I hadn’t realized how long it had been since I had written my last blog post until today. Wow, almost a year to the day!
For most folks, the last year has passed by at a snail’s pace. In many ways, it has for me too – I have still not hugged my mom and dad since two Christmases ago and had to miss my first Christmas ever with them this past one, because we thought it was too unsafe to travel and visit. I remember crying in our driveway in Maine last summer wanting desperately nothing more than a hug from my parents, and yet, we all knew that we could not do so, in order to ensure many family hugs and get-togethers in the future.
And yet, this past year has also flown by so quickly for us and our business. IN A GOOD WAY. And for that, I am so grateful. Grateful that we were able to pivot to change our charter offerings, transitioning from overnights to half day and full day charters. Grateful for the trust of our guests that we have always taken all steps possible to ensure their safety. Grateful to our loyal friends and customers for purposefully booking with us. Grateful for our health. And grateful that through an extraordinary amount of work, our business is healthy and thriving amidst the evolution of Covid.
I thought I’d take a step back through this year to give you a sense of how we’ve managed through everything and where we are now. The last time I wrote you (last May), we were still quarantined in the British Virgin Islands.
All said and done, we were quarantined on the boat for three months, not being able to step foot on land for that period of time. We would order groceries to be delivered to the dock every few weeks when we arranged to get water (after being given permission by the police), but we did not set foot on land for over three months last spring. We could not dinghy around, not paddle board, and not move the boat without police permission. When BVI customs finally opened up, we were able to clear out and start moving the boat. After much research, I found a contact in the Bahamian government who was able to give us permission to sail through the Bahamian waters to move the SV Liberty back to Maine. I wrote and submitted a detailed description of our ten-night itinerary through the Bahamas to the government, detailing every night’s anchorage spot, but ensuring that we would not step foot ashore. It was thankfully approved, and we were able to start our journey home. We made our way very quickly through the Bahamas, so excited to be heading towards home to Maine. It was at this point, when we were finally venturing home, with direction and purpose, that I started to write my next blog, “Making our way North” on June 10, 2020, an excerpt of which is below…
“As I write this, we are sailing at 10.1 kts through the Gulf Stream, about 70 miles off the coast of Virginia. As the crow flies, we are 615 miles from Marsh Harbour, Bahamas, our last anchorage, and about 1,500 miles from the USVIs, where we started our journey north. At 10.1 kts, for our Lagoon, it’s breakneck speed to go this fast. But alas, we are actually being pulled by about 4 kts of gulf stream current, so we’re really heading through the water at about 6 kts. The gulf stream will help propel us northward faster home, which is fantastic. These are perfect sailing days, in my mind, where our sails our full, the current is pulling us, but the waves or not big or close together, so you feel as though you are gliding over the water. We are about to get into a bit of weather and wind as we sail farther north, so I’m appreciating this moment of quietude as the water shooshes under our hulls every few seconds. Although we’ve sailed through the Gulf Stream several times (Nils more than I), this is the first time that sailing through the Blue River has held more meaning and understanding to me….”
Reading back through my old posts, and particularly this one, makes me realize how much we have been through and overcome since the devastation of canceling all of our charters last spring.
We finally arrived back home in Maine June 20th, 2020. And we went back to work as quickly as we could, and have not stopped since. Grateful to have business, and to be considered a safe business, we worked 12–15-hour days seven days a week last summer and through the fall to make up for time lost. Since Maine was considered a safe state, people from all over the mid-Atlantic and New England visited in droves, and we were so happy to welcome visitors on our boat.
Another positive step forward for our business was that we found, after several hundred phone calls and through the help of amazing friends, a marina in Key West this winter to run our business. We knew that the success of our business this winter would rely upon running the business domestically, and this was a smart decision that I am happy that we chose. We arrived in Key West in November after riding the tails of three late-season hurricanes on the way south. We had to establish ourselves in a competitive market, but through some key relationships with wonderful partners, and strategic advertising, we hit the ground running!
We ended up absolutely loving Key West and plan to call that our winter / spring home from now on. If you haven’t visited Key West, put it on your bucket list! It is a town where everyone is accepting of everyone, in an easy-going, unforced way. We made a great group of friends, and were thrilled to have so many absolutely wonderful guests on our boat. On a typical day, we would see dolphins, huge sea turtles, snorkel the amazingly health West Sambo reef, and watch our guests swim and paddle board in the beautiful turquoise waters. It is such a wonderful place to host guests on the boat, and we are so happy that we are able to charter there.
Winter in Key West, like last summer in Maine, was all about work for us, in a good way. Many 15-hour days, where you are so exhausted you can barely keep your eyes open at 9pm. But my gosh how we are so grateful to have those hard-working days. And we will continue to be grateful for them in the future. I believe that this year has made us all much more cognizant of the tenuousness of the basic things we take for granted every day. Hugging family, eating at a restaurant, always having work, hosting a birthday party. For small business owners, I think that the mental effects that the last year will have will be long-lasting. I know that it will for me.
And so, here we are. One year later. In the Bahamas again, making our way north, home to Maine. We plan to leave from Marsh harbour in a few days to make our big leap to Ocean City, MD (5-6 days at sea), then up to New England and eventually Maine. We are taking reservations for our season in Maine to start the second week of June, and we are thrilled to be back!
Thank you to all of our family, friends, and wonderful guests for being so supportive of us and our business. We can’t wait to see you all again soon!