|s/y Nine of Cups
In the Beginning...
|The year 2000 was not only the beginning
of a new millennium, it was quite an eventful
year for us in many ways. We bought a boat,
retired from our jobs, sold off all of our
belongings (save a few mementos stored at
Marcie's sister's house), moved aboard and
began a whole new life and lifestyle.
It had always been David's dream to sail
around the world in a sailboat. The thought
of living aboard a sailboat and sailing around
the world never occurred to Marcie. Yet
when it was time to sell up and sail off, there
was no hesitation on either side. We had
never lived aboard a boat before. We had
not been brought up in sailing families. All we
knew about sailing had been learned as
adults through sailing classes and reading and
subsequently chartering boats. Needless to
say there was a lot to learn, but we were up
to the challenge.
In the beginning, we had a free digital
camera that came with our internet service
and Marcie wasn't much into photography.
She always maintained a journal however, so
as we put together this part of the website...a
decade later, we're relying on her journal
entitled "Passages" and letters home to
reconstruct our early years aboard.
|Magellan Louise Lemay Lynn...aka Jelly...was
adopted from the local pound on Mother's Day
2000 as our official ship's cat. See Jelly's Page
for more about Jelly.
|We found "Nine of Cups" in Kemah, Texas. We
saw her in January, bought her in February,
worked on her in March, moved aboard on April
24th, 2000 and sailed away in May. To learn the
significance of her name, click What's in a Name
|Denaming and renaming a boat is serious business. We
scoured the internet for denaming and renaming
ceremonies. No one seemed to agree on the ceremony,
but most agreed that renaming a boat could have
disastrous results if not done properly. We finally
contrived a mix of several ideas and conducted two
separate ceremonies. One to dename the boat of her
current name and one to rename her "Nine of Cups". We
won't say this was a far fetched ceremony, but props did
include hair of a red-headed virgin, a rabbit's foot and
champagne. Basically, we removed every vestige of the
old name, save one, which we burned while thanking
Neptune for protecting the boat under the old name. Then
with much ado, we introduced "Nine of Cups" to
Neptune, asking his protection for ship and crew
hereafter...this involved lots of champagne.
|Friends Noel & Joanne on "WOXOF", our
berth neighbors at Portofino Marina, along with
other cruisers, joined the fun on the dock.
Hmmm...read that...they came for the
champagne. David's Mom (far left) flew down
from Denver just for the occasion.
|Above, David reads from a carefully
prepared script. We were taking no
|There's SOOOOO much to learn...
Nothing on a boat has a name even remotely similar to the same items on land. The galley...not the kitchen. The saloon...not the dining
area/sitting area. The head...not the bathroom. Then there's rigging (standing and running), shrouds and stays. Port and
starboard...forward and aft...bow and stern.
Then there's the gear we use...VHF (very high frequency) radio; the GPS (global positioning system) which tells us where we are and
points us where we're going. We want to buy an SSB (single side band) radio. Let's add to the mix a diesel engine; 12V electrical; marine
plumbing systems, hydraulic steering, autopilot, refrigeration, varnishing, fiberglass, rigging...the list of required competencies just goes on
and on just to maintain the boat and keep it afloat... never mind actually sailing it. The learning curve is definitely steep and we make
mistakes. But you know what? So far, we're having the time of our lives.
|Kemah, TX - 29N33 / 95W10
|We found that many "firsts"were daunting...the first big passage, the first night
watch, the first time out of sight of land for days at a time, the first time anchoring
out. Most times, the anticipation was worse than the actual thing, but we
stressed out over it. We referred to these high stress firsts as "dragons".
And each time we dealt with one successfully and gained a
bit of experience, the stress and the fear dissipated. We called it
"slaying a dragon"...and there were many!
|Our very first passage aboard Nine of Cups....The Kemah Boardwalk (above left) was right across the street from the Portofino Marina and along the canal which led from
the marina out to Galveston Bay and into the Gulf of Mexico. We left Kemah on May 21st for our first passage and it was a major one…652 nautical miles across the Gulf of
Mexico to St. Petersburg, Florida. The trip took a total of 8 days with little wind and though we managed quite well, we “slayed a few dragons” along the way. The trip in itself
was a new and exciting adventure for us. We had a small engine fire, which melted David’s toolbox (exciting!). We caught our first fish…a mahi mahi. We saw biolumes for the
first time…algae that light up in the water and set it aglow at night. We saw flying fish and jelly fish and great numbers of dolphins…all a complete delight for these new sailors.
|Excerpt from Marcie's journal about
“Up from my bed at 0400 to take over
watch. I kiss David goodnight and put on
the kettle for tea. Night watch was one of
my “dragons”, but no longer. All I see are
stars…clear and bright and just a glimpse
of a half moon left, setting, but leaving a
soft glow in the sky. We barely make a
sound as we plow through nearly waveless
water and I can hear the dolphins
|Arriving on land again after a week was
wonderful. We had a hard time walking without
staggering at first. A problem, which was
intensified while in the shower! We stayed at
the Maximo Marina in St. Pete and got a chance
to spend lots of time with Marcie's parents.
|David's first fish!
|Archie was more interested in his
new furry "granddaughter" than he
was in the boat!
|Jelly charmed the "grand parents" without
|Though she might look it, she's no angel!
|After a week in St. Pete, we were anxious to begin
our trek down the west coast of the Florida
peninsula and up the East Coast in anticipation of
hurricane season, which officially begins June 1. Our
first stop was Key West and it was hard to only
spend a day there, but hurricane season approaches.
To the right... Sunrises and sunsets are still awesome
no matter how many times we experience them.
Sunrise at Key West…anchored just off Wisteria
|St. Petersburg, Florida - 27N80 / 082W60
|Key West - Wisteria Island - 24N34 /081W49.5
|From the ship’s journal…
“Suddenly… and it does seem
sudden…the night murk is replaced
by a swelling brightness. A ship in the
distance, identified by its steaming
lights a minute ago, now blends into
the brightening horizon and the
camouflage is complete…no more
ship. It’s morning again.”
|Fernandina Beach, FL - 20N36 / 081W28
|We sailed directly from Key West to
Fernandina Beach…a 4 day sail. We
encountered our first big blow off the
coast of Miami…35-40K winds. We
saw the storm approaching, but we
were about to have dinner and decided
to eat first and reef the main sail later.
Big mistake! The storm was upon us in
no time…heavy rain and high wind and
a substantial temperature drop. It lasted
about 2-3 hours and we sat huddled in
the cockpit, shivering wet and cold, but
too excited to go below lest we miss
anything. We hadn't secured the anchor
properly and it deployed during the
blow necessitating a trip forward to
secure it again. Another lesson learned!
|The anchorage at Fernandina Beach, right
off the main town dock, was great. The
tidal difference was significant enough to
note that low tide at this marina would not
have been a good place for a boat like ours
with a 7-foot draft.
|Dolphins are particularly fascinating to us.
Considered to be good luck for sailors, they
swim along with us night and day. At night
you can hear their breath sounds as they
surface for air and there are some times so
many of them I call it the “dolphin ballet”
|Beaufort, NC - 34N72 / 076W66
|From Fernandina, another 3 day sail to
Beaufort, NC (that’s pronounced Bow-
fort, NC not Bew-fort, SC). The town is
cruiser-friendly and the local pub, “The
Back Street Bar” seems to be the place for
a cruiser to get a cold, cheap beer. The
route into the anchorage is circuitous with
some silting in areas. My favorite part of
Beaufort was hiking on Carrot Island.
There are wild horses there, which we saw,
mostly in the early morning grazing along
the shore. We also did a lot of shelling on
the island and were especially pleased with
the number of sand dollars we collected.
|The anchorage was crowded, but
pleasant.Rainbows are optional in Beaufort.
|Wild horses on Carrot Island
(photo nicked off the net)
|From Beaufort, another straight shot “on
the outside” around infamous Cape
Hatteras to Mystic, Connecticut. With the
help of the Gulf Stream we did 535
nautical miles in 5 days.
Mystic Shipyard was a great marina within
walking distance to the Mystic Seaport.
We opted to have the boat hauled and the
bottom painted. A special anti-fouling
paint is put on the bottom to keep
barnacles and other undesirables from
attaching to the boat and hitching a free
ride. David also spent time with a
shipwright getting as many pointers as
possible in anticipation of having to repair
our teak decks.
|Mystic Shipyard, Mystic CT - 41N20 / 071W58
|Nine of Cups "on the hard" (also new
terminology) at Mystic Shipyard with a new coat
of paint on her bottom.
|We really enjoyed fresh lobster on a
regular basis thanks to Vivian who
owned the lobster boat Andy’s Girl
and supplied live lobster off the boat
|4th of July was celebrated at Mystic Seaport, a
19th century working seaport museum. That’s
really Uncle Sam sitting there chatting with Marcie.
He left shortly thereafter to march in the parade.
Marcie didn't march that day.
|Continue with us for Passages 2001 as we
begin our second year aboard Nine of Cups
and visit the US eastern seaboard, the
Bahamas and Canada.
|We had the opportunity to attend OpSail
2000, a huge congregation of tallships touring
the east coast of the U.S., with one port of
call being New London, CT. We were on a
friend’s boat for the opening parade which
was a spectacle as the ships passed right in
front of us. Later we took a train to New
London to view and board the ships and
watch the massive fireworks display (in the
|Our youngest son, Brad, joined us from
Colorado for a much-too-short week in
Newport, RI. Time was at a premium so we
sailed to Nantucket, Provincetown and
ended up in Salem, Massachusetts. On our
way through Cape Cod Bay, just off
P-town, we saw a large pod of whales. One
surfaced so close to us, we saw him wink.
|Camden, Maine - 44N21 / 069W06
|The fog was so thick sometimes you could
barely see the bow of your own boat. We use
the horn and bell to alert other boats to our
presence. This picture taken in Camden,
|Camden is a picture-perfect harbor and
seaport. Very touristy, but fun and lots to see
and do. We opted to climb to the top of Mt.
Battie and get this view of the harbor.
Blueberries were in season so the climb took
a bit longer than expected.
|From Massachusetts, we headed to Maine
and our first taste of lobster traps and fog.
We had not had much experience with
radar before, but we learned very quickly.
From the ship’s journal …
“It’s dark, cold and very foggy. Using
radar gives my face and hands a greenish
glow… watching the endless sweep
across the circles. I go topside about
every 15 minutes to do a visual check but
there’s nothing to see. The fog is so
oppressive; it sucks us up. There is no
distinction between sky, water, night and
boat…all are one. It suffocates me.”
|We enjoyed Maine immensely, but the
summer was too short. Excessive lobster
traps and fog definitely taint the experience,
but in the long run, probably add to it. This
“lobster shack” is typical of what we saw
on land. The number of lobster buoys
adorning the side of the shack is a millionth
of what we avoided en route.
|A word about nay-sayers!
When we first moved aboard, we listened carefully and attentively to everyone because we
assumed they had much more experience and were therefore, much smarter than we were. Some
were, some were not. We found that lots of folks told us what we should do and what we shouldn't
do. Advice, as always, was cheap."DON'T go to Maine!" they told us in Texas. "Too much fog, no
place to moor or anchor, too crowded, too many lobster traps...blah, blah,blah". Oh, had they
been sailing in Maine? Hmm...not exactly... but they heard it from other cruisers. Aha! and there
lies the rub. For sure, we listen and try to learn, but take heed of the speaker. Consider your own
needs, likes, dislikes. Be prudent, do some research and decide for yourself. Remember it's an
adventure. Don't sit safely in your rocking chair and knit mittens...leave the dock!
|Jelly is growing into an adolescent now. She
has the run of the boat and makes an excellent
|We made it as far north and east as
Northeast Harbor, Mt. Desert Island,
Maine. We opted to take the “Fast Cat”
from Bar Harbor to Yarmouth, Nova
Scotia for a quick overnight jaunt and leave
"Cups" on a mooring. About 100 miles
away, it would have been an overnight in
Nine of Cups or a 2-hour ride in the
“Cat”. After visiting Yarmouth, we
decided that maritime Canada was on the
itinerary for Summer 2001. It was late
August and already Fall was in the air in
New England. Time to head back south.
|Gloucester, MA - 42N69 / 070W65
|Our nephew, Nicks, joined us for a few days in
Gloucester as we began our trip back down South.
|“The Perfect Storm” is a hit movie this season
and was actually filmed in Gloucester. We
caught this photo of an abandoned fishing
trawler looking worse for the wear sitting in
the low water just off the dock.
|Gloucester's famous "Man at the Wheel"
|That’s David with a flyswatter. For some
unknown reason, we were inundated with
flies when leaving Gloucester. It took us
a couple of days to swat them all (the
scuppers were full!) and dispose of a
thousand little bodies at sea.
|The Beaufort Scale is used to
quantify wind force objectively.
Moderate Breeze - 11-16 knots
Fresh Breeze - 17-21k
Strong Breeze - 22-27k
Moderate Gale - 28-33k
Fresh Gale – 34-40k
Strong Gale – 41-47k
Whole Gale – 48-55k
Storm – 56-63k
Hurricane – 64+k
|From Gloucester, we took daytrips anchoring in
Plymouth, going through the Cape Cod Canal
and another stop to see friends in Mystic.
Above, the Cape Cod Canal at dawn.
|We moored at the Harlem Yacht Club for one night awaiting the slack tide to negotiate Hell Gate.The first of many
bridges we encountered was the Throg’s Neck…on land, it connects Long Island to New York City. Though
bridge heights are posted and charted, there never looks like quite enough room for our tall mast (65’) when you’re
sailing under for the first time. Read a humorous account of our botched mooring pickup at the Harlem Yacht
We’d both seen New York City many, many times before, but never from the water and never through the eyes of
a cruiser. Hell Gate is the confluence of the East and Harlem Rivers which when negotiated at the wrong time lives
up to its name. We entered from Long Island Sound and maneuvered our way through the city waterways ending
up at the Battery and in New York Harbor. Without a doubt, the greatest thrill of passing through New York City
was entering New York Harbor and spotting the Statue of Liberty. She stands tall and regal in the middle of the
harbor and sailing past her put a lump in our throats.
|From New York we hugged the Jersey Coast with
a stop in Cape May to replace an engine starter.
Then up the Delaware River through the C&D
Canal down the Chesapeake. It was October now
and getting chilly. We stopped in Annapolis for the
Annapolis Boat Show and anchored just off the
Naval Academy. David had done lots of research
and study regarding several large purchases we
wanted to make and this was the place to make a
We bought wind generators (2) , a watermaker,
new binoculars, solar panels (3), a top-of-the-stove
toaster (not researched) and various and sundry t-
shirts and other important stuff. We spent a bundle,
got good stuff, now for the delivery and installation.
Another whole story!
Midst the purchasing frenzy, we started feeling
guilty about the chores that needed to get done on
the boat prior to the arrival of all the new gear.
The main task was removing the teak decks, which
were leaking and repairing the fiberglass decking
below…a major undertaking. With the knowledge
acquired from the shipwright in Mystic coupled with
lots of reading and research, David began the slow
and tedious process of carefully removing each teak
plank and the hundreds of screw and teak plugs
holding them in place. All “spongy” decking below
was cut out and filled with epoxy and wood. Then
each plank had to be scraped and cleaned of the
old adhesive before relaying, rescrewing and
Then what to do with the finish? We opted for
“naturel”, but that meant sanding the entire deck.
This became Marcie’s project.
Project completion time: 2 months
Begun in Annapolis, MD and finished in Charleston,
|David carefully removing teak planks
from the deck.
|From Annapolis, we daytripped down the
Chesapeake anchoring overnight in several
beautiful, secluded spots. A quick stop in
Willoughby Bay/Hampton Roads then out
of the Bay and we sailed around Cape
Hatteras. We stopped in Beaufort, NC
again for a couple of days and then to
Charleston, SC which would be our home
for the next 3 months. Never having spent
much time in South Carolina, this would
end up being a delightful respite and the
beautiful city of Charleston quickly
became one of our favorite cities. Above,
the Charleston Maritime Center.
|We ended our year by driving to Boston to spend Christmas with Lin, Kerry and Nicks and then
flying out to Denver for the New Year’s celebration in Denver…which was celebrated with friends
and family at Miguel’s Breakfast Club…Mary’s new restaurant.
Though we enjoyed seeing friends and family, we missed the boat and were anxious to return after
3 weeks away. Time to get our boat ready to head South again.
We sailed a total of 4,125 nautical miles in our first year. From Kemah, Texas across the
Gulf of Mexico up to Mt. Desert Island, Maine and back down to Charleston, SC. Despite the
tremendous learning curve and the lessons taught by Neptune, we not only survived, we delighted in
the adventure and we’re rearing to go in 2001.
|Add to the Vocabulary: (not counting
Gullah – from Charleston, SC, the dialect
and culture of the local blacks
Low country – specific to the coastal area of
Sweetgrass – the grasses used in making
local, sweet smelling, handwoven baskets
Rice Ladle – specific to the rice-growing
area of South Carolina, a specially designed
piece of silverware used for the formal serving
|New On the Menu...
Frogmoor stew – from Charleston, SC, a local
fisherman’s type stew
Shrimp and grits – delicious shrimp in cheesy
grits (really good!) even for non-grit lovers