You may have seen this hint of a story, this boatyard photo of Tucker and I, Ruby, and Miles in front of EVA, everyone’s dreamboat.
We have spent much of the last year and a half with Claude and Jules and their three kids, Noah, Lilo, and Finn. We met the kids the moment we tied our dock lines in Cape Town; our kids were off in a flash to see the kids playing with sticks on another dock. “This is the tiniest boat I’ve ever seen in my life,” said five year old Finn when he first stepped aboard Convivia. It turns out that his boat, built in his backyard, and launched only a few months before was quite a bit bigger. Claude and Jules still had many projects on EVA’s checklists during our time at the V and A Waterfront but still we managed to grab their kids for plenty of fun in Cape Town, shared a bunch of dinners together, and got out on a few excursions with everyone.
Claude and Tucker at Wally’s Cave on Lion’s Head. We started this hike at 3am for a Table Mountain sunrise view.
Windy day drive to Hout Bay and Chapman’s Peak
It turns out EVA was about to sail across the Atlantic towards Martinique. They had been building their boat for years, couldn’t wait to get cruising, and also wanted to just settle in somewhere for a while. Claude and Jules had spent a couple years pre-kids in the Caribbean and were ready to get back. Convivia was headed the same way on our way to Maine and we were excited to have friends along the way!
Both boats headed out of Cape Town on the same day. We were ready for our third ocean crossing; EVA was on her maiden voyage. We met up in both of the places we stopped in Namibia and again at St. Helena.
We found them again at the St. Helena immigration office. Luckily it wasn’t so formal that paperwork couldn’t be interrupted for giant hugs.
Both boats left St. Helena the same day bound for Ascension Island, and though we dropped sails and motored close into the anchorage when we arrived, we heard that the giant ocean swell that made landing in St. Helena difficult, would make landing in Ascension nearly impossible. With a few short VHF calls we decided we were all in a good passage groove and would raise the sails and carry on to Martinique. On that passage Convivia ran into rigging trouble and engine trouble so we made an emergency stop in Fernando de Noranha, Brazil. Fernando de Noranha was of course one of the prettiest places we have ever been, and, unfortunately, we didn’t have Brazilian visas in advance so everyone but the captain of our boat was required to remain on board for all of our days there. Everyone on EVA has a European passport that allowed them ashore so they brought back photos and watermelon. We all worked together to splice Dyneema, made aluminum deadeyes, and get Convivia up and running for the 2000 nautical mile stretch to boat parts in Martinique.
We anticipated a crowded anchorage, but not a rough one, so we rafted up in Le Marin, Martinique. While there we found ourselves in all the chandlers, at the customs office, on a few beaches, out on dinghy sails, in fabulous grocery stores, at some historic sites, in the botanic gardens, at the cafes, and spending time with lots of other friends.
Kids at Theatre de St Pierre
It was getting time to think about parting ways. We needed to get to Maine, before hurricane season, and maybe more importantly, before we ran out of money. We all decided it wasn’t time to say goodbye so Convivia dropped off the lines and EVA hauled anchor and we sailed together to the Bahamas. Conversations about sailing to Maine spread between both boats. We needed to go and they were interested in following. Claude and Jules flew to Nassau to apply for Visas and Tucker and I took care of five kids and two boats for a couple of days.
After the Bahamas we sailed all the way to Portland, Maine. For us, it was our homecoming, the completion of our big gigantic goal. For Jules and Claude, it was a bit of a homecoming too. They both spent quite a bit of of their growing up in the United States and went to American schools. Not only that, Claude discovered that his childhood best friend was also moving to Portland. Tucker and I saw our parents and siblings and friends. Claude got to see his sister. All the kids got to see and meet their newest cousins.
And so we settled into Portland, a city that I love so much. I got a job, Ruby and Miles went to public school, and Tucker searched for the perfect remote job to take with him someday. We anchored out until mid October when conditions called for moving to a dock.
Dimillo’s Marina was an awesome home for the winter. We loved the ease of walking off the boat! The kids hopped back and forth between the boats, and ended up on EVA after school more than they ended up at home. Talk of sailing to Europe was in the air, and yet the money/time/Convivia refit balance wasn’t quite right and we knew that Convivia wasn’t up for the task of a North Atlantic crossing just yet. Tucker got the job he wanted but then the fix up schedule couldn’t really meet the timeline of the season. Jules and Claude asked us if we would join EVA for a passage to the UK and France.
In the meantime we celebrated holidays, got outside, went to concerts, ate amazing food, drank perfect coffee, and talked about the possibilities.
It turns out Europe isn’t an option, and EVA must leave the US before a year is up. Convivia is still not up to the task of a major passage without a couple months worth of hard work, but Convivia’s crew is ready for more travel. We were invited to join EVA on her next voyage, which will be to Grenada in the near future, and perhaps Uruguay before the year is up. First we moved over the kitchen knife, then some toothbrushes, then LEGO, pillows made their way, as did the coffee roaster, our summer clothes, a candy thermometer, our snorkel gear….and over the last month we have been sharing space, and chores, and time.
We rowed out to Convivia for the last time for a while the other day.
Convivia is now sitting pretty at Royal River Boatyard, all cleaned up and winterized while we plan on what we will do with her in the future. She is, in fact, a perfect boat for Maine summers so she is in just the right spot.
We arrived at the shipyard on one boat and left on another. We are thrilled to sail on EVA, no doubt we are going to be spoiled a bit. A shower! Hot water! A washing machine! She is everyone’s dreamboat…those first details are lovely of course, but the boat is carefully thought out, very practical, and super tough. Claude and Jules love her up with meticulous care and we know that the boat will take care of all of us.
We’ll have stories to tell for sure. There are going to be some really good ones now, of one amazing boat, four grown ups, five kids, and two cats.