On Home Turf

Think flotilla leaders and crewed yacht brokers spend all their free time preoccupied with work? Think again! "Charter Briefing" for our _CW_Reckonings for August 19, 2010

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Tania and Ernst Aebi take a break from chores on his farm, in Corinth, Vermont.Elaine Lembo

There's nobody who resists spending hours in a car more than me, but even I can put up with it once in a while, especially if there's an element of surprise waiting at the other end.

Surprise and delight, I should add. Over the past few months, I've had the great good fortune to hit the road north and south for visits with some of my contacts at their bases of operation, so to speak.

This kind of trip is a combination of adventure and leap of faith; after all, I basically invite myself into the homes of fellow marine-industry professionals, and they're kind enough to put up with the appearance of the person attached to the phone voice and emails.

Tea with Tania Aebi
Recently, I drove to the Green Mountains of Vermont, and spent the night at the home of famed solo circumnavigator and flotilla leader Tania Aebi amid the rolling 32 acres she owns in the village of Corinth.
Sailor, mother to teen sons, author-that we know. But to that add bushwhacker, property manager, seamstress, farmer, gourmet cook, not to mention enthusiastic open-air-market shopping maven.

I enjoyed our time together, walking through the woods, meeting Tania's neighbors, and chattering endlessly over countless topics, from the transformative power of cruising challenges, to families, friends, loves, writing careers, and such hot topics as sustainable gardening and invasive species.

When she's not fattening up chicks or preparing apple tarts from scratch, she's busy in the home office, fielding requests of all types, the latest, for commentary on recent circumnavigating bids by the teens of today-Tania made her trip aboard a 26-foot sloop in the late 1980s when she was 18, before sophisticated electronic navigation and communication equipment came on the market.

Aside from family, the farm, and free lance writing, other projects that keep her busy, and inevitably, away from the mountains, include the flotillas for women she leads in the Caribbean and the Mediterranean with business and sailing partner Jill London. After all that compost and bushwhacking, Tania admits a little sea and sand are refreshing. For flotilla details, log on to Tania Aebi Sailing Adventures (www.taniaaebi.com).

Ann-Wallis White: Books for Caribbean Kids
In spring I visited the Chesapeake Bay region, to sail on bareboat charter with Annapolis Bay Charters (www.annapolisbaycharters.net). The story, one of several for the theme Sail Near Home, appears in the March 2011 Cruising World.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. Before we shoved off, I squeezed in a visit with longtime crewed-yacht vacation broker Ann-Wallis White (www.awwyachtcharters.com).

It was fun to have a meal and catch up with her, but what I was really dying to do was see the place where she stores, then boxes up the books that she cajoles crews of charter yachts to bring along as they head south on delivery toward winter work in warm climes. So we hopped in the car and headed out of Annapolis, into Maryland's horse country.

Ann's extended goodwill network, now more than 30-years strong, has helped her amass so many books in so many genres that I thought I was standing in the Strand Bookstore in Manhattan ("Eighteen miles of books!" is its promo.).

As we made our way through the huge and damp former tobacco barn, I'd inevitably spy a tome or two I'd always meant to read, and never got to, for some reason or another. "Take whatever you want!" she called out from her corner, where she was busily boxing and taping up books for school kids on the island of Antigua, in the Caribbean.

Read more about Ann's and others' efforts in my December 2010 CW feature about a charter aboard the luxury crewed yacht Matau in St. Vincent and the Grenadines last winter.