Its official again.. We just passed our two year boataversary.
As I look back I realize our second year has been WAY different than our first year. Our first year we were like scared teenagers moving out on our own for the first time. We stressed out at every new anchorage and were trying to fix shit faster than it broke. However, that didn’t stop us from running around in an effort to see and experience as much as possible.
Our second year has been completely different. We are ahead of the curve on boat jobs and have spent time doing jobs to increase our quality of life. We have also figured out how to truly “slow down” and really “SEE” the islands we go to. Hell we spent almost 2 weeks in Dehais, Guadeloupe when we were just supposed to stop and wait for a weather window. Then came Martinique, where we just kept making excuses to not leave (all the kid boats, Bar-B-Qs, visitors, weather, ect). Eventually we stopped making those excuses and realized we were happy and just didn’t want to leave! Martinique had become our new “home” for this season (regular readers will remember we gave this title to Antigua last season). We feel like we have “graduated” as cruisers. We realized our place as cruisers and are happy with it. We are on the slow train and that’s “ok”. Our hats off to the cruisers taking off and rounding the globe. We may get there eventually, but maybe not, and that’s “ok”.
So as I sit here in St. Lucia and ponder our last year, I find myself asking the question again. “Did I find what I was looking for?”
Yes, indeed, I did!
This year was very different and not entirely dominated by cruising. We headed back to Canada for 4 months where we lived in seclusion and I did real manual labor work. I once again discovered that regardless of where you are and what you are doing, what’s most important doesn’t change. Relationships and friendships. Whether we were living out of our RV in gasland Alberta, or cruising a stunning Caribbean island the important things don’t change. Whether its watching a nice sun set over the Alberta prairies, or toasting a first grand child in the wee hours in an anchorage. Its friends!
Ok, now onto the stats for your nerdy types!
Countries Visited = 9 (only one new this year so far, Montserrat)
Nights at Anchor = 240 ish (Spent 4 months back in Canada, only 3 nights on a ball we paid for, all BVI)
Nights in a Marina = 0 (Yee haw, not a single night)
Diesel expenses = A pure guess as I didn’t keep track. About $350. (We ran with Avanti lots and sailed most of the time)
Petrol Expenses = About $450 (dinghy and water making, running the generator for hot water).
Cheapest place = Martinique (damn we spent 4 months there THIS SEASON)
Most expensive place =Antigua (followed closely by St. Lucia).
Biggest Achievement = Becoming an ambidextrous driver
Biggest regret = NOT LEARNING FRENCH (seriously, 4 months and I still only speak un petit peu)
Alright… Written diarrhea, on to the pictures.
Our year 2 started in St. Martin. Here is one the day before we pulled anchor bound for BVI. Maho beach is a right of passage in St. Martin.
St. Martin is the cheapest island in the chain. BVI is the probably the most expensive (or very close). If you are leaving St. Martin for BVI, YOU STOCK UP.
Bitter end yacht club, BVI. (NOTE, most of the places you will see in the following BVI are pictures are still heavily damaged or no longer exist from IRMA).
Time in the BVI, means time in the water. This is how we spent most days.
Conch fishing was unbelievable.. This is Quincy’s fist Conch. He still has this shell as a conch horn and often blows it at sunset. (Thank you Grateful for helping him make the horn)
Quincy wasn’t alone. These two were in the water just as much!
Our first few days in BVI were spent with our friends on Grateful.
De Loose Mongoose.. We spent a few nights there and even almost got into a fist fight. Unfortunately I hear a boat actually landed inside the bar during IRMA. I believe its back up and running, but still doing repairs from said boat.
Trelis bay (the bay with Da Loose Mongoose). Its mightly snuggly here. The picture doesn’t actually do it justice. Its so snuggly, we actually had cockroaches arrive from nearby boats (yes roaches can fly).
These 2 got just a wee bit too snuggly. It was funny, some locals came out and half heartedly tried to jam some fenders between the two.
Ahh the conch cleaning pictures. Many will remember the NASTY picture of Nick and I covered in slime shortly after this.. HOWEVER, it was a conch feast to die for.
It’s a “thing” to eat the pistol. Its supposed to make you, ahem, virile… I don’t know if it works, but Higgins was looking for a new mattress shortly after this. Coincidence?
After spending some time in the outer islands and enjoying conch meals, we had to go and see the Wreck of the Rhone. The boat sank in 1867 during a hurricane.
Here is William from Higgins taking some pictures. He is 18 feet below me and I’m about 10 feet down (ya really)
Straight up gangsta!
I’m pretty sure that pirates with green MAC10s would have been terrifying.
Especially if it was a band of pirates and they also had grenades..
After BVI it was over to St. Thomas and a reunion with friends. Long time readers will remember Summer, Jesse and Stacey.
St. Thomas hosted our first Carnival of the year.
Ahhhh, “Old Swillwalkie”.. Its like being back in Canada at Rhonda’s dad’s house. (nothing against Old Swill, its one of the better beers we drank in that season).
But it wasn’t all Carnival and beers.. We finally got tired of our nasty salon and decided new cushions were in order.
Materials were ordered. Thankfully Jesse and Stacey allowed us to use their mailing address. This was the biggest shipment, brand new foam for everything.
Me and “Lucile” dancing together.
Cushion 1.. Hhhhmm not bad (not perfect)..
BAM, DONE.. Oh man so much nicer then the crappy worn out old stuff. However, I still have nightmares about that curved backrest cushion.
It wasn’t all work though.. The kids used the scraps and old stuff to build a fort. (damn I should take a picture of those buckets, LOL, they don’t look anything like that color anymore)
As much as we love St. Thomas, the neighbors suck sometimes. This ship and its sister ship were showed up about every 7 days. According to Wikipedia, they are the largest cruise ships in the world. These black smoke belching behemoths would disgorge 6-7 thousand people each (sometimes both would come in at the same time). Bye-Bye to the cellular network!
Unfortunately our time in St. Thomas had to end and we made a run to St. Martin. It was a terrible run as the Anegada passage kicked my ass again. No matter what I did, I just could make the boat sail. It ended up being an 18 hour motor passage in washing machine like seas. St. Martin wasn’t even our planned destination, but we ended up ditching there when I realized it was the closest island and would end the ass kicking!
However, just a couple of days after arriving the seas went completely flat. Here is our anchor chain 24 feet below the boat. (Yes our bridle is over 20 feet long)
We were treated to some STUNNING sunsets.
AND THEN, another reunion.. Seafrog joined us in Marigot bay, St. Martin.
Well shit, it was a double reunion as Last Tango was also there. We had a couple of great “last hurras” as the Party of Five crew had made the decision to head back to Canada for hurricane season.
It was with heavy heart that we sailed away from St. Martin. We knew our cruising was going to be “paused” shortly after our arrival in Antigua.
However its hard to keep a heavy heart when the fishing line keeps ZINGING.
We arrived in Antigua in the middle of the night. After just a day of recovery we got straight to work, getting the boat ready for a 4 month rest.
Everyone pitched in.. However, some were more enthusiastic than others.
Of course we weren’t just slave drivers, we got involved too.
All that scrubbing and cleaning is thirsty work. Is it wrong to remember each island by the cheapest beer…. I think not..
All that work was broke up with some fishing. Here we caught a KICKASS horse eyed jack. Unfortunately, catching them is just for sport as they are not edible in Antigua (the locals even said, No mon don’t eat that, you be sick). They are fighty bastards though.
Eventually all our work was done and we spent some time ashore.
The kids found their old “Fort”.. Last season, there was sword fighting, dragons and even a marriage that took place here. Quincy even found his old staff.
We decided to rent a golf cart and teach the kids how to drive…. WHAT, you never had a drivers ed teacher hold a beer.. Pffft you obviously went to the wrong driving school.
Its at this point that I’m realizing we have just taught them how to drive ON THE WRONG SIDE OF THE ROAD…
I had to include this picture as it will make us laugh until the end of time. I took back over driving duty from the kids and zigged when Rhonda thought I was going to zag. She rolled out of the cart and had a makeout session with the pavement.
What do you do after you eject your wife from a golf cart? You disable the governor on the motor cause you obviously weren’t going fast enough .
Your chin is fine.. Here hold this fish up for the camera.. Horse eyed jack number 2.
As time does… It marched on and soon we realized that our haul out date was just a few days away. Here is Quincy and I cleaning the bottom right before our haulout (we are cheap and didn’t want to pay for pressure washing).
For the third time since I owned the boat I watched a giant machine pick her out of the water. (Dammit, Barb and Stu, you said it would only happen every 5 years.. )
We all wave goodbye to POF. She has been our protector and bringer of dreams. We hope its not a mistake leaving her in the hurricane belt. (spoiler, she was saved by a hair as the super storm IRMA passed just 40 miles north. The airport right across the bay from the boatyard reported 105 knots of wind)
Antigua to Toronto.. Plane landed.. We deplaned…. and headed to the first Tim Hortons we saw. Canadian’s will understand. (the fries were something completely new since we left.. AND THEY WERE SHIT, SO BAD)
One kind of cruising for another. Here be our home for the next 4 months. This is literally the only possession we still own in Canada. My mom spent hours and hours ensuring it was an inviting home once we got back. I have no words for how grateful we were as we climbed into clean dry beds after 20 hours of travel.
Just because we have left the boat, doesn’t mean “Boat School” is stopped. Nope, before we even moved the RV to our semi permanent location it was back to the books (travel meant they had some days off).
This will become our home for 2 months of our Canadian stay. This is the original homestead property of my Grandfather. This picture does not due justice on how isolated this location really is. We were well and truly “off grid” and in the sticks.
Just in case you think I full of shit, here was my drive to work EVERY DAY. Yup, it was like 2KM up this “cutline” just to get to a gravel road. 4X4 only!
However, our kids loved it. Here they are spending time with their cousin being “KIDS”. (WHOA…. Slowdown helicopter moms… Yes he was talked to shortly after this picture about cords around his neck. However, we were too embarrassed to chastise him about the smurf penis).
But it turns out it wasn’t all fun and games for just the kids. It’s a long story to this… but my brother was directly responsible for fulfilling a huge fantasy of mine. To fly in a helicopter (shut up Jared.. We all can’t have helicopter pilots licenses ).
I know… You think I might be full of crap and just took a picture of a chopper sitting on the ground and “said” I flew in it. Well here is an actual in flight picture.
It was supposed to be a “rough” day when we went out. The pilot kept asking if I was “ok”.. My response, “When will it get rough?”. His response “Dude this is rough, can’t you feel the gusts”. Frankly it has nothing on boating. I’m not joking or making it up. Compared to a “medium rough” day on the boat, it wasn’t even close.
Back on the home front we had the same issues we had on the boat. LAUNDRY sucks.. We ended up buying this “fancy” version of the barbie washer. It worked amazingly well. Really a perfect unit for an RV.
About half way through our return to landlife, I was asked if I wanted to do a pipeline job in Medicine hat. What the hell, why not. So my wonderful parents moved our RV for us all the way down to Medicine Hat Alberta (about an 8 hour drive).
It wasn’t all that bad. The kids quickly made friends with the local wildlife.
Daph made VERY good friends with the local wildlife. Although these bunnies are wild, they grow up in this RV park and are used to humans.
Back at work I got to play with some cool toys. However, mostly I ran the “goon spoon”!
When I wasn’t on the spoon, they did let me drive the equipment between digs. I did also learn how to do some light digging and “deconstruction”
People are shocked that Alberta actually has desert. Well here is some proof.
Digging holes in the ground you find all manner of crap that people bury. We uncovered a bag of garbage that contained this news paper. It was buried in the ground for almost 40 years and still looked like this.. Think about that.
You are probably wondering what in the hell we were actually doing. Well, with the crash in the natural gas prices, many companies are abandoning some wells. That’s exactly what we were doing. We would isolate the abandoned well and reconfigure the pipeline so the still profitable wells would continue to produce. One of my other duties was on the coating crew. I would ensure that no metal was exposed before the pipe was reburied.
However, it wasn’t all work. Here is some fun time in our RV right before the end of the job.
Then it was back to Edmonton to wrap up our time on land.
Well, there might have been a little partying with old friends before we headed back to the boat.
Of course you can’t get away from Alberta with a good ol snowstorm.
And just like that.. We were back in Antigua and I was back to work. (with a complete lack of pictures of the trip). Jesus I don’t remember it being this hot.
Did I ever mention how much I hate doing bottom painting? (My arm was blue for a week)
However, I wasn’t alone. Rhonda also got “SMURFED”.
All the hard work eventually paid off and our SPLASH day arrived. We were SO exited to get in the water and get the boat cleaned up.
The kids wasted absolutely no time getting in the water and enjoying.
The old Tohatsu fired up on the second pull. That motor is probably one of the best things I have ever bought. Engineered very well. Simple, but not CHEAPLY made.
Of course the kids wanted to go to shore and find their old fort (see photos above). It was fun to look at how things had changed. However we hung a backpack in this tree and are pretty sure a big ol roach hitchhiked back to the boat. No one likes a big ol roach crawling across their ass at 2am, especially me!
Yup a secluded bay and hot weather.. Clothing is optional sometimes.
It wasn’t a regular Halloween, but the kids had a blast. We handed out candy and small gifts to the other kids we ran into.
However, our time in Antigua needed to end. It was time to get moving and we set our eyes on Montserrat.
It was fishy trip though. This cuda fought like I have never seen. He was a monster. Unfortunately no eating this fish either due to Cig.
We also caught this nice tuna on the way. It was super yummy.
It was a big splash out for us, but we actually paid for a tour of the island. It was SOOO worth it. The next few pictures are of the sites that Sam showed us.
We got lucky and were treated to an absolutely spectacular view of the smoking volcano.
That brown patch is where the city of Plymouth used to exist. The entire city was buried. As you can see, its still smoking today.
We only stayed in Montserrat for about 48 hours before heading off of Guadeloupe. Just before leaving we put up the brand new Canadian flag we had in a storage compartment. Rhonda caught a pretty nice picture of it just before we raised sail.
We rolled into Dehais, Guadeloupe. I still think its one of the prettiest anchorages in all the Caribbean.
Rhonda made us some fantastic breadfruit fries with the breadfruit that Sam found us in Montserrat.
After spending WAY more time in Dehais that we planned, we eventually got moving and headed to Roseau, Dominica. This island was ABSOLUTELY devastated by the second super hurricane of last season, MARIA. Look closely at this picture. Most of that debris is actually houses.
Although we couldn’t offer a ton, we gave what we could. The locals were ecstatic to receive food and water.
Then it was off to Martinique. (we had not idea how long we would be there).
And some “down time”!
This picture pretty much sums up what we think about St. Anne Martinique. Idealic.
Oh man… Back in the French islands. Wine.. So much good wine..
And BEER.. CHEAP BEER (0.65 cents euro/can)
Of course we spent a ton of time in the water. Hmm not a great set, but we have 150ft of chain out and the weather is predicted to be light.
Someone even shot his first lion fish with his very own gun.
And then it was someone’s birthday. Everyone commented on how much it wasn’t the same without Avanti.
Shortly after that it was Christmas. This year we even had a proper tree as there was no problem finding a nice cheap tree in Martinique.
THANKFULLY, the kid boats began to arrive.
Of course the parents had to have some fun too.
We welcomed our first real full time visitors to the boat. That’s not some random plane, it’s the actual flight that brought our guests. As we were taking this picture they were looking out the window trying to spot our boat.
My parents were missing the grand kids.
Just hanging out.. Can you tell who is acclimated to the weather and who is not.
They treated us to Pizza…. Yup after that they could stay as long as they liked.
Of course there was a ton of cards played.
We rented a van and spent the day running around the island. (pretty sure my dad is still telling stories of how I almost killed him 20 times).
The moment my mom was dreading. We needed to run across the Martinique-St. Lucia channel. True open ocean sailing in not “optimal” conditions. (for you inquisitive types the 19.2 you see on the gauge is the depth in feet)
St. Lucia in our sights… LOL, YES that is the same flag we put up a few months ago.
For the last few days of their visit, my parents decided to rent a villa. It was pretty opulent (HOT SHOWERS).
Unfortunately the day arrived when we had to say Goodbye.
But… Just a few days later, we welcomed our second set of guests to Party of Five. Michel and Annette from northern Alberta. The plan was to run them up to Martinique and then back to St. Lucia. Unfortunately the weather just wouldn’t cooperate and we got pinned in St. Lucia.
Of course they had brought Canadian style shooters. Rye and maple Syrup (with a Piton chaser of course).
We might as well see as much of the island as we could, so we rented a van for the day. It was fun as I was still perfecting my driving on the wrong side of the road skills.
We ended up in a little village called Anse La Raye looking for an old friend of Michel’s. We stopped at the beach while looking for said friends house. From this day forward, someone earned the nickname of Mrs. Roper.
Turns it Michel’s friends house was right up our ally. “The Druken Lizard” bar.
After some chit-chat and reminiscing, Stephan took us on a jungle hike to the local waterfall.
It was a pretty spectacular waterfall. A very cool place that not many people get to see. (Thanks for the pic Steph)
After the waterfall it was back to the boat for a little fishing. We caught this nice yellowtail snapper right off the back of the boat.
We rounded up Michel and Annette’s trip by hanging out with the superyachts at the posh resort in Marigot bay! They rented a villa just up the hill for the last few days to have some downtime.
Shortly after Michel and Annette left, the weather settled down and we made the jump across the channel with our long time friends Mike and Gigi on Last Tango. (It hadn’t settled down enough as we had a pretty rough crossing).
We spent the next few weeks on boat projects, fishing and just relaxing. I built a new gauge cluster for our energy center.
Of course our most exciting project was the installation of a REAL washing machine. This is by far the best upgrade we have ever done to our boat. It cut our washing time from like 10 hours of WORK/week to about 1 hour (where the machine does all the work).
Its crazy but Party of Five spent over 4 months in Martinique this year. At first I felt guilty about that. Like we have changed from cruisers to liveaboards. However, in the end I realized that there is nothing wrong with staying in a place you love. With sunsets like this, why would you leave? I only regret that I didn’t take the opportunity to really learn how to speak French.