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Boat Dog Boarding. What Is a Pet Owner To Do?

While living on Let It Be full time, it is sometimes necessary to fly back to The States for family events or doctor appointments and such. Are you making reservations again?

Flying with a dog is difficult and even with the proper paperwork, once landed, additional questions about which hotels accept dogs and are clean, where to leave the dog while taking care of many errands or appointments, makes travel and use of time a bit more complicated. 

This year we have had to leave Captain behind three times and twice were for extended trips. Finding a place where Captain can be well cared for, get some attention and a decent amount of exercise, has been a challenge but the effort has been worthwhile. 

I thought some pet owners might find it useful to know how we have managed this year, so here is the rundown for our three trips. 

In May, Frank and I were in the Dominican Republic and we had a visit to Florida planned. We would leave together, conduct our meetings over the course of five days, then I would fly back to the DR and Frank would leave for his Atlantic crossing. 

For this trip, we hired a delightful guy named Nelson who works at the Samana Marina. Captain remained on LIB, Nelson came by to feed and walk Cappy twice a day and Cap was able to be ‘at home’ while we were away. 

One of our walks in Samana. 

Also, our dock neighbors, Andre and Josee, were simply awesome and kept an eye out for Captain. They decided Captain needed more activity, so when they walked their dog, Roxy, they brought Captain along. 

How awesome is that?!!!

Captain rides shotgun with Natalia. 

The second trip we took was from Puerto Rico and we planned to be traveling to multiple locations over a three week period. Fortunately I looked up rover.com, a U.S. internet based company where you enter your zip code and the bios for pet sitters near your location pop up.

 Captain with Natalia’s dogs. 

It is through rover.com that I found Natalia, who took excellent care of Captain. Natalia’s home was very well set up for dogs and she really loved Cappy. 

Natalia has two dogs for Cappy to play with and daily walks were a given. While Cappy was with Natalia, Hurricane Irma was heading toward PR and Natalia was very communicative about her plans should evacuation become necessary. 

Captain chillin’ at Natalia’s. 

We were extremely happy with Natalia’s care for Captain and had planned on leaving Cap with her again for our October trip to the States, but our escape from Hurricane Maria rendered that impossible. 

Our final trip this year we had to scramble and find last minute accommodations for Captain in Aruba!

Fortunately we found the Dog Hotel Aruba where a young couple boards dogs in their yard. Rose and her husband are clearly dog lovers and assured me they would take great care of Captain. 

Captain says “pick me.”

The Dog Hotel Aruba has several kennels and two large fenced areas on site. The dogs are outside pretty much all day and large dogs are separated from small dogs. The dogs are also taken to the beach to swim once or twice a week. Not a bad way for Captain to spend her time when we have to be away. 

That is a pretty little swimming hole!

I consider each of the dog stays successful though obviously very different. I think Captain was most comfortable when she stayed on the boat and was at home in our absence. I am sure in that situation Captain felt the least ‘abandoned ‘ but she was probably a bit lonely. Still, this is similar to dogs who stay home while their owners are away. 

Staying with Natalia was where I think Captain received the most amount of human attention and love. This was a very good fit for Captain and us. Plus it was easy to find a sitter with good reviews and paying online was convenient. 

I’m fine up here. 

The dog hotel in Aruba was a good find. I doubt this is Cappy’s favorite stay because she usually prefers to be with people more than dogs. But like a child who has to play with others, this is probably a good experience for Captain. 

Even though finding a place to leave our dog takes a little time, so far it has worked out well for us. Plus, there is the added comfort of being able to receive pictures and updates to make sure our furry loved one is doing well. 

Cap is pretty relaxed in LIB. 

I acknowledge that we have been fortunate in finding great options for Captain, but I still feel a little guilty leaving her behind. I have really enjoyed our travels and visits with friends and family but I am glad we don’t have any other time off the boat planned for a while!

And I am confident Captain will agree completely when we get back and I tell her. 

Thanks a bunch for stopping by. Please share your thoughts on pet care while away from home. 

Something Other Than Natural Disasters: What We Did Before the Hurricanes.

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Sunset by the Pool at The Yacht Club.

Once we completed our move south and east from the Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos through the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico, we actually had a few weeks to enjoy some time in Palmas del Mar at The Yacht Club before we began worrying about hurricanes.

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A nature trail near the Catholic Church

The Yacht Club is (and will be again) a fabulous marina with excellent amenities and plenty of beauty, all within a gated community that includes two golf courses, tennis courts and tons of homes and townhouses. There are even two churches on site!

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So many fabulous tropical plants!

And if that isn’t enough of a draw, the Spanish Virgin Islands are a quick sail away.  I have included a few pictures to give you an idea of how beautiful this part of Puerto Rico was before Hurricane Maria.  I share these pictures because I am confident that the industrious people of PR will rebuild and soon Palmas will be whole again.  It is a beautiful place, the marina staff are some of the most wonderful people you will ever meet and The Yacht Club is a very fun place to stay!

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Heading toward the exit at The Yacht Club

We joined Shelly and Greg of  s/v Semper Fi for a quick trip to the Spanish Virgin Islands of Culebra and Culebrita.  An unusual wind direction allowed us to sail to Culebra where we both anchored, then dinghied to town for an afternoon stroll and lunch at Zaco’s Tacos.

While strolling about, Captain made had an unusual encounter.

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Not an everyday meeting!

This friendly pig meanders the street of Culebra and was very interested in being friends with Cappy, but Captain was less than thrilled with the idea.  The pig followed Captain from one side of the street to the other and really wanted to be friends, but once the pig got too close, Cap would go ballistic.  I guess Captain likes her pigs cooked and not following her.

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The U.S. Post Office on Culetra

I have not been able to find any information about the history of this post office, but I thought it looked very interesting.  It looks pretty old, but it might have been built to look that way.  The internet did not provide any information and I failed to ask while I was there.  But I thought it was cool enough to include even without the history.

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Moored behind a reef on the east side of Culebra.

We spend the first night on a mooring ball behind a reef on the east side of Culebra, which allowed us to have a fabulous breeze and view.

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The western side of Culebrita.

The next day we motored a quick 45 minutes over to the undeveloped island of Culebrita.  As usual, a crowd of motor boats gathered during the day and the beach and shallow waters were a hotspot of families and friends hanging out and enjoying the water and sunshine.

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Same beach is empty by days end.

But by later afternoon, the place clears out and we were one of only two boats that stayed the night.

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The old lighthouse with the new beacon in the background.

A quick hike through the scrubby brush took us to the Culebrita Light House. This was the oldest operating lighthouse in the Caribbean until 1975 when the U.S. closed it and replaced the old lighthouse with a modern, solar beacon with no charm and little maintenance.

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The detail inside the lighthouse was still obvious.

The lighthouse was built in 1882 by the Spanish mainly to demonstrate ownership of the island, but 12 years later the island became property of the U.S. after the Spanish American War.

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Until the 1930s, the lighthouse had full time, residential keepers.  It was used by the U.S. Navy as an observation post until 1975, when the installation of the the solar powered light deemed the old house obsolete.

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A view near the lighthouse.

We were only able to stay a couple of days before we headed back to Palmas del Mar to prepare to leave the boat for three weeks.  August had arrived and it was time to head back to the States for annual doctor visits as well as visits with family and friends.

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Sunset at The Yacht Club from the bow of LIB.

Oh, our travel plans included a quick trip to China! Fortunately, our oldest son travelled with us as he is fluent in Mandarin.  We realized just how much we relied on him the one time he wasn’t with us and we had to communicate with a cab driver! China was fun and eventful! More about that adventure in another post.

Thanks for stopping by! We always enjoy hearing your thoughts about our travels or any suggestions on places we really need to visit!

Arial Photos of Places We’ve Seen

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LIB stripped and prepared for Irma. (SUP was inside while away.)

Well, we are finally back on our boat in Puerto Rico and we are SO fortunate that we suffered NO damage from Hurricane Irma.  At the very last minute, this horrific storm decided to go just a bit north and the island of Puerto Rico avoided a direct hit.

In the face of this near miss, the folks here on PR have stepped up and contributed to the efforts to help neighboring islands which have been decimated.  There are people taking tangible supplies to PR, others have picked up people stranded on the island and brought them to PR and still others have taken friends or strangers into their boats and homes here in Puerto Rico.

On LIB, we have not contributed physically to the efforts, but we have tried to offer emotional and some financial support.  Our intention is to give trained personnel time to reinstate order, then actually go and help rebuild.  Admittedly Frank is much better with tools than I, but I have learned a lot since moving onto LIB and I am sure will be able to help in some way.

In the mean time, on our flight back to Puerto Rico, we saw from the air some of the islands we played on while cruising the Bahamas this year.  I have not always been a student of geography, but living on a boat has taught me a lot and it was fun to recognize the islands we had visited from an arial perspective.

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We spent several days anchored off Normans Cay.

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Enjoying the shallows while paddling to “The Pond” on Normans

We stopped on Normans twice this season; once alone and once with some of our Sail to the Sun Rally friends on board LIB with us.

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Captain found the soft, deserted beaches perfect for playing chase!

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The second great picture from the plane was of Cambridge and Compass Cays.  The cut between them is where we met up with s/v Radiance in an amazing feat of timing.  We had texted with Radiance crew, Susan and Kevin, who were heading toward the Exumas from Florida while we were returning to the Exumas from Eluethera.  Our plan was to anchor near Compass Cay and contact each other upon arrival, but just as we were getting close to the cut and were dousing our spinnaker, we spotted Radiance also approaching the cut! LIB fell into line right behind Radiance and we followed them into the anchorage!

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Susan demos the arduous skill of floating about on Compass Cay!

Cambridge Cay is where we first met Kristen and James of s/v Tatiana and Laurie and Chris of s/v Temerity.  This area is also the location of another Sail to the Sun meeting where about 10 of us did a float snorkel near the Rocky Dundas in water so clear that Tom and Louise on s/v Blue Lady appeared to be suspended in air in the picture below.

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Blue Lady lifts anchor near Cambridge Cay.

Traveling in a plane nearly 100 times faster than LIB sails, we quickly covered the area we sailed this season. But it was fun to look out the window and recall the islands we visited and see again the amazing blues unique to the Bahamas.

For now, we are keeping an eye on the weather here in Puerto Rico and hoping this nasty 2017 hurricane season ends without any more storms anywhere! We look forward to putting LIB back into working shape and once again exploring the Caribbean.

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

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

I’m More of a Hooker Than a Marina Maven.

Recently I was reading Third Time Lucky’s blog post titled, “Do you prefer to be at anchor, or in a harbour?”  and I was pretty amazed at how different our perspectives are.

The author, Georgie Moon, takes fabulous photos, enjoys writing and writes very well, lives part-time on a boat and is probably close to my age.  All these similarities led me to think Georgie Moon and I might also share our love of anchorages.  But her recent blog post relieved me of that misconception.

In contrast to Georgie Moon, I love being on the hook.

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LIB hooked in an isolated, narrow bit of water.

I feel much more connected to God, nature and the natural cycle of day and night when I am on anchor and somehow those connections make me happy.

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A sunset I wouldn’t want to miss.

Now don’t get me wrong, I still really enjoy our marina stops and the convenience of nearby bathrooms, laundry, groceries and other land amenities.  I like having access to other people, restaurants and the occasional swimming pool; especially in this Puerto Rican heat.

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Who wouldn’t find views like this uplifting?

But I can tell you that once we have untied the dock lines and begun motoring out of a marina and into a wide expanse of open water, with the wind in our faces and the sun dancing off the water, I feel a lifting of my heart and my soul seems to quicken with joy.

One thing I love is that there are no fences in the water! I never know what might might swim into view below our keels as LIB splashes along or gently sways on anchor.

 

Dolphins? Starfish? Turtles?

 Or I can jump in the water and swim to shore to explore whatever beach or little town beckons.  And each time I do, the scenery and marine life as I swim present an ever changing kaleidoscope.

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Frank and Al look like they are paddling in liquid gold.

As for seeing other people, I have found the cruising community to be open and welcoming. It is pretty easy to hop in the dinghy or jump on the SUP and pop over to say hello to someone sharing the anchorage.

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A butterscotch sky.

Often we invite new acquaintances to share a drink on our boat and watch the sun tuck itself into the horizon.

So, sorry Georgie, life in a marina offers much, but for me…. I guess I’m secretly a hooker at heart.  😉

I would love for you to share your thoughts in the comments below:  Marina Maven? or more of a Hooker?  

A special thank you to Georgie Moon of Third Time Lucky for allowing me to link to her blog.  Georgie writes often about a myriad of topics and her pictures are stunning. I hope some day our wakes cross, because I do think we could find plenty of common interests!

 

 

 

Ponce, Salinas, Patillas and Palmas, PR Stops.

Our early departure from Gilligan’s Island meant we arrived in Ponce by 7 am.  The anchorage was pretty quiet at that hour except for the Ponce Marine Policia who followed us into the anchorage and politely waited for us to anchor before approaching our boat.  Apparently when they spotted our boat and looked up our information, they did not show that we had checked into the country.  Fortunately Frank had a record of his conversation with the Small Vessel Reporting System (SVRS) officer and he had the confirmation number of our check in via the telephone.  The Ponce Police were very nice and respectful to us and soon the misunderstanding was resolved. The Policia returned our paperwork and wished us a happy Memorial Day weekend.  A police stop is one way to get your heart rate up early in the morning.

We didn’t spend enough time in Ponce to rent a car and go into the heart of town so we really don’t know what it has to offer.  Instead we walked the (mostly closed) boardwalk where only a handful of people were strolling about.  Apparently things don’t get started there until evening, (surprise) but we were too tired to go back to the boardwalk that night, especially with another 4 am wakeup planned. Obvously, we are not your source for information about Ponce.

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Beautiful scenes on our way to Jobos Bay

There was a bit of a storm brewing in the Atlantic Ocean and along with every other boater in the area, we were keeping an eye on the weather.  We left especially early for Salinas the next morning with the express purpose of looking into a suggested hurricane hole near the Salinas anchorage just in case the storm developed.

We guided LIB through the mangrove lined inlets and fingers just east of Salinas in Jobos Bay and basically toured the area to determine if it would be a good spot to wait out a hurricane if the storm developed.  (Yes, it is, but the area is protected and you cannot anchor there until a storm is imminent.)

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Mauna Kea looks pretty in the evening colors.

After a pretty thorough reconnaissance mission, we went back to Salinas and anchored near Laurie and Ken of s/v Mauna Kea.  We were really excited to catch up with the only other 2016 Sail to the Sun Rally boat gliding around Puerto Rico and still exploring outside of the States!

We spent a couple of days in Salinas hanging out with Ken and Laurie who were experts on the area since they had been there for more than two weeks. The marina in Salinas welcomes anchored cruisers and has a nice dinghy dock which we have learned is sometimes hard to find.  The marina has a little bar/restaurant as well as washer/dryer and showers.  Very helpful to the cruising community.

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Are you jealous of that exotic blue leopard material?

There is a decent grocery store about a third of a mile from the marina and Laurie lent us her collapsable grocery cart to make the walk home easier.  For these last two years, Frank and I have carried our groceries home in backpacks and reusable bags, but this little cart made the walk so much easier that I have already ordered my very own collapsable cart.

We hung out in Salina a few nights waiting to see what would become of the storm in the Atlantic that was projected to head toward Puerto Rico.  Fortunately the storm dissipated and we would not need to seek refuge in Jobos Bay.

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Look how bright and well defined the colors are in this rainbow!

Rain has been plentiful here in Puerto Rico so the salt water is routinely rinsed from our decks and we have seen many pretty rainbows.  I especially liked how vibrant the colors were in the rainbow pictured above.

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Patillas is at the foot of these lush hills.

Mauna Kea and Let It Be left Salinas and headed for Patillas where we would stop before our final jump to The Yacht Club Marina at Palmas del Mar; our stopping point for this hurricane season.

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Ken strikes a pose after anchoring Mauna Kea!

Once anchors were set and a quick rain shower had rinsed our decks, Laurie, Ken, Frank and I dinghied into town to stretch our legs and check out the town.  We strolled to the left, then we strolled to the right and about 30 minutes later we had pretty much traversed the waterfront area of Patillas and Captain had enjoyed plenty of sniffing and calling card deposits.

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Ken, Frank and Captain chilling in the shade and watching the activity.

Rain was threatening again so we found a little outdoor spot with plenty of umbrellas and enjoyed lunch while watching the comings and goings along the main street.  We were surprised that there seemed to be a lot going on here even though the town was tiny.

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Can you tell we were caught in the rain?  Maybe I need a selfie stick? Or longer arms?

Our lunch table was right on the main road and we had the perfect spot to observe the comings and goings in Patillas.

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Disco bus for elders??

I have no idea what was up with this bus but the folks on board were having a grand time and the lights on the bus were flashing all kinds of random patterns.  We couldn’t decide if it was a tour bus (but there were no blaring announcements) or if a retirement home had gone all out on their day bus!

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I wish I could have captured the lights and music in a picture!

Lights and bling are obviously emphasized in Patillas as is evidenced by the ice cream truck we saw on the main street just as we were finishing lunch.

WAIT!!!!!! Did you say ice cream truck? Well we paid our lunch bill and took off after that ice cream truck.  I felt like we were part of a cartoon comedy because every time we got close to the truck, he moved on!  But we persisted and finally managed to catch the ice cream man!

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I didn’t see any bomb pops but we found plenty to enjoy.

After strolling the beach front and eating our ice cream, we had pretty much exhausted Patillas so we headed back to our sailboats and simply enjoyed the view from our boats.

Once again we were leaving before sun up so it was early to bed for all of us.  But at least we had a chance to walk around a bit, and had a short jog chasing the ice cream truck!

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A stellar final sunrise!

Our final sunrise as we motored toward Palmas del Mar was stunning.  The sun sprayed golden rays across the ocean and brought forth a beautiful day for our final push along the southern coast of Puerto Rico.

We arrived at The Yacht Club at Palmas del Mar and were warmly welcomed my the great team who runs this marina.  In the fall of 2015 when we were preparing LIB to be our live aboard home, we had spent almost two months here and we were thrilled to see the same fabulous folks here upon our return.

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Sunset from The Yacht Club

I truly cannot say enough positive things about the staff at The Yacht Club Marina.  They are the most caring, helpful, happy and kind people we have met.  And they are very organized and efficient.

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Full moon rises over the rock jetty at The Yacht Club

This is a wonderful place to while away our time during hurricane season and if we must be on the dock, I can’t think of a better place.

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

 

 

 

Boquerón, La Parquera, Gilligan’s Island… Ports of Puerto Rico

As I mentioned previously, we have been following the advice of Bruce Van Sant’s book, “Passages South” in which he shares his thoughts on how to move east against easterly winds.  Van Sant believes it is best to take advantage of lower wind speeds which occur during the night and motor a few hours each morning from one anchorage to another.  Per his suggestions, we awaken around 4 a.m., raise anchor, and move east along the southern shore of Puerto Rico for a few hours.

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Sunrise is filled with pastel colors and soft breezes.

Although it is difficult to get out of bed when it is dark, we were rewarded with watching the day come alive and with calm seas, so the effort is definitely worth it! But getting up early means the days feel long and the evenings feel short since we go to bed earlier than usual.

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Boqueron has a long, inviting shore.

After completing the Mona Passage and a good night of sleep at anchor in Mayaguez, we moved to Boqueron and anchored in a bay of flat water.

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We strolled the waterfront town and had lunch in Boqueron.

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Kelsey and Lauren relaxing in the park.

Next we meandered through the park along the water where we met three young ladies from the US who were on vacation.  After a brief conversation, we invited Kelsey, Lauren and Shaye to come out to LIB and relax on our boat for the afternoon.

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Captain had to join in the fun!

Shaye, Lauren and Kelsey are close in age to our own children and we were happy to share our “home” with them for a bit; very much like others have done for our sons as they travel.  We enjoyed getting to know these young ladies and hearing about their plans.  Their energy and enthusiasm were contagious and we are so happy they spent the afternoon with us.  Safe travels, girls. Keep in touch!

La Parguera

We actually had to turn left here, not go straight toward town.

Our next stop was La Parguera.  Finding our way into this small fishing village with crops of mangroves growing into small islands in front of the town made our initial entry a little challenging.  It is necessary to watch the chart and keep a close eye out for shallow water but we managed to work LIB into a nice anchoring spot behind one of those mangrove “islands.”

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La Parguera is a sleepy town during daylight hours with deserted streets and most businesses closed.

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The same area of town after nightfall.

But once night falls, this little town is a jumble of people where families, teens and couples stroll the pedestrian area, live bands play loudly, food stands compete with restaurants and vendors hawk jewelry and trinkets from small stands.

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Puerto Rico night life.

There was even a tent with a mechanical horse race where bets were taken and money changed hands for winning numbers.  We placed a couple of big $1 bets, but walked away without winning.

After enjoying the bustling nightlife in La Parguera, we upped anchor around 4:30 a.m. and motored to Balnearia de Cana Gorda, a bay about 20 miles away.  By 8 o’clock our anchor was down and we were happily floating in front of a very pretty little resort called Copa Marina Resort, though there really wasn’t a marina there.

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LIB can be seen in the background.

We launched Day Tripper, our dinghy, and went to check out the Resort.  As luck would have it, there was a yummy breakfast buffet being served and cruisers were welcome. So we had a very nice breakfast, then spent a bit of time relaxing at the pool.  What a nice reward after our early morning departure.

Copa Resort has a nicely manicured beach and a few water toys for rent.  We decided to rent a Hobie Wave (because when does Frank ever want to sit still?) and spend a little time sailing around the bay.  We may or may not have had a little trouble tacking this little boat and I am certain we went further than we were “supposed” to go, but no one told us any limits when we started!

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We may have gone out further than allowed???

Frank and I spent couple of wet hours sailing that Hobie and we had plenty of laughs in the process!

We ended up staying in this bay for two nights because we just couldn’t bring ourselves to leave.  The Resort was welcoming, there was a popular public beach near the Resort where families gathered and played all day and just around the corner was the fairly famous “Gilligan’s Island.”

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Gilligan’s Island (Image taken from internet)

So this island is actually called Cayo Aurora and even though I don’t see the likeness to the one in the TV show, many people call this place Gilligan’s Island.  The picture above does not show how crowded this area is usually, but it does show you how pretty it is.  Trust me, usually there are boats, kayaks, floats, people and plenty of music throughout this island.

Frank and I took Day Tripper over and hung out in the water, avoiding the land where the mosquitos were happily feasting on slightly inebriated humans too oblivious to notice.  It was a great place to people watch and the current through the inlet kept the water moving and cool.  Truly a pretty island and a fun place to while away a bit of time.

Our next stop is Ponce, then on to Salinas where we will catch up to s/v Mauna Kea!

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Colorful homes in La Parguera.

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Gratuitous sunrise

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

 

 

 

 

While Frank Was Away, I Still Played

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A bird’s eye view of Marina Puerto Bahia

While Frank was sailing across the Atlantic between Bermuda and Spain on a different boat, I hung out on Let It Be with Captain in Marina Puerto Bahia, DR.  While I enjoy time to myself, three weeks was a bit long and I was super happy when my friend, Anneva, decided to make an impromptu visit.

After picking Anneva up in at the airport on the southern side of the Dominican Republic, we drove back to Samana on the northern shore.  After an uneventful flight, Anneva had the chance to experience DR driving.  Driving in the DR is interesting because there are so, so many motorcycles and people pass each other without much regard for conventional passing rules.  SO you are driving uphill and the road turns so much that you can’t see what is coming…. perfect time to pass!

Thankfully the drive was also uneventful, but I wouldn’t call it relaxed.

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Anneva relaxing in the Puerto Bahia pool.

However, we did manage to relax once we returned to the marina.  Captain loved having Anneva here because Anneva is really good at morning scratches or afternoon ones or evening ones!  Cappy loved all the walks and attention.

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The walks are often shady but it is still hot and humid

The first day of Anneva’s stay, we hung out around the marina, took a few walks, chilled by the pool and generally gabbed the day away as we caught up on the many months since we last visited in person.

We spent one day exploring Las Terranas, a town about 30 minutes away with many shops, restaurants and beaches.

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How beautiful is this?

Our first stop was the beach above and we decided just to park ourselves here for the day! We were not at all interested in shopping, we had comfy beach chairs and most of the beach to ourselves, so we decided we couldn’t do much better.  Plus we had more catching up to do!

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Anneva looks like she might take this boat for a spin.

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Ancient artifact?

A DR beach day isn’t complete without a vendor or two trying to sell us something.  Anneva just couldn’t resist this terra cotta frog which we were told is “an ancient Taino Indian artifact.”  The gentleman assured us that he had dug up this frog and showed us the bottom surface which had a circular pattern carved into it.  He told us the Tainos would have placed the frog in a fire, then used bottom surface to brand or tattoo.  We aren’t sure if he meant brand their animals or tattoo people.  Either way, the story was too good to pass up the trinket even if we don’t believe for a minute that it is authentic.

Of course all of this conversation took place in Spanish, so who knows what the real story was and exactly what our vendor was trying to say!

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Strolling along the beach.

Our dock neighbors, Andre and Josee, graciously offered to show Anneva and me some of their favorite places, so we took off in our rental car and spent a fabulous day exploring.

I sound like a total ditz but I cannot tell you exactly where these pictures were taken because  I was busy driving and watching the motorcycles.  (Frank and I have dubbed the motorcycles  here “mosquitos” because they are a bit pest-like and numerous.)

First stop was fresh, local bread cooked over this open flame!

Andre knows a lot of great places to buy local fruits or veggies and some great restaurants.  We had barely begun driving when he told us to stop at a road side house where we would buy fresh bread.   Lloila, the lady in this picture, bakes bread in her home right on the street, over the open flame in the picture.  This flat bread was a little sweet and unlike any I have tried before.

Now that we wouldn’t starve, ha, we proceeded to a blow hole along the coast.  The contrast between the lush greens, the rock sea wall and the blue water was beautiful.

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A low pitched rumble accompanied the gush of water through the blow hole.

We drove along the coast through some very small towns and stopped at pretty beaches just for the views.  But it wasn’t too long before Andre and Josee had us stop at a bar/eco center so we could buy a drink and enjoy another view.

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We walked past chicken coups and vegetable plants along a shaded walkway.

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Until we came to this stunning little bar/cafe!

But we only stayed here long enough to buy water and soak in the beauty because Andre had a special lunch spot in mind.

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Choosing fish for our lunch.

We stopped at yet another beach where Andre and Josee assured us the lunch was typical DR and freshly caught.  As soon as we arrived, we picked out “our fish” then went to swim in the ocean for 30 or 45 minutes while lunch was prepared.

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A little Presidente to complement the fish, rice and plantains. 

Neither Anneva nor myself are huge fish eaters and we were a little hesitant when it was served as a complete fish – head, tail, eyes and all!  Once we got past having our lunch stare back at us, it was very good.

The remainder of the day was spent moving from one beautiful lookout stop to another.  Although Andre did have us drive through some pretty questionable roads where Anneva and I thought the car might disappear into the potholes!

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El Monte Azule was closed but we still enjoyed the view.

At one especially narrow and potted road, we decided to park the car and walk up the hill to El Monte Azule which Andre told us had a gorgeous 360 degree view that included both the Atlantic Ocean and Samana Bay.  The walk was steep and hot but we were game.  Unfortunately the restaurant was closed so we couldn’t see the total 360 view but we still thought what we could see was worth the effort.

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Josee and Andre at Monte Azule

After walking back to our car and driving between potholes, we headed back toward Puerto Bahia. We had an excellent day with Josee and Andre and saw many places we would never have found on our own!

Thank you SO much Josee and André for a really wonderful day!

Unfortunately Anneva only had a couple of days to stay in the DR, so the next day we drove back to the southern coast and spent the afternoon in Santa Domingo, the capital of the Dominican Republic.  (Here is a post about Santa Domingo.)

I am so thankful that Anneva was willing to fly to the DR and hang out with me.  Although her visit went much too quickly, she broke up the isolation of my time alone on LIB and it was absolutely fabulous to spent time with her! Thanks Anneva!!!

 

 

 

 

Sailing ~ My Beginnings

Since we aren’t moving around much right now, I thought I would share a story I wrote as an assignment a few years ago about how this whole “living on a boat” thing started for me.  Originally, this was a three part story, per the parameters of the instructions, and it focuses on my experience. Sorry to be so egocentric today.  I hope you enjoy reading it… 

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Deshaies, Guadeloupe river hike.

Water and sound.  Two things that invigorate me.  From the time I was very young, think three or four, I loved to swim.  I was a fish! In fact, during the summer, missing a trip to the pool might have caused my gills to dry out and I could have died! Thank goodness my mom was pretty dedicated to making sure I had plenty of time for swim team and spring board diving!

Sound is also essential to me.  But sound goes two ways for me.  I love all sorts of music, but there are times when noise overwhelms me and I need silence or the simple sounds of nature.  Take jet skis. Man those things are great! They fuel my desire for speed and do it on the water! However, I just can’t take the engine noise for long.  Pretty quickly I seek out a quiet cove, turn off the engine and allow myself to soak in the beauty of the water and the fabulous harmony of nature’s songs.

Knowing these two facets to my person, how did I manage to live for half of a century without discovering sailing? A sailboat combines water, movement and quiet!  Sailing had never really entered my radar, but once it did, I was convinced it would be perfect for me!  And since Frank had grown up sailing, he was interested in picking it up again and thought it would be the perfect sport for us to share.

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Let It Be “racing” in Georgetown, Bahamas

Not one to let opportunity pass me by,  I signed up for my first sailing class: American Sailing Association 101.  And Frank, who is like the Chinese water torture once he gets an idea in his head, decided to take sailing matters into his own hands.  He signed us both up for a 4 day, live on board, sailing class which would begin the day after I finished ASA 101.  He grew up sailing and was determined I should catch the sailing bug.

I thought for sure sailing would be an easy and natural fit for me, but…

Have you ever heard a sailor talk? It’s a whole new language on a boat! Why can’t a rope be a rope? Because on a sailboat it’s a halyard or a sheet depending on its function!

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I tried so hard to learn all the terms and jargon before my first sailing class, but I was lost.  Words and I are friends, but wow did the sailing terms throw me for a loop!  I finally managed to learn all the parts of a monohull sailboat once I actually stepped on board for my sailing classes.

Have you ever been on a monohull on a windy day, when you aren’t very sure of what you are doing or which “line” goes to what sail?  Well add in the experience of heeling and I was in a whole new world! For those of you who don’t know, heeling is when the boat tilts to one side because of the pressure of the wind on the sail.  Holy wind force, Batman! That was a seriously unexpected and upsetting experience for me.

Here I was trying to put my new sailing terminology to use only to be thrown about by the inanimate boat from hell that arched up on one side and left me clinging to anything stable to remain on board!

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Photo from internet

Needless to say, learning to sail was not the seamless, docile experience I had expected. Do you remember that song, “Sailing” by Christopher Cross?  Yeah, well, that song is misleading! My first sailing experience was anything but relaxed and lackadaisical!  Mostly what I remember from my very first sailing experience was having strange terms thrown at me, “come about!” and ducking for dear life as the sail swung from one side of the boat to the other, barely missing my head!

Still, I was not willing to give up on sailing and I soon managed to become proficient enough to stay on board, understand the language and adjust to life on a tilt.

However, after the first four day trip Frank and I took on a sailboat, I was really sad.  There I was, on a boat in the British Virgin Island, sailing on the clearest water you can imagine and I was not loving it.  My little, sprouting dream of adventurous sailing with sea spray bursting around the boat and me smiling at the helm was dying as I tried to adjust to my new hobby.

I wasn’t sure what to do.  I now possessed certifications for Sailing 101 and 103, but somehow my sea legs had not developed and Frank had become more and more enamored with the idea of LIVING on a sailboat!…

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Green Beach, Vieques

Swell.  My husband is now convinced that our future should include LIVING on a sailboat and all I can think is, “There is no way in hell I can live out my life on a boat, looking out a tiny window just above the water line, hanging on as the boat tilts to 45 degrees and I try to make some sort of dinner in the galley!”

By the end of our four days on the monohull, I didn’t care how beautiful the surroundings were or how “cool” it was to move from place to place using only the forces of nature.  I was not going to live on a boat.  I love Frank but this was not the life for me.

To make matters worse, we had already paid for another four more days of sailing, this time just the two of us.  No instructors, just us!  I was ready to forfeit my money and head back home. However, my resourceful husband had a plan.  He is a tenacious person and was not willing to give up on this whole idea of living on a boat.

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No need to hold on when we don’t heel.

So, he leased a catamaran instead! For those who don’t know, a catamaran has two hulls and much of the living area is above the waterline, and there is NO HEALING!  Have I told you that I love my husband?

Some people refer to catamarans as “condo-marans” because of the extra space they have.  Sailing purists don’t appreciate cats much, but for me, this was a whole new and fabulous experience!  No longer was I stuck “down” in the galley (kitchen).  Instead I could cook above the water line and have a 360 view.  I could set down my coffee and the cup would not slide off the counter and throw the contents all over the boat.  Life could be lived the way it was supposed to be – upright, not at an angle!

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No heeling, no sliding.

Five years ago Frank leased that catamaran.  Today, I am a fairly accomplished catamaran sailor.  I have taken two girls only trips where I am the captain and even my non-water, non-sailing friends have a great time swishing through the water, propelled by wind, without the sound of an engine. And all of them know a good bit about how to handle a sailboat.

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While a monohull is a beautiful, graceful sailboat, give me a cat any day!  Let those sailing purists live at a tilt.  Me, I’ll take the grief for my “condo-maran” and enjoy my coffee while sitting or standing perpendicularly, just as God intended!

Regular readers know that we have realized our dream and have lived on board s/v Let It Be for almost two years.  My sailing experiences have taught me to better appreciate the beauty and benefits of monohulls too, but I’m still partial to catamarans.

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

 

Los Haitises National Park, DR

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Lush growth and conical hills of Los Haitises.

From our slip in Puerto Bahia Marina, I can see the other side of Samana Bay where the Haitises National Park resides.  The park, established in 1976, was originally 80 square miles but was expanded to 319 square miles in 1996.  Los Haitises has very little road access and includes a protected virgin forest and home to a variety of birds.  The park is a fairly popular spot for ecotourism and the number of visitor each year is supposedly limited, although we did not have any trouble getting permission to take LIB across the bay for a visit.

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Birds in the air and in the trees.

Laurie and Ken of s/v Mauna Kea and Laura and Chris of s/v Temerity agreed to join us on LIB and head across the bay for an overnight visit to Los Haitises.  Ken and Laurie had already visited once so they were our resident experts for the trip.

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Laura and Laurie relaxing on the trampoline.

After a relaxing sail across Samana Bay, we anchored near an inlet that Ken told us led to a large ecolodge with beautiful surroundings and fair vittles.  Once anchored, we hopped into the dinghy and motored through one of the most beautiful creeks we have explored to date. 

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I wish I could share the sounds with you as well!

While the water was not the gin clear color we experienced in the Bahamas, the overhanging trees and lush surroundings were breathtaking.

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Village Weaver nests.

Nestled among many branches were groups of round bird nests.  I later learned that these nests are woven from leaves by the males of the “Village Weaver” species (Ploceus cucullatus).  The males weave a nest in the hope that a female will come along, appreciate his handiwork and choose him as a mate.  Once she chooses her mate, the female lays 4-6 small blue-green eggs.  Village Weavers are not indigenous to the Dominican Republic but rather were brought from Africa on slave ships around 1796. Originally the birds were only found in Los Haitises but recently some have been seen in the capital of Santa Domingo.

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This looks more triangular than round… wonder if some female found it exciting?

A short walk past horses, cows, chickens and other livestock roaming in fields was the promised ecolodge.  I am not sure what qualifies this as an ecolodge, but I can tell you it is beautiful.  We had to pay a small fee per person to enter the grounds and this allowed us to explore the area, have lunch and get in the water.  Pictures will do far more justice than my words…

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A water feature at the entrance to the lodge.

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The sound of waterfalls added to the ambiance of lunch.

Los Haitises has an average annual rainfall of 79 inches. In contrast, Dallas, TX has an annual rainfall of 37 inches.  I believe all of the water features are fed from fresh water mountain springs and runoff.

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The stonework reminded me of WPA projects from the 1930s.

Laura speaks Spanish very well and struck up a conversation with the gentleman in charge of construction of a new hotel being completed as part of the lodge.  All number of US agencies would have slapped fines on the builder for showing us around the construction site but we were thrilled to have a first hand view and he was equally pleased to show off the hotel.

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Numerous rooms and additional water features for the lodge.

I must admit that the way these accommodations have been incorporated into the hillside and how the rooms include natural features of the land is truly remarkable.  We toured for about 40 minutes and were allowed to see every room and planned space. 

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Stairways that seem to belong within the hillside.

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Use of indigenous materials made the hotel feel more like it “belongs” here.

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The view from the upper rooms.

In the picture above, the left side shows a water feature and to the right, the bare areas are the future home of a PuttPutt course.  I’m not sure how that fits into an ecolodge but I am sure it will be well liked by visitors.

The construction tour was truly a treat made even more delicious because we knew back home laws would have prevented us from having strolling through this construction site.

Next up was a visit to the caves used by the Tiano Indians way back before Columbus landed! There are two areas for viewing caves on Los Haitises; one is very obvious and is actually a little lame compared to the cave tour we had back in Thompson Bay.  But the second option is to hire a local guide who takes you to a more remote cave.  Our guide rode in the dinghy and took us through a meandering creek where we stopped at a nicely built wooden dock.  From there a quick walk along a path through dense trees led us to a cave used more than 500 years ago by the Tiano Indians.

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I just liked the light in this picture.

I was not supposed to take pictures of the hieroglyphics painted by the Tianos and I honored that request.  The images were painted with sap from a local tree and the only color used was black.  Still, it is interesting to see the “recordings” these people left behind.

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Hard to believe all this light is in the caves.

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Somehow this makes me think of the resurrection of Jesus.

We were told that the Tianos used the caves to hide and escape from Columbus.  Legend has it that they had a few entrances to the caves and the Tianos walked backwards from various directions to confuse their trails, then they escaped through a hidden opening.  Very clever!

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Looking out from the first caves.

A special thank you to Ken and Laurie who decided to skip the second cave and held on to Captain so I could explore the cave.

Once the cave tour was completed, we motored back to Puerto Bahia as the wind was in our faces.  The trip to Los Haitises was quick but it was also interesting and fun to share with friends.

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A peaceful bend in the creek leading to the Tiano Caves.

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 44. We would love to hear from you. 

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