"The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in
its net of wonder forever."—Jacques Cousteau

December 31, 2017

Looking Back at 2017

“I find that the great thing in this world is not so much where we stand as in what direction we are moving. To reach the port of heaven, we must sail sometimes with the wind and sometimes against it – but we must sail, and not drift, nor lie at anchor.” – Oliver Wendell Holmses

January and February was spent emptying the family home I grew up in and visiting with friends and family.
In March we sold my Dad's house and had more fun with family and friends before we headed back to The Pearl
We worked on boat projects in April and made a little time to catch up with a few cruising friends.
In May we traveled up the east coast to New York, then up the Hudson River and the Erie Canal to Itaca.
We spent the month of June hiking, exploring waterfalls and spending time with our PA family.
In July we continued our exploring of the Finger Lakes...making new friends and visiting with old ones.
August began with more hikes, wine tasting and a trip to Sarasota Springs to watch the horses run....
then an unwanted guest showed up at our home in Texas. Hurricane Harvey brought our summer fun to an end.
After squaring away things in Texas we returned to New York in September to put The Pearl away for the winter and take in a few more fun weekends with our PA family.
By November life was returning to normal...a little in Texas and we had fun with our playing with our grand kids.
December was filled with more time with family and friends...and an unexpected snow storm.

December 29, 2017

2017 Travel Stats

Click here to go to The Pearl's travel map.
(expand the drop downs on the right side of the map for more information)
This blog post is best viewed on a computer.

Stan and I both keep logs of information about our travels. Mine are more about the places we've been and the places we've stayed, his are more technical. For information on where we've docked and anchored please refer to my Travel Logs. We didn't put a lot of miles under our keel this year, so the stat's haven't changed too much from last year. These totals are from the time we left home in 2011 till the end of 2017.

     161   Different anchorages
     107   Different marinas
     324   Different towns visited
       23   State & providences visited
        3    Countries visited
     223    Most miles traveled in one day
18,070   Total miles traveled

  2017 Travel Stats
     981 Miles traveled
     358 Gallons of diesel purchased
     131 Engine hours
         2 Generator hours
     167 Days on board
       15 Days of travel
         4 States visited
       23 New Towns visited
       25 Locks traversed
     149 Days at a marina
       12 Nights at a dock
         5 Nights at anchor
         0 Nights on a mooring ball
         0 Days on the hard (hauled out)
         1    Night at Sea

December 20, 2017

Merry Christmas

I don't ask for much...all I want to do is play with my grandkids, sit on the deck of my boat and watch the sunset in the evening. Life doesn't have to be complicated.

Wow...what a year 2017 has been. If people think we live a relaxed lazy life, they should have been with us this year. We started the year off by selling my childhood home and emptying it of fifty years of memories and a lifetime of stuff. Starting January 2, I went room by room sorting through things...putting things aside that family would want and hauling the rest to a donation sight and selling some items. 

We headed back to The Pearl in Virginia three days after closing on the house the end of March. Sometimes everything just falls into place when you need it to. It was a long, busy three months, but the job was behind us and that felt wonderful. 

Back on The Pearl we spent weeks working on boat projects and visiting with family and friends. By May we were ready to cruise north to Ithaca, NY were we spent the summer exploring, hiking, fishing, wine tasting and spending time with Kyle and his family in Pennsylvania.  

Towards the end of August our peaceful calm life hit a wall...everything seemed to come to a complete halt. Hurricane Harvey arrived in Rockport on the 25th and changed everyone’s sense of normal. One day everything seemed right in the world and the next day everything was upside down...nothing looked the same and the basic comforts of life we take for granted were gone. Our family was extremely lucky...our homes and boat faired well. All needed some repairs (still an ongoing project) but they were inhabitable. My Dad was the least fortunate; his assistant living home flooded and is still under repair. After 12 weeks of being displaced, first living with my brother and then with us, we finally gave up on Trinity Shores and moved him into a new place in Victoria. By Thanksgiving life was returning to normal. 

The real highlights of our year were the times we spent with our family, especially our four wonderful grandchildren. They’re each growing into such special, amazing little people, they bring a lot of joy and love to our life and we feel blessed for the time we get to spend with them. We look forward to another year of adventures…although hopefully it’ll be a little less stressful. We wish all of you a very Merry Christmas and a happy, healthy New Year.

December 15, 2017

This Boat

This song is by Howard Livingston & Mile Marker 24, a local group we heard about while in the Keys one winter. Some people have no idea how true these lyrics are...but if you're a cruiser, liveaboard, lover of boats or someone that enjoys the simpler way of life, you'll be able to relate to this song. Stan and I truly do and it's something that's hard to explain to land based friends. "Once those sails catch the wind, you can’t turn and go back again. It’s going to set you free and you can’t go back to who you use to be."

This Boat
I knew it would happen sooner or later.
I circled the number in the Sunday paper
For that old sailboat I’d been thinking about.
Chicago winters had worn be thin.
I needed some sunshine on my skin,
So I caught the next flight heading south.
The old man handed me the keys from his weathered hand,
But he said there’s something you need to understand.

Son this boat is going to change your life,
I’m not saying it’s wrong, I’m not saying it’s right
You just need to know where you’re about to go.
Once those sails catch the wind
You can’t turn and go back again.
It’s going to set you free
And you can’t go back to who you use to be.

I slept out on the boat that night.
Sunrise never seemed so bright.
The words the old man said,
I just couldn’t get out of my head.

Son this boat is going to change your life.
I’m not saying it’s wrong, I’m not saying it’s right
You just need to know where you’re about to go.
Once those sails catch the wind
You can’t turn and go back again.
It’s going to set you free
And you can’t go back to who you use to be.

That was when I was a young man.
Now you’ll find me on an island.
I’ve got a different point of view,
And some how the old man knew.

That once those sails catch the wind.
You can’t turn and go back again.
It’s going to set you free,
And you can’t go back to who you use to be.

Texas Pearl
 The Pearl
 Wild Wind
 Straw Boss
Video of the song "This Boat" by Howard Livingston

December 4, 2017

Biltmore Estate

Most of the time when we travel to and from the east coast we have a schedule...the urge to return to The Pearl or the tug to our heart strings to see our family, especially our grandchildren. This trip on our way home from spending Thanksgiving with our family in Pennsylvania we decided to take a side trip to explore Asheville, North Carolina and the Biltmore Estate...we had a wonderful time.

Biltmore Facts:
  • George Washington Vanderbilt built the Biltmore Mansion between 1889 and 1895. It’s the largest private home in the United States. 
  • The house took six years to complete and employed over 1,000 men during its construction.
  • The house was named Biltmore - from “Bildt”, the Dutch town where Vanderbilt’s ancestors originated, and “more”, an old English word for open, rolling land.
  • George Vanderbilt hired two of the most distinguished designers of the 19th century to create his dream: architect Richard Morris Hunt (designed the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Statue of Liberty base) and landscape designer Frederick Law Olmsted (designed Central Park). 
  • The four-story stone house with a 780-foot façade was designed to rival the surrounding mountains in grandeur.
  • To accomplish the seemingly impossible feat of building a European chateau in rural North Carolina, Hunt focused on efficiency. The land in front of the home site was transformed into a mini-town with buildings and small factories that produced materials necessary for the construction of the house. 
  • An on-site kiln produced up to 32,000 bricks daily, and a woodworking factory supplied oak and walnut for the house’s floors and walls.
  • Indiana limestone (almost 10 million pounds), Italian marble and other supplies were shipped into Asheville by rail. Vanderbilt built a private railroad track from the village depot up to the construction site. The 3-mile route eventually became what is now the Approach Road that leads guests to Biltmore House.
  • The Biltmore Estate cost approximately $5 million to build in the late 1800s, in today’s dollars that would be around $90 million.  
  • When the Biltmore House opened to friends and family on Christmas Eve in 1895 the home contained more than 175,000 square feet (four acres). It had 33 bedrooms, 65 fireplaces, 43 bathrooms, three kitchens, electric elevators, bowling ally, indoor swimming pool and a winter garden. 
  • The house had underwater lights in its indoor pool at a time when many people still used candles and oil and gas lamps for light. 
  • The house was wired with both AC and DC current because nobody was sure which would become the norm.
  • The Banquet Hall is 74’ by 42’, with a seven-story high ceiling and triple fireplace. The dinner table could seat as many as 64 guests. The meals served there were typically 8 courses and required 15 utensils per person to eat.
  • The Biltmore Estate was originally 125,000 acres. After George Vanderbilt’s death, according to his wishes, Edith sold 87,000 acres of the original Biltmore Estate to the U.S. Government Forest Services to form the Pisgah National Forest.   
  • In 1930, Cornelia (Vanderbilt’s daughter) and John Cecil opened Biltmore House to the public, hoping to increase local tourism during the Depression. 
  • In 1942, during World War II, Biltmore House stored priceless art from the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC. 
  • Today the estate covers over 8,000 acres and includes 75-acres of formal gardens, hotels, a winery (most visited winery in the US), several restaurants, a 250-acre deer preserve and a conservatory. It draws over a million visitors a year.
  • The Easter Egg hunt at the estate draws approximately 5,000 children each year.
  • There are more than 6,000 weddings on the Biltmore Estate each year.

The Biltmore at night
A few of the guest rooms 
Winter Garden: This glass-roofed room was considered stylish in the Victoria era and provided a place to display exotic plants.
The Library was designed around the gorgeous 18th century ceiling painting by Pelligrini. Titled “The Chariot of Aurora,” it was originally located in a palace in Venice, Italy. The painting is 64’ long by 32’ wide, consisting of 13 separate canvases, the central scene surrounded by 12 smaller paintings.
The Vanderbilt library houses 23,000 books. It also features 16th century tapestries.
At Christmas time approximately 15,000 strings of lights are used, as well as 100 evergreen trees, and 53 indoor trees to decorate...here are just a few of the beautiful trees.
The massive stone spiral staircase has 102 steps. 
In the center of the staircase, suspended by a single bolt is an iron chandelier containing 72 electric light bulbs. 
What an amazing view the Vanderbilts had from their estate
Biltmore Conservatory was full of beautiful flowers...many stacked up to look like Christmas tress. The outside gardens were bare, but inside the plants were amazing.
Trail to Bass Pond and boat house
Biltmore Floor plans 
Thanks for reading our blog and spending part of your day with us. The Pearl is also on Facebook - stop by and say hi or follow us on Instragram or Google+.

November 13, 2017

Facebook Photo Challenge

Facebook has been full of black and white photos...part of a photo challenge. The instructions given to me were: Seven days, seven black and white photos of your life. No people. No explanation. 

I was also suppose to tag someone each day to invite them to join, but I decided most of my friends probably wouldn't take part, so I just posted my pictures. I followed the rules other wise and posted my photos without an explanation...although it was a little difficult not to add a caption.
My fellow blogging friend from The Cynical Sailer and his Salty Sidekick was the one that challenged me and then she posted a blog entry with the explanations she wanted to include in her Black & White Photo Challenge posts. I thought it was a wonderful idea...so here are the captions I wanted to add to my photos.

Day 1 - The Blue Crab has been a tourist and local favorite in Rockport since the late 50s. In 2011 an artist constructed the latest version that sat next to Little Bay until Hurricane Harvey blew it away. Now another artist has painted a large crab to take its place until a permanent one can be constructed...reminding everyone that Rockport will recover. 
Day 2 - The blue herons have returned to the posts by Texas Pearl...I love to watch them and I worried a lot about them and the other birds during the storm. They're one of my favorite birds to photograph.  
Day 3 - This is Little Harbor in the Abacos...can you spot The Pearl? It's a small remote place and it was one of our favorite places, surrounded by beautiful clear water and secluded beaches. We look forward to returning here one day. 
Day 4 - Sandpipers are another fun shore bird to photograph. They scurry along the edge of the surf, darting just out of reach of the waves.  
Day 5 - Blog readers know I love beach combing...lobster buoys were my treasure of choice in Maine and now they decorate the fence at our home in Texas.  
Day 6 - Our pool looks more like a pond than a place of beauty and relaxation these days, but the wild animals love to visit and I enjoy watching them. 
Day 7 - We don't see a lot of white pelicans in this area, but this flock seem to love the beach next to the causeway leading into Rockport. 
Thanks for reading our blog and spending part of your day with us. The Pearl is also on Facebook - stop by and say hi or follow us on Instragram or Google+.