Winter arrived abruptly on November 18th in Pittsburgh. Just a few weeks ago, sunshine and the colors of autumn graced our part of the world. Today, a blast of arctic air descended from Canada, sending the thermometer plunging into the single digits and forcing us indoors. Adding insult to injury, winds from the NW have been howling at 15 to 20 MPH. Only a handful of stubborn oak leaves remain attached to otherwise bare branches. There is a light dusting of snow on the grassy areas. For days on end, the sky has remained an ominous battleship gray. These changes signal that the time has come to return to Cutter Loose.
It has been another quiet, hurricane-free season in the Windward Islands. For that, we are profoundly grateful. During the past seven months, Cutter Loose has remained at rest in the boatyard at Grenada Marine. Storing a boat anywhere in the Caribbean Basin during hurricane season is risky business…a decision that we do not take lightly.
As usual, it has been a delight to be living in the land of plenty during the idyllic weather of summer and fall. Arriving home after a season of cruising in third world countries is a stark reminder of the abundance and conveniences that we take for granted in the United States. The sheer joy of being reunited with family and friends and enjoying the comforts of home is one of the indirect rewards of cruising.
Highlights of the summer/fall of 2014:
- bi-weekly “summer camp” regimen of tennis and golf
- more than 1000 miles of exploration via bicycle, including a six day, 360 mile self-supported ride from Mt. Vernon, VA to Pittsburgh via the C&O Canal Towpath trail and the Great Allegheny Passage rail trail
- Addleman (Eric’s sister) family reunion in Sandusky, OH
- a two week automobile tour of Idaho, Montana and Eastern Washington, including a visit in Sandpoint, ID with Colorado friends Barbara and Darwin
- bicycling with Caribbean 1500 friends Neil and Shaun of s/v Escapade and visiting at their home in Fredericksburg, VA and their summer compound on the Potomac River
- a small gathering of fraternity brothers (Mark, Tom and Dave) and their spouses at our home
- an autumn automobile excursion to New England, including a visit to the FDR Museum, Library and family home in Hyde Park, NY
- bicycling through the Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania on the Pine Creek Gorge rail trail
- an excellent season of Major League Baseball in Pittsburgh courtesy of the Pittsburgh Pirates, advancing to the playoffs as a wild card entry
Now that summer has faded to a fond memory, a change of venue beckons. The tide has turned, urging an escape from cold temperatures and gray skies to the sun and warmth of the tropics. Cheerfully abandoned will be the confines of calendars, appointments and 24-7 connectivity with all of its inherent sound bites, political bickering and constant reminders of hate, indifference and instability in the world. Ahead lies a less complicated and more peaceful lifestyle…one lived in closer harmony with nature where sunsets and the sound of wind filling the sails become a daily source of entertainment and inspiration.
In this, our third season in the Windward and Leeward Islands, we will complete the loop of our Eastern Caribbean cruise by sailing Cutter Loose from the island nation of Grenada to Annapolis, MD with frequent pauses for rest and relaxation along the way.
Our course will take us north from Grenada through the Windward and Leeward Islands, then west to the US and British Virgin Islands before visiting the Spanish Virgins in Puerto Rico. From the west coast of Puerto Rico, we will cross the Mona Passage to the Dominican Republic, then steer northwest to the Turks and Caicos before arriving at the tiny island of Mayaguana, our port of entry to the Bahamas. We plan to spend time in the deserted “Out Islands” of the Bahamas before sailing on to the Exuma chain, Eleuthera and the Abacos. From the northern Abacos, we’ll ride the favorable current of the Gulf Stream to Charleston, SC or Beaufort, NC, then follow the Atlantic Intra Coastal Waterway to the Chesapeake Bay.
As the crow flies, the distance from Grenada to Annapolis is about 1900 NM. However, the frequent zigs and zags of cruising will add significant mileage to our journey. We plan to arrive in Annapolis by Memorial Day.
Why abandon the delightful trade-wind sailing in the Windward and Leeward islands? Our return to the Chesapeake Bay for the summer of 2015 will significantly reduce the threat of hurricanes. After three quiet hurricane seasons in the Caribbean, we do not wish to tempt fate. Annapolis is closer to home, which will enable us to devote attention to deferred boat projects where parts and supplies are abundant and relatively inexpensive. From here, we will provision and launch a new winter cruise in the autumn of 2015.
We invite you to follow our journey by visiting this blog at your convenience. If you wish, you may click the “subscribe” button on the Cutter Loose website and enter your e mail address. You will receive a notification via e mail each time a new post is available for viewing.
During our time away, news from home is a precious commodity. E mail from friends and family is the highlight of our day. Please stay in touch. We look forward to hearing from you.