Monthly Archives: March 2015

Clarence Town, Long Island, Bahamas (March 24-26, 2015)

Heading to Clarence Town, Long Island
Heading to Clarence Town, Long Island


[Getting wi-fi has been a struggle]. We get into the Flying Fish Marina at 8 am and fuel up. Customs will be here in an hour and we are instructed to wait on the boat. An hour passes. The marina person comes down and says customs will arrive at 1 pm. Matt goes to sleep in the V-berth while the boys and I do school. At 11:30 am, the marina tells us that customs won’t be here until tomorrow and that we can do whatever we want (I love these types of flexible rules). We rent a car and head to Dean’s Blue Hole. It is the

Dean's Blue Hole

Dean’s Blue Hole

deepest blue hole in the world. Set in stunning crystal clear water of just a few feet, it suddenly plunges to 663 feet. I tell Matt that if this is the only cool thing we see in the entire Bahamas, it will have been worth the trip.

Continue reading

Providenciales, Turks & Caicos to Mayaguana and the Crooked-Acklins Islands, Bahamas (March 21-23, 2015)

So cool to see Cuba below us. Maybe next trip ...

So cool to see Cuba below us. Maybe next trip …

After setting some blog entries to posts over the next few days, I walk back to the boat. We leave tomorrow for the Bahamas. It’s 9:30 pm and I’m hoping we will get good sleep tonight. I arrive at the boat and can’t quite make sense of what I’m seeing. Our boat is in its slip in the usual spot but it looks as if a boat is parked behind it. Imagine your car in a parking lot with another car parked perpendicular behind it so there’s no way you can get out. I can’t figure out what’s going on and wonder if some idiot has anchored there. It turns out it’s a boat that went out for a day sail and, coming back, couldn’t get into their slip and got pushed against the pilings by the current, nearly ramming the stern of our boat. Continue reading

Getting Ready… Again (March 18-20, 2015)

Matt, surveying the water

Matt, surveying the water

For the past few days, Matt has been making noises about getting going again. He says that if we don’t head out soon, we’re going to be rushing again. I’m just not ready yet, I think. “I still don’t really feel rested,” I say. He says he doesn’t either. Rather than deciding on a day to leave, we decide to get ready and then just see. We rent a car for the day and do the usual (propane, laundry, provisions, errands). Although ridiculously expensive, we find a great store that has high-quality food. It ends up being a better place to provision than

The cost of bread ($8 per loaf) and butter ($14)

The cost of bread ($8 per loaf) and butter ($14)

Puerto Rico. When getting ready to go, our dynamic is that we both get on edge and, just when we need to be pulling together as a team, we turn on each other. I make a vow to go through the day gracefully and be kind to all who cross my path (particularly family members). Despite my attempts, I fall short. It’s like what Matt related one day in mid-February. He said, “I woke up calm and peaceful this morning. My goal was ‘unconditional love’ all day.” “How did you do?” I ask. “I lasted 7 minutes,” he replies. We both laugh. Once we are aware of the hidden anxiety about setting off again, we settle down and relax. For days it was Not ready, not ready, not ready. Now, all of a sudden, I’m ready. Continue reading

Our Time on Providenciales, TCI (March 9-17, 2015)

IMG_9198Our days slowly settle into some semblance of a routine: exercise, chores, school, boat tasks, doing some kind of off-the-boat activity. With this extra time, we are also trying to meditate, something that is challenging given our confined quarters. I have only a beginner’s level of concentration. Normally, I’d lock myself in a distant room or the basement of a house to ensure quiet. No such options here. The diesel engine is running because we’re powering the fridge. Malachi is jumping on the deck three feet above my head. Ten more minutes, I think. Hang in there for ten more minutes.. Someone yells down something about a sea

Alexandra Resort, Mango Reef Cafe

Alexandra Resort, Mango Reef Cafe

turtle. “Shh – Mom’s MED-I-TA-TING!” Joshua yells from his perch, a mere four feet away from where I’m sitting. I hear Malachi come below and try to block out his noise. All of a sudden I feel small hands on my arms and someone is shaking me. I open my eyes. Malachi’s face is three inches from my own. “Mom,” he says, looking intently into my eyes. “I wanted to make sure you weren’t sleeping.” Continue reading

The Revised Plan (March 6-8, 2015)

IMG_5174It takes us a while to recover – both from the passage and from whatever illness has knocked us down. On Friday (3/6) we start feeling a little better. After showering, we take the boys up to the resort to use the pool. Matt brings our charts and we spread them out to talk about an alternate plan. When they see the charts, a number of current and former sailors stop by to tell their stories. They think it’s great that we are doing this trip with the kids now rather than waiting. One of them assures us that the Bahamas sailing will be easier than what we’ve been doing (nice to hear but I try not to let them set my expectations). After looking at the charts, Matt calculates we can make it to FL in about 12 day sails (fewer if we do overnights). We will split up the day IMG_5372sails with 1-2 days off in between, depending on what the locations are like and what there is to see. Once we get to FL, we’d prefer not to spend another three weeks going north in the ICW. I tell Matt that maybe the boys and I can fly to NH to see my sister, get our van and then drive down to meet him in Annapolis. Matt will probably look for a few people who want offshore experience and get the boat up to MD in 5-7 days (so if you’re a wanna-be sailor with a proven strong stomach and a flexible schedule, feel free to get in touch). We’re still not sure when we’ll get to FL but we’re estimating early May. Continue reading

Providenciales, TCI (March 4, 2015)

IMG_5143After we arrive at Blue Haven Resort & Marina, Matt raises the quarantine flag. The dockhands tell us they will get us when the customs and immigration officials arrive. I would like to fling myself on the dock and kiss the ground but we are not allowed off the boat until we are formally checked in by government officials. A few hours later a dockhand comes out in a golf cart to drive us to the office. The whole check-in process is very professional and feels like the U.S. There is no question that this is an ‘abide by the rules’ country and that there will be no bribery. What a relief. We buy the Turks & Caicos Islands (TCI) flag when we check into the marina. Then we shower to ‘wash off the sail’ (as Matt puts it) and decide to eat off the boat to celebrate. Malachi still feels terrible; he has a headache and won’t eat anything. Halfway through dinner, he leaves the table to lay on a nearby deck lounge. I take him back to the boat early and put him to bed while Matt and Joshua finish dinner. Once Joshua is in bed, I tell Matt I can’t wait to get a good night’s sleep. Continue reading

Passage #3: Puerto Plata, DR to Turks & Caicos Islands (March 3, 2015)

Settee in the cabin turns into a berth with the lee cloth up

Settee in the cabin turns into a berth with the lee cloth up

Our previous overnights have ranged from 120-140 miles. This third passage, going from the northeast coast of the Dominican Republic to the Turks & Caicos Islands (TCI), will be 170 miles (we are headed to Providenciales). We leave in the morning and the winds are coming from every direction at 8-12 knots. By noon they pick up from the east at 20-25 knots and we’re sailing steadily at 7-8 knots. At 3 pm, Matt goes down to get some sleep. The winds are 30-38 knots. We have a double-reefed main, the staysail is out and just a small bit of the jib. We’re going a solid 8 knots, sometimes up to 9.5 (Matt is being cautious because our theoretical hull speed is 8.5). It’s another wildly uncomfortable passage as the boat gets swung from side to side. The chart shows the water depth is 13,000 feet. Our depth meter only goes up to 3 digits; it just keeps blinking in confusion. Continue reading

Passage #2: Samaná, DR to Puerto Plata, DR (February 28, 2014)

The Dominican flag

The Dominican flag, tattered from our rough crossings

After leaving Samaná at 8 am, we see some more whales from a distance on the way out. We are going straight into the wind (20-28 knots), which is the roughest point of sail for us; Matt says the first few hours will be tough. It feels like crossing the Albemarle Sound. There are 8-10 foot swells with a few waves that look to be 15 feet high. I duck down to get snacks and see that everything is all over the place. Things that are normally stowed fine are not ok today. Despite the 2-inch edge on the nav station, Matt’s charts are all over the floor; oranges and grapefruit have bounced out of their crate and are rolling around; Matt’s tool cabinet has flown open. Later, it starts raining and I go down below to avoid getting wet. I get thrown and land on my back on the cushioned bench at the table (Matt later says he

The green mountains of the northeast DR

The green mountains of the northeast DR

saw my feet fly up in the air before I landed). I start to get up and then think, I just landed on something soft. Why would I want to get up? I lie back down thinking maybe it will stop if I don’t move. Maybe I can click my ruby slippers together and I’ll suddenly be back in Kansas (or Ohio). It’s so loud. The perception of sailing is that it’s quiet but it’s incredibly noisy down below. Pots and pans and spice jars rattle in the cupboards. Imagine a giant picking up your house and shaking it. Every time the boat comes crashing down on another wave, it sounds like we land on something hard. The rain passes and I shakily make my way back on deck. I emerge, wide-eyed and with windblown hair yelling, “Stop the bus! Stop the bus! I want to get off!” Matt laughs. I’m only half-joking. It gets a tiny bit better once we round the northeast corner of the DR but never really settles down. Continue reading

Passage #1: Boqueron, Puerto Rico to Samaná, Dominican Republic (Feb. 25, 2014)

IMG_9074[for some reason, this never posted]. This is our first overnight passage in quite a while. We leave Boqueron at 8 am. For much of the day it’s the nicest sail we’ve had in a long time. It’s so tranquil that even Malachi, the most susceptible of us to seasickness, is able to read for hours. I’ve forgotten how enjoyable and relaxing sailing can be. I go out on the bowsprit and lay there listening to the waves and the wind. Continue reading

The Last Days in Puerto Rico (February 23-24, 2015)

IMG_4533We leave Salinas, PR at 8 am, having seen a few manatees in the bay. Winds are 20-25 knots and we travel at a good speed, 7.5-8 knots. For some reason, I tend to choose the most time-consuming and complex breakfasts on our passage days. In a novel, this would be a slightly annoying but endearing character trait. In real life, I think it drives Matt a little nuts. Continue reading