At 4:30 AM, my alarm sounded. It did not wake me to begin my family sailing trip. It went off so that I could begin my trip from Texas to Virginia. I attended the 2018 Cooperative Baptist Fellowship General Assembly in Dallas. It was very good. But, my return travel date coincided with the first day of my family vacation.
My traveling companion and fellow minister Will Brown and I rode took a flight to Charlottesville, connecting through Atlanta. Each flight was uneventful—as is ideal. When we reached Charlottesville, my vacation began!
Melanie, Dean, and Eddy picked me up from the Charlottesville airport in the early afternoon, and our fraternity of four was off! We drove to Deltaville. Our boat is a 1985 Beneteau First 29. It is 29.67’ long and 9.75’ wide. It has two cabins, a v-berth forward where one of my sons sleeps. The other is an aft-cabin with a large berth for Melanie and me. My other son sleeps in the main saloon where there are two settees, a small galley, and a navigation table. There is also a small head. We named the boat Life on Mars and it is configured as a masthead sloop. There is a mainsail and genoa. In light wind, we fly an asymmetrical spinnaker.
Boats like to sail. They do not like to be left alone at the dock or in dry storage. Using them means they are ready to be used. Over the last four years, we have undertaken project after project to repair or improve the boat. Throughout it all, we sailed the boat. That informed each project or improvement. For example, when we considered where to put a cup holder, we knew from experience where we wanted one.
After moving to Charlottesville in 2017, we left Life on Mars in dry storage while we acclimated to our new life. In early 2018, we began getting the boat ready for the next sailing season. We attacked any deferred maintenance (fuel and oil filters, bottom paint, new zinc, and more). We repaired a de-zincified stern tube. Melanie installed a new headliner. She also recovered the cushions in the cabin. We put in a new chartplotter and two sets of rope clutches and deck organizers.
In May, the boat seemed ready! One Friday, I tested its readiness by showing up, shoving off, and sailing to Tangier Island. Everything worked! The boat was amazing. So, when June 16 arrived and my family picked me up from the airport, we slipped our dock lines within an hour of reaching the boat.
The sun set today at 8:30 PM, so we planned a conservative first day’s run. We left Deltaville and have the intention of circumnavigating the Delmarva Peninsula. Even though it would be great to complete the circumnavigation, we are prepared to enjoy wherever the winds take us this week. We could encounter weather or mechanical delays. If so, we are fine. We are here for the adventure.
We left Deltaville and sailed out the mouth of the Rappahannock River. We turned northward in 18 knots of SSE wind. Under mainsail alone, we made over 6 knots as we rounded Windmill Point. We knew sunset was approaching, so we turned slightly westward and headed to Indian Creek. Eight years ago, we kept the Tortoise Revenge, a boat we lived on in Puerto Rico, at Dick O’Neil’s house on Bells Creek, off Indian Creek. When we first moved to Kilmarnock, we sailed often from Dick’s house. When Dean started sailing an opti, we taught him to sail on Bells Creek. He would sail out to the red number “6” marker on Indian Creek. Later, we had a Flying Scot and sailed it regularly in these waters.
Tonight, Life on Mars rides gently at her anchor in Bells Creek. She is protected from the SSE breeze. Melanie made a wonderful salad for dinner. We have our supplies stowed. And, we are ready for what the week holds. Life is an adventure. Each day is a gift.