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Merry Christmas!

“It isn’t the size of the tree that matters, it’s the love in your heart that counts!”

Quotes made up by me. ūüôā

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Our Christmas tree this year is 20″ tall!

We hope you have a Merry Christmas this year and we especially hope it is a blessed one. 

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Surprise! We will be mountain biking in Santa Cruz!

Our Christmas be spent in the RV in Santa Cruz, CA and will include our kids this year. Since we consider them, and our families, our greatest blessing, we know Christmas will be wonderful.

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Just one of the amazing things we saw traveling the U.S. (Arizona)

Needless to say, 2018 has been a year of change for us, but thankfully they have been good changes and changes of choice.  We have thoroughly enjoyed our time exploring the U.S. since selling Let It Be back in May.

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Photo taken on a bike ride in the Dolomites, Italy

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Another pretty view from our VBT bike tour.

 In addition to traveling the U.S., we had the opportunity to go to Italy for an excellent bike trip through Vermont Bike Tours. A special thank you to Terrie and Brad for inviting us to join them and their friends. The people were really fun and the places we visited were great.

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Frank at the helm of TTR.

We also traveled to China to oversee the progress of TTR and to sail our boat.   We expended a LOT of energy in the building process of Ticket to Ride throughout 2018 and we can hardly wait for her delivery to the West Coast which is expected just days into the new year!

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TTR being hoisted to the shipping dock.

TTR is the culmination of the vision of Morrelli and Melvin being brought to life by HH Catamarans, with slight changes to accommodate our specific preferences. There are far too many individuals who contributed to this project to name them all, but we are very grateful to every single person who has helped us along the way.

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Ticket to Ride wrapped and ready to load on a container ship.

As we conclude 2018, we are thankful for our many blessings and for the opportunities we have to see so much and meet people from all over the world. We are thankful for prayers answered, especially those for friends who have battled illnesses or who have lost homes to natural disasters. We are conscious of our losses this year, especially of our sweet dog, Captain.

As we transition into 2019, we do so with thanks and great excitement. We can hardly wait to move onto Ticket to Ride! For us, there is something magical about living on the water and we look forward to doing so again.

Thank you to those who have traveled with us through our blog this year, especially since our focus was temporarily directed away from cruising which is the basis for our journaling. We look forward to learning about our new boat and resuming the cruising lifestyle and we hope you enjoy our musings as we move forward.

Once again, Merry Christmas to all who celebrate the birth of Christ and blessings to those who celebrate differently. We hope 2019 is filled with joy and contentment for you.

As always, thank you for visiting our blog. If you would like to hear from us more often, please check our FB page: HH55 Ticket to Ride. We look forward to returning to the water in 2019!

 

 

 

 

 

Tour? Check. Triathlon? Check. Christmas??? Almost!

We are amazed at how busy we have been in Bonaire! We showed you a bit about our travels around the island, but we didn’t share anything about the Washington Slagbaai National Park.

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Driving the park.

We spent the better part of one day driving around the park which was formed by combining two plantations and is just shy of 14,000 acres.¬† The Washington Plantation was donated to the government by “Boy” Washington upon his death in 1969 with the agreement that the land would remain undeveloped and open to the public.¬† The Slagbaai Plantation was added to the Park in 1979.¬† Originally, these two plantations harvested salt, charcoal, aloe extract and divi-divi pods and transported them to Curacao and Europe; today they are places of refuge for people, plants and animals.

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The landscape within the park is dramatic with areas of barren, rocky coral; undalating hills that look lush but are actually dry and overgrown with thorny plants; or coastal perimeters where the water  pounds against the edges of the land.  The variety within the park reminded us of the power, beauty and even aggression of nature.

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Seru Grande

These giant “boulders” show the geological history of Bonaire. You can see the definitive line in the rock which differentiates two distinct “terraces.” The higher terrace is mostly limestone with fossils of corral reef within and is said to be over a million years old! Furthermore, the line between the “terraces” shows the level of the sea before the tectonic plates shifted and raised Bonaire.

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There is just something I love about this picture.

The landscape displays a harsh beauty that is also prickly and hot. We were happy to observe it from the comfort of our rental car. I cannot imagine the hardships faced by those who lived here before food and supplies arrived from container ships!

Throughout the park are areas marked as scuba diving stops, but honestly, I don’t know how you would get OUT of the water after diving from some of them.

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Yeah, we’re not diving from here.

Frank is standing on the edge of a park designated dive spot. You tell me, would you jump into the water from there? More importantly, how do you climb back out assuming you survived the entry?¬† We searched and did not find a way to enter or exit the water.¬† Perhaps that spot should be called “Last Dive?”

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I wish I had a better pic these orange beauties!

Flamingos are a common sight in the park and around Bonaire and they are a vibrant orange color. Depending on their diet, flamingos vary in color but these birds obviously feast on the local crustaceans and plankton.  Crustaceans and plankton are rich in beta-carotene which gives flamingos their pink/orange color. These were the most orange flamingos I have ever seen!

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Captain and MG sporting their Santa hats.

Christmas festivities are beginning to flourish here in Bonaire and all of the shops have plenty of decorations and music.  There have been some fun events, like the Santa Hat 5k, to help usher in the Holidays.

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Kate and Captain won trophies for best dressed!

 About half of the walkers in the 5k were cruisers, including friends Barb and Kate, who joined Captain and me on the walk.  A small truck led the way and blared Christmas music the whole time.  It was delightful to have a sunset stroll with friends while enjoying the Christmas music.

After the walk, the downtown shops were all open late to encourage Christmas spending. There is an annual parade which consists of only two groups of participants ~ some youngsters in Santa costume and these folks from a local retirement home. While the parade only lasted a few minutes, many people gathered along the streets to cheer and wave back to those in the parade.

IMG_2399 2A pretty sweet way to keep the elders involved in Christmas activities.

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The only float in the parade was pretty impressive.

The next morning Frank and I were up early for a mini triathlon. The local Budget Marine sponsored the event which was really fun and so low key, especially compared to how such an event would be handled in the U.S.

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Pre-race; numbered and ready to go.

Those who participate in races in the U.S. know a short triathlon would cost around $70, rules and waivers would be clearly and forcefully enforced, transition spots would be coveted and competition would be strong.

This tri cost $15 each. There were no waivers. Rules? Just follow the courses.

It was a simple event with the emphasis on having fun. And since neither of us is at all serious about training or running triathlons, this was perfect.

I am pretty sure Frank and I were the only cruisers who entered the race, but there were cruisers who volunteered to stand at corners and direct participants. Teams were a big part of both the long and short races including several families who made up a team. My favorite was the family of three generation! Granddad, dad and granddaughter earned second place in the short team triathlon ~  and the granddaughter was only 7!

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Number two sporting his metal.

Of course Frank had to go out strong and he snagged second place overall in the men’s short course.¬† I was less successful and finished around fourth place.¬† But really, we just had fun and didn’t care about placing.

Honestly, I think we enjoyed this triathlon so much because it was so casual. There was no pressure to compete only a desire to complete it. This removed the burden I used to feel in the very few events I ran in Dallas and put the emphasis on simply getting some exercise and enjoying the festivities.

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LIB gliding along under her new spinnaker.

Of course we have spent a lot of time exploring the dive sites.¬† Ken and Judith of s/v Badger’s Sett and Barb and Charles of m/v Tusen Takk II joined us on LIB¬†for a quick sail up to two northern dive spots. We left early one morning, dove Carel’s Vision, shared lunch on LIB, then moved to a second dive site named Bloodlet.¬† Of the two dives, Bloodlet was by far the better one.¬† Frank spotted another octopus and we spent several minutes watching him contort and camouflage as he settled into a new rocky crevice.

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Mountains of salt lend a feeling of Christmas snow.

The wind has been pretty accommodating and we have kited a few times.  Kiting with the brilliant blue water below and the stark white of the salt piles in the background is pretty unique here in Bonaire.

All in all, Bonaire has been a delightful place to while away the end of the hurricane season as we make plans for 2018 and continue to work closely with HH as our future boat is constructed.

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Some delicious meals have been prepared in this galley.

As for LIB, our awesome boat is up for sale and we have already had at least three parties who seem very interested in her.  I get a little catch in my heart when I think about selling Let It Be.  She has been a great home for us and is extremely comfortable.  We have had her long enough that we have worked out the usual boat issues so she is reliable and predictable, pretty and easy to sail. I will find it hard to let her go.

Merry Christmas to all who read this blog. We hope the peace of Christ’s birth fills you will comfort and joy.

Thanks a bunch for visiting our blog. This barely touches the many facets of Bonaire, but we hope it gives you a glimpse into her beauty and bounty. If you are interested in hearing from us more often, please visit our FB page.

 

 

St. Matin/Sint Maarten

It is hard to believe it has been 2 weeks since our last post. So much and so little has happened….

I think we are beginning to feel like we are really living this lifestyle and not simply on vacation.

We had a reasonably good passage from the BVIs to St. Martin, but we were both happy to arrive and have that passage finished before the Christmas winds kicked in. 

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Our arrival port in St. Martin

The wind eased a bit so we left The North Sound, BVI on December 15th around 1 pm.  The wind was mostly on our nose, but we managed to motor sail for the first 5 hours. Around 4:30 pm we reefed our sails as we saw a rain storm heading our way. Sure enough the wind kicked up to a brusque pace and the rain absolutely dumped on LIB.  But only for about 10 minutes.  Boy were we happy to have the helm enclosure we added back in September!

The rain storm brought a temporary change of wind direction and we were able to actually sail directly toward St. Martin for about 45 minutes. That was nice, but short lived. As night was falling, the wind turned again and hit us head on. I voted to drop sails and motor through the night rather than sail at such a tight wind angle.

Frank kindly agreed. We probably would have had better boat motion if we had continued to sail.  By falling off the wind and tacking a time or two the passage would have taken longer, but may have been a more pleasant ride.  Still, we arrived safely in SXM around 9:30 am and I appreciated Frank’s lowering of the sails.

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Last June we spent time on the French side of St. Martin, so this time we went over to the Dutch side, that is Sint Maarten.  We had our first bridge crossing into the lagoon. I was at the helm and at first I was nervous about the width of the boat versus the bridge, but we had plenty of clearance.

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The bridge into the lagoon in Sint Maarten

We had plenty of clearance, but not so much that I could take a picture while passing through.

I don’t know why, but Sint Maarten draws a large number of h-u-g-e yachts.  We enjoyed dinghy-ing around the marina and seeing the mega-yachts. 

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Minimum length – about 180 feet

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Pretty sure this tender is larger than our ski boat was!

I especially liked watching the big yachts enter and leave through the bridge.

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Fun to watch and celebrate NOT being at the helm!

We had an opportunity to meet up with David and Amy of Starry Horizons again, which is a big treat for us. 

We also reconnected with Shane and Sara of Dream Chaser, whom we had met last spring in the BVIs.

Dream Chase, Starry Horizon and LIB are all Helias, so the six of us got together and had another episode of, ‚ÄúWhat changes/additions have you made to your boat?‚ÄĚ and ‚ÄúHow did you fix this Helia issue?‚ÄĚ

Who knew I would become so fascinated with how others store provisions, plates, spices etc.,  much less want to know how they arranged their water maker or forepeak compartments.  Life aboard has caused changes in me already!

We have shared sundowners with a few other cruisers and enjoy hearing about their adventures and learning from their experience. 

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Breakfast at Serafina, St. Martina

Since LIB is a boat, there are always things to be considered or addressed. Recently Frank went up the mast and diagnosed the problem with our anchor light (white light at the very top of the mast) and our deck light (about 1/3 way up the mast and shines on the foredeck). Luckily the only issue was two burned out light bulbs which we were able to buy at Island Water World. Now LIB is visible at night with her anchor light shining brighter than ever before.

The view from the top of the mast is too pretty not to photograph….

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Looking outward toward the mega yachts.

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Looking down on LIB and Day Tripper.

St. Martin/Sint Maarten is popular with tourists which is evidenced by the tours we saw daily. The two most popular tours on the water appear to be kayaking and mini- dinghy parading.

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Captain kept a close eye on every dinghy parade!

After spending almost a week in the Lagoon, we exited and moved to Grand Case, a French bay on the western side of St. Martin.  Grand Case is quaint and full of restaurants, but the dinghy dock stinks! 

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The water is so blue!

We spent Christmas Eve with Shane and Sara of Dream Chaser including a leisurely dinner at La Villa. The food was delicious, the service was excellent and the company terrific!  A very nice treat.

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Thanks Sara and Shane

Christmas Day was a quite different this year and we missed being with our sons.  We had a chance to talk with family which helped make the day much happier. We toured St. Martin by car and enjoyed the views looking out from land instead of in toward land. And even though we missed our kids, we consider ourselves truly blessed to have this adventure on LIB.

Lest some readers be concerned, Frank has had a chance to kite a couple of times while in St. Martin as the wind has been “nuking.”¬† Frank took me with him to kite one day and sadly I am still not proficient.¬† However, I am determined to succeed and I am confident I will conquer the sport very soon!

Winds and Waves and Rain, Oh My!

The spirit of the “Christmas Winds” were upon us during parts of our BVI visit in December. ¬†The Christmas Winds are expected in the Caribbean and usually means wind speeds of 20-30 knots. ¬†Thus,¬†the sailing can be spritely, to use a Christmassy term, during the holidays.

One particularly gusty day, we were anchored off of Sandy Spit when a fairly ominous looking storm approached:

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The sun highlights Sandy Spit like a favored haven.

The usually blue waters took on a more menacing green cast and the waves built out in the channel. ¬†Luckily we were a bit protected by the reef that runs between Sandy Spit and Green Cay. ¬†Though the storm didn’t last long, the winds and waves remained throughout the night.

We were very happy that we had invested in a heavier Spade anchor at the Annapolis Boat Show and that TMM had already installed it for us:

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As a precaution we let out a little more anchor chain, set an anchor alarm, and had a very restful night. ¬†We are really glad there weren’t many boats anchored nearby because the boat that was anchored parallel to us on our starboard side? Well, the next morning it was at least three¬†boat lengths behind us!

I’m really thankful for a good anchor, a solid hold and an anchor alarm to let us know if something goes awry.

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