We have moved and so has our blog
10 September 2014 | Mars Hill, NC
Our blog has moved. You can find us at:
Hopefully the last move
30 July 2014 | Lantana to Sarasota, FL
First let me say that I am very grateful to have parents at this stage of my life. Having said that I hope this is the last time my sister and I move my parents. A few weeks ago I flew to Sarasota Florida, where my sister lives and where we would be moving my parents from the east side of Florida. My sister, Louise, had done an incredible amount of work finding a place for my parents, arranging for the move of two wheel chair bound people and seeing to hundreds of details. We moved their furniture and meager belongings in a Uhaul trailer.
Dad lives in Assisted Living in a small studio apartment that we had to furnish and Mom is in the nursing home in the same facility. It was a four day marathon to get the move done and get them settled. There were funny moments, like trying to put together a TV stand that was so poorly made that we could not put it together. When we took it back to Staples in pieces at 8:30 pm the understanding manager said “Yes, I know there are some pieces that just cannot be constructed”.
Louise lives about ½ mile from Mom and Dad and has been there everyday to help them get settled and to see to their needs. I am grateful for a loving caring sister. Meantime Dad and I exchange letters every few days.
News from the Dirt
28 June 2014 | Mars Hill, NC
No, I have not yet moved my blog yet- I have just been too busy to create a new site. We have gotten pretty much settled in the house and love it. We have plenty of space and are surprised to be beyond calling distance. I have an office with desk and space for a yoga mat. Hunter has a shop and a desk.
We have been biking almost every day and enjoying the hilly terrain. We are training for the Mountains to the Sea ride across North Carolina at the end of September. We do that ride in seven days with an average of 70 miles per day, so we need to toughen our seats and strengthen our bodies. We have some nice rides from the house and always see new wildlife or meet new people. Box turtles are quite active this time of year and when we see them on the road we stop and ferry them across, so far we have saved four box turtles from becoming road kills. We did see a snapping turtle and he and his snapping parts were facing away from the road so I assumed he had made safe passage and did not transport him. We also see deer, quail, turkeys, woodchucks or something of interest. The local folks are very careful and considerate of bikers. One guy passed me only to turn into his driveway. He flagged me down and apologized for being rude. He said that for some reason he thought he was in a hurry, but in fact he was not in a hurry.
Hunter built two garden boxes and today we made the soil for one box. It is late for a garden but a number of vegetables can be planted midseason. We have been helping friends with a project to build a pond on their farm and visiting with Kim and Scott from Bella Blue (also retired cruisers) who live about 20 minutes away. Life is good we are enjoying the dirt and the land.
Back in the Saddle
09 June 2014 | Lenox,Massachusetts
We are in Massachusetts packing up my parents condo and getting the contents sorted and ready to ship to our house in North Carolina. I feel like I am stuck in a loop of sort, pack drive and do it again.
In between sorting and packing we have been getting out on our bikes. On Sunday we biked up Mt. Greylock. We parked at the Visitors Center at 1,660 feet and biked the 8 miles to the top at 3,491 feet. The overall grade is not that steep, but there is a mile of flat and uphill in the lower 1/3 of the climb. We both climbed well and had a great ride. There is a little café at the top and we had a delicious bowl of soup before heading down. Nothing like a steep hill to start the season.
I am going to move my blog to another site, when I have a good wifi connection and time.
Tern's (Terns) Landing
24 May 2014 | Mars Hill,NC
We have landed. I like to call our new house Terns Landing, but I cannot decide if there is an apostrophe between the n and s. Is it Tern's landing or Terns Landing? Is the landing plural (two terns) or possessive (our house)? Grammar geeks will appreciate this dilemma.
We swallowed the giant lump in our throats as we locked Arctic Tern for the last time and drove to our house in Mars Hill, in western North Carolina. As we climbed into the Appalachian Mountains the bright green of the newly emerged leaves and the bluebird blue of the sky were of post card quality. The house was fine and we unloaded the small Uhaul truck with the stuff that we brought back form the boat. Our load from the boat consisted mostly of tools, clothing and kitchen equipment. Of course there were a few books, and treasures that we collected. We collected a lot of baskets on our three trips up the Macareo River.
Hunter pumped up the bike tires and we took a few rides through the countryside. The air was redolent with the sweet odor of honeysuckle and wood thrushes were singing in the wooded areas.
Saying goodbye to a boat
22 May 2014 | Bradenton, Florida
It is hard to describe the relationship a person can develop with a boat. After all it is only a boat, not a sentient being. When the going gets tough and the seas are rough you have to trust the boat. Our boat never let us down. After eight and a half years we have had our hands on every inch of the boat for repairs, maintenance or cleaning. It is so familiar -even the deep recesses of the refrigerator.
It has been a few weeks of "the last time". Tomorrow we will walk off the boat for probably for the last time. Yes. It is sad. We loved the time we lived and sailed on the boat. We will miss the lovely sails, swimming off the boat and the freedom to travel. Most of all we will miss our cruising and island friends and the spicy and quirky islands in the Caribbean. We are happy and excited to be opening a new chapter in our lives...stay tuned.
Where did it all come from? Unpacking 8 ½ years of living aboard
20 May 2014 | Bradenton, FLorida
We arrived in Bradenton just over two weeks ago and we have been working pretty much non stop. I took two and a half days off to drive to the east coast of Florida to see my parents while Hunter continued the work of preparing the boat for sale and removing our stuff.
The boat is in great shape, but we did want to get another coat of varnish on the toe rail, eyebrow, handrail and in the cockpit. The big job is removing our stuff while living on the boat and doing little clean up jobs. We still have to eat, wear clothing and use tools and it seems much of what we need is in our storage unit. We have shown to boat three times and so far none of lookers said "I must have that boat", but all were impressed with the condition and outfitting.
The water line has risen a few inches as we remove our personal possessions.
Our Last Passage
04 May 2014 | Bradenton, Florida
We had some hitchhikers on last night passage from Everglades National Park to Bradenton, FL. About an hour before dusk as be were sailing into a rain storm a flock of barn swallows joined the sailing vessel Arctic Tern on its last passage north. The swallows flew into the cockpit while we were rolling down our rain windows and after a lot of fidgeting about they settled in for the night. We counted 17 birds, 15 in the cockpit and two on deck that overnighted with us for 80 - 100 miles. As the wind shifted the lumpy seas were causing the boat to roll and I was not the only disgruntled bird...the swallows chittered with each roll keeping the person on watch company. When the seas settled there was not a peep from our hitch hikers. At dawn they preened and stretched and flew off. A few needed a bit of encouragement to leave our warm cozy cockpit. What a great way to end a cruising career.
Hunter had two swallows on his hat and he tried to gently let one walk onto his finger only to have a third bird land on his hand.
After a very rainy morning (not complaining we did need a boat wash), we got into Twin Dolphin Marina, in Bradenton, FL. I was a bit fearful that our 8 years of cruising would end with a lightening strike only a few miles from our final destination. Luck was with us and we are in a slip ready for the work to begin. My wonderful sister Louise Rivera came with dinner and champagne. How lucky am I?
Anchored in the middle of no where
27 April 2014 | Grand Bahama Bank in 12 feet
We spent last night anchored in 12 feet of water on Great Bahama Banks with no land in sight.
The day was flat calm and I waxed portions of the cockpit, polished stainless steel, read, made lunch, snacks and popcorn. I felt like a stewardess walking the aisles with snacks and picking up trash. I napped and so did Hunter.
It was a long day with several notable events to break up the day. While we were in the Tongue of the Ocean (a cul de sac of the ocean that is surrounded by shallow banks), a pod of pilot whales swam beside us. They are not huge, but clearly not dolphins. They do not breach and show their tails like humpbacks, but do show their distinctive dorsal fins. A warbler joined us for a while, but I guess his GPS alarm went off when it became apparent we were not going north and east was not on his route.
It was odd to just drop our main sail and walk forward and drop our anchor. We were a few miles from the traditional routes of travel and had the boat well lit. The anchor was well set. It was a very pleasant change from Nassau.
25 April 2014 | Nassau, Bahamas
I keep humming "I sailed on the sloop John B, my grandfather and me, round Nassau town we did roam, drinking all night......I feel so broke up I want to go home". Well, I am no fan of Nassau. We got to the Harbor Central Marina, which I chose because the prices seems reasonable with adequate amenities; laundry, fuel and internet. After fueling we got into the slip and I asked for the location of the laundry facility. The dockmaster, Garnet, told me that the washers were broken (quick image of hand laundry) and besides the water was rusty from pipe repairs. I was told that I could take a bus with my laundry to the Laundromat (quick image of large yellow "hazardous waste" laundry bag on public bus. Okay, I don't really neeed to do laundry, I just wanted to do it. Garnet said the internet access was open so I fired up the tablet and antenna and found no wifi. When asked Garnet did not know about the wifi. NOT MY FAVORITE MARINA! For those googling Harbor Central Marina- It is not safe and not a good place!
We walked around town a bit and got wifi at a café and dinner on the boat. We shut the boat down at night like we always do. The grate was in and the only open hatch was over our head with a bar across it, barring entry from above.
The next morning I opened the grate in the companionway and found blue paint (the ablative blue paint from our bottom) hand and foot prints in the cockpit, ending at the grate. The thief swam up to the boat climbed up the rudder, put his feet in the exhaust holes and reached the folded ladder. Well, I always wondered how I would get into the boat with out the ladder. We took the slip in the marina for security and maybe do a bit of laundry and internet. I am over it!
Here is Arctic Tern on the dock with Atlantis in the background.
Last dance- bittersweet
24 April 2014 | Warderick Wells
We are ready to be back in Florida, but at the same time we could stay in the Bahamas for a few more months exploring the remote undeveloped islands, snorkeling on the reefs, swimming in the clear turquoise waters, walking deserted beaches and enjoying specular sunsets. We are not doing that- we are bringing the boat to Florida and getting her ready for sale.
Enough of looking forward; let me tell you about the last week or so. We left Conception Island and sailed to Calabash Bay on Long Island. We got wifi for the first time in about a week and had a very nice meal at the resort with Kim and Scott from Bella Blue and played bridge over drinks and the wait for dinner. We headed to Georgetown the next day and wasted no time getting to a laundromat. It had been 18 days since laundry and the basket wash overflowing. I have heard about Georgetown for years and know that some cruisers spend much of their cruising season there, but it is not for me. We topped off on fuel and some fresh food- it had been only 16 days since a grocery store visit, but I still had fruits and vegetables for another week. We left Bella Blue in Georgetown waiting for guests and we headed north.
One night we anchored at Staniel Cay and snorkeled the Thunderball Cave. We arrived at the cave at high tide and it was clearly not safe to dive into the cave. We returned at low tide and dove through the cave and snorkeled around and found the diversity of fish and coral very high. Sean Connery (or his stunt man) dove through the cave in the James Bond movie Thunderball.
We moved to Warderick Wells Land and Sea Park and spent two lovely days. We hiked and snorkeled and Hunter volunteered to help the park by splicing mooring lines.
Today we are Allen Cay and tomorrow we will sail, really motor as there is very little wind, to Nassau. We are just a few days from US waters.
Blue Water and Red Moons
16 April 2014 | Conception Island
We made the overnight passage from Mayaguana to Conception without any problems, but had to motor about 2/3rds of the way when the wind died. We were greeted to Conception Island by five white-tailed tropicbirds-always a good omen. Conception Island is only about 2.4 x 3.75 miles of land with a mangrove lined lagoon in in the interior and a halo of reefs that more than double the size of the island. There is no development or facilities and the park is a protected marina area
The Bahamas have incredibly clear water because there are no rivers flowing soil into the water. In the remote islands there is no industrial pollution and the water is clear and blue. After so many years in the Leeward and Windward Islands it is a pleasant change. The colors of the water are striking blues and greens that defy my color vocabulary. In the full moon the boats cast a shadow on the fine white sand below. There is a magical quality to this island and I think this is what it must have looked like when Columbus passed this way.
Last night we had a cruiser get together on the beach. The folks on the boat Nighthawk caught a mahi mahi on the passage and wanted to share their wealth, so they grilled the fish on the beach and invited the 10 other boats in the anchorage to bring some food to share. We were treated to a lovely sunset and watched the full moon rise over the island. It was a moment to savor and file in the memory bank. Someone mentioned there would be a lunar eclipse, but did not know what time. I checked the moon every time I woke and at 02:50 I saw the moon being eclipsed by the earth’s shadow. I sat up on deck for a while and watched the moon turn smoky red. There is zero light pollution here and the sky was full of stars with a smoky red moon and 10 mast lights gently moving in the breeze. It seemed that our mast lights made a discreet constellation.
We have spent the last three weeks traveling with Kim and Scott on the boat Bella Blue. We have basically the same destination and similar timing and most amazingly we both have homes in the Asheville area of North Carolina. We have had the benefit of very good company and friends in our new community. We have spent the days snorkeling and exploring and the evenings playing bridge.
The days left of our cruising career are few in number and we are savoring each moment.
My bathroom Smells like Onions
03 April 2014 | Luperon
Yesterday we went to a mega supermercado in Puerto Plato to provision for a few weeks in the Bahamas. We hired a driver and a van for the six of us and we managed to return packed in our food. Fresh food is expensive and hard to find in the remote islands in the Bahamas and in some places there is only fresh food on the days the mail boat arrives.
From years of experience I know that will keep and how to store the fresh fruits and vegetables. The longevity of many foods (tomatoes and cucumbers, for example) is greater when they have not been refrigerated. Lettuce, cucumbers, soft squash, peppers have a relatively short life in the fridge and I will have too keep a sharp eye on these vegetables. I bought some unripe bananas and separated them and wrapped each banana in newspaper and put them in a little hammock suspended in the cabin. I bought a bag of the wonderful red onions grown in the Dominican Republic. The onions are a cross between a shallot and a yellow onion.
I sorted through the onions and cooked them up with kale and froze that for future use in soups. They are in a bin in our bathroom. The cabbage and squash (Caribbean pumpkin) are wrapped newspaper. I made a batch of pickles with the some of the cucumbers. I have a bag of about 10 pounds of green mangoes waiting to be turned into mango chutney. The mangoes are hanging in the shower over the laundry basket. I will have to keep a really close eye on that situation. I have a green papaya in the tub in the guest berth not far from the pumpkin. We do have dried and canned beans, some meat in the freezer and kippered herring (the quick answer to lunch). We are not going to starve.
We are sorry to leave Luperon. I am enjoying speaking Spanish and soaking up the local culture. We have a good weather window to the Bahamas and the next one might be a week or two away.
Los Haitises National Park
29 March 2014 | Samana, Dominica Republic
After one day in the luxurious marina and doing many chores we motored a few miles to the southwest corner of Samana Bay. We knew there would be little wind for the next few days and a big north swell, so we were not in a hurry to move northwest to Luperon, on the northern side of the Dominica Republic. We are traveling with two boats; Kim and Scott are on Bella Blue and Pam and Nick are on Knot Yet. We have been thinking of names for our little pod of boats. We could be the Knot Blue Terns, or the Blue Arctic Knots…. Anyway it is good fun to play with our names over a drink as the sun sets.
Adventurous cruising friends highly recommended visiting Los Haitises National Park. The park protects an area of karst (limestone) topography, caves and pictographs. Follow the blogs below for a few details about our visit.
Anything can ride on a motorcycle
28 March 2014 | Los Haitises national Park
Hunter and I were up early for a few mile hike to the lodge from the sw corner of San Lorenzo Bay. The trail was in very good condition and we were rewarded by some really good looks at Broad Billed Todys. In Scott's words they look like the cross breeding of a lovebird and a hummingbird. They are not shy and very busy catching insects. A group of three hopped around the branches above our heads. We did have our second breakfast at the lodge and on the way back to the boat we saw a young man and woman loading a small calf onto the woman's lap on the back of a motorcycle.
Caves in Los Haitises
27 March 2014 | Haitises National Park
Today we explored the caves with the pictographs, had a picnic lunch at a lovely beach.
Birding in the Canos
26 March 2014 | Los Haitises National Park, DR
Hunter and I left the boat at sunrise to do some birding and exploring up the mangrove creeks, arriving at the lodge just in time for breakfast. The breakfast was good and the coffee was excellent. Hunter does know how to put a smile on my face. I really enjoy going out for breakfast now and again. My bird book and binoculars attracted the attention of a lodge guide named Misael. He wanted to show us a pair of nesting Ridgeway hawks. We did see these very endangered hawks that nest high in palm trees, and walked around the property with Misael pointing out birds. Misael invited us to look for Ashy Faced Owls in the evening and really seemed disappointed when we tried to decline, so we returned to the boat for dinner and back to the lodge at sunset with Kim and Scott for our owl date. We heard the owls, but never saw one, but we all had a nice night walk.
Caves and swimming pools
25 March 2014 | Samana, Dominican Republic
The first day of our stay in the area we visited the more touristy cave site and just explored the coast of the bay. Mid morning we motored our dinghies up a mangrove creek and followed it to a cul de sac in the mangroves that had been turned into a small dock for boats to carry tourists from a nearby lodge to the caves and local attractions. The drama of this jungle exploration was enhanced by a group of white-necked crows calling as we approached the dock. I had no idea what bird was making the jungle bird commotion. We tied our dinghies and I consulted with a man tending to some of the boats. We had been told that there was an eco lodge somewhere up the creek, but had no idea what to expect. He told us there were a hotel, restaurant and swimming pools about a kilometer down the road. An image of a cold Presidente (local beer) lodged itself in my mind as we walked down a sunny road boarded by rice and other cultivated fields. We were delighted to see a beautiful lodge with seven fresh water pools. Caño Hondo (deep creek) lodge welcomed us into the dining room where Hunter and I had fish soup for lunch, and did I mention the desire for a cold beer? It was perfect. The day was full of surprises. A helicopter landed and a few well-dressed Dominicans walked to the restaurant as they distractedly check their phones and returned texts. We swam in the pools and lounged for several hours before heading back down the road. It was not lost on us that the lodge had wifi.
Hello from the Dominican Republic
24 March 2014 | Samana, Dominica Republic
We left Boqueron, Puerto Rico at 08:00 on Saturday and arrived here about 09:30 on Sunday. We started out with a tail wind and sailed wing on wing for four hours. The wind died and we had to motor the rest of the trip. During the day we saw a school of fish boiling on the water and diverted with our fishing line out back, but did not get lucky. During the largely uneventful night Hunter heard a crack like noise and a flying fish landed in the boat and fell out of an open drain in the cockpit floor. I had no such drama on my watch. It was a calm night with a gibbous moon. We entered Samana Bay at sunrise with two cruise ships bound for the town of Samana. Here is a photo of Hunter rigging the whisker pole so we could run wing on wing.
We are spending a night in Marina Puerto Bahia, which offers luxury at a reasonable price. It is a hotel and condo complex with a marina. There are three infinity pools, several restaurants and bars other amenities that we are not likely to use. We did enjoy a swim in a pool yesterday afternoon and retired early.
Friends on a similar schedule and destination are here in the marina and we are all planning to go to the town of Samana today to pick up fresh food for a few days at anchor in Los Haities National Park. More about friends and parks in the next post.
Anchored next to Asseance
06 March 2014 | Bahia Almodovar
Yesterday we sailed from St. Thomas to Culebra and met up with our old dear friends, Heather and Don on the sailboat Asseance. We go way back with Heather and Don. I first met them in 2016 in Annapolis when I was working for the Annapolis Landing Marina. I was immediately impressed with their boat handling skills and we were both planning to do the Caribbean 1500, a sailing rally from VA to the BVI. That was the start of our friendship.
We spent much time with Heather and Don in 2006-2007. We had so many firsts as we explored the Eastern Caribbean for the first time. We would meet up at an island do things and explore together and part ways for a short period of time and meet up again for more hikes and adventures.
It seems so fitting to meet up with Heather and Don at a lovely anchorage, catch up on each other’s lives and future plans, share food and expertise.
This was the view out of our window for much of our first year in the Caribbean.