September 10, 2020

A cruising wrap up and goodbye to Borealis

We arrived back to our home port of Annapolis, Maryland on June 28, 2020 after nearly two years of sailing the Caribbean islands. What a feeling it was to sail into once familiar sailing grounds, but with so many more miles and stories under Borealis' keel! It started as a far-off dream in the fall of 2017, we sailed off far sooner than expected in late 2018, and here we were in 2020, feeling incredibly lucky to have had adventures for a lifetime and a treasure trove of new friends and memories. 

We were elated to be back "home" with Borealis, as we'd been sailing nearly nonstop since leaving the U.S. Virgin Islands in mid-May to escape the hurricane zone (after more than 6 weeks stuck in quarantine in St. Martin at the start of the Coronavirus pandemic). In the previous 40 days, we'd covered some 2,000 nautical miles and spent 16 overnights out at sea — and we were mentally and physically tired! 

Our 6,500 mile trek from Maryland through the Eastern Caribbean to Grenada and back

A recap of our 2 years sailing

Start date: October 25, 2018
End date: June 28, 2020

Total days: 612

Total nautical miles traveled: 6,500 
(or 7,480 land miles — that's like driving 2x coast-to-coast across America at 6 mph!)

Night spent at anchor/mooring: 576
Nights spent at sea (overnight sails): 27
Nights spent at a marina/dock: 7

Countries/Island Territories visited: 18
  • Bahamas (Abacos, Eleuthera and Exuma island chains)
  • Turks & Caicos
  • Dominican Republic
  • Puerto Rico and the Spanish Virgin Islands
  • U.S. Virgin Islands
  • British Virgin Islands
  • St Maarten/St Martin
  • St. Barts
  • Antigua
  • Barbuda
  • St Kitts & Nevis
  • Montserrat
  • Guadeloupe
  • Dominica
  • Martinique
  • St Lucia
  • St. Vincent and the Grenadines
  • Grenada
Fun fact: Barbados and Anguilla (dang coronavirus!) were the only two Eastern Caribbean islands we missed!

A welcome homecoming

After a day of rest after arriving, we headed into historic Annapolis, which was a favorite destination of ours during our 16 years in Washington, DC because it was close enough for a day trip to watch the boats in the harbor, but just far enough away from the hectic pace of D.C. to feel a world away. We spent a few days visiting some our old favorite spots, and especially enjoyed that the city closed down the main streets each evening so that the pubs and restaurants could set up spacious outdoor seating and allow for social distancing during Covid-19. What fun we had celebrating our return and reconnecting with a few sorely missed friends!

We also squared away a few of those little details to allow for a successful re-entry to land life — namely a car! We spent two days walking to nearby car dealerships and taking test drives before settling on a new Volkswagen AllTrack, which we purchased contactless online and even had delivered to us a few days later!

Getting to work

On June 28, we sailed Borealis just south of Annapolis to Herring Bay and Shipwright Harbor Marina (owned by our old home marina, Herrington Harbor South) in Deale, Md. It was our first time in a slip since March 2019, when we took a slip in Turks & Caicos to escape foul weather! We were lucky to get a slip, as the pandemic had spiked an interest in outdoor activities, like boating, and slips in the area for Borealis' length and depth were hard to come by!

What's next for us?

When we bought Borealis in December 2017, it wasn't our plan to sail away the following year, and then 2 years later return to the U.S. and sell the boat. But after two years of cruising, we felt like we'd achieved exactly what we'd set out to do: go on a sailing adventure that we'd use a transition from our busy lives in Washington, D.C. to "something different" afterwards. 

When we set off in October 2018, we really didn't know what that "afterwards" was going to be, but within the past 6-8 months, we'd made the decision to move back to our home state of Wisconsin and reconnect with our families and school friends. And after two years of boat living, we were really excited and looking forward to getting to Wisconsin and enjoying some of the best of summer with our loved ones. 

We'd been asked why we didn't sail the boat to Wisconsin, and the answer is that it would likely have been another few thousand miles and months of sailing, and Borealis is a very well-equipped offshore sailing vessel— and not a weekend coastal cruiser— and was therefore much more boat than we'd need or want as weekend sailors in Wisconsin. 

So we spent the next two weeks knocking out life and boat projects, meeting with friends, petting Bob the boatyard cat, and trying to beat the Chesapeake Bay heat! With access to unlimited power and fresh water, we spent hours cleaning two years of grime and salt from inside and outside of the boat; tearing through every locker and cabinet deciding what to toss, keep and replace or bring back with us to Wisconsin; and tackling our list of overdue maintenance projects, like changing the engine oil and treating the teak decks. 

What you find in the bilge: The last two Carib beers,
which we sailed all the way home from Grenada

It's getting hot, hot, hot

Beating the summer heat on a non-air conditioned boat and with little breeze may have been our greatest challenge. Temperatures in the Mid-Atlantic in early-July soured over 90 degrees each day, so we started our projects as early as we could in the morning, and each afternoon when the temperature inside the boat became unbearable (often in the low- to mid-90s) we escaped to the marina's shaded, grassy grounds or to the mostly empty swimming pool. 

The temperature inside Borealis late afternoon with no AC!

Finding shade wherever we can

Boat for sale!

On July 10, we officially listed Borealis for sale, looking even better than when we bought her three years earlier thanks to all the interior and exterior projects we'd tackled over our three years of ownership. (Borealis sat on the hard for more than a year before we bought her and had been a bit neglected between owners.) 

We listed the boat with Free State Yachts, which is the Hallberg-Rassy dealer for the East Coast, and from where we bought Borealis in 2017. 

A few days later, after several showings, we received an offer from an interested buyer and soon after the official paperwork. We'd planned to haul Borealis out of the water for safekeeping on land, but with a solid offer on the table, we made the decision to leave the boat in the water for the upcoming survey and sea trial (like a home inspection and test drive). 

A bittersweet farewell

With Borealis under contract and a 100-degree heat wave headed our way, we opted to head to Wisconsin sooner than planned; some 48 hours later, on July 16 at 4 a.m. in the morning, we stepped off Borealis for the very last time. 

With heavy hearts and tears in our eyes, we said farewell. Some 13 hours later, we arrived with two full cars to our new home in Cedarburg, Wisconsin, a small suburb 20 miles north of Milwaukee, where we are still very much adjusting to life back on land. 

Our new home is Cedarburg, Wisc., just north of Milwaukee

Less than a month later, on August 18, we officially said goodbye to Borealis when we virtually passed the keys to her new owner. 

We've been asked if it was hard to sell the boat, and the answer is most definitely YES! For some 2 years, Borealis was our home and safely carried us on an epic adventure from Maryland through the Caribbean (with a hurricane season spent in Grenada, just 80 miles north of South America) and then back! 

The end of cruising 

We explored so many new places, saw incredible beauty, met countless new friends, and had the experience of a lifetime. Despite the many challenges we encountered along the way, we'll never regret the decision to quit our jobs, sell our home, and leave our family and friends to sail away (and especially not waiting until our retirement years to do it!). 

We are most definitely not the same people we were when we left — our worldview has expanded, our beliefs and behaviors have changed, and our need or desire for material goods has greatly diminished. We feel incredibly grateful to have had the time and ability to go on this grand adventure.
As much as we enjoyed our time cruising, some dear cruising friends wrote a blog post not long ago (Seek to See More) about travel fatigue, which really captured what we also recently started feeling. Our friend Jess very eloquently wrote that while it's amazing to have the ability to be a full-time traveler and cruiser, that there's "pressure to go-go-go every day and see/experience everything you've spent so much time investing in. Navigating new places, languages, social norms, being rushed in order to catch a good weather window, hiding out from 40 knot winds and/or enduring sleepless nights at anchor. It's really easy to burn out." 

After two years of full-time living aboard the boat and traveling to new places every few days, we are travel weary, and while it was hard to say goodbye to Borealis and cruising, it was the right time for us. 

Goodbye, Borealis

We couldn't have asked for a more dependable boat than Borealis, and she made the journey so much easier for two rookie weekend sailors who'd never left the Chesapeake Bay. Would we do it again - most definitely! 

But for now, farewell Borealis, you'll be dearly missed. 

Until next time! 

1 comment:

  1. It has been a lot of fun to watch your adventures! Good luck in Wisconsin :)