Friday, October 30, 2015

Ol' Front Porch Music Festival

      Saturday October 17, 2015 was the date of the 2nd annual Ol' Front Porch Music Festival in the quaint town of Oriental, NC. A town where Ol' front porches adorned with pumpkins and corn stalks are the distinguished architectural element embellishing nearly every home in town.


     The filtered sunshine warming the autumn day
was picture perfect for a lazy stroll along the
The Carmonas performance was a crowd pleaser
typically quiet streets of Oriental and for stopping to enjoy the melodic phrases straining from 21 predetermined front porches where crowds gathered in anticipation of the down home sounds of Appalachian folk, sea chanteys, gospel and bluegrass.


The Salty Paws
Michele (Bodhran), Bentley (banjo), Jim (guitar), Dave (guitar)
     This year The Salty Paws Band was invited back for a second performance on the front porch of The Bean on the waterfront. Bentley, Jim, Dave and Michele were scheduled to perform on the porch from 1:00-2:30 PM. We geared up early prior to our engagement in order to be able to enjoy the festival's diverse assemblage of opening acts starting at 11:00 AM.


A few members of the Uhoos

The Dixie Strings
     The festival opened with The Uhoos (Ukulele Hoalohas of Oriental) a fun loving group of 30 members who have been playing a diverse genre of music together for two years. After a stroll from Hodges to Broad Street Joe and I also enjoyed the performances by Dixie Strings a youthful talented bluegrass/gospel group on mandolin, fiddle, guitar and stand-up bass and The Flat Mountain Dulcimers. We had just enough time to enjoy a few tunes by Green Creek Bluegrass at The Old Hotel front porch before it was time for our set up and tune up at The Bean at 1:00 PM.
The Flat Mountain Dulcimers

The Salty Paws
Michele, Bentley, Jim and Dave performing at The Bean
     The Salty Paws Band was able to play through our entire playlist including favorites such as Fox on the Run, Mary Ellen Carter, Whiskey in the Jar, Rant & Roar along with numerous other sea chanteys as well as a fusion of genres. A few encore pieces such as bluegrass/gospel I'll Fly Away and the well known favorite Rolling Home were performed to the delight of the festival audience. At times there were over 50 roving festival attendees enjoying our porch concert!


The Carmonas

     When all was said and done we reflected back upon a great experience. Perfect weather, talented
bands, good food and good friends. Life is and has been, so far (we're cautiously optimistic)...even better than expected!

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Friday, October 23, 2015

Return to Sea Level

The Cape Lookout Lighthouse from sea level.
     The onset of autumn marks our fourth year of living aboard and cruising full time aboard theSimple Life. Cool evenings requiring an extra blanket and crisp mornings signal the eventuality of winter. The time to sail south has arrived.

Simple Life at Portsmouth, VA
on her way south in 2015
Simple Life hauled for
Hurricane Joaquin

After the storm. Simple Life
launched for the southern
This season has been fraught with a series of events that hampered southern migration for nearly everyone. Hurricane Joaquin's sudden development and unpredictable path of destruction wreaked havoc upon Long Island, Bahamas prior to heading north toward the States. By good fortune, Joaquin's path eventually veered away from the U.S. mainland and out to sea. Although, not before lashing South Carolina with heavy rains resulting in severe flooding, higher than normal tides at bridges where sailboats with 62 foot masts needed to be cautious when transiting. The storm also deposited considerable debris into channels.

      Long Island, Bahamas was not so fortunate. The hurricane hit the southern end of the island with a vengeance wreaking massive destruction as it spun out of control while hovering over the island's inhabitants for several days. This is one of our favorite islands and we hope the locals are able to realize their hard won existence once again.

Joe has crabs...again!!
     While the storm threatened and meteorologists made up their minds in the States we all waited. Simple Life was hauled on the hard at Mobjack Bay since two days before Joaquin's forecast arrival landfall predictions were near or directly at the mouth of Chesapeake Bay. We visited friends who kindly offered shelter from the storm until the boat was launched after the hurricane's departure. We all made the best of a tough situation by busying ourselves with cooking and entertaining. Joe managed to catch a bucket of blue crabs off the docks with a promise of my delicious crab cakes as an incentive.
Blue crabs await their fate.


   Conditions have improved beyond measure since the storm. Boats are on the move heading south once again. Everyone seems to be settling in to the rhythm of life aboard. Weather has been dry and favorable with numerous opportunities for offshore passages.


Cape Lookout Lighthouse, Cape Lookout, NC
     Simple Life motored out of the Bight of Cape Lookout on the Outer Banks of North Carolina yesterday morning before sunrise at 4:00 AM en route to Masonboro Inlet at Wrightsville Beach, NC. The stopover at the Cape was our first and it seemed logical to spend a day exploring its pristine 54 mile beach, historic lighthouse and lagoon with hopes of spying the Shackelford Banks renowned wild horses.

Sunrise Cape Lookout

     At this time of year along with the unpredictability of east coast weather it seems most boaters have their goals and objectives written in...yogurt with a few blueberries in the mix. Vero Beach at Thanksgiving is one of the most popular. Joe and I still enjoy the ride whenever weather and conditions cooperate. Tomorrow morning we plan an offshore overnight passage from Southport, NC to Charleston, SC. After all the reason all of us are out here is joie de vivre. Lets hope for fair winds and following seas.
Cape Lookout Lighthouse at the national seashore

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Thursday, October 15, 2015

A Simple Life in France

The Seine, Paris at 10:00 PM
     In the event that you're a blog follower of Sailing Simple Life you may have noticed that we haven't updated our blog in a few months. The reason? We had an opportunity to spend the month of July in France. This may disappoint some in that we didn't sail there given that it was much more efficient to hop a plane from Boston to Paris where we spent a few days before traveling south spending July exploring the Charente and Dordogne regions.

The orchard in the side yard overlooking the sunflower field.
photo by Joe Boulay

     Sailing across the Atlantic to France wasn't an option and after traveling aboard Simple Life for months in "slo mo" it seemed almost miraculous flying across an ocean and arriving thousands of miles away within a matter of hours. On a given day while traveling aboard Simple Life we are typically underway for seven or eight hours while covering only 50 miles!


Michele with a baguette at the Marche in Aubeterre.
Photo by Joe Boulay
      Last January after several weeks of persistent, strong easterly winds resulting in zero opportunities for Gulf Stream crossings we holed up at anchor in South Beach, Miami. Tough life right? Actually, it was pleasant, but while lying at anchor (not in a marina with any facilities) for weeks waiting for a favorable weather window I longed for a month or so ashore. I was growing weary after a few false starts across the Stream. It was during our layover that I finalized plans for Simple Life's French connection.
Aubeterre a medieval village in the Charente region.
Photo by Joe Boulay


Michele & Porgey enjoying the warm evening at the house.
Photo by Joe Boulay
     The simple life in France was à la bonne heure. The historic country home we lived in was akin to living life on French film set. Visualize a French country kitchen with exterior provincial blue shutters shielding the midday sun. An aloof pure white country cat. Geraniums blooming in every window box. A menagerie of copper pots hanging over the red tilled back splashed stove. Floor to ceiling windows cranked open sans screens filling the rooms with warmth and sunshine and a few bugs.

Flowers and vines adorned the exterior of the house.
Photo by Joe Boulay

Evenings by the pool with wine & fromage.
      Back yard views of undulating hills of sunflowers and freshly baled hay, c'est magnifique! I must admit that five years of French in high school and college (I'm certainly not fluent in French) were helpful, but did little to prepare me for actually speaking French in the countryside. I've included a number of photos in this blog from France even though we were land trekkers and not technically living the simple life abroad.

Bee on a sunflower
by Joe Boulay

      Living aboard the Simple Life consumes most of our year and believe it or not occasionally there are times when we long for shore leave. Not for long periods of time mind you, just something to whet the pallet offering an hors d'oeuvre if you will of life ashore. A block of time when we don't always have to be so connected and concerned with wind, weather and whether or not our neighbor's home might drag into ours during an unexpected nighttime storm.
Joe loves cheese


Cheese vendor at the Aubeterre march.
Photo by Joe Boulay
     Our French hiatus was splendid, better than expected. A life unexpected. We had no preconceived expectations! We knew little of where we were staying. Everything including a trip to the InterMarche (the local market) was a new adventure. That was how we lived our simple life in France.

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