I write this to you as I sit in the cockpit of Smitty, enjoying my morning coffee and wearing shorts and a t-shirt (aka my pajamas). Smitty is anchored at our new Home Port in Elephant Bay just off of Water Island and St.Thomas in the US Virgin Islands. It’s warm and breezy and, for my second winter in a row, I am thoroughly enjoying not suffering through the cold and snow.
Completed our traverse of the entire Inter Coastal Waterway (ICW). We entered at the Dismal Swamp in Virginia and ended when we crossed to No Name Harbor in Key Biscayne, Florida.
Our first boat break-up: Yes, Skelton Crew of sv Hullabaloo, I’m talking about you! We miss you guys! For those that do not recall, they called it quits and took their boat back home. 😦
Lived on the boat on the hard (aka on dry land) in Indiantown, FL for a week. But at least we finally got to meet up with some sailors whose blogs we have followed for several years that inspired us to get out here now. Thanks MJ Sailing and the Cynical Sailor and His Salty Sidekick!
Our first overnight passage in open water: Florida to Bahamas Crossing.
Raised the yellow quarantine flag and sailed into our first foreign port: Bimini, Bahamas.
Our first overnight anchoring on a large body of water with no land in site on the Bahamas Bank.
February – April: Bahamas
The best sailing day ever happened as we traveled off the coast of Eleuthera; lovingly referred to as “The Day”, which included dolphins (of course). This write-up is published in the most recent issue of Cruising Outpost (our first paid article!).
We traveled extensively through the Bahamas for a several months: Swam with the pigs at Staniel Cay, left our mark on BooBoo Hill in the Exumas Land & Sea Park, harvested our first conch at Lee Stocking Island, had our first overnight visitor on sv Smitty in Georgetown, checked out the Bahamas Family Regatta, swam with turtles at Conception, swam with a wild dolphin at Red Shanks, swam Dean’s Blue Hole in Long Island, had our first beach fire on Cat Island, snorkeled, hiked, fished, and best of all, met so many great people.
May – first part of June: Turks & Caicos and Dominican Republic
We visited Turks & Caicos – where we met sv Sea Frog and sv Party of Five (thanks Barbara Hart!) and met back up with sv Last Tango and sv Odoya. All of which (except sv Odoya) we traveled with for the next few months.
We learned to play Mexican Train. I still really suck at it, but thank you to Quincy on sv Party of Five for teaching me how to play.
Responded to our first “May Day” call from another vessel: The Three Passages: Part 1 – Turks & Caicos to the Dominican Republic
After a rough passage with thunderstorms and confused seas, we arrived in Luperon, Dominican Republic on May 30. We visited Puerto Plata, where we jumped and slid off the 27 Waterfalls, and sailed to Samana, a luxurious resort where we only paid $1/ft per night.
Second part of June – July: Puerto Rico and the Spanish Virgin Islands
We made it through the Mona Passage and arrived safely in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico. The Three Passages: Part 3 – The Mona Passage
We sailed and toured southern Puerto Rico and took a car trip to San Juan.
We got to see first hand what happens to a boat that got struck by lightening. Puerto Rico
We visited the Spanish Virgin Islands: Culebra & Culebrita
August – December: British & US Virgin Islands
We have been sailing around and checking out various islands (and bars!) in the Virgin Islands since August. We were so happy to have been able to share this experience with our “L Dock” buddies (Captain Ken and sv Sunshine are officially L Dock buddies now!) that came down and chartered two boats in December.
We attended our first Full-Moon Party at Trellis Bay, BVI
We set up our new home base (recovered a mooring system that was abandoned), thanks to Jamie & Keith on sv Kookaburra. We can’t thank these two enough for all the help and guidance they have given us (and they are super fun to hang out with!). 🙂
We have officially registered Smitty Ditty (the dinghy) and Smitty in the US Virgin Islands. We officially removed Smitty from the Hingham, MA tax assessors list…I think we are now considered sea gypsies.
We have decided that St.John in the USVI is still our favorite island and we are trying to figure out a way to live and work there.
This is the first year since we have been old enough to work that we did not earn enough income to meet the requirement to file tax returns.
Jobs in paradise: trying to offset our spending and build our savings back up:
Stacey has been crew on a sailing catamaran (up to 80 guests at a time) and a power catamaran (up to 130 guests at a time). Currently, Stacey is Captain of the motor vessel that takes guests from the shore to the Sea Plane in the harbor. Bonus: Stacey got to go on a Sea Plan ride – landing on the water…this has been on her life “bucket list” since the first time that she was in St.Thomas over 20 years ago. Flying Fish Seaplane Tours
Jesse is Captain of the sailing trimaran Tribal. He takes up to 10 guests at a time sailing, snorkeling, and fishing. This boat is what racing sailors would call a “rocket ship” – it’s super fast! Jesse has gotten it up to 28 knots under sail. Tribal Day Sails
We celebrated our first Christmas in the Caribbean; complete with a boat parade and steel drum bands.
In summary, we have been to so many beautiful places and have met so many wonderful people that are now friends for life. We have had to endure storms, inconsiderate cruisers, and other challenges. We have had good days and bad days. But, in the end, it’s been an amazing journey that we absolutely do not regret. We plan to spend 2017 in the Virgin Islands, as we work to build the cruising kitty back up, however, we will sneak in some fun trips as well (like St.Marteen in January – get ready Frank we are coming for you!)
Big Hugs to our family & friends – we miss you all so much!
Happy & Health New Year to All!