Tuesday, May 31, 2016

21 & 22. Fun in the BVI Sun

    Our own private cove.  Virgin Gorda, BVI.

Our weeks are just flying by and mushing together and before I know it, it has been two!  
The BVIs are so beautiful!  Each island has something different to see or do.  You would think we would get tired of snorkeling and exploring but you are never seeing the same thing twice!
    Sailing between St John, USVI & Tortola, BVI

It has taken us 2.5 months out of the states but I think we have finally fallen into a bit of a boat life schedule.  Being with another kid boat, who has been at this for 7 years, has helped :)
    Coffee by Sky.  Cutest barista ever!
Mornings start slow and everyone can do whatever they want until around 10am.  That’s when school starts.  We spend a few hours getting the basics covered; math, language arts, history, science, reading & spelling - not every subject on every day but we do our best :) Then after a bite of lunch, we get to head out on the adventure of the day and the fun of being with a friend boat means we are getting to share these amazing experiences with someone else!  We don't spend every moment of every day together but there are some days when our surroundings are just too outstanding that the schedule goes out the window and we spend all the sunlight hours exploring and then get to enjoy a dinner together getting to know each other better.  

Last we left you, we were heading off to explore the Channel Islands, off Tortola.  
Norman Island offered up great snorkeling right under our boat and anchoring close enough to each other that we swam between boats.
    Norman Island Sunset
    Sky pulling anchor.  No longer considered a child, just part of the crew :)
    Snorkeling at The Indians off Peter Island
At Peter Island we got to tube and wake board behind the dinghy and were treated to the most amazing sunset I may have ever seen.
    Peter Island Sunset

    Beer commercial :)
Salt Island has the Wreck of the Rhone, a UK mail ship ship that sank in a hurricane in 1867.  You can snorkel and clearly see the rudder and huge propeller with drive shaft in 25’ of water.  
Andrew & Eli free dove and swam through the wreck multiple times.  
We also saw our first school of squid, but we couldn't get close enough to make any ink ;)

    Abby looks so small, just past the blue catamaran
After a final morning dive at the Rhone, we grabbed lunch at Cooper’s Island before heading to the Baths at Virgin Gorda.
    Cooper Island Ice Cream

Virgin Gorda may take the cake as the most beautifully unique island we have visited yet.
    I love these rocks!  
    But everyone who looks through my pictures says “why did you take that picture?!”  
    Boo on them, these rocks rock!
An entire day was lost climbing in and over all the bolders at the Baths and Devil’s Bay, imagining what it would be like to wander through and maybe find a hidden treasure left by pirates.  
    My little mountain goats
We found cliffs to jump off and precipices we couldn't quite reach 
    Should we or shouldn't we?

and went to bed exhausted at the end of the day.
    The Baths, Virgin Gorda Sunset
The wind was working against the swell and we woke to a very uncomfortable roll.  We moved to a new bay for a bit more comfort but didn't realize we had chosen a clothing optional cove.  It’s optional most everywhere, just most will be a bit more discrete if you have kids aboard; but not these vacationers!  We were treated to stand up paddle boarding - nude, yoga on the beach - nude, BBQing at the grill - nude; can we say ouch!  It was all Sky could do to not stare constantly :)
Sorry, no pics available

We were happy to move to Leverick Bay and a few nights at a marina, plugged in, with AC  and ice maker running - sometimes you just have to pamper yourself, right?
It’s so crazy to bump into friends of friends who happen to be at the same marina at the same time as you.  It was great to finally meet the crew of Aqua Vida, friends of Renewal.  We enjoyed a night of local flavor and fun getting to know each other at Rada’s (Indian/Carribean fusion) on the north end of Virgin Gorda - the owner's daughter's boyfriend picked us up in the back of his pickup :)

Even though we are surrounded by an unending playground, there is still work that needs to be done onboard.  
Andrew keeps the boat scrubbed
& repairs the rig when needed
    Love when we have the correct spare onboard!
while I try to keep everything in it’s place below deck.
    All of this came out of the aft head and most of it found a new home all in an afternoon- whew!
There is a seemingly constant flow of things coming onto the boat, the trick is getting equal amounts to exit.  Whether it is eating up all the groceries you stored, passing on books you’ve already read or continued purging from crazy things you once thought you couldn't live without!  
    Andrew finding new places to stow things.  Big man in a little box!
We were so excited to receive a huge gift of water & provisions from some new friends coming off of a week of chartering but then the question is where will you put it ;)
But the biggest challenge is when we pick up an extra body.  We usually make space with the exchange of one of our own :)
    Just kidding - we love a sleepover!

Things learned aboard this week:
As much as I try to be carefree about pretty much everything in life, I really like things to have a place.  Those who have been to my house or boat may laugh at that because I can’t ever seem to get everything in it’s place all at the same time.  But you have to realize, I live with 3 other beings whose only goal in life seems to be removing said item and setting it anywhere but where it came from!  I think I’m getting better at walking around with blinders and not driving my fellow passengers crazy until it is the designated clean up time :)
WE ARE DOING THIS!  Still feels unreal.  I am seeing places that I never even knew existed until I turned the page in my chart book.  Time is flying by in a blur and Facebook keeps offering up my memories from this day however many years ago, I just need everything to slow down a bit so I can take it all in.  

We only have one more week to see everything we want to in the BVIs before our cruising permit runs out.  We are expecting more fun as we head on to Anagada!

Saturday, May 14, 2016

19 & 20. Virgin Islands - Spanish, US, British, Oh My!

    Abby enjoying the view in Culebrita, SVI

Guess I had too much fun on Mother’s Day and didn’t get the blog out last week :)  Our apologies.  
We had a great last two weeks, some sad good-byes and some unexpected meet ups; lots of ground to cover so here we go!!!

We started our week with a surprise trip back to mainland Puerto Rico to visit some friends we have spent our entire journey trying to catch up to.  The Renewal crew is the first boat family we met as they cruised through Jacksonville last fall.  
    Girl trip!
The girls had so much fun catching up with each other and comparing Bahama stories.  
    Treats from Sweet & Naughty
We had a fun sleepover aboard their boat 
and perfected the new sport of dinghy-pulled SUP :)
And if that wasn't enough excitement, the girls from Take Two were able to join in the fun as well!  The perfect Girl Getaway!
Don't feel too sorry for Andrew while we were gone.  He got our solar panels permanently installed 
and rewarded himself with meals at every one of our favorite restaurants and beers with friends!  So he wasn't suffering too much.
We had to have a final Sweet & Naughty visit.
And to say goodbye to our new favorite stop so far, Culebra, to see what else was out there!
    Goodbye, Culebra!
Boy, are we glad we did!  We met back up with Dean & Kim at Culebrita, a small island off the coast of Culebra with no inhabitants except the amazing wildlife.  
We had daily visits from turtles, 
great snorkeling and curious mountain goats that came out to inspect when Andrew tried a kitesurfing session.  Andrew also did a dramatic rescue of a fellow cruiser’s dinghy which expanded his free diving skills to 50’!  Impressive, I know.
But the highlight of our visit to Culebrita was a trip to the baths.
A beautifully protected, natural pool with little fish and crabs all around and water crashing over the wall to keep the water fresh and refreshing.
It was the most beautiful way to end our partnering with Dean & Kim and Dream Catcher.  They have been our unexpected sail buddies and best friends since Staniel Cay, Bahamas and we love them dearly.  They have been with us for most of our best moments and we are so sad they will be heading back to their land home.  But we a thankful for all they have meant to us on this journey & look forward to seeing them next season.

Before we all got too sad, we headed out to the next exciting chapter of our journey, the US Virgin Islands & British Virgin Islands.
    Paige & St Thomas
Our first order of business in St Thomas was to enjoy some Pizza Pi, a great floating food truck who’s video we had seen probably a year before and couldn't even imagine ever making it here, but we did!
    Pizza Pi - Christmas Cove, USVI
I had a perfect Mother’s Day enjoying St Thomas.  
    Picture Andrew sitting beside me as I read Paige’s.  
    Sky made me a coupon for help around the boat.  Sweet babies!
Brunch with my happy little family complete with amazing live music.  
All the laundry done with the help of everyone :) And a run around town on the safari bus, $1 gets you anywhere but ride at your own risk.
    Everyone is laughing because I just about fell out getting this pic!
We completed the day by watching Andrew’s latest work as Director of Photography in NASCAR: The Rise of American Speed on CMT.
    At least most of us did :)

St Thomas is a magical island to sail by with it’s mountainous terrain, lush hillsides, peppered with cute little bungalows and the airport runway right on the coast.  But to be completely honest, it wasn't our most favorite place.  The anchorages were all rolly and super uncomfortable.  We had to drop the anchor 8 times, that’s a record!  And on one of the pulls we brought up a huge rock with us,
    that’s not supposed to happen.  
The people were friendly enough but it was a little more touristy than we like and lots of ex-pat transplants that change the dynamic of the island vibe.
We moved on to St John and had a completely different USVI experience.
    Swimming with these cute guys never gets old!
Meeting up with our friends aboard Take Two in a semi-private mooring field with turtles, fish & rocks for jumping from was definitely more our speed!  
Happy kids makes for a happy boat and having lots of friends around always delivers the smiles, giggles & endless entertainment.
Just before this rainbow, Andrew thought he was so funny when he pushed me out of the dinghy.  I said this is the sign that it will never happen again! :)

On to Jost Van Dyke, the BVIs, and new stamps in our passports!
We are loving the British Virgin Islands!
Hanging with friends.  Andrew got a great kiting session in.  
We’ve had beach time, boat time and island ice cream.  We even got some schoolwork in.   

Although we are living in paradise we still have heated arguements, personality conflicts and questioning what we are doing.  But most of the time it is as magical as it sounds and we appreciate how amazing this opportunity is!
    Never seen a rainbow right at the horizon line!  Pretty cool.

Things learned aboard this week:
I have two of the best girls in the world.  I am overjoyed that I get to be their mom.  And I had the best mom to help me prepare for the job.  Also pretty thankful for my mom-in-law, who raised an awesome leader for our family.
I hate conflict!  But I am thankful for a partner who is willing to work through our differences and keep at it until we find the resolve on the other side.  And a sister that will listen when I just need to throw a fit :)

We are just getting started in the BVIs.  We have lots of pins on our map of places of interest, can't wait to see what all we’ve seen this time next week.