More From Caroline – Part 5

The boys are doing well. Although they have their moments, they get along remarkably well for being stuck together for this long period of time. Matthew can recite the names of every soccer player in their international league (courtesy of his DSi)…although, I should add that he knows a whole lot of Caribbean geography too, so I guess I can’t complain. The boys have become valuable crew members, and although they lack the strength to do a lot of the sailing, they help out in many other ways. Docking is a dance of teamwork, with boys throwing ropes and mom stepping ashore. (Ha, last time, I mistepped, lost my balance and if not for the rope I was holding, I would have fallen in on the other side of the dock! Stay tuned for Frazer’s Funniest Home Videos! (Not)

We are gearing up for another set of guests, and we are very excited. The next month will be action packed with guests, and I know the kids welcome more playmates (and less school work!) I’m sure there will be a few pictures to mark the event….

[Editor’s note: Yes, this was written a little while ago. Yes, we have been having guests for a while. Yes, the email Caroline sent me was lost in a terrible Internet storm. Yes, we’re trying to rectify the speed with which I can produce Caroline posts. Please stay tuned as I do my best with the resources of time, internet, and well… night time, that I have, since most of these get created after boys are asleep.]

Big News

So, it’s official. Things are going so well that Caroline and I have decided to retire early and to stay down here indefinitely. We’re pretty excited.

Hope you’re having a great day. 🙂

New Friends Down

Now to be clear, these are not new friends… but friends that are newly down. Brian, Terryl and Matthew (yes, some confusion is about to ensue) joined us. They flew into the BVI and we met them and then headed over to Marina Cay for the night.

When Brian and I came back to the boat to load the luggage aboard, I noticed that the cockpit light wasn’t working anymore…. after some huffing and puffing and realized that it was the result of some vigorous “cleaning” by the boys earlier in the day. I’d once again asked the boys to clean the topdecks which they did again with relative enthusiam. One of the boys was a little too aggressive when cleaning the bimini (the cover over the cockpit) where the light string is attached. My hope was that this didn’t suggest a direction for their visit. It didn’t as you will see.

The next morning when we went ashore we were treated to some incredible sights and what’s even more spectacular is that 3 of them happened even before we got in the water.

The first was a flounder fish (the ones that have 2 eyes on one side of their body and they lie on the bottom of the ocean) that was lying on a set of steps that went into the ocean. Here it is.

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The second was a big and incredibly colourful trunk fish. Hard to make out in this picture a little but you can see the head point to the right with the colourful spots.

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An finally, we saw a couple of rays lazily swimming about.

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Now, that’s a great way to start a trip.

More Adventures #4 – Caroline Style

Back to reality….I think this post must be dedicated to refrigeration…or the adventures thereof. The challenge of keeping food in a warm climate is an obvious one. On the boat, we have a tiny fidge (like a small bar fridge) with an even tinier freezer. We also have a cooler that sits right under our (tiny) counter (making cooking a challenge when you need something underneath your only work space!). It has a small coolant system with a small fan, but without the addition of ice, it really doesn’t keep things cold enough. While in Antigua, our cooler fan broke and the coolant piping froze into a solid block of ice. Okay, throw out that pile of foodstuffs. We replaced the fan (a computer cooler fan, no less), thawed the ice and then Paul had the task of resealing the entire system…using plastic and exercise bands as added insulation (it really was a bit McGuiver-ish). Back in action, right? Then, sourcing the internet, we decided that in order to keep the system from refreezing again, we would try without the added ice…only to conclude that this was insufficient to keep food fresh. (This conclusion was reached after opening the chicken I had purchased fresh the day before…need I say more?) Hmmm. Another pile of food wasted. I think the system is currently working. Having said that, food wastage continues…after buying the fourth litre of fresh milk (at $6/L) only to find it sour upon opening, I temporarily gave up on fresh milk (sorry, Ethan). Fortunately (for all except Ethan who dislikes the stuff), there is UHT milk, which is essentially milk that has been treated to allow storage on the shelf for months until opened: a godsend to the Caribbean climate. Fruits and vegetables are the other challenge…if you buy in bulk when it is available, there is the constant challenge of eating it before it goes bad. If you buy as you go, there is never any guarantee of what you might find or when you might have easy access to a store. I bought a special treat of strawberries (which I inspected at the store…at $8+/pack) last week, only to find that a number of them were white by the time I made it back to the boat. Go figure. It makes the cooking adventuresome (and yes, a tad expensive!) Nonetheless, I no longer take for granted my big fridge and freezer at home.

We have just finished a delightful visit with Paul’s brother and family. The boys were SO excited to have them down for the week. Needless to say, much fun was had by all, and they are greatly missed already. School has started again in full force…there is a lot to accomplish in the next week before our next adventurers arrive. We have had some fun with geography using our inflatable globe, and I am amazed at the kids’ knowledge. What sponges (oh, to be able to learn like that again!)

More “life on the boat” stories to come…!

More Adventures #3 – Caroline Style

Being back in the BVI, I am impressed with a few revelations…one, how much Nanny Cay (our home port) feels like “home” to us all. The boys kept talking about looking forward to going “home” to the BVI; when we arrived at the marina, all the staff greeted us like long lost family members; the familiar bays and anchorages were like a balm to the somewhat stressed sailor that I am. (And no, Christine, fear not….home still is in Perth and we ARE returning at the end of the 8 months!!!) The second revelation is how idyllic sailing in the BVI really is….anchorages galore, all within short sailing distance from one another, good services and really REALLY flat waters. Having sailed now through open waters, I find the water here incredibly calm, which makes for pleasant nights and delightful sails. The BVI really is “Natures Little Secret” for sailors, as their licence plates claim.

Oh, and did I mention that I am living on a boat of males? I am reminded every night time visit to the head (aka bathroom). I now take my light with me…

More Adventures #2 – Caroline Style

As Paul mentioned, we sailed back across the Sombrero Passage through the dark hours of the night over a week ago. After seeing the dolphin earlier that afternoon, we were very excited about heading out to open waters. Paul failed to fully highlight the adventures at Dog Island before heading out…trying to lift a very heavy outboard motor off our dingy and onto the boat in very rough waters was quite the challenge. Then imagine hoisting a very heavy rubber dingy out of the water (to strap it down on the deck for the passage, rather than drag it behind and risk losing it en route). At one point, there we were rocking back and forth, with Paul trying to balance this swinging pendulum. I wasn’t sure he wasn’t about to swing right off the boat!

The passage itself started off delightfully…downwind sailing with the waves behind us and the sun setting before us. I took the helm at about 9:30 with the almost full moon behind me and happily sailed for a few hours. Just when I was remarking to myself how well I was doing, the wind picked up rather quickly (as it is won’t to do), and suddenly there we were flying at 11.8 knots with just the foresail up! It’s one thing to break racing records during the day…quite another at night! I very happily woke Paul up to trim the sails and take over. Even with a tiny section of the foresail up, we still kept up speeds of 8 knots…amazing, the power of the wind. We passed a number of vessels along the way, most off in the distance, although there was one sail boat that passed quite close by going in the opposite direction (heading into the wind, poor things). I’ll admit…I really don’t like sailing in the dark, especially around large (or small) islands. As the sun rose, we passed between the islands into Sir Francis Drake Channel and on to Road Town Harbour where we dropped anchor. I was exceedingly happy to be in port again.

Next Steps

Well, with no guests for the present, what is going to keep us busy. After saying goodbye to Garth, Catherine, Naomi and Eric at Sopher’s Hole, we decided to stay an extra night. It would allow us to change gears, get some work done on the boat, and to also get some more serious school work done.

Speaking of school, it’s going pretty well. The boys sometimes find it hard to focus but are still moving right along in their different ways. Ethan is keeping up very well in most subjects and is pushing to complete a number of them. Noah is excited to complete his Social Studies and is the only one completely caught up on his journaling. And, Matthew is doing his work and having as much fun as possible. In many cases when the boys are doing the same work related to the boat, navigation, astronomy, or marine stuff, he is able to keep up with his brothers. In fact, as a mariner, he is very intuitive, and often correcting or at least alerting Daddy to things Daddy should be aware. If he’s not already running the boat, he and his brothers will be comfortably be doing it before too long.

So, as the sun sets on our guests’ visit (how’s that for poetic prose…. I’ll stick to inserting pictures in posts), we continue the more practical side of the adventure – schooling, provisioning, cleaning, repairs and something I’ll losely call “adjustments” to the boat. We are getting a lot of projects done and feeling good about that. And, truthfully, we’re doing it in paradise.

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To give you a sense of that, once we left Sopher’s Hole, we went back to Road Town for some supplies but then we took off to a bay we really love called Benure’s Bay. It’s actually where we christened/renamed Legend.

This time we found a spot we liked and anchored with our normal anchor and a stern line to shore for a number of reasons. Here is the shoreline that we had off the aft of our boat. Beautiful.

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The edge of the bay just off the starboard side of Legend.

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An example of the trees that grow on the island. Very different in their trunk and branches… and no, right now I can’t tell you what their name is. I’ll have to put that in a later post.

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But, one of the most spectacular aspects of this anchorage is the water…. stay tuned for the next post.

Visitors and a Day Trip to Charlotte Amalie

Having made it back to the BVI in time to prepare for my brother and family coming down, we were also able to take a ferry over to the USVI to meet up with Jo-Anne and Doug Coutts. It was great to have a day “off” where we could wander around Charlotte Amalie, and wonderful to be able to meet up with the Coutts.

That said, the boys still apparently wanted to shoot each other into orbit. Arrrr.

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This is the best I can do for a picture of Caroline, at present. I can manage storms, high seas, boat bites, and all sorts of other things but a picture is much more difficult.

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Thanks for a great day Jo-Anne and Doug!

Desert Isle and Dog Island

So, as with all islands, there comes a time when we must leave at least for the time being.

A special treat on our way out of Anguilla is to sail by the small tropical island of Sand Island. It’s quite something. Probably less than an acre with only a few trees, a bar and a volleyball net. Perhaps next time we’ll be able to stop for a while. [The only caveat is that to visit these smaller islands or even other anchorages, you have to pay relatively high cruising fees. But, I think it will be worth it. We’ll see where the winds blow.

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Our destination for the day was Dog Island. A lunch stop to allow us to have a shorter overnight sail back to the BVI. Yes, another overnight passage. This one will be quite different from our previous passage as it will be downwind and that will make everyone a lot happier.

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But, before we take off we have a lot of prep to do on the boat…. and, boy or boy is is ever rolly. It was not a lot of fun getting the motor and dinghy up on to Legend. But, we did it and without to much damage to body parts or the boat. And, now for our next overnight passage….

Boys Being Boys, Art and a Contest.

Sometimes boys just need to be boys…. Not sure which side of the family they get this… in fact, let’s just forget I brought that up.

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Oh, and an artistic shot by Caroline…. We should have a contest to see who can guess what this is. Any thoughts?

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Anguilla Food Porn

Okay, this one is for you Ross and all you foodies out there. It’s truly amazing how you can find some pretty amazing food all over the world. We went into this restaurant called Ripples, largely because we were using their wi-fi from the boat. And, it was a really great connection.

So, we arrived at the restaurant… fashionably early for the Caribbean because we have 3 boys and well, we generally can’t last that long into the evening with the boys in tow. We in fact, arrived when there only person in the restaurant was the English lady who was apparantly the chef for the evening. The main chef for the restaurant was an Aguillan who had won a number of awards. [His last name was Carty, Jim.]

When we arrived the lady looked a little worried. We asked if we were too early and she said that her bartender hadn’t arrived yet. And, if we didn’t order anything fancy to drink that we’d be okay. Well, we progessed into a pretty amazing meal. Simple drinks but incredible meals. Here is some of what we had.

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Yum!

Anguilla – The Tour – Part 2

The tour continues… Our driver Stephen took us to what he called th prettiest beach in the Caribbean. I’ve seen a lot of the prettiest beaches in the Caribbean and I’m always happy to have a look at another one. And, this one… Shoal Bay… was very pretty. Beautiful sand, amazingly blue water.

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A room with a view…

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Stephen says that we can get our boat into this bay… I’m not convinced. The charts are not great in this area and it looks really shallow. So, we’ll have to enjoy the view from here and from the beach.

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Another room with a view….

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Another beachy day in paradise for many vacationers.

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Did I mention the sand beach was okay!

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Anguilla – You Know There Had To Be A Tour – Part 1

As you may have guessed, we like to try and do a tour of the island. And, Anguilla was no exception.

The waters are so blue. You can actually see Legend in this picture at the very left. We only had a couple of feet of water below our keel but enough to have a good anchorage for a couple of nights.

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Did I mention blue water. One thing that was interesting about Anguilla was that there are houses throughout the whole island. Unlike most islands where there are a number of communities, Anguilla seems to have communities as well as houses dotting the rest of the island.

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And, yes, all the tours point out the churches. The church on the left is quite old and they needed a bigger church and so voila, the church on the right was built. A beautiful reproduction of the old to the new.

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Anguillans and with most islands have a strong maritime tradition. And, many islanders still do “water things” whether that’s fishing, boating, racing or even just beach going. Here are some of the Anguillan boats used for fishing or racing.

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Boats and Boys.

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Anguilla Landfall

Some of the islands a little more laid back than others. Some also don’t take themselves quite as seriously. Anguilla is one of them. This strikes you right away with the process of checking in to the country as well as what you experience.

Here is the bay (the only bay in fact) where we had to go to anchor and then head in to check into Customs and Immigration. The white building is the Customs and Immigration building. Very convenient. In fact, it was literally right next to the wonderful sand beach.

Another thing about Anguilla is that it really isn’t a big place for sailors. Not a lot of people go here partly because the infrastructure is a bit more simple and it is more costly to cruise about this country. So, you will not see as many boats and the ones that you do see tend to be people living aboard.

Having said that, the water is lovely. The people are great and we had a wonderful experience. More on that in another post.

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The beach in Road Bay harbor where we had to anchor to check in.

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Noah running through hot sand. Legend is in the back somewhere.

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Passagemaking to St. Barts

Well, it’s time to head to one more country. St. Barts or St. Barthelemy.

Here’s a picture of us on our passage. What’s missing is the helmsman. We decided that the winds were steady enough that we could turn on the autopilot, or Otto Von Helm as we like to call him. We were also on a run downwind… I think Caroline is happy with me again. Finally, as we come back to the BVI, we get to go with the wind. This means that the sailing is smoother although it can still be a bit rolly. At this particular point though, for those who are observant, we are still heading a bit into wind as the Canadian flag suggests. The flag did end up going the other way for most of the day.

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And, since Otto was doing the driving, it’s time for a little snuggle time. You’ll also notice that the weather got a bit wetter in the meantime. 🙂

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Barbuda – A Beautiful Place

Barbuda really did not disappoint. It’s out of the way and not a lot of people get here. But, it’s worth the trip. The beaches are amazing. In fact, it’s mostly one big beach. One beach along the west coast is about 11 miles long. In fact, it’s the one that we’re anchored on. And, we’re very fortunate as the swell is from the east so that we can actually anchor. And, when we make it in the water is really flat… at least to start.

This is a shot of Matthew and Legend after we make it ashore. This to me is what it is all about. It’s certainly not always like this and in a day the anchorage is going to turn a bit rolly because of the huge swell on the East Coast. It actually is making it’s way around the island which is a pretty big island.

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And, this is what it’s all about for the boys. 🙂

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The beach looking north.

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Ahhhh….. serene.

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The beach actually has a pink hue. Here’s the reason…. pink shells that provide the sand.

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Again, did I mention what the boys like!

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