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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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It’s Official ~ LIB Has a New Owner.

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The documents are signed, so now I can tell you that the reason we moved to Curacao was to meet the prospective buyer of LIB, take her on a sea trial and have our boat surveyed.

I am happy to report that all went well. Our floating home passed inspection with flying colors, the buyer loved Let It Be and our home has been purchased.

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As LIB was lifted out of the water a man watched how she sat on the trailer. (See him?)

We were very impressed with Curacao Marine, the yard that pulled LIB out of the water for the dry portion of the survey. The men were extremely professional and careful about the haul out process.  The trailer is well maintained and they even put plastic over the support pads so LIB would not have any scuff marks.  One of the guys was in the water using a controller to manipulate the support pads precisely where they needed to be under LIB. We have been very impressed with Curacao Marine during our stay here!

The surveyor had a few minor comments about Let It Be which we have already addressed. The starboard engine was vibrating a bit at idle and we had a Volvo mechanic address that issue.  We actually thought the idle setting of both engines was a little low, so while the mechanic was here, he adjusted them to meet the Volvo specifications.  The tiller arm on the port rudder was a little loose, so Frank went to work and fixed it the very next day! The surveyor came back by and has inspected and approved that work already!

No moss growing here!!

We are very pleased with the results of the survey of Let It Be and if I were buying a boat that received this kind of report, I would be thrilled.  Big kudos to Frankly for his excellent and detailed care of our boat!

Ironically, the person who has bought LIB is a woman I had “met” through the FB group Women Who Sail.  We had texted a couple of times about a few subjects over the last year or two.  (But she didn’t realize LIB was my boat when she decided to make an offer!) She is also friends with our friends, Amy and David of s/v Starry Horizons (who have the excellent blog and vlog Out Chasing Stars.)  AND! our buyer lives in Texas, so we have that excellent connection as well.

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An evening sail in Bonaire. Thanks for the pic, Clayton.

During our discussions about selling LIB, we agreed to deliver the boat to Galveston, Texas which will be her future port. Frank and I think this is a great arrangement because it saves our buyer the expense of having LIB delivered, we get to explore the western Caribbean along the way, and we can return to the U.S. via boat instead of airplane.

Arriving by boat is much easier than flying with Captain!

Per our agreement, we will arrive in Galveston by May 15th.  This gives us ample time to find excellent weather windows and allows us to explore a few anchorages along the way to Texas. This May delivery time frame allows us to break up the 2260 nautical mile trip from Curacao to Texas into several shorter passages.

Our tentative plan for returning to Texas is to make three stops between here and Galveston.  The first leg will be to the San Blas Islands of Panama; about 650nm.  The second leg to Belize will be approximately 760nm.  From Belize we will sail to Isla Mujeres, Mexico which is a quick 200nm. And our final leg to Galveston will be about 650nm.

Needless to say we are happy and sad about the sale of Let It Be.  She is a fabulous boat and has taken great care of us. We have had very few issues with LIB and we have made many changes to make her perfect for our sailing needs.

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It’s hard to let go of a boat that is in great shape, sails well, has been our home, and functions well for our purposes! (Plus I still love the cushions we had made for the cockpit and helm area!)

So, there you have our news about Let It Be and our anticipated route through the May delivery to Galveston.

I guess soon we will have to figure out what to do while we are ‘boatless/homeless’ until our HH55 is delivered to California!

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.

27 Cascadas ~ Falls

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.

Perhaps my favorite excursion during our travels has been our trip to 27 Charcos de Damajagua in the Dominican Republic.

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First we followed a trail beautifully shaded by an arching canopy of trees, then the real adventure began…

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We swam through streams…

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climbed over rocks….

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slid down water smoothed rocks….

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and jumped from cliffs to return to our starting point.

The whole return trip was made through fresh water that was just chilly enough to be invigorating.  And the jumps, slides and swims were just daring enough to make one stop occasionally to take a deep breath….. and go for it.

I highly recommend this trip if you stop in the Dominican Republic!

As always, thanks for stopping by to read our blog. What do you think of our new section, From the Bilge?

 

Is LIB Stuck? Why Are We STILL in Bonaire?

When we sailed away from Puerto Rico to escape Hurricane Maria in September, we chose the ABC Islands for their location and accessibility from PR.  We did not realize that we would fall a little bit in love with Bonaire. But we have.

And we are not alone.  We have met many cruisers and land lovers who return to Bonaire year after year.  We understand the attraction! Bonaire provides a great location for several activities we love.

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Frank kiting near the mounds of Bonaire salt.

Kiteboarding: the wind is almost always great for kiting. We can launch and take down our kites right on LIB so we don’t have to deal with sand on the kites and us when we finish the day.

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French angel fish and a photo bomb by the Spanish hogfish.

Scuba diving: Bonaire is years ahead in their protection of the reefs and their efforts are apparent in the health of the marine life.  These are the best reefs we have seen during our cruising life.

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A fabulous view while biking.

Biking: there are bike paths on some of the streets here and many people ride bikes. The terrain is varied so you can have different types of bike rides. No, you won’t find downhill biking or epic mountain bike rides, but you can ride off road or on road and have excellent views and get plenty of exercise.

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The string along the sand is a “lane line” for swim practice.

Swimming: the mooring area is crystal clear and an excellent place to take an afternoon swim. Plus we joined the swim practices and three times a week we reel off laps as we watch the ocean bottom for sea life.

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LIB sporting her spinnaker.

Sailing: the wind is generally from the east and we are on the west side of a low lying island which usually means pretty flat seas with generous winds. These conditions make for some very fun sailing!

Education/Giving Back: occasionally there classes about local sea life or island history and we hope these resume soon so we can attend.  Also, once a quarter, the local dive shop puts together a reef clean up day. They provide the tanks and bags and divers volunteer to gather debris from the ocean.  We will definitely participate as soon as we can.

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Volunteers for the parrot count.

Recently we participated in the annual count of the yellow shouldered amazon parrots on Bonaire. Approximately 50 volunteers were assigned observation points around the island and one Saturday morning we all assumed our positions by 5:45 am and counted how many parrots lifted from our designated area and which direction they flew.  This year the estimated count, which is really an estimate to determine if the parrot population is increasing or decreasing, was up from 700 to over 1,000 parrots spotted. Good news for this endangered bird.

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BSSA kids spend the afternoon on LIB.

We have also met several people from the Bonaire Sailing School Associaltion (BSSA).  We invited the kids out to sail with us on LIB and Frank organized a work day where cruisers volunteered and made repairs to the BSSA sailboats.

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Even in the rain, Bonaire is beautiful.

Another plus is that the weather and water are a little warmer in Bonaire than in the Virgin Islands or Bahamas this time of year, which makes water activities way more inviting. Further north, the weather patterns are more unsettled in the first quarter of the year than they are in Bonaire.

Bonaire may be a small island, but it has plenty of activities, excellent grocery stores, tons of restaurants and a variety of shopping available.  Even though we have stopped here longer than anywhere else, we feel like there is much more to explore and learn about Bonaire.

Even so, our time in Bonaire is coming to an end. We have plotted our next move and surprisingly, it will be westward.  We are off to Curacao in a week or two.  We didn’t explore Curacao at all as we traveled between Aruba and Bonaire, so we will take a look around that island for a week or two. By the time we see a little of Curacao, mid-March will have arrived and the weather should allow us to leave the ABCs.  We have a few weeks to determine which direction the wind will take us after Curacao.

~HH Update~

This week at the Miami Boat Show, the first HH55 with an aft helm station, Hai Feng, was on display.  We have chosen to have our HH55 with the aft helm version. From what I have heard, at times there were lines of people waiting to see the Hai Feng at the show.  Though I have not seen her in person, I am sure she is quite fetching! Frank actually was aboard Hai Feng for her sea trial in China a few months back and he was impressed with the boat’s performance. During the sea trial, sails were lifted and lowered several times to make sure all was in order and the Hai Feng was put through her paces.  The highest SOG Frank saw was 18 knots!  Pretty awesome.

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Hai Feng wrapped and ready for shipment!

We are really looking forward to the day our boat will be wrapped and ready for shipment to California!

For those interested in a slightly smaller performance cat, HH has introduced the HH48 and she looks stunning!

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.

Cruisers Workday for Bonaire Sailors

If there is one thing a sailing cruiser learns, it is how to make repairs; often with creative solutions.

Frank decided to put cruiser know-how to work and organize a volunteer repair day for the BSSA (Bonaire Sailing School Association) sunfish sail boats.  He posted a plea for help on the Bonaire Cruisers FB page and went from boat to boat in the anchorage asking cruisers if they would help with some simple repairs needed on the local sailing school boats.

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Patrick, Lawrence, Dave, John, Sue, Malcolm, Ernest, Derek, Mary Grace, Dave and Frank

The result was that on January 23rd, 11 cruisers volunteered and spent about 3.5 hours working on the sunfish owned by BSSA.  Twenty two hands were busy with all kinds of maintenance that the working BSSA parents don’t have time to do.

Boats were cleaned and polished.

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Initial wash…

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Sue polished until the sunfish shone!

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Malcolm and Dave passing off the new bungee.

Main sheet tie downs were replaced with spliced dyneema and bungee cords for centerboards were replaced.

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Derek and John fixed a dozen tires.

Attachments for loose tires on hand trailers were replaced and there was even a little gel coat work done.

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Ernest removes a hiking strap.

Frayed and fragmented hiking straps were removed.

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And replaced with new straps.

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Derek and Frank making sure all the water is out.

There were a few sails that needed some repair and Frank brought those back to LIB. Since we don’t have a sewing machine, Frank asked our friend, Barb, to help us out.  Barb pulled out her sewing machine and made the needed repairs and now BSSA has two more sails in working order and another repaired hiking strap!

In just a few short hours, cruisers were able to make a decent impact on the boats used by BSSA.  We worked on 11 sunfish.  Seven were in use but needed a little maintenance. Three were not being used because they needed attention and the cruising volunteers were able to address the issues.  (Those three boats are now in use.)  One boat we worked on still needs a little more TLC before it is useable.

Frank did a great job of organizing the volunteers and the sailors were fabulous to spend their time contributing to the sailing youngsters of Bonaire.

It is pretty cool to see the kids out sailing and know their boats are working a little better because of our efforts. Plus BSSA had an open house a few weekends ago and added 10 or so kids to their ranks.  I think they will need those extra working boats!

A very special thank you to Anneka, a BSSA mom and board member, who met us to unlock and lock the storage area and give us access to water and power. Anneka has been a warm and welcoming liaison for BSSA!

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Parrot Heads? Nope, But We Can Count.

This week Frank and I pretended we were ornithologists, which we are definitely not. We participated in the Echo Bonaire annual count of the Yellow-shouldered Amazon Parrot.

Lora

Yellow-shouldered Amazon Parrot – photo from Echo website.

Due to heavy trapping of these birds and poaching of nests for the pet trade, as well as diminishing habitats, these parrots are classified as vulnerable on the endangered species list.

Called Loras here on Bonaire, this parrot has become extinct on Aruba and their status on Curacao is undocumented. So each January the Echo Bonaire team organizes volunteers and on one Saturday morning a count of Loras on Bonaire is undertaken.

Parrot roost

Our roost is the rocky hillside in the left third of this picture.

Thursday our neighbors, Barb and Chuck of Tusen Takk II, helped me scout out the spot Frank and I were assigned for the count. Pre-spotting was well advised as our observation perch was on a rocky outcrop and access was best found in daylight the first time.

Saturday morning we departed LIB just before 5 am and were dropped near our site by 5:35. With flashlight, deck chairs and note taking papers in hand, Frank and I ducked thistles and dodged cacti until we reached our rocky outcropping.  By 5:50 we were at our assigned point and waiting patiently for the Loras to awaken and take flight so we could count the those in our designated roost.  Simultaneously about 50 other volunteers waited in additional observation spots throughout Bonaire.

The inky darkness dissipated gradually as the sun awakened and cast a bit of light on the south facing hillside we were assigned.  By 7 am we had seen not a single parrot but we agreed that even without the Loras, this was a unique and pretty way to share the dawn.

Parrot roost-2

Our site in the soft light of dawn.

The notes we received about our site stated that last year only two parrots were seen at the roost and we thought this year was a bust. But a little after 7 am we began spotting Yellow-shouldered Amazon Parrots flitting up from the scrubby brush and alighting on the cacti.

The total count from our roost was 12; a significant increase from last year! We also had several groups of Loras land on the brush behind us and fly through the valley where our roost was located.  It was fun to watch them flutter from place to place.

Echo

Many of the volunteers for the parrot count.

Volunteers gathered around 8:45 that morning to turn in their official drawings and bird counts. The news was good for this years’ parrot count.  Last year a total of slightly over 700 Loras was made, but this year the number jumped to 1021 sightings.

Good news for the Yellow-shouldered Amazon of Bonaire! And fun spotting for the volunteers.

The Echo folks did a good job or organizing and communicating with the volunteers. The only hiccup was that the transportation they arranged for us fell apart.

2018-01-28-PHOTO-00000019 2

Chillin’ in the truck bed post bird count.

Luckily, Barb and Chuck came to our rescue.  Their truck seats were accounted for, but they let Frank and I throw our chairs in the back and they took us on a scenic trip back to the anchorage.

Tusen Takk II are awesome neighbors and we are lucky to be moored next to them! Thank you Barb and Chuck for telling us about this volunteer opportunity and making our participation possible!

As always, thank you for reading our blog. If you have and questions about our life aboard, feel free to ask in the comments below. Also, you can check out our FB page if you want to “hear” from us more often.

 

Bring on the Dogs! That’s What Everyone Remembers.

Hi guys, it’s me, Captain.  Mom is super lazy so she’s making me do the blog today. NOT!

dog

Please can I write? I have things to say!

Actually, I begged to write this one because I think mom’s stuff is kinda boring and we need to change it up. Plus when we stop and talk to people they often say, “Oh I remember Captain!” Mom laughs because she says everyone remembers me but not her.  Perhaps she needs to wiggle her tail more?!

So it’s been months and months since I’ve had a chance to tell you what is going on for me.  Since my last blog, we have been to five different countries: Turks and Caicos, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Aruba and Bonaire.

Provo-6

Playtime and shade = happiness!

I really liked Turks and Caicos because we stayed mostly at South Side Marina and I was allowed to get off and on the boat anytime I wanted – well almost! And there was another dog that lived there and we played lots and lots.

dog-1

Walking at Puerto Bahia, Samana

The Dominican Republic was great because mom took me for a lot of long walks and we found a waterfall that I could play in during our walks.  That waterfall was super special because it didn’t have any salt in it and I could drink the water!  I wish whoever puts the salt in all the oceans would stop because I really want to drink that water!

One surprise was going back to Puerto Rico.  Puerto Rico is the place where we first moved onto LIB and it was kinda fun to be back in a familiar place. Dad was riding bikes and mom got to play some tennis. I had long walks and made some new people friends and really liked hanging out at the pool with Frank and MG.

But my people are strange. One afternoon we went to the pool and we were super chill and talking about some hikes we were going to do. Then Frank got on his computer and suddenly everything changed!

dog-9

Palmas del Mar before Maria. Taken from the top of the mast the night before we fled.

He and MG started taking about somebody named Maria and weather and category 4 or 5 or something and next thing I knew we are in full pack and go mode! Within 15 hours we had picked up and left Puerto Rico and were sailing to Bonaire.

Later I figured out there was another one of those hurricane things headed toward our marina, so we had to skedaddle.

dog-10

LIB moored in Bonaire.

So since September we have been hanging out in the ABC Islands. It’s really pretty here and sooo many people from the cruise ships stop to pet me and tell me how much they miss their dogs.  They should just bring them along! I sure am glad MG and Frank have brought me on our boat.

My boys have come to visit two times since I last wrote! Once was in the Turks and Caicos and then they came to Bonaire for Christmas. Wow wee it is so fun when they are here. Hunter sneaks me treats sometimes (don’t tell!) and Clayton’s ear rubs are so good that I groan with happiness. I just can’t help it!

Mom hasn’t been taking as many pictures of me lately, so I don’t have very many to show, but here are a few I like.

dog-7

Few shells makes for great runs! (Turks and Caicos)

Without a doubt, running on soft sand is my favorite thing to do! Especially since there haven’t been any goats to herd in a looooong time. After I run, I cool off in the ocean and make sure my fur is really wet, then I roll around in the sand!

dog-8

Feels as good as rolling in grass!

MG thinks I do this just to get messy, but really this is how I scratch all those places I can’t quite reach.  You should try it. I’m sure you would start sand scratching on a regular basis!

dog-3

UGH! The rinse cycle before getting in the dinghy.

The one thing I don’t like is that before we go back to the boat, Frank dunks me in the water and washes away as much of the sand as he can. Boy, I just don’t understand why he ruins a good sand scratch like that.

It’s been a long while since we have found creeks and stuff to explore in the dinghy. I really miss zipping along and seeing fish and turtles right next to the dinghy.

dog-6

Instead of Swamp People, maybe we could be Dinghy Dervishes? 

We look kinda crazy when we go on these dinghy explorations but we all laugh a lot… even when we get in water so shallow that my people have to get out and walk us to deeper water. (I just stay in the dinghy and make sure they go the right way!)

dog-4

I count two in and one getting out….

Over the last few months we have had lots of new friends come out on LIB with us.  One day we had 15 kids from Bonaire out for the afternoon.  Can you say busy?! Phew, that is a lot of kids to keep on the boat.  When we stopped for snacks and a swim, those kids were jumping from all over the boat and I had a hard time keeping count of them all. It was good my humans helped too!

After all the kids were back on board and we were underway again, I went down to mom and dad’s room and took a nap. Hoowee, that was a tiring day. But super fun!  And now almost every time we go to shore for a walk, I see one of the kids or somebody yells my name from a passing car to say hello.

I think I am a pretty good advocate for boat dogs!

Speaking of going to shore, that is the one little thing I’m not so keen about here in Bonaire.  There are a LOT of dogs here and pretty much all of them bark and snarl from behind their fences. It’s a little distracting when I’m on a “business trip.”

dog-5

I jump right in when it’s time to go to shore!

Here’s a picture of me and Frank swimming to shore for a walk.  Mom does this too, but she is the one who takes most of the pictures.

dog-2

Pretty adorbs, aren’t I?

MG and I participated in a Santa Hat Walk around Christmas.  We got to walk places we had never been and there were lots of other people walking who petted me.  I was the only dog that went on the walk.  Gosh, I’m sure glad my people like to take me with them!  Anyway, I won an award for being cute.  MG says if I were a human I would be really conceited because everyone tells me I’m cute or pretty…. Why does she think I hold my tail so high? Duh!

So that’s pretty much the news around here for now.  Except I know mom and dad are up to something right now because they keep mentioning this boat called an HH55. I took a peak on mom’s computer and I saw some pictures of it.  At first I couldn’t really tell it was a boat, but now it’s coming along.  From what I can tell, they want to use this boat to go exploring even farther away from the U.S.  As long as I get to go with them, I’m down for this whole new boat gig.  Here’s a picture I found on mom’s computer that shows the boat is actually beginning to look like a catamaran now.

5503 Deck and coachroof bonding complete1

Deck and coachroof bonding completed.

I have two questions about this new boat. 1. Will I still be able to look into the cold drawers? 2. What are we going to name it?  If you have any ideas for a name, please post a comment below, ok?  I bet I would get a lot of extra treats if I manage to come up with a cool new boat name. (Dad kinda wants to keep a song title name, but mom wants something lighthearted relating to exploring or speed. How do you reconcile that?)

Oops, gotta run.  Yesterday I made a new friend, Dave, who likes to paddle board and he said he would take me with him.  Pretty sure I just spotted Dave coming my way!

I hope your day includes some excellent sniffs!

Tail wags and licks,

Captain.

 

 

 

 

Family Time – The Happiest Time of the Year!

What an awesome Christmas we had on LIB! Our sons arrived on December 23rd and as is par for the course, we were busy, busy,  busy!  But the great part is that we were not busy shopping and buying presents and worrying about who needed gifts.  Instead we were trying to pack in as much fun as possible while Hunter and Clayton were here.

Christmas-7

So glad to have our kids with us!

The one item I had on my to do list was to get a decent family picture.  The last family picture we took was a very last minute acquiescence and this year I wanted to make sure we took a decent photo. That doesn’t mean we dressed up and coordinated colors (much less shaved facial hair!) but at least we had a festive backdrop and Clayton took a good pic.

Christmas-6Hunter practicing his smile while Clayton sets up the camera.

After the “photo shoot” it was play time and we packed a lot into a few days. The majority of our focus was on kiting and we got some pretty good pics:

Christmas-5Clayton skimming along.

DSC01060Frank looking mighty relaxed.

Christmas-2Hunter spends a lot of kite time upside down. Christmas-8You went how high? A perspective on how high Hunter jumps.

Captain is not always happy that her herd is off of the boat and she spends a lot of time running from side to side barking for us to come back to the boat.

DSC02357 Should I put a Fitbit on Captain and see how many steps she gets?

Spinnaker-3LIB looks festive flying her new spinnaker.

We all enjoy sailing and the west side of Bonaire is perfect because the low land prevents the waves but not the wind. Every day we sailed to and from our mooring site to either the kiting spot or a scuba diving ball.

Hunter and Clayton earned their open water scuba certification three Christmases ago but we have not had many chances to dive with them.  The four of us dove this week and the marine life was great, but diving was definitely not their favorite activity.  I think they enjoyed cooling off but the activity itself was too staid for their tastes….. surprise!

Other activities included bike riding, swimming, snorkeling, exploring, SUPing and generally just enjoying our time together on the boat.  We are very fortunate that we truly enjoy being together; so the time flew by.

Christmas-9LIB showing off her North 3di sales.

We have tried to get a few pictures of LIB actually sailing so those interested in buying her can see just how pretty she looks sporting her North 3di sails. Since Clayton messes around with photography, he acted as the photographer and Hunter and I took turns driving the dinghy a couple of times.  Of course, we refused to allow the pictures to take precedence over playtime, so we didn’t use the best lighting of the the day. Still, Clayton did a good job with the pics and managed to get some photos of our boat zipping along.

Christmas-4Very cool to see this yacht actually sailing!

While out and about, we spotted this giant sailboat, M5.  It is unusual to see very large sailboats actually sailing, so we especially enjoyed watching this 250 foot long beauty going though her paces.  If you look closely, you can see the wing of an airplane on the aft deck! This sailboat was built in 2003 and refit in 2014. It is the largest single-masted yacht ever built. To give you a little perspective…. her beam is broader than the whole length of LIB!

Of course we were too busy “doing” for me to spend much time taking pictures, but we did take a little walk along the salt fields to see if we could get any interesting photos.

ChristmasClayton walking near the salt pond.

Once again the lighting was not conducive to taking great pictures and we couldn’t get really close to the pools, but I did snap this photo of Clayton as he strolled along looking for a better angle.

Bonaire has an outdoor movie theater and we decided it would be a fun change of activity for us. We drove the dinghy to a nearby marina, then walked about 12 minutes to the Empire Theater where the latest Star Wars movie was showing.  Our kids are too young to remember drive in theaters so this was a fun way to give them an idea of what that bygone entertainment was like.  Empire Theater is a fun experience but I can’t say the sound system is indoor theater quality. For the price of a ticket, you are given a plastic chair and a pair of 3D glasses.  We arranged our chairs in the gravel flooring, put on our glasses and thoroughly enjoyed watching the Resistance Fighters battle evil! Until, the rain came and we all had to dash beneath the very scant roof.

Even with the rain, we had was fun and enjoyed watching the movie in such a unique place.

Christmas-3Clayton and Hunter snagging the mooring ball.

Having all of us together, sharing activities, meals, laughter and Christmas was the best gift I could receive. I love having the chance to cook favorite meals and desserts for the kids and watching them relax and lounge about on LIB. And it is kind of nice to sit back and let my three guys take care of the helming and mooring while I have the satisfaction of watching them work as a team.

Last year Hunter was working out of the country and we were unable to be together for the Holidays.  Remembering that Hunter was away last year made this Christmas just a little bit sweeter.  I am thankful for the many, many blessings God has bestowed on us; and I thank Him daily for my family.

I hope all of you had a blessed Holiday and we on LIB pray that God blesses your 2018 with health, happiness and adventure!

Thank you so much for visiting our blog! If you would like to hear from us more often, please visit our FB page.

 

 

 

 

 

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