Fourteen years later...  



Glen Cove, New York
12:44 hrs - June 9, 2021
Home Safe!

As fortune or fate would have it, when we officially closed the loop of our fourteen year world voyage, the exact slip that Dream Time departed in 2007 was empty. So seizing the opportunity we motored back into Glen Cove, New York, making familiarly nostalgic turns of the helm towards the exact latitude and longitude where, 50,252 nautical miles ago, we threw off the dock lines to begin our adventure.

We were momentarily transported back in time, guided by an autopilot of a distant yet well rehearsed routine - Dream Time gently gliding toward her slip, past the ferry pier where she had once ran aground at low tide, around the remains of an old rusted corrugated break wall that still sneers at passing boats, and into Safe Harbor Marina. She knew where she was going, she was home. Catherine jumped onto our old dock, like she had hundreds of times before, over a decade ago, snugging off the port bow line on our old cleat before I hopped off to secure the springer and stern.

Completing the dizzying circumnavigation of time, which had us, if only for a moment, question the very validity of our voyage, a neighbor, a familiar face, emerged from the cockpit of his familiar boat, to say “hi”, only this time snapping a photo of us securing our lines, rather than freeing them.

We have been gone for so long much has changed; friends are now married with teenage children; others have moved away to different states; some to different countries, and a few, sadly, have journeyed through this life and passed onto the next.

But much here has comfortably, reassuringly, remained the same. Swans and Canadian Geese still paddle shallow waters, congregating on the sand bar at the marina entrance. Rabbits can still occasionally be spotted hopping amongst the bushes that soften the embankment off our bow. And old friends, on their same beautiful old boats, sail the same waters, continuing a comfortable routine with the New York seasons, one that they have maintained for over three decades. The trees, the shoreline, the seaside homes, the familiar noises and faces of a Long Island yard that, for seven years, helped prepare Dream Time for her voyage, it is mostly as we remember.

Returning to the same marina, to the same slip, on a warm June day identical to that of our departure, distorted our perception, giving us the illusion that our voyage travelled not on a linear time line but rather, like our circumnavigation, wrapped around back upon itself, somehow connecting the exact moment of our departure neatly, and perfectly, with our return. I wonder, sharing this waypoint, would we recognize ourselves today, one couple preparing to sail south at the very beginning of their world voyage, with this older cruising couple who have just returned? What advice would we share?

We will soon move out from our beloved Dream Time which, remarkably, had been our home for longer than anywhere else during our lives.

An Early Rise
June 9, 2021 (Day 5,123)
New York, New York

Sunrise was 0523. By 5:45 Dream Time was steaming up the East River with a flood tide. 10 knots SOG through Hell's Gate. Almost home!

One More Day
June 8, 2021 (Day 5,122)
New York, New York

We're just 25 nautical miles from Glen Cove, the "official" finish line for this voyage. We had planned to head up the East River and into the Long Island Sound this afternoon, but heavy thunderstorms and rain swept across New York Harbor today, so we'll leave tomorrow instead. After 5,122 days, what's one more?



Day 5,122 - New York, New York
10:47 hrs - June 8, 2021
A Little Adventure

When we lived in New York over fourteen years ago, we never anchored Dream Time by the Statue of Liberty. Not once. We never even considered it. It's not that we didn't have the skills, or that the trip from the Long Island Sound down to New York Harbor is particularly challenging, it just never really occurred to us that we could.

New York City was where we went to work, the harbor was a place where ferries, cargo ships, tugs and tourist boats went about their busy business. I guess when we did have any free time we wanted to sail in the Sound or just relax in a quiet cove somewhere. Taking the boat down the East River, timing tides, dodging traffic, well, maybe it would of felt like too much work.

But here we are. It took us a while, a fourteen year world voyage, but we finally did it. We anchored right in front of Lady Liberty yesterday afternoon, right between the ferry channel to the island and the restriction area buoys that surround Lady Liberty. It reminded us of anchoring in Farm Cove off the Sydney Opera House for New Years Eve. We had the best view in the entire harbor - the Statue of Liberty right off our stern, downtown Manhattan, the Hudson and the East River off the port bow.

To celebrate our arrival we raised every courtesy flag we've flown around the world, we even launched the dinghy to snap a few photos. We must have looked quite the sight. Other boats motored past, Miss New York - one of the Ellis and Liberty Island ferries, official tourist boats, jet skies... a parade of helicopters flew endless sightseeing circles above, and Dream Time was right in the middle of it.

For the record, we weren't in the way, we were anchored in ten feet of water and out of the channel, but I suspect, fourteen years ago, even if we had visited Liberty Island, we never would have been so bold. Ferry wakes, tidal currents and the general mayhem of the harbor probably would of had us anchor behind Liberty Island where other recreational boats seem to drop their hooks.

Maybe we're a little more adventurous now? Or maybe, like our arrivals in Sydney Harbour, Panama or Singapore, we just want to get the most from our experience, we're willing to go the extra mile, to make the effort, like two energetic, enthusiastic tourists visiting New York for the very first time. Even though we live here now.


June 7, 2021   |  New York, New York - Lady Liberty welcomed us back to New York today. She'll be keeping us company tonight.

June 3, 2021 (Day 5,117)
Quick Fix: 36° 57.7 N / 76° 17.5 W
Norfolk, Virginia

The flames were already four feet high by the time we reached the fire, which was on our dock, just two boats lengths from Dream Time. Catherine, whose cruising nickname just happens to be "Sparky", had noticed the smoke first, and within seconds, the time it took us to grab a fire extinguisher from our cockpit and close the distance, flames had already spread from the power cable to the side of a fiberglass storage locker. No one else was on the dock. Later a marina worker soberly shared that half the dock, and the boats attached to it, would likely have been lost if the flames had gone unnoticed for just another few minutes. By way of thanks for our help, the marina very generously tore up our 3-night bill. "It's the least we can do!" And they also gave us a new fire extinguisher.


June 3, 2021 (Day 5,117)
Quick Fix: 36° 57.7 N / 76° 17.5 W
Norfolk, Virginia

Rain Delay
Much of this morning was spent kayaking around Dream Time cleaning the waterline. Five days in the ICW, motoring through rivers that, at times, looked like root beer, transformed Dream Time's hull from white to brown. But a dirty hull is a small price to pay for such a scenic route - we lost count of the bald eagles we sighted, we didn't even attempt to count the turtles we saw balancing on logs, we even passed two white-tailed deer wandering the shoreline. The inside route was a welcome break from the rolling seas, and much less stressful, although Dream Time did only narrowly escape getting entirely squashed by a 140 foot motor yacht that lost control at Coinjock Marina. We're berthed in Norfolk now, waiting for rain and thunderstorms to pass. We'll depart for NY on Saturday, under sunny skies, by Monday evening we hope to be anchored by Lady Liberty.


Happy Anniversary - 14 Years and 50,000 Nautical Miles
June 1, 2021 (Day 5,115)
Norfolk, Virginia

I have been slow to put pen to paper over the years but lately Neville has been gently nudging me along, asking me to try to put into words what these last 14 years have meant to me.

When I look back at photos we took of each other at the beginning I am struck by how young we both looked, I guess 14 years (and not enough sunscreen in my case) can create a visible record of time on our faces. And those pictures create a reminder too of how grateful I am that, while we didn't know it at the time, we set off on this sailing adventure at exactly the right time.

I was oblivious to aging back then, thought of 'older' people as something other than me, a distant something I didn't need to think about, but now here I am, older in the mirror, and a little surprised but very pleased that we made the decision to sail away when we did.

14 sunny windy years later I am the happy curator of a vast gallery of vivid memories. Faces and places, colors and oceans and so many feelings, so many funny astonishing weird beautiful shocking and sometimes frightening but precious moments ready whenever I choose to call on them. Sometimes all it takes is a photo and I'm pulled right back into that second of that day. There is always going to be the temptation go back, to revisit some of all our all-time favorites but perhaps it's better to keep these most precious memories just the way they are, in my somewhat older but intensely happy brain.

A lot of life happens in 14 years, families, friendships and lives evolve and change. All the places we've visited and all the people we've met will all be different and changed now in various ways, some changes will be subtle but some no doubt will make them almost unrecognizable. Even for Neville and I. We have both lost close family members and friends over these last 14 sailing years but we have also gained three brand new little family members and lots of treasured lifelong friends, and life continues. And while our land home Long Beach, New York is always changing, especially after Hurricane Sandy and now Covid-19, a lot more has changed everything for everyone everywhere. In June of 2007 we left New York and in a matter of days, in June of 2021 we will be returning and she will of course be a different New York than the one we left. We got married and lived the first 11 years of our marriage there, but for the the last 14 years we've lived on Dream Time everywhere else, all the way round the world in a slow circle.

We have lived on the boat longer than we've lived anywhere else, and for us this little floating home has been the constant in our lives while everything else around us changed from latitude to latitude. There have been some small alterations and some well earned repairs and upgrades, but she is essentially the same steadfast boat we left New York with and if anything she is now in better shape now than shes ever been. Our cosy cabins maintain their comforting sameness so no matter where we go, we have always been at home.

When my mother was young she worked for PanAm as an airline stewardess when international travel was still relatively rare and only for the lucky jet setting few (particularly for someone coming from northern Ireland) but she, like me was drawn to the exotic promises of distant foreign lands and years later we heard stories of movie stars and Los Angeles, and New York in the 1950’s. But she died too young, at 39, and now I can't help thinking about how much she would have loved and approved of my adventurous sailing traveling exploring life. She was born into a time that didn't make room for women’s dreams, I'm so grateful that I was.

Goodbye ICW
June 1, 2021 (Day 5,115)
Pungo, Virginia

Our last anchorage in the ICW was less than sublime. After struggling to find enough depth in more picturesque corners of North Landing River, we had to settle our anchor right next to the Pungo Ferry Fixed Bridge. Still, it was a nice sunset. Next stop, Chesapeake Bay.