Saturday, March 24, 2012

We Made It to Eleuthra!!

Malaika entering Eleuthra....

Just a quick blog today as the internet connection is horrible. Our crossing to this next group of islands was in some of the biggest water we've been in so far..and the deepest. At one point 15,280ft. !! We had 10-12ft waves. I had my first real experience with sea-sickness. I was throwing up almost the entire trip.  The entire journey took 10 hours. We are now in Spanish Wells, Eleuthra. Another weather front is coming through so Im not sure where our next destination will be...
Will do another blog as soon as I can.
Love & Miss you all so much!!!
Malaika under sail..

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Good-Bye Abaco...

   Tomorrow we set sail for the "Exumas", a group of islands south of Abaco. We are so excited to see some new places!! However, we've had to say good-bye to so many friends the past couple days. Most people are heading home now. The great thing about cruising is that we'll probably see our cruising friends in another harbor later on during our travels. Our 1st stop tomorrow is Lynyard Cay which is still in Abaco. We will wait for a weather window to cross to the Exumas from there. The crossing to the Exumas is just as big of a deal as crossing the Gulf Stream. The experienced cruisers who read this will giggle here but I don't care. These are still very new experiences for us & a 12hr passage is a big deal to us. I should say here to the experienced sailors who may be giggling...we do not have an auto-pilot, so we are hands on the entire journey.  Scott has been studying the charts for several days, we reprovisioned the boat...we're ready to move on.

  I'm not sure what the internet situation will be while we are in the definetly will be intermittent. :(      I will update the blog as much as possible so I hope you'll all stay tuned!! So many adventures on the horizons....
Scott dedicates this sunset to his Mom :)

Love & Miss you all so much.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Moving On....

Sailing back to Marsh Harbour.

   The Barefoot Man concert was a BLAST & a great chance for us to hang out with all the friends we've made cruising before everybody moves on from Abaco. Most boats are heading back to the U.S. and Canada but a few of us are going south. Scott & I,  Andy from s/v Mellow Seas, and Bob & Chel from s/v Bella Sera are heading to the group of islands south of Abaco called The Exumas. This trip includes a long passage over open water...about 12 hours. Not a huge passage but we've gotten used to island hopping around the Abacos...usually 2-4 hours. Back to serious sailing! We're very excited to see new places!! The Exumas are bit more rural than the Abacos so we are restocking the boat, getting back into "traveling" mode. Today we have to renew our visas because we've already been here 3 months! We plan on hanging around there for a few weeks & then we will also start the long trek home. We plan on being back in the U.S. sometime in May. However, as I've said before...our plans are etched in jello.
Here are some pics from the past few days...
The Barefoot Man

Scott & Jib jamming to the music

My haircut after Scott saved our friends dinghy

Love & Miss everyone so much.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Has Anybody Seen My Dinghy?

Yesterday while listening to the "Cruiser's Net" on the radio, (It's like our Today show & airs every morning at 8:15) a fellow cruiser announced that their dinghy had disappeared during the night. Most likely came untied when the winds picked up & now drifting somewhere in the Sea of Abaco. This is a heartbreaking thing to hear...cruiser's really DEPEND on their dinghies. We need them to go to shore, other boats, etc. They are our cars. They are also expensive. We love our dinghies. We go to great effort to bring them with us on the mother-ship & they return the favor by transporting us to land. We were especially sad to hear this news because we know these cruisers and we know they have a really NICE dinghy with a big expensive motor. This was a loss of about $15-$20,000 dollars. After the "Cruiser's Net" Scott went up to the cockpit with his binoculars to check out (spy on)  the morning activity in the anchorage.  All of a sudden he's shouting for me to call our friends on the VHF. He spotted what we thought was their dinghy about 3/4 mile away jammed under a dock! Scott went to their boat in our dinghy & picked up Ken to go & check. YEP! It was Ken & Yvette's dinghy!! YAY!!!  It was a great way to start the day & left Scott & I feeling warm & fuzzy all day. We spent almost 20yrs of our lives helping others & it was so awesome to have that feeling again. It's been awhile. Ken & Yvette were very greatful & had us over for cocktails lastnight. When Yvette was a land dweller she spent her career as a hair stylist & owned 2 salons in Canada. To say "Thanks" she gave Scott & I totally awesome, much needed haircuts. Then this morning Ken made an announcement on the Cruiser's Net thanking Scott. Scott's famous now. Some freinds already stopped by our boat this morning to say "ATTA Boy!" What a fabulous day! I love cruising.
  Today is the much anticipated "Barefoot Man" concert. I haven't been this excited for a concert since U2 came to town. Those of you who know me know that's saying A LOT.  (This coming from a girl who flew to Dublin so she could see U2 in their hometown.) There are people coming on ferries from other islands, boats have been arriving for days. The concert starts at 1pm at the world famous bar "Nipper's". Yesterday I asked what time will Nipper's open for the concert & they said the bar will be open at 6:30. AM. I don't know if I should be excited or scared. Better get's already 10:30am.  Should have some pretty good pictures for tomorrow's blog.
Love & Miss everyone SOOOOOOO much.
XXXOOO               P.S.  I spent 3 hrs the past 2 days trying to download pictures to this blog.                                           I will  try again later.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The Barefoot Man Cometh...

I never get tired of the beautiful Bahama sunsets
 We left Marsh Harbour today and sailed to Great Guana Cay. The biggest concert of the year in the Bahamas is Friday...The Barefoot Man. I'm so glad we came a few days early because this anchorage at Guana is not very big & it's already filling up.  It's been rainy & overcast the past 2 days but should improve tomorrow so we're pretty excited to be here. Guana Cay has some of the best snorkeling in all of Abaco (the section of the Bahamas we are currently in) so we plan on checking out the reefs while we're here. There are so many events planned for St. Patrick's weekend...we can't decide which one's to go to!
 I've been a bit under the weather the past few days so I've gotten a little behind on the blog. Stay tuned though! We should have some great stories & pics coming up! For now, enjoy some of these pics taken over the past few weeks..
Jib & Scott in Hopetown. Is that perfect or what?!!
This is what getting in the dinghy looks like with 25mph winds. Our friend Patrick took this picture of us going to Scott's Bday lunch
Scott's cleaning algae off the bottom of the boat. Jib was LOSING his mind watching him. He would look at me, then look down at Scott and start whimpering

A couple of  "Sea Biscuits" . They are a type of sand dollar & I think they are so beautiful

Our "baby" is growing up so fast!!

Love & Miss everyone mucho.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

A Sailor That Is Sick Of Wind.....

Jib the sailor dog en route from Treasure Cay to Marsh Harbour
   Im not sure if as a sailor, I'm allowed to say that...that I'm sick of wind.. However, yesterday excluded, we have had like 2 weeks of 20+ mph winds. ARRGGGGHHH!!! Of course, it all depends where you're headed. Here in the Sea of Abaco 20+mph winds out of the east makes for uncomfortable island hopping. We left beautiful Treasure Cay yesterday & are now back in Marsh Harbour. We need to get groceries, do laundry, etc. & Marsh Harbour is the best place for that. Next weekend I think all of Abaco will be at Guana Cay for the "Barefoot Man" (Jimmy Buffett of the Bahamas) concert. I'm so excited for that. We will probably head there (weather permitting) on Wednesday or Thursday to make sure we have a spot to anchor for the weekend concert.  We also had to say Good-bye to our sailor mentors & friends Dan & Cheri yesterday. They will now be making the long trek home to Connecticut where we met them so many months ago.  I really don't think we would have even made it to the Bahamas without their friendly guidence. Thank You so much to Curieuse!! Safe travels & fair winds !!
Im not sure why, but today has been a very difficult internet day. I have been trying for hours to download pictures.  If I didn't need this computer so much to stay in touch with family, it would be at the bottom of Marsh Harbour. I also have no idea why the blog is doing this weird spacing thing. As if there are no margins.  I have tried to correct it with zero success. I surrender. I will try to post a photo blog to follow.
Look at that hippie's hair blowing in the wind. Nice abs though. Not bad for a 40yr old
Love & Miss you all sooo much

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Guest Blog

Chad, Scott & Danny
    When our friends from Colorado came to visit us in February I asked them to please do a "guest blog". We all knew Chad is the one with the gift of words so he was selected. He said he'd just needed a little time to put it together. We knew he had a gift but we had no idea of his amazing talent for writing. Enjoy....
   I've been dreaming of Malaika nightly since we left. Brief flashes of the gently tilting deck, the warmth of latern lit teak, the soft sounds of the living vessel; anonymous creaks and murmurs from the rigging, the ever-present lapping of the ocean.
   I grew up near water. Lakes, rivers. I power-boated with my father when I was young. But that was different. The sea is different. It's immensity gives brief sidelong glances at infinity. Most of the Earth is down there, covered by it, and most of the time too. It is likely we came from the ocean, crawled out, learned to breathe, stayed out. The dolphins and whales went back for good. Their wills failed against the strange siren song of the sea. Our common heritage is long forgotten; distant cousins with little familial resemblance. But still, staring out over it, there still exists a subliminal nostalgia for our deepest past, like driving past one's childhood home long since sold.
  Malaika is a sailboat and her destiny is obvious. To sail. Engineered from thousands of years of human experience on the water she is in a way, a culmination of man's time with the sea. Built by Island Packet in 1986 she is 30,000lbs of fiberglass, lead, wood, aluminum and sail designed implicity to bend with the wind to the will of man.
Scott surrendered the helm to me for a brief moment the first day we sailed. The big wheel was a foreign thing at first, alien & disconnected from action. I tried small movements, and the futility of my small intention on the rudder incited a creeping panic in me. I tried a little more throw and we began to heel.
  "ScOTTT!!!" his name escaped my throat in an ascending scale. I was convinced the unnatural tilt of the boat was the harbinger of certain shipwreck. I was at the helm for 30 full seconds and I was about to destroy my friend's home and likely kill everyone on board in the process.
  Michelle commented "It's not as easy as it looks, is it?"
  "No, it's far more terrifying!" was the best I could do at a response.
I focused. I found a conspicuous building on the island we were headed for and aimed for it, lining up with the bowsprit like my dad taught me almost 30 years ago. I tried to scan the compass and the wind direction indicator, tried to tie them together with the wagon wheel in my hand. Clumsy.
The wheel made faint spasmotic jerks in my hands. The sails faultered. Sheets flapped impotently in the wind. Malaika sighed and slowed in my incompetence. She came back to center. Patient.
She had thousands of years of experience, I was a virgin. Encouraged by the lack of disaster, I moved the wheel back into the wind. The sails flapped for a second and then filled. The sheets tensioned.
Malaika heeled. The whole boat galvanized, solidified, ceased being thousands of seperate parts and became a single uniform object singing in the wind.
Through the wheel I could feel the boat wanting to be in that sweet spot, could feel the life surge through it when the bowsprit passed that little mental marker on that distant shore, felt it change, tease a little. It didn't fight or buck, it wanted to be in that spot, wanted to stay there, to exist there. It signaled through the wheel, whispered to me to hold it there with gentle touch the way a dancer leads his partner with the hand in the small of his partner's back.
We were sailing. The effortless silent glide, the invisible forces propelling us forward, the collective yearning of Malaika for more wind, fuller sails, bluer water. Malaika's destiny was fulfilled, the purpose for her being realized, she was happy.
   There were times though, when the wind was to faint or too contrary to our course to sail. Malaika was fitted from birth with a 44hp diesel engine for just such occasions. A practical addition to a poetic, if some times impractical vehicle. The diesel engine is a good thing for a crew to have. It gives the boat greater maneuverability in close quarters such as when docking. It is useful in setting anchors, for charging batteries, and for moving the boat when there is no wind. That being said, a diesel engine is not necessarily a good thing for a sailboat to have. Motoring is contrary to a sailboat's purpose. It is the antithesis to it's destiny. The boat does not sing while motoring. It does not rise up triumphantly from the sea. It does not surge. There is no harmony of design and function and skill. The diesel motor is a clunky add-on. Tacked on as an afterthought, hidden away in a bilge, it is unpoetically utilitarian.
The boat labors ahead of it's diesel motor. It chugs. It exhausts. It plows unceremoniously through the water, borne by the promise of the wind and sail when time and tide are more favorable. The motor serves a purpose, a means to an end.  Sailing is the congruence of means and ends. It is the realization of the boat's destiny, the climax of purpose, the alchemy of common elements into gold.
    And as we sailed I realized what it is that Scott and Michelle have achieved. They are sailing. They have harnessed the wind of their lives.  Most people plod through their lives: they work to chase the dollar to buy crap they don't need, plug themselves into the television in nightly rituals displaying manufactured heroes and icons; choosing instead to live vicariously through pre-scripted reality television, immersing themselves in a fantasy powered by the false idols of a commercialized god.
 Almost all of us motor through the majority of our lives, propelled by unnatural, cumbersome means.
We work 9-5's, plug faded dollars into failing retirement plans, endure rush hours, performance appraisals, and the insolent patronage of middle management in pursuit of a couple free weekends a month and the ever-dangled carrots of promotions or bonuses or gold stars or pats on the head.
A few of us sail occasionally. We know it. Chase it.
We motor onward toward those brief moments of wind and full sails, gearing up, building the requisite Karmic credit, preparing, dreaming, waiting.
  I only know two people who have actually done it. Two full-time sailors, so-to-speak. They have thrown their diesel motors overboard. Their sails are full, sheets trimmed. They may sail for a week or a year or the rest of their lives. They may sail off the edge of the world into the jaws of the those immense sea monsters the ancient mariners feared.
Doesn't matter. They have already succeeded in their dream.  Already sailed more than most of us ever will. They are an inspiration and their lesson is simple: Shut down the motor and sail.
Dream something, and then go do it. Find your destiny.

  Thanks Scott, Michelle and Jib for sharing your dream with us, if only for the week. The Bahamas and the sea are nice, but Colorado is still the dream I started dreaming 20yrs ago and never woke up from. Someday I hope I can return the favor.....
--Chad Christian

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Lordy Lordy, Look Who's 40 !

Happy 40th Birthday to Scott !! I love you babe !! Scott wore his kilt yesterday in honor of his 40th year. Andy took us out to lunch to celebrate. Thanks so much Andy! :) 
Andy, 40yr old Scott, Hal & Jib posing after Bday lunch
 Scott also had a Happy Birthday announced on the cruiser's net which is like our "Today"show via the VHF.
Birthday party on Malaika
Despite 30mph winds & an unpleasant, wet dinghy ride, all our friends came over to Malaika to celebrate Scott's big day. He really had a great time & says Thank You to everyone who sent him Happy Birthday wishes here on the blog & on Facebook. To Stephanie, he said he could hear your voice singing Happy Birthday! :)
  It remains VERY windy here & will for the next week. It's so windy that leaving the boat is difficult & since the winds are coming from the east, the beach is not a good place to hang out. We're all getting a little stir crazy. I haven't read this much since we were waiting for weather window in Lake Worth, Fl before we crossed to the Bahamas. I LOVE reading but after a few days we're a little bored. It's still better than WORKING so I'll stop complaining. :) 
Still a hottie
     Love & miss everybody. XXXOOO
Don't miss tomorrow's blog....One of our friends Chad, who stayed with us in February has his "Guest blog" ready to publish...

Monday, March 5, 2012

Windy Treasure Cay

Our friends boat "Jawbone" anchored next to us. Notice the trees in the background.
     Yesterday's forecast proved true. Treasure Cay was blasted with high winds for most of the day. In the middle of the day a cold front/squall passed over us. It was amazing to see.
Here comes the squall/cold front

squall passing over us

Reminded me of a good ol' Arizona monsoon. I guess what makes it so anxiety provoking is that during high winds cruisers are counting on their anchors to hold their boat (which for many of us, is our house & everything we own) in place. Most anchors weigh 30-60 pounds depending on the size of the boat. These pieces of metal hold 20-30,000 pound vessels steady while facing into the wind. If set correctly that is. Even if set correctly, they do give way sometimes & that's when you drag. Dragging is BAD. A boat that's dragging can hit other boats, hit concrete walls that line the anchorage, hit rocks, reefs, etc.  Whenever we have winds over 30mph Scott & I do not rest well. We worry about our anchor (not nearly as much since we bought our huge 60 pounder) & other people dragging into us. Yesterday was so much less stressful because the bad weather was all during daylight. It's absolutely terrifying to deal with a dragging boat in the dark. We saw a couple boats drag yesterday here in the anchorage & one went aground but everything turned out fine & was far less anxiety filled than in the dark .
The wind is supposed to be 20-30mph for the next week! So, Im sure we'll see some more anchorage drama as the days go by. Hope we're not ever the main attraction.
Poor Jib. Bad weather means no beach time. :(

Love & Miss everybody!!! XXXOOO

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Treasures in Treasure

This is what BLISS looks like. Our friend Patrick took these pictures of Jib

  We've had an awesome few days here in Treasure Cay. The weather has been perfect & the water temp is now 77 degrees !! Yesterday we snorkled a ship wreck just outside of the channel that leads to Treasure Cay anchorage. It was awesome! Our friend Hal brought his speargun & shot a couple fish. Scott & I love to dive & brought all our gear only to discover that diving is very expensive in the Bahamas. Even if we go alone, we have to rent tanks & weights & it's pricey! Luckily for us, the Bahamas are so shallow that diving isn't the only way to explore the sea. Now that the water is really warming up we plan on snorkling as many reefs as we can.
  We've also had the chance to catch up with some of our friends we hadn't seen in awhile. Lastnight we had an awesome dinner on Hal's boat. He grilled Wahoo fish for us & it was to die for!! Scott & I had never had's like Chilean sea bass. Yummy! There is a nightly ritual here in the anchorages to blow into a conch shell at sunset. They make amazing sounds. Once one person starts the "tooting", other boats chime in. It's great. Hal has a wide variety of tooter conch shells so we all took a turn. Our boat was definetly the best.
Hal & his conch shell tooter collection
That guy with long hair is Scott giving his best toot
My turn
   The winds are expected to pick up significantly tomorrow...there are even forecasts for a few squalls that will have up to 50mph winds. For our Arizona friends-- a squall is like a REALLY bad monsoon storm. They don't last long but really pack a punch. Treasure Cay anchorage is well protected, as evidenced by the large amount of boats that came in here today. The biggest concern is that there are a lot of boats in here...hopefully everyone's anchor will hold & nobody will drag when the big gusts move through. We'll see..
Hal....Master tooter

Andy enjoying the sunset
Hanging out on the beach with Marilyn & Patrick
Love & Miss everyone sooo much XXXXOOOO

Friday, March 2, 2012

Our Treasure Island

   We had a FABULOUS sail to one of our favorites...Treasure Cay. This place is so beautiful!!  Scott & I have seen some amazing beaches in our travels...Treasure Cay is definetly in the top 5. An extra special bonus this weekend in Treasure is that  several of our cruising friends also decided to come here. Everything we do is planned around weather. There is a new weather front coming through that is bringing 25-35mph winds so we have decided to wait out this latest front here in Treasure...which should be about a week. I can't get enough of this place, so it's fine with me.
Jib loves Treasure Cay too!!

Love & Miss everyone soo much!!! Happy Birthday to our sisters Cindy & Kyung!! Also to our nephew Tristan!!! We love you all so much!!

Im not sure what went wrong here....oh well. Sometimes the blog has a mind of it's own