Slip Away

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Logbook:       Atlantic Ocean Crossing, Bahamas, USA (March to December 2019)

This is the last chapter of our voyage on Slip Away.  For over 17 years, she was our home, and over the course of 16 years, we sailed her to some awesome places.  We were closing in on completing our circumnavigation of the world and looking to the future and had decided that we would be wrapping up our days of sailing the world's oceans. 

In March of 2019, we were moored at St. Helena Island in the South Atlantic Ocean, and our home country of the USA was 5000 miles away, but Slip Away and her crew were ready to tackle that distance. Our plan was to sail from St. Helena to the Bahamas - a passage of almost 4800 miles and by far our longest passage ever.  We then hoped to have enough time to enjoy a few weeks in the Bahamas before heading to Florida, where we would complete our circumnavigation of the world. 

Although sailing from St. Helena to the Bahamas was quite a long distance, both of us were in agreement that we preferred to do this long passage and have a few weeks to cruise through the Bahamas, rather than shortening the trip by stopping in Brazil and/or the Caribbean and then island hopping north - tough choices, we know!  That said, we picked out a few potential Caribbean island stops (Martinique, Antigua and Puerto Rico) if needed for repairs, fuel, crew fatigue or other issues.  Fortunately, those stops were not needed and our preferred plan was executed without any major issues. 

Passage from St. Helena Island to Mayaguana Island, Bahamas (March 16 to April 19, 2019, 4772 nautical miles, 34 days + 8 hours).  We dropped our mooring and departed St. Helena on a Saturday morning at 0800.  As we motored away from the island and raised the main sail, we had a couple of equipment failures - the mainsail outhaul block broke, and an eye through which our lazy jack line was fed came off of the boom - but both were minor problems.  We tied the mainsail clew in place, reinstalled the lazy jack eye and carried on. There were no further equipment mishaps for the remainder of our voyage. 

Initially on passage, we were in touch via the SSB radio with a few other boats that left St. Helena a couple days before us.  Most of them were heading for Brazil, and after about 10 days, they reached their destination, and the radio was quiet.  Another boat which was headed for the Caribbean left St. Helena several days after us, and we exchanged daily position reports with them via satphone texts.  Other than that, we were on our own.  Until we got closer to the Caribbean, we saw very few cargo ships, and our AIS receiver was dark for days on end.  This was a very lonely stretch of ocean!


Our route across the Atlantic Ocean

Over the next 34+ days, we were at sea for a total of 824 hours.  We sailed 706 of those hours, so motored 118 (just shy of 5 days).  We crossed the equator (our fourth time on Slip Away) and four time zones.  St. Helena is on UTC time (aka Greenwich Mean Time or GMT), and we kept our clocks on that time for our entire voyage.  We had two full moons on this passage - the first one shortly after we left St. Helena and the second as we arrived in the Bahamas.  Night passages with a full moon are wonderful!  When there was little or no moon, if the night was clear, the stars were amazing; if cloudy, it was incredibly dark.  One night, as we motored on calm seas near the equator, Jan noted in the logbook that the Big Dipper and Southern Cross were reflecting off the water - a magical sight! 

South of the equator, the winds were mostly southeasterly (almost directly behind us), and they averaged at about 10-15 knots.  That's a bit light for Slip Away, but we were able to keep the sails full and the boat moving, albeit slowly at times.  The seas were very gentle - a meter or less - which made for a pleasant ride, with the exception that with the light winds, the sails would occasionally slam, which wasn't so nice.  It took us 14 days to get to the equator, but the doldrums (the area around the equator with little wind) reached close to 500 miles south of the equator, and much of our motoring was spent transiting this area.  Anticipating this, we loaded extra fuel on deck in jerry jugs at St. Helena, and we were glad we did, as we decanted the 120 liters (32 gallons) into the main tank the day before we reached the equator.  The doldrums were very hot and sticky, and the heat was exacerbated by the engine running.  Fairly frequent squalls in this area brought rain and occasional lightning but not much wind.  When the heavens opened up, we sometimes sat on the back deck in the rain to cool off.  We were quite happy to finally cross the equator, and less than 5 hours (30 miles) later, we had enough wind to shut down the engine and sailed the rest of the way to the Bahamas.  


Beautiful sunrise on Day 5 of our passage


 
 
Squalls near the equator as shown by our radar
 
Squalls near the equator as seen from the cockpit. 
Also Sargasso weed started to appear in the sea near the
equator.  We somehow managed to avoid sucking
too much of that into our engine intake.

We were thrilled to have wind again after crossing the equator, but then it became a case of "be careful what you wish for."  After a couple of days, the wind started building until it was blowing 20-25 knots, and the accompanying seas were 2-3 meters (6-10 feet).  This would be a fine ride if the winds and seas were behind us, but they were coming from the northeast, so right on our beam, and the ride was very rough!  This lasted for over three days, and it was wearing us down, knowing that we still had 2000 miles to our destination. The crew was grateful and much happier when those lively conditions abated.  Once things improved, we confided to one another that each of us had had thoughts of turning the boat toward the Caribbean and abandoning our plan to sail to the Bahamas, but neither of us had been willing to throw in the towel.  For the remainder of the trip, the winds were mostly in the 15-20 knot range, and the direction veered to the east and southeast, so the ride was significantly better. 


Rough seas on Day 21 of the passage
 
Gorgeous conditions on Day 27

Although it was a long passage, daily routines made the time pass fairly quickly. One of us is always on watch when we are underway, and we stood six-hour watches, 24 hours a day, a routine we established on our first ocean crossing.  Each day, we watched the sunset together, and then Jan would go off watch and sleep as much as possible for the next six hours before coming on watch in the middle of the night.  We often don't sleep well the first couple of nights at sea, but then our bodies adjust to the routine.  We both also usually napped an hour or two during our daytime off-watch hours.  While on watch, we checked the horizon on a regular basis for any traffic (not much of that!), kept an eye on the weather, made sure the boat was sailing efficiently and made log entries with position reports and conditions every three hours (this passage filled 13 pages of our logbook!).  Each morning, usually at watch change, Rich ran the generator for 1 to 2 hours to charge up the boat batteries, and the solar panels kept them charged for the remainder of the day.  Later in the morning, we downloaded weather reports and sent and received email via our satphone.  Rich did a daily deck check, clearing off the dead squid and flying fish, and making sure there were no rigging problems or other issues.  While motoring through calm seas at the equator, Rich also did a little boat maintenance, polishing the stainless steel stanchions and bow pulpit.  Jan also had a daily exercise routine to help keep her back happy.  For the most part, standing watch wasn't very exciting, and we liked it that way!  We had music on our iPod, and both of us have Kindle Fires, which were our primary source of entertainment.  Rich read several books, and Jan enjoyed books, games and videos. Additionally, spending the night alone on watch gave us an opportunity to reflect, and each of us had some very emotional moments, recognizing that this incredible adventure was coming to an end.

Slip Away was well stocked with provisions, and the crew was well fed.  Jan prepared and froze a number of meals (chilies, pastas, risottos, and other one-pot meals) before leaving St. Helena, and she added to that supply underway during some calm days south of the equator.  Each day we had a hot meal for lunch, which we ate together.  We were on our own for breakfast (cereal or oatmeal and fruit), and for dinner, she usually made wraps (ham, tuna, hard boiled egg) with some sort of side salad, which we could eat on our own schedule.  When the fresh fruit ran out, we ate canned fruit.  When there was no more lettuce, Jan made salads from cabbage and carrots, canned corn and beans and even canned red beets, although we had to be careful not to spill beet juice!  Popcorn (cooked the old fashioned way on the stove) was a regular night watch snack.  

We saw very little sea life as we sailed along, with the exception of the numerous flying fish and squid that landed on our decks.  We also had three nights just south of the equator when flocks of black birds (probably 20-25 of them) landed on the boat, sitting on the bow pulpit, stern rails and mizzen boom.  The flock usually arrived well after dark and departed just before sunrise.  We knew of other sailors who had these visitors in this area, so ours was not a unique experience, but we were not able to identify the birds.  They left a lot of droppings on the decks and mizzen sail cover, but the rains in the doldrums washed them off. 

The miles ticked away, and we were making good time!  Initially, we were thinking that we would sail to the island of San Salvador, but then changed our minds and decided to stop at Mayaguana, which is the easternmost island in the Bahamas archipelago.  Mayaguana was 150 miles closer, and the anchorage sounded better than the one at San Salvador.  A few days from our destination, we started getting more hits on our AIS - big ship traffic and then a cruise ship - we were definitely closing in on civilization!


Sailing at 6.9 knots speed over ground (very fast for Slip Away!)
on Day 27 - still 8 days from our destination
 
 
Jan off watch and catching some zzz's on our settee,
which serves as our sea berth.  When on a starboard tack,
we used the lee cloth to keep us secure in the berth.

 


One of the many flying fish that met their fate on Slip Away's decks
 
 
One of the cheeky black birds that left their droppings
on our mizzen sail cover
 
We saw this cruise ship on Day 32 of our passage -
 just a couple of days before reaching the Bahamas

 

On April 19 (Good Friday) at 1:30 pm UTC (9:30 am local time), we approached Mayaguana, motored through the opening in the reef at the west end of Abraham Bay and dropped our anchor.  It was our intention to move to the anchorage at the eastern end of the bay because it was closer to town and offered better protection from the seas, but we needed to wait for the sun to get higher in the sky to safely traverse the bay, which contained numerous coral heads.  We waited just over an hour, weighed anchor and motored across the bay, dropping anchor again an hour later (3:50 p.m. UTC time, 11:50 a.m. local time).  Although the reef behind which we were anchored offered some protection from the southeast wind and seas, the anchorage was still a bit bouncy, but after being at sea for over 34 days, we hardly noticed!
 

Mayaguana Bahamas (April 19 to 21).  Our cruising guide indicated that we could check in with Bahamian officials on Mayaguana, and we intended to do that.  We raised our Bahamian courtesy flag and our yellow quarantine flag, indicating that we were arriving from outside the country.  Then we decided to eat lunch and had a celebratory "landing beer," which was our first alcoholic beverage in over 34 days.  After lunch and a beer, we needed a nap and after that, it was too late to launch the dinghy and go find the local officials.  The next morning, we took the opportunity to do a few boat chores - defrosted the fridge, changed the oil in the main engine and generator - and after lunch we thought about launching the dinghy to go ashore, but we had serious doubts that the officials' offices would be open on Easter Saturday, and we needed another nap. 
 

   


Jan hoisting the Bahamas courtesy flag and our yellow "Q" flag

On Sunday we made a new plan.  While on passage, we had been in touch with our good friends Heather & Jon (s.v. Evergreen), who completed their circumnavigation the previous year.  They were living on their boat in North Carolina while building an overland RV for their next adventure, and they decided to take one last cruise to the Bahamas before selling Evergreen.  Needless to say, we were very excited about meeting up with them, and their latest communication indicated that they would be arriving in George Town on Great Exuma Cay on Sunday.  George Town was just under 200 miles northwest of where we were in Mayaguana.  We checked the weather which indicated we would have light southeasterly winds on Sunday, but they would turn to the northeast by about mid-day on Monday.  Given the distance and conditions, we expected we could get to George Town and meet them by late Monday.  And so, on Easter Sunday morning, we weighed anchor and motored out of Abraham Bay, never having stepped foot on Mayaguana Island. 

Passage from Mayaguana to George Town (April 21 to 22, 191 miles, 30 hours).  We had good sailing in southeast winds for most of the day on Sunday, but by evening the winds died out and the engine came on.  During the night, there were several squalls with lightning in the area, but fortunately, nothing came too close.  By Monday morning, the wind had backed to the east, and started to build.  We rounded the north end of Long Island at noon, which allowed us to turn southwest toward George Town, and we ended the trip with a good downwind sail.  Heather & Jon were anchored near Stocking Island, and despite the many boats anchored in the area, we easily found them with AIS.  We dropped anchor off their port side - it was great to have Slip Away and Evergreen anchored side-by-side again (last time would have been somewhere in Indonesia in 2015)! 

George Town, Bahamas (April 22 to 26).  After dropping our anchor, we took a quick shower, and shortly thereafter Heather & Jon showed up at Slip Away with champagne and food (including a bag of Cheetos for Rich!).  It's hard to describe the joy we felt having these two friends welcome us home!  Although we were sleep deprived from our overnight passage, our energy levels were high as we celebrated our reunion. 


The smiles on our faces say it all -
incredibly happy to meet up with our friends Heather & Jon!
 
After spending more than a month at sea by ourselves,
the busy-ness of Georgetown was a bit overwhelming to us!

We needed the next couple of days to do a few chores.  George Town is the capital of the Exuma chain of islands and one of the larger settlements in the Bahamas (population 7,000+), so this was a good place to get things done.  Our first order of business was to get checked in with the Customs and Immigration officials.  Heather & Jon were also just arriving in the country, so we were able to visit the officials' offices together.  After that, it was off to the local cell phone store to buy SIM cards for our cell phones (also our source of internet).  We were thrilled to be able to pick up some fresh produce at the local market (suffering from a bit of sticker shock at some of the prices), and we were also able to buy more diesel.

Shortly after arriving in George Town, we received an email from the owner of one of Slip Away's sisterships.  Slip Away is an Islander Freeport 41 (IF41), and there is an active owners' group which shares information on refitting ideas and problem solving, and we've met a few fellow owners in our travels.  In 2007, we stopped in Satellite Beach, Florida, and met Scott LeWand, the owner of s.v. Magnus, and we maintained occasional communication with him.  Scott had watched our progress as we sailed across the Atlantic, and when we reported our position in George Town, he let us know that he was there too!  Although he still owned Magnus, he was in George Town on his Dad's boat Mariah, which is a Kadey Krogen power yacht.  On our last evening in George Town, we enjoyed a fun evening on Mariah with Scott, his wife Carmen and his Dad.  Small world!

Exuma Islands (April 27 to May 9).  With our official paperwork completed, a supply of fresh fruits and veggies and our diesel tanks topped off, we were ready to move on from the hustle and bustle of George Town.  For the next two weeks, we sailed in the company of Heather & Jon on Evergreen as we headed north along the Exuma chain of islands.  We covered just over 100 miles in total and stopped to anchor at Rudder Cut Cay, Black Point Settlement, Staniel Cay, Cambridge Cay, Warderick Wells and Hawksbill Cay, spending two to three days at each stop.  Most of these islands are part of the Exuma Land & Sea Park, an ecological reserve and wildlife refuge.  We snorkeled in crystal clear waters, walked along white powdery beaches and shared cocktails and dinner at sunset.  We could think of no better way to wrap up our world cruise! 


Sun setting behind Evergreen at Rudder Cut Cay

 
 
Snorkeling in beautiful clear water at Cambridge Cay and
reacquainting ourselves with Atlantic fishes was great fun!
 


Rugged cliffs seen from our hike around Staniel Cay
 

 


Sea planes and large motor yachts at Staniel Cay were quite the sight!
 


Moored at Warderick Wells, where the headquarters of the
Exuma Cays Land & Sea Park is located
 

 


Hanging out with a couple of the park rangers at the
Exuma Cays Land & Sea Park headquarters
 


What a treat to see these spotted eagle rays at Warderick Wells

 


Such a lovely white sand beach at Hawksbill Cay

 



But, of course, all good things must come to an end.  Heather & Jon needed to get back to their truck building in North Carolina, we were meeting friends in south Florida for the Memorial Day weekend, and the weather was telling us that it was time to get a move on.  We shared one last dinner in Slip Away's cockpit in Hawksbill Cay, and the following morning, we headed off in different directions. 

From Hawksbill Cay, we sailed a long day (57 miles, 9 hours) to West Bay on New Providence Island, where we anchored for the night before continuing on the next morning to Bird Cay in the Berry Island group (29 miles, 6 hours). 

Bird Cay to West Palm Beach, Florida, USA (May 11 to 12, 155 miles, 26 1/2 hours).  We weighed anchor at Bird Cay at daybreak with a plan to sail west across the northern tip of the Great Bahama Bank in daylight hours, passing between Hen and Chicken Rocks and Great Isaac Island by dusk.  We would then continue across the Straits of Florida and make landfall at West Palm Beach.  We were leaving on a Saturday morning so as to arrive at West Palm Beach on Sunday morning.  The local weather forecaster recommended getting in no later than noon on Sunday due to some expected contrary winds later that afternoon. 

 

   


Time to go - waving good-bye to John & Heather as they depart Hawksbill Cay
 

A couple hours after we got started, we were sailing wing-and-wing in light winds and flat seas, and these delightful sailing conditions lasted until late in the afternoon, when the wind died and the engine came on.  We motored through the night, with a few squalls in the evening, but by the time Jan came on watch at midnight, the skies were clear, with beautiful stars above.  We steered Slip Away on a heading toward Pompano Beach which is south of West Palm Beach, anticipating a push north when we entered the Gulf Stream, a plan that worked perfectly.  The city lights of Miami shone off the port bow, while the lights of Freeport, Bahamas glowed off the starboard quarter.  There was a lot of big ship traffic - cargo and cruise ships - in the Straits of Florida, and AIS was once again tremendously helpful in sorting it all out. 

Early Sunday morning, we approached the Lake Worth Inlet at West Palm Beach, and it was quite busy with small boat traffic.  When we entered the Lake Worth Inlet, we had officially circumnavigated the globe, crossing our outbound track from December 2008. Wow - we did it!  It had been just over 16 years since we cast off the dock lines and left Marina del Rey, California, and we completed a circumnavigation in 10 years.  We had sailed Slip Away a total of over 57,000 nautical miles and visited 33 countries.  What an incredible feeling!

 

 

   


Approaching the Lake Worth inlet at West Palm Beach, Florida

Yet, as experienced as we were, we were still very capable of making mistakes.  We had been forewarned that there were some shallow spots in the anchorage at West Palm Beach, and we found one.  There was a crazy amount of small boat traffic as we came in the inlet, it was low tide, there was a current running, our brains were foggy from a lack of sleep, and in the midst of the mayhem, we ran aground!  Fortunately, it was soft mud, and we were moving very slowly at the time, and we easily backed off and found deeper water.  Geez, that was embarrassing!!  We found a better spot, dropped our anchor and breathed a sigh of relief.

Heather & Jon had brought us a USA SIM card for our phone and told us about a couple of apps which would help us with checking in with U.S. Customs & Border Patrol upon our arrival.  While still in the Bahamas, we downloaded the apps and submitted our passport and vessel information, and once our anchor was down in West Palm Beach, we used the "CBP Roam" app to notify the officials of our arrival.  Shortly thereafter, we had a video chat with an officer and answered his questions, and he welcomed us home.  And, that was it!  We did not have to visit any offices ashore, and no one needed to inspect our boat - it felt almost too easy. 

The anchorage at West Palm Beach has a fair amount of current in it, and with the wind blowing and lots of boat traffic it was pretty bouncy, so we decided to motor north via the ICW to an anchorage in Hobe Sound.  In hindsight, this was not the best decision we've ever made.  It was a beautiful sunny day, Sunday and Mother's Day, and the weekend warriors were out in full force.  The ICW was packed with small power boats, kayaks and paddle boards, and few if any of the operators had any clue how difficult it was to maneuver Slip Away through the traffic.  Added to that, we had to wait for a few bridge openings in some very narrow places.  It took us three incredibly stressful hours (16 miles) to get to the anchorage in Hobe Sound.  We dropped our anchor, forced the memory of the past three hours out of our minds, and popped open a bottle of champagne.  We had earned this celebration!  There were a few other boats anchored nearby when we arrived in Hobe Sound, but by about 5 pm they all left, and we had it to ourselves.  The anchorage was flat calm, and that evening and next morning were peaceful and beautiful!


From the craziness of West Palm Beach
 
To our quiet and calm anchorage in Hobe Sound

We weighed anchor again the next morning, and continued north via the ICW to Stuart, Florida (17 miles, 3 hours).  Monday on the ICW was a completely different experience than Sunday.  We saw few other boats, and had only two bridge openings, both of which opened on request (vs. scheduled openings on the previous day).  We anchored for a night at Pendarvis Cove in Stuart, and the next morning, we moved on to a mooring ball at Sunset Bay Marina. 

Sunset Bay Marina, Stuart, Florida (May 14 to 29).  We had plans to meet up with a few friends and family members in South Florida over the next couple of weeks and wanted to berth Slip Away in a marina at that time.  However, we suffered a bit of sticker shock when we realized that marina prices had basically tripled since we were last in this area in 2008 (from $60-70 per night to $180-200 per night!).  Since we don't require an electrical plug-in, we were quite happy to find the option for a mooring ball at Sunset Bay Marina.  We pulled in on a Tuesday and had a few days to settle in before our friends Susie & Mike arrived at the marina on Friday on their powerboat Moondancer.  Let the circumnavigation celebrations begin!

On Saturday, our friends Gena & Colin drove up from Pompano Beach and our friend Laura drove down from Melbourne, and we had a barbeque celebration at the marina.  The story of how we all know one another is long and convoluted, and it's amazing that the stars aligned for this get-together. Good times!  During the week, we also met up with Jan's cousins Ed & Debbie, their daughter and her family who live in the area - another fun evening.  Our final weekend in Stuart was Memorial Day, and our friends Camille & John flew in from California.  Camille's Dad has a house in Jupiter, and we stayed there for the weekend.  Camille & John have provided incredible support to us as we traveled the world on Slip Away, and it meant a lot having them there to celebrate with us!


Our first circumnavigation party at
Sunset Bay Marina in Stuart
 
Another celebration with Jan's cousins
 
A field trip with Camille & John to the
Loxahatchee National Wildlife Preserve

From Stuart, we would be heading north to Jacksonville, Florida.  Rich's brother Ron and our sister-in-law Kim live in Jacksonville, and they offered to host a circumnavigation celebration for us, which was planned in early June.  Also, after much discussion, we had decided to put Slip Away on the market and try to sell her in Jacksonville.  We knew that parting with Slip Away would be hard, but we felt we were ready.  While in Stuart, Jan took some photos and put an ad on Facebook Marketplace, and just a few days later, she heard from someone who wanted to see her when we got to Jacksonville. 

Passage to Jacksonville, Florida (May 28 to 31).  On the Tuesday morning after Memorial Day weekend, we dropped our mooring at Sunset Bay Marina, and motored north along the ICW to Fort Pierce (27 miles, 4 hours).  We anchored off the ICW near the Fort Pierce inlet, and dinghied ashore to meet up with another fellow IF41 owner, Dave Silver (s.v. Post Production), whom we met a number of years ago in Annapolis.  It was great to catch up with him over a beer! 

We left Fort Pierce before dawn the following morning, and headed out on what would be our final offshore and overnight passage on Slip Away.  We exited the Fort Pierce inlet and turned north, motor-sailing in light winds.  Winds were light all day and into the evening, and although we would have preferred to sail, motoring on the calm seas was quite nice.  At 4 a.m. we finally had enough wind to sail, and we enjoyed a few hours of peace and quiet before the wind died, and the engine came back on.  By late morning, we reached the entrance to the St. John's River, and dolphins escorted us in.  We somehow managed to time the tides just right, and we enjoyed a push from the current as we made our way along the river. 


Rich tried fishing as we motored north along the Florida coast,
but all he caught was Sargasso weed!

 

Our last sunrise at sea
 
Approaching the Dames Point Bridge
which spans the St. John's River

We had a berth reserved at the Marina at Ortega Landing (25 miles upriver) starting the next morning, and with the helpful current, we made good time in that direction.  By late afternoon, we arrived in downtown Jacksonville, and we were able to get an opening for the Main Street drawbridge before it shut down during rush hour.  Shortly after clearing the downtown bridges, we dropped our anchor at a quiet spot in front of the Baptist Hospital (223 miles, 35 hours underway).  We enjoyed the lights of the city from our anchorage that evening, wondering if this might be our last night at anchor on Slip Away.

Marina at Ortega Landing (May 31 to July 13).  The anchorage at Baptist Hospital was just a few miles from the Marina at Ortega Landing, and we pulled into our berth at 10 am the following morning.  We would have liked to relax a bit, but we needed to hit the ground running.  We had arranged to have our car shipped to Jacksonville from a storage facility in Cincinnati, and it was arriving that afternoon.  We checked in with the marina, and the manager was super nice and helpful, recommending a nearby shopping center as a good place to have the truck offload our car.  Also, there was a Florida Motor Vehicle office within walking distance which was quite fortunate because we needed to re-register our car and get a new license plate.  We walked down to the shopping center, grabbed an early lunch at Chick-fil-a, and then Jan walked to the DMV while Rich waited for the car.  The car was delivered in the early afternoon, and Rich drove it to the marina and started walking in the direction of the DMV to see how Jan was progressing.  (At this point, we had only one phone, so had no way to communicate with one another.)  Jan's trip to the DMV had gone smoothly - in and out with registration and license plate in hand in just over an hour - and Rich was barely past Chick-fil-a when we met up.  We returned to Chick-fil-a for a milkshake (a nice treat on a hot afternoon), and as we were waiting for our order, Rich told Jan that the car battery was dead, and we were trying to figure out a plan to get a new one.  It was mid-afternoon on Friday, and we were hoping to have use of the car over the weekend.  Another customer waiting for her order overheard our conversation, and was kind enough to recommend Lou Webber Tire & Automotive, just across the street.  We walked over and talked to Lou, who got one of his guys to take us back to the marina.  His guy jump started our car, and we drove it to the shop.  A couple hours later, our car had a new battery and four new tires (also badly needed).  We were amazed at how everything fell into place that day!

We were relieved to have the car situation worked out so we could focus on getting Slip Away ready to show to our potential buyer.  The folks that had contacted Jan via her Facebook Marketplace listing were coming to see Slip Away on Wednesday, and we had some work to do!  On Saturday we rented a storage unit, and we started unloading the v-berth, which had served as our boat "garage" (storage area).  We spent the next few days organizing, scrubbing and polishing Slip Away, so that she was looking her best!  Her first showing went well, and we really liked the potential buyers, but they had a couple of obstacles to overcome, and it was not to be. 

We took a deep breath and a break after showing Slip Away and headed to Rich's brother's house for a long weekend.  Ron & Kim hosted a gathering of the Crowell Clan to celebrate our circumnavigation.  Rich's sons and their families, his siblings and a nephew came to Jacksonville for the celebration.  Additionally, it was Rich's birthday on that Friday - what a great weekend!


Party attendees in their "Slip Away Circumnavigation" t-shirts
 
 
Ron & Kim's pool was perfect for party central
 
Our family - son Andrew and granddaughter Peyton (on Rich's right), and
son Erik, daughter-in-law Chrissy and granddaughter Cambra (on Jan's left)

After the party, we headed back to Slip Away.  We went to work on some maintenance items and met a few of our marina neighbors.  There were a fair number of folks living aboard their boats in this marina, and it was a very friendly community.  We liked it here - we even had fleeting thoughts of not selling Slip Away so that we could come back and spend the next winter here!  But we decided to stick to our original plan and listed Slip Away on SailboatListings.com.   

We went back to Ron & Kim's again the following weekend, and on that Sunday, we received a call from a guy named Mark Worral inquiring about Slip Away.  We had a great conversation with Mark, who shared with us that he was in the U.S. Coast Guard, stationed in Puerto Rico. He told us that he expected to retire in the next couple of years, and he and his wife wanted to take their sons (ages 10 and 11) cruising and show them a bit of the world by sea.  We immediately felt a good rapport with Mark, and he told us he would try to get up to Jacksonville in the next week to see her. 

We were starting to get some other inquiries about Slip Away, had a showing on Tuesday, and then Mark flew into Jacksonville on Thursday.  As we were showing the boat to Mark, the guy from Tuesday was texting and calling us, wanting to come back for a second look.  But Mark made us an offer which we accepted, and on Friday morning, we signed the contract to sell Slip Away.  Mark stayed the weekend with us on Slip Away, and it was a productive time.  Mark contracted with Gladding Marine for a survey of Slip Away, and on that Saturday, we took her out for a sea trial with Bill Gladding aboard.  Bill put Slip Away through her paces, and she performed flawlessly.  As we motored back to our marina berth, Bill and Mark sat below in the salon discussing the boat.  Mark later told us that Bill told him he was getting a great boat - made us very proud!  Slip Away's out-of-water survey took place on July 1 at  the Sadler Point Boatyard, a short distance from our marina.  She passed all tests with flying colors, and we set the closing date for the sale for July 15.  Since we were now well into hurricane season, Mark was not intending to immediately bring Slip Away to Puerto Rico, and he made arrangements to store her at the boatyard in St. Mary's, Georgia (just across the state border from Jacksonville).

   


Mark made videos of Rich as he explained
the operation of Slip Away's systems

Over the next few weeks, we took care of a few maintenance and repair items that needed to be done and went through every drawer, locker and stowage space on Slip Away.  We packed up and moved our belongings off the boat and into the guest bedroom at Ron & Kim's.  We left items on the boat that we thought would be useful to the new owners.  We made numerous donations to the local Goodwill store, and of course, a few things went into the dumpster. 


The handrails and trim were in desperate need of varnish,
so Jan did that chore one last time.
 
 
Enjoying a weekend at Ron & Kim's watching a
Formula 1 Grand Prix race. 
Rich is rooting for his favorite driver Max Verstappen.

Jacksonville, FL to St. Mary's, GA (July 13 to 15).  Mark's location in Puerto Rico added a slight complication to logistics for him, so we volunteered to deliver the boat to St. Mary's, Georgia.  We were happy to take one last cruise on Slip Away!  We left the Marina at Ortega Landing early on a Saturday morning, and motored down the St. John's River.  Just a few miles before reaching the Atlantic Ocean, we turned off at the junction of Sister's Creek and headed north along the ICW.  The ICW has some very narrow and shallow spots along this route, and in a few places, it was barely deep enough for us to pass through, especially at low tide.  Despite it being a weekend, there wasn't the volume of traffic like south Florida, although at one point we did have to ask a small boat with a couple of fisherman to move out of the center of the channel so we could pass through.  By late afternoon, we dropped our anchor at Cumberland Island - it had been a fairly long day (47 miles, 7 hours). 

We had a peaceful night at anchor, and we spent most of the next day doing a whole lot of nothing.  Later that day, we would be taking Slip Away to an anchorage in front of the boatyard - just 8 miles up the St. Mary's River - but we needed to wait for the afternoon high tide.  It would have been nice to go ashore at Cumberland Island, but the outboard was rinsed and stowed on the rail, and we weren't feeling extremely motivated.  We had worked hard over the past month, and it was nice to sit back and chill out for the day. 

By mid-afternoon, with the tide rising, we headed up the river.  We should have waited another hour to let the tide rise a bit more, but we were feeling restless and eager to get going.  We touched bottom a couple of times, but the river bottom was soft mud, and we were able to carry on.  We were puzzled by the fact that our depth sounder was not reading correctly, and finally realized that we had calibrated it incorrectly when we installed it in South Africa.  Duh!  We fixed that once we were anchored.  We anchored for the night in the St. Mary's River, and the plan was that Slip Away would be hauled out the next morning at high/slack tide.  Our final night at anchor on Slip Away was peaceful and beautiful. 

Mark was at the boatyard early the next day, and by mid-morning, Slip Away was out of the water.  We completed the final paperwork and financial transaction to transfer the ownership of Slip Away to Mark, and that afternoon we helped him get started on the list of chores that needed to be done to leave Slip Away for the next several months.  We worked with Mark that afternoon and for a few hours the next day, and then it was time to leave.  It was quite an emotional moment for us, and tears were flowing freely as we said good-bye to Slip Away


Our last night at anchor on the St. Mary's River
 
Bringing Slip Away into the haul-out bay
 
Slip Away's proud new owner

Jacksonville & Cincinnati (July through December). We spent a couple more weeks at Ron & Kim's in Jacksonville after the sale of Slip Away, and caught up with a few friends who live in the area.   At the end of July, we loaded up our belongings into our Ford Focus and a rented SUV and drove to Cincinnati, which is Jan's hometown. 


Jan with friend Carol Edell.  The two of them worked together
at Club Med and both lived in Southern California for a while. 
Carol is now the General Manager of the
Florida Yacht Club in Jacksonville. 
 
The two of us with Stew & Kathaleen -
Cincinnati friends who now live in Jacksonville.
 
Most of our worldly possessions fit into these two vehicles!


 

When we visited Cincinnati during breaks from Slip Away, we always stayed with Jan's sister Judy and our brother-in-law Fred, who own and live in the Schwab family home.  They had a large ensuite bedroom which was not being used, and a few months earlier we asked them if they would be willing to rent it to us so that we could have an interim home base, and fortunately they agreed to the arrangement.  We painted the room, bought some furniture off Craig's List, and we no longer felt homeless. 


Our new room is bright and sunny and decorated
with colors which remind us of the ocean

 

Rich is really loving his Lazy-Boy chair!
 
A wine and beer bar in a Kroger grocery store -
something new to us, and we liked the concept!

Getting settled and catching up with family and friends kept us busy for the next few months.  Jan's family threw a circumnavigation party for us - another fun celebration!  Jan found a yoga class, and Rich joined the gym.  A teacher at local elementary school asked us to do a presentation on our circumnavigation to her 5th grade Social Studies class, and it was a big hit with the kids, and a lot of fun for us too!  We did a mid-west road trip to visit Rich's hometown of Carbondale, Illinois, as well as friends in St. Louis and son Andrew and granddaughter Peyton in Kansas City.  We also flew out to L.A. to see friends there, and then up to Seattle to see son Erik, daughter-in-law Chrissy and granddaughter Cambra. 


Celebrating our circumnavigation with Jan's family at
their river camp in Kentucky
 
Jan & her sibs - Judy, Jeff & Joyce
 

 

By November, it was too cold for us in Cincinnati, and we headed south.  Having lived mostly in the tropics for the past 16 years, and in Southern California for 14 years before that, we had no desire to spend the winter in Ohio.  We were back in Jacksonville at Christmas, and Slip Away's new owners (Mark, his wife Vicki and their sons Gunner & Egon) had flown in to bring her home in Puerto Rico.  A couple of days after Christmas, we met them at the boatyard in St. Mary's, helped them reinstall the sails, answered some questions and shared a few pointers on Slip Away's operation.  On New Years Day of 2020, Slip Away was launched from the boatyard, and they started their journey home.  Twenty-three days later they pulled into San Juan, Puerto Rico.  We were immensely impressed with their ability to tackle and complete this journey!  It was not an easy trip, and they did not have much experience, but they were enthusiastic, determined but sensible, and they did it!  Slip Away did her job too, looking after her new family and delivering them safely home. 
 

 

   


Slip Away's new family -
Mark, Vicki and their sons Gunner & Egon

What's next?

After delivering Slip Away to Mark in St. Mary's, as we left the boatyard we were reminded of the fish that escaped the aquarium at the end of the Finding Nemo movie, asking "Now what?!"  We still wanted to travel, but the plan was to do so with faster modes of transportation - planes, trains, and automobiles.  We had a long bucket list - Europe, South America, Alaska, and back to New Zealand and Australia.  We spent the winter of 2019-20 visiting friends in Florida and casually searching for a place to settle, although not coming to any conclusions.  We had plans to house-sit for friends in Seattle in June/July 2020 and were making plans to visit Alaska after that.  And then, of course, Covid-19 hit and turned the whole world upside-down.

So we spent the summer of 2020 in Cincinnati.  Jan got involved in a volunteer project sewing facemasks for frontline workers, Rich did some landscaping work for Judy & Fred's home,  and we enjoyed outdoor activities like golf and bike riding.  When we realized that Covid wasn't going away anytime soon, we knew we needed to come up with a plan for winter because winter in Cincinnati was not an option!  We had discussed buying a campervan or RV when we first sold Slip Away and had decided not to do so for a variety of reasons, but circumstances were quite different now.  We looked around, found a 26-foot motorhome that suited us, and bought it.  In November 2020, we headed south and then west.  We visited a few friends and family members along the way, but given the pandemic, we kept those visits to a minimum.  We spent a couple of weeks at Big Bend National Park in south Texas in early December and then headed to Arizona, where we enjoyed a sunny and pleasant winter with great hiking and biking weather.  We like traveling in the RV, and expect we'll continue doing so for a while.  However, unlike Slip Away, the RV is not "home" to us, so our travels in it will be on a part-time basis.  We're still searching for a place we want to call home on a more permanent basis, but for now, our arrangement in Cincinnati is working well. 


Our motorhome, which we named Cool Change,
at Catalina State Park in Tucson
 
Enjoying Tucson's winter weather atop Wasson Peak
in Saguaro National Park

Thank you!

While we are incredibly proud of our accomplishment of sailing Slip Away around the world, our pride also comes with gratitude.  We recognize that not only were we extremely fortunate to even have the opportunity to do something like this, but also we could not have done it without the support from our family and friends.  We aren't mentioning names because the list is long, and we wouldn't want to inadvertently leave someone out, but please know that we very much appreciated every bit of support, assistance or even just interest in what we were doing.  It was an awesome adventure!

"We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time."  -- T.S. Eliot