We’re Home!

Monday April 29, 2019
West Sayville, NY

We are HOME!

Seeing the twin spans of the Robert Moses Bridge mean we have arrived in our home waters.

Last Thursday was a very big day. After an incredible 7 months of living aboard our Gemini catamaran, we tied Mavis to a dock and left her there. We unloaded the tons of things we had packed aboard for our trip down the coast and over to the Bahamas and then… Just like that… We went home! We slept in a real bed and we took real showers. Cindy did loads of laundry and didn’t even need any quarters! I sat at my desk, flanked by huge monitors and enjoyed being able to start the process of getting caught up on things. Freed from the responsibilities of being the captain, I found myself able to concentrate and get business and technology tasks done much more effectively than I could on board.

We got to see our family and friends! While we maintained contact electronically with our loved ones, there’s just no substitute for being in the same place with your people. We still have people to catch up with and I’m looking forward to it.

My favorite passport stamp to date!

Before we left, I knew this trip would change us. Any time you take yourself out of your comfort zone and live life in radically different ways, you can expect your thoughts, opinions and perspectives to change. We learned a great deal about ourselves as individuals and as a couple, as parents, as entrepreneurs and as adventurers.

We learned that we love cruising but that life on board isn’t always easy. It’s not all sunsets and rainbows out there. But an adventure without challenges and some adversity isn’t much of an adventure, now, is it? Being out on a boat and vulnerable and exposed to the wrath of nature is also really humbling. And being a tiny ship on the ocean surrounded by absolutely nothing and no one really drives home how insignificant we are.

After leaving Annapolis, MD where we had spent a few days, we sailed up the Chesapeake Bay and into the C&D Canal where we stopped for the night in Chesapeake City. The next morning at 4:30am we were underway to finish transiting the canal and to sail down the Delaware Bay to Cape May. We spend the night in Cape May and left thinking we would try to make it all the way home despite a forecast of seas building to 6 to 8 feet. Once the seas started getting to around 5 feet, things got uncomfortable enough for us to consider plan B. We ducked into the notorious Barnegat Inlet fighting breaking waves and the full strength of the ebb tide. Once inside, we dropped the anchor and departed the next afternoon for an overnight sail to Fire Island Inlet. We arrived, right on time at the FI Sea Buoy and waited about 20 minutes for enough light to safely transit the newly dredged inlet. And just like that we were home and sailing under the Robert Moses Bridge, passing the Fire Island Lighthouse and Atlantique. Willow seemed to recognize her “home beach” as we sailed by.

Barnegat Light

It’s nice to be dirt-dwellers again! Here on land everything is incredibly easy, convenient and safe. I don’t have to worry about the weather and where we will be and there’s no chance that we will “drag our anchor” and return from the store to find our house not there!

I’m really enjoying sleeping late instead up being up and underway before dawn each day or sailing around the clock. It’s also nice to be in the same place for a while. On our trip down and then again on the return, it would sometimes be difficult for us to remember where we spent the night before. It’s hard to explain the strange feeling of having to look at a chart to try and remember where “home” was just 24 hours ago. It seemed sometimes like no sooner would we remember and laugh about it before we were untying the lines or hoisting the anchor to sail on.

I’m much cleaner since being back home! I turn on the faucet and an unlimited supply of water comes out. The water that comes out of the tap is clean, clear and even drinkable! And with the flip of a lever that water gets instantly hot. Instead of taking 5 minute, 5 gallon shower every few days, I stand in the stream of hot water from multiple shower heads for 20 minutes, wasting over 100 gallons of water in the process. But I do this completely aware of how incredibly fortunate we are and how even the lower middle class in this country live like royalty. We carry only 60 gallons of fresh water in our tanks aboard Mavis… And here, in one shower I would have depleted it all. Yesterday, I took two of these ridiculous showers. I flush the toilets without any regard for pump-outs or being at least three miles offshore. I’m not concerned about running out of electricity. Everything we need is a convenient car ride away. When out cruising, if there was a supermarket within a few miles of where we docked, we considered ourselves lucky and got walking!

I think we learned a great deal about living off the grid and being self-sufficient on this trip. We also learned valuable lessons about what we “need”… and what we don’t — both for life in general, and specifically for a cruise like this one… (we brought too much on board and we have too much in general.)

We travelled comfortably on board for over 3,000 miles and Mavis safely carried us over oceans, bays, gulfs, seas, sounds and lagoons. She took us up and down rivers, canals, creeks and cuts through swamps and in and out of lots of inlets. And now, after all that travelling she’s just sitting here tied up at the marina and ready to go on her next big adventure. Her hulls are dirty and stained with the brown ICW mustache we had to scrub off in Florida. She’s overdue for a waxing and It’s been a while since her decks were properly scrubbed down. Her sails could use a washing as well. That mustache is a badge of honor and it will stay until it’s warm enough to get in the water and scrub it off…

The last seven months on board have changed us forever in ways we may not even fully understand.  I’ve developed confidence in my seamanship for sure.  But I also feel better prepared to to take on challenges of all kinds.

We have met interesting and amazing people and made many new friends.  We’ve become close with with people of all ages, from all walks of life and from all over the world.  We’ve been influenced by the local cultures of small towns, little cities, and the out-islands of the Bahamas.

Some of the incredible people we met on our adventure who we are proud to call our friends.

We’ve discovered new ways to overcome the challenges of operating our business on the go.  We’ve also experienced just taste of what real freedom can be like and we want more.  We are determined to design an extraordinary life.

We’ve grown closer as a couple and as a team.  Living and working together in a 476 square feet for months at a time can stress any relationship but we made it work wonderfully.

The happy crew at Gillam Bay on Green Turtle Cay.

I’ve developed a much greater appreciation for the sheer size of the eastern seaboard of the United States.  A trip down I-95 at upwards of 70mph doesn’t let you experience the incredible diversity of culture and life along the coast.

But I think most importantly, we’ve confirmed our conviction that anything you can dream you can have, be and do. I wanted to have a cruising catamaran.  I wanted to be a captain.  I wanted to go on a grand sailing adventure.  Mission accomplished.  Our next adventure is already starting to take shape in my mind.

Thanks to everyone for following along.  There were some challenging times when the words of encouragement we got from our friends and supporters really helped get us through.

Capt Frank
S/V Mavis
Gemini 105mc #816