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Friends, Fires, Bike Rides ~ Colorado Captured Part of Our Hearts!

After a quick but fun stay in Angel Fire, we pointed Temporary Digs northwest and drove to Durango, CO.  In 2015 we rented a VRBO in Durango and stayed there for six weeks before we moved onto s/v Let It Be.  We had a great time then and were really looking forward to returning to some of our favorite places and bike trails.

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The driveway for Lightner Creek goes down this hill.

We stopped at Lightner Creek RV Campground where the sites are in a valley along a stream with steep mountains all around.  This was our second visit to Lightner Creek; our first was in 2010 when we rented an RV for two weeks and explored bike trails in Colorado and New Mexico.

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The campsite at Lightner is beautiful and shady.

When we left Angel Fire, we were aware that there was a fire about 10-15 miles north of the city of Durango, but it was 2,500 acres and we weren’t too concerned about it. Unfortunately by the morning of our first full day in Durango the fire had grown to 7,500 acres!

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The plume of smoke from the fire north of Durango.

There was smoke visible when we were riding trails, but it was in the distance and not an issue. We had planned to stay in Durango for a week but four days into our stay we were hiding indoors until about noon to allow the smoke to clear before venturing out.  By 1 pm we were able to ride, but the fires were still growing and the smoke was increasing.

Lightner Creek

Smoke was becoming more prevalent as the days progressed.

We decided to shorten our stay in Durango since we felt the fires were negatively affecting our plans.  The dry conditions and winds had caused the fire to grow to 25,000 acres.  Firefighters were working hard and doing what they could to contain the fire and prevent it from destroying any homes, but the smoke was an issue for us. I am so thankful for the hard working men and women fighting the fires, directing it’s course as best they can and protecting homes that could be destroyed.  What an exhausting and dangerous job!

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You can see the smoke is heavier in this picture than the last one.

Since our departure, Durango has had two days with rain and June 19th, was the first day since the fire started on June 1st, that the footprint of the fire has not increased.  The Durango fire has scorched more than 34,000 acres already, so hopefully it can be contained.

Anyway, we packed up Temporary Digs a day earlier than we originally planned and headed north and slightly east to Carbondale, CO to visit with Terrie and Brad, friends from the Sail to the Sun Rally we did in 2016.

We had to alter our route to Carbondale due to the fires but the drive was absolutely beautiful. It is impossible to capture the exquisiteness and scope of the landscape but I managed to capture a few photos.

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A rock dam along CO133

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The view from McClure Pass, 8,800 feet.

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Ok, this is actually New Mexico, but it is gorgeous and I wanted you to see it.

Although we met Terrie and Brad on the Sail to the Sun Rally, we have a lot in common other than sailing, so visiting them in their lovely Colorado home gave us a chance to hang out and have some fun.

Here are some highlights from our visit.

We went to the Carbondale Rodeo!

Very occasionally we went to the rodeo in Texas but they were usually pretty large and a bit of a drive. So when Brad and Terrie suggested the Carbondale Rodeo, we were on board. My two favorite events of the evening were barrel racing and the kid sheep riding.  Those little, tiny kids were tough! I think the youngest child was only three! They were all good sports though and were very tough when they fell off the sheep.

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Sundown from the rodeo stands.

We explored by bicycle and by car, generally played the tourist/sightseer and enjoyed the company of our hosts.

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Photo op during a bike ride.

Carbondale has plenty of biking opportunities both mountain and road. There is a Rails to Trails path, The Rio Grande Trail, that runs from Aspen, through Carbondale and all the way to Glenwood Springs.  All together this trail alone is 42 miles one way.  If I lived in Carbondale, I am sure I would find time to ride my bike to Aspen and back or maybe put my bike on a bus and get back that way.

Terrie and I took a couple of road rides while Frank and Brad mixed up the road and mountain bike rides. I would love to have access to so many excellent bike paths and trails on a routine basis and I know Frank would also.

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The views were breathtaking or was the oxygen in short supply?

Of course we drove up to the continental divide which is were the rivers on one side flow to the Atlantic Ocean and on the other side head to the Pacific Ocean.  So I guess you could say this is where both our Atlantic and our Pacific sailboat cruising life are nourished.

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The range on the right is the actual continental divide.

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Professional photo from a SpaceX photographer.

We randomly asked someone to take our picture and learned that he is a contract photographer for SpaceX…. kind of ironic since Frank was wearing a SpaceX hoodie and one of our sons works for SpaceX. Guess this will be the best photo we get for a while. 😉

We spent time exploring Aspen because you just have to see Aspen while you are nearby, plus it started raining and that was the perfect excuse to stop to have drinks and share an appetizer.  Aspen lived up to its’ reputation of being both pretty and expensive.  Some of the homes were stunning in their size, style and setting; as they should be since some come with a $20m price tag!

Terrie and I checked out a few shops and I found a very pretty embroidered top but I just didn’t think I really needed a $345 shirt for hanging out in the RV!

The scenery as we explored between Carbondale and Aspen was amazing and SO different from the flat islands and waters we have seen these last few years aboard LIB.  We enjoyed using the natural background to grab some pictures.

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We can’t imagine more generous or fun hosts than Brad and Terrie.

On a personal note, I had not had my hair professionally cut in more than 18 months so I asked Terrie if she could get me and appointment with her hairdresser. It was such a treat to have my hair cut and styled! I might just have to keep that up while I am in the States. (Thank you, Terrie for arranging the appointment. And thank you, Stacie, for fitting me into your schedule!)

This really only scratches the surface of what we did while visiting Carbondale. I wish I could somehow share with you the warmth of the welcome we received from Terrie and Brad. In addition to feeding us, giving us shelter, loving on Captain and introducing us to their friends and neighbors, Terrie and Brad found a place for us to park Temporary Digs so we didn’t even have to pay storage! WOW!! Thank you so much!

Carbondale is one of the first places we have visited where I felt like I could actually settle down once we finish our sailing life. The surroundings are fabulous, there is a lot to do in Carbondale, there are other towns nearby for additional activities, tennis is available if I want to take it up again, the biking is varied and excellent…. but I would have to learn to live with cold weather in the winter! I would definitely have to experience wintertime before I could seriously consider settling in Colorado.  It was really nice to find a place that Frank and I agree has potential as a place to live once we decide to move back to land.

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There was not a bit of shade on this ride down the Spanish Trail.

Our final stop in Colorado was Grand Junction. It is much more arid and brown than Carbondale, but it has some great places to ride bikes and the town is quaint.  Our stop in Grand Junction was a quick one as we are moving fast toward California where we will visit our children.

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The magnitude is hard to grasp until you see how small the train looks.

We divided our time in Grand Junction between bike riding, getting a few bike adjustments accomplished and making reservations for our next RV campgrounds.

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Who knew Bible Study Camp included cutting horses?

At the KOA in Grand Junction, Temporary Digs backed up to a horse arena and stable area and every day I watched folks working their horses and teens taking lessons. I actually went to the arena and to see if I could ride or take a lesson, but the lessons were part of a Bible Study Camp (???) and obviously I couldn’t join them.

Listening to the horses neigh and seeing them every day made me miss those times when I rode as a youngster…. perhaps once we are back on land for good I will look into horseback riding once again.

Here are a couple more pictures from our bike rides in Grand Junction.

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The Gunnison River makes a U-turn.

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Frank’s ride through Colorado National Monument, “The Monument.”

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Aptly named “Balance Rock.”

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Unusual shapes in Monument caused by erosion.

Although early settlers thought these were giant man-made structures, the unique shapes are caused by erosion of the protective Kayenta Formation layers which revealed the softer Wingate Formation layers seen in these smooth, rounded pattern. (Luckily I can read the information signs.)

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Sunset is a great time to ride in Grand Junction.

Frank and I both thoroughly enjoyed our stops in Colorado and could easily spend much more time here. The temperatures are great, especially compared to Texas in the summer, the terrane is varied and interesting, the options for outdoor activities appeal to us and the people have been very nice.

That concludes our too quick trip to CO. I have a feeling we will swing back through here in the fall, but for now we are pointing TD toward California…. I can hardly wait to see Hunter and Clayton and have some family time!!!

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I think I could fall in love with Colorado!

Thanks a bunch for stopping to read our post. If you want to hear from us more often, take a peak at our FB page.

 

South Water and Tobacco Cayes with our Quickest Visitors Ever.

Although we had hoped to have a few visitors this season, the changes in our location and the devastation wrought by Hurricanes Irma and Maria, plus the possible sale of LIB, caused our plans to change and discouraged visitors.

So we were very happy that our Sail to the Sun friends, Susan and Kevin, managed to adjust their plans and come sail with us in Belize. They were only able to stay for a few days, but the wind was cooperative and we had an excellent time.

Some visitors are all about the land, others enjoy the water and some are focused on the sailing aspect.  As avid and experienced sailors, Susan and Kevin were very happy the winds cooperated and we could explore under sail.  It is especially nice to have guests on board who understand sailing and all its’ capriciousness because they know we are limited by weather, wind and seas.

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Kevin and Susan are right at home at the helm of LIB.

Fortunately those three aspects came together and allowed us to sail to South Water Caye the first full day Susan and Kevin were with us.

Frank and I had “pre-visited” South Water Caye and Tobacco Caye and we were really happy to return to them and explore with Susan and Kevin.

South Water is about 12 acres in size and has pretty cottages and bars on white sand.  It also boasts an IZE (International Zoological Exploration) location on the island. IZE is best described as educational travel in the rainforest or reefs of Belize. Open to high school and university students or families interested in learning about Belize, the setting is absolutely beautiful and the marine life around South Water Caye unique.  We spoke with a group of high school students from Georgia who were having an incredible experience with IZE.

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Steps leading to the open air dining area of IZE.

 Kids who come to spend a week or two here have to suffer through these harsh accommodations! And in between snorkeling and diving excursions, the kids are stuck finding ways to entertain themselves…

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Resting after a grueling day?

So although I am poking fun, this really does seem like a very cool experience that could help raise awareness and knowledge in younger generations.  Boston University even has a facility for lab work and study.

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Yes, Boston University!

Strolling along SW Caye doesn’t take very long, but it is very pretty.

South Water Caye-5Shaded cabins, hammocks and the sound of the sea are very restful.

Even Captain enjoyed the swings at the bar.

South Water Caye-3Cappy met up with her friend Hurley again.

 

Conch shells lined the “streets” and faith is evident where the locals live.

After strolling around South Water Caye, we headed back to LIB to enjoy a relaxed afternoon and dinner on board.

South Water Caye-7Prosecco buddies.

The following day we took advantage of the shallow area on the southern end of South Water Caye where we sat in the azure water and watched Captain alternate between rolling in sand and swimming in the water.  We took turns snorkeling and sitting in the shallow water and just idling away some time in a beautiful place.

After water time, we hoisted the sails and sailed to Tobacco Caye.  It was an easy day and a great opportunity to just relax and enjoy having the boat pushed along by the wind.

South Water Caye-8So many places to relax on LIB.

Until, Cappy sounded the alert…. dolphins had come to play at our bow!

No great pics this time, unfortunately.

South Water Caye seems huge compared to Tobacco Caye which is only 200 feet by 400 feet and all of it is in use!

Tobacco Caye-8Tobacco is tiny but mighty nice!

Do not let the fact that this island is crowded discourage you from visiting! We had a great time walking around and seeing how well the space is used.  Here are some photos:

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Picturesque bungalows at the edge of Tobacco Caye.

Tobacco Caye-4An artist captured sea life.

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Not every building is in good shape but it adds character.

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Such a pretty setting and I love the matching boat and house!

Apparently seeing the wonders of the sea doesn’t get old even when you live on an island.  The local children attend school on another island so they are only home on Tobacco for the weekends.  I would find it hard to have my young children away all week long. (I find it hard to be away from my grown children!)

Tobacco Caye-5  I wonder what they see?

They were watching giant stingrays!

tobacco-1$20 for a delicious dinner at Reef’s End.

The first time Frank and I visited Tobacco Caye, we had dinner at Reef’s End Lodge. It is an upstairs, small, open air spot with one dinner seating at 6 pm.  I was surprised to learn that there was no menu ~ dinner was whatever was available that evening. At first I was hesitant about the lack of choice, but it was actually really nice to sit back, enjoy the sunset and not even concern myself with what to order.

Tobacco Caye-7Lots of activity near Reef’s End.

When Susan and Kevin were with us, Reef’s End was pretty busy and we all preferred to hang out in the water and cook on LIB instead of dinghying to a restaurant.  After walking around Tobacco Caye, we headed back to LIB for more water time.  We had snorkeled the day before at South Water, so we decided it was time to pull out the paddle boards.  Kevin and Susan have not done much SUPing, so they took the dinghy up toward the reef and anchored in the shallow area while Frank and I paddled up to them. Once we were close to the dinghy, Susan and Kevin hopped on the SUPs and paddled around the clear shallows while Frank and I swam about with Captain.

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Lounging at anchor off of Tobacco Caye.

Of course all that exercise earned us nice warm showers and sundowners on the top deck before preparing dinner.

Unfortunately, Susan and Kevin had to fly back to the States rather quickly so we didn’t have time to explore any other islands.  But happily the wind was our friend again and we had a very nice trip back to Placencia.

Our last day in Placencia, Frank and Kevin hung out on LIB while Susan and I explored the sidewalk shops I mentioned in this blog.  Susan bought a really beautiful wooden cutting board that I think will be put to use on s/v Radiance very soon.

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Fresh tamales wrapped in jungle leaves.

While walking Captain in Placencia, Frank came across someone selling tamales.  The tamales were wrapped in leaves that our Monkey River guide, Percy, had mentioned were used in cooking. So Frank bought the tamales and we shared them with Kevin and Susan….  you have to have at least one authentic meal when in a different country, right?  Anyway, it was neat to see the local leaf used for cooking and the tamales were a nice change.  The outer layer of the tamale was thicker than we were accustomed to in Texas, but I rarely complain when I don’t have to do the cooking. 😉

We were sorry to say goodbye to Susan and Kevin, but we hope to catch up with them at the Annapolis Boat Show in October.  Or perhaps they will join us somewhere along the road in Temporary Digs.

In closing, I thought I ought to include at least one sunset so you can enjoy the beauty we shared at sundown on LIB.

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Sunset on our first visit to Tobacco Caye, Belize.

~ HH55 Catamaran Update ~

In May, Frank traveled to China to take a look at our HH55 catamaran which is under construction in Xiaman.  The really good news about Frank’s visit is that everything looks great on our boat.  Similar to building a custom home, there are many unique details to every build project and sometimes communication which appears clear just misses the mark.

Happily, Frank found that our communication with HH has progressed very well and the special requests we have made look like they are being handled accurately.  However, Frank was disappointed to learn that our HH55 is behind schedule and will be delayed an additional month.  Based on what he learned while in China, we hope our new boat will be delivered to California by mid-December at the latest.

One specification we have requested on our catamaran is a different counter surface for the galley.  I guess I was spoiled by the granite we had in our home and I hoped to find a material we could use in our HH that would work well but was of a reasonable weight. Gino Morrelli suggested a product called Kerlite and we forged ahead with this tile product.  It has not yet been installed on our HH55-03, but Frank had a chance to see our selection while at the HH site.

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Kerlite ceramic tile for our galley counters.

I wanted to find a product that doesn’t scratch as easily as the surface we had on LIB and that won’t be marred if someone sets a hot pot on it. I am hopeful that Kerlite will accomplish both aims.  What do you think? Do you like the look? Do you think poured ceramic will accomplish our goal?

Thank you so much for stopping by to read our blog. We would love to hear your comments.  If  you would like to hear from us more often, please see us on FB.

 

 

S/V “Let It Be” to RV “Temporary Digs” to S/V HH55 “??”

 

libLIB, Temporary Digs and ???

So things have been just a little bit crazy around here and I thought I better jump ahead in our blog to catch up on where we are and what is happening.

P1010702So many fun times on this great boat!

We expect to close on the sale of LIB this week! (Paperwork complications.) We are both happy and sad about this. We are happy because the new owner, Deneen, will love the boat and create great memories on her. We are happy because we are moving forward with our plans.  But it is very sad to say goodbye to such an excellent boat that has taken good care of us and on which we have learned so much and had so many truly wonderful days.

IMG_5050Deneen and Danny at the helm in Kemah, TX.

We sailed from Belize to Galveston and arrived back in Texas on May 1st.  We hit the ground running and in the space of four weeks we: packed up LIB, shipped boat specific items to California, drove to Mississippi to visit Frank’s mom for Mother’s Day weekend, searched for and bought a used truck and RV,  performed final oil changes and other maintenance on LIB, Frank flew to China to check on the progress of our next boat, I drove to Dallas and back to retrieve from storage a mattress that belongs to LIB, cleaned up LIB, spent a delightful day on the water with Deneen and Danny putting LIB through her paces, moved the remainder of our belonging into “Temporary Digs” and organized it all.  Then we drove away from Galveston on May 27th.  Phew!

Of course our plan is to be back in the sailing life, but our future HH55 is delayed and will not be delivered until November or December. She will be shipped to California for final commissioning and from there we hope to head to the South Pacific.

Since LIB was our home, we had to figure out where to live until our the next boat is completed and delivered.

We had some very generous offers from various friends to stay with them, but we firmly believe the old adage, “Fish and relatives smell after three days.”  Unless, you are flying to an exotic location to visit us on our boat, of course!! Then you need to stay much longer!

So we bought an RV and truck and will spend the next several months exploring the U.S. We are calling our RV “Temporary Digs” since it be where we hang out between stays with friends and family who have invited us to visit.

Our first RV park was in Kemah, TX and was chosen strictly because it was only one mile from where LIB was docked. That RV park was not a great introduction to RV sites because it was way too crowded as this picture shows.

KemahThe tight quarters at USA Resorts Marina Bay RV Park made us question our RV decision!

Since leaving this RV park, things have improved tremendously! Our first stop was at the home of our friends Blaine and Belynda. Though they were away, they generously opened their home to us and allowed us to park in their beautiful yard.  The setting was gorgeous and the accommodations first class.  Icing on the cake was that they let us use their washer and dryer.  What more could we ask for except their company?!

IMG_3710A lush and quiet setting for Temporary Digs.

After only one night we drove to Dallas where we had a reservation at Twin Coves State Park which is only 12 miles from the home we lived in for 20 years! Dallas was a whirlwind of activity as we tried to pack in as much visiting as possible in between routine doctor visits and getting essential land toys i.e. our road bikes, from storage.

IMG_5061 2Twin Coves State Park restored our confidence in our decision to RV. 

We stayed at Twin Coves for four nights before taking off for Amarillo, TX. We wish we could have spent more time there, but the park was very full and could only accept us Monday through Friday morning. We strongly recommend this beautiful, quiet and roomy park.

IMG_5106Hardy and Dawn allowed us to stay at their ranch.

Our friends, Hardy and Dawn, have a beautiful ranch near Amarillo that includes portions of Palo Duro Canyon. Palo Duro Canyon is approximately 120 miles long with an average width of 6 miles and is the second largest canyon in the United States. The setting was unique and interesting and the house was very comfortable. But once again our hosts were not there and had simply allowed us to make ourselves at home. (I’m beginning to wonder if we are scaring away the owners?!)

The views from the ranch were absolutely stunning so I am including several!

hardy's-1First a picture with Frank and Cappy for perspective.

hardy's-4This view is great at midday, think about it at sundown or sunrise?

Hardy'sHow about that flat top and valley?

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 I just had to add one more picture from the ranch.

While staying at the ranch, we caught up on a bit of rest after such a busy May and the hectic schedule we had in Dallas. We did manage to go to Palo Duro Canyon State Park and catch the show “Texas!”

IMG_5098Guns up in Texas – though we are TCU grads, not TX Tech grads.

I don’t think there is another state with as much pride as Texas and this play portrayed that pride in spades!

hardy's-7No photos are allowed during the show, but here is the stage!

If you ever have a chance to take in this show, it is an amazing one with the canyon wall as the backdrop, live animals on stage and a mix of humor, music, integrity and patriotism.  Truly, the staging, costuming and special effects are amazing and first rate!

hardy's-5Intermission during the show in case you forget you are in Texas!

Amarillo was our last Texas stop and now we are in a fabulous RV park in Angel Fire, NM. The park is called the Angel Fire RV Resort and it is very nice. Extremely clean, large drive through pads with enough space between them to be very comfortable.  There are nice amenities including a club house, hot tub, laundry, etc and almost every day there are activities on site if you want to participate.

DSC00874Angel Fire RV Resort is a great stop.

We have spent much of our time exploring and riding bikes. Captain is thrilled to be a trail dog again, though all of us are a bit out of shape so we are trying to be a little cautious as we try to regain lost fitness.

IMG_5139Garcia Park is one section of the Epic bike ride South Boundary Trail

Frank had to convince me to go with him on this trail as I am a chicken but it was beautiful ~ especially in hindsight when I was back at the truck without a fall. 🙂  I hope we get to ride it again.

IMG_5136Dorks on wheels with pretty scenery all around.

When we bought Temporary Digs, I thought the whole fireplace thing was kind of silly so imagine my surprise when we used it our first night in Angel Fire because the temps fell to freezing! WHAT? This is not anything like living in the Caribbean! But change is good and fun.

IMG_5117Captain was perfectly happy to take advantage of the fireplace.

So there you have it. We have begun our new adventure on land and look forward to seeing the beautiful US of A  for the next several months.  We will continue the blog from land until we return to water.  We welcome you to follow along or offer suggestions for our travels.

hardy's-6Amarillo sunset because sunsets are beautiful on land as well as sea.

For a little while we will post about the end of our LIB time in Belize and back to Texas. And, of course, we will keep you up to date with the build and delivery progress of our HH55.

Thank you so much for reading our blog. We love hearing your thoughts so feel free to post a comment. And if you want to hear from us more often, please visit our FB page.

 

 

 

 

Placencia ~ Tourist or Local? A Little Bit of Everything.

Placencia provided at once a feeling of being part of the local scene and opportunities to play the tourist. The town has created two ways to progress from the public dock north to the other end of town.

The eastern path is the well known One Mile Sidewalk lined with stores, restaurants, tiny hotels and local vendors.

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Photo credit: David V Baxter/awaygowe.com

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Daily raking keeps the beach beautiful.

The sidewalk and premises are clean and new and the beaches to the shore are well tended. If you walk this sidewalk, you will find local artists have tables with wood carvings, jewelry, paintings and woven goods on display.

If you take the western path toward the north, you are immersed in feeling like a local. The dusty, dirt road sports weathered shops, small produce stands, a sports field and a few autos.  Locals stroll along and call out to one another as they go about daily life.

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Photo credit: realliferecess.com

Though they are only a block apart, the sidewalk and the street feel like different worlds. It is fun to be able to choose the experience you prefer each time you stroll through Placencia.

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Not the usual scaffolding, but it definitely works.

While in Placencia we saw a good amount of building and improvements. It appears this area is experiencing a bit of a boom. I wonder how long these glimpses into using local resources will last before being replaced by “higher tech” alternatives.

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I don’t know why they needed SO many supports while building this.

We found it interesting to see the use of indigenous materials and liked that these would naturally recycle and not add to trash issues.

Placencia has a lot to offer outside of the town too. We chose to take the Monkey River Tour so we could see the howler monkeys and some of the local beauty. Barebones Tours delivered a fabulous trip and our guide, Percy, was entertaining and informative.

Here are several pictures that attempt to capture a bit of our tour.

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This bird’s nest has a perfectly round opening!

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I see  you, Mr. Crocodile.

Belize is known to have many crocodiles and we saw several on our way to find the howler monkeys. Perhaps that nest above is empty because of this crocodile?

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Hanging nests built by gold tailed Orioles?

Percy told us that these nests were built by the largest Oriole; I think he called it the golden tailed oriole. But I have not been able to verify the identity of the builder of this nest. The bird we saw was black with a yellow tail. A yellow winged Caciques is the closest bird I have been able to find, but I am by no means well informed about birds!

Any birders know what type of bird makes these nests in Belize?

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Is he smiling for the camera?

This dinosaur looking thing is known locally as the “Jesus lizard” because it runs across the water! I found him pretty creepy looking and was glad he was very small and not the size of a dinosaur!

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Watching traffic or just hanging out?

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You are very well camoflaughed Cryptic Heron.

I found an app called Merlin through the Cornell lab and, using this photograph, I learned that this is a Cryptic Heron and is actually rather rarely spotted. Since I don’t study birds, I probably don’t appreciate this little fellow as much as I should, but the picture turned out well.

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Nothing like a termite snack to satisfy hunger!

Percy showed us several interesting plants and bugs that are eaten by locals and these termites were one of them.  Yeah, I didn’t want to spoil my appetite so I didn’t have one. )

Percy also told us about some natural remedies found among the plants and trees. It was interesting to learn about the natural remedies but I would not trust myself to know one plant from another well enough to treat any ailments!

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A tree that satisfies thirst.

Percy chopped off  a small tree branch and passed it around for all of us to taste the water that flows from the center. Pretty cool.

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Howler monkey!!

Just one of the many howler monkeys we saw swinging and walking through the trees above us. The guides would beat the trees and yell and the howlers would start howling! The noise was very loud and would be frightening if I was alone in the jungle! But since I was in a group and had a guide, it was fascinating to see and hear these primates.

Monkey River-15Manatee!

The tour included boating out to an area well known for manatees and we saw several of them. These slow and gentle animals have to surface for air and it was fun to guess where one would pop up next.

Frank and I don’t often take formal tours, but this one was an excellent way to see some of the local wildlife and learn a bit about them and the plants.  Belize is lush and beautiful, but it is not as well documented as some places we have visited, so this tour was really helpful in learning about the area.

After a full day of touring, we decided to explore on our own via the dinghy and we stumbled across this cool little place called Sail Fish. It is a small hotel with a swimming pool that just happens to have a bar on one end.

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Sail Fish hotel and swimming pool.

We spent one afternoon lounging there, then convinced our friends, Sue and Geoff, to join us there for BBQ and pool time later in the week.  The anchorage in Placencia is not clear and inviting like Bonaire, and it was very hot, so pool time was a great way to spend the day.

 

Sue wanted to make sure this fellow walked on by.

It appears the pool was attractive to this rather large iguana too.  He was a big ‘un and pretty interesting to look at, but we weren’t too excited about his getting any closer!

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A man-made private island!

While exploring, we also saw this man-made private island. It is only a stone’s throw from Placencia and clearly they take advantage of solar power.  It is so pretty floating alone in the blue water, but I can’t imagine living there.  Perhaps it is just a vacation spot. How many people do you know who build their own island??

Placencia is easily accessible from the States and our friends, Susan and Kevin, flew in to join us for a very quick visit. These fellow sailors understand that winds are capricious and we couldn’t promise we would leave Placencia, but winds were favorable and together we explored South Water Caye and Tabacco Caye.  We packed a LOT into a four night stay. But I’ll cover that in the next post….

~HH Catamaran Update~

Exciting news about our future boat…. it is getting very close to being painted.

Unfortunately this does not mean she is close to finished! We still have another six months before she will arrive in California.  The more complete she looks the more impatient I become for her arrival!

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HH55-03 being prepared for paint.

Thank you for reading our blog. I apologize for the delayed update, but things have been extremely busy with a lot of changes. We love hearing from you, so feel free to leave us a message!

 

 

Trip Updates

No internet while at sea. If you want to see updates, please check our FB page:

Let It Be, Helia 44

Atolls and Islands of Belize; Our First Few Days.

So the last blog was short on pictures and long on words because there aren’t many things to take photos of when out on a passage.  But the eastern islands of Belize were beautiful and I took a few pictures to make up for the lack of photos in the last blog.

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Long Cay in the distance with the rim of the reef visible (the brown coral and white sand).

If I were to think of Belize as a person, I would say that Belize is a bit shy and hides her qualities so that one must try hard to get to know her.  I think of the line from the movie Shrek where Shrek tells Donkey that ogres are like onions, they have many layers.

I think Belize is also like an onion. She is not well documented and you must either spend time finding the best water spots or make friends with people who are willing to share the secrets of Belize.

Although we don’t have enough time to uncover the layers of Belize, we have seen many beautiful places and the people of Belize have been wonderfully friendly and happy.

Here are some photo highlights of our first two islands in Belize:

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Captain’s first trip to shore after our passage. That is a happy Cappy!

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Strolling along the sand road on Long Cay you can see the island is lush.

Long Cay was a welcome sight and we all enjoyed walking on the stable island instead of on the boat. It was a hot day but the shade of the trees really helped reduce the temperature.

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Crop circles in the ocean?

We decided to move over to Half Moon Cay which is only about a 40 minute motor. The island is a preserve for turtles, birds and marine life.

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The aqua, shallow water of Half Moon reminded us of the Bahamas.

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Walking the path to the bird observatory on Half Moon Cay

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Fluffy headed baby bird.

There are a ton of Frigate Birds and Red Footed Boobies on the Half Moon. The observatory is right up in the trees and it is easy to observe the nests. Some of the Frigates still had inflated gular pouches.  Male Frigates inflate their bright red pouches to attract the females. I wrote a little about the Frigate birds when we visited Barbuda.

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Tents for rent on Half Moon Cay.

Since Half Moon is a sanctuary, it is not developed, but there is a research center and these tents are available for rent. I spoke with a person staying in one the island and he told me he was part of a NatGeo tour and this was one of their stops.

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Arial view of the tent area on Half Moon Cay.

Doesn’t a NatGeo tour sound like a really cool way to travel and learn about the area you are visiting?

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A ship wrecked on the reef outside Half Moon.

After a few hours on land Frank and I decided it was time to cool off, so we snorkeled from LIB toward a wreck out by the reef.  The coral was in good shape but we didn’t see very many fish…. except the shark that I saw while Frank was swimming elsewhere!!

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LIB on a mooring at Half Moon Cay.

Unfortunately, the wind direction shifted and came out of the north which made the anchorage much too bumpy, so we moved back to Long Cay.  We would have preferred to stay a bit longer at Half Moon and scuba dived to explore under water.

We have a bit of a schedule to keep thus we don’t have time to really linger in Belize, so we upped anchor and headed to our next planned stop at South Water Cay.  South Water is a darling island with several resorts on it. We returned to South Water later, so I’ll share those pictures in another blog.

Except for this one!

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My first seahorse in the wild!!

Every single time we dove in Bonaire I looked for seahorses and every time I failed to find one.  But on our third stop in Belize, at South Water Cay, I saw a seahorse right by the dock!! Of course I would never have spotted him myself. I noticed a man pointing out something in the water from the dock and it was this seahorse.  I didn’t even get in the water to see him!

In addition to South Water Cay, we stopped at Tobacco Caye and at Hideaway Cay.  We revisited both South Water and Tobacco with friends and I’ll cover those islands in the next blog.

Our final stop before heading into Placencia was at Hideaway in the Pelican Cays. The only people on the island are Dustin, Kim and their daughter.  Dustin and Kim actually built their home, dock and restaurant/bar themselves over several years. They live on Hideaway for like six months of the year, then they go back to their home in Florida.  I absolutely cannot imagine how much work is involved in building on these islands and how hard it is to prepare your home to leave it for six months.  In these salty, harsh conditions, the repair necessary upon return must be great!

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Part of the Hideaway.

Maintenance thoughts aside, Hideaway was lots of fun. The crew of three other boats were at the bar and four of them also stayed for dinner. The six of us were seated at one table and shared a delicious dinner of fish Dustin caught and Kim prepared.  This was the second restaurant we visited in Belize and at both places, you make the reservation and you eat whatever dish is served.  That certainly saves time reading a menu and trying to decide what to order! I rather enjoyed not making a choice and I know my eldest son would really like that feature too!!

At Hideaway everyone was served fish, but it was a variety of species.  I had sheepshead for the first time, while Frank was served snapper and someone else had hogfish.  Everyone seemed to enjoy his meal. When I first spied Hideaway, I was a little skeptical, but after enjoying the atmosphere and food, I would definitely recommend it!

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This tiny piece of sand was all we could find for Captain one night.

For those who have dogs on board, Dustin and Kim have two dogs and I don’t think they would like other dogs on their turf.  Better to take your dog to this little bit of sand pictured above. This island is across from mooring balls Hideaway generously installed for visitors.

So there you have our first few days in Belize. Now we are off to Placencia to meet Susan and Kevin, friends we made on the 2016 Sail to the Sun Rally. We are super excited for them to visit!

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Just a gratuitous sunset.

A special thank you to Frank for flying his drone and capturing a couple of pictures of Half Moon Cay. The arial photos are such a cool way to get a better feeling the beauty of these islands and the water.

~HH55 Catamaran Update~

When we decided to buy the HH55 rather than other boats on our list, one big factor was that the HH is made of carbon fiber.  We knew that with a larger boat, strength of materials becomes increasingly important and that carbon fiber brings strength without an increase in weight.

Because carbon fiber is the current darling of light, strong sailboats, I decided to ask preeminent marine architect and the designer of our HH55, Gino Morrelli, to offer insight into why carbon fiber is so valuable. (Read this article from March 2017 for more information about Gino’s thoughts on performance catamarans.)

I asked Gino if he could tell me, in a few sentences, why he prefers carbon fiber and he quickly shot back this response:

“Advantages of Carbon Fiber over E-Glass:
1. High specific stiffness (stiffness divided by density)  Carbon is 6-8 times stiffer than E-Glass for the same weight, less stretch = less flex in platform… ie windows and joinery stay glued in longer, hatches don’t leak…. We can use less carbon to have the same stiffness or add stiffness very easily. Lighter boats, more payload. more performance..
2. High specific strength (strength divided by density) Carbon is 2-3 times stronger than E-Glass ie, we can use half as much carbon to equal the same strength! less resin too! Lighter boats, more payload..
3. Extremely low coefficient of thermal expansion (CTE) boat does not grow and shrink in hot and cold weather. Again the windows and deck hardware stay put, and leak less…”
Well that all sounds excellent to me and it sounds like our new boat will be very strong and light! (Plus any time a guy throws around formulas it sounds pretty impressive, right?)
This week we learned that our HH55 has undergone and completed the “post cure process.” I was not sure why that was important, except that I knew it gets us one step closer to painting the boat our color of choice!
So I asked Gino to fill me in on what the post curing process accomplishes and here is his response:
“Post curing is essentially baking the boat in an oven. The epoxy resin these boats are built with cures to 75-80% of its strength in the first 24-48 hours when cured at 78f… Baking it in an oven after this initial curing (post curing) process accelerates the curing process to near 100% in 8-12 hours of additional heat of 150-160f. Post curing also improves the resins “toughness” ie more flexibility. This improves damage tolerance. We also post cure to allow us to paint the boats dark and they “print” less. They don’t show the underlying layers and foam joints through the paint and primer, if the boat is “post cured’ to a temperature that is not exceeded by the Sun out in the ocean later on…” 
Some of this might be slightly above my pay-grade, but I definitely have a better idea of why the post cure is necessary. 
And, ta da!      Our future boat is pictured here after the post cure is complete. 
  

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Post cure completed on our HH55.

If post cure is complete, can paint be far behind? Nope!

We anticipate our hull will enter the paint booth for the external paint application in mid-May. I’m excited to see her when she is all gussied up and sporting her color.

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1200 NM at Sea ~ Our Longest Trip Yet!

Curacao to Belize. More than a thousand miles at sea.   Nervous?   Yep.    Ready?    Yep.

We left the ‘big city’ of Curacao around 1pm on Thursday, March 22nd. Ideally, we would have left much earlier in the day to allow us the greatest number of daylight sailing hours for our passage to Belize and to give us a better chance of arriving in Belize during daylight.

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The view leaving Willemstad, Curacao.

However, our satellite communication system, IridiumGo, was delayed at the Customs office in Curacao for over a week!  By the time we received the system and had it up and working, we were very ready to leave; thus our midday departure.

Using a weather prediction application called Predict Wind, we anticipated this trip would take approximately 7.5 days.  Our experience in the past has shown that we often are a bit faster than predicted, but I always mentally prepare for a slightly longer than expected trip.  That way arriving early or on time is lagniappe.

When we exited the canal of Willemstad, the seas were a bit rough and mixed, probably a combination of the wind, current and land mass.  The wind was quite sporty with seas of five to nine feet and we immediately put up our main and jib to begin our trip.

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Sunset on our third night at sea.

As is usually the case, the first 24-36 hours of a passage, I have to reestablish my sea-legs. This means that Frank takes the bulk of the work and watches during this time. Thankfully I was not sick, but I can get a little queasy so I limit my activity to mostly sitting at the helm or sleeping the first day.  I am very lucky Frank is exceedingly patient and supportive as I acclimate. Plus he is usually pretty jazzed when we set out, so his energy is high while mine is a bit low.

After the first day, I felt a bit better and I improved as the trip progressed.  We were extremely fortunate with the wind and seas this trip and were able to sail the whole time. We flew the full main and jib during the day, then reefed at night as a safety precaution.

The wind was a little more east than was forecast which resulted in a slightly more downwind sail, especially after the third day at sea.  However, even with less north in the wind than was predicted, we managed this whole trip with zero engine hours!  That is pretty exciting.

We were making very good time Thursday through Tuesday and hoped we might arrive the afternoon of Wednesday thus making 1200 nm in less than seven days.  We even managed to have a 200+ nautical mile day on LIB

Our average speed was a very nice 7.8 knots for the trip until Tuesday when the winds dropped significantly.  And as the wind fell, so did our average speed. In one day our average dropped .6 knots. 

With our speed in decline, we knew we would not be able to reach our planned anchorage in daylight so in the early hours of Wednesday we had to slow down significantly.  Of course, once our destination was out of reach for Wednesday, the wind kicked into gear! All of Wednesday afternoon and night plus Thursday morning the wind was consistently 25knots!

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This tiny bit of jib is the only sail we had up our last night of the passage.

We dropped our main sail and had only a tiny piece of the jib out and still we were moving along at 5 knots.  In fact, we were unable to slow down enough to arrive in daylight and ended up having to sail back and forth outside of the reef surrounding the anchorage at Long Cay, part of the Lighthouse Reef of Belize.

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The tracks show how many times we sailed back and forth waiting for daylight.

I laugh when I see the tracks LIB made on our chart.  For two hours, until the sun was high enough for us to see into the water, we tacked back and forth outside the reef. When we were finally able to see a bit into the water, we furled the jib and motored through a break in the reef and into the anchorage.

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Sunrise with Long Cay to the left and Half Moon Cay in the distance.

Frank and I agree that even though this was an excellent passage, it felt great to drop anchor and feel the boat settle into a gentle rocking motion protected from the ocean waves.  After seven days of constant motion in the waves, it was really nice to be almost still!

People wonder what we do to occupy our time while on passage, after all, there is no internet, it is just Frank and me and we are in a rather confined space. I will not say the time just flies by, but the days don’t drag past either.

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Sunrise was a welcome sight as we waited to enter the anchorage.

Audio books are my go to entertainment while on a passage. I had downloaded four books for this trip but sadly two of them had download issues! Sometimes I listen to music as I observe the night sky and ocean.  The moon was waxing this trip and added so much light to our night watches that we cast a shadow when outside.  Plus the ocean is dazzling at night as bioluminescence sparkles in the waves created by LIB.  I find night watches are the perfect place for prayer as well.  How can I not spend time in prayer when I am surrounded by the vastness and beauty of God’s creation? 

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Seriously, Captain!!

Some afternoons we played cards and this trip we taught Captain how to play five card stud. But she is one lucky dog and Frank and I got really tired of loosing to her! I think it was all beginners luck.

This is a boat, so there are things to be maintained and passages are a good time to tackle things like scrubbing the cushions of our portable chairs.  Fun abounds aboard! 

Captain was a champ during our passage.  I really don’t know how she can sleep as much as she does but anytime one of us was downstairs sleeping, she was right there on the floor nearby! When awake, she kept herself busy barking at imaginary things, spotting dolphins and asking for treats.

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I’m not sure what this swallow was doing so far from land.

This cute little bird came to rest on LIB during our passage. We were glad to offer him a respite from his flight. I cannot imagine how far he had come before resting with us!

We also saw dolphins three times but the pictures were lousy…capturing moving dolphins in rough seas on a moving boat ~ yeah, the pictures weren’t good!

So that is the long story of our passage to Belize.  We are very thankful for the safe passage and the great conditions.  And we are grateful for calm anchorages!

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Stiltsville ~ History Can Be Interesting.

From the Bilge is where we post picture(s) that we have not used, that don’t fit into any specific blog post or that highlight some of our favorite places. The pictures might not be stunning, but they will recall something we think is worth sharing. We hope you enjoy these non-chronological items as they pop up From the Bilge.

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Stiltsville as seen from the bow of LIB.

 During our ICW travels in Miami-Dade County, we saw buildings in the distance that were built over the water.  At the time, I had no idea what they were, but I have since learned a bit about their history.

Approximately a mile south of Cape Florida on the “Safety Valve,” the shallow sand flats that run along the Florida coast near Biscayne Bay, is a group of buildings built on stilts.

In the early 1930s a man named “Crawfish” Eddie Walker built a shack on stilts and from there he sold fish bait, beer and his own famous crawfish dish called chilau. “Crawfish” built his shack toward the end of Prohibition and because it was a mile off the coast, gambling was legal. Although I didn’t read that gambling actually took place there, one imagines there was a reason “Crawfish” chose to be a mile away from shore.

Soon a few of “Crawfish’s” friends also built buildings on stilts.  The area took on a life of its’ own and at is largest, around 1960, Stiltsville had 27 buildings!

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Image taken from Google search.

Fairly early on, some clubs were built in Stiltsville including The Calvert Club whose members were from the Miami Beach Rod and Reel Club.

The most upscale club I read about was The Quarter Deck which was built in the 1940s. Membership for The Quarter Deck was by invitation only and required a membership fee of $150.  The Quarter Deck became one of the most popular spots in Miami and I would wager the crowd was considered a bit ‘racy.’

An excerpt from an article about Stiltsville in a 1941 LIFE magazine read, “extraordinary American community dedicated solely to sunlight, salt water and the well-being of the human spirit.”   The club was described as “a $100,000 play-palace equipped with bar, lounge, bridge deck, dining room and dock slips for yachts”.[4]Stiltsville was immensely popular with the well connected and monied crowd in the 1940s and ’50s but the area was damaged by Hurricane Betsy in 1965 and other subsequent storms.

Fortunately before Stiltsville declined completely and the Florida government abolished the rights of owners to maintain the remaining buildings, a last ditch effort to save Stiltsville and claim it as historically significant succeeded.

Today Stiltsville is part of the Stiltsville Trust whose stated purpose it to preserve the seven buildings that remain of the area.

Follow this link to learn more about the Stiltsville Trust.

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Curacao ~ Our Third and Final Island of the ABCs.

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Apocalypse sky?

When we first sailed to the entrance of Willemstad, Curacao, the sky looked like a movie depicting the pitfalls of pollution. The combination of the brightly painted buildings, the smokestacks emitting greenhouse gases and a few gathering rainclouds made us wonder if we were sailing into a grisly movie set recreating the industrial age! Our first impression of Willemstad was negatively affected.

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The walking bridge swings open to allow LIB access.

But in fairness to Curacao, during the remainder of our stay, the sky was mostly clear and blue and that first sky was the worst one by far.  On a positive note, Curacao has an active group called GreenTown that is working hard to raise awareness among Curacao citizens, children and industry of the opportunity (read need) to clean up the island.  This is a very important step and one of the only groups we have seen in the Caribbean trying to affect change! So, even though Curacao has an issue right now, there is hope that GreenTown will manage to make a big impact on the future of the island.

As you know from our last blog, we moved to Curacao to meet Deneen, who has bought LIB.  Our first few days were spent preparing for the survey and haul out, then meeting Deneen and her broker, Robert.  (We were very impressed by Robert and thought he did an excellent job.) Kind of surprisingly, we had a great time with the haul out and survey and especially getting to know Deneen.  The fact that Curacao Marine did such a careful job lifting LIB made the whole process much easier.

Every boat owner gets a little jittery watching his boat lifted out of the water and over concrete! But LIB was carefully tended and the survey went well, so our girl was only out of the water for about an hour.

At the end of a fairly long day, Deneen, Robert, Frank and I went to dinner at Kome in Willemstad. The dinner was excellent and the company even better. It was super fun getting to know Deneen and Robert over a relaxed dinner.

Deneen agreed to join us the following day for a stroll around the quaint shopping area of Willemstad.  The pictures will do more justice to the walking area than I will….

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Willemstad along the canal.

This picture shows a bit of the walking bridge that crosses the canal and is shown above as it opened for LIB to enter.

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Frank and Deneen strolling along; probably talking boats.

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Pretty examples of the colorful buildings.

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Lunch break!

Lucky for us, Deneen had been to Curacao and remembered this cute restaurant from her previous visit. She didn’t get a chance to try Mundo Bizarro on her last visit so we agreed we had to make it happen this time.  Great choice as the food was excellent. I should have taken a picture of the bar inside. It is worth a look if you are ever nearby!

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Aren’t these great?

I have no idea what this building actually is, but I loved the artwork and had to capture it.

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“Lock your love on the Punda Love Heart.”

Although I do not know how effective it is to lock you love on the “Punda Love Heart,” it seems to be a popular thing to do. What happened to setting your love free and if it comes back to you it is yours forever? Different cultures or do we live in a possessive era? Just kidding ~ that is way too deep for my frivolous blog! 😉

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Just a little wave action in the harbor.

The first 10 days in Curacao, the wind just howled! The water was kicking up so I thought I would try to show the power demonstrated in these waves.

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But really, a still shot doesn’t capture the strength of the water and wind.

After Deneen flew back to Texas and the survey was completed, we had a few days to chill and drive around Curacao.  Frank and I find it interesting that in the two weeks we have been on Curacao, we have rented a car perhaps six days.  During our whole stay in Bonaire we only rented a car four days.  This alone demonstrates how different each island is for a cruiser!

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Eveline sent this pic of Cap searching the tall grass in the yard.

Captain went to stay with Eveline of Yuka’s Dog Services & Training because we didn’t want her wandering around, untended during the haul out and sea trial. Eveline is fabulous and I strongly recommend her for boarding your dog and for training or agility classes.  Cappy had a great time and came home happy and tired.

We wanted to take Captain with us while we explored the islands since she had been away for a couple of days. Unfortunately all of the beaches and the national park we saw prohibited dogs!

This made for an abbreviated day but we did get a chance to see the island, take a few pictures and have lunch.

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Fishing boats at anchor.

Although here at Curacao Marine the water is not pretty, Curacao does have some beautiful beaches.

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A perfectly protected bay for swimming.

The sand was fine and white and the water crystal clear, but very few people were swimming. Instead they were stretched out on lounge chairs or hiding from the sun in the shade, enjoying a good read.

If Cappy had been allowed on the beach we would definitely have been in that water!

One last fun sight we found was a darling kids’ playground where the nature had been decorated or painted to make it look like a sea-scape.  Look how clever this artist is!!

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What a creative and happy place to play!

Currently we are waiting for our new IridiumGo to be released from customs so we can begin our journey back to Texas.  Unfortunately, between eZone and Customs, our package has been seriously delayed! We await the release of our new IridiumGo and we won’t leave Curacao without it. Two thumbs down on this delayed delivery!

For those who don’t know, IridiumGo is a satellite communication system that allows us to access weather and send limited e-mails while in the middle of the ocean. A very important safety measure that we want to have working for our passage from Curacao to Belize since it is about 1,200 nautical miles! We will be at sea for approximately seven nights and we want to use the IridiumGo to update the weather.

Until the IridiumGo is up and running, we will simply wait in Curacao and enjoy our surroundings.

 

~HH CATAMARAN~

Now that Let It Be is sold, we will be even more anxious to take delivery of our new catamaran. We are working very closely with HH to set up our boat so it will work well on long passages with only Frank and me on board and for continuing our lives as sailboat cruisers.

I absolutely cannot stress enough how important it has been to have Morrelli and Melvin working with us on the purchase of this boat. Gino Morrelli has been an amazing resource and we are thankful beyond words for his guidance and help! (And patience!)

On his recent visit to China, Gino sent us a couple of picture of our HH55 in construction, including this one of the master cabin bed area. I really like the large window at the head of the bed and along the outboard side in our master cabin.IMG_0068.jpg

Here is our aft, port stateroom area under construction.

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The completed room looks a lot prettier as seen here on Hai Feng, HH55-02.

When we visited HH55-01, Minnehaha, in Ft. Lauderdale a year ago, owners Deb and Doug were very generous in allowing us to poke around their beautiful boat.  While Frank was opening every engine and electrical compartment, I took myself off to the master hull to check out a few of my own “wanted” items. Sitting up in bed and reading is a luxury I have missed, so I was delighted to see there is a generous headboard/backrest on the HH55 ~ perfect for reading.  And I love that I will be able to see outside while reading in bed!

Thank you so much for visiting our blog! We appreciate your time and hope you will drop us a line in the comments.  If you would like to hear from us more often, please visit our FB page.

 

 

 

 

Location Is Working

We have re-activated our IridiumGo! and now you can see where LIB is located. The device is set to update our location every hour.

Find our location by clicking on “Our Location: Follow s/v Let It Be” found on the right side of the page under the second heading “More About LIB.”

We leave today for Belize and anticipate the passage will take seven or eight days.

We won’t have much communication while we are sailing, but I have a blog post or two written and scheduled to post while we are sailing.

Prayers for a safe and beautiful passage are always welcomed.  See you in Belize.

 

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