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Moms, Friends, and Mom's Friends

IMG_0002Happy Mothers’ Day to (as I said in a recent SSCA newsletter) all Moms, Bonus Moms, Grandmoms, and Special Aunts.

This goes out to all of you, especially my Forever Friends. Every single day I am grateful for my very special women friends. Every day.

I have been so fortunate to have a friend for life whom I met in 5th grade, a friend for life from our first day at UMO, two friends for life from our working days in Portland, and a number friends of for life I’ve met on our cruising adventures.

I am a very fortunate woman.

I am also a very fortunate daughter.

It is only as I’ve aged that I’ve realized Mom also had “friends for life”, some of whom she met as a young woman on her own in the 1940’s while living in the big city of Portland, Maine.

My friends and I have been able to stay in touch easily via email, Facebook, Skype, and unlimited calling plans, but my mom only had the occasional visits, letters, cards, and expensive long-distance calls. In fact, I know I didn’t always realize how much she cherished her friends simply because I couldn't see her with them often in Real Life or on the phone.

My mom’s been gone well over 15 years, but one of her friends’ for life just passed this spring.

Colleen Reed was a remarkable woman and an inspiration to many. She also worked to stay in touch with me after my mom’s death.  In fact, 6 years ago Colleen drove from Westbrook to Brunswick to take me to lunch before EW and I sailed away from Maine.

That visit has been a cherished memory ever since.

Colleen’s niece, Aileen,  friended me on Facebook and kept Colleen up to date on our travels.

This year, Aileen let me know that Colleen was ill and not likely to survive and then a few weeks later she let me know that Colleen, my last link to my mom’s generation, had passed.

“You don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone.”


20170512_123431This week I received a note from Aileen, who has spent weeks cleaning out Colleen’s apartment. (With help from her brother, a cousin, and a friend for life.) With the note, she sent my birth announcement and a Christmas photo card from 1959 when I was three. Colleen had saved them because she loved my Mom and that’s what forever friends do.

As we’ve traveled from port to port since 2010, my friends have sent photos of their kids, their dogs, their grandkids, and themselves. Every one of those photos is downloaded into a file under the appropriate year. That file is labeled “Back Home”. It’s my friend and family photo album and I make sure to back it up regularly.20170511_093304

On this Mother’s Day Weekend, I am grateful that I am the daughter of a wonderful red-headed mom.

I am grateful that she had awesome friends like Colleen.

I am grateful that by modeling her friendships, I have been fortunate to have my own “forever friends”.

And finally, I am incredibly grateful that my friends and I have all embraced new technologies so that we can more easily maintain contact and share our joys, triumphs, challenges, and sorrows.

Happy Mother’s Day to every woman who has loved a child—their child, a bonus child, the child of a sibling, the child of a cherished friend, or the child who needed them.

Happy Mother’s Day to every woman who has modeled love and friendship to the next generation.

Happy Mother’s Day to all of you, because you have all made a difference.


The photo at the top—my mom and me—on the first Thanksgiving EW and I hosted after we got married. ('80's perms.)

Friends - Again

This blog has a whole lot of posts about friends. As friend/cousin Jeff says, “I love you a whole bunch of lots.” Well, we love our friends a whole bunch of lots and I tend to write about what I love. For the most part, cruising sailors seem to be outstanding friend-makers, and those we’ve gotten to know talk often about special friends back home, or cruising friends who keep in touch from distant ports.  EW and I are incredibly fortunate to have wonderful friends; childhood friends, friends we met in our late teens and twenties, friends we met just a few years before leaving Maine, and many new cruising friends-for-life. Thank goodness. I don’t know what we’d do without our friends. Here are a few examples – with apologies to those not mentioned:

IMG_0087EW met Jim in third or fourth grade. (That’s what EW said. Jim could probably quote the exact time – but then Jim wouldn’t be installing bulkhead supports for the auto pilot when I asked him.)   Jim and his lovely wife, Marcia, visited us last year in St. Thomas, and this year they drove over 6 hours one way to have lunch with us during our short stay in Florida. Jim is on the class reunion committee so we made sure to get a photo he can show to the rest of the class of ‘64. It’s not the best photo of either of them, but the conversation, laughter and love overflowed the table at that lunch. P2222714Ed lived across the street from EW. P2212663Ed was a few years older and as EW says, “He used to beat me up.” Evidently both got over that. Like Jim, Ed and Lynn came to Maine for our wedding nearly 29 years ago, visited us in Maine over the years, and were must-sees whenever we went to the Buffalo area.  Ed and Lynn visited us this year in St. Thomas and we had a lovely time showing them the sights on St. Thomas and St. John, catching up on the gang, and sharing stories about our adult kids, recent adventures and past exploits.

Kathy and I met the first day of school in fifth grade. The two of us met Cathy when she was assigned to our freshman triple at UMO almost (gasp!) forty years ago. We three have been dear friends for life ever since. Kathy and Cathy know more about me photo (14)than any other two people on earth – even EW. (For example, EW didn’t know until recently that I knew almost all the lyrics from all of the songs in Sound of Music. Kathy knew that. Nor does EW know everything I did in college or before I met him. Kathy, Cathy, and I have sworn vows of silence.) Cathy and her husband, Stu, have visited us on the boat in Maine and in Grenada. We hope to see them while we are across the Atlantic, too. This past March, EW and I flew to Florida mainly to get our driver’s licenses in our new home state. We stayed with Cathy and Stu, and Kathy drove nearly 9 hours one way to stay there with us. Cathy let us use her car to take our driver’s test. (Or planned to. We didn’t have to take a test. Woot!) Kathy and Cathy spent a day shopping with me for boat things – not giving up until I had everything on the list. We laughed, we cried, we told stories, drank wine and other beverages, hugged, shared, and loved. They both pretty much dropped everything in order to spend time with us over those five days. I cannot express what that meant to us.


P1000021P1000040 Of our many sailing fP1000023riends, two couples who stand out from the past year are Jaime and Keith from Kookaburra,  and Peter and LeeAnn from Two Much Fun. Jaime and Keith got stuck with us when we moved to a nearby mooring for our 18 months in St.Thomas. When everyone else we knew cleared out for hurricane season, Jaime and Keith became our support system, euchre partners, dominoes competitors, pizza night guests, and weather reviewers. They had already lived in St. Thomas for over a year, and are two of the most helpful, giving, people you could meet.They also love to laugh and are dog saps like we are. Jaime and I walked three miles nearly every weekday at 6, getting to know each other and every nice dog on Honeymoon island. I don’t think I’d have survived St. Thomas without Jaime and Keith. Peter and LeeAnn return to St. Thomas each winter, where they operate their boat for couples only charter. (It is an awesome week. Check them out. LeeAnn is an amazing cook.) Peter is an outstanding musician and excellent teacher. LeeAnn cut our hair (expertly) tried out new recipes on us, and became a wonderful friend while we listened to the guys practice and perform. Thanks to LeeAnn, I’m a Band-Aide, not a Groupie; a Band-Aide has much more status. Peter spent hours and hours over the past three years, helping EW improve as a guitarist and performer. Heck, if it weren’t for Peter, EW wouldn’t be a performer. Peter helped EW live his dream. 


In fact, that’s what friends do. They support your dream, listen, learn, provide guidance, a shoulder, perspective, and encouragement. Our friends back home don’t want our lifestyle, but they love us and are thrilled that we are sailing our boat. We are thrilled for them, too – and love to hear about the grandchildren, PhD daughters, new homes on the lake or in Florida, world travel to Paris, and China, moving across the country to hold that grand-son and grand-daughter more often, meeting the man to love forever, sailing in Boston Harbor, and more. Sometimes it feels a bit lopsided because our dream requires help from folks back home. Their support is a tangible thing, whereas we can mostly just listen, learn, advise, love, and admire. P1000047

That’s where paying if forward comes in. We can never repay what Jaime and Keith, Peter and LeeAnn, or many other cruisers have done for us. And we can never repay the favors and help we’ve received from our conscripted support system back in the states. They didn’t volunteer for this, but stick with us anyway. We can pay it forward as much as possible, and help other boaters, and help back home – when we can, from a distance.  We do what we can under the circumstances. But always, always we are so very thankful for all of our friends. They know our faults, choose to love us anyway, and help whenever possible. We are rich in our friendships. As we finally cross the Atlantic, we know that we are missed and will miss all of them. We also know we’ll meet up again. We have to. They are our friends. And we love every one of them a whole bunch of lots.h


  • EW and Jim
  • Ed, Lynn, and EW
  • Ed, Lynn, and EW walking on St. John
  • The most recent of a million photos of me and the two C/Kathys
  • EW and Keith with Jenn from Jenn’s Restaurant in St. Thomas.
  • Jaime opening a present
  • Jaime with the pup
  • Kirk, EW and Peter jammin’
  • LeeAnn, Peter, and the darling Mimi – saying good-bye the morning we left St. Thomas

A Taste of Maine

In addition to missing friends and family – during this time of year, I miss Maine’s foods – and not just the real “lobstah” with claws.Photo: Macouns!

Photo used with the permission of the photographer, Catherine Frost, an outstanding marketing professional. Check out her business, Folio Marketing & Creative on Facebook.

Facebook has allowed me to stay in touch with friends and family back home and at sea. On one recent day, my Maine Facebook friends had my mouth watering with posts about Macoun apples, Bean Suppahs, and Maine Lobstah. In late August I craved fresh Maine corn on the cob, caved,  and bought days old corn from Florida. That’s just wrong.

My food cravings “at sea” begin in the spring and continue through the autumn:

Early Spring.  Brook trout and fiddleheads. When I was four or five, I remember going “fishing” with my mom and dad. One of them would fish for brook trout, and the other would let me “help” pick fiddleheads. Back home, we feasted on pan-fried brook trout and steamed fiddleheads.

May and June. Rhubarb. Just like every home I grew up in, the one EW I bought had a rhubarb plant: rhubarb raw with lots of sugar, rhubarb sauce on ice cream and strawberry/rhubarb pie. I miss rhubarb.

June into July. Strawberries. Favorite’s birthday is in late June, and as he got older, I served strawberry shortcake as a treat. While one can use sponge cake or pound cake for this dessert, the real Maine way is to make sweet biscuits and real whipped cream. Oh, my.

Daddy and Brendan_0002

When I was a kid, we’d also start to pick green onions and lettuce in June and keep on enjoying them through the summer. Real baby carrots – not those fake, uniform nubs offered in the stores – were pulled from the ground, rinsed under the outdoor spigot, and eaten as a back-yard snack.  At left: My dad and our young neighbor Brendan F., checking the garden in 74 or 75.  Look at that lettuce!

July If things were going well in the garden, the corn would be knee high and the first peas would be ready to pick. The first raspberries would ripen in mid-July. My Grampa Robbins had a raspberry bush – well more of a wild thicket, actually – right outside his one-room cottage. I loved going out in my PJs in the morning to pick raspberries for my cereal. Later, my dad planted and tended raspberry bushes at the far end of his garden, lovingly covering them with netting to discourage the birds. Mom’s favorite pie was raspberry and each Thanksgiving I’d make it from raspberries I’d frozen in the summer. And as for those peas? A traditional Fourth of July meal included peas and salmon. The best Fourth of July meal had fresh-water salmon. Daddy and Brendan_0001

At right: This photo was captioned: “My first fish.” It is my only fish. I was 10. It was a salmon caught in Sebec Lake – in Maine, of course.

August. Green Beans, cucumbers, blueberries and – finally – corn on the cob. In Maine, it must be fresh picked that day. Here’s the old Maine recipe for corn:

Fill a pot half way with water and bring it to a boil. Go out in the garden, pick and husk the corn and run like hell to the house. If you trip and fall, toss that corn to the pigs and start again.

This is not much of an exaggeration. I don’t turn down a lobstah feed at any time of the year, but the best shore dinners are served with fresh corn on the cob and are therefore best enjoyed in August and September.

September – October All of the fall vegetables, are delicious in Maine, but my favorite Maine treat is a crisp, tart, fresh apple. Cortlands and Macouns were our family’s favorites. My mouth is watering.

Fall – Winter The Maine Bean Suppah. First, “supper”, pronounced suppah is the normal evening meal in Maine; “dinner” was served at noon on Sunday, after church. Suppah was served at 5 and if you were attending a bean “suppah” at the local church or grange hall, you’d best show up early. As this excellent post from Maine says, first you pick your piece of pie, and set it at your place on the table; and then you enjoy an all you can eat feast of Maine Baked Beans, Cole Slaw, various side dishes, brown bread or biscuits, and – in later years – hot dogs. Usually, all of the food is home-made and delivered to the venue in the afternoon. A group of volunteers arrives at the sight early in the morning to cook massive of yellow-eye and pea beans in vast pots or casserole dishes. Daddy made the beans at home, and most Saturday night suppahs in the Huff house were bean suppahs with home-made biscuits.

We enjoy eating local foods, especially in Trinidad and Grenada, but, on some days I may see something on Facebook, or simply be reminded of the season, my mouth waters, and I begin to crave a food from home.

Macoun apples.

Bean Suppers.

To all of you back in the Northeast – please enjoy some of those treats for me. To all of you who cruise – what foods do you miss? It’s all part of our adventure.

Looking Back

This is the 600th Blog Post since I started Harts At Sea in February of 2008.  I started a blog because emailing friends and family just didn’t do it for me and because I was learning about social media and dear friend Lynnelle Wilson told me I should blog.

So I did.

My first blog was a succinct introduction:

Living Aboard a Sailboat in Maine – 2/16/2008

In May of 2002, my husband and I -- and our black lab -- moved aboard our 47 foot Cheoy Lee sailboat. We had sold our home in March, after an amazing home and yard sale; moved to a furnished rental that was closer to the boat; and got her ready for habitation. We have lived aboard (year round) in Maine since that time, with the exception of one hard year on the hard while we re-caulked the teak deck and had other repairs done.

As that last sentence implies, living "on the hard" has been the most challenging year so far in our life with La Luna. We truly enjoy the life aboard and have never regretted the move. In this blog I plan to share some of the experiences of the past few years as well as current events aboard. This is my first step into blogging and is done in anticipation of perhaps creating a blog for my business, Hire Well. In the meantime. If you like sailing, dream of taking your boat to distant shores, and live aboard or wonder what it is like to do so -- then I hope to write something here that will be of interest to you.

First, a brief bio: I was born in Maine, graduated from U Maine Orono, and have worked here since. I was raised inland and did not sail on the ocean until I met the man who became my husband. On our third date, Stew looked deep into my eyes and said, "I sail and all of my friends sail". Having already decided that this was the man I wanted to spend my life with, I replied, "I'm sure I can learn." It wasn't easy, and I never intended to sell most of our land possessions and move aboard nearly 20 years later. It has been a wonderful journey and we are currently planning our next journey when La Luna slips her lines and heads across the Atlantic for the beginning of our world cruise.

The photo is S/V La Luna under sail in Quahog Bay in Harpswell, Maine. It was taken by Jack Nordby, a photographer, sailor, and pilot from Maine.


That’s it. Just 360 words, not much in the way of entertainment or humor, and no indication that Stew would “become” the Topic known as EW. However, I made it clear that our goal was not simply living on the dock in Maine. The name of the blog was “The Harts at Sea” for a reason.

In “honor” of reaching 600 posts, here are my favorite posts from the few I wrote during my first year as a blogger:

Winter Dangers When Living Aboard a Sailboat in Maine – 3/1/2008

This week, while getting aboard with two bags of laundry (admittedly not the safest procedure) I fell. It happened quickly -- and the only thing that went through my mind was to "Stay out of the water!"

We have a set of plastic dock stairs, three steps high with a metal railing. Right now I love that metal railing! I climbed the steps and opened the shrink wrap door and one of the bags caught on the door jam, pulling me up short. I tugged to get free and hit my head on the top of the door frame, bounced off and hit the step railing with my back and bounced off that and slid down the steps to the dock. Both bags of laundry and my bruised body all successfully stayed out of the water. The steps are screwed to the dock for safety and while the force of my fall did pull up some screws,  others held and kept me from falling backwards into a very cold ocean.

This is only the second time in 5 years that I've had a close call. During a storm in our first winter aboard, Stew and I were getting off the boat to check lines when I fell between the boat and the dock. That of course can be extremely dangerous during any time of year as you don't want to be a bumper between the dock and (in our case) a 19 ton boat. I didn't fall completely into the water, but ended up with my arms on the dock and my legs in the water. I immediately began to seek a purchase for my legs in order to lever myself onto the dock, and I asked Stew to stand back to see whether I could save myself if necessary. He was not amused, shouted at expletive and hauled me onto the dock. I'm sure I would have felt the same way from his vantage point, but I did discover how the docks were constructed and how I may be able to use the bottom crosspiece to get back aboard if need be.

Falling into the water in winter is probably one of our biggest concerns. We wear cleats on icy days, use a buddy system in storms and generally try to be careful and aware of our situation. When we have landlubber guests who stay late into the evening, we walk them back to safety on shore. This week's fall did serve to remind me that our lifestyle does have risks -- even for those of us who are old hands at living aboard.


Good-by to Jake, Sailing Dog

The week before Labor Day, we had a nice -- now bittersweet -- vacation after which summer ended for us.

Our beloved dog, Jake, was put to rest one week after our return. He was twelve; he was less active during our trip and it was apparent that this would be his last sailing vacation. The effort to get from dinghy to boat was simply too hard and he no longer easily tolerated the heeling of the boat on brisk sails.

Three vet visits in a week confirmed canine bone cancer -- a death sentence. Stew had to make the final call as I was unable to do so. Knowing that this was the right choice for Jake did not make it an easy choice for us.

September 9 was the end of summer for us. We have wonderful memories of Jake on the boat, in the dinghy, and on many beaches in Maine. He was just over 12 years old and still full of love with an appetite as big as the world. Prior to the final visit to the vet Stew stopped at Reds Dairy Bar and presented Jake with a large dish of soft serve. Then, our long time veterinarian, Linda Bond, and four other vets and techs who knew Jake joined us in saying good-by and in giving him hugs and dog cookies. He went peacefully and with much love.

Jake was our friend and companion, our mascot, and just the best dog. Jake was the trainer’s “teacher’s pet” in obedience school, he was the favorite dog on the FedEx driver’s route, and he was the greatest walking buddy in the world. He loved his family, the vet, the kennel, power boats, kids, babies, belly rubs, going to work, the Great Island Boatyard crew, cookies, and “the big munch” – not necessarily in that order. He took care of his family, welcomed visitors, enjoyed new adventures and respected tradition. He repelled possible borders at sea, kept an eye out for seals and whales, assisted on the foredeck, and “vacuumed” the galley and dining area. He made us smile, gave us comfort when we were sad or ill, and frequently made us laugh out loud. He gave lots of wet kisses, painless nose nibbles, and unconditional love to all. When Jake came into our lives as a young adult dog, he just wanted a loving home. We did our best to provide that. He did his best always. We will miss him.

Stormy Winter Day at the Dock – 12/21/2008

We  are having our first major North Easter here in 2008/09 winter. It is 6:07 with high tide expected at 6:46. This will be a higher than normal tide with a surge; the 30 knots of winds mean it's bouncy out there and northeast winds blow the boat away from the dock, stretching the lines.   I get nervous getting on and off and we will change the lines a bit during the next few days. We don't have to be this far off the dock. You landlubbers do not want to see the chasm we negotiate from boat to steps.

We planned for today, shopped yesterday, will do laundry on Monday. Stew ventured out for the paper and we have stayed in and kept warm. Our nearest neighbors are monitoring a radio channel with us. If anyone has a problem, we can get some help quickly.  We love our new neighbors . John and Dora are newbies at this living aboard thing but they are game, learn quickly, and are great sports. Life is still good on the water. The photo is taken from our door. The lights are the Christmas decorations on Far Horizons. The white specks are blowing snow. You can't see the white caps rolling in from the river.

Exploring Home Before We Sail the World -  1/4/2009

We read a lot of sailing books and subscribe to a number of cruising magazines. While crossing oceans is what motivates Stew, I am eager to explore new areas and meet interesting people. This morning I was reminded that Maine is indeed a delight and that interesting people can be found anywhere.

One of our propane tanks was empty and Stew asked me to go with him to get it refilled, so I would know the drill in the future. He told me about the guy who usually filled the tank. "He attended some training program for doing this safely and is very proud," said Stew. "He always gives me a little lecture on safe transport." Sure enough, we pulled in to the local U-Haul, parked by the fill tank, and in just a few seconds a young Asian man, with very baggy jeans and a slow shambling gait, walked over to our car. He spoke with a slight accent,and while he didn't recognize Stew, he did recognize the tank. (Really, he knew our tank!)

He examined it carefully then quickly and efficiently refilled it. I talked with him a bit and found that this is a weekend job. He has another part time job in the area and he is a full time student at a local college. With all of that going on, this young man was very conscientious as he filled the tank. He had obviously taken his training to heart and was proud of the responsibility that he had been given. When he handed the tank to Stew, he again admonished him to keep it upright and not to smoke while the tank was in the car. For some reason, he touched me. Nice kid, working hard to move ahead. When we finally take off to sail the world, I am sure I will be touched by many people.In the meantime, I want to remember to notice the people here in Maine who help to create this interesting community. Not all discoveries occur thousands of miles from home.

Hmmmm. Guess I knew something back then, after all.

So, You Want to Go Cruising? Part One–Decisions


Lately, folks who wish to follow in our wake have asked advice about boats, cost, homes, and this lifestyle. Many of the questions are the same, but some are unique to each cruising couple. Some of our fellow cruisers may have answers similar to mine, some of them – and EW – may disagree with one or two of my statements. Please comment, disagree, agree, and start a discussion. What do you think, and/or what questions do you have?

In no particular order, here are answers to the most asked questions:

Will you talk my wife/husband/significant other into this? Not for a million dollars. This truly only works well if both parties are eager to embrace this lifestyle. I’ve met cruising spouses who have very reluctantly agreed to join in their loved one’s dream. In every case, I’ve met, either the dream or the marriage are cut short.

The exception to that rule – Some less enthusiastic sailing spouses have willingly agreed to a cruise for a limited length of time, or in a limited manner. Though we all admire and love to meet those who have circumnavigated, even they will say that there are no rules to this. If you like to sail, and are interested in travel, there are ways to make it work. Some spouses meet the boat in the Bahamas, Caribbean, or wherever after the captain and a crew have delivered it. Carolyn Goodlander, veteran circumnavigator, excellent sailor, and super fun cruising buddy told me that “There is no shame in yacht transport.” I met a woman in Trinidad in October who told me they were leaving for the Med on November. I was nonplussed, until she said they’d gotten a great deal on a yacht transport, and could sleep on their yacht for the ten day passage. We’ve met a lot of couples who cruise the Caribbean in the winter, haul the yacht in Grenada or Trinidad, and fly home for the summer. I won’t talk your spouse into trying this lifestyle, but you may consider adjusting your dream to meet their comfort level. If that doesn’t work, buy a land yacht or vacation home.


IMG01488Should we sell our home? We did. Frankly, we couldn’t afford both home and boat, so we sold the home and lived aboard the boat for eight years, year-round, in Maine. Now that we’re down here, we think we would have been too stressed if we’d kept a home in Maine. We have friends who had to fly back to New Jersey this fall because their home sustained major damage in Hurricane Sandy. That just isn’t fair. They had to haul their boat during prime cruising season to stay home, in the winter, supervising repairs. We met a couple from South Africa who had circled the world BK (Before Kids), returned home to have and raise four kids to college age, and left them attending local colleges and living together in the family home. Now there’s an idea. Obviously, if you are going to sail half the time, you need a home for the other half. La Luna is our year-round home. NOTE: For some reason, all of my “La Luna Living Aboard” photos from Maine were taken in the winter. It wasn’t like this year-round. Really.

1-STW Things we kept 7-23-2010 11-48-18 AMHow about all your stuff? That’s easy. Get rid of it. It frees you like nothing else. (Having said that, note the size of our boat and discussion about stuff, below.) Seriously, since we lived aboard for eight years, we required a storage locker for our seasonal stuff – boots, coats, and shovels in summer; and dodger, dinghy, and grill in winter. It was larger than we needed for those things because we hadn’t yet gotten rid of some precious items. Before we left we shipped the art to Favorite, participated in two yard sales, and gave stuff away. We also are blessed with dear friends with a very large dry basement, who have allowed me to store precious items and photos until we return. Other than that – it’s all gone or on board. If we ever get a land home again it will be tiny. In fact, I follow the Tiny House Blog, just to keep me centered.  NOTE: Except for the art shipped to Favorite, this smallish pile is all we kept on land. Get rid of your stuff. Most things in the pile are photos and mementos that will probably be scanned and thrown. Get rid of more stuff.

How big a boat do we need? A lovely woman who reads this blog actually triggered this post. Her husband has assured her that they can go cruising on a 32-foot boat. They certainly can. I wouldn’t, but they can. When we purchased La Luna, we fully intended to live aboard for five years. She’s 47 feet and I needed every bit of it for living aboard, working full-time, and having as “normal” a life as possible. Somewhere during year one or two, I told EW that if he wanted to sell her before we left, I could go cruising on a 38 to 40-foot boat. I could, too. I don’t have to because EW had already bonded with La Luna, and wanted to keep her. I’m in love with her too and am delighted we kept her. In my humble opinion, the boat needs to be big enough to have the following:

  • A comfortable cockpit that will seat six comfortably for a party on the hook. (We’ve had 14 on board at times. EW and I find that comfortable. Some of the catamaran sailors seemed tense.)
  • Refrigerator and real freezer – even if the freezer is small.
  • Really good stove and oven.
  • Excellent galley storage actually in or near the galley.
  • Two separate sleeping cabins so the guests aren’t in the main saloon.
  • Storage. You don’t need as much as we have. The more storage you have the more stuff you will acquire. We seem to have forgotten the “When a new thing comes aboard, an old thing goes off rule.” You will want some comforts from your shore life: Christmas decorations, art, photos, and Maine maple syrup are a few that come to mind for me. Having said that, we have friends on a 52 Tayana (you know who you are) and the captain emphatically stated that they don’t have a sewing machine on board because they don’t have room to store it. Oh yes, they do. I could find room for that machine in five minutes.
  • Room below for your lifestyle. EW and I can both be below at the same time, each enjoying our own favorite pastime in the main saloon. He plays guitar on the settee and I write at the dining table or read in my corner. However, I do wish our chart table was more comfortable and had more air circulation. I’d prefer to write there.
  • Oh, and of course most important, the boat has to be well built and blue ocean worthy. In a group of cruisers, there are many different opinions about which boats we would each take to sea. EW and I agree (probably because he taught me), that we are comfortable in La Luna because she is a very well built, mono-hull, with a strong hull and decks, and full keel. This works for us. Each cruiser and potential cruiser must do their own research and decide what works for them. Remember, you need to trust your boat. I do trust La Luna. ( There are many, many, many factors to consider when choosing a cruising sailboat. This is not to be considered a definitive list. The best recent book on the subject is Beth Leonard's Voyager’s Handbook, the Essential Guide to Blue Water Cruising.  Purchase that book and read it. Use post-it notes and a highlighter like we did. Read other, more technical blogs. Face it, Harts at Sea is a lifestyle blog, not a boat blog, and  I know my limits. In fact, here’s a link to a blog by friends of ours – more about them below. They listed their catalog of the instructional CDs they have found helpful. http://www.zerotocruising.com/research/)

Catamaran Disclaimer: We have nothing against catamarans, in fact, many of our dear friends sail them. I have great envy of their room, gathering space, and especially the freezers. EW would not cross an ocean in a catamaran. He readily admits that his prejudice was formed many years ago, and that cats have changed greatly. He, however,  has not changed so much in that regard, and because of that, I have not. On the other hand, we both agree that if we were going to just cruise the Caribbean and Bahamas, we would switch to a catamaran – as long as I can take my stove with me. They have great space, certainly don’t roll as much, and most have little or no teak to varnish. Who knows? Instead of a tiny home, we may retire from our retirement on a cat.

How much experience do we need? We have met a few sailors who had zero to no experience before setting off on their cruising adventure. Most have come to no harm, nor have they caused others to be harmed. Mike and Rebecca  – those friends with the CD collection -- named their boat and their website Zero to Cruising http://www.zerotocruising.com/, because they went from zero or “total sailing newbies” to cruising when they set off on their dream. Mike and Rebecca are remarkably focused people, each has exceptional drive, courage, focus and a desire to learn. They have continued to take advanced courses while thoroughly enjoying life in the Caribbean. We’ve also met folks who weren’t ready when they left and had bad to horrible experiences. I’d  suggest going when you’re ready to nearly ready. EW had crossed an ocean and delivered boats from the Bahamas and Florida to Maine. He’d been working in the industry for over 30 years and he can fix nearly anything. I had been sailing since I met EW, and had done overnights on both of our boats and with others. I guess that’s why I don’t have Mike and Rebecca’s list of CDs – EW was my primary source. (You can’t have him as I got him first and am holding on to a good thing.)  Before we left, we both took courses in navigation, first aid, and understanding weather. (Full disclaimer, I slept through the weather course.) EW had his Captain’s license – which is not needed but does allow us to get a discount on insurance. More experience is better. Research what you don’t know. Read a lot – including the books about difficult passages – and get at least some ocean sailing experience before setting off. Both of us can drive and anchor the boat, handle a night watch and make decisions about sail trim, navigate, drive and beach the dinghy, use both radios, know when the engine sounds right, cook a meal, and doctor the other. This is a team effort, and the more ready all team members are, the better the effort. We have met women and couples who have taken actual sailing “courses” at sea and none of them regretted it.

Here’s the thing … this lifestyle is a lot easier, safer, and more accessible than it was 20 years ago. Cell phones, satellite phones, SSB radios, and the Internet allow us to keep in contact nearly all the time. We can receive up-to-date weather information while we are at sea, and we can have an AIS VHF radio which lets us know what big ships are out there and whether we are on a collision course with us. Frankly, all of that can make it too easy for some folks to set sail with perhaps a skosh less experience than they really need. More is better.

Here’s the other thing … If this is something you have wanted to do, and really want to go for it – then do it. It’s an amazing, wonderful, enriching lifestyle. I look happy, don’t I?


Three Things I’ve Learned About Staying Happily Married


Twenty-six years ago today, EW and I were wed at Holy Cross Church in Portland Maine. I became a wife and a 003_3step-mother, and had a lot to learn about filling both roles. We all had a lot to learn – and EW and I still work at it. Having been married and divorced when we met, EW at first flatly refused to discuss marriage, saying he was never getting married again. When he proposed, I was so surprised that I asked him if he were serious and threatened bodily harm if he “took it back”. Not the most romantic response, I know.

We both very quickly got used to the idea – in fact I picked out my dress the very next day! EW began to set limits, “I’m not sure that I can be married for life,” he said with a sly grin. “That’s fine”, I said, “but I want a 50th wedding anniversary. Can you handle 50 years?” He said that sounded OK; this morning he (predictably) mentioned that he only had “Twenty-four to go.”

We’ve had our ups and downs – still do, even on the boat – or perhaps especially on the boat – but we’re committed to being married for 50 years and I’ve taken an option on the next 50. Priorities and lessons change with each year, month or day; today I am sure of three things that will help us reach that Golden Anniversary: first, a sense of humor is vital (see above) second, we don’t have to agree, but we do have to forgive; third, sharing a dream and working to make it come true adds spice, excitement, and a reason to make things work.

Many years ago we both attended a course led by Ivan Brunell founder of International Personal Development. We learned a number of techniques that we try to put into practice, though both of us have had times when you’d never know it. Ivan said that if you still get angry about something that happened in the past, you haven’t forgiven the other party, no matter what you tell yourself and others. And you know something? Two smart, creative, strong people will never, ever agree about everything. Relationships create conflict and it’s how you manage that conflict that determines whether you move forward fully or not. That was brought home to me recently as EW and I “discussed” an old issue that was creating new conflict because I couldn’t let go, accept what is, and move on. I’m working on that. It’s my belief that the inability to truly “agree to disagree” and let it go destroys many marriages. I’ll not let it destroy ours.

We are living our dream and that is a wonderful thing to share. Though having a boat and sailing to distant ports was a dream EW brought to the relationship, he made it abundantly clear that he would be happier at sea if he could share that dream with me. Through the years this became our dream and we worked, plotted, read, asked questions, attended boat shows, and visualized our shared adventure at sea.

Last year, late in June, I was stunned when he expressed concern that he hadn’t thought of something exciting to do for our Twenty-fifth anniversary. I told him that he was taking me to sea in a few months – that was excitement enough! Now, one year later we’ve weathered squalls off Cape Fear, fixed the boat in beautiful harbors, met others who were living their dreams at sea, and traveled from Maine to St. Lucia. No life is perfect, no relationship sunny every day, but as I write this with rain beating down on the deck, I know that I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else, with anyone else.

Anniversary 5 St. Lucia 2011 7-6-2011 1-19-10 PMFor me, this is perfection. I love you, EW. Thank you, for giving me at least 50 years of your life, all of your love, and making our dreams come true. P7060031

The view off our stern at Marigot Bay, St. Lucia. Not a bad place to spend a wedding anniversary.


Man, I'm beating this topic to death. But until this week, I didn't realize in my heart that we are Moving. Moving with italics and an uppercase "M".  

I know we're going sailing, and leaving the area, but I just didn't recognize that we are Moving and the stress and heartache I have been feeling is normal for people moving far away from home. Moving.

In a cursory search on other blogs posted by those who have taken off for a long cruise, few mention this. One blogger writes eloquently about experiences at sea and on shore -- but when I looked back at the year they left there were no posts between buying the boat and being at sea.

We are moving. We have lived in the Portland area since the early 80's. We are established here with friends, physicians, dentists, and clubs and organizations. We know the restaurants, the roads that are likely to have commuting traffic jams (except for construction, a traffic jam in Maine means you wait 3 turns of the light to get through), movie theaters, music venues, and quiet anchorages. 

I have never lived outside of Maine. (Six months in Salem, New York when I was 4 doesn't count. Never even lost my accent.) We live within two hours of most of my relatives, an hour from EW's sister, a half hour from K - a dear friend of 40+ years, and 15 minutes from L and R - dear friends for the past 5 years. We are Moving. Far away. It is normal for me to be stressed, verklempt, and on the verge of tears. I finally get that.

Last night, we had dinner with EW's brother -H,  his sister - D , and her partner - N. They prepared a feast with much wine - made by H. As D said, "We see each other only about once a month. But it has been so nice to know you are close by." I have felt the same way.

They presented us 12 bottles of H's wine (mmmm) and a lovely and useful Yacht Log book. N, a writer and a poet wrote this poem for us.

We know the sea has been beckoning to you all along,

and the time has come to heed her call.

Still we sing a glad but saddened song

to greet this splashy fall.


Each time we walk the beach we'll wonder where you are

on some exotic island or on the rolling tide.

But no matter if you're near or far

we'll feel you at our side.


So anchor up, unfurl the sail,

let a fair wind be your guide.

And as you live your mariner's tale

May God sail at your side.

--- Norman Abelson, 9.16.10

We are blessed.

The Five Things that Bother Me Most About Taking Off to Cruise the World

"So how do you really feel about taking off?" 

Someone asked me that last week. Looked me right in the eyes and just came out with it. 

Oh man. Oh gee. Oh my goodness. We're going. We're really, really going. And I'm happy. Thrilled. 

Thrilled. Honest. 

The person asking the question wanted to know if I was scared. No. Nope. No, really. Not scared. I'm sure I'll be scared somewhere out there, but I'm not scared now. 

I'm delighted. Ecstatic. Thrilled. 

And sad. Sometimes very sad. You can tell because I haven't blogged in weeks. (Can't believe anyone still follows me. Been in a procrastinating slump lately. Big time.)

  • Haven't blogged because I want the blog to be (mostly) honest and I didn't want to write this post. 
  • Haven't written thank you notes for the wonderful party that I haven't blogged about because writing those notes will be an ending of some sort and I don't want things to end.
  • Have been eating too much, reading junk, working on the boat a bit, working on my business a lot, and writing lists.   
I've lived in Maine all of my life up until now. (Except for 6 months in upstate New York when I was four and five. That doesn't count at all.) 

  • We have excellent friends here. 
  • We have loving family here.
  • We are established in the community and that has been important to me. 
  • EW and I each have a successful business. Not giant successful, but we do all right. (Nods head turns down corners of mouth.) 
  • I have been on the board of the Chamber, and of the Association for Consulting Expertise. EW was commodore of our yacht club
  • We love Maine.  We just love it. We've lived here by choice and it has been a wonderful place for us

And we are leaving by choice and that is also a wonderful choice for us. 

So, what is really bothering me? In reverse order of importance:  (Drum roll, please)

    # 5  I have never successfully grocery shopped for one full week and you want me to provision for 30 days! Are you crazy?

    # 4 Getting rid of/storing the last of the stuff in the storage locker. I know that no one, probably including me, will care about those 3 boxes of photos but they aren't digitized and I'm not throwing them out. You can't make me. You can't make me. 

    # 3 Missing important events. I hate to miss things. I'm going to miss a lot of events, big and small. We were just invited to a wedding late in October in New York. The groom is one of EW's boyhood friends. We are delighted that he is marrying a wonderful woman and sad that we most likely won't be able to attend. (Did you catch that "most likely"? You'll note that I'm not ready to give that up, yet. We have already declined the invitation, but I don't want EW to miss this wedding.) Did I say that I hate to miss things? 

    # 2 Saying goodbye. Haven't really done it yet. But this will be tough. Worried about it already. 'Nuff said. Tears forming.

    # 1 Causing EW to think for just a second that I don't want to go. I am thrilled to go. Delighted. Ecstatic. Jumping up and down for joy. 

Most of the time that joy is evident, I am bouncing and talking fast and waving my hands and smiling broadly. I am happy and blessed. But sometimes that happiness is bittersweet. We aren't simply going. We are leaving. And we'll be leaving some wonderful people and taking wonderful memories with us. 

How do I feel about taking off? Great. Just great. Really. 

Cutting the Lines -- Live Aboard Sailors Become World Cruisers

Oh Golly. Now you know. If you hadn't made it through the Pecha Kucha post yesterday and heard the announcement at the end -- if you missed the clues on this blog and Twitter -- if you didn't believe we'd really do it. Now you know. We will not spend another winter in Maine on the boat. In October we are leaving for a gentle sail down the Eastern seaboard, checking in with friends and family along the way. 

We plan to have Thanksgiving in Jacksonville and Christmas in the U.S.V.I. Then we'll sail. And sail. At this point in time we plan to sail back to Maine and Nova Scotia in three or four years. We'll visit ports on both sides of the Atlantic until we're done. Then we will go through the Panama Canal and sail on that side of the world until we're done. 

We're going sailing. I cannot even tell you what I'm thinking or feeling right now. This isn't a surprise to me, but there are "Going Pains". We aren't sleeping well. We are so thankful for our friends and family. We have been feted with one going-away/anniversary party already. This is all precious and important but my words here only skim the surface. 

I promise you more.

For now, I'm getting ready for what I hope is my Last Yard Sale Ever. As I would ask EW when we were painting the bottom of our first boat, "Am I having fun, yet?"