Those of you who have followed this blog from its beginning know that one of its themes is perspective. How it’s influenced, what it takes to change it and so on. For the past few months, basically since my last post, we’ve spent much of our time reflecting on that. And I put the blog on hold. The turn north at Key West turned out to be a major milestone because it represented the last direction our trip would take … north … toward home and the closure of our Loop. Then what?
Of course, we continued to cruise the ICW and have added to our experiences. I’ll touch on some of those in future posts. But while doing so, we made some decisions that affected how we’ve done this part of our trip.
The biggest decision we made is that we’re going to sell our home in Vermont and continue living as nomads for a time, while we are young enough and healthy enough to do so. Though our home has provided the treasured roots for our family, the kids are grown and establishing homes of their own. And the Captain and I have learned to live with fewer material needs and with more spontaneity. The house, with all of its associated costs and our tendency to nestle in there, has become contrary to that lifestyle. With heavy hearts balanced by our excitement over an untethered future, we decided to return home to prepare it for sale.
We were also watching the rainy weather in the north and high water levels that we correctly predicted would delay the opening of the Champlain Canal. Knowing it would be difficult and probably very expensive to get back to Vermont to time the housing sale season properly, we started looking for a long-term slip farther south.
What all this means is that we completed our Loop on April 28, 2019 at 1525 hours, when we officially crossed our wake in Virginia Beach, VA.
Wait, what? Why Virginia?
Well, many of you know we bought Stout on the West Coast and brought her to Vermont using a yacht transport service through the Panama Canal and relying on delivery captains on either end of the canal. The East Coast captain got her as far as Virginia Beach before weather and his own schedule impeded his ability to get her farther north. So on May 20, 2016, we took the helm for the first time at Long Bay Pointe Marina in Virginia Beach. We took two weeks off from work, flew to Virginia, moved aboard and with no prior experience with this complex vessel cruised her from Virginia Beach to Rouses Point, NY. That trip is the subject of its own future post, but I’ll share now a video from that first morning 3 years ago going under the same bridge from the opposite direction (which was under construction at the time).
In total our Great Loop consisted of 11 cruising months, 5,980 miles, 150 locks (give or take) and too many marinas, anchorages, bridges, crab pots, dolphins, herons, oysters, happy hours, laundromats, rented cars, friendly strangers, new friends and sunsets to count. It is, indeed, the journey of a lifetime, and we feel truly blessed to have had this experience.
So, what have we been doing since then …? And what now?
Well, here’s the short version. In early May of this year, we moved the boat from Virginia Beach to Cape Charles, leased a slip for 3 months, prepared Stout for short-term, in-water storage and caught a ride home with a family member and a plan to process the house for sale as quickly as possible.
We’d already done most of our grieving over the sale of the family home, and it was time to get busy. During the 2 months we were home we sorted through 35+ years of “stuff” and handed down, sold, donated or tossed mountains of items we no longer need. Did we ever need them…?
We also had a large garage sale where our most significant sale seemed to be the house itself. On the first morning of the 2-day sale we were approached by a family who for several years have been looking for their dream home in South Hero. The house is now under contract. The possessions we chose to keep will be stored after the closing.
With that done we returned to Cape Charles and started making our way north to our next long-term stop in Casco Bay, Maine. We will be spending future summers at the family cottage on Birch Island and will stay there after our home is sold until we start our trip south in the fall.
We are not “cruising” on this segment of our journey, planning reasonable travel days and taking time to explore the stops along the way. Rather, we are “passaging;” going as far as we can as fast as we can, taking into account wind and weather as always. It has made for some long days during the recent extreme heat wave. And this transitional time has had its frustrations. But we are making progress toward our goal.
So, our perspective on the next few years has changed dramatically since we started our Loop a year ago. We will continue to travel by water for a time, challenging ourselves in the process, living in the moment and living with less. We will find new ways to keep the homefires burning using the logistical skills and maneuverability we’ve developed on this trip. And we’ll continue to appreciate the beauty and diversity all around us and be grateful for the opportunity to do so. A passage from a novel I’m currently reading sums it up rather nicely:
I hope to be blogging more regularly as we move out of this transitional period. There’s lots to catch up on from the last part of our Loop and more to add as we continue our travels.