Saturday, June 29, 2013

Music Jam in Portsmouth, Virginia

Dyad, Simple Life and Salty Paws at Portsmouth dock
It was a long day of motoring along the ICW as Simple Life made her approach toward the free dock at Great Bridge, Virginia. Joe peered anxiously through binoculars to see if there was enough space along the rickety dock for an overnight tie up. It was late afternoon and there were no anchorages nearby. He spotted a huge unpainted aluminum motor vessel that resembled a ferry from a distance. Joe adjusted the lenses and read the name... DYAD. "Guess who that is? It's Dyad from the Cruisheimer's Net!" It seemed that we'd finally caught up with one of the voices of the single sideband radio Cruiseheimer's Net Dave and Kathi aboard their motor vessel Dyad. Kathi designs and maintains the Bigdumboat website and Dave is the chief developer of Open CPN navigational software see both at As we approached the dock they introduced themselves and assisted us with our lines. Kathi later invited us to join them for sundowners aboard Dyad along with the crew of Salty Paws, Jim and Bentley. Salty Paws, a large sailing catamaran was docked directly in front of Dyad but, was obscured from our view due to Dyad's enormity (a Passage Maker 48).

Dave of MV DYAD
Since installing our SSB radio a few years ago as one of Simple Life's numerous upgrades for long distance cruising it seemed that both Dyad and Salty Paws were fixtures on the airwaves. We'd participate in the Cruisheimer's Net by checking into 8152KHz at 8:30 AM on weekends. On Saturday and Sunday mornings during the summer sailing season in New England we monitored broadcasts while listening intently and memorizing boat names during morning check ins hoping someday to connect with those who were already cruising full time. Two of those memorable voices who also volunteered their time as net controllers were Dyad and Salty Paws. After monitoring their check ins and taking note of their numerous ports of call we felt as though we already knew these cruisers and we looked forward to meeting the people that went with the voices.

Bentley and Jim of Salty Paws
Michele, Dave, Bentley and Jim performing in the park
For some reason, when cruisers get together work lives are rarely the topic of conversation. Though, we did discuss art and music. Jim Austin of Salty Paws is a professional photographer and both he and Bentley are musicians! Dave also plays guitar along with Kathi on the percussive egg. The following day, after our arrival at the free dock in Portsmouth, Virginia, Jim invited me to play my bodhran (Irish drum) with the band. I was thrilled, I'd brought my drum along on this trip with hopes of getting together with other musicians. When I asked where we'd be playing they said that they usually performed in the park area adjacent to the dock in Portsmouth. Jim said that they primarily perform for fun and camaraderie and that occasionally they open their case and collect enough money to buy the band a few beers! The music ranged from traditional sea shanties to folk rock pieces such as Freight Train along with an original song written by Bentley on the banjo.
After reflection upon this new cruising experience we felt a delightful sense of renewal. At least for now all of the hardship and trials along the way seemed trivial and distant. The new friendships and connections we build within this cruising community enrich our lives and reward us with new adventures and episodes of fulfillment.

Photos by Joe Boulay