Month: August 2016

Luperon, Dominican Republic

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When I awoke this morning I walked out onto the deck with camera in hand, to see what our surroundings looked like…and I wasn’t disappointed with Punta Rucia. Hills and distant mountains were covered in trees, vines and bushes, quaint looking buildings stood proudly overlooking the bay, and a few scattered boats lay quietly at anchor.

The hills called to us to explore, but we knew we couldn’t. We set sail for Luperon, which was only 15 nm away, and though there weren’t many major waves, it was a bumpy ride on the choppy, restless waters. We dodged many hand made buoy lines that local fishermen had set. We wouldn’t want those wrapped around our props!

We are usually really good at stowing everything before we set sail, but for some reason we failed miserably today, and paid for it. Right after the fallen cooking oil was cleaned up off the galley floor, a huge container of coconut oil went flying. Keep in mind that our galley and salon floor is not one big solid piece, because the board sections can be raised up and storage space is below. Marci and Sierra scooped up as much oil as they could, then several of us wiped things down with hot soapy rags, over and over again. It was such a pleasant smelling, messy, slippery situation. We decided we’d deal with the mess under the floor boards later when things weren’t so rough.

The girls had some fun with the rough waters, by sitting on the tramp as waves splashed up and drenched them.

As we reached the inlet leading to Luperon, we made the turn and followed the marker buoys. The Creatures excitedly sat on the bow watching the beautiful scenery.

The anchorage is so picturesque, with many sailboats bobbing peacefully with rich, dense, green mountains as a backdrop.

We even saw a boat with a crows nest on the crows nest.

A sweet little local man named Papo, who owns and manages the mooring balls, came past in his panga to show us which ball he wanted us on. He and his helper checked the mooring and lifted it out of the water for us to tie up to.

They couldn’t quite figure out how to attach it to our bridle, so Jude showed them and once hooked on, we were all set.

The next order of business is always customs and immigration. This is the 9th country we are checking in to since we started cruising. They use Pesos here so Danny jumped on the back of a bike and went to the bank to withdraw some.

While waiting for his return, Marci and I people watched. We saw a man in a pink sweater and womens shoes walk passed with a machete and bamboo.

There is much poverty here, and the sewer is released into the canal leading back into the ocean.

Small boats are tied up all along the shore line.

We met some cute kids that were so excited to see themselves in my camera.

We hope to find a way to do so me humanitarian work while we are here. I’ve asked several people about it today and will be meeting with the new mayor tomorrow afternoon to see if he has any ideas. We have scheduled to go on a hike on Friday to 27 waterfalls, and are so excited for that.

This evening we met our friends, Allen and Cheri, (we met them at Crooked Island) for dinner. A new restaurant that isn ’t open yet but wanted to try their oven out and have a pizza night. 4 Large pizzas and bottled water for all, cost $27 (1270 pesos). Not too bad. While eating, the Navy guys came to Danny and asked him to go with them to Tanda Malaika so they could look at her and see our passports again. I guess they want to make sure we aren’t smuggling drugs or Haitians.

When we returned to the boat, the creatures informed us that while we were checking in at customs, they pulled up the floor boards and cleaned out all the spills coconut oil from underneath them. They are such amazing angels! We are so grateful for their goodness. Tonight we are all snuggled down in our berths and excited to explore Luperon tomorrow.


Out with a Bang!

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Our last hours in Turks and Caicos were quite eventful.Danny and I got a few things done on the boat while Marci and the Creatures went exploring. I love it when I raise him up the mast in the bosun’s chair so he can work at the top of the mast, and then when I lower him down I can keep him hanging just out of reach of the deck so he is stuck! I can harass him, tease him, act like I’m going to leave him there, and all he can do is sit and patiently wait. You’d think in that predicament he’d agree to anything I say, but he STILL gives me a hard time!

We all made our way over to the Beaches all inclusive Resort, and walked in to play in the water park. We tubed down water slides, relaxed on the lazy river, splashed in the kids fountains, swam in the ocean, and enjoyed all you can eat pizza, cupcakes and ice cream for free! The creatures thought they’d died and gone to heaven!

The creatures have decided that we need a Hobie cat as a second dinghy. They loved sailing around in it.

While walking the neighborhood we ate these delicious sea grapes right off the trees. They are so tasty.

Finally yesterday at about midday we set sail for Dominican Republic.

We passed West Caicos where there is an entire abandoned town. It was sad and a little eerie to see so many beautiful abandoned homes. In about 2006 they ran out of money and walked away from it all.

We are still hand steering since the autopilot is on strike, so we arranged the watch schedule and sailed through the night. Marci and I were a team, and had our earphones in as we listened to audio books while we worked the helm. Jude and Glade were a team and by the sounds of it they talked about food for their entire 2 hour shift. Mycah, Sierra and Aidan were team number 3, and had fun too. Danny and Emma were the final team. Since Marci and I had the 10pm-midnight shift, it meant we also had the 6am-8am shift, and we got to watch the gorgeous sunrise.

Glade and Aidan are so full of energy. You can’t keep them down even when in the middle of the Atlantic. They jumped around for a while and Aidan almost became airborne off Tanda Malaika. It was pretty funny.

Finally late this afternoon Marci yelled ‘Land Ho!’ The tall coastline of Dominican Republic could clearly be seen off the starboard side. After 38 hours of respectable winds and a beautiful sail, we are anchored in a little bay called Punta Rucia. Since there is no place for us to check in here, we will not go ashore, but in the morning will sail the last 15 nm to Luperon where we can check in with customs and immigration and stay a while at anchor to explore. It will also give Marci a chance to wash and dry her and Glades bedding. Their hatches weren’t closed properly so their beds got soaked on the crossing!

Since we anchored in the dark I am so excited to wake up in the morning to look out and see what out surroundings look like. I love our life on the water. It helps me keep things in perspective as I am constantly reminded of just how small I am in the universe.

Staying sane

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Ask anyone on board what makes me most unhappy and they’ll tell you that it’s being in a marina. I feel like a caged lion. A mermaid in a net. I’m sure if Tanda Malaika could, she’d tell you she feels the same way.

We have stayed here because even though Invest 99-L past, there have continued to be heavy rains and winds on the sailing forecasts which we would just as soon avoid being caught in. So, to stay sane I have had to keep busy. I pulled out the sewing machine to continue working on our sweet grand babies quilt, but in these last 6 weeks since I used it, it got all rusted up. Yesterday I soaked parts in rust remover and will get back to that project tomorrow. In the mean time we went exploring…

Turks and Caicos is covered in beautiful palms, brush, vines and various flowering trees and shrubs.

Some interesting cactus are also growing in random places, some with beautiful fuchsia berries.

Limestone and sandstone have weathered in fascinating patterns.

The creatures discovered what we think may have been a restaurant that was hit by a hurricane. It provided a fun place for them to hang out.

What an amazing group of creatures these are. Each one brings a unique, intelligent and hilarious approach to life, to the table. They work hard (even though we harass them for not cleaning up after themselves sometimes), are always happy and loving, and they keep us in fits of laughter. I am so grateful to be a part of their lives.

Danny’s bank card was sucked up into the ATM and not regurgitated back out, a couple days ago. He called the bank and they are sending another to the marina ‘immediately’, so we have to stay close, but we may check out tomorrow and anchor close by so we can continue exploring the ocean and other interesting places around the island.

Calm before the storm?

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We are tied up and secure in a marina, waiting for whatever comes. We’re secured on the starboard side and stern to a dock, and have lines off the bow to some poles that are anchored. The main is tied down in the sail bag and all is stowed. From what we hear, we will most likely get lots of rain and a little wind, but for the most part all will be pretty uneventful. Intact, it is raining as I write.After enjoying some diving, we entered the marina and three pelicans welcomed us to our new surroundings.

We have the absolute best crew, who are always ready with lines and fenders and know their way around what ever needs to be done.

Some beautiful clouds and gorgeous coloring have surrounded us as huge thunder heads have blown through.

At this point, it appears that Invest 99-L has become ‘less organized’, and is just going to fizzle out. Hopefully before long we will be able to pull up the dock lines and continue on in our adventures. The creatures have been enjoying a Harry Potter marathon, and we’ve supplied them with big bowls of caramel popcorn and lobster dip with tortilla chips, but I think we are all ready to dive off the boat once again and swim with creatures of the deep.

Keeping watch on Tropical Storm Invest 99L

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We’ve been having fun exploring Turks and Caicos.

On Sunday we found a church and attended as a family of 9. The creatures looks so sweet. Notice how tall Aidan is getting! I swear he’s grown a foot the past 6 months.

The days have been beautiful, with warmth from the sun and coolness from the water. Once school work is done, the creatures (and us adults) spend 80% of the day in the water. They found a huge rock face to jump off of.

We met some people on the beach and as always, they were very curious about our lifestyle. The same questions are always asked…’how long have you been doing this?…How long do you plan to?…How many of you are there?…How do you afford it?…What about school for the kids?…You’re living my dream!’

Each place we stop, bodies excitedly dive off Tanda Malaika in search of treasures. Many are always found – some treasures that will be filed away among the vast collection of profound and breathtaking experiences, and some gathered to be brought back and shown to all on board. It’s all magical and will be told in stories years from now as grandchildren are gathered around their knees.

The creatures have been making more jewelry with some of their treasures.

Sierra and Mycah have each made bracelets with thread as well.

This morning Mycah and I went for a dive, and later Danny and Jude did too. The wall we dove descends down thousands of feet, and is covered in huge barrel and vase sponges, wire coral and so many others. Schools of fairy basslet, blue tang, yellow tailed snapper, squirrel fish and blue chromis are in abundance. A large grouper meandered through as well as a large ray and reef shark.

The air temperature was 94 and the water temp – even at 110ft, was 86 degrees.

We have been keeping a close watch on Tropical Storm ‘Invest 99L’. Currently east of the Leeward islands, there’s a chance it’ll hit us on Thursday. Our plan is to head into a marina tomorrow, secure Tanda Malaika well and get ready for whatever comes. We’ll keep you updated.
Until then, we will continue diving for lobster, eating them till we simply can’t eat another bite, and exploring for more treasures to hold close to our hearts.

Turks and Caicos

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We have arrived!As we approached Turks and Caicos, all hands were on deck watching for shallow spots, and a dolphin pod arrived to bow ride as the welcome committee.

It’s always exciting arriving in a new country, not knowing what to expect. There are really deep drop offs in many areas around these islands – some dropping 11000ft. One can easily see the depth change from the surface by drastic rapid change in water color.

New landscape, fauna and flora, people, foods and grocery stores or markets, to name a few. I love to watch everyone as we approach.

Some of the homes lining the shore have long stair cases over rocky ledges and others are right on the beach.

Several large commercial vessels were in the area,

and many huge sea stacks and small rock islands are spread across the horizon. We are excited to explore some of them. Aidan and Glade want to do some cliff jumping off of them, and I just want to look for lobster!

We decided that we would pull into a marina for a night or two so that we’d be some place convenient for Chad to leave from. We are sad to see him go, and will miss him terribly, but he has knives to make and a knife show to attend. Check out his amazing work at @nell_knives
Being in a marina does mean that we finally get to wash all the salt off our Tanda Malaika. She is one salty vessel! A layer of salt is covering every possible surface.

Life is good and we are grateful for yet another safe crossing.

Continuing on…

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The past couple of days we have been slowing beating against the wind, making our way at a snails pace toward Turks and Caicos. Our schedule has been to set sail at 6:30 or 7am each day and drop anchor by 9pm each night. Sometimes this can be tough because when we wake up to a beautiful scene we want to go explore, but know we have to set sail and don’t have the time.

Our first day of sailing after leaving Crooked Island, was in confused, choppy seas. This made for some rough sailing and we had to tack back and forth since we couldn’t sail directly into the wind. I made chicken and onion BBQ pizza and cheese pizza for dinner, and everyone seemed to enjoy that. Marci used some left over dough to make a dessert pizza which was a wonderful surprise for everyone to devour. We anchored at Plana Cay, which is a small island east of Acklins and is a protected, preserve for the endangered great iguanas and the rare hutias, which is a guinea pig like rodent. From the deck it looked like there would be some amazing snorkeling and diving as well, because we could see many coral heads scattered about.

Today the ocean was so calm with light winds right on our nose once again. We tacked out far like we did yesterday and then turned in toward Mayaguana Cay at fairly good speed. At times it felt like we were on a lake.

Eventually the wind died completely and we motored the last part of the journey. For dinner I cooked coconut rice, pork chops on the braai and a beet salad. We ate underway at the stern salon as the sun was setting.

As we reached Mayaguana Cay the huge, full moon was rising – a large yellow ball between the dark clouds.

Mayaguana is the only Bahamian island that still bears its Arawak name and was a favorite place for Pirates until about 1812. Tomorrow we will be in Turks and Caicos, a new country to explore. We will most likely be there for a week, because that’s how long we are allowed without needing to purchase a ticket for a longer stay.

Life is good, and as always, we are excited for tomorrows adventures.

Crooked Island

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Yesterday was one of my favorite days ever! When we arrived here at Crooked Island two days ago, a sweet couple (Allan and Cheri) from a neighboring vessel stopped by to say hi. Before leaving Alan mentioned that he was going to be helping in town the next day. That of course grabbed my interest and I asked him what he was going to be helping with, and he said this island was hit by a hurricane last November and were still trying to clean things up and repair homes. I asked him if there was anything we could do to help and he said he was sure there was and that if we wanted to we could join him in the morning. Everyone on board was excited, and the next morning we set out on our adventure.Hurricane Joaquin had had caused so much devastation. The population had been 450, and due to group effort and a whole lot of love from everyone involved, there were no casualties – which is hard to believe when looking at the aftermath.

Now, only 50 residents remain, and they are the most wonderful people. Positive attitudes, big, loving, exhausted smiles and gratitude are what best describes these amazing individuals.
Danny stayed on board to work on the boat, so that made 12 of us to help on land. They divided us into 2 groups and placed us at a couple homes to dejunk and clean.

Chad, Marci, Mycah, Emma and I were assigned to empty out the debris from a home that they are hoping to repair. We were asked to place everything on the grass outside.

Everything inside was ripped, twisted, shattered and smashed, and hornets nests were everywhere.

We found the best approach to be laying large items like shower curtains on the ground, loading them up and then dragging them outside. We used several items until they ripped, and just in time found something else to take its place.

Many electrical wires still connected made it difficult to move items out so Chad borrowed a pair of pliers from a sweet gentleman on a bicycle, and used them to rip through the wires so we could carry the timbers out. We used lids, plates, shingle scraps and anything else we could find to scrape up broken glass and other smaller debris from the floors.

Slowly but surely we made progress, stopping only to rehydrate on ice cold water they had provided for us. We were so excited when we found a broom in the debris! The worst part of all of it for me were the many little frogs that jumped around as we cleaned. I had to take a deep breath and go to my happy place. I did threaten to kill Mycah when she came to me with one.

Finally, our work was done and it felt SO good. I wished we could stay a month and help them every day.

The other group returned and we loaded all our debris into the pick up and ran several loads to the dump.

Wilhemina, invited us all to her restaurant afterward where she served us spaghetti and salad. We were all famished.

We even had a magic show…eggs magically landed in glasses of water without breaking and without being touched!

Afterward Wilhelmina took us to her 80 year old mother, because she wanted to meet us and thank us for clearing our her home. What a sweet little Angel.

Crooked Island is in need of so much help. I would love to put together some sort of relief efforts to help them more. If you want contact information for Wilhelmina, let me know. They are all so appreciative and any help they can get.

We shared lots of hugs and made our way back to Tanda Malaika where we washed our dirty, sweaty bodies off in the clear cool water.
The creatures were goofy as always…

What a beautiful place!

I made a big bread pudding while the creatures did their school work. One of the great advantages of homeschool is that if an opportunity like yesterday’s arises, school can be put off till evening.

We are so grateful that we had the opportunity to help, and hope to have many more.

Last night in Bahamas

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Yesterday morning we ran the garbage into town, and walked the path to pick a couple more bags of guineps. Jude and Aidan climbed the tree with grocery sacks in hand.

Mycah and I picked Tamarindo. We love the sour flavor!

The creatures eat a ton of cereal and it is so expensive here, so Marci and I took them to the grocery store and told them they each had $4 to pick out their cereal for the week. It was torture for some of them to come to a decision, and they were all surprised at how expensive it was.

After much contemplation, Aidan and Glade each picked out a small box of peanut butter Captain Crunch for $4.70 a box (they each owe me 70 cents), Jude picked out Apple Jacks for $3.85 and everyone else got 2 boxes each of plain old corn flakes which were on sale for $1.99 a box. Jude and Mycah decided to mix theirs so they have a combo. It was interesting to see their decisions.

We finally said farewell to Georgetown, and waved to our friends on ‘Purple Monkeys’, and set sail in the direction of Long Island.

Marci took a turn at the helm and did a great job.

We sailed till we reached the most northern point of long island as the sun was setting, and dropped anchor for the night. The sunset was an interesting one.

When we awoke this morning we looked out and saw where we had anchored in the dark, and it was gorgeous!

After church, we set sail once again, and were able to set the sails and do some serious sailing.

Our little friend from Panama showed up for a few minutes…

Glade and Mycah made a bed under the stern salon table…

Aidan did his usual crazy Aidan thing…

Glade serenaded us…

and Danny and Chad caught fish. Chad caught a good sized Mahi Mahi and Danny caught a huge African Pompano, which is from the Jack family. We ate the Mahi Mahi for dinner and it was delicious.

Tonight we are anchored at the southern most point of Long Island, and it is our last night in Bahamas. We have loved the 4 months we’ve explored here and look forward to spending many more months exploring the places we didn’t see next time we come.
Tomorrow we will continue on toward Turks and Caicos and will most likely be there a couple days from now. We are all tired from a rigorous sail, and are ready to rest peacefully in our berths.

New Playmate

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Yesterday morning Chad had a crappy start to his day. He had to go head to head with his…head.The macerater sounded very unhappy so we explained to him how to dismantle the porcelain throne and get to know it intimately. Armed with tools, he bravely said farewell to us all and descended into the deep dark dungeons of the abyss. As time passed we knew he was still alive because we heard noise coming from behind the stench chamber. Once in a while he dragged his sweat covered body up into the salon for another tool then disappeared once again. Lucky for him he didn’t have to dismantle the especially putrid parts and was able to fix the problem. When done he immediately leaped off the stern and immersed himself in the Caribbean, washing away all sweat, odor and memory of his traumatizing experience.

The crew seems to be in a “Banana Gram” marathon. Jude and Marci have even come up with more challenging ways to play. A couple kids from a neighboring boat, “Purple Monkey’s,” were also recruited and played along.

Jude and Sierra climbed some Guinap trees today and filled a bag with the delicious goodness. We love this Bahamian fruit which is related to a lychee.

Danny and i returned to town once again this afternoon to see if our boat parts had arrived. Every day we have gone in and have been told that the correct paperwork had not arrived for customs yet, or that it was on a later flight, and today we were once again told that the paperwork is still not complete. We are so ready to set sail, and I found myself becoming more and more impatient, but I breathed deep and distracted myself with a cute little angel baby,

and watched Danny handle it all with a kind, patient voice and a sympathetic smile on his face. They were able to pull some strings and work a little magic and finally delivered our boxes to the store. Doe Boi is the name of the place – sweet people who bent over backwards to accommodate us. They most likely would not have, had I been impatient with them. Danny teaches me how to be a better person all the time.
Now he and Chad have some installation projects…a new water pump and auto pilot are a couple of them.

A couple times now we have had a playful friend come over. A bottlenose dolphin who loves attention! He spins, splashes, dips down and mingles with us all. Today he played here by the boat for about an hour.

He loves to push his nose down in the sand then dart upward, sometimes with seaweed on his fins.

Sometimes swimming right below us and sometime right over our heads, he played and played and was never overwhelmed by the amount of us in the water next to Tanda Malaika. Today he showed up right when the creatures and their friends began playing their ukes and guitars and singing on the trampoline. What a beautiful send off for us as we leave to set sail for Turks and Caicos tomorrow.