Sunday, May 9, 2010

Back to Reality

It was a great flight and an on time landing with Mom waiting to pick us up ( Thank god for Mom's)
What was I saying in an earlier posting about boats being fix, fix, fix ?  We'll our Gran Prix await our return in Mom's driveway in Florida was either wanting to saty in the sunny south or pissed that we had abandoned her for so long, because she started right up ( just to let us know she could) then promptly went totally dead and wouldn't even turn over with a boost. Another new battery... I think we should invest in some shares in a battery company.
So, we're ready to go? No.  Now it seems the brakes are leaking. So we bought a case of brake fluid and headed out.
On the road again, with the walkie talkies hummin and the brakes a squirtin.  There were a couple of touchy moments when I had to make the decision on a yellow light to go thru and risk having the crazies that are jumping the lights hit Mom's car in the front or stop sudden, knowing that Gord behind me will probably crawl into our trunk. It all worked out and we arrived safely home.
Can you believe it's snowing?????

Last Swim

The work is over for this season and it'll soon be time to catch our flight home.
I need one more swim in that beautiful turquiose ocean and Gord needs one view of the bay and final sunset.

On the Hard

.....meaning our baby is now out of the water and on hard land.  And it was a very , very smooth landing. Gord got very little sleep thinking about backing her into the narrow channel for the travel lift. With a single engine, cross wind and a boat that backs up like a wet noodle, I and most sailboat owners could sympathize, but it went smooth and trouble free. Sails are down, dinghy is aboard and covered, everything left in the boat is zip lock bagged and now the finally cleaning, stowing and bombing to protect against  insects and critters is all thats left.

Hauling Out

It's a mixed feeling time. Happy to be heading home to see family and friends, but sad to be leaving our boat, this lifestyle and our new friends.
We've been sitting at anchor in North Sound now for a week, getting the preliminary work done. bagging, cleaning and sorting.  Glad to have lots of cabinet space as it makes the process so much easier.So, its into the marina for haul out the next morning.  We're a little squeezed in by the big boys, but the docking went smooth and according the plan that Gord rehearsed in his head about a million times.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Our Favorite Anchorage…. So far


Pure white sand beach, ringed with palm trees, stretching around the whole bay and extending out into the crystal clear water. Paradise found! Better yet, it’s a Nature Preserve, so there are no beach bars, no homes, no businesses and no lights, except the 120 yr old light house at the top of a very steep climb. Crumbling into ruins, it must have one day been a magnificent structure with remnants of marble floors, huge 20 ft ceilings, 12 ft doors, courtyards and beautiful cornice trim. All surrounded by tropical forest full of wild goats and deer. There we sat at anchor down below in the bay, the only 2 boats in this beautiful paradise.


But all was not tranquil. At the far end of the bay is a huge rocky area known as the “Jacuzzi’s”. Waves rush through the narrow openings in the rocks and froth and bubble in a semi protected pool about 8 ft deep. Take your snorkel and wade in to enjoy the tunnels between the rocks that flow with fish and burst with bubbles like a glass of warm Alka Seltzer. We were sad to leave as we upped the anchor the next day and headed back to start the process of readying the boat for its long lonely summer on the hard (on land).

Next year we’ll stock up on provisions and head back to paradise for a nice long visit.


“ I don’t care if you pee your pants…. We’re not stopping.”

The last ferry back to Culebra, where our boat sat at anchor in the bay, leaves Fajardo promptly at 7 pm. We left Olde San Juan at 4 pm for what should have been a 1 hour trip at most.

Puerto Ricans play a weird game called “enny, meeny, minney road.” Sounds like fun? I think it is designed to make sure that you truly see their whole island before they let you leave.

The map we received from the car rental agency seemed pretty good, with all the major routes marked and colour coded.

Problem was they were marked on the map but someone forgot to mark them on the roads themselves!

There we are cruising along the green road # ???? couldn’t figure out if we were truly on the green road or not as we could find no road sign. Then we’re looking for the red road (or Hwy #3) on the map. The road does a really quick high speed Y and neither side is marked and there are no signs indicating where either branch is headed. So, enny, meeny, minney road and we chose the right branch as it seemed to go in the right direction. After 3 or 4 times playing this game, we are seeing the real Puerto Rico and the roads aren’t green or red, but dusty brown. Bill is driving like Mario Andretti at his last Rally, Cathy is doing her best to interpret the map and Gord and I tightened our seat belts and were just plain thankful that we’re not driving or navigating because we are lost and the clock is ticking on that 7 pm ferry. Bill totally kept his cool and his only comment was thrown over his shoulder in such an offhand way that it could have been easily missed. “I don’t care if you pee your pants, We’re not stopping!!”

At 6:45 we finally found Hwy 3 and with his Indy license in hand, Bill whizzed us into town right past the car rental agency. We jumped out, Bill literally threw the keys at the clerk and we took off at a run for the ferry 2 blocks away.

We stepped aboard at exactly 7 pm and couldn’t get over the fact that we had actually made the ferry. What a day!

By the way, just so you know. There is no bathroom aboard the ferry… after all it’s just a 90 min ride!!

Olde San Juan

Now here is a place that I would love to go back and spend some time exploring. We had just enough time to go for a quick tour of the Olde town after our visit to the rain forest.


So quaint and very European feeling. The streets were paved with blue glazed paving bricks that were eons old and still vivid blue in colour. It will definitely be on next year’s list of places to anchor and explore.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Singing in the Rain


Puerto Rico has the only true rainforest in the whole United States Territories (called El Yunque and is 28,000 square miles compliments of President Roosevelt back in 1913) and we were sitting in the port of Dewey on the Island of Culebra, just a $1.00 ferry ride away. So why not?

Everyone that knows Gord and I would agree that a 6:30 am ferry would be quite the challenge for us. However, where there’s a will there is a way, and of course a good alarm clock got us to the ferry on time. Arriving at the port of Fajardo on the west side of Puerto Rico with Bill and Cathy from Dream Maker, we rented a car and were on our way.

Now you would expect a rainforest to be rainy, but true to form we also picked a day that did nothing but rain, even without the forest, so we all donned our best cruiser rain gear (which in case you’re wondering consists of those cool big yellow plastic bags with a hood attached). Not exactly designer but definitely dry. We trekked with a rented Guide named Frank, who was so passionate about the flaura and fauna that he almost brought tears to our eyes! He took us past waterfalls, huge Neolithic plants, mating snails (honest!) and claimed that if you filled Yankee Stadium with water and multiplied that by 40 miles high, that is how much rain falls here per year – no wonder the waterfalls were truly entrancing and how awesome and beautiful nature can be. There were few singing birds, but the millions of tree frogs sing like beautiful birds. I’m thinking that all 40 miles was dropped on us that day!

Entreprenuers......Caribbean Style

It’s a laid back lifestyle and almost everything can be put off till “manana”.

Some shops rarely open and the open shops still honour their siestas. (Closed for a nap from 1:00 pm till 4:00 pm).


Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Culebra

Now this is what I pictured when I thought about cruising in the Caribbean Islands.  Pastel coured homes and shops, picturesque signs,  friendly people, turquiose water, sandy beaches and narrow hilly streets in a quaint seaside village.









Lots of Waterside bars and restaurants. Colourful and unique .   Even the gas stations are not your normal drive up, unless you're in a boat of course.

Back to the Virgins

Just a few more weeks till we put the boat way for the summer, with lots to tidy, scrub and bag. I figured I better head back and help out while I wait for court documents to arrive and of course I'd had a really good Sadie fix  It was an uneventful flight down, no missed connections and no lost baggage ( unlike the trip up).
Bill and Cathy -washed up
I think paradise disappeared while I was gone or else I let the good weather back in Canada. Its windy wavy and rainy. But look at that "Pot of Gold at the end of the rainbow. "We've headed west in search of sunny skies and sandy beaches. we want to check out the Spanish Virgin Islands, especially Culebra and Culebrita. We have our own personal guides; Bill and Cathy on Dream Maker, they have been there several times and are leading the way and showing us the ropes. We have such a good time together exploring, snorkelling ( sometimes washing up on shore)and sharing potluck, cards and wii. We're thankful they've become such good friends.

Home and Alone

I'm going home and we're both going to be alone.  Leaving your boat , even if for a short stint home, is accomplished with great anticipation and regret, all at the same time. 
I had to go home for the final culmination to that ongoing legal fight that I've been having with the crooked partner that I aquired when my late husband , John passed away.  I headed home, knowing I needed to be there to look those judges in the eye, happy that I would be seeing my daughter Tiffany and grandaughter Sadie, but sad to leave this beautiful laid back lifestyle and of course Gord alone on the boat and wondering how it was going at home.
I prayed only that the judges would see the truth. I have to say I do not have enormous faith in our legal system. It gives too many rights to the bad guy - shouldn't their rights be forfitted when they break the laws of our land. Its so disheartening that they can break the law, then those same laws allows them to not only hide behind it, but use it to keep victimizing the innocent.  When is enough, enough and the victims rights are put front and centre. 
Hundreds of thousands later, justice finally prevailed, the appeals court panel saw the truth and put an end to the bleeding. I won, I won, I won!!!! It felt like the weight of the world was off my shoulders and I slept well for the first time in years.
Another thing screwy about our legal system is: I have my judgement, but now its up to me to hire more lawyers to try and collect, no assistance for the courts, no freezing of assets and no direction to the guilty party about paying up.  Kind of sounds like a make work project between the judges and the lawyers to me.
What's truly scary about our  """justice system""" ( I use that term very loosely) is that is so expensive due to the crazy amount of legal paperwork required, that apparently no one reads and the loop holes allowed that an average, hardworking taxpayer could probably not afford "justice" in any form.

Back to the boat, Gord was alone and managed just fine to move from harbour to harbour several times by himself. I wish I had been there to see him run between the cockpit ( 40 ft) away and the anchor at the bow. alternately putting the boat in forward, running up and upping or dropping the anchor , then back to put it into neutral or gear, whichever. Quite a feat!  I'm proud of him!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Tropical Rock n" Roll

It'd be nice to say that this was a new variation on rock n' roll dancing, and I guess in some ways its very much a dance, but not a fun one.
You know those north swells I was mentioning in my last post . Well they arrived in the middle of the night and turned our idyllic little anchorage and our boat into a milkshake machine.
Is it possible for a 55 ft structure that is 16 ft wide to roll side to side. end to end and corner to corner , ALL at same time?  You bet! Try sleeping in that! Impossible! 
Boats are amazing things in that the design of the hull and keel usually mean that at anchor or a mooring the boat will point into the wind giving a nice gentle moving motion  as well as a cool breeze down the hatches . And trust me I need that breeze.
But, those nasty north swells have a tendancy to bring in rolling swells that are stronger than the breeze. The swells hit the keel sideways and start the boat a rockin' side to side and it doesn't point into the wind. Sending us and the boat into that new Rock n' Roll dance.
Mr Disney must have been a boater when he came up with the concept of some of our modern thrill rides, but man has not yet mastered that impossible motion that nature can produce on a whim. If it could be duplicated I'd dub it "The Milkshake"

Now, you ask! How do you fix that? Boaters have 2 solutions. First try a stern anchor that will pull the boat into the wind the way man intended and nature fights. Second, Move to a quieter anchorage and at first light that's exactly what Dream Maker and Ocean Wings did.  Back to Leverick Bay for a " Good Days" sleep. 

Eustatia Sound

On the outside of Gorda Sound sit a few small islands. Prickly Pear, Eustatia, Necker ( Richard Bransons  posh little resort) and Mosquito Island ( Richard Bransons latest purchase and probably next project)  between these islands sits a shallow sound that connects the islands by a reef that sits just below the surface of the water and is of course a hazard to boaters. In most seas its a place you just don't want to be. But, once in a while when its calm and there is no north swell it is idyllic.   We had those conditions so we thought we'd check it out. We anchored in the middle between Prickly Pear and Eustatia,  in 10-15 ft of the most crystal clear turquoise water I have ever seen, with reef on all sides except the narrow channel and Necker just on the other side of the reef. As I looked into the water I could see a small black square object near our anchor chain.  What is it?  Gord looked and said: silly, thats whats showing of your anchor all nestled way into the sand and holding us tight.  The water was so clear you could see the little shellfishes blow holes in the sandy bottom below and the small blades of grass swaying in the current.
We'd hooked up with Bill and Cathy again and they were just a few boats away.  We took advantage of the incredible weather and did lots of snorkelling and a little exploring aboard Dream Maker as Cathy and Bill amazingly crept Dream Maker around the coral heads fringing the reef. They've been aboard Dream Maker for 4 yrs now and we hope we'll have the same comfort level with Ocean Wings one day.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Happy Hour

Our favorite way to end the day. A rum punch on the foredeck of Ocean Wings looking out the bay and watching the sun splash into the ocean.  Retirement! I love it!

Privacy

There are so many beaches here in paradise that sometimes you even get one all to yourselves. You can beach your dinghy, catch some "wrays", beachcomb or swim and snorkel. Our little private beach was all those things.

Coconut Hunter

The Bitter End is a resort and marina here in Gorda Sound.... not the end to our story.
Its picture perfect with beaches, hammocks, dining under thatched roofs, quaint hillside bungalows and palm trees lining the shore.
The male of our species still has that cave man hunter buried somewhere deep inside him just waiting to come out. Coconuts are the lure. Knock that coconut out of the tree and drink the warm coconut milk.  Macho Time!
My great white coconut hunter was not immune to that ancient allure. He took on that tree like a true hunter and grinned from ear to ear as he showed off his prize.
Once captured those things are impossible to crack open. So, I'm not quite sure who really won in the end.  

The Check IS in the mail

I believe that saying must have originated here in the Virgin Islands and they probably really meant it.
Check out the postal service! Ask your self ......Do I really want to send Gord and Sue that parcel???
Visa, Mastercard and American Express happily accepted in lui of parcels.

Off to Leverick Bay

The sun is shinning and its a great sail up to Gorda Sound and into Leverick Bay.  We are getting close to the time we will be putting the boat away for the summer hurricane season and there is the question of where? We're renting a car and going on a tour from one end of Virgin Gorda to the other with a stop along the way to check out Virgin Gorda Yacht Harbour for haulout at end of April.
The view from the road is spectacular and although its a narrow winddy road we must share. It's just a little odd to share with goats, cows and chickens all trotting alone the road by themselves like they have           important business and places to be.  Some even wandering around on roof tops like their job is to check for leaks or loose shingles.
It's a beautiful drive as we curve up, down and around this island with ocean on both sides of the road at times and more beautiful bays and future anchorages than we can count.  We headed past Savannah Bay, But he wouldn't stop and let me play in the surf no matter how much I begged.
So, we cruised out to check out the abandoned Coppermine and see if we can find any glints of precious metal peaking out from the rock.
Looking out over this rugged coastline its easy to imagine this mine in the early 1860's ,perched on the edge of the sea and bustling with activity.

We checked out the Yacht Harbour and it was just what we wanted. Decision made! Ocean Wings will settle into Virgin Gorda for the summer and to await our return in the fall.

Final stop of the day is the Baths, huge boulder formations with great tide pools and trails. A swim at  the Baths is a must do.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Rain, Rain Go Away

And it listened!  We finally have sunshine again after 5-6 days of high winds, stormy skies and non stop rain.
So, its not always perfect here in paradise. But it is often a great time to get some chores done.
Just so everyone doesn't think this is all fun and games
One thing to always do, rain or shine is stow, stow, stow.  we just cannot move the boat at all until every little thing is put away or fastened down. Gord also has his pre moving routine of checking oil, engine and all the other lines and fittings before getting underway.
 Windows are another constant chore, the bimini enclosure is all windows that get very salty and must be washed, dried, treated and buffed. The bimini itself also has to be constantly scrubbed and washed.  
Everything on a boat gets this slippery, greasy feel from the salt air, so unless we want to go slip slidin over the edge, we keep it clean.  You don't want to get me started on what a chore the stainless is. No sir!
Refrigeration is a little different on a boat, very drippy, so while it rained I took everything out, scrubbed the fridge and put it all back.
We've also started on that new nav stattion bench and I've done some sewing.  Fender covers are complete and theres a new cushion on the rear deck seat.
BUT! The sun is back out, so we'll shelve the projects for another day and go have some fun!
.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

You meet the loveliest People on Sailboats

We heard something you rarely hear and never want to. The other day while sitting at anchor: "Mayday, Mayday, Mayday"!  We turned up the VHF to listen.  Over on the island of Jost Van Dyke, the surf was hitting over 8 ft where the reef was near the surface on the edge of Sandy Spit. A group of people in a Sunsail charter boat, misjudged the depth, and didn't read their charts and were literally picked up by a wave and deposited on top of the reef with the 8 ft waves washing over the boat. All the nearby Boaters came to the rescue (we were too far away) and they pulled the sailboat onto its side and dragged it off the reef. Surprisingly, the engine started the hull was not cracked,  and they motored away. We love Happy Endings! 
A few days later we were anchored in Benures Bay, at Norman Island an we met a lovely young couple, Petter from Sweden, Rosanna from Britain with their 3 yr old son Teddy, aboard their 42 ft Juneau, "Lolo". They had sold everything they had back home and were taking a 2-3 yr sailing odyssey and hunt for a new home in Southern waters. They had been standing on Sandy Spit when the above mentioned sailboat was deposited on the reef in front of them and they were one of the dinghy's to the rescue, so we got the story first-hand.
We lent them a DVD (the 1st movie they'd seen in over a year), and after a great visit wished them well on their sailing quest and home search. 
Teddy was adorable, very smart and already developing his sailing skills.  His first observation was to point to our boat and say "that's your boat, Why do you have 2 masts?"
Fair Winds to Petter, Rosanna and Teddy ...  may we meet again in some beautiful bay!
Sailboat owners Gord and Sue aboard their 55' Whitby Ketch "Ocean Wings" share their adventures and travels as they start their retirement, living their dream of seeing the world from oceanside.
Ocean Wings is a recent purchase and our first foray into the Sailing Lifestyle. We're excited and a little scared. Join us in our adventure.