Summer is gone, Christmas is almost here and 2012 is coming to an end. Can you believe it’s been nearly 6 months since Sundowner has left the dock? After we returned from our big adventure to Orange Beach Alabama in June, Sundowner was prepped for Hurricanes and turned back into a project boat. While I do miss leaving the shore and sailing her to far away lands I know it is all a worth while sacrifice.

The rigging project is going to be lengthy, possibly pushing Sundowner’s sailability back to next spring or summer. Here are some of my favorite photos that capture our outings on Sundowner, the reason for all this work.

May 2010: Our very first trip on Sundowner bringing her to her new slip in Mandeville after rescuing her from 6 years of neglect.
First trip on Sundowner
Boat Ownership Day 2. On our first sail we allowed the end of halyard to go all the way up the mast.

Summer 2010: Our first recreational sail on Sundowner.
First recreational sail on Sundowner

May 2011: Almost 1 year since bought Sundowner we attempted to move her from Mandeville to a New Orleans boat yard to start the refit. I hadn’t learned yet the power of waves and wind and was head strong about going into a breaking chop with 20 knot winds. We were Defeated and had to turn around.

Finally we found a good weather window to move Sundowner to New Orleans. This is the first picture with nothing but open water ahead. I took this picture imagining one day it would be the Pacific Ocean at the start of our crossing.

Sept 2011: After nearly a 5 month refit in the grueling summer we finally started our new engine and took off to bring Sundowner to her new slip in New Orleans.

Tate cranks the Beta for the first time. A very scary moment indeed. “The face of success”

Happiest moment ever so far.

First Dolphins we saw playing in the bow.

First sunset out on the water.

First night at anchor listening to the LSU game.

Sundowner peacefully in her new slip.

Oct 2011: We sailed from New Orleans to Mandeville 25 miles across Lake Pontchartrain by ourselves for the first time. This is the same area we were defeated. The water was so much calmer.

Sundowner’s hailing port was officially changed from Norfolk to New Orleans. She is now our baby.

We enacted the windvane for the first time and named it Firey, after the previous owners and multiple time circumnavigators Roger and Molly Firey.

We were finally able to enjoy sailing on Sundowner without steering.

Nov 2011: First time in heavy fog. A terrifying experience for the knowledgeable Tate and a novelty for the rest.

Dec 2011: Last sail before 2012 and as unmarried.

The winds were light that day. Sundowner had her sail up waiting to “Sail Again”. This became our banner symbolizing our preparations to sail her again, across oceans.

Feb 2012: First sunrise aboard Sundowner as a married couple. We were heading out to spend our Honeymoon on an adventure east.

My husband, my captain, my love.

We planned to go to Cat Island 55 miles away from the slip, but stormy skies awaited us so we traveled 25 miles to the Rigolets, anchored, then headed back early.

May 2012: After many months of Electrical and Plumbing refit we finally got out to enjoy my Birthday for a warm day on the lake.

I am now 29 and have never been happier in my life.

Our friends out sailing sent us the first full sail picture of Sundowner we’ve ever seen.

Sailing for fun into the evening

Swimming in the lake on Memorial Day

Jun 2012: Our biggest trip yet. 160 miles From New Orleans to Orange Beach Alabama. We left in the middle of a storm.

We achored 2 nights the finally headed further east than ever before into the ICW and saw our first giant barge.

We were so excited, out on our first big adventure. We laughed and play games sailing at 6-7 knots for 12 hours the first day.

Finally we made it 80 miles to Dauphine Island Alabama and anchored for the first time in “open water”. We weren’t in Kansas anymore.

At sunset we were so exhausted, dirty, wet and happy to have made it that far. This is one of my favorite all time photos. I couldn’t even hold the camera right.

That night was scariest ever with an unexpected storm from the north gusting 50 knots for 3 hours. It nearly chaffed our anchor rode and sent us slamming into the island. After a long night with little sleep we were met with the what locals said were the worst conditions in 15 years across Mobile Bay Alabama. Of course our first time crossing.

I managed to capture it on video. The waves are 3-4 feet and we weren’t tied in or wearing life jackets. We still have alot to learn.

But finally we made it to the beach. We had survived and we had grow closer. I tasted adventure and success and wanted more. I thought alot about the day we see land for the first time after crossing the Pacific. I wanted to go sailing then, far and away.

Warm water and finally I could trade headlamps and face masks for bikinis.

But we couldn’t stay long. Soon it was time to return home. The first night at the peaceful Ingrams Bayou Alabama.

The weather was perfect.

Again i’m so glad I captured it on video.

The birds liked us. I imagined the day we see more than just seagulls.

Not risking another dangerous night anchored off the Mississippi Sound islands we made it Biloxi in the first day. The sunrise was beautiful.

We made home. Sun and wind burnt. In love and changed forever.

These are my favorite memories aboard Sundowner so far. Even though we are knee deep in projects and it will have probably been 10 months when we sail Sundowner again, she will sail again. These moments make it so worth it. A true labor of love.