Month: September 2016

Watching Matthew

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The past couple of days we have been laying low as far as sailing goes. Hurricane Matthew has been moving west, parallel to Puerto Rico, and it was unsure at what point it would turn north. While sitting around eating breakfast, Danny asked us all, “what would you do if in bad winds, the line on the mooring ball broke?” We all gave our answers, and decided that the best bet initially would be to simply drop anchor. It’s good to be thinking ahead…Most of us went in to town to do a little laundry and purchase some sugar, and were once again met by homes and businesses painted in bright colors.

Aidan and Gabriel skated on their penny boards all around town, enjoying some smooth roads and sidewalks for a change. It’s been so fun to spend time with my mom and sister. Check out how much the sun has bleached my dark brown hair! (yes I’m the frumpy one on the right with no make up on!)

We watched clouds move in and wind increase, with waves reaching 10 – 12 ft. Danny called from the boat, saying that Tanda Malaika’s weight in the intense wind had been a bit too much for the mooring ball, and our stern was almost in the mangroves. He and Emma dropped anchor. How’s that for coincidence!??? I told him we’d make our way back and help move Tanda Malaika to another location.

On our way out of town, Aidan mentioned he’d seen a bakery, so we stopped by and bought a few things to take back. It was tough trying to choose.

Along the road there are always beautiful and interesting things to see, like gorgeous flowers and pods and wooden paths that lead to places I’d love to explore.

These air plants have always fascinated me, and they grow everywhere here.

Once we arrived home, we pulled up anchor and motored through the mangroves to find a good place where we’d be protected from the wind. We found just the spot, and settled in. We have paddle boarded, been swimming and snorkeling, found a sunken boat, lay in the middle of a bait ball consisting of thousands of silversides, read and goofed off, and sent Gabriel up the mast. He loved it so much he stayed for a while and sang.

It’s been fun relaxing, and the wind has kept us cooler than we would have been. This morning I took advantage of the wind and washed a few things and hung them to dry, and I also sorted through and reorganized Danny’s tools. Tonight I made taco salad for dinner at the creatures request, and we enjoyed our meal at he stern salon before the mosquitos arrived.

This evening Danny pulled out his guitar and Mycah and Gabriel sang for a while. I always love that.

Looking at Hurricane Matthew at this point, we are in the clear to continue east tomorrow. We are grateful that it is not hitting Luperon in Dominican Republic.

Tomorrow begins the month of October. It’s a tough time for us as we clearly remember a year ago, at this point we had less than a week left with my brother as he was living with 9 cancerous brain tumors from metastatic melanoma. I recall every word he said to me. Every smile. Every time we held hands. I miss him so much.

Immersed in light

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My friend, Cheri, gave me a scoby before we left Luperon, and since then we have been enjoying delicious kombucha. I also have kefir and have been brewing that. I decided it was time to make more tea for the kombucha, and the best way to do that on a boat is by using the suns energy.

There are a few scattered boats where we are, but no one seems to be aboard – aside from pelicans.

Gabriel and Aidan went into town yesterday to explore and penny board, and today the rest of us will join them. In preparation for swimming in the bioluminescent bay, Danny, Mycah, Emma and I set out in the dinghy, meandering through the mangroves in the light of day so we knew where to go at nightfall.

I love being among the mangroves. There is so much life among them. Nurseries filled with juvenile reef fish can be found safely tucked deep within the forest of roots.

Tunnels and arches present themselves around every turn, like an enchanted maze.

When evening fell I noticed a fin in the water near the boat, and slipped in to investigate. Danny was cooking hamburger patties on the grill at the stern and everyone else watched from the deck. The fin surfaced once again, this time revealing that it was a bottle nosed dolphin. She was interesting in a passing fishing panga. I stayed in the water for a while hoping she’d return, and at one point she came fairly close. I loved being there, the sun setting as I swam, alone in the coolness.

Once darkness fell we made our way to the bioluminescent bay. No moon had risen yet. We slipped into the dark water and as we did, lights ran up our bodies where we moved. I brought my fingertips together then flicked them out and a spray of sparks shot out, lighting the water. I swam down, each hand stroke surrounded by a glittering halo of light. I surfaced and listened to everyone exclaiming how beautiful it was, how magical. We tried taking photos but nothing captured the magic. Mycah commented that it’s just as well, because some things just have to be experienced in person. It’s impossible to describe how beautiful it is. Every single movement we made – no matter how small, was saturated in sparkling light. We played and splashed and floated and laughed and lay quietly, caught up in it all. As we rose up out of the water, light dripped from our hair and bodies. When Danny started the dinghy, the prop spun streams of light from it and the wake left behind us was like a perfect reflection of the milky way.

Sailing the Southern Coast of Puerto Rico

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Yesterday morning several of us ran a few errands before the rental car was due back, and on the way Gabriel and Aidan decided to ride their penny boards down a hill. Gabriel got tangled up in a speed wobble and ate asphalt. He’s now sporting some respectable road rash but is doing fine.

Once we returned, it wasn’t long before we left the dock and headed east along the coast. Huge heavy rainclouds filled the sky.

As we moved out we could see it pouring not far behind us. Lightening and thunder filled the sky but we kept moving at just the right speed to avoid it all.

My mom perched herself on the bow with guineps in hand and enjoyed the view as she feasted.

When the waves became larger my mom moved back and Bernadine, Gabriel and Jude took their places on the bow. It was the most hilarious scene…Bernadine was laughing hysterically as waves would splash up and spray them while poor Gabriel puked (unfortunately, into the wind). He was so motion sick, but felt better after a while. By the time we reached our destination, we were all salty sailors. Tanda Malaika is once again covered in a layer of salt.

The sunset that greeted us was absolutely spectacular. So many shades of pink, peach and coral filled the sky, mixing with bright white billowing clouds and various shades of blue and lavender.

We all sat with cameras in hand and quietly watched.

We live in such a beautiful world.

We hooked up to a mooring ball and began reorganizing when a local man stopped by in his boat to introduce himself. We asked him where the bioluminescent bay is and he offered for us to follow in the dinghy so he could show us. We had heard that theft is bad in some areas of Puerto Rico and weren’t sure if he was going to lead us all away while someone else came in to rob us, so half the group joined Danny in the dinghy while the rest of us stayed to prepare dinner.

After about an hour the adventurers returned with stories they excitedly told of bioluminescence so thick and bright that it was like swimming through dense constellations. None of their GoPros could capture it but their minds and souls are left with memories that will be held close forever. Tonight we will all go experience it together.

We continue to keep a close watch on the approaching storm. The area we are in is surrounded by many mangroves and if we need to we will tie onto those as well as throw out our trusty anchor for extra holding. We’ll keep you posted as the week progresses.

They are here!

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Yesterday morning Danny and I jumped into the rental car and headed for the airport in San Juan. The drive was about 2 1/2 hours with scenery that reminded me of so many places. The Cape, Hawaii and Ecuador to name a few.

Dense green foliage covers much of the landscape. Some farm land is down in the beautiful valleys while others are high on plateaus. The roads had many pot holes and drivers are quite aggressive. i was grateful that Danny was driving.

We reached the airport in good time and our family arrived safely with all bags in tow. It is so good to see them. My sweet Momma and I embraced, her in tears, and it felt good, as always to be in her arms. Some things never change…even though I’m twice her size, in my mind I can still curl up in her lap and fall asleep. Bernadine and I embraced as sisters, finally reunited once again and ready for mischief and adventure. I love it when she’s here. Her perspective, creativity and insight is always packed with unique experience and knowledge. My Nephew, Gabriel, enjoyed his first airplane ride and is so fun. He’s never been out of the country and is in for some great adventures with his cousins!!!

On the way back to Tanda Malaika, we stopped by the side of the road and bought some guineps. As a family we love trying new fruits and this was one they hadn’t tried yet. They loved them, and my mom told me to make sure that we are never out of them while she’s here on this visit.

The creatures were so excited when we arrived.

Family is so important. After losing both my father and brother a year ago, this is more deeply etched into me that ever before. No one and nothing, is more important than family. I am so grateful for mine. The family I was bonded to 2 1/2 years ago when I married Danny, are so completely melded into who I am now that it’s like there never was a time without them. I love them with my whole self.

Life is good, and I am so filled with gratitude. Let the adventures begin!!!

Farewell to the Nell’s

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The Nell family joined us 10 1/2 weeks ago, and sailed 861 nautical miles with us, reaching 4 different countries. They left us today to get back to the dirt dwellers life, and we are going to miss them!

We regrouped this morning and had a family planning meeting on what we need to do to get ready for our next three guests who arrive tomorrow. We are so excited to see my mom, sister and nephew. After making a list of needed supplies, we thought the best plan of attack would be to rent a car and gather some supplies. It took me about 5 minutes to get car sick! I seem to have difficulty moving faster than about 7 or 8 knots. Everything passed by so quickly. Stores we recognize from the mainland US, fast food places and other businesses all zoomed by…or maybe we zoomed by them. All I remember was that a lot of zooming was going on!

We finally returned and stowed all the nonsense away.

It rains quite a bit here. Just from last nights down pour, Emma collected 3 buckets full of water.

This evening she bathed in the sky water and washed her hair in it.

Here in the main salon tonight, it’s a little bit of heaven. Danny has his gorgeous Teton 10 string guitar hooked up to speakers and has been playing his guitar for hours while Mycah is singing into the mic. I love her voice. When the two of them sing together it melts my heart.

I spoke with Hunter today, and our sweet grand daughter is growing beautifully. At almost 23 weeks along, she is now about 8” long and 1 lb in weight. I can’t wait to hold her!!!

Samana, DR to Puerto Rico

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Our short stop in Samana was so relaxing! The marina is at a resort called Puerto Bahia, and since it is the off season, there was hardly a soul around. This meant that the creatures had full run of the entire place, with multiple pools and endless skateboarding opportunities and Marci and I could use real washers and dryers and get as much laundry done as we wanted to! Tanda Malaika looked good in her slip which only cost $1/ft per night.

Chad and the boys played tennis.

I wandered around admiring the gorgeous flora after the rain,

I fell in love with the stepping stones around the resort, designed to look like a nest was in each one.

We spent a considerable amount of time in the many pools.

When our weather window looked good, we set out on the 132 nm Mona passage, which we had been warned about. It is the stretch of ocean between Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico, and is known for it’s crazy seas. We made sure everything on Tanda Malaika was stowed well and latched down, and braced ourselves for the ride. We rearranged watches for the night, figuring we’d arrive in about 20 – 22 hours.
Through the night the ocean and weather was calm, and today, it was even calmer. The tumultuous ocean we expected turned out to be like a lake.

The lack of wind meant that we had to motor the entire way, but that was better than being beaten to death. We rescued a lonesome fender bobbing up and down in the middle of no where, and Chad caught a couple of barracuda which he threw back.

As we neared Puerto Rico we could see that the topography is similar to Dominican Republic, with dense foliage on hills and distant mountains.

After our 20 hour passage, the welcome committee was a flock of awkward Pelicans gawking from poles. They seemed bored to death by our presence.

We scrubbed the boat down and as we did, it began raining, so we continued and took advantage of the beautiful cool rain. Emma washed her hair with rainwater and all the suds from cleaning the decks were washed away.

We are excited to be here.On Monday, my beautiful Momma, my sister (Bernadine), and my nephew (Gabriel), will be arriving. We can’t wait to see them!

Sailing from Luperon to Samana, Dominican Republic

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Our sail to Samana lasted about 26 hours and was mostly uneventful, which is what we aim for. We set up a watch schedule for the night, which included Danny and Aidan 10pm-midnight, Mycah and Sierra midnight to 2am, Emma and I, 2 – 4am, Jude and Glade 4 – 6am and Chad and Marci 6-8am. Our only negative and potentially expensive event was that an overtightened jib sheet on port caused a roller on the block to explode and launch itself into the abyss. Consequently, the jib was furled and until we get it replaced we can only use the jib when on a port tack.

Everyone slept, manned the helm, read and relaxed through the day, and Chad set a line to catch dinner. He was successful, catching our favorite fish to eat…Mahi Mahi. It was a beauty.

As we reached the southern end of Dominican Republic and shortened our distance to shore, majestic green mountains became clearer.

Rounding the southern tip brought us close to cliffs that reached heavenward, with eroded caves, arches and blow holes sending a mist of sea air bending like angel wings above the coastline. Dwindling sunlight cast an inviting glow that beckoned us to follow and explore the depths of dense foliage and rugged rock faces that would excite any geologist.

Color and texture formed a linear eruption that still holds me there, wanting to climb, to feel, and breath in the exquisite beauty.

Our Maker is a Master artist.

For dinner I served grilled Mahi Mahi with Luperon beans and rice, which I prepared with fond memories, as images of Altagracia, Flee, Rueben and Luis sauntered through my head. The setting sun cast fading light on the repetition of green and is worked its way deeper into land off to port, and curious color and depth on the clouds to starboard.

All on board watched in awe as light turned dark and we drifted into the darkness of night.

As we approached Samana, fishermen out in their tiny boats looked like fireflies in the dark, as they used lights to find their catch. The water was calm and quiet and even Tanda Malaika seemed to enjoy the peace as she gracefully moved the water away from her hulls.

Smiling staff met us on the dock ready to catch lines and tighten us down after Danny’s (once again) amazing back up into the slip. We all quickly changed and quietly slipped into the infinity pool which lay under an immense blanket of unending stars. The Milky Way stretching like giant arms ready to hold us close while we slept through the night.