Monthly Archives: February 2012

Yes!!! More time on Pandora coming up!

I have really struggled over the last month to come up with new ideas to post as I have been house bound getting our home “staged”,shown, sold and then packed and ready to vacate by the, what is now set as a late March closing.  Add to that a need to find somewhere to live.   Don’t you just hate that home base thing? It seems that we do have a land base to escape to as living on a boat full time probably wouldn’t be a good idea for us.

Actually, as I believe I have noted in past posts, friends of ours that maintain a land home and also spend a good deal of time aboard cruising, have said that keeping a shore base to visit for as much time as needed, is a good way to keep on happily cruising for many years.  It seems that while many couples chuck it all and move aboard for years of cruising bliss, a much safer bet for the long term is to split time ashore and afloat.  There are plenty of boats for sale in “paradise” abandoned after living aboard for a few years.

Well, I have often ordered “surf and turf” so applying that approach to living seems about right for us.  Besides, I am fond of Brenda and she would not be a happy camper on a boat full time.   They say that you can rationalize anything and for me the “split thing” sounds about right.  Besides, I am having trouble visualizing Pandora with a table saw, bench jointer, band saw…   You get the picture.  Add to that 5 looms and a gourmet kitchen aboard and, well, it’s not happening.

That’s fine.  And, while moderation isn’t my strong suit, it is definitely the best path right now.

So, Bob, how’s the sale of your home in NJ going?  Thank you for asking.

It’s proceeding well and the closing is scheduled for late March.  Oh, yes, we made an offer on that property in Essex that I wrote about the other day and, after a bit of back and forth, we settled on terms and will likely move in late March or early April.   Wish us luck.

So, what’s this have to do with summer sailing and what about “more time on Pandora!”?

The home that we have chosen is in very nice shape so I won’t be all stressed with a renovation and can focus on some fun sailing this coming season.  In particular, I expect that to be able to squeeze in a short trip to Maine to participate in the Corinthians Summer Cruise.  That should be fun and an opportunity to have a few buddies accompany me for the trip as Brenda will be hanging out with her weaving friends while I am away.    We agreed that as she’s about to be away on Pandora for most of the time between September and April that she would not be going to Maine this summer.  That’s not to say that we won’t be doing some nice trips aboard together prior to our departure, just not the Maine run.

Now all I have to do is to get packing so that I can find time to install Pandora’s new watermaker and to address the myriad items that always come up when preparing for the coming season.   I won’t bore you with a rag list of “to-dos” as there will, no doubt, be many posts going into nauseating detail on each step along the way.

As I mentioned, our new home will be in Essex CT, a place that we have visited many times.  We have visited Essex many times and have cruised the CT River often.  On one visit we headed all the way up to the Goodspeed Opera House and got a number of wonderful shots along the way.

The bank of the river is lovely and very green.

Wonderful old homes all along the way.

Not many tacky ones at all.  This one is a particular favorite.  What a site!

And, of course, the famous Gillette Castle.  Tacky perhaps but so “theatrical”.  About right or it’s first owner.

And, the historic Goodspeed Opera house.   Actually a very short ride from our new home in Essex.

Of course, water isn’t the only way to get around these parts.  This small plane was fun to watch as the pilot practiced landing and taking off on the river.

We will also be close to Mystic CT as it’s so close to Essex so I’ll close with a bit about  Mystic Seaport, a spot that we hope to spend more time in now that we will be living nearby.

One of our favorite things to do is an evening cruise aboard Sabino, a lovely steam ferry that has it’s home port at the seaport.  I took this photo one evening last summer when Brenda and I were cruising around for one of usual cocktail cruises in our dink.

But wait, there’s more.  How about a fun video of Sabino’s 100th anniversary at the seaport?

Perhaps a good way to close is with a shot of a “beginning”, breakfast aboard Pandora.  Yes, a bit out of kilter, but hey, blame the photographer.  Beginnings?  Make that “new beginnings”.  Yes, there will be lots of these for me and Brenda this year. I can’t wait!!!  Now, on to packing.  Ugg…


Diving for sponges aboard Pandora?

I was looking at the March issue of Soundings today and read and article about Tarpon Springs Florida.   The article was written for cruisers who were considering visiting the west coast Florida city but I was particularly struck by the mention of sponge diving, a trade that has been part of the culture of Tarpon Springs since the 1800s.   The article referred to a video about the history of the industry.  I had a tough time finding the video but finally located it on YouTube.  It’s a very interesting look at the sponge industry circa 1930s.

This certainly looks like a tough way to make a living to me.

Interestingly, the method of harvesting natural sponges remains similar today and I guess that the fishery is sustainable or it would have ended long ago.  It seems that the biggest change, and one that has contributed to the fishery’s longevity is that they now cut off the sponges instead of ripping them out as is shown in the video.  This allows the sponges to grow back.

Nice to see that a traditional fishery can persist and not be another example of over fishing and extinction as is so often the case.

So, will we be sponge fishing aboard Pandora?  I can say for sure that there won’t be a hard hat and lead boots for me.

A trail of breadcrumbs for Pandora

As we prepare for our trip south next fall, a key need is for our family to be able to follow us and our position along the way.  In the past sharing such information required equipment that was expensive or, at the very least, complicated.   However, with the advent of more sophisticated satellite technology, it appears that there are now systems available that enable us to set things up in a way so that our friends (and random blog readers) to follow us as we make our way south.  To say that we are in Charleston is nice, but for me it would be totally choice for someone to be able to look at a map online and see exactly where we are any day or any time of day, for that matter.  And as we move along the map will display a trail of bread crumbs to show where we have been.

Yesterday I called Henry Marx the owner at Landfall Navigation, a group that sells all sorts of boating safety equipment.  Henry is very knowledgeable and I expected that he would have something to say about this topic.  Yes, he’s never shy about saying what he thinks.  Today he responded with a note suggesting that the DeLorme inReach unit might do what we are looking for.   As a side note, Henry doesn’t stock the product as he specializes in safety products and does not want to take the chance that his customers will confuse this product with an EPIRB which is a critical safety device for the sort of sailing that we are planning.  Yes Henry, Pandora has one of those units aboard and happily, we have never had to activate it.  And yes, the batteries are up to date and it is properly registered.

The system works off of the Irdidium system of geosynchronous orbit satellites.  (I’ll bet you didn’t think that I could spell geosynchronous.   No, I can’t but that’s what spell check is for.)  I have always thought of anything associated with Iridium as being terribly expensive but this one isn’t at all.   The inReach unit itself retails for about $250 and the communication plans run anywhere from $9.95 to $49.95 a month with a year commitment.  The variables in these plans are related to the number of position fixes and text messages allowed per month.

The plan for us will likely be the $24.95 one as it allows unlimited position fixes and a reasonable number of text messages.  A text might say something like “headed to Andros on Friday”.  I understand that it also ties in with Twitter and Facebook but I don’t know exactly how that works.

In any event, in a day when we want to tell the world what we are doing every waking moment, including our trips to the bathroom, this is a great option.

This is an interesting video, sale pitch though it is, about the product.

I NEED one of these.  What’s great about this is that when someone asks my mother “It’s 10:00.   Do you know where your children are?”.  At the very least, she will know where Pandora is and I am never far away.  However, I will be sure to never take this particuar piece of equipment into the bathroom.   I guess I am just not in the right generation for that.

Oh, to be young…



Where to live? So many choices.

Over the last few days we once again headed up to CT to look at homes where we might move now that our home in NJ is under contract.  Unfortunately, the septic failed on our NJ home but all it will take is money to do a septic repair and get the sale done. As a matter of fact we’re just about ready to hire the plumbers and agree on a date for them to come help us with this. Our agent says that once your home is under contract (I won’t say sold because that’s not the case till the check clears) that you divorce yourself from the home and move on.  That’s certainly the case for me as I am already “gone” and am preparing to move on.

The big question now is where do we want to live.  There are so many issues that matter to us in a new home and it’s location that it has been very difficult to find a home that is suitable.   Brenda is a weaver so she needs a studio.  Actually, check out her blog at  Me, I am an amateur woodworker, so an area for a shop is key.  We also love to entertain, especially weavers and boaters so we also want a terrific kitchen for those all important parties, of course if you want to use heated water is important to know the signs water heater is going bad to fix it right away.

Beyond that, we need to be close to the water so we can get to Pandora easily, so we’re looking into a river side cabin for rent.  And, as Pandora is registered in RI we have to be sure that we can get to her there as keeping her in CT for more than the maximum 60 days allowed during the commissioned season is a no-no.

Also, and very important is that one of our sons lives in Manhattan and the other in Fairfield CT.  Our parents are also in assisted living in Bridgeport and we want to be close enough for regular visits with everyone.  Well, you get the drift.  A lot of caveats which make finding a home really tough.

On top of all of this the home needs to be affordable, whatever that means now that I am on, shall we say, “a restricted income”. We have to get in contact with tax services such as Academy West Insurance tax services to discuss our income and if we can afford to buy a home.

While this is a nautical blog, perhaps a photo of the house that is the current leading contender, in Essex CT and only few miles from the CT River and about a half hour to Mystic.

After looking at some 50 homes over the last few months between Essex CT and Wickford RI, this one has risen to the top of the pile, for now.    As the closing on our NJ home is scheduled for late March I guess it’s almost decision time.

Oh, and did I mention that this home abuts a large nature preserve.  No water, beyond a stream, actually more of a swamp, in the woods behind the house.    However, I guess that the water view from Pandora will have to do the trick.

Speaking of water views from Pandora.  How about this one from one of our visits to Maine.   Too bad that our budget won’t support this view.   Well, actually, we could get a view like this if we were willing to move up to Maine.   Hmm…  No wait.  Here’s an idea.   We can go places with views like this aboard Pandora.  Now, that’s a plan.

The Pandora clan is moving

As I write this I am in the Mystic Marriott for the annual meeting of the Catboat Association, a group that we have been members of since 1979, a long time by any measure.  The group was central to our lives for many years as we owned a number of catboats prior to graduating to larger vessels.   Actually, we served on the “steering committee”, or board of the group for some ten years and loved it.

Last night Brenda and I attended a cocktail party at the winter meeting of the CBA and caught up with many old friend.  Actually, “old” is appropriate as many of us are definitely getting up there in years.   In particular, although still young at heart, were our friends Frank and Linda who sailed their Aleuea 38 sailboat for something like 8 years in the Caribbean and were early inspiration to us, well at least me, to plan to, at some point, make a long sailing journey.   While they have “swallowed the anchor” and moved ashore, they  now own a home in Tenant’s Harbor Maine.

Frank and Linda were also instrumental in getting us involved in the CBA steering committee, way back when.  Frank was, at the time, the president of the group and as we got to know him, asked us to become more involved.

I still recall the first time that we got to know Frank and Linda as it was at the 1990 25th anniversary rendezvous of the CBA at Mystic Seaport where over 100 catboats gathered for a weekend of great fun.  Their boat Cimba, was tied up on the outer dock at the seaport and I asked if we could come aboard and see her.   Cimba was a fabulously well maintained Fenwick Williams 25′ catboat constructed of wood and painted and varnished to a standard usually seen in boats maintained by professionals.   While they sold their catboat years ago to begin voyaging, here they are again with us at the Marriott at the winter meeting to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the CBA.

However, I digress as I was writing about moving.   Did I mention that we sold our home (pending inspection, mortage approval for the new owner and all that jazz) and are scheduled to be out as of the end of March.  Yikes!!! After over 20 years there, what a change that will be.

However, we are interested in living somewhere closer to the water and certainly less expensive than homes and taxes near New York.  Our search over the last few months has taken us from Essex CT, through Mystic CT and as far up the coast as Wickford RI. If we can’t find something, maybe we’ll contact a home builder like this home builder in Brunswick, GA to build us a custom home near the water. So far, the homes that most appeal to us are in eastern CT and seem to be in the area from Essex to Mystic.

We have found several homes that we like very much and are now down to the wire with a few in serious contention.   The biggest question is how much work I am willing to take on with a home that needs to be fixed up verses one that is in great shape and ready to live in.    The “ready to go” home that we like is not near the water, if two miles from the CT River is far.  The other major contender is a much older home that needs work but is sited on is sited on a pond in the village of Old Mystic.   These homes are very different and it is certainly a very tough call as to which will be better for us.

to be sure but we will know more soon as we are looking at boat again this weekend.

However, it is indeed “decision time” unless we want to be homeless very soon.

One way or the other, we want to be settled with where we are going to live by fall when we head south on Pandora.    No matter what happens, we will be on our way by mid September and will have a home, aboard Pandora, at least for a while.

Speaking, as I was, about our earlier sailing aboard catboats, one of our catboats, Sappho, now lives in Wickford RI and has been there for many years under the careful stewardship of her owners at a lovely marina Pleasant Street Wharf.   And, no blog post should be posted without a photo so here is Brenda aboard our old catboat (yes, it’s a recent photo) taken in Wickford followed by Pandora at the same boatyard.   A contrast in both boat size and style indeed.

Here’s Pandora at the same lovely marina.

Wish us luck with our house hunting.