I was planning to name this blog “Amara’s Last Sail In the Caribbean”, but I changed the title of this blog after writing it. After realizing, it had not been AMARA’s Last Sail across the Caribbean. It was the second to last. It may seem silly to have sailed back to the Eastern Caribbean from the Western Caribbean… but we did just that! We were taking care of details so as to join the World-ARC (W-ARC) rally. We were excited to start our epic journey of sailing AMARA to Australia. We had already signed up for the W-ARC before sailing to Bonaire. We did not want to miss diving in Bonaire and we did not want to miss the start of the rally. Spending time with the sailing friends that we were about to leave behind in the Eastern Caribbean was extremely important to us as well. Besides, we were pretty confident that the practice would be good for us — and that it was.
It was an extremely, special sail, much of which I will try to explain in this blog. First and foremost because of the way the weather window turned out. Rick got to celebrate his birthday twice, once a couple of days before with friends, because we had already made the plans before figuring out that we would be off shore. Then, of course, on his actual birthday it’s self. October 29, 2017, Rick got to sail all 24 hours of his 59th birthday, how many guys can say that?
November 1 is the day sailors that want to spend the winter in the Eastern Caribbean start heading that way. This is the timeframe where insurance will start covering your boat again for a reasonable amount. The friends we were buddy boating with, Zim & Kim – sailing vessel (s/v) Someday, subscribe to Chris Parker’s weather forecasting services. This time, Chris hit a homerun with his forecasting. The seas were so flat with the winds coming from the perfect direction for a beam reach (the ideal point of sail) all the way to Christmas Cove in St. Thomas. It was some of the nicest three days of sailing on an ocean in my life. If only all sailing could be so easy! This sail will be held in our memories as one of our favorite sails ever.
We caught one small Mahi Mahi and one large Wahoo. The Wahoo catch was a first for us. It was enormous and oh-so-yummy! It provided many meals for many people — even one of the Antiguan customs’ officers enjoyed the deliciousness after Rick found out her love for Wahoo.
In order to have our life raft re-certified, we made a very brief stop at Christmas Cove in St. Thomas. But we were off shore again before the winds and waves changed too much. The angle was not as nice but it was still a decent sail to Antigua. Since we had such an early departure from Bonaire, we arrived in Antigua a couple of weeks ahead of the Salty Dawg Rally. The Caribbean landing spot for the rally was changed to Antigua this year. The Bitter End Yacht Club, and most of the British Virgin Islands, were in rebuilding mode after being devastated by hurricanes Maria and Irma this season.
While we were enjoying Bonaire and planning for our up-coming world adventure, I began investigating sailing schools with female instructors. Some of the best female sailors I know informed me of great experiences they had learning from other lady sailors. Time was short and I did not want to spend a ton of money. However, I wanted to improve my confidence — especially if anything were to happened to Rick. After doing my due diligence, I found Pippa Turton at Miramer sailing school in Jolly Harbor, Antigua. It did not work with my schedule to do any of the week long courses she was teaching, but she was able to work me in for a solo lesson. It was great to get a new perspective on things, to have calm, clear instruction and to practice without pressure. It was a true confidence builder for me.
We enjoyed a lovely time in Antigua; greeting Salty Dawg vessels as they arrived in Foulmouth Harbour, catching up with old dawg friends, and making new friends. But we missed some of the old dawgs that could not be there this year. We were especially happy to see our old salty dawg friend, Judie Leveson. She had been involved in a horrible horseback riding accident the previous Easter. Due to her fall, she endured serious trauma that included swelling on the brain among other things. This required temporary removal of a part of her skull. There was a plethora of bad outcomes that were possible including brain damage, balance deficiency, paralyzation, and even death. But by the time we were able to see her, she had fought her way back and was regaining her strength and health. While we were there, she was out hiking every day for part of her rehabilitation and organizing others to come along. She was apologizing for slowing us down since her balance was still not at 100 percent. But none of us felt slowed down. She was doing great and was an inspiration to us all!
The Tail of the Dawg Award is for the boat that arrives last in the rally. This year that winner was the boat we had been waiting for the most, s/v Willow. Captain Steve is dear to us – frankly, we love the guy… and he was bringing us parts! Repairs and bad weather had delayed him. When Willow arrived, we had a great celebration, including yummy champagne.
We enjoyed most of November and early December on Antigua with Dawg friends and guests. We had many lovely dinners (including a wonderful “Dawg” Thanksgiving), happy hours, hikes, etcetera before I was off to the USA in early December. Caleb met me in Chicago and we drove to Indiana to see all the family there. After about a week of visits and parties, he went back to Seattle to start work as a Ski Patroller and I was off to Colorado. There I enjoyed more visits and parties. Thanks to Mom and Melissa Lefcourt, we enjoyed a couple of the fun parties which also had the wonderful purpose of empowering women out of poverty. I was so blessed to have them as party host for my new business as a Compassionate Entrapunuer with Trades of Hope, an exciting missional business, helping women around the world.
While I was gone Rick was busy entertaining friends and preparing for the World ARC. Upon my return we set sail with buddy boat, Willow, and Steve and new crew member, Cindy, for Martinique. We love that island. It just has so much to offer: great marine stores, delicious food, both in stores and restaurants, wonderful wine and twenty-six rhum distilleries. We got to tour two more rhum distilleries and visit the town of St. Pierre this time. I had been wanting to visit this town on all of our previous island visits. It is famous for being where the entire population, except the prisoner in the jail, were killed in 1902 when the volcano irrupted. Before leaving Martinique, we stocked up at the Price Leader with a shopping list that read “all things French and yummy” then it was off to St. Lucia.
On St. Lucia, we went to Marigot Bay, home of the Cappella Marina and Resort. There we could lounge by the pool, where they bring you water and hourly treats while you recline in your pool chair or you can walk up to the bar, sit on a stool, and order and consume your tropical drink without leaving the pool. It is a lovely, picture perfect location. Steve’s family had flown out to join him for the Christmas holiday. They were kind enough to invite us to join them for the Christmas Eve Island tour. The botanical gardens were amazing and we had a blast covering ourselves in ash from the (sourfere) volcano and washing off in the spring. On Christmas day they joined us on AMARA for a sail to Sourfere Bay for a wonderful snorkel adventure.
Then it was back to work to finish preparations for leaving on the World ARC in January. It was a very busy fall to be sure. It was great to see so many old friends and family (for me at least). We have loved our time of sailing the Caribbean these past 3 years and look forward to all the Pacific has to offer.