Living on a boat is great; when it’s in the water. However when annual maintenance time rolls around and Bandit goes on the hard, life on board becomes completely chaotic. It’s time to make myself scarce. Leaving David up to his armpits in work I headed to the UK in early September flying into Heathrow on a sunny day with temperatures in the 30s. It was wonderful to be in the beautiful rolling countryside of rural Hampshire, walk dogs down country lanes, stopping to pick fat and juicy blackberries on the way, groom horses and muck out paddocks in the sunshine.
A huge bonus of my time in the UK was having Sam come and visit on his way back to Moscow. Another great catch up was with fellow Animal Aunts and former Marlburians Nicci and Dave Cambridge who were in north London looking after two huge French Mastiffs.
Between sits I had a few days in London and was incredibly lucky to be able to stay in David’s sister-in-law’s flat near Canary Wharf. It has stunning views over the Thames and what a wonderful feeling to sit at dusk and watch the goings on on the river. I made the most of my days and walked to Spitalfields Market and Brick Lane one day, Borough Market and Tate Modern the next and Covent Garden and Whitehall another…soaking up the London sights which I never tire of.
Then it was on to Fulham where I had three weeks looking after a lovely black lab. This property was in the heart of one of London’s most sought after residential areas and it was sheer joy to be able to walk out onto Kings Rd or along the Thames towpath.
While I was enjoying my time in the UK David had a quick trip back to New Zealand to see his family. It gave him the chance to spend precious time with his mum June who sadly, died not long after he arrived back on Bandit. June was a great advocate of our nomadic lifestyle and followed our adventures both on land and at sea with enormous interest. We will miss her enthusiastic support immensely.
I left London on a warm and sunny day and flew back to Baltimore to find it freezing. Winter had arrived in the Chesapeake! It didn’t stop us enjoying the Annapolis Boat Show - we just donned full wet weather gear. It was a fantastic show with great deals and we had a couple of impulse buys - a stand up paddleboard, inflatable kayak and a Sailrite sewing machine – designed for canvas and sail work.
After Annapolis, where we had a wonderful catch up with American cruising friends Wayne and Betty Romberg from Bright Ayes, we headed down the Chesapeake to Deltaville to meet up with Australian cruisers Carol and Pete from Jack Tar and Andy and Clare from Eye Candy. Then it was on down to Hampton to wait for a weather window to head around the dreaded Cape Hatteras. Feared by ancient and modern mariners alike the Cape is littered with more than 600 shipwrecks. Its proximity to the notorious Gulf Stream current, large areas of shoal ground and a deep ocean shelf combine to produce strong winds and currents and difficult sailing conditions.
As it turned out we had an uneventful two day sail to Cape Lookout, rounding Cape Hatteras in the early hours of the morning with 20 knots of wind on the beam which increased to 30 as dawn broke making for a fantastic beam reach down the coast. We had two days in Cape Lookout,an incredibly remote anchorage with beautiful sandy Atlantic beaches and a well maintained national park.
A strong cold front forced us into Charleston to wait a few days – hardly a hardship given it’s easily the nicest town we’ve visited on the eastern seaboard, full of charming old southern homes in leafy streets. Once this system blows through it’s yet another overnight sail down to Florida to pick up David’s daughter Anna who is joining us for six weeks. Every day is getting warmer and already we’re back into shorts and t-shirts.