Monday, April 20, 2009

Bygone, a journey up the ICW

Crossing the Ablemarle and Chesapeake Canal this morning I saw the distinctive cat ketch rig of a Sea Pearl 21, a figure in foul weather gear at the tiller waiting for the bridge to swing open. I had an errand to run, so I took care of that and dropped by my house to get my camera. I caught up with the Sea Pearl at the Great Bridge Locks. The skipper was heading out of the locks when I got his attention and he motored over to the shore.
It was Byard Miller aboard his Sea Pearl "Bygone." He had left Palatka, Fla 23 days ago, headed north on the ICW. The York River, his final destination, is just up the Chesapeake Bay. Byard is from Arkansas. He had bought the Sea Pearl a year ago for sailing on the lakes of near his home, but had always wanted to make the journey up the ICW. He looked happy and healthy, smiling as he talked about strong winds, heavy rainfall and the beauty of the waterway. The boat looked in great shape (I could use some tips from him on how to keep a boat organized). He laughed about traveling in the company of million dollar boats, wondering why everybody wanted to take a photograph of his boat, the smallest one in the group.

He didn't have the exact distances for his trip, but as he added up the numbers it sounded like somewhere around 800 miles along the coastline. He had slept aboard his boat the entire trip (what do you think of that, Bruce?), save for a two hour nap in a marina locker room during a stormy night. As he talked about the trip he used the word "we" so often that I glanced down in to the canvas convertible cabin to see if he had a crew member catching up on some sleep down there. But I realized "we" included him and his Sea Pearl.

What a great trip, the kind of adventure I would like to do some day. I'm glad he took a minute to motor over to the shore so we could talk. Then he backed Bygone's bow off of the marsh and continued north toward Norfolk and then the York River.
PS - as I am posting this the thunderstorms have arrived, heavy rains and thunder rumbling in the grey clouds. Byard should be close to downtown Norfolk, hope has has found some shelter.


SandyBottom said...

What a great story, and a wonderful trip. I'd have thought all the bridges on the ICW would have been an annoying problem.

Another reason to keep arguing for a small motor on our boat :)

Perry Burton said...

That's a cool story Steve. I'm glad he pulled over for a chat. People do actually go on those fantastical trips we read about in magazines.


Steve said...

I forgot to mention that I had asked him if he had done any other cruises. He said no, this was the first. What a way to start - 800 miles and over three weeks.
I'm with you Dawn on the small outboard engine. To me they are like american express cards - don't leave home without them. I love to sail, but I do not like to sit and bake on hot windless days.

Paddlevan said...

Can you leak to the entire picasa album so we see more details??

Steve said...

He was along shore very briefly so I shot just a few frames, not much else to see.