A life­long love of the sea

Paula and John Dennis are head­ing out on a year-long sail around North Amer­ica

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - PROVINCE - BY MAU­REEN COUL­TER mau­reen.coul­ter@the­guardian.pe.ca Twit­ter.com/Mau­reenEl­izaC

When the land dis­ap­pears be­hind John Dennis of Stratford, he is truly happy.

John and his wife Paula, along with their dog, Spot, will once again get to ex­pe­ri­ence that feel­ing as they get set to leave for a one-year ex­cur­sion cir­cum­nav­i­gat­ing eastern North Amer­ica in their power cruiser.

“Noth­ing is bet­ter than sail­ing or be­ing on the wa­ter,” said John.

This is not their first voy­age. The cou­ple has sailed in many dif­fer­ent parts of the world, in­clud­ing the Bri­tish Isles, the Mediter­ranean and nu­mer­ous trips down to the Caribbean.

“Sail­ing on your own lit­tle boat, go­ing to many dif­fer­ent coun­tries on your own lit­tle home is the great­est way to travel,” said John.

Their first trip was in Oc­to­ber 1981, when they sailed to New­port, R.I., down to Ber­muda and the Caribbean. That voy­age de­vel­oped into a life­long love of trav­el­ling and be­ing at sea.

“Our poor par­ents, they fig­ured we would get it out of our sys­tem do­ing that, come home and have ba­bies and stuff... All we wanted to do is just travel,” said John.

This sail, through the so­called Great Loop, will take the Den­nises through the St. Lawrence, Chicago, Alabama, Florida and on to the Ba­hamas.

The trip is be­tween 8,00012,000 kilo­me­tres. John fig­ures it will cost the cou­ple $1,000 a month in gas alone.

They will head down to Florida around De­cem­ber — af­ter hur­ri­cane sea­son — and will stay there and the Ba­hamas dur­ing the win­ter months. In April, they will start their trek back home along the east coast of the United States.

This trip will be a lit­tle more re­lax­ing for John and Paula, as they are tak­ing a 34-foot power cruiser ver­sus the 42foot sail boat they took for all their pre­vi­ous trips.

“This is just go­ing to be a lit­tle more leisurely,” said Paula. “It’s go­ing to be all coastal cruis­ing.”

The only con­cern that John has is the en­gine in the cruiser, which is 34 years old.

“With a sail­boat, you have sails. But if that en­gine quits, I’ve got to fix it or some­body has to fix it, or we have to put a new one in,” he said. “The more you know about an en­gine, the less you trust it.”

When John and Paula make their way back into the Char­lot­te­town Yacht Club, they say it’s the most beau­ti­ful har­bour of any place they have been.

“There are some beau­ti­ful spots but there is some­thing about this nat­u­ral har­bour that is just in­cred­i­ble,” said Paula. “Even go­ing away for a year is just go­ing to make us ap­pre­ci­ate this so much more when we get back.”

MAU­REEN COUL­TER/THE GUARDIAN

Paula and John Dennis of Stratford are get­ting ready to take their power cruiser on a one-year sail down the east coast of North Amer­ica.

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