S/Y De Liefde: MMSI 368055110

Updated for winter 2020-21

This page is an attempt to keep interested people informed on the whereabouts and progress of the sailing vessel De Liefde.
Follow along!
Living on a boat in a marina is a lot like living in an RV in your parents' back yard. Convenient enough; but the glamour wears off quickly.
We didn't hit anything, the boat didn't sink, and we ended with the same number of people we started with. The rest is gravy.

15 May 2021: Preparing to leave Sapphire Beach, St Thomas, USVI.
Tomorrow, with any luck, I and our crew of three (the other two are seasoned professionals) are taking De Liefde from its slip at Sapphire Beach Resort and Marina in St Thomas to its home in Annapolis, Maryland.
The trip should take us perhaps two weeks. You can follow the progress using the above link ("Follow along!"), which combines hourly satellite boat position information with a weather map. The track on the page today includes the journey down in December (I was not aboard then), as well as a peninsula circumnavigation and trips back and forth from St Thomas to Sint Maarten earlier this season (see below for a little more detail, also pictures). We're more or less retracing our steps to Annapolis.
I wouldn't say I've done much these last few weeks in USVI, unless you count getting the Jabs. My second one went in two days ago, and I think I'm good to go tomorrow. For my good deed I persuaded our captain to get his on the same schedule. USVI had mobilized the troops, and they were courteous and efficient.
Provisioning is a little tricky -- there are no rest stops or minimarts en route -- but we certainly have plenty of spaghetti and I rather think it will be quite comfortable. Of courae we fill the water and fuel tanks, and we keep a gallon of water a day apiece in an emergency reserve.
Like any long car trip, someone's at the wheel "standing watch" at all times. The other two are used to two-person deliveries, watch-and-watch, which gets rather tiring even if you're used to it. With three, though, you have a fair chance at a decent night's sleep before it's your turn again. The driving isn't difficult (except in storms) because we rely on an autopilot, the equivalent of cruise control. And any dangers are usually a long way off, so requiring more vigilance than reaction time. Yes we wear life jackets, and we have a newly certified lift raft aboard as well.
The boat will be moving constantly with the swells, a lot of up and down at the same time as a steady tilt. One has to hold on. Bumps and bruises just seem to happen.
Really I should talk more about this after I've been through it.
18 April 2021: Still not very good at updating.
De Liefde has served me well in this strange season as a place to live and, well, wait it all out. Right now the boat is in Sint Maarten, at a marina in Simpson Bay. In other years and normal times, I would have gone island-hopping; instead, I'm sitting in one place.
But -- what a place! Restaurants are open and interesting, the chandleries are well-stocked, the rum is ample (beer too), and the weather steady-Caribbean, winds out of the east at 15-20 and sunshine every day. And a real wizard at the local piano bar. Sint Maarten is the two-country island, no land border here (save a roadside marker) between France and the Netherlands, but vessels must check in and out. So the French side for us has been explore-by-car only. But that's not much of a limitation. Orient Bay (Baie Orientale) on the Atlantic side is full of sunbathers and beach bars; that might be my next shoreside stay (it's not terribly friendly to yachts, as the wind comes out of the east). Philipsburg, the cruise ship port, is by contrast pretty quiet now that cruise ships aren't running. Though many restaurants and bars are open along the boardwalk, and the sun is just as nice there as anywhere.
I say 'us' because my friends Neil and Anneke were able to visit from rural France -- and, the boat being comfortable, they stayed on for over a month. We even moved the boat around a few times, Great Bay in Philipsburg being easy anchoring if a bit rolly. Al and Eileen from Syracuse (NY) managed to get free for ten days in March, and the boat wasn't crowded even with five of us aboard.
I'm making preparations to leave on Tuesday to head back to Sapphire Beach in St Thomas USVI. It's an overnight, leave in the late afternoon (with a following wind, predicted at a nice 15-20) and arrive the next morning to check in. Supposedly one can check in on line, but I wasn't able to get the 'photo of documents' section to work correctly in either Android nor iOS. Still, checking in in person in Cruz Bay (St John) is easy enough.
I'm looking forward to a bit of exploring of the national park in St John. They've had quite a bit of excess cruising traffic this year, in large part because the neighboring BVI hasn't been exactly welcoming to mariners. But I'm hopeful of picking up a mooring ball for a night or two and remembering what cruising is supposed to be about.
From St Thomas, I'm expecting to join a crew to take the boat to Annapolis, leaving about May 15 and arriving around June 1. Slip G-34 at Port Annapolis Marina, just like last year.
29 January 2021: Well, we skipped some pages. I could blame it on the web provider -- a routine update broke my ftp access -- but I can't explain (and certainly not blame them!) why it took me three months to get around to fixing it.
First off -- this is in inverse chronological order -- we did our ten-day DelMarVa peninsula trip without incident. A good article from summer 2020 would serve as a guide for how enjoy the trip for sightseeing. In November, maybe not so much; but the experience was solid and the boat held up very well. Feel free to send me e-mail if you want more details.
Later, after some additional last-minute repairs, the vessel departed Annapolis for the twelve-day voyage to Sapphire Beach St Thomas USVI. They left on Christmas Day with three aboard (not counting the various lords a' leaping and their retinue...), not including me. In the event, it took them only ten days to arrive; meanwhile, I was waiting patiently in a condo at Sapphire Village, efficiency studio, morning coffee, comfortable enough.
Sapphire Beach is a lovely quiet spot. I offer a couple of pictures taken from the top of the hill. Red Hook is nearby, about five minutes by taxi, with a few shops and a few restaurants (masks required!) and quite a nice-but-expensive grocery store.
Travel to the USVI from the US does not require a passport, nor customs clearance into the island; but there are specific health-related registration and testing requirements. And the recent CDC guidelines do not require testing to return to the mainland US from USVI.

Trip to Sint Maarten.

I'm intending to leave St Thomas on Wednesday next week, clear out from Cruz Bay in St John, and proceed to Simpson Bay Marina in St Maarten, arriving Thursday 4 Feb 2021; and then to remain in Simpson Bay for a month and a half or so. International travel requirements nowadays are (rightfully, in my view) burdensome but manageable. It's a different question whether the trip is wise. I have hope others will be able to visit, either then or later when (as planned) I return to Sapphire Beach. By May I should be headed back to Annapolis. No point in planning too far ahead in these uncertain times.

28 October 2020: Departure imminent. Would have preferred to leave earlier today, but everything takes longer. Repairs completed this morning, whew. Lots of cleaning (iceboxes, storage areas, aft locker) in preparation.
Light wind, plan to drive as far north as we can get tonight. I'll start, Mike will spell me later on. (He has far more stamina.)

October 2020: Preparing for an offshore trip. Boats are meant to be sailed. I'm planning a week-long expedition up the Bay, through the Canal, down the Delaware Bay, down the outside to Norfolk, and back home up through the Chesapeake. I'll post again, hopefully, upon departure. As always, you can follow along using our hourly satellite pings or on one of the AIS marine tracking pages or apps.
Meanwhile, I'm making preparations for a December 15 departure to Sapphire Beach in St Thomas, USVI, where I have a slip lined up for the winter season. All plans are tentative; but the BVI is currently intending to open for visitors in December, and at some point in the winter I expect to take the boat across to there, to St Maarten, and possibly farther south, before returning to Sapphire Beach and waiting out the winter. Getting crew and/or friends to take airplanes and navigate border crossings is, well, especially difficult this season. (Send me e-mail if you have any interest in joining me this winter.)

Summer 2020: The boat arrived Annapolis (slip G34, Port Annapolis Marina) in early April and ... hasn't gone anywhere since. All travel everywhere cancelled. As luck would have it, the boat is a comfortable place to stay, more or less indefinitely, and I'm whiling away the summer days looking in on my mom (across the street, literally, at BayWoods of Annapolis) and collecting packages at my storage unit downtown. (You can actually mail things to me there.)
Life aboard is rather like living in an RV in your parents' backyard. The glamour wears off quickly; but it's comfortable enough, I can cook my own meals on the little propane stove, and as long as the air conditioner works even a Maryland summer is pretty tolerable.
Socially isolated in the extreme, but under the circumstances that's a good thing. Mom is happy and healthy, despite the lockdown, as I take her out for an outside meal from time to time, or we sit in the gazebo at the top of the dock and knit.

March 27: Underway! De Liefde left the dock at Sapphire Beach, St Thomas, USVI early this morning on Friday 27 March, bound for Annapolis.
Follow along on the
tracking page, hour-by-hour updates.
The trip will take about two weeks. The destination is Port Annapolis Marina, slip G-34, where I'm staying (well, nearby, not at the slip) until they arrive.
St. Thomas was getting ... interesting ... this last week. Many flights were cancelled, including each of the crew's flights in as well as my flight out (and the flight I did take was three hours late leaving). The island's governor had declared a state of emergency, complete with a ten-person maximum, but grocery stores and even some small restaurants were open for business. Still, over everything there was an odd air of tense unreality, to be 'stuck in Paradise' while the clock was ticking. I was certainly lucky that the pandemic's timetable agreed with my own.
I was sorely tempted to go with the delivery crew, but in the end I felt it was safer not to. They're not going to stop at any intermediate port (Turks and Caicos, Bahamas, Bermuda) unless it is a serious emergency.
March 21: We're back! De Liefde arrived in Sapphire Beach, St Thomas, USVI on Wednesday 11 March. As you can tell from the tracking page, we've been busy: The last of the guests left on Friday the 13th.
It was around this time that we started to realize just how convulsing current events have been. My first order of business after the guests left was to cancel my birthday party. Then it was down to watching the stock market and monitoring travel advisories.
This island is, at current writing (21 March), still pretty normal despite the declaration of emergency. I've been on the boat for a week now, and my family and friends have convinced me it's time to go home.
Next up for the boat is a delivery to Annapolis, where I propose to 'shelter in place' in my tucked-away little waterfront condo called De Liefde, slip G-34, Port Annapolis Marina, Annapolis MD.
February 17: We're on! De Liefde arrived in Antigua on Tuesday 4 February and parked at Nelson's Dockyard. We got aboard right away; the delivery crew -- safe and sound -- headed back to their homes on Thursday, grateful for a shoreside bed for a couple of days!
We have a new tracking scheme courtesy of the nice folks from PredictWind. It's based on our satellite device -- Iridium -- which we're leaving on around the clock and which sends hourly updates to the shoreside server.
After a couple of days at anchor in Galleon Bay, joined by our friends Ken and Betsy from Seattle, we left English Harbour on Tuesday 11 February, Ted Flanagan and Donnie and me making five. We parked for two nights in Heritage Bay, on the west side of Antigua, waiting out weather; then when the weather failed to moderate we switched our plans, checking out from Jolly Harbour and sailing due west to Nevis. We anchored in twilight, and spent the next day at Sunshine's, the memorable beach bar near Charleston.
After that we headed to St Kitts in lumpy weather -- the windspeed indicator hit 40kts, but in this boat it hardly registered! -- where we checked out, popped down to the coast to Christophe Harbour and the fancy-boat marina, then got up early to tackle the next leg.
Now we're headed to St Maarten, where we plan to anchor in Great Bay and stay for a couple of days near Philipsburg.
January 21: We're off! De Liefde left its berth in Annapolis yesterday morning, and safely made Norfolk by noon today. (See below on how to follow the boat's progress.) The weather prognosis is not so great, the delivery crew may not leave the east coast before Friday.
Our proposed schedule includes: In each case the dates correspond to somebody's airplane ticket home, which is a pretty good indication you'll find us in the neighborhood around then.

Boat details:

The name of the boat comes from an early Dutch exploring ship. The name was bestowed by the immediately previous owner, and I saw no reason to change it.

Last year's page

Last year's page, linked here

Tips for following along

Portrait gallery

Donnie Campbell's blog, with much better pictures than I can manage.
[apologies for broken links]

Getting in touch

E-mail is easiest. My e-mail is listed below.
We have at least one worldwide satellite phone on board, and you can try leaving a message -- text is easier -- for either of these: [Update: Changed the email.] In addition, you should be able to reach us by writing to sydeliefde@myiridium.net. Be aware that texts and e-mails to the boat address are shared among all the people on the boat at the time, and thus will not be particularly private. Private conversations should be conducted by voice, or (when in port) over conventional e-mail using WiFi.

A note on S/V versus S/Y.The US sometimes refers to boats as 'sailing vessels', or S/V for short. The rest of the world -- where this boat will be much of the time! -- refers to 'sailing yachts', or S/Y for short. In the rest of the world, the term 'yacht' has no connotation of pretentiousness. See for example this Cruisers Forum thread.
Where possible we've used 'sydeliefde' unless already taken. So: be aware that some of these identifiers and addresses are spelled with a 'v' and others with a 'y'.

Return to Eric's home page.
Or write to Eric at my snail-mail address.
Last updated: 16 May 2021