Thursday, January 28, 2010


We were awakened this morning by a call from our boat loan broker. My driver's license was expired (yep, January 1), and the bank wouldn't accept it as a valid ID. As the morning progressed, we learned they would accept neither a passport nor a birth certificate in its place. Are these the same banks of recent years that were handing out loans like cheese cubes on toothpicks? ARGH.

Assuming the DMV would require proof of residence, I went online to print out a recent utility bill but couldn't remember the password. With a temporary password obtained by spouting Chip's mother's maiden name, I logged in to find our wine shop account, not residence. AAAHH. I tried another logon but couldn't remember that password either. Long minutes later, using my mother's maiden name, I successfully logged in with yet another temporary password to find I couldn't open the file type that contained the bill.

DMV phone line was perpetually busy.

So I showed up, with nothing but an expired license, signed up and waited.

After failing half the road sign questions and blindly guessing on half the eyesight test, including an incorrect reading of the wrong line, they shrugged it off and moved on to issuing the new license. No proof of residence required, I could have given the address of the Hatteras Lighthouse (or a cave in Afganistan?). Instead I gave them the physical address of that temporary apartment we moved out of last month since that's the address the bank is using. Neither did they care where I had the license mailed as long as it wasn't a business. I chose a friend who, unlike us, has a mailbox and plans to be there for at least 10 days to two weeks until the license arrives.

An hour after arriving (including a quick side trip to get cash since they don't accept credit cards) I left with a piece of paper that proves I am temporarily allowed to drive until my license with a temporary address where I no longer live is delivered to another address where I have never lived.

Well, hallelujah for slack bureaucracy, but while I was handing out suspicious addresses at the DMV, the bank decided to acknowledge my existence (maybe they called my mom? I could have told them her maiden name). They issued the loan.

And so, at 4:29, this 28th day of January, 2010, we officially own a new boat.

**If you are an official-type DMV person, I sincerely apologize for handing out temporary addresses to obtain a temporary license. And, if you don't mind dropping me a line, I could use some advice on what address to give you when I'm living on a boat.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010


We've spent the week dancing between the boat broker, the insurance company, the State of Maryland, the Coast Guard and the bank, a very full dance card, in duplicate and notarized. And then they all had to talk to each other -- and the sellers.

A smarter person would have read all those papers they signed. I'm not that smart. The only one I read word for word was the power of attorney form. Don't worry, it only offered limited signature rights for the boat transaction in case we missed one of the 843 places we were supposed to sign.

As the clock on our loan approval ticks down, expiring on January 31, it appears that we're almost done. In our perpetually almost life, we almost have a boat.

Thursday, January 21, 2010


I once told a friend in the kindest way, "For someone so smart, sometimes you can be dumb as a board."

And once I called the kettle black.

This morning as we were sitting in Michele's office finalizing the details of the purchase agreement, it occurred to me, we're buying a boat!

That dumb-as-a-boardness had a modicum of smarts behind it. Since December 15th when our offer was accepted, I've kept this boat at arms length, not wanting to put all my eggs in one vessel, just in case ...

But this morning, once we set foot on the boat -- Chip and me and a bag of our belongings -- arms length turned into a full embrace. I took a pillow that had been moved at least five times in the last ten years, and when I put it on the settee a lot of things came home to roost. First I knew I'd never have to move that damned pillow again! But really, I had the realization that, ohmigosh, I finally have a home, a place to put things that's NOT temporary.

Even though sailing will be a life of constant movement, we get to bring this home along with us. No more packing, no more boxes, no more suitcases or strange beds, just that awesome bed, like a magic carpet, where we wake up every morning in a new place.

Now that's cause for celebration! Our first guests arrived in the afternoon, Chip's parents, Ted and Nancy, and his Aunt Peggy and Uncle George.

Michele, our broker, came by this evening to share a Champagne toast, tempered with home-smoked salmon and good laughs.

Just the beginning, the first day, of many happy times.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


That "sea trial" nomenclature is becoming clearer to me now.

Six years ago during our sea trial on Isabella, we sailed out of the Fort Lauderdale inlet and into the Atlantic. Big, old choppy seas thoroughly shook up my excitement and Chinese lunch, and for the first time ever, I tossed my fortune cookies over the rail.

I couldn't help but wonder if the same thing would happen on today's sea trial, although, lesson learned, this time I skipped my date with General Tso and his damned chicken.

As we prepared to pull out of Gratitude Marina on Good Company, the bow drifted a little to port, so I threw Chip a line on the dock to pull us back. There was a very narrow channel to thread, and we needed a straight start.

I was taking photos when I heard a loud SPLASH.

I spun around to see Chip -- still holding the line -- dangling by his arms, with everything below his waist submerged in that frigid water.

And that was the last thing that went wrong all day. Our weather window opened a little wider giving us tolerable temps and avoidable ice floes. We would have liked a little more wind, but we whooshed along in a 9 knot breeze with all three sails flying.

The surveyor's tick list was amazingly short, a testament to the attentiveness of Marvin and Nancy. We selected an even shorter list of the things we asked them to repair, a request they immediately dispatched.

At the end of the day, Marvin and Nancy shared their cruising photos with us over dinner, and one final toast, to Good Company and new friends.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


One of the most seductive qualities of sailing is the distant horizon, the mystery of what the day will hold, the allure of the unexpected, like a snagged line, for instance.

Good Company's main has a Dutchman flaking system. Imagine folding a piece of paper back and forth to make a paper fan. Now if you punch three holes through your folded fan and thread fishing line through the holes, you can fold and unfold your fan easily on the guide lines. That's how the Dutchman works: heavy fishing line threaded vertically through the sail to hold it in place while you raise and lower it.

Well, one of those long, Dutchman fishing lines got wrapped around a light fixture on the front of the mast -- and stuck fast. The best option for untwanglement was sending somebody halfway up the 54' mast. The lightest crew member always wins (loses?) that lottery, so up I went with Marvin hoisting me on the main halyard, Chip on the backup and Nancy taking photos.

Another day of congenial teamwork.

Monday, January 18, 2010


Today, under a surprised January sun, we swabbed the decks, threaded the traveler, tapped in teak plugs and attached a boom vang, side by side, Chip and me, Marvin and Nancy.

Yes, Marvin and Nancy, who could very well be us 20 years hence, reminiscing about happy, happy cruising years, the Bahamas, Eleuthera, Venezuela, the Mediterranean, the French canals, stories punctuated with laughter and tears (okay, the tears were mostly mine).

The four of us have converged on Rock Hall this week with a single purpose: to commission an Island Packet 380 named Good Company, to pass her from one generation to the next, to continue the journey.

Four people sharing one dream. One past. One future. One boat.

Good Company.

Sunday, January 17, 2010


The call came on Friday. The thaw is coming.

Here we go for the survey and sea trial up in Rock Hall, Maryland, way up about 2 o'clock on the Chesapeake Bay. We originally planned to bring the boat south as soon as we close the deal.

But it's an unknown boat ... an untried engine ... unfamiliar waters ... uncertain weather ... lots of uns. And perhaps the most disconcerting for me: the water temp hovers at a life-threatening 35 degrees. If we get the warm air temp we're hoping for, that would mean fog.

Any one of these things would not be a problem necessarily, but all together, no thanks.

Instead, we'll find a place to keep the boat in the water in Rock Hall, so we can plan a fun adventure south, not a daredevil jaunt through icy waters.

Thursday, January 14, 2010


"You guys should go on a vacation," a friend told us today.

"We have too many things going on. All this, um, waiting..."

"Exactly," she said. "Go on vacation, and everything will happen."

So, if we go on vacation, the Chesapeake will thaw, the business and the boat will sell? I'm good with that.

New problem: where to go, where to go?

Wednesday, January 6, 2010


Parties behind us, time to move on to the sea trial on our new boat.

Or not.

Sailing is all about weather windows, and ours slammed shut, or at least froze up. We'll be in the waiting zone until the water thaws and all the players can orchestrate a convergence on Rock Hall: the current owners from South Carolina; the surveyor from Virginia; and us from North Carolina.

Waiting. We have a lot of experience at that.

So for now, we're back in the little house, watching the weather and trying to remember where we live.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010


3 parts unsweetened pineapple
2 parts OJ
2 parts cream of coconut
3 parts rum (dark and light)
Sprinkle with cinnamon and nutmeg. Enjoy the deliciousness.

Monday, January 4, 2010


2 to 3 c. all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
1 c. sugar
1 c. firmly packed brown sugar
1 c. buttermilk
3/4 c. vegetable oil
4 eggs
1-1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 (1 lb.) bag carrots, peeled and grated
1 (8 oz.) can crushed pineapple, drained
1 c. chopped walnuts
1 c. flaked coconut
Grease cake pan.

Bake at 350°F. for 30 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.

Cream Cheese Frosting
1/2 c. butter, softened
1 (8 oz.) pkg. cream cheese, softened
1 (16 oz.) pkg. powdered sugar
2 tsp. grated orange zest
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Combine butter and cream cheese in a large mixing bowl; beat until light and fluffy. Add sugar, orange zest and vanilla, mixing well.

*Recipe (mostly) from

Sunday, January 3, 2010


Is it possible to enjoy turning 50? Depends on if you're married to Chip.

Amidst buying a boat and running the wine shop during the holiday rush, he pulled off a three-day party that was spectacular. Signature drinks, homemade carrot cakes, a personal chef, a private concert, all in an oceanfront house with a blue moon rising over the water.

This blog exists to help me remember, but there are some things I'll never forget.