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!
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!
I am going out to practice tomorrow morning early! I am so excited I can’t even tell you. After I do incredibly well in the 3 day series they may invite me back to compete with them in THE big race around the Isle of Wight! We are so lucky to be in the right place! Darla prompted me to talk to the Yacht Club and thanx to her motivation I received a call this evening from the skipper asking if I would like to join them tomorrow as crew! Thank you dear!
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.
No surprise, you’ve heard all the stereo type about English food: its bland, its fried, its well, Its English!
The UK really is trying to shake that stereo type and there are great chefs and gourmet restaurants and a food awakening in jolly old England, And in some parts, they are really getting it figured out.
We had some of the best Thai food I’ve ever had in my life in London. Oh wait, but that’s not English food, that’s because the Thai chefs were cooking! hmmm that’s true. The Indian food in the UK is Awesome and wow hot! nothing bland there. Oh but that is because the Indians are cooking not the British. And yet, the Brits LOVE their Indian food the way Californians love their Mexican food.
Ok, so for the most part, the stereo type English food is well, just “ok” and very bland with no Wow factor. So my question is? Brits love Indian food for all its spices and heat, then why don’t they cook like that in their food?
We did find some REALLY good new food coming out of areas around Windsor in the country, North of London -there are some great restaurants. In fact, this is becoming the foodie area and people come from London to eat at the new restaurants and 5* chefs are opening up and creating super creative dishes.
Manchester has a small chain of private owned restaurants called The Botanists that the food was Wonderful.
But overall, I don’t quite get why England does continue having just “ok” food still. And of course don’t get me started on any menus having ORGANIC food on the menu, it just doesn’t happen ever!
My quest continues to find consistent good food and we’ll let you know as we post areas we are traveling, where we find that good tasty food. The good news is, the best quaint pubs that are old old always serve a great Pint so the meal isn’t totally lost with gorgeous atmosphere and a steady pint to quench your hunger!