Sunday, April 24, 2016

17. There's No Glamour in Passages

So, think of all the things you did from Sunday 10am through Wednesday 11pm .  You got ready for your day and maybe went to church and out to lunch with some friends.  Then watched a ball game and made sure the kids’ homework was ready for school.  Monday morning everyone was up early and headed to work or school, followed by dance classes or sports practices and dinner.  Tuesday may look very similar to Monday.  Wednesday, you made it to hump day!  Maybe you celebrated with a family dinner or have a kids’ club you have to make it to.  Think of all the things you did in those 4 days.  Then picture us, on the open ocean that entire time, bobbing and rocking constantly.  Unending motion - while sleeping, eating, always moving.  Sound sickening?  It can be!  But it has it’s highs as well.  You may want to remind me that we signed up for this and you’d be right.  But I don't think anyone goes sailing for the love of passage making, at least I didn’t.  You do it for the amazing places that the necessary evil of passage making can take you!
Day 1- 
We left Blue Haven Marina in high spirts.  We said goodbye to our friends from Canada and headed on our way.  We even saw a large sea turtle as we left the channel which always makes our day.  
    He was this big!
We knew we would be heading into a storm that evening but nothing too terrible.  As the grey loomed in the distance, we began to brace ourselves and batten down the hatches.  The girls questioned why we would knowingly head into a storm and we explained how this weather window was working out for us and had hoped it would be better to encounter rougher weather at the beginning when we were fresh instead of at the end of our journey, exhausted.  Nobody was feeling their best but Andrew gets the award for being the first to toss his cookies since we left in December :) 
It was a beautiful night with moon shining on the water and air temp very comfortable but by the middle of my watch, around midnight, it was sucking!  Seas had transitioned from 15’ swells with a valley(period) of 100’(12 seconds) to 10’ swells with valleys of only 20’(8 seconds) and disorganized which means rolly and uncomfortable.  The girls both had pallets in the salon and were thankfully able to fall asleep.  

Day 2- 
    Off the eastern coast of Grand Turk - 4/18/16
Because Andrew did the bulk of the night watch, I got the amazing sunrise all to myself.  Shortly after day break my blue eyed, bleach blonde beauties joined me up top and we were ecstatic to cruise through the waves with an entire pod of dolphins.  While the adults played at the bow, the babies would swim right alongside the girls until they felt too close for comfort and would dart away and jump completely out of the wave before returning to do it all again.  So fun!
Not to miss out on the action, Andrew was quick to catch two big barracuda who seemed to be very fond of the cedar plug lure that is meant to attract tuna, not them!
    Look out for those teeth!
Everyone was eating like birds but at least it was all staying down & it made for light galley work ;)
We kept the same 5-6 hour night watch schedule as the previous night.  I’ve had a few people ask what we do when we are on watch.  If the auto-pilot is working well with the seas, you can read a book or just relax.  But I stare at the gauges!  It has the same affect on me as compulsively doing sudoku or playing Tetris.  When you close your eyes you still see the numbers filling in the boxes or the blocks dropping into their slots.  When I close my eyes after a watch I see 120 degrees floating in my compass!

Day 3- 
    North of DR - 4/19/16
Everyone is feeling much better!  We are getting our groove on.  We celebrated passing our previous mark of longest passage ever by reaching the 49th hour.  
    Enjoying some fresh rice krispy treats.
And even had a little jam session in the cockpit.
    Check out the lean happening, 4 days of that makes you feel a little lopsided :)
We had two full days of great wind where we didn't use the engine at all.  It was a beautiful sound to hear the hum of the prop as it spun in the water and to have both sails up and full!

Day 4- 
    NW of Puerto Rico - 4/20/16
Started like all the others, beautiful sunrise & smiling faces.  We had a traumatic moment when one of our red and white cockpit pillows accidentally fell overboard.  With both sails up, you can't just turn around and go get it.  So we sadly watched as it floated into the distance.  It felt very much like the scene in Castaway when Tom Hanks realizes Wilson is gone and he can't get to him.  It was a disappointing loss :(
But everyone’s spirits were lifted when Puerto Rico came into view!  
We tried a bit more fishing 
but the Puerto Rican fish don't seem to like us, not even a barracuda.  We did catch an awful lot of seaweed though.
    Andrew’s top secret fish alarm that shakes the can of pennies when we have a fish on.
The last few hours are always the hardest.  You can see where you want to be but it takes so long to get there!  As we finally rounded Culebra, Andrew decided he wanted to sail in since we had the engine on most of the day.  When the wind died in the lee of the island, Abby decided not to start, she was tired!  Luckily I was able to continue sailing while Andrew bypassed the starter solenoid and got her jumped from below. (We won't mention who said we should keep the engine running for safety :)
We made it into the cove by Dewey, Culebra safely and had the hook set in the water by 11pm, 85hrs after leaving Turks & Caicos.  
We did it!  We were so excited to be here!
    Culebra - Abby on anchor in the background.
The town looked even better in the daylight!  Such a quaint piece of heaven on earth.  We quickly made our way to the airport to get checked in by customs.
    Waiting on customs - Free WIFI :)
After a very professional check-in process, the CBP agent spent an extra 20 minutes with us going over the map, pointing out the "must see" stops and even making recommendations for when we visit the mainland.  His service was above and beyond and unlike any check-in experience we’ve had or heard of.  He set us off on a great foot to enjoy his island!
    Girls thought it was funny to have hen and chicks roaming the airport outside the customs window :)
You can walk pretty much everywhere you need to go and we quickly found our way to some of the highly recommended stops in town.  
Zaco’s Tacos was a great little dive where no shoes, no shirt = no problem.  They had amazing food and service and even served up some local beer on tap!
But the highlight of our first day here was finding the new local candy store, Sweet & Naughty.  Claude & Simon run a great little shop where you can get ice cream, Icees, candy, popcorn, fudge, freshly spun cotten candy, and homemade when ordered doughnuts.  Tell me you can't find something to love!  And you can enjoy it all while swinging at their groovy bar under the watchful eye of Jaba.

There’s also a great local place called The Dinghy Dock where, you guessed it, you can dinghy right up to the restaraunt and hang out.  
Not only did we enjoy our lunch there, but met some really fun new friends there as well.  One couple told us about some amazing upcoming stops to not miss in the Virgin Islands and passed along a good book (I’m always happy for hand-me-downs) and another couple vacationing here from Mass told us of a great local snorkel spot and we met up with them the following morning to swim with the sea turtles.
    No one should be this cute while goofing off!
We had a great day hanging with Mark, Cheryl, & Lila.  We saw 8 Hawksbill sea turtles ranging in size from shells as big as a dinner plate, up to 3-4’ in length.  They are magical to float by, looking as if they have not a care in the world.  Just munching down on some sea grass and gliding by to catch another breath.
We spent the rest of the day together grabbing some lunch and hitting another great beach for some wave surfing.
We even saw the leatherback turtle nest roped off on the beach.
Their family has a beautiful home with the most breath-taking view of Manglar Bay.  
They were even gracious enough to let us do some laundry while also meeting the local pet peacock.
This week has been so spectacular that I can't even imagine how next week will compare.  But I can tell you we are beginning tomorrow by snorkeling near a starfish breeding ground so that's a good way to start!
    God art.

Things learned aboard this week:
Just because something is difficult, doesn't mean it isn't awesome as well.  I will never run a marathon or climb the peak of a mountain but I imagine the feeling we had on completing this passage with happy hearts still in tact is similar to the high you get from those accomplishments.  There were moments we hated and moments we loved and we made it through all of them.  And just like childbirth, once it's all over, the details begin to fade away and all you are left with is a sense of pride and a sweet little treasure.  That is what this week has been for our family.

The crew is waiting to see who stops by this week and what new adventures we will have.  We'll keep you posted!


  1. Ok guys, you get me every time - tears of joy in the wonder of all you're seeing and doing; tears from missing you! Keep on keeping on! Love you all so much!

  2. Fair winds and following seas! Keep living the dream.
    The crew of Signet Lightning.