New Friends, New Plans, and a Tour of La Rochelle, France!

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!

The Louvre!

Made it to La Rochelle!

High fashion.

BV21: To Harbour Island via the Devil’s Backbone

High times at Harbour Island High!  These high-flying kite-surfers were also there on a boat at Harbour Island when Phillip and I were there, back in March of this year, only their boat was just a smidge bigger.  Owned by a billionaire.   Yes, with a B.  It’s amazing the potluck of people you meet while cruising.  But, they were super humble and a lot of fun to “hang” with … get it? : )  From Spanish Wells, Phillip and I decided to hire a captain to help us navigate through the treacherous coral-ridden path, known as the “Devil’s Backbone,” into Harbour Island, and we spent a fabulous three days exploring ashore, kiting our a$$es off (with the billionaires!), and hiking the south side with Brett and Kristen from Life in the Key of Sea.  As we share work from our time in the shipyard this summer, it’s also fun to remind ourselves what all of that hard work is for.  Flash back to one of our last stops in the Bahamas this past March with a fun video and photos for you below from our time in Harbour Island.  Enjoy!

There was no end to the surprises the Bahamas kept revealing were in store for us.  At Spanish Wells, we were honestly expecting a more industrial fishing town, not many stunning sights.  But, then we got this:

It won the award on Plaintiff’s Rest for most beautiful beach in the Bahamas.  For us, anyway, our first year there having only made it through the Abacos, Eleuthera, and the Berries.  We’re often told the beaches and shorelines in the Exumas are just incomparable, but we haven’t seen them in person yet.  So, until then, this neon-breathtaking-blue beach on the north shore of Spanish Wells will have to do.  C’est la vie.

But, Harbour Island turned out to be a great surprise, too.  Initially, when Phillip and I were planning our route through the Bahamas in 2017/2018, Harbour Island was not one of our intended destinations.  Our (very vague, back in 2017) plan was to tinker through the Abacos, then make our way down through the ragged islands and the Exumas—to the extent we could—before we needed to get the boat back to Pensacola for hurricane season.  When we got to Spanish Wells, our cruising timeline was starting to close for the year.  Currently, Phillip and I are more “commuter cruisers,” who spend roughly half of the year aboard our boat cruising and the other half (broken up here and there) back home in Pensacola working.  Somehow you gotta pay for all this fun, right?

So, we knew our window was closing and we still had on our list: the Berries, the voyage back across the Gulf Stream to Florida, and all of the wonderful cruising we wanted to along the west coast of Florida.  With that in mind, Mother Nature decided to throw us a curve ball.  Around the time we were planning to leave Spanish Wells one of those very common north fronts came through and it looked like it was going to blow for days.

This meant we had one of two options: 1) Run down to the Exumas and try to find a place to hide there for the four-or-so days we expected weather.  (And, many of you who have been to the Exumas likely know—hiding is not a great thing to try and do in the Exumas.  The islands are just so small and sparse, they don’t offer great protection.)  So, we could either race down to the Exumas, try to hide for a bit, hope for a few clear days, then race back to the Berries and onward to home or … Option Two.  Tuck into Harbour Island, which was just a short half-day jaunt over in Eleuthera.  Here is where we were in the Bahamas:

We could then drop the hook there for a few days to escape the coming winds, explore Eleuthera and the Berries slowly, then pick our way home.  As you can imagine, any option with the word “slow” in it is likely the one that’s going to appeal to us.  You just cannot do the Exumas in five days.  I think it’s blasphemy.  Birds would start flying backwards.  Ducks would bark.  Strange things would happen.  I’m sure.

With the Harbour Island decision made, Phillip and I then had to decide whether we were feeling brave enough to navigate the very rocky and coral-ridden inlet to Harbour Island—known locally as the “Devil’s Backbone”—on our own or hire a captain to take us safely through.  You can see here the many, many coral heads that litter the path from Spanish Wells into Harbour Island!  Makes me want to tuck my keel and run.  Yipes!

The cost to hire a captain was roughly $120 (and we added a $20 tip).  While we are in no way made of money, our keel and hull are not made of material that is good to slam into a coral head.  It just seemed worth it to us—our first time coming into Harbour Island—to hire a captain to ensure a safe entry, no damage to the boat, and avoid the immense stress it would put on us trying to do that ourselves.  Now that we’ve been in and out and laid a track, I feel confident Phillip and I could now do it on our own, but we didn’t feel the need was great enough to chance it the first time, in light of the fairly low cost to ensure safe entry with a captain.

There were several captains available to take you most days, either at 9:00 a.m. or around lunch.  The run through the Devil’s Backbone took about 3.5 to 4 hours, traveling as we do at roughly 4-5 knots under motor.  The captain that took us in was very knowledgeable and nice and told us to follow him “very closely.”  He did not tie up to our boat or board, but he puttered slowly in front of us, making sure we were on a safe path, communicating with us often via radio, and he got us in safely.

And, while it was a beautiful day, gorgeous waters, and a successful navigation, there was one thing about the trip that bothered me and Phillip.  When we were envisioning doing the Devil’s Backbone ourselves, both of us had a mental image of one of us standing at the bow, sun directly overhead, pointing out coral heads left and right, giving cues to the helmsman at the wheel.  To be frank, we kind of wanted to gain that experience while following a captain so we knew we would be safe.  Like a test run with training wheels on.  But, here’s the thing: we couldn’t really see the coral heads.  Neither Phillip nor myself could make them out.  Sometimes I would feel like I saw one up ahead and it turned out to be a big patch of black sand or grass.  Then sometimes I didn’t feel like I’d seen one at all, but there it was breaching the surface where I thought there was no coral.

I can’t explain why we couldn’t see the coral heads.  Perhaps it was too early in the day, although it was a very clear, bright day, and we navigated the corally (that’s a word today) section from about 10-12:00 p.m.  Perhaps we just don’t have good coral eyes (another linguistic gem for you.)  Whatever the cause, that part about the trip made us very glad we had hired a captain because he obviously could either see them where we couldn’t, or he just knew the route between them by heart.  (We later learned it is both but mostly the latter).  Either way, it was a beautiful day and a very enjoyable journey.

Once in Harbour Island, the captain rafted up with us briefly to get his fee then sent us on our way.  Phillip and I navigated the shoals (which would later become our kiting ground when the tide was out) to drop the hook behind Harbour Island on the south side.  We took the dinghy over to Man’s Island and snorkeled around, which was really fun.  I saw my first lionfish underwater.  Oh, and sea cucumbers, too!  Those lovable lazy slugs.  Phillip and I were also very surprised to find such a diverse, budding little town ashore with plenty of shops, eateries, nice restaurants, conch salad shacks, clothing boutiques, etc.  There was a laundry mat where we washed all of our clothes and linens for $4/load and wifi in certain places.  I certainly had one of the nicest, most beautiful “offices” I’ve had in a while.  No complaints from this little remote worker!

The north side of the island also promised pretty pink beaches!  While I imagined an entire beach shoreline the color of conch shell pink, that’s not really what we got.  But the sand did have a nice rosy hue to it and—pink or not—it was gorgeous!  One of my favorite parts was seeing the horses walking along the beach.  The locals apparently give horse rides on the beach often to attract tourists (and it works!) but it was still cool to see my favorite animal in now one of my favorite places: the Bahamas.

We also inadvertently ended up dropping our hook next to another cruising couple we had previously connected with on social media: Brett and Kristen aboard Life in the Key of Sea.  We met up with them one of our last days in Harbour Island, hiked the south side, and ate at the famous Sip Sip with a stunning view of the Atlantic shore.  Brett and Kristen were very like-minded and easy-going (as most cruisers are) and we connected instantly.  It was fun to hear the places they had been, their plans going forward, and a lot of the wacky, unfounded questions we all get from people who aren’t cruisers.  Like “How do you feed the dogs?” Kristen told me someone had asked her, as they have two very lovable rescues aboard.  It’s like the ability to buy dog food in advance and store it on the boat while cruising cannot be fathomed.

People are funny!  But we always get a kick out of some of the questions we get, too.  For instance: “What do you dooo all day on passage?” is another one of my favorites.  You don’t have time to think about it, you’re usually so busy fixing things, checking the weather, holding your shift, cleaning, napping, fixing more things, researching, cooking, more cleaning, fixing something else, then it’s all of sudden the next day and you don’t know how it happened.  We definitely had a good time laughing with Brett and Kristen about these shared bewilderments from our followers!

Phillip and I also did some of our best kiting from our entire Bahamas trip in Harbour Island.  Mainly because the folks we kited with made it so memorable.  It’s always the people, am I right?!  Phillip, from our table at a little vegan restaurant, saw someone pumping up a kite on a tiny spit of sand in the harbour.  He couldn’t help it.  That man smells wind, I tell you.  Instantly, he was up, “Check please,” and we were on our way out there.  We met the folks and got to talking to them.  Obviously—when you’re all on a tiny island with no airport—the question of “How did you get here?” often comes up.  The gal with them said offhand “Oh, we’re staying here on a boat.”

“Oh, cool.  Us, too.  Ours is that sailboat over in the distance,” as I pointed.

“Oh nice,” she said (I now know) graciously.

“Where’s your boat?” I asked looking around for perhaps another monohull or cruising catamaran.

The gal got a little quiet and responded, “We’re on the biggest one here.  It’s the Trending Yacht over there.”  And by “over there,” she meant a vessel big enough to block out the sun.  The thing is 165-feet of mega-money.  It is a badass boat.  Fun video for you here:

I mean.  Whoa.  We later learned her dad, who owns the boat, is not just a millionaire.  But a billionaire.  With a B.  Say it again.  Whoa.  Check out more photos, video, and info about the boat and crew and the charters they do at Trending Yacht.

But, the crew (the two guys in the video above and photos below) and the daughter, “Biz” (short for Elizabeth), were super cool and a ton of fun to hang out with.  The crew also told us the owner of Trending is—much unlike most other mega-yacht owners who are total douchebags—very low-key.  He just wants everyone to have a good time, and wants to keep the boat in good working order so folks can appreciate it.  It felt pretty freaking cool to meet my first billionaire!  We had a great time kiting with them several days in the harbour.  The two guys helping Biz learn to kite and crewing on the boat were total adrenaline junkies, trying to loop their kite (which usually ended in monster crashes into the water), hoisting each other up into the air, launching wicked jumps on the kite, etc.  The “Trending Show” was a heck of a lot of fun to watch.

In all, Harbour Island was an unexpected treat.  Phillip and I had never really envisioned ourselves heading this deep into Eleuthera during this trip to the Bahamas.  (We had envisioned ourselves in the Exumas instead.)  But it was just further proof that when we go where the wind takes us (and not try to fight the universe’s obvious coaxing) we usually are rewarded to an unexpected but surprisingly unique and memorable new place.  Harbour Island definitely fit that bill.

Hope you all enjoy the video, write-up, and photos below.  We only have one more destination in the Bahamas to share before we scoot back across the Gulf Stream and start trickling up the west coast of Florida back to Pensacola, in blog time that is.  As I mentioned in the video, in real time, we just splashed back after 4.5 weeks in the Pensacola Shipyard with Perdido Sailor, having accomplished some very awesome and necessary projects on our boat, and we’re now working to prepare our workloads and stock the boat for this season’s cruising.  I will announce our plans soon.  We’ve got something very, very cool in store for you followers.  Stay tuned!

For now, let that Harbour Island footage roll!  Enjoy!

Following the captain through the Devil’s Backbone:

Off on a dinghy adventure to snorkel around Man’s Island:

  

Our favorite time on the boat: Captain’s Hour

Exploring the awesome little town on Harbour Island:

 

The pink beach on the north shore!

Time to get our kite on!

 

The fun billionaire-ess and her cRaZy crew!

Enjoying the little eateries and shops in town:

Hiking and dining with Brett and Kristen from Life in the Key of Sea!

I was completely sober when I took that picture … promise ; )

BV18: Flying the Chute South to Little Harbour

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!

BV17: Marsh Harbour to Hopetown!

Enough with this maintenance in Marsh Harbour! It’s time to get sailing and set our hopes on Hopetown. This was one of our favorite stops in the Abacos. Many cruisers live here full-time on a ball in the harbor which gives the place a very welcoming, community feel. There are lots of quirky little shops, beautiful flower-lined roads and bike paths, great restaurants and the stunning Hopetown Lighthouse, one of the oldest manual Kerosene-lit lighthouses in the world. Phillip and I were incredibly fortunate to score a ball in the harbor our VERY FIRST night there (some people have waited years for one) and enjoyed a stunning three-day stay at Hopetown. Enjoy the snorkeling in Marsh Harbour, our sporty sail over to Hopetown, and a bike tour around picturesque Hopetown in the video and photos below.  Stay tuned next time for a trip to Little Harbor, a little-known hurricane hole at the south end of the Abacos where we were welcomed by friends who had just built an amazing little bungalow there. Plenty more to come!

On our way back to Marsh Harbour.  We were thrilled to find that a Delta flight opened up recently from Atlantic directly to Marsh Harbour, so that makes leaving the boat in the Bahamas while we fly back and forth to handle issues at home much easier!

I love the view from a plane window.  So much to see!

 

While we were thrilled to return, after leaving out boat in Marsh Harbour for six weeks while we flew back to Pensacola to handle some work things (and another huge thanks (and yet she still deserves dozens more!) to fellow Marsh Harbour live-aboard, Diane, who sent us amazing photos of our boat every couple of days while we were gone), we had plenty of work to do to open up and clean the boat and re-provision and prepare her for another two months of cruising in the Bahamas.  We spent the first day cleaning her, filling the batteries and propane, grocery shopping, turning the engine over, etc.  And, we were pleased to find our baby was just as excited as we were to have us back and she was full of juice and cranked right up on the first try!  Way to go Plaintiff’s Rest!

We were pleased to find, having left our Kanberra gel bins full while we were gone, that the boat smelled super fresh when we opened her up for the first time in six weeks and there was hardly any mold on the ceiling.  (In Pensacola, pre-Kanberra, we used to have tons of mold that we had to constantly wipe away with Clorox wipes during the summer).  This Kanberra stuff is the real deal people!

Filling the batteries.  Ours are Trojan wet cells that we have to fill with distilled water about every 30 days – 6 weeks.  I always laugh because Phillip looks like a coal miner when he does it!

We were thrilled the find our fancy wine bags were still in tact!

It had rained a good bit in Marsh Harbor while we were gone, which was actually a good thing because it kept the bilge flushed out and fresh.  We emptied her one time down to bone-dry to watch anew for any possible new leaks.

Then after all that work, it was time to go snorkeling in Marsh Harbour!  I got some great footage of the fishies and plant life in the video.  Hope you all enjoyed it!

Post-snorkel meal at the Jib Sheet.  Oh yeeaaaahhhh!

We packed away our Bahamas courtesy flag while we were gone.  She was only a little tattered from her first six weeks in the Abacos!

Back to our happy place!  Sundowners and read-time in the cockpit of Plaintiff’s Rest!

I made a new friend at the marina, too.  This amazing Labradoodle was so cute.  She would sit in this chair, looking very much like a human being, and watch as people walked by.  She was darling!

Sunrise over Harbourview Marina!

Time to de-dock (that’s a word in Annie land) and get this boat moving over to Hopetown!

It was a great day sailing, with winds of 18-20 kts.  On the nose, but we’ve got much better at reefing down our offshore 90% working jib (“Wendy”) so now anything up to 20 kts is still comfortable for us on the boat.  That did not used to be the case with our 135 genoa!

Following our waypoints on the Explorer charts to a “T.”  I love those charts!   They make cruising the Bahamas, even with a six-foot draft effortless.  Just follow their lat and lons and play the tides and you are golden!

We couldn’t reach anyone via the radio to see if there was an open ball in the Harbor at Hopetown (we were pretty sure they’re wouldn’t be as folks had told us cruisers covet those balls and hold them often for years), so we dropped the hook on the outside and dinghied into the Harbor to get a lay of the land.  It was kind of nice, too, to traverse that narrow inlet for the first time in our tiny little rubber boat, not the big beauty!

And, we totally scored!!  After talking to a few boats, asking around about a potential open ball (and having a few of them lightheartedly chuckle at us), we were finally sent to a guy named Dave on a catamaran who unofficially monitors the balls, and he got us in touch with this amazing guy, Truman, who runs the balls at the Harbor, and as luck would have it a couple was leaving that afternoon, so we were going to spend our evening ON THE BALL!  Phillip and I knew exactly how lucky we were and we were super excited!  But, the ball would not open up for a another few hours, so we headed to shore to grab a bite and explore!

And Hopetown, of course, did not disappoint.  Stunning Atlantic shores, crystal blue waters, stretches of white stunning beach.  It was everything we hoped it would be (no pun intended … okay maybe just a little one ; ).

We ate here at Brandon’s Bar on the beach, an awesome little salty lunch spot overlooking the Atlantic Ocean!

Pensacola representing!

These pictures don’t really do it justice.  But the sunsets and sunrises in the Harbor at Hopetown were breathtaking.  It was all you could do to just sit and watch and look around.  Something about all the boats floating around you and the colors on the water were just mesmerizing.

Time to go see what this lighthouse is all about!

Beautiful little flower-lined streets guided us along the way.  One of my favorite things about the Abacos are all the rich, luscious colors that greet you just walking the streets.  All of the pathways and roads are also very narrow, which means no freaking stink-pot, tank-sized SUVs.  Thank goodness!  Just little golf carts and foot traffic.  I have to say there is no part of me that misses the consumerism and traffic of the states.  None.

Helllooooo.

You cannot NOT go to the Bahamas and NOT get conch fritters (three times at least to compare at different places! ; )

There’s the lighthouse!  One of the last remaining manual, kerosene-lit lighthouses in the world.  This beauty was completed in 1864 and used to guide ships around the treacherous Elbow Reef.

We signed the book!  S/v Plaintiff’s Rest was here!  101 lighthouse steps we never fear!

Isn’t the view from the top amazing?  The striking colors of the water is always what catches my eyes and breath when we view the Bahamas from up high.

Got myself a little Hopetown Lighthouse trinket (and proceeds for buying this beauty go toward lighthouse preservation and restoration).  Cute huh?

Then it was time to explore more of that awesome little island.  We rented bikes (24 hours for $24, very reasonable) and spent the next day and a half biking around Hopetown.

It was even cooler to see the lighthouse from our ball in the Harbor after we had walked all the way to the top and saw the view from up there.

We left this little thank-you note and our “ball fees” ($20/night) on Dave’s catamaran, along with a bottle of white and one of my books as big thanks for his help in enabling us to score a ball our very first time there.  We certainly enjoyed our time and can easily say Hopetown is one of our favorite stops in the Abacos.  But, gees, it’s hard to even pick favorites.  There are so many.  Hope you all enjoyed the video and photos.  Next time, we will take you to Little Harbour at the south end of the Abacos and Pete’s Pub!  Stay tuned!

 

 

BV14: 3 Kinds of Wind – Sailing, Kiting & Silking – at Treasure Cay

What’s that old saying?  There are only three types of wind: too much, too little, or in the wrong direction.  While that is fairly true, thankfully, for us, no matter what speed or direction, we can usually bust out one of our many “wind toys” and do something with it, either go sailing, kiting, or silking! We had wind for all three during our stay at Treasure Cay, a beautiful resort-type island in the Abacos with our favorite stretch (three miles!) of stunning white beach on the north shore. Fun video, story, and photos for you all below from our colorful stay at Treasure Cay!

It really is a treasure!  Treasure Cay was one of our favorite stops in the Bahamas.  It had a very secure, protected marina (they pull a chain across the entrance and lock the harbor at night to make it extra safe) and the staff at the marina were all very attentive and helpful.  Plus, that beach on the north shore is just jaw-dropping.  We saw many locals who walk it every day, one end to the other, which would be six miles total, and which also comprised their complete workout for the day.  Can you imaging your daily exercise routine being so relaxing and beautiful?  Life on the islands is really a breath of fresh air compared to life here in the states.

We also had a fantastic time kiting on the north shore.  Because it curves around on either side, it offered us kiteable (that’s a word in Annie Land) wind from so many directions.  Anything from the north, east, or south was do-able there, which is why we got so much kiting time in.  I literally thought I was too exhausted to give it another go by day three.  I was suffering from “T-rex” syndrome, where your forearms are so tired from steering the kite that you they’re practically useless … much like that of a T-Rex.  And, memes like these always bring me a big T-rex smile.  : )

   

And my personal favorite.  This one always makes me feel better!  You’re welcome!

But, aside from the magnificently-exhausting kiting we did at Treasure Cay, we also had one common theme that seemed to run through every memory.  It’s this little pint-sized ball of cruising energy who originally inspired Phillip and I to travel to the Bahamas in the first place when we heard her talk about her beloved Abacos at the Miami Boat Show as far back as 2015.  Do you know who I’m talking about?

That’s right.  This wonderfully-inspiring woman: Pam Wall.  She had a huge impact on us from the start because I could literally see and hear her passion for cruising each time she spoke about places she has been and her gallant boat, Kandarik.  It amazed me when I learned Pam’s full story some of the horrendous heartbreaking things she has had to endure yet, despite it, she still brings others joy and inspiration and shares her passion for cruising.  And, apparently, I’m not the only who feels this way because we met, independently, three separate cruisers at Treasure Cay who had a connection with, and fond memory of, Pam Wall.  Turns out, she, is the real treasure.

Meet John and Gayle!

This trashy couple.  Ha!  This was a fun moment where we all shared a laugh at what “dirtbags” cruisers are.  The minute we dock at a new place, the first thing we bring with us off the boat is our trash.  We’re real stand-up folks like that.  The minute I sprang on John and Gayle, I caught them in this treacherous act and decided to help!  So, how did we meet John and Gayle and make the Pam Wall connection?  Ironically, not in the way Pam Wall thought we would.  Both while Phillip and I were in the Bahamas-planning stages and when we were actually out cruising in the Bahamas, Pam and I exchanged many emails where we would share with her how much we were enjoying her “Beloved Bahamas!” just as she said we would and she would always, always (if any of you know Pam, you will agree with this) share her many connections and tips on places to go, things to do, good stuff to eat, and people to hug for her.  When I told her we were thinking about going to Man-o-War cay, this was the short list of suggestions she sent me:

I know.  A lot of people to find and hug, right?  That Pammy.  She is so cute.  The funny thing was, we did not end up stopping at Man-o-War Cay but as we were walking the docks (who doesn’t love to do that?) in Treasure Cay, Phillip actually spotted, on his own, a beautiful boat he wanted to point out to me.

“Man, look at that Hinckley!” he said and pointed.  I turned my attention to where he was pointing and it was, sure enough, a magnificent, beautiful boat, but something else stuck out for me.  The name, Ciro.  That’s a pretty unique boat name and I felt like I had heard it before.  My mind started rattling and I thought maybe it had been one Pam mentioned in one of her many Bahamas emails.  I searched around in my Gmail and, sure enough, found that one.  Notice her mention of a Hinckley named Ciro and a lovely couple on it named John and Gayle.  While she had recommended I do that “Gee it’s great to see you again” bit to a different couple, I decided to do it to John.  Phillip and I meandered around and waited for them to step off the boat (carrying their trash of course, cruisers after my own heart!) and I walked up to John, whom I’ve never met before, and said “Hey John!  It’s so good to see you again!  We had such a great time the last time we were together.”  Both John and Gayle gave me a priceless stumped look, and Gayle actually started to give John an even funkier look, and that’s when I cracked and told them my good friend Pam Wall told me to hunt them out and do that.

We instantly connected.  They are lifelong sailors, part-time live-aboards, and John has extensive knowledge in Hinckley boat building and repair.  They were delivering this particularly Hinckley, Ciro, to the Bahamas for the owner and had actually stayed at Pam’s dock in Ft. Lauderdale before making the jump to the Bahamas.  We all had so many wonderful Pam stories to share.  And, we ended up doing “pizza night” with John and Gayle at the Treasure Cay Marina the following night (absolutely delicious) and had them and another fellow cruiser over the next night for happy hour goodies.

Tim is single-handing the Bahamas on his Endeavor.  He had actually saw Phillip and I as we were walking toward Ciro and shouted out: “Hey, I know you guys from YouTube!”  Ha!  Small world.  He’s been a long-time HaveWind follower, so it was fun for him to get to meet us and join the party.  It’s always a party on Plaintiff’s Rest!

So, is this where the Pam Wall connections end?  Heck no!  Meet Steve and Anike!

They had just walked up the beach while we were kiting (it often draws a few curious folks) to ask us about our kite gear and how it all worked and this, of course, lead to a conversation about “What brings you to the Bahamas?”  We found Steve and Anike were actually long-time cruisers.  They used to cruise with their children aboard in the Caribbean on a Tayana 37 and are now on a beautiful Shannon.  When they asked us the same question, “What brings you to the Bahamas?” my answer often starts with Pam Wall, because she is the person who first lit our fire about cruising to the Bahamas and Steve immediately said, “Oh, Pam, isn’t she great?  She helped us get our Tayana ready for the Caribbean.  She may not remember us.  It was back when she was working at West Marine, but please tell her how helpful she was.”

Won’t remember you … Pam doesn’t forget a thing.  Seriously, I can’t remember half the places we’ve been and I’ve only been cruising part-time for five years.  Pam can still tell you every single stop she and Andy made on their many Atlantic circles back in the 80s-90s.  And, she remembered Steve and Anike.  It was starting to get comical sending her texts from Treasure Cay saying “Found another cruising couple who knows you!” But it did not stop there.  The last one was really a surprise.

I was in the shower room at the marina getting spruced up for a hot date on the town with my Phillip (we ate at the Treasure Sands Club that night …. just fabulous, I gained five treasure pounds that night alone that I am still proud of! ; ).  As I was wrapping up in the restroom, Anike came in.  We started chatting again about her past travels and other women who have cruised too.  And I was telling her a little bit more of Pam’s story when another woman came around the corner to wash her hands and asked: “Are you talking about Pam Wall?”

“Yes!” I squeaked, surprised she knew who I was talking about with such little information, and the woman responded: “Oh yeah, we heard about her through the SailLoot podcast.” (Little shout-out to my buddy, TeddyJ, at SailLoot!)  “And I heard your interview on SailLoot, too!”

Turns out it was Kristen from Life in the Key of Sea, another cruising couple I had been following on Facebook for some time.  Mutual followers I guess you could call us.  I did not know it was Kristen at the time because it was a very brief pass-by in the bathroom and we did not bump into one another again in Treasure Cay, but we did in Eleuthera!  And, we got to spend a day dining and hiking with her and Brett.  We then found out Brett was one of the sailors who helped TeddyJ deliver his boat (which was Windtraveler’s previous boat, s/v Asante), from St. Thomas to Florida this past summer.  Fun podcast Teddy put together talking about that passage here.  It is such a small cruising world out there I swear!  Here are some fun photos of Kristen and Brett on s/v Life in the Key of Sea!

I actually took this one of the two of them when we were hiking at Harbour Island:

And Kristen took this one of me and Phillip:

I forgot to get a group shot (we were having too much fun) but this is Phillip, Kristen and Brett looking out at our anchorage where they had dropped the hook right next to us at Harbour Island!

So, you ready to go cruising yet?  Want to meet all kinds of new friends, old friends, re-found friends in all sorts of beautiful little islands scattered out in the sea?  If you’re struggling with how to start, Pam Wall Cruising Consultant, might be a good one!  Love you Pammy!  You’ve influenced and inspired so many!

Some very fun photos for you all from our beautiful stay at Treasure Cay.  Hope you all have been enjoying our Bahamas posts!  Do you feel like you’re there with us?  We do!

        

BV13: Great Kiting at Great Guana Cay

Winds of 25 plus!  Crazy moments with party-people all 25 and under!  Eddie the nipping Nippers cat.  Bucketlusters, kite-surfers, Vladimir Platypus (my winter, wet-suit alter-kite ego) and “Bahamas Boys” looking for some cheebah?  Or bitcoin crypto … I believe they’re the same.  If anyone knows what those are, feel free to chime in below.  We’ve got it all for you guys in this very fun video from the stunning island of Great Guana Cay, along with my favorite photos below.  It was so hard to choose any, though, they were all so beautiful. Guana Cay offered us great kiting on the Atlantic shore, never-ending entertainment at Nippers, a chance to star-gaze at the many stars who allegedly own houses on Baker’s Bay (think Cher, Beyonce, Sting, etc.), a beautiful sunset anchorage, and fantastic fine-dining dinners at Sunsetters at Orchid Bay Marina.  We loved it!  Hope you all enjoy the video!

Photos from our sail through Whale Cay passage.  It was, according to one of the fellow captains we talked to who did it that day as well, “not peachy, but passable.”  It was a bit lumpy out there (4-6 rollers) but with winds of only 10-12 out of the NW.  Doable, not daunting, and, to be honest, a very fun day sailing on the Atlantic!  That is the furthest east Plaintiff’s Rest has ever been!  It was a big day for her, and she nailed it!

Making our way toward the cut.  We followed very strictly along the lat-and-lon points in the Explorer Charts.  Boy, are those things life-savers.

Ironically, the cRaZy Bucketlusters who bombarded us at Green Turtle Cay decided to make the Whale Cay passage that day as well (after they terrorized the piggies at No Name Cay, that is).  We could see all of the catamarans anchored at No Name at the same time and I can only imagine what the Bucketlusters were doing to those pigs … riding them, spanking them, trying to kiss them.  Who knows.  Poor pigs!  But it was awesome for us to be able to make the passage surrounded by thirty catamarans.  It’s like we had our own rather-large tenders out carrying us through.  I just stayed in the middle of them, on course, hoping if anyone hit the reefs, it would be the party-people on the outside – ha!  And boy did they party through the entire passage.  Up on the decks dancing, singing, drinking.  Those guys are non-stop.

I was really excited about Guana Cay.  Clearly …

I will say, whoever does the marketing for Nippers is genius.  There was a sign about every five feet telling you how to get to Nippers, guys running around in golf carts all over the island willing to take you, at any time, to Nippers, and most of the people that live and work on the island are wearing shirts just about every day that say … Nippers.  And boy was it a fun beach bar place.  Great food.  Fantastic setting overlooking the Atlantic with a staircase straight down to the beach and great goombay smashes.  Yes, please!

 

The view from our cockpit.  It was a beautiful anchorage.

This was wild.  So, Phillip and I were getting into the dinghy with all of our kite gear about to head to shore to make the trek over to kite behind Nippers on morning, and Phillip saw something just randomly floating by in the water.  He cocked his head to the side and eyed it suspiciously, then found out it was the black “anchor gate” that goes on our Mantus.  (Mantus came out with this supplemental gate that snaps over the chain to make sure, even with Mantus’ pretty savvy chain-lock system, the chain does not come out of the hook.)  And here ours was, just floating by in the water at the VERY time we were getting into the dinghy.  Phillip went down to check the Mantus and found, sure enough, it had somehow wiggled and vibrated enough (it was very windy those days we spent at Guana Cay) to loosen the pin in the shackle that holds the Mantus hook onto the snubber.  Thankfully the water was so clear, Phillip could literally see from the top our Mantus hook sitting on the bottom.  And, when he dove down he was also able to find our pin and shackle.  Whew!  And, all because of timing when the gate was floating by.  Our boat always tries her best to let us know something is wrong at the exact right time where we can fix it.  Way to go boat.  A note to fellow Mantus-users, we decided to throw a zip-tie (seizing wire would also work) in the shackle pin to prevent this from happening again.  All lessons are free today!

Anchor fixed.  Disaster averted.  Time to get back on the kiting!

That Eddie.  The “wild” cat that lives at Nippers.  Careful not to pet or pick him up.  He’ll nip ya!

ROWR!

This is the view at Sunsetters on the other side at Orchid Bay Marina.  Just stunning!