Saturday, August 31

The Price of Living in Paradise

We have shared countless pictures and stories of our adventure thus far.  Painting a pretty awesome picture of what living on a sailboat can be like. The sailing, exotic locales, the amazing people and delicious local food.  And, I have mentioned some of the trials and tribulations we have experienced along the way, but I chose not to dwell on the negative (because who wants to read that?!).  However, life on the water is no picnic and I was reminded of that when I read a fellow blogger, Windtraveler,  post about the highs and lows of cruising.  I thought she nailed it.  I asked her if I could have permission to repost because, frankly, I could not say it any better!  So without further ado...

Cruising: The Ultimate Life...or...Lie

“Tell your blog followers that this is all a lie.” Scott was pissed. “Everything is a lie. This life is not awesome, it’s a total pain in the ass, everything breaks, we hardly get to sail, islands are all the same and I hate it.”  He continued to mutter angrily to himself as he fought our swinging dinghy that was not hanging properly on the davits despite a lot of effort and engineering from Scott earlier that morning.  The white capped seas were huge and confused, the wind was blowing over 20 knots and our boat was being tossed around like a toy.  I was feeling nauseous, Isla was seasick and the overall vibe on the boat was utterly unpleasant.  I mentioned earlier that Scott is less than enthused with the cruising life than I, and this was most certainly a low point for him.

We were on our passage from St. Maarten to Ile Fourche.  Scott and I hadn’t been getting along due to communication issues, and as if a passive aggressive shuffle around our boat wasn’t enough to kill the mood, this trip was the icing on the cake. “I’m done.”  He continued. “We’re hauling the boat…I’m finished with this.  Cruising sucks.  I’d rather just have a Laser, sail on a lake by myself and be done with all this. Enjoy these last few weeks, because this is it for me.  I’m out.”  He was not joking.  I might have tried to cheer him up, told him to “look on the bright side” and remind him of all the wonderful aspects of cruising, not to mention the fact that he wasn’t entirely thrilled with his life ashore either, but this would have been pointless.  There was no stopping this rant.  Best to just nod my head and let him run with it.  I sat silent, cradling a seasick baby.  Miserable.  All three of us were miserable.
Five hours later we picked up a mooring ball in Ile Fourche, a tiny uninhabited little island off the coast of St. Barths.  Suddenly, the boat was still, the breeze gentle, and the sun danced brightly on the water.  Peace.  Everything was right in the world again.  The horrendous passage we just endured felt a million miles away, like it happened in another time, another place.  Such is the dichotomous nature of cruising; one minute your cursing life the next you wonder how you got so lucky.  Our friends on s/v Yolo came over for dinner and it was unanimous: the passage sucked. “But” Luuck continued with a smile, “anchoring some place like this makes it all worth it.” Luuck is definitely the kind of guy who looks on the bright side which is a quality I admire, and one that you should possess if you plan to live on a cruising boat at sea.  Because – honestly – things can get really rough on a boat, both literally and metaphorically.  Being able to keep your chin up should be a prerequisite; if you are prone to depression or tend to see the glass as half-empty, this might not be the life for you.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again; cruising is punctuated by high highs and low lows.  Rare are the days in the middle, at least that is our experience.

The next day we dropped our mooring and set sail for St. Kitts, a nine hour trip away.  This time, however, the seas were more manageable, the wind was at our beam and we sailed – strictly sailed – 90% of the day.  Scott was in his element.  The boat was quiet save for the rush of the water against the hull and the sing-song creaks of a boat at sea.  The conditions were mild and our boat gently rode the rhythmic waves – up, over and down, up, over and down - like a galloping horse.  The bellies of our sails were full of a fresh wind and trimmed to perform, and we charged forth at over six knots.  It was a pretty perfect day – one that you couldn’t help but appreciate. “Well,"  Scott suddenly piped up out of nowhere while gazing forward to our lush, hilly destination, "maybe we can cruise a little longer.”  He sat there pensively, taking it all in, no stranger to the fact that this type of day was exactly what he signed up for. I had to laugh – because out here, moods change like - and with - the wind.  We take it one day at a time.

Posted with permission by Brittany Myers of s/v Asante.  
You can find her blog at

Believe me when I say we experienced those exact emotions and exchanged similar words (more me than Craig).  The only addition I would make to this story is that cruising with kids can AND will make the highs higher and the lows lower!  In the heat of the moment, you might throw your kid overboard (yes, I threw Kate overboard fully clothed, at anchor) but you will love them stronger everyday!

Friday, August 16

Treasures, Diplomas and Nippers

Treasure Cay was on the east side of Abaco Island, which had protection from the prevailing winds that were clocking around from the west, caused by tropical storm Andrea.  Treasure Cay was named one of the 10 most beautiful beaches by National Geographic.  With that kind of endorsement, it was a must see in our book.  However, getting there was another challenge.  The gorgeous crescent beach was surrounded by very shallow waters and reefs, not a place we could drop the hook very easily.  So we went around on the other side to Treasure Cay Marina.

It was a tight squeeze, meandering through a narrow canal in shallow water.  

Approaching the multi-colored condos near the marina

The 3 1/2 mile National Geographic acclaimed beach in all its glory.  

We were there during a fishing tournament and learned there were sand castle building lessons.  We missed them but still enjoyed the castle built during the demonstration.

Gorgeous water in the crescent shaped Treasure Cay beach

Tropical Storm Andrea was not going to ruin our day

A close up of the sandcastle - let it be noted that this was built 3 days earlier and had endured a tremendous amount of rain!

These are yummy, gooey, famous for a good reason, cinnamon rolls from the local bakery.  Thanks Craig, for getting up at the crack of dawn to make sure we scored these babies!

 Porter and Kate being silly as they make their own graduation decorations

 We thought since we had a successful 'boat school' year, everyone deserved a little pomp and circumstance!  Complete with diplomas, speeches and a party.

Kate shows off her diploma

 Bryson receives his diploma from teacher Erica and principle Chris!

 Maggie so happy she graduated, it was a close one!  HA HA, just kidding

 Party cupcakes with diploma hats - made and decorated by the kids

 May we present The Boat School Class of 2013!

 And congratulations to the parents, oh, I mean the teachers too!

Great Guana Cay

 Moving right along, we motored directly into the wind to get across the bay to Great Guana Cay, a unique barrier island.  It was a tight anchorage but with our shallow draft, we snuck up in front of the pack.  The cove next door was called Kidd Cove, named after the pirate.  This is a lively island with people flocking from all over on Sunday afternoons for the pig roast.  We, of course, didn't want to miss out on the fun, so we made sure we were there in time for a late lunch/early dinner.

 This is THE place to be on Sunday afternoons for the pig roast

 This was the scene as we approached Nipper's.  

What you can't experience is the pulsating, obnoxiously loud music blaring from all directions.  As we got a little closer, we could see the type of crowd that was gathered - a bazillion 20-somethings hanging all over each other in skimpy swim suits, drinking and smoochin'.  It didn't take us long to decide it wasn't a kid-friendly place.  We grabbed all of them by the hands and escorted them through the crowd as quickly as possible - hoping they wouldn't see any x-rated scenes.

Nippers from the beach side

 This was the beautiful beach by Nippers

There was some good snorkeling just off the beach

 Kid friendly sand digging

Since we didn't stay for the pig roast at Nippers, we went back to 'our' side of the island and got burgers at Grabbers.

A pool at the bar - this was a common theme in the Caribbean

 Olivia hanging out in the hammock

 Bryson and Maggie playing the ring on the hook game

 Awe, aren't they cute


Cute street signs on Great Guana Cay

Saturday, August 10

Who's in charge here??

Okay, I guess when you have to name 700 islands, you might get delirious, lose sight of the goal or get a wee bit lazy.  The next 2 islands we went to were affectionately named "No Name Cay" and "Manjack Cay".  What?  What kind of names are those??  And Manjack is pronounced "Mun-Jack".  Go figure.  We decided on these 2 locales because they were off the beaten track and they looked interesting.

 We arrived mid-morning after a whopping 3 mile motor to No Name Cay from Green Turtle Cay.  We buzzed Patronus and sang Happy Birthday to Reese!

 A fun birthday filled with plenty of playtime

 Happy campers

 Reese's birthday dinner.  She made her famous "fishy fish" for the kids and the rest was filled by the grown ups.

 Happy 10th Reese!  Lookin' good

 Birthday cards

and birthday presents (matching friendship bracelets for Kate & Reese)

No Name Cay beach....deserted except for the picnic benches, stools and hogs (which we never saw but heard about).  Found our first sea biscuits on the beach.

The sailors towing the kayakers - going nowhere fast

Rescued by the (motor) that's more like it

 A slow cloudy day

 I swam to the beach, then to Patronus to try out the SUP (stand up paddle board) - hence the swim cap in case you were wondering

 Liv's turn to try the paddle board

 Lego time

 Same boat, different crew, different day

Heading out the cut to check out the snorkeling, which turned out to be fantastic (sorry no pictures)

 Sea Cucumber at Manjack Cay.  

Manjack Cay ended up being a fantastic place to explore underwater and a well protected anchorage from the nasty weather we received from the outer rim of tropical storm Andrea.  We saw many things we had not seen all year.  For example, the ocean floor was covered in sea urchins and sea biscuits.  We saw crabs, conch, huge orange star fish, jelly fish that looked like a bubble gum bubble and tons of fish we hadn't seen before.  One of them was a tiny black and white fish with horns.  I turned over a sea biscuit and underneath was a fish protecting its eggs that were clinging to the underside.

 Exploring the mangroves as a squall closes in.  They didn't make it back to the boat in time - they got dumped on!

This is how they ride

Another squall hit while Liv and Maggie were out sailing.  Luckily there was no lightning.