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Life Onboard; Comparing Year 1 and Year 2

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The unparalleled waters of the Bahamas.

September marks the second completed year of full time living on our sailboat and it is amazing how different the two years have been.

Our first year we spent the first months working hard to get Let It Be ready for us to live on her.  Although we bought our boat new, we had several items we wanted to add to make life on our boat just a bit easier.

Probably the three biggest changes we made during the first year that have made LIB more functional for us were:

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Adding a Cruise RO Water Maker which frees us from looking for places to buy water as we travel.

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Adding these two upper windows to our salon which allow us to have airflow into the boat even if it rains outside.

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Our new cushions which are so much more comfortable than our original ones and add a very nice pop of color and individuality to LIB.

As far as our actual travel during the first season, we spent our time in the Windward and Leeward Islands of the Caribbean and loved moving from one country to the next.  The majority of our time was spent on anchor; we spent three nights in a dock on Antigua celebrating the New Year, then did not use a marina again until June.

We thoroughly enjoyed being on the hook, swimming and snorkeling almost every day and living that first season very much in tune with nature.

At the end of our first season, we left the Caribbean and sailed north all the way to Annapolis, MD to get in position for my personal “wish” which was to join a rally and work our way south through the Intracoastal Waterway.

Prior to the start of our second season aboard LIB, we made three additional changes to LIB that have made a significant difference for her in a positive way.

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We invested in brand new 3di sails by North Sails.  These sails are higher performance than our original sails and have gained us the ability to point higher and sail a bit faster. Definitely a win for LIB and us.

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We replaced all of our electronic equipment with B&G and we added radar to LIB.  We are very happy with our new equipment and find the autopilot to be excellent. The B&G equipment has some features that our previous system did not have and we find the whole system more user friendly.

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Our third change was that Frank and I completely revamped the rain water drainage on LIB by enlarging the drain holes and leading the captured water into the drain in the cockpit floor.  Prior to making these alterations, our cockpit floor would get wet when it rained because water ran off of the upstairs sun area and into the cockpit.  Since our modification, our cockpit is dry and usable even during heavy rains.

Our second season of cruising has been great but completely different from our first. We kicked it off with the 2016 Sail to the Sun Rally that started in Hampton, Virginia.  In the company of 18 other sailboats, we spent two months working our way south to Florida.  Nearly every evening we were in a different marina and we ate out more often than we ever did while living on land. The social life was amazing and the group of people were like minded and are sure to be friends for a very long time.

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A few STTS Ralliers waiting for a trolley tour.

We spent January through April in the Bahamas, including several stays in marinas.  Next we worked our way over to the Turks and Caicos, the Dominican Republic and then to Puerto Rico for this hurricane season.

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This marina in Samana, DR isn’t exactly a hardship!

While in the Turks and Caicos, we spent 95 percent of our time in a marina.  In the Dominican Republic we spent 100 percent of our time in marinas and now that we are settled in Puerto Rico for hurricane season, we are again in a marina.

As you can tell, our second season was all about marinas and much of it was about land activities.

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Kiting in Antigua.

Our first season we ate off of the boat rarely and focused on our water sports. Many hours and anchorages were all about kite boarding in beautiful places and having beaches all to ourselves.

This year we have made a ton of new boat friends, helped considerably by the Sail to the Sun Rally, and we have spent more time exploring on land.

In summary, I would say this year feels more like “land life” while living on a boat but our first year felt more like living on a sailboat.

If I had to choose if I prefer year one or two, I would not be able to do so. Year one I loved being in tune with the sunrises and sunsets while on anchor. I loved swimming to shore nearly every day and daily water activities.  I loved being in somewhat isolated places and feeling out of touch with U.S. news but being able to stay in contact with my family and friends.

This year I loved making so many new friends and reconnecting with friends in different anchorages or marinas. The convenience of restaurants and stores was welcome. It was really nice to be back in the U.S. with everything so familiar and accessible. But because we were in the States, it was easy to get caught up in the “real world” and that was not my favorite aspect of year two.

So now that we have experienced two very different years, what will we do for the upcoming season?

In November, we are once again setting off toward the Windward and Leeward Islands of the Caribbean. But this year we will also jump over to the ABC Islands (Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao) and spend time there before the hurricane season of 2018 begins.

My hope is that this season we can somehow manage to blend our last two seasons.  Perhaps we will devise an itinerary that includes remote anchorages intermingled with some more developed areas with conveniences we sometimes crave (think grocery stores with our favorite veggies and fruits).

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It was a great surprise when Starry Horizons was nearby!

And of course, we hope to reconnect with sailing friends because it is a little thrill to drop anchor and suddenly realize that a nearby boat is a friend we didn’t know was in the area.

As always, thank you for visiting our blog. We love hearing your comments. If you are interested in seeing more of our everyday activities, please visit our FB page: Let It Be, Helia 44

Hanging Around Providenciales, Turks and Caicos.

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Frank is a lot happier than the tuna is.

We had an excellent passage from Conception Island to Providenciales and we managed to catch some yellow fin tuna on our way!

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Beautiful tuna steaks!

And what is the best thing to do when you finish a passage and arrive at a dock with fresh fish? Share it with you dock neighbors!

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New neighbors and familiar friends!

I am surprised to report that we have spent nearly three weeks on Providenciales (Provo), Turks and Caicos.  While many cruisers stop here just as a layover until they have a good weather window to or from the Dominican Republic, we chose to have our kids fly in to visit us, so we are hanging around a while until they arrive.

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Turquoise waters draw many tourists.

Provo is an upscale island with a well established tourist trade for those arriving by airplane or cruise ship.  The island has several very cushy, all inclusive resorts on white sand beaches overlooking turquoise water where visitors can lounge all day, play golf or visit nice boutiques.

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A view of South Side Marina from a nearby hill.

As easy as this island is to access by air and cruise ship, as cruisers we found it less accessible than other islands we have visited.  The people here are very nice and extremely welcoming, but the anchorages tend to be exposed to wind or swell, so cruisers must hunt for quiet waters.  Once a protected spot is found, we did not find any support facilities nearby unless we went to an actual marina.

Provo is well developed with many amenities, including beautiful groceries, but a car is necessary to get around unless you are prepared to walk a long way.

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The ladies hanging out at Bob’s Bar – Captain too!

Even though access to the island is a challenge, we have enjoyed Provo.  When we arrived, we stopped at South Side Marina, owned by a great guy named Bob.  South Side is very small with about a dozen slips and Bob’s Bar; a fun place to gather for drinks and Bocce Ball.  Plus Bob is super helpful and will arrange to have Customs and Immigration come to the marina, and he offers to take folks to the grocery every day around noon.

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Bocce Ball ~ where spectators have a ringside seat!

While we were in South Side, we became friends with the other cruising boats and almost every night we gathered for drinks or bocce ball or pot luck dinners. 

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We went to the Provo Fish Fry with Ken and Laurie of  Mauna Kea.

The social life was in full swing for those first 10 days before our friends took advantage of an excellent weather window to go either to the Dominican Republic or back toward the States.  But we stayed behind to await the arrival of our sons.

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Captain enjoyed free roaming and a new friend, Maddie, while at South Side!

In addition to the social time, the wind was exceedingly cooperative and we were able to kite board several days!  Long Bay is the most perfect place to learn to kite I have ever seen! The water is beautiful and shallow and the floor of the ocean is sand with only an occasional seashell to mar its surface.

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Long Bay has miles of shallow water!

Frank kited 6 days in a row! I kited four times and loved that I could be completely self sufficient in this location! That is a huge accomplishment for me as a new kiter.

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A bit sad to see this abandoned resort.

When the winds settled and we had had as much marina time as we could take, Frank and I sailed to West Caicos Island, home to an abandoned Ritz Carleton Resort.  Apparently the Ritz invested $150 million in this resort, then halted construction.  The partially finished buildings remain but those are the only structures on West Caicos.

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Love those pictures using a red filter!

However, on the western side of the island are several buoys placed by scuba diving companies and each one is named on the electronic charts of the area, theoretically giving you an idea of what you will find below.

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Why does this make me think of Dr. Seuss?

We had a very nice dive along a deep wall in a current free area that allowed us to relax and enjoy the scenery.  This dive was not as clear or colorful as the one on Conception Island, but it was definitely worth the effort.

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We see you Mr. Ray.

After the dive we needed to move LIB to the east side of West Caicos to protect us from westerly winds.  As we rounded the southern end of West Caicos, we saw something in the water and were not sure what it was.  We were in about 25 feet of water and wondered if it was an unmarked obstacle…..

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Whales in the shallows.

But as we approached, the “obstacle” blew out spray from its’ blow hole – WHALES AHEAD!

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We were able to get pretty close to the whales so I drove and Frank jumped into the water to swim with the whales.  Once below, he found two humpback whales – a cow and calf! 

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There is a video on our FB page.

I didn’t realize that humpback whales have all white flippers! It was very easy to see the solid white appendage in the water even from above.  Fun fact – a humpback’s flipper can be up to 1/3 of its body length!  I guess that is a good thing as it helps propel their huge bodies.

After a very peaceful evening anchored off of West Caicos, we sailed to Blue Haven Marina on the northeastern part of Provo where we hung out and  prepared for our kids to arrive.

As always, thank you for stopping by to read our blog.  If you want to see what we are up to more often, check out our FB page: Let It Be, Helia 44We would love to hear from you. 

Martinique ~ the Eastern Side

Announcers Voice: “Previously on s/v Let It Be….”

Seriously, it has been a while since our last blog because we have not had sufficient internet to publish, so as a reminder, our last post was about Guadeloupe.

Due to wind directions we chose to sail from Guadeloupe along the eastern side of Dominica to Martinique. Although we didn’t have a guide book that covered the eastern side of Martinique, we wanted to take a look and see if there were some decent kite boarding spots. I know; color you shocked!

With all charts up and running, we decided to enter Le Robert, a huge bay near the middle of the eastern side of Martinique.

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A view of Le Robert from the top of the mast.

Watching our depth closely since there were no markers and the depth changes significantly, we scouted out an isolated spot and dropped anchor.  There were no other boats, but the area was pretty and we thought we would take a look around.

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Captain was in favor of stopping right here!

Well it turns our, we had anchored near a popular, protected island.

I have tried to do a bit of research about the area because reading the French signs didn’t go well this time.  From the bit I have been able to translate, it appears we anchored near a fairly famous French area called Ilet Chancel. 

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After we anchored, several day boats, inflatable boats and kayakers arrived.

Ilet Chancel is the largest and northern most ilet in Le Robert. It is a popular stop for folks touring on day boats because it has the remains of an old sugar processing area.  The site has not been restored, but there are many partial walls, former kilns and supposedly a dungeon. Since the site is not well marked or restored and all information is in French, we allowed our imaginations to fill in the blanks.

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Perhaps an old kiln or oven?

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Not sure what this was, but of course we walked up the steps.

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Nature reclaiming a wall

So many people mentioned the iguana!  Apparently the Delicatissima Iguana is endangered and this little island is a perfect environment for them.  The other visitors were very quick to point them out. So many pictures were being snapped of the iguana that I thought we were all paparazzi!

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Looks like the one from Petite Terre

I am not a herpetologist, so I couldn’t spot why this iguana was special, but we took the obligatory picture!

While anchored by Ilet Chancel, we were able to help some locals who had some trouble with their inflatable RIB. We enjoyed chatting with Olivier Melissa and their daughter Anna. More about them later!

After enjoying the quiet of Ilet Chancel for a few days, and completing a couple of items on our project list (new lazy Jacks for the sail bag, changing out our main halyard, etc.) we motored just across Le Robert to Ilet Madame. This small island is another French marine park where locals enjoy spending the day hanging in the shallow water and picnicking on the shore.

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Sunset behind Ilet Madame

We anchored behind a coral reef between Ilet Madame and the Pointe de la Rose. This shallow area provided nice wave protection but allowed plenty of breeze.  These were ideal kite boarding conditions and Frank and I took turns enjoying the beautiful wind and water.

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Nice air, Frankly!

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My turn: no air.

Although Frank was at the ready in the dinghy, I was able to kite without support both days.  I cannot say I am willing to kite without help available, but I see improvement and I am having more fun with the sport.  It isn’t tennis, but it is a lot of fun!

Remember Olivier, Melissa and Anna Egloff?   Well they agreed to go sailing with us and joined us on our sail from Le Robert down around the southern point of Martinique and into St. Anne.  It was great fun spending the day with this delightful family.

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Anna is a doll and can I just say, wow, girls are a little different than boys! Anna happily entertained herself with her stuffed animals and was happy to stay in one place instead of climbing all over any obstacle she could find.  At first I wondered if she didn’t feel well, but nope, this little doll was perfectly fine, but also happy just to play quietly in one spot.

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Olivier has plenty of sailing experience and helmed most of the trip.

The Egloffs, originally from France, now live in Martinique. We learned a lot from them including that the world surfing tour has now had a stop in Martinique for two years in a row.  Olivier shared some amazing photographs he took at the event.  He is an excellent photographer and you should check out his photos

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photo by Olivier Egloff.

We completely enjoyed our day with Olivier, Melissa and Anna and are so glad they were willing to share their time with us.

The next day, Frank and I moved the boat to La Marin.  As luck would have it, some friends we met in Union Island, Grenadines, had some business to conduct in La Marin so we were able to get together.  Turns our Greg and Lynda Jo are looking for a boat and Greg was in La Marin checking out a few boats on their “possible” list.

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Future home for Greg and Lynda Jo?

When Greg told us he was pretty serious about one boat called, “Aquatauris” we had to take a look too!  She is a beauty, at least from the outside, and Greg tells us the interior is even better.

Greg joined us for dinner on LIB and we spent the evening discussing pros and cons of various sailboats.  The evening could only have been better if Lynda Jo had been with us.  Hopefully by the time this is published, Greg and Lynda Jo will be owners of their future sailing home!

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Tunnel anyone?

Our last full day in La Marin, we rented a car and toured Martinique.  It was a national holiday so nothing was open, but we still enjoyed seeing this beautiful island.  The variety of the terrane is fabulous and makes a driving tour constantly interesting. Here are a few views from the car.

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My favorite little town was Morne Rouge. It is a pretty town with a fabulous view, lush vegetation and a beautiful old catholic church named  Notre-Dame of the Délivrance.

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Main street Morne Rouge

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Notre-Dame of the Délivrance

Notre-Dame was first completed in 1867. In 1891 a cyclone severely damaged the church but it was quickly restored. Mount Pelee erupted in 1902 and again in 1929. Both times the church suffered damage but remained standing.  Interestingly, a statue of the Virgin Mary which was sculpted in 1953 still stands in the church, unharmed.

Notre-Dame of the Délivrance is a popular  pilgrimage spot for inhabitants of Martinique.

And my final photo for today is just to make you smile.  BTW, I did stop in. I wanted to get a diet coke with extra ice, just to have the ice!

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On our way to the McDrive!

Adventures Moving South and East on Guadeloupe

Having enjoyed Deshaies several times, we thought we should visit a few other towns in Guadeloupe.

After leaving Deshaies, we sailed to Point a Pitre which is the largest city on Guadeloupe. We found it an excellent place to stock up on items necessary for “boat projects,” especially at UShip where we found all sorts of French items for our French catamaran. I even found the cute little blue “courtesy” lights that gently illuminate the cockpit at night. Finding these little lights was difficult, but getting into the spots I need to replace them will be even more challenging!

Point a Pitre was a little too big city for our tastes, though taking the bus, walking the city and seeing high rise buildings was an interesting change from everywhere we have been since leaving Puerto Rico in November 2015.  

I did enjoy seeing the kids learning to sail. This is a common activity in the larger Caribbean cities and it always makes me smile when I see them.

St. Fra-3Look how they weave through anchored boats!
St. Fra-4A line is attached to all the boats if the kids need to be “rounded up.”

We ended up staying in Point a Pitre for five nights because we spent so much time planning projects, buying the items for up-coming projects and getting two pressing projects finished. We replaced our lost antenna (vital for VHF and AIS communication) and installed Iridium Go! which will allow us to access weather information while off shore as well as text with family when in the middle of the Atlantic.

St. Fra-2The white dome is our Iridium Go! and the antenna is waaaay at the top.

St. Fra-1Eye-spliced the Dyneema lifelines ourselves. 🙂

We also replaced our top lifeline wire with Dyneema line.  It has excellent strength and it won’t make rust spots when drying our clothing!

The highlight of our time in PaP was meeting up with Sail Pending and Escape Claws again. We shared sundowners one evening and Kristie made delicious homemade cinnamon rolls the morning the guys worked on fixing Sail Pending’s davit. YUM! I hope Kristie will share her recipe…

St. FraFrank, Tyler and Rich working on Sail Pending’s davit.

Once we left PaP, we went to St. Anne which is a darling town. We felt like we were in a small part of France and enjoyed walking the streets and browsing the patisseries.  However, the anchorage was very rocky from the incoming swell, so we only stayed one night. The boat was moving too much to even take pictures!

St. Fra-5Entering the marina in St. Francois

Our next stop was St. Francois. This seldom mentioned anchorage was fabulous. It has a very nice marina with many shops, restaurants and a grocery, a fishing dock where you can buy fresh fish and a beautiful anchorage that is very popular with local people. 

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The folks at St. Francois know how to enjoy the water and this area was a mecca of activity without being overwhelming.  We saw kite boarders, windsurfers, skydivers, jet skiers and plenty of boaters.

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Six parachuters in this picture.

We loved St. Francios and stayed three nights soaking up the clear shallow water and excellent scenery.  We were entertained by the three boats near us where a bachelor party weekend occurred.  These guys had a great time with lots of laughter and silliness and we enjoyed watching their antics.

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Three boats full of Frenchmen for a long weekend. Sounds like Dr. Sues!

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The groom perhaps?

Among other activities, these guys rented water jet shoes and everyone took a turn.  Some were quick learners and others provided some pretty funny falls. I don’t know the significance of the shark costume, but it was hysterical to watch!

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We decided that St. Francis has the original “Reef Bar!” 

You can see in this picture that a boat comes out and sets up tables, umbrellas, music, food and drink. Initially we thought this was just a one time event for the bachelor party, but apparently this company is quite busy as they set up private parties three times while we were there.

Sail Pending arrived and anchored right behind us, so we “had” to go out to dinner with them. We had a great time at dinner in one of the restaurants in the marina.  Good food and excellent company!

Next we set sail for Iles de la Petite-Terre; two uninhabited islands a mere 9 nm southeast of St. Francois. These beautiful little islands are a marine park where the only building is a light house first built in 1840. Marine biologists live in a tent near the light house while studying the habitat.

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I think the French sign said this was the first lighthouse in Guadeloupe

About a mile prior to the entrance to Iles de la Petite-Terre, we saw a whale! We hadn’t even thought about seeing a whale and were delighted by the sight. Unfortunately, the only picture I got is so bad it reminds me of one of the grainy “Nessy” the Loch Ness Monster pictures so I’m not posting it.

Walking on Petite Terre we saw a variety of terrane in a short period including dramatic cliffs, flat beaches and lush vegetation.

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A pretty tidal pool.

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My studly hubby under a canopy of leaves.

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This iguana thinks he is all that!

Petite Terre had some of the best snorkeling we have seen. Frank pulled Captain in the floating chair and we snorkeled for about 90 minutes.  Then we were hailed by a park ranger…. apparently we had entered a protected, no swimming area. OOOPPPPS!  No wonder the snorkeling was SO good.

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“Orange” you glad I showed you this one? 

This is the brightest crab I have seen, though I admit I know next to nothing about crabs. I don’t even eat them.

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Dory might be in there, but I didn’t see Nemo.

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The lobster were huge and plentiful.

The lobster were so big I thought they might eat us! Seriously, some of them were so big that the foreleg before the first joint was about eight inches alone! I was afraid to get very close as I had no idea how far the their pinchers would reach.

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This lobster was waiting for me to come close and he was going to drag me into his rock cave.

Frank and I both would have like to stay in Petite Terre several nights, but weather dictated that we depart for Martinique before the winds turned south.  After just one night and two days we had to pull up anchor and leave these stunning islands. I sincerely hope we get to come back.

Captain was happy to leave though because dogs are not allowed on the island and she much prefers grass or sand to the boat deck for her business!

Best Week Ever On LIB? Probably.

For the first time since we moved on board in September, we had our whole family aboard LIB! We had such a great time just hanging out and being together that it was really hard to see the kids leave again.

We are truly fortunate that all of us get along so well and enjoy being together. We spent the week in Antigua and managed to hit a few places Frank and I had not visited.

Kiteboaring (surprise) was a major component of the trip, though the wind did not cooperate all that much. We did manage to have two really great kiting days and one other that was fair.

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Hunter and Clayton kiting near Bird Island

Bird Island was our anchorage of choice for kiting. It is well protected by reefs, but the little islands between us and the wind are so low that they don’t interfere with the wind.

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Synchronized jumping? Needs some work.

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Here’s what the bottom of Hunter’s board looks like….

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Clayton hadn’t kited in over two years, but it came back very quickly!

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Hunter found enough wind to pull a few tricks.

Captain made sure she got plenty of attention from the kids and managed to find spots close enough for plenty of pets and scratches.

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Helping Clayton with his reading.

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Holding Hunter down in case it was wavy while sailing.

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Walking Captain was a good excuse to stroll the beaches.

Our time was spent walking beaches, paddle boarding, reading and just generally relaxing.

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Clayton at the helm and Hunter, reading or working?

There is a general attitude in our family that we don’t really like our pictures taken, so I had to sneak photos when I could. I am certain I will catch some grief for these, but, oh well.

I think all of us truly relished our week together and recognize that with the kids working and us on a boat, it is pretty challenging to have all of us together. It is really difficult for me to let go of my sons, but I am thankful that they are healthy, independent, motivated and responsible.

Thank goodness modern communication allows me to remain in touch. Not sure I could be gallivanting on a boat if I couldn’t stay in contact with my kids.

 

One Fine Trip

Written by: Ltjg. An Young, USNR ret

In the spring of 2015, Frank invited a few of us to come to the Caribbean on a kiting trip on Let It Be. That was their first mistake. Mary Grace then asked me to write a guest blog of the trip. That was their second mistake. So here we go.

I joined Captain Frank, Executive Officer Mary Grace and the Hunter and Captain, Let it Be’s crew, in Vieux Fort, St. Lucia on February 3rd, 2016. After unpacking, we went paddle boarding at sunset. This was the start of something special.

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The next morning we got underway for a leisurely sail down to St. Vincent. We had the main and jib full and Frank put up the big red spinnaker. I am sure we looked like a post card for the first few hours with winds in the 20+ range.

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Frank and I were laying on the tramp and saw a storm in the distance. I proceeded to explain bearing drift to Frank that we used in the Navy and how the storm will roll down the port side. Fifteen minutes later we were in 28 knot winds and Frank and Hunter were furiously taking the spinnaker down. The winds went to 30 and in went a reef and the jib came down. Eventually the winds went to 35+ and we were rocking and rolling. So much for my Navy experience.

We arrived in Blue Lagoon in St. Vincent and Frank registered us with immigration. Hunter, Mary Grace and I went to town for some cash and to see what it looked like. Walking home we uncovered a jewel of a restaurant called the Driftwood. The views were wonderful and the food, drink and atmosphere were great. We would highly recommend it.

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We departed Blue Lagoon  and spent the next two weeks going around the Grenadines kiting and exploring.

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The first week was the Stich’s and myself. Blaine and Jeff joined after a week. We kited in Frigate Bay (Ashton) and Clifton on Union Island and Salt Whistle Bay in Mayreau. The wind blew like stink (a technical  kiting term). I kited 12 of 14 days and Jeff and Blaine seven of seven. Each place was spectacular with different water.

Frigate Bay

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Frigate was flat water behind an isthmus that stuck out from Ashton. The anchorage was calm and the water smooth for Hunter to show off his magic. 

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While I tried to show up Hunter, he was just a tad better than I.

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Ashton was pretty and the water was beautiful. Not all was kiting believe it or not. We went to town and took a hike up the hills.

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Clifton

Next was on to Clifton and the JT Pro Kite Center. Again the wind blew and conditions were great with flat water and Blaine and Jeff took advantage.

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Jeff

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Blaine

But Frank won the prize. He did a 1 1/2 back roll. We are unable to show the whole thing because back rolls are supposed to be one or two revolutions, and because he was our host we didn’t want to embarrass him. Great try Frank!!!

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Clifton was fun. It had a great kite scene with the JT Pro Kite center and a cute town. Frank, Mary Grace and I had a great time provisioning  there with the little stores and the people were extremely friendly and helpful. We looked and looked but couldn’t find the Kroger or Walmart. We had dinner at the Yatch Club and it was really nice. But as you can see from the above, the water color was spectacular and flat. It got crowded and was a tight alley between the reef and the boats so if you fell you could get drug into the boats so it was a bit hairy. All in all a great place, but third on the Young scale of kiting we did. And who can forget Happy Island, a bar out in the middle of the anchorage.

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Mayreau

And then there was Salt Whistle Bay! Without a doubt number 1 on the Young scale and I think most of us would agree. It was beautiful. There were almost no other kiter’s. It was great ocean riding with 1 – 2 foot waves to play in. I think all of our ocean riding improved. it is an isthmus on the north side of Mayreau with a protected anchorage on one side and the small waves on the other. You landed the dingy and walk 100 feet to the ocean. Really cool and what a great place. It was unbelievable. See for yourself.

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We had a beach Bar – B – Que one night which was good food and fun. Mary Grace and I took a walk halfway to town when we encountered some French people who said it was Sunday and all the shops were closed. Who knew it was Sunday? We did encounter a classic Catholic church which was really fun. I snorkeled a bit and Captain had some great swims to shore. For me, it was the highlight of the trip and if you ever get a chance to go there , don’t pass it up. Salt Whistle Bay was wonderful!

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Underway was as much fun as kiting. Just sailing in open water with no noise and great friends was really the coolest thing about the trip. I can’t say enough about  sailing and how much fun it was. Everything about the trip was a great and fun experience. Here is just some of the experiences.

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Sadly we had to leave. There was no getting around it. Frank and Mary Grace said they were sad, but I doubt it. We were running out of Gin and Coconut Rum and so we had to say our good bye’s.

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It has been almost 50 years since I cruised the Caribbean. The first time was on a World War II destroyer, the USS Dyess. The second time was on Let It Be.

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I think I prefer Let It Be. I can’t thank Frank and Mary Grace enough for the opportunity to do this. Along with everything else it was such a pleasure to meet Hunter and Captain. I have been home now for three days and am just now starting to get rested. I have never kited so much in my life nor kept quite as busy.

I suspect this is way too long, but be sure I shortened it considerably from expressing the gratitude I feel to the Stich’s for their hospitality.

Thanks again!!

Ltjg. Al Young USNR ret.

AL – thank you so much for this guest post! It is great to see the trip from your perspective. We so enjoyed having you aboard and look forward to your next visit. A special thank you for being our first guest to agree to write a blog.  I am sure it is a nice change for readers to see a different writing style. And I love the collage of photos!

mgs

Kiting – Again and Again and Again…

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Al, Jeff, Blane and Frank

Next up for LIB was the arrival of two more kiting buddies of Frank’s; Blaine and Jeff.  It was simply a blast having five kiteboarding fiends on LIB for a week. 

I will say this, as a host, assuming the wind is good, kiters are easy to have as guests! Here are the things we needed to provide:

  1. Good wind.
  2. A launching/landing location.
  3. Transportation to and from the launch area.
  4. Food, water, alcohol and a place to sleep – not necessarily in that order.

No need to worry about what the islands had to offer, these guys were focused on kiting every day. Fortunately the wind was strong enough for them to kite A LOT.  While Al was on LIB, he was able to kite 12 out of 14 days.  Jeff and Blaine were here for a week and they kited every day.

Even with all that time on the water, it was hard for these guys to stop at sunset!

I think I took five million pictures and 99.5% of them were kite pics.  (All kiting pics are posted at the end of this blog.) 

Here’s a peek into last week on LIB:

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Glad we chose a fairly large dinghy.

In this picture, I am taking the guys to shore at Salt Whistle Bay. Captain is along for a grass break and Hunter wisely decided to wait for the next shuttle to shore.

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Can you guess where they are?

We anchored in the bay at Salt Whistle, then the guys walked to the windward side for some kiting in the waves. Apparently it was a great place to practice ocean riding because the waves were pretty consistently spaced apart.

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Blaine and Al kite while Frank plays Rescue Ranger in the dinghy.

On days when the wind was light, someone would hang on LIB or shore with the dinghy available in case a rider was unable to gain enough power to go upwind. Frank rescued several folks but none of them were part of the LIB group.

Frank, Jeff and Al power napping between sets.

I’m not going to say life on LIB is hard, but I will tell you these guys managed to wear themselves out.  These three all crashed while Blaine experimented with bread recipes because my loafs were not browning or rising well. Turns out my recently purchased flour was “off” somehow, thus the taste was less than yummy.  New flour was opened and Blaine tweaked the Basic White Bread recipe so it would brown in our (not so great) oven.

It’s very nice to have a guest on board who just happens to own a food company! Thank you to Blaine of Bridgford Foods for sharing your expertise!

The last day we had a quick sail from Clifton, Union Island to Hillsborough, Carriacou. It was an easy sail and a restful way to finish the trip before taking everyone to catch the ferry to Grenada.

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Frank, Jeff and Blaine at the helm as we sail to Carriacou.

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Al and Captain enjoy the view while underway.

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Hunter prepares his board for packing.

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A little puppy time before Hunter leaves.

We are really lucky that Hunter was able to spend several weeks with us.  He and Clayton have grown up on boats so having another experienced and capable person on board has been very nice. The fact that H is fun, easy to have and willing to help makes it that much more enjoyable to have him with us.  This mom’s heart was very sad to see him leave. But I sincerely hope that he and his brother will manage to visit us very soon!

And now, on to the kiting pictures….

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Jeff and Blaine in Ashton, Union Island.

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Al scooting along.

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Jeff is catching some air in Clifton.

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Frank demos a grab.

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Blaine and Jeff share a five on the fly.

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Hunter mid-trick spotting the water.

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Hunter with Frank in pursuit in Clifton.

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Al boosting in Ashton.

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Blaine’s signature move.

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Jeff gets some height in Ashton.

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Blaine – using a plane in the boost contest is cheating!

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Hunter unhooked, mid spin, handle pass.

Let It Be seems oddly quiet with just Frank, Captain and I on board.  A few of my girlfriends were scheduled to arrive in a week, but several family matters came up and we had to postpone their visit.  I’m pretty sad about the delay, but hopeful that they will find another time to visit.

For the moment we plan on hanging around Carriacou, Union Island, the Tobago Cays, etc.  This is a beautiful area and there is more available than kiting, so we will have to explore a bit.

If you have favorite places or activities in this are, we would love to hear your suggestions!

Can You Say “Kiteboarding?”

Our friend, Al is here visiting which means that we now have three avid kiters on board. The result is that we are die-hard wind seekers for the moment.  Kiters love to see steady winds and, depending on what size kite they prefer, they like various wind speed ranges. Hunter likes winds in the 18-21 knot range so he can fly a 12 meter kite and do “unhooked” tricks.

Frank and Al prefer slightly higher wind speeds because they don’t unhook.

But regardless of the wind preference, every kiter I have met begins to gets jittery when the wind gets close to “ride-able” and once within a few knots of the range they begin watching the wind speed on the instrument panel like a dog begging for steak.

Here are several pictures of kiting for those who love the sport. I have taken a few shots from our different locations and those who don’t care about kiting can look to the background to get a feeling for the beauty of the islands and water.

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Catching air in Ashton.

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That is one jazzed guest.

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Frank executes a grab in Ashton

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Hunter scoots along in Clifton with Happy Island Bar to the right.

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Happy Island Bar

Janti’s Happy Island Bar. This great little island was built by Janti in response to two issues close to his heart: first a problem of too many discarded conch shells in town and second too few customers for his original establishment in town. According to the guide book, Janti worked for the office of tourism and decided to resolve the conch shell problem by building this little island in the Clifton anchorage. His island with the prefect view for sunset and sundowners does not suffer from a lack of customers. Gotta love a man who solves problems and makes something great from them!

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Frank cuts through the Clifton anchorage.

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Hunter ~ planning his next jump?

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The Method in Ashton.

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Love this pic of Frank in front and Hunter tricking in the back.

We have actually done some things off the boat. While anchored in Salt Whistle Bay, Mayreau, Al and I walked up the hill toward town. Since it was Sunday all the stores were closed, but we saw a very pretty Catholic Church and some rather stunning spots for pictures.

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Tobago Cays make a decent backdrop.

After six straight days of kiting, Al and Frank were ready to stretch their legs so they took a hike with me in Ashton.  This little town has more to offer than expected including the people who have been some of the nicest we have met along the way.

 

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This steep street leads to a great hike.

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Shaded and well defined, we enjoyed the hike.

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Overlooking Ashton on Union Island

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Goats wandered the town.

At first I thought I had turned into the pied piper and these four legged friends were going to come back to LIB with me. But they turned off into a nice green area between a couple of homes. I was told that because it has been a bit dry on Union Island lately, the locals allow the goats to roam looking for grazing ground. Not something I ever saw in Coppell, TX.

End of day seems to be the perfect time for a casual paddle or a swim before sundown. It’s pretty nice to throw on flippers and mask, hop into the water and watch the sea life as I get a little bit of exercise in.

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Frank, Captain and Al on a sunset paddle.

This week two more kiters join us on LIB, so I’m pretty certain you will be seeing a lot more kite photos. Sorry to be so myopic in our news, but this is the focus on LIB for the moment.

Let me know if you have any kiting questions…. with 5 men kiting on LIB this week, I am sure they will have (or make up) the answer! 😉

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Sunset from The Driftwood Restaurant, St. Vincent.

 

 

 

 

Zipping Down the Leeward Islands

The last couple of weeks we have focused on two things: looking for kiting wind and getting down to St. Lucia where we were picking up our friend, Al.

The result is that we have spent a good amount of time making southern progress but I don’t have a lot of photos to show.

We managed to have a couple of great kiting days off Green Island in Antigua before the winds slacked off a bit and we began sailing south.

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Hunter does a melon 180

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Frank looking casual as he rides.

From Antigua we sailed to Guadeloupe where we stopped overnight in Deshaies.  We first visited this quaint fishing village in June but this time we only stayed one night. It was fun to share it with Hunter and have him experience a bit of French culture.

Next we scooted down the coast to visit Vieux Habitants, Guadeloupe where we had heard of a beautiful hike that started near a coffee plantation and ended at a waterfall.  Unfortunately, between our unspecific knowledge and our poor French, we wandered most of the day and never found the hike. 

Still, we enjoyed the day as I had a chance to practice butchering my high school French and we had a picnic on the lawn of a pretty bed and breakfast on the edge of the river.

Sailing south on the western coast of Guadeloupe took us past the Pitons. I would have loved to stop, but it wasn’t part of our plan this trip.

The area looks absolutely beautiful, but I must say that the aggressiveness of the ‘boat boys’ makes me much less interested in going to The Pitons.

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As we were sailing past the area, two boats zoomed toward us and tried to convince us to follow them to their mooring balls inside the anchorage. Neither accepted our “no” and they brought their boats way too close to LIB for my tastes!  This was less than pleasant and is making me reconsider stopping on our way north. I will have to do some reading before I decide if I will stop when we work our way north again.

Anyone want to offer advice or opinions and/or experiences at The Pitons?

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Regardless of that experience, you can see the area looks fabulous!

Iles des Saintes was the next stop. We had a very pleasant sail to Bourg des Saints on Terre D’en Haut.

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Guadeloupe is easy to see on a clear day.

The anchorage was very pretty and on clear days Guadeloupe looked close enough to be just a long swim away…. Ok, that might be an exaggeration, but it did look close!

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The anchorage itself was charming and the dinghy dock one of the best we have seen in the Caribbean.

Frank and Hunter tried to kite, but the wind was too light. So we spent a day tooling around Terre D’en Haut in an electric car/golf cart.

The views from so many places were so pretty it’s tempting to post too many photos…

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LIB in the foreground.

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A prettier picture of Bourg des Saintes.

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Cappy loved being free among the trees.

This stand of trees right by the ocean was shady and peaceful and I could have stayed here for hours just absorbing the serenity of it. 

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A colorful local.

We also visited Fort Napoleon which was built in 1867. The fort is well restored and held an eclectic assortment of displays. We began our tour too close to the lunch hour as the closing bells rang not long into our visit.  I especially enjoyed the models of old wooden ships and seeing the interior cross sections of what the ships held and how things were stored to balance the ship.

I’ll stick with Let It Be, her modern equipment and two engines, thank you!

We barely touched Iles des Saintes and I really hope we will stop for a week or so on our return north, but this trip we wanted to skip on down to St. Lucia so we could accomplish a few boat projects, re-provision and prepare for some guests to arrive.

Arrival in Rodney Bay, St. Lucia marked our first Windward Island as opposed to one of the Leeward Islands. Once again we experienced only a fragment of St. Lucia as we only afforded ourselves of the conveniences offered such as laundry, groceries, chandleries and restaurants. This stop was more of an opportunity to repair and prepare than explore.

Hunter continued to spend a good portion of each day programming, since that is his job. Frank and I set to work cleaning, crossing off maintenance items and generally preparing LIB for visitors.

The best part of our stay in St. Lucia was meeting up with David and Amy of Starry Horizons. You may have already seen the beautiful pictures David and Amy took for us as we left?! Kind of makes us want a drone too.

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LIB heading south to Vieux Fort, St. Lucia.

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LIB on the left and Starry Horizons on the right.

A rare photo of Frank, me and Hunter.

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David and Amy, these excellent pictures are much appreciated.

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Starry Horizon and crew.

We had a chance to have dinner and catch up with Amy and David because of their incredible willingness to accommodate our schedule!  Our time with them went much too quickly and Amy and I have since exchanged texts saying, “wait, I forgot to ask ….” or “Oh, I wanted to look at this on your boat…”   

I just cannot tell you how much I enjoy the company of the two people and how hard it is to know that from here forward our Helias will take us in opposite directions! 

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SH looks pretty in the fresh morning light.

I have every confidence that Amy and David will have an amazing journey on Starry Horizons and we will follow their blog, FB and videos faithfully!  Happy, safe and fabulous journey you guys. Our love and prayers go with you!!!

Next stop Vieux Fort where we pick up Al Young, the first of our 3 kiters to arrive.

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Sunset in Iles des Saintes

As always, thanks for reading our blog…. sorry the s-l-o-w internet has delayed my posts!

Bar~beautiful!

Barbuda has been described as a large version of Anegada in the British Virgin Islands.  At first glance this appears to be true. But I found the two islands very, very different.

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First view of Barbuda

Anegada has a lot to offer visitors and certainly caters to tourists in the usual BVI way, which I very much enjoy.

Barbuda seems to have chosen to remain staunchly independent of visitors and prefers to retain its’ local flavor.  My understanding is that the island is owned by the residents and if a company wants to build something, say a resort, the whole town votes to accept or decline the plan. So far it appears few, if any, outsiders have managed to develop Barbuda. The result is that Barbuda is unspoiled and beautiful, but it is also difficult to find services or restaurants.

When we walked through Codrington Village, few of the stores had signs so it was difficult to tell what was available. The grocery was pretty well stocked, but because there was no sign, I would have walked past it if a woman had not walked out with bags of food.

The children here have the freedom of roaming a hometown where everyone knows each other and they are safe to explore. I watched one boy upright a bike much too big for him and serpentine up the road; another child skipped into the grocery and asked for clothes pins for her mom; two young boys were gently scolded by a lady sitting on her porch as she reminded them their mothers expected them to go straight home from school. I felt like I was looking back to a time when computers and smart phones and stranger danger didn’t exist.

The water clarity and colors of Barbuda are beyond belief. Our first anchorage was Gravenor Bay. Navigating into this bay is tricky because there are a lot of reefs. It is very important to only enter when the sun is high and the visibility excellent, but once through the maze of reefs, the settled anchorage and amazingly clear water is worth the effort.

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Watching a storm from Gravenor Bay

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Another dramatic storm that passed beyond us

I tried to get a picture of how clear the water is by taking a picture while standing on the bow of LIB. You can see the coral and sand!

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The water is about 15 feet deep in this photo

We decided to move to Low Bay to see the NW side of the island and get close to Codrington Village.  We motored around Coco Point before raising the sails. To our delight, a few dolphins came to say hello! They didn’t stay very long, but we sure enjoyed seeing them.

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Dolphins swim under the bow of Let It Be

The 11 mile expanse from Palmetto Point to Low Bay is a beautiful beach where the sand is so fine you sink as you walk. We certainly didn’t walk the whole length but we did enjoy hanging out appreciating its’ beauty.

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Sand so fine you sink as you walk

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Captain is always up for a roll in the sand

As you can see, Captain dives right in to the beach scene. The more sand she can dig in and roll in and generally grind into her fur, the happier she is!

Moving to Low Bay allowed us hire a guide to take us on a tour of the Frigate Bird Sanctuary.  I wasn’t quite sure what to expect of this tour but ended up thoroughly enjoying it. . Our tour guide, Clifford, took us to the sanctuary via his long boat, then he walked the boat through the area so we had an excellent view of the birds. Ornithologists estimate that there are 5,000 birds in this colony which makes it one of the largest in the world.  The pictures offer more than I can describe.

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The male Frigate enlarges his gular pouch to attract females.

In addition to inflating the gular pouch, the male Frigate rapidly taps the pouch to create a drumming sound which adds to his attraction.

Come on, lady readers, you think those pouches are pretty sexy, right?

Females do not have pouches but instead have a white chest.

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Young Frigates are downy white

When born, the babies have downy, white feathers which are gradually replaced by the black plumage. In the picture above you can see two very young Frigates. Toward the back you can see a Frigate that is a few months old; it has begun to grow some of its’ black feathers but still has a good deal of baby down on the chest.

Wind forecasts were beginning to pick up so we lifted anchor and headed back to Green Island, Antigua  to be in place for kiting should the predicted winds materialize.

Happily, the winds did blow and we arrived at Green Island with plenty of time to get in an afternoon kiteboarding set.

For the kiters out there, here are two pics…..

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Frank chilling as he heads back toward the beach

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Hunter boosts off the back of LIB to start his session

Next stop Guadeloupe.

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