The First Month: Yes, This IS Our First Boat Rodeo
Sailing Vessel Banksy The First Month: Yes, This IS Our First Boat Rodeo
Moving In and Moving On
We bought Sailing Vessel Banksy in Annapolis, MD on October 21, 2021, and that same day moved in a small uHaul worth of stuff. Finding homes for all our things--especially kitchen items for people who love to cook--in a boat designed more for feeling roomy than for storage was/is a challenge.
Our 3rd cabin, aka “the gear room” has been piled high with boxes and deck cushions since we moved in! Sheesh. We thought we had downsized enough, but… not quite so much. After moving in we stayed in Annapolis approximately six days. During that time our friend Jen was the first friend to come visit and see the boat and we took her out for our first night time dinghy excursion and dinghy-to-dinner event to celebrate her birthday. Yay! We loved that we could dinghy to so many places in downtown Annapolis, and across a very short waterway to Davis' Pub.
The previous owner + Matt at Annapolis Yacht Sales were super helpful and friendly, getting a few remaining repair items finished up. Annapolis was in general a friendly place, with wonderful locals and liveaboards. The Annapolis Landing Marina was nice and clean, had good wifi, clean laundry areas and machines, and easy parking in a nice, quiet spot. I’m mentioning and appreciating these amenities as we would soon learn how lucky we were to have all of these things in one lovely place and package. Wish we had a good picture of this marina, but we don't. Apparently we were too busy moving in and getting organized and ready for...
Spending a couple of days with Lisa and Andy from Kinetic Sailing getting a skills assessment (essentially Ryan) and refresher (essentially me). We highly recommend these two amazing humans. We sailed with Lisa from Annapolis to Solomons, MD--a nice downwinder--about 50nm.
This was my first time on a sailing catamaran since 2017, and Ryan’s first time since 2019. We’ve mostly just been sailing our little dinghy around Colorado lakes. I took some Bonine, but I still felt nauseous when trying to look at charts or anything that required looking down or with intensity… and zombie-like when trying to do anything that required brain. That’s pretty much been par for the course for me whenever sailing this whole month, unfortunately.
Solomons was our first stop on the general plan to hop Banksy south-ish down the coast towards warmth, white sand beaches, and clear water. We spent the next week docked at Solomons Safe Harbor Zanheisers. This, too, was a lovely marina with super friendly people, super helpful & expert techs, and very clean and nice all around. The techs helped us replace a couple of stinky head hoses and joker valves (ewh) and that made life onboard much nicer. Wish we had done that before we moved onboard. Thank you, Zanheisers' tech, team. For those of you not used to boat life, all your living systems are onboard with you: All your electricity and all your clean water, grey water, and black water. Yep. Lots of regular maintenance...
While in Solomons, we were lucky to be invited to a weather and passage planning seminar Lisa was doing for a local sailing rally headed to the Virgin Islands. Even with prior classes and time spent sailing in a couple of spots around the world, I don’t think I realized how much time we would spend examining weather forecast models of various flavors, weather systems, wind speed and direction, swell directions, wave height and period, currents and tides. Assuming we are somewhere with decent wifi (later marinas would only claim to have wifi), I’ll sit in on Lisa’s marine weather class next year to improve our chances of staying safe--and less-nauseous. :)
Note: We did get stuck in our boat on the non-floating docks at Zanheisers a bit, but to be fair it was a flood tide during a noreaster… not something that often happens.
During the week in Solomons we welcomed friends we’ve previously trusted our fun and lives to (sailing and climbing) onto the boat to stay and sail with us: Livia and Carol. We were super lucky to have these amazing humans—experienced sailors and wonderful friends—with us to share the next few weeks of shakedown cruising. They helped us sail from Solomons, MD all the way to Charleston, SC. Thank you, amazing friends.
Our First Boat Rodeo
Together, Ryan, Livia, Carol and I sailed from Solomons to Smith Creek, MD, where we had our first overnight anchorage with SV Banksy! After some warm shorts and flip-flop days in Annapolis and Solomons, the weather really was shifting to the (much) colder side of fall. The sailing was lovely, but it was in layers that included down jackets and winter hats and gloves! I knew when we bought a boat in Annapolis that it would take us awhile to hop down the coast to get to warm weather and beaches, but I didn’t really picture sailing in long johns, layers and down jackets?!
Next stops were Dividing Creek/Prentice Creek in VA (one night anchoring), and then to Cape Charles Yacht Center (docking) to wait for a weather window to go down around Cape Hatteras.
The trip to Cape Charles from Dividing Creek was nothing less than a freaking boat rodeo. We saw the weather calling for NE 20-25kts quickly falling to 15-20 after 10am and then 10-15 in the late afternoon...all fine. But we didn’t account for the flood current coming back into the Chesapeake against the strong northern winds. There were some 10ft and bigger waves, and we surfed them with the horizon sometimes not in sight. And we were going fast: 8kts is a great speed for SV Banksy, and our speed that day was much faster, topping out at 13kts. Eeeek.
And I was SO seasick. I was a full Bonine zombie and just tried to stay out of the way. I spent moment to moment and all my energy looking at the horizon and trying to keep from hurling. Bleh. Thanks rockstar team of Ryan, Livia, and Carol for getting us into Cape Charles safely... in time for everything to look MUCH too calm.
With guidance from Livia and Carol and suggestions from Lisa’s session, we waded through data from Windy, LuckGrib, Navionics, and various NOAA portals to decide when to leave Cape Charles to round Cape Hatteras, the "Graveyard of the Atlantic". We met another wonderful cruising team on a nearby Lagoon 42—Jenn and Jeff on Sonder—who also shared their plans about timing to round Hatteras. Jenn and Jeff have been wonderful about reaching out and sharing tips and lessons learned all around. So nice to start out with friendly help!
Overall, the dock/marina in Cape Charles was nice and had a good restaurant attached to it—“The Shanty”. Mmmmmm. Lovely homemade clam chowder with NO parsley. The marina team was friendly and helpful. The wifi worked. The restrooms were pretty clean. The laundry was small and far away. The showers didn't seem to get cleaned anywhere that the water didn't hit. It was a step down from Annapolis and Solomons, but still a clear step up from later spots.
The hop from Cape Charles to Beaufort, NC was… uneventful. YAY! Especially compared to our boat rodeo trip to Cape Charles. Smooth seas and low wind…lots of motoring.
The trip around Hatteras was notable, though, as the first overnight passage that Ryan and I had ever done: Two overnights, in this case. Livia and Carol took turns pairing with us on our watches (four hours on, four hours off), sharing what they had learned sailing around Victoria, CA, down along the west coast to Mexico, across to French Polynesia and more.
Beaufort, NC was a cute little tourist town with a handful of lovely restaurants, shops, breweries, and walks. It’s near islands with wild horses and Rachel Carson Estuarine Reserve. We should have bought a paddleboard and explored more, but we enjoyed the sunshine and flowers and walking, the farmers market and french bakery, and the warm flip-flop weather. We met another cruising couple that Laura introduced us to (on Paradise) and meet up briefly with one of my old co-workers, Brian, and his kiddo–plotting to be cruisers, again. The world is big and wonderful and small and connected.
Beaufort Town Docks had friendly dockhands, a beautiful boardwalk with lovely flowers, super-cool diesel at your slip delivery, and a very cute roaming dock dog. The wifi didn’t work at all. The entrance to the marina showers/restrooms was in sort of a weird small alley between buildings, and had broken glass in front of the door for two days. The bathrooms were dirty, the showers were dirty, and women’s bathroom had no hand soap the whole time we were there. Ewww. (Bring your own hand soap!?! I did.) All this description is really just to remind me that marinas vary a lot in quality. I've somehow come to appreciate the shower trucks on the Bicycle Tour of Colorado. Small as they were, they were so clean, and being cleaned all the time...
Overall, Beauford, NC was really a nice stop. And we got to connect again with Jenn and Jeff from Sonder and have dinner all together, which was lovely.
Ryan, Livia, Carol and I headed out on another two-day passage from Beaufort, NC to Charleston, SC Nov 14-16. This time we got more sailing in. While the motion of sailing makes me nauseous—and this trip actually sick—I enjoyed the watches. I love the quiet that comes when we've caught the wind and get to turn the engines off, moving towards our destination on wind power. On this trip we were also rewarded with an amazing dolphin group playing off SV Banksy’s bow.
We said “see you soon” to Livia and Carol after a couple of days in Charleston. To quote Livia, it says so much about our friendship that we could all be together, on a shakedown cruise, and all want to have had more time together at the end. Thanks again, amazing humans. We love and appreciate you. Until the next trip!
In the first month of owning SV Banksy, Ryan and I moved in and sailed south about 750 nautical miles. I'm not sure we would recommend doing so much moving while getting acquainted with your boat and getting things set up the way you want them, but it's a good adventure so far! And we are eager to get to warmer climes...
Banksy the Dog: The First Month
Banksy the puppy came home in my arms at three months old and almost 30 pounds. The vet said it was fine to take a three month old puppy backpacking as long as we stopped whenever he got tired, so off we went on one of our favorite hikes to Brown’s Lake. Banksy definitely got tired on the way back, and needed a long break. Ryan ended up going to the car, emptying his backpack... and carrying Banksy the last mile or so back to the car in his backpack.
SV Banksy: Saying Goodbye to Banksy’s Car
We said “goodbye for now” to our car in Solomons, leaving it with Ryan’s niece, Jordan. It’s weird not having a car when you’ve loved adventuring in one for the past few decades. And this car was the vehicle that Banksy loved. The one he snuggled between me and Ryan on every adventure and cancer treatment trip for the past few years. It wrecked me to say goodbye to Banksy the dog, and to Banksy's car. Thanks for keeping it for us for now, Jordan.