Our times sailing Aeolus II on the central Chesapeake Bay.
My earliest sailing experiences came when I was a camp counselor outside Montréal Canada, at Camp Weredale. My primary job was the canoeing instructor. We sailed on a small lake. There were several small sailboats and 2 fairly large, or so they seemed, boats. One catamaran called Cat-A-Lac. The is was an old, donated wooden boat that was a real clunker. The pride of the fleet was the Cupi, about a 20' wooden and later glassed over sloop. Both were pretty worn out. They were old but they also were the only ride in town. The lake was very cold and very deep. Safety was not a big concern, no one wore life jackets and we piled the kids on. I picked up sailing pretty quick and soon found I was the assistant sailing instructor. That summer was short, but my love for sailing stuck with me.
After I finished school and was married, my wife decided to get into sailing. She and I have been sailing the Chesapeake Bay for 35+ years, most of that time we have sailed from West River. We started sailing in 1975. Our daughter, Jessie, was just 3 years old. She would sleep through most afternoons with her orange lifejacket on. We started with a used Lido 14. We called her Slithery Dee (named after a folk song) and while it was exciting sailing, we decided we wanted something bigger. In 1976 we purchased a Clipper 21 (Slithery Dee II) from our good friend Ray Burdick when he was moving up to a bigger boat. We sailed that Clipper all over the place, we sailed to Tangier Island with Mary's family (yes 5 of us on a small boat). We even trailered it to Florida and had a glorious time sailing in the Venice FL area of the Gulf of Mexico with family one winter for almost 2 weeks.
But in 1978 we again had the urge to move up to a bigger boat.
My brother, Mike and his wife Barbara, and my Mom & Dad had purchased a new Seafarer 22 (Spirit) a year earlier. We admired how well Spirit sailed, so, we purchased a sister ship to that boat. We had hull number 217. She was our first Aeolus, named after the Greek God of the Winds. It was a glorious boat and we sailed it all over the Chesapeake Bay as well, reaching ports of call from Georgetown, MD to Yorktown, VA with stops in many places in between. Some of our favorites were Dunn Cove on Eastern Shore near Knapps Narrows and Harness Creek on the South River, and of course our close neighbor, Rhodes River. We even tried a bit of racing but soon learned that it wasn't competitive as a race boat. But most times we just day sailed on West River.
During this same time period, the family obtained a Hobie Cat 16 and we sailed that often on trips and at Sandy Point.
Time marched on, lots of time in fact, almost 29 years, we decided to again step up in size to a bigger boat. We went looking for something in the 27-30 range. I wanted a boat that could be sailed single handed when I could not find crew to join me and was easy to sail for a couple. We wanted one that had standing headroom and a separate head and could sleep five (we wanted room for the daughter, now grown and her husband and their daughter).
We didn't require our new boat be one of the ultra expensive new yachts so we decided to look for a used boat. We spent the winter of '06/'07 looking at many boats on the Bay, some in the ice, and spent hours looking at used boat ads on the Internet and Craigslist. Finally we narrowed our search to the Catalina 27. I considered boats as far away as New Jersey to the North and South Carolina to the South. I walked around many deserted boat yards in January and February. And then I found one listed just 4 miles away on Rhodes River (just off West River). I made arrangements to go see her. But an ice storm left the decks covered in ice and the brokerage "suggested" we wait for it to melt. The following Saturday was a VERY cold day and windy too. But Brian, the previous owner, was smart, he had a small electric heater warming the cabin so when I slid back the hatch I was greeted by a splash of warm air! I had asked my brother Mike and my nephew Chris to join me to see how it looked. I had seen many other Catalina 27s by the time. Those other boats were very dirty and several were need of immediate repair. but not this boat, it was clean. The sails were new and the outboard was nearly new too. I was in love. This was still February, but I went by the brokerage and talked to Greg (the brokerage owner) and listened to what the owner was asking. I made a counter offer (very low I thought) and left a "good faith" check to hold it. The next weekend I brought Mary down and much to my surprise she liked it too! So I went back to Greg and learned the owner had made a counter offer that was, in my mind, more than fair. So We agreed on the price and set a day to have it hauled so I could see the bottom.
We had it pulled and I wrote the check. We were the owners of a Catalina 27. The next day, March 11th I moved the boat the 4 miles to her new slip on West River. It would be almost 6 weeks until I could sail her...
So here I am, my first time at the helm on the way from the brokerage to the slip, it was a cold day but I was warm.
July 21st, 2007, was a sad day for me. My good friend Joe, also a sailor, and I deliver Aeolus, the Seafarer 22, to the new family in Gloucester, VA on Mobjack Bay. The family has a daughter, Jessie! I am sad but also happy for the new family. Aeolus brought me many, many wonderful times. Time marches on.
That is a quick history of how we ended up with a 1981 Catalina 27 after over 35 years of sailing. We hope that you will enjoy seeing our adventures and the many friends we will make along the way. There is the new granddaughter, Claire, who lives in Boston that we hope will learn to love sailing the way we do. So, if you pass a Catalina 27 with a smiling couple give a gentle wave and introduce yourself. We hope to meet many new friends in the coming seasons of sailing on our new boat.