Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Buyer Beware

We came back from our 10 day jaunt around the Virgin Islands convinced that we might, indeed, have cruising in our future. But, of course, we were not ready to start looking for boats or anything. So, we waited 3 or 4 days before actually contacting our broker in Annapolis and setting up appointments to look at 3 boats.

The real surprise was a Valiant 42 named 'Saving Grace'. Absolutely gorgeous lines, looks brand new outside. One look at her and we started to fall in love.

However, a little research on the internet back in the hotel turned up an interesting fact that the listing agent decided to withhold from the listing and our broker. 'Saving Grace' (formerly 'Grace') had ended up on the seawall in Galveston during Hurricane Ike, was purchased by someone, sent back to the Valiant factory for restoration and re-floated. Seems like that could be important information to share.

Buyer - Beware. Gotta love the internet.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Hey! We made it!

The last day and the trip home were hectic. Unpacking took nearly as long as packing. And then we had all of these stories to tell to family and friends. So, we will wrap up some posts and get some more pictures up just in the interest of closure on the trip before moving on.

We learned so much in such a short time. This was, without a doubt, the best vacation ever. Not only were we relaxed (first 2 week vacation in about 15 years) but we also felt like we had accomplished something. We both teared up a little as we headed back to Red Hook to return the boat. We established some definite sailing likes and dislikes.

I have always felt very lucky to have gotten together with Junie in this world. But, from a boating and sailing perspective, you guys can all be extremely jealous because I have the perfect wife. When we got our first (power) boat, she said 'I would really prefer the Grady-White.' No problem! Later when we finished sailing lessons she says 'We need to get a sailboat.' OK!

So last week, we find ourselves north of Virgin Gorda in 25 knot winds, 6 - 8 foot seas with a little foam on the top. Small craft warnings and heavy surf advisory on the northern shores of the Virgin Islands. An occasional bigger wave pushes us around a bit. And Junie says 'We're going to need a bigger boat.'

What did I do right?

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Trouble in Paradise

Not for Us!

On Tuesday, we sailed to St. John, USVI found a mooring off of Caneel Bay and took our dinghy to Cruz Bay to clear customs. We felt like real cruisers as we carried our dirty laundry through the streets in search of a laundromat. We found a trashy one and spent an hour or so watching soap operas.

We rewarded ourselves with a great sandwich from a really cute shop and then headed back to the boat.

As evening was settling in, we watched as a new sailboat entered the mooring area. There were two couples on board. I noticed that they did a bad job tying off to the mooring.

Less than 30 minutes later, we saw a US Coast Guard Cutter "Reef Shark" circling and then the new boat was boarded by three armed coasties who had quickly arrived in the fastest, coolest orange dinghy. The two couples were hauled off and even though we stayed for two nights, they had not returned. Cool but creepy.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

More Pics from Cane Garden Bay

The Virgin Islands Cruising Guides tell you not to miss Cane Garden Bay because of the music, beaches and sunsets. They are right.

Guess who?

Location:Cruz Bay,US Virgin Islands

Monday, January 16, 2012

Cane Garden Bay, Tortola

We sailed away from Privateer Bay this morning. It is our absolute favorite spot so far and we thoroughly enjoyed our two nights there.

One last look from our deck.

Cane Garden Bay has one of the nicest beaches we have seen so far. It is ringed with small beach bars and we are expecting to hear a variety of reggae tonight from the comfort of our cockpit. Quite a change from the secluded spot we left. Tonight is our last night in BVI. Tomorrow we will clear back into the US.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Take my breath away

Happy Birthday, Dusty!!! The years have certainly flown by! We are so proud of you and love you.

Today we woke up in paradise in this gorgeous bay. Just looking over the edge of the boat , there are fish everywhere.

We had a big breakfast and took off anxious to begin snorkeling right off of our boat. We saw a very large turtle eating off of the bottom - that was cool. Wow, so many fish!!!!! Beautiful colors and endless variety - very appetizing I guess.


I saw a very ominous one about my size swimming with that "top of the food chain swagger". It was way too close so I lifted my head and yelled shark to Duane and I took off towards the beach. Duane did not see it but said I swam very fast.

Believe it or not I eventually went back in, snorkeled some more and swam through the deep water back to the boat.

Privateer Bay Norman Island

Thank you for all of your comments! We are really enjoying them.

We had a fast sail from Bitter End to Privateer Bay. This is a delightful location with fabulous snorkeling -our best yet. The caves are very famous, so during the day there are many commercial trips from the cruise ships. There have also been some unsavory visitors:

But last night it was just our boat and two others. There were so many stars. We grilled fresh tuna and asparagus. Not bad.

The Indians are within a dinghy ride from our mooring.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Friday the 13th and we reached the Bitter End

Bitter End Yacht Club on Virgin Gorda, that is.

We decided to go for a quick snorkel around the reef at Marin Cay before sailing out. It was pretty good spot but I decided I had had enough after two very, very large rays floated by and underneath us in about 4 feet of water. They were about 4ft wide and 8 ft long from nose to tip of tail! And they were giving us "the eye". OK, your playground, we'll leave.

We changed our plans and did not sail to Anegada since there was a small craft advisory but we didn't stay put, either.

The sail to Virgin Gorda was a route of 11.2 miles (if you didn't have to tack). We were beating to windward. The wind speed ranged from 19 to 27 knots. Duane said the seas were a "solid 3 ft" which became the standing joke for any waves over 6 feet. Let's just say that some of you will understand that I had a few "whoa cowboy" moments. The weather was beautiful.

The Bitter End Yacht Club is very commercial, but located in one of the most for gorgeous locations ever. We had a great lobster dinner at the Saba Rock Restuarant and left this morning.

I will add more pictures when we have a better connection.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Dinghy Fishing

Good Morning!

Coffee in the cockpit while watching the sun rise over the Caribbean Sea is tough duty but somebody has to do it.

Speaking of tough duty, I'm not sure I want to know why the fish thought this was a better option!

We haven't forgotten our home port!

Colington Harbour burgee flying proud.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Marina Cay Adventure

After our customs stop and provisioning we were so anxious to get on our way; we dropped the mooring ball and split. Leaving Soper's Hole, we were guided out of the Harbour by two dolphin - what a way to start! Today was a serious sailing day. We had a 15 mile route planned, which, with the wind at our bow translated to 25+ with tacking. We had all three sails out in 17-22 knot winds and 3-6 foot seas. What a ride. Absolutely gorgeous and so much fun!

We decided to kick in the "iron genny" for the last couple of miles to ensure that we got to Marina Cay before dark. The approach to this tiny tropical island is surrounded by reefs and the marked "conspicuous rock". We got to the mooring field happy to see that there was a mooring available. It was a race with a sailboat who was trailing us. That's when we realized in our rush to leave Sopers Hole, that we had left the boat hook on the foredeck. It had not managed to hang on during the heeling. Hmmm. Now what. How will we pick up the mooring with no boat hook?

So we circled and considered our options. While circling we saw several other moorings were available. Good. We did a drive by of the gas dock and asked to borrow a boat hook. Yes. They handed us one as we sped past in the wind and current. Of course, 10+ boats were watching.

We survived the drama, returned their boat hook and asked to buy one. Nope. None available. So, Duane made one out of a dingy oar, two plastic hangers and 7 yards of duct tape. We are real sailors now.

We are now at Pussers loving the wifi, music, view and life.

Marina Cay


Our new boat hook

BVI - Legally

We have just cleared British customs at Sopers Hole, Tortola. The Harbour is really crowded so it was a little unnerving to enter and grab a mooring ball. But we managed to get one without falling overboard or hitting anyone.

We are sitting at a cafe with free wifi and will soon grab some more provisions before a long sail today to marina cay. So far we are getting more and more comfortable with the boat but today will be a real test - big water.

Sailor Dog in the background

Pussers in Sopers Hole

Leinster Bay, St. John

We had a fantastic day of snorkeling and hanging out in Leinster Bay.  We had dolphins right by our stern jumping out of the water, saw flying rays, snorkeled with tons of fish and went exploring in the dinghy where we saw at least four dozen pelicans diving at the edge of the mangroves.

Jack, can you find us paying long term renters for our house?

Tomorrow our plan is to clear BVI customs and have a 16 mile sail to Marina Key.  We have a couple of other routes plotted on the iPad navigation for a change of plans, if needed, like weather.

Not sure we are receiving calls and I have no access to voicemail so please send txt to get in touch.  Love you all.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Things that go bump in the night

We were really tired last night and so even though we were in rolly anchorage, we fell asleep pretty quickly.  At about midnight someone was knocking on the hull to get in.  At least it sounded like it.  Actually it was the mooring ball - the wind and current had shifted and the ball was banging against the hull.  Duane wrestled with it and swung us around.  Ok back to sleep after about an hour.  Until it started to rain about 2 am.  We jumped up and closed the hatches and the rest of the night was great.

Today we sailed around and landed in Maho Bay St. John.  We went to the Eco Resort to buy some provisions and are relaxing in paradise. 

Tomorrow we will skip over to Leinster Bay for snorkeling and a quiet day. 

Captain Russ

Wow, what a day! Yesterday we had out boat checkout with the charter company and learned just how much everything will cost us if we break it. Then our Captain Ron/Russ came on board and we were ready for casting off the lines and our day of sailing to determine if we were responsible enough to have the boat on our own. What's the chance of that? We left the slip with only a little drama and then proceeded to motor out of the Harbour and lifted the sails. This boat is an Island Packet 37 foot sailboat. Our boat at home is a Catalina Capri 22 foot sailboat. There are a few differences it turns out. 1- The sails (3 not 2) are huge - read heavy to handle and complicated. Wish I had lifted those cute little purple weights I have in my office once in a while. 2- wheel not tiller of course and backing up is more of a challenge than expected. Duane did great as the captain. 3- systems, systems, systems, power management, and where stuff is and what stuff is. For example the water tank guage - you could trust the digital readout but the advice is to use the "little wooden stick". Our training exercises: lift sails, sail, tack,tack,tack start motor, drop (really furl) sails, pickup a mooring ball, and again,and again, start motor, make sail, anchor, weigh anchor, anchor, weigh anchor, etc, etc, etc. So the division of labor began as Duane driving the boat, me handling the sails and doing the mooring balls and anchors. Well I was ok with all sails except the inner head sail or stay sail. For some reason that one is really hard to unfurl - Duane's job. Mooring balls - got it. Anchoring without a windlass(broken on this boat)- down me, up Duane! Bottom line --- we PASSED!!!! We got a mooring off of Scott's Beach at Caneel Bay St John (exactly where we stayed 8 years ago) and took Captain Russ by dingy to Cruz Bay to catch a ferry home. We are on our own. We made dinner in the galley and sat in the cockpit tired and happy. ***having an issue posting pictures with my iPad - need to download an app which requires real Internet connection so not sure when.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

The Turning Point

We had a 55 minute layover in Atlanta scheduled. Our flight from Norfolk was 15 minutes late leaving and once in the air was put in a holding pattern. Everyone was told to expect missed flights. We were freaked out with scary eyes from no sleep.

Just when we thought our luck had entirely run out, Duane checked our flight status using the inflight Internet. What, the St. Thomas flight was leaving out of T5? That must be wrong because we are arriving to gate T5. We checked it three times. Turns out the flight was not leaving without us because we had the plane!!! The Turning Point! The world started spinning in greased grooves.

Our flight arrived in St. Thomas only 30 minutes late and we made it to our beautiful boat, Sailor Dog, and found a home for all 175 pounds of our stuff. (Tammy quit laughing!)

We have had a great dinner, went provisioning at the marina market and are just sitting in the cockpit relaxing and listening to the music from the marina bar while we drink red wine. Not Bad for Day 1.

Sailor Dog

Dock Boy delivering provisions

Location:Waterfront Dr,,British Virgin Islands

Should Have Been A Good Idea

Dinner with Marsha and Dennis on Friday night was wonderful and a great way to relax before our trip. Thank you both! Saturday morning we loaded up the Jeep with two gigantic bags to be checked and four pieces to carry on. Did we pack too much or did we charter a too small boat???? We also had Roux, 40 pounds of dog food, a huge dog bed, his medicines and 5 toys! I'm sure we looked like gypsies. We dropped off Roux, checked into a hotel by the airport. The plan was to get a good night's sleep, park the car and take the shuttle. Saturday night we had a very nice dinner with Emily and Tyler at a marina restuarant - perfect to set the mood. We arrived back at the hotel only to find out we had no hot water in the room. After an hour they moved us to another room - the one with the noisy party crowd down the hall. SAINTS WIN!!! Quick get to sleep - well not so fast - remember the party crowd? After no sleep we left at 3:30 to go to the IHOP for breakfast. (note to self - don't go to the IHOP on Military Highway at 3:30 am). But we got to the airport early and had coffee. Everything is feeling better.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Why SailSeaClearly?

'SeaClearly' is a mythical sailing vessel. One we don't have yet. But we do have a name! Using the same reasoning as building our first dock before we had any boats, we figured if we had a name, a boat would show up.

Hopefully, you see all of the plays on words - all of the optimism, philosophy and wishful thinking that is implicit in the name.

Maybe we will never have that boat. Maybe the boat we find will already have the perfect name. Or 'SeaClearly' just won't fit her. But regardless of the name, the thoughts will carry forward.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Countdown to Charter!

Our sailing adventure began in 1999 when we built a home in the boating community of Colington Harbour on the beautiful Outer Banks of North Carolina.  http://www.colingtonharbour.net/dev/

Our first boat was a Grady White 208 and we still love "June Bug".  She has taken us on many ocean excursions.  We have seen more dolphin than we can count, sea turtles, ocean sunfish, jumping marlins and even a humpback whale up close and personal.  She has also helped us catch many fish including winning 2 fishing tournaments.

Many of our neighbors, however, had sailboats.  What's that about?  We thought every boat's purpose was to get you to somewhere quickly - the bigger the motor the better.  But, we decided to take sailboat lessons so that we could talk intelligently with our neighbors.  So we signed up for a weekend session with Annapolis Sailing School.  Ok, we get it.  It is the journey - not just the destination.

Well, we were hooked and added to our fleet a Catalina Capri 22.  "Lagniappe" has been very patient with us during the last 6 years.  She is an absolute blast to sail in the Albermarle Sound.  We became more and more interested in sailing and started attending the annual sailboat shows in Annapolis, MD.  That's dangerous. 

So we have decided to bareboat charter our dream boat, an Island Packet 370, in the US and British Virgin Islands for 10 days starting on Monday, January 9th.  We arrive Sunday and spend the night onboard before the charter actually begins.

We hope to document this adventure in words and pictures on this blog.