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Christmas, Family, Sharks and Kites

Having the kids home for Christmas is a wish come true, so Frank and I were thrilled when Hunter and Clayton decided to spend the Holidays with us on TTR.

Having a real Christmas tree is unrealistic on Ticket to Ride, but Frank’s mom, Jackie, made us a festive and pretty lighted Christmas tree mural that we hung up in the salon of TTR.  Although Jackie hasn’t been to this boat yet, she managed to make the tree the perfect size – and it’s easy to roll up and store!

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The Christmas tree Jackie made for us is perfect!

Initially we thought the kids might enjoy being in La Paz where they would have access to local restaurants, the Malecón and nightlife, but we were mistaken. The focus of the trip would be sailing, sports and family time…. the usual Stich agenda!

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Just one area of many festive decorations on the Malecón La Paz

Although we consider ourselves to be fairly energetic people, the activity level increased significantly with everyone on board; and it was a blast. 

We toured the local farmer markets in La Paz for some fresh food and dinghied to Magote for a kiteboarding session. We also strolled along the Malecón and had a delicious dinner at Mesquite Grill.

But then it was time to get active.

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Between us and the gear, the rental car was packed!

Kiteboarding is always a focus on TTR especially for Frank and Hunter, but Clayton is an avid surfer so we wanted to find a few good waves. Since the wind did not look  promising for kiting, we rented a VRBO in Todo Santos and drove there for a bit of surfing and boogie boarding.

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This Toto Santos beach was pretty and had good waves!

Toto Santos is a charming little town and the surf beach is really pretty! We spent two days and one night in Toto Santos enjoying the surprisingly warm surf.  In fact, the water in Todo Santos was a good 10 degrees warmer than it was in La Paz. 

IMG_8976My handsome Clayton waiting for breakfast at La Esquina in Toto Santos.

There is a turtle sanctuary in Toto Santos and every day in December they release hatchlings at sunset. I was excited to see the little turtles crawl to freedom and all my guys were surprisingly interested as well.  Apparently many other people wanted to watch the turtle release too as there were about 50 people mulling about! 

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A little glimpse into the incubation tent.

The turtles are hatched in a large incubated tent monitored mostly by volunteers. Just after sunset eight plastic containers holding a total of about 100 hatchlings were released near the surf.

I had no idea that only one in 100 turtles survive to adulthood!  Thinking about it though, I can understand why – there are predators at every step of the turtles birth.

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Look how small and cute these little babies are!

First the egg has to hatch before some animal steals into the nest and eats it.

Next the hatchling has to walk from the relatively protected grass across the open sand to the ocean surf, and it is exposed and defenseless to prey during that slow, awkward crawl.

Driven by instinct, turtles scrabble toward the light of the setting sun they see over the ocean waves. However, these days the artificial lights used by humans can disorient the baby turtles causing them to go away from the ocean instead of towards it, creating another obstacle to survival.  For this reason, flash photography and flashlights were not allowed. 

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That is a long, dangerous crawl for these hatchlings to the ocean.

Once the hatchling reaches the ocean, it must swim for three days without food and catch a specific ocean current that will carry it on its first journey.  And of course, many sea animals think baby turtles make a delicious snack, so again the little things are in danger! 

IF the turtle manages to reach the current without being killed, it can relax and eat the plentiful food also drifting on the current.

I also learned that sea turtles ‘imprint’ the beach where they hatch and will return every year to the same location to lay their eggs.  Researchers do not know how the turtles record their particular beach or how they navigate back to the same spot.

After catching waves in Santos, we headed back to Ticket to Ride in La Paz and planned on sailing to some local anchorages, initially Colita Partida.  We set out one calm morning before the wind had filled in.  The sea surface was a flat, mirror of steel gray as we slowly motored away from La Paz.

Whale Sharks

How beautiful is this giant creature?

But very shortly, the smooth surface was broken by whale sharks!!

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Clayton is a fraction of the size of this whale shark!

We shut down TTR’s engines and grabbed snorkeling gear.  Since Frank and I have already had the whale shark experience, we stayed on board while the kids jumped into the water.

We launched the dinghy so Frank could get close to the whale sharks to let the swimmers jump in, but we found the whales didn’t much care for the engine noise. So we dropped the paddle boards and the guys were able to paddle right up to the sharks without disturbing them.

They swam SO close to TTR!

Even though I stayed on Ticket to Ride, I had a perfect view. You can see from this video I took from the deck of TTR that the whale sharks swam very close to our drifting boat.

Seeing and swimming with these whale sharks was a rare gift!

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Their markings are distinctive and stunning.

It’s pretty hard to beat the excitement of seeing those whale sharks, but the weather decided to show her stuff and prove that she is worth respecting.  Nothing bad happened, but the day was interesting. The weather changed from flat calm to breezy, then to about 28 knots of wind and dark clouds.  We quickly realized that anchoring in our original destination of Colita Partida was not going to be comfortable and we set our sights on Isla San Francisco or San Evaristo.

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A very vivid double rainbow one rainy afternoon.

After about 25 minutes the wind dropped off and the clouds drifted away. But an hour or two later, more clouds developed and another wind system blew through.  The wind shifted about 40 degrees in the blink of an eye and we decided the all around protection of San Evaristo would be a good choice in the shifty conditions.  Plus the wind was expected to be from the north for the remainder of the week and we could sail our way south as anchorages opened up.

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Hunter pulls Clayton for a foiling session.

San Evaristo is a quiet anchorage with a quaint and usually active fishing village that was inactive due to the Christmas Holiday.  But we managed to enjoy ourselves with a mixture of foil boarding behind the dinghy, SUPing and snorkeling. 

And we celebrated Christmas by exchanging gifts and giving thanks for our blessings.

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I love how Clayton is cheering for Frank’s successful foiling!

The wind forecast was showing excellent possibilities for some good kiting in La Ventana, a well known kite hangout around the corner from La Paz. Although a good place for kiting, La Ventana is not an ideal anchorage.  Instead we wanted to anchor TTR in Muertos and use a car to drive between Muertos and La Ventana.

So we sailed back to La Paz and dropped off half the crew who rented a car and drove to Muertos, while the other half sailed Ticket to Ride to Muertos.   We spent the next several days anchored in Muertos and split our time between Muertos and La Ventana.

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Clayton checking out the mainsail and Hunter kiting in the background.

The days were filled again with kiteboarding, swimming, snorkeling, foiling behind the dinghy, bits of boat maintenance and having shore time at the only Muertos restaurant, Cafe 1535.

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Hunter kite foiling in Muertos

New Year’s was a WILD night…. exhausted from another active day in the water and wind, we sipped champagne at dinner time and went to bed by cruisers midnight – 9 pm!

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Once in a while there was some rest time.

All too soon vacation time was over and we had to sail back to La Paz.  All of us were surprised how quickly the two weeks passed!

In concluding this post, I must be honest and admit that saying goodbye to my kids is hard for me. Sometimes I long for the more ‘traditional’ lifestyles my friends have back in Texas, where their families live nearby and they see each other on a routine basis. I miss the traditions we had with friends and neighbors at Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years – sharing meals and parties – but especially spending time reminiscing about our histories together and creating new ones for later.

But then I have to be realistic…. if we lived in Texas, Hunter and Clayton would still live in California and we would see them less often than we do now.  It is much more interesting for them to come see us in unusual places on the boat than it would be to visit in Dallas.  Over the last few years we have spent Christmas together in Bonaire, the Turks and Caicos, the British Virgin Islands, etc.  All of these places add a uniqueness to our celebration and because we don’t see each other very often, we relish and appreciate the time we do spend together.

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Just one of the gorgeous sunsets in Muertos.

So when those days pop up and I miss seeing family and friends on a regular basis, I stop those thoughts and remind myself that this opportunity to travel with Frank on TTR brings blessings of its own. We love exploring both well known and more remote places on this planet and we get to meet new friends with whom we also create histories.  And hopefully our long time friends will find time to come visit us on TTR.

We hope your Holiday Season was filled with the love of family and blessings from above.  As always, thank you for stopping to read our blog.  If you have comments, we would love to hear from you.  And if you would like a more regular glimpse into what we see, please check out our FB page.

Leaving Bonaire. It’s Hard to Say Goodbye.

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Our final sunset on Bonaire.

Well it was hard to leave Bonaire and say so long to the great people we met as well as the beautiful island. We spent our last few weeks taking advantage of the wind for kiting and the fabulous reefs for diving.

We also said goodbye to many people we had the fortune to befriend while visiting. Jerome, Aga, Sebastian and Basi invited us to their home for dinner in their back yard.  Aga made a delicious dinner and we enjoyed it in while watching the sun set beyond their dock as the boys played in the surf.  Thank you all so much for sharing your lives, your local knowledge and your home with us!

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Bonaire shirts and a mug depicting our day of sailing!

We also received this fun memento from the BSSA sailors! Now each morning we are reminded of them as Frank has his coffee. Thank you so much for the shirts and mug but mostly for welcoming us into your group.

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Frank passed a Gatorade to Rudo, that day’s winner.

We loved having the BSSA kids sail by LIB and Frank often tossed them Gatorades. These memories are very special to us! Keep sailing kiddos. We look forward to hearing how you are progressing and we will truly miss seeing you sail or hearing you call to us from the shore!

In addition to leaving shore friends, we had to say so long to many cruisers. Because we were in Bonaire a long time, we made some very dear friends in the cruising community. We can only hope our wakes cross again in the future!

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A huge pod of dolphins!

We left our Bonaire mooring ball for the last time on Sunday morning.  Just past Klein Bonaire, we saw a large pod of dolphins in the distance.  I’m guessing there were nearly 50 dolphins in the pod and we decided to turn a bit in their direction and get a little closer.  Soon part of the pod came to play in front of LIB’s bow!

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How cool is this?!

Perhaps 15 dolphins came to play and were cavorting just in front of us, looking up and smiling as Captain went crazy, barking at them from above.

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I so wish I could jump in and swim with them.

The water was perfectly clear so I could get this picture of two dolphins swimming just below the cross beam of LIB. I, and nearly everyone I know, seem to smile any time dolphins come to play.  Somehow they manage to raise the happiness level of the boat, even when we weren’t unhappy about anything!!

Our plan was to stop at Klein Curacao for three days and two nights and take the opportunity to be away from any city lights or traffic. The day we arrived, our plan looked golden. We knew there were some serious swells north of us but we hoped they wouldn’t arrive for a day or two.

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A wide angle view of Klein Curacao from our mooring spot .

We grabbed a mooring ball and settled in for a quiet day.  Klein Curacao has perhaps two little places to grab a lounge chair and drink. These are visited mostly by the day boat passengers and are fairly crowded until late afternoon.

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Cappy’s friend is left on shore.

Frank paddled into shore with Captain and she managed to make friends with the only dog on the island.  But after romping along the beach and rolling in the sand it was time to come back to LIB.

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Private boats anchored off of Klein Curacao

Since we arrived on Sunday, there were several private boats from Curacao anchored or rafted up and enjoying the day.  But we knew that before dark most of the boats would head back to Curacao and we would be nearly alone.

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By late dusk only a few stragglers remained and they left just a little later.

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The sun looks like it is melting into the ocean.

We watched the sun set from the deck of LIB and loved having a completely quiet evening. Bonaire is fabulous, but the street does have a good deal of motor noise in the evenings. It was a nice change to hear only the water playing across the beach and hear the fish jumping nearby while watching the sun wave goodnight.

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The buildings on Klein Curacao have character.

While this old light house looks kind of charming, I wasn’t sure if it actually functioned, but sure enough, her beacon flashed through the night warning sailors of Klein’s shores.

We planned on scuba diving off of Klein Curacao Monday, but when Frank took Cap to shore that first morning, a group of surfers were unloading their gear.  The arrival of serious surfers did not bode well for the comfort of our anchorage.  Sure enough those northern waves began to roll in around 11 am.  Rather than stay on Klein, we decided to finish our morning chores and head to Curacao and a protected anchorage.

Our decision was a good one as is evidenced by these surfers loving the waves on the north end of Klein Curacao as we motored by.

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The waves were pretty close together.

The waves we saw were a decent size and they were expected to become larger over the next 24-48 hours.

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That boat is partially hidden by the waves.

If our sons had been on board, I am sure we would have stayed on Klein so they could catch a few waves, but Frank and I aren’t surfers, so we think our decision to leave the unprotected shores of Klein Curacao and find a protected anchorage on Curacao was a good one.

~HH55 Update~

So our big news is color!  We have chosen the exterior paint color for our new boat.  HH has kindly put together a rendering of the HH55 with an approximation of the color we have chosen.

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A rendering of our pretty, unnamed, future boat.

I actually think the paint will be a slightly darker blue than this rendering shows. We are pretty excited! It seems like the HH66 owners have chosen bold and unique paint colors and the HH55 owners have chosen very subtle colors.  We decided to go with something in between.  How do you like our color choice?

Thank you so much for visiting our blog! We appreciate your time and hope you will drop us a line in the comments.  If you would like to hear from us more often, please visit our FB page.

 

 

Playtime in Antigua

It’s hard to believe that our son, Hunter, has already been with us for 10 days! We have had a great time so far, though I admit every day, at least once, someone says, “Wow, I wish Clayton was with us.” We are very thankful that Hunter has a job that allows him to visit and get his work completed.  We are extremely proud of Clayton’s dedication to his job and realize he would be with us if he had that flexibility.  Miss you C!

One of the first things we did when Hunter arrived was cut his hair! I have little to no experience cutting hair, so I was flattered and nervous when Hunter asked me to cut it for him. Here is the before haircut photo. You’ll have to look at the later pics to see the results.

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It was close, but my hair is still longer than his was.

Our days have been spent in a variety of ways, but the main focus is the wind and if kite boarding can be on the agenda.  Fortunately we have had four really great kiting days and there are plenty of other “toys” on LIB to keep us occupied if the wind doesn’t cooperate.

Last week we rode our bikes to Shirley Heights overlooking English Harbour but this week we hiked a trail that took us up a steep trail, past Shirley Heights, then out to the cliffs and back down to Freeman’s Bay where LIB was anchored.

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It is hard to capture the magnitude of the cliffs.

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LIB nestled in Freeman’s Bay

The paddle boards act as platforms to transport Captain to shore and explore a variety of places while getting a bit of exercise.

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Hunter and Cap about to go explore. How do you like the haircut?

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Frank usually has to balance Cap, but this time Hunter was chauffeur. 

All good boat tools have several purposes and our SUPs have lived up to that requirement. One afternoon when the waves were b-i-g, and the wind was light, Frank and Hunter headed out on the paddle boards for some SUP surfing.

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Best shot I could get from so far away.

Maybe you can get an idea of just how big those waves were if you look at the one building a bit further out. We are guessing some waves were 7 feet. The guys say they managed to catch a few waves and lots of laughs.

Lest you think Hunter’s arrival has crushed our coconut safaris, let me reassure you. Instead of abandoning our coconut searches, we have pressed Hunter into climbing duty.

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Why do I keep thinking of Mowgli from The Jungle Book?

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Frank displays the bounty.

But what about the kite boarding? Here are a few pictures to satisfy those dreaming of beautiful water and favorable kite winds.

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Hunter’s first launch from LIB – see that hair?

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Frank follows suit.

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Hunter makes a grab while Frank heads the other way.

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Hunter has already launched from the beach and Frank is on the way.

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Hunter demos another grab.

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Captain is on alert.

Captain gets her “shepherd” on and keeps a close eye on Frank and Hunter while they kite. I will admit she gets a little noisy and I wish she would be a bit quieter as she runs around the boat keeping tabs on her people.

Lest you think I just sit on the boat, I too have been kite boarding. I think I have finally gotten a better handle on this sport. My board skills already existed from wakeboarding, but flying/controlling the kite has given me some grief. Just yesterday I had a really great set, but Frank was there as dinghy support since I couldn’t ride up wind well enough to return to the starting point…. okay, that is an issue I need to overcome.  But I am definitely improving!

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Kites drying on the front deck as the sun sets.

Day’s end brings a gentle beauty that incorporates relief from the powerful sun, satisfaction of a day well spent and a bit of fatigue from a variety of play.

Sunset’s anchored in Nonsuch Bay are just stunning and differ greatly. Here are two; which do you prefer?

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Fire reds and ominous clouds.

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A mellow repose.

By the end of the day we are all pretty tired. Once the sun sets, we make dinner and when we finish, we are just about ready to roll into bed.

Next we set sail for Barbuda and hope the winds ramp back up to the kiting zone.

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