We are Mark and Judy Handley. We have been writing about our experiences on this website for almost eleven years now. For six of those years, we were sailing around the world on our 42-foot sailboat, Windbird. During those six years and the five years since our circumnavigation, we have posted a log almost daily. We lived aboard all of those years and loved every minute. But we have now sold Windbird and are living in a harbourside apartment in the town of Falmouth, Massachusetts, on Cape Cod. The website title has been tweaked just a bit to reflect our new status, “The Voyage of Windbird . . . and Beyond.” We decided not to change things totally because we want to leave the three and a half thousand daily logs and all of the accompanying photos on the website for anyone who might be interested. But for those who would like to continue to follow the current “Voyage of Windbird”, her new owners have a website that will chronicle the adventures. We are proud to introduce you to Sam and Dawn Weigel whose blog “Weigels on the Water” can be found at: http://wotwater.blogspot.com/
NOTE: Due to Google upgrading Picasa to Google Photos, many of our old photos are now broken. We are actively working on fixing this – thanks for your patience!
2018 Life Logs, Day 260—Just a Monday
Date: Monday, September 17, 2018
Weather: Partly Sunny; 77, Low 67 F
Location: At Home in The Cottage, East Falmouth, MA
Today was just a Monday—a trip to the gym, grocery shopping, running errands, clothes shopping, and spending the evening with the Goldpebbles while Heather and Jed attended a Scout parent meeting. There was also more communication with Sam on Windbird about a sailing destination. No decision yet, but narrowing in on joining them for a sail from in the Leewards from St. Kitts to Nevis to Antigua in January or doing the passage from Aruba to Columbia in late May. Being away in January to avoid winter weather is enticing, so that might be the deciding factor.
2018 Life Logs, Day 259—Gardening, Cooking, Cleaning, Thinking
Date: Sunday, September 16, 2018
Weather: Mostly Sunny; 78, Low 61 F
Location: At Home in The Cottage, East Falmouth, MA
Today was spent doing a little gardening, a little cooking, a little cleaning, and a little thinking. The thinking involved staring at the calendar and making some decisions. First, I got a message through Messenger (which I rarely use) from Sam and Dawn on Windbird asking me what leg of their Caribbean adventure I would like to join this year. They are sailing from Puerto Rico to the British Virgins in November and then on down the chain of Leeward and Windward islands ending their sailing season in Columbia on the northern coast of South America. I’ve never been to the British Virgins and would enjoy that leg but not sure I want to travel in November. I have asked them for their feedback on when they might most need crew, so a decision on when and where I will meet them will evolve. I then got another message through Messenger from a woman asking if I would be willing to make my ‘Top 10 Sailing Destinations’ presentation to the Chatham Harwich Newcomers group here on the Cape. We did a little back and forth and decided on a March date for that. And I also had to continue looking at that calendar to make decisions about which Falmouth Newcomers activities I want to attend in the next month and beyond. One of the big options is a river trip on the Danube next October, starting in Prague and ending in Budapest. It looks very enticing, so I will continue thinking about that one.
2018 Life Logs, Day 258—Soccer and A Trip to Martha’s Vineyard
Date: Saturday, September 15, 2018
Weather: Sunny; 75, Low 60 F
Location: At Home in The Cottage, East Falmouth, MA
It is fall soccer season and this fall we have three boys playing on different teams at different times and in different places. Today Jonah had a game about 45 minutes from here in Dennis at 12:15. Sam had a game in Barnstable which is Hyannis at 2:30 and Ollie, with Jed as coach, had a practice at 1:30 here in Falmouth. There was no way Heather and Jed could cover all three games, so I offered to help out. Heather drove Jonah and Marco, another team member, to Dennis for their pre-game practice and I met her there for the game. I was about five minutes late and that was two minutes too late to see Jonah make the first goal of the game. But is always a delight to watch him play whether or not he gets a goal. And I love that he is still playing on the same team with his good friend Luke from preschool . . . many years of friendship. Jonah’s team won today and many members of the team celebrated their win on the school playground adjacent to the soccer field. I then I drove Jonah and Marco home while Heather drove to Barnstable to watch Sam’s game. Thankfully Sam had hitched a ride to the game with a friend. Soon after I got home with Jonah, Jed got home with Ollie after his first-ever successful soccer practice. He has signed up for soccer for the past two years, but at the last minute, he has backed out. He said he would play this year if Jed would be his coach and that worked. We made it through the soccer games and then it was time to get on the ferry to Martha’s Vineyard. We had all been invited to a birthday celebration for Brian Keefe, Heather and Jed’s neighbor. Brian is celebrating his 40th and good friends who lease one of the gingerbread houses in Oaks Bluff on the Vineyard let Brian and Melissa use their home for the weekend of festivities. Jed, Jonah, Ollie and I took the 3:45 pm ferry and then Heather and Sam joined us later, taking the 5:00 pm ferry. It was a day of crazy scheduling, but we all enjoyed the craziness. Brian spent most of the evening tending the grill, but that is one of the things he loves to do. Someone gave him a huge rib eye steak, and I mean huge, as a present and when he put that on the grill, I thought he was going to burn down the entire neighborhood of gingerbread houses. Thankfully he quickly got that under control. Attending a birthday party in “Gingerbread Town”, as Ollie calls the section of Oaks Bluff with the very cute gingerbread houses, was a real treat. We reluctantly left on the 8:30 pm ferry to head home wishing a very happy birthday to Brian. When we were in line at the ferry, a young woman saw that Jonah was carrying a soccer ball and she came over and invited the boys to kick the ball around with her and her companion. Everyone waiting in line watched the competition between the five of them. And when a ball got away from them, people in line joined in by kicking it back. Great fun!
2018 Life Logs, Day 257—Happy Birthday to Justin and . . .
Date: Friday, September 14, 2018
Weather: Sunny; 74, Low 59 F
Location: At Home in The Cottage, East Falmouth, MA
Happy birthday to my son Justin and . . . to friend Kevin Russell and to Mark’s brother Steve. All three were born on September 14 and share this special day. I communicated with all three today to wish them a happy day. In our texts back and forth, Justin mentioned that there was no electricity on the island today due to the high winds from a tropical storm. But they had electricity at Finca Maravilla thanks to the solar system we purchased after Hurricane Maria. As Justin noted, solar is the gift that just keeps giving. I am so thankful that we were able to get the solar installed. It has proven its worth over and over.
I spent the day just catching up on life here, watching the development of Hurricane Florence, and thinking of family and friends in her path. We are not going to know the final damages for days as this now tropical storm grinds its way inland dumping buckets of rain which will cause devastating and life-threatening flooding. But I was very thankful that at least it was reduced to a Category 1 at landfall so that the damage from high winds was minimized. Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico last September as a Category 4 storm with 155 mile an hour sustained winds and we all quickly learned how disastrous that can be. But the damage and loss of life caused by flooding is just as devastating and it appears that will be Florence’s mark on the lives of the people in her path.
2018 Life Logs, Day 256—Getting Back to ‘Normal’
Date: Thursday, September 13, 2018
Weather: Partly Sunny; High 72, Low 61 F
Location: At Home in The Cottage, East Falmouth, MA
Not sure there is anything ‘normal’ about life these days, but today I worked toward that goal. I attended the first general meeting of Newcomers this morning and signed up for the various activities I will engage in this year. I saw Karen and Peter Baranowski and found out that Karen’s Aunt Shirley, who is my neighbor and the women that rents the cottage to me, had some health issues while I was away and spent a few days in the hospital. She and her sister Doris are now at Doris’ home up near Boston and will be there for the next month. I’ll miss them and hope health issues are resolved and that they will be able to return sometime in October.
After the Newcomers meeting, I stopped by Heather and Jed’s to do my laundry. Actually, I just put the dirty laundry in the washer and headed home for lunch and to listen to Heather talking on the radio about hurricanes and climate change. Then after lunch I returned to put my clothes in the dryer. I waited for them to finish and headed back home once again. This time I had a nice phone conversation with Justin. His birthday is tomorrow and I was trying to pin down what he wants most as a gift. It ended up to be a Home Depot gift certificate, so that will be sent electronically tonight. Then I headed to the soccer field where Sam and Jonah had soccer practice. Heather had an evening engagement, so I went to hang out with Ollie which gave Jed the time to help out with soccer. Ollie wanted to run his morphibian at the skate park next to the soccer fields and then we went down to the fields and kicked a soccer ball around. Ollie lost his first tooth today on the playground. Unfortunately, he couldn’t find it, but hopefully the tooth fairy will understand and still work her magic.
It was a good day, but I spent a fair part of it fuming over the President’s denial of the deaths in Puerto Rico caused by Hurricane Maria. Hopefully the President’s response to damages caused by Hurricane Florence will be better than his response to Maria last fall. I have much more to say about this, but not tonight. I’m too angry to write about President Trump’s recent statements , , . so hurtful to the people of Puerto Rico who lost family members. His words are shameful.
2018 Life Logs, Day 255—Back on Cape Cod
Date: Wednesday, September 12, 2018
Weather: Overcast, Then Pouring Rain; High 73, Low 64 F
Location: Back Home in The Cottage, East Falmouth, MA
Wishing I had more time to explore Philadelphia, I left Kevin and Claire at 10 am and started my last leg of the trip home. It was overcast when I started out and then started misting heavily as I crossed the George Washington Bridge into New York City. I made a stop in New Haven to do some shopping and have lunch at IKEA as it is very convenient to the highway. When I got back on the road, the heavens opened up and I had torrential rain all the way to Cape Cod. But as I crossed the bridge, the rain ceased. That has been the pattern all summer. It rains just north of us, but here in Falmouth we have not rain for a very long time. I had a wonderful seven-day road trip, but as I drove in the drive-way, I was so excited to be home again.
2018 Life Logs, Day 254—September 11 . . . In Memory of Mark
Date: Tuesday, September 11, 2018
Weather: Overcast Early, Pouring Rain Early Afternoon, Then Sunshine; High 84, Low 62 F
Location: Aboard Merganser with Kevin and Claire, Philadelphia Waterfront
The date September 11 carries with it horrific memories for the people of this country. And for my friend, Lynne Kirwin, September 11 is the day she remembers with sadness because that is the day her mother died. And for me and my family, we also remember September 11 with sadness as that is the date Mark died two years ago. So today, on September 11, as I drove from Roanoke to Philadelphia, I drove around Baltimore and thought about trying to find the place where Mark and I met. I just wanted to drive there and sit for a bit. I stopped at a Rest Area and tried doing an internet search to find the place we met, but I just didn’t have enough information. Maybe it doesn’t exist anymore. There was one slightly promising place, but it was far off my path and it was pouring rain, Since I wasn’t sure where I was going and the weather was so miserable, I made the decision to travel on. I arrived in Philadelphia just after 4 pm, drove to the designated place on the waterfront, and Kevin and Claire were there to meet me. Spending this particular evening with them was very special. Mark, as well as myself. always counted Kevin and Claire as two of our very best friends despite the differences in our ages (Kevin and Claire are the age of our children). And in addition, years ago Mark and I ‘adopted’ them as part of our family. So, it was fitting that I would spend the evening of September 11 with them. It was also very special because Claire’s parents were visiting from Canada. We met in the summer of 2004 when Windbird and Merganser, Kevin and Claire’s sailboat, traveled to Maine on vacation with Claire’s parents aboard.
When I first arrived, Kevin went with me to park the car and then we walked to the marina where he and Claire live aboard Merganser. Their slip is the very last one at the end of the dock which puts them right on the Delaware River. It is a fantastic location. We got my things aboard and then walked back to the parking lot to their new-to-them Roadtrek motorhome and Claire’s parents met us there for Happy Hour. The 2015 motorhome is quite fancy and perfect for a traveling couple. Right now it serves as Claire’s home during the week. This spring Claire took a position at Princeton University in New Jersey and Philadelphia was the closest place where they could live aboard Merganser. She commuted for a bit, but the rush hour traffic made it a difficult commute. When they found this motorhome on the internet, it seemed the perfect solution. Claire drives it to Princeton, uses it as her traveling home for the week, and then returns to Philadelphia for the weekend. It looks brand new and is bright while. Staying with the bird theme (their sailboat is named after a duck), they named it Ptarmigan. After Happy Hour with Claire’s parents, we all walked to Society Hill to have dinner at the Malbec Argentine Steakhouse Restaurant. Society Hill still has its original cobblestone streets. It is absolutely charming, as well as historical. The dinner was to celebrate Kevin’s birthday which is on Friday. He and Justin were born on the same date, just three years apart. Our toast was to Kevin . . . and to Mark. We had a wonderful dinner and then went walked to an old-timey soda fountain where the staff wears bow-ties as they dish out the ice cream. Wonderful evening with wonderful memories of Mark.
2018 Life Logs, Day 253—Aunt Ethel, An Amazing Woman
Date: Monday, September 10, 2018
Weather: Everything from Overcast to Fog to Sunshine; High 70, Low 66 F
Location: At Home with Aunt Ethel, Roanoke, Virginia
I just had the pleasure of spending the day with a truly amazing woman. My Aunt Ethel turned 103 years-old today and she went on a nine hour explore with me and never even hinted at being tired. As I drove into Roanoke this morning, an idea crept into my head. What if I took Aunt Ethel on a day long road trip to Monroe Country in West Virginia where she was born and spent the first quarter century of her life? When I arrived at her house, I ran the idea past her and she jumped at the chance. I got on the phone and made arrangements to meet one of her other nieces for lunch. That niece is married to a man that had Aunt Ethel as his first grade teacher. It was perfect. We picked up my cousin Sarah Jane and went to the café where her husband Richard runs his logging operation out back . . . only in West Virginia. Richard was truly surprised to see Aunt Ethel and the people in the little café couldn’t believe that 82 year-old Richard’s first grade teacher was still living. We had lunch, everyone sang happy birthday, and then we drove to see a nephew’s house that has a most amazing view. I knew he was not home as I had called him earlier in the day and found that he and his wife are on a road trip out west. But he loved the idea of getting a photo of Aunt Ethel in front of his house. We then took Sarah Jane home, marveled at the jars of canned green beans and tomatoes that she and Richard have put up this summer, and then drove up the mountain to Wikel where Aunt Ethel first lived with my Uncle Guy when they got married. So far the day had been great, but it was time to start our trek home. We were driving home a longer route so we could go through the part of Monroe County where Aunt Ethel grew up. Her teen years were spent living in the town of Gap Mills and we wanted to see the house where she lived. It was at this point that our perfect day became not so perfect. We saw the sign for Gap Mills but we saw no town. There was no phone service, so I had no Google Maps to help guide me, but when I saw the sign for the next town along the way, I knew I’d gone too far. How did we miss Gap Mills? The house Aunt Ethel lived in was right on the road, but sure didn’t see it or the school or the old country store. I was determined to find it, so we turned around. Was the old joke really true? Did we blink and miss the town? We drove back and coming from that direction, I did see the old school. I stopped and found a young local who was quite knowledgeable. He explained that in the 1990’s, the road was rerouted, just slightly, but many old homes were destroyed in the process. Bummer. We traveled on, but now taking the longer route home and not getting to see Aunt Ethel’s childhood home was a disappointment. We had to drive up and over the foggy mountains and finally got back to Roanoke. But instead of going home, Aunt Ethel insisted we go out to dinner at a restaurant that serves catfish that she highly recommended. I have never eaten catfish, so this was fun for me. And it was delicious. We then went to the grocery store to get things for breakfast and to buy an ice cream cake for our final birthday celebration. And after blowing out the candles and eating the cake, we spent two more hours reminiscing. While we were eating cake, I got a text from Justin with a video of Coco and Ziggy singing Happy Birthday to Aunt Ethel. She was thrilled and really looks forward to meeting them in the near future. Aunt Ethel was still going strong. Totally amazing.
Tomorrow I travel on to Philadelphia to see my friends Claire McKellar and Keven Russell and on Wednesday I head home to Cape Cod. My timing seems perfect as this part of the world could get hit quite hard by torrential rain when Hurricane Florence hits the coast on Thursday. But today was a weather gift from on high. It was forecast to be overcast all day and start raining mid-afternoon. But at the exact moment that we entered Monroe County this afternoon, the clouds parted and we had a beautiful sunny afternoon. We did have fog high in the mountains and it was overcast when we got back to Roanoke, but our entire time in Monroe County was sunny, living up to its family nickname as God’s Country.
2018 Life Logs, Day 252—Travel from West Virginia to Virginia
Date: Sunday, September 9, 2018
Weather: Overcast with Rain, Fog in the Mountains; High 85, Low 68 F
Location: Quality Inn in Christiansburg, Virginia
My road trip continued today as I drove from West Virginia to Virginia. My goal was to reach Roanoke, but rain and fog caused me to stop 30 miles short of my destination in Christiansburg, Virginia. I could have driven on, but I saw no reason to fight the weather. I got started later than I planned, but I had a relaxed day and decided that was more important than rushing to push on. We all slept in since we were up until almost 2 am. Diana left around noon to go to the hospital to check on her mother. Her mother had another TIA this morning and the diagnosis at this point is that she has carotid artery disease where fatty deposits (plaques) have clogged her blood vessels that deliver blood to her brain. That causes a temporary shortage of blood flow to the brain which results in a stroke or transient ischemic attack (TIA). At this point the damage is minimal and hopefully now that the condition has been diagnosed things can be done to reverse the problem.
When Diana went to the hospital, Rex stayed behind for a bit and he took me on a boat tour of the Coal River. He walked down to the dock to get the boat ready and I was to follow in a few minutes. When I got to the door to go out, I was very surprised to see that it was pouring rain, and I mean pouring. I waited a few minutes more and when the rain let up a bit, I got a towel to put over my head and braved the weather. Rex was returning thinking our little trip was rained out, but then the rain stopped. So, we were back on track. Rex is my oldest sister’s son and when he was young they lived on the opposite side of the Coal River from where Rex now lives. I spent many of my summer days as a young child and as a teenager riding on that river with my sister and her husband, first in their classic Cris-Craft motor boat and later in their 24-foot cabin cruiser. It was great fun to go out with Rex today and explore once again. The Coal River is small and runs into the larger Kanawha River which eventually runs into the Ohio River and then the Mississippi. When Rex was in grade school and I was in high school, we went from the Coal River all the way to Cincinnati, Ohio. Great memories. The Coal River is the color of the clay mud that dominates in that area. It is certainly not blue water, but I really enjoyed the ride down toward the Kanawha and then back to the what is called the Lower Falls. You can kayak the falls, but you certainly can’t take a motor boat any further. When I was young, the river was so polluted from the chemical plants in the area that there was really no bird life or fish in the river. Both have returned and we got to watch a Great Blue Heron catch and swallow a fish, saw lots of ducks, a turtle, and a hawk. What a treat.
After the river tour, Rex headed to the hospital and I did some laundry and wrote and posted yesterday’s log. I didn’t get away until almost 5 pm. I only had a three-hour trip in front of me and made it most of the way. Tomorrow morning I will travel on the last 30 miles to Roanoke to spend the day with my Aunt Ethel on her 103rd birthday. I’m looking forward to that.
2018 Life Logs, Day 251—Reception for Billy and Ashley
Date: Saturday, September 8, 2018
Weather: Overcast, Rain Late; High 88, Low 69 F
Location: At Home with Rex and Diana Thaxton, St. Albans, WV
Our morning started with a quick trip to the Blenko Glass Factory, something I just wanted to see and Diana wanted to go with me After that visit, Diana and I met Rex and Rachel, Rex’s daughter at Rachel’s son Kit’s soccer game. Then this afternoon Rex and Diana hosted a reception for Rex’s son Billy and his wife Ashley. Billy and Ashley were actually married a few months ago, but there was no big celebration at the time. Today was the day and it was a lovely affair. The only negative was that Diana’s mother Cassie, who lives across the street, called Diana about an hour before the reception began and asked her to come over. She wasn’t sure what happened, but she reported to Diana that her leg gave way and she just went down. Not really a fall, but just went down to the floor. Diana called 911 because her mother seemed confused. When the EMTs arrived they could only tell Diana that her mother’s blood pressure was extremely high and that they would take her to the hospital for further tests. It ended up that Diana took her to the hospital and didn’t get to come home until after the reception had ended. I know she was disappointed, but she is very close to her mother and certainly knew she wanted to be with her. For the reception, we all did what we could to carry on in her absence and everything worked out fine. Tonight Diana is home and her mother is staying in the hospital. It was determined that she had a mini-stroke and she needs to be under observation as the blood pressure is still high. She has no apparent issues from the stroke other than a little difficulty retrieving words. Diana is doing fine, but naturally she is extremely concerned. Let’s all hope that tomorrow brings good news.
Now back to the happy times. At 4 pm, loads of friends of Billy and Ashley’s and friends of Rex and Diana’s arrived to celebrate Billy and Ashley’s marriage. Ashley has three children and now she and Billy are the proud parents of a beautiful baby named Adeline. I had never met Ashley and I was so delighted meet her, her older children, and baby Adeline. For me, it was such a joy to see Billy as a father. Rex and Diana had the reception catered, so in Diana’s absence, I watched the food table to make sure more food was brought out when needed so that Rex could spend time with his guests. I had met most of his friends in prior years, but it was great to see them again. One friend they call Disco Dave was the DJ for the event. Rex’s brother Barry and his wife Beth were here and Beth took care of all the set up. She had attended to every minute detail to make it a special event. White paper was put on the outside tables and then pink roses were strewn on the tables with the help of Rex and Diana’s granddaughter Emma. Rex’s daughter Rachel was also pitching in to host in Dianna’s absence. The rain held off so everyone could socialize and have appetizers outside. There were lots of children who played together so beautifully, but they were hungry bears and we served the food earlier than planned to keep them happy. After we ate, it was time for a toast and cutting the wedding cake. Beth had the cake made and it was beautiful. When it came time for the bride and groom to feed each other a piece of cake, Billy was so funny. He evidently expected Ashley to gently put a piece of cake in his mouth, but the piece was bigger than he expected. It took him by surprise and he ended up with it all over his mouth—all in fun. Later in the evening, the younger crowd took their children home and the older crowd stayed around to watch the West Virginia University football game. Diana got home in time to see some of her friends and watch some of the game and then we ended up staying up into the wee hours of the morning talking. Wonderful day with family.