I probably had way too much fun writing this one! Go on … ask me how many bags of wine we can stow in our “cruiser’s wine cellar!” ; ) We interrupt our regularly-scheduled Bahamas broadcast for this fun announcement! This was such an honor and a treat for my Cruiser’s Wine Cellar piece to be included in SAIL Magazine’s 50th anniversary edition! Wow! This very fun article I put together at the request of Peter Nielsen with SAIL who asked for some insight into our new “creative stowage in the bilge.” A couple of custom starboard inserts afforded Phillip and I the perfect new place to keep wine cool and stable aboard s/v Plaintiff’s Rest.
There are some fun photos of the project in the article that I hope might inspire some creative bilge stowage on your own boat!
We hope you all enjoy the article! If you pick up a copy and enjoy it, be sure to let the folks at SAIL Magazine know. Then, tell us, where is your “cruiser’s wine cellar” on your boat?
I love wine … Nope, still not big enough! It can never be big enough. : D
It isn’t a bad place to have to wait for the Lagoon, I will say that. La Rochelle is exquisite right now. Mist that fills the harbor every morning. Vivid yellow leaves the fall leisurely from the trees to the cobblestones, always mesmerizing me when they fall right before my eyes.
And the food! Fruits de mer! There are a thousand little restaurants, pubs, bistros, and—my favorite—fromageries! I’m afraid I have knowingly cultivated a full-fledged cheese addiction, and I, in no way, regret the decision. They eat cheese for dessert here. I mean … I love these people. J’aime La Rochelle!
Hello crew! From the stunning Atlantic-coast village of La Rochelle. I wanted to write you all a quick note from France before we shove off next week and begin our Atlantic adventure! I wanted to share a little more about our plans, our new friends, Kate and Cyrus, and why Phillip and I made such a drastic change to our cruising plans this year. When we were working in the shipyard this past summer, we had pretty-set plans to sail our Niagara 35 slowly and intermittently from November through the Spring of 2019 from Pensacola, to the Exumas to explore what we missed last year, then eventually to Grenada for hurricane season. Yet, we decide instead to hop on a new boat, with new crew, and sail back across the Atlantic Ocean?!
We must be crazy right?
We kind of are … : )
Or just in full-fledged pursuit of adventure! So, how did this whole opportunity unfold? How did we meet Kate and Cyrus? As Kate and Cyrus would tell you, all great stories begin with either “Once upon a time,” or “This ain’t no shit.” Well, this, my friends, is no merde!
We actually crossed paths with Kate and Cyrus while cruising but did not know it. Phillip and I were making our way back up the west coast of Florida after our cruising in the Bahamas this past season and we made an unplanned duck into Destin to get out of some not-too-comfortable conditions out in the Gulf: 18 knots on the nose that was set to continue well past midnight, well before we would be able to get to Pensacola Pass to get out of that mess.
So, we navigated the entrance to Destin Harbor for the first time, which was not easy. It’s a bit of a tricky zig-zag, shoaly entrance, but we made it. And it was one of those moments, when you finally get out of the stuff, the boat is settled and in one piece, and you drop the hook and feel your nerves finally start to settle out. Once the hook was set, Phillip and I both promptly made a boat drink (because that’s exactly what you do in that moment) and were kicked back in the cockpit heaving happy alternating sighs of satisfaction, when this large catamaran cruised by.
I saw a gal on the bow filming, which, being a bit of a fellow videographer, caught my eye. I could see she had a remote for the winlass around her neck, and I shouted some comment about how it would be awesome to be able to drop and raise the hook with the push of a button. We shared a lighthearted exchange or two and said “Cheers!” before their catamaran cruised on out of the anchorage. I had no clue at the time that cheery blonde on the catamaran would soon become one of my very good friends, someone I would cross the Atlantic Ocean with, but it was. That was Kate!
Kate and Cyrus were sailing with a captain to gain sea time towards their RYA licenses, and they were making the overnight run from Destin to Pensacola for bluewater experience. The catamaran they were sailing on, s/v Makarios, actually stays in a slip in Pensacola just a dozen or so boats down from where Phillip and I keep our Niagara 35. While Kate and Cyrus noticed our boat name, s/v Plaintiff’s Rest, as memorable when they were cruising through Destin Harbor, they didn’t think much more of it until they went the next week to Sea School for the necessary credits toward their USCG licenses. Ahhh … STCW Sea School, that was a fun time.
It was their Kate and Cyrus saw the insignia I had left on the Sea School wall, put two and two together (HaveWind with the boat they saw in Destin), and Kate then decided to reach out to me. There were here exact messages!
It’s connections and stories like this that will always make me feel grateful I created this (once very little) traveling sailing blog that has somehow reached so many. Seeing young cruisers like Phillip and I, and many others who are sharing their stories via blogs and videos, Kate and Cyrus decided to similarly sell the house in Minnesota and downsize to life on a boat. It was really neat, as we began to chat further, to learn about their plans to start a crew-chartered boat, CruiseNautic, on their Lagoon 42 in the USVIs as their quote-unquote retirement. Kate and Cyrus had already created their platform and signed up with Dream Yacht Charters to act as the broker for the boat purchase by the time we connected. The boat, a brand new Lagoon 42, was supposed to be completed early- or mid-November and their vague plan was to sail it from France to the Canaries to the USVIs from mid-November to early-January. A very fun plan indeed!
I’ll admit, Phillip and I get offers to crew often at HaveWindWillTravel, which is very cool but most of them do not work with our schedule or our own cruising plans. This one, however, seemed to fit a particular niche for Phillip, the offer of an amazing journey during the holidays when his work is a bit slower. When I told Phillip about the offer—mostly in jest—one evening while cooking dinner, I was surprised by his response:
“We would complete our first Atlantic Circle,” he said.
And, I remember thinking, then and there, there was a real chance this was actually going to happen. Phillip is an avid sailor and lives for offshore sailing and once he was thinking the voyage would fit with his work schedule and offer him something that is a true bucketlist item for him—completing an Atlantic Circle by sailboat—it was very likely he would work hard to make this happen.
That was July. Only three months before Phillip and I had planned to set sail in our own boat headed eventually for Grenada. But, the more we continued to talk about Kate and Cyrus’s offer, the opportunity to cross the Atlantic Ocean again was like this luminous jewel on the horizon. Another epic voyage. Another month of amazing challenges, memories, and bonds between new friends. How do you turn that down if it’s even remotely possible?
Look at these two. The answer is you don’t.
Phillip and I figured we would have plenty of time to sail our boat all over the Caribbean in the coming years, but another Atlantic crossing with a young fun couple felt like an opportunity we could not turn down. And, we are very grateful for the commitment and work we have put toward making our lives, careers, and income as flexible as it is so that we can seize opportunities like this when they come along. Phillip was the man who initially taught me the incredibly important concept of time-value. That is, to make sure I valued experiences and time more than money and things, and it was his support and creativity that helped me begin my online marketing business (which has since grown across many avenues and platforms) that allows me to say, with resounding excitement—“YES!”—to adventures like these.
Once we began emailing, at first, then Skyping, with Kate and Cyrus to both get to know them and to discuss more details about the voyage, their travel plans, etc., Phillip and I started to get that tingly “Holy crap this is really happening” feeling. It’s a prickle beneath our skin that tells us there is one amazing, eye-opening adventure in our future. And, each conversation we had with Kate and Cyrus told us the four of us were very like-minded, in pursuit of the same goals, with a similar approach to challenges and provisioning, and collectively a very knowledgeable and fun crew. While Kate and Cyrus do not have the extent of bluewater experience that Phillip and I do, we all compliment each other in different ways. Cyrus is a mechanical engineer by trade, capable of dissecting and repairing virtually any system, with a good bit of sailing miles under his belt on he and Kate’s Precision 26 on Lake Lanier. Big plus for an offshore voyage.
Kate also grew up sailing with her father on Lake Lanier, and is an adventurous, fun-loving, talented singer and songwriter. Another huge plus for an offshore voyage. Here is Kate jamming out with her Fleetwood Mac cover band!
I can’t wait to sing a duet with her during the passage!
The four of us clicked very easily and we all had a good feeling about crew comraderie for the voyage. The good thing, though, we knew we would be spending several weeks together in France in a tight little Airbnb—a great place to see if we really did mesh well together, before shoving off for good.
Kate, Cyrus, Phillip, and I been here a week now, cooking dinners together, sharing stories, laughs, worries, concerns, and we all get along fabulously and foresee an amazing experience ahead. It’s a goal worth every 12-hour days’ work we put into it. Offshore voyaging is such a reward. And, doing it with friends and fellow sailors who share the same joy and awe of it as Phillip and I do, makes it even more memorable. We cannot wait to share this voyage with you!
Here is a fun video tour of La Rochelle—our haling port for the moment—as well as some very fun photos from Paris and our rendezvous with the infamous Captain Yannick from our first Atlantic-crossing in 2016. We are soaking up every minute of this journey and looking forward to seeing and getting on the new Lagoon 42 next week!
Pics from Par-eeh!
This guy …
Boy did we miss Yannick!
And, it was great to have such a personal and knowledgeable tour guide in Paris!
Who me? More to come about this medal of honor.
Love this man!
Pere Lachaise Cemetery in Paris.
This guy had a happy ending. Google Victor Noir Pere Lachaise Cemetery. Fun story there!
Shopping in the sail gear shop brought back some fun memories from our first Atlantic Crossing!
Is Spam in the Bahamas really $9.00? Find out in the November issue of SAIL Magazine, featuring an article by Yours Truly! Peter Nielsen over at SAIL asked me a while back for a piece with tips on preparing for a trip to the Bahamas. So, Phillip and I put our heads together and came up with a few key factors to consider when prepping for the Bahamas and what provisions and supplies we would recommend stocking the boat with. For us, it all started with the Explorer charts. Those are a must! I hope you all grab a copy of the November issue soon and let me know what you think of the article. Many thanks to the hard-working crew over at SAIL Magazine for putting this one together. We love it!
And, stay tuned next time as we will be announcing our cruising plans this winter in a fun new video next week. You’ll never guess where we’re going!! : D
If there is one thing the steady north winds in the Bahamas are good for, it’s flying the chute, headed south to Little Harbour! Ahoy followers! In blog time, we are just wrapping our stay at beautiful Hope Town, Bahamas (where we got lucky enough to snag a ball inside the harbor our first night there!) and sail this badass boat south to Little Harbour. Under spinnaker! I mention in the video below another video we put out last year showing exactly how we rig and hoist the spinnaker on our boat for any of you just launching yours (don’t worry, it took us years before we were brave enough). Here’s the LINK to that trainer video. Little Harbour turned out to be a fascinating little hurricane hole at the south end of the Bahamas. We had some friends from Pensacola who were there at the same time on their Katana catamaran, so we got to rendezvous with them at the fantastically-fun and quirky bar, Pete’s Pub, and meet the infamous Pete, himself. Pete is the son of Randolph Johnston, an American teacher and bronze sculptor who first settled with his family in Little Harbour in the 1950’s. Some fascinating history there. Hope you enjoy the video and photos below!
And, we’re off! After a beautiful few days in Hope Town, we bid that quaint little cruiser’s gem adieu and set our sights on Little Harbour. We had some friends, Tom and Christy, who were going to be there at the same time, sailing in on their Katana-built catamaran and we were eager to go meet up with them and have a drink at the famous Pete’s Pub! There’s the Hope Town lighthouse in the distance. Say “Au revoir!”
Anyone recognize this unique boat? It’s Mary and Sharon on s/v Tipsy Gypsy!! We met up with them several times in the Abacos (and both being fellow bloggers, but both partaking in some excellent goombay smashes at the time, we all forgot to take a photo together!). But, true to boat code, I never forget to snap a pic of a fellow cruiser’s fine-looking vessel on the water. Look at Gypsy go! You can follower Mary and Tharon’s adventures here! https://www.maryandtharon.com
It’s SPINNY time! We love flying our spinnaker. Well, I can say that now. Phillip and I will be the first to admit, we waited waaaayyy too long to break this bad boy out. I can’t really say why. We were never in a hurry. We thought it might have been a huge headache, or we would get it all snagged up and rip it. Who knows. We were crazy stupid. But, last summer, when we were planning our adventure to the Bahamas and knew we wanted to enhance our sail plan and sail options, we busted the spinnaker out on Plaintiff’s Rest for the first time (and found out she’s this beautiful red, white, and blue!) and learned how to rig her up and fly her with ease. While it did take some finagling and some mistakes, we learned, they usually don’t lead to a rip in the sail if you are methodical about it and take your time to follow all of the lines and make sure the sail isn’t twisted as it is coming out of the sock. Little things like that. Now that we’ve mastered it, this is probably now our favorite sail on the boat! Video link for you HERE again on exactly how we rig and hoist our spinnaker on the boat if any of you out there are just getting into it.
Ahhhh … happy place!
As I mentioned in the video, we found the inlet to Little Harbour to be a bit narrow and one you have to “play the tides” to get in and out. Not a big deal, but we didn’t know when we would be leaving Little Harbour and we wanted to freedom to be able to come and go without having to wait on the tides. For this reason, we decided to anchor on the outside in the big harbor outside of Little Harbour, and it was absolutely no mistake. Wait until you see the crystal green waters that awaited us there. Some of the most stunning we had seen in all of the Bahamas!
Dinghying in to Little Harbour!
This is Tom and Christy’s catamaran that they sailed to Little Harbour on, s/v Odalisque!
Looking out over the harbour. We didn’t know it at the time, but Tom and Christy told us Little Harbour is a hurricane hole. They have had winds of up to 130 mph there with little to no damage to the boats inside the harbor. Good to know when Phillip and I find ourselves back in those parts and need to tuck in somewhere. We’re happy to play the tide to sneak into a hurricane hole for cover!
Love this gal! Hi Christy!
I can’t recall if this was the triggerfish tacos or not, but every meal we had at Pete’s Pub was out of this world!
The view from Pete’s Pub at night. Just stunning.
And, hey hey, if we didn’t meet Pete himself. A real ladies man, that one! Heart of gold, too, and with such a neat history and story to share. We made a lot of fun memories at the pub!
The sunset view on the Atlantic side behind Pete’s Pub did not disappoint either. Gorgeous colors on the horizon and awesome craggy rocks where the water would splash up and put on quite a show!
After a fun night “on the town,” which in Little Harbour means “at the Pub” (it is the only restaurant bar on the island, but easily one of our favorite in all of the Bahamas), Phillip and I woke to these breathtaking waters right around our boat the next day. I couldn’t take enough photos. You could see every blade of grass on the bottom, every link in our chain, every glimmer of the sun. I could stare at those waters all day long and be in absolute bliss!
One of the very cool things about Little Harbour, that struck Phillip and me, was it’s amazing history. Not only did Randolph Johnston bring his family here to get away from American consumerism and just the hustle and bustle and noise of life in the states in the 1950’s, they also had to live in this cave for some time before they could complete their house. But, they worked hard and persevered and the bronze sculpting foundry that Randolph established there back in the 1950’s is still the foundry they use today. His son, Pete, carries on his tradition and makes some fabulous sculptures that he sells there in the gallery at Little Harbour. I love when history meets art and makes the whole trip just that much more memorable. Pretty cool huh!
Pete, finishing a very cool bronze sculpted shark!
This was a piece in the gallery that Christy really had her eye on, the evolution of the life of a man from baby, to toddler, to healthy male, to feeble old man, to death. It really was a very unique piece. You better get on it before Christy does! If she hasn’t already! (And she drives a hard bargain, trust me! : )
Perfect tagline for not only Pete’s Pub, but just about every little quirky bar in the Bahamas. You never know who is a millionaire, billionaire, boat bum, river rat, and the best part is no one cares because it doesn’t even matter. We just “cheers!” and carry on!
We hope you enjoyed our trip to Little Harbour. Next time, we will take you back out into the Atlantic Ocean on our way down to Eleuthra to our most breathtaking beach in the Bahamas (well, consider we haven’t been to the Exumas yet) but the north shore on Spanish Wells made my heart stop. Thankfully, Phillip was able to get her kickstarted and going again. He always gets me fluttering. ; ) Stay tuned!
“What’s in the Goombay Smash?” I asked the our dark-skinned Bahamian bartender.
“Well, first you start wit da coconut rum … ” she started in. When she finished, Phillip piped up:
“What’s in your Bahama Mama?” he asked.
“Well, first you start with da coconut rum … ” she rattled on again. Every drink it seems, in the Bahamas, “starts with the coconut rum.” And you have to say that with an “Island accent, Mon.” You can also probably guess Phillip and I said it plenty during the entire trip. Every happy hour began with us concurring: “First you start wit da coconut rum.”
Heck yeah! Cheers!
Ahoy followers. In HaveWind time, we have just entered the Bahamas. How cool is that? Last time we took you along on a beautiful, glassy passage across the Gulf Stream. Thankfully, we had a wonderful window open up for us which allowed a smooth two-day passage all the way from Key West to West End with winds of only 5 kts or less (albeit north) in the Stream.
Our decision to explore the northern Abacos first was both weather- and wind-dependent. We knew, right off the cusp of hurricane season, in December and January, that frequent north fronts pop up which are usually brief but intense, but the “Christmas Winds” (often 15-25 kts) definitely blow. Fellow cruisers (shout-out to BaBaLu if you see this Bob! : ) had told us the barrier islands in the northern Abacos offer many good anchorages and marinas, that could provide reliable protection during those frequent fronts. For this reason, rather than choosing to shoot straight across the Great Bahamas Bank first and head first for the more remote, spacious islands of the Berries and Exumas, we decided to ride the Stream as far north as we could (to West End) so we would enter the Bahamas near the Little Bahamas Bank and begin our exploration up north in the protected Abacos.
Here are some of the various routes cruisers often choose to traverse the Bahamas:
We also knew the first thing we would want once the winds started to blow, would be a nice stretch of beach on the Atlantic shore to allow us to tear up some ocean surf on our kites. The fact that we like when the wind blows 20-25 kts was one very big advantage for Phillip and I, because we did experience many, many, (many!) windy days in the Bahamas in December and January. If this was typical of a winter season there (which the locals seemed to say it was, albeit a bit colder and windier), then plan to have your wetsuits for winter water activities because the water was a bit cold (around 68 degrees once we got further north and into the Atlantic). And, as far as the wind goes, either make sure you have enough books and games to occupy you for those days spent on the boat or … just a suggestion … but you can always pick up kitesurfing!!! It’s never too late! Phillip and I had some wicked sessions in the Bahamas, that we cannot wait to share with you!
But, first, we must check in! There are only about two dozen places you can check in (i.e., clear customs) in the Bahamas. We chose West End because it was the furthest north point of entry. We were pleased to find the channel to West End was well-marked and easy to navigate. As you guys already probably know, Phillip and I always try to plan to enter a new port during the daytime, and we came in around 8:00 a.m., well after the sun had risen, so the channel was easy to spot using our Explorer Charts and Steve Dodge’s Guide to the Abacos. Highly recommend those. If you are planning a trip to the Bahamas, they’re the first thing you should buy and start studying.
The deck hands at West End were really nice, too, helping us get docked safe and sound and telling us everything we needed to know about the check-in process. It was really exciting to see our baby girl docked in the exotic (okay, exotic to meee) Bahamas for the first time! Just look at her!
The cruising permit for the Bahamas is $150 and allows the boat to stay in the islands for one year and you (the cruiser) are permitted to come and go for 90 days, then you have to renew if you are planning to stay longer. More info about the customs process and cruising permits if you are interested here. We found the check-in process to be super easy. They opened at 9:00 a.m. and it was just a quick 15-minute run-through, then we were stamped and official!
Our next chore (as it always is when we dock up after an offshore passage), was to wash the boat down. Even at $0.35/gal for the water at the marina, it was well worth it. Our baby was salty. But once clean, she was ready to proudly don her new colors! The brilliant yellow, blue and black of her Bahamian courtesy flag! See you later “Q!”
We really knew nothing about West End and found it to be a fantastic little quaint resort with a tiki bar and restaurants, beach games, poolside cabanas and music, surfboards and paddle boards all lined on the beach for you to play with and use on the stunning Atlantic coast.
What was the most important “toy” on the beach, though? These huge hammocks for napping!
Because boy did we. One goombay smash and a belly full of conch salad and this team was out!
“First you start wit da coconut rum … ”
“Add some tasty conch salad, yum … ”
“Then you’re out for the count, Mon!” ; )
That siesta will probably fall up there in one of my Top Ten favorite naps. Man, I may need to recount those some day, as a few are whirring through my mind right now. That would be a fun blog! Do you think you could recount your Top Ten siestas?
Our next big treat in West End was something we had both been looking forward to, you could literally say, for years. I’ll never forget Pam Wall’s energetic little booming voice when we first saw and heard her speak at the Miami Boat Show in February, 2015. “Go to the Bahamas!” she squealed. Visions of green waters, sea turtles and palm trees instantly filled my head. And Pam chimed back in with “Fill yourself with their fresh Bahamian bread!” Mmmmm … Phillip and I had been talking about that Bahamian bread ever since. Pam probably mentioned it 8-10 times in her speech. They should make it a drinking game. Go to one of her Bahamas seminars and each time she mentions “Bahamian bread,” you each take a shot of rum. I can promise you’d be a happy sailor after that speech. *hiccup*
But, I didn’t know where we were going to get the bread initially. Did they only serve it at restaurants, or perhaps in bakeries? Or only the locals baked it for themselves and you had to know someone who knew someone who could buy a loaf for you? I had no clue, but that’s what makes it an adventure. I had just wrapped my first “spa experience” of the trip (this is what Phillip and I now call a nice hot marina shower, thanks to some friendly cruisers in Pensacola Cay who coined the term for us).
Ahhh … a whole new person! Post-shower selfie to send to the (other) Captain!
And, I was setting up our cockpit table on the boat with a perfectly-chilled bottle of wine that we had been saving for this specific event: the day we made it across the Gulf Stream and had finally docked in the Bahamas. I was waiting for Phillip to finish his “spa treatment” to join me. I don’t know if you know this, but Phillip is a bit of a shower diva. If he is craving a luxurious long, hot shower, he’s going to get it. Trust me! I’m usually back from the showers before him, but I was perfectly content to wait.
Just then I saw a cheerful-looking elderly black woman with what appeared to be her granddaughter happily walking the docks, her granddaughter heaving and pulling a dock cart that was about twice her size behind her. I didn’t know what she was doing, but I watched for a bit as she and the adorable little girl walked the cart down our finger pier and the woman began to look eagerly at each boat, I sensed looking for people aboard. I also sensed she may be trying to sell us something that I figured I wasn’t going to want. I’m not much of a souvenirey-type person and I didn’t know if the locals would try to panhandle a bit or sell you their wares. I had no clue and I was prepared to politely decline and send her along so Phillip and I could enjoy our celebration alone. But, then she said those magic words. Words I could in no way turn down. Words that would have prompted me to invite her right down into our cockpit and pop the bubbly with her myself.
“Would you like to buy some fresh-baked Bahamian bread?” she asked.
A little stunned, I struggled to answer at first. Thinking to myself, ”Oh, so this is how you get it? They just come dockside and sell it? How freaking convenient!”
“Yes!” I practically shouted. “I want two!” And two I got. A fresh white loaf (I figured you have to try the original) and, upon the woman’s expert recommendation, a cinnamon raisin loaf as well. Only $5.00 a piece for those heavenly loaves. Phillip and I then enjoyed a true Bahamian feast. Crisp popped champagne to celebrate all the months and prep work that went into our voyage to the Bahamas with fresh Bahamian bread to boot! Still warm from the oven. Pam, you would have eaten the whole thing! (We almost did!)
Definitely a memorable moment worth celebrating. Cheers! The celebration continued with our first night out on Bahamian soil at a glorious, decadent little restaurant right next to the marina where we indulged on even more Bahamian bread and lobster tail. Mmm-mmm-hmmm!
While West End was a very cute little place, Phillip and I had already made our mind up that we wouldn’t stay long. It was just for us to check-in, clean the boat, fill the tanks and get ready to toss the lines the following morning to make our way into Little Bahamas Bank. Our study of the Explorer Charts in the many months before our departure date told us there were essentially two routes you could take from West End into Little Bahamas Bank. One is known as the “Indian Cut” and–we were told–this route could be, in some places and depending on the tide, a “very skinny six feet.” Leery of this option, particularly as it would be our first trek into the Bahamas, we opted for the longer route up north to Memory Rock, where there is a well-known inlet right next to Memory Rock that, albeit narrow but if followed closely, allows a good 10-12 feet of clearance into Little Bahamas Bank, even at low tide.
“Yeah, that one,” I remember telling Phillip many months ago. “The ten foot one.”
We do not like skinny water. Some more info on those two different routes, Indian Cut and Memory Rock, for you here. While our time in the Bahamas has definitely made us (because you just have to get used to it) more tolerant in shallow depths, we still do not opt to risk depths that are too shallow for our boat if we can avoid it. With many Bahamian cays and harbors now behind us, I can now say we have traveled in depths of 5.8’ and we didn’t touch bottom. While our manufacturing specs on the Niagara claim we have a draft of 5.2′, that’s a testament to the boat when it is dry. Not when it’s loaded down with the many, many bags of wine, booze, canned goods, water, oil, engine parts, sails, etc. All that stuff that is necessary for cruising, but that brings the boat down lower in the water. Well, we can now safely saw we are least not 5.8’. But how close we were to hitting bottom at that point in time, I do not want to know. Thankfully we knew it was soft, so we were clenched and braced for a sandy bump or two. But we’re thrilled it did not happen!
Phillip and I had also decided to leave West End as early as light would allow so we could navigate Memory Rock in the bright, safe light of day as well as make it to our first intended stop, Mangrove Cay, also before the sun went too far down so we would have sufficient light to safely anchor. Our next intended stop thereafter would be Great Sale Cay before we made our way north into the Sea of Abaco. Here is a map of our destinations:
I’ll admit, Phillip and I were both a little nervous about navigating Memory Rock. Much of our work, education and training this past year (particularly my Sea School and Captain’s License courses) were meant to prepare us for encounters just like this–hairy, rocky inlets that would require keen and precise navigation to ensure our prized possession and our ticket to world travel didn’t collide into a reef or rock and cause significant damage. Following the explicit Explorer Charts headings and Pam Wall’s incredibly helpful and adamant advice to “not turn east into Little Bahamas Bank until you are with 1/4 mile of Memory Rock. 1/4 mile!” she screeched to us via the Delorme (which by the way proved very helpful in making navigation and weather routing decisions such as these).
So we didn’t. We watched the depths as they dropped from 20 to 15 to 12 ft and did not turn right into the Bank until our GPS coordinates were within .25 of the coordinates for Memory Rock. Then we turned, watched the depths, which remained between 11 and 13 and carefully traversed our way along the path detailed by the Explorer Charts. Soon we found ourselves back in a safe 17 feet of water breathing big sighs of relief, so happy we had our first “hairy” entrance behind us.
While planning and dreaming about the Bahamas for many months in 2017, navigating the sometimes tricky and dangerous reefs and rocky inlets was not something Phillip and I were looking forward to. But it’s something you have to accept and prepare for if you want to travel to places like this. It’s the “eustress” (I call it) of cruising, the good kind of stress. And, it was well worth enduring this time, because Phillip and I were rewarded with crystal-clear, lush water soon after we made our way into Little Bahamas Bank. Both of us could not stop staring. There were so many shades of jewel-toned greens, crystal blues, pearly whites, all swirling and flowing underneath our boat. The water was breathtaking!
It was the first time we were watching our boat traverse over the crystal waters of the Bahamas, and I swear it’s like you could feel her perking up, raising her bow, looking around and taking it all in. Plaintiff’s Rest was just as excited to be there as we were. We knew when we saw those colorful, can’t-really-describe them waters that we had made it–into the Bahamas! We motored over to Mangrove Cay just in time to drop the hook, with an hour or two of daylight so we could do our first Bahamian anchor check, which can practically be done from the boat, because you can see down, even to 13 feet and almost make out the anchor exactly. You’ll see in the video! But we were ready to get wet!
A quick dip and it was soon time for happy hour, a stunning sunset, and a special Chef Phillippe dinner on the boat. (I believe it was Cuban-style mojo pork tenderloin with black beans and yellow rice that night, but don’t quote me on that. We eat so good on the boat, every night is finer than a five-star gourmet feast!)
Our plan was to get up with the sun again the next day so we could make it well within daylight to our next stop, Great Sale Cay, and spend more time playing and exploring there before nightfall. And while I would have never believed it, the water that day was even more beautiful, easily the most breathtaking of our entire trek through the Abacos. Just. You. Wait. There’s a little preview of it at the end of the video, and some footage we are very excited to share, coming at you next time. Can you say a Silks Session at Sunset??
Yeeeessss. That’s all coming to you next time. For now go with us! Check in at West End, down your first Goombay Smash (followed by a hammock crash) and join us as we make our way into Little Bahamas Bank! Enjoy!
On the first day of packing, my Captain gave to me (must be sung in true partridge manner): “A spare bilge pump for the aft cubb-beeey!” Okay, so the packing took WAY more than twelve days, but we’ll get back to that bilge pump just you wait. ; )
Ahoy HaveWind followers! I’m so excited to start sharing tales from our Bahamas Voyage with you. When Phillip and I make plans and start setting our sights on foreign shores, it always ignites in us a flame of excitement that burns all while we’re doing the 1,243 chores that have to be done to fully prepare the boat, ourselves, our co-workers, family and friends, our budget, and, more importantly, the boat (even more!) for the trip. At first it’s just a flicker, that gets brighter and hotter as we near our departure date, but I can always feel it, roaring like a furnace when we’re finally out there—off on our voyage, underway, and I can take a thousand pictures but it will never do it justice. “It’s all right here,” Phillip and I say, as we tap on our temples. But, for you all, it’s all right here, on the HaveWind blog as I share with you our voyage, our adventures, our worries and concerns and lessons learned as we sail to the Bahamas. First up? Bahamas Voyage One (“BV1”): Packing, planning and weather routing (as this all plays such a huge role in when we leave and how prepared we are when we do) and our first day on passage.
As you know, our planning for this voyage began early this summer when Phillip and I made an extensive list of all the boat chores we needed to accomplish before we would feel our boat was as ready as possible to spend a winter island hopping. Fun recap of our summer chores for you here. Once the chores were done, the next step was packing and provisioning the boat. That means stocking the boat with the necessary supplies, tools, fluids, spares, etc. to efficiently repair, troubleshoot and maintain her both while we were underway if necessary and then more extensively as we stop from port to port. Boat projects never stop. Even when you’re cruising. Or, more accurately put, especially when you’re cruising because if you’re actually using the boat day to day, you’re likely spotting more issues ahead of time and you’re more inclined to jump on repairs, leaks, squeaks, etc. to keep your boat and, more importantly, your cruise going! I’ve put together an extensive list of our boat supplies inventories if you find it helpful here.
While we have certain cubbies we often use for boat fluids (i.e., the propane locker in the cockpit and a locker under the aft berth because they are fully-sealed and will not allow toxic fluids, if spilled, to leak to the bilge), one very big difference we made in our stowage plans this year has already proven super helpful, and I will give the credit to our hearty French Captain from our Atlantic-crossing in 2016: Yannick!
Yeah … that guy. He’s funny. Like a clown. And he likes Joe Pesci.
On Yannick’s 46’ Soubise Freydis, in his “captain’s berth” (the starboard gunnel), he had an entire shelf system as well as a deep compartment under his vberth where Yannick had filled Tupperware after Tupperware bin with every kind of boat supply imaginable: tapes, glues, Loctite, sewing kits, electrical repair kits, heat shrink, odds and end hoses, epoxy kits, varnish and sandpaper kits, etc. I could go on. But, each bin was filled with certain types of materials and labeled accordingly: “Tapes & Adhesives,” “Electrical,” etc. And it turned out to be a super-efficient way to pull the necessary tools and supplies for a particular job. So, upon examining our boat this year to find better ways to stow and stash supplies such as this, Phillip found ourselves eyeing a very convenient locker under our own vberth that I believed could serve a very similar Yannick-inspired purpose. It is this locker here:
It is the access to our macerator thru-hull and our previous owner had built a very sturdy shelf in the locker to stow gallon water jugs on. While we had followed suit for years and stowed water there as well, we found they sloshed around and sometimes punctured and they also took on the slight smell of macerator hose. Not my favorite flavor of water : (. But now we had an entire empty section for what I was now going to call our “Supplies Cubby.” We measured and were able to easily fit four rather large Tupperwares in this section labeled: 1) Tapes & Adhesives, 2) Epoxy, 3) Electrical, and 4) Engine Spares.
This has already proven to be a very accessible, very organized compartment to store the many, many boat supplies we access often while cruising. So, thank you Yannick!
Another revelation while we were packing this year: The locker in our aft berth that is fully-sealed can fit not only the spare two gallons of diesel oil (in addition to the one in our propane locker and in our oil-change kit in the hanging locker), as well as spare transmission fluid, outboard oil and Sea Foam but also (and I kid you not), six additional bags of wine. Six. Wow. That’s what? 24 bottles of wine! Two cases?! I love bagged wine. Have I mentioned that? With the first six stowed, the other six were easy. Ha!
They also fit nicely around the aft locker compartment just forward of that one which houses our starting battery and MPPT controllers for our solar panels. That was a lot of heavy, spillable weight stowed aft and low and, for the most part, in lockers that would contain the spill if any. Although we desperately hoped for no wine spillage on the trip. (Okay, or oil spillage … I guess that stuff’s important too ; ).
One of our goals in packing and provisioning the boat this time was to find new, previously-unused cubbies and compartments of the boat that were being under-utilized. In addition to the new “supplies cubby” under the vberth, we also decided this time to stow as many soft, light goods as we could under the very large compartments under the vberth. Trust me, I can fit completely inside the larger bin. See?
I spent a lot of time personally in these when we were in the shipyard both painting every square inch of the bilge (which I can still report is a clean, sanitary Bilge-Kote grey in virtually every locker I look … sniff … ahhh) and in glassing in the anchor chain locker to run the anchor runoff water rather than anonymously to the bilge to mingle and mask other potential leaks but, rather, to our new sump box.
Any of you who have seen our shipyard videos know what a monster chore the sump box was. Not the most difficult project of the re-fit, mind you, but still a very extensive project to capture and route water from five different sources and channel it to the sump box, then plumb the sump box to pump overboard via the head sink. But, one of the absolute benefits of doing this, particularly with regard to the anchor chain runoff was that funneling the anchor water through a hose to the sump box would make each of the three very large, very useful compartments under the vberth now dry storage areas as opposed to wet. Thank you Sump Box!
For this reason, and to continue our efforts to move weight aft and low on the boat, Phillip and I decided to use the two rather sizeable cubbies under the vberth mattress directly aft of the anchor chain locker for stowing spare halyards and lines, spare sails (our storm sail, namely) and canvas, as well as spare domestic soft goods (e.g., quilts, blankets, long johns and foulies that would be needed for the cold voyage across the Gulf, but not after we reached the Bahamas). Then it’s strictly bikini time, baby! We also fit many additional work sheets and work towels in there, a spare set of sheets for the vberth, as well as two kites, two wetsuits and my aerial silks. I told you it was a big compartment. We decided to use vacuum bags for stowing these items both to shrink them to reduce space and to protect them as well in case there was an unexpected leak in these compartments. I put a post up on Facebook about these bags and most seemed to love them; however, several followers said their seals often failed or they were somehow compromised and they “puffed back up again.” Phillip and I will let you know after the season if we experience this as well. So far, we are super pleased with the ease of use and utility of the vacuum bags.
Other areas we found we were able to use for food and supplies storage were three cubbies under the central floorboard in the saloon.
We also noticed two forward cubbies that we eventually plan to add a few L-brackets and a fiddle of wood (to prevent items in the bin from slipping down into the bilge) which will convert those to storage cubbies as well. All in due time. Phillip also had the very good idea to buy a box of the super industrial strength black contractor dumpster bags and we wrapped many food items with the potential to spill (or explode) in these in hopes of containing spills in case any cans, bottles, bags, etc. became punctured and started to leak. This proved an exceptional idea as we contained several spills we found after crossing the Gulf, one of which was four exploding beer cans in a contractor bag in the port lazarette that contained every drop of that stinky beer. Thank you Hefty Bags!
What’s next? I know, I know. The packing and provisioning can get a little tedious. And, Phillip and I truly did spend the better part of the month before departure double-checking lists of necessary fluids, spares, supplies, food, drinks, etc. to make sure we had in fact packed everything we needed and wanted for the trip and it’s a darn good thing we did because—as it always tends to happen—as you get into the handful of days or weeks before your trip, emergency-type errands come up, or friends and family you haven’t seen in a while confess they simply can’t let you go without a goodbye dinner, or whatever other agenda item you can imagine that will occupy your time crops up and, if you’re not already packed and ready, you can suddenly feel overwhelmed. Phillip and I actually had some very consuming, stressful work things we had to handle in the weeks before we left and had we not spent months preparing for our departure before-hand, I would have pulled a couple clumps of hair out I’m sure. Luckily for Phillip, he has no hair.
The last items on the list were, of course, food, food and more food.
While Phillip and I had created and maintained a very tedious digital inventory of food for our Cuba passage (completely cubby-located and word-searchable), to be honest, we found trying to keep up with this (by pulling out the computer and crossing off every single can, packet or pouch used as it was used) proved far too tedious. We decided this time rather than choose what you would like to eat before-hand, instead we’re going to play the “food lottery.” Now, we simply choose the locker we’re going to eat out of, and it’s like a smattering of random Christmas groceries that you now have to get creative with and make a nice meal out of. It’s really rather fun, and we’ve been excited each time we open a new locker (or look behind a new box or bag) and find something we bought and packed long ago that we’d been excited to eat for months. “Ooh, the laughing cow cheese! Hell yeah!” Annie squealed often. That and Sriracha peas were always a squeal-worthy find in my book. As a hint, however, we have since had another cruising friend tell us they used taped notes in the interior door or lid of each locker with each food item listed and they scratched it off on the pad as they remove an item. I can see this working far better, although some lids are harder to lift and write on than others and some of our compartments would have a list 182 items long.
I’m not kidding.
Speaking of (and last mention of packing, I promise, although it is quite important!) where did 75% of ALL of our non-perishable food items go?? This was a new place for us to discover and utilize and I was shocked (stunned actually) at the sheer quantity of food this one compartment swallowed whole with a mere shrug. Pssshhh … that’s all you got? Where is this magic black hole food cubby on Plaintiff’s Rest? Under our port settee. This is an area we have never used before and we would have never thought to have used it had we not replaced our starboard water tank this past summer.
Having done so and (as many of you know) having spent weeks wrestling, cursing, kicking and squeezing our new water tank back in place next to our diesel tank under the starboard settee, we became very familiar with the space and size of the cubbies located under each of our saloon settees. Once we saw we could fit many long spare hoses and pieces of wood and starboard (“construction materials” we call these) by the starboard water tank, I started to wonder what else we could fit all around the portside water tank. 75% of our food, that’s what. I’m serious. We packed the shit out of this compartment. It’ll be Food Christmas in there till 2019. Now, we did Ziploc EVERYthing.
Even anything already bagged or even double-bagged. We omitted as much cardboard and packaging as we could (keeping the identifying information and cooking instructions) and, by doing this, the compartment under our portside settee now houses the majority of our food stores for the entire winter. We darn sure aren’t going to starve (or want for Spam!) in the Bahamas! We also weren’t going to run out of Irish Spring or Arm & Hammer toothpaste (Annie’s favorite) either. We packed probably four months’ worth of toiletries (including paper towels and toilet paper, mostly in the hanging locker) aboard, as well as a huge bag of travel-size toiletries as goodie giveaways for the locals (in exchange for fresh-caught fish, we were told : ).
Alright, so with the non-perishable packing complete, the last stop was one to the farmer’s market (Bailey’s in Pensacola is phenomenal) for a bunch of the heartiest produce we could find (beets, carrots, cabbage, spaghetti squash, onions, apples, potatoes, etc.) which we wrapped and labeled in brown paper bags and stuffed along the shelves of our aft berth, our produce hammock and the bookshelves in the saloon, being careful to stow onions and bananas far away from the other produce so as not to speed their ripening). We intended to get non-refrigerated eggs, which we like to have aboard (just remember to rotate them upside down once a week), but apparently the chickens we usually get them from didn’t have a productive winter. But c’est la vie. With the non-perishables, the rest of the wine and mixers and the alcohol finally aboard (8 handles of various rums, vodka, gin, and Kahlua, primarily in the port lazarette in a contractor’s Hefty bag), we simply had to cram three weeks’ worth of clothes on the boat and go.
So, once the boat is ready to go, what’s next? Do you just go? Whatever day you want to? Tell all your family and friends and have them all planning to come to the dock for a big send-off? Unfortunately (and I’ll admit Pam Wall was the first to tell us this), this usually never works out well and can often put you in a very tight pinch trying to pick a departure date in advance and stick to it. Pam always advised us not to tell friends and family specifically when you expect to leave or arrive as it will inadvertently create a schedule that will stress everyone if it is not met. Once you’re ready to go, you then have to look for (AND WAIT FOR) the right weather window.
Most cruisers understand this and won’t expect you to state before-hand what date specifically you are planning to leave or when you’re planning to arrive in port. Family, friends and co-workers, however, who worry about you taking to the high seas, often struggle with a flexible plan, but trying to alter your schedule or commit to a window that’s not as favorable to perhaps ease their fears or fulfill promises perhaps in hindsight you feel you shouldn’t have made, may force you to leave on a day that is not the best for your voyage plans. I know I’ve preached this before, but I do so because Phillip and I made this very mistake on our first offshore voyage and it cost us considerably, so it is worth repeating. If you’ve read Salt of a Sailor, you’ll know what I’m talking about: A SCHEDULE IS THE MOST DANGEROUS THING YOU CAN HAVE ON A SAILBOAT. Friends, family and co-workers simply have to learn that departure and arrival dates must remain flexible and weather-dependent. Keep training them, and you’ll have better cruising days ahead, I promise. Never try to sail according to a schedule.
So, Phillip and I had planned (weather permitting!) to leave on Saturday Dec. 9th. It was ironically going to be a very fortuitous date to leave as the big “work thing” I mentioned that we had to take care of took place on Dec. 7th (so getting that behind us was a big “Whew!”) and then our buddy Brandon with www.PerdidoSailor.com was having his big annual Christmas party on Friday, Dec. 8th. Can you say Happy Holiday Sendoff for Plaintiff’s Rest?! Hell yeah! And with a tacky Christmas Sweater Contest and an often rowdy and risqué Dirty Santa exchange to boot? We were stoked. What a way to go! Roll that delightfully-tacky footage!
Seriously, I found a sweater with a unicorn vomiting sprinkles. Can you GET any tackier (or awesome)?? The answer is no.
Good times, right? Our joke that night, when everyone and their dog asked when we were planning to leave, was “As soon as we sober up from this party!” Ha! (You see? Keep it vague. Then there’s no commitments.) Although I will note our buddy Kevin, a fabulous Pensacola broker who helped us find our beloved Niagara, said, in response to that and in all earnest: “Oh, that’ll be Sunday then.” Turns out he was right. But, not because of our hangovers. (Pssshhh … I never get hangovers. What are those?!). It’s because the weather window wasn’t right. But, a word on weather predictions.
They are just that. Predictions. Often close, often off, and just as reliable as you would surmise any “prediction” to be. Now, while they do get more reliable the closer you get to your ETD, they still are not fool-proof and we have often found their predicted strength of the wind is often 5 kts less than it should be in the Gulf and often 20-30 degrees off on the direction. That is almost to a “T” what we experienced this time. So, feel free to weather route along with us. This is the window we were looking at if we left on Saturday Dec. 9th. There was a front that was passing through and we were hoping to catch a nice few days of north wind on the back side to ride across the Gulf.
Looks a little gnarly huh? That’s what we thought. Jumping out in 20-25 knots of “stuff” didn’t sound like the best way to make the passage. But, we did debate leaving Saturday afternoon (from our dock that wouldn’t put us out in the Gulf, actually experiencing offshore conditions for another 6-7 hours), so around 10:00 p.m. The forecast then seemed to show a bit of heavy winds (20-25) decreasing to 18-23 after midnight then to 15-20 over the course of Sunday morning and even lighter Sunday afternoon. That sounded like a pretty good window to ride the last of the front. We were expecting some light winds the first few days and a potential front that would pass over us about mid-way across the Gulf but it looked like 15-20 kt winds, all on the stern with following seas, so that seemed doable. From my experience, at least, if you’re planning to cross the Gulf in one passage, which is a great experience, it’s likely, if you’re going to get any “good wind” at all, you’re probably also going to run into some “stuff” (and by that I mean 15-25 kt winds potentially) either at the beginning, somewhere in the middle, or at the end. Otherwise, you might be looking at three days of glass, which is beautiful, but as sailors, we’re not too keen on three days of motoring. It’s just rare to see five straight days of steady winds, holding speed and direction. While we never intentionally choose to sail in dangerous weather, a predicted 15-25 (which could be less or more) on the stern with following seas is a circumstance we were willing to accept for an expected fun, sporty sail across the Gulf.
With our window chosen, we spent one last lavish evening at the condo with Chef Phillippe whipping us up an exquisite bacon-indulgent cassoulet. YUM.
We then woke bright and early Sunday morning carrying our last packs to the boat. Bahamas-bound Annie was actually excited to be donning her fashionable offshore bib. Who doesn’t love overalls?
One sure-fire sign it was high time to leave Pensacola and sail south? There was ice on the boat. A light frost had fallen on Pensacola that evening and we had to crack everything on the deck apart to get the boat going.
Phillip tossing our last line!
We had kept a heat light on in the engine room to keep Westie warm and he purred right up. Annie de-docked like a champ and soon we were on our way. Our boat fully packed, our lists crossed off and nothing but big blue water ahead. That is one of my favorite feelings. The stress of preparing for the voyage seems to melt off and pull back toward shore, like fingers once gripped, now leaving your shoulders. Ahhh …
And, remember those 18-23 kts of wind, predicted to lay down on Sunday afternoon? Well, it seemed they decided to take a nap early, because by the time we got out in the Gulf—around noon on Sunday—we were motoring along in 6-8 kts of breeze. You see? The weather. Just a prediction. But, it was a nice window of opportunity to throw up one of our favorite sails. Our spinnaker, better known as “Spinny!” This is our first year to fly the spinnaker (I know, bad sailors!) and we have really loved hoisting her up and watching her beautiful, blue, white and red belly billow and fill. She really is a gorgeous sail and it’s a lot of fun to see, and feel, the boat flying under spinnaker alone. Even in two layers of long johns, our foulies and three hats (yes, three!), we were thrilled to be out there on the water, sailing our magnificent little boat. It was a fantastic kickoff for the passage.
As Phillip and I eased into our offshore routine and doled out night shift assignments, we knew the days ahead would include some very tiring moments, likely some equipment failure or other boat issues, for sure, many wet, uncomfortable hours, but they would also include the sound of nothing but water lapping the hull, breathtaking sunrises and sunsets and moments that can never be re-created ashore. And, we can’t wait to share them all with you.
Alright, (while I can’t confidently speak to the inner-workings of tequila-making), I’m sure it isn’t actually “brewed,” but I needed it to work with my theme. Just let me run with this.
June 5, 2015:
We have always found it funny (startling, actually) how really small the “cruising community” is. You will meet a gal in a little marina on the other side of the world who knows the guy who is fixing up a boat in the slip next to you back in your home port. I’m not kidding. It’s global but, in a sense, it is so small. And, the way you meet people and make those connections tends to be such good fodder for my favorite thing in all of cruising — STORIES. Let me ask you, how many times have you met a new cruiser in port or out in an anchorage because you needed to borrow something? Perhaps you ran out of duct tape (blasphemy!), or you can’t find your little keyring thing of allen wrenches, or you need to bum some of that all-purpose wonder stuff, anti-corrosion spray, to knock a rusty bolt off. It happens all the time, and cruisers are some of the most generous folks when it comes to lending out their useful boat stuff. Case in point here, and a good story to go with it. This occurred sometime in June of 2014 when Phillip and I had just returned from our Cruise to the Keys. We met a fantastic cruising couple at one of our local anchorages because we needed to bum something and when they came back through our cruising grounds the next year, they cashed in on the favor in a most interesting way with something borrowed, something brewed. (And, I can’t really say why I started this blog on such a sing-song note. Perhaps I was inspired by the soon-to-be-released book Suess so long ago wrote. Either way, I think I’ll have some fun with words today, and present a rhythmic blog upon which I hope you dote.) Here’s how it played out:
On the hook one morning, the Captain and I found ourselves in quite the pickle. It seems we’d brought a hose for our dinghy pump that was far too fickle. Without the proper inflating dinghy nub, our dinghy was a sinking tub, and bound to our boat we would be as sad as a cell that is sickle.
The Captain refused to sit stranded on our boat on his rump, so he set off on the SUP to request from our anchor neighbors a loaner pump. He stumbled upon a couple, the dame quite supple, on an exquisite Dufour who countered the Captain’s request with an offer for trade in sum lump.
The ladies on the Dufour, were digging the Cap’n and his board and believed, in exchange for loaning their pump, a free stand-up paddle lesson was in store. The Captain happily agreed, considering a lesson an easy deed, to allow us mobility for all the fun dinghy outings the weekend could afford.
Later in the day, when the Dufour crew got back out, they stopped by our boat to bring us a brew that was quite stout, as the Dufour dame, it seemed, like Patron with coffee teamed, the taste of which we would love she did not doubt.
In all, we spent a grand day with the couple “next door,” their spirit and spunk quite fitting for a Dufour. We were thrilled to learn, they would soon return as they sailed from Mandeville to our area every year for a month or three or four.
True to their word, the Dufour couple sailed back our way this past May and tried to coordinate another rendezvous at Ft. McRee. Sadly, with schedules jam-packed, the cards against us were stacked, and it appeared we were only going to pass them briefly in the ICW one particular day.
The Dufour dame it seemed believed that was close enough indeed. She decided to cash in the long-owed dinghy pump favor, with a liquor she could savor, and she enlisted the Captain and I to bring her a bottle of which she was in dire need.
Wanting to repay the fine couple for rescuing us so long ago, we set off that day, our boat loaded with her precious cargo. Near the North Cut, I spotted the Dufour crew, toting another couple, too, awaiting our arrival in colorful hats and attire reminiscent of Key Largo.
They rafted up quick as we motored along and worked quickly to accomplish the exchange. Captain Dufour graciously paid us extra for the cost of the liquor, while a smile, a chuckle and a “keep the change.” The dame, alone, was quick to satisfy her thirst for Patron, and she immediately grasped the bottle and tipped it up the minute it was within range.
(Love it Cara!)
Once the exchange was made, we bid the DuFour crew adieu, and they dinghied back to their anchorage their spirits anew with fresh “brew.” Having fulfilled our pact, our boat borrowing karma well intact, the Captain and I continued along content, knowing we would likely find ourselves someday in need of a boat-to-boat alcohol delivery, too.
Ahhh … Dani and Tate. Perhaps I don’t have to introduce them to you all here. You probably already know them. They’ve earned a bit of a celebrity status in the sailing blog world and have certainly been an inspiration to Phillip and I. We started following along on their SundownerSailsAgain blog during the last of the five-year refit of their Westsail 32 for its fourth, but their first, circumnavigation. As Tate so aptly put it, when they stepped on the boat, they “felt its soul.” It seemed, like our Niagara 35, the boat chose them.
Dani and Tate, well into the last leg of their refit when we met them through our mutual blogs in the fall of 2014, were planning to set sail in January, 2015 from their homeport of Metarie, LA to really do it — sail around the entire world. Phillip and I, having planned a trip to NOLA months prior to celebrate the completion of our solar panels project, knew we had to try to meet up with them before they shoved off. So, we set it up, a Sundowner-meets-HaveWind union in the frothy culture hub of the South – New Orleans.
Now, being avid NOLA go’ers already, Phillip and I had already made several reservations at some of our favorite N’awlins eateries and had purchased tickets for a couple of different shows in advance of the trip. What kind of shows you might ask? Only the best — burlesque! While the reason we ended up with tickets to two burlesque shows was through no fault of our own (after the Friday show was seemingly cancelled, we bought tickets to a Saturday show then Friday’s was re-instated — what are you gonna do?), we did hesitate for a moment when Tate asked us if we needed some guidance on finding things to do in the city. Nope, Tate. Unlike the ladies of burlesque, we’ve got it ALL covered! But, knowing we would be meeting up with them on Saturday night, we invited them to Show No. 2 which was actually going to be a Clue-themed murder mystery. I’ll never forget Dani’s response — “Awesome. I’ve never been to one. Can’t wait to solve the mystery! ; )” Love those guys. With everything booked and an exciting meeting in store, we were off.
(And, quick note to the viewers, all photos and videos of the burlesque gals in this post are completely PG 13. I have edited to cover all pretty lady parts (the not-so-pretty ones? Well, it’s just part of the show. Burlesque babes come in all shapes and sizes. Enjoy!)
If you haven’t been to New Orleans, or have only been during Mardi Gras when the city is a chaotic, drunken mess, you should definitely take the time to roam the less-populated streets in the daytime, admire the colorful history and appreciate the true age and culture of the city.
The buildings are almost as colorful as the characters you will meet walking along the cobble streets. The food is eclectic and superb. Just plan to eat and try everything while you’re in the city (NO DIETS ALLOWED). You can work it off when you get back. Trust me, say no to nothing. Our best meal of this trip? The meat pie at Cochon:
Follow that with a worldly trek through W.I.N.O. (the Wine Institute of New Orleans), where you can sample hundreds of wines from regions all over the world,
and you’re ready for a night on the NOLA town.
Street bands seem to emerge around every corner, always playing some jazzy, cajun upbeat number that will force you to put a little dance in your shuffle, smile unknowingly and inhale the energy of the city.
After all of that fun, it was time for Show No. 1 on our list — Cirque d’Licious at the Hi Ho Lounge. Fantastic show. Very talented ladies. And, I do mean that. While pulling your stockings off with your teeth is, yes, entertaining, one gal in particular really impressed me — LadyBeast. (I’ve been called that a time or two). And, you know what her specialty was? Aerial acrobats! But instead of silks, she uses chains! A woman after my own heart!
I have to say, though, I drove Phillip absolutely mad watching her. I was high on the wine and my own inner Cirque-ego came out. I kept saying, “That’s such an easy trick. Super basic. I can totally do that!” To which Phillip, in his infinite wisdom, responded, “Yeah, but you’re not. You’re sitting in the audience. Now hush!”
Hmmmppfff. But, it was really fun to watch LadyBeast do things I did know I could do. I have to admit a little seed planted for my budding burlesque career–after I finish with the sailing perhaps. The real highlight of the show, though, was this little number.
Why, you might ask? Because of this and this …
What are they? Great question! We didn’t know until she hooked up the power cord and roared that thing to life. It was a wire brush grinder. Vrrreeeerrrrr!
Yep. Just like that. And, what do you think this dainty little gal did with it? She fired it up and sparked the place out on her custom garter grind plate. I have to tell you, I’ve seen a number of burlesque shows in my life, but THAT was a first. She was phenomenal. Fearless. A total show-stopper. Funniest part was, though, when I was telling Dani about it the next night. Being the crafty, highly mechanically-inclined sailor she is, she thought immediately about the physical repercussions of use of such a tool near one’s … nether parts.
“My God, wouldn’t it get super hot?” Dani asked, to which my inner thoughts immediately responded, “Yeah, it was super hot.” This literally was probably one of the first things Dani and I discussed when we met on Saturday night. I mean, let’s get down to business, am I right?
The much-anticipated meeting with Dani & Tate from SundownerSailsAgain was incredibly inspiring. Those two had been working so hard for years to fulfill a lifelong dream.
They had saved, scrimped, sacrificed and given pretty much everything they had to do it. They had their concerns and a refreshingly honest approach to what life would be like out there, but they were so energetic and enthusiastic about it, you couldn’t help but feel the excitement pulse out of them. I felt like arcs of energy were going to zap and pop between us. We shared such a common goal. Phillip and I were very fortunate to get to meet the Sundowner crew before they left because we can now feel the personality behind their posts. Dani also did a riveting recap of our NOLA union on her blog as well.
It is also with great joy (and a twinge of bitter jealousy), that I let you know Dani and Tate completed their exhaustive-yet-rewarding refit in the winter of 2014 and set sail January, 2015 to bravely make the first passage of their trip, their first overnight passage on the boat and their first Gulf crossing (all in one!) as they braved the winter winds from Rabbit Island down to the Keys. They made it safely to the Keys in five days, subsequently made the jump south to Cuba then decided to go west to Mexico where they fell in the beautiful quagmire that is Isla Mujeres. I encourage you to follow them on their wildly entertaining and inspirational journey.
But, let’s get back to the important stuff. Yes, the burlesque gals. As talented as LadyBeast and the d’Licious bunch were (it is admittedly hard to top metal grinders and chains), I have to say Show No. 2 took the cake. Why? I’ll give you a clue …
The CLUE-themed murder mystery was really such an awesome idea for a show (and a great way to get the audience involved and make more money to boot). Before the show began, you could buy votes ($1 a piece) to take a random stab at WHO DONE IT? (And, of course, in true CLUE fashion, in what room they did it and with what weapon — pictured above — the revolver and the wrench). Then, as each lady took the stage, she was dressed as a certain CLUE character and dancing in a certain CLUE room. At the very end of her dance, she would reveal a weapon, which meant you needed to scratch that suspect, venue and deadly piece off your list. Here is the burlesque CLUE cast – you can likely make out a few key characters — Miss White, Professor Plum, Miss Scarlet, Colonel Mustard is actually the voluptuous vixen in the middle (well-played):
As the show went on (and you realized your previous guesses were obviously wrong) you could buy more votes to submit. The winning votes were thrown in a hat at the end and one drawn out as the winner of an actual classic CLUE game and the privilege of crawling through a “spank tunnel” (yes, exactly what you would imagine) under the burlesque gals. In all, it was total entertainment, an incredible night with the hilarious Dani & Tate duo and certainly an evening Phillip and I won’t soon forget.
Visiting with the Sundowner crew, who are now well on their way to world travel, only told us what we already knew–the time to go is now. As Tate said recently in an email to us, “My God, it’s everything we expected. You need to get out here. You understand.”
Yes, Tate. We do. You kids have fun out there. Fair winds. We’ll see you soon.
Many thanks to the patrons who help make these posts just a little more possible through PATREON.
So, the thinking is, you go to a sailboat show to, you know, look at sailboats, right? Right! Of course! Now, do you have to necessarily be “shopping”? Heck, no! Looking is just fine. And, we did plenty of it. From the old to the new, the brown water to the blue, they had the whole gambit–tons of used and new, all in one place for (mostly) anyone to step aboard. Let’s go explore, shall we?
There were some pretty amazing boats we set foot on at the show, in a wide range of prices. Think yacht-price-guessing is something y’acht be good at? (Surprisingly, that did not take me long to come up with). Let’s see! How about a good old-fashioned Showcase Showdown! Who’s in?
Well, then, what are you waiting for … COME ON DOWN!!
First up — the GunBoat 55. Named Cruising World’s 2015 Domestic Boat of the Year, this high-performance, world-cruising luxury yacht offers a simplistic, clean, contemporary layout and style with full 360 visibility from the enclosed helm. Carbon fiber rigging and great attention to detailed assembly affords this boat an average 20 knots of speed.
Virtual tour of the boat:
There was a good bit of talk at the boat show about the inaugural run of GunBoat Hull No. 1, the s/v Rainmaker. Sadly, the boat was dismasted by a 70-knot wall of wind south of Cape Hatteras.
Thankfully, the crew were airlifted out safely in a heroic rescue effort by the U.S. Coast Guard, leaving the boat, however, abandoned for salvage recovery. Some pretty dramatic footage here:
It was definitely a sobering report to hear but an exemplary showing of a skillful and successful rescue by the USCG. It definitely gives me comfort knowing that’s the kind of response we would receive if–knock on wood–we ever had to activate the EPIRB. The GunBoat we got to poke through at the show, the Toccata out of Annapolis, was exquisite. Probably a little too contemporary and modern for my taste (I just love the old classic wood designs), but who doesn’t like to travel smoothly at 20 knots?
So, contestants, what’s the Price-is-Right guesstimate on this one? $1 mil. Maybe two?
Wrong! $2.5 mil.
What’s next Bob?
Ahhh … the Knysna. I’m generally not a Cat fan, but this one was wooing me a bit. Or maybe it was the sales pitch. Knysna is a a boutique builder. They work with the owner to develop every step of the design. Everything is fully-customized and unique to the owner. They only build ten boats a year. It is the epitome of collaboration, craftsmanship and creativity.
And, if that’s not enough, they build them in the stunning Knysna Heads Lagoon on the East Coast of South Africa, where they encourage you, after the build is complete, to drop the anchor and stay a few weeks while you test out the systems and learn your boat with the Knysna service team in easy reach and ready to assist with any service need.
Kind of hard to say no to that. When we asked the lovely gal who was showing us around the boat what the “base price” was, her response was “Eight-ninety.” Phillip and I acted like we’d heard this a million times. “Ahhh, yes,” we said, shaking our heads decisively. But, as we walked away, we looked at each other stumped and asked the obvious question — Did she mean $890,000 or $8.9 million. Which is it contestants?
Bid carefully … Aha! $890,000 it is!
Not a bad deal, really, for a custom-built South African beauty. Let’s see another, Bob!
This was a favorite of ours. The Amel 55. Phillip got to step aboard an Amel years ago when he was cruising with some friends down in the Grenadines and he immediately fell in love, proclaiming it the most “well-thought out, intuitive boat he had ever set foot on.” I thought it was awesome because it is the same boat our Delos buddies have cruised all over the southern hemisphere.
And, I use the term “buddies” loosely. They don’t really yet know I exist, but they will soon! LOOKOUT!! Get a virtual tour of their Amel here:
If you haven’t yet been struck by the revelation that is Delos, I encourage–nay I urge!–you to check them out, donate to watch their awesome travel log videos (it’s like a buck, the best one you will spend this year I promise) and send Delos some love!
The Amel at the boat show did not disappoint. Of all the boats we set foot on, this was definitely the classiest broad!
So, Showcasers, what are we thinking for this 2015 beaut? Another lucky $890? A smooth $1 mil.
Guess again! Only $1.5 mil and this baby is yours! Who’s cutting a check?
While there were so, SOOO many more boats we looked at, I’ve got be selective (or you’ll likely fall asleep). One other honorable mention in the ‘spensive category was the 75’ Little Harbor. While the layout was impressive (I lost count of the rooms and beds at like 8),
what really caught our eye was the massive engine room. More like an engine suite really …
There she is, do you dare to enter?
And, don’t you just love the engine names? We’ve got Lucille on starboard and Roxanne on port. That way you know exactly which of these white beasts to curse when she totally flakes on you (because you know she’s gonna – women always do at some point). My money’s on Roxy. She sounds temperamental.
What’s this? A room within the engine room?
A look back.
Also, a little reminder of the spacious engine room on the Niagara 35 might help give you a little perspective here.
Ahhh … roomy. So, the Little Harbor could be yours! You want all 75 feet of her? Well, break out another mil. This beauty goes for a sweet $1.1 million. Pocket change! At this rate, the only boat we were going to be able to buy at the boat show would be this inflatable number:
“We’ll take it!”
While we did check out some of the more affordable production line boats, Benneteau, Jenneau, Hunters and the like, all I can say is they just weren’t too picture-worthy in our opinion. Some of the headliners and paneling would actually indent and pop back out, audibly, when you pushed on them. The build quality made it feel like you’d stepped into a Jim Walter model home that floated. When we saw one model (I won’t name names) that boasted a built-in hook on either side of the vberth cabin for “crew” to hang their roll-aboard suitcases … I just shut down. Not only do we frown upon the bringing of a roll-aboard on the s/v Plaintiff’s Rest, if you happen to commit this fatal faux pas, we certainly don’t have a hook you can hang it on once it’s aboard.
“Permission to come aboard?” Uhhhh … NO!
We’re not blue-water snobs or anything, but that was just laughable. One glimmering hope, though, was the Marlow-Hunter. I will say Marlow has really stepped up expectations in the production department and the build quality. The 31-footer is a pretty well-built vessel for $116k. In all, a look at the new 30′-42′ cruising monohulls only confirmed our rock-solid belief that our 1985 Niagara 35′ is not only an incredibly well-built, capable world cruiser, it is the perfect boat for us. They just don’t make them like they used to. We love you old gal!
But, boy, looking at all those boats was sure exhausting, and dehydrating! Are you thirsty yet? We were! It was high time for some booze, the price for which, in Miami, can sometimes knock your socks off. The cost of the drinks was almost as shocking as the cost of the boats. So, let’s have a little more Showcase Showdown fun, shall we?
What do you think the going rate is for one of these numbers–a pisco sour and a jalapeno-infused Peruvian pisco fuego drink at Ceviche 105?
‘Scuse me?? For both. $10.00 a piece. Not bad that far South. Let’s try another.
Ouch … You broke yet? Boats and booze alike, were any of you right on the money? Well, what do we have for them Bob? Ahhh … looks like we’re giving away a free ticket to view next week’s post – the “Edutainment” portion of the Strictly Sail show. Congratulations, and thanks for playing!
“Hi, Bob … pardon me. I’m sorry to interrupt, but, hi. Bob. It’s Annie. I’m Annie. I’m a huge, huge fan … ”
I’m pretty sure it sounded about that timid and giddy. I mean it was Bob Bitchin, THE Bob Bitchin–right there in the very darn coffee shop where Phillip and I were having our first caffeinated sip before the big boat show! I had it all planned in my mind that I was going to meet him at the big Cruising Outpostparty on Saturday and this early, unplanned coffee shop encounter was totally throwing me. But, Phillip, as he often does because he knows it’s best for me, threw me to the wolves, and I’m so glad he did. I was thrilled to find Bob actually remembered me from our meager email exchanges about my first article that he published and my desire to self-publish a sailing book. I extended a shaky hand with my Salt of a Sailor book in it and tripped on words like “honored, privileged and inspired” trying somehow to convey the message that I hoped Bob would read it, enjoy it and let me know what he thought. For all I know, though, I could have been speaking German. I can’t remember a single English sentiment that I conveyed before I thanked him, giggled again and started tripping my way back to Phillip in a total sweaty mess. But, I had done it! Met Bob Bitchin, gave him the book and said something that (I believe) resembled praise. There. Done.
Just as my blood pressure finally started to subside and I could once again taste my coffee, Bob came back over. Oh boy … He was super generous, though, telling me he had flipped through my book and that he liked the interior formatting and the photos. He gave me some advice on some additional publishing mumbo jumbo that I should include at the beginning next time and gave me some recommendations on ordering author copies for resale. He was so generous with his time and insight. I sat starry-eyed and spoke some more German. It wasn’t until we were actually at the boat show and I had gathered my wits about me that I finally saw fit to ask him for a photo so I could share it on the blog. There you have it. The giddy German gal and the man himself – Bob Bitchin!
“I hope you enjoy the book, Bob!”
This was my first and certainly most memorable “sail-ebrity” sighting during our Strictly Sail trip but there were many more. I thought, before we get into all the boats, booze, sailing and “edutainment” seminars, I could help set the stage for you by introducing you to Have Wind Will Travel’s version of the Strictly Sail Miami’s cast and crew:
THE CAST (Sailebrities) — These are the big dogs of sailing, the cruisers that you read and read about, the ones that have crossed oceans, circumnavigated, been sailing for decades and talking about and presenting on it even longer. The great thing about the Strictly Sail show is that they’re no longer icons in print, they’re right there, standing not five feet from you. They’re approachable, friendly and seemingly just as eager to meet you as you are them (or at least they pretend really well). Phillip and I were super impressed with the intimacy of the seminars at the show and the opportunities it allowed us to meet and chat with some of our favorite sailebrities:
Bob Bitchin — I’m sure I’ve said enough about him already. Hell, he’s probably cringing and ducking his head by now as many times as I’ve “gone giddy” over him on the blog. But, just to add a little background, I picked up one of his books, Starboard Attitude, the first day at the show (and made him sign it for me – of course!), started flipping through it and was astounded to read the man’s bio. He spent 28 years ripping across the U.S. on a motorcycle (certainly explains the Harley shirts and tats) and even served as a bodyguard and roustabout for Evil Knievel back in the 70’s. I don’t even know what a “roustabout” is, but I want to be one! Before he even thought about cruising, he produced one of the largest cycle shows on the West Coast, CycleExpo, as well as published multiple biking and tattoo magazines. He then … oh hell, I’ll just let you read it. If you can dream it up, Bob’s done it:
John Kretschmer — This man, the sailor who has crossed the Atlantic ocean more than 20 times, the one who stopped counting his nautical miles when he reached 300,000, was the most humble, self-deprecating, genuine person I might venture to say I have ever met. He performs professional yacht deliveries around the world and takes eager crew members and captains out on training passage across some pretty harrowing waterways. You can sign up to crew a passage with John via his website, although I believe he’s booked well into 2016. (The man is popular). His seminars were also engaging and authentic. To be honest, for me, crossing an ocean was a bit further down the list (well after spending a year in the Bahamas, cruising the Carribean and what not), but after hearing John speak about it, I started to see it in an entirely new light. John was an inspiring and entertaining speaker and, we heard from several independent sources at the show, an exceptional writer. Phillip and I bought his Sailing a Serious Oceanbook at the seminar (and made him sign it – of course!) and we can’t wait to give it a read. At the Mercy of the Sea will be next on our list. When I got all giddy and told John about my own book, he laughed and said he “loved reading stuff like that” and “couldn’t wait to check it out.” Even if it was just a line, I ate it right up. John was such a pleasure to meet.
2. Pam Wall — Pam served as West Marine’s Cruising Consultant for over twenty years. She has sailed more nautical miles in the Bahamas than loaves of bread have been baked in the U.S. in 2015 (check that fact), and she has helped thousands of cruisers out there every step of the way. Her passion for cruising and the adventure and cultural education it offers is clear from the minute she starts speaking about it. Her bit on the black squalls that cruisers often face when crossing over to the Bahamas really stuck with me. “Respect the weather, watch the skies, but don’t curse a valuable asset,” Pam said. “Prepare for the passing storm, let the boat and crew enjoy a refreshing ‘Mother Nature shower’ and fill the water tanks. Squalls can be a good thing.” Pam writes an insightful and informative blog on her website — www.pamwall.com — and will tell any cruiser who is passing through Ft. Lauderdale to make contact and “take her out to lunch!”
3. Nigel Calder — I have to say Mr. Calder was the biggest surprise for me. He is like “THE” expert on diesel engine maintenance and boat electronics. I remember trying (sorry, Nigel, it’s not you, it’s me) to read his Mechanical and Electrical Manual well before Phillip and I even found our boat and while it was incredibly informative and detailed, it was also super technical. Nigel is an obvious engine and electronics guru. So, I figured he would, obviously, be a stuffy professor type, sporting an accent and a monocle. Well … let’s say I was right about the accent, but wrong about everything else. Nigel’s presentation “Lessons Learned Along the Way,” which I will cover later (that, and the chance encounter with him in the Leopard Tent, many a-Nigel story to come) was Phillip and I’s agreed favorite of the whole show. Nigel was a riot.
4. Lee Chesneau — The Weather Man. When it comes to pressure systems, wind patterns, and hurricane prediction, Lee is your guy. Lee is a senior marine meteorologist who boasts a distinguished and extensive career with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA’s) National Weather Service (NWS). Lee gives weather presentations all over the nation and hosts educational weather forecasting seminars for commercial vessel captains on a global scale. He’s also a hoot, with these awesome lopsided glasses he sports during his seminars. Very high fashion. Lee has a real talent for “dumbing down the weather” in a way that enables everyday cruisers to watch weather patterns and make safe predictions for passage. I’ll lay out his helpful 1-2-3 rule for tropical storm and hurricane monitoring in our upcoming “Edutainment” portion (I know you’re excited), which we found very helpful. Lee maintains an extensive and informative website on marine weather forecasting where you can also contact him to request weather predictions.
Woody Henderson — This man-boy has seemingly done it all, solo-circumnavigated, wrote for Latitudes & Attitudes (you may recall “Woody’s World”) for thirteen years, and helped form Adventure Voyaging, where he and Tonia Aebia, the youngest sailor ever to circumnavigate, now plan and lead multi-boat sailing adventures to exotic locations all over the world — Tonga to Croatia, The Grenadines, Thailand, you name it. He has cruised and taught cruisers for decades but, by the looks of it, my guess is he started doing all of that at the ripe age of ten. I think he was also on the cover of BOP and Tiger Beat when I was still cutting those up and hanging them on my bedroom walls.
His boyish good looks aside, Woody was an incredibly warm and endearing speaker with a wealth of information to offer. He is a sharp captain, experienced cruiser and capable voyage leader.
THE CREW — While the sailebrities were very exciting, I have to say, the real entertainment were the folks we encountered walking around the boat show. While there is a whole cast of them, here are some honorable mentions:
The Yacht Models — These men are pretty. They like to walk around the boat show in pristine, pressed sweaters, either pulled tightly around their chiseled frames or draped delicately over their shoulders and in a neat tied knot.
“Yes, Eduardo, I’ll take my brandy out here on the lido deck, please.”
The Drink Service Gals — A real classy bunch, and apparently hearty too. They wear these skimpy crotch shorts and wedge heels in any kind of weather!