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!

Independence, Huzzah!

Independence, Huzzah!

We had fantastic plans to spend Independence Day weekend in Yorktown. Yorktown, for you non-history nerds and other strange people, was the site of the last major battle of the Revolutionary War and the surrender of Cornwallis to George Washington. Are you getting excited with me yet? Celebrating independence at the very site of victory, Huzzah!

We’d sail down Thursday night and grab a mooring ball, which we had reserved several weeks in advance. There would be a parade in the morning, beach time, and walking around the lovely historic town. After grilling kabobs, we would eat dessert and drink wine as we watched fireworks from the aft deck. Fourth of July perfection, right?

Then this guy came along.arthur

The outskirts of the storm that became Hurricane Arthur was supposed to be reaching the lower Bay just about the time we were hoping to leave Thursday night. We had to decide what to do, and since we had the kids with us, we decided to hunker down in the marina until it passed. In retrospect we probably would have been alright if we’d left when we originally planned, but by the time we realized that, it was too late to change our decision.

Our good friends Matt and Sarah and their son Dallas joined us, and we had a relaxed Independence Day at the marina, playing and swimming. Late afternoon we all drove to Yorktown, where we parked in a field with the rest of the crowd, and trudged to the waterfront with our cooler and chairs to wait for fireworks. We thought longingly of our vision of grilling on the deck as we waited in long lines for food and envisioned our relative solitude on the boat as we waited in more long lines to use port-a-potties. Ick.

The company was lovely though, and the kids got to play on the beach and had lots of fun helping to corral the very inquisitive Dallas.

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And there was a nice fireworks show.

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It really was a very nice holiday. It just wasn’t what we had envisioned.That, however, more or less came the next day.

On Saturday, Matt and Sarah headed home, but we sailed/ motor-sailed up to Reedville, a historic town known for its menhaden fishing industry. We had heard they were having fireworks that night. It was a beautiful day and a nice little trip up there.

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We passed the historic smokestack and arrived during their Independence Day parade. We caught glimpses of fire trucks between the houses, and could hear their horns and sirens. After finding a spot to anchor on Cockrell Creek, we took the dinghy into town. It is really a lovely town. Every house was festive, with flags and banners displayed for the Fourth.

We had read in online reviews that there was a nice place to get ice cream. Some kind local folks were more than happy to give us directions there and wish us a pleasant stay. We located the ice cream shop, Chitterchats, and decided to come back after dinner. We rode back to the boat and grilled those kabobs we’d been wishing for the previous night, then returned for ice cream. The line was long, but the ice cream was delicious.

After dark were more fireworks. It was so much more pleasant to watch, knowing my bed was right there below waiting for me when they were over. The town put on a very nice fireworks show, which was followed by some pretty impressive private fireworks from the opposite side of the creek.

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The weekend went so quickly. After sailing back and cleaning and packing Sunday, we had to begin the long drive home. Alan went right to DC as he had to work the next day, so the kids and I made the trip back to PA without him. It’s always a long drive, but this time it was especially painful, due to an earlier accident on the Potomac River Bridge, which added about 2 slow, painful hours to my trip. I will be ever so grateful when our trips to the boat are no longer bookended by that drive.

Sail to the Historic Triangle

Sail to the Historic Triangle

Our longest and farthest trip yet is finished and I am declaring it a success. Since there did not appear to be any good options for anchorage in the James River, we sailed down to the York River and used Yorktown as a base to see all of Virginia’s “Historic Triangle”: Yorktown, Jamestown, and Williamsburg. Our weather was beautiful. We had a few brief storms, but only one rain day in two weeks. We saw one shark, a bunch of dolphins, lots of stingrays, herons, pelicans, and ospreys, and oddly enough, a ridiculous number of dragonflies.

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IMG_5348IMG_5313Our first two nights at Yorktown we anchored across the River in Sarah Creek. We celebrated Alan’s birthday with a made-aboard-from-scratch cake. My super secret keepers helped keep it a surprise by assuring him multiple times that we were definitely not having dessert that night, especially not cake! He was totally shocked.

IMG_5052The next day we made our first foray into Yorktown. The river was too rough to dinghy across, so we took a taxi across the bridge. We thought we were going to the Yorktown Victory Center, a living history museum of the Revolutionary War that is run by the Commonwealth of Virginia. Instead, the driver took us to the Yorktown Battlefield, run by the National Park Service. I felt a little cheated. There’s not much there besides a very small museum and a bunch of cannons. There is a self-guided driving tour that might be good, but it wasn’t any good to us. The kids liked the cannons, though.

IMG_5057One of the greatest things about Yorktown, though, is the free trolley that runs through the town, as well as the free buses that run to Williamsburg and Jamestown. After exploring the battlefield a bit, we jumped on the trolley and visited the Yorktown Victory Monument, and the home of Thomas Nelson, a signer of the Declaration.

IMG_5065We couldn’t have anchored on the Yorktown side of the river because of the wicked currents, but the county has some mooring balls right by the riverfront for a very reasonable rate, so we decided to grab one the next day and stay while we went to Jamestown. We so enjoyed everything the area had to offer, we stayed for three days. In Yorktown, we enjoyed the beaches, the Watermen’s Museum, and the Yorktown Victory Center was great when we finally got there.

IMG_5126Jamestown was awesome. We did both Historic Jamestowne (the actual site) and Jamestown Settlement (a living history museum) in the same day, but to do them justice, in the future I would plan a full day at each. At Historic Jamestowne, they had uncovered a skeleton of a horse about a week before we were there. I couldn’t convince Sammy it wasn’t a dinosaur.

IMG_5081Historic Jamestowne was even better than I remembered and gave me goosebumps, but the kids loved Jamestown Settlement more.

IMG_5098We’d been planning to leave Friday morning, but we decided to stay one last day to make it to the Carrot Tree Restaurant’s all-you-can-eat crab night at the Watermen’s Museum. Unfortunately, that week’s event was canceled due to forecast thunderstorms that never came. (Boo.) We decided to go to Williamsburg for our last day. We went and walked around a bit and had lunch there. We weren’t able to stay for long though, after getting a late start because we wanted to get the head pumped out first and the dock didn’t open until 10. We’ll definitely have to go back to the area another time when we can spend more time at both Jamestown and Williamsburg.

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