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Cruising with Kids: S/V Dream Catcher
We've sold the house, bought the boat and will homeschool our children for the next year or two aboard our 43' Sailing Catamaran. Follow the adventures of the Daniels' family as they cruise the caribbean.
Everything goes bump in the night
Lisa
03/17/2007, Mayaguana

This is a picture of our friends Jonnie and Charlenit. They are from Haiti and paid a large sum to be smuggled into the Bahamas to start a better life. They taught me a bit of Creole. I will miss them dearly.

We departed Georgetown on March 11 to do the family's first overnighter to Mayaguana. This would be a 175 mile trip. We decided to travel along with three other catamarans with kids. The winds were forecasted at 15 knots. - LIE! They were blowing more like 25+ knots and the seas were very large and uncomfortable. All of the cats were experiencing hull slamming. As night fell, the wind was not calming down. Inside of the boat, it felt like a salt shaker. So Nicole and I had to try to rest out in the cockpit. We had our PJ's on and our beds made in the cockpit, when a wave hit us broadside and washed into the cockpit. I once read that you weren't really a sailor unless you were cold, wet, tired and sick. That pretty much described us. We had a huge bucket inside that we dropped all of our wet clothing and blankets into. Nicole finally gave up and fell asleep in the saloon, sick and all. DJ was already sound asleep and had no problem with the banging and shuddering. I put on my foul weather gear and sat in the cockpit with Dave until the wee hours of the morning. After a while, I started to see the beauty within the terror. The wind was howling so fast, that the waves would crash over the bow and be swept over the side within a split second. The water was glowing with phosphorous and was hypnotizing to watch as we flew through the night. Somewhere around 3:30 I succumbed to sleep. I suddenly woke up and realized it was almost 6:00 and Dave hadn't slept yet. I jumped back into my foul weather gear and relieved him until 10:30 so he could rest. I watched the sun come up and a few container ships passed by. The wind was still howling, but somehow it wasn't as scarey. Dream Catcher has shown me what she was made of and we were in great hands. The romantic in me had always pictured my first overnighter to be on calm seas with gentle wind and a full moon. Yeah...right! Maybe next time.

Mayaguana was nothing to write home about. It is a big, desolate island. We hitchhiked to the beach. What a job it is to get 16 people around. We saw our first flamingo! That was pretty cool. The hunting was okay for lobster. We were anxious to move on to Turks and Caicos.

Where to next???
Dave
03/10/2007, Georgetown, Bahamas

Wow, I can't believe it is the 10th of March, where has the winter gone. We have been back in Georgetown for about a week after our wonderful trip to the Jumentos. We wanted to get back for Regatta week which is the pinnacle of the cruising season. Regatta week is a 10 day event with games and competitions everyday. There is even a kid's day which the kids enjoyed very much. They competed in homemade sailboat races, scavenger hunts and obstical courses to name a few. Lisa couldn't help herself and volunteered to help the commitee chair with the event and had a great day. There were over 70 kids that participated in the day. On another day, we all entered different rowing races in either kayaks, small row boats and sailing dingies. We all had a ball and a couple ribbons were won, DJ and Nicole competed in the double kayaking race and came in first! DJ placed second in the singles rowing and Nicole and her friend Sabrina got the most injured award when they were both clubbed in the back of the head by a flying oar during the blind rowing competion. They were both fine after a couple minutes. DJ and Lisa entered the blind rowing race. Lisa was blindfolded while DJ gave directions. What a hoot. DJ's attention was easily diverted, leaving Lisa rowing in circles. They came in last place. Lisa and Nicole along with some other friends competed in the sand castle competion and took 3rd. Yesterday, we entered Dream Catcher in the race around the island. The winds were forcasted to be about 10 knots but turned out to be more like 20. There were about 40 boats entered in the race. They were broken down into different catagories. We were entered in the Multihull race and placed 3rd which we were very excited to win. It was a very stressful (Lisa says invigorating) event and we were doing everything possible to trim the sails just right. Lisa did a great job skippering the boat while James from Seista and myself trimmed the sails. Now we have five new burgees to add to our boat. We never knew what all of those flags were on other boats. Now we know.

With time winding down in Georgetown, we started thinking about were we would go next? Lisa really had her heart set on going to the Domincan Republic with our friends on Side by Side. After checking with our Insurance company to see if the could extend our coverage to the DR (we are only covered to the Turks and Caicos) we did not expect the answer we got nor did our broker. It turns out a boat was recently lost to a reef in the Luperon area which is where we could clear customs in the DR and they are not extending any coverage into that area. So at the moment, we are trying to decide our next route. We know we want to be in the Abacos for April and May. So stay tuned, we will update you all once we have a plan.

Dolphin for Dinner
Lisa
03/01/2007, Jamentos

"Not that kind of Dolphin.. On the way to the Jamentos we caught our first Mahi Mahi, It was tasty"

While in Thompson Bay, we visited with Side by Side and celebrated their son Parker's 10th birthday. We really hit it off with SBS and decided to go to the Jamento and Ragged Islands with them. We had a long day's sail and went from Long Island to Jamaica Cay. These islands are completely isolated. No homes, people, stores, gas or water. Our water maker has really come in handy. In Jamaica Cay, there was an abandoned resort someone tried to get going. While exploring the island, the kids and I came upon a recent shipwreck. The ribs of the boat were made out of trees. The mast was completely wooden and the cabin was made out of plywood. There were clothes and things floating in the water. Most likely it was a Hatian boat full of refugees trying to flee their country. The helicopters patrol this area looking for Haitians and drug runners. After seeing the wreck, I hustled the children back to the anchorage in case there were Haitians on the island. Upon reaching our boat, we decided to go snorkeling to look for dinner. However, DJ spotted a eight-foot bull shark. Dave went in the water to take a closer look. He is very brave, I couldn't do that. Yes, it was a big old bull shark and snorkeling behind our boat was out of the question. Between the shark and the ship-wreck, the night was a sleepless one for me. I finally realized how isolated we really were out there. The next day we went to Johnson Cay. We had to visit this island since our friends on SBS share the last name of Johnson. It was by far the gem of the Bahamian Islands. The snorkeling was the best so far. Every fish in our Reed's guide could be spotted here. The reefs are healthy. The lobsters, conch and fish are abundant. No boats go here. It is a hidden paradise. As a project, Side by Side and Dream Catcher made a sign for the island. It was painted in lovely Bahamian colors. While everyone was away hunting, Nicole and I enjoyed a leisurely swim without our swimsuits! We spent a wonderful day there then moved on to Racoon Island. This was another beautiful location. Marc, Dave and DJ went hunting and brought home lobster, conch and fish. Just when I was starting to feel comfortable being out here in isloation, we spotted a man on the island with a shot gun over his shoulder. He may have been a Haitian or a squatter living here. But Dave slept in the cockpit keeping an eyeout for us. The next island was Flamingo Cay with its beautiful cave that you could drive a dinghy in to. The beaches were long and quiet. Angie on SBS and I have come up with a new activity. Finding beach couture. There is a lot of clothing that washes up on shore and we are trying to see who can were two under my dinghy as the kids were snorkeling. I had to pull everyone into the boat. Our last stop was Water Cay before our return to Georgetown. We are expecting to be in Georgetown for the Regatta. I am volunteering for kid's day. I have so enjoyed our time down here in the Jamentos. I am very pleased that we didn't bypass this lovely island chain.

More Good Bye's
Dave
02/27/2007, Thompson Bay, LI

"picture of us with our friends on Tabitha"

We departed Georgetown a couple of days ago with plans to head for Conception to meet up with our friends on Side by Side. But like all plans in the sailing world, they are open to change and usually do with the weather. They had been forcasting the strongest cold front of the season to hit on Sunday with the strongest of the winds out of the North West which would have been fine for Conception. The forecast that we picked up prior to our early morning departure had the winds coming out of the North, which may not sound like much of a change, but is a big concern with the anchorage at Conception that offers very little protection from the North and backs up to the Atlantic ocean which means very big waves to ride out. Since we like to minimize our middle of the night fire drills and favor a good night sleep, we altered our plans and headed for Thompson Bay in Long Island. If you remember, we were here about a month ago (bat caves) and fell in love with the island, especially the people. We were also excited to meet up with our friends on Tabitha who are about to start their trip North and back to England. We heard from other cruisers that the best way to move around the island is by hitch hiking. Nicole was a little nervous about this idea but soon found it was alot of fun when she got to ride in the bed of a pickup truck. It turns out that when a Long Islander passes a hitch hiker they feel obligated to pick you up. The only visitors they get to their island are the sailors that arrive during the winter months. They just love to talk about their island and welcome you with open arms. We received rides from a priest from the church of England, a political leader from the First National Movement and a school bus driver on a school bus to name a few. Lisa had a very enlightning experience when visiting with GlenRoy from the FNM. He was on his way back from collecting ice for a political ralley in support of his candidate when he picked us up. Their government structure mirrors Englands. While in Thompson Bay, we said goodbye to our friends on Tabitha who are heading back to FLorida, where Sue, Elsa and Pita will get on a plan and fly back to England for the last school semester. Eric will be single handling their boat back to England from FLorida, we wish them all the best and Eric fair winds. He may need to stop in Bermuda on his way home, so we gave him some information on how to contact our friends the Broadhursts.

Shoveling snow
Dave
02/15/2007, Georgetown

Not...

Just a quick update to let all our family and friends now we are heading to Conception Island tomorrow for a couple of weeks. This a remote island with no internet what so ever. We will post an update once we return to Georgetown for regatta. Yesterday we ran our first race around the island with 17 other boats. It was alot of fun and with great winds out of the West we flew. We started second to last and passed every boat to finish first. That doesn't mean we are great sailors it just means we have a really fast boat. Just before the finish line we got hit by a squal that brought winds up to 28 knots for about 45 seconds. As you can image things got pretty exciting for a couple minutes. Other than that things are the same, kids are making new friends daily with so many new kids coming and going. We are headed to conception with our new freinds on Green Turtle. Hope all is well back home and hopefully the resent Nor' Eastern wasn't to brutal

Freight Train
Lisa
02/07/2007, Georgetown

Photo: DJ and Nicole with their cruising friends, four boys and three girls. It is hard to tell since there is a lot of hair in this photo.


First off, we would like to welcome a new member of our family, Catharine Conboy. Jeanine and Matt are the proud parents of their fifth child. They of course boast of her beauty. We can't wait to meet her!

Now for an update on Dave's Ear: Dave went to a private doctor here that we heard about from some residents here in the islands. He arrived at the doctor's practice at 7:30 a.m only to be fourth in line. The doctor arrived at 8:30 in Bahamian style. The first thing he asked Dave was weather or not the clinic dr. prescribed drops. He hoped not, since that could cause permanent nerve damage to Dave's already damaged ear drum. Luckily, Dave is unique. All of us already knew that. His ear canal goes upward instead of downward, therefore, the drops never touched his exposed nerves. The doctor said he should recover fully within five weeks. So, since he had so much free time out of the water, he volunteered to redo the public library's roof. He is heading up the project and has several volunteers including DJ and Nicole to help out. They will begin construction at the end of this week. The roof has been leaking for three years and has damaged many books. The children's room has suffered the most damage. Anyone who would like to donate to the Georgetown library, you may send donations to the Georgetown Public Library, Georgetown, Great Exuma, Bahamas. Since construction won't happen for a week, we decided to join our friends and take a vacation and go to Emerald Bay Marina. I know it sounds funny that we are taking a vacation while we are in paradise, but we went to on of those resorts that you all pay thousands of dollars to stay at. Our two nights only cost $75. We had a restaurant, pool, lounge, showers, free laundry, wifi, casino and bar. Dave watched the super bowl while I tried my luck in the casino. Thank goodness for the luck of the Irish, I was able to pay for the three days on the dock! It was a working vacation. When we left yesterday, we said our goodbye's to our new friends on Tembo who have been out for two years cruising the Caribbean and are headed back to their home on Vancover Island, Victoria in Canada. We also said goodbye or see you soon to our friends on Leo Cat who we may see again in a month or so. Parting is such sweet sorrow, we have met so many wonderful people and the kids have made so many friends from all over the world. When saying goodbye, we wish we could put each of them in our pockets and take them home with us. But, most of all, we are thankful that they have walked into our lives, if only for a short time. On a different note, I received wonderful news of a visitor to Georgetown. I don't want to put her on the spot by mentioning her name. But I can't wait! It will be so nice to share all of our many adventures with someone from home! Speaking of adventures..... last night, Dave and I were suddenly awakened by the sound of a freight train. We both sprang from bed and realized that our haunted schreecher had become unraveled at the top and the wind was blowing 25 to 30 knots. So Dave and I are out there in our night attire dropping the darn thing. Never a dull moment. Sigh.........

Happy Birthday: Alex, Donna, and Lisa. Happy belated birthday to Marie. She is a big 4 this year!
HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY TO ALL!

Going batty
Dave and Lisa
01/25/2007, Conception, Exumas

We finally lifted our anchor in Georgetown and set sail for some of the smaller islands in the Bahamas. We left with our friends on Le'Cat and Tabitha. Our first stop was Long Island, located about 40 miles east of Georgetown. We had listenedd to a weather report before leaving that indicated that the winds would be too light to sail. Once outside the cut, we were pleasantly surprised with North winds at 15 knots. We had a lovely sail. Thompson's Bay, Long Island was where we decided to put down the anchor first. Long Island has approximately 5,000 residents. They are well set up with a couple of grocery stores and a dive shop. While visiting the dive shop, the owner informed us of a cave on his property. He gave us some flashlights and we explored the many caverns and we were amazed at all of the stalagmites and stalactites. We later returned with our friends to watch the bats come out of the caves. There are five diferent species of bats that inhabit the caves. While in Thompson's Bay, we spend sometime hiking over to the beach on the Atlantic side of the island. These beaches would be spectacular if it weren't for all of the garbage that comes in with the surf. Ninety-nine percent of the garbage is plastic. It is so sad. Along with the garbage there are sea beans, hamburger beans and coconuts. We gathered several coconuts and Dave spent an afternoon removing the husks to make them easier to store. Our next stop was Calabash. We were hoping to do some fishing there, however it was very rolley and made for an uncomfortable evening. Only one night there before moving on to Conception. This was an island that was pristine and completely uninhabited. The island is surrounded by deep water and reefs. As soon as our anchor was down, Dave brought out his dive gear and took a look at the reef next to our boat. He said it was magnificant. He wasn't able to stay down there too long. His tank ran out of air. He was anxious to go hunting with DJ and Eric, so they loaded up the dinghy with their spears and fins. Dave was attaching the anchor to the dinghy when, splash, the anchor sank to the bottom. It was approximately 25 feet down. Since Dave didn't have any more oxygen in his tank, he had to free dive. On his way down, he felt a lot of pressure in his ears and then heard a POP! OH SH>>>>>T! He managed to grab the anchor and surface. While struggling for balance while climbing up the swim latter, he had a look of pain on is face. It didn't take long for him to confirm the diagnoses of a blown eardrum. He tried to relieve more pressure from his ears and proceeded to expell air from his ear. FREAKY! He spent the afternoon lying down while I worked on the VHF to receive medical advice. A couple of boats provided relay to a doctor in San Salvador. I have antibiotics on board and didn't know whether to give them to him. The doctor said to put some cotton in it to keep the air out and get him to a doctor. So now we find ourselves back in Georgetown two days later. But... before leaving Conception, we were given two huge lobsters and found several conch. Dave was able to get the Conch without diving under the water. So our trip out to the little islands has provided us with some well-deserved protein. Dave saw the doctor today. I won't even go into what that wait was like or the conditions of the clinic. They gave him some drops and antibiotics and will look at it again next week to see how severe the damage is. The doctor's visit, ear drops, and antibiotics were a total of $78. I forgot to metion that we had some more unexpected excitement in Conception. We had some dodgy clouds that produced a water spout. This was our first sighting of one. It was coming towards us but retracted back into the clouds. Also, the kids broke the cardinal rule of not swimming after 4pm and had the amazing experience of being greeted by a reef shark. It was only 4:30. I guess there isn't much lee-way in that rule. Luckily, they were close to the dinghy on their friends boat and everyone survived the encounter. Although, Nicole is back in my bed.

Lobster, its about time
Dave
01/10/2007, Georgetown

We have been in Georgetown about 2 weeks now and still having a good time, but I am starting to get itchy to move on. Lisa and I long for remote locations, and like I mentioned in my previous update we will be moving on with the next weather window that comes through. Yesterday the winds died down to just about dead calm, which around here translates into a hunting day. A day where many cruisers will venture out to the ocean side in their dingy to hunt for that elusive lobster. We declared it an abbreviated school day and our hunting party consisting of Le' Cat, Tabitha and Dream Catcher. Before I was even done setting the anchor to the dingy, DJ had spotted a good size lobster in about 20' of water. He made several dives and tickled the lobster out of its den, than requested I go down to finish him off. The pressure at that depth was pretty strong but I managed to get off 2 shots and brought him up kicking and screaming. After spending about an hour there with no additional sightings we moved on to our next reef, were another lobster was spotted in the first 5 minutes. It was Eric's (Tabitha) turn for the kill and he proceeded to do just that. At that point our luck had ran out so we headed home with two lobsters bagged for the day, which Lisa and Sue (Tabitha) turned into a great meal, and were served up at another bon fire last night.
Not much else new to report, the kids continue to have a great time with lots of new friends showing up daily. Lisa continues to fill her social calendar and along with the yoga, basket weaving, and volleyball she is know doing water colors. She had received some lessons (oils) from her friend Alex back home and know looks forward to getting some additional pointers from Sue on Tabitha. I have thrown in the towel on the refrigerator unit, which runs at about 80% but never gets cold enough for the thermostat to shut it down, which in turn runs the batteries down. We have decided to move all our perishables into the freezer unit and only run the frig for a couple hours a day to chill the vegetables. It looks like this will work well until we get back to the states and to get the unit recharged. We'll that's all for now.


Rules, rules, rules
Dave & Lisa
01/02/2007, Georgetown

Happy New Year everyone. For New Year's Eve, we had a bonfire on the beach with a couple of the other families. We shot off fireworks and roasted marshmallows. Next we went to a party at the St. Francis Hotel and Marina with all the other cruisers. DJ made it to midnight Nicole wasn't feeling up to par so she crashed early. DJ has made some new friends on a couple of other boats and doesn't seem to be around much anymore. At one moment he is off learning to kite board with Logan from Trek, comes back for food and then is off sailing a Hobbie Cat with Fred from Polika. The kids are really enjoying their time here. Lisa and I have mixed feelings. On one hand it's great because the kids are entertained and have plenty to do, on the other, we don't want to get stuck in one place too long with so much more to see. After being here for six days, we are all ready starting to think about moving on. Originally, we were planning on spending a month or two here. Now, we are thinking of visiting some of the more remote islands once we get some good sailing weather. Of course the kids don't ever want to leave. Don't get me wrong, we like it here but with only one year available to us we want to see more.

Lisa and I started playing volleyball a couple days back and have enjoyed getting some exercise. The one thing that does take some adjustment is all the rules in the anchorage. The majority of the cruisers that are down here have spent so many winters here they have created a mini-USA with rules and politics. We are continuously informed of these rules since we are newbies. They are usually delivered with a nice smile just to inform us of what is expected of us while we stay in their "town". We have been informed of: no throwing scraps overboard, no cleaning fish off of our boat, what kind of firewood we should burn, returning chairs after using them, where to put our garbage, time limitations on where you can leave your dingy, how to hit the volleyball, most of it is complete commonsense. They treat us as children. Most of the younger cruisers joke about it and let it roll off our backs. We all came here to get away from politics and rules. Some of the cruisers have forgotten that. I know it sounds like we are complaining, too bad, then don't read this.

Georgetown or bust
Lisa
12/29/2006, Georgetown, Exumas

We departed Staniel Cay on the 26th with another catamaran, Le Cat, and headed for Little Farmers Cay. This stop was recommended by our good friends Jack and Helen back in Dover. They have been down here before and brought us back a beautifully carved Bahama Mama. The kids decided they wanted a sculpture for a souvenir so we visited JR's carving shop. He remembered a boat coming from NH and he thought he might have a boat card somewhere from them. See Jack and Helen, you two are unforgettable (we already knew that). JR didn't have enough change on hand so his wife took us to the general store to make change. Charelle then took us for a tour of the island. The 26th of December is Boxing Day and is celebrated in the Bahamas, so everyone was off of work. The residents were sitting outside on their homemade benches playing dominos, enjoying beer and swapping lies. They invited us to join in the festivities, but we were tired and knew we had an early start the next morning. We sailed from Farmers to Georgetown with a forecast of 15-knot winds from the North. Once we were out in the ocean, the winds were blowing 25 knots. Luckily we reefed in before we left the anchorage. The seas were quite big 8-10 feet, however they were following seas which made for a more enjoyable sail. We were going 11 knots at one point. It was exhilarating.

Once in Georgetown, we found a great anchorage right next to Volleyball Beach. The kids can swim to the beach or take the kayak. We went across the bay to check out the town and provision. There is a supermarket with a nice selection. On our way out of the market, we saw Charelle from Little Farmers. She gave us all big hugs. We will definitely stop by Little Farmers on our way back.

Dave spent his birthday tinkering on the boat. He worked on the refrigeration which seems to be an endless thorn in his side. In the afternoon, we lounged on the beach and layed in the hammocks. Tough Day. Dave also went hunting with DJ and Robert from Le'Cat and they brought back an interesting looking fish. We will eat it tomorrow.

Nicole made another friend today from Island Siren. She is 11 and from Key Largo. Her name is Katie. Tonight, the kids from several boats played flashlight tag on the beach. Both DJ and Nicole have made several friends and we haven't seen much of them the past two days.

HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE! Thank you for the well-wishes on our blog. We love hearing from you.

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