We have had a great summer at West Gilgo Beach, but busy on the boat front. We have been getting Genevieve and ourselves ready to sail south for the winter. No small task this. While she was already well equipped, there were a myriad of things to add to make her ocean-ready: offshore liferaft, back-up navigation systems, charts, man overboard retrieval system, more engine spares, monogrammed beach towels, fabulous lanterns for the cockpit, bluetooth enabled sound system…you know, all the essentials.
And we had to get used to sailing her. We engaged a professional for this part and headed down to Annapolis where Genevieve is currently berthed to meet Mike Cox, a Brit based out of Fort Lauderdale. Mike is a professional yachtsman accustomed to sailing huge mega yachts in fancy regattas all over the world, but he quickly took to Genevieve and was soon head-down in the bilges helping us understand her systems, showing us how to fix things, and how to hoist the sails to get her sailing around the Chesapeake. He had us do berthing drills, sailing drills, engine and generator trouble shooting, dinghy launching, and every time we sat back to enjoy the Chesapeake views sliding by, he would throw a fender over the side for another Man Overboard drill.
Following an intense week with Mike in August we went back to Annapolis for a few days to see if we could do all that stuff on our own. John slid Genevieve out of her berth like a pro and we tacked across the the Bay and anchored without incident. The weather was fantastic, the water warm and the summer black flies happily absent. We gunk-holed for two nights on the hook and found our way back to our Annapolis slip with no incident. Phew!
But now the summer has waned and the beach has become grey and chilly. It is time for these newly minted snow birds to sail south. So we have been studying charts, passage planning, choosing a destination, and contemplating pointing Genevieve’s bow out into the now grey and choppy Atlantic and turning right!
The plan this winter is to go to Florida and get used to living on Genevieve and sailing her in a somewhat controlled environment where we will have access to yacht services and civilization. Then next winter we hope to be prepared enough to be more itinerant and cruise full time around the islands, probably the British Virgin Islands to start with. But for this year a base in Florida will offer some great sailing options: Key West, The Bahamas, maybe the Gulf. Plenty of destinations to keep us busy.
But first we have to get there! We have closed up the house and later today are heading for Annapolis. We will spend some days getting Gen ready, provisioning, and meeting Lou and Mick, the experienced sailors who are coming with us to hold our hands. Once we get a good weather window we will shove off and take Genevieve out into the Ocean. She will not fit into many inlets down the Eastern seaboard, so if weather permits we plan to sail to Florida in one shot and get around Cape Hatteras and Cape Fear as quickly as possible. We are excited…a little nervous maybe: We know it will be a seminal step to leave the Chesapeake and to head out into the Ocean for seven days or so right at the end of hurricane season and just before the winter storms take hold.
The adventure begins!