Slow Sailing

01 February 2018 | St Pierre, Martinique
17 January 2018 | Marin Marina, Martinique
08 January 2018 | Fort de France, Martinique
01 January 2018 | Atlantic - Still!
26 December 2017 | Atlantic Ocean
19 December 2017 | Mindelo, Sao Vicente, Cape Verde
17 December 2017 | Mindelo, Sao Vicente, Cape Verde
07 December 2017 | San Sebastian, La Gomera
28 November 2017 | Garachico, Tenerife
18 November 2017 | La Palma, Canaries
07 November 2017 | Puerto Santa Cruz, Tenerife
16 October 2017 | Graciosa, Canary Islands
09 October 2017 | Rabat, Morocco
30 September 2017 | Ait Bennadou, Morocco
11 September 2017 | Cadiz, Spain
27 August 2017 | Faro, Portugal
11 August 2017 | Guadiana River, Portugal
04 August 2017 | La Linea, Spain
31 July 2017 | Marina Smir, Morocco
18 July 2017 | Granada, Spain

Six Years and 29 Countries

01 February 2018 | St Pierre, Martinique
While we won't cross our outgoing track until we get to the Bahamas, it feels like in many ways our round the world trip is completed because we are back in familiar territory. We cruised the E. Caribbean islands in 2003 and surprisingly, not much has changed, at least in Martinique.

People often ask us what our favorite places have been on this trip and they are usually met with a blank stare from us. It's because it's hard to pick a favorite when there have been so many wonderful experiences & fantastic people that made them come to life. And each place has delivered something unique that has contributed to a collection of great memories. But here are a few things that stick out in our minds and some pics to go with them.
Transiting the Panama Canal was a milestone and exciting because the Pacific Ocean opened up to us for the first time, not to mention the canal itself, which is a marvel of engineering. We passed through it 3 times, first on someone else's boat to help them and figure out how it all works, then ourselves on our own boat and then we helped our friends Tim & Nathan on Slick.
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We have really done some amazing sailing over these years. Heading westward, with the wind mostly at your back, sliding down waves on a sleigh ride or blasting along behind the reef or in the lee is a big buzz. While we did get restless on long passages, there are parts about passagemaking that are unforgettable, like crossing the Banda Sea in Indonesia where the sea glows green in a display of phosphorescence unique to that part of the world. Or crossing the lonely parts of the Atlantic or Pacific where you see nothing for days on end but blue, not even a speck of trash. It was as reassuring as it was lonely. We depended on each other and our boat, a good trio.

Making landfall in so many beautiful places was always exciting and much more rewarding than arriving by plane. It felt more like we'd earned it. And while cruising Europe, where technically we could only stay for 90 days out of every 180 as a US citizen, we never got more than a wrist slap because we were traveling by boat. They know you can't get anywhere fast! Our most memorable landfall was the Marquesas. After 21 days at sea, to arrive in a packed anchorage and be brought fresh pamplemousse by fellow cruisers in a backdrop of beautiful spires of rock, that is paradise.

We did some great fishing underway with Vanuatu being the most fruitful for us. Because the islanders love to use the fish head & bones for stew and they can't get out to sea to catch pelagic fish, we felt like superstars giving them those parts of the fish we caught. You didn't have the feeling like you were getting the last fish either. This photo is of a smaller fish but I like this pic of Jon.
The cruising scene crossing the Pacific and the Indonesia Rally were the richest we've ever known and we made a lot of wonderful friends. Even doing mundane things like checking in & out of places was made fun by doing it together. And then there were birthdays.... Some people even wore their kilts to these events!
Sharing anchorages together in really pretty spots was the norm. I liked the way all the boats leap frogged so you would say goodbye only to meet up again down the road at another island to pick up where you left off.
We enjoyed getting to know all the different cultures in the places we sailed to. While we didn't always understand what makes people do what they do, it was interesting to dive into it and live it a little. If it was overwhelming, it was especially nice to come back to the boat at the end of the day (we called it "the oasis") and let it all sink in. We loved the jovial spirit of the Spanish and the sense of humor of the Australians and we were most moved by the people we met in the smaller nations.
The diving! We did as much as we could and saw some incredible reef. From wrecks to canyons, walls, overhangs and passes, we saw a lot of beautiful creatures. Having our own compressor aboard made us independent, which is how we like to be. Indonesia had the most interesting muck diving and Vanuatu & Fiji the most colorful corals. We got addicted to finding nudibranchs too. They are like finding a piece of candy to me. We dove or snorkeled with mantas, sea lions, sharks, turtles, dugongs, rays and all the other usual suspects. It was great to sit down at happy hour with our dive buddies and look at our pics if we'd had a particularly good day.
Snorkeling with humpbacks in Tonga was a highlight and I will never forget diving on a reef the day after and hearing their distant song at depth. It's a sweet song and it felt good to know they were nearby. It's the kind of beautiful that makes me sad.
We hiked miles and miles and miles all over, and when we could, we got our packs out and went backpacking. Tasmania, New Zealand and Nepal have some standout beautiful spots and we hope to get back to each of them to do more.
We enjoyed seeing all the diversity of wildlife and their forested or pastureland homes. Australia blew us away and we saw more snakes than probably most Australians do because we were on the trails so much! Pulling in to Bundaberg and seeing kangaroos right as we stepped off the dock was just the start of many months of seeing crazy things. From wombats to kookaburras, koalas, Tasmanian devils, platypus, echidnas, dingos, wallabies- it goes on & on. It was definitely the biggest smorgasbord we've seen. We enjoyed the sea lions in the Galapagos too!
Living in a van for 2 months touring New Zealand wasn't always the easiest and we practically suffocated under the weight of all the blankets we had to try to stay warm but it planted a seed for worldwide overland RV travel that has stuck with us and grown. We were envious of those who were self contained and could stay overnight in the beautiful places that we had to leave at the end of the day to get to a campground. Not next time!
When we were in SE Asia we got a serious hankering to shake things up and see something completely different... so we decided to ship Evergreen to the Med. It was a big decision. We took the boat up to the ship in Phuket, and Peters & May expertly loaded it on and we then visited Nepal & the Taj Majal in India while it was in transit before meeting up with it again in Greece, just outside Athens. I'll never forget the day we got our home back and were walking around an ancient amphitheater looking out to the ship that carried our boat so far to a whole new world. We both feel it was one of the best decisions we've ever made.
Exploring all the ancient history and mix of cultures in Europe was fantastic. All the stuff that I learned and then forgot in high school I re-learned again first hand. It means a lot more now! There's no shortage of intellectual things to do in the Med which helps make up for the lack of diving or decent fishing. We ate like kings and having our home with us was great. We couldn't get enough of exploring the old cities and Jon especially wished he'd had more time in Greece to find more ancient harbors and park in them for a bit. Unique for sure. I wish the US had these old treasures.
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Deciding to spend the winter in Spain was another highlight. We weren't expecting to fall in love with Valencia but once we got there it seemed like everything fell into place and we both were so excited to be there. But the time flew! Staying there allowed us to travel around in Europe over the winter when flights were cheap and explore without worrying about the boat because it was snug for the winter. We biked all over the city and really had time to get to know it well. It planted another seed that we'd like to do that again someday, just move in to places for a bit and stay awhile. For example, I could hardly drag Jon away from Mont St Michel in Normandy, France. We found there was something for every budget in Europe and we had a blast. Who would've thought we'd end up spending over a year in Spain?

We often joke around about where we have to go back to to get our favorite such and such, like back to Kiwi land for their meat pies, back to Greece for gyros & tomatoes, Italy for pizza (of course!), Indonesia for char kway teow, Malaysia for coconut milkshakes, NZ for canned tuna, Spain for the menu del dia & wine, French Poly for pamplemousse, Nepal for fake North Face hiking gear, England for decent bread & cereal, Fiji for kava.. well maybe not!

And we did some other memorable things like run/swim an impromptu duathlon in Samoa, part the sharks hanging out in the pass at Fakarava, bike around the backside of the Tanna volcano to visit the village on the other side where the ash falls like rain (hard on the lungs!), get stuck in the medina in Marrakesh in our rental car, get ciguatera for the second time in the Bahamas, Jon crewed in a traditional Bahamian sailboat race for a day, we biked through downtown Paris practically by ourselves on an early Sunday morning, took an all day horseback ride in the mountains of Panama with a great guide (we were his first customers) then stopped at a bar and tied our horses up, had a couple of beers and then got back on and rode back to the barn. There were many others I can't think of at the moment but they pop up every so often and give us a chuckle.
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Each country we visited broadened our thinking a little more. We loved seeing all the beauty in the people, the things they've built, the wildlife, plants and underwater world. We learned that there are many ways to get through this life, that everything is just trying to live and no one way is right or wrong. It is just different. We've become more understanding of those differences and are almost addicted to experiencing them. We're thankful to have had the opportunity to do & see all that we have. And we plan to continue building on what we've done. To everyone who was a part of this chapter, thanks for the great memories! It wouldn't have been the same without you.

Divers Down

17 January 2018 | Marin Marina, Martinique
It's pretty hot here in Martinique so we're going back to Vermont for a week to cool down a little. Well actually, we're going back to help set up all the candles on my mom's birthday cake! Looking forward to seeing them and hopefully we can still XC ski and snowshoe as its been awhile.

Don't think this pic of Jon is upside down because its not! He is the only one I know who likes to peer into holes upside down (then he doesn't disturb the bottom) and process what he's looking at.
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Since arriving in Martinique a couple of weeks ago, we've been moving south along the coast checking out many anchorages and coastal towns. Even though Martinique is owned by the French, having come from Europe now we find it more Caribbean island feeling than anything else. It's a good vibe though, just expensive and touristy. There are cruising boats absolutely everywhere. I forgot how many lovely and huge anchorages they have on this island. There is no fear over getting a spot. I was pretty excited about the market in St Pierre but ever since then its been downhill. I've decided that anyplace that has good diving you have to give up on food and anyplace with good food you give up the diving.... So we've done some really nice diving. I feel relieved almost because I was worried that after having seen the Pacific and some Indian ocean stuff I wouldn't appreciate this as much but nope, there is still plenty of beauty and life on these reefs. I haven't felt any dynamite reverberations in the water like we experienced once in Indonesia so that is nice. But there is apparently a tiff between the dive shops and the local fishermen such that there are fish traps on some of the dive sites. It is something to be looking at some pretty reef fish in among the coral heads and then swim by a trap with those same kind of fish swimming in circles. Who eats blue tangs anyway?! We have been amazed by all the lobsters and eels cramed into one hole after another, we've seen a couple of octopus, a bunch of lionfish (they seem to have spread down here too), some massive crabs and a lot of colorful scenery. Sometime back, I think at the start of this cruise, we met a couple who had us over for a dinner of lionfish that they'd speared. They are of course easy to spear since they think they are impervious to anything and just sit there and then as long as you are very careful pulling out the poisonous spines then the fish is perfectly delicious just like any other. We haven't tried this ourselves yet but might yet! After the 3rd dive I was taking the camera out of our underwater Fantasea case and the knob broke off. Oh brother, it is always something. With some pressing, the company agreed to sell us a new one at a deeply discounted rate as this appears to be a design flaw even though our case is totally out of warranty and so we have a replacement coming to Vermont. Thank goodness as we really enjoy underwater photography and this is the best case we've had out of 4.
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We've done some pretty hiking, especially on the south side of the island at St Anne. What a lovely anchorage and town with a cute square and good views out to sea. A coastal hiking trail runs all the way around to the quieter eastern side of the island where there are some beautiful beaches and grassy hillsides that are quite picturesque. The water is very warm and getting in is completely painless which is great. We found a frozen fruit novelty treat that we have been getting after our walks and we sit on the benches in the squares looking out at the anchored boats and try to look normal.
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We've been working on projects on the boat just keeping it spiffy and also on our website VentureFarther. It is growing and we are trying to keep up with it. Jon is adding and improving features like linking position reporting with Facebook and making the reports nicer and he had to fix the issue with the auto emails for followers that was broken for our Atlantic crossing where the emails weren't going out to friends & family who opted to track us when we made a position report but that is fixed now. I have been adding markers for places we've been and it is a competition to keep on the front page before someone else enters one and hides mine. That's what we want!

Anyway, we are in a massive marina on the south coast in Marin ready to head to Vermont tomorrow. It has 830 berths of which about half are long term liveaboards with growth so thick on their hulls I'm sure it is anchoring them to the bottom. In the morning all the liveaboard kids are heading down the docks up to get the school bus as we are making our way to the marina heads. It is so far you basically make a cup of coffee, take a sip and then start walking up!

Once we're back we will probably start heading northward diving our way up the coast and then off to Guadeloupe. Hoping to catch up with a few friends along the way who we haven't seen in a long time.
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Here From There

08 January 2018 | Fort de France, Martinique
We have been in Martinique since Wednesday although we haven't felt very connected because we couldn't get an internet plan set up until today! We spent the first 3 days going into the Digicel office each morning, having them say they would work on their system and call us at the end of the day.. no call, back in the next morning. We even made an attempt on Saturday by collectivo bus to go to the city of Fort de France like they advised and proceeded to circle the block and end up right back where we got on to sit there and wait till the bus was full because that's how it works. We sat for a half hour or so before saying the heck with this and getting back off. Sitting on the waterfront getting BBQ chicken and working on doing 2 weeks worth of laundry was more appealing. So we motored down instead, visiting a couple of coves and ended up anchored in Fort de France which is much nicer than the bus.

I checked Facebook today and see the smiling faces of our friends Virginia & Dennis when they were crossing the equator on my recent blog posts. That must have gotten some raised eyebrows. Apparently when you post to Sailblogs but don't have a photo to upload it just picks one out for you. I like that photo! Well then here is one of our equator crossing (we crossed the same year- 2012) because I was just looking through old pictures while we were on passage and saw it. We made frozen margaritas for the occasion.

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When we arrived in Martinique last Wednesday morning there was a light breeze behind us so we couldn't smell the land until we rounded the western side. We dragged a line and caught a lot of seaweed but nothing else. But this island is as beautiful as we remembered it and very lush & green. We were well rested on this passage since the weather was great and the wind was amazing. The best kind of sailing- blasting along so smoothly you feel like you're just going downhill the whole time. I always look back and thank the stars I'm not trying to go the other way! It took us 14 days and 1 hour. It feels good to have that passage behind us because we were feeling like the boat had gone so many miles without a major refit and we dreaded something breaking. But nothing did except a bulb in the tricolor masthead light and the boat really had an easy time, hardly even getting wet! So we spent a lot of time twiddling our thumbs and looking at our feet. Not what we were expecting. I hope there no payback for this!!
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It feels odd to be here. We were last here in 2003 on a previous trip and so these islands are familiar. So that in itself feels weird but also just not being in Europe anymore, all the English chatter on the VHF and good grief, the Caribbean rain showers that happen every five minutes. We're getting plenty of arm exercise lifting and pulling down the hatches all the time. And the boat is well rinsed at this point. And there are always rainbows in the sky. We've begun waxing the deck and polishing stainless in the evenings to get things spruced back up again. Soon the varnish can will have to come out too... My sister Ann crossed the Atlantic several years ago in her boat so we were following in her footsteps and when we were having all the squalls for that couple of days she told us that they were separating the dry African air from the much more humid air from this part of the Atlantic. Boy was she right! We hit a wall of humidity and are still trying to get used to it.

The northern part of Martinique where we pulled in is home to the town of St Pierre, which has a lovely crescent shaped anchorage and an interesting history. The volcano Mt Pelee towers over the area and on Ascension Day in May 1902, it erupted and a fireball of superheated gas blasted down on the city killing 30,000 people. There were only 2 survivors, a cobbler who was in his basement and a prisoner who was in his cell. All through the town there are ruins from the disaster. But Mt Pelee is quiet now and is a very green park. We did a long hike up one side of it and down the other on the best weather day we've had yet. It was nice to stretch our legs again and know that we didn't lose everything on the passage. Unlike the Canaries, the bus system isn't too good here so we had to hitchhike back to the boat once we got back to the main road. It was a long but fun day and we both thought the hike was great.
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There are a lot of rum distilleries here and one is close to St Pierre- Depaz Distillery, so we walked up to it. The roads are lined with flowers and this island is loaded with huge, old trees. It was nice to walk around the factory and the grounds were really beautiful. The sugarcane is almost ready for harvesting next month. Of course we had rum in our drinks that night!
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As I mentioned, the past couple of days we moved down the island to a couple of nice anchorages that had so-so snorkeling. It felt good to be on the reefs again and see some of the creatures that we haven't seen for several years now having been on the Pacific & Indian side. The water is so warm which is great since the Med was not. But it isn't nearly as clear either. And the snorkeling isn't that good. We're ready to start diving now and just have to find a good place to go. We enjoy taking hikes on Sunday mornings when everyone else is getting a slow start so things are quiet. We did one yesterday admiring all the rainforest foliage and flowers. The local people have been very friendly and I like the way they greet everyone when getting onto the bus or entering a room. And to my surprise, the veggie market is clean and well stocked! This morning we moved over to anchor in Fort de France to get the internet set up and so we toured the city with the cruise ship passengers. We had a yummy Creole lunch and walked around seeing the sights. I like how the anchorage is right in front of the fort. I can hear all the frogs calling from the hillside.

We're heading to Vermont for a week on the 18th to celebrate my mom's birthday. We've got our fingers crossed for a January thaw! Then we'll start working our way up the islands hoping to catch some fish and spend enough time in the water that we can maintain our reputation among some that we are The Gills!
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Vessel Name: EVERGREEN
Vessel Make/Model: Tashiba 40 Hull #158
Hailing Port: E. Thetford Vermont
Crew: Heather and Jon Turgeon
Over the years, we've explored much of the Caribbean Sea & Atlantic East coast on 3 different long term trips. In January 2012, we left the USA and headed for the Pacific. We visited the Galapagos, French Polynesia, Samoa, Cook Islands & Tonga before heading to New Zealand. We've enjoyed thousands [...]
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