Personal Stories – Lifestyle related news & photos by Cloudy Bay, Hallberg-Rassy 54 sailing yacht, cruising around the world. www.sailcloudybay.com
Hands up everybody who has thought to themselves “so, what happened to SailCloudyBay’s blog?”
Hmmm, quite a few of you, eh? Sorry about that.
Last blog posted, back in May, was as we arrived at Key West, USA, from Havana, Cuba, towards the end of our 21-22 winter cruising. We stopped writing the blogs at that point because we were both a bit too fed up to share our adventures. We’d had a great time in Mexico and Cuba but only I had really liked the Honduras Bay islands and their diving opportunities. For Oana they were just “yet more Caribbean islands, same-old, same-old”. And the long passages with multiple unpleasant Gulf Stream crossings (5 in all), and constant seasickness were really the last straw to Oana enjoying cruising life going forward. Additionally, with Covid stalling us for 3 full years, our circumnavigation was now dragging on way beyond the 5 years plan. Without Covid we would be in SE Asia by now with the end in sight and no doubt different feelings.
As for the Captain, it’s never nice to be responsible for the suffering of the one you most love. Seeing Oana so uncomfortable really pulled on my heart strings. And at the same time Cloudy Bay was endlessly pressing my buttons with continuous niggles and leaks. After 2 Covid-years of re-rigging and refitting it was disheartening that Cloudy Bay could still produce so many annoyances. The new sails didn’t furl correctly (design error apparently) and took a full year to get Elvstrom to replace the genoa; I had to rebuild again the mast furling system; the new rigging turned brown with rust within just a month at sea; the propeller now had an alignment problem; the gooseneck fitting almost fell off as we passed through the treacherous Cape Fear shoals; the water maker needed a complete rebuild and finally … leaks. Leaks leaks everywhere. All deck hatches, aft locker hatches, the windscreen, the new dodger, various cleats and deck fittings, the windlass, and internally the hot water system still would not give me a break. Pretty much the only thing that didn’t leak was the hull! Ah, not true, the aft keel bolt had started to weep 🤨
And all this had to be fixed while cruising. I don’t like wearing my maintenance-hat while we are cruising, but it felt like I had it glued on all that winter season. So yes, I was a tad fed-up too. And as Oana quite rightly observes: “when you are in maintenance-mode you are a possessed man”. Meaning the Commodore gets to feel neglected. As they say: unhappy commodore, unhappy ship!
After the last blog from Key West in May, we passaged north yet again (3rd time!) for hurricane season and put Cloudy Bay ashore in her all-to-familiar yard at Herrington Harbour North Marina. You could almost hear the other boats jeering at her: “You again? What’s your excuse for coming back this time?”
Then we flew home in early June.
While Oana stayed in Bucharest to soak up the joys of a bathtub, a non-moving bed, a nearby supermarket and unrestricted internet, I had a new family member to meet. In September 2021 we were promoted to Grandpa Glen and Buni Oana 🥰. But with the Covid no-travel to Australia, introductions had so far only been by video call. So it was off to Perth for me for 3 weeks to meet little and super-cute Amaia. And of course, my 2 daughters who now live there. Both doctors, 1 medical, 1 astrophysicist.
Then it was time for family catchup in UK, including a lovely family party for a 60-year-old Captain! Actually, I need to say this: officially I’m not 60. I’m 59+1! I mean, despite the image I see in the mirror, I still feel like I’m thirty. So I’m definitely not going over the 60 threshold. Not just yet anyway.
Our adventure of summer’22 was a motorbike tour on our new toy – a BMW 1250RT. After our scooter, this is both a thrill and somewhat a monster to ride. Outstanding on the open road but a bit of an elephant to ride with around town. Nonetheless, an amazing machine.
The goal of this summer’s tour was Northern Spain and Pyrenees then back via the Alps. It lasted 4 weeks and took us: Bulgaria->Greece->Albania->Italy->Sardinia->Spain->Andora->France->Switzerland->Luxenberg->Austria->Hungary->Romania. It was a wonderful trip but being September, we got roasted at the beginning and frozen in the Alps at the end. We should have done it the other way around – Alps first with southern route to return.
Then early October it was back to the USA and Cloudy Bay.
Oana absolutely knew how she would feel about the boat, so she had a return ticket, leaving me to have a boys-only sail to Columbia. Me? I wasn’t sure how I felt. Half of me said “sell-up”, the other half said “finish what you started”, meaning finish my life long circumnavigation dream.
After a few weeks of getting Cloudy Bay ready I was rekindled and decided to see how I feel after sailing to Columbia. If sailing with friends and meeting Oana at key destinations works, then I’ll continue to the Panama Canal. If it doesn’t feel right, then khalas: someone else will get to own and enjoy this beautiful and technically sophisticated yacht, and Oana and I move onto our post-boat plan. So let’s see. Let the wind take us where it wants to.