Santa Cruz with a Sprinkle of San Fran and a Dash of Google

We left Kernville and made a long drive to Santa Cruz, CA.  The KOA there was really nice with reasonable sized spaces and many activities for families to enjoy.  They were pretty strict on the rules, but we are finding that to be true everywhere! Once again the golf cart patrol was quick to tell us if we had an extra car in the space or if the dog had gotten out of the RV without her leash on.

This was the fanciest KOA we have seen. They had activities scheduled for most days, including one yoga class which I enjoyed.  There was a small, semi-outdoor bar/restaurant and a nice playground. The vibe was positive and it was great to see so many families enjoying the activities available on the beautiful, shaded grounds.

Happily, Hunter’s place of employment was close enough to our RV spot that he chose to commute to work from Temporary Digs.  We missed Clayton, but were glad to have the extra time with Hunter.

The days were filled with activity; biking, surfing, kite boarding and exploring Santa Cruz in between walking the dog and hanging “at home.” Unfortunately I didn’t take many pictures, but I’ll share some I did take.

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This double track leads uuuupp to the start of some trails in Santa Cruz.

I mentioned that Hunter had finally been bitten by the mountain biking bug as is evidenced by this picture of him with his new “toy.” A big shout out to Scotts Valley Cycle Sports where Hunter made his purchase.  This is an excellent bike shop with nice stock and excellent customer service.  We highly recommend them!

 

Love this retro van which is as old as I am!

Speaking of toys, take a look at this vintage van we saw in Santa Cruz. This is the first time I have seen a Chevrolet Greenbriar which was built between 1961-65.  Pretty cool looking.  We spotted it outside of the Santa Cruz Bicycle Factory.

We took a tour of the Santa Cruz Bicycle factory, which was interesting, but the guide would benefit from a script to include more facts and information. 🙂      (No pictures were allowed.)

The town of Santa Cruz was surprisingly interesting to us. It has a population of around 65,000 and there are many outdoor activities to enjoy.  Because of its size, there are plenty of restaurants, bike shops, surf shops, grocery stores, etc, so we didn’t lack for anything. We were even able to have routine maintenance on our truck while in Santa Cruz.

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A blustery morning in Santa Cruz.

The morning we had our truck worked on, we brought out bikes and toured the town while the truck was otherwise occupied.  It was fun just to tool about and take in Santa Cruz. We had the unusual experience of needing a jacket! What a delightful change from the temperatures we always had during summer in Texas.

As if great biking, surfing and kiting possibilities weren’t enough to make us enjoy Santa Cruz, there is a marina as well!

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Perhaps one day we will come back in our sailboat?!

Our RV site was about a 45 minute drive from Santa Cruz, but we found ourselves returning to SC almost every day. If possible, the next time we visit this area, I would find an RV site closer to Santa Cruz even though the Costanoa KOA was a very nice place.

The Fourth of July Holiday fell during our time in Santa Cruz and Clayton was able to join us for the day. We celebrated by, wait for it…… riding bikes!! SURPRISE!

Pics from our rides in Santa Cruz:

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Frank is a tree-hugger!

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Maybe not everything is bigger in Texas.

We did branch out (haha) a little from Santa Cruz when we visited Google in Mountain View, CA.  Working “conditions” are certainly different from when I worked in downtown Dallas.  My employer did not provide any of the perks that are standard at Google…. onsite places to eat (for free), bicycles to commute between buildings, entertainment on site, green space to “refresh” your energy, etc.

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Google was empty due to the July 4th holiday.

We also drove to San Francisco to see the city with Hunter as our tour guide. Rather than contend with parking, we took our bikes on the subway into the SF and spent the whole day puttering around.

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Lunch spot, Mission Delores Park – we were the only ones with this idea!

Hunter found us a spot in the family friendly section of the park which is pictured here. This section was full of interesting sights, like the camping tent with a big “30” on top for a birthday celebration, the guy carrying a h-u-g-e python around his neck (which apparently is a chic magnet?!), a little girl walking a cat, a few games I was unfamiliar with and a wide variety of dress styles.  The other side of the park was a little more revealing in terms of skin and lifestyle choices.  All in all, very interesting. It was very fun to see so many people out enjoying the fresh air. (Side note, Frank and I were slightly above the average age in the park!)

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Hunter and I enjoying a view of the bay…. or maybe I was resting at the top of a hill?

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What trip to SF is complete without seeing this icon?

This picture was taken from Crissy Field, a spot where many people hang out and is fairly popular with kiteboarders as well.  Unfortunately kiters here often need to be rescued because several factors are less than favorable: gusty winds, currents, ship traffic, etc. We were only at Crissy Field for about 15 minutes but we saw one kiter returned to shore by the SF Marine Police.

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Hunter and Frank considering the kiting possibilities?

Although we didn’t hit all the highlights of SF, since it was only a one day visit, we did see quite a bit of the city, including Fisherman’s Wharf.  The Wharf itself was overrun with people!! Even on bikes it was hard to move through the streets and weave between the tourists. I was glad to see the area but was happy it wasn’t a major part of our agenda.

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Gratuitous photo of the bike trails because they are pretty.

We spent a lot of time on these pine needle strewn paths, listening to the sounds of the woods and getting a little exercise during our time in Santa Cruz.  With so little time in Santa Cruz, we were only able to scratch the surface of available trails for mountain biking or hiking, but the trails we did ride were very fun and had enough variety to satisfy me as a cautious rider and the guys who are much more adventurous.

I don’t know what wintertime is like near Santa Cruz, but I wouldn’t mind spending more time here if the weather is mild.  I’m not sure our Caribbean spoiled bones would survive snow and I know we don’t have the clothing for freezing temperatures but perhaps we will consider returning here before the new boat is delivered.

Thank you for visiting our blog. Feel free to take a look at our FB page (Let It Be, Helia 44)  if  you want to “hear” from us more often.

 

California Here We Come ~ In Bits and Pieces ~ Kernville First.

I’ve decided to begin doing short posts because we have had surprisingly limited internet speeds and that makes blogging very time consuming. Plus, those who know Frank know we always have to stay busy and finding time to write when we aren’t driving or doing is difficult.

Once we left Grand Junction, we high tailed over to California, choosing to save exploring Utah for the fall when it might be slightly cooler than it is now.  Everyone knows California has some beautiful places and we wanted to explore a few from the RV.

Cali-1Scenes as we drove to Kernville.

Kernville is on the southern edge of the Sequoia National Forest about 50 miles east and slightly north of Bakersfield, CA. The drive to Kernville was scenic and easy with a one night stop in Hurricane, UT just to break up the drive.

When I think of California, I envision the coast, so I enjoyed seeing the arid, mountainous aspects of the state.

CaliCan you imagine trying to cross this terrane in a covered wagon?

Our RV park in Kernville was the Kern River Sequoia RV Resort.  The campsite backs up to the Kern River and our particular site had a small stream behind it. The stream was a very popular spot for neighbors to plop their chairs in the stream while the kids played in and around the water.

IMG_5293 2I forgot to take a pic of the campground but you get an idea in this picture.

Our sons joined us for the weekend so our family was together for the first time since Christmas in Bonaire. That was quite a treat!

As usual, we stayed very busy, mostly mountain biking.  Frank transferred the mountain biking bug to Clayton way back when he was in high school, but Hunter was slower to get hooked.  However, after this trip, Hunter has also succumbed to MB Fever.

KernvilleThree amigos prepping for a ride.

I dropped off the guys at the top of Cannell Trail and they spent the next several hours bombing down the mountain then riding back to the RV. Cannell is listed as an Epic Trail by IMBA (International Mountain Biking Association) and it needed to be done.  Frank reports that this isn’t the best Epic he has ridden, but they still had a great time.

Cali-2Cappy really wanted to run the whole trail!

Captain really wanted to run the trail, but it was too long for her.  She trotted along behind Frank near the drop off point until it was time for them to leave.  The trail was beyond my comfort zone and I was the designated drop driver, so once Frank, Hunter and  Clayton left, Cappy and I hiked a bit and enjoyed the scenery.

Kernville-2Clayton, assessing the mountain?

Kernville-3Hunter looks very serious about this ride.

Kernville-1Do those cute ears make you think of Yoda?

Our campsite was well shaded and the little creek behind us was great for cooling off for both us and the dog.

Cali-3Why don’t you get wet instead of taking my picture?

Floating the Kern River was pretty popular but we only had a couple of days in Kernville and biking took precedence over all else. In addition to two mountain bike rides, Frank and I enjoyed a few excellent road rides after the kids returned to work. (It is really strange to have our kids leave for work and we just continue to play!!)

Kernville-4Not a bad view as we biked along the road.

I find it very difficult to reconcile the visual effects of the mountains and the streams when I am biking. Often it looks like I’m riding downhill but feels like I am riding uphill because of the illusion the landscape creates on the incline. Generally Frank reads the grade better than I do, so I follow his lead on which direction to ride first so I’ll have a downhill ride on the way back.  But it is hard to believe him when my eyes are trying to tell me I’m going downhill!

I guess this is a gentle way of increasing my trust in Frank’s decisions because once I turned around on the rides, I was very surprised to find just how uphill the ride was on the way out. Going home was definitely downhill ~ woohoo!!!   Even when the road appears to be going downhill, if I am riding against the flow of the river, I know I am moving uphill….

Does anyone else experience difficulty determining uphill from downhill when the mountains converge near the road you are riding?

Anyway, Kernville was an excellent first stop in California. Of course it was heavily influenced by having the family together!  I’m very happy we will be in California and in closer proximity to the kids for a few weeks!

~HH55 Catamaran Update~

Although there is a looonng way to go, the most recent update from HH shows some exciting progress on our cat.  Apparently the interior painting is now complete and exterior paint will begin this week. Very exciting!  I just have to remember that even though these steps make it look like we have made a big leap toward completion, there are many less obvious and vital steps before completion.

_____201807201548012Starboard aft berth.

_____201807201548013Facing forward in the master hull; two sinks inboard, the head outboard, then the shower.

In the second photo, you can see some of the customizations HH has made on our hull.  LIB was set up as a four cabin, four head boat which was perfect for chartering and actually was very comfortable for us while we lived on board. However, on out HH55 we have chosen to reduce the number of heads and showers to just one in each hull.

In an effort to retain personal space and convenience when we revert to sharing a head, we redesigned the forward area of the owner’s hull. We changed the head from an enclosed area that included one sink, one shower and a toilet in the following way:  1. we removed the doorway into the whole area to make it feel less congested, 2. we enclosed the head for privacy but still allow access to the shower if someone is using the toilet and 3. we added a second sink so we have our own spaces.

Although we had our own heads on LIB, we think these small alterations to our HH55 will allow us to easily share one bathroom and reduce the total number of heads on board.

We very much appreciate Gino Morrelli’s help reworking the spaces in our Morrelli and Melvin designed HH55.  Gino knows every space and weight of these boats and he was instrumental in helping us figure out where to make interior changes that would make this awesome boat work for our purposes.

Thank you for stopping to read our blog. We would love to hear your comments. If you would like to hear from us more often, please check our Facebook page

Missing the Twin Cayes, Drowned Cayes and Especially Caye Caulker

After Susan and Kevin left us in early April, it was time to leave Placencia and move north through Belize and begin watching for a weather window to make the leap to Galveston, TX.  Originally we planned on stopping at Isla Mujeres, Mexico, but we had heard all kinds of things about the complications of checking into and out of Mexico.  We were only going to have a day or two to visit there, so we decided to skip Isla Mujeres this trip.  Our thought is that we will have a lot of time in Mexico on the western side when we move south from California on the new boat, so our visit would wait.

Anyway, instead of spending two days in Mexico, we decide to stay a bit longer in Belize and see a couple of islands on our way north.  We set out from Placencia and sailed about 29nm to Twin Cayes. We were the last boat to arrive in this beautiful anchorage because we had waited until late in the morning to leave Placencia to make sure a weather system had passed.  Also, we think overnight passages inside the barrier reef of Belize are a bad idea because the charts are poor and there is a lot of shallow water.

belize-9 Three other boats were anchored in Twin Cayes

Twin Cayes is very well protected and an excellent place to hide from weather as evidenced by one of the boats which had been anchored there for three days before we arrived. There was a pretty decent wind storm predicted along with unruly seas and Twin Cayes was a prefect hiding place.

The next morning we left Twin Cayes and sailed 41nm to Dronwed Cayes. Drowned Cayes is another island of mangrove trees with inlets running through it and no development that we saw.  We meandered through the twisting inlet, closely watching our depth sounder since our charts were unreliable or unmarked, and found a perfect spot to drop anchor.

Once anchored, we grabbed our masks and fins and jumped in the water to see if we could get close to the dolphins that were playing near the boat as we settled the anchor.  Frank was the first in and I quickly followed.  But just as I was beginning to swim toward the dolphins, Captain jumped in the water to give chase as well.

Cappy was not going to help us get close to the dolphins, so I grabbed her and we swam back to LIB.  Frank continued toward the dolphins, but they quickly swam away.

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Although this panoramic picture is a little distorted, it offers a good view of Drowned Caye.

Drowned Caye was perfectly quiet and we felt like we were all alone in an undiscovered land. We pulled out the SUPs and explored some of the narrow fingers of water until they dead ended or exited to the ocean.  What a delightful end to a fairly long day of sailing.

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The red route to Caye Caulker and the yellow was a very challenging route out of the reef.

The next morning we picked up early and headed toward Caye Caulker. The route we took from Drowned Cayes to Caye Caulker had a several shallow spots and we had to pick and choose our way through the water including a skinny cut at Hicks Caye where we passed two barges coming the opposite direction. I am very thankful that we have a good amount of experience reading the water. It certainly augments chart information and the depth sounder!

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Caye Caulker has charming streets and few automobiles.

Caye Caulker was absolutely delightful! This was by far our favorite stop in Belize. Although we were watching for a weather window, we enjoyed a week on this pretty and laid back island. Cay Caulker is small, but has a ton of things to offer. Along the dirt streets are plenty of shops and small groceries, restaurants and tour companies. The people were happy and very welcoming!

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Stressless Tours was excellent!

We chose to take a snorkeling tour from Stressless Tours and we had a perfectly amazing day. Everyone we interacted with from Stressless was positive, welcoming and accommodating.  Our day began with a stop to see a seahorse hanging out by a peer, which was great since that brought my seahorse in the wild count up to three.

Our day with Stressless included a stop to swim with manatees, with specific instructions that we were not pester or approach the manatees.

All together we stopped in five places during our tour and got in the water in three of them. Our guides were superb! They jumped in the water with us and pointed out all kinds of coral and fish, teaching about their surroundings and sharing their efforts to protect the reefs and marine life.

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Mr. Manatee is very chill!

We were extremely impressed with Stressless Tours.  They even asked us to refrain from using sunscreen and they provided a special lotion which is designed with protection of the reefs in mind. It is great to see a forward thinking company like Stressless.

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The fish are cool, but I loved that turtle!

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Plenty of fish and sharks where another boat was chumming.

Because of the storm system just prior to our arrival at Caye Caulker, there were no other boats in the anchorage when we arrived. But there was plenty (in a positive way) of activity with fishing, snorkeling and diving boats coming in and out of the area.

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This boat carrying cinder blocks to a building site motored past us one morning.

We heard that San Pedro, an island right next to Caye Caulker, was a lot like Caye Caulker before it became so populated so we took a 20 minute ferry ride to that neighboring island to see it for ourselves.

It didn’t take long to decide we much preferred the less crowded and slower pace of Caye Caulker to the hectic crowds of San Pedro.  We rented a golf cart and found San Pedro teeming with cars, bikes and golf carts.

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Sorry it’s blurry….no stopping for pics without getting honked at!

We did find a very pretty Catholic Church in San Pedro and we took a minute to look inside and be thankful for the opportunity to explore so many places.

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San Pedro Roman Catholic Church

We drove the golf cart from one end of the island to the other and stopped at a poorly attended market where we didn’t find anything we wanted to buy.  But we did chuckle when we found a Boomer Sooner graduate had set up a cafe! Of course we sent a picture to our youngest son who graduated from the University of Oklahoma.

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A taste of Oklahoma in Belize!!

Pretty quickly we decided to head back to the ferry dock and return to Caye Caulker where the vibe was slower and more laid back. Since we had to wait an hour or so for the ferry we took refuge at Palapa Bar.  I can definitely see the appeal of this bar where you can order a drink from your inner tube and have it delivered from a bucket on a pulley system!

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Definitely bring your swim suit if you stop at the Palapa Bar!

Back in Caye Caulker, we decided we should sign up for a dive tour since this would be our last opportunity to dive for quite a while.  We found a very good tour company and signed up for a two tank day.

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We saw a fish ball/circle. Pretty cool.

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This grouper came right up to me while filming.

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Oh hello! Mr. Shark came swimming right toward me from over this reef.

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The reef walls created a canyon like feeling underwater.

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I’m turning to keep this shark in view….no sneaking up behind me, please!

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The bar by The Split.

After a day under water, we decided to relax in the sun and hang out at a bar near “the split.” The split is where, in 1961, Hurricane Hattie caused a break in Caye Caulker Island.  The locals use the split to boat to the opposite side of the island and a smart business man opened a bar where folks can hang out.  The split is a perfect place to grab a drink, watch people enjoy the water and check out shallow draft boats going through the channel.

Our time in Caye Caulker was a fabulous way to end our time in Belize. We couldn’t have asked for a more relaxed and comfortable place to prepare for our passage to Texas.  If you have a chance to visit Belize, make sure Caye Caulker is on your list of places to spend a few nights!

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Sunset from the anchorage at Caye Caulker.

Next time I’ll talk about our passage from Caye Caulker to Galveston.  We had a great sail, but we definitely had some interesting times.  And the beginning of our journey getting out of the Belize Barrier Reef was a bit of a challenge!

Thank you for reading our blog.  We appreciate your taking time to share our travels.  Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.

 

 

Comparing Life on Land to Life Afloat ~ Seven Weeks into Our Temporary Land Life.

So I thought others might be interested in our comparison of RV Life to Sailing Life.  BUT I must first acknowledge that we are only a few weeks into this RV adventure and we are FAR from experts. I hope we will improve as time passes and our experience increases.

CROWDS:  Perhaps the most glaring difference between RV Life and Sailboat Life for us is the sheer number of people “doing it.” We are amazed that there are so. many. people. on the road! And consequently in the camp sites!!

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Our very first RV “Park” was a rude awakening!

RESERVATIONS/SPACE:  Having lived on our sailboat for three years, we are accustomed to choosing a place to visit, checking the available anchorages on a chart and heading in that direction. Once we arrive, there may be other boats in the anchorage but we always found plenty of room to drop an anchor.

WHEN RVing ~ DO NOT ARRIVE WITHOUT A RESERVATION. Period!!!

We have learned, these last few weeks, that RV sites are in great demand and you must have a reservation or take your chances of not finding a spot to stop. So far we have not had to resort to a Walmart parking lot, but that might still happen.

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We will never experience this much space when our RV is parked.

RULES:  I am not certain if my travels outside the U.S. have caused me to become aware of how many rules there are in the U.S. OR if there are just a TON of rules in every RV Park.

Regardless of which is true, we are amazed at just how strict the rules are in RV campgrounds and how zealously they are enforced.

~Keep you dog on a leash at all times (Yes, even if she is well trained and lying at your feet by the picnic table.)

~Only one vehicle per campsite. (Yes, even if  you are just unloading a bike that your son brought with him and will be stored on the RV.)

~Changing your reservation means a default of your downpayment. (Yes, even if you cancel weeks in advance).

Eccetera, eccetera, eccetera!!!

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There were at least five more rule signs along this short driveway.

WEATHER:   RVing takes less awareness of weather and conditions than sailing requires.  While sailing, we were always aware of the sea state, incoming storms, what the wind and weather forecast were at our destination and along the way to our destination.

When we pack up our RV and prepare to drive, we just point and drive and allow the weather conditions to bring what they may.  So far we have been very fortunate that the weather as we drive has been mostly dry with little rain.  But still, we aren’t nearly as aware of upcoming weather as we were while living on a sailboat.

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One of the few days we experienced rain as we drove.

CONVERSE CONCERNS:   RV and Cruising have opposite concerns.  For many sailors, top priority is having enough fresh water, food and energy on the sailboat and management of waste is relatively easy.  While RVing we have ample access to water, electricity and food but limited ability to evacuate waste and gray water!

Food is plentiful in the US grocery stores and buying more or whatever you desire is never an issue.  In our sailing travels, we could always find food, but we might not be familiar with the foods we found or how to cook the food we bought.

AUTOPILOT:   The greatest convenience that we miss from our sailing life is autopilot.  We loved setting the sails and course and allowing Jude (the name we gave our autopilot) to take the helm (wheel). With Jude on the helm, we could relax, walk around the boat, read, cook, etc and simply make periodic checks to insure that Jude was on course, the sails were still well set and there weren’t any ships or objects in our way.

Now that we are on land, the RV requires full time attention from one of us as we are driving from one destination to another.

We really miss autopilot!! (Maybe I will embrace driverless cars after all.)

DAILY EXPENSES:    The initial cost of buying a sailboat is much greater than buying an RV, especially if you buy a new boat compared to a new RV. Of course, there is a big range of initial costs available for both a sailboat and an RV depending on size, quality, etc.

However, we have found that the daily expenses of living in the U.S. and traveling from one RV campsite to the next is much higher than we experienced while sailing. On our sailboat, we refueled perhaps once every six to eight weeks if we ran our generator often. Diesel at a boat dock is more expensive than on land, but we usually spent about $250 when we refueled s/v Let It Be.

Driving our RV, we try to make our location changes a maximum of about 300 miles and we will spend about $115 on diesel each day that we travel that distance.  If we had a smaller RV and truck we could reduce this figure, but we chose this RV so we could easily carry our bikes and other toys and so our kids could comfortably visit us.

When we dropped anchor on our sailboat, we did not incur any fees.  If we picked up a mooring ball, the fees varied by location with the least expensive being $0. per day and the most expensive $35. per day. Ninety percent of our time on LIB we spent at anchor and incurred no fees for our location.

RV campsites range in price as well. We prefer to have full hookups so we have fresh water and can dispose of waste and gray water. We have found campsites run anywhere from $45 to $110 per night with full hookups.

We have joined a few ‘clubs’ to reduce our RV park fees, but many sites disallow discounts during peak season, which is now. Also, we might find campsites are less expensive during the off season.  Time will tell.

BTW, our RV is not equipped to survive ‘off the grid,’ so long stays without electrical support is unrealistic at this time. IF we decide to RV long term, we would consider fitting our RV with solar power and additional batteries to give us the opportunity to find unsupported campsites.

After only a few weeks on the road, these are our thoughts when we compare RV Life and Cruising on a sailboat. Frank and I enjoyed the space and flexibility we found while sailing. As we await the arrival of our next boat, we are going through an adjustment period as we learn to live with very close neighbors and arrange our locations far in advance as required in an RV.

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The magnitude is amazing.

However, we have truly enjoyed having the opportunity to travel the US with our own stuff in tow and stay with friends along the way.

We have enjoyed being in our “home” country and being completely at ease with the nuances that come with being in your homeland.

Easy communication because we are native speakers is a nice change too.

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Dramatic and majestic.

Finally, the beauty and breadth of the United States is truly a wonder and we are blessed and happy to have this chance to visit a small portion of our country. As we adjust our thought processes, plan our travels further forward and move into a slightly less busy RV season, I think we will enjoy RV Life more.

~ HH 55 Catamaran Update ~

The news from HH concerning the progress of our catamaran has been a little quiet lately, but I’m pretty sure that is because they are currently sea trialling HH55-04, s/v Utopia.

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s/v Utopia during sea trials in China. (Photo credit HH Catamarans)

This picture of Utopia shows some of the choices her owners made that differ from our choices.  Obviously, one difference is that Utopia has been painted white and our boat will be blue.  Utopia has been outfitted with North Sails but we have chosen to have our sails made by Doyle Sails.  Also, Utopia, has a super sleek, removable bimini over her aft helm stations.  The owners wanted light weight, minimalistic biminis that they can remove if they are racing. We have chosen to have more substantial binimis and alter the helm seat itself to make it more comfortable for long passages.

Sea trials will take place over a three week period, then s/v Utopia will be hauled, packaged and shipped to the U.S.

Seeing Utopia on the water makes us very anxious to take delivery of our new catamaran!

Thank you for visiting our blog. Feel free to comment or ask questions. We love hearing your thoughts.

 

 

Friends, Fires, Bike Rides ~ Colorado Captured Part of Our Hearts!

After a quick but fun stay in Angel Fire, we pointed Temporary Digs northwest and drove to Durango, CO.  In 2015 we rented a VRBO in Durango and stayed there for six weeks before we moved onto s/v Let It Be.  We had a great time then and were really looking forward to returning to some of our favorite places and bike trails.

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The driveway for Lightner Creek goes down this hill.

We stopped at Lightner Creek RV Campground where the sites are in a valley along a stream with steep mountains all around.  This was our second visit to Lightner Creek; our first was in 2010 when we rented an RV for two weeks and explored bike trails in Colorado and New Mexico.

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The campsite at Lightner is beautiful and shady.

When we left Angel Fire, we were aware that there was a fire about 10-15 miles north of the city of Durango, but it was 2,500 acres and we weren’t too concerned about it. Unfortunately by the morning of our first full day in Durango the fire had grown to 7,500 acres!

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The plume of smoke from the fire north of Durango.

There was smoke visible when we were riding trails, but it was in the distance and not an issue. We had planned to stay in Durango for a week but four days into our stay we were hiding indoors until about noon to allow the smoke to clear before venturing out.  By 1 pm we were able to ride, but the fires were still growing and the smoke was increasing.

Lightner Creek

Smoke was becoming more prevalent as the days progressed.

We decided to shorten our stay in Durango since we felt the fires were negatively affecting our plans.  The dry conditions and winds had caused the fire to grow to 25,000 acres.  Firefighters were working hard and doing what they could to contain the fire and prevent it from destroying any homes, but the smoke was an issue for us. I am so thankful for the hard working men and women fighting the fires, directing it’s course as best they can and protecting homes that could be destroyed.  What an exhausting and dangerous job!

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You can see the smoke is heavier in this picture than the last one.

Since our departure, Durango has had two days with rain and June 19th, was the first day since the fire started on June 1st, that the footprint of the fire has not increased.  The Durango fire has scorched more than 34,000 acres already, so hopefully it can be contained.

Anyway, we packed up Temporary Digs a day earlier than we originally planned and headed north and slightly east to Carbondale, CO to visit with Terrie and Brad, friends from the Sail to the Sun Rally we did in 2016.

We had to alter our route to Carbondale due to the fires but the drive was absolutely beautiful. It is impossible to capture the exquisiteness and scope of the landscape but I managed to capture a few photos.

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A rock dam along CO133

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The view from McClure Pass, 8,800 feet.

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Ok, this is actually New Mexico, but it is gorgeous and I wanted you to see it.

Although we met Terrie and Brad on the Sail to the Sun Rally, we have a lot in common other than sailing, so visiting them in their lovely Colorado home gave us a chance to hang out and have some fun.

Here are some highlights from our visit.

We went to the Carbondale Rodeo!

Very occasionally we went to the rodeo in Texas but they were usually pretty large and a bit of a drive. So when Brad and Terrie suggested the Carbondale Rodeo, we were on board. My two favorite events of the evening were barrel racing and the kid sheep riding.  Those little, tiny kids were tough! I think the youngest child was only three! They were all good sports though and were very tough when they fell off the sheep.

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Sundown from the rodeo stands.

We explored by bicycle and by car, generally played the tourist/sightseer and enjoyed the company of our hosts.

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Photo op during a bike ride.

Carbondale has plenty of biking opportunities both mountain and road. There is a Rails to Trails path, The Rio Grande Trail, that runs from Aspen, through Carbondale and all the way to Glenwood Springs.  All together this trail alone is 42 miles one way.  If I lived in Carbondale, I am sure I would find time to ride my bike to Aspen and back or maybe put my bike on a bus and get back that way.

Terrie and I took a couple of road rides while Frank and Brad mixed up the road and mountain bike rides. I would love to have access to so many excellent bike paths and trails on a routine basis and I know Frank would also.

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The views were breathtaking or was the oxygen in short supply?

Of course we drove up to the continental divide which is were the rivers on one side flow to the Atlantic Ocean and on the other side head to the Pacific Ocean.  So I guess you could say this is where both our Atlantic and our Pacific sailboat cruising life are nourished.

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The range on the right is the actual continental divide.

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Professional photo from a SpaceX photographer.

We randomly asked someone to take our picture and learned that he is a contract photographer for SpaceX…. kind of ironic since Frank was wearing a SpaceX hoodie and one of our sons works for SpaceX. Guess this will be the best photo we get for a while. 😉

We spent time exploring Aspen because you just have to see Aspen while you are nearby, plus it started raining and that was the perfect excuse to stop to have drinks and share an appetizer.  Aspen lived up to its’ reputation of being both pretty and expensive.  Some of the homes were stunning in their size, style and setting; as they should be since some come with a $20m price tag!

Terrie and I checked out a few shops and I found a very pretty embroidered top but I just didn’t think I really needed a $345 shirt for hanging out in the RV!

The scenery as we explored between Carbondale and Aspen was amazing and SO different from the flat islands and waters we have seen these last few years aboard LIB.  We enjoyed using the natural background to grab some pictures.

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We can’t imagine more generous or fun hosts than Brad and Terrie.

On a personal note, I had not had my hair professionally cut in more than 18 months so I asked Terrie if she could get me and appointment with her hairdresser. It was such a treat to have my hair cut and styled! I might just have to keep that up while I am in the States. (Thank you, Terrie for arranging the appointment. And thank you, Stacie, for fitting me into your schedule!)

This really only scratches the surface of what we did while visiting Carbondale. I wish I could somehow share with you the warmth of the welcome we received from Terrie and Brad. In addition to feeding us, giving us shelter, loving on Captain and introducing us to their friends and neighbors, Terrie and Brad found a place for us to park Temporary Digs so we didn’t even have to pay storage! WOW!! Thank you so much!

Carbondale is one of the first places we have visited where I felt like I could actually settle down once we finish our sailing life. The surroundings are fabulous, there is a lot to do in Carbondale, there are other towns nearby for additional activities, tennis is available if I want to take it up again, the biking is varied and excellent…. but I would have to learn to live with cold weather in the winter! I would definitely have to experience wintertime before I could seriously consider settling in Colorado.  It was really nice to find a place that Frank and I agree has potential as a place to live once we decide to move back to land.

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There was not a bit of shade on this ride down the Spanish Trail.

Our final stop in Colorado was Grand Junction. It is much more arid and brown than Carbondale, but it has some great places to ride bikes and the town is quaint.  Our stop in Grand Junction was a quick one as we are moving fast toward California where we will visit our children.

Grand Junction

The magnitude is hard to grasp until you see how small the train looks.

We divided our time in Grand Junction between bike riding, getting a few bike adjustments accomplished and making reservations for our next RV campgrounds.

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Who knew Bible Study Camp included cutting horses?

At the KOA in Grand Junction, Temporary Digs backed up to a horse arena and stable area and every day I watched folks working their horses and teens taking lessons. I actually went to the arena and to see if I could ride or take a lesson, but the lessons were part of a Bible Study Camp (???) and obviously I couldn’t join them.

Listening to the horses neigh and seeing them every day made me miss those times when I rode as a youngster…. perhaps once we are back on land for good I will look into horseback riding once again.

Here are a couple more pictures from our bike rides in Grand Junction.

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The Gunnison River makes a U-turn.

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Frank’s ride through Colorado National Monument, “The Monument.”

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Aptly named “Balance Rock.”

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Unusual shapes in Monument caused by erosion.

Although early settlers thought these were giant man-made structures, the unique shapes are caused by erosion of the protective Kayenta Formation layers which revealed the softer Wingate Formation layers seen in these smooth, rounded pattern. (Luckily I can read the information signs.)

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Sunset is a great time to ride in Grand Junction.

Frank and I both thoroughly enjoyed our stops in Colorado and could easily spend much more time here. The temperatures are great, especially compared to Texas in the summer, the terrane is varied and interesting, the options for outdoor activities appeal to us and the people have been very nice.

That concludes our too quick trip to CO. I have a feeling we will swing back through here in the fall, but for now we are pointing TD toward California…. I can hardly wait to see Hunter and Clayton and have some family time!!!

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I think I could fall in love with Colorado!

Thanks a bunch for stopping to read our post. If you want to hear from us more often, take a peak at our FB page.

 

South Water and Tobacco Cayes with our Quickest Visitors Ever.

Although we had hoped to have a few visitors this season, the changes in our location and the devastation wrought by Hurricanes Irma and Maria, plus the possible sale of LIB, caused our plans to change and discouraged visitors.

So we were very happy that our Sail to the Sun friends, Susan and Kevin, managed to adjust their plans and come sail with us in Belize. They were only able to stay for a few days, but the wind was cooperative and we had an excellent time.

Some visitors are all about the land, others enjoy the water and some are focused on the sailing aspect.  As avid and experienced sailors, Susan and Kevin were very happy the winds cooperated and we could explore under sail.  It is especially nice to have guests on board who understand sailing and all its’ capriciousness because they know we are limited by weather, wind and seas.

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Kevin and Susan are right at home at the helm of LIB.

Fortunately those three aspects came together and allowed us to sail to South Water Caye the first full day Susan and Kevin were with us.

Frank and I had “pre-visited” South Water Caye and Tobacco Caye and we were really happy to return to them and explore with Susan and Kevin.

South Water is about 12 acres in size and has pretty cottages and bars on white sand.  It also boasts an IZE (International Zoological Exploration) location on the island. IZE is best described as educational travel in the rainforest or reefs of Belize. Open to high school and university students or families interested in learning about Belize, the setting is absolutely beautiful and the marine life around South Water Caye unique.  We spoke with a group of high school students from Georgia who were having an incredible experience with IZE.

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Steps leading to the open air dining area of IZE.

 Kids who come to spend a week or two here have to suffer through these harsh accommodations! And in between snorkeling and diving excursions, the kids are stuck finding ways to entertain themselves…

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Resting after a grueling day?

So although I am poking fun, this really does seem like a very cool experience that could help raise awareness and knowledge in younger generations.  Boston University even has a facility for lab work and study.

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Yes, Boston University!

Strolling along SW Caye doesn’t take very long, but it is very pretty.

South Water Caye-5Shaded cabins, hammocks and the sound of the sea are very restful.

Even Captain enjoyed the swings at the bar.

South Water Caye-3Cappy met up with her friend Hurley again.

 

Conch shells lined the “streets” and faith is evident where the locals live.

After strolling around South Water Caye, we headed back to LIB to enjoy a relaxed afternoon and dinner on board.

South Water Caye-7Prosecco buddies.

The following day we took advantage of the shallow area on the southern end of South Water Caye where we sat in the azure water and watched Captain alternate between rolling in sand and swimming in the water.  We took turns snorkeling and sitting in the shallow water and just idling away some time in a beautiful place.

After water time, we hoisted the sails and sailed to Tobacco Caye.  It was an easy day and a great opportunity to just relax and enjoy having the boat pushed along by the wind.

South Water Caye-8So many places to relax on LIB.

Until, Cappy sounded the alert…. dolphins had come to play at our bow!

No great pics this time, unfortunately.

South Water Caye seems huge compared to Tobacco Caye which is only 200 feet by 400 feet and all of it is in use!

Tobacco Caye-8Tobacco is tiny but mighty nice!

Do not let the fact that this island is crowded discourage you from visiting! We had a great time walking around and seeing how well the space is used.  Here are some photos:

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Picturesque bungalows at the edge of Tobacco Caye.

Tobacco Caye-4An artist captured sea life.

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Not every building is in good shape but it adds character.

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Such a pretty setting and I love the matching boat and house!

Apparently seeing the wonders of the sea doesn’t get old even when you live on an island.  The local children attend school on another island so they are only home on Tobacco for the weekends.  I would find it hard to have my young children away all week long. (I find it hard to be away from my grown children!)

Tobacco Caye-5  I wonder what they see?

They were watching giant stingrays!

tobacco-1$20 for a delicious dinner at Reef’s End.

The first time Frank and I visited Tobacco Caye, we had dinner at Reef’s End Lodge. It is an upstairs, small, open air spot with one dinner seating at 6 pm.  I was surprised to learn that there was no menu ~ dinner was whatever was available that evening. At first I was hesitant about the lack of choice, but it was actually really nice to sit back, enjoy the sunset and not even concern myself with what to order.

Tobacco Caye-7Lots of activity near Reef’s End.

When Susan and Kevin were with us, Reef’s End was pretty busy and we all preferred to hang out in the water and cook on LIB instead of dinghying to a restaurant.  After walking around Tobacco Caye, we headed back to LIB for more water time.  We had snorkeled the day before at South Water, so we decided it was time to pull out the paddle boards.  Kevin and Susan have not done much SUPing, so they took the dinghy up toward the reef and anchored in the shallow area while Frank and I paddled up to them. Once we were close to the dinghy, Susan and Kevin hopped on the SUPs and paddled around the clear shallows while Frank and I swam about with Captain.

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Lounging at anchor off of Tobacco Caye.

Of course all that exercise earned us nice warm showers and sundowners on the top deck before preparing dinner.

Unfortunately, Susan and Kevin had to fly back to the States rather quickly so we didn’t have time to explore any other islands.  But happily the wind was our friend again and we had a very nice trip back to Placencia.

Our last day in Placencia, Frank and Kevin hung out on LIB while Susan and I explored the sidewalk shops I mentioned in this blog.  Susan bought a really beautiful wooden cutting board that I think will be put to use on s/v Radiance very soon.

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Fresh tamales wrapped in jungle leaves.

While walking Captain in Placencia, Frank came across someone selling tamales.  The tamales were wrapped in leaves that our Monkey River guide, Percy, had mentioned were used in cooking. So Frank bought the tamales and we shared them with Kevin and Susan….  you have to have at least one authentic meal when in a different country, right?  Anyway, it was neat to see the local leaf used for cooking and the tamales were a nice change.  The outer layer of the tamale was thicker than we were accustomed to in Texas, but I rarely complain when I don’t have to do the cooking. 😉

We were sorry to say goodbye to Susan and Kevin, but we hope to catch up with them at the Annapolis Boat Show in October.  Or perhaps they will join us somewhere along the road in Temporary Digs.

In closing, I thought I ought to include at least one sunset so you can enjoy the beauty we shared at sundown on LIB.

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Sunset on our first visit to Tobacco Caye, Belize.

~ HH55 Catamaran Update ~

In May, Frank traveled to China to take a look at our HH55 catamaran which is under construction in Xiaman.  The really good news about Frank’s visit is that everything looks great on our boat.  Similar to building a custom home, there are many unique details to every build project and sometimes communication which appears clear just misses the mark.

Happily, Frank found that our communication with HH has progressed very well and the special requests we have made look like they are being handled accurately.  However, Frank was disappointed to learn that our HH55 is behind schedule and will be delayed an additional month.  Based on what he learned while in China, we hope our new boat will be delivered to California by mid-December at the latest.

One specification we have requested on our catamaran is a different counter surface for the galley.  I guess I was spoiled by the granite we had in our home and I hoped to find a material we could use in our HH that would work well but was of a reasonable weight. Gino Morrelli suggested a product called Kerlite and we forged ahead with this tile product.  It has not yet been installed on our HH55-03, but Frank had a chance to see our selection while at the HH site.

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Kerlite ceramic tile for our galley counters.

I wanted to find a product that doesn’t scratch as easily as the surface we had on LIB and that won’t be marred if someone sets a hot pot on it. I am hopeful that Kerlite will accomplish both aims.  What do you think? Do you like the look? Do you think poured ceramic will accomplish our goal?

Thank you so much for stopping by to read our blog. We would love to hear your comments.  If  you would like to hear from us more often, please see us on FB.

 

 

S/V “Let It Be” to RV “Temporary Digs” to S/V HH55 “??”

 

libLIB, Temporary Digs and ???

So things have been just a little bit crazy around here and I thought I better jump ahead in our blog to catch up on where we are and what is happening.

P1010702So many fun times on this great boat!

We expect to close on the sale of LIB this week! (Paperwork complications.) We are both happy and sad about this. We are happy because the new owner, Deneen, will love the boat and create great memories on her. We are happy because we are moving forward with our plans.  But it is very sad to say goodbye to such an excellent boat that has taken good care of us and on which we have learned so much and had so many truly wonderful days.

IMG_5050Deneen and Danny at the helm in Kemah, TX.

We sailed from Belize to Galveston and arrived back in Texas on May 1st.  We hit the ground running and in the space of four weeks we: packed up LIB, shipped boat specific items to California, drove to Mississippi to visit Frank’s mom for Mother’s Day weekend, searched for and bought a used truck and RV,  performed final oil changes and other maintenance on LIB, Frank flew to China to check on the progress of our next boat, I drove to Dallas and back to retrieve from storage a mattress that belongs to LIB, cleaned up LIB, spent a delightful day on the water with Deneen and Danny putting LIB through her paces, moved the remainder of our belonging into “Temporary Digs” and organized it all.  Then we drove away from Galveston on May 27th.  Phew!

Of course our plan is to be back in the sailing life, but our future HH55 is delayed and will not be delivered until November or December. She will be shipped to California for final commissioning and from there we hope to head to the South Pacific.

Since LIB was our home, we had to figure out where to live until our the next boat is completed and delivered.

We had some very generous offers from various friends to stay with them, but we firmly believe the old adage, “Fish and relatives smell after three days.”  Unless, you are flying to an exotic location to visit us on our boat, of course!! Then you need to stay much longer!

So we bought an RV and truck and will spend the next several months exploring the U.S. We are calling our RV “Temporary Digs” since it be where we hang out between stays with friends and family who have invited us to visit.

Our first RV park was in Kemah, TX and was chosen strictly because it was only one mile from where LIB was docked. That RV park was not a great introduction to RV sites because it was way too crowded as this picture shows.

KemahThe tight quarters at USA Resorts Marina Bay RV Park made us question our RV decision!

Since leaving this RV park, things have improved tremendously! Our first stop was at the home of our friends Blaine and Belynda. Though they were away, they generously opened their home to us and allowed us to park in their beautiful yard.  The setting was gorgeous and the accommodations first class.  Icing on the cake was that they let us use their washer and dryer.  What more could we ask for except their company?!

IMG_3710A lush and quiet setting for Temporary Digs.

After only one night we drove to Dallas where we had a reservation at Twin Coves State Park which is only 12 miles from the home we lived in for 20 years! Dallas was a whirlwind of activity as we tried to pack in as much visiting as possible in between routine doctor visits and getting essential land toys i.e. our road bikes, from storage.

IMG_5061 2Twin Coves State Park restored our confidence in our decision to RV. 

We stayed at Twin Coves for four nights before taking off for Amarillo, TX. We wish we could have spent more time there, but the park was very full and could only accept us Monday through Friday morning. We strongly recommend this beautiful, quiet and roomy park.

IMG_5106Hardy and Dawn allowed us to stay at their ranch.

Our friends, Hardy and Dawn, have a beautiful ranch near Amarillo that includes portions of Palo Duro Canyon. Palo Duro Canyon is approximately 120 miles long with an average width of 6 miles and is the second largest canyon in the United States. The setting was unique and interesting and the house was very comfortable. But once again our hosts were not there and had simply allowed us to make ourselves at home. (I’m beginning to wonder if we are scaring away the owners?!)

The views from the ranch were absolutely stunning so I am including several!

hardy's-1First a picture with Frank and Cappy for perspective.

hardy's-4This view is great at midday, think about it at sundown or sunrise?

Hardy'sHow about that flat top and valley?

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 I just had to add one more picture from the ranch.

While staying at the ranch, we caught up on a bit of rest after such a busy May and the hectic schedule we had in Dallas. We did manage to go to Palo Duro Canyon State Park and catch the show “Texas!”

IMG_5098Guns up in Texas – though we are TCU grads, not TX Tech grads.

I don’t think there is another state with as much pride as Texas and this play portrayed that pride in spades!

hardy's-7No photos are allowed during the show, but here is the stage!

If you ever have a chance to take in this show, it is an amazing one with the canyon wall as the backdrop, live animals on stage and a mix of humor, music, integrity and patriotism.  Truly, the staging, costuming and special effects are amazing and first rate!

hardy's-5Intermission during the show in case you forget you are in Texas!

Amarillo was our last Texas stop and now we are in a fabulous RV park in Angel Fire, NM. The park is called the Angel Fire RV Resort and it is very nice. Extremely clean, large drive through pads with enough space between them to be very comfortable.  There are nice amenities including a club house, hot tub, laundry, etc and almost every day there are activities on site if you want to participate.

DSC00874Angel Fire RV Resort is a great stop.

We have spent much of our time exploring and riding bikes. Captain is thrilled to be a trail dog again, though all of us are a bit out of shape so we are trying to be a little cautious as we try to regain lost fitness.

IMG_5139Garcia Park is one section of the Epic bike ride South Boundary Trail

Frank had to convince me to go with him on this trail as I am a chicken but it was beautiful ~ especially in hindsight when I was back at the truck without a fall. 🙂  I hope we get to ride it again.

IMG_5136Dorks on wheels with pretty scenery all around.

When we bought Temporary Digs, I thought the whole fireplace thing was kind of silly so imagine my surprise when we used it our first night in Angel Fire because the temps fell to freezing! WHAT? This is not anything like living in the Caribbean! But change is good and fun.

IMG_5117Captain was perfectly happy to take advantage of the fireplace.

So there you have it. We have begun our new adventure on land and look forward to seeing the beautiful US of A  for the next several months.  We will continue the blog from land until we return to water.  We welcome you to follow along or offer suggestions for our travels.

hardy's-6Amarillo sunset because sunsets are beautiful on land as well as sea.

For a little while we will post about the end of our LIB time in Belize and back to Texas. And, of course, we will keep you up to date with the build and delivery progress of our HH55.

Thank you so much for reading our blog. We love hearing your thoughts so feel free to post a comment. And if you want to hear from us more often, please visit our FB page.

 

 

 

 

Placencia ~ Tourist or Local? A Little Bit of Everything.

Placencia provided at once a feeling of being part of the local scene and opportunities to play the tourist. The town has created two ways to progress from the public dock north to the other end of town.

The eastern path is the well known One Mile Sidewalk lined with stores, restaurants, tiny hotels and local vendors.

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Photo credit: David V Baxter/awaygowe.com

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Daily raking keeps the beach beautiful.

The sidewalk and premises are clean and new and the beaches to the shore are well tended. If you walk this sidewalk, you will find local artists have tables with wood carvings, jewelry, paintings and woven goods on display.

If you take the western path toward the north, you are immersed in feeling like a local. The dusty, dirt road sports weathered shops, small produce stands, a sports field and a few autos.  Locals stroll along and call out to one another as they go about daily life.

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Photo credit: realliferecess.com

Though they are only a block apart, the sidewalk and the street feel like different worlds. It is fun to be able to choose the experience you prefer each time you stroll through Placencia.

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Not the usual scaffolding, but it definitely works.

While in Placencia we saw a good amount of building and improvements. It appears this area is experiencing a bit of a boom. I wonder how long these glimpses into using local resources will last before being replaced by “higher tech” alternatives.

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I don’t know why they needed SO many supports while building this.

We found it interesting to see the use of indigenous materials and liked that these would naturally recycle and not add to trash issues.

Placencia has a lot to offer outside of the town too. We chose to take the Monkey River Tour so we could see the howler monkeys and some of the local beauty. Barebones Tours delivered a fabulous trip and our guide, Percy, was entertaining and informative.

Here are several pictures that attempt to capture a bit of our tour.

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This bird’s nest has a perfectly round opening!

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I see  you, Mr. Crocodile.

Belize is known to have many crocodiles and we saw several on our way to find the howler monkeys. Perhaps that nest above is empty because of this crocodile?

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Hanging nests built by gold tailed Orioles?

Percy told us that these nests were built by the largest Oriole; I think he called it the golden tailed oriole. But I have not been able to verify the identity of the builder of this nest. The bird we saw was black with a yellow tail. A yellow winged Caciques is the closest bird I have been able to find, but I am by no means well informed about birds!

Any birders know what type of bird makes these nests in Belize?

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Is he smiling for the camera?

This dinosaur looking thing is known locally as the “Jesus lizard” because it runs across the water! I found him pretty creepy looking and was glad he was very small and not the size of a dinosaur!

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Watching traffic or just hanging out?

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You are very well camoflaughed Cryptic Heron.

I found an app called Merlin through the Cornell lab and, using this photograph, I learned that this is a Cryptic Heron and is actually rather rarely spotted. Since I don’t study birds, I probably don’t appreciate this little fellow as much as I should, but the picture turned out well.

Monkey River

Nothing like a termite snack to satisfy hunger!

Percy showed us several interesting plants and bugs that are eaten by locals and these termites were one of them.  Yeah, I didn’t want to spoil my appetite so I didn’t have one. )

Percy also told us about some natural remedies found among the plants and trees. It was interesting to learn about the natural remedies but I would not trust myself to know one plant from another well enough to treat any ailments!

Monkey River-2

A tree that satisfies thirst.

Percy chopped off  a small tree branch and passed it around for all of us to taste the water that flows from the center. Pretty cool.

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Howler monkey!!

Just one of the many howler monkeys we saw swinging and walking through the trees above us. The guides would beat the trees and yell and the howlers would start howling! The noise was very loud and would be frightening if I was alone in the jungle! But since I was in a group and had a guide, it was fascinating to see and hear these primates.

Monkey River-15Manatee!

The tour included boating out to an area well known for manatees and we saw several of them. These slow and gentle animals have to surface for air and it was fun to guess where one would pop up next.

Frank and I don’t often take formal tours, but this one was an excellent way to see some of the local wildlife and learn a bit about them and the plants.  Belize is lush and beautiful, but it is not as well documented as some places we have visited, so this tour was really helpful in learning about the area.

After a full day of touring, we decided to explore on our own via the dinghy and we stumbled across this cool little place called Sail Fish. It is a small hotel with a swimming pool that just happens to have a bar on one end.

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Sail Fish hotel and swimming pool.

We spent one afternoon lounging there, then convinced our friends, Sue and Geoff, to join us there for BBQ and pool time later in the week.  The anchorage in Placencia is not clear and inviting like Bonaire, and it was very hot, so pool time was a great way to spend the day.

 

Sue wanted to make sure this fellow walked on by.

It appears the pool was attractive to this rather large iguana too.  He was a big ‘un and pretty interesting to look at, but we weren’t too excited about his getting any closer!

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A man-made private island!

While exploring, we also saw this man-made private island. It is only a stone’s throw from Placencia and clearly they take advantage of solar power.  It is so pretty floating alone in the blue water, but I can’t imagine living there.  Perhaps it is just a vacation spot. How many people do you know who build their own island??

Placencia is easily accessible from the States and our friends, Susan and Kevin, flew in to join us for a very quick visit. These fellow sailors understand that winds are capricious and we couldn’t promise we would leave Placencia, but winds were favorable and together we explored South Water Caye and Tabacco Caye.  We packed a LOT into a four night stay. But I’ll cover that in the next post….

~HH Catamaran Update~

Exciting news about our future boat…. it is getting very close to being painted.

Unfortunately this does not mean she is close to finished! We still have another six months before she will arrive in California.  The more complete she looks the more impatient I become for her arrival!

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HH55-03 being prepared for paint.

Thank you for reading our blog. I apologize for the delayed update, but things have been extremely busy with a lot of changes. We love hearing from you, so feel free to leave us a message!

 

 

Trip Updates

No internet while at sea. If you want to see updates, please check our FB page:

Let It Be, Helia 44

Atolls and Islands of Belize; Our First Few Days.

So the last blog was short on pictures and long on words because there aren’t many things to take photos of when out on a passage.  But the eastern islands of Belize were beautiful and I took a few pictures to make up for the lack of photos in the last blog.

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Long Cay in the distance with the rim of the reef visible (the brown coral and white sand).

If I were to think of Belize as a person, I would say that Belize is a bit shy and hides her qualities so that one must try hard to get to know her.  I think of the line from the movie Shrek where Shrek tells Donkey that ogres are like onions, they have many layers.

I think Belize is also like an onion. She is not well documented and you must either spend time finding the best water spots or make friends with people who are willing to share the secrets of Belize.

Although we don’t have enough time to uncover the layers of Belize, we have seen many beautiful places and the people of Belize have been wonderfully friendly and happy.

Here are some photo highlights of our first two islands in Belize:

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Captain’s first trip to shore after our passage. That is a happy Cappy!

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Strolling along the sand road on Long Cay you can see the island is lush.

Long Cay was a welcome sight and we all enjoyed walking on the stable island instead of on the boat. It was a hot day but the shade of the trees really helped reduce the temperature.

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Crop circles in the ocean?

We decided to move over to Half Moon Cay which is only about a 40 minute motor. The island is a preserve for turtles, birds and marine life.

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The aqua, shallow water of Half Moon reminded us of the Bahamas.

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Walking the path to the bird observatory on Half Moon Cay

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Fluffy headed baby bird.

There are a ton of Frigate Birds and Red Footed Boobies on the Half Moon. The observatory is right up in the trees and it is easy to observe the nests. Some of the Frigates still had inflated gular pouches.  Male Frigates inflate their bright red pouches to attract the females. I wrote a little about the Frigate birds when we visited Barbuda.

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Tents for rent on Half Moon Cay.

Since Half Moon is a sanctuary, it is not developed, but there is a research center and these tents are available for rent. I spoke with a person staying in one the island and he told me he was part of a NatGeo tour and this was one of their stops.

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Arial view of the tent area on Half Moon Cay.

Doesn’t a NatGeo tour sound like a really cool way to travel and learn about the area you are visiting?

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A ship wrecked on the reef outside Half Moon.

After a few hours on land Frank and I decided it was time to cool off, so we snorkeled from LIB toward a wreck out by the reef.  The coral was in good shape but we didn’t see very many fish…. except the shark that I saw while Frank was swimming elsewhere!!

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LIB on a mooring at Half Moon Cay.

Unfortunately, the wind direction shifted and came out of the north which made the anchorage much too bumpy, so we moved back to Long Cay.  We would have preferred to stay a bit longer at Half Moon and scuba dived to explore under water.

We have a bit of a schedule to keep thus we don’t have time to really linger in Belize, so we upped anchor and headed to our next planned stop at South Water Cay.  South Water is a darling island with several resorts on it. We returned to South Water later, so I’ll share those pictures in another blog.

Except for this one!

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My first seahorse in the wild!!

Every single time we dove in Bonaire I looked for seahorses and every time I failed to find one.  But on our third stop in Belize, at South Water Cay, I saw a seahorse right by the dock!! Of course I would never have spotted him myself. I noticed a man pointing out something in the water from the dock and it was this seahorse.  I didn’t even get in the water to see him!

In addition to South Water Cay, we stopped at Tobacco Caye and at Hideaway Cay.  We revisited both South Water and Tobacco with friends and I’ll cover those islands in the next blog.

Our final stop before heading into Placencia was at Hideaway in the Pelican Cays. The only people on the island are Dustin, Kim and their daughter.  Dustin and Kim actually built their home, dock and restaurant/bar themselves over several years. They live on Hideaway for like six months of the year, then they go back to their home in Florida.  I absolutely cannot imagine how much work is involved in building on these islands and how hard it is to prepare your home to leave it for six months.  In these salty, harsh conditions, the repair necessary upon return must be great!

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Part of the Hideaway.

Maintenance thoughts aside, Hideaway was lots of fun. The crew of three other boats were at the bar and four of them also stayed for dinner. The six of us were seated at one table and shared a delicious dinner of fish Dustin caught and Kim prepared.  This was the second restaurant we visited in Belize and at both places, you make the reservation and you eat whatever dish is served.  That certainly saves time reading a menu and trying to decide what to order! I rather enjoyed not making a choice and I know my eldest son would really like that feature too!!

At Hideaway everyone was served fish, but it was a variety of species.  I had sheepshead for the first time, while Frank was served snapper and someone else had hogfish.  Everyone seemed to enjoy his meal. When I first spied Hideaway, I was a little skeptical, but after enjoying the atmosphere and food, I would definitely recommend it!

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This tiny piece of sand was all we could find for Captain one night.

For those who have dogs on board, Dustin and Kim have two dogs and I don’t think they would like other dogs on their turf.  Better to take your dog to this little bit of sand pictured above. This island is across from mooring balls Hideaway generously installed for visitors.

So there you have our first few days in Belize. Now we are off to Placencia to meet Susan and Kevin, friends we made on the 2016 Sail to the Sun Rally. We are super excited for them to visit!

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Just a gratuitous sunset.

A special thank you to Frank for flying his drone and capturing a couple of pictures of Half Moon Cay. The arial photos are such a cool way to get a better feeling the beauty of these islands and the water.

~HH55 Catamaran Update~

When we decided to buy the HH55 rather than other boats on our list, one big factor was that the HH is made of carbon fiber.  We knew that with a larger boat, strength of materials becomes increasingly important and that carbon fiber brings strength without an increase in weight.

Because carbon fiber is the current darling of light, strong sailboats, I decided to ask preeminent marine architect and the designer of our HH55, Gino Morrelli, to offer insight into why carbon fiber is so valuable. (Read this article from March 2017 for more information about Gino’s thoughts on performance catamarans.)

I asked Gino if he could tell me, in a few sentences, why he prefers carbon fiber and he quickly shot back this response:

“Advantages of Carbon Fiber over E-Glass:
1. High specific stiffness (stiffness divided by density)  Carbon is 6-8 times stiffer than E-Glass for the same weight, less stretch = less flex in platform… ie windows and joinery stay glued in longer, hatches don’t leak…. We can use less carbon to have the same stiffness or add stiffness very easily. Lighter boats, more payload. more performance..
2. High specific strength (strength divided by density) Carbon is 2-3 times stronger than E-Glass ie, we can use half as much carbon to equal the same strength! less resin too! Lighter boats, more payload..
3. Extremely low coefficient of thermal expansion (CTE) boat does not grow and shrink in hot and cold weather. Again the windows and deck hardware stay put, and leak less…”
Well that all sounds excellent to me and it sounds like our new boat will be very strong and light! (Plus any time a guy throws around formulas it sounds pretty impressive, right?)
This week we learned that our HH55 has undergone and completed the “post cure process.” I was not sure why that was important, except that I knew it gets us one step closer to painting the boat our color of choice!
So I asked Gino to fill me in on what the post curing process accomplishes and here is his response:
“Post curing is essentially baking the boat in an oven. The epoxy resin these boats are built with cures to 75-80% of its strength in the first 24-48 hours when cured at 78f… Baking it in an oven after this initial curing (post curing) process accelerates the curing process to near 100% in 8-12 hours of additional heat of 150-160f. Post curing also improves the resins “toughness” ie more flexibility. This improves damage tolerance. We also post cure to allow us to paint the boats dark and they “print” less. They don’t show the underlying layers and foam joints through the paint and primer, if the boat is “post cured’ to a temperature that is not exceeded by the Sun out in the ocean later on…” 
Some of this might be slightly above my pay-grade, but I definitely have a better idea of why the post cure is necessary. 
And, ta da!      Our future boat is pictured here after the post cure is complete. 
  

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Post cure completed on our HH55.

If post cure is complete, can paint be far behind? Nope!

We anticipate our hull will enter the paint booth for the external paint application in mid-May. I’m excited to see her when she is all gussied up and sporting her color.

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