Our August/Sept house sit is a gorgeous house in the small village of Henley-On-Thames that is 45 min North of London. A boating community on the River Thames, close to Windsor Castle.
And the house sit comes with the great Westie, Bella’s new boyfriend to be. How fun is that, gorgeous house, super cute dog and all for free! that is why we love house sitting 🙂 And the owners seem super fun and nice so on top of all the above, you meet the most interesting people you wouldn’t have in a hotel.
1. Sailing. If you don’t know someone you can pay to sail, or do what we did and introduce yourself at any of the local yacht clubs. If you have skills they will put you to work! See our posts on how Darren got to sail in the biggest race of the year on the biggest boat in the race, 160′ Eleanora. Cowes and Yarmouth are the top 2 towns on the island for sailing and world renowned.
2. Thatched roof cottages everywhere. Straight out of Hansel and Grettle they are everywhere and gorgeous. so many I couldn’t pick a favorite!
3. Every town is so different and has a totally different vibe/feel. Checking them all out and seeing which one is your favorite. Yarmouth was my favorite and Cowes was Darren’s and Ventnor ran a close second for us both.
4. Needles battery. A natural rock formation off the South West Point. You can see it by land or by sea, by taking a boat ride out. Nice hiking, great views but Windy!
5. Car ferry ride to get to the island! If you’ve never loaded on to a giant freighter by driving you car into the bowels of the boat, its a fun experience. Many levels to choose from on where to sit and view the ocean and the shore as you head over to the island. While you are in Cowes, be sure to take the “chain ferry” to East Cowes. a Tiny version of the big ferry and it takes about 2 minutes. So funny and efficient. drive time is 20 minutes and you are there in 2 minutes!
6. (suppose to only be 5 but had to add another.) Enjoying sitting in the countryside of our backyard. Serenity and quiet of trees rustling and sheep baaaing, and even more, Darren outside baaaaing back at them!
Wow, that was truly amazing! I hope to get lots of pix from the professional photographer they had on board as I was busy grinding out the tacks and helping to set and retrieve sails etc, big grin! Truly a once in a lifetime experience. I met some wonderful people including Pierre Marie, a frenchman living in San Diego and a very talented sailor, from whom I was delighted to take direction from. Also unexpectedly the owners of Stars and Stripes 11 based in San Diego Bea and Lynn Hanna were on board crewing as well. I felt right at home ha ha. Everyone was very supportive and knowledgeable. We blew out a spinnaker on the backside of the island and we all jumped too and handled it and sent another balloon aloft and hardly missed a beat. No panic at all when the sound of a sail exploding overhead went off.
This trip really renewed the peace I feel with the sea. The water really is a deep part of both Darla and I. Speaking of Darla did you see the cute outfit she met me with on the dock! Smokin’
Incredibly fun time sailing and racing on the Eleonora for the Westward Cup 2015!
Wow what a Yacht. Huge challenge for me as I am much more accustomed to 50′ and less. Everything is much larger and almost surreal because of the dimensions. You go to grab for a block or tackle and it is almost unrecognizable. It literally takes a full crew just to manage the sail hoists. I learned so much including new types of sails called the fisherman and the Gollywobbler!
When I first came on board in the early morning hours I felt humbled and awed by this magnificent craft. I went around introducing myself to the crew members on board and to the skipper. They all asked if I had experience on Classic Boats before and I had to say “NO”. They were all very nice but I could see the look in their eyes that I had a lot to learn and boy did I. Can I say foremast topsail tack!!
Now I have sailed for a long time and as many of you know I used to live on my 36′ Lancer in San Diego Harbor, but all of this was new to me and integrating into a crew was a challenge all on it’s own. I was able to overcome the fear by focusing on the excitement of learning all this new stuff. I jumped in anywhere I could and pulled sheets with the best of them. My one regret was that I knew I didn’t have the youth in me anymore to have hooked up and flown to the top of the masts, what a view that would have been. Darla would probably be happy that I didn’t do that though, cheesy grin. I did however climb out onto the bowsprit and attend to the sails. That was a rush!
Sailing on a Yacht this large is a different experience with regard to communication as well. The skipper, 1st mate and bowmen have radios to communicate and very seldom do the crews in different parts of the boat see each other. When you are so focused on doing your job sometimes you don’t even have time to look up and see where you are.
Made new friends including a french chap named Pierre who, unbeknownst to me lives in San Diego with his pregnant wife and had sailed with my good friend Joe Saad many times! Very small world. He crewed permanently on the yacht for a year all over the world and came back to help out for this series of races.
What an honor to be here. I am so grateful to have been invited. Thank you to Mr. Zacks and Skipper/tactician Mike MacMillan! Also a shout out to my lovely wife who inspired me to put myself out there.
It is frowned upon for the crew to go around taking pix etc… so I snuck a few and will post them below with some youtube stuff just so you can get an idea of the scale onboard.
So in summary, incredible experience and I say to all of those of you out there who experience self doubt and don’t choose to put yourself out there to be in a position to test yourself and grow, doing the things you love to do, STOP rethink that and see the possibilities to become more of who you are. Listen to the people around you who encourage you to grow and challenge yourself. This lifetime is short and your experience in this life is of your own making! Go for it!
In reality I haven’t Truly driven in the UK, Darren has but not me, I’m too damn scared!
Forget the steering wheel on the right hand side and driving on the left hand side! that I can probably get figured out and get over.
What scares me to Death is the scariest, tiniest roads on the planet earth! Literally, *(like all of Europe) these are One lane streets, that in reality were really one horse cart or one horse paths, now covered in asphalt and meant to drive cars and Lorries (that’s truck in British!) and wait, drum roll, side by side meaning one in each direction!!!!
Two lane roads, one going each direction, where it was Really meant for one horse buggy not a car with side mirrors! Then they say, hey why not, lets make it two ways! Not a one way road with just one car but two directions AND drum roll again……..And, the locals park on the street as there are no garages or driveways! Now its a 3 lane road!!!!
Buses and double decker ones at that, with large delivery trucks, ALL go thru at 50-60 miles an hour. Lord help me, its white knuckles Daily to get in a car and go somewhere.
Ok now that I’ve done another one of my rants, I will add this: the English and the Europeans are the best damn drivers and make Americans look like babies! They drive doing all of the above and rarely are there wrecks. The best of them? –the crazy tour bus drivers, they drive those HUGE Rock Star buses thru these streets, turning in hair pin turns that a pony would have trouble carrying a rider, and never nick the side of a building or their bumper. Even though they make me faint and or throw up with fear as they come at us in our car, they Always make it with not even a hair breath of space between us, never hitting anyone or anything! just amazing to watch.
I don’t know if I will EVER learn to drive here, I can drive all over California at 80+mph with crazy ”Zonie” drivers, but here, its insane.