Waning Summer


Come with me on a meander through the waning days of summer in New England, and memories built under the warmth of the sun. It blows me away how quickly this season has flown: how unexpectedly we find ourselves adding a layer in the evening, noticing the path of the sunset towards the south of west, feeling tick earlier of dusk. I even made soup for dinner the other night because everyone was chilly! Just a couple of weeks ago, it as so hot that even the “brisk” (~70F) temp of the Mystic River was tempting.


It also was just a couple of weeks ago a period of summer vacation seemed to be starting, heralded by our open-boat party at the Noank. Hard work prepping in the sun… Niall took it upon himself to help his sisters keep cool while scrubbing deck.


We had a blast welcoming people on board Totem to share what normal life on a cruising boat looks like, from how the fridge works to how small (and sloppy) my two shelves of clothing are. Of course it had to be one of the hottest days of summer! I lost count of the visitors somewhere north of fifty. By the way Don & Lisa — the kids keep asking if they’re going to see Grace again, OK? No pressure…

The only problem with having so many visitors is that source of some truly excellent host gifts got muddled (not these, though- thank you Tammy-Jo, Jim, and Anne!). I have apparently done a good job of communicating my love for dark chocolate, dark rum, and chardonnay… not together, mind you, but mmmm… and you have to love that there is a rust-prevention lubricant in the mix. CRUISER GOLD!


Burning indelible memories by recalling old ones flowed while getting together with friends we haven’t seen in a very long time. My childhood neighbor Wendy invited us to speak at the Ferguson Museum on Fishers Island, which turned into a whirlwind weekend of fun. It was really cool to hang out on their porch, looking out across the lawn to watch boats sailing down the Sound and talking like we’d only seen each other a few months before–not years.


photo: Wendy O’Neil


She and her husband are both artists: Wendy is a silversmith, Tom is an abstract painter. Walking through their island studio and learning from Tom about his work was pretty special, especially for the artistically inclined kids.



There has been a host of reunions from all corners: from childhood and young adulthood and new parenthood, college and grad school, Michigan and Connecticut and Seattle.

the peoples

New encounters left lasting impressions, too. I’ve hoped for months to talk with Anne Patterson, founder of Solavore (where my much-loved solar oven comes from). Stars aligned to gather at her family’s off-the-grid haven on a little Connecticut island, and lunch turned into a photo shoot.


It was a magical spot (secret!), and a great conversation–more on that soon! Meanwhile, does it get much more New England than this?


Also new in our lives this summer, and indelibly impressed, are local Ocean Cruising Club port officer Sandy Van Zandt and his wife Sidney. Circumnavigators who make their fellow salty travelers feel at home on the Mystic River, this wonderful couple has done so much to help us feel welcomed and wanted.


In addition to trading sea stories, they took us on a hike to extensive property that Sidney has worked tirelessly to acquire and preserve for conservation and public access. We couldn’t have had a better or more informative guide to educate us about native plants, invasive species, and dynamics of the environment (such as the pea-soup color of this pond– which is perfectly fine, despite the understandable gut reaction to the contrary!).


Also in the mix, we hosted a few interviews on Totem! These smiley folks visited on behalf of the communications team at my alma mater, the nearby Connecticut College, for an article in the college’s magazine. I love how every time we have these conversations, our kids find a new piece of themselves to be proud of. They know they’re not normal, but don’t always appreciate just how much.


We plan to depart Mystic after Labor Day weekend (just over a week- ack!!), and that list of “things we should do before we go”– like hit (the epic!) Defender for new lifejackets– is taking over.


I admit, the photo from the entrance to Defender’s retail store / clearance outlet below is posed… but this IS the girl who still won’t wear shoes, and carries her flip flops with her to don if required.


It’s not just Siobhan. This is how the troops are shod as we walk up from the river to the Mystic & Noank Library.


Aboard Totem, Jamie works tirelessly on projects to get us ready to go again: here, replacing some slides on the main while Solavore cooks lunch.


I’m getting quality time in with my sister-in-law, hot yoga mornings, and mentally stockpiling these beautiful views. Experimenting with HDR… not so sure about it… feels a little too, I don’t know, Kinkade or something…


Our little corner of the Mystic River has gotten almost too comfortable. It’s wonderful, but we feel the itch, and as much as we’ll miss people here…are looking forward to pointing south towards new adventures soon.


Besides, Siobhan’s wearing fleece already.


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14 Responses to Waning Summer

  1. MaryMarie August 29, 2016 at 7:23 am #

    Time to come down to the Chesapeake where no fleece has been spotted for months!

    • Behan August 29, 2016 at 7:58 am #

      It is definitely time to point south!

  2. Linda a/v Argon August 29, 2016 at 8:18 am #

    Thank you for sharing your New England summer; lovely photos. I have been sailing around New England for the past 10 years (home port is Boston) and love these waters, coasts and harbors. We are pointing south for our first extended cruise (a year or more) departing in just over a week. Hope to cross paths in the Chesapeak or Caribbean and meet the adventurous family of Totem! Will continue to follow you.

    • Behan August 31, 2016 at 2:49 pm #

      thanks Linda, will look out for Argon!

  3. Yvette August 29, 2016 at 8:32 am #

    Damn, I am so sad that I missed the entire New England summer after looking at your pictures. 🙁 But I am glad you are enjoying it!

  4. Jay Campbell August 29, 2016 at 9:32 am #


  5. Carney August 29, 2016 at 4:08 pm #

    But…but…but…it wont really feel like home til you have to shovel snow to get to the mailbox! Cant you stay for just one snowflake?

    Ha! I am from Alabama…did Sub School there and I would put to sea at a flank speed to avoid the breeze from the north. Still, as cold as the winters are in Connecticut there is always a warm fire and inviting book to be had there. So much to be thoughtful of there.

    Time to pull anchor and follow the Honkers.

    • Behan August 31, 2016 at 2:28 pm #

      We’ll see what the kids say after a few frosty mornings down the coast!

  6. Carol Morrison August 29, 2016 at 4:45 pm #

    I feel your pain Siobhan. Love NZ, but it always seems to be fleece weather. LOL

  7. sail san diego August 31, 2016 at 6:09 am #

    Thank you for sharing your wonderful experience with amazing photos. I have missed the astonishing vacation.

  8. Jeff September 1, 2016 at 2:50 am #

    I’ve read every post in the entire blog. A few make me tear up a bit. I own a sailboat, but haven’t yet cast off the lines. Soon… I hope.

    The thing that absolutely stands out about the entire crew of Totem is their joy/acceptance/whatever of just _being_ wherever they are. There’s quite a few folks out there writing blogs about cruising in their SuperFantasticFloatingThing, and every post is about finding some other folks in another SuperFantasticFloatingThing to hang out with. No pics of the actual people that inhabit the place they are in. No stories of how to find out about the history of a place. Stories about the people that live there.

    Totem’s blog isn’t like that. And I adore it. From barefoot kids, to the complicated realities of South Africa, to smiling people in PNG (or New England, or wherever), it’s all just so amazingly wonderful to follow along.

    Thank you for all the wonderful journeys I’ve been able to kinda sneak in vicariously through this blog.

    • Behan September 3, 2016 at 9:07 am #

      Jeff, thank you for the kind words. I appreciate that you get us and our priorities. Not that we don’t like having a good time with our friends in their respective FloatingThing (LOL!) – ’cause we do – but there are other facets of cruising that are making a bigger impact in our lives and experiences. Hope you get to cast off soon for your own wonderful journeys ahead!

  9. Lisa Diesel September 6, 2016 at 10:48 am #

    So glad that you had such a wonderful summer in New England – though I am sad that you are leaving already and we never managed to find a time to link up with you. Perhaps down in the Caribbean… Your blog captures your family’s joy in all that they find and discover. It is incredibly refreshing.

    • Behan September 6, 2016 at 3:14 pm #

      I am too! Crazy how fast it went by. Would love to connect in the Caribbean – keep in touch.

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