Live from the 1500: More German Bier & the start of the Seminar Program

Day two at the rally wrapped up last night back at the Bier Garden in Portsmouth, VA. Several boats had arrived throughout the afternoon and evening, so we had a larger crowd than the night before, which kept the Kolsch flowing.

Tom Tom and Serenity made their arrival later in the evening. Tom Tom made their way into the marina around 7pm last night, with Chris and his British crew arriving in time for the staff at Ocean Marine to catch their docklines and welcome them ashore. Serenity, on the other hand, had to resort to more drastic measures.

Merrill Brown and his wife Mary had left New England late last week just as the fury of that nor’easter was winding down off the coast of Newport. Serenity was based at Block Island.

“In the midst of it all, we wound up having to grab a mooring when it was blowing 40 knots,” said Merrill as Serenity pulled into the fuel dock last night around 10:30pm. The big Shannon ketch must surely have been unwieldy under power in those conditions (though she would likely have fared just fine under reduced canvas father offshore), which made for an exciting exit from New England.

“Otherwise we had a good, if not a bit rough, sail south over the past few days,” added Merrill. “Although Silas didn’t fare so well. His stomach quickly decided it did not like ocean sailing, so he was pretty miserable most of the way.”

“I did manage to eat some chili on that first day,” Silas said, “but after that, I’ve basically been on a hunger strike.” 

The crew was lucky then to find an open pub on High Street last night, as it was 11:00pm until they got off the boat and made their way into town. Thanks to the NFL’s late Sunday game, and Game 5 of the World Series, the town wasn’t entirely shut down, so the Serenity crew – Silas especially – enjoyed a meal ashore in the stationary comfort of a restaurant booth.

Despite their late arrival, the Serenity crew made it out to Roger Brown’s in time for this morning’s seminar program, which got under way at 0900 with Mia’s ‘Provisioning’ chat. The takeaway from that? All crewmembers love chocolate!

Bill Cullen, who will ironically be crewing on Serenity for the voyage south from Portsmouth, followed up Mia’s chat with his new-to-the-program talk on ‘Gadgets & Gear to Have Onboard.’ 

“I’ve basically come up with a list of the top-25 best bits and bobs to have on the boat on both the ocean crossing and once you get in the islands,” Bill explained as his presentation got underway. He talked about everything from mosquito nets and sun shades to spearfishing, dinghy ladders and glass bottom buckets to a very receptive audience (who by then we’re livened up with their morning coffee, which was flowing from the back of the room). 

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Rally leader Andy Schell rounded out the morning seminars with his popular talk on ‘Mentally Preparing to go Offshore,’ with the focus geared towards the 1500 and what to expect in the last few days leading up to the start.

Andy stressed the importance of what it’s okay to get anxious about – the ‘mission critical’ components of the boat like the hull, rig and sails and safety of the crew – and what’s not worth worrying about, like watermakers and electronics, which you can certainly live without offshore (if you’re properly prepared). 

“Landfall is the most exciting part of the voyage,” he finished with. “Remember to savor it, take photos, and notice the smell of land after you’ve been in the sea air for so long!”

The rally program continues this evening with the official ‘Welcome Reception’ hosted by the City of Portsmouth and Ocean Marine Yacht Center, set to kick off at Griff’s on High Street at 1800 this evening.

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