Blog Archives

BSSA ~ Sailing with the Expert Kids

Bonaire has an active youth sailing group and we invited them to join us on Let It Be for an afternoon of sailing.

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Fifteen kids and two adults from the Bonaire Sailing School Association boarded LIB around 2 pm.  After covering a few guidelines, we released the mooring lines and took off.

BSSA-9 LIB was in the hands of some very good sailors! It only took a few minutes to cover basic differences between the small boats the kids sail and the particulars of this catamaran, then the kids were completely ready to take the sheets, lines and throttles!

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I was truly impressed with how well these sailors worked together and shared responsibilities. As is always true with a group, some children were very interested in sailing and others preferred to romp around the boat.

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BSSA-2Once away from the mooring ball, we raised the main, unfurled the jib and sailed south toward Pink Beach. The auto winch and chart plotter were big hits. But once our sailors learned how to engage and work the autopilot, it was much more interesting to helm manually.

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BSSA-10Any child who wanted the helm had a chance and the more experienced kids stayed right there to guide those who needed a little help.

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BSSA-8After about an hour of sailing, we dropped the sails and grabbed a mooring ball at Pink Beach on the southern side of Bonaire.  We broke out the snacks, lowered the ladder and unleashed the energy. We had already thought these kids were exuberant, but adding the snacks and allowing them to jump from nearly every surface of LIB caused the energy level to increase another watt or ten!

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BSSA-11After a refreshing swim and plenty of sustenance, it was time to pop the chute.  LIB’s spinnaker is slightly larger than the sails the kids are accustomed to and they loved letting her fly.

BSSA-6Our cat cruised down wind quickly and the kids monkeyed around on this smooth point of sail. Very soon it was time to drop the spin and raise the main and jib once again. Second time around for the main/jib and the kids were all over the job with little help.

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I loved watching the kids access the sails, turn to Frank or me and say, “I think that main needs to come in a bit.” Then proceed to make the necessary adjustment. It is easy to see that some of these kids really have caught the sailing bug and they like their sails to be well adjusted.

Several of our sailors have folks who are expert fishermen and that knowledge has been passed along.  We brought out the fishing poles and the kids worked the lines hard, but alas, we were not in prime fishing spots.  Catching a fish would have been icing on a sweet day, but I’m not sure we needed the additional activity anyway!

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Our awesome helmsmen and sheet handlers managed to sail around Klein Bonaire and, with only one tack, they sailed LIB on a perfect line to catch our mooring ball.

BSSAWe absolutely loved having a chance to share LIB with the BSSA and having the opportunity to get to know these young people. I was incredibly impressed with so much about these kids; they were polite, they were appreciative, they were avid about learning and passionate about sailing, they cared for and watch out for one another, the older ones gently reined in the younger ones if things became unsafe or too wild, they worked well as a team, they were engaging and just plain fun! I could go on and on!

LIB has never housed as much energy as she did for those few hours with the BSSA kids on board and we loved every minute of it.  (I would love to hear how other boaters have reached out to get to know the communities they visit. Please tell us in the comments.)

Thank you to the kids who participated and to Anneke and Thijs who took their afternoon to chaperone.

To the parents of this very fun group of sailors, we appreciate your trusting us with your precious children and allowing us to get to know them!

A special thank you to Anneke who took so many great pictures and videos while Frank and I were busy. We are so glad to have these photos!  Also, thank you to Charles of Tusen Takk II for the group photo.

~HH55~

The construction of our new catamaran is moving along nicely and we continue to spend a lot of time working with the staff at HH to refine and define our future boat. It has been super fun to receive updates and a few photos from the builder showing us the progress of our boat.

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She was just the bare hull when we visited in China.

Since our first visit in August, Frank has returned once to China and was able to be on board for the sea trial of an HH55 with the aft steering.  That sea trial further solidified our choice for an aft helm arrangement.

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Vacuum infusion of the bulkheads. (Exciting, I know)

While touring the factory, we were able to see vacuum infusion in process for another boat.  Per the HH brochure, “the hull, deck and structure are all 100% carbon fiber composite foam sandwich and use post cured epoxy resin for super light, super strong structures.”  It is fun to see this processing happening for our own cat.

5503 Most bulkheats installation complete

Those partitions may be confusing to you, but to us they look like our future home.

She doesn’t look like a boat yet, but there is definitely progress being made. We worked with HH and Morrelli and Melvin to arrange the salon and galley to meet our needs and it is fun to see the one dimensional lines and boxes on paper become a reality.

Since this boat is being built in China we obviously can’t just drop by to see how things are going, so we really appreciate the progress reports generated by HH.

Thanks so much for visiting our blog.  We love hearing from our readers. If you would like to see what we are up to more often, please visit our FB page.

 

Family Time – The Happiest Time of the Year!

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

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So glad to have our kids with us!

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

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

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

Christmas-5Clayton skimming along.

DSC01060Frank looking mighty relaxed.

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

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

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

Spinnaker-3LIB looks festive flying her new spinnaker.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ChristmasClayton walking near the salt pond.

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

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

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

Christmas-3Clayton and Hunter snagging the mooring ball.

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

Bonaire: It’s Equally Interesting Above the Water.

So I have inundated my blog and FB page with images of the water and in the water in Bonaire.  Who can blame me when the water is so magnetic because of its’ beauty and refreshing qualities?

But we have not allowed the allure of the water or the temperatures to dissuade us from exploring the land. Frank and I pulled our mountain bikes off of LIB and went for a “short” three hour tour of parts of the island. We quickly left the paved road surfaces and found some rocky byways to ride and climb. Seeing as how I was trying to keep up with Frank, there was no time to take pictures!

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How is this for a view while biking?

My favorite part of exploring by bike was riding along the coast where we had a nice ocean breeze and a magnificent view…  Or maybe it was the screaming downhills that seemed so much shorter than the climbs to get to the top?

We also spent a couple of days exploring in a car and Captain was able to join us the first day which made her and us happy.   I did have ample opportunity to take pictures from the car!

The first day of driving, we managed to make a quick drive around pretty much all of Bonaire with the exception of Washington Slagbaai National Park as the Park doesn’t allow pets.

Bonaire-7A display of the harsh, rocky parts

Even though Bonaire only gets about 22 inches of rain annually, this is the rainy season and we were impressed by how green things were in some parts of Bonaire. The terrain is surprisingly diverse, sometimes flat and harsh with coral as the foundation, other times hilly and covered in scrubby trees then other areas are arid with towering cacti.

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While most of the land appears to be too rocky to grow crops, it is said that the island in the picture above has been farmed for three generations. You can actually see on the small island that the ground appears to be more of a loose soil than in other areas.

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A touch of softness among the cacti.

Even though the environment would be difficult to cultivate, there is beauty here and birds are more prevalent than on many islands.

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Such a vibrant bird!

This little bird was not at all afraid when we came by in our car and in fact he seemed very curious.  Captain was in the back seat and I thought she would go crazy if the bird came too close, but she remained very quiet.

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Our pretty little visitor.

Sure enough the little bird did come visit us at the car, but I think he was actually more fascinated with his own reflection than with us.  He hovered about our mirror for several minutes admiring himself, sitting on the edge of the mirror and sometimes hanging upside down to see himself.  The symmetry of his coloring is beautiful.

Bonaire produces 400,000 tons of industrial grade salt each year! The southern end of the island is naturally low lying and, using a system of traditional Dutch dykes, acres of land are divided into ponds which are flooded with seawater. The seawater is allowed to evaporate and salt is left behind.

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Can you see the pink color of the water in this salt pond?

The seawater changes color during the process of evaporation and from what I have read goes through three main color stages depending on the salinity of the water and what flourishes in that environment. The pink color that I found so pretty, but hard to photograph, occurs during the final stage of evaporation when the salt content is very high.  During this brine state, a microorganism called halophilic bacteria develops.  This bacteria is actually a single cell life form and gives the water this pink hue.  (For more in depth information, see this link.)

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Mountains of washed salt waiting to be exported.

The salt is collected and washed, then stored in huge piles until it is loaded onto a ship for transport.  The salt ponds have a separate, dedicated pier where ships dock to be loaded.  On days when there is not a ship at the pier, the area around the dock is excellent for snorkeling and scuba diving.

As pretty as these salt pools look, there is evidence of a sad history of slavery here as well. Driving along the road or from the sea you can see a row of tiny, stone huts which were used by salt pond workers. The houses are too small for a grown man to stand in and were simply a place for workers to keep their few possessions and sleep.

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These tiny huts give witness to a life of incredible hardship.

According to the literature I read, a small number of African slaves as well as Indians and convicts worked the salt fields and lived in these huts. I read that the slaves would walk to the city of Rincon on Friday afternoons to be with their families.  They were required to return to the salt huts on Sunday evening.  That walk to Rincon?  The literature said it took seven hours each way!  So sad.

We had heard about a pretty area on the eastern coast of Bonaire called Lac Bay and that was where we planned to stop for lunch. Lac Bay is a shallow, well protected area with white sand beaches.  This combination makes it seem like Lac Bay would be overrun with hotels and commercialization, but because it is on the eastern side (too rough to moor) and hard to reach by car, it only has a few cozy places that cater to windsurfing or lounging on the beach.

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Our very casual lunch spot had a cool, sandy floor for Cappy.

We stopped at a casual, little restaurant right on Lac Bay, for a bite to eat and some sniff time for Captain. Lac Bay is perfectly protected by a reef and Frank would love to kite there but due to some mishap a few years ago, kiteboarding has been banned from this idyllic bay.  Only windsurfing is allowed and even on a calm day, the bay is dotted with windsurfers.

As we drove around Bonaire, I was struck by how these folks have learned to use the resources available. There is a distillery here that produces a drink from the cactus plant. I understand that Cadushy Distillery makes the worlds only liqueur from cacti plants! We have not toured the distillery yet, but perhaps we will.

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This cactus fence was less dense than most.

Cacti are also used as natural fences here on Bonaire. Many yards are lined with cacti planted so close together that they act as a natural barrier.  In fact, I think these fences would be more effective than barbed wire at keeping people out if that is your desire. The fence above was a little more decorative and less dense than many that we saw along the road.

This post only touches on the many facets of Bonaire, but already it is long, so I will dedicate my next post exclusively to our visit to the Washington Slagbaai National Park.

Thank you for visiting our blog. I hope you can get a small glimpse into how pretty Bonaire is and how much it has to offer. If you have any questions or favorite places here that you think we would enjoy, please let us know! And if  you would like to hear from us more often, please visit our FB page.

 

Bonaire Underwater!

Bonaire was our escape plan when we sailed away from Puerto Rico to escape Hurricane Maria. We knew this island would offer us hurricane protection but we really had no idea that we would find such a lovely place to live for a while.

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French Angel Fish

Bonaire is a world class scuba diving destination as is evidenced by the dive shops that are more prolific here than 7-11’s are in China!

Bonaire’s National Park Foundation was created way back in 1962 which shows that this tiny island was forward thinking about land preservation! This body was specifically formed to protect the nature of the island. Then in 1979, the Bonaire National Marine Park was formed and it regulates the whole coastline of Bonaire! That means that for many years the coast and land of Bonaire have been intentionally protected and the result is an amazing array of healthy fish and coral underwater and on land the island strives to protect it’s natural resources. (See what we found on land in another post!)

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I don’t like snakes, but look at the iridescent blue on this sea snake’s “fin!”

According to Wikipedia, Bonaire is “essentially a coral reef that has been geologically pushed up and out of the sea. This also resulted in the natural fringing reef system seen today, in which the coral formations start at the shoreline.”

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LIB on a dive buoy and trucks in a dive parking lot.

Furthermore this means that the beautiful dives on Bonaire are accessible from shore as well as boat.  And the island has done a fabulous job of marking the dive sites with painted yellow rocks on the roadside and yellow buoys in the water.

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Hahaha…. first time I have seen this road sign!

Anchoring is strictly prohibited in Bonaire, so all boats must use park moorings and dive buoys.  But there are so many marked sites, that it is not hard to find great places to tie up LIB or the dinghy for a dive.

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The colors are incredibly vibrant. It looks like melted crayons all over the reef!

The clarity of the water is also fabulous.  I think the combination of the white sandy bottom and the vibrant reefs contribute to the ability to see very well even in deep water.

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This huge moray eel was in 81 feet of water!

Thankfully Frank was willing to take the GoPro and get close to this big guy.  I know moray eels are not supposed to attack humans and I know they are actually fish and not snakes, but that doesn’t mean I want to be close to them!

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Something out of Star Wars or is this a 1980’s McDonald’s French Fry Guy?

This little formation made me wonder if perhaps some writers get their inspiration while scuba diving!

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There is something about these Honeycomb Cowfish!

Cowfish and trunkfish are seen in a variety of colors here and each one I see makes me smile. I love the little, spiky hoods above the cowfish eyes.  The baby trunkfish are super cute and fairly friendly.

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Repeat of Mr. Octopus!

Although I have used this picture before, having the chance to see this octopus was so exceptional that I wanted to share it again! Look on our FB page to see the video.

I have had several people tell me they have spotted sea horses!! I am constantly looking for them but so far without success. Not to worry. I am sure we will find one before we depart Bonaire!

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Captain and Frank swim to shore for morning ‘business.’

Even Captain loves the water in Bonaire! While she has not yet learned to snorkel or scuba dive, she loves jumping into the water and swimming to shore.  Plus at the end of her walks, she is quite ready to wade back into the water to cool off and swim back to LIB.

Frank has kited in two places and I hope to have a go next week when the wind returns. Although the wind on the south side was offshore, the location is lovely and the wind wasn’t too gusty, so Frank had an excellent set. The second spot was right off of Klein Bonaire and it didn’t work out as well.

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Kiting off of Klein Bonaire was too gusty.

The water side of Bonaire has been delightful. But don’t think Bonaire is only for water sports.  We have pulled out our bikes and explored a bit that way and we have just rented a car.  Our first excursions have been fun and interesting. I’ll share those pictures soon.

Is Bonaire on your bucket list?  We would recommend it!

 

 

 

 

Goodbye Aruba, Hello Bonaire!

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Our view from Arashi Beach.

Our last few days in Aruba were spent in a northwest anchorage called Arashi Beach near the lighthouse and a pretty public beach. While the anchorage was still rolly, we really appreciated the beach setting where we could alternate between dips in the clear water, cool beverages at the small bar and strolls along the tourist strewn sand.

Captain was extremely happy here as she would swim then roll in the sand to her hearts content. Plus there were SO many people who gave her love and attention that she really did not want to return to LIB!

Captain is quite the ambassador and because of her we met people all along the beach.  Since there is no cruising community to speak of in Aruba, Captain’s introductions to new friends was even more welcome than usual.

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Captain amid her friends Pam, Tiff, Chris and Lisa.

We ended up meeting several groups of visitors but we really connected with two groups and since both expressed interest in our sailing life, we invited them to come visit us on LIB.

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John, Mark, Zachary, Gerry, Frank, Lisa and Chris…. the youngest at the helm? 

Once again, I forgot to pull out my camera, so I don’t have pictures from the day Becky, Tanya, Jeb and Shawn went sailing with us, but both days were really fun.  Our guests soon became friends and I can only hope our paths will cross again.  Thanks for trusting us to share part of your vacation time guys.  It was a pleasure meeting each and every one of you!

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Eight large boats and a couple of small ones.

Aruba tourism is huge as evidenced by the number of day boats taking people to various snorkeling spots.  Just count the number of boats in the pictures above and below this paragraph.  These were to the port and starboard side of LIB as we motored away from Arashi Beach.

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Just another six day boats!

I mentioned already on our boat FB page that the checking in and out process for Aruba leaves a LOT to be desired.  The docking is especially poor as it is set up for very large tug boats or cruise ships and small sailboats or motorboats do not fit well against the dock.  The people in and about Aruba are delightful, but the Customs and Immigration people were much less helpful, in our experience.  I get it though; we cruisers are small potatoes and little revenue compared to those who arrive by plane or cruise ship….

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Sailing against the trade winds is no fun, so this calm day was perfect!

We set out for Bonaire on a fabulously calm day with winds of less than 4 knots and seas that were calmer than our Aruban anchorages!

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Venezuela is right there!

If you look closely, in the distance of this picture, you can see Venezuela.  It is easy to forget that Venezuela is only about 25 miles from Aruba.  Many large, private fishing boats have come from Venezuela and are docked in Aruba.  I assume this is to find a safe refuge since Venezuela is in such a sad plight.

We anchored in a small bay on Curacao overnight, then motored on to Bonaire.  WHAT a welcome back to Bonaire we had.  Our friends Josee and Andre whom we met in the Dominican Republic were already in Bonaire and had scouted out a mooring ball in case we needed it. (You guys ROCK!)

Kathe and Gary of s/v Tribasa Cross, whom we met waaaay back in the BVIs in 2015, were on a mooring ball and Gary was in the dinghy to greet us when we arrived. How fun is it to bump into people you met years before?!

Plus we were able to reconnect with Kathi and Tim of s/v Two Oceans; fellow Puerto Rico refugees!

Needless to say it is awesome to be back in a cruising community where we can reconnect with familiar friends (notice I did not say “old”) and new friends are just a mooring ball away.

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The reefs include more color than you can imagine!

Now that we are back in Bonaire, once again we are diving daily.  We find the diving here fabulous!  By early afternoon, we are very hot and ready to drop our body temperatures.  Scuba diving and being underwater for an hour is an excellent way to cool off and explore at the same time.

Here are just a few pics from diving in Bonaire…

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Who knows what might pop out from a crevice?

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My favorite “find” so far was this octopus!

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This doesn’t do justice to the myriad of colors.

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Loads of fishies!

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This eel was fast…. or was I hesitant to get too close??

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Nature reclaiming man’s waste and making it pretty-ish.

It is really nice to be back in Bonaire where we are surrounded by other cruisers and we can enjoy the water that surrounds us. There are good grocery stores and we can find most things we want and everything we need.  The winds are returning this week, so we look forward to finding a good kiteboard spot soon.

Happy Thanksgiving to our U.S. readers. As usual, thank you for stopping by.

 

 

Ch~Ch~Ch~Changes! New Plans. New Digs.

If you were reading closely, you may have noticed a soft mention of a recent trip to China in one of our blog posts. And if you saw me with my kiddos, you would have noticed that Frank wasn’t with us because he was once again in China. And if you had followed us around the Annapolis Boat Show, you might have noticed that we spent a lot of time on one particular sailboat.

And IF you put all of that together, you might have guessed that we have decided to buy a new boat!    W H A T ? ? ? ?

Yep, it’s true.

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She doesn’t look like much ~ yet!

Here is the skinny.  We love our Helia and think that LIB is a well built, comfortable sailboat.  We have put a lot of work into her to make her function perfectly for us and make sure she is reliable, capable and prepared for long passage making.

So why would we change boats?  The truth is that we want a boat that is faster than LIB.  We have been discussing the idea of circumnavigation and I am in favor of having a sailboat that can make long passages shorter.  I like the idea of being “out there” less time and being anchored and exploring longer.

LIB is absolutely blue-water ready and very capable for circumnavigating. But honestly, we have been looking for a boat that can sail upwind, can sail faster and sails well in light winds.  We love to sail and we want a sailboat that can comfortably tick off 230 miles per day with a crew of 2.

After months of discussion, we had narrowed our focus to three boats; the Outremer 5X, the Balance 526 and the HH55.  Because we did not have an opportunity to sail any of those boats, our research stalled until May of this year.  Apparently in May all of the stars aligned just perfectly because in the space of two weeks we had the chance to sea trial and carefully evaluate all three of these boats.

The Outremer, the Balance and the HH each have some excellent features, are solid boats and are performance oriented.  But after reviewing our options and sailing goals, and after sailing all three boats, Frank and I were hooked on the HH55. Full carbon construction, cutting edge hull, daggerboard and rig design as well as full customization options are just some of the many features that set the HH apart from other performance catamarans.

We spent a lot of time working with Gino Morrelli,  renowned naval architect of Morrelli and Melvin, and with Mark Womble, broker extraordinaire, discussing the HH55 and what we wanted in a new boat.  We had conversations and e-mails with Paul Hakes of Hudson Hakes Yacht Group talking about our interests and questions.

In August we flew to China, visited the HH factory, created a preliminary interior layout, then pulled the trigger.  We signed a contract and officially placed our order for an HH-55!

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Frank and Paul make it official!

Frank and I recognize that sailing the HH will certainly be more complicated than sailing our Helia, but we have always enjoyed challenging ourselves mentally and physically, and we believe this boat will further our sailing experience and knowledge.

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Minnehaha, HH55-01! (Photo courtesy of HH Catamarans)

The HH55 has been designed with performance and comfort in mind and we believe this sailboat fulfills both of these roles very well. Our plan is to take delivery in Long Beach, CA, spend six to 12 months getting to know our new boat and making sure all of the systems work well, then set off for our circumnavigation.

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HH55-01 sports an inside helm station.

As with all changes, there is great excitement and a pretty large dose of nervousness.  We have absolutely loved Let It Be and she has been a sturdy and steady vessel.  It will be very hard (read sad) to let her go, so we hope to find buyers who will love her and care for her as well as we have.  Let It Be has brought us much joy and I’m sure whoever owns her next will create equally wonderful memories!

So there you have it; we are making some changes, expanding our experience and looking forward to the delivery of our HH55 sailboat.

Thank you so much for reading our blog. We love to hear from our readers, so feel free to make comments. And if you want to hear from us more often, check out our FB page: Let It Be, Helia 44.

 

 

 

 

 

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

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