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Sailing South and other thoughts

Here we are smack in the middle of July and well into the Atlantic Hurricane season – a time of year where we should’ve already been heading South. Peter and I discussed our options months ago and we both agreed that moving South to Grenada in June was the best thing for us this year. We’ve already spent two Hurricane seasons down there and we absolutely love it. It may sound like a simple plan to pick up anchor and set sail but things haven’t exactly unfolded the way we had hoped.

We knew we bought a project boat. We knew she needed some TLC to bring her back to the condition we knew she was once in. What we didn’t know was just how many other unforeseen repairs and upgrades would be needed along the way. The money we got back from our insurance claim on our last boat helped us to buy this one and get back on our feet but the cost of additional repairs has far exceeded what we had left over. Because of this, Peter has been working pretty much full time here in St Thomas in order to pay for the extra parts we needed and for our weekly groceries. I thought BVI was expensive but honestly I don’t see the food here on St Thomas being much cheaper at all. With a paycheck-to-paycheck budget and with Peter gone all day at work it’s been very difficult to get everything done to the boat that we want or need to do.

We thought we were finally ready to go. With three days left in the month of June we left our favorite spot in Christmas Cove and pointed off toward Grenada. The weather window was promising and our friends Rob and Deb from Cosmos Mariner were buddy-boating down with us. About two hours into the passage South when the seas started building, Peter noticed a significant amount of saltwater pouring into the vberth. How much you ask? Like a gallon a minute. It was pouring in from the dorad boxes and about four other places every time the bow sliced through the waves. The seastate wasn’t terrible but we also weren’t used to a boat that buried the bow so much. Our Whitby didn’t sail to wind this way. This boat was made to slice through in such a different way. Peter also never had these issues on the passage from Antigua to the VI because it was all downwind. We had done a small shakedown but nothing offshore in this direction. Brig was getting frustrated with having to stay strapped to me in our Lillebaby carrier and Peter determined there was no temporary fix he could do while under way that would keep that much water out of our forward cabin for the next 2 and a half days. At that moment he decided it was better for us and for the boat to turn back, make some repairs and wait for the next weather window. *sigh*

No big deal except for now our insurance wouldn’t cover us after July 1 in a named storm if we stayed “inside the box” instead of getting down to the lower latitudes. I immediately got a rider for our policy allowing us to be covered for another month in USVI – another unexpected added expense – and Peter began making repairs. He serviced the frozen dorad scoops so they could be removed and the covers installed closing them off. He recaulked our forward hatch at the base and along the top of the glass. He recaulked the windlass controls. He recaulked the staysail connection to the deck. He pulled up and rebed our two forward cleats, both of which ended up badly needing new bolts. And lastly he pulled up, serviced and rebed the windlass!! That was a NIGHTMARE job but really needed to be done. All I can say is thank goodness my brother Brandon is still here because he’s helped Peter every step of the way, to make this boat safe for all of us, as quickly as possible.

Our weather window is finally here. This time Peter doesn’t want Brig and I to go. Instead, he insists that we fly down to Grenada and wait for him there. It should only take him 2.5-3 days and then he won’t have to worry about us if the waves are miserable. My brother is still here with us and will do the passage too. Our friend Mike from Three Sheets Sailing is also going to go along so Peter can actually get a little sleep and take real shifts. My brother will be able to help a little but he’s never done anything like this before so entrusting him with the responsibility of being on watch when he doesn’t know anything about navigation or sailing isn’t really fair to him. I fly out in two days with Brig. It will be a very long day with one ferry and four connecting flights to hop down island but the good news is we will get to spend the weekend with our friends from the Sunkissed Soeters!! Brig will have so much fun with Darcy and Luuck’s boys, Stormer and Rio and it’ll be good for me too.

I get it… I understand Peter just wants to keep us safe. It’s a new-to-us boat and he wants to gain a little faith in our boat first before taking his baby out to sea in it. I also know it would be very difficult to entertain a one-year-old on a passage to wind. The first attempt a few weeks ago was challenging and that was just a couple of hours worth. Going below to use the head and to change Brig’s diaper just one time was very tiring. But part of me also feels like i’m failing at “cruising with kids” if I can’t even do a little 3 day passage with my baby. SO many other families take their babies on passages longer than this all the time so why can’t I? I know I shouldn’t feel that way and that I’m not failing and that we just need to do what is right for our family. But it’s hard to not think it. Oh well. It doesn’t even matter anymore. It’s another extra expense for the plane ticket but it’s just money right? Peter will just work a little more.

By Monday we should be all settled back on our boat together as a family in a Grenada. I can’t wait. ❤️

First Beach Day

While my dad and Stacy were here, we decided to take Brig down to the beach just outside their condo at Long Bay. It was an absolutely gorgeous day with a perfect, picturesque view all around us. A nice big palm tree cast a perfect shadow on the sand with lots of space to keep us out of the hot sun.  His little skin is so fragile so we are careful to keep him shaded if we do have to go into the sun with him.

I set up the little shade tent that dad and Stacy got for us and gave it a whirl. It sets up in an instant, provides plenty of shade and is big enough for me to sit in there with him. The only bummer part about it was that the wind had started to pick up a little and sand was blowing every which way. I was worried about sand getting in Brig’s eyes so we didn’t stay down at the beach very long but it was still fun for his first time!

While we sat up in the shade, we watched Nana and Grandma Stacy float around in the crystal blue water. Peter had to work that day so we decided to wait for daddy before letting Brig go in the ocean for the first time ;) Even though I didn’t go swimming, I still loved every second of being down by the water. Next time, Brig and I will be out there too! Before I know it, he’ll be a little fish just like his daddy so I wasn’t too bummed about missing out on the cool waves.

Sometimes I look at the pictures I take here in BVI and I can’t believe how gorgeous it all is.  We’re so lucky to be able to call this place home…

Brig’s First Sail

For the first seven weeks of Brig’s life we had a constant stream of visiting Grandparents. My mom arrived the day after he was born and stayed for just over a month.  Then my dad and stepmom arrived, then Peter’s dad and his aunt were here. We got a little bit of overlap in each visit and it was so much fun.

It was such a special time for us so we decided to take Brig for his first sail! He had already been in the dinghy a few times but he was ready to actually go sailing. Since we had moved our boat to the dock and secured her for the remainder of hurricane season it was much easier to take Aristocat instead. There were no charters scheduled that day so it worked out perfect. Jen and Mike from Three Sheets came with us and brought their friend Shakti. Mike has been running Aristocat since Brig was born so he and Peter took care of all the sailing. It was nice for me to be back on board but it was even nicer that all I had to do was take care of Brig ;)

This was the first time Dad and Stacy could see what we had been up to for nearly two years aboard Aristocat. The last time they had visited us in the islands was before we started working so this was pretty exciting for them. They had heard so much about what we did everyday and they finally got to experience it first hand!

Mom couldn’t be happier. We were headed to her favorite place in the entire world. AND, she was taking her grandson there! She was glowing the whole way!

We sailed over to White Bay, Jost Van Dyke for the day. Brig is still too young to wear sunscreen so I kept him in the shade with me on the boat while everyone else swam to shore and had fun on the beach.

We even took an afternoon nap on the boat while everyone else was having fun on shore. I think Brig, Betsy and Peter got more sleep than I did but I did manage to doze a tiny bit.

Jen, Shakti, dad, Mike, and mom… Stacy was behind the camera. They were clearly enjoying a few Painkillers at the Soggy Dollar Bar!

I think the most memorable part of the whole day was sharing Brig’s first sail experience with both my mom and my dad. I can’t even remember when I was last around them both at the same time. Babies have a way of bringing everyone together! Brig sure is loved by a lot of people <3

 

Adventures in Guadalajara

Catching up on our adventures from this summer…

After spending some time with family in San Diego and LA, we bought flights to visit Peter’s grandmother in Guadalajara, Mexico. It had been a very long time since he had seen her last and we didn’t know when we’d get the chance to do so again. His Aunt Lucy had been there many times before and speaks better Spanish than Peter does so we were relieved to know she would come with us ;)

The easiest way to get there was to walk across the boarder in San Diego and fly from Tijuana to Guadalajara. Peter’s cousin Kayleigh dropped us off so we wouldn’t have to leave our car there. We tried out the new Cross Boarder Express (CBX) walkway and it was a breeze! It took us right into the airport in Tijuana. Super easy and we didn’t have to go through the mess of traffic that you can find in Tijuana while trying to get to the airport.

The flight wasn’t bad, though it was a whopping three hours. We arrived in Guadalajara and instead of hailing a taxi we decided to rent a car instead. The best part about our whole travel experience was finding out that our AT&T prepaid Go-Phone plan worked like normal in Mexico too! I couldn’t even believe it! We could make phone calls and text, and even had 3G internet the whole time! That was a HUGE relief to find out we could rely on Google Maps to get us around. I had actually been a fan of Apple maps before, but in Mexico I immediately realized how much better Google Maps was when it showed us what each lane was going to do before we got there. If you’ve ever been on a highway in Mexico you know that the roads the signage there sucks. If you think you want to stay in the slow lane, be prepared to end up exiting onto a different freeway with no idea where it goes to! I don’t think I’ve ever loved Google as much as I did during those four days.

Peter’s Grandmother SO excited to see us! We took her shopping at the mall, and went to lunch.

Peter’s Tio Marco knew we were deeply deprived of some real Mexican street tacos so he took us to his favorite spot. We ate them so fast I couldn’t even get a picture!

Driving around in Guadalajara was easier than in the islands. We were deep into mainland-Mexico and it was surprisingly pretty nice there! No hills, traffic lights, functioning blinkers, and everyone drives on the right side of the road ;) There are sidewalks and even ATVs sharing the lane.

Commercial driveways were a bit funky.

Many residential garages and driveways are short carports that extend into the front of your house.

Lots of one-way streets.

One of the days we took Grandma into the historic town of Tlaquepaque for a little sight-seeing and lunch.

We don’t go anywhere without our Yeti’s! (Thank you Jack and Nikki!)

Saint Peter:

Grandma’s caretaker came with us to help her get around and we all had ice cream after lunch!

A traditional Mexican novelty here is to have your fortune told by a little bird that picks several fortunes out of a little box. Grandma really wanted to do it. They were very long to read and didn’t translate well so she said she would read them when she got home and tell us what they said then. She never did tell us what they said.

One of the best meals we had was that afternoon in Tlaquepaque. It doesn’t get more authentic than this!

There was even an all-female Mariachi band that came in to sing for everyone.

Peter and I had been running every evening for exercise and we were super excited to find this awesome park very nearby to where Grandma lived. It was huge! And super safe. There were lots of other people out here every day to get exercise too.

Our trip was short but we were happy we were able to visit Peter’s Grandma and take a little vacation from our vacation and explore somewhere new :) We’re always looking for a new adventure!

** Official Announcement **

White Bay JVD dad and stacy-37

The suspense is finally over and we’re ecstatic to share the plans we’ve been cooking up!! We’ve been cruising around the Caribbean for the last two years living on savings and a little side income I’ve made from my blog, writing for Tiny House Blog, and working at Pizza Pi but the time has come to join the full-time working world again.

Have no fear – we are not saying goodbye to the cruising lifestyle and we aren’t even going to be working on land! An incredible opportunity has fallen into place that will allow us to be out on the water everyday doing what we love – sharing this amazing lifestyle with as many people as we can. We’ll be able to bring Betsy with us during the day and come home to our cozy boat every night, just a short dinghy ride away. The best part is that it’s all happening in some of our favorite places in the world!

** THE BIG NEWS **

Our friends from Windtraveler finally announced today that they have purchased Aristocat Charters, a daysail business here in the British Virgin Islands!! (Be sure to check out Brittany’s announcement HERE with all the details. It’s been a long process but we finally found our way through all the red tape!)

Scott and Brittany have asked us to run Aristocat, a 48′ Privilege Catamaran, out of West End, Tortola. We are taking guests sailing and snorkeling to either Jost Van Dyke or Norman Island.

The other boat, Lionheart, (also a 48′ Privilege Catamaran) is run by Scott and our friend Luuck from Sunkissed Soeters. They depart from Village Cay Marina in Road Town, Tortola, visiting Norman Island or Salt, Peter and Cooper Islands.

If you’ve ever dreamed about sailing and snorkeling in a tropical paradise, come to Tortola and let us show you just how magical it can be!

Please show a little love and like the Aristocat Charters Facebook Page. If you’ve sailed with us already, please share any recommendations for us on Trip Advisor. We always need new reviews to stay at the Number 1 Daysail in Tortola!! :)

If you’re wondering what this means for our cruising plans, we’re going to be refilling our cruising fund as first priority. We don’t know what the future holds, but you can be sure that we’ll be having fun and of course continuing to share all of our adventures with you along the way!