Farewell Voyage

Farewell Voyage

Now that things are settled and official, I can report that we have sold our lovely Green Eyes. I was a bit sad to leave her, but it’s a relief to know that now we can focus on Tipsy Lady and get her ready for next season. Plus, it’s a pretty major item to check off of our summer bucket list!

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We sailed Green Eyes down to Yorktown Friday for the July 4th weekend. The forecast called for storms, but it turned out to be a gorgeous day. It was a lovely sail down… Until we got there.

We had reserved one of several mooring  balls the city has in the York River, just a little ways out from the town dock. We had stayed there previously and it worked out really well. This time, things weren’t so smooth. The wind  and current were pushing us opposite directions so we couldn’t get situated in a good place. We were just getting pushed into the ball. They had replaced the old (plastic?) balls they had before with huge steel ones. It wasn’t pretty. I bent our boat hook in the struggle to keep us off the ball.

The sailboat on the ball next to us had obviously had the same issue. They were tied up alongside their ball, with spring lines from the bow and the stern, and a whole bunch of fenders in the middle to protect the boat. We pulled away from the ball trying to decide what to do. We almost just left to go anchor in Sarah Creek across the river. We decided to go back and mimic what the other boat had done. Once we got her all settled, it actually worked pretty well for the duration of our stay, although it was a little nerve wrecking during the storms that came through over night.

So we had just caught our breath after the stress of tying up to the mooring ball when we got a text from the potential buyer that was meeting us there to look at her. It read, “I’m on the beach, off your bow.” Oh my. We wondered how much of that struggle he had seen! Alan brought him over to check out the boat while the kids and I checked in with the Dockmaster.

The next morning, we made a deal. We’d have the 4th in Yorktown, then sail her a few miles up the river to the buyer’s slip on the 5th.

Independence Day in Yorktown began with a parade.

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We played in the water for a while during the day. The kids’ raft became the “dinghy side car.”

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We were, however, rather disappointed that the evening’s fireworks were cancelled due to storms.

The next day the river was smooth as glass for our last little journey with Green Eyes. We had an almost magical experience as we motored along, though. We saw more dolphins at once than we have ever seen during all our time on the Bay. They were everywhere, some swimming right alongside the boat. Every time one would appear, there would be squeals of delight from the kids. This is just a little snippet of them; I’m terrible at managing to point the camera in the right direction at the right time.

It was one last lovely memory of Green Eyes. We’ll remember her fondly.

There are a few more pictures from the weekend here.

L’Hermione’s Flag

L’Hermione’s Flag

I received an answer from someone with the Hermione Voyage regarding my question about the American flag she is flying.

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Per the response I got, the flag is a 1778-documented hand-stitched flag made by a flag expert named Steven Hill. They also sent this link to the following description of the flag from the Franklin Papers:

It is with Pleasure on this occasion that We acquaint your Excellency, the Flagg of the United States of America, consists of thirteen Stripes, alternately red, white and blue;—a small Square in the upper angle next the Flag Staff is a blue Field, with thirteen white Stars, denoting a new Constellation.

I had previously come across the Serapis (or John Paul Jones) Flag, which was the closest match in terms of image that I was able to find to L’Hermione‘s flag, but the blue stripes are in an irregular pattern that doesn’t correspond. The Serapis Flag was created out of necessity. John Paul Jones took command of the the conquered British HMS Serapis after his own ship was lost in battle.When Jones later arrived in a Dutch port sailing his captured ship, he needed a flag in a hurry, to avoid being treated as a pirate. And so the Serapis Flag was created. The Serapis Flag is thought to have possibly been based on Franklin’s description, although it is curious that he ended up with such a peculiar stripe pattern, which is certainly not indicated in the text.

Although the familiar red and white stripes had been adopted in the 1777 Flag Resolution, Franklin had been in France since a few months prior. Perhaps the final details just hadn’t gotten to him yet?

At any rate, given the variety of flag designs of the time, it’s almost surprising I wasn’t able to find an exact match to L’Hermione‘s flag. There were certainly a few that were quite similar.

I was really hoping the rationale would have a more direct connection to the original Hermione – perhaps evidence that she actually flew under a flag of that particular design. I am still rather glad they chose a more obscure flag, as I learned quite a bit as I tried to find some answers.

Happy belated Flag Day!

Weekend at Godfrey Bay

Weekend at Godfrey Bay

We’re deep in the craziness of All Stars softball, preparing for the regional tournament next week. Those girls have been working super hard though, and the coach kindly rewarded their efforts with the whole weekend off. (Hallelujah!)

We decided we better seize the opportunity and take Green Eyes out. I’ll be honest, it wasn’t all pretty. There were a few complaints. (I hate this boat!) And a few whines (I miss Tipsy Lady!) …and Alan and I were the primary offenders. It’s just true. We found our dream boat, and it’s hard to have to go backwards for a season. 

And there’s Piper. It’s not easy adding a dog to the boat that already seemed to small for the five of us- not to mention her fur, everywhere. 

So we decided to not go far. We motored down to Godfrey Bay, where we knew there was a nice little public beach. It was just about a two and a half hour trip. We got there just at sunset, Saturday evening.

  
Alan decided we better take Piper ashore to go to the bathroom, since I’ve pretty much dropped the ball on teaching her to go on a mat on the boat. He blew up the dinghy, we got all ready to go… And the dinghy motor wouldn’t start. So Alan rowed Savannah and Piper all the way to shore and back, in the dark… And Piper never did go to the bathroom while she was there. Yeah, definitely one of those nights. 

The next morning Alan rowed us all to shore to enjoy the beach before anyone else got there.

 
I gave Piper a nice walk, and the kids had enough beach time to get tired of it. This time Alan just pushed the dinghy most of the way back to the boat, since it was pretty shallow at least halfway back there.

 
 The kids swam along behind us.


Back at the boat, the kids had a grand time swimming. Alan even rigged a rope swing for them, which resulted in many exclamations of, “this is the best day of my life!” Sammy dubbed it the “Pirate Pirate Course.” It turns out there is still much fun to be had, even on the old boat we’ve mostly outgrown.

 

  
 And Piper…. Well,  there is work to be done there, for sure. While we were enjoying the Pirate Pirate Course, she peed on a cushion. Yuck, yuck, yuck! But we’ll get the hang of this dog on the boat thing, because she is a much loved companion, and she mostly seems to enjoy it, too.

   
 

Lafayette’s Hermione

On Sunday we went to Yorktown to see Lafayette’s Hermionethe replica of the ship on which the Marquis de Lafayette traveled from France to New York in 1780, with the message for George Washington that France would be sending troops to aid the colonies in their struggle for independence. This assistance of course became instrumental in Washington’s eventual victory at Yorktown.

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The replica was built in Rouchfort, France. Construction began in 1997, and she was finally launched in 2012. Yorktown was her first stop in America, but it will continue up the East Coast, with several stops on her goodwill tour, including Baltimore, Philadelphia, and New York, among others. She is definitely worth the look if you have the opportunity.

We were very disappointed to find that we missed getting tickets for deck tours. From what we heard, you pretty much had to be in line at dawn to get a ticket. She was still super impressive to see. The schooners Alliance and Serenity were also at the city dock, as well as the replica of the Godspeed, which was visiting from Jamestown Settlement. L’Hermione dwarfed them all.

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While we were there, we visited the Thomas Nelson house again, where we were greeted by a fantastic interpreter who represented a soldier in the Rhode Island Regiment, the only fully integrated regiment in the U.S. Army until the Korean War.

We had a nice picnic lunch at the Victory Monument and were lucky to see The Fifes and Drums of York Town perform twice.

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The historic waterfront area of Yorktown is always fun; it is just a fantastic little town where history truly comes alive all around you. This really was a special trip, though, with L’Hermione in port. She left Sunday evening to continue her tour up the coast.

One thing that really sparked my curiosity was the particular revolutionary flag that L’Hermione is flying.

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Of course the flag of the United States had not yet been standardized, but this is a version I have not seen anywhere else. The thirteen stars are in rows of 4, 5, and 4, and the stripes are red, white, and blue. I’m sure there must be a reason this particular flag was chosen, but I haven’t been able to find it. I’ve sent an email to the contract address on the voyage website, but until I hear back, I’m interested on any thoughts you might have.

The Firehouse Light

The Firehouse Light

I happened to pick up this book at the library the other day, and it caused such excitement in our house that I thought I should share.

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The Firehouse Light begins with a story of a fire in a small town, many years ago. The townspeople must get their hand-pulled hose carts, axes, and buckets to fight the fire out of a dark wooden shed. Then a simple four watt light bulb is donated to illuminate the shed so that they can get their equipment easier.

The years pass, and the little town grows. The little four watt light bulb is moved to a real firehouse and then a newer one. The firefighting service develops over time; volunteers are replaced by professional firefighters. The hand-pulled hose carts are replaced by horse drawn carts, and then trucks that become gradually more modern; the little town becomes a big town, and then a city.

It is reminiscent of The Little House, but the constant in the story is that four watt light bulb. It continues to glow, softly, a sentinel watching over the many firefighters through the years. One hundred years after the bulb was first lit, the city throws a birthday party for it. At that point, I finally began to wonder, oh my goodness, is this a true story!? Of course it is, as you’ve guessed by now. At the end, there is a picture of the real light bulb, at home in it’s firehouse in Livermore, CA, and the address for its own website!

I was reading to the two little ones, but Savannah, from the next room, called out to ask, is it still burning? Sam and Liss could barely contain their excitement as I pulled up the site. Indeed it is, in it’s 114th year of illumination, having burned for nearly 1,000,000 hours (the website says it will be 1,000,000 as of June this year). You can go see it now, on it’s own webcam. It appears the bulb has already outlasted several cameras, and has been recognized by Guinness and Ripley’s as the world’s oldest known working light bulb. There are some theories that may help explain how it has lasted so long, but I’ll let you explore that topic on your own.

 

Spring update

Spring update

Last year, we bought a new boat, and barely used it. The boat was so far away from our home in Pennsylvania, and it was such a busy summer, filled with all the busyness of selling a home and moving. It felt that we hardly got to stretch her legs.

We moved in the fall, and got to experience a taste of what we anticipated life to be this summer. With the boat now a short drive away, we could pack some snacks and blankets and be there quickly for a weekend sail. There are so many great anchorages within a day’s sail. We envisioned a summer of exploring all around our nook of the southern Chesapeake. Even an afternoon’s sail after church on Sunday was suddenly realistic.

We were settled in our new home and we had a boat with more room for everyone, so we got a puppy over the winter. Come spring, the plan was to bring her along and teach her how to be a good cruising pup.

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We had, of course, some maintenance planned while she was on the hard for the winter. We knew there were some issues with oil leaking in the bilge, so Alan wanted to address that – go over the motor, and clean up and paint the bilge. As he got into the project though, he discovered some other serious issues that needed to be addressed while the motor was pulled out. There were a couple rotten bulkheads that need to be replaced, and it sounds as though that project is going to be a huge pain in the tuchus.

The upshot is, sadly, Tipsy Lady is out for the season. She is truly the boat we hope to have for many, many years so we want to take good care of her and really properly address the issues we’ve found.

We did get out a couple weekends ago on Green Eyes. She has been for sale, but really was located in a terrible place to try to sell a sailboat. She finally made it back to Deltaville (still her home port since we never did change her lettering after buying her), and hopefully will sell this season now that she’s in a good sailing area. In the meantime, at least we can get out and sail with her.

The five of us – the kids all a bit bigger than the last time we were on her- plus the puppy… suffice it to say, it’s definitely a smaller boat. We only went out overnight, but I don’t think we could survive a 3 week trip on her anymore. At least not after the taste of the comparative luxury of Tipsy Lady.

Ah, but it was a beautiful little sail. We weren’t sure if we were going to go out at all. Savannah had a 3:00 softball game, so we figured by the time they finished and we got packed, it would just be too late. But there was a nice breeze and it just felt right, so we rushed home, threw some bottled water and granola bars in a bag, picked up a takeout pizza, and headed for the marina. We were out by 7:30, sailing toward the sunset at a brisk 5-6 knots.

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There was some real sadness as we had to let go of the summer we envisioned, but things never are quite as you envision them. Now we look forward to some sails on Green Eyes until we find a buyer for her, some sails on our little G-cat, and really making the most of all that this area has to offer.

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