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Rain pelted the windshield; the air was heavy and damp. It was a lousy day for cruising, but you wouldn’t know it by looking at the man beside me at the helm. Humming one of his legendary happy tunes, his shoeless, wool-socked feet were kicked up on each side of the wheel.

I couldn’t help but recall the last time Capt. Bill Pike and I had spent long hours sitting side by side. It was a similarly rainy day driving from Connecticut to Maine to inspect the Bertram 35. As we drove along the coast, Bill confessed that he was at a crossroads: He was weighing the decision to purchase a 1988 Cape Dory 28 -Flybridge. As Bill debated the pros and cons, our conversation weaved like an old Maine highway.

Dan Harding, Bill Pike, Simon Murray and John Turner on Cumberland Island.

The crew of the Betty Jane II survived wild horses, cramped quarters and each other on an unforgettable cruise to Cumberland Island.

“Bill, this might be the most expensive car ride you’ve ever taken,” I joked as I helped him convince himself that he would regret not getting back into boat ownership. (Editor’s note to Bill’s wife, BJ: I apologize. Again.) As you already know, he would go on to buy the boat, ship her to Florida and christen her the Betty Jane II.

Like you, I’ve been following Bill’s two-year rehabilitation of the Betty Jane II with intense interest. I’ve enjoyed our regular Monday morning calls. The goal of the calls is to organize our work for the week, but inevitably Bill debriefs me about his various adventures with the boat—and just as often, misadventures. His dedication to his little cruiser is something we can all learn a thing or two from.

As much as I enjoyed hearing about and learning from his projects, I’m looking forward to the day I get a spotty call from him from some remote anchorage or out island. Our most recent adventure—a four-day cruise from Jacksonville to Cumberland Island, Georgia, to test gear and electronics—was a step in that direction.

Our time cruising aboard the Betty Jane II was action-packed. While traveling north we were joined by Digital Director John Turner and Managing Editor Simon Murray. Together we tested and conducted video reviews of a PFD (see “Float On” on page 28), a new Garmin chartplotter, SiriusXM’s Marine Weather service (see “Sirius-ly Cool” on page 26) and other gear for future issues. We also tested each other. We’re a close team and we get along well, but boats have a funny way of shrinking as days go on and the humidity rises. I’d be lying if I said we didn’t test each other’s patience at some point.

It’s a funny thing but I believe it’s the challenges we encounter during a cruise that make them more memorable. You don’t often remember the time you slept in an air-conditioned master stateroom, but trust me, you—and your back—will certainly remember cramming into a 3-foot by 5-foot salon bench for a few nights, which is what I had to do in the modest cabin. It’s the challenges we faced that made the last part of our trip, a hike through Cumberland Island (see Simon’s story, “The Island that Time Forgot” on page 54) that much more special. Standing beside the rubble of a mansion from the Gilded Age as wild horses ran across a field was the moment I knew our short adventure was worth it.

Along the way we ate at some incredible restaurants that we’d travel hours to return to, and others we wouldn’t visit again if you paid us. We argued. Laughed. Argued. Caught up on each other’s lives in the kind of way you can only do on the water. We enjoyed the simple joy of watching dolphins play in our wake and brought the Betty Jane II and ourselves back to the slip no worse for wear.

We met loyal Power & Motoryacht readers at various stops and, hopefully, gained a few too. I hope you’ll all join me in keeping an eye out for a Cape Dory 28 with a flag-blue hull. You can’t miss Capt. Bill. He’ll be the one humming. Be sure to stop him, say hello, and if you’re lucky, he may even offer a tale or two.

Our short cruise on a benign stretch of water reminded me that you don’t need to go on a particularly long trip to have an adventure. All you really need is a good boat, a willing crew and a desire to break free from the ordinary.

See more from our adventure here ▶


This article originally appeared in the August 2018 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.