Tuesday, October 20, 2020

One Cruise Ends, Another Begins

Yesterday around 11 am, we passed through Plumb Gut and by Orient Point Light, crossing our wake from the start of our cruise on July 14. We crossed from the end of the north fork to the end of the south fork of Long Island to anchor in Lake Montauk after topping up the tanks and filling jugs with diesel.

Yesterday marked the end of Intermezzo's Maine Cruise. We sailed almost a thousand miles there and back. It was a most enjoyable and memorable cruise with lovely anchorages, small towns to explore, foraging for shellfish and buying many cheap delicious lobsters. Nothing major broke, nobody got hurt, we had no major mishaps and we got some major repair work completed. COVID required us to take precautions, limited dining and access to museums and other indoor attractions, but didn't have a major impact on our trip. In fact, I found being on a sailboat and visiting mostly small towns and remote anchorages is a good way to spend a pandemic.

Tomorrow we start a new cruise to Hilton Head, South Carolina. We leave tomorrow on our only "outside" ocean passage to Norfolk, Virginia. After Norfolk, we will be traveling on the "inside", following the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW). Along the way, we will stop at some of our favorite places we visited on the trip north last summer- Manteo, Ocracoke, Oriental, New Bern, Cape Beaufort NC and Charleston. Between Beaufort and Charleston and from there to Hilton Head will be new territory for us, as we sailed on the outside last time.

On the eve ending one journey and beginning a new one, I'm reflecting on the five years of sailing that got me and Intermezzo here.  Here's a recap of the major legs of the voyage so far:

Voyage, Interrupted

The voyage began on October 5, 2015 when Intermezzo departed from the turning basin in Petaluma, CA. Renee and I sailed down the coast of California, learning quickly how to sail Intermezzo on the ocean and getting initiated into life on the sea.  We enjoyed being part of the 2015 Baja Ha-Ha fleet and the company of a third crew member, Jeanne and yumming up her delicious chicken and rice.

We cruised and fell in love with the Sea of Cortez until December, when we crossed over to mainland Mexico and headed south. Renee flew back to the US to welcome her granddaughter Maddie into the world while I spent Christmas on my own in Puerto Vallarta. I had company after the New Year when my ex-partner Carol, my daughter Hannah and her friends Maddie and Jaqueline came to visit and do some sailing.

Renee re-joined Intermezzo in mid-January and we continued our journey south, accompanied by friends Marc and Marci as far as Manzanillo. We enjoyed a couple road trips inland along the way.

We left Mexican waters on March 15, 2016 and headed to Bahia del Sol, El Salvador. It was here that Renee learned that her mom had fallen and headed home to be with her. At the time, we didn't know how serious the situation was, but it turned out that she had suffered a stroke and Renee's support would be needed for quite a while. Our planned voyage to New York was interrupted.

I sailed the boat single-handing to Nicaragua and enjoyed an extended road trip around the country.  My daughter Hannah joined me for the sail to Costa Rica, where I left Intermezzo for the summer and returned to the US. I didn't know where I would be heading in the fall.

Panama, Then Back to Mexico

Renee was able to return to Intermezzo in September 2016 and we enjoyed sailing down to and exploring Panama, including navigating a jungle river to Pedregal and some lovely isolated offshore islands. Then we turned around and headed back to Mexico, stopping in Costa Rica for fuel and nearly not getting out. We arrived in Puerto Chiapas on November 19 2016, where we left Intermezzo on the hard for three months.

La Paz and the Sea of Cortez

Renee and I set sail from Puerto Chiapas on March 5 2017 north to the Sea of Cortez. We sailed the Sea or Cortez until May, roughly following the route of John Steinbeck's Western Flyer, chronicled in his book Log From the Sea of Cortez and getting as far north as Bahia Los Angeles ("L.A. Bay"). My son Luther joined us in Santa Rosalia towards the end of the cruise. I went from being in love with the Sea of Cortez to seeking a long term relationship. We hauled out Intermezzo in Puerto Escondido on May 17 2017 for the hurricane season.

Deciding to Resume The Voyage

I returned to Puerto Escondido and Renee and I launched Intermezzo on November 15 2017, getting there by sailing on Mystique in the 2017 Baja Ha-Ha rally from San Diego. We sailed together until December, flew home for the holidays and then again for part of January 2018. Then I was on my own, during which time I contemplated my future with Intermezzo. I considered keeping the boat in La Paz, sailing north and selling the boat in California or resuming The Voyage. After a few pleasant months of living on the boat in La Paz, I decided to resume The Voyage. I hauled out in June 2018 in La Paz for the hurricane season and launched again in November, joined by a new crew member, Roy, who would prove to be one of Intermezzo's finest.

The Voyage

Roy and I departed La Paz to begin The Voyage again with a third crew member, Pete, on January 8 2019. I planned on completing The Voyage in six legs with breaks to fly home and crew changes along the way.

Pete sailed with us on Leg 1 to Ixtapa, a pleasant trip with lots of sailing and not many stops.

Roy and I left Ixtapa on March 5 2019 and continued to Puerto Chiapas on Leg 2, with a long wait in Huatulco for a weather window to cross the Golfo de Tehuantepec.

John and Kim joined us in Puerto Chiapas on April 1 2019  to sail Leg 3, to and through the Panama Canal with only a couple short stops along the way. We battled some pretty ugly weather getting to the canal entrance, but the passage through the canal was pretty easy.

Josh joined Roy and I for Leg 4 to Isla Mujeres via Providencia and Grand Cayman, departing on May 10 2019. It was a sad day for me and Intermezzo when Roy announced that he had "a job offer so good, he couldn't refuse", and left the boat.

Christine from La Paz, her friend Lisa and a long-distance cyclist, Forrest, served as crew on Leg 5 to Florida. We were welcomed to the US in Dry Tortugas with a ticked from the National Park Service for not following the rules.

Lisa served as crew for Leg 6 as far as New Bern, joined by Katherine from Port Canaveral to Charleston and Amy from Charleston to Beaufort NC along the way. And then Renee was back on board to finish up The Voyage in Mattituck, Long Island NY on August 16 2019

And Now What?

I'll leave Intermezzo in Hilton Head for the holidays and Lisa will go back to her land life after spending four months on the water. When I return at the beginning of the New Year, I'll sail down to Florida and The Bahamas. Then, if the COVID situation is okay in Mexico, in March I'll load Intermezzo onto a ship to bring the boat back to La Paz, which will be our home port for some time. A long loop will have been closed. What an amazing trip it's been and there is still more to go.

Lake Montauk on a foggy evening


Montauk Lighthouse