Tuesday, February 3, 2009


We have neglected our blog. We apologize to our disappointed readers. Both of them complained. Here's what has happened since our last post:

February we enjoyed the Sea of Abaco in the Bahamas. One memorable, calm day at Green Turtle Cay we snorkeled acres of beautiful coral heads crowded with colorful tropical fishes and then walked in the shallow water off the beach, finding dozens of “sand dollars.”

We returned to the mainland USA for March and April to work and visit family there.

Then in May we sailed the Sea of Abaco with dear friends Doug, Sally, and Emily from Des Moines before making an uneventful passage back to the US. We stopped in Florida to see family and get some canvas work done. Then we went offshore to North Carolina and then up the ICW to Chesapeake Bay.

Along the way we stopped at Roanoke Island, where Sir Walter Raleigh established the first English colony in America in 1587, the year before the Armada. It is a lovely town now, but we imagined that in the sixteenth century it would have been a thoroughly horrid place to live. It is low and swampy and the waters surrounding it are about two feet deep for miles in every direction. As we all know, no one from the colony is known to have survived. They had all disappeared within three years, probably dead from various causes or assimilated into the native population.

We visited the great maritime museum at Hampton Roads Virginia. They have an impressive wing devoted to the great naval battle that occurred there between the Union ironclad, Monitor, and the Confederate ironclad, Virginia. They have raised the Monitor's turret from where it lay for over a hundred years off Cape Hatteras, and they are conserving it at the museum. They exhibit beautiful collections of scale model sailing ships and of full-sized boats from around the world.

We visited Kill Devil Hills/Kitty Hawk, and the Wright Brothers National Memorial. There is a great visitors' center where guests can learn about the Wright brothers' research and engineering that led to the first sustained powered flight in a heavier than air machine. This is a must-see for anyone interested in the subject.

We left Seabbatical in Virginia, on the Yeocomico River, a tributary to the Potomac, while we returned to Des Moines for the summer.

In the autumn we returned to Virginia with son, Aaron, to recommission Seabbatical and visit historic sites almost too numerous to mention. Highlights included colonial sites: Williamsburg and Jamestown; Revolutionary War sites: Yorktown; Civil War sites: Cold Harbor, Gaines Mill, Malvern Hill, Petersburg, Appomattox, Spotsylvania, The Wilderness, Chancellorsville, Fredericksburg, and Manassas.

We visited the great cities of Richmond, Washington, DC, and Annapolis, the Confederate White House at Richmond, Robert E. Lee's ancestral home at Stratford, Washington's home at Mount Vernon, and Frederick Douglass' home outside Washington, DC.

Aaron returned to his home in Mason City, Iowa, and Tana and Mark returned to Seabbatical.

By late October, with the threat of hurricanes diminished, we headed south again, first, inside on the ICW until south of Cape Hatteras, and then outside on the North Atlantic from Beaufort, N.C. to Lake Worth Inlet, Florida. We hopped offshore again to Ft. Lauderdale, waited there for weather, and then crossed the Gulf Stream to the Bahamas.

On a wonderful October day while Seabbatical was some miles off the Georgia coast, a tiny, exhausted warbler landed on deck. He was so tired that he was for a whole day completely tame. He flew up onto Mark's chest and rested in the sun all afternoon while Mark conned the boat. From time to time he would hop about the deck, eating bits of cereal we put out for him, and occasionally he flew up onto Mark's hat. The next day he was no longer tame, and the third day he disappeared.

We had a couple of days of concern when a late-season hurricane headed north toward the central Bahamas, but it “petered out” just north of Cuba, so we arrived in Man-O-War Cay without incident, there to decommission Seabbatical again so we could return to Des Moines.

We flew to the Bahamas again in mid-January to find Seabbatical in perfect shape. Our January highlight was the visit of friends Shane and Cindy from Des Moines. We snorkeled, walked the beach, savored key lime pie, and enjoyed not shoveling any snow for days at a time.

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