Southbound to Chesapeake Bay

We still didn’t get to do all the rounds of goodbyes we wanted in Connecticut. We didn’t even just to see everyone we hoped to see. Our summer was full to overflowing in all the best ways, but if one word had to describe it, it’s “BUSY.” Seasonal change and a nip in the air turned us south.

Dinner on Totem in Noank with the well-salted Van Zandt and Bohlen families

Dinner on Totem in Noank with the well-salted Van Zandt and Bohlen families

Getting underway again, starting the transit toward lower latitudes, resuming our cruiser rhythm… it feels good. In the bustle of our summer, we lost some of the time we usually give to “just being” as a family. It’s been a long time since we had so many different plans that a calendar was required! Casualty of busy: I lost control of my email inbox (still recovering, slowly), and haven’t had time to write. Minor tradeoffs for meeting wonderful people along the way, and spending time with the old friends we can intersect with.

Finally meeting up wtih the family of SV Fezywig!

Finally meeting up wtih the family of SV Fezywig!

Our southbound trail led west through Long Island Sound to New York City, each stop along the way touched by the kindness of others. It started in Essex with the cousin of a cruising friend: lime bitters with Jim in the cockpit of his catboat, Amity, then dinner at a restaurant that defines ‘quaint’ and was the site of one of my first dates with Jamie, layering new memories on old.


In Norwalk we were hosted by  two-time circumnavigators Scott & Kitty Kuhner. Scott & Kitty did their first lap as a young couple; they repeated it with their children, and did a victory lap around the Atlantic in later years. The stories and memories flowed during dinner at their home with the family soon to be known as “the Mariposas,” who move aboard their cruising home in a matter of days.


In Westchester county, a reader reached out and offered his mooring at the incomparable Lachmont Yacht Club. HL DeVore and family made our stay everything we could have wished, starting by greeting us on arrival with a couple of LYC’s signature drink, the Monte-Sano cooler (rum-based, natch). Excellent company over several evenings, a beautiful base for daytripping into NYC, and the use of a sturdy Jeep Cherokee named Josh to make it all easy.

Getting close, getting excited: first time in NYC for the kids!

Getting close, getting excited: first time in NYC for the kids!

The only picture we took - thank you Cindy!

The only picture we took – thank you Cindy!

Josh removed the pressure to do too much at once: instead, we could take time to see the city—and absorb it—at an unstressed pace. Like having ONLY two objectives for a daytrip (getting lost in the Frick, then meeting with some really special folks, old friends—Andy Halsey and Jane Coyne—for lunch in Central Park) instead of trying to cram in a half dozen more activities. These days, and new friends, were a wonderful gift for our family.

The kindness of strangers leads to a family photo op on the Brooklyn Bridge

The kindness of strangers leads to a family photo op on the Brooklyn Bridge

One of the only requirements the kids had for NYC: proper Dim Sum. check.

One of the only requirements the kids had for NYC: proper Dim Sum. check.

In Larchmont I finally started to get caught up on life and the email inbox again, but even better was reconnecting with a college friend I haven’t seen since graduation.  Those years (all 26 of them, yikes!) melted away on the afternoon Doriel and her sons spent on board. A phenomenon repeats itself in the reunions we’ve had this summer: how really great it is to find all the goodness we remember in old friends are all the goodness, somehow improved again with the addition of years.


Doriel teaches elementary school in the NYC school district, and has a fantastic YouTube channel (LearnToGrowU) with her energetic and heartfelt reflections on experiences and inspiration. She’s pretty awesome—interest in teaching totally optional to appreciate these videos! She quizzed me on homeschooling / boat schooling for a spontaneous cockpit edition of #WhatTeachersDo.


We felt compelled to take several pics at the Club with our college mascot, a camel.


The Leach family from Keep Your Daydream came by, too. It’s always fun to meet up with other full-time traveling families: this crew is at the outset of their adventures, but has been producing interesting content about folks who have been out for some time. I think we got the kids on board with boat life vs RV life… not that we have an agenda, real!y 🙂


This respite week also made it easier to visit the Mowery family. When folks like Rich and Liia engage here or via Totem’s FB page through the years, we really do feel like we know them – and it’s been great to turn those virtual conenctions into in-person meetups for a whole new raft of good memories. So we trundled up to Newtown, CT, for a late summer BBQ.


Niall is so good with little ones like Aili! Girls loving on Kaia.

Dessert first (a good life rule in general!) at an award winning dairy farm / creamery nearby. Possibly the best ice cream I’ve ever tasted.


There’s one problem with all the generosity we’ve experienced from the last few weeks: our cache of karma is probably just about tapped!

Sailing south from Larchmont, we decided to day-trip our way to Chesapeake Bay instead of charging through with some overnight runs. Because how many times in your life is there a chance to watch sunset glow on the Manhattan skyline, at the foot of Libertas?


PINCH ME. I cannot believe we were in this spot!

Just getting to that spot was more interesting than expected, because it turned out that the UN General Assembly was in session this week—which means total closure of the East River to all but ferries, 9am to 9pm. Whoops. You also have to carefully time transit on the East River based on tides, as the current is not worth fighting. You could say that messed up our plans, but flexibility around expected timing is the nature of cruising. No big deal, just something to work around! And so we spent an extra day in Larchmont, then another anchored under the Throg’s Neck Bridge, finding the juncture of time that let us get downriver with positive current before Homeland Security closed it down.


Companions were first the working boats of the river, tugs and barges with debris or raw materials—later, our personal (and well armed) USCG escort. They waved back.


We reveled in every minute of this spectacular anchorage off Liberty Island.


It’s been a few days of transit south from there, our way to Annapolis for the SSCA gam and US Boat Show.


Sliding between a car carrier and big barge at dawn, Verrazano Bridge.


Watching for current and shallows in the shoals at the Atlantic City entrance

As I post this, we’ve just entered Chesapeake Bay. That’s a celebration worth of apple pancakes, real maple syrup (THANK YOU Conant family), and the last bacon on board! We’ll be the Chesapeake for at least a month, and probably longer. It feels like one part homecoming (are more “old friends we’ve never met” to finally hug in person) and one part inflection point, as we consider options for Totem to return to the tropics.

Meanwhile, everyone is looking forward to being parked in a place we can go ashore after four nights of anchorages without getting off the boat! Besides, we’re out of produce, milk, bacon, wine, and toilet paper…who provisioned this boat anyway?!

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12 Responses to Southbound to Chesapeake Bay

  1. Victor Raymond September 24, 2016 at 2:32 pm #


    Funny to get a post from you today as I had a dream about the Totem crew last night. It was an embarrassing one since I introduced you as “Jamie” not Behan then had to explain why I made the mistake. Hey, it was a dream after all.

    Was wondering what happened to Totem since we (the world at large) have not heard from you in a while. Of course we may have missed a post or two on our trip back from AK.

    Safe travels down the coast. We may have our missed out chance to go south this year since the weather window on the west coast is a bit smaller than out east. We are now off for a land excursion while the boat sits patiently at JWM in Sequim.

    • Behan September 25, 2016 at 11:03 pm #

      What a funny dream!! Love it! Yes, I fell off pace with blog updates for a while – just really busy back on home turf. Getting on the move again helps… Facebook page usually has our daily latest whereabouts / activity. Enjoy your travels inland – there may be windows yet!

  2. Wendi September 24, 2016 at 2:34 pm #

    What a busy and beautiful summer! So many great memories to add to the treasure chest!
    I hope to meet you all in Annapolis – husband and I are planning on attending the Boat Show.

    • Behan September 25, 2016 at 11:01 pm #

      Truly a lot of great memories. Look forward to meeting you in Annapolis! I’ll be with Lin in M5.

  3. Sean September 24, 2016 at 4:48 pm #

    Wow, that picture next to The Statue of liberty is stunning! I can only imagine what it was like waking up to the view of her and NYC! I could spend many a morning sipping coffee and watching all the activity. Glad you guys had a good summer.

    • Behan September 25, 2016 at 11:09 pm #

      I agree… that could have filled many more hours than we gave it! But I’m glad we had that one evening. It was a gorgeous skyline at our pre-dawn departure, too.

  4. Dale Roberts September 25, 2016 at 11:12 pm #

    LOL. WHOOPS! On the TP. Glad it has been such a great visit.

    • Behan September 26, 2016 at 8:06 am #

      I know, seriously, how did I manage THAT provisioning fail?!

  5. Yvette September 26, 2016 at 11:00 am #

    Amazing views! 🙂

    Alas I’m in a complicated situation in my life right now with work, so won’t make it to the Chesapeake area this fall. Guess I’ll need to meet up sometime in a more far-flung destination. 🙁 But honestly, sounds like you guys will likely meet up with plenty of people when in that area anyway!

    Smooth sailing…

    • Behan September 26, 2016 at 1:22 pm #

      Sorry to hear that Yvette and hope life is on a more even keel for you soon!

  6. Jim September 26, 2016 at 3:26 pm #

    Wonderful pictures of dear Totem & the Statue of Liberty!

    Sounds like you’ll be plenty busy in Annapolis but If you stop in at Oxford, check out Pope’s Tavern. It is within easy stroll from both yards/marinas. The crabcakes & succotash is recommended.

    • Behan September 27, 2016 at 9:11 am #

      Always love a good tip to local specialties. We will try to get there Jim!

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