Come November, the mooring field and anchorage here in my hometown of Newport, Rhode Island, is pretty empty. So just before Thanksgiving, it was strange to see a rugged yawl in the mostly abandoned harbor riding nicely on a mooring with the mizzen set to help stabilize matters during a shrill, cold, 25-knot northwester. She was a steel, 46-footer called Endeavor, sailed by a cruising couple named Candy and David Masters.
As it turned out, I knew both the yacht and the sailors. The last time I’d seen them was nearly a year before, in the distant Falkland Islands. Since then, we’d both covered a lot of miles.
We met in Port Stanley, during my voyage “Around the Americas” aboard the 64-foot cutter, Ocean Watch, and we had a few things in common. My mates and I on Ocean Watch were bound for Cape Horn, and the Chilean canals, before making our way on to Seattle, Washington. Aboard Endeavor, David and Candy had already been to all of the above, but coming from the opposite direction. They proved to be invaluable sources of information on routes, weather, officialdom and countless other details. We’d been extremely fortunate to make their acquaintance.
The Masters’ purchased Endeavor, originally built in Holland in 1962, from the sheriff of Washington State’s San Juan Islands in late 1987. For the better part of the next two decades—both working full-time jobs in Seattle, including David’s position as a natural resource planner—they tore the boat apart and put her back together again, swapping the teak decks for steel ones and replacing every fastener, wire and hose before carefully refitting the handsome, original teak and mahogany interior. In 2005, after a shakedown cruise to Canada, they pointed Endeavor south.
The original idea had been to head directly for the high latitudes, but a season in the Sea of Cortez proved to be a very welcome and enjoyable diversion. They spent some time in both the Galapagos Islands and mainland Ecuador—among many other ports of call—before finally arriving in Puerto Montt, Chile, where they landed a charter gig leading a team of National Geographic journalists on an 18-day spin through a series of National Parks. Once that assignment was over, they had the chance to return to the Beagle Canal on a much more leisurely schedule, and actually made several “loops” in and around Patagonia. “We had a really nice time down there,” said David.
Together with friends aboard a Baba 35 called Santa Magdalena—ostensibly so each crew could take photos of the other boat on such a monumental occasion—they rounded Cape Horn in “buddy-boat” fashion and Endeavor eventually carried on to the Falklands, where we were shocked to see another boat, like Ocean Watch, with a home port of Seattle.
David and Candy’s ideal plan was to carry on to South Georgia Island but they changed their minds after a series of horrendous easterly gales made the passage untenable. “We’d been down in the ice for a couple of years,” said David. “I mentioned to Candy that if we went north it would get warmer.”
He did not have to mention it a second time.
They had an enjoyable if very busy summer—covering something like 10,000 miles in four months—with stops in Tristan da Cunha, St. Helena, Ascension Island, Barbados, Puerto Rico and the Bahamas—before finally making landfall in Beaufort, North Carolina in June. From there, they carried on up the coast to Maine before backtracking to Newport in November, where we enjoyed a fine reunion. Candy and David borrowed my bikes to have a look around town and grabbed my truck to tour Connecticut’s Mystic Seaport and the Herreshoff Museum in nearby Bristol, Rhode Island.
Then, as always, they were off again, bound ultimately for North Carolina to pull and service their spruce spars and attend to other maintenance issues this spring. Just the other day, David and Candy sent along this message via email:
“Short update: Made it as far as Washington, D.C. Currently anchored in Washington Channel and are using the Capital Yacht Club dinghy dock. CYC is being super nice to us and we are having a great time. Had Christmas with my sister who lives nearby and are spending some time with them in between our numerous visits to the Smithsonian. Looks like another week or ten days here and then we start south again for our March Maintenance Madness…
“Lots of ice in the Potomac. Since it is fresh water we’ve been learning about design weaknesses in our bilge system. Never had freezing problems in salt water but all this fresh stuff freezes earlier and we’ve had to clear our bilge lines twice so far—minor plumbing changes imminent. We’ve also scratched up the anti-fouling around the water line so we’ll have to haul in March instead of doing a dive and changing the zinc. Life is full of opportunities to learn.”And what lies ahead for these intrepid cruisers?
“Heading back north,” said David. “We’ll be shooting for Labrador but will be happy with Newfoundland or Nova Scotia. We’ll see how far the ice will let us get.”
Somehow, knowing the Masters, I wouldn’t bet against Labrador.