Tuesday, May 30, 2017

'Clever' Boat Names

'Nice Transom'
Most of us spend A LOT of time thinking up boat names.

The photo here is of the name 'Nice Transom'. It took me awhile to get it until I realized the transom of a boat is the rear end.

No doubt a conversation starter.

We had an electric Duffy and over a stretch of several days came up with: Watt, Me Whirry!

Get it?

Bel Sito translates to 'beautiful situation' and is the name of hotel where we stayed in Italy. As soon as we come up with a name we go to the Coast Guard registry of boat names to see how many other vessels have the name because we like having the only boat named whatever it is we've come up with. Watt, Me Whirry was safely ours and ours alone. So is Bel Sito.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Our Second Post Owning Bel Sito due (2)

Peter, Ron, Andy, Eric, Shelley, Sue Anne,  Jim, Anne,
Jim Michelle, Drew,
Pam, Jim, Mark, Rick, Gerry and us.
Photo by Andy Hoyt
This blog has been neglected since we assumed ownership of our 53' Selene. We've spared you the details of the anxiety we felt moving up to bigger boat with all new systems (to us) and I'm delighted to report we now feel confident ('fairly confident,' inserts Richard) we can manage all 100,000 lbs of her. For now. Until the unexpected occurs. Which it always does on a boat.

We have the good fortune of having Andy Hoyt, owner of the concierge boat maintenance company, Dock Call, guide us every step of the way of our boat purchase. He made us walk away from the first Selene we put an offer on once it was pulled out of the water during sea trial and inspection. Andy came with us when we brought this boat from Virginia Yacht Brokers in Chesapeake, VA to our old stomping grounds of Annapolis and taught us the fundamentals of how she operates.

Holy Moly! 

Upon arrival, we slowly headed into the marina where the boat would be docked. By then, I had just enough confidence to be dangerous, and told Andy I was ready to dock her. When we pulled up to the slip Richard and I were certain it was too narrow to ease a 16.5' wide boat in comfortably, but Andy assured us he measured the slip and it would be fine.  Andy calmly told me which thruster to use when and we had a successful first docking experience.

Over time, we've fallen into a comfortable pattern for both of us around docking and anchoring. Richard handles the lines, which he always had to re-do anyway after I botched the first go around, and I drive the boat in tight quarters.  Jason, a dockhand at the Jib Room in Marsh Harbor, taught me how to maneuver 'little' Bel Sito using her twin engines by doing the twist dance step. I think of him often and fondly when approaching a dock.

Andy helped us move the boat to a mooring ball in downtown Annapolis Harbor, where we stayed and stayed and stayed, hesitant to make our first solo move. Eventually it became time to put water in the tanks and Andy hopped aboard to guide me to the fuel dock (Richard was in Baltimore for a board meeting).

We have two mantras gleaned from others regarding docking:

  • Slow is pro. 
  • Always approach the dock at the speed you intend to hit it. 

So I creeped up to the dock and discovered how easy it is with bow thrusters stern and aft! Really!

Andy admonished me not to tell the dock hand it was my first time, but I couldn't wait to tell him.

Above Deck

Elly and Hank
We've been in and out of Annapolis since her arrival and have hosted several dinner parties, a boat naming ceremony, overnight guests, and a party of 20 to watch the Blue Angels flyover for the Naval Academy graduation.

Removing the former name, Passage

Pat Winkler prepares to feed Poseiden, God of the Sea, to which all yell 'oh no' as the champagne is poured into the water to appease him and keep newly named Bel Sito safe.
First boat gift...

Boat Naming Ceremony, Richard, Julie, Tom, Beth and Ruth

Look! Up in the sky! It's the Blue Angels!

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Bel Sito (Due): A New Chapter

We can barely log into Facebook without learning of the demise or serious illness of friends our age.

If life is like a banquet, we could be in the 'dessert and decaf coffee at the end of the meal' stage.

So, what do we do? Act responsibly? Sit on the balcony in the sunshine and go on short walks around the neighborhood?

Nope. We bought a bigger boat. A much bigger boat. A huge boat (for us).  A 2009, 53' Selene, currently known as Passage. Her former owners kept her in pristine condition and we hope our stewardship is even close to their meticulous standards. Our other trawler was a 38' Pacific Seacraft and adding feet to a boat is a bit like dog years. Each foot seems to expand the storage and capacity exponentially.

Now, if we could just figure out how to start the engines. I'm not kidding.

Introducing: Bel Sito, Due (pronounced dew-A, meaning 'two' in Italian). We're going to drop the 'due' as soon as our original Bel Sito takes on a new name.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

The End

Hamburg Cove, Connecticut River

It's time to say good-bye, for now.

Beth and Pat stay in touch with the office

After the skies cleared yesterday we left the dock in Essex and meandered a short way up the Connecticut River to Hamburg Cove, a lovely spot with plenty of mooring balls.

Richard and I have spent every night aboard Bel Sito since August 12 and it is now September 6. Turkey Point, MD; Cape May, Atlantic City and Sandy Hook,  New Jersey; Manhattan, Oyster Bay, Port Jefferson, New York; Mystic, Connecticut; Block Island, Rhode Island; Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket, Massachusetts, then back down to Essex and finally, Mystic, Connecticut where Bel Sito will rest for several days before Andy brings her home.

We could go on. And on. And on.

Pat and I have been counting the hours until our arrival in Mystic because Richard promised to get us all the oysters we could eat during the Oyster Club Happy Hour. Captains' Treat.

Pat won, consuming five dozen. I was a close second with four.

We've witnessed a months worth of sunsets on the water and navigated a couple dozen new channels. We've had relatively calm seas and virtually no weather or boat dramas.

Bel Sito has traveled over 500 miles this trip and she's says she's just getting started.

We're listening.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Unexpected Surprise (guess that's redundant, huh?)

Essex, Connecticut

Cruising doesn't change you. It reveals you.*

The weather on this 25-day journey had been Chamber-of-Commerce perfect until we reached Essex. Fortunately, with radar at the touch of an iPhone, we had a good idea what to expect and that's why we picked this port. So the crew is having a couple of peaceful land days and Beth, in particular, made a huge discovery.

Traveling by boat  means the cruiser is dependent on foot once ashore.  The scope of the exploration territory is limited but one has a more in-depth view of things so you notice stuff you'd miss otherwise.

For example, the houses around downtown Essex have name plates naming the homes' first owner.

Friend and blog reader Marty Petty had encouraged us to stop in Essex, and we're grateful for the suggestion. She had been publisher of the Hartford Courant back in the day, and we've become pals since we first discovered we were Florida neighbors. Her husband, Mark Petty,  is a renowned photographer who shot a wedding on the Hepburn estate and the famous actress actually appeared straight from the garden.

Of Mice and Beth

But the happiest tourist to Essex in our group of four is Beth.

For years, she has been collecting mice. Not just any mice, but mice that cost more than an iPod Nano. She has so many of these things that her husband, Pat, built display cases that take up much of their second bedroom wall space.  We could retire on what these things are fetching on EBay these days.

As she walked down the main drag of Essex Beth spotted a faded circular sticker on the window of Gracie's Corner, a sprawling variety store with everything from magnetic bracelets to an entire section dedicated to pets.

And, drum roll, Wee Forest Folk, started by Annette Petersen in 1972  and now carried on by her sonWilly and daughter Donna Petersen (who know a good schtick when they see it).

Wee Forest Folk pieces are first created then the original is cast into white ware. There is a booklet describing the process, but for those of you hankering to know more about these collectables: http://www.weeforestfolk.com

Turns out, Beth grew up in Concord, MA where founding mouse-maker Annette began the cottage industry. Beth was a high school classmate of Donna Petersen, Annette's daughter.

Beth has been collecting the Wee Forest Folk ever since she first discovered them in 1973.

I've not been much of a collector of small ceramic things or anything other than technology gadgets (so I have no room to talk about obsessive compulsive behavior) but I must admit, upon close examination of these little things, it is impressive to see the amount of detail in the little critters.

Photo from the company website

You know you're a cruiser....

You know you're a cruising woman when you have your hair cut so short you don't need a hairdryer.


* A tip of the visor to Michelle Obama for her line from her convention speech last night (The presidency doesn't change you; it reveals you). It's great to have XM radio on board and be able to listen to unfiltered audio of the proceedings on the POTUS station.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Change of Plans

The Connecticut River

As I said to a pal who has been following Bel Sito's progress on Marine Traffic  (an app that tracks vessels with AIS systems installed) in answer to his question as to what the heck we were doing in Essex, Ct:

Cruisers plan, but that's often all it ends up being. 

The plan for today was to go to Sag Harbor, until the 'committee' met to go over weather conditions etc. It was then decided we'd be better off sticking close to our ultimate destination (for this week anyway) which is our old marina in Mystic. That's where we will leave the boat for an indeterminate amount of time while we all go back into the real world for awhile. We'll come back toward the end of Sept. and bring her back down. Or have Andy bring her back down. All up in the air. 

The big excitement of the day was making it through 'the race', so called because the current races in and out of Long Island Sound whooshing back and forth in four-hour increments. It's a race.

Busted for going too fast in a 'no-wake' zone!


There's a phenomenon of the waterways that is the stuff of water-rage, something akin to road rage in a car. Only on the water, the boater who has been cut off or almost swamped by a bigger boat speeding by and coming close enough to create a big, rolling, wave aimed right at the broad side of the smaller vessel, is truly rage inducing. And  victims  often take to the VHF radio airwaves saying things they probably wouldn't say to the offender  face to face. 

Little Bel Sito gets her share of wakes, as she cruises between 7-10 kts and bigger boats often go roaring by. 

There seemed to be a bunch of these yo-yos today and so one of most gratifying shots of the day was of this guy getting busted. Hooray.

Essex, Connecticut

This is Katherine Hepburn's former estate. It's for sale. 

We're having a lovely time in old Essex, all nested into an actual slip with electricity and water. We read various restaurant reviews on Trip Advisor and ended up at a great old place called The Griswold (locals call it 'the Griz').

Richard, me, Beth and Pat

That's all for now. Might not blog tomorrow because we're going to PROBABLY be here another day. I'll do laundry. How boring is that?

You know you're a cruiser when you get excited about a nearby coin-operated laundry facility.

Here Come the Brides

Nantucket wedding

Here Come the Brides

Nantucket is a bucket list destination, a wedding destination and the ultimate destination for the worlds' elite. 

We were there for a destination wedding, and to the surprise of the bride and bride, apparently so did just about everyone they invited. We partied on the beach at sunset Thursday night, dined at one of Nantucket's finest restaurants Friday night, attended the wedding in  Nantucket's St. Paul's church and celebrated Melissa and Josie's  marriage at the most beautiful country club setting I have ever seen. Every detail was simply stunning. 

For those who God has joined together, let no man put asunder. 

I've attended commitment ceremonies for same-sex couples before but am thrilled to have lived to see the day when two people in love, committed to a life together, can be joined in holy matrimony if they so choose. 

Sitting in the pew, I thought about my grandfather and great grandfather, neither of whom I met. They were both Episcopal priests and my grandfather was rector of a church in Fitzburg, MA. He was on a committee that re-wrote the Common Book of Prayer and as family legend goes, it was my grandmother who insisted they remove the 'thou shalt obey' clause in the wedding ceremony. Surely, something so commonplace today  must have been quite radical at the time.

I would like to think they would be on the right side of this transformational time today, too.


The wedding and reception were the exclamation point of an incredible visit to Nantucket. We had time each day to explore the island and take in its personality. The downtown roads are still cobblestone and the homes and buildings ALL wear a gray-shingled uniform.  Even the local  pet hospital is a rambling, beautiful structure befitting animals of the extremely wealthy. As charming as Nantucket is, it is that very seaside character that draws extreme wealth. Do a Google search about Nantucket and you'll find stories upon stories of the monied names who summer here. If we lived here we'd be in the 1% on the bottom rung of the ladder. There was a 200' boat so big in the harbor that in addition to being tied to a dock it also had two huge anchors set ahead. Before the yacht moves, a diver is hired to go down and make sure the anchor chain doesn't get cross-wise or otherwise tangled.

There's much to appreciate about the island's charms, of course. The beaches, charming shops, dunes. I was also taken by the window boxes full of flowers and greenery on many of the downtown homes.

Nantucket Pet Hospital

Here we are at the wedding reception. That's the Atlantic Ocean off in the distance:

We were joined by our buddies Beth and Pat, who are now on board and great crew. There's an additional peace-of-mind that takes place when an extra couple sets of experienced hands are on board.

Weather is predicted to take a turn here by tomorrow so we got out of Nantucket early yesterday morning and made a long day run back to Block Island. We head to Sag Harbor this morning. Strike that. Guess we are heading to the Connecticut River.

The Surf Side Hotel, Block Island

I'm having a hard time getting a strong enough wireless signal to upload pictures...(takes over 10 minutes a photo!). When we get a faster one I'll upload some more pix. 

You know you're a cruiser when you don't know what day it is.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Nantucket Nuptials

Reflections will come tomorrow morning. This was one of the most deeply touching experiences of all time.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Blue Moon Over Nantucket

Don't suppose you can see this very well but it's the view of the  'blue moon' shinning down on Nantucket Island shot with my iPhone while waiting for the launch to take us back to the boat.

And oh, what an evening.

There are an average of 15 weddings a weekend in Nantucket so it makes sense that we got a 'save the date' notice for this one about a year ago because hotels and restaurants get booked far in advance.  Everything about this destination wedding weekend so far has been a once-in-a-blue moon kind of experience.  Tonight was the rehearsal dinner hosted by Melissa's sister.  All of the people we are meeting have been extraordinarily accomplished and interesting and our hosts and hostesses couldn't be more gracious.

Our friends Beth Newbold and her husband Pat Winkler joined us shortly after 1 p.m. today. They came in for the wedding and will be joining us for the next week aboard Bel Sito. Beth and Pat are very experienced boaters who not only own a 57' Tazwell sailboat which they've cruised from Maine to the Caribbean, but also joined the trawler world recently by buying a Menorquin 36'  which they've been cruising around Maine lately. I wondered how they'd feel about coming aboard yet another boat for yet another week, to which Pat said:

"Are you kidding? It's like asking if you can have too much garlic or cinnamon!"

Well said, Pat.

These two are great boat hands. Pat and Richard have already started playing around with the electronics, moved a table and discussed how to get the water flow meter working.

I'll get a better picture of Pat and Beth tomorrow

Ah, water.

So, last night I tried to turn on the water to wash dishes and nothing came out of the spigot.

No water. And no water in the heads, either. This could be really bad news.  Richard crawled down into the engine room area and checked the water pump. Visions of a Nantucket yard bill started dancing around in our heads.

But then we wondered: could we have run out of water?

It couldn't be that simple, could it?  That would be the equivalent of an I.T. person asking: 'Did you turn the power on?' when asked why the damnable machine isn't working.

Let's see. We filled the tanks in Mystic...now remember, we just got the boat in May and this is the longest cruise we've been on so we are learning as we go. Could we have gone through 190 gallons of water so soon? Nah. Could we? Maybe.

But nothing's really ever that simple, is it? We wouldn't know for sure until the next morning when we could move the boat to the water dock.

Richard obsessed about this all night long...he runs through all the options in his mind...and usually figures it must be a worst-case scenario (because it often is).

We got the boat to the dock, fingers crossed, and plunged the hose down into the tank and started filling. The minutes dragged on and on...and then, miracle of miracles, the water started streaming from the faucets.


So here begins an ongoing series I'm calling "You know you're a cruiser when___________"

For example, You know you're a cruiser when you get back to land and feel guilty for taking a long shower.

Or, you know you're a cruiser when someone uses the term 'head hunter' and your first thought is of the Nantucket Pump Out Boat.

Got the game? Cruisers, feel free to add your own.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Nantucket. Oh Yeah!

Nantucket, oh yeah!

We have reached our destination...

Bel Sito's track from MV to Nantucket
Let the wedding festivities begin! The purpose of this cruise was to ultimately arrive in Nantucket for Labor Day weekend and the wedding of our friends Melissa and Josie. 
Josie Martin and Melissa Meyers

We made it.

Bel Sito left Oak Bluff Harbor in Martha's Vineyard  at 7:30 a.m. and we arrived in Nantucket Harbor by 10:50 a.m. A big current pushed us so our speed averaged about 10 kts. 

We've been living aboard this boat for 18 days and it seems like only yesterday we left our dock

in Annapolis. The boat 'lives well' with time as do we.

We've been to Nantucket just once before, coming over via ferry for one day, thus making us 'day trippers'. It was crowded and we weren't familiar with the island so didn't give this storied isle enough of a look see. We intend to remedy that this trip, starting with attending an amazing party on the Sconset beach complete with a raw bar, and other great appetizers.  There were seals fishing in the waters close to shore so we could see their heads bobbing in and out of the waves. I tried to shoot some video for you but you can't tell it's of a seal. Oh well. Maybe tomorrow.

Living in Annapolis, I've seen plenty of humongous yachts in the harbor but I have never seen so many packed in one place as there are here in Nantucket. Who owns these things?

Living aboard a 38' trawler like Bel Sito, I'll admit to having a bit of disdain for these multi-million dollar floating cities three and four times our size.

Imagine what these 'toys' cost their owners. And it's not the initial cost, which could be well over $40,000,000.  Think about the ongoing upkeep of paying a captain and crew, dockage...not to mention thousands to fill up the fuel tanks. Thousands. For a tank of gas!

This is also a mecca for old, classic wooden boats. We've already spotted a 70' Trumpy and an old Elco.  Great to watch, for sure, and I'm hoping to wend my way through the harbor in the kayak to get a closer look.

It's delightful to be able to be here to participate in one of the biggest days in a couples' life. We are honored to have been included and look forward to the festivities to come!

We're anchored off Brant Town Point and partied on the beach in' Sconset

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