13 November 2017 | Santa Marta, Colombia
25 October 2017 | Curacao
13 November 2015 | Terrel Bay, Carriacou
13 August 2015 | Grenada
16 July 2015 | Port Luis, Grenada
18 May 2015 | Chatham Bay, Union Island
01 May 2015 | St. Lucia
14 April 2015 | Dominica
19 February 2015 | 17 57.38'N:062 54.28'W, BVI & St. Martin
01 February 2015 | 19 29.92'N:064 23.28'W, BVI
07 January 2015 | PR and Culebra
16 December 2014 | Salinas, PR
12 December 2014 | Ocean World Marina, DR
05 December 2014 | Turks & Caicos
24 November 2014 | 23 51.077'N:075 07.209'W, Georgetown to Conception
14 November 2014 | 24 26.687'N:076 47.37'W, On our way to Black Point, Great Guana Cay
09 November 2014 | Ft. Lauderdale to Bimini
01 November 2014 | Jacksonville, FL
29 October 2014 | 27 28.072'N:080 19.623'W, Ft. Pierce - Habortown Marina

Hola y Bienvenidos, de Santa Marta, Colombia

13 November 2017 | Santa Marta, Colombia
Cheryl/ Ahh air conditioning at last
Hola y Bienvenidos
We arrived in Santa Marta about two weeks ago. Our passage was mostly uneventful and that’s a good thing! Our winds died sometime during the 2nd day and since we aren’t purist, we cranked up our iron jib and motor sailed. We did lose a belt on our alternator as we were approaching Cinto, the first of the five bays to the north of Santa Marta. This is the second time in our travels where Ed had to go below and replace the belt while underway. He’s got it down to a science. We were greeted with so many dolphins as we approached the bay. It was spectacular since we haven’t seen this many dolphins since we left the US Gulf Coast. We arrived into Cinto after the sun had set but we had just enough light to go in and anchor. This is something we do not like to do but we saw a powerboat go in just ahead of us and also saw other boats anchored inside so we felt reasonably safe going into this bay. It was awesome to be anchored so close to mountains. The air was cool and comfortable, like fall weather, so different from Bonaire and Curacao, which was hot, hot, and hot. After a peaceful night's rest, we slowly made our way to Santa Marta on Sunday, Oct 29th, visiting some of the other bays along the way.
We are docked at the marina in Santa Marta. This is a happening marina with lots of local powerboats and fishing boats that are in and out of the marina often. My first impression of the neighborhood left me wondering if it was a safe place. There are armed police and military personnel on the street around the marina and one of the English speaking workers in the marina office was vocal saying “we are safe here”. Why did she say that? Should we worry? Of course we will worry, I mean it’s us, Ed and Cheryl. That’s what we do. Anyway, we have ventured all around the streets of Santa Marta and feel quite safe here although we haven’t been out late at night nor will we.
We are enjoying sunset and happy hours here at the marina. Beer is cheap and good. They have a nice area to enjoy talking with other boaters and watching sunset, drinking cerveza.
We along with 2 other couples, took a bus to Cartagena and spent 3 days and nights exploring the walled city of Cartagena. We stayed in a nice boutique hotel that had a rooftop pool (more like a large Jacuzzi with cold water only) where we had happy hour watching the parrots fly by. Every evening, flocks of parrots would fly around us for about an hour. I think I enjoyed this as much as I did the sightseeing in the walled city. We also visited the Cartagena marina area, just because… It is in a very busy port area and dirty. I wouldn’t want to bring our boat here.
We took pictures of our sightseeing which you can find in the gallery.
While Ed is extending his list of boat projects to work on, I am planning where we can go and what we can see and do!
Stay tuned, Machu Picchu is beckoning us to come before it gets too rainy. Looking forward to that adventure!

Things are going south

25 October 2017 | Curacao
Cheryl / Hotter than a firecracker
I get asked by family and friends how come I don’t blog more often. Hmm, could it be that we have been revisiting the same islands up and down the Caribbean for too long and have posted all there is to see and do? No, that can’t be it. Perhaps I have just gotten complacent. We have enjoyed our travels up and down the Leeward and Windward Islands but all good things must come to an end. NOT!
We were complacent and decided to do something new and exciting and different. So we left our hurricane protected marina in Grenada and headed to Bonaire. Wow, the diving is fantastic in Bonaire. We saw green moray eels longer than I am and frogfish and seahorses and wow, the squid are so cool to watch as the gracefully swim by. Then there is the coral. So much beautiful coral as far as you can see. It truly is an amazing dive island. But alas, there is more to life than diving, but not so much in Bonaire. That is a diving/snorkeling only island. So after we got our fill of diving, we went a little further west to Curacao. We stayed at a marina and rented a car for our stay on the island and it was amazing. We hiked, swam, hiked, dove, toured, ate at amazing restaurants. The island is pretty amazing and never have I been to a friendlier place for drivers. Cars actually stop and let you enter the road or let you turn in front of them and no one gets upset. We hiked the national park on the north end of the island visiting the Blowholes and natural bridges. We saw the Hato caves which I was all set to find disappointing, I mean can it really compare to Carlsbad Caverns? Yes, it can in its own way. You will have to google the HATO caves since we were only allowed to take pictures of one small area and mine weren’t good pics. The slaves used to run away and hide out in these caves where it is pitch black and there are bats. Yikes. Some friends recommended we go to the Ostrich farm for a tour while on the island so we did. What fun. The farm has been in operation for more than 20 years and the tour was fun and informative too. Some of us were brave enough to feed the ostriches but none of us was brave enough to ride one.
When things go south, is that a bad thing? Maybe the saying is all wrong. We will certainly find out firsthand. We are embarking on one of the fifth worst passages in the world, according to the experts. We have been waiting for our weather window knowing how bad it could be and that is why we left Grenada in September and left Bonaire in October and are leaving Curacao now. So while our friends say, “what’s you hurry,’ we say we have to be ready when our window arrives, which it has. So Thursday morning, we embark on a new sailing adventure. If all goes well, we will arrive at our destination on Saturday. Where are we going? Machu Pichu, Galapagos, and other adventures, but first we will put into port at Santa Marta, Colombia. More to come soon, unless I get complacent again, but in the meantime see our recent pictures.

Season 2 Conclusion

13 November 2015 | Terrel Bay, Carriacou
After a summer that went by too fast, we are ready to begin our 3rd cruising season. But first a recap of how we spent our time this summer.

Fun things we did included water aerobics, aka, noodling, hashing (who woulda thought traipsing through the bush, sweating and tripping over tree roots would be so much fun, but it was), riding the local buses (yes this too, we thought was fun and oh so cheap), getting to know so many local folks, making new cruising friends, enjoying vacation time back in the states with family and friends, walking anywhere and everywhere, and of course Happy Hour!

Not so fun things we did or paid to have done included Ed having foot surgery in June (yes this was planned), replacing the non-skid on the boat deck (Small Change did an excellent job and this was no small feat), varnish/epoxy various teak on the boat, polishing our diesel fuel, servicing the heads, replacing the vhf antenna, as well as the usual boat chores.
Other accomplishments included making a new awning for the boat. This should help keep us cool this season. We finally got Sirius radio working. Hoping to get access to more news this season. And we think we have our internet data figured out so we don't have to get a SIM card for every island we visit. I'm testing it out now. It's called T-Mobile. Not super fast internet but not dial up slow either. We'll see how long it takes to post this.
So we officially began Season 3 of our cruising career yesterday, Nov. 12th. We cut the mooring lines (literally cut them) and motored out of Port Louis marina and sailed up island to Terrel Bay, Carriacou.
We hope you will join us as we look for new adventures this season.

The Eagle Scout, lending a helping hand to fellow cruisers who lost their boat hook while trying to grab a mooring ball in Terrel bay.

Spice Mas

13 August 2015 | Grenada
Grenada is affectionately known as Camp Grenada. It is a cruisers haven with planned and unplanned events happening all the time, including water aerobics aka noodling, bingo, dominoes, yoga, full moon dinghy drifts, and beach outings just to name a few. At the top of the list perhaps is the Spice Mas aka Carnival. Unlike Dominica where the music was more akin to Caribbean Rap (were all too old for that), the music in Grenada has a nice beat except maybe at 3am.
What is Spice Mas? Simply put, it’s a huge celebration. It begins late Sunday night and lasts thru Tuesday and is held during August every year. For most it begins in the early hours of Monday morning with the J’Ouvert celebration where revelers coat themselves with used motor oil, dragging chains behind them and parade down the street wearing little more than horned helmets. If you get close enough, you could be wearing the motor oil. This is followed by colorful devils that only want to dab you with their body paint as they dance thru the streets. This is followed by a traditional parade during the day on Monday then the Monday Night Mas. Many cruisers participate in the Monday Night Mas, waving glow sticks and neon hats and t-shirts drinking “free” beer (they did have to pay for their party paraphernalia). The celebration continues thru Tuesday with the parade of the bands and the “Pretty Mas”. Officially it ends early Tuesday evening but unofficially it continues till the wee hours of Wednesday morning.
So how did we participate in this celebration? Well, since we are such party animals, we decided to be tame this year so we put in our ear plugs Sunday night and when the music started up around 2AM, we slept. We roused ourselves out of bed around 7ish and were onlookers to those that were dragging themselves back from what looked like a big paint ball fight. We took pics of these partygoers taking their shower in the garden (they had the restroom and shower rooms locked down). Later that day, we walked down to where the party had been in full swing (think French Quarter, NO) and watched the disgusting litter and oil in the streets along with the not so few revelers still celebrating. The crews were hard at work cleaning up the mess. The Monday night parade had all the participants meeting about 3 miles down the road at 7pm so what did we do. We had a nice dinner and took a nap then at 10pm, we moseyed our way down the street about 200 yards and watched the parade come to us. It couldn’t have turned out any better. Tuesday, we went early enough to scout out a good seat for our viewing of the last parade, then walked amongst the parade participants. All in all, we had a really good time and I have been singing to the tune of “Jab on Sesame Street”. Google it and give it a listen. It was one of the theme songs for this year’s carnival.
You can google Spice Mas 2015 and you will get a sampling of what we were fortunate to experience. Also check out our picture gallery for pictures taken during Spice Mas.

Grenada - Home - Grenada

16 July 2015 | Port Luis, Grenada
We arrived in Grenada around the last week of May. We spent a week on the south side in Prickly Bay where it is a cruisers haven. Not only do they have several restaurants just steps away from the dinghy docks, they offer free yoga, pilates, nature walks, karaoke, and bingo. The locals taxi cabs also arrange for minivans to do weekly shopping trips as well as touristy outings. Being as how we don’t like to follow the crowd, we set out on foot and explored the nearby anchorages, walking thru a dove sanctuary, finding the bridge to nowhere, and discovering the site of a new marina currently under construction. While we enjoyed the south side of the island, we had a reservation at Port Luis Marina for the summer so we headed up the west coast to our new summer neighborhood. Docking at the marina is stern-to the dock with bow lines tied off to a mooring ball located somewhere in front of the boat. With the help of the marina assistance, we docked easily enough (couldn’t have done this with just the two of us). Once docked, we set about getting the boat and ourselves ready for travel back to the states. Once we had enough fenders and lines tied off where we were comfortable, we removed and stored the head sail down in the salon. We scrubbed and stored the dinghy up on deck. Finally, we hired a local management company to check on the boat a few times while we were away.
Off to the states. We first went up to Boston and visited with friends and spent time on the Cape and New Hampshire. What a lovely time to visit. We had mostly good weather allowing us to see the sites. Now I know what P-Town means. I likened it to an upscale Key West.
Next, Houston for family, friends, and surgery. Yes, surgery. Ed had his 4th surgery on his foot (we will spare you the pictures). Hopefully, this was the last. We enjoyed spending time with family and friends. It was amazing how much we missed everyone. We apologize to those whom we did not get to visit. Time went by so fast and we just couldn’t see everyone.
Back home on the boat. Upon arriving home (boat), we discovered that the beeping our management company kept telling us about was our phone letting us know we had messages. Easy fix. We also arrived to a faulty A/C, and a refrigerator that was not keeping the temperature cool enough. Thankfully, we didn’t have any food in the fridge (just lots of water bottles to fill the space). The next day, we called a local technician and he arrived 45 minutes later and voila, the fridge was fixed within an hour. He worked on the A/C but it still may not be fixed. Time will tell but it does work which is ok with me.
We are adapting back to our Caribbean lifestyle; Taking it easy and relaxing. We try to do something productive every day. This blog was it for me today.

Sweet spot in Windwards

18 May 2015 | Chatham Bay, Union Island
Leaving Rodney Bay, St. Lucia. On to SVG (St. Vincent & the Grenadines)
We left at 0400 from Rodney Bay, St. Lucia, which is on the NW corner of St. Lucia for a long 70 nM sail to Bequia. In past years we would have enjoyed staying in Marigot Bay and the Piton of St. Lucia like we have done so many years before on charter trips. But, crime against cruisers has been on the uptick in recent years here so we decided to pass St. Lucia up hoping the island can get a handle on the crime issues so we can visit again in the spring when we come back up this way. The next island down the Windward chain is St. Vincent. Wallilabou is where they filmed much of the Pirates of the Caribbean. We have stayed in this port in previous years. As matter of fact, when we stayed there in 2006, we got hit by a French Canadian boat that put quite a gouge in the side of our charter boat. Then they had the nerve to deny they hit us with many witnesses to support us. We spent hours at the police station and the St. Vincent Coast Guard even came to deal with these folks. Not a fond memory when on vacation. Like St. Lucia, crime against cruiser has been a problem in St. Vincent for years, so we just kept on sailing south until Bequia. Also, it is important to note that St. Lucia and St. Vincent are very deep anchorages so this make it difficult for boats to anchor. You often have to take a second line to land just to avoid the surge that turn boats in these ports. Bequia is a spit of an island in the country known as St. Vincent & the Grenadines with the emphasis for us on “the Grenadines.” The Grenadines is a series of wonderful islands. They include Bequia, Canouan, Mayreau, Tobago Cays, Union Island, Palm Island, and Petit St. Vincent. This is what I call “The Sweet Spot in the Windward Islands, or for that matter, the “sweetest” spot in all of the Eastern Caribbean. Why? Because we get away from all of the larger port cities full of industrial ports, lots of people, and the winds allow us to sail all of the time and the water is even prettier than the Bahamas. When you think of a Caribbean post card, you’ve conjured up the Grenadines. So, sweet.
We arrived in Bequia. Its main anchorage is Admiralty Bay and it is a nice wide bay with sandy beaches, enough of a town to get the basic provisions and a few Carib style restaurants, even a Mexican food restaurant (man, do we crave TexMex). We have always loved this place. The first time we can through here on a charter we sailed right by it not knowing what we missed. Never again. However, this time the winds were very strong. We knew the Caribbean trade winds were going to be building but we didn’t expect winds in excess of 40kts for 5 nights! Our anchor snubber nearly wore in half with all of the pounding. [For those that are wondering what the heck a snubber is, it’s a line with hook on it that you attach from your bow to the chain that is design to give some dampening that a rigged, steel chain will not provide.] We felt like would get seasick just sitting at anchor. Ok, we are in the Caribbean in a beautiful anchorage so we shouldn’t be complaining. Right? Right. So, when life deals you lemons (and limes), you make the best of it (or make margaritas). So, we got off the boat (and the swells) and went to climb the highest mountain around, Peggy’s Rock. Great climb and what wonderful views. (See our picture album.) On our walk down from the rock, we saw some locals taking pictures of the water. After we inquired as to what they were looking at, we soon saw a mama whale with her baby. Yes we saw them go breach to the sea. Spectacular sight!
Back at the boat that night were awakened by strong winds again. They tend to be diurnal and come up every night. Hard to sleep with 40+ kts of wind. We had been worried about the French boat beside us as he had trouble setting his Bruce anchor. Sure enough, at 0200 his anchor had dragged and the boat was too near us. The fire drill starts. We put out fenders just in case and it takes us a lot of work to wake the skipper up. Finally blowing our navigational safety air horn did the trick (how can anyone sleep through this blow!) He and his crew sprang into action and weighed anchor and headed out to sea to re-anchor. Glad we were awake to help this one come to a happy ending. Ed recalled in 2003 when he skippered a SLV (our Houston Sailing Club) charter that took a mooring here in Bequia. The mooring broke away from the seabed at 9:30 PM while he just happened to be sitting in the cockpit. As the boat starting drifting through the anchorage, it was an all-hands-on-deck event to avert a collision with other boats. That kind of event makes you think hard about using mooring balls at all unless you dive them and can see how they are maintained or not.
While in Bequia we met new friends on Wahoo (from New Orleans) and Serenity (from New England) and we got to spend more time with our Colorado friends on Aspenglow. We had several get togethers at each other’s boats and local eateries for sundowner and meals. It’s good to socialize with new cruising friends. It’s not the same as old friends and family, who we miss dearly, but ALL cruisers miss old friends and family, so we rely on new friendships to fill the void until we can see old friends again and renew our friendships. We also got a chance to see Chris Doyle, who writes all the cruising guides that we have used for so many charters and all of our cruising. He rocks! Good to see the source of all these great guides.

Salt Whistle Bay & Tobago Cays
We had our fun and winds in Bequia but now it is time to move on since the winds have finally laid down enough to allow us to leave. So, we left Bequia sailing past Canoun for Salt Whistle Bay, Mayreau. Salt Whistle Bay, is a small, but beautiful place that only has room for about 10 boats or so. But, this isthmus is unique in that one can experience sunset and sunrise from the same bay. Very peaceful and unique place. One of the boat boys brought us fresh (still flipping) snapper which we cooked on the grill. This place has a restaurant with booth like seats made of stone. Even the table top is made of stone. Something you expect to find Fred and Barney of the Flintstones sitting at. Boy, were those seats hard too. In the complaint column we have to add that they put moorings in all of the good places so we had to anchor out a bit further out than we would have liked to. This made for a rolly couple of nights. We could always take a mooring ball but, well, we are cheap. We invested in a darn good anchor (proven by how she held so well in the 40+ winds for so many nights) so we wouldn’t have to pay for moorings so we prefer to anchor. Besides, how do you know that the mooring is well-maintained (Ed has had 2 break on him, always at night). We’ve learned to trust our 60 lb Ultra anchor. We’ve gone in 360 degree turns during the night and our anchor has always kept digging in and always held for us. Salt Whistle Bay always brings back fond memories from chartering here with our good friends from SLV and having so many good times here. Nice to be back again to these and other great Grenadine anchorages and not be on such a fast track as we were in the chartering days.
After two nights at Salt Whistle, we headed for Tobago Cays. Tobago Cays is always the highlight of our trips to the Grenadines. If you’ve never heard of it, please stop reading and go to Google Images right now and look up Tobago Cays. It is breathtaking. It is the prettiest place we have ever been and we’ve seen some incredibly beautiful places! Check out the pictures we posted in our blog album. As we understand it, Tobago Cays is considered an atoll which means once there was volcanic island here surrounded by a coral reef. Then the volcanic island literally “sunk” leaving nothing but the volcanic reef surrounding water. So, we are essential in the middle of the Caribbean Sea while looking at the Atlantic Ocean. The surrounding, large, protective reef blocks all of the waves but not the wind. The water is mostly less than 15 feet deep so it’s that incredible aqua blue that camera photos never seem to be able to capture. That blue that is always better live and in person. We still have more wind that we want (not complaining) that prevents us from swimming as easily as we would like to. However, we managed to snorkel in the designated turtle sanctuary area and saw great views. We also took our dinghy out to the reef for some spectacular views (and pics). I could stay here for weeks. They have “boat boys” (actually men) that come here from Union Island everyday into this National Park and provide all kinds of support. They bring fresh bread, banana nut bread, ice, fresh fish (you cannot fish in this National Park), T-shirts, support as you need it. We are actually impressed by how professional these guys are. They are only here to help. Our one favorite boat boy on a yellow boat named Surprise was so versed in US politics and the world news. He was great to talk to as well. He has been motoring here every day to serve cruisers for 26 years! We were also saddened to hear our favorite boat boy “Walter” had passed away last year at age 72. That’s right. Every day he brought T-shirts here to sell for 30+ years. He was a piece of work and we miss his presentation and good humor. RIP Walter. Watching sunset and having a sundowner as I write this. Wow, so beautiful.

Palm Island & PSV (Petite St. Vincent)
After spending too much money on lunch at Palm Island (yummy daiquiris) and dinner at PSV we went to Union Island to clear out of customs and prepare to head to Grenada. Palm Island is a favorite drink spot of ours and we have enjoyed many fabulous strawberry daiquiris there. No strawberry this time so we enjoyed mango and banana. I prefer the strawberry. Both islands are private and have resorts on them so you can imagine the cost. We splurged and enjoyed food and alcohol at both places. After clearing customs in Clifton, we headed over to Chatham Bay on the leeward side of Union where we had the calmest anchorage we have experienced in quite a while. We took advantage of the great anchorage and got our snorkel gear on and scrubbed the bottom of the boat. Now that’s a good cardio workout. Neither of us had ever been to this anchorage before and we really enjoyed its peacefulness and it helped that the winds were low.
Vessel Name: Slowdown
Vessel Make/Model: Caliber LRC40
Hailing Port: Houston, TX
Crew: Ed and Cheryl Carter
About: Ed has a USCG 100 ton masters license while Cheryl has ASA certifications thru 104
Slowdown's Photos - Main
Santa Marta, Cartagena
22 Photos
Created 13 November 2017
22 Photos
Created 25 October 2017
November 2015 - October 2016 Grenada to USVI and back to Grenada
1 Sub-Album
Created 9 December 2015
November 2014 - October 2015 Florida East Coast to Grenada
11 Sub-Albums
Created 9 December 2015
December 2013 - October 2014 Kemah, TX to Bahamas, then Florida
23 Sub-Albums
Created 17 August 2015

Who: Ed and Cheryl Carter
Port: Houston, TX