Blog Archives

BSSA ~ Sailing with the Expert Kids

Bonaire has an active youth sailing group and we invited them to join us on Let It Be for an afternoon of sailing.


Fifteen kids and two adults from the Bonaire Sailing School Association boarded LIB around 2 pm.  After covering a few guidelines, we released the mooring lines and took off.

BSSA-9 LIB was in the hands of some very good sailors! It only took a few minutes to cover basic differences between the small boats the kids sail and the particulars of this catamaran, then the kids were completely ready to take the sheets, lines and throttles!



I was truly impressed with how well these sailors worked together and shared responsibilities. As is always true with a group, some children were very interested in sailing and others preferred to romp around the boat.



BSSA-2Once away from the mooring ball, we raised the main, unfurled the jib and sailed south toward Pink Beach. The auto winch and chart plotter were big hits. But once our sailors learned how to engage and work the autopilot, it was much more interesting to helm manually.


BSSA-10Any child who wanted the helm had a chance and the more experienced kids stayed right there to guide those who needed a little help.


BSSA-8After about an hour of sailing, we dropped the sails and grabbed a mooring ball at Pink Beach on the southern side of Bonaire.  We broke out the snacks, lowered the ladder and unleashed the energy. We had already thought these kids were exuberant, but adding the snacks and allowing them to jump from nearly every surface of LIB caused the energy level to increase another watt or ten!


BSSA-11After a refreshing swim and plenty of sustenance, it was time to pop the chute.  LIB’s spinnaker is slightly larger than the sails the kids are accustomed to and they loved letting her fly.

BSSA-6Our cat cruised down wind quickly and the kids monkeyed around on this smooth point of sail. Very soon it was time to drop the spin and raise the main and jib once again. Second time around for the main/jib and the kids were all over the job with little help.


I loved watching the kids access the sails, turn to Frank or me and say, “I think that main needs to come in a bit.” Then proceed to make the necessary adjustment. It is easy to see that some of these kids really have caught the sailing bug and they like their sails to be well adjusted.

Several of our sailors have folks who are expert fishermen and that knowledge has been passed along.  We brought out the fishing poles and the kids worked the lines hard, but alas, we were not in prime fishing spots.  Catching a fish would have been icing on a sweet day, but I’m not sure we needed the additional activity anyway!


Our awesome helmsmen and sheet handlers managed to sail around Klein Bonaire and, with only one tack, they sailed LIB on a perfect line to catch our mooring ball.

BSSAWe absolutely loved having a chance to share LIB with the BSSA and having the opportunity to get to know these young people. I was incredibly impressed with so much about these kids; they were polite, they were appreciative, they were avid about learning and passionate about sailing, they cared for and watch out for one another, the older ones gently reined in the younger ones if things became unsafe or too wild, they worked well as a team, they were engaging and just plain fun! I could go on and on!

LIB has never housed as much energy as she did for those few hours with the BSSA kids on board and we loved every minute of it.  (I would love to hear how other boaters have reached out to get to know the communities they visit. Please tell us in the comments.)

Thank you to the kids who participated and to Anneke and Thijs who took their afternoon to chaperone.

To the parents of this very fun group of sailors, we appreciate your trusting us with your precious children and allowing us to get to know them!

A special thank you to Anneke who took so many great pictures and videos while Frank and I were busy. We are so glad to have these photos!  Also, thank you to Charles of Tusen Takk II for the group photo.


The construction of our new catamaran is moving along nicely and we continue to spend a lot of time working with the staff at HH to refine and define our future boat. It has been super fun to receive updates and a few photos from the builder showing us the progress of our boat.


She was just the bare hull when we visited in China.

Since our first visit in August, Frank has returned once to China and was able to be on board for the sea trial of an HH55 with the aft steering.  That sea trial further solidified our choice for an aft helm arrangement.

5503 Bulkheads infusion in progress

Vacuum infusion of the bulkheads. (Exciting, I know)

While touring the factory, we were able to see vacuum infusion in process for another boat.  Per the HH brochure, “the hull, deck and structure are all 100% carbon fiber composite foam sandwich and use post cured epoxy resin for super light, super strong structures.”  It is fun to see this processing happening for our own cat.

5503 Most bulkheats installation complete

Those partitions may be confusing to you, but to us they look like our future home.

She doesn’t look like a boat yet, but there is definitely progress being made. We worked with HH and Morrelli and Melvin to arrange the salon and galley to meet our needs and it is fun to see the one dimensional lines and boxes on paper become a reality.

Since this boat is being built in China we obviously can’t just drop by to see how things are going, so we really appreciate the progress reports generated by HH.

Thanks so much for visiting our blog.  We love hearing from our readers. If you would like to see what we are up to more often, please visit our FB page.


Ponce, Salinas, Patillas and Palmas, PR Stops.

Our early departure from Gilligan’s Island meant we arrived in Ponce by 7 am.  The anchorage was pretty quiet at that hour except for the Ponce Marine Policia who followed us into the anchorage and politely waited for us to anchor before approaching our boat.  Apparently when they spotted our boat and looked up our information, they did not show that we had checked into the country.  Fortunately Frank had a record of his conversation with the Small Vessel Reporting System (SVRS) officer and he had the confirmation number of our check in via the telephone.  The Ponce Police were very nice and respectful to us and soon the misunderstanding was resolved. The Policia returned our paperwork and wished us a happy Memorial Day weekend.  A police stop is one way to get your heart rate up early in the morning.

We didn’t spend enough time in Ponce to rent a car and go into the heart of town so we really don’t know what it has to offer.  Instead we walked the (mostly closed) boardwalk where only a handful of people were strolling about.  Apparently things don’t get started there until evening, (surprise) but we were too tired to go back to the boardwalk that night, especially with another 4 am wakeup planned. Obvously, we are not your source for information about Ponce.


Beautiful scenes on our way to Jobos Bay

There was a bit of a storm brewing in the Atlantic Ocean and along with every other boater in the area, we were keeping an eye on the weather.  We left especially early for Salinas the next morning with the express purpose of looking into a suggested hurricane hole near the Salinas anchorage just in case the storm developed.

We guided LIB through the mangrove lined inlets and fingers just east of Salinas in Jobos Bay and basically toured the area to determine if it would be a good spot to wait out a hurricane if the storm developed.  (Yes, it is, but the area is protected and you cannot anchor there until a storm is imminent.)


Mauna Kea looks pretty in the evening colors.

After a pretty thorough reconnaissance mission, we went back to Salinas and anchored near Laurie and Ken of s/v Mauna Kea.  We were really excited to catch up with the only other 2016 Sail to the Sun Rally boat gliding around Puerto Rico and still exploring outside of the States!

We spent a couple of days in Salinas hanging out with Ken and Laurie who were experts on the area since they had been there for more than two weeks. The marina in Salinas welcomes anchored cruisers and has a nice dinghy dock which we have learned is sometimes hard to find.  The marina has a little bar/restaurant as well as washer/dryer and showers.  Very helpful to the cruising community.

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Are you jealous of that exotic blue leopard material?

There is a decent grocery store about a third of a mile from the marina and Laurie lent us her collapsable grocery cart to make the walk home easier.  For these last two years, Frank and I have carried our groceries home in backpacks and reusable bags, but this little cart made the walk so much easier that I have already ordered my very own collapsable cart.

We hung out in Salina a few nights waiting to see what would become of the storm in the Atlantic that was projected to head toward Puerto Rico.  Fortunately the storm dissipated and we would not need to seek refuge in Jobos Bay.


Look how bright and well defined the colors are in this rainbow!

Rain has been plentiful here in Puerto Rico so the salt water is routinely rinsed from our decks and we have seen many pretty rainbows.  I especially liked how vibrant the colors were in the rainbow pictured above.


Patillas is at the foot of these lush hills.

Mauna Kea and Let It Be left Salinas and headed for Patillas where we would stop before our final jump to The Yacht Club Marina at Palmas del Mar; our stopping point for this hurricane season.


Ken strikes a pose after anchoring Mauna Kea!

Once anchors were set and a quick rain shower had rinsed our decks, Laurie, Ken, Frank and I dinghied into town to stretch our legs and check out the town.  We strolled to the left, then we strolled to the right and about 30 minutes later we had pretty much traversed the waterfront area of Patillas and Captain had enjoyed plenty of sniffing and calling card deposits.


Ken, Frank and Captain chilling in the shade and watching the activity.

Rain was threatening again so we found a little outdoor spot with plenty of umbrellas and enjoyed lunch while watching the comings and goings along the main street.  We were surprised that there seemed to be a lot going on here even though the town was tiny.


Can you tell we were caught in the rain?  Maybe I need a selfie stick? Or longer arms?

Our lunch table was right on the main road and we had the perfect spot to observe the comings and goings in Patillas.


Disco bus for elders??

I have no idea what was up with this bus but the folks on board were having a grand time and the lights on the bus were flashing all kinds of random patterns.  We couldn’t decide if it was a tour bus (but there were no blaring announcements) or if a retirement home had gone all out on their day bus!


I wish I could have captured the lights and music in a picture!

Lights and bling are obviously emphasized in Patillas as is evidenced by the ice cream truck we saw on the main street just as we were finishing lunch.

WAIT!!!!!! Did you say ice cream truck? Well we paid our lunch bill and took off after that ice cream truck.  I felt like we were part of a cartoon comedy because every time we got close to the truck, he moved on!  But we persisted and finally managed to catch the ice cream man!


I didn’t see any bomb pops but we found plenty to enjoy.

After strolling the beach front and eating our ice cream, we had pretty much exhausted Patillas so we headed back to our sailboats and simply enjoyed the view from our boats.

Once again we were leaving before sun up so it was early to bed for all of us.  But at least we had a chance to walk around a bit, and had a short jog chasing the ice cream truck!


A stellar final sunrise!

Our final sunrise as we motored toward Palmas del Mar was stunning.  The sun sprayed golden rays across the ocean and brought forth a beautiful day for our final push along the southern coast of Puerto Rico.

We arrived at The Yacht Club at Palmas del Mar and were warmly welcomed my the great team who runs this marina.  In the fall of 2015 when we were preparing LIB to be our live aboard home, we had spent almost two months here and we were thrilled to see the same fabulous folks here upon our return.


Sunset from The Yacht Club

I truly cannot say enough positive things about the staff at The Yacht Club Marina.  They are the most caring, helpful, happy and kind people we have met.  And they are very organized and efficient.


Full moon rises over the rock jetty at The Yacht Club

This is a wonderful place to while away our time during hurricane season and if we must be on the dock, I can’t think of a better place.

As always, thank you for visiting our blog. We would love to hear from you in the comments below.  If you are interested in seeing more of our everyday activities, please visit our FB page: Let It Be, Helia 44




Interconnected: a One Word Description of Life on a Boat.


If I had to use one word to describe life on a sailboat, it would be interconnected.  This word applies to our boat, our marital relationship and our friends.  I find life on LIB forces me to understand and acknowledge how much Frank and I need each other to accomplish everyday tasks that require coordinated effort by two people, or at least are much easier with two. 

We rely on our friends to share their experience and knowledge about everything from anchorages to weather to boat repairs and spare parts. They rely on us to do the same.

Finally, the systems on our boat are intertwined and enmeshed such that if something happens to one facet, it is likely to affect other parts.  LIB is a tiny city. We must produce our own energy and water and we must regulate how quickly we expend them.  On land, these things were automatic and inexhaustible as long as we paid our bills.

Plus most of the systems in our land home were independent of each other.  Suppose you walk out to the garage and the door opener has quit working.  You check the fuses and all is fine. Assuming you have paid your electric bill, you probably need a garage door repair person, but for now, open it manually. 

That system is independent of the rest of your house.  Everything else in your home continues to work and is unaffected.

Now suppose on our sailboat, I turn on a light and it doesn’t work.  I check the fuse and the fuse is fine.  The light is not burned out.  Well, if this light doesn’t work because it isn’t getting energy, then on our interconnected boat, other parts on board are probably not getting energy.

Since we generate/maintain our own power, we have to determine immediately where the issue lies because if the lights are not receiving power then our refrigeration, freezer, bilge pumps and other things probably aren’t getting power either.

As a result of the interdependency of systems, when there is a problem on the boat, it cannot be neglected until its source is detected and we understand the repercussions of the problem. I know it sounds overly dramatic, but if we neglect to diagnose a system problem, it could lead to some extreme issues.

Take the example of the lights not working. We know we have a little problem with our energy but we don’t really want to worry about fixing it right now.  We decide the refrigeration will stay cold for a while and we will determine the problem later.  Well, what if the boat also has a leak and water is slowly entering the bilge? Our bilge pump is designed to detect the water, sound an alarm and pump the water out of the boat.  But the bilge pump is electric.  No power, no bilge pump, no alarm.  I guess the water will continue to accumulate until we fix our electrical issue or we see water in the boat.

This example demonstrates how one problem on a boat can have a domino effect and lead to some serious problems.

Living on the small city of Let It Be requires us to learn and understand all the electronics, engines, charging systems, etc and be able to diagnose and fix problems.  Essentially we must become our own engineers, repair people and hardware supply store.

This leads me to the second word I would use to describe life on our sailboat: Balance. 

No, I don’t mean learning how to stay upright on a shifting platform.  I mean finding the balance of having enough spare parts, tools, reference manuals, etc and living in a relatively small space where we don’t have a ton of extra room to store those parts, tools and manuals.

We have to balance the work required to keep our little city functioning well and having time to play and explore the new places we drop our anchor.  AND we have to balance our toy to tool ratio ~ which can be difficult for us!!    😉

For these reasons and others, when friends ask; “Don’t you get bored out there?” or “What do you do all day?”

The resounding answer is no, we are not bored and we have plenty to do.  We are challenged both mentally and physically in this lifestyle.  Everyday tasks, maintaining balance and making sure our interconnected systems are in order require extra effort and time compared to life on land.  We keep detailed records of maintenance done to all systems/engines and we have a calendar of when things like oil changes, water filter changes, etc are due, and we have an inventory of supplies for maintenance.

Additionally, everyday tasks on land become time consuming events on our boat. Please read about our grocery adventures here.

So for us, for now, we are far from bored and we find the challenges, the learning and the skill building suits us.

Perhaps in time we will long for the simplicity and convenience of land life, but currently we are happy with our boat life choice.

Do you agree with my one word description of living on a sailboat? I would love to hear your thoughts.

Gratuitous photo of Let It Be in the fabulous blue Bahamian water!


Hard to believe these colors are real!


Trick or Treat! In March???

Yes, I know it is March and I am months from Halloween, but it struck me the other day that provisioning (buying food) feels a lot like going trick or treating.


Entering Clifton after docking the dinghy.

I do not dress up, but I do bring my own bags to carry my “loot” back to the boat and I do go from place to place to see what goodies are available.

So far my favorite place to find groceries has been Clifton on Union Island. The main street is sometimes sleepy and almost deserted. Other days it is teeming with locals and visitors alike. Now, when I say teeming, please don’t think New York! But do imagine a good number of people walking the streets, perusing shelves in various shops and enjoying beverages in shady cafes along a dusty road.


A quiet day on main street in Clifton.

We have provisioned in Clifton three different times and a pattern has developed. First I make a bee-line to Captain Gourmet. This tiny (by US standards) shop is a combination cafe and grocery that caters to the foreigners. I stop in here and scan the refrigerated area for hard to find treats. The last two visits, the freezer has been broken so I chat with the lady at the counter to determine what gems she has hidden in the storeroom freezer. We have scored unusual things here like pork tenderloin and turkey sausage and aerosol whipped cream!


Love this lilac color!

The folks at Captain Gourmet are super helpful and after I pay for my items, they let me leave them in the refrigeration until I have completed my other shopping.


It looks small by US standards, but Captain Gourmet has a lot to offer. Isn’t it cute?

Next we visit ALL of the groceries along the main street, which is about six different places. While items on the shelves at each grocery are often the same, each store has it’s own vibe and a few unique items. One place might be very clean and open, but has relatively few items. Still, I enjoy the clean environment and always buy something in the clean stores when possible.


Kash & Kerry is clean and the proprietor is very sweet.

Another place is dark and very dusty. They have a bit of everything, from used clothing and appliances to canned goods and children’s games. I feel a bit claustrophobic in here, but sometimes it has some unusual dry good that I really want.


You have to look up, down and all around!


This same store also sells “home goods.”

The grocery stores are where we buy canned goods, boxed goods, dry goods and occasionally some cheese or dried fruit, like raisins. But we never buy produce in these stores. Fresh produce is bought from the stands, which are our final stop.


Produce stands in Clifton.

Here in Clifton there is a dirt square with about eight different vendors.  Initially I was uncomfortable with this area because as I approached people would try to steer me to one vendor or the other. I didn’t like feeling pressured to buy from just one stand. Even if one stand has everything we want, I always try to buy a little from each person so we spread around our support.


An artist’s palate of color.

On days when they have restocked the produce, the stalls are an artist’s palate of greens, reds and yellows hanging in flimsy mesh bags.


This feels like a step back in time.

With the produce vendors, just like in Captain Gourmet, it is often the secret, hidden areas that offer treasures. We have learned to ask for what we are hoping to find because not everything is displayed. Fresh green beans are a rare and wonderful find and we have been lucky to buy them a couple of times here in Clifton. They were never in sight but when we asked, like magic, a bag of fresh beans was pulled up from the back of the stand.

We have also learned that if we ask one vendor if she has a particular item and she doesn’t have it, she is likely to tell us nobody has those here.  I asked for green limes and was told, “They are out of season. No place you can find those here.”  But as we made our rounds and asked each vendor, low and behold we found them just two stalls away.


Score on the limes!

Green limes are especially difficult to find and often you have to negotiate to buy just green ones and not have yellow ones included.


Star Fruit

The veggies and fruit we buy are certainly different than back in Texas but we are learning to appreciate some new flavors. One really pretty fruit that I had not seen back home is Star Fruit. It is a bit sweet with a texture that is a cross between an apple and a banana. When sliced, star fruit makes a beautiful presentation.


These beauties dress up any plate.

So, next time you pop into Tom Thumb or Kroger and find everything you want clearly displayed, regardless of the season, think of us “trick or treating” our way through several stores and stalls.

Happy shopping!


Frank Climbs: A LIB Storyboard


One beautiful day LIB sailed to Vieques. Frank and Mary Grace saw many tall trees.


The trees had coconuts.


Frank wanted a coconut, so he decided to climb a tree and get one.


Back on LIB, he cut off the top of the nut.


He hammered in a special spike.


And the coconut delivered nutrient rich water.


Frank was happy!

Disclaimer: Frank wasn’t actually able to climb the coconut tree.

Mary Grace found that beautiful coconut while walking Captain and gave it to Frank as a present.

The End.

I hope this made you smile. Have a good day.

From Charter to Live Aboard ~ Part II

It is so hard to believe that in February of 2012, we took our first ASA classes and began talking about buying a sailboat. By the 2012 Annapolis Boat Show we were narrowing our choice of boats and in November we began working with Tortola Marine Management (TMM) to buy our Helia.

Fast forward to October 2015; LIB returned from her last charter trip in August; our house in Texas is for sale and we have moved aboard LIB!

Frank moved aboard September 6th and began working on several projects. I joined him on September 24th and the time has flown since I arrived. We have managed to complete several projects on our list and many others are in progress.  I will post and update on our first project list separately. Here are a few additional projects worth mentioning but this is not at all complete.

Eyebrow Hatches

A helpful sailor on Cruiser’s Forum who calls himself “Helia 44” wrote a great post about the hatches he added to his Helia. I fell in love with those hatches and Frank made them happen! It was a huge and messy job that took days and created a ton of fiberglass dust inside and outside of LIB. Even days after the project was completed and we had cleaned up, we would find pockets of fiberglass dust that would sprinkle itself about with the slightest breeze. But we prevailed. Now we have these hatches that we can leave open even if it is raining because they are protected by the overhang from the bridge deck. This one was a total pain, but I love them. Thank you, Frank!!

DSC00415 (1)

Frank added those two upper windows.


We have been extremely pleased with our Northern Lights generator and we want to make sure it continues to run well and reliably. Frank completed the maintenance items; air filter, oil change, check heat exchanger, etc. I attacked the rust spots that had developed on the enclosure of the generator. After removing the rust, I primed and painted the rusty areas and now the generator is looking much prettier. But more importantly my efforts should reduce the spread of rust and preserve our enclosure which in turn will protect our generator.


Goodbye rust. 

Winches/Dinghy Engine

While I was in Texas, Frank serviced all the winches on the boat. Trust me when I tell you I made certain he was spelling with an “i” and not an “e!” (Kidding!)  He also took care of the maintenance on the dinghy engine. Now all parts are properly cleaned, changed, oiled and greased.

Bottom Paint

The very uninteresting but hugely important and expensive job of scrubbing the hulls and repainting the bottom of LIB was completed at Nanny Cay. We paid a pretty penny for a paint with an outstanding reputation for withstanding growth and we hope it will last us a solid two years.  (For those who want to know, we used Island 44 by Sea Hawk.)

Helm Enclosure

We thought we would wait on the helm enclosure for LIB, but we decided it was a well needed addition. Frank worked with the Doyle sail loft in Road Town and by the time I arrived, it was already made and installed. I think we will find the back shade screen one of the most valuable aspects of it. Some enclosures that are more aesthetically pleasing than ours, but this one will do what it was designed to do.


Fewer back sunburns are in our future because of this addition.

What is currently in progress?

Replacing the LED light strips in the salon and add additional lights in the galley. Only about 65 percent of our factory installed LED rope lights are working. Our favorite BVI electrician, Dave Gibson, tells me the probable cause is too much current going from the 12V switch directly to my lights. So, I now have new LED lights in hand, but I need some 3 amp diodes to add current resistance. I’ll have to add a diode between each strip of the lights and the switch. (Say what?) The diodes should arrive in the next couple of days.  Wish me luck on this project because we sure didn’t cover electricity in my English or journalism classes in college!IMG_1639

A = V/R  right??

Lest you think we are all work and no play, let me assure we are finding time to enjoy ourselves. And I have to admit, while I am challenged by these new tasks, there is great satisfaction in accomplishing the tasks once they are finished.  And a shower feels fabulous at the end of a sweaty work day.  But here is proof that we are still able to enjoy the beauty around us!


Sunset as we enter Great Cruz Bay, USVI


Our first nightfall away from TMM as “cruisers.” 

St. John, USVI

3 Houses and No Place to Nest…

The decision to move to Let It Be was made more than two years ago.  Since then, many changes have been accomplished. Our plan to move aboard is close and will be realized within 8 weeks. Yet I have found myself a bit muddled and out of sorts.

Have you felt this way after making a major decision even though you still believe the decision is a good one?

Currently our house in Texas is for sale, which means we maintain it like a House Beautiful photographer is on the way.  To escape the model home syndrome, we are vacationing off and on in a darling VRBO house in Durango, CO.  As for Let It Be, she is finishing her charter life in the British Virgin Islands, taking happy folks from one beautiful beach to the next.

So in a sense, we have three “homes” in three very different places right now.  I know LIB will become our one home, but right now I feel like a three legged stool with a foot in each location.


And as happens in these situations, I am not perfect at keeping up with which things are where.  Like my one remaining pair of dress pants which I needed in Durango, but I realized I had left in Dallas. Only when I got to Dallas I learned that one pair of pants was accidentally put in a box headed for Let It Be via Puerto Rico!!


The pants are not a tragedy, but they have allowed me to finally put a finger on why I feel so muddled.  I am not the type to decorate and redecorate my home, but I really like knowing what I have and where it is.  “Nesting” for me means I have one place for my things.

This doesn’t mean I have to have a lot of stuff, but it does mean that what I have is in a single location and I can put my hands on whatever I am looking for.

A few people have wondered how we can think about letting go of a land home to live on a boat. Or they think we should have a small land place somewhere so we can “go home” if we want.

Well, I think this feeling of wanting all our toys in one sandbox might just be the answer to why we think owning only a boat sounds like a great idea.

KidKraft Backyard Sandbox - KidKraft 00130

(Google Image)

We want to travel and see new places and by living on LIB, all our toys, clothes and doodads will travel with us – including my one remaining pair of pants!

Admittedly choosing a boat as our residence is not a mainstream choice and it means a significant reduction of ownership, but right this minute, I am soooo ready to put all my possessions in one house boat!

How about you – do you prefer just one sandbox? I would love to hear your thoughts.

Longest Sail Yet….


Our last evening in Deshaies, Guadeloupe.

Okay, let’s admit right now, we do not have much passage experience, so “longest yet” for us is nothing for many others.

Still, we are doing our best to build our experience at a reasonable rate and not jump from square one to 10, thereby skipping the learning in between.  This sail was an excellent next step for us.

Our first overnight passage was from Virgin Gorda, BVI to St. Martin (84 nm) and that went very well.  We had a great weather window with almost flat seas which made our maiden overnight excellent.

Our second passage was from St. Bart to Antigua (80+nm) and, like the first one, was an upwind sail. So the wind angle and seas weren’t perfect but we made it and added to our experience.

This last sail was from Guadeloupe back to Virgin Gorda, BVI and a total of 202 nautical miles.  I know that isn’t a long distance for many cruisers, but it was a perfect step for us since we are fairly green and we don’t yet live on Let It Be.

Happily, once again we had an excellent weather window and this time we were with the wind and waves which made me a very happy 1st mate – especially since I did not get sea sick this time!

So what do cruisers see and do on passages? Well, of course we see a lot of this:


Ocean, ocean and more ocean.

But often we saw other islands, some we had visited on our way south and others we just didn’t have time for on this trip.


Hmm, I am pretty sure this is Montserrat.

We spent the night listening to music or audiobooks, but also staring at the sky because the beauty there is beyond description. The stars are truly innumerable when earthly lights don’t interfere and the sundeck is the perfect spot to watch for shooting stars.

This trip Frank trolled for fish and managed to land a skipjack tuna! We have had several hits on the line and were unable to land any fish, but success was finally ours.


Frank is thrilled with his catch!

Some friends have asked us what the difference was and how Frank was able to land this fish. In other words, do we now have the “secret” for catching fish?   Well this picture might give away the secret:


Frank kneeling to the sea gods as he reels in the fish. 

Truly I jest…. we do not have the secret, but hopefully just as our experience will make us better sailers, practice will make us more successful fishermen.

This trip we had our first and second visit by dolphins! So often I have heard about dolphins visiting boats but experiencing it firsthand was thrilling. They glide and jump and dart about with so little effort and with amazing speed.


Jumping in front of the bow.


They are literally right below the forward beam!

Both times the dolphins played alongside and in front of our boat. The first pod consisted of about 10 dolphins. The second pod had closer to 15 dolphins and they swam with us for a solid 10 minutes.  We both wished we could jump in the water and swim with them.

Other activities that consume time on a passage…. sail handling! Those who know Frank, know he has plenty of energy, so we tend to tweak and test sails often. We sailed with a main and jib, we sailed with a jib only, we sailed with a spinnaker.  Yep, we played with all the toys.  But that keeps Captain Frank busy and we learn in the process.


Virgin Gorda, BVI

After a pleasant 28 hours of sailing, Virgin Gorda was in sight.  We had survived our longest sail to date with no serious issues, thank God.

Returning to the BVIs was similar to returning to familiar streets after a long driving vacation; you have had a really great trip, but it’s also nice to be home.


A New Downsizing Twist ~ Facebook

Apparently we future cruisers are not the only ones who want to reduce our space.  The recent downsizing craze seems to be tiny homes that look beautifully inviting in photos like these:


My very first thought was, “Wow, that is awesome!”  My second thought was, “Where do they put the mail?”

I know, I am showing my age, right?  Who needs paper mail when we have computers? (That is a whole different topic.)

So, my mail comment tells you that I am not exactly computer savvy. Nor am I a trend setter; so my discovery is probably old news to most of you.  However, today I learned about a whole new side of Facebook…. the garage sale/get rid of your stuff side!

It seems FB can be an outlet for letting go!  Who knew???   Could this be the answer to my downsizing woes?

One of the drawbacks to an actual garage sale for me is watching people cull through my stuff. My emotions swing between being offended that they don’t want my stuff and cringing because I’m selling “junk” that has no value to me.

Well, it turns out my little community has a plethora of selling groups; some quite general and others very specific. Though I have not found one called, “Selling my house to move on a boat.”

Today, this friend told me FB groups have been perfect for her. She posts a picture of something she wants to sell and once she and a buyer agree on a price, she places the item on her front porch. Hours later the item is gone and her payment is in its place!

Roll out the pixie dust, this sounds like magic!  

I have not posted any items for sale on FB yet…. but I’m thinking about putting my little toe in very soon. Because any time I can use pixie dust, I do!


We Caught a Liebster – Award That Is

A big thank you to Amy and David of Out Chasing Stars for putting our blog on the Liebster Award** list.  As newbie bloggers and soon to be live aboard cruisers, we appreciate the hat tip from our fellow Texans, and are happy to answer their questions.


David and Amy on the right.

1. What first attracted you to the cruising lifestyle?  Frank caught the sailing bug at a camp he attended when he was about 10 years old.  He also has fond memories of racing at the New Orleans Yacht Club under the direction of George Sladovich, who Frank still quotes today! My introduction to sailing was much less promising and included being dumped into a cold Texas lake when the boom ‘came about’ and knocked me right off the boat.  Fortunately, my sailing language and skills have improved since then.  Water sports, a simpler lifestyle and a desire to explore from our own home are probably the key attractions of cruising for us.  We are still wading into cruising, but the few weeks we have managed to spend on Let It Be have shown us we sail well together and enjoy focusing in the same direction.

2. What has been the best day you had on board?  This is a tough one, because the variety has been so great! From a sentimental point of view, the best day was during Christmas last year when we had our sons, Hunter and Clayton, with us and Frank’s mom, Jackie, was on board too.  There was something pretty special about sitting in the cockpit reading a book while under sail, listening to one son grabbing beverages for his dad and grandmom, the other son reading next to me. At the same time, I was half listening as Frank taught his mom how to helm the boat. Then Hunter, Clayton and I shared a smile as the bow began swinging from side to side while Jackie got a feel for the helm.  The three of us agreed, it’s kind of nice to have a 180 degree view without turning your head.  🙂

3. What is your favorite go to recipe while on board? We eat pretty simply and one of our go to meals is all prepared on the gas grill.  I marinade chicken in Grill Mates Montreal seasoning most of the day then grill it for dinner.  Close to dinner time we slice sweet potatoes about 1/4″ thick, add a bit of olive oil, salt, pepper, greek seasoning and grill it. We like our sweet potatoes pretty well cooked so the outside is a bit blackened and the middle is soft.  Next up is asparagus which we rinse and pat dry then put on the grill for a few minutes.  After it is cooked,  add a bit of butter and whatever spices hit your fancy.  Quick preparation, healthy, and all cooking is done on the grill, so the galley stays cool!

4. What skill do you wish you had picked up before you lived aboard? The list of what I would like to know before I move on board is so long it is overwhelming! Probably top on my list would be a weather course. My weather skills are fine for the BVIs, but I am not knowledgable enough to “read” the skies and know what to expect. I would really like to take a course early in 2015, but I think we will have to read books instead of taking an actual course.

5. What do you want for Christmas? Ha, the perfect, most impossible Christmas gift would be for elves to enter my house, sort my photographs and digitize all of them so I don’t have to do it! Then if those elves would stick around long enough to organize our belongings into “boat,” “store,” “sell,” “give away” piles, I would be very thankful! However, if the elves are too busy, they could just buy me a water-maker for LIB. Or I can dream really big and ask for a water maker and an ice maker!

6. What was your scariest sailing moment? Well, I can’t say we have had a really scary sailing moment ~ yet! But I do have a favorite panicky moment…. Frank, Clayton and I were on LIB.  This was my 2nd time on board and Clayton’s first time on a large sail boat.  Frank was our voice of experience, but he was distracted by the fishing lines we were trolling.  We were all sitting at the helm when suddenly there was a “fish on!’ Frank raced to the back of the boat and Clayton and I stayed at the helm.  All was well until a squall suddenly appeared and brought some serious winds.  Frank was so engrossed in reeling in his fish, he didn’t pay attention to the weather and was telling us to “slow the boat.”  Of course, we couldn’t find the brakes and the wind was kicking up seriously.  Finally Clayton used some rather strong language and was able to get his Dad’s attention.  Alas, the fish was lost, but Clayton and I learned how to slow a sailing vessel!

7. What is the longest passage you’ve ever made?  Well, here again, our inexperience shows.  Our longest sail has been about 8 hours all during daylight.  Stay tuned though as we hope to make some longer jaunts in the next six months.

8. Tell us one personal item you have aboard the boat.  Personal items are minimal because LIB is still in charter, however, we have already had some discussions about what should or shouldn’t move on board. Let me state for the record, that I think a kitchen-aid mixer is very reasonable, especially if the crew wants homemade bakery items.  As for my most frivolous item? I’m thinking about smuggling on a couple of crystal wine glasses instead of banishing them all to storage.

We would like to take this chance to pass along the Liebster Award to Carina of Devon , Astrolabe Sailing and LAHOWIND.  These blogs are very different and are excellent reads.  I know you will enjoy reading them as much as I do!    

To Carina of Devon, Astrolabe Sailing and LAHOWIND, I tried to search your blogs and make sure you have not been nominated before, so I hope this isn’t a duplication for you.    It’s your turn to answer questions and pass along the Liebster Award. 

Here are our questions:

1. What first attracted you to a cruiser lifestyle?

2. What was your biggest concern before moving on board?

3. Now that you live aboard, what is your biggest concern or adjustment?

4. What did you do for recreation/hobby before you became a cruiser and what do you do now?

5. Has your initial estimate of how long your would cruise changed from your original plan?

6. What is one unusual or surprising thing you have on board?

7. What is the most surprising/rude/absurd or annoying question you have been asked?

8. Name something that is better about living aboard than living on land and does it surprise you?

9. If you had a magic wand, what would you change about your boat right now?

10. Can you name one thing that is a favorite part of your “normal” day?

**When I first saw a Liebster Award, I thought the blog I was reading had won some sort of internet blogging award. However, the Liebster Award is virtual recognition from one blogger to another in an effort to express appreciation for writing efforts.  It’s sort of a cross between a pat on the back and a chain letter; more interesting than a chain letter with encouragement to keep writing rather than a threat of dire consequences if you break the chain.  We are happy to have been recognized by Out Chasing Stars for the Liebster.  It is nice to know someone “out there” is reading our small entry into blog land.  

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