Where to begin….
Certainly not in the beginning, as that would be way too much. Let’s go with the future, and just enough past for flavor.
Captain/Owner Frank S Smith
As the wife of the captain and Admiral of the vessel MSV Athenea, I can brag on him all I like. After 35 years with the man I’ve earned the right. His is truly the most amazing person I’ve ever met. A friend of our often says “when it hits the fan, I want to be with Frank”. Of all the sailors, I’d follow him to the ends of the earth. Oh wait, I’m about to. Loves sailing. Recently re-retired, and ready for action.
Admiral/Owner Judy Smith
Well, let’s just say ‘wind beneath my wings’, or sails in this case, applies to me. While certainly not the accomplishments of my husband, I can generally hold my own. Love to travel – a boat will do nicely.
Built in New Zealand in 1984, she is our home as well as conveyance. With much experience, she has cruised around Asia, New Zealand, Australia, southern French coast, the Atlantic, and most recently the Chesapeake Bay. She is a great boat, comfortable, dependable and safe.
While our plans have changed a few times over the last couple of years, our plans going forward are fairly simple. Follow the winds for the next 5 to 7 years.
Short-term…As we are departing in the spring, we are taking a diversion to the western Mediterranean for the summer and fall 2014. The ARC Europe Rally, which we decided to join so I can regain my sea legs in an easier milieu, departs from Portsmouth at the mouth of Chesapeake Bay on May 3. Arrival is scheduled for June 15 in Lagos, Portugal, with layovers the way in Bermuda and the Azores. Whilst in the Med, we intend to cruise mostly Spain, France and Italy with diving and shore excursions along the way.
And then…After Atlantic hurricane season, we will cross back over the puddle to the Caribbean to position for the January/February 2015 passageway to the South Pacific via the Panama Canal. A three week passage takes us to the Galapagos. Another three week passage to Easter Island, one of the few places on the planet Frank has not been. Next to we sail to Pitcairn Island looking for the Bounty descendents, French Polynesia, Fiji, New Zealand, Australia (probably a year there), Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand and/or thereabouts. Somewhere in there we will visit our favorite diving spot – Palau, Micronesia.
And then some more…Depending on the pirates, political scores, wind and the waves, health, wealth and whether I’ve kicked Frank off the boat yet, we take the Indian Ocean to the Suez and back to the Med. Or, we go across the South China Sea to Russia, Alaska, Hawaii, down the west coast of American and back through the Panama Canal to the Caribbean. We even considered the Northwest Passage. While Athenea is not a viable option for that passage under the current ice conditions – who knows what a few more years of climate change will bring.
Likely we will be anchoring when possible. Plan on dinghying, walking, relaxing and swimming – enjoying the scenery and nature’s delights.
We are delighted to have crew on board, whether for the long or short haul. Living with others is, well, different. And on a boat, it’s well, close. So harmony, lightheartedness, patience, and good ole southern hospitality is the order of the voyage.
Frank runs a relaxed ship in general. He’s a great teacher and welcomes input. If not on watch or other boating duties, feel free to sprawl on the deck, aft cockpit or salon, have a toddy (8 hours from bottle to throttle), read a book, or catch a nap in the nets.
We share the fun: watches, salty tales, planning routes, oil changes, dolphin spotting, deck swabbing, diving, incremental costs, cooking, shore adventures, and so forth.
When it comes to safety, he is firm. Watches are kept at all times during passages, no distractions from eyeballs on the water and instruments. Try music or audio books. Bring your favorite offshore PFD. We are not in a hurry. While Frank has the savvy to handle foul weather, we are fair weather sailors. If there’s a big blow, we don’t go. If you are planning to meet us or disembark somewhere, we regret if we are late, or early, but will not risk our crew or our boat to meet a schedule. We are far from perfect (he’s amazing but definitely not perfect!) and will undoubtedly make errors, have things break, or try a menu that may need a little something. So we suggest guest crew improvise, adapt, and overcome.
Responsibility by all of Athenea’s crew is serious stuff. Life can be dangerous and is inherently risky. Blue water sailing is no exception. We encourage you to take the time to vet us and our boat.
Our next trip might not fit your acceptable risk circumstance and, if you find our situation unsuitable for you, that’s ok – maybe next time. If you decide to join us, bring your personal accountability and sunscreen and let’s go sailing!