Cheryl and Dudley's Sailbatical Adventure

Monthly Archives: June 2016

So How is Reentry? (Month 1 AS — After Sailbatical)

So How is Reentry? (Month 1 AS — After Sailbatical)

When we returned to Baltimore in mid-May, I anticipated that reentry could be tough, at least for me. Captain D wasted no time in securing a land-based “office” and had his big computer and dual screens up and running before I had time to meet our new neighbors on D Dock at our marina. And I’m not joking! That guy is fast.

For me, I still had several personal commitments that conveniently prevented me from diving too deeply into work. First, there was the visit to see my parents and sister in PA, and pick up our wheels that they cared for while we were away. (FYI–Part of the challenge with reentry has been relearning to drive among crazy Mid-Atlantic drivers with their impatience, discourteous manners, and lead feet on gas pedals. Just sayin’…).

My 84-year old parents--aren't they awesome!
My cute 84-year old parents!

Then, there was the long-awaited road trip to North Carolina to see my youngest son Jean-Luc walk the stage at his graduation from Elon University!

JL the graduate, with proud mom, brother, and uncle.
JL the graduate, with proud mom, proud brother, and proud uncle.

And visit my oldest son’s “first house” in High Point NC! Philippe bought his house while I was away on sailbatical, and we just had to celebrate JL’s graduation with a family cookout with Philippe’s new grill.

Philippe's house--front, and back terrace with grill.
Philippe’s house–front, and back terrace with grill.

So many proud moments that weekend. All I can say is that my heart was so very full, and that I enjoyed making the trip with my dear friend who answers to “Uncle Terry” by both my sons.

By early June, I had settled into a bit of a routine that combined sailing instruction, consulting work, and my personal exercise plan (in preparation for the August Iron Girl triathlon). I was fully aware that if I didn’t make sailing education and experience a focus of my summer, that I would quickly get sucked into the everyday grind of work. So I immediately embarked on a personal sailing education plan, with ambitious goals and aggressive timetable.

The first two weekends of June were spent at the Annapolis School of Seamanship where I completed 24 hours of navigation and piloting classes. On the third weekend of June, I returned to the same school for 24 more hours of instruction, but this time enrolled in marine diesel mechanic courses. Part 1 was mostly classroom with some hands-on over two days. Part 2 was mostly hands-on, with very limited classroom time, over two additional weekdays. Since I’m an experiential and visual learner, Part 2 was extremely valuable, as I worked in a team of three to troubleshoot and fix a variety of engine issues. The diesel engine classes were extremely valuable and I feel more confident in my mechanical knowledge, and my ability to be helpful in diagnosing, maintaining, and repairing diesel engines. Yay me!

Marine Diesel Engine classes!
Marine Diesel Engine classes!

Meanwhile, back in Baltimore over several weekdays, I engaged the services of SeaAffinity, and its Captain Steve Maddox with capable Crew Suzanne (she could be a captain herself). As of this writing, I have had 7 separate lessons with them, averaging three hours each, on Belle Bateau. That means that I’m learning our boat more thoroughly, and how to handle our boat in a variety of conditions. We have practiced launching and docking, sail handling and trim, anchoring, and more launching and docking. Did I mention that I’ve been practicing launching and docking? The winds are quite shifty in Baltimore, so each day is a new experience with varying wind direction and speeds.

My friend Curt amuses himself by watching my track on marine
My friend Curt amuses himself by watching my track on marine

Some of my practices have been almost perfect. Some have been near disastrous. All I need is practice, practice, and more practice. Captain D goes to work while these adventures take place under the skillful instruction of Captain S. I’m grateful that both are willing to support me in these ambitious endeavors. Nothing like learning on your own boat!

Except when you can learn on someone else’s boat. Which leads me to the third leg of my three-legged sailing stool this summer. Months ago when I was anticipating (more like dreading) the end of our sailbatical, I began to plan how I might be able to continue learning and sailing beyond being a weekend cruiser on the Chesapeake. My kind friends, Annette and Anthony on Magnolia, have offered me a wonderful opportunity to sail with them north of the Chesapeake, up to New York or Connecticut or Rhode Island this summer. We are hoping to do some offshore passagemaking, some of it at night, but wind and weather conditions will determine our course, and schedule.

Magnolia under sail earlier this year.
Magnolia under sail earlier this year.

So I’m looking forward to that third important piece of my continuing sailing education. I’ve already had a sneak peek of my accommodations since they offered me a berth during a couple of days of my diesel mechanic courses. Funny thing—Dudley took a friend out for the weekend on Belle Bateau, which of course left me “homeless” since I needed a place to stay while he was anchored out that weekend. Oh, the challenges of not having a home “on land” in addition to the boat. But that’s okay. Just another opportunity to visit with friends, and continue the adventure of life on the water.

Which prompts me to share a few highlights from three days Dudley and I spent in Washington D.C. in mid-June for his birthday. We took the train to DC to rendezvous with our cruising friends Mark and Cathy who are in a slip there for a month before venturing up to Baltimore.

Terry, Cathy, The Birthday Boy, Mark, and Tom after dinner at Clyde's
Terry, Cathy, The Birthday Boy, Mark, and Tom after dinner at Clyde’s

We had loads of fun playing “tourist,” visiting several museums and staying in a hotel (with continuous hot water). After a birthday dinner at Clyde’s, friend Terry treated all four of us to a driving/walking tour of the monuments at night. So beautiful!

Being tourists in our backyard
Being tourists in our backyard

So reentry has been busy, and quite good. Someday soon though, I’ll need to focus more on replenishing my part of the cruising kitty. But for now, it’s high sailing season on the high seas, in the Chesapeake and beyond. Yay!

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Cheryl Duvall and Dudley Whitney

3 Church Circle, Unit #138

Annapolis, MD 21401

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