Riding Out the Storm - How to Pick the Best Safe Harbor for Your Boat. Plus the Continuing Story of One Captain's Happy Life at the Helm
Of all the annual rituals that boat owners face, probably one of the most important is figuring out what to do with your boat during a major storm. The June 1 official start to hurricane season also brings with it the insurance deadline to be north of certain harbors and latitudes.
If there is anything that the experience with Hurricane Sandy can teach us, though, it is that the traditional strike zone is no longer as predictable a certainty as it once was. Ultimately, no one on the East Coast can afford to go without a solid hurricane plan for their boat.
For example, at AYB, we do offer a Priority Storm Dockage program.
AYB also has the key features that people are looking for in a good hurricane storage location.
No matter whether you choose AYB or another facility for your hurricane and other storage needs, you should keep in mind these important questions when deciding where to keep your boat in a storm:
Protection from the elements - Is the storage spot located in a protected harbor? Does it have adequate storage space, either under cover or in exterior dockage?
Easy accessibility - Can you reach the location quickly when a storm is coming? Is it accessible by land, water or air following the storm?
Non-tidal location - Is the water level generally predictable? Does the facility experience limited to no storm surge from most weather events?
History of weathering previous storms - Although prior history is no guarantee, has the location weathered outsized storms well in the past?
Guaranteed spot - Does the facility offer a storm protection reservation program? Can you guarantee that you will have a space when the time comes?
If you are considering AYB as your storage choice, please call us toll-free at (800) 992-2489
or local at (757) 482-2141
or drop us a line at email@example.com
. We also offer a comprehensive range of other marine service
options beyond our hurricane program.
And as always, we also invite you to find out more about AYB on our website at www.atlanticyachtbasin.com
or like us on Facebook
or follow us on Twitter
for interesting updates, tips, and specials going on at the Yard.
Have a Great Summer Boating Season!
Your Friends At AYB
Meet Captain Roxy Darling of ANNIE CAIE
Captain Roxy Darling coiling the halliard on ANNIE CAIE - a typical day at the "office." All photos courtesy of Roxy Darling - Copyright 2013 unless otherwise noted.
AYB continues this popular feature -- an interview with the interesting people and their great boats that visit us here at AYB. Every year, AYB has the pleasure of hosting our dear friend Captain Roxy Darling and, now, her dog Rosy for the winter season and helping her work on the 39' custom wooden sailboat that she runs, ANNIE CAIE. Roxy has spent her entire adult life working on the water and she shares her great story with us here.
How long have you been doing this and how did you get started?
In 1970, I answered a newspaper ad in St Petersburg, Florida and the rest is history. In those days, classified ads were listed as male, female, or both. I found that the "boy jobs" sounded more interesting. Today there are a lot more female captains and crew out on yachts than there were then! The ad read "Wanted: Stewardesses and Deck Hands for 110' cruise ship, summers in New England and Canada, winters in Florida." My best friend and I were hired, and utlimately I became their first female deckhand within a year or so of starting off as a stewardess. I have now been in the business for 43 years, the last 8 managing and skippering the S/Y ANNIE CAIE. It has been a wonderful life.
What about ANNIE CAIE? How did you find her and where and when was she built? I have been incredibly fortunate to have this boat and the people that own her in my life. It has been a perfect match. They found me and then asked me to find her. I worked with my good friend Linda Warren, who was a broker for Alden Yacht Brokerage. ANNIE CAIE. a 39' Crocker cutter, was built by Mark Mahoney, who is not a boat builder by trade, but who nonetheless built one of the greatest boats I have ever known. She is a work of art and she sails like a dream. He built her from a 1936 design for personal and family use and she was launched in 1993. Her current (and only second) owners didn't even see her before we delivered her -- they just wrote the check and trusted that she was everything she has turned out to be. It has been that kind of great relationship with the owners and the boat ever since. One of the best moments of my life was when Mark and his wife came to see her last summer and he put his big boatbuilder's hand on my shoulder and said - "Kid, she looks GREAT!" An irreplaceable vessel like ANNIE CAIE is an enormous responsibility.
Mark Mahoney, original builder of ANNIE CAIE, visiting with his wife Quimby. Copyright 2012.
What have the last 8 years been like working aboard ANNIE CAIE and for her owners? Those two questions are really one. ANNIE CAIE's owners are quite unique in not only their love of wooden boats, but their desire that all of the vessels they own be maintained to the highest yacht standards. All their classic yachts, many of which are over 100 years old, are raced during the summer sailing season in Oyster Bay, New York. These boats require very skilled care and extraordinary attention to detail. I have worked on a lot of boats and with a lot of owners over the years and feel very fortunate to be able to look after a wooden boat at this point in my career. From the beginning, the owners worked with me as much as I worked with them. For example, when I asked them what kind of vessel they were interested in, their response was "why, a beautiful one of course, and a boat that we can sail with our grandchildren aboard." Little did I know at the time, that they would consider a boat built of wood. Most of the boats they had at that time were fiberglass. Their interest in a wooden boat seemed to stem from their understanding that I was a professional varnisher. They said to me to me at one point, "Wouldn't you rather take care of (actually they said HAVE) a wooden boat?" I felt compelled to point out, politely, that this boat wasn't for me ... but for them! They still insisted that I would be happier taking care of a wooden boat, so "just find one for us, and we'll be happy with her." They live in New York and they are quite happy for me to keep her in Virginia during the winter season for storage and maintenance. I had explained that I had just built a little cottage (my first house ever) on the edge of Currituck Sound in Waterlily, NC. and wanted to be able to spend time there. That began eight wonderful years of the ever-evolving use of ANNIE CAIE. She is now sailed mainly by their son and his three young children (the grandchildren) in New York and his partner's family and their four children in Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts. And so she fulfills her role as a family crusiing boat, which is the purpose for which she was originally designed. And last October, Compass Rose wandered into my life and joined me in the role of first mate aboard ANNIE CAIE. Due to a life spent on OPB's (Other People's Boats), I'd never been able to have a pet. Rosy is turning out to be a very salty little dog, loved by all the sailors and boatyard workers that meet her.
Where do you, Rosy and ANNIE CAIE spend your time? ANNIE CAIE is now sailed May through October. In spring and fall we participate in the Oyster Bay Classics Regatta, racing with a small fleet of classic yachts around an 8-mile course in Oyster Bay. We also do day sails with the family, often anchoring for lunch and a swim. In late July I move the boat to Greenport at the East End of Long Island, in preparation for her trip to Martha's Vineyard. For the whole month of August we sail out of Vineyard Haven and Tashmoo with a crew of adults and happy children ranging in age from four to thirteen . ANNIE CAIE becomes the children's playground -- they jump into the water from every part of her -- bowsprit, boomkin, rail. They build tents with ropes and beach towels, draw and color down below, and are often found stretched out on the booms reading! We bake, play, sail her little Nutshell pram, Nutkin, and explore the waters around the Island. In September, we return from the Vineyard to Oyster Bay, where we participate in the three and a half week Autumn Classics Regatta, and a few beautiful final fall sails. As the owner's sailing season sadly draws to a close, I put my crew together, provision the boat (not forgetting the dog treats), check the mechanical systems and then head to Virginia. With a fair weather window, we sail down Long Island Sound, through New York City, under the Verrazano Bridge, and down the coast looking eagerly for Cape Charles Light which guides us into Hampton Roads, down the Elizabeth River and into the Intracoastal Waterway.
How long have you been coming to AYB and why? I was first introduced to AYB by Buz Barclay who owned and ran Intrepid Yacht Management based out of his hometown of Portsmouth, Virginia. I've been coming here for about 25 years. So when we slip through the Great Bridge Lock and Bridge, run alongside the transient dock at Atlantic Yacht Basin, waving and calling out greetings to all the Yard workers (Rosy barks hello), around the bottom of "the Island" and into the little backwater that is the most secure, safest place on the East Coast to keep a wooden boat, I breathe a sigh of relief - HOME! There is no better place for a wooden boat than AYB (in my not-so-humble opinion ) to spend her winter than with their in-water storage (fresh) and under sound and enormous covered sheds. Wooden boats need to stay wet. Being kept out of the water for long term storage, such as a winter, dries out their hulls, causing planks to shrink and open. In springtime, boats kept out must be put into the water to "take up", bilge pumps running constantly, travel lift slings or railway cradles keeping the boat secure until the planks swell. And speaking of the "railway", this another very important and rather uncommon feature at AYB. The railway, capable of hauling boats of up to 110', is one of few and steadily disappearing means of hauling large, old wooden yachts safely. A marine railway supports the hull structure of a vessel perfectly by spreading the loads in a way that the straps of the more commonly used travel lifts cannot. Once a feature of every boatyard, there remain very few today. Watching the skilled men in the Rigging Crew haul a large and very old wooden yacht on the railway is an entertaining glimpse into the past. If it happens to be your yacht, it is also very reassuring knowing that your boat is in the hands of Russell and his crew. The other very important reason to keep any boat I care for at AYB is that it's a yard that welcomes direct contact between the yard workers and the yacht owner or crew. This kind of access is rare and it means that we can communicate more effectively, allowing me to have a clear understanding of the work they're doing and allowing the workers to do the best job they possibly can. I respect and value the knowledge of every single person that works in the Yard - shop crews, stockroom crew, office crew and dock masters. Oh, and let's just touch on the dock masters for a minute. AYB is the only yard I know of that that has round-the-clock dock masters, who not only help tie up vessels passing through, fueling up or coming in for the season; they also walk every dock in the yard, all night long, checking dock lines and waterlines. If there is a hurricane on the radar, they are in constant attendance, checking every boat, sometimes with the help of other yard workers who come in to lend a hand if needed.
ANNIE CAIE (left) passing ADAGIO in the Oyster Bay Spring Classics one year. Copyright 2013. .
How did you find your way to racing and skippering? When I first got started there was a winter racing circuit called the SORC or Southern Ocean Racing Circuit, held in the waters around South Florida and the Bahamas. One of the 60' racing boats needed a cook and a friend suggested that I should apply. Even though I barely knew how to make toast or boil water, I got the job. For the next four years I worked with Nigel Henderson, an incredible sailor and mentor. To this day, many of the things I do aboard boats with ropes and lines are still done the way he taught me. There was only one way to do things and that was Nigel's way, but it turned out to be the right way. When I first started, if you crewed on a yacht, you did EVERYTHING, except paint the bottom and topsides. You didn't walk around with a list, a clipboard and a cell phone. The captain worked, the mate worked, the cook worked, and we did our work with pride. We did it with pride because we represented the owners of the boat. Also, we knew and still know to this day that everything we do is literally a matter of life or death. Small details and decisions make a big difference when you are out on the water and you have to pay attention to them.
Over the years, I have also worked varnishing and tending yachts as well as delivering, managing and cruising aboard them. As a professional varnisher, I had regular customers and traveled all over to work on their boats. Bit by bit I learned more and more, and when ANNIE CAIE"s owner asked me to stay aboard to sail with him and his children, I suddenly found myself in the role of 'Skipper" or as the children sometimes call me "Captain Poppins!"
What is your favorite thing about this boating life? What is your least favorite thing? Well, first of all, I don't have a least favorite thing. I feel incredibly fortunate to have a job that I love. I have never once awakened in the morning and wished that I didn't have to go to work! What more could a sailor ask for? It has been a life as fascinating and variable as the people and the weather I have encountered and as glorious as the seas upon which I have sailed. There is nothing I would change.
When was this and what were you doing beforehand? It was the Summer of Love and the hippies were on the move. I was 18 years old and I was one of them! When I was 20, I had just gotten back home to Florida after hitchhiking to California and was looking for a job. Little did I know I would soon be answering my life's calling on the sea. I had been fascinated b boats and sailing since I was 11 or 12 and read a book called "Judy of the Islands." It wasn't until I was working on the MT. HOPE for a couple of years that I encountered the kind of sailboats on which I have spent my career. We had steamed into Ft. Lauderdale in the winter of 1973 and there were masts EVERYWHERE! I left the motor vessel and spent the next 2 to 3 years apprenticing to any yacht that would have me in exchange for a place to live and the chance to learn how to do anything that had to do with the care, maintenance, and sailing of boats. I learned the ropes, literally, on the water and I had phenomenal teachers. I learned firsthand how to do all the things that I do to this day -- work with pride on boats and be entirely hands on in all aspects of managing and caring for all manner of craft.
Every e-newsletter, we highlight one of the interesting and highly experienced people who make Atlantic Yacht Basin the unique place that it is. This time it's Jack Stumborg, President of Atlantic Yacht Basin, who has been with the company since 2003.
Jack on the golf course just after winning a club championship. Photo courtesy of Jack Stumborg. Copyright 2013
Where are you from and where did you get your start with boats?
I grew up in St. Louis, Missouri. We had a summer house on the Mississippi River so I literally grew up on the water -- fishing, waterskiing and messing around in boats from about the age of 3 or 4. My decision to attend the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis got me started, though, on my mid-Atlantic coastal life of the last few decades. That is also where I learned to sail.
Why did you come to AYB?
I became President of AYB in 2003 after a search process to succeed my father-in-law, Mr. Hull, in managing this family-owned and operated business. Of course, prior to working here, I had a birds-eye view of what happened with the business as my wife and I have a stake in the company too. It was started by Joan's grandfather, Mr. Atkinson, and has flourished ever since. There seems to be a tradition of sons-in-law having a hand in running the business!
You had a pretty exciting start at AYB -- what was going on?
I started in September 2003 about one week before Hurricane Isabel. My initial indoctrination came during one of the biggest hurricanes to hit Virginia. I spent the first week helping manage the massive influx of boats. We ended up having close to 250 boats on hand, which is the most we have ever had at once. It was all-hands-on-deck madness and controlled chaos -- moving boats, then moving them again and packing people in as tightly and safely as we could. I am pretty sure that we couldn't have even fit a canoe in when it was all said and done!
When did you and Joan meet? Did you get to know former AYB presidents Mr. Atkinson and Mr. Hull very well?
Tips from AYB
Classic aftermath of a summer accident. Photo courtesy of ntsb.com. Copyright 2013
Now that the high boating season is underway, here are some ways to avoid costly repairs and keep your boat on the water. Of course, if you need a mid-season haul out, AYB can help -- but we know you want to stay out there as safely and for as many hours as you can! Of course, these are only the basics, but it is amazing how many experienced boat owners forget these simple steps.
Check all of your systems regularly before you head out and when you come in - Recognizing you have trouble early is often the difference between a simple fix and a very costly repair. More importantly, your safety depends on it!
If you hit something, check it out right away - Getting in the water to see what is going on is usually the minimum. But if you hit the object hard enough or you are not in water clear enough to see what is going on, think about hauling out.
Consider a mid-season check up - Typically, there is less of a rush in July and August at most East Coast boatyards for regular servicing. You are likely to spend less later on if you addresssomething right away.
Remember that with more boats and people on the water, the chances of the unexpected happening are even greater -- Know where you are at all times and have a plan about where to take your boat if you need emergency repair. Having a relationship with the yard in advance also means you are likely to be get in and out quicker too.
Meet Our Crew
I graduated from the Naval Academy in 1979 and met Joan in the summer of 1982 in Virginia Beach. By the summer of 1984, we were married. I know my father-in-law, Mr. Hull, quite well, of course. I only met Mr. Atkinson a few times, but I have heard the stories from all our longtime employees about him and what the company was like when he was in charge.
How long were you in the Navy?
I was in the Navy for 7 1/2 years. I spent time on a 500' amphibious LST and then a cruiser. It added a whole other dimension to my experience on the water and gave me a real understanding of an entirely different kind of life on the water. Life onboard a ship and being deployed are both such familiar experiences for so many people in the Tidewater area. I have a lot to talk about with many of our customers -- both local and from out-of-town -- because we also have that experience in common.
What did you do when you got out?
I got out of the Navy, but stayed working directly with ships with a ship repair company. Except for a relatively short time working in general construction, all of my professional experience has centered around boats and the water. Over time this has evolved from life onboard to project management, contract management and team leadership.
What do you like about being in this business and at AYB?
First and foremost, the tight knit camaraderie of our team and long-term employees is what has always struck me. Compared to other operations, they are a smaller group and have worked together for ages. I have a tremendous amount of respect for their combined experience and expertise. It is great to be in a place with such varied and skilled trades and our foremen, in particular, are unique in terms of how experienced they are. Our employees are what make AYB great!
I also enjoy interacting directly with the owners and captains of the boats that we store and work on at AYB. Most of the owners are involved in boating because it is their passion. Even though they are spending money, they are away from the day-to-day grind and they are doing it because they love it. We all appreciate that reflected passion and excitement. The interactions we have with our customers are about things that they enjoy talking about and they are generally relaxed and in a good mood. It's not high tension and dog-eat-dog around here. We get things done in a professional and efficient way, but our attitudes and those of our customers and friends are laidback and friendly. And for someone who grew up loving boats, this place can be paradise!
What is your favorite time of year at AYB? Your least favorite?
My favorite time of year is late Spring when the Yard is hopping and people are excited and anxious to get their boats in the water. The snowbirds are also heading north - it's exciting business-wise and it is also a fun atmosphere.
The tough time for me is what we called "The Dark Ages" at Annapolis. From the middle of January to the middle of March, it is generally drearier, colder and rougher weather. Most of the boats on the Yard are stored and there is just a lot less going on. The Waterway is also deserted for the most part except for commercial tugs and barges and a few hearty locals and year-rounders passing through.
One thing I love is the view from my office onto the Waterway no matter what time of year it is. I may not have the penthouse perspective from a high rise, but there are not many better views in an office environment anywhere! Unless I have a big boat docked in front of my window, I can see everything and every day is different. Of course, we love seeing those larger vessels docked outside regularly too.
What is your ideal boat?
At 6'4", I prefer boats that have a more spacious feel. I spent a lot of time in the Navy ducking down from low hatches and even knocking my head from time to time. Older boats, like those from the 70s and from the Burger line are particular favorites for their ability to blend elegant lines, high function and comfort into one beautiful yacht. A lot of the newer boats accommodate taller boaters well, but the ones that were built in the 40s and 50s were all built to accommodate much smaller people in general. One yacht in particular that comes to us every year, CHANTICLEER, is a real favorite of mine.
What is your biggest passion in life?
Well, besides my family, I have to say that golf is my true love. Joan and I do have a 20' Grady White that we jump into on a regular basis. We live just a block from the water and can launch any time. But if I am honest, in good boating weather, I would probably rather be golfing. It's my escape and way to let off steam.
Our sons are grown now -- Douglas went to Hampden-Sydney, is 27 and works in IT at the Federal Reserve in Richmond. Brian, 25, went to Radford, lives in Virginia Beach and is working in management at Hertz. So we have a lot more time to do the things we are interested in and for me that definitely includes some hours on the golf course. I feel very lucky to have a working life that allows me to spend so much time around boats and downtime that lets me hit the links regularly. It is a good life.
Calendar of Events
Boating & Nautical Events
The 37th Annual Norfolk Harborfest®
Thursday, June 6-Sunday, Jun 9, 2013
Town Point Park along the Downtown Norfolk Waterfront
The Festival kicks off with the return of the AT&T HarborFEAST Seafood Sampler on Thursday, June 6th from 6pm-9pm and continues through the weekend with 3 full days of FREE, fresh, family-friendly FUN! From the HarborFEAST to the Parade of Sail to Fireworks and more, Harborfest is an unforgettable experience. Click here
for more details or to purchase tickets for paid events associated with the weekend.
June 8 and 9, 2013 starting at 8:00 a.m.
Chesapeake (multiple locations)
The Annual KayaXpedition, a kayaking, canoeing, and stand-up paddle-boarding festival returns to Chesapeake, VA. There's something for everyone this year from a beginner paddler to an experienced racer. If you're new to paddle sports, come out to this "Demo Day" to test drive a variety of boats, sign up for a "Quick Start" class, and join us on a guided paddle. Click here
for more info.
June 21-23, 2013
Town Point Park - Downtown Norfolk Virginia
Downtown Norfolk is transformed into the `New Orleans Bayou
' for the hottest
, and spiciest
Weekend on the Elizabeth River
. Past `featured
include; Wayne Toups with The Iguanas
... Delbert McClinton
... and Better Than Ezra
with Buckwheat Zydeco
. In addition to the soulful
... funky Zydeco Music
... You'll be able to feast upon lots of Cajun delicacies
, such as Steamed Crawfish
... and some of the hottest Chili Peppers
in town. These Three Days
are guaranteed to be Hot!
Bayou Boogaloo Celebration Hours
: Friday, 5-10 P.M. - Saturday, NOON-10 P.M. - Sunday, NOON-6 P.M
A Rebel Ensign - Confederate Flags at Sea
The Mariners' Museum, Newport News, VA
Beginning in 1861, the Confederate States of America flew their newly adopted flag at sea in an effort to gain recognition as a sovereign nation. What was the Confederate ensign and what other flags did the Confederate States Navy fly? Why was the flag so important to Confederate aspirations? The Mariners’ Museum’s newest exhibit will address these questions and more in the new exhibition, A Rebel Ensign
Other Local Events
4th of July Festivities
July 4, 2013
Virginia Beach Oceanfront
From live music to the big fireworks display and more, summer wouldn't be complete without some fun at the beach for the 4th! Click here
for more information.
Armed Services YMCA Mud Run
August 10, 2013
JEB Little Creek & Ft. Story, Virginia Beach
Do you have the endurance to conquer the environment the Sea Bees, SEALS & Beach Masters use to train for battle? Join us for 5 miles of grueling sand, obstacles, & mud in the most challenging run of the year - the ASY Mud Run on the beach at JEB Little Creek! For more information and to register, click here
. With a new course route, added obstacles & expanded post party we know you'll be grunting like gators and fighting to the finish line!