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Waypoints Part 2: Ogden Nash meets Hurricane Bill

2009 October 2
Okay, I know, I didn't keep up my part of the blogging bargain, as many of you have so kindly reminded me. I am sorry, really. But you should know that I started to blog, or started the blog, verb, noun, whatever, I swear I did. But then another stinking tropical storm spun to life, and then I had another passage to plan, and two articles were overdue, and then dolphins abducted me in the Cabot Strait, then … I know, woeful, pathetic excuses, the bloody blog just bogged down. Say that three times.

But maybe you're lucky I didn't blog as intended because while waiting for Hurricane Bill to arrive I was lying in my bunk reading a book of poems by Ogden Nash. It was a tattered volume of his collected works. I had found it on the bookshelf in the laundry-mat in St. John's. It was an old hard cover, dedicated to Bill, which I found terribly coincidental, and it was from Ivy, who I assumed was a wonderful Newfoundland woman with a great sense of humor.

I love Ogden Nash, and I "was inspired by his silly verses but would have been fired by my wet nurses, because, sadly my many attempts at rhyme turned out badly each time..." Hey don't laugh, this stuff is harder than it looks. I warned you, okay here's the Nash(ism) I was going to start the blog off with:

"Bill turned up in the middle of the night,
but he forgot to pack his called for might.
Darkness gave way to the breath of first light,
it seemed your blogging friend had slept through the night."

I shouldn't admit it after all the sheer drama of my previous blog, but I fell asleep just as Hurricane Bill arrived with a few moans and gusts. I woke once, I think, or maybe I dreamed I woke, either way, the next thing I knew for sure was that Bill was on his way to Ireland, the air was crisp and clean and Randy and I were having breakfast at Velma's on Water Street. Hurricane Bill had more bluster than bite, the Canadian media makes as much of a circus of tropical storms as we do.

Greatly relieved, I left Quetzal tied to the wharf in St. John's Harbor and dashed back home to give a lecture. The very next weekend Tropical Storm Danny followed in Bill's wake and again took aim on poor old Newfoundland. This time I took the advice of my friends and stayed home. Randy, Frank, Peter, Hubert and others kept an eye on her and I knew she was in good hands, although unheralded Danny caused more of a stir in the harbor than big bad Bill the week before. Still, I was a nervous wreck and would have been happier reading Ogden Nash in my bunk then checking www.stormpulse.com every 15 minutes. Don't worry nothing rhymes from here to the end of the blog.

Less than a week later I was back in St. John's making preparations for the voyage to Nova Scotia. This passage was great fun as we made our to Lunenburg via Cape Race, St. Pierre, Miquelon, Ramea, and the Bra d' Or Lakes. And that's where Quetzal rests now, lying on a mooring behind Alan and Anne Marie Creaser's house. The storied port of Lunenburg is her home away from home-that's what I call a waypoint.

Now lets talk about waypoints. I think of a waypoint as a point where something significant happened or may happen, or in my case of wandering the world, a place where I've encountered people who have become dear friends. I have been traveling, seriously traveling, most of my adult life. I am addicted to pressing on. And despite this need to keep moving, the nature of landfalls, stumbling headlong into a foreign port, is made for making friends, at least that's how it works out for me. Even short visits turn profound and this seems more so as I get older.

As I rumble around the Atlantic, year after year, I find myself turning up at certain waypoints time and again. Of course some might call this just mooching off your friends but I'd like to think it's more than that. Here are some of those promised waypoints.

Waypoint No. 1: Spring Cove Marina, Solomons Island Maryland
Okay, I have to admit straight up that this a family connection. My sister Liz and brother-in-law Trevor are part owners and full time managers of this beautiful marina and boatyard overlooking Back Creek. More than a few summers back Liz abandoned grad school to sail with Trevor across the Indian and Atlantic Oceans and they eventually fetched up in Solomons and have been at Spring Cove ever since. Quetzal always finds her way here, and not only because I'm family. This is the nicest marina and yard combination on the bay, really. The slips are shaded, the facilities terrific and the yard is staffed by sailors. From Alan, Trevor's brother, to Don, Dorian and others, everybody who works in the yard has sailed across an ocean. Alan and Trevor have both completed circumnavigations. Don sailed over from California in his Ericson 41 and Dorian came up from South Africa in a handsome Herreshoff sloop he built himself. These guys know what they're doing and Quetzal is much better off for it.

Waypoint No. 2: Marblehead, Massachusetts
Quetzal reached this lovely, bluff sided, sailboat stuffed harbor last July. I had been, by land, a few times before to visit my friends Dan and Linda Sullivan. Dan, who claims I saved his life, is one of the planet's great people. Linda, is even better. Tadji and I were blissfully kid-free when tied up at the harbormaster's dock, and Dan and Linda invited us to stay in their guesthouse overlooking the harbor. Guesthouse is a bit misleading, for those that know Marblehead, it's one of the "Grey Ladies" perched out over the southwest corner of the harbor, or as Dan calls it, haabaw. Moving ashore for three days was a tactical mistake on my part. After staying in this beautifully restored turn of the century so called cottage, Tadji was not enthusiastic about shifting back to Quetzal. Instead we stayed with Dan and Linda until it was time for her to go back to work and I enlisted the help of my friend Todd Sumner to sail on to Nova Scotia. Be wary of friends in Marblehead.

Waypoint No. 3: Lunenburg, Nova Scotia
My friends, and probably my enemies too, are weary of me waxing on about Lunenburg. I love this place. It is as a nautical as it gets in North America, tall ships and still a few fishing boats line the brightly colored wharves as the city tries to find its way forward now that commercial fishing is not what it used to be. And the city will because the sea runs through the veins of Lunenburg. Alan Creaser, who I met five years ago after tying up to the wharf next to his restaurant, The Old Fish Factory, has become one of my best friends. We traveled together in France this summer, he's been down to Florida, and he takes care of Quetzal when she's in Lunenburg. Alan traces his family ties in Lunenburg to the first wave of German immigrants who came in 1753. The haunting memorial on the waterfront, near the wharf where the Bluenose schooner docks, has plenty of Creasers inscribed in the black marble. All the families of Lunenburg are represented, for these are the fathers, brothers uncles and friends who have perished at sea. Some years are chilling and all too well represented, like 1926 and 1927, when hurricanes caught the fishing fleet unaware on the Grand Banks. When you drop anchor in Lunenburg, and come ashore for your first Dark and Stormy at the Grand Banker bar, you'll know that you've come to one of the Atlantic's best waypoints.