Monday, August 7, 2023

Goodbye Oyai & Hello New York City!

After leaving Annapolis, we explored the eastern shore of Chesapeake Bay for a couple of weeks.  We sailed to a quaint little town called St. Michaels, and hung out for a few days in the stifling heat. We also had the opportunity to sail with Sue & Jem, two members of the family that now own Oyai.  They stayed aboard for a few days, and we were able to show them how everything worked.  We eventually sailed into another great little town called Oxford, which would be our final sailing destination on our extended family voyage.  We definitely had mixed emotions about our journey coming to an end, but we kept ourselves busy packing and cleaning up the boat.  This is our final departure photo with Oyai.  She has seen us safely through some nasty weather and been our constant companion for the last year - so long girl, we will miss you!

Before we said goodbye to the boat, we explored Oxford and all it had to offer.  It’s an awesome little town with a rich history in boat building. We stumbled into a local vintage shop and made quick friends with the staff there. They promptly asked if they could dress the girls and do up their hair all fancy - so kind!

The weather around the Chesapeake is wild. One moment, it will be hot and sticky, and the next there will be a torrential downpour with thunder and lightning.  Stu had to duck under cover during a morning run to escape the weather - at which point a local gentleman offered him a cup of coffee while he waited… people are awesome!

The wooden boat building history in Oxford was incredible. This particular boat yard (now Cutts & Case) has been around for about 100 years.  

We met some really great friends in Oxford named Meghan and Liam. Meghan is the kind woman who fussed over the girls at the vintage shop and Liam is a professional mariner and boat restorer.  They also own a 50+ foot sailboat (named “Star”) and plan to sail around the world soon. We had lots in common and spent heaps of time together during our last week aboard Oyai.  Their Chihuahua, “Dynamite”, was the cutest dog ever!

“Star” had an amazing history and Liam had known the boat since she was built. Fate brought them all together, and they were busy getting her ready to sail around the world.  The boat was very well built and super seaworthy with lots of cozy touches on the inside. We hope we get to see them all again at some point in the future. 

After saying goodbye to Oyai, we rented a car and drove straight to New York City.  Oyai’s new owners own a small apartment in Manhattan and they generously offered it to us for a few days.  As you can imagine, it’s quite a contrast to go from living on a sailboat to visiting one of the biggest cities in the world.  But, it’s a challenge that we are happy to accept!  We will immerse ourselves in the NYC vibe for 10 days before heading home to Comox.  The apartment is in Midtown Manhattan and is easy walking distance to so many great things. First, we went to Rockefeller Center and the toy store “FAO Schwarz”that was in the movie “Big”.

We walked around and saw so many great sights on day one. Radio City Music Hall, Times Square, and Central Park. 

In this photo, you can see the Ball of Lights (high above Lana’s head) that descends on New Years Eve.

We rented bicycles and rode around the city, first doing a lap of Central Park.  

We biked past the “Friends” apartment building in Greenwich Village and then returned the bikes in Soho.

Aria in Soho!

We have been making good use of the extensive subway system in NYC because it’s so user friendly. Lots of NYC “culture” can be learned while riding the subway too 🙂

New York can get super expensive, if you’re not careful, so we have been exploring lots of less costly options. The New York Public Library has some incredible buildings and we have discovered many of them.  This one, in Greenwich Village, was built in the late 1800’s, and used to be a courthouse. 

The girls have been quite content to chill and read for a couple of hours as a break from the days of intense NYC exploration.  

Behind the main New York Public Library, in Midtown, is Bryant Park. It’s a lovely, ginormous green space dedicated to “community”. They have free movies, performances, games and classes. You can learn how to juggle 5 days a week!

A trip to New York isn’t complete without a visit to Broadway (at least that’s what some trusted sources told us).  So we decided to buy tickets to a show called “The Play That Goes Wrong”.  It was a comedy that came recommended by some friends. It was absolutely HILARIOUS!!  We have never heard our girls laugh that hard, and for as long, at anything before.  It was a highlight for sure. 

The apartment building that we are staying at has a doorman and a nice entrance with lots of mirrors.  We always stop at this spot to pose and see the infinity family behind us.

As luck would have it, we have a second cousin living in NYC.  Grayson moved here just after high school to attend theatre school. He has been living here ever since and loves it!  Right now, he gives performance-oriented tours for tourists like us. The tour happens on top of a roofless bus and is pretty amazing.  We got to see NYC through his eyes (and at night!).  He is a true performer and it was very special to catch up with him in his city. 

The bus crossed the Manhattan Bridge and we got some awesome, open-air views of the NYC Skyline. 

During our bus tour there was actually a full-blown riot in Manhattan.  It was caused by a hapless social media influencer who instigated thousands of youth.  He did this by failing to give out the free PlayStations he had promised them. Our bus had to do a big detour to avoid the crazy/dangerous areas.  Because of this, we got to see some different parts of New York that we would not normally have seen (all from the safety of an elevated bus!).  The tour turned out to be so amazing and memorable. 

Next up, we decided to have a full-on sightseeing day. We saw The Empire State Building and The Statue of Liberty (from the free Staten Island Ferry).  

Later that day, we paid our respects at Ground Zero of the 9/11 memorial site.  It was emotional just describing to the kids what happened at this place over 20 years ago.  It’s still hard to believe.  Two beautiful fountains have been constructed in the original Twin Towers’ foundations. The water is said to represent the tears cried by the loved ones of the, almost 3000, people who died here.  All around the fountains are names of first responders who lost their lives when the towers collapsed. 

The new World Trade Centre occupies the block next to the 9/11 site.

We only have a couple of days left in New York before we fly home.  Although we will be sad to see this amazing family voyage come to an end, we are really looking forward to seeing our wonderful family and friends!  This year away has been so incredibly rich in experiences and memories. We will arrive back in Canada with new perspectives and a deep appreciation for home.  We look forward to seeing each and every one of you sometime soon!

Wednesday, July 12, 2023

Sailing up the Chesapeake and urban exploration

 Our journey has led us north in the Chesapeake Bay where we have had a few days of amazing sailing!  We had a beautiful downwind sail with our twin headsails on our way to Annapolis, Maryland.

Check out this video for some sailing during the trip to Annapolis. 

Raising and dousing our spinnaker sail (called a “ballooneur” on the Amel boat) takes some work. Lana and Stu have it fairly dialed in at this point. Check out this Timelapse video to see the action. 

We are often up before the sun rises for these day sails. The first light can be just as breathtaking as the sunsets, out here on the water. 

The day before we set sail to Annapolis, we were in a town called Solomons at the mouth of the Potomac River. It had a wonderful art galley with a Makers Room which we spent a few hours in.  We made some awesome works of art. 

In Annapolis, we explored the US Naval Academy. This is where they have trained their Naval Officers for almost 200 years. We were tied to a mooring just off of the town and could hear “Taps” every morning at 6 am when the recruits would start their callisthenics.  The buildings were incredible and the public had amazing access to most of the campus. 

The Navy started buying Wright Flyers from Wilbur and Oroville in 1911, only a few years after they invented the first airplane.  This one was suspended on display in their massive lounge & mess hall. 

One of the Naval Academy Museum curators had a chihuahua named “Ziggy Rex”. He is an unofficial Navy mascot and was really into cuddles. 

We were lucky enough to spend the 4th of July in the Annapolis Harbour. The fireworks were spectacular!

Annapolis was very quaint and interesting, but we had heard that Washington DC was a “must-see”.  It did not disappoint!  There were so many amazing museums and sights to see. We packed it all in over 3 days.  First, we went to the International Spy Museum. It was fun, but also super educational and interesting.

Next, we began to explore the many incredible Smithsonian Museums - there were about 10!  This is the Smithsonian Institute Building in the middle of DC. Beautiful!

We also stumbled upon the NASA Headquarters Building. 

The Air & Space Museum was spectacular, with so many amazing displays and interactive exhibits.  We learned about black holes, space suits, Mars Rovers, and so much more. 

For the Trekkies, they had the original Enterprise prop from the 60’s TV Show “Star Trek”

The museum was home to the original Wright Brothers Flyer. Such a cool piece of history!

The Air & Space Museum also had a gigantic hangar full of historic aircraft and displays.  The Space Shuttle Discovery was a highlight, for sure. 

In other parts of the building, a huge number of remarkable planes were crammed into every nook and cranny (or hung from the ceiling!).

This X-1 airplane was piloted by Chuck Yeager and was the first to break the sound barrier in 1947. 

It was sobering to see such historically significant airplanes, and be reminded of the enormous destructive potential that they possess. The Enola Gay was the bomber that dropped the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima in 1945.

The next morning, we got an early start and walked around to see the sights around the National Mall and Reflecting Pool. The Washington Monument was huge and was the tallest building in the world when it was completed in 1888. 

The mornings were relatively cool in DC, so we took our time and explored the WWII memorial and other sights around the reflecting pool.

The Natural History Museum in DC was absolutely massive. It would take a week to explore every exhibit, but we managed to hit the highlights in over a few hours.  The dinosaur skeleton displays were unbelievably good. 

They had a full size model of a Megalodon hanging from the ceiling.  It was about 60 feet long. Bigger than our sailboat!

In the geology section of the museum, they had The Hope Diamond. It was enormous and is valued at over 250 million dollars. 

The Early Humans exhibit was really good. At one interactive display, you could find out what you’d look like as an early human- Micah looked the best of all of us. 

The Museum of American History included a great Pop Culture Exhibit with many props and details from our favourite shows. 

Back on the boat, we have lots of downtime as well.  The girls end up giving each other spa treatments occasionally.  Other popular pastimes include reading, playing games, cleaning, fixing things and watching shows together. 

Stu had a quick trip back to Canada to attend an in-person memorial of his dear friend Andrew. It was a bittersweet 36 hours, and it was amazing to share memories with all the people, in Canada, who meant the most to Andrew.

The girls stayed back in the US and got to visit with the new owners of Oyai for a couple of days.  They visited Assateague Island where wild horses run free.  Micah was in heaven. 

They also spent time at Dewey Beach and played carnival games and explored the busy waterfront. 

While exploring the areas around Annapolis, DC & Dewey Beach, we ended up renting a Tesla. We are converts to the electric vehicle after a week with this bad boy! During the charging cycles, we often did “Careoke” which passed the time quickly. 3 out of 4 family members got into it - watch the video to see which one wasn’t a big fan 😄

We are now planning to head to the eastern shore of the Chesapeake Bay and explore some of the cute, historic towns over there. Sadly, that is also where we will say goodbye to Oyai in a couple of weeks.  She has been so good to us and taken care of us so well.  We will spend a few days in Oxford, Maryland, packing up and cleaning the boat for her new owners Noel & Sue.  After that we plan to head north (on land!) to New York City and spend a week there.  Stay tuned for all of that action!

Goodbye Oyai & Hello New York City!

After leaving Annapolis, we explored the eastern shore of Chesapeake Bay for a couple of weeks.  We sailed to a quaint little town called St...