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Things we are just plain grateful for

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

 

We Eloped!

Most of you have already seen our social media posts but if you haven’t… SURPRISE! We eloped!

Though we’ve been together for years already, on December 16th Peter and I made it official. They say that one year living on a boat together is like 7 years on land. Ha! If we’ve made it this long together in such a tiny space there’s no doubt in our minds that we’re destined to share many more wonderful years to come.

We’ve been so busy with work that we originally thought we’d make wedding plans for the following summer to give our families plenty of notice to arrange flights, lodging and time off work to be there for the big day. We also knew that we’d have a few more days off to spend with them when the charter season slows down a little. Although I love to plan things out, our lifestyle is much more focused on going with the flow and being adaptable to change. The original wedding plans of course didn’t stick for long…

You guessed it… We recently found out we are growing a baby coconut of our very own! Our little one will be arriving sometime around June 2017 :)

We both decided to have the wedding sooner rather than later. It made the most sense to just elope, keep it simple and small, and not have any family come down for the wedding since quite a few of them will be coming down to see the baby in July anyway.

After choosing a wedding date literally less than two weeks away, the clock was ticking to get it all arranged. On a random day off, Peter and I went into a little shop near our boat where I found a flowy and casual beach dress and Peter found some new surf trunks and a new button up shirt. After a quick google search I was up to speed on the requirements and procedures for getting married in BVI and made a couple phone calls to secure an officiant. He and his wife took care of their part of the marriage license application and Peter and I went into town to submit the application. Luckily Brittany and her mom were going to be in town as well and were able to sign as witnesses, a crucial part of the submittal requirements.

Thanks to our friend William at Mango Media, his friends at Surfsong allowed us to use their gorgeous beach both on the public side of Well Bay on Beef Island (East end of Tortola) as well as the private portion of their property for our ceremony. I couldn’t think of a more perfect location for our special day!

We had only a few of our closest friends that were already in the Virgin Islands attend the ceremony. It was important to us that someone was there to help celebrate even though our family was far away. Even though I had no decorations, arch or even chairs, Brittany surprised me with an incredible bouquet of flowers!! It was more than I could have dreamed of and a perfect finishing touch.

The best part of all is that I had asked Genevieve to capture the photos, and she said yes! I absolutely love her eye for photography, especially of people and magical moments. Plus of course that meant they would be coming to visit us in BVI after taking a ferry over from St. Thomas! It wouldn’t have been the same without them there.

After the ceremony we all drove back into town for dinner and drinks at Island Roots, hosted by Xtian. It was a lovely evening. Scott even surprised us with a few extra days off!! Thank you Scott! And a HUGE thank you to everyone that was a part of this very special day!! xoxo

 

It’s taken me a little while to get around to posting these, but I couldn’t be happier with how they turned out! Take a look… 

Pictured above:

Bride, Groom and Betsy – Where The Coconuts Grow
Genevieve, Eben, Arias and Ellia – It’s A Necessity
Brittany, Scott, Isla, Haven and Mira – Windtraveler
Darcy, Luuck, Stormer and Rio – Sunkissed Soeters
Rebecca and Brian – Summertime Rolls
Kara and Todd – B&G Yacht Management
Clare and Blade – Voyage Charters

Remembering Why We’re Here

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Mary Christine Pieschel 10/11/1954 ~ 05/25/2012

It’s been four years since the devastating disease of Breast Cancer stole Christine away from us. Not a day goes by that we don’t think of her.

It’s because of her, and in honor of her that Peter and I are on this adventure now while we are still young. Peter’s mother, Christine, would have loved to do what we are doing and she would be so proud of us. We know she is watching over us and she continues to inspire us every day to keep doing what makes us happy.

After hearing countless memories remembered and retold by loved ones, there is no doubt in my mind that Peter gets his adventurous spirit from his mother, Christine, and his father, Pete. They were both taken from this world far too soon yet both live on through their only son as he follows his dreams and his heart. They would both be so very proud.

Life is short, enjoy the time you have to the very fullest and do whatever it is that makes you happy!

Please consider donating to Christine’s twin sister Lucile, so she can participate in her SIXTH Susan G. Komen 3-Day Walk (60 miles in 3 days) in San Diego this November. She walks because she told her sister she would never stop…

Lucile’s team, Powered By Optimism, has been recognized in the newspapers for their overwhelming camaraderie and support.

You can visit her fundraising page >> HERE << where donations can be made to help Lucile meet her goal and walk with her team another year.

I Said Yes!

After five years of dating and non-stop adventures…

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Peter proposed and I said Yes!

How It Happened:

It was Monday the 13th of June. We had a much needed day off from work and took our dinghy out around the corner from West End to Smuggler’s Cove on the North side of Tortola for a sunset stroll. Peter let me out of the dinghy and he anchored it off the beach a little bit so I didn’t have to swim in. I had never been to this beach before so I was excited to explore a new place. The hours before sunset are notoriously buggy at the beaches so we promptly applied bug spray before getting any bites and began our very romantic walk up to the Eastern end of the beach. After almost stepping on a washed up urchin, we turned and walked the entire length of the beach toward the other end.

Near the picturesque palm trees there was a family playing in the sand and swimming around but we pretty much had the rest of the place to ourselves. Out of the corner of my eye I spotted a baby reef shark swimming by in the shallows and we watched the gentle waves roll up on the sand. The cool Caribbean breeze kept most of the bugs away and we finally arrived at the “end of the road.” From that moment on, our lives would never be the same…

Peter got on one knee and magically pulled a grey box out of his pocket. With the most genuine and loving words, he asked me to marry him!!

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We were both a little in shock of what just took place, but we were both very much ready for it also. For a very long time our conversations had included talk of marriage and kids, though we weren’t sure when that would happen. My mom had been visiting a few months prior and one day after another casual mention of our future wedding, Peter nonchalantly told me to go pick out a ring… So I did!

The Ring:

My mom and I drove into town while Peter was busy getting the fuel tanks polished on Aristocat. There aren’t many jewelry stores on Tortola but I’m pretty sure we found all of them. I’ve looked at engagement rings before in various cruise ship ports but not with the same mission as this day. This day it was real. I was really going to get married! I wasn’t just looking for a ring I might like “someday” – I was looking for a ring I liked now. I always thought I wanted an Emerald (my birthstone) as the center stone for my engagement ring. I wanted something different than what everyone else has. Emeralds are cheaper than diamonds yet not as hard as diamonds – a real concern for someone like myself that lives on a boat in a harsh salt water environment where I’m constantly using my hands. Our active lifestyle is rough on our bodies to say the least and knocking my ring against stainless steel or getting it caught on something is a very real danger. But, I loved emeralds.

I began asking to see the available emeralds in the first store we visited, but quickly realized the most efficient way to start this shopping experience was to find a setting I liked first, then worry about finding the right stone. The selection was very limited. I didn’t see anything I had to have, even with the very familiar sales pitch that bellowed softly from the lady behind the counter.

“This ring is very special. The retail price is $$$, but for you? Don’t look at this number. That’s the retail price. For you, we can offer you a very special price.”

A small calculator is brought out from under the counter and many numbers are pounded into it, several different times. Finally, the calculator is turned around to face me and I see a significantly smaller number that I still don’t like.

“Thank you,” I tell the woman. “It’s just not what I’m looking for.”

I take her business card and assure her that I’ll be back if I change my mind.

The next store was much larger though they only carried diamonds. The woman in that store kindly didn’t waste my time or hers and referred me down the street to another store that would have a better selection of gemstones. I swiftly browsed the engagement ring settings but nothing caught my eye, and we were on our way.

The store she referred me to was at the very end of the cruise ship pavilion. On the way we saw two other jewelry stores, both of which had very small selections since the stores had just been built. All of the shops in this area were brand new. I started looking at sapphires and blue diamonds and aquamarines. The half a dozen emeralds I saw were not the right size or shape, nor were they in any settings I liked. I tried on an emerald cut aquamarine with a pave halo around it, which I kind of liked, but didn’t like the halo design at all.

Another store tried to show me yellow diamonds set in rose gold that were all being removed from little plastic bags like they belonged in a gumball machine. They were all identical. No thank you!!

Finally we arrived at the last store, but they were closed! Just then, I saw a man in the doorway and I asked when they would be open again, since I don’t ever make it down this way. I told him about my mission to find an emerald engagement ring and he offered to let us in and show us what he had. While they didn’t have many emeralds, they had an impressive display of tanzanite and he put one up on the counter. When I am shopping, I am very picky and can quickly identify the things I do not like, but end up taking forever to decide on the things I do like. I tried on a few of the brilliant bluish purple rings and quickly became fascinated with their history and beauty. I only liked three of the hundred on display; one of which was a 3.5 carat cushion cut tanzanite solitaire. Some would call it gaudy but I thought it was stunning. By this was by far my favorite cut and size on my finger.

I thought it was the one. I took some photos and told the nice man we would be back!

Later that night we showed Peter the photos and he agreed to go look at it on our next day off. We did go back, but after a little time had passed, I wasn’t sure it was the right ring. Peter knew right away it wasn’t me, though he wanted me to come to that conclusion myself. So that night I began my internet search for the perfect setting and perfect stone. I was just going to order it all, in good time, instead of buying something in a store just to have it right away.

I’m so happy I waited!!

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I ended up finding a gorgeous setting from a jewelry designer in California that to me, looks like a wave – I wanted something ocean-minded. After looking at thousands of different ring styles, this one is nothing like any other ring I’ve ever seen. As unique as it already was, I wanted it to be even more special. Along this search I decided that I was going to let go of my long love of emeralds and choose an aquamarine center stone instead.

Aquamarine is Peter’s birthstone. It’s not any softer than an emerald and its much much cheaper than diamonds or emeralds. It’s the most gorgeous color of blue, perfectly matching the crystal clear waters of the Caribbean. What really sold me on this stone is the significance of it…

Aquamarine is said toprotect sailors and guarantee a safe passage across stormy seas’

How perfectly fitting for our lifestyle!! I fell in love with the stone right then and there. I had to have it.

The jeweler found the perfect stone for the setting I chose and it took a little over a month from start to finish to have the wax mold made and sent to be cast. Our good friends from Windtraveler and Sunkissed Soeters were all very instrumental to helping get the ring to us in BVI as it was carefully transported a great distance. When it finally arrived, Peter and I both agreed a proposal was in order on our very next day off :) Although it wasn’t a surprise, the moment was as perfect as I could have ever dreamed it to be!

What’s next?

Clearly I’m all about being non-traditional. I picked out my own ring, I didn’t want a diamond center stone, and the proposal was not a surprise. We don’t have a date or location set for the ceremony though it will most likely be very small and happen barefoot on a beach ;) I’m not into big to-do’s and I don’t believe in spending a bunch of money on a dress I will only wear for a few hours of my life or on a venue and decorations that will disappear at the stroke of midnight like Cinderella. Our hard earned money will be better spent in support of continuing this amazing journey and enjoying many wonderful experiences, instead of just one experience. Going against the grain is normal for us and our wedding will be no exception ;)

Stay tuned!!

How do we make our Sail Loot?

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You all know our story. A few years ago Peter and I decided to buy a boat, quit our jobs, and sail away. Something we haven’t really talked about, however, is how we can afford to live this lifestyle!

We were absolutely honored when Teddy from the Sail Loot Podcast wanted to feature our story on his website. I feel terrible how long it actually took for our schedules to align. With the best of intentions, we made several attempts to find a strong enough wifi connection to complete the interview over Skype. We tried few places in Grenada during the last hurricane season but the signal was never great and we knew we would need a solid hour of connectivity. Upon finally arriving back to USVI we used our U.S. LTE cell signal and chatted with Teddy for almost an hour and a half.

Although it felt like it had taken eons to complete the interview, the most relevant part of our story was still a secret! Teddy’s patience was amazing and he agreed to wait to publish our interview after we got the clearance to go ‘live’ with the news. After being at the mercy of BVI Government Officials on Island Time since April, just last week we were finally able to make our big announcement.

We burned through almost three years of savings and the time has come to make some more loot for our sailing adventures as the new crew of Aristocat Charters! Running daysails in BVI is going to rejuvenate our bank account, ultimately allowing us to continue living our dream and sharing this lifestyle with as many people as we can.

If you’ve got some time to kill (or if you just want to hear our voices), lend your ear to hear our story on Sail Loot: Episode 031

Thanks again Teddy! You Rock!