Well, we finally made it back to the Chesapeake's uppermost reaches at the mouth of the Susquehanna River. The last few days were really rough, incredibly high winds, 30 to 35 knots at times, pushing the bay's waves to well over 5 feet near Chesapeake Beach. By the time we reached the Chesapeake Bay Bridges at Sandy Point the wind completely died, a dense fog set in, and visibility was down to less than 1/4-mile. Made it into Fairlee Creek last night, a cold front blasted through, the fog lifted, sun came out and the winds kicked up again from the south, then went west.
By the time we reached Havre de Grace, MD the winds were woofing at 35 plus from the west, the boat was ripping along at 7.8 to 8.5 MPH and the temperature fell like a stone. It was a real bear getting the sails down, then docking the boat in the old slip, but by 1:30 p.m. the wives were there to greet us, and my good friend Peter arrived with a bottle of champagne to toast the event.
Overall, the past six months has been incredible. The trip down the ICW, and the return trip, realistically, is better suited for trawlers - not sailboats. More maneuverability, faster speeds, lots of creature comforts, and other than a few locations, you're running the engine about the same amount of time with either craft.
One of the greatest aspects of the trip was the wonderful people I met along the way, and the people of Marathon, Florida. As an entertainer I had fantastic fans, folks that loved my musical performances, and for the most part didn't want me to leave Marathon. Personally, I didn't really want to leave either.
I really wish my loving wife of more than a half-century could have accompanied me on the trip down and back, but physically, it would have been impossible. However, I fully intend to take her to Marathon next January and spend a couple months there. The difference will be, unfortunately, that we'll drive down, probably rent a house, and still have lots of fun. And yes, I'll most likely take my music gear with me on the trip, and I suspect you'll find me performing at a half-dozen locations in and around Marathon during the brief time we'll be there.
The one thing I discovered is that I'm getting old. At age 72 I made the trip, had a ball, and would love a repeat performance. Unfortunately, there comes a time when you look in the mirror and discover there's an old fart looking back at you.
I guess my sailing days are diminishing to some degree, but as long as I am physically able I will sail the nation's largest estuary - Chesapeake Bay. My plan is to spruce the boat up a bit before the Chesapeake Bay Sailnet Rendezvous in June, and with luck my wife will accompany me on that week-long sojourn down the bay. Keeping my fingers crossed.
I've been extremely fortunate in that I've met so many wonderful people from this forum over the past few years. I could never thank Melissa enough for her help in allowing me to bypass the Georgia segment of the ICW. She's a very talented and gracious lady who is right at the top of my list of incredible people.
Mario and Sherri, both of whom are highly skilled sailors, have been with me through much of the past six months. Not only is Mario is highly-skilled marine and automotive mechanic, he is just an all around nice guy. Sherri can handle a sailboat with the best of them, plus she's a drop-dead gorgeous lady who can really whoop-up on the guys on the softball field.
Sandy and Roger, who also caravaned down the ICW with me, are on constant touch, they traveled from Cleveland to Fort Myers, and are living the life that many, many forum members wish they could mimic.
Captain Aaron, who also frequents this forum, came in for a short visit, and I sincerely wish I could have spent more time with him. I didn't get to meet his dad, but maybe the next trip we can get together. Aaron is incredibly knowledgeable, skippers a tug boat for a living, and is a live-aboard in Key West, FL.
The list of great people is essentially endless, and I sincerely apologize for not listing everyone I encountered. The list is such that it would consume most of the pages of a large book.
So, at this point, the voyage to the sunny shores of Marathon, Florida and back ends. It was a 6-month journey that I'll never forget as long as I have a functional mind. My only regret is not doing this at a much younger age, and I encourage everyone that is remotely considering such a voyage to do so while you still have the strength and health that youth often provides.
Finally, a big thanks to everyone who has commented on this forum over these many months. I tried to respond to everyone's posts when I could, and with luck I'll be meeting up with some of you in the not too distant future.