Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Oh! How I Miss Being on S/V Trillium!

Trillium coming into dock in West River, Maryland
I am the first to admit that I am amazed that I like being on the boat as much as I do! When Dennis first brought up the idea of retiring on a sailboat and sailing around the world (just six years ago!), I said, "Ya, you and your next wife!" Then I thought about it and decided he might take that statement too seriously! After all, a boat is a man's mistress!

I recall on my birthday in September of 2006, we were invited to sail on Lake St. Clair with friends, Bill and Deborah. I was so terrified of walking on that skinny finger pier that I could hardly get onto the boat. Then I had the death grip on the gunwales every time we heeled a little! At the same time, I was loving the wind in the face and the quiet gliding through the water.

About to pass under the Mackinaaw Bridge!
We continued to sail with our friends and Bill let me take the wheel. It is like being a passenger in a car on a wild ride v.s. being the driver - you are more comfortable when you are in control. The more I took the wheel, the faster I wanted to sail and more I wanted to heel the boat. The following summer, the four of us started the American Sailing Association series of courses.

Dennis and I continued our sailing courses and the next February I completed my ASA 106 sailing test by sailing around Tortola, BVI with the final part sailing Sir Francis Drake Channel at night down to St. John's Francis Bay. It was here we did the nighttime man-over-board drill in high winds. Dennis had taken his test in Lake Erie in cold and wild windy weather the previous fall, We stayed in the BVI's and chartered for a week with Deborah and Bill joining us.

Why does it feel like the mast is going to hit
the bridge no matter how high it really is?
Then we bought S/V Trillium and the rest is history! Most of which is posted in this blog. Our first long trip was when we sailed with Deborah and Bill from Lake St. Clair to Bay Harbor in Petosky, MI up Lake Huron through the Straits of Mackinaw and down to the marina at Bay Harbor. Then we started sailing the various rivers in the Chesapeake Bay area. And finally we took the big step and headed south to Tortola, BVI with the Caribbean 1500 in November 2010! Now that is progress in my book!

As I follow our World Cruising Club Rally communities in the Caribbean 1500 and World ARC, I really miss being on the water and hanging out with other sailors. While I sit here in cold Michigan, I keep up with them on the Fleet Trackers and various blogs. I am envious of the photos of shorts and bathing suits as I am bundled up in fleece and hat and gloves.

At least, we will have a very Merry Christmas with several of our children and grandchildren here and in London, UK this year. Next year we will be down there in the islands, too!

We wish you a Merry Christmas and Best Wishes for a Healthy and Happy New Year!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Not In The C 1500 Fleet- Still On The Hard!

We will miss the beautiful sunrises and sunsets!
For those of you wondering where in the world we are, let me tell you: we are right here on dry land in Michigan! Many of you were concerned about our safety during Hurricane Sandy and how S/V Trillium was handling the storm. She did just fine. Thanks for you caring concern. We appreciate it.

Actually, we are not sailing this winter. We are getting the boat ready for an "around the world in 3 years" cruise! That's right! The plan is to work through 2013, sell the house, and move on board the boat. I know some of you think I am crazy to go along with this, but I am really happy on the water. In fact, I was the one pushing to set a date and get started. (After all, we aren't getting any younger!)

Sunsets: There are never two the same.
It will take a whole year to get everything ready for this big lifestyle change. I am working on preparing the house for the Spring market. The biggest challenge is all of the "stuff!" I am selling my weaving looms and yarn (share that with anyone who might be interested in buying) and have been going through all of the "keepsakes" that have been accumulating in the attic. (My suggestion to anyone thinking of downsizing or moving: start now! It is an overwhelming job.) It took me a while to get my head around letting go of what seems to be security. And after the "stuff" my mother left for my sister and me to clear out, I want to spare my children most of that experience! (Or ... maybe they should share that experience! NO! and besides there will still be the "good stuff" that hopefully they won't sell in a garage sale!)

But we won't miss the storms and challenges they bring.
As for the 2012 Caribbean 1500, we feel left behind, but will join them next year to get the boat to the islands for the 2014 World ARC. We are following the fleet, most of whom left the Saturday and Sunday after Hurricane Sandy and before the next storm that was approaching their path. They have had some really rough weather as we have had in the past by leaving right after a hurricane. But you have to grab a weather window right after the low pressure system to get a good run out into the ocean. Once across the Gulf Stream, the weather warms up and the real fun sailing begins.

Aaahhhhh! This is the life!
Some of the fleet was stuck in the upper Chesapeake Bay and had to ride out Sandy at the docks. The part of the fleet that arrived in Hampton, VA before the storm had a lot of water with which to deal between the rain and the surge coming in the mouth of the bay from the Atlantic. BUT every Caribbean 1500 has its tales and this is another one to recall over Pain Killers at the Soggy Dollar beach bar in a few more days! Wish we were there!

Winter will be challenging after the last two in the islands. We will be dreaming of sunshine, white sand and breaking waves! I will have to whip up a batch of Pain Killers, Bushwackers or Mango Coladas from time to time while sitting in front of the fireplace watching the snow fall!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

So Happy to Be at the Annapolis Boat Show

It's an October sight to behold!
The week-end proceeding Columbus Day is always special for us. It is the Annapolis Sail Boat Show from Thursday through Sunday and it usually coincides closely with our wedding anniversary. We are celebrating 19 years! Where did the time go? It has been a great ride with more to come!

This year we were checking out equipment to prepare for our circumnavigation. This means alternative energy sources, better communication systems (or at least figuring out how to maximize what we have), finding resources and talent to boost our learning curve. Yes, we have been at it for several years now, but there is so much to learn. That should help keep our brain cells functioning!

We are trying not to load the stern like this one!
We priced out new sails, solar panels, water generators, wind generators, pressure cookers, and a whole lot more. We really don't want to "junk up" the boat. The only thing we bought was some polishing agents, anti-mildew products and a winter cover for S/V Trillium. She is going to be sitting on land in the sun, snow and rain for a year, so we thought it best to protect the teak deck and our hatches and portholes. Hopefully we are not inviting a mold and mildew issue, too.

We had lunch with Tom (above) and Stuart,
crew from Atlantic Cup & Caribbean 1500

The best part of the boat show is seeing friends from various sailing groups. Some were getting ready to head to the islands; others are doing what we are: spending the next year getting the boat ready for the "big adventure!" We reunited with several of our former crew members and talked about which legs of the circumnavigation they may want to sail. We had lunches with Stuart from our first Caribbean 1500 Rally and Tom from our 2012 Atlantic Cup Rally. And we saw a lot of friends at the World Cruising Club Ocean Sailing Seminar.

Once again we said our "good-byes" to friends and S/V Trillium. (I always feel like I am leaving a family member behind when we drive away from the marina.) We are going to miss being with everyone in the Caribbean this winter, but we have bigger things to handle here at home.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

New Friends from Far Away Places

Clive & Angie on the far left, Dennis & I are holding the flag
One of the best things about sailing is the community of people who share the same love for the adventure. In our four trips back and forth to the Caribbean, we have met a number of wonderful people who have become friends. Like many friends, you may not see them often, but when you do, it is an exciting reconnection. It is fun to hear of their latest adventures and catch up on their travels and learn new techniques for dealing with problems and equipment.

As we shared in an earlier post, we lost the Atlantic Cup Rally from Nanny Cay, Tortola, BVI to Bermuda to an English boat by a slim margin. In fact, if we hadn't forgot that we were "racing", we could have won. We lost a lot of time in the middle of the event looking for some items that went overboard and untangling fishing lines! That is history ...

S/V Trillium crew happy to be in Bermuda
Even though they beat us, we were pleased to host the couple in our home on Lake St. Clair in Michigan! How is that for good sportsmanship! Actually, we had been following Clive and Angie's trip from the Chesapeake Bay up to New York and through the Welland Canal into the Great Lakes. Their goal was to get to Chicago before bad weather sets into the area.

Traveling at 5-8 knots per hour and against the current, you can see this is a long trip. In the meantime, they were flying back and forth to England and Germany for work. Our original plan was for them to arrive here for Labor Day week-end and we would show them some of beautiful Michigan from the land side. Unfortunately Mother Nature and their motor had other plans.

They were able to get into Lake St. Clair and dock at Bayview Yacht Club before dark recently. Dennis picked them up on his way home from work so we had a nice evening with them. I think they appreciated steaks on the grill (which they referred to as an "American thing") and a few other Michigan summer treats. We had good wine and good conversation as well.

Since they were looking at a limited weather window and the need to get to Port Huron on Lake Huron by a specific date so Angie could fly back to Germany for work, they could not stay long. They casted off the next morning. We will stay in touch and probably sail the Great Lakes with them next summer. And they are interested in sailing with us once we start out big adventure! That is what is so wonderful about the sailing community.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Checking Up on Trillium

Saying "good bye" to a great winter of sailing!
I can't wait! We are visiting S/V Trillium on the hard this week-end. After a long and wonderful winter of sailing in the Caribbean, we returned to Herrington Harbor at the end of May to put her away. We prefer to be in cooler Michigan for the summer and enjoy the Great Lakes! I never thought I would miss being on the ocean as much as I do. Note: I didn't say "in" the ocean. I like fresh water swimming!

Since Dennis was facing surgery for a double hernia which he developed on the trip home, we left a lot of things on the boat. Fortunately, one of our wonderful crew, Captain Ron, stayed with us all the way to Herrington Harbor and helped us put her up. So now it is time to revisit and see what we need to do to prepare her for winter.

Setting up a winter home for S/V Trillium
At this time, our plan is to stay home this winter and work! Oh, yes - that W word! It will give us time to prepare for our next big adventure: World ARC 2014. That is the goal, at least! This will allow us time to get ready: the boat, ourselves and a crew. Since it is a long trip with multiple stops, we anticipate crew coming and going at various stops. Interested?

We would love to hear from anyone who has done the World ARC or sailed around the world. We have heard many things, mostly wonderful comments. Helpful hints and best practices for preparing and sailing are welcome.

Atlantic Cup Rally 2012: A great time was had by all!
Of course, we will be participating in the World Cruising Club World ARC Rally. It is the best way to travel out there on the ocean. Even though you rarely see another boat (they drop off the horizon at about 5 miles out), you are not alone. There are a couple of daily SSB chats to identify everyone's location and assist with problems as well as celebrate birthdays, anniversaries, good catches of the day, etc. I always look forward to checking in and hearing the voices of others. And with the World ARC, there are a number of rendezvous points throughout the Pacific and beyond so you do meet up with the rest of the fleet from time to time for fun and relaxation on land. There are already 30 vessels signed up for World ARC 2014!

My blog entries will be sparse over the next few months. Once we start serious preparations, I will share what we are learning. I will check in for your comments and respond when necessary.

Friday, June 1, 2012

At "Home" in Hampton, VA

The sun is rising over the Hampton River
as we docked at BlueWater at 5:20 AM!
Once again we are back at BlueWater Yachting Center in Hampton Roads, VA. This has been our "home" for the start of the Caribbean 1500 Rally and the finish for the Atlantic Cup Rally. In addition, our newest Southern friends, Bob and Pixie, live nearby and are always here to welcome us. They are wonderful!. With true Southern hospitality, they show up with treats, flowers, and keys to their car so we can run errands while we are here! It is fun to catch up with them and have a dinner out.

We had a great sail from Bermuda. The winds were good most of the way so we flew our gennaker which pulled us along at 8-10 knots. That was with a 2.0+ southwest current against us, too. Once we made our turn to the Gulf Stream, the sail came in and we flew wing and wing for awhile. We had some motoring when the wind direction was unfavorable, but it was mostly a sailing trip. Just as we like it-motor off and the sound of the sea!

I just love sailing under this sail!
The approach into the Chesapeake Bay was interesting as there were major storms with lightening strikes all around us, but we missed them. We also had the military playing night war games next us. The Black Hawk choppers came closer and lower than comfortable. Tom F. was on watch so he got the tug boat hauling their target vessel on the VHF to find out what was happening. They promised they would miss us! Thanks, Uncle Sam! It made for an interesting evening.

The challenges of navigating the Hampton Roads flats
Tom F., Dennis and I were up most of the night as we navigated into the bay. Fortunately, the water was calm and it was easy to steer away from the numerous freighters coming and going and anchored in the channel. If Tom had not been so familiar with the area, we would waited until morning to go in. We have been in and out several times in daylight, but never at night. The approach to the Hampton River is tricky so it was nice having two crew with spotlights to find the day makers as I navigated through the winding channel in the flats. A wrong turn means running aground. That would be embarrassing after sailing over 4000 miles!

We met up with the Skippers of Cosmic Dancer V and
Brizio who had sailed with us from Bermuda
After waiting for hours for the Customs and Immigration officer, we finally cleared in. The officer decided that our three apples and one banana required an Agricultural Inspection! The second officer seemed a little annoyed that his colleague called him here for ship's stores fruit! We had to agree that it would be consumed before we land in Maryland. What a waste of taxpayer money.

Ron and Tom F. were great helpers in all area..
Over all, the Atlantic Cup Rally was a fantastic trip with a great crew. I enjoyed having five on board as everyone had more rest. No one was overburdened with watches or tasks. Tom F. and Ron were terrific in their sailing skills and they were so helpful in general: in the galley and all around the boat.They were a perfect example of good crew. Ron stayed on with us to sail up to Herrington Harbor North to put Trillium on the hard for the summer.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Three Swedish Boats Win the Rally

S/V Trillium
The crew of S/V Trillium was hopeful that we had won the Atlantic Cup Rally with the lowest engine hours and crossing the line early in the fleet. There was only one boat to steal our thunder left out at sea. When the double-handed S/V Cosmic Dancer V came in 14 hours after us, we became concerned because they had less than 20 hours of motoring. In the end, they took first place by a mere 10 minutes!

Actually, they deserved it! S/V Cosmic Dancer V is a Sweden 38 with no dodger or bimini, and a smaller engine. They had sailed from Europe, through the islands and now are heading to the USA. Their plan is to sail all the way to Chicago. We have invited Clive and Angie to stay with us when they come through Lake St. Clair. I don’t think I am hardy enough to do what they are doing in that boat. In fact, I know I am not!

Ron and Dennis
As a result, we have a great second place finish and the third place went to another Hallberg-Rassy: S/V Kia Orana, HR 39. Also in the ARC Europe, the Hallberg-Rassy 48 Emilija from Ireland made an early arrival so there may be more Hallberg-Rassys in the winners’ circle! There are nine of us that left Nanny Cay to the trip to Bermuda. Two of us are heading to the east coast on Saturday. The rest are heading to Europe.

We are sitting out a major rain storm here in St. George’s harbor. Originally we were to have left today, but now it will be a Saturday departure. There are five of us going to Hampton, VA and then to various places in the Chesapeake Bay area. 

Three others are headed to New England. The ninth boat in the Rally took a different route. They planned to go west and catch the Gulf Stream north, but they are holed up in Marsh Harbor, Bahamas now.

We can't complain about the rain since there has been no rain here for weeks. They really needed the 15 hours of downpour!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Crossing the Finish Line!

Trillium crew at the Rally dinner before the Start:
Tom F., Tom B. Sherry, Dennis & Ron
We set sail from Nanny Cay, Tortola, BVI on Thursday, May 3, 2012. The Start of the Atlantic Cup Rally to Bermuda was at noon and there was very little wind. In fact, the wind was so light that it took two hours to go two miles with a asymmetrical spinnaker up! Even the two catamarans in the Rally couldn't get enough speed to move!
Putting up the gennaker just before the Start 

After two hours at the helm, I asked the Captain if we could drop the gennaker and put on the Iron Genny (i.e. motor). There is a penalty for the time motoring, but we were going to be a day getting out of Sir Francis Drake Channel! A couple of the boats turned on their engines as soon as they crossed the Start line. Since we had nearly 900 miles to go, who cares if we motor a few hours to get outside of the islands!

Trillium at the Start
              There were only nine boats in the Rally this year. The ARC Europe fleet was to leave the dock two days after the Atlantic Cup Rally. The boats ranged in size from a Discovery 55 to a Hallberg-Rassy 39. Since we have never done any racing, we don't really understand the handicapping system. We did know that we should sail and not motor everywhere possible as there is a penalty for hours motored. In the end, we came in with the least number of hours: 34 hours and 37 minutes. That should help us in the final calculations.

Ron with the first catch: Tuna
We have a great crew. Ron was constantly finding things to fix. Tom F. has great sailing skills and even dove under the boat to free the three fishing lines we managed to wrap around our prop! Tom B. kept us entertained with toys: many gadgets and he even flew a kite off the stern.

Of course, another past time while sailing is fishing. Ron caught a tuna the first day out. So they had seared tuna for lunch the next day. Since I like my protein cooked, I passed on it. We had several mahi mahi on the line, but only got on into the boat. So dinner was determined by the catch of the day.

Dennis & Tom B. with mahi mahi dinner!

We celebrated Cinco da Mayo with a Mexican dinner. We also had a "thanksgiving" dinner of turkey, stuffing and mashed potatoes with gravy on our final night before crossing the finish line. It is nice to have a crew that is appreciative of my cooking and menu ideas. My corn chowder was a hit with this crew as well as previous crews.

Tom B. flying a kite off the stern
Trillium really loved the winds once we got through the lulls in the Horses Latitudes. She loves a close haul so we were flying most of the time. I had to admit that I was getting tired of living on an angle! There are only so many things you can grab at one time in the galley when they are flying at you. I am bruised all around my hip area from slamming into the galley rails!

Dennis and Tom F. motoring in the Horses Latitudes
All in all, it was a great sail. Everyone had fun. It was a good race to the finish. We were racing against one catamaran who claims we beat him by 30 hours. I don't have a clue as to how he calculated it, but he was running a spread sheet and hoping that we would turn on our motor. We didn't! We were also watching him and recording their hours. We knew were only had two hours on him and were not going to give in to motoring until we heard that he had done so. I never realized how competitive we could be! It was fun!!!

Now we can have some time to clean the boat and catch up on our rest before continuing on to Hampton, VA for the final leg of the Atlantic Cup Rally.We are looking forward to another few days of good sailing. We will leave on Saturday after the storm passes through Bermuda Friday night.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Casting Off for Bermuda

Trillium is in the middle with the larger flags!
Today is the big day! We are heading north to Bermuda as part of the Atlantic Cup Rally. 
This week Nanny Cay, Tortola, BVI, the World Cruising Club has brought together the boats of the Atlantic Cup Rally going to the east coast of the USA and the ARC Europe boats heading to Europe. We have met new sailing friends from everywhere: Ireland, Norway, Wales, France, Sweden, Germany, Texas, Colorado, California, etc.
We are one of four Hallberg-Rassy vessels berthed here on A Dock. Two of us are headed to the USA and the others are going to Europe, returning home after a winter of sailing across and then up and down the island chain. We plan to sail with ARC Europe next year if things go well. The Rally is such a great way to meet and make new friends from around the world.

The boats on the docks are decked out in their finest dress flags. It is quite impressive. There are six or seven Hallberg-Rassy vessels in the fleet. Four of us are together on A Dock.We don’t see many other HRs so it is fun to be together. We have essentially the same boats and all agree that our HR’s are the best!

Dennis took this photo from on top of the mast!
In the photo above, the one on our left is from Ireland and the one on the right is from Norway. Further down to the left is another one going back to the Chesapeake Bay with us. 
There are Sun Downer events each evening where we can get to know other sailors. It is fun to hear about their cruising experiences and learn a little more about them and their families. We will all rendezvous in Bermuda again before heading our separate ways. 

We come from many lands!
What does it take to make a party? Two sailors and some liquid something! Now multiply that by the 40 or so boats here and you can guess what happens. It is great fun and we will miss everyone when we return home for the summer. At least we have new contacts on the other side of the big pond!

We are expecting a slow start as the thunderstorms arrived on Wednesday afternoon and will be around for a while. There is hardly any air and it is hot and humid. The winds will be light at the start and then we will meet up with a storm coming off Florida with some big winds of 25 knots plus. That will move us right along, but it will be a wild ride in the swells. 
You can follow us on the Fleet Tracker which is located in the upper right on the Atlantic Cup page of the World Cruising Club site: www.worldcruising.com/AtlanticCup.
At first we thought we were going to have great winds for the first two days. Now the forecast is forecast is for light winds for a couple of days and then we will meet up with a storm coming off Florida. Hopefully we sill catch the back side of it and get good wind. Who knows! It's the weather! Always changing.

Looking down at Trillium's deck. 

We have a great crew with various skills and experiences: Captain Ron from Cincinnati (a great fix-it guy), Tom from Chicago and Tom from Richmond, VA (both are HAM operators). Trillium is one of the Net Controller boats so I will have help with the radio call-in sessions. It will be a little different having five on board so I hope my meal planning works out! It gives everyone more rest as we sail 24/7. 

Once again, it is great to be part of the World Cruising Club. Their safety standards are high and they follow the sailing rules of the "rest of the world" so we have to measure up. Good discipline. 
They make things more convenient by having the Immigration and Customs people at the docks, staff to assist in preparations and to greet us at the next port, organized events, etc.We left Tortola two days ahead of ARC Europe who will join us in Bermuda for joint events.There we will say good-bye to many we hope to see on the other side of the big pond. We plan to sail with the World Cruising Club in the future.
This is the last entry until we reach Bermuda. Hopefully the Internet connection will be better there than last year! It is very difficult uploading photos with these island connections. Until we connect again, wish us fair winds and following seas! 

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Time to Say Goodbye to Friends

Dennis is not the only one who has to work in tight
spaces and uncomfortable positions!
Well, here we are preparing to head back to the Chesapeake Bay. The Atlantic Cup Rally from Nanny Cay, Tortola, BVI to St. George's, Bermuda is scheduled to start on May, 3, 2012. In Bermuda, we wait for a weather window and then everyone departs toward home!

We are preparing Trillium and getting the provisions organized. This time we will have a crew of five: Ron, Tom and Tom plus the two of us. Provisioning will be more challenging for me this time as I am arriving at the boat directly from a training meeting in Germany and only a three days to get everything ready.

Nirit & Chris's boat is registered in London.
It is a little like leaving summer camp here on the docks complete with sadness. We will be saying "Until we meet again!" to many sailors we have met along the way. Most likely, we will not see many of them again as we all head in different directions. Our European friends will be returning home after a year and a half of cruising in the Caribbean and the east coast of America.

Chris & Nirit on a rainy day in Nanny Cay. They were
 heading off to race in St. Thomas before leaving for
the Mediterranean and home to Israel.
We met Nirit and Chris from Israel last year when they arrived in Nanny Cay to join the 2011 Atlantic Cup. They had sailed across the Atlantic and throughout the Caribbean and were heading to New England. After a summer of east coast sailing with the fall and early winter in the southern US and Bahamas, they returned to Nanny Cay to prepare to sail back to the Mediterranean.
Nirit & Sherry saying "so long until we meet in the Med!"
 in the pouring rain at Nanny Cay. 

They are not going with a rally but on their own with a couple of other boats. (In fact, as you read this, they are probably somewhere in the middle of the Atlantic!)  I am not ready for that, but they have been sailing the Med for years!

Chris is a professional news reporter and producer so their boat blog has great videos. You can find them on YouTube if you search ccslaney. Chris has a wonderful voice and the videos are a guided tour of everywhere they have explored. Check it out.

I will stay in touch with several couples through email and following their blogs. Some of them are in the Pacific and others heading to Europe. Many are just returning to their summer home ports in the USA.

Trying to dry things out after three days of rain!
It has been a wonderful experience meeting so many nice people who are willing to share their experiences and knowledge. And everyone is ready and willing to lend a hand at the dock or when a repair is needed. There truly is a "sailing community." And by being part of a rally, you have the chance to spend time getting to know one another socially.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

A Long Trip Without Wind!

Leaving St. Martin for Tortola early in the morning
Back at St. Eustacia's, we debated about going straight to Tortola rather than to Sint Maarten. It was a 120 mile trip to Tortola so it would be an overnight sail again. The alternative was the 40 mile sail to Sint Maarten, spend the night and leave for Tortola at 5 AM the next day.

We sailed past Nanny Cay to Soper's Hole for Customs

We chose the second alternative: sail to Sint Maarten. Looking back, we should have gone straight to Tortola. The wind to Sint Maarten was perfect. There was no wind for the trip to Tortola the next day. We had to motor all 80 miles of it. There was a small swell off the stern that help move us forward. At times, we were moving faster than the wind, which was also off the stern. It was another boring ride. Set the route and put it on autopilot and off you go! (Another good day for reading!)

Soper's Hole was crowded!
Once we reached Round Rock Passage between Virgin Gorda and Ginger Island, we planned to head straight down Sir Francis Drake Channel, passing Nanny Cay, and into either Soper’s Hole, Tortola or Great Harbour, Jost Van Dyke.

We were watching the sun as it was slowing settling down in the west. We could have made it to JVD and anchored just after sunset, but decided the safe thing to do was to stop at Soper’s Hole and continue to Great Harbour in the morning. It really did not matter since we could check in with Customs at either place.
I love the beaches on Jost Van Dyke
Actually we welcomed a nice calm night without rolling in swells or the need to get up before the sun! After a relaxing morning, Dennis went to Customs in Soper's Hole. Then we sailed over to Jost Van Dyke. No more schedules to keep!

Once we were anchored in Great Harbour on Jost Van Dyke, it was time to vacation. That is, relax and enjoy the view, the sun and the breeze. So that is where I am sitting and writing this blog entry!

Time to exhale before returning to Nanny Cay to put the boat on the hard for a month while we go home. I have to go to Germany for a project and will fly directly to the boat from there. I will only have three days to get the provisioning done for the Atlantic Cup Rally and our return to the USA via Bermuda. Then it will be a trip up the Chesapeake Bay to put the boat up for the summer! All good things must come to and end – or at least, a hiatus!

The original distillery! A neat old place.
However, we couldn't think of leaving Tortola without stopping at Cane Garden Bay for some rum! This is the home of the last rum distillery that still makes rum from cane sugar without adding all of the things other distillers add. Since it is not exported, you can only buy it on the island. We have received rave reviews whenever we have served it to guests aboard Trillium!

So we spent one day and night in Cane Garden Bay on the north side of Tortola before sailing around the west end and back up to Nanny Cay.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

A Perfect Sail to St. Martin

Oil tankers anchored in the distance waiting to unload.
One rolly night in St. Eustacia's was enough for us. We decided to skip Saba, which is known to be even rollier than most places. Once we sailed out and around all of the tanker ships waiting to unload their oil at the Stacia storage area and into the open between Stacia and Saba, we were off.

There are many tankers is this area as well as cruise ships so one has to be alert at night. It is very difficult for large ships to maneuver or even see a small (relative to their size) sailboat. We like to give them plenty of room. You cannot cut between the tankers and shore because sometimes there are long hoses unloading fuel.

These are the "big boys" you want to avoid - especially
in the dark! None of us have brakes out there!
It was a perfect day to sail northeast to St. Martin. In fact, the wind was on the beam again and we made the trip of 40 miles in 4.5 hours. We were flying! (I know, that doesn’t seem fast to you, but in a sailboat where you usually average 5.5-6 knots per hour, it was fast at 7.5 – 9 knots!)

The best part was setting the sails and letting her go! Once we had the course, there was nothing to do but keep an eye out for traffic. This is when you get to read a good book (and I have read many this winter!)

We did have one interesting event. A military helicopter came from nowhere, hovered over us, took a photo or two, and disappeared to somewhere! Who knows what that was about! Did we make a wrong turn or drive in the wrong lane? I wonder where that shot will turn up!

Sunrises and sunsets amaze me everyday!
Once back at
Simpson Bay, we anchored in the Bay rather than going into the lagoon. Dennis needed to access the Internet to prepare for a conference call on Monday, so it was off to Mickey D’s again for free Internet. Actually, their WiFi service is good and fast. And a milkshake seemed like the right refreshment! (Why do they never taste as good as you anticipate?)
Set the sails and let her fly!
Anchoring in Simpson Bay is not desirable! It is very, very rolly. But this time we did not want to be restricted by the drawbridge hours so we did not go into the lagoon. We just dropped the hook for the night and planned to leave at 5 am the next day. The longest leg of this trip is the one between St. Martin and the British Virgin Islands.

We hung out at the Sint Maarten Yacht Club for Happy Hour as it was Friday night and the crowd had gathered to watch the boats enter through the drawbridge. Then it was down the road for a barbeque dinner out. We tend to eat rather early - especially early by European standards - but we like getting back to the boat before it is too late. Otherwise, we end up trying to secure the dinghy in the dark.

Since we stayed at the restaurant a little too long , we had to raise the dingy to the foredeck and secure it in the dark. We had the deck lights on which lit up the whole area around the boat. Apparently the light attracted fish. One very large fish stayed along side, chasing the smaller ones. I think it may have been a Barracuda.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Rock and Rolling in Sint Eustatius

A view of the Slaves' Road from the harbor to the village
up above the harbor and bay
We raised anchor in Basseterre, St. Kitts and headed north to Sint Eustacia's also known as Stacia. You can see  Stacia  from St. Kitts, and even from Nevis on a clear day. It is just another 12 mile sail up the island chain. Sint Eustacia's is a small island with a large history. In the Golden Era (mid to late 1700’s),  Stacia  was known as the trade capital of the Indies and had a very large commercial waterfront.

Traces of the original waterfront.
The Slaves' Road was not an easy climb -
especially if carrying heavy loads!
As we left the north end of St. Kitts, we were greeted by a large pod of dolphins. They swam along with us, criss-crossing back and forth under the bow of Trillium, most of the way to Sint Eustacia's. It is always a treat to have the dolphins along side. But it is almost impossible to capture them in a photograph since you don't know when they are going to surface and their coloring blends in with the water!
Sint Eustacia's, a little volcanic island, was one of the busiest harbors in the world with up to 300 ships at anchor at a time! It was the crossroads of the world. When the British and French were fighting each other, the Dutch, who owned  Stacia , acted as middlemen for trading since the countries would not trade directly with each other. In addition,  Stacia  sold weapons to the rebels of the American colonies seeking independence. This led to a war between Britain and Holland. The Dutch lost Stacia for a while, but got it back by the late 1700’s.

Stacia is a very quiet island. The only anchorage, which has 12 mooring balls) is in Oranje Baie, which turned out to be very rolly from the swells that bend around the island! Once again the Customs and Immigration process was challenging. We went ashore to check in. After paying the Port Authority, we had to find the Customs and Immigration people. The Customs agent was there, but the Immigration guy was not. “Come back tomorrow!” Ooo-kay! But we were free to wander around without checking in.

We climbed the steep steps and the old cobbled Slave Road up to the old town of  Oranjestad. There is a Dutch Reform Church right at the top of the road. Many of the houses are gingerbread style.
The home of Admiral Rodney on the right half
of the museum building complete with furnishings.

We visited the museum that is in a house in which Admiral Rodney lived during his stay. Once again the focus was on the slave nation and the decline of the sugar industry. The island has a mix of Dutch and descendants of the early slaves.

We walked through the village and found a little Dutch restaurant for lunch, The Fruit Tree. Apparently there are about 22 restaurants  and there are only 3400 inhabitants! Since Stacia is off the beaten path for most sailing up and down the chain, I wonder who supports all the eating establishments!

There is an American medical school there now. There is also a huge oil or gas storage facility on the north end of the island where big tanker ships come to unload their cargo. As a result, there are always a number of large ships anchored off  Stacia .

We had lunch under the trees with the lizards!
And  Stacia  has a number of diving sites so maybe divers come here and eat!  Another attraction is the volcano. You can hike up to the rim and even down into the Quill Crater. Dennis wanted to do this, but I was not too keen of reading about the red belly racer snakes (supposedly harmless) that live in the crater. They are only on  Sint Eustacia's  and neighboring island, Saba. I think he would come back to Stacia for this hike.

 Stacia is a major fuel storage port so you have to
navigate around large tankers and hoses.