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,
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
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 1½ 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
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
When on a starboard tack,
we used the lee cloth to keep us secure in the
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
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, 30½ 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, 9½ 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
|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 10½ 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
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
the ICW to Stuart, Florida (17 miles, 3½ 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, 4½ 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
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
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
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
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
|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
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 (47½ 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
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.
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
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,
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
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
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
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
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.