Best Laid Plans

About this time of year numerous sailing folks begin the journey to the Caribbean for the winter. Some head off the safety of the US coastline for open water to distant shores, while others, like us prepare for the flight to where our boat was left for hurricane season. As the time closes in on our return, we begin the job of procuring supplies and parts that we cannot obtain easily, getting flights and making arrangements for housing until we can get Lost Loon in the condition where we stay aboard. This is not as easy as it may sound. We have made AirBNB reservations and found that the car rental situation is a bit of a problem. We can rent a car near the marina, but it means a $120-150 ride one way via taxi or Uber. If we rent at the airport, we cannot return to alternate location without an additional $200 dollar charge. So, after many phone calls, internet searches, and otherwise hair-brained scenarios, we will rent from the airport for 3 days and then, pick up a car close to the marina for another day, while we return the car to the airport. We hope it works!  We also need to obtain a survey and rigging check done for the insurance company by January 1. We found out that the surveyor, does not do a rigging check, so we have to hire another person for that task, and get it done during the busiest time of the year, we are told.  Before we left our dear boat, we removed much of our anchor chain due to rust. A task that became a near feat, breaking up yards of rusted-together chain.

Our intention was to pick up our needed 250 ft upon return. Guess what? Yes, chain is a premium, and in Puerto Rico we are looking at 11.5% sales tax! WE even looked into shipping a barrel of chain ot PR, but shipping was going to cost nearly twice the price of the chain! We likely have enough chain to anchor in shallow waters to get us back to the USVI where there is no sales tax, (a full day’s sail realistically), but prices are still twice that of those in the US. Finally, we dropped canvas for repair off in May with the understanding that it would be done by our return. We have received an email that the work has not been started. We are not sure if it will be done. If not, we collect it and take it somehwere else along the way. These are the issues that make leaving a boat so far away, and in foreign ports so difficult. We both realize that our decision to leave the boat in distant waters makes life difficult and so we must go with the flow as they say. We will have a list of duties a mile long to keep us busy for 4 days upon our arrival, but know that the payoff is warm gentle breezes, clear blue water, and bright starlit nights.

What are your sailing plans this year?” we are asked. Our answer is uncertain. With the advent of Covid many things have changed. For 5 years, we became used to being able to take off from an anchorage and decide on the fly where we were going to end up. It mostly depended on how many days we wanted to be sailing, and what the weather was going to be in that direction. Now in addition to the weather and our preferences, we have to take into account the rigid requirements for entering customs and immigrations at the islands. It looks like most of the islands will require vaccines in order to avoid lengthy quarantines, but they also require testing prior to leaving a port and upon arrival (and sometimes 4 days later!!) We will pick and chose very carefully where we will go, mostly depending on those requirements. We will likely stay in the Virgin Islands until the first of the year, and then go with the flow. We would like to get back to Antigua as well as some of the French islands like St Barths, Guadeloupe and Martinique. If we can make it far enough south to Bequia in St Vincent and Grenadine islands it would be a bonus. We have left Lost Loon in the “hurricane box” during that dreaded season for the last 2 years. We are ready to get her out of there, and back to Grenada for the next summer.

Where have we been since leaving Lake Vermilion and the cooler weather?

Lake Vermilion Sunset
the Little Boat
Special little people
Teddy
Bourbon Capital – Louisville

We are presently staying in warm Florida… learning to play pickleball better (until we have to relearn it in the Spring) and how to catch bait and fish for snook…reading…writing…enjoying unlimited internet, warm showers… biding our time until we will pack up our parts along with other belongings and leave November 21 for Puerto Rico.

Snook fishing!

For our friends who left the US last night for Bermuda, Bahamas and Antigua, and for friends who will be leaving in the near future we wish you fair winds and following seas. Keep them in your thoughts and prayers!!

Keep Writing!!

Write every day they say, keep the train on the track. That’s supposed to be the key to good writing and staying consistent. So here I am day 1 2 3 of the habit. There is this very colorful podcaster I have been listening to about writing, (after listening for 2 weeks I am out of that habit as well) He says, even if you just write a sentence or change a phrase, or add a comma, THAT’S WRITING!! So, here I am, putting in a little more than punctuation changes.  Every writer knows you need to read other writer’s works to improve your style. In an effort to improve,  I did finish a book. I say finish, because I do have a tendency to start a few works and depending on how I feel have different options to read. The book completed was Drama Llama by Anne McNuff. It was a perfect summer read. Super lighthearted and a real cool journey by two 30-something gals who rode bicycles through South America.

I have also written and published (and received payment for !!!) a poem..shared at the bottom of this blog.  That’s fun writing for me. Our daughter, Kelsey, has really been busy writing, getting published and paid as well.. and I’ll share her work as well.

 Back to writing. It’s a passion of mine, and I wonder how the days go by and life gets in the way of most treasured hobbies.  Oh, I found time this summer to collect rocks, (some pretty cool ones) and do some rock painting (yes, the very smallest creative, painting bone in my body was calling for some attention), collect some driftwood, and make a few wind ornaments…but the sitting and writing has become difficult. Maybe it’s the sitting thing. Whatever, its time to get (back) in action.

Our Summer in brief…

Cayo Luis Pena

Puerto Rico and mofongo (mofongo is a very interesting local dish made of mashed green plantains and salt, garlic and some oil, that’s it..but quite delicious with a variety of PR dishes (chicken, pork, beef, etc)  We spent time in the Spanish Virgins (Culebra and specifically a  little natural reserve island to the west, Cayo Luis Pena)  prior to hauling out at Marina Puerto del Rey (a humongous marina on the east coast of PR, near Fajardo).

Marina Puerto del Rey
Puerto Rico

We left Lost Loon to fend for herself (however well prepped, cleaned, and anchored down by her caregivers) during hurricane season. She knows we are watching every tropical wave that leaves the west coast of Africa for development into a tropical storm headed in her direction.  Not that we could do anything but pray it stays away from Puerto Rico…Following departure out of San Juan, we had a short stay in Punta Gorda, FL with friends and some awesome days of pickleball ( our new favorite sport!!)

Leaving FL, we made a trip from there to North Carolina for a couple of  days with my mom, brother and fabulous sister-in law ( who take such good care of Mom when I’m not there!! ) … Here we picked up our grand-dog, Teddy, for a trip of his lifetime to Louisville (missing the bourbon trail), to Illinois (where we connected with Mike’s Mom and sisters and nephews and nieces…)  to the “deer shack” in Superior WI, and our final destination,  the cottage on Lake Vermilion.

Lake Vermilion

Summer started out warm and busy transforming our little piece of shoreline into a pretty functional beach. We enjoyed having the little critter, Teddy, to take on walks and snuggle with at night. We lost and found his little bear bell in an effort to let him off the leash. A few reports of bear sightings and he was back on the leash.

 It stayed hot and very dry through visits by friends and family, fishing outings, and the placement of a new boat lift. The highlight of this year has been the construction of a road that now services our place. We have been 22 years accessing this seasonal location by boat only. We have toted all our groceries, supplies and building materials (including doors and windows!) for our renovations by boat for all these years, and now we can drive to the back door!! Mike has taken a liking to operating our neighbor’s Bobcat. He has spent over 100 hours in the last 8 weeks assisting in the construction, leveling ground, placing rock and spreading sand. He will admit it has been quite fun work and very rewarding…for the fact of being able to drive in.

I spent Mondays and Tuesdays this season working at a local clinic. It was a good change, despite the numbers of Covid tests I was involved in performing. 

The negative part of the summer was the persistent dought and wildfires that started very close to our place. We had returned home one weekend to more smoke than we had seen from the Canadian fires and found out that a lightening strike started a 10- acre fire about 1 mile behind our place. That afternoon we watched as 3 single engine airtankers swooped down into the lake waters in front of us to attain precious water to douse the fire. We were fortunate for their good work and that of a group of Superior Forest Fire personnel who spent nearly a week camping out and controlling the flames. More days than we like to think of we would wake to hazy smoky smelling air. In the last 2 weeks, we have had some good rainfall and appreciate the clear cool air that has developed these early days of September.

Our plans going forward? Just a few more weeks at the Lake and we leave by the first week in October, (because of the potential for freezing temps at night that develop) winterize this location and make our way to the Caribbean where we will get back to Lost Loon. We are excited because we have been invited to sail with friends from US to Antigua! Then we fly to Puerto Rico and Lost Loon. We have been in contact with several cruising couples that have boats also doing the same thing as well as others with boats in the BVI’s, Grenada, and some that spent the summer in Bonaire. So, more about that as time gets closer…November 1.

                                                                           Sails

Silent partners set to harness the wind,

No task to complex when they are trimmed

Working in unison to exact the course

Taking the spray while relentless in force

Making the speed that the vessel she craves

Propelling this mass through the swells and the waves

Making it known when the apparent is changing

Whether its settled or the storm is raging

While catching a breeze or fending a gust

Heavens pass overhead as the fabric is thrust

Their charge is complete when the mark has been made

Tall stewards of ships their benefits outweighed

Coming Soon…our worst nightmare sailing a small boat……because I have this habit..

WRITE EVERYDAY!

Back in St Croix

It’s 1100, the sun is bright, few clouds are present, wind is 14 -18knots, waves are 3-5 ft and swells minimal and we are halfway between St Thomas and St Croix. We have claimed this the best sail yet.  This is our 4th passage to St Croix this winter. Our destination is again Fredricksted.

We are loving the quiet and relaxed nature of this island and in particular the anchorage.

There is a quote in our Cruising guide to the Virgin Islands that says ” many cruisers who drop anchor for a short time have become residents”. And we have met a few! It’s crazy but this laid back island has become a respite and haven this winter. We have come to love the quiet, beautiful beaches, incredible blue water and the diving! The people are very friendly and so willing to make our stay even better.

We and several friends have been lucky to get our Covid vaccine here…

Refreshments at the Fred

Take some long but super sweet hikes..like 8.6 miles up into the hills!

Enjoy some great diving…

Diving the pier

Party like Rockstars.

..

Partay on Lost Loon

And find some great new sights!!

Point Udall/ Melenium Monument
St Somewhere
Cruisers Raft-Up
Leatherback Brewery
Best dive bar in St Croix…best pizza too.

We are truly enamored with this island. Since we made four trips here from St Thomas, we feel at home as we furl in the Genoa, take down the main, and set anchor in Fredricksted.

We made our final milk-run back to St Thomas just 2 weeks ago and sailed past the northeast coast of St Croix saying “We will be back” …it may have to wait until Fall, and until then we will miss this gem of an island and take with us so many memories.

More to come on our Caribbean Winter 2021!!!

Best Birthday Ever or “I Can’t Believe My Eyes!”

Family..but who’s sailing the boat??

The day starts bright and we had been planning a birthday weekend for ‘ you know who’ …to navigate the bays of St John..a special time, just Mike and I ( so I thought) … and 3 pounds of shrimp, 2 packages of tuna, an extra bottle of rum, and no argument when I wanted 2 bottles of Pinot,  ( when he  usually prefers Malbec), along with his suggestion for a couple of sweet potatoes, extra broccoli, and more Romaine. But its my birthday right?? If nothing else, we gonna eat like royalty!

We had been on quite a few provisioning runs around Charlotte Amalie and at the end of the day joined up with our friends Bryan and Polly for a refreahment . Just like the cruisers we are, we bought a 6-pack of President beer , found a park bench and enjoyed the late afternoon and regaled our accomplishments. It had become a tradition… now that we had done it twice??? Ha ha

Back to Thursday morning, I am waffling about getting a much needed haircut.

1.  The cost.. ok so its my birthday ( excuse enough?)

2.  The covid thing. Could I sit in a salon for 30-45  min getting my hair washed cut and styled with a mask and hope not to catch anything??

3. My sister in law had agreed to help Mike via video cut this crazy mop. ( of course I trust HER!! But In all that Mike can do.. I was afraid.  Plus where would the hair go? Everywhere on the boat . I’D BE CLEANING LOCKS OFF OF EVERYTHING.)

I think it was that last thought that sold me on the salon.

We had coffee and took the dinghy to yacht basin dinghy dock and it was a 3 min walk to the salon. Mike said he’d be back when I called.

I arrived at the door but it was not open. Checked the watch 10:00. Rechecked my text message with the appointment time. Ok ‘ Island time’

About 10:10, after some worry, I had the wrong place, or time, and just about then, the owner showed up and told me my stylist was on the way. To my surprise… no one else was there. There was another woman who showed up as I was leaving, but my fears of a crowded salon were relieved. And my stylist walked in with this long kinky curly head of hair… I think we could have passed for sisters 20 yrs ago. She was THE right person for the job, and the cut was perfect!!

I depart the salon pretty happy that I got a great birthday present, I call Mike, and we head back to the boat.

We had spent a few days of much needed polishing and cleaning. What is funny in retrospect is as soon as Mike started a job, I would find something like the stove or the bathrooms to clean. Why not have a sparkling ‘house’ for your birthday weekend. And so we did a bit more cleaning…polishing the plastic doger sections, reorganizing the kitchen. .. By mid afternoon I get a text from my friend Polly. ” we’ve been out all day shopping, want to meet for a beer?” Back to the tradition we had set.

With the sun coming in the cockpit, its HOT. A beer sounds good, but I really need a shower. So we quickly get wet, change clothes and head for our favorite park bench.

We open and down 6 bottles between the 4 of us, as the sun goes down behind the luxury yachts in the marina and we watch people coming and going at the end of the day, walking dogs, jogging, making grocery runs. Mike stands up looks at his phone (?) and asks if he should get another 6 pack. I’m kinda full if beer, but Polly says sure she’ll share one with Brian. So who am I to argue. It will be cooler if the sunsets, and we have invited Polly and Brian to the boat for burgers. I’m in for the logic.

Mike leaves. For the life of me I can’t even recall what story I was telling Polly and Brian, but I’m looking off in the distance and my brain registers.. ” oh that girl has same body type and skin color as…. OMG ! Brain cells fire! Its Kelsey! and tailing her is Christopher. I let one explicative fly, and my heart is about to stop, and I realize what’s happening.

I’ve been set up for the most wonderful surprise of my life! I’m in tears now… I look at Polly and Bryan and I think they had wet eyes as well. Big hugs… but where’s Mike? 2 minutes later he’s back with the beers and has missed the unfolding surprise.

I regain my composure and then cant believe I didn’t see the signs….the food, alcohol, radio silence from both kids this week, Kelseys insistence on meeting us in St Lucia , and all the cleaning of the boat.

I need another beer now. We sit briefly and discuss their covert operation…. Kelsey’s ruse, Mike keeping me from seeing his text messages ( funny how he was saying his muskey fishing friends that were texting him alot?? It’s not even muskey season),   Christopher just plain off the grid, and my friends Polly and Bryan playing along.

We had a great weekend. Kelsey has been on the boat twice before, but to get Chris aboard was a delight. He has never seen Lost Loon!! Many thanks to his wife Jenni for encouraging him.

We anchored in Waterlemon. Hiked to the ruins.

We snorkeled, Chris fished in the flatsand Kelsey and I hiked to Coral Bay, 5 miles round trip.

Mike had wanted to dive with Chris, but we didn’t think we had enough weights. When Kelsey arrived in Coral Bay, we were within 1/4 mile of Busy Bee dive shop. We bought extra weights.. and carried them back to the boat.

We sailed to Christmas Cove and Mike and Chris took off to dive Cow and Calf dive spot.

We made some good meals, drank some good wine, had a couple great sunset happy hours.

Feeling blessed that these two made a big effort for my birthday weekend. I will cherish the memories and hope to repeat some day, somewhere.

Hoping you find blessings in your life today. Have a great week!

not Lost….

Well, its been a crazy Winter.

I’m sure more of you will agree, than not.

After a long awaited journey back to Lost Loon in St Thomas, VI, we are enjoying the warmth, sunshine, and blue water of the Caribbean.

The Briefing

To catch everyone up…..we arrived mid December (the longest we have been away from Lost Loon) to splash our dear boat back in the water. We completed the last of our seasonal goodbyes, traveling from Florida to Minnesota and back to take off on a bright Monday with our negative Covid tests in hand. After four days of hard labor, scraping, painting, replacing batteries, reorganizing we were ready.

Wait who is that character on our boat??

Oh it one of the repair guys.. we had a through-hull replaced over the summer, they did the work and can you believe they showed up for the launch to check and make sure there was no leak???? Thats service!!

Good news no leak!

We are sitting in the slings as they are called , and hold our breath as the engine fires up. The slings are released into the murky water of the lagoon and Lost Loon surges forward, as naturally as a horse out of the gate.

First anchorage Christmas Cove, Little St James

We met up with our friends on SV Joli, who made an incredible sail from Maryland early November. (Read about it here SV Joli blogspot). With Covid still present on the islands, we decide to stay put for a bit……and as you’ll see… a bit longer. The trouble with cruising to other Caribbean countries is the testing and quarantine. The requirements are all over the map. Most countries require a test before leaving and then a test upon arrival, along with 3 to 5, and in some places 14 days of quarantine on the boat, with no going ashore before they clear the crew in. What is more frustrating is that they are changing their requirements frequently.

Other cruisers have commented that its like trying to hit a target while intoxicated and blindfolded.  So we have made the Virgin Islands of St Thomas, St John, and St Croix our winter home.

Debrief on the Virgins

St. Thomas has many bays and anchorages, but we found a gem near the airport , Brewers Bay. Ok so we watch and listen to jets taking off between 11 and 4, but the beach there is wonderful. It is well maintained by the University of Virgin Islands, and on weekends closes due to Covid outbreak at 4:30, so no all- nighters on the beach. Which means peaceful sleeping for us. It is also within walking distance of some shopping…2 miles or so. We spent New Years Eve here with friends on 3 other boats…. we enjoyed a great night of progressive apps and cocktails,finishing the night dancing on the huge foredeck of Joli.

Party time on Lost Loon
Progressive stop on Lost Loon

Charlotte Amalie, Long Bay, is a harbor right in the city. In non-Covid years it is chock-full of cruise ships and travelers from everywhere. Right now it is full of charter catamarans that have little or no business and need a place to park. This location is great for provisioning in large quantities, getting laundry done, and catching a safari bus that runs all over the island for a few dollars each way. We come here to get things done.

St John is lovely, with huge green hills, beautiful white sand beaches, and clear blue water. We spent a couple of days in Lameshur Bay on the south side of St John a couple of weeks ago with our friends Ric and Mimi aboard. There is a terrific spot to dive and snorkel in settled weather and a great out of the way beach as well.

The trip upwind to Lameshur Bay
Purely Peaceful

Offshore Excursion

We made our first trip to St Croix a few weeks back. It is a 35 mile sail south from St Thomas, so we waited until the wind is from the east or a little north and the seas were settled . The first sail was quite squally, and we were reacquainted with the quickly changing weather and waves in this region. Our second sail was the Valentines Regatta… (another post in the works!)

This island is a little like a place that time forgot. There is a very colorful beachfront, old buildings transformed into hotels and restaurants., cute shops, a struggling museum, a bakery, dive shops, an ice cream shop and KFC… yep Kentucky Fried Chicken!! The Colonel sure has an edge in the fast food market here.

Fredricksted waterfront

The anchorage at Fredricksted Pier holds a collection of boats, mostly cruisers, very few charters. So what I’m say is that its … shhh ..quiet!

There are beaches everywhere and the SCUBA diving is awesome. From the anchorage we can visit nearly 10 dive spots with the dinghy. We have made 5 or 6 dives here and have never been disappointed. The big fame is diving the pier and looking for seahorses. We looked, we didn’t see them. We are told there is one location and possibly only 1 resident seahorse??…oh well we will keep looking.

Bryan and Polly, SV Joli with us on a snorkeling beach day
Our new favorite beer. Made with the Caribbean fruit soursop!

We dined at a couple restaurants , rented a car and took a trip to the larger city of Christiansted, made our way to the Eastern tip of the island Millennial Monument, Point Udall, ordered carryout Roti, and even stopped at the Mutiny vodka distillery. ( why? Because they have closed the Cruzan Rum distillery because of Covid).

Point Udall, easternmost part of STX

Current Location

So today we are back in St Thomas, we need our SCUBA tanks inspected, need to buy a starter battery for the engine, and need a propane bottle filled.

But we have a date back in St Croix….. March 12, 3 pm for our 2nd Covid vaccine. Unbelievable but everyone is encouraged to get vaccinated here, but word has it the locals are reluctant. So we got on the list and got the call. We know several other cruising couples taking advantage of the opportunity. Feeling lucky.

Well so much more to tell, like the birthday surprise… next up….and Valentines Regatta / Race

Thanks for hanging in there with me. XOXO from the crew of Lost Loon.

Yes, we have another boat…

The latest addition to the Lake Vermilion fleet is a 1981 15 ft Sparkman Stephens designed fractional sloop Designers Choice. (For those of you who are not aware, S and S are top of the line designers for so many boats. They have designed early on  masthead yawl rig sailboats, naval marine units like the ones they used for D-Day, power boats and bluewater sailboats like Hylas,  Morris, Tartan, Palmer Johnson,Nautor Swan…and others. ). Not the most elegant or creative of boat names, but our DC is apparently one of nearly 8000 produced we are number 680 built between 1968 and 1985. The THS (theoretic hull speed) is a whopping 4.78! But her sail area/displacement ratio or performance index is 41.52!!! A good racer is at least 18-20.

We were looking for a something a bit more challenging than the sunfish that I have had so much fun with over the last 15 years.

She has a few gel coat cracks, and some hull blisters, but we’ve had her out on the lake twice now and in moderate winds she is a blast. The mast goes up easy with 2 people, but light enough for 1.  And she is rated for 900 pounds of passengers and gear!! There is even a boom vang to manage the mainsail shape and  a spinnaker pole to use with a bright yellow symmetrical  chute.

The day we brought her to the cabin last week we had 15-20 knot winds and towed her alongside the Lund fishing boat.  We were mistaken when we thought that a 300 pound boat would easily be dragged ashore given an improvised ramp. (Granted it was a 3 foot rise from the lake to shore land) WRONG! We spent nearly 2 hours pulling her up on a couple of heavy beams we rescued from the boat house we just took apart. The following day we headed for L and M Supply in Virginia and bought 4 – 10 ft, 3 inch PVC pipes and screwed those to the wood and she came up like a charm.

We probably need a bigger winch, but we switched to a nylon strap, and bought a improvised bridle. Now we can at least get it out of the water with fewer explicatives! Getting the boat out of the water prevents her from banging on the dock and getting caught in a wind storm there or worry about a coming loose from a mooring during a midnight storm.

The first sail was fantastic.  Winds were 8-10 and the lake was quiet, so no dodging skiers or tubers, like on the weekends. We had gunnels in the water and a few times needed a hiking strap in some of the heavier gusts. It’s nice to have 2 people comfortable in the cockpit, sharing the enjoyment. We spent a few hours just tacking upwind and then used the spinnaker on the return. We also rigged the spinnaker pole with the jib and came back downwind wing on wing…something we have yet to perform on Lost Loon.

Will be working on getting some of the larger spider cracks repaired and adding a few blocks for the spinnaker halyard and sheets, otherwise this 15 ft darling will be enough to keep me sailing year ‘round!

 

Last sail… since this time in early September, she’s been covered secured for the winter, and apparently ready seen the first snows of the season. Left to watch things as we head South to start our 5th sailing season in the Caribbean.

Be safe, stay healthy!

Southern windwards and chili killies

A post from February that seemed to miss the Internet upload??? Anyway, enjoy while I get work on what we are up to this summer!

One of the most beautiful spots in the southeast Caribbean, the Tobago Cays. It is a destination for charter and long term cruisers as well. The reason is the crystal clear water, sand beaches, an abundance of turtle life all protected by a huge reef. That makes it special because we are usually anchored or moored behind an island in waters protected from the Atlantic waves and swells, but here we have full view of the great ocean. This morning’s sunrise was then extra special as it was beautifully clear. And because it is such a desirable location, there are many boats here! They start coming shortly after noon and continue up to sunset.

During the day we see turtles pop up for a breath and a peek around. We watch snorklers follow the sea life around the anchorage. There are turtles everywhere, just a quick snorkel around the boat and they are feeding on the grass below. One afternoon I counted 6 during a 10 minute swim. There is a cut through the surrounding reef to deeper waters for snorkeling and diving when the seas are calm. Here we see bigger pelagic fish, sometimes sharks and rays.

We are lucky to have our friends Rick and Mimi aboard again. We picked them up at the ferry dock in Carriacou, ( after a cancelled flight to Houston, made Charlotte, then Miami to Grenada where then spent the night so they could get the one ferry to Carriacou!)

Carriacou is part of Grenada which is celebrating independence Feb 6th. They are already decked out for the affair!

We have sailed as far north as Bequia with a stop in Mayreau and now, on the way back south, we stop here in the Tobago Cays a small archipelago of islands that are part of St Vincent called the Grenadines.

Last night we enjoyed a fun lobster beach barbecue with so many other cruisers. We saw piles of lobster being served and wonder how this is sustained day to day month to month , year after year. But this didn’t spoil the delicious taste of the crustacean served with local provisions of plantains, rice pilaf and grilled potatoes. We were enlightened by other cruisers who brought appetizers and bottles of rum, wine and even a couple with champagne!

We snorkeled, hiked a couple small islands close by and people -watched… an activity that comes naturally as boats come and go in the anchorage. We play ‘what flag is that?’ as well as ‘where will they try to anchor ‘ guessing games. After being on the water long enough down here it’s pretty easy to predict. Our week took us to the islands of Palm, Mayreau and Sandy.

Our last day was a perfect bright snorkeling stop just off Hillsborough of Carriacou. We swam for over an hour seeing 2 octopus, numerous sergeant majors, angelfish, lobster den, and porcupine fish to name a few. This area is also a protected marine area and despite reports of declining coral reefs in the Caribbean this one was beautiful. There were huge stag horn coral, fans, purple tubes, and fire coral .

Best breakfast recipe!!

Chili Killies

According to our guest Rick, this Men’s Journal recipe is good for hangovers. We just love it when our guests like cooking.( recipe is our version)

1 bag of plain tortilla chips

1 jar of picante/ salsa

1-2 cups Shredded cheddar

4-6 eggs

Combine the chips and most of the picante/ salsa stirring so most of the chips are coated. Let sit while shredding the cheese.

Preheat oven to 375.

Pour the coated chips into 13 x 9 pan. Sprinkle cheese on the chips evenly. Break eggs atop the chips, evenly in pan.

Bake for 10- 15 min, then raise the oven shelf and turn on the broiler to cook the eggs as well done as preferred. Watch constantly to prevent burning.

Serve each person with egg. May use additional picante/ salsa.

We think sour cream would be great but don’t usually keep on the boat.

Best Restaurants this week:

Tobago Cays Beach Barbeque- lobster!!!!!

Laura’s in Bequia – excellent tuna and mahi

Tainty Mavis in Carriacou- fresh wahoo and nice provisions ( sides)

Best Beach bar:

The Ranch Escapade- this is a kick off your shoes, enjoy the beach deck and swing, walk the sand, endless ocean view beach bar!! It is on the windward side of Mayreau, a short walk to near paradise for a cold beer and awesome view of paradise!

Thanks for stopping . Leave us a message or comment.

Fair winds dear friends!!

Never say never

Three years ago when we sailed within the US and British Virgin Islands, shortly after Hurricane Irma released her powerful fury, we were witness to the incredible destruction of homes, resorts, cars, and boats. We saw the carnage in Spanish Town, Virgin Gorda, Nanny Cay, Tortola, and boats strewn ashore in St John and St. Thomas. Today, much of that has been cleaned up, but there are still derelict vessels in the mangroves and other de-masted sailboats on moorings that remain as a warning and reminder of how life is so easily disrupted and the power of nature. We spent about a month between the countries there at that time and mentioned as we left, we were glad to have secured a place nearly as far south as we could for the hurricane season in Grenada. We were still cognizant that storms could occur there, but with far less frequency.

It is now mid May and we have done something that has surprised even us….left our boat in the Virgin Islands!! Scary huh? We think so too, but like I mentioned in the previous blog we were not in favor of making a non-stop trip back to the US from the Virgin Islands and Grenada was closed down tight from our perspective. So it’s done. And we pray for all hurricanes go North of these islands!

We spent several days in the water, cleaning and polishing and getting ready for the haul-out. We were actually contacted 3 days before the BIG day and told that the boatyard would be closed because of a holiday on May 1st (our intended date) and that we would now be hauled on April 30. Come to find out, the holiday was Carnival, but Carnival was cancelled due to the Covid virus precautions and restrictions. Wow! Cancel Carnival? That’s crazy parades, bands, food, drink, and parties !!! But as a resilient people, they decided they would still take the holiday. We have definitely learned to live day by day out here in this life on the water.

Sailing downwind…one last time

We had made a last sail around to Charlotte Amalie a few days previous where we would take off the sails and get a few other things done in what we thought would be a settled location. Little did we know that for 3 days we would have 15-18 kn winds and from where we anchored a bit of a chop and swell. We made the best of it and got the work done.

Motoring Bare poles into Benner Bay for the haul out

So at 1:30 on that Thursday we were sitting in the lagoon waiting for a signal. We made a phone call as we saw no one manning the lift and found out there was a boat ahead of us. Kind of disappointing, but they did move quickly to get that boat in the lift and put us on the staging dock. By 4:30 we were out and the sailing season for Lost Loon was over. Always a bittersweet moment. I will admit that I love this life so much, I did shed a couple of tears.

After procuring water and electric sources we were back to work in the cooler part of the day..late afternoon. We still had 3 days of work ahead before we flew back to the US.

We were fortunate to find someone willing to rent their AirBNB at a very reasonable price for us during this time. Our host even picked us up at the end of the day and returned us in the morning! Superhost! And a beautiful location above Red Hook with the best hot shower and comfortable bed.

From here we could see most of St John, St James and parts of the BVI.

We even had a nightly visitor that would conveniently show up as we were cooking dinner

We spent 3 long days working away at our list of tasks, crossing them off and adding new ones each night. Sunday,Departure day, arrived with a gorgeous our sunrise and we were off by 730 AM to finish the laundry we needed to leave on the boat.

Sunrise Red Hook

By 1030 we had made it back to the boat to take one final look and turn the lock for the last time this season. She was as ready as she would ever be.

With our bags packed, masks and alcohol gel in hand we headed for the St Thomas airport that afternoon. It was a breeze through customs and security that afternoon, as there were only about 25 people on our flight back to Miami.

Thanks Pia for the masks!

Miami airport was eerily deserted on our arrival.

We spent 16 days in Punta Gorda, FL as part of our self quarantine ( thank you Jeff Bellairs!) We spent these days walking in the early morning, biking, and kayaking, fishing, swimming. ( not a bad quarantine!) We feel great, our exposure was likely very minimal once we got off the boat through the airport, but enroute to see family, it’s what you do, right? Protect whom we can!

Redfish prize
Sunrise

Next up the journey north….there are walleyes to catch on Lake Vermilion!!!

Take care friends, stay well!

I’ve Got You Babe..

The sun peeks through the overhead hatch as the watch on my wrist vibrates signaling the beginning of another day as the music comes up… click here

I am sure many of you feel just as Bill Murray’s character, Phil Connors, does in The movie Groundhog Day that we are spinning in perpetual motion day after day as these days of the Covid-19 quarantine , self-isolation, “stay-at-home’ drone on.

Meanwhile, Lost Loon is sitting safe in the US Virgin Islands. We are surrounded by like cruisers who have either come here with plans to head back to the US or like us waiting to see if Grenada opens their doors.

We arrived in US waters on March 14 after an uneventful overnight motorsail from St Maarten. It was our plan to stage here before leaving for the ABC Islands. Shortly after our arrival we became well aware that a minuscule microscopic menace would effect a huge change to our plans. And little did we know that things would change nearly daily on a worldwide as well as local level. More about that in a few….

For a period of time, shortly after arrival here, we were literally between a rock and a hard place, with no where to go. Our insurance policy on the boat says we need to be north of the Florida GA state line or south of 12 degrees latitude … that’s Grenada. Explicitly out of the typical hurricane zone. It would have been our choice to head for Grenada ( only 350 mikes) but we see boats in quarantine, limited haul-outs and very random flights leaving the country for the US. So our second option was to head back to the US (1220miles!!). And… to our disappointment Bahamas waters are closed! ( meaning transit outside their territorial waters …no stopping for an overnight rest!) This would also mean a whole Fall season of trying to get East against the trades to just get right back here in the VIs.

Well we found out last week that just about anything is negotiable for $$$$$. We have tentatively arranged to haul the boat out here in St Thomas for a sizable additional fee on our policy and get one of the scheduled flights back to Miami. I know, it’s very obvious to us that this IS A HURRICANE ZONE, but so is most of the East coats of the US! At this point with options closing off for us we needed to make a decision.

Doing this we give up our option for Grenada. And if things don’t look good here or we have a change of mind, we will end up with our last plan and head to the continental US.

If we were making a return to the US doing the 1200 nm, and that’s 10-12 non-stop days. We have been told that there will be no anchoring in any islands; we would need to make a straight shot north – NW from here. AND they have invoked a $10,000 fine with possible imprisonment if caught anchoring or even in the waters!!

Presently we sit at anchor waiting for our haul-out at Independent Boatyard on St Thomas on May 1st. Week #4.

Backyard
Neighborhood

So what’s a day like in the Virgin Islands when you are not sailing and visiting anchorages?? It’s like having a floating condo… a very small condo. We are living in 250 square feet.

The day starts with the morning radio net on the VHF . We find out the latest local changes ( if we haven’t read Facebook), get weather, discuss options to get food, laundry done, and order pizza! Yep, there is a local pizza place that actually served 40 some boats some 50-60 pizzas today by boat!

So this is a pizza boat. They used to be anchored in Christmas Cove, but work out of Benner Bay now from 11-7 each day

We have a list of duties/ tasks to complete before we haul out and a list of jobs for after haul out. So everyday we get 1-2 things done …the stainless is polished, the heads are lubricated, the diesel fuel is treated, the food and medicine inventory has been completed. We have reorganized lockers, and started taking equipment off the rails.

The weather is good, sunny most days 80 degrees and light breezes at night. We can be dropped off at a closed beach just to cross to the road for a walk. ( Trails and beaches just opened yesterday again!!)

We spend time checking in on the HAM network of boats, email and messages, reading, and watching news clips from home in the morning.

Afternoons we may swim, SCUBA

do yoga aboard ( oh yeah that’s a challenge!), cut each other’s hair 🤣

Yep, desperate times call for desperate measures!

and read. We have had excellent cellular service to make calls to the kids and grandkids, mothers, sisters, and brothers.

So here is a list of Lost Loon’s recent reads:

Cape Horn The Logical Route, Bernard Motissier

Dreamland, San Quinones

Land of Dreams, Vidal Sundstol

The Ravens, Vidal Sundstol

Only the Dead, Vidal Sundstol

Chasing My Cure, David Fajgenbaum

Boys in the Boat, Daniel James Brown

We are making the best of the situation in our little floating home. We feel we are some of the lucky ones to be located in a US territory. Some of our sailing friends are in foreign islands and either cannot leave or are stuck on their boats until the government says they can haul their boats out…. and then hope for a flight back to the US!!

We pray for our friends and family they they stay safe and protect each other. We are doing the same. And wake up each morning hoping this crazy dream is just that!!!

Make it a great day!

Finally got the GoPro app to work!! Diving The Ledges, St James Island, USVI

A St Barth’s pictorial

Hey folks! This is just images…no words from our latest stop at St Barthelemy. Enjoy!

No words this blog.. ok just explanation. Spent 2 days in beautiful St Barthelemy on our way up the Leeward chain as we head to BVIs, and US Virgins…St Thomas. Thought it was quite worthy of a silent pictorial.

It’s a beautiful and very French place here in the Caribbean! We’re off to Sint Maarten 🇸🇽! Au revoke!