We’re Alex and Chris
We’re from Boston
Summer sailing around New England and Atlantic Canada whet our appetite for extended cruising. Now that the kids are grown and out on their own, we’ve decided to take a break from our careers and go sailing for a few years. we’re calling it our “Sea-batical.”
I was born in Michigan and grew up in Rhode Island. Past professional work included a stint in community & economic development and another in restaurant finance. The simplicity of our life afloat is a welcome change and an exciting challenge.
I was born and raised in Boston and have worked in boats for the entirety of my career, first as a launch driver, then in yacht charter, then in boat maintenance and repair. My former business in Boston, Birch Marine Inc., is still going strong under new ownership. Sailing brings us to new places at our own pace. I’m grateful for the opportunity to explore.
I was born in RI and grew up in Boston. Past professional roles included battling with the mailman and eating the mail. It appears I have won that war. While sailing, I enjoy scanning for seals, paddle board rides, swimming, pistachio nuts (without shell) and sleeping.
March 17, 2011 – June 18, 2023
Rest in peace
Aboard for year one of our cruise and now gone
Read a Eulogy for Bill published in Points East Magazine
F A Q
Frequently Asked Questions
- Q: How’s retirement going?
- A: We’re not retired. Instead, we’re taking a “Sea-batical” for a few years. We’ll eventually want and need to return to the working world. (Let us know if you have any job ideas.) In the meantime, we continue working on various writing project with hopes of bolstering our cruising budget a bit.
- Q: How long do you plan to sail around for?
- A: No Idea. We’re trying to manage our own expectations by not setting a strict schedule or itinerary.
- Q: Are you going to sail around the world?
- A: Probably not. We have equipped the boat to cross oceans and we do hope to cross a few, but we’re not determined to complete a circumnavigation.
- Q: How does the dog do on the boat?
- A: Bill Loves the boat. We’ve been sailing Sundance in New England and Canada for the past nine summers and Bill has been aboard for every hour of it. It’s hard to imagine sailing without him. That’s not to say it’s easy having him aboard. He sleeps in bed with us, one night in Alex’s bunk and the next in mine. These bunks are small and he is often wet and/or sandy, so thats not great. We have not trained Bill to go to the bathroom on deck. Instead, we take him ashore twice a day for a walk. For this reason, we will be sailing coastal routes and not crossing any oceans as long as he is with us. He’s old and his health is frail. Frankly, we didn’t expect he would be around to start this big trip with us, but he is and for that we are thankful.
Read about sailing with Bill in SAIL Magazine: Sailing by Old Dog Rules
- Q: How do you keep in touch with people?
- A: Postcards. Just kidding! We can do better than that. When there is cell service, we use it. When there is no cell service, we stay connected by satellite communication, both Iridium Go! and Starlink. Satellite technology is particularly important to us for collecting weather forecasts.
- Q: What is Eagle Seven Sailing?
- A: We made up the name. It has no meaning. We just like it. Whenever we arrive some place, we can say “The Eagle has landed!” A gift that keeps on giving!
Our boat’s name is Sundance, and standard naming protocol for a project like ours would include the boat name. But the name Sundance has pretty much been used up in every conceivable format. It was already a popular name, and then: Robert Redford. (Sundance was the boat’s name when we purchased her and we believe in not changing this sort of thing.)
Some names like http://www.chris&alex_sailing.com and http://www.long_sailing_trip.com just sounded boring. Other names like http://www.yearning_for_horizons.com and http://www.joy_searcher.com sounded a bit too earnest for us. http://www.Bill_the_Dog_Sailing.com just sounded too much like something Barbara Bush would have come up with.
Eagle Seven Sailing is easy to say, easy to hear and easy to spell. It also lends itself nicely to offshoots. Careful observers will already be able to find Eagle Seven Publishing and Eagle Seven Films on this website. We have other ideas too. You know how everyone is into Everything Bagel Sprinkles these days? Well, we’re working on Eagle Seven Sprinkles (taste like peanut butter and jelly.)
Pained faces and heavy hearts might still complain, “But it just doesn’t MEAN anything!” We see that fact as an opportunity and not a problem. We intend to add meaning as we go. Here’s a first stab at it from my Boston Harbor Currents Column in Points East Magazine:
Eagle Seven Points East Magazine - Boston Harbor Currents Midwinter 2022
With all that’s going on in the world today, sometimes it’s nice to clear your head with a simple boat project. The boat-yoga that accompanies most onboard tasks can soothe the actual core of your very being. Especially in the shoulder seasons for boating, like January.
I recently discovered a new boat-yoga pose that I call “Eagle Seven.” For maximum benefit, it’s best to dress in bulky, wet, and frozen clothing.
To adopt the pose, descend head-first into a cockpit locker, upside down and backwards. Snake your way between the water heater and the generator until your elbows are past centerline. Outstretched arms have hitched your jacket up, exposing flesh at your left flank that chafes on a sharp bit of fiberglass on the water heater mount. A belt loop on your right side is snagged on a hose clamp on the genset.
Unlike studio-yoga where you bend, stretch, and do nothing, in boat-yoga we always need an associated task. For Eagle Seven, I like to choose a serene mixture of fiberglass grinding, AC wiring, and something in need of 5200.
We start with the angle grinder. The extension cord is a little short, permitting only marginal positioning. The tool is held precariously close to the nose. No, it’s actually touching the nose. The best you can manage for a grip on the grinder in this pose is three-fingered, weak, and not OSHA approved. Fiberglass dust quickly fills your eyes and lungs. With a little luck, the tool stays in your hand despite its considerable torque and jumpy tendencies.
You’re wearing blue nitrile gloves because that’s how you roll. Three of the five glove fingers are torn on the right hand, and five of five are torn on the southpaw mitt, leaving you with something more closely resembling a bracelet than a glove on that hand. Good thing you’re right-handed. A Danforth anchor is jabbing your knee and you vow that next time, before striking this pose, you will remove all the contents of the cockpit locker instead of just most of it.
With a painful twist, and some blind groping for a new tool set, you transition to the AC wiring project. At first, you’re pleased that you remembered to disconnect shore power before descending into position. Soon after, you’re discouraged to find out (the hard way) that you forgot to also turn off the inverter. That was a bit more electric heat than you wanted! Careful what you wish for!
The generator is what makes this pose challenging. Life would be so boring without challenges. There wasn’t really room for a generator in there behind the engine and in front of the water heater, but the crafty boat builder put one there anyway. It’s too bad every boat doesn’t have one of these delightful contraptions. In summer, they add a splashy hum to an otherwise quiet anchorage and their exhaust fumes scent the air like incense. In winter, they turn ordinary boat work into soul cleansing boat-yoga.
Suddenly you’re pretty sure there is a stream of diesel running down your back, vaguely reminiscent of aromatic oil applied by a Swedish masseuse. Yup, it just reached your neck, then chin, then lower lip. Definitely diesel. This means that when you complete Eagle Seven, you will get to repair the collateral damage to the fuel line on the generator. (I haven’t come up with a name for that pose yet.)
A wave of panic flows through your being when you worry that the helper holding your ankles won’t be able to pull you back out. Your apprehension deepens when your helper decides to abandon the ankle-holding business altogether and instead wanders off to warm up by the galley stove. You are jolted out of that funk when a clump of snow falls off the end of the boom, clips your heel, and fills your pant leg.
Right about now, it’s time for a breathing exercise and a moment of gratitude. If the naval architects who designed this boat had provided even the slightest access to her onboard systems, free boat-yoga would be unattainable and you’d be relegated to pricy studio-yoga. Verbally giving thanks is called for. I prefer to exalt with a four-letter word. Sometimes repeatedly chanting that word loudly helps get me fully grounded in gratitude.
Back to work. It’s time to play with 5200. You can choose the white, or the black or the mahogany. It doesn’t really matter for this exercise. Also, since you’re down there, you might as well change out the holding tank vent filter. It needs doing.
If the Eagle Seven pose is easy for you, you can step it up a notch by trying it on a boat that’s off the dock and under sail in February. With the generator running.