Down the Inland Waterway and back in 187 days

Lyle Zell, left, Corinius's captain, and Harry Ricciardi, a hand who signed on for part of the trip north, which ended Tuesday in Vineyard Haven.

From Martha’s Vineyard to Nassau, Bahamas through Long Island Sound, the East River, along the Jersey Coast, Delaware Bay, Chesapeake Bay and the Intercoastal Waterway and back up to the Vineyard — that was the track Lyle Zell and Seneca Craig took from December last year to Tuesday evening.

They left Vineyard Haven on December 17, 2010 in Corinius, a tiny, 28-foot gaff-rigged cutter built in 1926, with an immensly long bowspit, an American craft modeled after a vintage British design that would be at home in the English Channel.

At around midnight Tuesday, Lyle and Seneca finally returned home to Vineyard Haven.

The outbound voyage south took the pair a little more than a month because of the cold (and bad) weather. Seneca said they had to deal with sailing through ice at times.

Once they reached their destination, they stayed in sunny Nassau for about two months, partially because of engine problems and partially due to their flexible schedule.

“We brought some clothes and just what you need to live,” Lyle said.

Seneca added, “It’s a small space to be stuck in for six months, but it was a lot of fun.”

While in Nassau, the boat’s engine stopped working, and the shipmates had to rely on local mechanics to figure out the problem.

The engine on their borrowed wooden cutter caused many delays and unforeseen expenses, but they agreed they would go on an adventure like this again regardless.

While away, Lyle and Seneca learned to appreciate the simple things Corinius could teach, like standing up to put their pants on.

“It’s the little things,” Seneca said. “With just the Internet and the stereo, there’s so much you can do, although being unplugged for so long was pretty nice as well.”

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