welcome to our blog!

This blog tells the story of our 22-month sailing journey from Oakland, California, to Bristol, Rhode Island, aboard our beloved Bristol 32 sailboat, Ute. Please feel free to browse through the archives (partway down the sidebar to your left) to see pics and read stories of our adventures in North America and Central America . (Sorry the first 3 months of the trip are missing - they vanished somewhere in an internet cafe in Mexico - but all you're missing is CA, Baja and Western Mex).

If you're trying to track us down now that we're landlubbers, try us at uteatlarge at yahoo dot com. Thanks!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

funny monkeys reprise

in response to many requests for the Funny Monkey Attack video from our readership!

and as a bonus here's a fun clip of Danny and Allen catching a gallon of ceviche, er I mean a dorado, somewhere north of Cuba...

Friday, September 07, 2007

Fat Lady Sings in Mystic

Last night, we traded our beautiful boat, our trusty steed, the steward of our dreams for the last 7,000 miles and two years, for a small rectangular piece of paper with 5 very important digits on it. are we thrilled? yes. a little sad to see her go? yes.

Our end of the deal includes delivering her to Rhode Island with the new owner on board - sort of a tutorial on Ute's sytems - so we'll even get one last sail in.

Now our dear friends and fam can call us up without getting all that pressure to buy our boat. I'm sure there is relief on all sides. Thanks to all our people on the ground who got the word out about the Boat Deal of the Century. you're the best!

who would've thought that just 3 weeks on Craigslist could sell a boat? I love this country.

Monday, August 27, 2007

can you dig it

here are some of the prize artifacts from the archaeological dig in our icebox. We also found 6 Safeway canned good items that were purchased at the Pack & Shoot in West Oakland and transported all the way here on board......

here's a video snapshot from the offloading of Ute. the last week has been a funny, funny, and bittersweet time for us; we're sad to say goodbye to this way of life and at the same time, we can't sell the boat fast enough! let the next chapter begin!

To get our stuff of the boat, as you'll see in the vid, we pack it up on Ute, transfer it to the dinghy (ideally without accidentally dropping heavy boxes over the rail and into the Mystic River), drive a a couple minutes in the dinghy to a public dinghy dock, then carry it to a borrowed car (thanks, fam) and then unload it from the car into the garage.

This has proven to be an amusing process. Not strenuous or particularly stressful, but challenging in its own way. Thank god for our family here in Mystic that is helping us in every step of the process.

The folks that run the local water taxis and tour boats (and there are plenty - this is a big tourist town in the summer) have gotten friendly with us and a few even include us in their tour when we drive by in our precariously loaded dinghy, riding low in the water, engine sputtering, with one of us perched on top of a smelly pile of Rubbermaid totes. A few dozen households in greater New England will scratch their heads when they look through their vacation photo albums, wondering who snapped the pictures of the vagrants in a small inflatable vessel.

We're showing the boat to prospective buyers nearly every day. We feel like she's a great value for the asking price, but the market is lousy right now, so....all we can do is wait and see!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Thanks Julie and Vanessa for the VERY timely anniversary gift! (we haven't picked a spot just yet, still reading)

Count Basil and Wootie the Agouti are very proud to have made the trip all the way from Panama to Connecticut.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

We made it!

We left Norfolk on a beautiful sunny day - last Thursday to be more specific. As much as we would have loved to visit family and friends in the Chesapeake area and around DC and New Jersey, we knew that reality dictated our highest priority should be just getting the darn boat to New England already. And so it was with apprehension and excitement that we departed for what would likely be our last offshore passage, the 400-mile hop to Mystic, CT (our final destination, and home to Allen's dad and stepmom, two of Ute's biggest supporters!).

"Why Connecticut?" is the question lots of you have asked, and the simple answers are: we have family there; it's north of the hurricane zone, but still not so far north that we'd never get there; and, perhaps most importantly, it's arguably the best market to sell a 40-year-old Bristol 32. Not only was Ute built in nearby Bristol, Rhode Island, but she's a proud member of a genre of classic-plastic boats that is more appreciated here than in other parts of the country (nobody in Miami wants a 40 year old boat that goes 6 miles an hour. nobody.) It still could take a little while to find her next keeper, but our odds are better here.

The four-day northbound passage was, for the most part, uneventful and lovely, although we did have about 12 hours of the kind of weather that made us wonder, again, whose stupid idea was this, anyway? But it seemed only appropriate that our last big leg of our trip would cycle us through all of our very mixed emotions about spending nearly 2 years voyaging on a tiny boat. And we were seriously seasick just long enough to keep us from getting sentimental about this lifestyle that we'll soon be giving up.

Instead of going straight to Mystic, we pulled into Montauk, Long Island, for a too-short night's sleep on Sunday. The thorny calculus of wind, tides, currents and routing that makes Long Island Sound a famous sailing ground meant that we had to wait until Monday morning to make the last 20-mile jaunt over to Mystic, on the other side of the Sound. This was fine with us as our bodies were a little worn out from the seasick chapter. Montauk evidently is a native American word meaning, "if you have to ask, you can't afford it" and let's just say the locals didn't fully appreciate the little Emeryville touches Ute brought in: it was sort of a nautical version of the Beverly Hillbillies as we blitzed our way into Lake Montauk, exhausted, after dark, searching out the channel markers with a million-candle-power spotlight we pirated from a Dumpster a few years back. But we made it into the anchorage at last, dropped the hook, and promptly passed out.

We awoke to a perfect foggy New England morning yesterday and pulled out of Montauk to cross the Sound, wondering if the horror stories we'd heard about "The Race" would prove true. I guess we picked a good day and the right weather and tides, because while the seas were distinctly washing-machine-like, the crossing was fun and exhilirating without getting ugly at any point. It was easy to see, though, how that stretch of the sound could kick our butts under different conditions. The Sound was beautiful, and reading in our cruising guide about all its little nooks and crannies that can be readily explored by boat made us wish we had a month to just poke around......

We entered the Mystic River with the aid of the flood tide (timing is everything in sailing) and were thrilled to see a side of Mystic we haven't before. One of the biggest joys of this trip is sailing into familiar ports and seeing them in a whole new light - approaching from the water offers us a whole new understanding of the geography of a place. It really was beautiful!

As we approached our very last bridge we smiled at the sight of Rick cheering us on from a nearby dock along with an impromptu cheering section. At that moment it began to feel real that we had sailed for 22 months and several thousand miles to get here! We exchanged Top Fives all around.

As if the glow of finally arriving wasn't enough, we soon found that our anchorage in Mystic is right next to the Mystic Seaport, directly across from Rick and Ellen's house, and - major bonus - one of their neighbors was nice enough to let us use their dinghy dock so we could actually get to land! And what a thrill it was, this getting to land - we enjoyed a delicious dinner, hot baths, and cold drinks: a cruising sailor's trifecta of bliss. Thanks Rick and Ellen!

So I guess this is it for now....but we'll still be posting on the blog, I'm sure. It just will get really domestic and boring, I suppose.....

Thanks a million to all of our friends and family for your support, understanding, contributions (of both the tangible and intangible variety), enthusiasm, and major logistical assitance. It's hard for us to know where to start in showing our gratitude for everyone that helped us along the way, but we're gonna try and let folks know just how much it meant to us, one person at a time.

And for the dozens of you who have been asking, "So, what's next?", we've created a special "What's Next" link just for you in the sidebar to the left of this post....

With lots of love and gratitude from Mystic, UTE
lounging on land is pretty swell.....
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Ute's the only one who hasn't had a bath yet!
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we're thrilled to see they're training up the next generation of sailors here in Mystic, so that twenty years from now, these kids can blow their life savings to spend two years seasick, get struck by lightning, contract flesh-eating tropical diseases, get homesick, do away with all personal hygiene standards, and come home broke. oh, and have the adventure of a lifetime.
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all smiles in the Mystic River!
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Cora was thrilled to find scrapple, a favorite treat, in the supermarket in Norfolk - you can't buy it anhywere but the Delmarva area. We ate it with gravy and biscuits as a final farewell to the South....
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Tuesday, July 31, 2007

at the 2nd Dismal Swamp lock, the lock master collects conch shells from all the cruising boats reporting back from warmer climes, so we had to make a contribution on Ute's behalf! Our molluscan offering was from the very first conch we ate in sunny Guanaja, Honduras. Now it will grace a small garden in North Carolina....I wonder if any of its companions hail from Guanaja too?

reality check

What was truly surprising about our trip through the Great Dismal Swamp was how much it brought our Panama Canal transit to mind. Much like Panama, we spent today motoring through an almos-pristine, moist, thick, seemingly impermeable jungle in a thousand shades of green. We kept our eyes on the branches overhead and the shores and were rewarded with fleeting glimpses of wildlife: muskrats, turtles, tanagers, and....get this....a baby BLACK BEAR right next to the boat! (so cool). At some point we entered a marvel of engineered, not natural, beauty: a lock. much smaller than the ones in Panama, but same concept. We loved it. And after about forty miles of motoring, lo and behold, it was back to salty open water as we emerged into one of the planet's busiest shipping lanes, surrounded by buoys, warnings, warships, giant wharves, cranes, the whole nine yards. It's both lovely and a little jarring to have a swampy heaven all to yourself, only to be sworn at in Russian by a cranky tugboat driver two hours afterwards. Thanks, Panama, for preparing us for all of this....!

So now we're tied up in Norfolk, surrounded by hustle and bustle and tourist traps aplenty. Our brief foray into town today revealed Virginians to be among the friendliest bunch of any along the way. We'll spend a day or two here, then it's back on the road for some more northing!

Allen helpfully points out as osprey's nest

the Dismal Swamp is sort of a throwback to another time....it was started in the 1700's by George Washington and his cronies and dug mostly by slave labor, and used heavily in the Civil War to transport troops and more. It's pretty amazing. The Army Corps of Engineers does its best to maintain a dredged channel of at least 6 feet deep, but as funding has oscillated over past years, so has the depth. Lucky for us, we saw 8-9 feet throughout and didn't run aground once! But there was one morning the dredge team was out clearing the way right ahead of us.. It reminded me of riding the schoolbus right after a snowstorm, and having the snowplow working ahead of the bus, clearing the way.

here's how "thrifty" (read: cheap and with some screws loose) we've become on this trip - I drained a can of cranberries to make muffins the other morning, and couldn't bring myself to throw away all that perfectly good cranberry juice syrup, so I saved it and made two fake Cosmos later that day with vodka and a lime. and you know what? they were pretty damn good too....

shots from the Waccamaw

we've had a fix on Buster for awhile now, so we always know how far away he is.....we're getting closer every day!