Just as we stumbled into the Spoleto Festival in Charleston, we changed courses after Block Island (RI) to spend more time with Godpoppy, Jamie, and his partner, Luiz Diniz (yes, it rhymes, making him all the more fabulous) in Provincetown for Carnival Week.  As usual, we planned only to spend a day or two and ended up there the whole week.  In fact, this morning we started off for Casco Bay in Maine (a 20-hour crossing) and got three hours away and had to turn back because we were going to continue to be beating into the wind all night.  Not fun when you are alone in the cockpit at night; not fun when you are trying to sleep during your offshift and you are bouncing off the bed.  Basically not fun for Amy or Matt but Graham can sleep through anything.  So we headed back to Ptown Harbor.

Jamie and Luiz with Graham in the background

We arrived in Ptown on Monday of Carnival Week and things were already in full swing.  Jamie thought it would be a good idea for us to come to Carnival

in order to expose Graham to different lifestyles.  I guess he thought that living on a boat, sailing from place to place and being boatschooled wasn’t different enough ;-)

We anchored in Ptown Harbor near a beautiful houseboat which we passed twice daily on our way into shore.  We took the dinghy in daily to MacMillan Pier

Houseboat in Ptown

Fishing boats at the Ptown Pier

and each day promised ourselves that we would not come back at night and each night, once again, we’d be out there searching for Troubadour.  Fear not Aunt Betty and the like, Captain Matt always knew right where she was and  we always had two sets of dinghy lights, a flashlight to make sure we didn’t run over any mooring balls or lobster pots and 3 life jackets.  We would have loved to go whale watching but it cost an arm and a leg to do so.  One night there was a coastguard warning to all vessels in the area between Long Point and Provincetown Harbor that there was a right whale spotted in the vicinity right where we were anchored.  That was as close as we got to a whale sighting.  So far…

One night we had a big storm and Amy and Matt (mostly Matt ) had to be up in the middle of the night waiting out the storm.  Matt, dressed like the Gorton’s fisherman, stayed in the cockpit while sheets of rain blew sideways and thunder and lightning cracked all around.   On another night, we went to bed anchored in 46 feet of water and dragged in the middle of the night waking up in 9 feet of water.  We were right next to a shelf.  The anchor alarm was going off each evening when we arrived back at Troubadour – it got a good workout and we are glad to know it works.

The theme for Carnival 2012 was “PTOWN:  A SPACE ODYSSEY”.  Many people were painted silver, wore rockets, NASA or should I say, the NASAettes were there, and Amy even had her picture taken with Billy and Jean Klingon.

She also had her picture taken with the famed Hat Ladies of Carnival.  They wear different matching costumes and hats every day and then, of course, go all out for the Carnival Parade.  They actually look like what I picture Click and Clack, the Car Talk brothers to look like, though.

Internationally Famous Hat Ladies

Hat Ladies in the Parade

We were able to hook up with Amy’s friend Mark and his partner, Tom, on the day of the parade and we enjoyed a tour of their lovely home and shared a nice meal, including Jamie and Luiz, with them at the former Howard Johnson’s, now the HOT L, as in Hotel without the “e’ lit up.

Us with Mark


What is fun about Provincetown is that anyone can be anything and there is no judgment to be found.  You can wear anything (or nothing!), you can dance in the streets, talk to yourself, men hold hands with men, women kiss women, heterosexual families of four stroll down the street and everyone is just doing their own thing.




CAPE—a point of land projecting into water; a sleeveless garment worn over the shoulders

Our family loves to talk about capes.  Not for the reason you might think but for those of you who saw the Disney Pixar movie The Incredibles, you may remember the line, “NO CAPES!!!” said by the Superhero Costume Designer, Edna ‘E’ Mode.

Edna 'E' Mode "No Capes"

As we are on our way through Cape Cod Canal to the Cape Cod Bay on our way to Provincetown, it occurs to me how many capes we have sailed around so far.  Growing up I spent many summers near Cape May, NJ and took a trip to Cape Cod as well but I guess I thought they were the only two of their kind.  Since we have returned to the States from the Bahamas, we have sailed around Cape Canaveral (FL), Cape Hatteras (NC), Cape Fear (NC), Cape Henlopen (DE), Cape May (NJ), and Cape Cod (MA).  Later in the week we head to Maine and will pass Cape Neddick, Cape Porpoise, Cape Elizabeth and beyond – we’re not stopping till we round the Cape of Good Hope, then we’ll conquer Cape Horn and …..  oh, I guess I got a little carried away.


We said goodbye to Jamie as he took the ferry back to Boston and we left the marina for a much cheaper mooring.  We spent two more nights, did some walking around town, Matt did some dinghy repair because, well because something had to break, and Graham and Amy grocery shopped in the single most expensive grocery store on the planet but, we were happy to pay their exorbitant prices.  Not really.  On the eve of our departure, there was much excitement.  The mooring field was as crowded as a drive-in movie.  It was different from the anchorages we have been to because there has always been more distance between us and other boats.  In Block Island, we were on top of each other.  Anyway, it was Saturday night and every body was out and about – either on deck or at the marina for happy hour.  The DJ was an amusing mix of mostly 70s, some 80s.  Amusing to Amy, that is; enough to make poor Matty’s stomach turn and he had to be outside as he was fixing the dinghy by last light.  Amy showered and put on her party dress, literally, and brought her newly acquired bean bag chair up to the cockpit so she could listen to Michael Jackson, Donna Summer, Gloria Gaynor and Van Morrison.  As the boat shifted in the wind, the sound of the music would fade and return and it was as if Amy got to play a big game of music trivia because you could only hear certain parts of the songs.  Matt and Graham will never play this with Amy so she had a ball.

As the night wore on, Matt made pizza from scratch and we settled in only to be awakened by what, at first, sounded like a marital spat on a neighboring boat.  Graham and Amy went above to discover the husband was on the large fishing boat off our bow and the wife was in their dinghy off our stern.  He was yelling her name and telling her what to do to get back to him as she was drifting out to sea.  She could not keep her motor engaged.  Our dink had already been hauled for our early morning sail else Matt would’ve just gone out to get her.  Finally, the husband sent the local help boat after her and, after circling her and not seeing her dim dinghy light, they finally found and towed her back to her mooring.  By that time, her husband had left the mooring and motored off in the direction she had floated screaming, “JOANIE!  JOANIE!”  (Name has been changed to protect the innocent.)  All was resolved in the end.



Word of the Day

pelagic \puh-LAJ-ik\, adjective:

1. Of or pertaining to the open seas or oceans.
2. Living or growing at or near the surface of the ocean, far from land, as certain organisms.

I was reminded of certain kinds of pelagic birds that move at ease in the air or on the ocean, but have a hard time walking.
– Ross MacDonald, The Blue Hammer

However, the real slaughter, the one that all the maritime nations of the world opposed and strove to abolish, was pelagic sealing, the kind that Schransky particularly enjoyed and from which he profited enormously.
– James Michener, Alaska

Pelagic is derived from the Greek word pélag which meant “the sea.”


Our first guest blog!  From Jamie:

I took to the sea for 4 days as a 4th class mariner on a 40 ft boat named troubadour with a family whose name is fit for the sea.

(really six days but 6 doesn’t fit by 2 with this 4 theme I’m working)

The Gillman family reunion complete, we launched from annapolis, kissed by lynn, who thankfully skipped busting the champagne bottle since it warn’t inaugural and a waste of champagne. We cut east from the naval academy and north up under the spans of the bay bridge. I had been an overer many times but was a virginal underer. Then a hot path up the chesapeake past lord baltimore hon’s namesake and anchored down where the bohemian river turns to bay for one hot night.

By morning it cooled. We upanchored and started a nonstop squiggled 76 hour line towards block island. In marinerese; a passage.

We cut through the chesapeake and delaware canal which was planned with the blessing of ben franklin in 1788. When completed in 1824, it reduced the sea travel distance  between philly and balmore hon by 300 miles and saved us probably an extra day or two at sea.  Hats off to our engineering ancestors.

You can just see Jamie's head on the bow as Troubadour passes through the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal

At canals end, we turned right on to the delaware river and waited for river to turn to bay to turn to ocean, or, fresh to salty.  12 hours later that all had happened.

Wind power and nuclear power in contrast on the Delaware River

But so did day turn to night. Poor tiny troubadour sneakin around leviathan tankers chuggin ill gotten goo towards the philadelphia refineries.

Still we harrowed through and watch turned to sleep and morning brought by chart, not chance, atlantic city, tiny, portside.

The day motored on and watch swung back and newbies at the helm, in their inaugural concert, had a boating lesson from a crab chasing rainbows and a bad onboard teacher. Still we survived and then a minefield of buoys, an indoor rainstorm, and day turned to night and watch to sleep.

Waves lapped. Hours rolled, and a gentle sea heaved us northward.

Morning brought the radared promise of long island as a thick fog reminded us of our human vulnerability, and made us appreciate capt ahab’s less technological skills.

Mattie at helm, mother and child asleep, and 4th class seaman on bow, we picked through the soup to have block island burst forth from the fog a quarter mile from harbor. All hail capt matt. Destination dead on. (Child joined 4th class seaman on bow for the presentation of the island while mother joined capt the same in cockpit)

we splurged for electricity and showers, lunched like royalty, and patted down for a guaranteed cool night.  Block island fulfilling its quaint promise.

A million ahoys to the gillmans of troubadour- Matt amy and graham.

Notwithstanding, it being hot as bleep for a good portion, it was for me, a lifetime memory; confirming yet again our blessed friendship and its connection to the sea.

(As provoked by interesting boyfriend turned father turned husband with dreams enough for all of us)


PS to the casual reader we did not have chateaubriand for breakfast. It is simply an authors license.


From Cambridge, we sailed to Annapolis where it all began.  This is where we purchased Troubadour and lived on her last fall until we sailed to Hampton.  On our way there we heard several shout outs from the Coastguard.  As you may know, there are three levels of threat and they are, in ascending order:


2)      PAN PAN

3)      MAYDAY

Normally we hear “SECURITE” messages all day long but we heard quite a few “PAN PAN” messages on this trip.  Then we came across a situation ourselves.  We sailed up onto a smaller craft, a Flying Scott sailboat, which was swamped with water.  Two men were aboard and we circled them several times asking if they needed help but they couldn’t hear us over the wind and our engine.  At first we tried to tow the boat, hoping that the bailers might drain the boat.  Ultimately, Troubadour is not much of a tow boat and we hoped a power boat would come along and take over.  Not only would it be faster for them but we were on a schedule to get to Annapolis.  Finally, they decided the boat should be abandoned and come aboard Troubadour.  We tossed them a line and they followed it in the water to our boat while Graham got the ladder ready.  They were shivering pretty badly by the time they were resting in our cockpit because they had been in the water awhile.  Not a whole lot of body fat on these guys either to keep them comfy.  Matt reported the abandoned craft to the CoastGuard and we took them to shore.  We found out a few days later that they did recover the boat but that it had drifted five miles.

Finally to Annapolis, we met up with our friend, Jamie there for his fourth visit to us during our travels.  We returned to Davis Pub for their crab dip and then anchored out for what we thought was the hottest night on record.  Little did we know what the next night would bring.  Now I will let Jamie take over, for he is a far better writer than I.



The Karen Noonan Center

While spending a week with Matt’s family in Cambridge, MD, Matt, Amy and Graham took a trip over to the Karen Noonan Center, established for Amy’s high school friend.  Once one of the great Chesapeake hunting lodges, the Karen Noonan Center was completely renovated in 1995 to create an environmentally sound, state-of-the-art residential  and educational center.   Unfortunately, Jessie Marsh, overseer of the centers and longtime friend of Karen’s friends, had only just left for the weekend.  We were sorry to have missed him as he is always a great part of the trip for Karen’s friends.  The two people who currently run the Center, Captain Shawn and eBay (real name Elyssa; we told her about our Alyssa and pointed her out in the group picture of Karen’s friends hanging in the office) gave us a warm welcome, telling us we are family there.  We spent a while talking with Capt. Shawn who actually lives in Cambridge near the marina where we docked our boat for a couple of weeks.  He asked us all about living on a boat indicating that he and his wife are interested in doing the same.  He said he liked to poke around the marina and look at the boats and, in fact, was admiring our boat, Troubadour, that very morning.

The view toward Fishing Bay

The group of science teachers that was there for the week, were out on kayaks.  We were invited to join them for a sunset paddle but declined as we had been there several times before and just wanted to touch base.  We walked the halls of Karen’s house looking at every wall hanging, spending extra time on the art shared from the artists at Holy Child.  As always, being at the Center leaves one feeling buoyed by hope.  CBF does a superb job in its education of children and adults alike.

The Karen N a custom built shallow water jet boat.

Graham on the deck at the Karen Noonan Center

Matt, Amy, Graham in front of the Karen Noonan Center


The week in Cambridge with Matt’s family was a delight.  The house, aptly named Hard to Leave, was huge complete with tennis courts, pool, dock and crab traps.  Graham spent his time perfecting his pool (billiards) game, swimming and enjoying the Olympics which were on all week.  Our nephew, Wes, came with his wife, Stacey, and her kids, Andrew, 15, and Maura, 12.  Mary Gillman’s sister, Eileen, came with her two kids, Claire, 12, and Riley, 8.  It was great fun for all the kids to be together.  Sabrina, our niece, came the furthest – from the Dominican Republic, where she is working.  Matt’s brother, Tim, and wife, Maricruz came from Seattle.  Their son, Jacob, and his partner, Matt, came from Hollywood because they are very fabulous.  Chris and Mary and Jim and Marilynn came from Alexandria and our honorary Gillman, Mary Howland, came from Arlington.  We had fabulous food everynight including when Jacob and Matt made Smoked Gouda Mac-n-Cheese accompanied by meatloaf cupcakes with mashed potato frosting in pink, blue, green, orange, and yellow.  Who’s more fun than them?  No one.

The view from our dock of a summer thunderstorm over Church Creek

Matt and Jacob's fabulous meat loaf cupcakes

A nice Cabernet goes with smoked gouda mac and cheese and meat loaf cupcakes

Amy wiled away the hours preparing a Gillman Family trivia game to be played Wednesday night, Jeopardy style, complete with prizes from the thrift shop, pictures from younger days of all the contestants and research on the family far and wide.  The contestants came in costume to the event, also furnished by the thrift shop – everything from taffeta to Harley Davidson.

On a couple of days Matt took people over to the boat – once to see it and the other time to sail.  When I asked what they thought upon returning, a couple of people commented that it is small.  I found myself surprised.  Then I tried to remember what I thought of Troubadour the first time I had seen her.  I think I remember wondering if I could live in such a confined space.  It has felt for so long now like all the space we need.  Just this morning I was wondering what it would be like to be in a room with a king size bed.  I pictured a spacious room to accommodate the bed and other stuff around it; I immediately thought the stuff made the (imaginary) room messy and that we don’t need all that space.  Interesting how the mind works.

Wes and Maura show how it's done!

On one evening, Claire and I gathered people for a séance as she owns a Oujia Board and is partial to ghosts.  We had 6 people and 6 candles and we channeled Mocha, for whom there was a small tombstone in the backyard.  After some failed attempts to make contact, we heard howling coming from the back of the house!  Was it Mocha or the boys sitting by the pool?  Claire diligently interviewed all possible suspects but they seemed to have alibis.  ?  I guess we’ll never know.

The Gillman's August 4th, 2012


Eastern Shore Cambridge, MD

The first evening in Cambridge featured a most efficient emergency room visit for Graham as he has bronchitis – we were in and out in 15 minutes, prescriptions in hand.  We loved Cambridge – a sweet little town and we were right on the water.  The marina was on a great scenic route for driving or walking.  There was also a most interesting, albeit small, Harriett Tubman Museum as she was from Dorchester County, MD.  The three of us went together to soak up all that we could of this heroine’s story.  Matt and Amy learned a lot; Graham already knew a lot.  Amy also loved Cambridge for its Jazzercise Center and a great little thrift shop.

Deltaville or Velcroville

We haven’t written since the South and now we are in the North.  To catch up on the South, we went straight from Charleston, SC to Hampton, VA, where it all began.  We stayed at the same marina where we left from on 11-11-11 to race to the Bahamas.  From there we went to Deltaville, VA to have the boat hauled and painted.

It is a very small town with a permanent population of less than 1000. For a while they had two West Marine Stores.  Now it is just one of their larger stores.  Everybody was in the boating industry.  It was very hot while we were there.  We stopped in Deltaville because we heard it was a great place to get work done at a reasonable price.  Of course, reasonable is relative.

The work by the staff of the Deltaville Boat Yard started out with a quick bottom job.  It expanded into a hull clean and wax.  Then the other battery in bank two started to fail, so we installed new batteries.  Finally, the rig inspection revealed some problems with the StayLock fittings.  We replaced the StayLocks and the backstay.


BEFORE: Troubadour is just out of the water. What a mess.

AFTER: A very pretty bottom.

I also took advantage of being on the hard and in the marina to do other work myself.  This work included included: new water heater hoses, rebuilding a bilge pump, installing a new switch for the bilge pump, installing four new halyards, and a bunch of other little stuff.

Finally, after a month in Deltaville, we headed for Cambridge, MD where we would join 20 Gillman types for a family reunion on Church Creek near Cambridge.  We had a week to get there so we spent three days anchored in Reedville, VA, famous for its fish oil factory.  When the wind was out of the wrong direction, boy did it stink!  But the anchorage was very pretty.  We also stopped in Hollywood, MD to visit our old friend, Angie, who crewed with us to the Bahamas.  She has a little cottage there where we stopped and had crabs and cherry cheesecake a la Angie.  Then we wended our way through the Chesapeake Bay and came into Cambridge the Tuesday before the reunion, which was the following Saturday to Saturday.

Us with Angie.  Troubadour in the background above Amy’s head.


Great Wicomico River anchorage a little too close to Reedville, VA