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Freeport to Florida

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The sail from Bahamas to Florida was beautiful, with following seas and enough wind to fill the sails. We all watched the sun dip into the ocean one last time, reflecting on what an amazing weeks it’s been.

Matt and Gina are wonderful people. They have big hearts, adventurous spirits, great humor, and beautiful insight to share. Danny and I will miss spending time with them as we go our separate ways, but will make sure we continue to stay in close contact. Some people you meet become instant family, and they are definitely stuck with us.

Danny took first watch, Matt took second and I took third. Sailing at night is such a peaceful experience – a time I love to use for reflection. There have been many times in the past that I have listened to podcasts while on watch, but this time I just wanted to soak it all in, feel everything and be completely present.

When the morning light lay out across the ocean and reflected in the clouds, I felt incredible peace and a closeness with my sweet brother that I miss so much. I’m so grateful for moments like these.

Looking aft, I watched the suns rays reach upward through clouds from the tranquil ocean. Life is filled with incredible beauty, and each experience in nature is a priceless gift. Rumi once said, “There are a thousand ways to kneel and kiss the ground; there are a thousand ways to go home again.” The ocean is sacred ground to me where I kneel in awe, where everything makes sense and fills me with overwhelming peace. It is home to me.

Mid morning we reached our destination, making our way through open bridges, filling up at the fuel dock, then tying up back at the charter company.

We unloaded Mintaka, bidding her farewell and feeling gratitude for her shelter. She has been mother to us this week – keeping us safe and carrying us across the waters.

Danny and I will return to Utah now, where I will continue to study like a crazy and prepare for SkyWest Flight Attendant training which starts in four days. On to the next adventure!

Final hours in Bahamas

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Wendy and Ferrin Flanders (also known on the boat as Grandma and Grandpa), have been so wonderful to spend time with. It’s a good idea to surround yourself with people you admire and hope to be like, and such beautiful souls like these two, are the perfect example of what kind of people we all should be.

In this short time, Grandpa has become quite the sailor!

Knowing that we had a short amount of time left before needing to stow the fenders and dock lines, raise the sails and head for Florida, we invited Tia and her beautiful children over for a swim and lunch at the marina. We cooked hotdogs and hamburgers on the BBQ and fed everyone including the marina staff.

These munchkins have not had been in the water much, and were so excited to swim. Matt tied a pool noodle around Brigham and spent considerable time with him – teaching him how to swim. By the end of the day, he put the fish to shame.

We all had a wonderful time relaxing, playing with the kids and picnicking, and Danny made some new friends.

This sweet little Angel took a nap in my arms after we’d splashed around for a while.

Whenever we are in Bahamas, it just seems like the right thing, to make conch fritters. I used my recipe from Big Mama, the beautiful Bahamian lady who taught me how to make them and shared her recipe with me. Owen has decided it’s his new favorite food.

Finally the time came when we needed to say our ‘see you later’s’ and head for the US. We decided to sail through the night so those that tend to get seasick can sleep – arriving in Fort Lauderdale by midday, which is when the boat is due back.

It’s tough leaving Bahamas. This place is so peaceful and incredibly beautiful. It’s great to know that regardless of what’s going on in life, Bahamas is always here…waiting for our return.

Adventuring and helping out

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For our last full day in Bahamas, we decided that in the morning we would explore a beautiful beach and a blue hole or two, and in the afternoon we would shop for the five families in need.

Gold Rock Beach is part of Lucayan National Park, and a splendid place to spend some time. We first walked a path that led us to a blue hole restricted to swimmers but open to scuba divers. 

Many years ago, well preserved human remains were found under some rocks about 6ft below the waters surface – as well as pottery pieces.

Mangroves surround the trail leading to the beach, then all open up to the beautiful ocean.

Fine white sand stretches out as far as one can see, with cool Bahamian blue waters gently lapping up onto the shores.

The kids dug holes, built castles and splashed in the waves. I snorkeled out a ways and found nothing but wide open sandy bottom…such a beautiful sight. Grand Bahamas is known for their Tiger Sharks, and I hoped I would see one, but never did.

They say the most versatile all terrain vehicle is a rental car, and we definitely put that theory to the test! A really bumpy dirt road took us deep into the who knows where of Grand Bahama, and finally we found Owl Hole. Wendy and Ferrin got a kick out of the warning sign…go ahead and dive, but remember, I forbid it!

We plunged deep into the hole and splashed around until we were pruny enough!

A ladder was in place, which made it easy to climb out for another jump.

After those adventures, Matt and Gina and I loaded up supplies at the grocery store. Shopping in Bahamas is expensive – a dozen eggs is almost $8 and a small jar of peanut butter is $10.

We took everything over to the family’s home that we had had dinner with, and sorted and divided the supplies up for the five families, then set out to deliver it all. It always such a special experience for us.

I’m so grateful for life and the opportunities it presents us, and I’m especially grateful for the opportunity for personal growth and learning…and the best part of it is that it’s endless.

Freeport, Bahamas

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The sail from the North end of Grand Bahama to Freeport, was calm and uneventful. Not one fish struck, and that was ok, since we have a fridge full of Mahi Mahi and Red Snapper.

I’m always amazed at the various colors of the ocean. It’s all incredibly vast and beautiful!

Once again, Mintaka brought us safely to our destination, where we docked at Grand Bahama Yacht Club.

The facilities here are wonderful. Washers and dryers available, a gorgeous pool to splash around in, and friendly staff who greet us with big friendly smiles.

A local family invited us to their home for dinner, where we feasted on BBQ chicken, peas and rice, potato salad and coleslaw. Everything was scrumptious, and I fell in love with their little girl they call Pretty Girl.

She cuddled into me for a long time and allowed me to feed her dinner. What an angel. We gave the Beckford family all the fish we had caught, and they were so grateful. They told us that most Bahamian people do not know how to swim, so they don’t go into or onto the ocean and buy their fish from the fishermen that stop by once in a while.

Tia is such a sweet mom to her three little children. We asked her if she knew of anyone that needed help, since so many are still suffering from last years hurricane. Tia told us about five families in need, so we will be shopping for supplies for them.

I am so grateful for the opportunity to meet so many amazing people. I learn so much from them and love helping them to feel heard and understood.

Alice Town to Grand Bahamas

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This morning we set sail for Grand Bahamas in light airs. Soon afterward, a beautiful breeze picked up and our sail to the north end was gorgeous with billowing sails and following seas. We set two hand lines and a rod, and immediately felt the tug…tuna on the hook.

Time and time again, the reels whizzed…each time we brought in something spectacular. Mahi Mahi are so beautiful and incredibly delicious – we brought in two of them with the intention of sharing with a local family.

We also caught a large barracuda, which we set free, and another red snapper. A 6 fish day is a fantastic day on the water!

Matt did a great job learning how to fillet the fish and is now officially a fillet master!

The closer we got to Grand Bahamas, the more container ships we saw. Freeport is the transshipment hub for the eastern seaboard of the US.

We reached Grand Bahamas in time to enjoy the sunset and the moon rising over the North end.

The kids were full of extra energy, so a quick dinghy ride to run around on shore, was in order…

Red snapper provided a delicious meal, followed by a game of Cover Your Assets, before bed.

Climbing into bed tonight, I’m able to check off yet another bucket list item…being bitten by a shark. I’m a little embarrassed to admit the breed and size of the shark, but it still counts! My hands were covered in smelly fish when we were feeding stingrays, and a young nurse shark mistook my fingers for food. Its tiny teeth in perfect little rows were razor sharp and left tiny cuts on my fingers. The bandaid on my thumb is from the fillet knife (I’m told I’m grounded from knives!) The scars on my body have fantastic stories to tell, and I will add these scrapes to the epistle with a smile on my face.

Fish On!!!

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This morning I woke up and grabbed my snorkel gear and camera, and set out to watch the sunrise. Sleeping, sunburned little munchkins lay sprawled and draped about the boat like Dali’s Clocks, and the Sapona looked eerie against the morning light.

Inside the rusty hull, stingray and turtle were already moving from patches of light, farther into shadows, and schools of reef fish breathed over swaying fans.

Absolute bliss…

Just as I began diving down to greet a a resting shark, a beautiful young turtle drifted past – its body lazily moving side to side in the current.

Coral, fans and sponges have slowly crept their way over the Sapona, breathing life back into the wreckage.

When I finally pulled myself away from exploring and reached Mintaka, everyone had woken up and were eating breakfast in the stern salon, and shortly afterward we set out for Honeymoon Cay.All sorts of animated excitement erupts when fishing reels whiz! I believe that the words, “FISH ON” could wake the dead!!!

Owen caught a small barracuda, and Matt brought in a gorgeous snapper after quite a fight.

The Bahamas are wrapped up in my favorite color…a peaceful shade of gorgeousness!

We splashed around Honeymoon Harbor, accompanied by friendly rays and nurse sharks. The rays swooped up over our legs as we sat in the shallows – their skin so soft and rigid tails extended.

While swimming back to the boat, sharks swam along side us – curiously circling back and forth. Their bodies sleek and one with the water.

We decided to dock in Alice Town to take on fresh water and spend the night, before heading to Grand Bahamas in the morning.

Locals directed us to a food truck where we feasted on lobster and shrimp with onions rings and fries.

As a perfect ending to a beautiful day, we watched the sun setting over the Caribben. Life is good, and it’s always wonderful to know that no matter what’s happening in the world, this is always here…waiting for us to return.

Miami to Bimini

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This morning we were planning on waking up at 3am to head fo Bimini, but woke up ready to face the world at 2am. The skyline looked beautiful beyond the darkness of the water.

By 4am I lay down to nap while Danny manned the helm, then at 7am I took over while he slept. There’s something magical about being on watch at sunrise. Witnessing the world awaken, one soft pastel at a time, it’s an experience I hope everyone is privileged to have at some point in their lives. 

We set a couple fishing lines and trolled the entire crossing, and hooked one mahi mahi on the hand line, just to watch it spin in the air, unhook itself and swim away. I can’t be upset when a fish does that – even though I would have been excited about the catch. Good on them for being such great fighters!

Once we reached Bimini, welcomed in by a plethora of spotted eagle rays, I stepped aside with the kids and with them, committed myself to the cool, clear ocean, while the adults stayed on deck and completed visa paperwork. This girl has priorities…

By the time all the legal nonsense was completed it was pushing 5pm, so we motored a couple miles over to the Sapona Wreck, eating dinner along the way. We dropped anchor for the night and went for an exquisite evening snorkel around the wreckage.

Sting rays and turtles were our snorkeling companions

The evening light looked gorgeous through the water as I dove down.

A grumpy old stingray watch me closely, acting quite unamused by my presence.

A fantastic close to yet another incredible day. Once again, we will sleep well as we are rocked, and hopefully this time we will slumber beyond 2am. If not, I’ll be diving down with flashlight in hand, to see what sleepy marine life I can spot.

Home

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I couldn’t sleep last night…I tossed and turned, then watched Netflix, then tossed and turned more, and the last time I looked at the clock it was 3am. Images of our boat, Tanda Malaika, were sailing through my head. Thoughts of the ocean, of secluded beaches, of full sails and of fishing lines set behind the boat.

Finally morning came and we met Mintaka.

She’s a beautiful 44ft Fontaine Pajot catamaran. After loading everything and a short boat briefing with the Flanders, we threw off the dock lines and set out through the inter coastal waterway. Danny and Matt looked like they knew what they were doing at the helm, while the rest of us continued to get things settled.

Little Ruby enjoyed watching the bridge open wide as if Moses had touched it.

It felt so good to feel the ocean breeze on my face, as Mintaka gently made her way through the water.

After about five hours we reached Miami, and dropped anchor in Biscayne Bay – just in time to whip up some tacos for dinner in the evening light. Dinner in the stern salon is always wonderful.

Matt and Gina are such beautiful souls, and we are loving spending time with them and their sweet family.

Sunset over the bay was fantastic, and as it set we all decided that it would be a good idea for us to retire for the night. Tomorrow morning we will set sail for Bahamas at 3am, allowing us to reach Cat Cay to check in by about noon.

Before heading to bed, I have a confession to make…. It’s hopeless. Emma introduced me and now I’m addicted. I sold all our bitcoin today to buy a warehouse full of these because I’m not sure I ever want to go without them. If you’ve never had them, don’t start. The sour apple flavor are especially delicious.

On that note, I’ll snuggle down in my berth and be rocked to sleep in the arms of Mintaka…until tomorrow, be well my friends.

Meeting up

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The Flanders family have been land sailing for the last two years. With an Airstream in tow and three sweet creatures in the backseat, they have traveled around exploring the US. Matt and Gina are a beautiful couple, and Danny and I are so excited to spend time with them and their family.

Yesterday we met them at their campground for a delicious lunch and provision planning. There will be nine of us onboard for this week long adventure – the Flanders family of 5, Danny and I, and Matt’s parents (who arrive tomorrow). We discussed the meals and snacks we’d like to prepare, the gear we needed for fishing, doing laundry and general boat life, and made lists. The planning part has always been really enjoyable for me. I love lists and I love crossing things off as I accomplish them. It gives me the same feeling of satisfaction that I get when looking back over a beautiful green lawn I have just mowed!

This morning we met at Costco, then Walmart, and gathered all we need (and don’t need). Matt was in charge of snacks and drinks, and he really went to town! Nobody on the boat will go hungry this week!

One of my favorite parts of the day involved the Bass Pro Shop…

One of my happy places, is the fishing section of any store. I believe I could spend all day looking at lures, leaders, swivels, rods, reels….check out these beauties!!!

I can’t get enough of them!

Some girls love diamonds – I just want lures!

We had a wonderful surprise this afternoon! Jake, our oldest son, drove down from Titusville to visit with us. It was wonderful to be with him. He looks so much like Danny and his voice sounds exactly like Danny’s, and ladies…he’s single. The two of them went for a drive in Matt and Gina’s Vanderhall.

It’s the cutest little 3 wheeled vehicle that looks like an insect zipping down the road.

All 9 of us have received our covid tests back now, and we are all negative. This means that we can apply for our visitors visas to Bahamas.

Tomorrow Gina and I will be doing some food prep so there’s less to do in limited galley space onboard. I’ll be making a pototoe salad, and she’ll be making a pasta salad.

Life is good, and Wednesday – the day we take possession of the boat, can’t come soon enough!

Back in Florida

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You know it’s a good day when you wake up to palm trees. They just don’t seem to grown well at 4800ft in the snow in Utah!

Yesterday Danny and I flew to Fort Lauderdale for our next adventure, leaving Mycah, Russell and Emma to tend to the house and chickens. It’s so wonderful to feel some humidity in the air, and to know that not far from our hotel, lies the vast ocean.

This journey brings us here because of a wonderful family: The Flanders.

When we lived in Phuket, Thailand, we met the Flanders at church, and invited them to our home. When they heard that we had lived on a sailboat and sailed for almost three years, they expressed how doing the same was one of their dreams, too. We have kept in touch ever since, and have had many talks about sailing, boat buying, monohulls vs. catamarans, provisioning, fishing while sailing, diving, etc.

We suggested that the best way to find out if sailing life is for you, is charter a boat and live the life hands on to get a taste. So, here we are in Florida…they will be chartering a catamaran and Danny and I will be captaining and teaching and showing them what living aboard is really like. We will teach them everything from provisioning to docking and all in between. It’s going to be epic!

The weather is beautiful, the company will be fantastic and the adventure will be recorded thoroughly as usual! Come along with us and enjoy the experience…