Friday, May 11, 2012

The AGLCA Rendezvous has come to a close

The AGLCA Rendezvous has come to a close and it has been a great week.

The seminars were excellent. We learned a lot of valuable information about all different kinds of subjects. For instance, I attended a presentation about risk assessment that I found very helpful. It was presented by a marine insurance specialist. He was able to steer clear about insurance-y kind of things making it more about how to identify areas that would impact a boater’s risk profile. Helpful. I also found the presentation on boat construction basics fascinating. Of course the majority of the presentations were about cruising the Great Loop. There were presentations specifically about the Chesapeake Bay, the Delaware Bay and New Jersey up to New York, the New York state canal system, the Trent Severn Canals in Canada, other routes to take in Canada, Lake Michigan, and the western rivers (Illinois, Mississippi, Ohio, Tennessee, etc.). All this information was important and we are better equipped to go on with our adventure.

But the presentations were not the best part of the rendezvous.

We saw lots of really great boats in all shapes and sizes: mono-hull trawlers, cats, old, brand spanking new, luxurious, modest, power monsters, simple single engine boats (Why Knot), short and long. And boats are really cool to look at. Every evening there was a boat crawl where different boats on different days would be open for visits. That was fun. Of course, as we always say and it’s always true, Why Knot was, and always will be the best boat in the marina.

But the boats were not the best part of the rendezvous.

As a setting Norfolk is beautiful. Our marina is right on the Elizabeth River and the surroundings are great with sailing vessels, trawlers, sport fishing cruisers, all kinds of military craft, and a beautiful vista over towards Portsmith. And Waterside Marina is a very comfortable marina and very accommodating. The Sheraton Hotel was nice also as was the weather except for a thunderstorm on late Tuesday night through Wednesday. But hey, that’s ok.

But the accommodations were not the best part of the rendezvous.

So what was the best part of the rendezvous? The people. Wonderful people.

We formed a little circle of close friends in which we shared the event together. We generally all sat in the back of the room so we could make our little comments to each other without disturbing others. Also we were closer to the buffet lines.

Rick and Margi Decatur of Journey are from just up the Chesapeake in Stafford, Virginia, on Aquia Creek off of the Potomac River and we had met them back at Barefoot Landing Marina in North Myrtle Beach, SC. They pretty much live on their Endeavor cat trawler. While they are experienced cruisers they are still in the planning stages of their Great Loop cruise. One funny aside about them…at different times the different groups of cruisers, “In Progress”, “Completed” or “Gold Cruisers”, and “Planners” or “Wannabees” had to stand up, introduce themselves and tell everyone about themselves. When it was Rick and Margi’s turn I yelled, “Come on, Rick. Let’s go!” I could see that he was a little bit embarrassed, but it was fun. They’re terrific.

Ross Perrone and Laura Ross of The Zone are from New York but they started their loop down in Hollywood, Florida which is a short distance from Pompano Beach where we started. The Zone is a big Jefferson trawler and Ross is a very experienced boater and Laura is a crack first mate. She has a lovely sense of humor and came up with some of the most memorable lines of the week. Lovely people.

Jim and Mimi Mitchell are from Hamilton, Ontario, Canada and they came down from Baltimore with their boat for the convention. Now afterwards they will head back up north to do the loop.  Norfolk is their starting point. Every time someone would make a comment about any challenges with dealing with Canada, such as currency or cell phone coverage I could hear Jim mutter something like, “No, that’s not right” slightly under his breath. Funny, delightful couple.

And there were many others: Rick and Betsy Johnson from Topsail Beach, NC, Jim and Joy Pankey from Savannah, GA, Bernadette and Donald Burton from Ontario, David and Barbara Doyle from Jacksonville, FL  (we first met them at the Alligator River Marina), Bob and Lynda Krueger from Middletown, CT, Dale and Peg Janssen from Joplin, MO, Wayne Hullett from Henderson, NV (going single handed) and many more. There was even a couple from Sweden that had been sailing for five years and sailed two thousand miles just to attend the event to see if they could do the loop themselves. (Seven foot deep keel. Could be tough.)

There was such a wonderful sense of camaraderie, friendship and warmth with this group. Everyone was willing to share and to help. There was a sense of genuine interest in each other and what we all have done, are doing or are going to do.

As I write this it is Friday morning on May 11, 2012, about 7:15 am. By my count six trawlers of event attendees have already pulled out and headed up the Elizabeth River to head to the Chesapeake Bay and go north. The weather conditions are iffy. There are some northerly winds in the 15 to 20 knot range further out in the bay with two to three foot waves but an early morning start will avoid much of that. For some that’s ok. For others it’s marginal. Others are waiting until tomorrow where the wind and waves are suppose to flatten out some. At times I can hear the winds picking up and rustling through the boat riggings and we here on Why Knot are beginning to gently rock.

We will be here until Tuesday as we’re waiting for some things to be shipped to us and we’re bringing on a marine technician to fix our errant head. We want to anchor out more and you have to have a working head. Unfortunately, like today’s forecast, the five day forecast on into next Tuesday is also iffy. The winds are predicted to be coming from the south at five to ten knots which is good but there is some possible thunderstorm activity along with it. We’ll see.

So here we are sitting drinking coffee and taking care of small details as they come to mind, very content with where we are, what we have just completed and rifling through the wonderful memories of the wonderful friends we have made here in Norfolk, VA.