GoMarengo

29 October 2014 | Atlanta, GA
28 August 2014 | Dominica
27 May 2014 | St. Croix, USVI
26 May 2014 | St. Croix, USVI
21 April 2014 | Port Elizabeth, Bequia, SVG
22 March 2014 | Chaguaramas, Trinidad, W.I.
19 March 2014 | Chaguaramas, Trinidad, W.I.
22 February 2014 | Coral Cove Boatyard, Chaguaramas, Trinidad
16 February 2014
16 February 2014 | Miami International Airport
27 January 2014 | Marietta, GA
13 January 2014 | Marietta, GA

Change of Direction

29 October 2014 | Atlanta, GA
Julia / 62° Scattered clouds
In my last post, I left our story in Dominica, intending to pick up from there and take you through Antigua, St. Croix, Culebra & Puerto Rico, and the Bahamas, then on to Florida. But our lives have taken a sudden detour. Bill and I were sitting out hurricane season in Jacksonville, making repairs to Marengo, planning our cruise through the western Caribbean in November, when we received a call from our son Sean. He reported that his brother Dillon was in the hospital prepping for surgery. Dillon was with friends at the beach in Newport, CA on Saturday, September 13th when he dove into a wave, hit a sandbar and broke his neck, and was unable to move any of his extremities.
We are currently in Atlanta with Dillon at the Shepherd Center, a nationally renowned spinal cord injury rehabilitation hospital. Dillon's injury is listed as a C-4 complete, better known as quadriplegia. Our plans are to move with Dillon back to Southern California when he is discharged from Shepherd in early December. Not knowing what the future looks like, we've postponed any permanent decisions about Marengo or Casual Monday until we get out to the west coast and get a better handle on our situation. Newport Beach and Long Beach are quite yachtie places, so don't assume our sailing days to be over.
We ask that you please pray for our family during this time of great turmoil.
For more information, check out www.caringbridge.org/visit/dillonconnolly and if you would like to help, go to www.gofundme.com/dillonconnolly.
My personal email is juliaconnolly@bellsouth.net.
We know that God is Good, All the Time.
Peace.
~ Julia

Pirates of the Caribbean

28 August 2014 | Dominica
Julia
The Doldrums to Dominica

Trinidad taught us a valuable lesson in making sure our papers are in order, so even though “France” didn’t really scrutinize us upon entry, we could be sure the next port would. This is why we had to make a stopover at the last port of entry on the north end of Martinique. St. Pierre is one of those rare places that actually looks better than pictured in the cruising guide. The current city was built atop the ruins from the volcanic destruction, killing over 30,000 and sinking several ships more than a hundred years ago. Its charm had us wishing we had longer to stay and explore. However, we managed to squeeze in a visit to the local boulangerie for a quick ham and cheese baguette and impulsively bought a 2.5 kilo bag of ripe tomatoes for 2€ (the equivalent of 5.5.lbs for $2.80). Curiously, the bakery was directly across the street from a coffin showroom, with a row of slender, Dracula-style boxes standing on end in the window. We considered it a detour worthy of an hour’s delay.
Another thing we’ve learned about while on this journey is fickle wind. When you are on the lee side (the not-windy side) of a mountainous island, it’s a crap shoot. Generally, out in in the wide open sea, the Caribbean’s trade winds are wonderfully brisk and steady and dependably delivered from the east, but a mountain will mess all that up. Between two large peaks you might get a gully washer of a wind barreling down the valley. Sailing past a large promontory, it may clock around to the north or even the west, completely opposite of the trades. Still worse, no wind, which means firing up the engine to motor past the calm. It’s noisy and the smell of diesel is nauseating. No sail or course adjustment would get Marengo going faster than three or four knots. When I thought Bill was going to crawl out of his skin with frustration, I was elated to see that our fishing lines had become wrapped together requiring more than an hour of his attention. It wasn’t until we were more than ten miles north of the island that we saw anything that resembled a trade wind. Fourteen hours later, this became our first landfall way behind schedule and made arriving in total darkness very tense and scary.

Dom-i-nee-ca

Although the port in Roseau is nothing like the charming beachfront bays we had grown accustomed to, we really liked its vibe. Like all of the other islands we’d been to thus far, it wore the face of poverty with shabby shacks and roadside rubble, but something about the friendly faces warmed us up to the place. We took a steep hike around the lush botanical gardens for a breathtaking vista of the town and port. Stopping to rest, we struck up a conversation with some nice folks snacking on mangoes at the picnic table at the top of the trail, two sweet ladies, obviously long-time friends, and one lady’s handsome grown son. For the better part of an hour we chatted; they told us about Dominica and St. Kitt’s and shared that they were Jehovah’s witnesses; we described our travels in the Caribbean and Ecuador. How refreshing it was to be able to communicate with people on the street again in English.


Trafalgar Falls and Titou Gorge

The highlight of our visit to this lush island was a day trip to see the interior, which ironically began to a trip to the botanical gardens and the top of the trail. We were grouped with a French cruiser couple and their visiting brother, and a solo-sailing Spaniard. In the islands, busses and taxis are mostly 12-passenger, diesel mini-vans and are marked with unique, often funny names either on the front windshield, the back window, the side panels, or in some cases all three. Our van’s visor read “Stowe”, and as our guide explained, this was his school-boy nickname derived from “stowaway”. (I’m sure there’s a story somewhere.)
We snaked around the mountain road bejeweled with a riot of colorful flowers and emerald foliage, stopping to spot every edible delight in this Garden of Eden. We saw banana, bay tree, breadfruit, cacao, cashew, cinnamon, guava, mango, nutmeg, papaya, and pineapple, not to mention an array of whimsical, hand-painted signs advertising local attractions. Our favorite was “Kako Tea + Sukie’s Bread Better than Viagra”. Curiously, there is little variety of animal life on the island. Besides sidestepping the archetypal Caribbean Street Dog (they all look the same), meeting the Neighborhood Goat on every corner, and waking to the morning-noon-and-midnight cacophony of Pubescent Mountain Rooster, we only encountered a handful of blue lizards and land crabs. Birds, yes! Monkeys, no. Really? Seems like the perfect habitat for them. We were informed that there were also a few species of non-venomous snakes which pleased me because I much prefer snakes to monkeys. But that is another story.
Our little group wound around to the top of the mountain road to see the crater-lake and then we all piled out and hiked along an oak-wood pipeline which is used for hydro-electric power on the island. The trail stopped at an unimpressive shed and a shallow swimming hole. We donned our swimsuits but Stowe forbid us to get into the swimming hole until after we explored the cave. Our fearless leader coaxed us into the chilly stream as he vanished into the mouth of the cave. The water deepened and the walls opened wider. While we rested on the ledges and regrouped, we could hear the roar of a waterfall around the corner. Venturing on, the roof of the cave opened up to jungle and sky while the river poured violently down into the green pool. We climbed up the wall and jumped in after Stowe showed us how. Exhilarating. He then told us that this was the location of a memorable scene from Pirates of the Caribbean II, which is why Bill and I went on a Pirates movie binge when we got home. This began our new mantra, “Wow. Wish we had a GoPro,” after every submersible adventure we encountered. Finally, Stowe granted us permission to float in the little swimming hole and we understood why he made us wait. While the cave swimming was probably a brisk 77 degrees, the swimming hole was probably more like 90 degrees, a wonderful warm up.
The rest of the afternoon included buying a bamboo flute from a one-legged hiker, and a hilarious music lesson from him, and another swim in a mountain stream with hot soaking pools. We lunched at a local side-of-the-road café with a million dollar view of the falls. As we waited for our food, we noticed a pipe coming out of the side of the mountain spilling water down a ditch along the roadside. I asked if it was safe to drink and of course it was, so I filled my water bottle. It was crystal clear without a speck of any color or debris. Delicious. After lunch we meandered down the mountain, stopping a few more times to check out the sulphur springs and hot vents from the volcanic activity in the area. Looking back, this was one of the most remarkable and memorable days of our journey.

Racing from Roseau

The next day we planned to check out at the Customs & Immigration office to head to the north end of Dominica. Every island has its own set of idiosyncrasies and Dominica is no different. Apparently we said the right thing and they gave us the stamp of approval which let us “Pass Go” and not have to visit the officials in Portsmouth. Others who sailed north with us weren’t so lucky. We still have no idea why. As we were walking back to our dinghy, Napoleon, we ran across another tour guide we recognized from the day before. Bill negotiated to have Patches drive us back up to the restaurant so we could fill “a few” water jugs for the boat. An hour later, we loaded up the dinghy with 22 five liter bottles with the purest mountain spring water better than any of the high dollar stuff you can buy in the states. We drank the last of it weeks later in the Bahamas. Next time we’ll be more prepared!
As we pulled up anchor later that day, we found our French friends doing the exact same thing. We had our own little two boat regatta all the way up the coast. Had our French or their English been better, there would have been some hilarious trash-talking over the VHF. First the wind was nice and brisk and we went romping ahead; then the mountain wind-shadow would suck all of the air out of the sails and our assailants went puttering ahead. As we neared our harbor, a stiff breeze kicked up and we both galloped hard all the way to drop sail and anchor, which became a little hair raising when a local boat boy zoomed in to solicit our business – while we were STILL SAILING. I know this is how they make a living, but come on!

First Foully Weather

Portsmouth, with its American med school and stoic French fort was quite interesting, but it lacked that certain vibe of Roseau. We were looking forward to doing another tour with our French comrades, but the weather deteriorated into the second worst rolly anchorage of our trip. Bill spent the better part of Mother’s Day ashore using the wi-fi while I folded laundry and listened to an unfolding drama as one cruiser radioed for help for another whose boat was being dragged to sea. Their anchor was slipping and their engine wouldn’t start so somebody had to fetch them before their hull met the reef lurking around the corner. What a nail-biter. Nobody can make this stuff up. The following morning found us again rolling rail to rail and we decided to make a break for Guadaloupe and the Saintes 24 miles away. But don’t worry Dominica, we will definitely come back to the Nature Island.

The New Normal - Part II

27 May 2014 | St. Croix, USVI
Julia/Partly Cloudy/86°
Ship's Log April 23

Departed at 0600 for St. Lucia. Heavy swells exiting Friendship Bay. Winds east @ 20 knots. Big 2 meter swells. Sailed windward around Bequia and St. Vincent, averaging 7 knots (8 knots speed over ground S.O.G.), passed Gros Piton, St. Lucia @ 1230.

Pick and Choose

One of the challenges of seeing the Caribbean in only three months is having to decide what to miss; the sole consolation being that we tell ourselves we are saving it for next time. This time we opted out of a stop in St. Vincent and went around the windy side, straight for St. Lucia. The towering twin peaks of the Pitons were first on the itinerary, but we made such good time, that we continued north for a stop that would be more "get off the boat" friendly. Don't get me wrong, the Pitons are spectacular, but the bottom is VERY deep so you have to pay to hook up to a mooring buoy and the snorkeling didn't look promising either. So we checked this off our reconnaissance list as a place we'd seen and might like to return when afforded a more leisurely pace.
Continuing up St. Lucia, we tucked in a sweet little nook called Marigot Bay and dropped anchor. After the miserable, sea-sick rolly night we had in Friendship Bay, we had learned quickly to be discriminating when choosing our "bed", preferring anchor to mooring whenever possible. But anchoring comes with its own obstacles. One must first consider the holding. White sand holds really well when the anchor can dig down and grab, but sometimes the bottom underneath is too hard to make a dent. Coral is a definite "no-no" and rocks can foul your anchor. Then there's the swing. Do we have enough room to roam when the wind and tides change to not go banging into a neighbor at midnight? Or worse yet, in a big blow, not drag anchor out to sea? (Yes, we've listened to VHF radio drama and it does happen.) For as much as we wanted to stay in Marigot, it just wasn't in the cards for us. First we were scolded for bumping out into the channel too much. Next we were dragging, then swinging too close and dangerously shallow. Have I mentioned that Marengo draws 7.5 feet of water? Finally, we ventured into the mooring area where the dock boys shooed us away. Ok, we can take a hint, on to the next port, Rodney Bay where we hooked in, flew our "Q" flag (quarantine), and watched the sun set before we collapsed from exhaustion. St. Lucia, we tried.

Bonjour, Enchanté, Merci, Au Revoir

Cul de Sac du Marin, Martinique is the closest we've been to France. In fact, technically speaking, it IS France. So, for the ten days we were "in France" we lunched cheaply on "baguettes avec jambon plus fromage, no buerre", bought 4€ bottles of Bordeaux, and stockpiled 200g dark chocolate bars at 1.5€. Sure subconsciously, the euro to dollar exchange made shopping seem more fun, but reality met us at the Lav-O-Net. Let's see, 8€ for a small load, 11€ for a large. Holy cow, we just spent $37.80 to do our laundry! Not to mention that we dragged monstrous wet bags all the way back to the dinghy to hang out to dry on the boat. Imagine my disgust upon discovering a few days later, a locker full of soggy, mildewy towels from our last lengthy voyage where a very small hatch didn't get buttoned down. Aaaaggghh.
Among our observations of the French, we decidedly made our own generalizations, most of which I'm sure are completely unfair and biased, so please pardon my hyperbole. First of all, they don't like us. That's understandable. We don't speak the language; we eat fast and scurry about; we expect to be catered to. Secondly, they don't care. When checking in at Customs & Immigration, they pointed to the computer, never even bothering to look at our passports. Fishing regulations, eh. We browsed a dive shop with the most wicked arsenal of spear guns and fishing lures ever encountered. Third, they all smoke. Not chunky boxes of Marlboros, but hand rolled cigarettes or skinny brown ones. Finally, even by Caribbean standards, they don't work too hard. Don't expect to find any establishment, except for the occasional sidewalk cafe, to be open between the hours of 12:30 and 3:00 (sometimes 4:30). The word "nonchalant" comes from French and is the key to enjoying yourself while in their midst. When in Rome...just sayin'.
So after stuffing ourselves with as much bread and cheese and chocolate (and lobster) we could take, we moved north from our crowded but steady-as-land anchorage in Marin for a picturesque beach called Grande Anse d'Arlet. On Saturday, we aimed to set out for the big city of Fort de France by land to shop the produce market. Piecing together information gleaned from four or five locals, we surmised we should catch the public bus around the zig-zaggy mountain road to the ferry dock where we could hop a ride across the expansive bay to Fort de France. However, we were left in the dust when a guy we were speaking (gesticulating) with earlier, hopped on a bus that swerved over to his side of the street and never bothered to tell the driver that we, too, were waiting for a ride. Again we feel the steep sting of the language/cultural learning curve.
Someone else suggested we walk over to the next town and catch a bus there. We went by dinghy thinking the route by water would be shorter and safer. Alas! We missed the noon bus, but did find cheap bags of masala and curry. No worries another van/bus came by shortly and carried us to the ferry, where 30 minutes later we were picking up free wi-fi (pronounced wee-fee) at a McDonald's where a Big Mac costs the equivalent of $8.40 US. Downtown Fort de France reminded us of Old San Juan in Puerto Rico with its skinny, cobbled streets and endless teensy storefronts. As it was getting late in the shopping day, we decided that a couple of school girls would A) know where all the stores are and B) not resent having to use their schoolbook English on a couple of American tourist. Voila! We found the vegetable market just in time.
Unlike the aggressive green market of Bequia, here we leisurely satisfied our epicurean desires, including our newly acquired passion for passion fruit. One lovely man in particular was especially generous, joyfully shaking the passion fruits to see which were ready and adding extra fruit into our shopping bag without charging. Loaded to the gills with groceries, we made a mad dash for the ferry. Seeing us struggle against the weight jogging through the car park, the ferry steward motioned for us to slow down, implying that the ferry wouldn't leave without us. Across the bay, we debarked and waited for a bus that would take us to our dinghy which would deliver us to our boat. And waited, and waited, and waited. Finally, a car pulled over and a local girl inquired with the driver, who agreed to drive us to Petit Anse d'Arlet. Bill imagined it was like Trinidad, where "unofficial" taxis often pick up fares, but when he tried to give her a couple of dollars, Paulette politely refused. Her mission was one of kindness only. We stood on the pavement, flabbergasted by the generosity and hospitality we had encountered throughout the day, wishing we had shared our mangoes.
Don't worry Paulette, we'll pay it forward.

The New Normal - Part I

26 May 2014 | St. Croix, USVI
Julia/Overcast/86°
Journal - April 29th
“Since leaving home nearly two and a half months ago, it has been necessary to become accustomed to a very different way of life. Some of these things are connected to boat life, others relate to life abroad with all of its intricacies of language differences, customs, and values regarding people from a myriad of worldwide locales. Today we spent the day helping our young South African friend, Shaun, sort out mechanical problems on a French boat, and were serenaded by his Spanish girlfriend and another young Bohemian Frenchman on ukulele and accordion.”

Ahoy! By the Numbers

It’s been nearly five weeks since my Easter posting. I am happy to report that after five countries, thirteen anchorages, approximately 450 miles, and 80 hours of sailing we are alive and well and FINALLY on U.S. soil. Just not on the mainland. We are at anchor in the bay right outside Christiansted, St. Croix, in the US Virgin Islands. Bill and I have been living abroad on a boat now for fourteen weeks. Ten of those weeks we have been floating, and almost eight of those cruising the Caribbean. To us, these numbers seem very small compared to the life changing experience this has been so far.
As far back as last October, we began a new mantra, “Check your American expectations at the door,” which has served us well in all kinds of difficult situations. But as we turn on our phones for the first time since February and are able to call home and surf the net with 4G service, the notion hits us of how American we really are. Who would have ever guessed we would be glad to see the little stripey blue and white globe as AT&T tells us to Rethink Possible in four notes? (I’m sure turning off our phones for almost four months wasn’t exactly what they had in mind.)
Still, it has been good for us to wean ourselves away from the conveniences of middle-class American life. Imagine for three months not driving a car, using a microwave, or sleeping in air-conditioning. Upon arriving in Martinique, our first non-English speaking country, we quickly realized how far out of our comfort zone we had forayed as we checked in using a computer complete with French keyboard and French fill-in-the-blank Customs form. The learning curve was steep since neither of us knows any French and *NEWS FLASH* not everyone from other places speaks English, likes Americans or understands Southern Hospitality the way we do. On one level, we knew this prior to travelling, but experiencing it firsthand brought us to realize that mostly, we Americans subconsciously believe the world revolves around us. I mean it’s in the middle of the world map, isn’t it? (sic) So as we learn to be a little more worldly (still American, just not as spoiled), we seek to embrace and/or understand the differences we encounter and marvel at the similarities that bond us as world citizens, not only checking our American expectations at the door, but all judgment as well.

The BIG “5-O”

My last post ended with Easter in Bequia, but we did not depart without reaching another milestone, my 50th birthday. After all of the Easter Regatta excitement, our enchantment with colorful Bequia, and serendipitous dinner and drinks with Hans and Fien, some lovely Aussies we met back in Trinidad, we decided to stick around a couple days more to celebrate before hauling anchor.
The big day did not disappoint. We began by hiking over the “mostly flat” (hahaha Miss Tourism Information Lady) mountain road to the Atlantic side of the island to see the Turtle Sanctuary. We walked uphill in the morning heat past shabby houses with yards strewn with chunks of concrete and rocks, and sadly contemplated the littered roadside. As we passed the busy landfill, it was not resembling the lovely day I had hoped it to be.
Yet, as we continued at our leisurely pace, stopping at a house, more like a hacienda, with a little boutique of expensive, handmade clothing, the landscape did flatten and change before our eyes. It was quite different from the colorful, touristy beachfront promenade with pushy vendors. Instead we found a sweeping coconut palm-lined ranch, fenced with barbed wire and a grassy pasture full of goats. Then another paddock, where I coaxed Methuselah’s horse over for a pet. Again, up the hill to a vista of a rocky seashore and rocky houses perched atop. And around the corner to a beachy cove, where we spotted another couple, who (we later learned) were playing real-estate agent for some homeless hermit crabs. (They would encircle the naked crab with shells it might find suitable and then return later to see which one it had chosen. Too fun! I’m going to try this the next time I meet a homeless hermit crab.)
Reaching the turtle sanctuary, the private venture of a militant, native Bequian, we learned about the plight of the Hawksbill turtle and how this man had been singlehandedly raising turtles to a survivable maturity before releasing them into the wild. Baby turtles are very cute. Some would swim freestyle and others would do breaststroke. We were interested to observe turtle behavior and listen to how they were raised, but really it was only worth sticking around for 20 minutes, so we promptly turned around for the long hike home.
We planned to stop at the Firefly Resort along the way for lunch, but before we got there we poked our heads into a little establishment which looked like a private home or very exclusive club on the beach. But the tiny sign said Sugar Reef was open and it was too enticing not to peek in. It took our breaths away. The furnishings were straight out of Coastal Living with driftwood and sea glass chandeliers, cotton upholstered seating, and a “tuxedo” kitty sleeping in a chair. Opposite the front entry, the room opened to a private beach and lagoon. Stunning. Not only enchantingly beautiful, but Sugar Reef was neither stuffy nor unfriendly and we felt perfectly welcome to sit and stay for an incredible lunch: freshly caught grilled tuna and a pumpkin and beet soup for me, and calaloo lasagna for Bill. Calaloo is a large green leafy vegetable, much like spinach, and along with pumpkin and beets, is one of the staples of the West Indian diet - locally available fare with an imaginative twist. We both said afterwards that this was the first really great meal we’d had since leaving the states. Of course, the birthday girl wanted her “cake” which closely resembled a passion fruit to-die-for flan. Delish. The hermit crab couple, whom we met at the turtle sanctuary, had also wandered into Sugar Reef, so we joined them for the walk back, chatting and enjoying the company of fellow cruisers.

Let’s Roll

The plan for the end of the day was to pull up anchor and move to the south end of the island for a change of scenery and a good starting point for a long sail the next day. So even though it was getting a tad late in the afternoon, we decided we had enough daylight to motor around the corner and drop anchor in Friendship Bay. After all, we were getting pretty good at this cruising stuff, right? On the way out, we were delayed by, of all things, a tuna! A birthday tuna. We had been fishing since leaving Trinidad and caught nary a single fish. Lobster, yes. Fish, nada. Indeed, this was turning out to be the magical birthday it ought to be.
But the day was not through with us yet. We rounded the corner and beat into the east wind for maybe five miles, wiggled between a gnarly current through the rocks at the mouth of the bay, just as dark was descending upon us. We cautiously crept past a breaking surf to the far end of the bay where we grabbed an available mooring ball, and then the real fun began. Never before could we imagine such a wild ride - in port!. Bill had to deal with cleaning the tuna while Marengo was rolling from rail to rail and I worried he might cut his hand off with the filet knife. As soon as the fish was in the freezer, I took a seasick pill and went to bed in the rear cabin, sleeping perpendicular to the length of the boat so I wouldn’t roll around. “Sleeping” meaning lying down with my eyes shut. The cruising guide author said this was a well-protected anchorage. Ha! He must be in cahoots with the tourism lady. By daylight, well before sunrise, Bill and I unhooked from the mooring and made our escape to St. Lucia. It was a birthday for the history books.
To be continued…

Trinidad Jail Break, Turquoise Seagulls, and Catholic Dogs

21 April 2014 | Port Elizabeth, Bequia, SVG
Julia/Breezy & Dry 86°
Trinidad Jail Break
Hello all. A great deal has happened since my last posting. We spent our final two weeks in Trinidad working on a long list of boat projects while Bill finished his gig with Kaiser Permanente. Nothing like a little “boat love” to keep Marengo going. Our trusty crewmember, Frederic, did his part by adding daily coats of varnish to the bright-work, going up the mast to replace radar reflector, and helping Bill sort out desalinator pump, rebuild starboard toilet, replace Autopilot head unit, etc. I cleaned, cooked, entertained, provisioned, washed laundry, and cleaned some more. There is no surface on Marengo that I haven’t touched, yet it’s hard to believe, but here at the end of March and I have never sailed on Marengo. Bill has had only a brief sea-trial when he came down in November for the survey. So we decided to take Marengo out on a beautiful Sunday afternoon for a preliminary sea trial, making sure all of the really important stuff works before heading out onto the high seas. Again, no unpleasant surprises.
Everything seemed to be right on schedule for an April 2nd departure, but if you have been a regular reader, as you might guess, it didn’t work out that way. The first hang up came when attempting to clear out of Immigration with an added crew member. Apparently, once arriving in a new country, one cannot just “jump ship” so to speak, and crew members must be signed on and off the vessels they arrive and leave upon. To make a long story short, after a stressful afternoon scrambling to get the needed documents sent over from France at the “eleventh hour”, we cleared Immigration five minutes before closing and dashed next door to the Customs office. This is where we came to a screeching halt and Bill met his nemesis, Officer “DO NOT PASS GO, DO NOT COLLECT $200”. The bars separating the uniformed officials and the clients should have been our first clue, as well as a lack of identifying nametags. Remember the “overnight” shipment of the propeller nut that took 5 days? Same office. Bottom line, we did not have originals of the bill of sale, the boat registration, nor the US Coast Guard documentation. None of these was available at the time of our departure in February, but we did have copies that had been sent to us via e-mail, complete with official numbers that could have been easily verified online. Adding to the stress, it is Tuesday and we are supposed to meet the boys in Grenada on Saturday.
Anger, dejection and frustration cannot begin to describe the emotions of that evening following Bill’s 30 minute go-round with Officer T., whose suggestion to us was to have the documents FedExed overnight to his office. Fat chance. Not willing to have our only originals fall into the black hole of the Customs depository, we opted to have Sean act as our courier by leaving a few days early and fly into Trinidad instead of Grenada. So Sean saves the day and we slide into the Customs office Thursday afternoon holding our breath and hoping the rules have not changed in the past 48 hours. At 4:05, we discover that we are missing yet another piece of information that can only be provided by the marina office which closes at 4 pm. Fortunately, Bill calls and they answer and are willing to stick around to help us out. After ten round trip dinghy rides across the bay, we wasted no time in untying from the dock and getting the heck out of Dodge.
Holy Fishing Bat, Batman
Scotland Bay is just around the point from Chaguaramas and lends itself for an easy, early-daylight departure for Grenada, which is 80 nautical miles northeast, up wind and up current, from Trinidad. We make the easy 30 minute jaunt to a quiet, but peculiarly smelly anchorage. Following sunset, we discover the smell is guano from the colony of fishing bats, which live in the cliffs not 25 yards away. What a show we had. With my super-powerful O Light baton flashlight we watched these giants swoop and scoop the lagoon surface for more than an hour. (Thank you, again, Lindsay & Marshall. I love my O Light!) Who knew that a bat could get as large as a housecat, with wings the span of a seagull?
Trini to Grenada: Sean’s Sunburn Sleeping Marathon
After weeks of listening to the weather report on the morning cruisers’ net and looking at the offshore weather reports, we still couldn’t believe that the wind would really be blowing 20 knots and that the waves would really be 2 meters high. After all, that is by definition a small craft advisory in South Florida. But the typical marine conditions for crossing to Grenada were just that, winds 15-20 knots, seas 1 ½ to 2 meters, day after day, for several weeks. On our little Sunday sea trial, we had nothing of the sort, but after all, we were in the protected bay that lies between Trinidad and Venezuela. Yet, indeed the report was spot on; we saw winds steady at 18-20 and gusting to 30 with the sea gradually building to 2 plus meters. Poor Sean, exhausted from the previous day’s journey, and never an iron stomach on big seas anyway, spent his day prone on the cockpit settee only to wake up with a gnarly burn on chest and legs. Fred, on the other hand, even better at sea having spent six weeks previously on a similar Jeanneau 52.2, expertly trimmed sails, played DJ, and even made sandwiches in the rolly galley. No one could ask for a better crew. We made landfall in 10 ½ hours and logged a top speed of 9.5 knots.
Customs Culture Shock
After a long day of hard sailing, it was impossible to resist the call of the little reef at the mouth of Prickly Bay. Indeed, it was prickly too, providing us with a couple of spiny crustaceans. To even the score between us and Mother Ocean, I decided to remove some entangled fishing lures that were looped over the reef. On Saturday morning, we approached the Prickly Bay Customs and Immigration office a bit on the wary side on account of our Chaguaramas send-off. To our pleasant surprise, it was nothing of the sort, even getting tourist info from the friendly officers. If you could see the view from their office, you would understand true job satisfaction.
Bill fetched Dillon and his friend Mike from the airport later that evening and we welcomed them with Ti Punch and a colorful stir fry dinner. I have been honing my skills as galley wench using locally available produce and so far have had few complaints. Sunday found us snorkeling the famous underwater sculpture park on the leeward side of Grenada. It was beautiful but a bit creepy, circles of slaves facing outward, holding hands in what seemed a watery grave. Sunday night featured Surf-n-Turf, hamburgers on a charcoal grill and lobster appetizers.
On Monday we made another lengthy upwind, counter-current sail to Carriacou, where we sadly said good-bye to Fred. On Tuesday we headed to the Grenadines, a separate country from Grenada (which includes Carriacou), where we had to check in at Union Island and had an unpleasant anchor/bow thruster failure at the most inconvenient moment in a tricky harbor. All at once we found ourselves fending off aggressive “boat boys”, navigating around a crowded harbor, and dodging a poorly placed reef, all in the stiff Caribbean breeze. (Boat boys are island men in small, brightly painted, wooden motor boats who zoom in to offer a variety of items or services for a fee; ice, fuel, help with mooring, etc. In their defense, this is how they make a living on a small island, but competition is stiff and they have learned that the early bird gets the worm.)
Fortunately, we were able to grab a mooring ball, check in without incident, and head to our beautiful Chatham Bay anchorage where the BBQ vultures swooped in before the sand had settled about our anchor. Bill negotiated with two of the beachfront establishments and after deferring the first, accepted the second. While the boys were away snorkeling the reef, I awoke bleary-eyed from a nap to be confronted by a man and woman in a boat insisting that I let them know if we would be having dinner at their establishment. Not knowing which I was speaking to, I said I thought we were dining with Vanessa. Wrong answer!
“Oh, you haven’t been here before? You don’t know about Vanessa?”
Me, “No, it’s our first time.”
The woman proceeded to let me know in very dramatic fashion that other patrons had to be seen at the hospital after dining on three day old fish at Vanessa’s and wished me luck eating her freezer food. “If you need a ride to the hospital, we’re right over there.”
Me, groggily, “Ok, thanks.”
It was all a quite comical and apparently rehearsed performance. We, nevertheless, made the right choice and were included in a lively crowd of New England ski buddies closer in age to the boys than Bill and me. Dining under a flag-adorned tin roof with beach sand floor, we enjoyed fresh poached fish, breadfruit salad, peas-n-rice, and finished with rum “bake”, limbo, and a short dinghy ride back to Marengo. A classic Caribbean BBQ and no dishes, yay!
Turquoise Seagulls
We spent another night in Chatham Bay, dining on pasta and freshly caught lobster, then the next day headed to Tobago Keys Marine Park, a pleasantly short sail away. One thing I have to learn to do better is have my camera ready for those fleeting photo opportunities. We entered Tobago Keys through a narrow pass between two small islets that, from a distance, seemed to be connected. Never have I seen such a dazzling, retina-burning turquoise color. Marengo slipped quietly through the liquid neon that even Bahamian waters couldn’t match. Looking up, I could hardly believe what I was seeing. The seagulls overhead were electric turquoise blue! They appeared as an artist’s rendering in a Palm Beach gallery. Of course their wings were reflecting the bejeweled water, but the stunning effect was surreal.
Strong currents made the snorkeling challenging at Tobago Keys, but as promised we swam with the sea turtles as they grazed like cattle on bits of sea grass in a shallow lagoon. The conservation efforts of the marine park were evident in the size and amount of sea life. I saw the biggest conch I have ever laid eyes on. It must have been 24” long. Bill found a curious bag tied to a day buoy containing two monster lobsters, illegally caught of course, and freed them.
The next few days flew by, heading off to Mayreau, back to Chatham Bay, checking out at Clifton, and again back to Carriacou. Not wanting to repeat another tough northeasterly sail, we let the boys catch the ferry from Carriacou to Grenada. We spent a few days recuperating in Tyrell Bay, paid $60 to have the laundry done, and I gave Bill a bad haircut. On the upside, continuing my foray as a baker, I can report that loaf number four was edible!

Beautiful Beck-way (Bequia)
Rested and re-provisioned, we departed our Tyrell Bay sanctuary on Thursday morning for what was the most blissful sail so far. A fresh 20-25 knot wind pushed us north to Bequia, and we arrived in Admiralty Bay about five hours later. Port Elizabeth is the kind of place where anchors grow roots. Debarking at the dinghy dock, we headed for check in and had to step over a dozen or so local boys peeled down to their underwear, clothes strewn about the dock, swimming and diving into the crystal clear water. The smallest had to be only three or four years old. Past the dock, we walked across the bustling street into the Customs/Immigration office which was extra busy because it was Easter Regatta registration day. After checking in, we poked around the streets, checked out vendors set up along the promenade, and found cheap and delicious roti in a hidden courtyard. The picturesque walkway along the bay was filled with shady, open-air bars and restaurants. Simply enchanting. Even the street dogs seem friendlier as a short-legged cutie snuggled up to Bill’s feet at the roti garden and was rewarded with a bit of potato.
Catholic Dogs
On Good Friday, the Easter Regatta was in full swing. We awoke to find that some of our neighbors had pulled anchor, leaving us a ringside seat to some of the most exciting regatta action of the day. We had a full view of the bay and were quite close to a critical course marker which required the racers to tack quickly then make a radical turn around the buoy and deploy their spinnakers. We watched near-misses, tactical blunders, and racer/spectator disputes mid-course. Did I mention that some racers even had to deal with the daily ferry from St. Vincent? Oh the drama!
The following day, Saturday, we needed to move because of poor holding and after three tries and an uncomfortable encounter with a sea snake, we found a stable anchorage near the beach. Unfortunately, it is ringside to the party scene with loud music playing past midnight and starting up before 7 am. Still, it’s better than worrying about slipping anchor and crashing into our neighbors.
On Easter Sunday, Bill and I ventured up town to the local Catholic parish of St. Michael the Archangel for 8 o’clock mass. What a unique experience to go to church in linen dress via dinghy. Considerately, Bill put towels down on the damp, salty seats and was careful to go slow and out of the wind so that we would arrive clean and dry. We allowed ample time to find the church and there were plenty of people out on the street to help us find our way. Turning the corner around a ramshackle house with corrugated tin roof and pane-less windows, we passed a couple of street dogs who slept through our intrusion and then a backyard goat who also ignored us while we climbed the steep driveway up to the church. When I say steep, it must have been a 30° grade. I had to remind myself that they don’t have ice storms here, but it’s got to get slippery in a big rain.
The open-air church was a simple affair, decorated similarly to other churches in small countries. With colorful stations-of-the-cross, painted concrete floor, and crude plywood pews, the one notable unique feature was the giant whale rib at the lectern reminding us that Bequia was and is a whaling community. As we waited for mass to begin, the church filled with townspeople, cruisers, and little girls in pretty dresses. The absence of the mass marketing of commercial Easter trappings did not go unappreciated. When mass began, the a capella processional hymn, “He Is Risen”, was a familiar one sung to a much slower and Africanized tempo. I found myself thinking of how beautiful my own parish performs this song and wishing this congregation could hear how it is “supposed to be sung”. Then, quickly I embraced the beauty of the moment, the singers singing loudly, passionately, and recanted my wish remembering that the bible tells us to “make a joyful noise”.
During the homily, the young island priest confessed to us that this was his first Easter mass celebration, as he had only been a priest for eleven months. Despite his self-admitted novice status, he delivered a poignant Easter message with a comfortable, amiable discourse.
Later, during a true Caribbean rendition of the Acclamation, I was once again wishing I had camera and video recorder to capture the enchanting drums and singing. As Bill returned to the pew from taking communion, he whispered to me to look back toward the doors of the church. There in the open doorway were two small black and tan dogs, sitting reverently before the Lord’s table. I was breathless.
So my friends, thank you for sticking with this long winded tale. I wish you a beautiful Easter season. In Bequia and every nook and cranny of this wild and beautiful planet, I must proclaim that, indeed, He Is Risen.

Friends, Fortune, and French Lessons

22 March 2014 | Chaguaramas, Trinidad, W.I.
Julia/Breezy & Dry 86°
We've had a productive week in Trini. We got the starboard shroud (heavy stainless cable that holds up the mast) replaced and we launched Marengo in the water on Monday. On Tuesday I made a classic southern fried chicken dinner, complete with grits, black eyed peas, cole slaw, cornbread muffins, and Arnold Palmers for our French friends, Ben, Daniel, & Frederic. We booked tickets on Wednesday for Dillon and Sean to meet us in Grenada the first week in April. I made a Thursday foray into downtown Port of Spain for an errand and shopping. I found a beautiful Indian Salwar Kameez in a souvenir shop of all places, as well as fresh bok choi and flower tea in a really cool Chinese market. We had to giggle at the vacuum packed chicken feet and a very flat, freeze dried duck.
Friday's highlight was having guests over for tapas and Ti Punch. We had nine around our table in the cockpit and Bill and I were the only Americans among our French, British, Guyanese, French-Canadian, and South African friends. We had a lovely moonlit evening with lively conversation. (Picture me with bare feet, no makeup, and wet ponytail hair not stressin' at all.) I'm starting to love this lifestyle.
Bill has had a few nice surprises intertwined with his disappointments and dead-ends on his quest for specialty parts. The most thrilling was to discover our dinghy, Napoleon, floats steady and runs like a top. This makes the trip to the local grocery by crossing the small bay and tying up to the dinghy dock a breeze versus a 10 minute, uphill-with-a-headwind, bike ride with five liter bottles of water on each handlebar past some especially vicious stray dogs. He was also able to make a part for the anchor chute at a small fraction of the $100+ "custom" roller offered by one of the local boatyard outfits. (We are finding many things to cost two, three, four times the US price.) Also on the "pleasant surprises" list was discovering how the washing machine works, or for that fact, that it works at all. After a bit of trial-and-error, Bill successfully washed a small load of wet towels. There is no need, however, for a dryer. It is so hot and windy down here that the laundry on the line is dry before the last of the wash is hung out.
The biggest news of all is the addition of our newest crewmember, Frederic, who came to us through our friend, Ben from Corsica, France. Bill met Ben in November when he came to Chaguaramas for the boat survey and sea trial. He has a sister-ship to Marengo and has been quite generous with his time and knowledge helping Bill fix the rigging. When it comes to boat repairs, he and Bill are like two peas in a pod and I even joked that he is the French version of Bill. As Ben was finishing his cruise and getting ready to haul out, we met his friend, Frederic, who was looking to catch a ride back to Grenada. We offered since that will be our first stop once we leave Trinidad, but he will have to wait about two weeks before we shove off. No problem says Ben the interpreter, since Frederic speaks no English at all. None. Nada. But the situation is perfect because it is total language immersion for Frederic and I am getting a bit of French that I'm sure will help when we get to Martinique. We have printed tags from the labeler for common objects in anyone's home: sink, refrigerator, latch, cabinet, light, etc. It's been pretty amusing with the charades and puzzled looks, but young Frederic has proven to be a quick study. And when that won't work, we just converse with Translate.Google. He is also quite mechanical and willing to go up the mast, helping us with our long list of To-Dos before we leave, and has been a pleasure to have on board. He was even a very good-humored bartender, making the best Ti Punch for our guests last night.
So that about wraps up a rather drama-free week, with the exception of me erasing the music library on my iPod, "@*^%*#&^%$*&^%." Good food, good friends, good fortune. I'll take it.
Hope everyone at home is well. I do have a request for my readers. Please let me know you are following us through the blog by leaving a comment. As an aspiring writer, it helps to know who my audience is. Thanks to all of you who already have done so. God bless. Love, Julie

Not Much to Write Home About – Boatyard Purgatory

19 March 2014 | Chaguaramas, Trinidad, W.I.
Julia/Breezy & Dry 86°
It's "beer thirty" in Chaguaramas on a Friday afternoon. The boat has two fresh coats of bottom paint and wax. The weather is a lovely 82° with an east breeze and partly cloudy. We welcome the clouds because they always provide relief from the scorching sun and rarely promise rain no matter how dark and menacing looking. If it does rain, it's hardly worth running for cover since it will clear up in the matter of minutes and whatever might have gotten wet will dry in no time at all. Yet for all of the pleasant weather, we still feel like we are in boatyard purgatory. We had been scheduled to go in the water on Tuesday, then had to delay that until Friday, and then again rescheduled for first thing Monday morning (translate - sometime Monday, maybe later). In the middle of painting the bottom of the boat with anti-fouling paint, Bill decided to install the new Gori folding prop and made a horrifying discovery; the end nut was the wrong size. The boat cannot be put in the water until it has a propeller. After waiting all week, many phone calls to FedEx, the part arrived and the prop got installed just in time to watch the last boat of the day to go in the water. I keep telling myself, "It's just a couple more days."
The Black Hole of Customs
We still do not have a grasp of how cargo, mail, and other overseas shipments find their way to recipients in Trinidad. Apparently, it depends upon who is on duty at the customs office. I was able to retrieve our two barrels after Carnival with the help of a Customs broker. Bravely, without a cell phone (our international, unlocked phone got locked) I caught a ride on the MaxiTaxi to an agreed upon pick up location to meet Benson, the Customs broker. Benson could not have been nicer (despite my reservations after having difficulty communicating with him on the phone - I still haven't deciphered all of the individual nuances of Trinidad English). He spent the whole day with me unraveling the tangle of Customs red tape, AND I found out he is a well know swim coach in Trinidad. At the end of a very long day, without any ability to communicate with Bill for the entire day, I arrived triumphantly at the boatyard in a truck carrying both of our barrels. I still do not know exactly what transpired; I just know it was complicated, even for a seasoned professional. And as I boarded the truck with a perfect stranger, you can imagine how relieved I was to discover the driver had his video & sound system turned full blast to ... full gospel praise music! Thank you, Lord, for reassuring me that I am in good hands.
Humble Pie
Carnival, well, was an interesting spectacle. It is not a single day or event. It is a SEASON, much like Christmas, with parties, competitions, and celebrations leading up to the big day. There are fetes scheduled for just about every night for the two or three weeks leading up to the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday. A fete is a party, with music, food, drinks, and dancing. Some are more tame than others, and they can get very expensive, with ticket prices over $100 US per person for an "all inclusive". Not really knowing anyone, and with Bill still working, we opted out of attending any fetes, but a few fetes came to us. We could hear the music until the very wee hours (4 am in some cases) many nights during the two weeks prior to Carnival.
Since we missed out on tours to the local "pan yards" and "mas camps", I wanted to experience some authentic Trini music. So we got tickets through the cruisers network to the Saturday night "Panorama" finals for medium and large steel pan orchestra competition. What an amazing sound! Imagine 100 to 400 pan players, some playing one, two, four, or six steel drums with the intensity of a university marching band during a bowl game. It was incredible. The sound reverberated into our bones. Each band, 20 medium and 21 large, took about 30 to 40 minutes to set up, perform, and break down. Do the math, it was a very long evening. In fact, due to a mix up on our part, we missed our ride home and ended up staying to the very end of the competition. We found ourselves, again, in need of help in strange and not-so-safe surroundings. A very nice security guard/soldier, whom we could barely understand, offered to take us home, or so we thought, since he lived in the adjacent town to Chaguaramas. He took us on a 30 minute walk through the streets of Port of Spain at 4:30 in the morning to get us to the public bus station and provided us with tickets. After a two hour traffic jam, we arrived back at the boatyard by 7:30 the next morning safe and sound.
Unfortunately, by missing our ride, we had unintentionally inconvenienced a van full of neighboring cruisers and are now known as the idiots who didn't show up on time for the ride home. We did not fully grasp the gravity of our faux pas until we caught our ride home from the big parade on Tuesday, when someone on the van recognized us and asked us to explain what happened. Again, we were sitting in the front seat, next to the driver, but behind us we could hear the murmur of discontent as the folks who were on the delayed van Saturday night explained to the others our monumental stupidity. How grateful I was to be sitting in front at that moment. What we didn't know was there were also sympathizers and we met a really wonderful couple, Ty and Judith, who were very kind when we needed it the most.
So, I'm sorry it has taken me this long to send out an update. We are indeed alive and well in Trinidad. We continue to make blunders and get frustrated, but at the end of the day (week) what makes it all worth it is making new friends, learning how to be more flexible, and enjoying the journey.

We're Not in Kansas Anymore

22 February 2014 | Coral Cove Boatyard, Chaguaramas, Trinidad
Julia/Clear 85°
Tonight we will celebrate surviving “Orientation Week” in Chaguaramas, Trinidad with a tradition known as “Bake N Shark”: Bake - meaning bread (which is sometimes fried) and chunks of deep fried shark. The tales to follow might lead one to think our week was a disaster, but we disagree. Our follies only helped us connect with Trinidad on a more personal level, and see her people as friendly, compassionate, and fun loving as well as some hard earned “wisdom”.
Round One: The Mosquito Coast
After three nights without air conditioning, window screens, or mosquito netting, I look like I have a bad case of the measles. Mostly on my face because that is what is left out from under the sheet. They sound like a dentist’s drill coming straight for your eardrum, but oddly they don’t hurt or itch too badly. Nevertheless, I am tired of looking like a human pincushion so we head for the pharmacy for Benadryl. The pharmacist offers me a 3 day course of Prednisone and I accept. Bottom line: $10 for a 5 oz. bottle of Benadryl, $0.20 for the Prednisone (no scrip needed). There are always good people on the horizon to help.
Round Two: A Crime of Convenience
At the Hi-Lo grocery store, I insist that we shuck out another $10 for a bottle of Off and some old-fashioned mosquito coils. (The cabin smells like a campsite.) Back at the boat Bill interrupts my happy anticipation of a bite-free night of sleep by asking me if I know where his phone is. “It’s in the barrel,” has been our mantra all week for things we wished we had at the moment. Seems like we need only the items we packed in our shipping barrels due to arrive in early March. But he quickly realizes he last remembers having it at the Hi-Lo and makes the 2 minute drive to see if it is still there. Not likely. Trinidad comes with many warnings to be vigilant over one’s belongings. Nope. No luck. But I insist we go back and talk to the manager. She is very nice and invites us to review the security tape to see, in fact, if Bill really did set it down at the register. He did. What happened next surprised us all. The man in line behind us sees the phone on the counter and scoops it discreetly into his shopping sack. Aha! But how do we locate him? Next we ask for directions to the police station. At least we will have a police report with which to make a claim. But with laptop in hand, Bill is able to connect to the wi-fi in the police station and use the Google Locate app. The phone is in the adjacent boatyard. Two affable, young officers, Kamini and Sanjay, whisk us away in their truck to the boatyard. As we walk through the area designated on the map, it was very reassuring to have these uniformed officials at our side. At once, Bill realizes that our laptop has connected via wi-fi to our missing phone's hot spot. It must be VERY close by. I spot a man using his computer and instantly recognize him and ask for our phone back. He feigns not understanding English, but ultimately we recover the phone after a few awkward moments. Overjoyed at getting our phone back, we were not very concerned with the punitive matters for the thief, who was not a local I might add. Now, I just hope he has had some time to examine his conscience and appreciate his “Get Out of Jail Free” card. Bottom line: Never give up hope for the seemingly impossible. There are always good people on the horizon to help.
Round Three: Watch Where You Step
So it’s Friday. We have nabbed the phone-napper, made friends with the local police, negotiated the dangerous streets of Port of Spain on a quest for a mosquito net, scored the net along with some cheap and tasty local produce, frequented the Doubles wagon for breakfast and Roti shack for lunch, explored every ship store and chandlery in Chaguaramas, networked with numerous marine industry workers, and took a 20 minute Carnival primer with the yacht tourism lady (Yikes! So many parties, so little time). What next? How about checking out the ER? Long story short, I scooted down the companionway stairs to land on the charcoal starter for the grill. It’s kind of like a large metalmcoffee can, very sharp around the edge. Very calmly, I sat down on the settee and asked Bill for a paper towel. He can see it’s bad and abandons his meeting to get me to a doc. Rawley, our gel-coat guy gets us a ride with our French boatyard neighbor, Bertrand, and pilots us to the ER about 20 minutes away. We insist they don’t wait knowing it will take a long time to be seen. Three hours and a dozen stiches later, we find ourselves on the rush hour streets waiting for a maxi-taxi that the US State Dept. has cautioned against using. But it’s our only option at this hour. We sit in the front seat of the very packed van, my head almost at the roof, and get all the way back to Chaguaramas unscathed. It was actually fun, swerving through traffic like minnows at the beach, always chaotic, never colliding. Bottom line: Nearly severing your toes on a sharp metal object - $0.00; living to tell the tale – priceless. There are always good people on the horizon to help.
So my friends, this wraps up an eventful first week as cruisers in a foreign country. We learn once again that God sends us angels in the bodies of people to shepherd us away from our own foolishness. Love to you all,
Julie
~ Wisdom is what you get right after you need it.

Spot Marengo

16 February 2014
We will upload our position when we post a blog, but for those of you who wish to follow us more often there is another option.
Our SPOT GPS location device will send out our location at regular intervals. The web address is:
www.tinyurl.com/spotmarengo
You will then need to enter the password: gomarengo

You are always encouraged to keep in touch by e-mailing us.
Bill = wbconnolly61@gmail.com
Julie = reefpuppy@gmail.com

And you can call and leave a voicemail by dialing our old phone number 770-428-0618. We can can pick up messages via Google Voice.

Please keep in touch!

EXODUS

16 February 2014 | Miami International Airport
Clear 59°
At this writing, I am sitting in the Versailles Cafe at the Miami International Airport. As we wait to board our flight to Port of Spain, Trinidad, there is about an hour to contemplate the myriad of events that led us breathlessly to this moment.
Since the last post: Bill spent a week in sunny California while I was cloistered at home with paintbrush in hand for SnowJam 2014. More last minute repairs to the house. Lots of goodbye visits and phone calls. Manic packing with bets on what would and would not fit. Bill wins all wagers on the half-ton of cargo (no joke): two 77 gallon shipping barrels, four 70 pound bags, four more 30-40 pound carry-on bags. One 72 hour "empty-the-house" boxing marathon. (Thank you, Niño and Amy for taking care of the furniture.) Filling up my "hug bank" at Durham with old friends and students. Leaving at midnight and driving all night to beat another EPIC Atlanta winter weather event. Getting Kitty and Riley to their new homes. (God bless you George and Margaret!) Finding sanctuary at both of our parents' homes. Rescuing Sean-and-company at Sam's Club. (Gotta love Google maps GPS.) The Miami Boat Show. Sheltering in Coral Springs with our dear friends and sailing mentors, Hugh and Carol (couldn't have done it without you). A 6 am pick up and another goodbye with our son/driver, Sean. Getting through airport security with a 45 pound bronze propeller in carry-on luggage.
... And here we are at the gate catching our breath. We hope to have many more breathless moments, but breathless from sheer beauty not from exhaustion. Thank you to everyone who helped make this possible, encouraged us, prayed for us, or wished us well. We are grateful. And most of all we are grateful to God, whose fingerprints have been all over these plans.
~ Not all who wander are lost.

T minus 20 days

27 January 2014 | Marietta, GA
Julia/Winter Advisory 30°
Moving right along. Last week we went down to South Florida to move Casual Monday to dry storage in Ft. Pierce. After a two day, 100 mile cruise up the ICW, we arrived 2 hours ahead of schedule. Unfortunately, for my mom, we grossly underestimated how long it takes to break down canvas, sails, and haul out by about, oh, only 5 hours or so. Then a 3 hour drive to fetch the car, sleep, and another 10 hour drive home.
The good news is that we have booked our tickets out of Miami to Port of Spain, Trinidad for February 16th. Deadlines have always been motivating for me (translate: Motivation = Panic).
Still haven't ironed out a tenant for the house, but I still have faith that it will all work out as it should.
So far, it all has. GIGATT :)

Create Blog - Check!

13 January 2014 | Marietta, GA
Julia/Cloudy 47°F
Whoohooo! I did it; checked off a to-do task on my list since June. Welcome to GoMarengo, my blog about our (about to be) adventures at sea. My goal is to write often to give family and friends updates about our progress. So far...still stuck in Marietta trying to get the house on the rental market and tying up loose ends. Endless loose ends.
My advice to anyone who intends to relocate (ever): Start NOW.
I've got lots of painting to do today, so check back soon.
Love ya, bye,
Julie
Vessel Name: Marengo
Vessel Make/Model: Jeanneau 52.2
Hailing Port: Jupiter, FL
Crew: Bill & Julia Connolly
About:
Bill Connolly - Captain of s/v Marengo Julia Connolly - Navigator, cook, bottle washer, etc. Bill is a seasoned IT professional, currently with Kaiser Permanente. He is also an incredible mechanic and troubleshooter. Julie is an educator. [...]
Home Page: http://www.sailblogs.com/member/gomarengo
Marengo's Photos - Main
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Created 22 March 2014
37 Photos
Created 19 March 2014

About Us

Who: Bill & Julia Connolly
Port: Jupiter, FL