• close family • small boat • big world •

The Long Haul

by Paula 
Spanish Wells, Eleuthera, The Bahamas

Cash is always looking forward to exploring the next destination.
We've all heard the maxim: it's not the destination, but the journey that counts. A great thought, yes, but sometimes you hope the journey is short and sweet so you can get to that destination. The Caribbean is such a popular place to sail for that reason exactly -- one can arrive at an amazing destination with a journey that is fairly painless. Most passages between anchorages or islands can be sailed in a day, some even in just a few hours.

Nothing but blue as far as the eye can see, sometimes for days.

There are some places out there, though, that are worth biting off a much longer sail. The countries of Guyana and Suriname were definitely two of them. Taking off from Tobago, it took three days to reach Guyana, and the trip from Guyana to Suriname was another three-day passage. Our return from Suriname all the way to Martinique was a four-day sail, and the passage from Boquerón in Puerto Rico to Great Inagua in the Bahamas was also three full days of sailing. When we cruised in 1999, Greg and I made a seven-day passage from Antigua to Bermuda and then an eight-day passage from Bermuda to Nova Scotia.

Life on a moving sailboat is far, far different from life when sitting still in port. And even more so

Leaving Our Mark

by Paula
Nassau, Bahamas

Battling mosquitoes with each step past low shrubs and craggy limestone, we made our way up Boo Boo Hill. This well-known spot on Warderick Wells shares the cay with the small headquarters building of the Exuma Land and Sea Park. This low rise was named for the sailors who were shipwrecked here. Legend has it that their ghostly singing can be heard on a still night. At the crest of this small hill lies a large pile of driftwood and other objects, adorned with visiting boat names. Just like the first time we visited, we were ready to leave our mark.

In the beautiful scenery and pristine waters through which we've traveled, we have practiced the "take only photographs, leave only footprints" adage. However, in a few spots, we've had the chance to leave a little bit our ourselves behind.

At JR's Bistro in the Dominican Republic, Nicole drew our logo on the signing wall where we spent many an evening during the hurricane season.

When we sailed through in 2013, Greg carved Daystar’s name onto a piece of fan coral he found on the eastern side of the cay using a piece of sea-glass. We added it to the pile amidst the other mementos on Boo Boo Hill.

Ash, Ash, and More Ash

by Nicole
At anchor, Staniel Cay, The Bahamas

Touring the ruins in Montserrat was a completely new experience.  We had seen many ruins before, but nothing quite like this.  On July 18, 1995 the dormant Soufriere Hills volcano became active, exploding and destroying the capitol city of Plymouth.  From that time until 2000, nearly two-thirds of the island's population fled, mostly going to the United Kingdom.  You can find out more about the island here.  The volcano has been relatively quiet since early 2010, but it is still studied closely.  It is the most studied volcano in the world and it is known as, "Modern Day Pompeii."  There is an exclusion zone around most of Plymouth, which means that no one can enter that area.  Montserrat Springs Hotel is located just at the edge of the Exclusion zone.  Until recently,

The Emerald Island of the Caribbean

by Paula
At anchor, Matthew Town, Great Inagua, The Bahamas

I hate it when the bathtub gets filled with volcanic ash.
The Irish don't normally spring to mind when thinking of the Caribbean, but in Montserrat, the Emerald Isle of the Caribbean, they are a major part of its history.

In 1493 Columbus passed by this tiny island, naming it after the Montserrat Abby in Spain, and the first settlement of Europeans didn't happen until 1632. A group of persecuted Irish Catholics were forced to leave nearby Nevis, and they settled in Montserrat where they could freely practice their religion. In 1651 an Irish trader brought African slaves to the island, though they did not become the largest group until the early 1700s when sugar plantations began to thrive. The Irish continued to constitute the largest portion of the white population well into the 18th century, many of whom were brought to the country as indentured laborers. Evidence indicates the Irish language was spoken by both white and black residents well into the nineteenth century. To honor an unsuccessful slave revolt that occurred on March 17, 1768, as well as the Irish heritage of much of the population, the people of Montserrat celebrate St. Patrick's Day as a public holiday. Crowds from all over the Caribbean come to celebrate this major celebration that is unique among these islands.

We didn't manage to be here for St. Patrick's day, so these photos were found on the internet.

The Police recording "Every Little Thing She Does is Magic"
In 1979 George Martin (most famed for producing the Beatles albums) built the AIR Studios Montserrat recording studio here, offering state-of-the-art technical facilities in an exotic location. Montserrat became a very exclusive and private holiday destination. Those of us of a certain age might remember The Police's video of their song "Every Little Thing She Does is Magic," which starred some adorable kids and steel drum musicians along with the band - it was recorded in Montserrat. Other stars who came to relax and record included Dire Straits, Paul McCartney, Elton John, Duran Duran, Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, Lou Reed, The Rolling Stones, and Eric Clapton.

After a decade of recording, AIR Studios was reduced to rubble when, in 1989, Hurricane Hugo hit Montserrat. Devastating 165 mph winds damaged or destroyed 95% of all buildings on the island, 20-foot waves demolished the

Las Fiestas de Boquerón

by Cash
At anchor, Matthew Town, Great Inagua, Bahamas

Boquerón is a party town. People come from all over, especially during spring break and summer, to enjoy themselves. When it comes to partying in Boquerón there are two things you need to do: listen to the music and eat the street food.
Anyone want to buy some "stainless teel"?

The thing about the parties in Boquerón is that they're mostly carried out on the street. Bands play out on the street, and many people eat street food from stalls lining the road. Even shops have tables outside to sell their goods.

The party starts on Thursday with a just a little bit of activity. It grows and grows until it climaxes on Sunday. People lie on the beach all day and then head to the streets at night. From Monday to Thursday afternoon, the town is completely dead. There is no one anywhere.
The park during the week. It's empty and the stands are not set up.
A view of the shopping stands as the evening is just starting
It gets much more crowded as the evening progresses

Lots more pics and videos of music, food, and dancing below:

Hen Lee

by Cash
At anchor, Boquerón, Puerto Rico

During our very long stay in St. Martin, we hauled out our boat to get her bottom redone.  One of our neighbors on the hard was Hen Lee, a big, beat-up, rusty, red cargo ship.

The very large propeller
Hen Lee was a large steel boat, well past her prime. She was covered in rusty metal, the bootstripe was uneven and the paint was coming off. The crew working on her was doing everything from repainting (the stripe was in a straight line this time - mostly) to welding a new piece of steel to patch a hole in her hull. We met one of the workers, Sam, a young, quiet Dominican man with a ball cap and a friendly manner. He is from Dominica, but he is not that fond of his country. One thing he does not like is that many Dominicans do not want to work hard. In addition to working on Hen Lee, he is a tour guide and taxi driver in Portsmouth, Dominica. We spent some time talking to him, and he invited us on board for a tour

Hen Lee, originally used to drag for scallops, was built in the 1970s in Mobile, Alabama, and she is now used for transporting mostly fruits and miscellaneous cargo. She stops on the islands of Martinique, St. Martin, St. Kitts, and her home port, Dominica. The boat is manned by eight crew both when she’s being fixed up and when she’s underway.

To get a tour of this big ol’ boat, watch the video:

Haul Out

by Cash
At anchor, Water Island, St. Thomas, USVIs

One of the things we did in St. Martin was to repaint Daystar's bottom. Our bottom paint, which prevents barnacle and algae growth on the hull, needed to be replaced. We can't paint the hull while it's in the water of course, so we needed to haul Daystar out onto land. And of course, a boat can’t just be placed straight down on its skinny keel. To take a boat out of the water and support it on land is a difficult and dangerous but relatively common process.

Pictured above is a Travel Lift, the power behind lifting a sailboat. Slings hang down between each side. The Travel Lift is designed so that it can drive over the slipway where the boat is situated, so it can lower the slings into the water under the boat. The slings are adjusted and then tightened so they are snug under the hull. Then, as every boat owner tenses, the boat is lifted out of the water by raising the slings. The Travel Lift slowly moves the boat into a spot on land where it will be supported. There are many tripod-like stands with big pads on the top that are placed in various spots under the hull so that the boat can be supported without the Travel Lift. The jackstands must be placed in the correct position so that the boat remains upright.

Daystar on jackstands when hauled out in Carriacou in 2015
All in all, it's a relatively simple process, but that doesn't mean it doesn't take skill. If the slings are off balance or adjusted incorrectly the boat could slide forward or back. If the jackstands aren't positioned properly the boat could fall over. So it's important to choose a boatyard that you trust to do the work correctly.

When we were in Luperon, Dominican Republic, some friends of ours told us the story of hauling their boat out in the shabby, understaffed marina there. The marina had no Travel Lift, so they had to make do with other vehicles. They backed a flatbed trailer into the water under the boat and attached stands to the flatbed to support the boat. They hauled the boat out using a tractor attached to the flatbed. They got the work done, but when the boat was ready to go back in the water the tractor was being used at a different job. They waited and waited, but the tractor was not released. Eventually the marina had to hire a dump-truck to back the boat into the water instead.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, think how many words a video is worth. Check out Daystar being hauled below:

Close Family Still on the Go

by Paula
At anchor, Boqueron, Puerto Rico

Back in the spring of 2014, as Daystar made her way down the US Intracoastal Waterway, we stopped for a bit in Vero Beach, Florida. Through happenstance, we were introduced to a larger-than-life personality, talk radio host Rhett Palmer. Fascinated with our family's adventure, he brought us in for an hour-long live interview. You can read more about it and listen to the audio of the show here.

I thought Rhett might be interested in an update on our travels, and he was! I submitted an article to Vero's Voice, the magazine associated with his show. Here's a link to the full article that came out on  May 1st: