanations really make the visit better.
Visiting the iconic church was amazing because you look at both the intricacies and details in architecture and art and realize this was built in the 12th century!
On Saturday, we headed out of the city by car to visit Fontainebleau, the residence of Royals and Emperors. A tour of the grounds and the exquisite Apartments was amazing. The detail everywhere you looked was very impressive. This was also where Napolean surrendered before his exile.
Monet’s Water Lillies
On Monday, I needed to get some work done and Brandon had already left. Justin and I did manage to get out and check out the only museum open on a Monday, Musée de l’Orangerie which houses Claude Monet’s famous Water Lillies. I thought they were paintings like any other but in they are two rooms of HUGE panoramic lilies. The small museum also houses works by Cézanne, Matisse, Picasso, Renoir, Rousseau, Soutine which was an amazing surprise.
On Tuesday, Justin and I rented a car and headed 1.5 hours out of the city (2 hours with rush hour) to visit the Champagne region. While we did try to go to a smaller Champagne House, to get a more unique experience, it was recommended we go at least one of the big houses due to their tours.
We got the Imperial Tour at Moet and Chandon and due to the off-season, we got a private tour (no one else booked it). They are the largest in the region and have 18 miles of caves under the city. We walked among hundreds of thousands of bottles lying in wait for a celebration. Then toasted at the end of the day to a wonderful trip.
Speak of celebrations….
We knew we wanted to go up the Eiffel Tower so we booked a trip online in the morning for 5:30pm on Friday. (Highly recommend this! Otherwise, you could wait 2 hours in line and with reservations, you walk right in). However, we realized that we also had reservations for a 7:00pm show called “How to become Parisian in One Hour.” (Also highly recommended!) So with just 20 minutes to get up and down, we got up there at dusk and slowly could see the lights coming up in the city. Justin then asked if he could take a picture of us and then Brandon said “Well this seems like a good time then…”
So it was quite and eventful trip. A huge thank you to Justin and Perri for allowing us to crash with them in their temporary housing. We can’t wait to come back and visit. It is truly a City of Love!
So much happened in 2018 that every time I sat down to write about it, I was daunted by the task of all the details that had passed since my December 2017 post. It’s hard to believe how many adventures we packed into just one lap around the sun. Between my work with the Volvo Ocean Race, a summer to recuperate, and a Fall of spontaneity, we have trekked, flew, sailed, eaten, and imbibed our way around the world.
For 2019, I am making it a goal to write more to share both our adventures onboard, around the world, and in the house. Those who know me, know I love to cook and bake when I am home. This is a recent life adventure that I really enjoy exploring and quite a lot of Persistence is required when learning something new, so I hope you enjoy or are inspired to try some of these recipes.
So here are the highlights of 2018:
Dec 2017 / Jan 2018: Australia
We spent Christmas and New Year’s in Down Under as Leg 3 of the Volvo finished in Melbourne. Brandon joined me on this stopover but we tacked on a few extra days before and after the event in Sydney. The highlights were seeing the famous Rolex Sydney Hobart start on boxing day, New Year’s Eve fireworks in Melbourne, and catching up with our friend Chris who took us up north to see some of the amazing beaches.
Late Jan 2018: Hong Kong
For those who follow the Volvo and our team, you know that tragedy struck for us here and this was a very tough part of the year. Stress and sorrow mixed with cultural and professional eye-opening experiences. Reflecting nearly a year later, I have learned how to take any experience thrown at you and turn it into a way to grow.
Feb 2018: Bring on the snow in Vermont
Once again, we rented a ski house in Vermont with 6 of our friends and 3 other dogs. It was a great winter with good snow, good company, good food, and tasty drinks. Vermont is a place for us to unwind and every weekend I was home, we packed Scruffy in the wagon, put on our favorite podcast or comedy station, and headed the 4-5 hours north to look for the white gold.
March 2018: New Zealand
Next on the adventure was New Zealand, our boat was damaged in the accident in Hong Kong so it was sent by ship to the next stopover. As our situation was still ongoing, I arrived earlier than expected and spent 3 weeks in the land of the sheep and kiwis. It was mostly working in a city atmosphere and long days but I did get a chance to get out and experience some of the beautiful countryside.
My dad came to visit at the end of the stopover, so we rented a car and got out of the city for a few days to see more. This is the country I would want to return to the most.
But what about Scruffy?
My travels did keep me away from my little four leggedfriend. Luckily, we have wonderful family especially Brandon’s mom who could stop by during the days I was away to keep the little guy company. This is a dog who really has never been left alone since I work from home.
April 2018: Brazil
Unfortunately for our team, despite getting back on the water for the race. The boat suffered a dismasting and had to retire from the leg. Thus, putting us even more on the back foot for the race. However, resilience runs deep on the team and despite all the hardships, everyone held their head high and laughed every day. No one ever gave up which was a true testament to the characters I had the privilege to work with every day.
The boat was repaired in time and a week in Brazil was amazing. We were in Itajai, which is southern Brazil on the coast. It was part industrial, part small city, and part tropics. The coolest part was seeing the capybaras!
May 2018: Persistence launches
May the Forth be with us! Persistence had her earliest launch ever on a grey cool day. Bundled up we took her for the first harbor burn (a lap through Newport) on May 4. We spent our first night onboard a few days later awaiting the arrival of the Volvo boats. We headed out in the earlier hours with Scruffy to catch the finish in drifting conditions. The blue boat secured the podium making it the first leg completed since arriving in Melbourne before Christmas.
It was great to be home for one of the stopovers. Sleeping in my bed and bringing Scruffy to work help relieved any stress that comes with usual craziness of the stopover.
June 2018: Europe and Bermuda
The end of the Volvo took me to Cardiff, Wales, Gothenburg, Sweden, and finally Den Haag, The Netherlands. It was just a month on the road non-stop. A reprieve for a few days with friends in London mixed in with enjoying the last days of working with the team and all the friends I met along the way especially my fellow media collegues from the other teams. As fun as the 9 months has been, the end was bittersweet because it meant coming home and back to a life of relaxing and fun with family and friends.
The highlights were going to the Harry Potter sets outside London, getting backstage tickets to Beyonce/JayZs first show of their tour, the long days and short nights of Gothenburg, and finally getting to drive the Volvo 65. The Hague was actually one of my favorite stopovers. Maybe it was because it was the end and I had less work, or it was the beautiful beaches, restaurants, and location.
While I was gallivanting around Europe, Brandon competed in his 3rd Newport-Bermuda Race onboard Verrisimo. It was a slow race with little breeze so it took longer (5 days!) so as soon as he hit the dock, he was off to the airport.
July: Eat, Sleep, Sail
I flew home on July 1 and from there on, I was on a kick to relax. I still had other clients to work with and Brandon was still working but as soon as 3:30 rolled around – quitting time for Jamestown Boat Yard. We hopped onboard to go for a sail around the Bay.
Persistence became my office and Scruffy napped on deck. We headed to Potter’s Cove on Prudence Island with Morgan and Jay for the 4th, spent a weekend on Block Island mid-July, then wrapped up the month competiting in Newport Yacht Club’s Solo-Twin Race. A 60-mile overnight race sailed with just two people. We finished 2nd and most importantly in front of my dad sailing on his Catalina 36.
August 2018: P-Town
Persistence’s big trip of the summer was a 5-day sail to Provincetown at the bitter end of Cape Cod. We left on a Thursday evening a set the kite to sail downwind to the mouth of the Cape Cod canal. We dropped anchor around 2am and then got up around 6am to catch the current through and reached over to Provincetown 20 miles away.
Once there, we didn’t have the best of weather but we relaxed, read books, cooked, then explored via our foldable bikes when we got a break. Luckily for us, the wind even cooperated on the way home so we did a lot of down wind sailing. On the way home, we spent a night in Cuttyhunk. It was 5 days of the relaxing sailing we needed!
September 2018: Wilson West Trip
In September, I headed out to work in San Francisco for the Rolex Big Boat Series where I got to see my aunt and grandparents followed by a trip up to Washington stated to see my grandmother and family in Bellingham.
The sailing season is still not over either! We took a weekend trip circumnavigating Aquidneck Island, something we had never done actually. We spent one night at Third Beach then the next at the Foglands in Tiverton before sailing around the island.
By this point in the summer, I have happily conquered a half dozen books, something I had stopped doing in recent years. I had forgotten the great feeling of getting lost in a good story!
October 2018: Block Island Columbus Day Weekend
Five years ago I invited a boy to join me out on Block Island for my favorite event of the year: Newport Yacht Club’s Mitchell Regatta. It’s a pursuit race out to Block Island (one of my favorite places on the planet) followed by a Bloody Mary Content and an Appetizer Contest. This year we took 2nd place onboard the mighty Persistence, witnessed whales, dolphins, and camels, but even better was we won the appetizer contest with Roasted Brussel Sprouts topped with Bacon Jam and served to look like little boats on Block.
October 2016: Chicago and New York
In late October, I headed out Chicago Yacht Club to cover the US Sailing National Championships and Brandon came along for the last half. We tacked on a few days of exploring a new city taking in the sites, the food, and a improv show at the iconic Second City.
The next weekend we headed down to NYC and Brooklyn for a wedding of Brandon’s cousin. It was a whirlwind month of travel and we were looking forward to some weekends at home.
November 2018: BVIs? Why not?
Well, the idea of being home didn’t last long. My friend Morgan works for a charter company that rents yachts all over the world like a timeshare. She secured a free charter in the British Virgin Island but only found out about a week in advance and asked Brandon and I to accompany her and her husband, Jay. After some thought, we decided: why not?
For a week, our home was a 40-foot Catamaran. We each had our hull which made it nice to spread out. After a long flight followed by a tricky provisioning trip to the grocery store, (you have to plan a week worth of food/water and booze) we were off. Brandon and I had been here many times so we acted as tour guides for Morgan and Jay’s first trip. It was a very fun week of relaxing and adventures. We packed a lot into 7 days.
It was both humbling and inspiring to see the devastation that Hurricane Irma brought to the Islands and the resilience of the people there. Many areas are still destroyed while others have already rebuilt and are open for business. Areas were almost unrecognizable from our trip there nearly 18 months ago yet some places appeared like nothing had happened.
End of the Year: Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Wait…Where did it go?
As soon as we got back from 85ºF and warm water, it was up to Vermont for Thanksgiving were nearly 2 feet of fresh snow awaited us. We were skiing the trees in November! The skiing was some the best we have at the Bush. We went back up again in mid December as it kept snowing but then…it rained 🙁 We still went up for Christmas and luckily the earlier snow pack helped preserve the skiing conditions but only to a point.
We came back to Rhode Island for a very quiet and relaxing New Years (in bed by 11) which was a stark contrast to the very busy way the year began but was so fitting as we rest up for the what is in store for 2019! Stay tuned and I promise to write more frequently 🙂
First of all, thanks to everyone who has reached out with the birthday wishes. It was a great day of relaxation, home cooked food and snuggling with the other birthday boy- Scruffy.
As I look back on my 31st lap around the sun, I am so grateful for the opportunities I have been lucky enough to experience. From skiing to sailing, to new colleagues and friends, I have quite a few more stamps in my passport and there is no plan to slow down this next year. I also still have 2 more weeks left as reigning Rhode Island Boater of the Year, so I plan to enjoy that massive burden of power as well 🙂
The last few months have been a whirlwind of countries, flights, experiences, but also self-reflection. Many think it must be a dream job to work with a VOR team, and while it does have fulfilling elements, it is a job with stresses and grinds like any other. Long days and nights while balancing life has its trade-offs. I often find myself in awe of the families in the race who have done this for decades.
Last I wrote, I was in Alicante, Spain for the kickoff of the Volvo Ocean Race. Since then, the team has sailed (and won) the first leg into Lisbon, Portugal then also onto Cape Town, South Africa. They are currently in the Southern Ocean bound for Melbourne, Australia while I am back in Rhode Island watching the snow fall outside.
In between all the stopovers, I travel back to lil’ Rhodey. Between Spain and Portugal, it was just a week but Lisbon and Cape Town was nearly a month which allowed for some skiing in Vermont. Right now, it is just 10 days before jet-setting to Australia. Some people go non-stop without ever going home during the race but I have quickly realized the revitalizing nature of just sleeping in your own bed with your dog, spending time with your loved ones, and home-cooked meals keep oneself mentally and emotionally grounded.
As far as the cities so far: Alicante was a vibrant town of outgoing people, Lisbon was full of old culture and Cape Town was a gorgeous backdrop of mountains and sea. Unfortunately, my job does not afford the luxury of time to be a tourist in these cities as I spend most of my time working inside a container that travels around the world with us. So, therefore, I have the same office wherever I go. However, the evenings provide an opportunity to get out of the village and experience all the unique culinary examples and libations of the country 🙂 The Highlights: Tapas and Red Wine = Alicante. Octopus and a White Port = Lisbon. Steak and ALL Wines = Cape Town.
Finally, in Cape Town, my flight on the last day was not until 9 pm, so I got up early on the last day and fit in as much touristing as possible. The night prior, I went to Signal Hill to watch the Sunset over the Southern Ocean. Then I woke up at 6 am to hike the last 2,000 feet up Table Mountain.
When I say hike, I mean it. It was full-on four wheeling, using hands and sometimes knees to scramble up as fast as you can before the trail gets in the sun and the temperatures becoming scorching. I summited just before 8 am and enjoyed watching the dassies, a funny looking rodent that looks like a cross between a bunny rabbit and woodchuck scurrying around and basking in the sun.
I was able to catch a cable car down the mountain in time to get on a ferry bound for Robben Island – the prison island just off Cape Town where Nelson Mandela and thousands of other political prisoners were held during Apartied. It was a powerful and moving experience. Our tour guide was an ex-political prisoner of the island who returned for self-healing but also for a job in tough society.
The afternoon continued with lunch, an aquarium, and a museum extending my level of exhaustion to an all-time high leading to a gratifying sleep on a red-eye to London then onward to Boston.
From here on out, I am going to try to tack on extra days to my trips to get the most of this opportunity that I have luckily been granted. Brandon will be joining me in Australia next week, and my dad plans to come to New Zealand in March. Despite, being surrounded by tons of people, these adventures can be very lonely when you do not have the people you love to experience them alongside you.
What makes our Persistence Adventures fulfilling are the people (and dogs!) I share the memories with. So I look forward to another year of Persistence Adventures.
Thanks to everyone who followed along our adventures this past summer. Last weekend was Columbus Day Weekend, marking the end of the sailing season in New England. Brandon, Scruffy, and I woke up early on a foggy Saturday morning to take part in Newport Yacht Club’s annual Mitchell Regatta, a pursuit race to Block Island held every Memorial Day and Columbus Day Weekend as a way to bookend your season.
We were the 8th start among 21 boats making us the fastest of the slow boats. Pau Hana, my dad’s Catalina 36, is by the handicap rules, one minute slower than us over 20 miles so he was granted the opportunity to start just one minute ahead. After a one hour delay to let the fog lift and the wind fill in, we were off like a herd of turtles bound for the island off the coast in about 5 knots of breeze. About 6 hours later, we all arrived. The mighty Persistence held her title as the Champions of Class 1 passing all the other slow boats, but most importantly beating my dad by about 10 minutes.
Sunday in the AM there is a Bloody Mary contest. Brandon makes a mean Bloody which this year we even added a little Pineapple Juice and bacon alongside your celery. However, someone else used Bacon Infused Vodka and Candied Bacon so we did not win…
Sunday was a little rainy so just relaxed on the boat. In the afternoon before Awards, there is an Appetizer contest. I regard this as the most important competition of the regatta. There are awards for both taste and presentation. Last year, I won with Stout, Bacon, Buffalo Chicken Mac N Cheese served in mini solo cups surrounding a mini keg of New Castle. (I have noticed that anything with booze, spice, bacon, and cheese always wins so I combined them all!) This year I made meatloaf cupcakes. Little mini meatloaf, topped with mashed potatoes and a small piece of bacon. While delicious, I didn’t take into account how cold they would get on a plate so quickly. So we didn’t win this year 🙁
Brandon and I looked hard at the forecast all weekend and Monday looked to be pretty gross so we decided to head home around 5pm on Sunday. It took us 3 hours dock to dock which is HUGE for a 34-foot boat. The wind and tide were with us.
It was a little sad as we put we put her back on the mooring at Jamestown Boat Yard that night. We had a great season, we would always liked to have sailed more and had nicer weather but the ol’ Persistence did us well this summer and already looking forward to the next one.
What’s Next? Keep following!
On Tuesday, I boarded a flight bound for Alicante, Spain. My next adventure is working with Vestas 11th Hour Racing, one of the teams for the Volvo Ocean Race and the PR manager which basically means I will be handling all the media side of the team like Press Releases, Interview Requests, and general Media Relations. The race goes around the world starting next week from Spain to Portugal to South Africa to Australia to Hong Kong to New Zealand to Brazil to NEWPORT to England to Sweden to the Netherlands between now and end of June. The team I am working is focused on using thier platform to spread a message of sustainability and ocean health, which is also a passion of mine so I am super excited to help educate the world on steps they can take to help our planet.
While I am super sad to be leaving Scruffy and Brandon at home on this adventure. Brandon will be joining me in Austraila and I will be flying home between the Stopovers. So while racking up miles, and in between my jet-lagged moments. Be sure to follow along here and the team online!
Hygee Cruising – New Video and Blog Post from our week away. The weather might not have been the best but Brandon Somers and I made the best of it.http://persistenceadventures.com/2017/09/12/hygee-cruising/
The Danes have a word, hygee, (pronounced hue-guh) that has no direct translation as it is a feeling of coziness, comfort, happiness, and security — all rolled into one. Think sitting by candlelight with a cup of tea or staying in to have a glass of wine with friends on the couch. To be hygeeligt, is more than experiencing a nice feeling, it is a consciousness of being present and enjoying the moment. The Danes created hygee as a way to break up their long dark winters and speaking from personal experience living in Denmark, creating hygee in daily life was the key to surviving the drudgery of the darkness.
I would call our week of Post-Labor Day sailing, a hygee cruise. Early September can bring some of the best conditions New England has to offer with summer weather without the masses of tourists. However, it can also bring an early Fall. Our week fell on the later, with winds averaging over 20 knots the entire week and over 24 hours of rain and clouds. However, we didn’t let the weather stop our time away from the hustle and bustle of mainland life. We limited our distances sailed and enjoyed our time at anchor relaxing, eating, and drinking in the comfort of our home away from home.
Days were noticeably shorter, yet indulging o a nice glass of red wine while reading in the evenings or a snuggled under a fleece blanket sipping on dark roast coffee in the morning cured any fore longed thoughts of summer. Also having our little terrier, Scruffy curled at our feet helped. We call Scruff a professional snuggler because he will wiggle his way into the most comfortable spot at all times.
The trip was not without adventures though. We left Monday, Labor Day, at the crack of dawn from Jamestown to catch favorable tides and winds to Martha’s Vineyard. We surged 38 miles downwind with the kite up in 20+ knots before eventually taking it down to stay in more control with the big wave state. By midday, we were happily on the hook in Vineyard Haven with plans to wake early again the next day to head for Nantucket, 30 miles away.
However, it became quickly clear as the forecasts progressed, Nantucket would be out of the question as the wind was going to top out at 35 knots between us and the island. So we decided to settle in Vineyard Haven close to the break wall and snuggle in to watch the sunset with some Gin and Tonics and bruschetta. For dinner, I made the FAMOUS Wilson Pasta.
The nice part of my work is I can work from anywhere thanks to an Unlimited Data hotspot and my laptop. So throughout the trip, I posted up for a few morning and evening hours at the nav station or in the cockpit, laptop and the occasional cocktail in hand to do some billable hours. (Shoutout to Morgan who would like our next boat to be named Billable Ours.)
Tuesday we got out the folding bikes, put Scruffy in his basket, and headed to Oak Bluffs, one town over to the Offshore Brewing Co. We sat on their patio with Scruffy and each got a flight of beers which allowed us sample all the offerings and flatbread pizza. I highly recommend this place because they also give you peanuts while you wait!
As the weather was looking dismal for Wednesday, we decided to pull up anchor at 5pm on Tuesday and head 7 miles across the Vineyard Sound to Hadley Harbor, a hurricane hole we read about located in Wood’s Hole. The trip across was a quick one as we saw 30 knots at one point but averaging around 22kts. Scruffy wasn’t a fan of the healing so I held on to him and Brandon navigated us through the chop and between ferries into Wood’s Hole. The current that rips through here is like trying to sail up a river if you don’t go at the right time. We didn’t go at the right time. However, it is short lived and we motor through and sailed into Hadley Harbor.
You would miss this Harbor if you didn’t know it was there. From a distance, it looks just like land, but it’s actually 4 private islands that come together making a few coves that are protected on all sides. The Forbes family has owned these islands for over a hundred years. Wikipedia tells us that they are now all in a trust held by the family and there are 3 dozen homes spread throughout.
Bull Island is the smallest of the islands and the trust allows the Public to go on it. They keep a path cleared in the middle of the island and maintain a dock with a gangway. We anchored right next to Bull and the island became our way of walking Scruffy in the mornings and evenings.
Tuesday evening I grilled Tuna Steaks marinated in Pineapple Terriaki with a Guacamole inspired Avacado spread on top. In the morning, we were happy to find the rain held off until about 11 am on Wednesday but then it poured for hours on and off. We got in a walk and some swimming then spent the whole day down below reading, working, eating, and drinking. It was wonderfully boring.
Unfortunately, we also were watching the devastation in the BVIs, where we have been frequent visitors. It was hard to watch the radar, photos, and videos roll into our social media as our heart broke for all of the people and places we hold dear down there.
Thursday, we woke early and headed upwind in 15-20kts via Buzzard’s Bay against the current to Cuttyhunk, the most western of the Elizabethian islands and another one of our favorite spots. We arrived midday, and despite there being 50+ open moorings, we anchored because they still wanted $45 in the offseason. Brandon invested so much time and energy into our new Windlass, its just not worth it for us.
When the sun finally came out, we headed ashore to explore the island. Despite having been here many times, it is always a fun place to take in the views from the top of the hill or feel the soft sand on Church Beach. We probably saw 3 people total on our trip ashore which included the Market lady. She was only open from 3:30-4:30 and we need a vital ingredient that I had run out: limes! We headed back to the boat and grilled up some veggies and steak tips for our final dinner onboard and watched a beautiful sunset. Cuttyhunk is one of the few places on the East Coast you can watch the sun go down over the ocean.
Friday, we woke up and started to head home early because the winds were only going to get greater as the day went on. Unfortunately, it was once again upwind and against the current but it was pleasant conditions. I was able to do some work via my laptop while the auto pilot and Brandon did most the work. By 3 pm we were back at Jamestown Boat Yard.
It wasn’t the wildest adventure we have had on her but it was the coziest and yet still one of the most enjoyable cruises. A hygee cruise for the books!
I understand that we are VERY lucky to live where we do and sail as much as we do. I almost equate it to those who live in ski towns and get to ski every day: its just our daily life and we enjoy it as much as we can, when we can.
We are also lucky that we live in a community and have friends who share these same values and passions. So a typical weekday evening is normally spent either racing in local series, sailing around, or just hanging out on our, a friend’s, or a family member’s boat.
Brandon and I sail Tuesday nights on a Swan 42 called The Cat Came Back based in Jamestown, and Thursday nights I sail on a J/24 called Bearlymuven with friends as well. We could race Mondays and Wednesdays, too, but honestly, it gets exhausting. Especially since we live about a half hour away and by the time we get home on these evenings, it’s normally past 10 pm and then we have to get up to work the next day. Brandon at 5:45 am and I really try to wake up then too…
I like to take Mondays and Wednesday as nights to just relax and sail. Last Tuesday, our friends Ben and Kelley finally launched their new Melges32. They have been spending most of the summer working on fixing her up and are now keeping her just a few moorings away at JBY. So Wednesday night, we headed over there to check it out and relax with a few beers.
Since they just had a newly painted boat, Madeline (who was over on our boat as well) and I left our dogs on Persistence. They were not happy about it, so we had to put them down below to prevent them from jumping in to join us.
The other nice part of living where we do is that we don’t have to sail far to get away. Just on the other side of Jamestown, about 1 mile as the crow flies and 7 miles by water sail, is Dutch Harbor. We made a plan with our good friends, Morgan and Jay, to meet up there with our dogs and yachts for a Saturday night mini vacation.
Saturday there was no wind in the morning and the weather was crummy. We did housework most of the day before heading over to Jamestown to sail. The “sail” took us about an hour and a half but we had to wear rain jackets because the fog was so thick, you were getting soaked just sitting in the cockpit.
We rafted up with the mighty Hypatia, the Everson’s Chesapeake 32, so we could have dinner and cocktails. While Brandon cleaned the bottom, Morgan and I loaded her 2 dogs, Gussie and Baelin, and my little Scruffy in the little tender for a beach walk. Needless to say, 3 wet dogs and 2 humans in a small boat is very entertaining. We are lucky they are all so well behaved…
Sidenote: Brandon made himself a compressor with a hose and mouth piece that he can plug into the boat using the Inverter so that he can stay down and clean the bottom. (will post photos next time of this contraption)
For dinner, my latest issue of FineCooking recommended a marinade of lime, white wine, miso (I didn’t have it so I substituted White Balsamic), Cilantro, Olive Oil, Honey, Scallion, and Salt. I chopped the veggies of zucchini, red onion, green pepper, and mushrooms at home and marinated them all day along with steak tips. We grilled them up and served them with Red Wine and Bread. I never really drink Red Wine in the summer but it was a night to sit down below and get cozy so it fit.
At night, we separated from the raft up to anchor on our own with the promise to reunite in the morning for breakfast and to explore Dutch Island. We awoke to a fight between fog and sun and luckily the sun won out.
After some delicous thick cut bacon, and last night’s veggies mixed with scrambled eggs, we mixed up some Bloodies and headed to explore Dutch Island.
According to Wikipedia, “The island was fortified from the American Civil War through World War II, and was known as Fort Greble 1898-1947.” It is about 100 acres and just sits off Jamestown. All over the island are structures that have been left in disrepair and the island used to be off limits yet not really enforced. Last summer, we visited the island and there was clearly an effort being made by the State to clean up the structures. Now we can see that they were making paths and adding hand rails to the Forts so visitors can explore.
We hiked the distance of the island to the light house. The dogs loved it despite the smallest one needing to be carried eventually.
After exploring, we retired to our individual boats to sail home. Our friend, Danielle, came to Dutch Harbor to join us on the returning sail and we couldn’t have asked for better conditions. The wind did eventually die to fill from the north (also a weird thing for a summer day) but we were not in a hurry.
We wrapped the weekend with a lovely dinner back on Nai’a our friend’s Swan 60 for a reunion of friends to celebrate Bob’s birthday (which is actually today: Happy Birthday, Bob!)
To kick off this week, we relaxed at home on Monday night and my grandfather and great uncle (they are identical twins) came over for dinner for a nice backyard BBQ. We grilled chicken sausage and accompanied with a tomato, feta and cucumber salad.
Drone footage from backyard family gathering. Check out Scruffy going crazy being locked inside via the back slider (he doesn’t like drones).
Summer has been flying by and the weather it has brought has not been a typical New England summer. I almost feel like I am living back in San Francisco as more gray foggy days plague our sunny ones. Despite the weather, we are making the best of it sailing and working on our own and other boats. The most important thing to always remember is how lucky we are to have these great opportunities and continue to work hard and play hard to enjoy them.
Designer Series – July 21-23, 2017
The weekend after the Marblehead-Halifax Race, I ran an event called the Designer Series Rendezvous in Bristol, Rhode Island. The idea of the event is to bring together yachts all designed by the same person in a weekend of activities. Our inaugural year honored Ted Hood, legendary yachtsmen, sailmaker, and boat designer. This event has taken exactly a year to plan and my client and I were thrilled with the results. We had over 25 yachts represented from Mr. Hood’s first design: a 40-ft Wooden Sloop, Robin, to his America’s Cup Challenger 12-meter, Nefertiti, to his last yacht, a 116-ft Sloop, Whisper and then all those in between.
Brandon even managed one of the Little Harbors that wanted to attend the event at Jamestown Boat Yard, so it was still a family affair to get this event off the ground.
Swan-devous – July 27-29, 2017
The next weekend was the Swan Owner’s Association Rendezvous. As Brandon’s boat yard and work focused a lot of these prestigious Finnish yachts, this was a chance for them to reunite. I sailed with our friends Bob and Kristen Beltrano on their, Swan 60, Nai’a. We have raced with them in the past both in this weekend and in the Carribean.Friday we attempted to race out to Block Island but there was no wind so we motored there but did get to cruise a little.
Friday we attempted to race out to Block Island but there was no wind until much later in the day so the racing was canceled so we motored there but did get to cruise a little with the sea breeze filled. We got a mooring and the event hosted a Lobster dinner at Ballards under a beautiful sunset.
Saturday was a North Easter in July! We all bundled up in our full foul weather gear and life jackets to race back upwind to Jamestown under a double reefed main and reefed jib. Sitting at the helm, I watched the B&G instruments hit 40 knots multiple times. We were safe but it was not the most comfortable of rides.
I learned an important lesson on fire safety on yachts as we hit the dock and immediately we smelled that putrid smell of an electrical fire. Due to the big breeze, the bow thruster on Nai’a had been going full on for about 10 minutes as we docked and due to a faulty connection, the hydraulic motor started burning up. However, in the initial mintues, we didn’t know if it was a fire or not on board. I realized in a moment that I didn’t know where the fire hydrants were. Luckily, aside from the smell and the motor needing repairs, everything was fine but now I know to always ask and learn where fire hydrants are even if it’s just a day sail.
Sunday we raced around the Island in a NorthWesterly (Also odd for a sunny summer day in the summer). The weekend wrapped with a party on Clingstone, also known as the house on the rocks. The best part was we won! Nai’a claimed the Highland Fling Award, named for a famous Swan racing program.
Jamestown Boat Yard helps maintain the work boat for the house so, in exchange, the yard rents the house for a week each summer. It’s such a unique place. There is no connection to the mainland so it runs on just solar, wind, and collected rain water. The inside is just as rustic as the outside. Monday night, we all went out just to have a cookout and relax to watch the two sunsets. Why two? because you can get one sunset on the lower deck, then run upstairs and get a second sunset on the deck on the roof!
Finally getting away again
After two weekends of “working,” we were finally able to get away on our own boat. We had no plans except to provision for the weekend and head out of the harbor. In the end, we decided on Block Island because it was blowing from the SouthEast and we could actually make it there on one tack. We left around 5pm on Friday and were dropping anchor and cooking Steak Tips and Corn by 9pm.
Saturday followed the trend for the last few weeks of just being miserable. It was windy and rainy and except for a quick trip to the beach to give Scruffy a walk, we didn’t leave the boat until 5pm. Brandon and the little dog caught up on sleep in the Vberth and I caught up on work thanks to the power of an unlimited data hotspot and the inverter.
Friends of ours rented a house on Block Island and by 5pm it was a gorgeous evening so we loaded the folding bikes into the dinghy and went ashore to have dinner with them. I brought some Tuna Steaks from Dave’s Market and had them marinating all day in Ginger Teriyaki sauce. MMmmm….
Saturday night, was a night of waking up to check on the mooring field quite a lot. Block Island gets really crowded on summer weekends and when the wind shifts in the middle of the night, it can get interesting if one boat doesn’t swing the same as everyone else. Despite a giant catamaran getting closer than comfort to another boat close to us, it was all fine.
Sunday, we biked up to Mansion Beach and ClayHead on the NorthEast corner of the island. It was a beautiful day to be at the beach. Before heading back to Jamestown, we biked to Mahgoney Shoals at Paynes for a mudslide because you can’t come to Block and not have a mudslide. After lunch back on the boat, we were pulling up the anchor and sailing back. It was a Westerly (another weird thing for summer in New England) so once again, we sailed on Port Tack the entire way back to Jamestown.
A few years ago, my dad decided for his 60th year, he wanted to skipper our family boat, a Catalina 36 named Pau Hana, in the Newport-Bermuda Race. Setting out to prepare the boat was a painstaking process of upgrades and unforeseen expenses, but last summer when my dad pulled into the Great Sound, I was one proud daughter especially given the number of naysayers who didn’t believe a Catalina was fit for the race. I didn’t sail with him, Brandon was racing on Verissimo, a 62 ft custom Alden, and I was delivering the boat back to Newport but I was there when he pulled in.
He didn’t have the fastest (but also not the slowest!) boat and he knows that. Despite comments from many who didn’t know the story behind the boat and the fact he navigator is a Navy Meteorologist, my dad persisted and even finished 7th overall in the cruising class of 50+ boats. Now he had been bitten by the offshore-bug and started planning immediately for another bucket list race: the Marblehead to Halifax and this time I said I would join him.
Brandon sailed on Verrisimo again among a crew of 13 and I recruited my good friend, Morgan to join us on the mighty Pau Hana.
Pau Hana, in Hawaiian means “finished working.” It’s a phrase used to mean something like “okay now that works over, let’s get a beer and have some fun.” The phrase couldn’t have been more fitting for our crew as well all put in a 40 hour work week ahead of the race. My dad sailed the boat up with my mom over the 4th weekend and left the boat on a mooring in Salem then returned to work. We headed back up there the day before the race.
Side note: Thanks Baird family for letting us use Ramparts Farm for our parking.Hopefully, helping feed and pet Iggy the Piggy, Hamlet the-pig-who-doesn’t-like-to-get-muddy, and Beau the Goat helped pay down our fee.
The night before the race, We helped Morgan with her BYC minimums by all enjoying some wine and lobster rolls.Brandon was on the program of making sure he ate delicious crew dinners and showing up on time.I stayed with him at his hotel the night before the race before heading out to sea.We have a tradition where before I leave on any offshore sailing without him, he tells me to “stay in the boat.”
At our Nav briefing from Mike, our Navigator, we learned it should be a great trip with great weather. Downwind the whole way and not too cold and foggy! And boy was he right!
We started at 1:20 pm on July 13th under sunny skies and a filling Southwest breeze. We had to sail upwind to mark and then a reaching mark first to wave to the Marblehead crowds before popping the chute and heading for Nova Scotia.We were the 3rd start of 8 or 9 so we quickly got to watch many boats sail past us but we were undeterred. We know this boat will be going great if we can go 7 knots ever but we aim for over 5.
Our watch schedule was 6-hour rotations with someone new coming up every 3 hours for four of us and Mike jumping in to help if needed but mostly focusing on navigating. Besides my dad, Morgan, Mike, and myself, we also have Jeff, a retired Air Force officer from Newport. My shift was the 1200-0600 and 1200-1800 as I was in charge of dinner during the races.Morgan was the opposite of me so we shared a bunk which we called the nest as it was really cozy.
Brandon’s mom, Margaret, made awesome lee clothes last year for my dad. They help keep you in if the boat heels but they have great pockets for stashing things like headlamps, sunscreen, earplugs, and iPhone/headphones for music and audiobooks.This trip Morgan has been listening to The Girl On the Train, and I have been listening to Elon Musk’s biography and reading The Handmaids Tale. Things to do on your off watch are important to keep a routine and the mind sharp.
The race was more like a really nice cruise, we were on Starboard going down the wind with the kite up for over 48 hours under sunny skies and a clear and bright full moon. About 8 hours from finishing, we couldn’t sail any lower so we took a hitch towards the shore to get right on the Rhumb line. Those last 6 hours were the conditions everyone talks about when it comes to the race: foggy and cold.
It was also dark. We sailed into a traffic separation scheme with all these rules to keep mariners safe in shipping lanes then had to use radar and AIS to find the final channel markers and finally the finish.However, after sailing over 5 knots for 55 hours and 360 miles, 0.5 miles from the finish, the wind died. We were adrift moving less than a knot fighting an outgoing current.It was so painful, 3 of us moved our weight forward and leeward to try and keep the boat moving forward.
Luckily, with just one little puff, we crossed the line at 0136 Atlantic time (which is an hour ahead of EST), just shy of 60 hours which put us 7th in our class. However, finish scores were never our focus, it was the adventure and camaraderie. O and we ate very well! 🙂
With our day off, we ate breakfast at the Royal Nova Scotia Yacht a club then headed to town.Breakfast was included with the race but I think we still took the club by surprise as they kept running out of food and coffee. Brandon, Morgan, and I took a cab downtown to explore.
Downtown Halifax is set up nicely for the tourists. The waterfront has plenty of restaurants, food shacks, beer gardens, the Maritime Museum and a distillery.So we hit all of them!
The Stubborn Goat beer garden had some local beers so we all got different ones and shared. The space is open to dogs so we all got our canine fix in as well as we were missing our little muppets.
The Maritime Museum was interesting and a little depressing at the same time.In 1917, two ships collided in the harbor one of which was carrying explosives. The blast destroyed much of Halifax instantly killing over 2,000 and severely injuring 9,000.Massachusetts was instrumental in the support during the aftermath and the strong bond between Boston and Halifax was one of the reasons for the founding of the Race.
There was also an exhibit about the Titanic as Nova Scotia was the closest land to the sinking in 1915. “Survivors went to New York, the dead went to Halifax.” Over 200 of the recovered perished were sent to Halifax and have been laid to rest in the cities’ graveyards.
After that uplifting experience, we got some lobster rolls on the harbor walk from Daves Lobster and then headed to the Halifax Distillery where we sampled rums, beers, and reserves. My dad, Jeff, and Mike joined us there where we enjoyed a little more.I highly recommend a stop here. Be sure to sample both the Spiced Gold Rum that they infuse with tea so it’s smooth and subtle and the Rum Cream, it’s better than Baileys.
Brandon split from our group to go to a crew dinner with Verrisimo at swanky Halifax restaurant and we headed back the Yacht Club for a pig roast for the competitors. Once again, I think the yacht club was surprised by the fact people were there to eat but it was an okay meal but too hot in the back building where they hosted us.We went back to the main club for some sunset drinks. It was then that we decided that we had done Halifax and the race festivities didn’t really excite us too much old get a head start on the delivery to Maine and skip the awards ceremony the next day.
We enjoyed a nice sleep in and breakfast before heading out around noon from Halifax. It was nice to finally get a chance to see the coast line since it was so dark and foggy for our finish.The other bonus was that the winds were now East- North East so we could fly the chute once again.
We had to gym a few times down the coast so we were already into 4x the maneuvers that we had to do on the race.We all settled back into our watch routines nicely and continued to eat and snack our way through the Gulf of Maine bound for Rockland.
Unfortunately, the wind died so we had to motor most of the trip. This made for a pretty boring sail but we did finally get to see lots of Marine Life.
3 Humpback whales
Dozen or so dolphins
2 great white sharks! One chasing a seal!
Note: it was not a sunfish, it had a Dorsel fin and a tail fin that was 8 feet behind that. It was also chasing a seal so I don’t think a basking shark does that either…
Thanks to a Gloucester friend of Morgan’s who was also in the race but left a day ahead of us, he secured a slip at Journeys End Marina for us in Rockland, Maine.After showering, we followed a recommendation from a friend back home and headed to The Pearl for a delicious seafood dinner and a few beverages.
To our pleasant surprise, Rockland was also hosting a Blues festival. There was a venue next to the restaurant that was playing music when we sailed in but after dinner, the festival moved to Main Street. They shut the street down and different blues bands played every few blocks. People were popping in and out of bars, strolling, dancing, and grooving to the half dozen music groups. It was pretty neat and a beautiful summer night for it.For us, it was a great way to cap off an amazing trip.
We all slept back on the boat, some stumbling back later than others. The next morning, we recovered our sore brains with some mouthwatering grub at a local diner.All 5 of us joined the clean plate club at the Brass Compass Cafe. I highly recommend the Penobscot Crab Benny!
By the time we walked back to the boat, my uncle Lee had arrived with Jeff’s truck. He had flown in from Washington State to Boston the night before, gotten the truck loaded with all the cruising stuff and drove up to us.He and my dad are taking a week to cruise down the coast back to Newport.
We piled in the truck and headed to Morgan’s parents back in Gloucester to retrieve our cars and undo the tangle of logistics from over a week ago. It’s hard to believe we have done a great loop of the Northeast in just a week.
At the time of this writing, it was exactly one week ago that we were popping the shoot and aiming for Brazil Rock off Nova Scotia 250 miles away. It already feels like it was all just a dream. For me, this was an amazing adventure to be able to sail with my dad and closest friend while also getting to know new guys.
Thanks to my crew, dad, and all you for reading and following along on another Persistence Adventure.