Sailing South … Finally!

Follow along on CW associate editor Jen Brett's winter southern cruising sojourn aboard Lyra.

November 25, 2013

At Home Afloat: Lyra NC

I think that it was surreal for the kids to spend two days in the car, and then discover their home in a completely different place. Jen Brett

“Where are you going to keep the boat?”

“Well, we’re probably going to move around a bit, mom.”

“But where will you be? When do you think you’ll get here?”


“Not sure yet…”

I sighed and hung up the phone and related the conversation to my good friend, Giulia, whose house my two girls and I were crashing at while Lyra, our 44-foot Reliance ketch, traveled south.

“I’m surprised she doesn’t get it,” Giulia remarked. “You’ve been living on a boat forever…”


Well, yes… But my mom could hardly be blamed. While it’s true that we (my husband, Green, and our daughters) have been living on a boat (this one, anyway) for five years now, the boat has been based in Newport, RI, and except for some short local cruises, Newport is where you could always find us.

But this winter, at long last, we have finally broken away — and as I write this, I am sitting aboard Lyra at a marina in Southport, NC. (I should mention that both my family and Green’s all live in Florida, so in the eyes of our parents, we’re coming “home” for the winter.)

Disconnecting with “normal” life is hard, and getting to this point has been like a marathon — It started with a pipe dream (Green: “Do you think your boss will let you get away to sail south over the winter?” Me: “..and keep my job?” Green: “Well… you do work for Cruising World…” Me: “True…”), continued with lots of boat projects and equipment purchases, followed by Lyra and crew leaving on the coldest day that Newport has had this fall while the girls and I stayed back to finish work, get my older daughter’s school to sign off on our plan, and generally wrap up our life for a while before hitting the road (land cruising, if you will).


Untying the dock lines — it’s a big moment!

And truthfully, it was time. At 4 and 8, our girls are at a great age to try out this whole cruising thing, even if just for a few months, and really see why we live on a boat. I’m looking forward to seeing new places, revisiting old favorites, and generally enjoying my kids in ways that I never seem to have time for in our crazy day-to-day life.

The plan? Much to my mom’s frustration, our plan is quite vague and only includes cruising Florida and (hopefully) the Bahamas until next April, when we’ll need to return to Newport. That’s it. Along the way we’ll be homeschooling and I’ll be working remotely.


Definitely not in Newport anymore…

But cruising rarely follows a plan, even a vague one, and so far ours has already changed. Somewhere around Cape Hatteras (they planned the rounding during a nice high-pressure system and had hoped to sneak around the notorious Cape under power in light conditions), the engine’s transmission developed a whine. Green and crew landed in Beaufort, NC, then made a dash to Southport to pull the transmission and get it to Mack Boring. So instead of driving all the way south, the girls and I met up with Lyra in Southport and will get to sail down the rest of the way after the engine is put back together this week. My mom-in-law, who was part of the delivery crew (yeah, my mother-in-law is pretty cool– she still sails offshore), will drive my car down to Fla. and we’ll meet up there. Somewhere… it’s a big state (sorry mom!).

That’s the plan for now, anyway… written in the sand at low tide, of course.


Beach time!

Any suggestions of places we should stop? Let me know below!


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