02 December 2013 | Ft. Lauderdale to Biscayne Bay
01 December 2013 | Riviera Beach to Ft Lauderdale
28 November 2013 | Riviera Beach, FL.
16 November 2013 | Dillon, CO
wet and wild
12 March 2021 | Sandy Island, Carriacou
Greg Seebart | windy
“Is everyone ready to go’” I ask Diane, Debby and Mike
“I am so full, that lobster was so good and yours was so huge, we could have split one. I guess I’m ready’” replied Diane
“We are too.”
“Lets make it happen,” as we truck down the beach to get in the dingy and motor back to our boats.
Mike and Debby are on the sailboat “DEVA.” I met them last spring when we ended up together in St. Lucia for over two months waiting for a flight back to the states. This year we have been buddy boating together and having a great time with lots of laughter.
“Wow, these swells are rally big. We are going to have to time the waves if we want to get off the beach in one piece,”I say.“Lets pull the dingy around and get the nose pointed to the surf.”
Pulling it around the waves come crashing in. The dingy gets away from us and slams into us sideways knocking us on our butts.
“Crap, this isn’t working. Girls, jump in the front and grab the paddles. Mike and I will wait for a big wave and push it in the water. You two start to paddle to get us off shore. Her comes a wave, OK start paddling. Harder harder.”
They look at me like I’ve lost my mind. It wasn’t a very big wave so they are laughing hysterically and paddling while the dingy is still high and dry on the sandy beach and Im yelling at them to paddle faster. With paddles waving in the air we are not going anywhere.
Another larger wave comes in and we get a little water under the boat. Mike and I are pushing, Debby and Diane are rowing away. The wave recedes and we are still sitting in the sand.
We are determined to make this work, and after looking like a the four stooges we finally catch a monster wave.
Mike and I are pushing, the girls are giving it all they got. I jump on the tube and ride it like a mechanical bull. Mike dives on and straddles it like he’s riding one of those inflated bananas that they tow behind a speed boat scrambling for a handhold so he doesn’t fall off.
“Mike are you on? You OK,” asks Debby.
“I think we are in deep enough water to put the engine down and use it.”says Diane
I wait for Mike to get fully in the boat before lowering the motor down and starting it up. We start laughing about our antics. We are soaked and we slowly motor back to our boats.
We arrive safely and a quick fresh water rinse is in order before bed.
We finally left St. Lucia after arriving there in December. Mike, Debby and Diane had arrived there in November so they were ready for a change. We did a nice 13 1/2 hour sail to Carriacou, an island north of Grenada still in the country of Grenada. Seven days of quarantine on the boat and a negative PCR test and we are ready to explore Grenada. We are currently moored off of Sandy Island, an idlic small uninhabited place with great swimming snorkeling and beach.
11 February 2021 | The Pitons, St. Lucia
Twas the night before Christmas. “What am I thinking, that is long past.”
Twas the first night at anchor and all through the boat, The rum and the wine were keeping us afloat.
The sun was slowly falling into the horizon below, when I looked to the east and cried out “Oh No.”
There is a rainbow so bright and so vivid, we better scramble to close the hatches before we get soaked. (Ok, I ran out of rhymes)
So we watched the sun sink into the Caribbean sea with a beautiful rainbow at our backs slowly fading away.
It was quite magical and the rain didn’t get us too wet.
We took a sailing trip south from Rodney bay located on the north end of the island to Anse Des Pitons. A marine park nestled at the foot of or in between the Piton mountains. One park ranger said, “ It is magical to spend the night between St. Lucias Breasts,” or as the locals say the tits of St. Lucia. We haven’t quit moved into the cleavage, choosing to just caress one breast right now.
I have stayed here before and the current, wind, and swells do not compliment each other. Mile High Dream pitches from side to side like a mechanical bull. After our first sleepless night we moved as close to shore as we could. The rangers thought this might be better than mooring between the Pitons called Sugar bay. It was better and we at least got some sleep. Sugar Bay is still calling me so we may try that tonight. Every other time I have been here, the moorings in Sugar bay have been full. This year we are the only boat here which is really quite sad and very hard on the locals that depend on cruisers to make their living. A local fisherman stopped by yesterday morning with a tuna he had just caught. Hoping for lobster we adjusted and dined on fresh tuna instead. Sacrifices we have to make.
We are in a Marine park reserve where fishing is not allowed. That’s what we are told anyway. The locals obviously didn’t get that memo or know that the local police are so busy with covid that no one will be enforcing the rules. They fly so close to our boat that to snorkel off the back of Mile High Dream is taking your life in your hands. The old wooden boats painted is bright red, yellow or green are maybe 16’ long and maybe 3 feet wide. The five to seven fisherman all stand up presumably looking for fish. I think it is more of a macho thing or right of passage and if you can’t do it, you need to find another profession. Or own the boat so you can sit down and operate the outboard motor. Even he stands on occasion. The boats sit so low in the water that from a distance they look like they are underwater. The other job of the outboard operator is to constantly bail the water out of the boat so being under water is not far from reality
Today another boat will be joining us to snorkel, explore and probably eat the rest of the tuna. It’s going to be a great day.
stuck in paradise
03 February 2021 | Rodney bay marina, St. Lucia
“It’s raining, It’s pouring, the old man is snoring.”
Actually it is only sprinkling and I’m awake now, so no snoring allowed. The last month has been filled with projects that never end and shades of last March on the Island. The covid cases have really increased with about 40% of people tested for covid coming up positive. I am not sure if they are only allowing those that do not feel well to get tested or letting everyone get tested. They will be opening some new testing site to encourage more people to get tested. That being said they stopped all alcohol sales two weeks ago and closed all restaurant to indoor dining. We did have a little notice to stock up so we took advantage of it. Last night they announced a curfew from 7:00pm to 5:00 am for the next seven days. Fortunately there will not be a total closure with supermarkets, pharmacies, and hardware stores still open. This still allows me my daily trips to the hardware store to get boat parts. Buy a boat if you need an excuse to get your hardware store fix every day.
My current project is replacing the steering quadrant. Without this you cannot steer the boat so I viewed it as an important repair. After months, starting when I was still in Colorado, to get the correct part, a quadrant arrived last Friday. Wisely I hired someone to install it for me and remove the old part. When he removed the old quadrant, He looked up at me and said, “ this is a death trap waiting to happen.”
I had it re-welded when I had the bushing replaced on the rudder in December. It still looked like It could have failed at any time. As usual, all of the for thought and photos sent to the manufacturer to insure we received the correct part failed and the part is now at a welder to fabricate a new piece on it. Gladly I didn’t know how badly it looked when we took Mile High Dream out for its first day sail. Five of us took advantage of nice winds and got the boat a little wet crashing through the big waves. I am always concerned about what I might have forgotten to do for the first sail and that marginally repaired part would have really stressed me out. In all the pictures that were taken of me that day, I wasn’t smiling too much. I guess I was too concerned with the boat. In the end it all worked great and we had a very fun sail.
For those of you who have sailed with me, you will be happy to know that I purchased a brand new dinghy. I took the old one in for repair after pumping it up twice daily to keep it afloat. The cost of repairing it and still having an old worn out dinghy made me decide to purchase an new one. It is a little smaller so we get to be a little closer when we have a large group.
Future sailing plans are still totally up in the air with other countries changing their rules weekly. That and Air Canada canceling all flights until May make’s Diane future travel plans home very crazy.
Ok, my mechanics are here’s time to get to work.
06 January 2021 | Rodney bay marina, St. Lucia
Today is the sixth anniversary of when my life changed. My wife of 27 years died on this date after we just finished a beautiful snorkel together. Today was a time for reflection, memories, and being thankful for what I have and those special people in our lives that make it full and complete. Don’t be afraid to live every day to it fullest, be thankful for what you have and spread the joy of love to someone close to you.
I finally finished my dreadful time of Quarantine. Ha Ha. Meals cooked of me, room cleaned every day, trip to the beach, maybe I should go back. Now that Im back on the boat it is endless boat projects, some planned, some not planned. Its a boat and things break, wear out, and need to be fixed.
The Rodney bay Marina where I am currently staying is very different than the other times I’ve been here. Its very empty with very few boats coming or going. I got new neighbors yesterday that had just come from Bequia. St. Vincent and the Grenadines where Bequia is located is a low risk country for covid so if you arrive from there you are welcome anywhere. St. Lucia is a high risk country like the U.S so a 14 day quarantine is required to any other country I decide to travel too. Dominica, 70 miles north of here is closed to all travelers so that country is now off the table to visit. Those of us in St. Lucia that have the desire to travel are hoping that Covid gets under control on the island and it it will go back to a low risk status and allow us to move more freely. So right now I will be staying put, getting the sails on the boat, re lubing the winches, fixing the refrigeration and maybe even repairing the air-conditioning on the boat. When you aren’t moving and getting the trade wind breezes it can get a little stuffy on the boat. Oh what am I complaining about I could be back in freezing temps and snow.
With the heartbreaking scenes from Washington D.C. and friends being diagnosed with Covid, I really don’t have anything to complain about. It is so sad and truly unbelievable.
It reminds me of the song Turn, Turn, Turn, by Pete Seeger
To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, a time to reap that which is planted;
A time to kill, a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
A time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to gain that which is to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
A time of love, and a time of hate; time of war, and a time of peace.
24 December 2020 | Bay Gardens Hotel, St. Lucia
"Your passport please." the ticket agent asks when I finally make it to the front of the line. Due to it being an international flight, I was not able to check in at the kiosk or via computer.
"What is your final destination?'
"St. Lucia," I reply.
She starts typing away, looking for everything that St. Lucia requires for anyone flying into their country. I have my stack of forms in my hand ready to fulfill any need that she requires. Well not everything.
She probably could have used a Valium or a stiff shot looking at how crazy things are for her.
"Your approval form to entry the country."
I quickly hand it over to her. She takes her time reading it and hands it back.
"Your negative Covid test."
I proudly slide it under the window. She looks at a long time. I am confused since I circled the word negative and my name for easy recognition.
"I don't think this will work. It doesn't say anywhere that this is a PCR test. St. Lucia requires a PCR test."
My joyous demeanor drops a notch. I knew it had to be a PCR test and I had asked the other tasting sites if that is what they were giving. I hadn't called Vail Medical just assuming they used the same testing procedure.
"I'm sorry, I can't let you board without a PCR test."
"But it says negative, right there," I point with my finger.
"It's the wrong test, I'm sorry. Let me see when I can get you on another flight."
My shoulders drop. My face droops into the most sorry face i have had in a long time. My sad puppy dog eyes tell the rest of the story.
Originally I was scheduled to fly out on November 23. Covid had other plans so I was so excited to finally be flying out to St. Lucia where I will have to quarantine for 14 days before being allowed on my boat.
2020, the year of change, of accepting things that are out of my control. Sailors have a saying, "plans are written in the sand at low tide. They can be washed away or changed at any time." This has been so true this entire year.
I take my bags and walk back out of the airport and sit by the wall trying to figure out a new plan. I call my friend who dropped me off at the airport to ask if she can pick me up after I explain my sad story. She is running errands so had not started driving back up the mountains.
She picks me up and we seek out two testing sites that are open on Sunday and are PCR tests. They both tell me it will be 3-5 days for the results to get back. My flight is scheduled for
Wednesday so I rescheduled it for Thursday, just to be safe.
The two test come back the next day and I think Im ready to go. I keep the flight for Thursday and call the airport shuttle to give me a ride down. All set so I think.
On Thursday, the shuttle forgets me and I take a later shuttle causing me to miss my flight. I reschedule my flights at the airport, give them all of the "correct" paperwork and amazingly enough, I arrive in sunny warm St. Lucia for my quarantine stay.
I picked the Bay Gardens hotel since it was less expensive and more importantly has a sister property located right on the beach. We are allowed to go by hotel shuttle to their property and enjoy all the sandy beach amenities.
This quarantine thing is not so bad after all.
End of the season
06 June 2020 | San Juan, Puerto Rico
The turquoise ocean stretches out in front of me. Long sandy beaches reach out in both directions as the wind blows in my face. It sounds like I am in the same spot I’ve been in since March 17. But no, I escaped the covid free island of St. Lucia to experience what most of the rest of the world is doing. What am I thinking? I had been scheduled to fly out from St. Lucia today, only to have my flight cancelled and no new flights scheduled until July. Bummer
Two other couples that I have been doing things with were on similar flights and already had their boats hauled out of the water and put “on the Hard” as we cruisers say.
“What should we do? Greg, do you still have that information for chartering our own private plane.”
“Somewhere. Let me find it.”
And a new plan was born. Hillary, one of the five stranded, jumped on the internet, filled out the paperwork and the request, sent the company the wire transfer and then we waited with our fingers crossed. St. Lucia has to honor the request, temporally re open the airport, and then get ground crew there to make it happen. The rest of us changed our flights from St. Lucia to flying out of San Juan Puerto Rico.
Crap. This is cutting a whole day out of my schedule to get Mile High Dream out of the water and safely put away. My haul out day is June 4 and usually it takes 3-4 days after it’s hauled out to get it ready. Now I have 12 hours. I scrambled around like a one armed wallpaper hanger, recruited the help of Vision and by 5:00, I was at happy hour with my fellow cruisers on the dock. That was followed by an air-conditioned sleepless night in an Airbnb I had to scramble to find the night before as my original accommodations decided not to open without any flights coming in.
“What did I forget to do? Did I turn all the power off? I think so. Are there more things that need to be done that I forgot to put on the list? Well it’s too late now.”
The next morning we get on a Piper Aztec two engine 6 person plane. Looking at it on the runway, I wasn’t sure we would all fit in. Three hours later we touched down in San Juan,
Puerto Rico. Right now I’m listening to the reassuring sounds of commercial airlines taking off.
It has been a season with new experiences to say the least. I did get to find out what it is like to have the boat on the dock and live there without sailing. It wasn’t too bad. My quick movement from the dock to the haul out area did let me know I prefer to be moving. It is possible to tear the inside of the boat apart to varnish and repair woodwork while still living aboard. I don’t really want to do that again. How to prepare meals with rice, beans, and canned meats. I didn’t starve and fortunately it did not last too long. I was able to give all the un-open cans and rice away before leaving.
This season is now in the history books. Everyone that joined me helped in upping the turtle count, whale count and dolphin count. I think everyone had a good time or at least an ok time. There definitely were some ups and downs and tense moments this year. That’s is what real sailing is.