Saturday, March 25, 2023

Antigua & The Virgin Islands

 We are finally catching up (in the blog) to where we currently are right now… The Virgin Islands.  We didn’t know this, but there are British, US AND Spanish Virgin Islands (the latter are part of Puerto Rico).

After we left Guadeloupe, we headed due north to Antigua, which had a very British vibe to it.  We had to say goodbye to some close friends that we have loved traveling with over the past few months.  James, Kathy, Max & Bea aboard “Luna” have ended their boating adventure in Antigua and plan to travel around Central and North America before heading home to the UK in the summer. Simon, Penny, Oscar & Skye aboard “Starry Knight” were slowing their progress north because they aren’t heading to the USA as we are.  They will go back south for Hurricane Season.

We had so much fun with all of them. Here Officer Micah has Pirate Max prisoner at Nelson’s Dockyard, on Antigua.

Nelson’s Dockyard was a very interesting British Naval Outpost which was established in the 1700’s to protect England’s Caribbean interests.  The site is extremely well fortified and preserved with a great museum. 

The dockyard is still active today and has a marina, sail loft and lots of interesting things going on. Aria & Micah got along really well with Max & Bea which made traveling together so fun!

At the marina in Jolly Harbour, Antigua, Micah got to go up the mast to help with some lines that are led up there. 

Unfortunately, the time had come when we had to say goodbye to all of our amazing friends from “Luna” & “Starry Knight”. Until next time!

Next, we did a 48 hour sail to the British Virgin Islands. We checked in at Soper’s Hole and headed to the north side of Tortola where we found some surf!  This is Cane Garden Bay, but we couldn’t stay there because the anchorage didn’t feel very secure.  We headed further around the coast and found an amazing, quiet bay with perfect 2 foot waves. Stu caught a few nice waves on the inflatable SUP!

The bay with nice, small surf was called Long Bay, and the beach had a sign pointing to Tofino. 

We stopped in Road Harbour for the day and found a wonderful bookstore (and got really, really close to a moving cruise ship!).

Next, we sailed over to Norman Island (everything is super close in the BVIs), and went to a floating restaurant/pirate ship called Willy T’s.  Aria & Stu jumped off the back of the restaurant many, many times. 

Around the corner from this anchorage were some breathtaking caves that we snorkelled into

The life around the reefs down in the Caribbean continually blows us away. Here is a video of some really cool needle fish. 

We are starting to feel a bit of pressure to push northwest towards the Bahamas, so we moved onto the US Virgin Islands after only 5 days in the BVIs.  The USVIs have a very different feel, but we enjoyed them a lot. We anchored in the main harbour of Charlotte Amalie, the city on St. Thomas. There is quite a bit of pirate history here and we dove right into it.  There was a great pirate museum in town. 

We checked out Blackbeards Castle which was originally built by the Danish in the 1600s, but later used by the famous pirate as a lookout. 

It rained really hard one day and gave the boat a good rinse. The rainbow at then end of the storm was spectacular!

Before we arrived in Charlotte Amalie, we had been in contact with another kid boat on a WhatsApp Group especially for connecting kids.  They also had 2 girls, 13 and 8 years old. Our kids became fast friends and hung out together a lot while we were there. This life on boats is so interesting that way… total strangers can quickly become friends with so little effort because you already share similar interests. 

Today we sailed over to Culebra, one of the Spanish Virgin Islands.  We will stick around here for a few days before heading to San Juan, Puerto Rico.  There was a low bridge in the dinghy channel and Aria decided to grab the rope swing hanging off of it. 

We are really looking forward to getting back out to sea and doing more overnight passages to the Dominican Republic and the Bahamas.  We will then make our way slowly north through the Bahamas and really savour those amazing Islands and Cays. 

Sunday, March 19, 2023

Martinique, Dominica & Guadeloupe!

Our Adventures have continued in the beautiful Caribbean. We have moved north through the islands of Martinique, Dominica & Guadeloupe. Martinique and Guadeloupe are part of France, but Dominica (right in the middle) is independent. The history is fascinating because the indigenous Carib people (originally from the Amazon area) successfully fought off the various Europeans who were continually squabbling over the islands in this area. 

Let’s start in Martinique and try to have as much fun as humanly possible!  

We had a date with a potential buyer for Oyai and a survey & haul out scheduled. We cleaned and tidied, but had lots of fun along the way. Micah’s dream came true and there was some great horseback riding. 

We worked hard during our time in Martinique and did a few boat jobs, including painting the bottom. 

We were lucky to be in Martinique (Fort-de-France, to be exact) during “Festival”. It’s a week-long celebration that goes 24/7 and includes theme days. This day was the colourful day…

We caught an incredible parade that was so rich in culture and history.  Many of the performers were telling a story through their dances and actions. 

While anchored in St. Anne off Martinique, the kids were learning how to wingfoil with borrowed gear from our sailing friends. Aria was doing really well and had tons of fun!

We sailed to the northwest tip of Martinique to a town called St. Pierre that was wiped out by a volcano in the early 1900’s. Over 30,000 lives were lost and the reminders of the tragedy are still visible throughout town.  There was a great little zoo in this small town and we spent the morning there. 

At the zoo, we found a proper Tarzan vine to swing from and everyone had a go. In this video, a great friend and boat dad, James, got some amazing hang time.

Next up on our adventure was a short 5 hour sail to beautiful Dominica. The vibe there was much more wild and Caribbean with unlimited natural beauty. The people were incredibly welcoming and friendly as well. This has been one of our favourite places on this entire trip!  On day one in Dominica, we did a 7 hour hike to a huge boiling lake in the caldera of a volcano. Words can’t describe how spectacular it was. 

The cloud forest hike was unlike anything we had seen in the Caribbean so far.  We were so thrilled to be hiking with our new close friends from “Luna” and “Starry Knight”.  Here, Lana and Kathy are all smiles during the descent down to the caldera. 

Of course, there were also some natural hot springs to soak in during the hike as well. Paradise!

We have been so fortunate to be traveling on & off with superb friends who we crossed in the ARC with. We have regular gatherings and bond over “sundowners”.

We moved up to the northwest corner of Dominica and experienced a National Park called the Indian River.  We got to see so many cool animals, plants and beautiful scenery. 

This was the site of one of the “Pirates of the Caribbean” movie scenes and the shack they built is still there. 

On our last night in Dominica, the kids had an “Emergency Survival Drill” and used an expired liferaft from “Alchemy”. They spent hours getting to shore, making shelter, building a fire and cooking for themselves. They LOVED it!

In amongst all of the sailing and adventures, the girls have been thriving with their “boat school”. They usually do 2-3 hours, 5 days per week of focused learning. Math, language arts, science and history are part of their learning which is facilitated by Lana and their distance education teacher Lisa. It’s been a very positive experience and has taught them a lot, including self-motivation.  Here Micah demonstrates a science experiment they did to discover which common liquids are acids (or bases).

So much of our daily lives revolves around learning in this unique environment as well. We are so proud of our kids for embracing this life and learning as much as possible during our year away. 

We kept moving north and had a few days in Guadeloupe, another French island. It had a nice feel as well, but very different than Dominica. We were anchored in a bay and had close encounters with some wild dolphins!  The kids eventually were able to put on masks and go swimming with the dolphins - a truly magical experience. 

Oyai had to stick around Guadeloupe for a couple of extra days while we waited for a part to be delivered from Martinique. There is no customs between these islands and flights are frequent, so the delay was minimal.  We made the most of it with our friends (one of whom has the exact same boat as us!). 

Simon, Penny, Skye & Oscar hosted all of us aboard their beautiful catamaran “Starry Knight” for a day sail in Guadeloupe. It was super cool. 

From Guadeloupe, we will head to Antigua and the British Virgin Islands. This will mean we are starting to head west towards the Bahamas (and eventually the east coast of the USA). Follow along over the next few weeks!


Goodbye Oyai & Hello New York City!

After leaving Annapolis, we explored the eastern shore of Chesapeake Bay for a couple of weeks.  We sailed to a quaint little town called St...