Saturday, November 19, 2011

Bon Voyage Lowena

Tony and Jenny on Lowena on departure day
Tony and Jenny are British. She hails from the south, he from the north. While the differences in the UK are different from our regional differences in the US, the dynamic is similar. Tony bought Lowena, a Hans Christian 43, last fall. She extends every bit of fifty feet with her prominent bowsprit. After months of repairing 2000 blisters, Tony painted her, re-rigged her and had a new set of sails made. He refinished all of her teak and commissioned a stunning stainless steel Samson post to replace the original stout wooden one that the previous owner thought too big to keep when he added a new windlass.

Personally, I lusted after the granny bars with thole pins and the boom gallows, original to Lowena but practical additions to any boat.

Tony has several solo transatlantics behind him as well as one steel boat. He often wondered what possessed him to trade the steel boat for a plastic one, even as sturdy as Lowena is. Yes, sailing with Jenny influenced his new desire for a certain level of comfort and livability. Together, they even have glass wine glasses and bottles (instead of bags) of wine. We try to be soft and plastic all the way even though glass is much nicer.

Lowena was re-powered with a Beta that purrs softly when turned on. After a few months in Whittaker Creek, they moved the boat onto the hard at Sailcraft where Jenny schlepped laundry, groceries, beer and wine up the 12 foot ladder. For months while Tony attacked the blisters. Finally, in early summer, they moved Lowena to Oriental Harbor Marina, just a half dozen slips out from us. When Cameron caught their line on arrival, they had just completed their first trip since buying the boat, a journey of no more than two miles. It would be another two months or so before they would be able to actually sail her. And that would come after Hurricane Irene.

As H. Irene approached, all of us discussed our storm strategies. You may recall that I tried to have Wild Haggis hauled out, but ended up in the protected marina at River Dunes quaintly named Grace Harbor. Tony and Jenny decided to ride it out in a creek off South River. The ride over to South River, a place they had never been, was the second time they had the boat "at sea". It was more than eight months since they had moved onto the boat.

Hurricane behind them, they took Lowena for a real sail with her new canvas. After several hours on the river, the two of them returned to the marina all smiles. As much as they believed that they knew how she would handle, it was a relief to have their beliefs confirmed in reality.

I visited with them quite regularly, in part because I enjoyed their company and learned a lot (I picked Tony's brain as I had last year picked Steve's), in part because Tony was always generous with his cold, cold beer. We had dinners together, listened to their stories of Libya, Portugal, Spain, the eastern Med and laughed into the night. They introduced us to simple and flavor-filled Thai dishes like Green Thai Curry, Red Thai Curry and Laksa. Jenny mentioned eating Beans on Toast for breakfast in England, and we teased her mercilessly.

As cruisers will, they introduced us to their friends, something we always appreciate, especially since good people know other good people.

With autumn coming on, boat projects diminished in size and number. The two of them began to itch for a departure. When the Atlantic was quiet, Jenny wanted to believe what she knew was not so, namely that hurricane season might have ended already. They stuck to their plan of a November start. The weather soured early this year, however. The weather windows, such as they were, shrank to less than 48 hours between small nor'easters howling ashore. Outside, in open ocean, waves were often 20 feet plus under gale force winds. No place to be at sea if you do not have to be. November seemed to shrink all too quickly.

So they waited. A window would begin to open, they would set a departure date, and we would have a farewell dinner for Tony and Jenny with our other slip mates, Pat and Judy. The window would close and the whole procedure would repeat itself, including another farewell dinner.Tony and Jenny were embarrassed, but we along with Pat and Judy thought it great fun to have a celebratory dinner but then still have the two of them around.

Finally, last week, a broader window appeared. And held (if we ignored the tropical disturbance several hundred miles northeast of the Leeward Islands, which we did since it seemed to be headed north). Tony and Jenny treated us to dinner Friday night and embarked early Saturday morning on the voyage that will take them around the world over the next several years. They are wonderful people and dear friends. We wish them fair winds and gentle seas.

Farewell to friends

At last! a jubilant Tony waves from the cockpit

A perfect day to set off around the world


  1. Pretty soon you'll have friends in every port you sail in to. They look like great sailors, I hope we run into them soon. Are they headed to the Caribbean? Will you spend Christmas in Oriental? Our girls are coming to Grenada and after that we are plan-less. YEA!

  2. Hi,
    Do you have a contact email for Tony and Jenny? I know they're over here (UK) at the moment but we lost their email when we met up in Oriental some years back.

    Or could you pass on ours

  3. sorry slow to reply. Just saw this yesterday and forwarded to Tony.


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