As 2015 draws to a close I find myself reflecting on all that has happened and it was a great year by any measure. It was just about this time last year that we learned that the boat that would become our “new” Pandora was for sale and that we’d be parting ways with our “old” Pandora, the boat that we really thought was going to be our “last”. Well, we expected that it would be the last one that we used for more than a “cocktail cruise” on the river. We honestly thought that the next boat we owned was going to be an electric launch or some other stately craft for evening jaunts with G&T in hand.
Well, we now own perhaps the “perfect” cruising boat although it wasn’t quite as perfect as the surveyor described in his report as she has been much more of a “money pit” than we expected. However, the outflow seems to be moderating so let’s hope that the next few months aboard won’t uncover more surprises. Of course, the first year of owning a boat are always full of surprises and I do realize that she’s a lot more complicated and will surely remain demanding. Of course, don’t forget that she is a boat, after all.
It’s interesting how life changes and while we were very disappointed that I wasn’t able to get Pandora to the Caribbean (see past posts from November for more about that), my “let’s make lemonade out of lemons” approach to life has served us well as we plan our trip to Cuba. The more that I learn about what’s on the horizon after Cuba opens up for easy travel by Americans, the more convinced I am that now is the time. Some predict that in the first year that the sanctions are formally lifted as many as 60,000 yachts will visit Cuba. That’s an alarming number when you consider that there are very few marinas and only a handful on the north shore of the island, the largest in the Caribbean, is less than 100 miles from the US.
As an interesting aside, I also read that other islands in the Caribbean as well the Bahamas are bracing for reduced visits by boats as the “hordes” head to the “forbidden island” to see for themselves what they have been missing. One thing for sure is that the “buzz” in the cruising community is more like a “roar” about what’s in store.
And, in spite of getting all of our needed approvals to allow us to visit Cuba aboard Pandora, some details remain to be sorted out from a logistics standpoint so I guess there’s still more to do till we get everything in order.
So, enough about what’s on the horizon, how about what’s bobbing around in our wake?
Certainly the biggest news of the year was the marriage of our oldest, Rob, to his new bride Kandice in August. The wedding was in Baltimore, near where they live. What a singular experience. Brenda did a wonderful post on this and I am confident that I can not improve on her near breathless reporting.
Our younger son Christopher was the best man and I wish that I could remember his words of his inspired toast to the bride and groom. Both of our boys embody the notion that each generation is better than the last. On the “nautical front” I spent much of my time over the summer working to get Pandora ready to head south but Brenda and I were able to make time to take her on a “shakedown” cruise to Nantucket with fair winds on our way there and returning. How often can you say that? The weather was wonderful and with a “proper dink” we were able to anchor across the harbor from town and avoid the ridiculous mooring fees that are creeping up near the three figure mark. Mooring or not, we still enjoyed the same beautiful sunsets as the “paying customers”. Being there on “new” Pandora was a far cry from our first visit there so many years ago. I am hopeful that will prove to be a metaphor for our cruising life aboard her in the coming years.
Earlier in the season, Pandora provided the “ride” for my good friend Ken and his family to scatter his parent’s ashes in the waters of Block Island Sound. That experience, followed by a lovely reception at the Stonington Harbor Yacht Club made for a wonderful and fitting tribute to much loved parents. I also had yet another visit to Nantucket with my good friend Craig, as part of a week cruise “south of the Cape”. It’s certainly a lot easier to make distance with a 47′ boat than back in the days of, shall we say, less capable craft. We had a really nice week on the water and he only called his office a few times. Brenda and I spent a lot of time making our way up and down the ICW last winter as we moved Pandora south along the Florida coast and Keys and then back up to North Carolina where she was sold. Mercifully, we were only two boat owners for a few months. What a pain it was to unpack 7 years of stuff.And load it onto another boat. Brenda’s take on all of this? We are way too old for this. Sometimes it feels that way to me. In our too-ing and fro-ing, it was a source of constant wonder to see the sights along the ICW. The serenity of the Dismal Swamp Canal cannot be beat. The morning haze proved to be a source of inspiration for Brenda who did a tapestry along the way. It was moments like this that she used to recall the scene. We also made friends along the way. Some more unique than others.
Perhaps none more memorable than our Canadian friend “Cricket”. She’s almost cute enough for us to abandon our “no pet policy” aboard Pandora. Well, not quite that cute, but pretty darn close. For sure, if we relent and do get one of own, the name “Cricket” will be a strong contender. We had some wonderful serene moments on the CT River near home. I want to be sure to note my most loyal crew member who endured many changes of plan and ended up helping me take Pandora to Florida after abandoning our run to the BVI. Nice legs Jim. Nicer tuna.
Of course, I won’t forget my chance encounter with the USS New Mexico off of New London and the one post that won me an official cap and challenge coin. Perhaps I’ll get lucky and even get my first “ride” on a nuclear sub. Stranger things have happened. One way or the other the “new” Pandora will take us places that we never imagined and do so in great style. One thing for sure is that she will be true to her namesake as having her has surely “opened Pandora’s box” from Brenda’s perspective and endless possibilities from mine.
Here’s to a wonderful 2015 and an exciting (but not TOO exciting for Brenda) 2016.
I can’t wait!