Skip to main content

It’s not just a ‘Pipe Dream’ anymore

New England couple leave the chill behind and head for the Bahamas on a much-anticipated voyage

New England couple leave the chill behind and head for the Bahamas on a much-anticipated voyage

Bob and Diane Hindle decided it was time to make their dream voyage to the Bahamas in a 30-foot Nonsuch, aptly named “Pipe Dream.”

The Haddam Neck, Conn., couple, who typically sail around Long Island Sound, had been thinking about their first offshore trip for years. They had even taken a course through Offshore Sailing School in Tortola a few years ago. They both retired last year — she was a systems analyst for Middlesex Hospital in Middletown, Conn., and he was manager of the state of Connecticut’s judicial branch in New Haven — and decided it was time to take the plunge.

“One day, we said ‘Why don’t we just do it?’ ” says Diane Hindle, 57, during an interview aboard Pipe Dream a few days before they set sail.

The couple previously co-owned a 30-foot 1937 Winthrop Warner cutter but the old wooden boat wasn’t ideal for the voyage. So they sold their half of the boat to the other co-owner, a relative, and bought the 1984 Nonsuch.

The Nonsuch, a Canadian boat designed by George Hinterhoeller and distinguished by its wishbone boom, is a favorite of cruisers looking for comfort and the ability to sail short-handed. It has a plumb bow, wide beam and a roomy interior for a boat of its size.

“It’s a wonderful boat,” Bob Hindle says of Pipe Dream. “It’s easy to sail.” “We saw it and said, that’s our boat,” says Diane Hindle.

They say it is an ideal boat for inexperienced offshore sailors like them. In addition to boating around Long Island Sound, the Hindles used to sail Blue Jays, predominantly on Lake George in upstate New York, and they once chartered a sailboat in the British Virgin Islands. They also took a trip in a 36-foot Chris Craft to Lake Champlain. But this is their first extended offshore voyage.

“This is really pushing the limits for us,” says Diane Hindle, who also spent her youth cruising on the family’s powerboat.

While the boat was in relatively good condition, they made some upgrades including installing a chartplotter, an electric windlass, radar and an auxiliary electric system. So that they wouldn’t duplicate any work, they wisely wrote a letter to the previous owner, inquiring about what maintenance work had already been done.

While the Hindles had expected to prep and provision the boat, they say they were surprised, and somewhat overwhelmed, by the other chores that had to be done before they left in November. The bills had to be paid, the credit card companies notified, the house had to be closed down for the winter, and they had to obtain a permit for their 2-year-old Portuguese water dog, Pearl, to enter the Bahamas.

They also prepared by reading books on everything from cruising to cooking conch.

The Hindles plan to spend two months voyaging to the Bahamas, with several stops in ports along the way. “We’re going to take our time. We’re not going anywhere if the weather report calls for bad weather,” says Bob Hindle, 58.

“It’s more than going to the Bahamas,” he adds. “It’s stopping at all the ports along the way.”

They hope to take the Intracoastal Waterway, but they are prepared to go outside the ditch if the shoaling is extensive. (Pipe Dream draws five feet.)

They will spend two months in the islands, and an additional two months voyaging home. “It will be interesting to see how small this boat gets,” says Bob Hindle.