Monday, July 27, 2009
3 years aboard Meggie
We chased our dreams for 2 ½ years while we restored Meggie, our 1964 Cheoy Lee Bermuda 30. Only by saving every spare dime, selling off most of our belongings and severing all financial ties, did we then gain the freedom to slip the dock lines and venture away for as long as we wanted or at least as long as we were having fun.
We kept our boat simple, both safe and easy to sail, also free of any major electronics and expensive systems. We put all of our trust into Meggie’s hull design and heavy timber construction. Our best efforts went into restoring the youth within Meggie, this was essential because she would not only become our home but also carry her devoted crew of two on an epic voyage through the blue waters of the Atlantic and Caribbean Sea in search of adventure and tropical paradise.
In July, 2006 we quit chasing and started living as Meggie sailed out of Thornbury’s harbour and although she gracefully approached her vintage years, Meggie was likely never more fit for sea.
We sailed through the great lakes to the Hudson river, then past the statue of liberty in NYC harbour. As we rounded Sandy Hook, New Jersey, Meggie felt the Atlantic under her keel for the first time. When the stiff ocean breeze filled her sails, Kylie and I also felt the spray of the Atlantic for the first time. It was here that a bond was formed and off we sailed as a team of three. We visited 18 countries and sailed 14,000 nautical miles in our 3 years. We faced many challenges and created many memories along the way, some of which I would like to share, however these only scratch the surface of the memories that remain etched in our minds.
We made it all the way to the bottom of the eastern Caribbean island chain in our first season. The reason being, we had hurricane season hot on our tail. To achieve this we sailed thousands of miles to windward along the thorny path, south bound to the West Indies where we spent 5 wonderful months in the beautiful country of Grenada.
We then sailed north to let Meggie show off her “Yar” among the big classics of the Antigua Regatta. Here she took an impressive 2nd place in her racing class and 3rd place in Concource d’Elegance for best privately maintained boat.
A few months later we found ourselves sailing fast and quietly under the cover of a moonless night with all lights off to escape the pirate waters of Venezuela, bound for the beautiful off shore islands, here we spent an incredible six weeks.
We then had a glorious run with quartering wind and seas clear across the Caribbean Sea from Curacao to Jamaica, and then on to Honduras covering twelve hundred nautical miles with a 14 day break in the middle. Meggie logged regular noon to noon runs of 125 to 145 nautical miles. Meggie always takes care of us and we found her to be a great little passage maker.
We never tire of watching dolphins play with Meggie s bow wave, or scanning the sea surface hoping to spot a whale. We marvel at the many species of interesting birds, Pelicans, Frigates, Egrets, Terns, Boobies,(famous for steeling our top water lures) Ospreys, Scarlet Ibises, Ocean Gulls, and oh yes, Wild pink Flamingos.
We have weathered countless storms, including two tropical depressions, three tropical storms, and one full fledged Cat 1 Hurricane named Felix. We were on board and well anchored for each one, with no problems.
Our worst storm while at sea lasted for thirty hours, the rigging screamed with steady thirty-five knot winds and higher in gusts, the seas became on average one full storey in height. This storm hit us while 300nm offshore in the waters south of the Cayman Islands, called the Cayman Trench, it is known for being the deepest part of the Caribbean Sea…the bottom being twenty-five thousand feet below the keel. Little Meggie rose her stern to each approaching wave as it hissed and roared but never let a single wave on board.
We will never forget the Christmas we spent on the Island of Guanaja, or the remote jungle anchorage of the Honduras main land surrounded by the wild cries of the howler monkey and the magnificent birds of the jungle. We had this place all to ourselves.
We spent a wonderful month in Guatemala. We took Meggie up the mystical Rio Dulce, where we explored parts of the mainland including the ancient temples of Tikal.
We spent an exhilarating five days blazing along at six knots through the shallow protected waters inside the barrier reef of Belize. The next day in the open sea Meggie set her quickest noon to noon run of 174 nautical miles, due to the fast currents setting north through the Yucatan channel.
Kylie and I have become very passionate about fishing, and more importantly eating fish. We have enjoyed countless cockpit dinners of either deep sea fish or reef fish and lobster, that we caught by ourselves.
Above all, the pleasure of spending the last three years together, watching the sun rise and set everyday aboard our little boat has provided us with memories that will last a life time. Also, now our team of three has gained the confidence and the ability to sail off, bound for distant shores, just two people aboard our little boat, alone on the high seas. This makes the horizon but our only limit.
Although we have to return home for now, our hearts assure us that Meggie has not finished leaving her invisible tracks across the beautiful and seemingly endless blue waters of the world, just yet.