Journal

Sailing East to start sailing West

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?

Rick’s birthday at the newly refinished “It Rain’s Fishes”
Because of our quick exit from Bonaire, I had choose to reuse some candles we had on board to celebrate Rick’s 59th birthday

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

Rick with Wahoo almost as tall as he.

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.

 

Behind the wheel after backing the boat into the slip

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.

 

Hiking fun with Salty Dawg sailing friends on Antigua

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!

 

Celebrating s/v Willow’s safe arrival with Steve

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.

Some Family fun for Caleb & I with Kristen and Susan. Wine tasting in Indiana, who knew?

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.

Lunch with friends at Zanzibar, Delicious!
We thought the dinghy might not get us back from the market after stocking up on “all things French and yummy” with s/v Willow and s/v Roxy (who took the photo)

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.

Langilles & Dwyers for Christmas Eve.
AMARA underway, photo courtesy of Cindy on s/v Willow while buddy sailing.

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.

 

What is not to Love about Bonaire?

I LOVED Bonaire. WE LOVED BONAIRE! What is not to love about Bonaire?…It was not too big, and not too small. It was full of great people, the diving was superb, plentiful and easily accessed. The food was reasonably priced, stores well stocked. There was a variety of restaurants. It has a slight Euro feel, including the coffee shops serving mini gelato cones beside the coffee and tea.

European style coffee shop serving gelato with Tea.

It is easy to get around on foot, bicycle or scooter. The water is amazing, crystal clear, with visibility down to 50 feet. There were flamingos, donkeys, turtles, birds and of course beautiful and amazing fish. Did I mention the DIVING? As if the clear water and hundreds of dive spots were not enough, the sea creatures were massive.  What was there NOT to love in Bonaire? Well, ya, ok, maybe there was something not to love.  We can get to those not so lovable attributes later, but for now let’s talk about this fun photo of Rick, I posted at the top of this post. I love this picture. To me is shows just how picture perfect this location was. Also, the artwork surrounding Rick represents so much of what Bonaire offers.

Lac Bay one the most scenic spot on Bonaire

Starting on far the left of the top photo you see a Conch shell. On the one end of Lac Bay, we saw empty Conch shell piles, heaped up by the thousands. I am not a huge fan of eating Conch. It is a lot of work to make it taste good, so we did not investigate how recently those shells were emptied. Looked like most had been there awhile. This indicated to me there certainly had been a ton of the critters at some point. We really did not see them in the water even when we snorkeled around Lac Bay where we saw these shells.  The day we were there was a rare low visibility day so that could be part of it. The winds had the bay all stirred up.   It was an area known for turtles, really big turtles. (The real reason we were there). We saw a few good sized ones, but as I said it was not a good day to see sea creatures.

In the picture, next to the conch, you will see one of the many reasons I LOVED Bonaire: the TURTLES.

Green Turtle

(For those of you reading this blog, who may not already know me, turtles are like my “spirit” animals (not that I really know what that means, but it sounds good, since I just adore them and seeing them makes me happy). On Bonaire they have the Sea Turtle Conservation Bonaire, STCB, a nonprofit research and conservation organization devoted to protecting endangered sea turtles. You can check out their work at www.bonaireturtles.org. I had the pleasure of chatting with the staff at their office and hearing their presentation at the Dive Friend’s Yellow Sub location.  Unfortunately for me, I did not find time to volunteer with them. We tried to join one of the trips on “Klein Bonaire”, the small island adjacent to Bonaire, to check on turtle nests but their season was coming to an end so, alas, that viewing will have to wait until another trip.

Brenda and her favorite picture ever with a turtle!

At a dive sight by the name Karpata, I found a turtle that Rick almost swam right past. She did not move the whole time we observed her. Turtles do not have eyelids, so I was clueless she was sleeping until afterwards when Rick told me that is why we did not see her go up for air. I just love Rick’s pictures of her. I will especially treasure this one with me and the turtle in it.   It was only our second dive on the island and the only one where I got to see a turtle up so close, it was not for lack of trying I assure you.

If you look at the picture at the start of this post again, above the turtle you will see a sail. The design on the sail is a representation of Bonaire’s flag.   I think it is very cool looking symbol. I have no idea of its history. I do know Bonaire is very welcoming to sailors. I believe that is in part due to a fella by the name of Captain Don. A sailor from California, who as the story goes, back in the 70’s, came to harvest fish for Aquariums. When he saw how amazing the place was, he stayed and worked to protect the reef surrounding the island instead of harvesting it. His work helped establish the protections to the ecosystem that make Bonaire the diving mecca it is today. A National park system protects all of the water surrounding the island and the entire adjacent island of “Klein Bonaire” has been kept in its natural state.

To protect the reefs from the damage anchors can cause, Bonaire has established a large mooring ball area for visiting ships, as well as mooring balls at all of the published dive sites. This way, vessels like AMARA, can visit without damaging the reefs. The overnight moorings are only $10 per day. (If you are unfamiliar with mooring ball rates, in the Virgin Islands National Park on St. John are $26 per night, the average in the BVI’s is around $30.) There was no charge to clear customs and immigration or cruising permits to purchase. We found the idea of not having to pay to enter a country delightful.

View from the docks of the decorations up for Bonaire’s Regatta week.

We had the pleasure of being on Bonaire during the time of their annual regatta. A gentleman from the yacht club came by to encourage us to participate. I do not like the idea of racing my home. Plus, we were waiting on our new mainsail to arrive. So we did not participate, which I believe was a very good decision particularly after listening to Rick’s analysis of the way the race course was set up. I am sure it would have driven him crazy to race around it. The whole island loved that it was Regatta time as did many visitors. It was like part Arcola Days, part county fair, part Carnival and all very Caribbean – that is to say – rides, games, food booths, decorations and VERY LOUD concerts. A lot of folks came over on their powerboats from Curiçao to join the party. It would appear lots of people had a good time.

Below the sail in the picture you will note a yellow stone with the word’s “Diver’s Paradise” – a statement I believe to be true. They mark the dive sites and many other places with these brightly painted stones. In the tourist shops they sell little ones you can take home. We took a picture of the rock for the dive site “Tori’s Reef” in honor of friend, Tori Ruben, who sails on sailing vessel, Solitude.   The picture was taken on the underwater camera because it was the only one we had with us at the time. That is why you can see the fish eye effect across the top, pretty cool, eh?

Back to the diving, Bonaire was a diving paradise with over 60 marked sites on the main island and about another dozen or so from Klein Bonaire. You could snorkel and feel safe swimming right off the back of AMARA.  My last post on this blog was just of the pictures from dives. We also have videos and even more memories. The creatures there were plentiful and large. For example, the French Angels were about the size of dinner plates. We saw this one porcupine puffer fish that was 4 foot long. I noted when I had the identification book out after seeing it. The guide stated max size 3 foot. I know the authors included pictures and descriptions of Bonaire sea life, so they have to have been to the island.  Therefore,  it looks to me like they need to update their book.

Deb and the four foot Puffer fish

I did many first dives on Bonaire; First night dive, first deep dive, first navigation dive, etc.  We did enough dives, my comfort diving was greatly increased. I even went ahead and I got my Advance Diver certification from Dive Friend’s Dive shop. We got to go on the dive to see the Ostracods. AMAZING! We were not able to get any photos or pictures of it. It was like under-water Christmas lights. You can see some national Geographic footage of it on You-tube, I heard.

New Sunscreen created by Rick

Above the yellow Diver’s stone, stands Captain Rick. I spent a little time with this guy while on Bonaire.   As usual, we tried to mix in plenty of fun while getting projects finished.    Since we were preparing to sail AMARA to the South Pacific, where it might make a hot sunny Caribbean day feel like we had been in cool shade. We want a lot of sun protection options on AMARA.   So Rick sewed many a sun cover. Including a front sun cover, that attaches to the Bimini to increase shade above the main saloon and shade panels to replace plastic widow panels in the cockpit enclosure.

New panels for enclosure with Phifertex

The Phifertex in the panels will allow airflow, shade, and visibility. He made a new cover to protect the wooden steering wheel. We sewed pillow shams for use as cockpit pillows.  We spent a lot of time at coffee shops using their Wi-Fi to order all sorts of parts and pieces to increase safety, comfort and comply with the World-ARC requirements for our up coming sail to Australia.

New cover for the wood steering wheel.

 

Above Rick to his left is a large bird that looks like a stork. Not sure the significance of these birds to Bonaire. I don’t recall seeing any. We saw herrings, parrots, thousands of flamingos, some smaller yellow birds we don’t know the names of and osprey. I understand some people come to Bonaire to bird watch. Storks are associated with the delivery of packages of a certain nature, (not any that we are interested in getting at this point of life, mind you). I shall use this reminder to tell you about how we learned to utilize the services of E-zone to get many a package on Bonaire. Also, I sent many post cards from Bonaire. There were a lot of nice looking post cards available, even though the island itself is a bit of a desert. There is cactus growing everywhere. They make fence posts and rum out of catus. We will get back to the rum part in a bit.   The most beautiful part was the under water and there were great postcard photos of that to be sure.

Next you may note in the picture, there is a Flamingo flying over Captain Rick’s head and some more he is leaning against. This serves as a good representation of the fact that there are a lot of flamingos on Bonaire. We tried to get pictures, but you would not believe how un-cooperative these pretty birds were. They fly away if you try to get at all close. In the distance you can see flocks and flocks of them. Thankfully, there are more patient photographers out there that already had great photos of these very pink strange looking birds. So we will leave the good photos of them to those photographers.

I think I could agree with the sign over Rick’s head, which states, “once a visitor always a friend”. We also found old friends and made new friends while on Bonaire. Our friends who live on sailing vessel, Someday, spent a good part of last year’s hurricane season on Bonaire. They arrived a couple of weeks before we did this year. They showed us the ropes around Bonaire. They had a tradition of renting scooters every Friday to get off the boat and enjoy some down time at Jibe City. A wonderful beach was bar on Lac Bay, which is on the winding side of the island – the side we would never park our boats. It was shallow for miles and absolutely the most scenic land spot on the island.

Kim, Beverly & Zim at Lac Bai

They had gone enough times to know the staff including Beverley, who is starting a sky diving business on Bonaire. I claimed this spot as my Friday office, since there was decent wifi there for me to get some things done for Trades of Hope, while enjoying the sunshine.

Zim, Robin & Rickie on Alway’s Sunday, me, Rick and Kim.

During the two months we were on Bonaire, we only missed one Friday at Jibe City, Lac Bay, because we had the chance to dive at a spot we would not otherwise get to. Of the weekly trips we made there, we utilized all most all possible ways of transportation.   Most of the trips we rented scooters along side Kim & Zim, but we also rented a car once and on another occasion we rented bicycles. Therefore, I can tell you for certain that the ride was 7 miles up hill and against the wind all the way. It was a very hot and dry ride over, but the sweetest rest when we got there and an easy and fun ride back.

It was on one of our lovely Friday scooter rides that we saw the green parrots like the ones represented above Rick’s head. We rode to the north part of the island near the “National Park Washington-SLAGBAAI”. There were tons of these parrots flying around, unlike the wooden billboard version, the real ones were always in pairs. That same Friday, we went to the Cadushy Distillery. We enjoyed the tour and the samples. The rum distillery is called Cadushy because it is distilled out the Cadushy cactus that is so abundant on the island. They have a basic rum, a 5 year aged and 7 fruity flavored rums. Of the fruity rums each one has something in its flavor to represent each of Dutch Caribbean islands, except St. Maarten because they say they could not find anything distinctly Dutch about St. Maarten. Rick, not surprisingly, did not like the fruity rums, but he did like the aged rum a lot. I liked the light fruity flavors especially the one that reminded me of Chia.

We are all pointing to Sydney, Australia, where we are going to sail starting January 2018.
One of the many donkey sightings on Bonaire.

On the right side of the photo you see the many donkey’s represented in the first photo. Bonaire is known for its wild donkeys. Rumor has it when times are drier the donkeys come into the towns and make a nuisance of themselves. The island had gotten a lot of rain right before we arrived, as well as, occasional showers while we were there, so we only saw the donkeys in the wild Donkey sanctuary areas. As you can see, they were a bit more co-operative to be photographed than the flamingos.

On the far right of the first photo you can see ½ of a windmill and yellow buildings. (Yes, they are a little cut off, what can I say, I took the photo early in the trip, long before I thought of basing my blog on it.   Plus when I took it I had no idea it would turn out so AWESOME). The windmill is a representation of Bonaire’s Dutch history. The yellow buildings represent the architectural style used in construction of many of the island’s historical buildings including the customs office that was the first building we sought out the first time we came ashore.

So after all these pages of great things to love about Bonaire, have you any guesses, what is not to love about Bonaire? Sad but true, even divers paradise had some things not to love. For us, and other sailors we met, it was the dust, a very fine, persistent, excessively plentiful, just kept coming back and covering even the underside of the Bimini , DUST!   It coated everything and I mean everything! Three weeks after leaving, I was still finding dust in crazy places like under the bimini cover.  I have never needed to clean this spot under the cover.  (Did I mention dust covered everything?)  It was extremely hot while we were there; so we lived with the windows and doors open as much as possible. Therefore, this dust covered AMARA inside and out. Like I said there was a lot of cactus on the island, it was a hot dry place.   The mooring field is down wind of this dusty island.   So, it seems most probable the dust is blowing off the island. The locals will tell you the dust comes over from the Saharah desert on the jet stream. I still need to research this story. I do believe they are talking about a desert in Africa. Either way, I did not love that dust and wish Bonaire would find some good help to take care of that dust for them.

Under the Sea Bonaire Style

A view of cool coral
Blue Chromis
Green Moray Eel and banded shrimp (One of Brenda’s absolute least favorite and favorite things to see under the sea).  Is it just me or does the eel look like he is going cross eyed looking at the shrimp?
Yellow Damsel in front of Brain coral
Scrawled Filefish
Mizzy & Brian Fishes from sailing vessel Kokopelli
Inshore Lizardfish
Staghorn coral “garden”, a very successfull man made farm
Juvenile Drum fish in front of Brain coral
Adult Drum fish
Susie-fish from sailing vessel NOMAD. (She truly is a fish this girl can swim and when diving comes up with twice the air I do)
Tommy-fish the other 1/2 of sailing vessel NOMAD
Sharp Nose Puffer also known as on of Brenda’s favorite Tiny and cute fish.  max length  3 inches.  Color in this photo does not do them justice.
White spotted filefish – Named for that cool spike he can stick out of his head. This guy can make his white spots come and go.
Spiny Lobster
New Dive Friends Mark & Debbie doing some dance moves

 

Sting Ray (hard to tell exactly which one since he was feeling a bit sandy)
Blue Wrasse
Debbie Fish
Slapper Lobster -picture taken on Ostracod Dive. None of those photos turned out.
Princess Parrot- love the colors
Mark fish
Banded Butterfly fish
Red Lion Fish – “WANTED DEAD AND FRIED” (these guys are trouble for the reef but yummy on the plate)
Brenda Fish Under AMARA for her first night dive
Extremely beautiful coral, (but we don’t know the name, we don’t have that ID book yet)
Spotlight Parrot fish, we really should have gotten more pictures of these guys they were everywhere and so beautiful.
Rick-fish (isn’t he cute?)
French Angel- there were many around Bonaire and they were dinner plate size, wow!
Princess Parrott (I know not as good of a picture as the rest, but it is my beloved PRINCESS fish!)
Brenda Fish behind field of sponges
Blue Tang
Steve from singdogsailing fish
Yellow Goat fish
Honeycomb Cowfish
Spotted Moray Eel (one of Brenda’s least favorite things to see and there were tons of them around)
Four eyed Butterfly fish
Porcupine fish, also known Spotted Spiny Puffer.  We thought this 3 foot one was large until….
This puffer we found was at least 4 foot long.  It is in front of Debbie who is about 5’8″
I was so excited when I saw this face behind Rick’s head, I scared him so much trying yo tell him that when he turned quickly he hit his leg on some coral and tore it up pretty good.  (But, but… that face was as big as Rick’s honest!)
Green Turtle, sleeping, hard to tell since the eyes don’t really close.

Brenda’s favorite Photo of all:

Brenda Fish, and her sleeping friend.

Making way to the Western Caribbean!!!

So long Grenada, Bonaire here we come

Our plan when returning to Amara at the end of July was to get lots of projects done to prepare for our January departure with the world ARC rally, then set sail in early September for Bonaire leaving lots of time to play.  We worked hard and got a lot done.   I also started a new business as a Compassionate Entrepreneur with Trades of Hope. I needed to do  some online training.  Having a high speed internet connection on the boat at Port Louis Marina (something a lot of land dwellers take for granted with high speed internet in their home) was something I did not want to give up too soon.  We were told on Bonaire we would need to be in coffee shops to get low speed internet.  So it is not the easiest way to spend my time, but I was so excited about the mission of the Trades of Hope that I wanted to get started.   You can check it out more at www.mytradesofhope.com/brendalangille. Sorry, all my non-American friends, Trades of Hope can only ship in the US at this point, but maybe when we are done sailing we can help them change that.

Rick was more motivated then me to get going to Bonaire, but the weather co-operated more with my wishes and we set sail on Thursday morning, Sept. 7, Caleb’s 26th birthday.

Rick’s newest toy, the Code Zero

As with all trip planning, we watched the weather forecasts carefully – this time maybe even more carefully as we knew hurricane Irma was going north and José was not supposed to come our way. Maria was nothing but an un-named disturbance in the Atlantic. With the intensity of Irma pulling all the wind to her, little was left where we were. So, for our journey, the winds were mostly light, initially from the south, which was perfect. Rick is so cute, he was so excited about his new toy, the “Code Zero”, then he too scared to use it. For those of you who are not sailors, his fear was completely understandable.   As we all know, winds can change speed and direction quickly especially if you get caught in a storm; the fact is too high winds could ruin the sail in minutes. The sky was a sort of funky hazy. So we double-checked the forecast, together this time, only light winds were predicted, we double-checked the wind angle and velocity,… perfect. So I encouraged him to go for it. It did great, and increased our boat speed by around 2 knots.

Long before nightfall we put it away as there were thunderstorms with lightening on the horizon. There had been some sprinkles during the day, but nothing big. The wind started to change direction, but by the second day it died almost completely. This was so far one of our longest passages with just the two of us. The best part for us was that both of us were able to get about 6 hours of sleep in shifts  – a first for us to feel relaxed enough to sleep while it was just the two of us sailing.

Grinning Barracuda or two

We caught a Barricuda with our rod and reel (we double-checked with the locals that it was safe to eat). Amara did her own fishing, we awoke the second morning to about a dozen flying fish on deck, plus one squid on the aft deck. That is just the strangest thing to wake up to, or better yet, to have happen while you are on watch! You are looking all around and thinking you are keeping an eye out then in the morning light you find all these fishies on the deck.  You thought you were paying attention, but you didn’t see them come aboard, and we are talking a deck at least 4 feet above the water. Then the fact that a squid can get to the middle of the aft deck, many feet above the water, just makes me wonder how they do it. We were able to watch dolphins two different times; two large ones the second day and three smaller ones on the third.

Flying fish collected from the deck of Amara
The island of Bonaire at sunset

On the third day at sea, we had some crazy wind shifts causing us to zig zag and lose time. This meant we were coming into a strange anchorage at dusk. Not at all ideal, in fact, we almost never take moorings after dark, and never in new places. This made us all the more happy about the successful installation our Iridium GO! With it we had kept in touch with our friends, Kim and Zim, on Someday. They had already been in the mooring field a week or two before us. Since we had texted them on our way, they were looking for us and had a plan in place even before we were in VHF range. It was nearly dusk when the mooring field was in site.  As we approached, we could see some boats and the lights of Kralendjik were starting to show. Soon all we could see was the big spot light Zim was pointing our way. He used it to guide us safely to the available ball. He then assisted us in tying onto it. It is always good to have friends, but especially good to have friends at times like this. We were so happy to be in Bonaire and especially happy to get a good night’s sleep after 55 hours of sailing.

 

 

Highlights from Grenada Time

Emory and Kim from Someday, Rick and I with Ron and Cheryl peeking in

Getting back to Grenada meant getting back to our sailing friends.   Friends like Emery & Kim on sailing vessel “Someday”, and Gary and Torie on “Solitude”. We spent a lot of time with all of these folks at different places during our first year living on board. Our paths did not cross as much last year but thanks to Rick and Facebook, we have keep in touch. We are all excitedly preparing for the World ARC departure on January 6th 2018, so there was much work to be done but we found time for fun too.  We met some fun new sailor friends like Toni and Connie on Sage. (Two more Canadians for Rick’s stash).  They have almost sailed around the world.  We have also met Ronnie & Jane on Ghibli.  When they first told me their boat name I thought they said “Gimli”, a town near some of our Canadian relatives, but low and behold they had no idea where that was.  Turns out they are not Canadian at all.

One morning we went for a walk for exercise and to get some fish from the fish market. There were no fish when we got there. While waiting to see what would come, Rick found himself some more Canadians to talk with who were staying with a local family. When it became apparent that you had to know someone if you were going to get fish at that market that morning, our new friends decided they were going to where they could for sure get fish even if it were frozen. They asked if we wanted to come along, and would give us a ride. We accepted and we were off on another adventure.

Success getting fish from the frozen fish market

When we introduced ourselves the local/ Canadian, George, he mentioned that he could remember my name because it is the same as his wife. At some point we learned that his last name was Hood. Something came up in our talking about his wife being the Minister of Culture, so later when I could google it I discovered she truly was.   They took us to the market many miles north of where we met them then dropped us off near the marina. It was another one of our great experiences on the islands.

Celebrating our sixth Wedding anniversary by taking an island tour with Cutty’s tours was great.  Cutty is the island expert on all things flora and fauna.  He knows just about everything there is to know about the island. He stopped at what would seem to us to just be a wild area, then continued on to introduce us to the farmer as well as point out the various spices and foods growing there.

In front of the Flora and Fauna

It was a great example of permaculture.  We learned about the nutmeg production and processing and how the island is still recovering from the effects of Hurricane Ivan on the nutmeg trees from over twelve years ago as they are still growing the tress back.  We toured the Grenada Chocolate Factory, and went to the Belmont Estates where much of the caaco is produced. Yes, the chocolate samples were delightful. We learned something new on our 3rd tour of Rivers Rum plantation.

 

Cutty of Cutty’s tours, at Mt. Carmel fall

To finish the tour, since we had been to the first waterfall he was going to take us to, instead he took us to the Mt. Carmel water falls. It was wonderful to cool off in the water.

Jamming at Secret Harbor with Wendy and Vanessa

Another highlight for us was getting back into music. Rick had been playing a lot on the boat. We heard about a Friday afternoon jam at Secret Harbor. I thought I might be bored, but instead, I was greatly encouraged as Wendy was there even though she is a beginner. Vanessa, who organized the jams, encouraged Rick to come play at the West Indies Brew pub Tuesday night on stage Jam. He played there on the last Tuesday of August. I did a Facebook live recording just for the fun of it. He enjoyed the experience enough to want to go again on our Anniversary. So we ate at a yummy restaurant next door with Gary and Tori, and Ken, our boat neighbor on “On time”,  then went back for another jam session. He even dedicated a song to me.

But the biggest highlight of all was enjoying meals and getting to know Johnny and his family better. We met Johnny last fall when we were docked at Port Louis Marina. He was very friendly, and stood out to me because I saw him always working hard with a smile on his face. Last spring he introduced us to his family. When we were leaving we gave them a lot of the food that we did not have time to eat because of our earlier then expected departure. I am not exactly sure how the first invite came about, except that he and Rick had been talking a lot about the solar system he had hooked up to his house. So we went home with him after work one Saturday afternoon.

Dinner at Johnny’s house, Brenda, Debbie, Evan, Akayla and Rick
Johnny, Rick and Akayla, being sassy

His house was at the top of hill with a great view. I hung out and watched Mary Poppins with the kids, Evan (9) and Akayla (3) while Debbie finished dinner and  I think the guys worked on  the solar system.  In our six weeks or so in Grenada, we were also able to go to church with them. Afterward,  they fed us again. They are very gracious hosts.  This time I got to color with the kiddos while Rick did solar. We were able to have them over for dinner on Amara, as well. I am not sure the kids knew what to make of our spaghetti sauce. It was very rich. They did enjoy playing with the pirate costume and swords.  It was fun to get to know them.  Debbie showed me how to use “What’s App”, so we can stay in touch, now we can Text and talk from anywhere we can get wifi for no charge.

Akayla, Johnny’s little girl
Johnny’s son, Evan

Making a Big Splash

Here we are, beginning our third season or year (what-ever you want to call it) on AMARA.  We returned to Clark’s Court Marina in Grenada, on July 31st.  We like this yard and as far as yards go, this is a good one.  We just wish we did not have AMARA in any yard.  I trust I am not the only boat owner who does not like the sight of their boat suspended in the air.  It’s just not right. Having to climb up a ladder to get on board (I really don’t like heights), yuck! But when you have to paint the bottom again (long story) she had to be pulled. This was the least expensive place to store her there while we were off to see family.

IMG_8399

Before going back into the water, we wanted to finish all the “under water” projects we could.  The new bottom paint looks great.  We changed the zincs, re-galvanized the chain and polished and buffed the hull to perfection.  After five days of climbing up and down to work on her, it was finally time to get her back in the water.  It is a nerve racking process to watch.  First they hoist her onto a trailer.

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Transferring AMARA from the stands to the trailer

Next, they transfer her from the trailer to the travel lift.  The lift here at Clark’s Court is the largest in the Caribbean, 242 TON capacity.  They place straps under her. This process is called “putting her in a cradle”.

Rock a bye AMARA, into the cradle she goes
Rock a bye AMARA

Then we climbed over the very tip of the bow (which has a new bow sprit) onto the deck, as she was lowered into the water.  Surprisingly, no one got wet during this part of the operation.

Down we go...
Down we go…

Next we gave lines to the guys on the sides, so that once they unstrapped the cradle to let us go, they would help keep us from hitting the cement walls surrounding her.  Rick did a great job at the helm.  He safely navigated us out of the marina without hitting anything, including the many coral reefs surrounding us there.  AMARA was a motor boat for the day.  All her sails were still in storage.   We motored her around to Port Louis Marina, 10.6 nautical miles away.  Here we plan to complete many projects including getting her sails back on, installing her new code zero head sail, the Iridium GO, etc, etc., all while trying to not miss out on any of the great things Grenada has to offer like “hashes”(no that is not a drug), beaches, diving and attending our first Grenadian Carnival, to name a few.

I had heard the term “having her splashed” refer to having one’s boat launched from a large lift.  As it turned out there was not much of a splash at all. Clark’s Court put her in the water so carefully.  What a relief! What a great group of people to work with.

AMARA’s Land yacht or is that land locked adventures

Dunnator
The Land Yacht, aka Jaggar, our Dodge Ram, with Lance camper parked by Kathy’s cottage.

When we are not on AMARA, we can be found driving all around North America.  This year that meant making almost two full laps of around the mid section of North America seeing our friends and family, attending concerts, baseball games, birthday parties, graduations, hiking, biking and more.

Rick Langille, Morgan Gerig, Brenda Langille, Eleanor Ohlwine, Joshua Gerig, Jordie Langille (very front), Homer Ohlwine, Susan & Tim Gerig, Kristen and Alex Brenneke
Rick Langille, Morgan Gerig, Brenda Langille, Eleanor Ohlwine, Joshua Gerig, Jordie Langille (very front), Homer Ohlwine, Susan & Tim Gerig, Kristen and Alex Brenneke

This trip was originally planned around attending nephew, Joshua’s, high school graduation, June 3rd, but when Rick’s Mum, Dale, fell and broke her arm in early March, we moved our trip up a couple of months.  This meant we were able to surprise Mum with our arrival and be there to celebrate her 85th birthday May 1st, and spend time getting her home ready to go on the market (which is still available as of this writing if you are interested).

Next we surprised Rick’s sister Kathy for her 60’th birthday (did I mention she really doesn’t look a day over 40!).  We invited her to join us for the musical show, Stomp, (which was wonderful, I highly recommend it). After she accepted our invitation, we went to work making arrangements for Jo-Anne, her best bud from BC, to meet her at the show.  What fun to see the surprise on her face.  Her kids then joined us after the show for dinner.

Surprise, you best Buddy, Jo-Ann is here to celebrate your 60th Birthday...
Surprise, your best buddy, Jo-Anne is here to celebrate your 60th Birthday…
JoAnn and Kathy after Stomp
Jo-Anne and Kathy after Stomp

On our way to Fort Wayne, I dropped Rick off at the airport in Chicago to catch a plane to Annapolis, Maryland. He wanted to help our friend, Steve Dyer, move his boat, “Willow”, up to Newport, Rhode Island.  Have I mentioned Rick can not get enough sailing?  He did a Facebook live feed as he sailed past the Statue of Liberty, a bucket list item for him.

There it is the statue of liberty from willow.
There it is the Statue of Liberty from Willow.
Rick and Will in Gruhn Guitars, Nashville, TN
Rick and Will in Gruhn Guitars, Nashville, TN

Rick arrived in Indiana in plenty of time to make it to Joshua’s graduation.  We are so proud of the young man Josh has become.  After the graduation,  we headed to Tennessee for the week to help Will and Rebecca from AniBeaTru on their remodeling project.  They are always helping others on the island of Mayreau, when they are in the Caribbean, so it was especially fun to help them for a change.  You can check out more about them at http://catchthewindsailingministries.org/home.html.  We got to celebrate Will’s 70th birthday while we were there which involved a trip to Gruhn Guitars in Nashville. Rick was in seventh heaven checking out the guitars there.

On the way back up we made stops at Mammoth Cave and the Kentucky Derby.  We enjoyed both tours.  Rick grew up following horse racing so he really loved the Derby back lot tour.  I grew up seeing my parent’s honeymoon pictures of Mammoth Cave.  So it was fun to see a bit of it for myself.

First time to Wrigley Field for a game thanks to my ride from brother, Don.
First time to Wrigley Field for a game thanks to my ride from brother, Don.

We returned to Fort Wayne, in time for Susan’s (Brenda’s sister) surgery.  Rick took off in the camper with Jordie the day after the surgery to spend time with his kids and friends in Denver.   I stayed with Susan for the next 8 days to keep her from overdoing it. I had a great time on the way back.  Brother, Don, drove me to Chicago for my flight to Denver.  It turned out the Cubs were playing so I made it to my first ever Cubs game in Wrigley Field!

Jordie being watched by Haven & Emma to be sure he wanted to eat his whole meal.
Jordie being watched by Haven & Emma to be sure he wanted to eat his whole meal.

After I flew to Denver,  we were able to house sit for Glen and Linda who run an AirBnB from their home.  They are such great friends.  We got to stay in their beautiful home and take care of the sweetest dogs in the world.  I got to play in some dirt and Rick got to play with power tools.  We also were able to celebrate our precious friend Libby Butler’s birthday there.

Arranging the plumbing for Glen and Linda's bathroom addition.
Arranging the plumbing for Glen and Linda’s bathroom addition.
Bonnie Cole and Dusya
Bonnie Cole and Dusya

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We greatly enjoyed our time in Colorado, getting in lots of visits with many of the wonderful people in our lives and spending time in nature which we love so much.

It only took 25 years of hiking in Colorado to find a moose in the wild. Then there was a fire in the same area a few hours later. I hope Mr. Moose is OK.
It only took 25 years of hiking in Colorado to find a moose in the wild. Then there was a fire in the same area a few hours after getting this photo. I hope Mr. Moose is OK.

 

Colorado's state flower, the Columbine, bloom in the mountains usually in July. So delicate.
Colorado’s state flower, the Columbine. So delicate.

We got to go camping with Caleb, who was also in Colorado to attend a wedding in which his girlfriend, Susan, was participating as a bridesmaid.  We were able to get most all our kids together in one place on the Saturday night before we left,  which meant Connor was in the same restaurant but, unfortunately, he was working.

Lindsay and bow, Andrew, Susan and Caleb, Brenda and Rick in Cherry Creek.
Lindsay and beau Andrew, Susan and Caleb, Brenda and Rick in Cherry Creek.
Our tradition is to stop at the A&W at the edge of the Perimeter Highway on the way to Lake of the Woods.
Our tradition is to stop at the A&W at the edge of the Perimeter Highway on the way to Lake of the Woods.

Our next trip north took us straight to Lake of the Woods, being sure not to miss our annual stop at the A&W on the way.  We got in a few days at Uncle Tom’s cabin and with Tom himself, which was wonderful as always.  Rick even downloaded a loon ring tone for his phone.  Tom thought it was a poor representation of the real call of a loon, but I get to hear it any time anyone texts him now.

Jordie on the dock in front of "Legal Ez" at Lake of the Woods.
Jordie on the dock in front of “Legal Ez” at Lake of the Woods.

It was good and a little sad to return to Winnipeg to say good-bye to everyone there.  Rick is sure we will not be back for at least 18 months if not more.  So they all need to join us where we are!  On our drive south, for the second time of our North American tour, we made a stop in Minneapolis, to meet with potential new crew, John and Cathy, and for Jordie to make a new friend.

Family Dinner at Charles and Kathy's cabin. Clock wise from front Alan, Delonna, Brenda, Rick Mirelia, Charles, Dale, Daniel, Sophie, and Gwen.
Family Dinner at Charles and Kathy’s cabin. Clock wise from front Allan Aitken, Delonna Aitken, Brenda, Rick, Mirela Aitken, Charles Walton, Dale Langille, Daniel Aitken, Sophie Zhang, William Aitken and Gwen Aitken.

We enjoyed a short stay in Indiana to see everyone there and set up Jordie for his next season.  It is very hard say good-bye to our Baby, but was made easier knowing he is in good hands with Kristen and Alex.

Is is just me or does he look sad too?
Is is just me or does he look sad too?
Jordie's new buddy, Kingsley from Minnesota
Jordie’s new buddy, Kingsley from Minnesota

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then it was drive to Chicago and fly back to AMARA in Grenada.  We got to enjoy many visits in our nearly four months “State side” and “Great White North side”.  We got our doctors visits completed and did many preparations for our up coming voyage to Australia.  Now, to go get all those boat projects done!

Packing up to sail all the way to Australia.
Packing up to sail all the way to Australia.

Planning on the “WORLD ARC”

The plan is coming together for our epic adventure to the Pacific. To think that this time next year, we will be deep into the Pacific, and sailing the keel off of AMARA. One goal – Have FUN and Enjoy LIFE! Everyone who would like can follow us on the World Cruising Clubs web site, the link is: FLEET TRACKER.

Our departure from St Lucia will be in January 2018. If you are interested in joining us, please reach out! We have a spreadsheet that detailing the legs, dates and distances between stops. That was super fun to figure out and just think about where we will venture and sites we will be seeing.

Another fun fact: There is currently 4 other Hylas yachts in the rally. Cruising with similar vessels will give us a good idea of how we are progressing and are we making good decisions about sails and course.

Stay tuned for more information!

CIVILIZATION at last?

It is an interesting feeling. This feeling that we have returned to civilization. I have been contemplating what it is about Grenada that has made it feel “civilized”.

Could it be the food? There are some excellent restaurants. The island is big enough to have a variety of food choices. There are even a couple of Sushi restaurants to enjoy. (Rick loves Sushi). But we have had sushi on St. Thomas. We have also had magnificent food on a number of other Islands. The French Islands  stand out. We have had delicious lobster on St. Marteen, outstanding sweet potato fries on St. Barth’s, and some of the most yummy fish dishes on various other islands. There has been a variety of restaurants to choose from on even the smallest Islands. Plus I had this feeling the first day here, so no, I don’t think that is it.

Could it be the bus system? The bus system here is easy to use. Like many of the other island’s, the “buses” are what Americans would call vans. They run very frequently. No schedules needed, there will be one by sometime soon. We have used the bus system on St. Thomas, Nevis, and Antigua. The Antiqua’s bus drivers drive like maniacs. They like to play chicken with other cars, when passing slower vehicles. Going way to fast at times. The Grenadian bus drivers drive much more sanely from what we have seen so far, but we have not been to the countryside yet. So it is not unlike a number of other Caribbean islands, so I don’t think that is it.

Is it the cars, paved streets, well dressed people or well built homes and businesses. None of this compares to what is available in the US. It is better then some islands, but worse then some others as well. This is the first time in months we have been on a dock. We are at Port Louis Marina, St. George, Grenada. It is an adorable place. They have done a great job with the landscaping and layout. There are small colorful buildings surrounding the dock area, housing the many business offices, and retail shops. There is a pool, laundry and a shower facility, where you can take a shower under continuous water flow for as long as you want. We can walk to restaurants, grocery stores, chandleries, the bus stop, etc. Marinas are always way more convenient then riding in on the dinghy, but we have stayed in Marinas on St. Thomas that did not feel as civilized.

So what makes this place seem so civilized? I believe it is something that most households in developed countries have in every home and business. Something, I may have taken for granted. Now, after waiting around for hours for a download of one TV show episode from iTunes at an “Internet Café” in St. Lucia. Hanging out at small businesses, eating meals very slowing to allow time for updates to finish. Planning my day around when we can check for important emails or getting bills paid. The ability to check email, look up a recipe, answer silly questions quickly, pay bills, do a post here on this web-site etc, etc, etc. At this marina, they provide a motom for use on our own boat. For the first time in a long time that we have had reliable, unlimited, internet available from the comfort of my own “home”. The first time in a long time I have had instant access to friends, family and the information available on the world wide-web the majority of my day. So many conveniences are back at my finger tips. Awe, yes, it does feel like we have reached civilization indeed.