Buying Dragonfly #2 – Amel 54

Was it John Lennon who said that life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans?

After we sold the Nordhavn in 2017 we moved back to our townhome in Park City and reconnected with our many good friends and the mountains.  A winter skiing was followed by a long planned but hard to implement camping trip to The Last Frontier – Alaska.  Great place, beautiful scenery, amazing wildlife.  Highly recommended!

Inside Passage
Looking for her 3 cubs who wandered into the riverside shrubbery

The only negative with this trip was how cold it was.  Now this is on a relative basis because the locals didn’t think it was remotely cold, but we ran the furnace in the Airstream quite a bit, wore long underwear many days, and even enjoyed the electric blanket on the bed.  As the years have gone by after my sailing mishap that resulted in my arms always being cold, I’m more and more sensitive to cold weather to the extent that when the room temperature is in the 60’s I sleep with a fleece and when it’s in the 50’s (camping) I also wear a stocking cap – just can’t keep warm.  So it became clear that I just could not face a year round future in Park City with six months of snow, ice and cold.  

On the Alaska trip we talked about this a lot and evolved to the road atlas where we studied the map of the US and found that there were 8 states we’d consider moving to.  We spent some months looking closely at a few of these states, and found over time that North Carolina seemed like a really good match given our interest in being closer to the water and living in a community where the temperatures were amenable to year round living.  Our close friends Bill and Rochelle lived near Wilmington and we had found a nice community in Southport when we were on the Nordhavn and had to hide out for a few days while a tropical storm passed by. 

Within a few months we were settled in Southport – March brought green grass, golf, tennis, beach dinners, and nowhere was snow and ice to be found.  We tried a J80 sailboat but the hurricane kind of made the docking situation difficult.

Blood, Sweat and Tears in Southport on a calm day
Blood, Sweat and Tears somewhere in the foreground – it wasn’t meant to be

We went up to Annapolis for the US Sailboat Show and started thinking more about going cruising again, though this time it would not be year round.  The pandemic soon followed and everything shut down, so it made sense to defer the dream for a while.  

Wearing our national park themed masks that niece Emily sewed for us

As the pandemic slowly evolved towards an endemic, we could see the light at the end of the tunnel but this light was dimmed by the awareness that little Coco was suffering from congestive heart failure.  Cruising with a little one on the trawler was do-able, but we knew it was not practical on a sailboat given the layout, the likelihood the boat we would buy would not be in the US, and her overall health issues (none of the three of us slept through the night once during her last 18 months).  

Rough night at sea, nobody felt great that morning

Though Coco was ill we felt another big Airstream camping trip would be a good family adventure, and we had Newfoundland on the list for many years.  Sadly our beloved Coco passed away in Vermont, before we made it to Canada, and so while the trip to Newfoundland was amazing in so many respects (the people there are wonderful), there was always a overlay of sadness with her not being with us.  To this day I miss her so much and am starting to realize it’s always going to be that way.

By the time we made it home we realized if not now, then when?  Things were opening up from the pandemic, we were settled in Southport, and it was now just the two of us.  Probably the hardest part of heading out again was saying So Long, See You in a Few Months to our close friends in Southport.  But the ocean was calling.

We found Dragonfly in Martinique and were soon on an American flight from Miami to Fort de France for surveys and sea trials.  

Interestingly, the flight attendant said they were all excited to be flying to Martinique again.  Why is that?  Because American cancelled all of their flights to Martinique about 18 months ago due to the pandemic, and this once a week flight was the first one.  How did people get to Martinique during the pandemic?  Air France from JFK to Paris to Martinique.  Yikes, no wonder nobody from the states was interested in this Amel 54 – too hard to get there.  

The survey went well thanks to our broker Stephanie (more on her in another post) and this trip felt like a bit of a vacation with time at the beach, lots of Really Good Food, and sunshine every day.  

a fresh baguette everyday
Goodbye Aora, Hello Dragonfly
With our friends Gerald and Birgitte from the Amel 53 Jetlag

We closed on Dragonfly in early December, and arrived January 8 to move aboard our new home, well let’s call it a part-time home, as we’ll sail around the Windward Islands until May.

Sailing past Diamond Rock, SW coast of Martinique
Grande Anse d’ Arlet

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