January 2022: Jamaica

In early January, we said goodbye to Aruba and set sail for Jamaica. This was an exciting time, but it did not come without some apprehension. Before any passage, we watch the weather, wind and waves. We plan our route so that we can sail as much as possible, but also try to go when the waves will be a reasonable size and direction, so that it will be a pleasant ride.

For this 515NM voyage we had great conditions. We had the wind pushing us along and we were able to go an average speed of 7NM per hour for this 75 hour trip, three days and nights.

So excited to wake up and see land.

We landed in Port Antonio, Jamaica on a Friday morning. We took a spot at the Errol Flynn Marina. Not a big place but just the right size for us and Wind Ensemble. After 6 months on desert islands, it was amazing to see a true tropical island again – green and lush with beautiful trees and flowers everywhere.

We got a very warm welcome. Customs and Immigration came to the dock to check us in and Addie met a new friend. It was really nice they accepted our Covid tests that we had taken in Aruba before leaving.

We quickly learned that having a local guide us around was the best way to learn about the community, find the best jerk chicken, and keep from getting hassled by other locals.

We took an all day and into the night island tour, up through the mountains.

We found a small local place making the famous blue mountain coffee the same way they always have. They start by breaking the outer shell off.

Then they roast each bean by hand over an open fire.

Last step is selecting only the best roasted beans. It does not get any more authentic than this.

Wow, it smelled good.

So proud of Addie, she has been trying so many new things.

Our next stop was Kingston and the Bob Marley museum.

It was a powerful experience getting to be in the spaces where he got inspired to create his iconic music.

One of the things we enjoy most about traveling around is getting to try local food.

It was a wonderful thing being back in a tropical place with so much lush foliage.

The size and color of the plants is breath taking.

We explored another part of the island and found some amazing falls to swim and play in, Reach Falls.

We ate lunch in the community of Boston which is where “jerk” was said to be invented.

This place was not a tourist trap. It was the real deal.

Then we went and swam in the famous Jamaica Blue Lagoon.

This was our first experience with a thermocline (a layer within a body of water or air where the temperature changes rapidly with depth). The water felt distinctly different from the top down to where our knees were. It is hard to capture the stunning blue color of the water on camera.

After a week in Port Antonio, we sailed to Oracabessa. It was a beautiful, calm little bay. Great for paddle boarding.

A little later, we found a local who caught dinner. I think this crab could have fed a family for a week, but he was not sharing.

A good sunset is appreciated by everyone – even the dogs.

We paddled around the corner and into the next bay to find James Bond Beach where part of Dr. No was filmed. The beach was just so, so but the water was gorgeous!

After a few days we sailed to Ocho Rios, another small bay still on the north side of Jamaica. We were able to anchor close enough to shore that we could swim in.

Also, in our view was a dolphin enclosure and the cruise ship dock (which you will see in a minute why that is important).

The rainbow found us. Rain is part of the formula for what is needed to keep Jamaica looking so beautifully tropical.

When the rain stopped we ventured into town and found the Red Stripe. We are in Jamaica after all.

Soon it was time to celebrate someone’s 17th birthday!!!

Oh my goodness, how did she get so old?

You are never too old to enjoy opening presents!

What better place to have your birthday lunch?!

We celebrated with a mom and daughter experience. The headache of these tight braids only lasted a few hours.

The dogs waited patiently for our return. Until they didn’t…. On this afternoon, Caper decided he was tired of missing out on the fun and he would just come and find us.

He jumped in the water and started swimming around the bay. He ended up over by the cruise ship where they called the port authority to say they saw a shark! One of the day boats saw him, recognized him as ours (and not a shark), scooped him up and returned him to our boat. They found us as we were leaving shore getting ready to head back to our boat to let us know about Caper’s swim around the bay. That was a scary day for us to think we almost lost Caper. He does not get as much freedom now when we leave the boat.

Addie was excited to celebrate her birthday in Jamaican colors!

She asked to go river tubing for her birthday, so we did. What a fun adventure that was!

It was great fun getting to explore Jamaica, but it was extra special getting to do it with our boat family Kent and Kathy on Wind Ensemble.

Here’s to Jamaica! Looking forward to sailing in your beautiful waters again one day.

Stay tuned as we continue to make our way around the western Caribbean – sailing to Belize next!

Sept-Dec 2021: Aruba

After a great visit to the states to see family and friends, it was good to get back to Bonaire to Aventis and the dogs.

Aventis did well in our absence. She had lots of eyes on her as she sat on the dock at Harbour Village Marina in Bonaire.

We quickly said goodbye to Shannon as he flew back to Aruba for another surgery.

Addie kept herself entertained by hanging with friends. And even hosting a party.

She invited a gaggle of girls over to watch the new Cinderella movie.

Ashley stayed busy by collecting sea glass.

And making crafts

We practiced our yoga in the shade at the park.

Shannon returned and we celebrated. We are very grateful to Chris and Jan on Saphire and Kent and Kathy on Wind Ensemble for taking such good care of Aventis while we were in the states.

It was finally time to say goodbye to Bonaire and make our way to Aruba. Having all three of us and the boat in Aruba was going to make it much easier to continue with Shannon’s care. He was scheduled for more surgery and after care.

On September 27, we headed out in the late afternoon with the help of Kent Meredith to make the 70 mile journey. It was a nice easy passage.

The next morning we got checked into Aruba and made it to the Renaissance Marina by about 10am.

Because we are going to be in Aruba for a few months, we got a rental car that we could use for the next three months.

Our first stop after getting the car was the hardware store to get materials to make a gangplank so that we could get on and off the boat easier.

The Renaissance Hotel Marina comes with a few perks. We are really close to Lucy’s with their $1-$5 Taco Tuesdays. Just on the other side of the parking lot is Starbucks, Duncan Donuts, Haagen Dazs, pizza, sushi, a movie theater and 5 O’Clock Somewhere.

We had an up close and personal view of the cruise ships.

As well as a very nice pool which even has a swim up bar.

The marina even has it’s own security team!!

Our first trip out exploring the island were to beaches where we heard there was sea glass.

Hunting for sea treasures.

Time for a beer.

With Shannon back in the hospital for another surgery (#7) – Ashley and Addie head out for a day of island exploring on their own.

So pretty, we had to stop and take a picture.

We found the famous Red Anchor which meant we had almost made it to Baby’s Beach.

Shannon has finally been released from what feels like hospital jail (they told us this surgery and hospital stay would only be for a few days and then it turns into a week and a half) and so we go out for lunch which includes a drink of course!!

Exciting times on Aventis. Someone turned 50!!!!!

Out to a nice dinner we went, so Shannon did not have to suffer through Ashley’s cooking. Ha! Ha! It was ”lick the plate” good!

Time for more island exploring on the north east side.

and just plain silliness!

We decided to upgrade our living room with a new piece of furniture.

And finally, 3 months after the accident, Shannon is out without a bandage on his hand.

A very happy day for us!!

As a birthday surprise, Don and Mel came to visit! After a canceled flight their short visit was cut extra short but we made the most of the two days!

We celebrated.

We explored.

We posed.

We hunted for treasures.

We were silly.

We drank with our toes in the sand.

We visited Eagle Beach; rated in the top 10 in the world.

And of course we went and played with the flamingos. Another perk pf staying at the marina was access to their private Flamingo Island.

Was a fun visit that went fast but also had perfect timing. The next day the AC stopped working.

The color of the water says it all – the lines were clogged with barnacles!

Was an exhausting day for all of our crew.

“Goodbye sun. See you tomorrow!”

This is a typical scene both early and late in the day. All the boys comfy on the couch.

Before a day of island exploring, Addie fuels up. Her new bird friend sits and waits hopefully for crumbs.

We found a beautiful spot.

The Alto Vista Church, rebuilt in 1952. This spot is believed to be the first place a Catholic church was built on the island over 270 years ago.

Natural Tide Pools

So many nooks and crannies to check out.

Ashley never seems to tire of looking.

But at some point it is beer thirty!!!

The perfect sunset to end a great day.

Saw this guy come in twice while we were in Aruba. That is a big sailboat!!

Date night! Meat and potatoes. “I hope they bring something for Shannon!”

Heading back to the states for a quick visit to celebrate Thanksgiving with family and friends.

Hiking around Lake James on a magnificent November day, led us to these amazing falls.

After our adventuring were thirsty…

And hungry.

A great day in the NC mountains.

Made it to Boone just in time for a memorable sunset. It is much cooler here, burrr!

Addie was excited. She got to hang out with her good friend Kelsey.

Next stop was VA. We spent Thanksgiving with Shannon’s brother, Shawn, sister-in-law, Miki and their two boys Lucas and Theo. Makenzie’s boyfriend Gavin joined us. Was great to get to spend time with them.

This visit also brought true sadness to our family as the seat at the head of the table sat empty. On November 16th we lost an incredible mom, a devoted grandma and a wonderful friend, Julie Thompson. After putting up a very good fight, Alzheimer’s took her from us. She will be greatly missed!

It is time to get back to Aruba.

Not really sure the dogs were ready for us to come back. They had so much fun at the dog hotel. There were tons of friends to play with and a great pool to swim in.

They took lots of naps those first days we were back.

Before we knew it the girls and Gavin arrived. With the fall semester competed it was time to relax, explore and enjoy Aruba.

Addie was excited to show her sisters Flamingo Island. Being able to go over anytime we wanted at no cost was definitely one of the coolest things about staying in the Renaissance Marina.

Swimming was great.

The drinks were yummy.

Ella made a new friend.

He was a hungry fellow.

There is a reason it is called Flamingo Island.

After a day of fun in the sun, we clean up and grab some dinner at one of the many restaurants within walking distance of the marina.

The dogs were very happy in Aruba. It meant lots of walks and there was even a beach where they could swim.

Makenzie and Gavin are always willing to pose for a photo.

Time for land tour of Aruba. We head out with Kent and Kathy(WindEnsemble) and David(Raven) to see the sights.

First stop, on the northern side of the island, top of the world or so it felt as we took the Jeep up, up, up the dirt path that you can not call a road. We were lucky to make it to the top. Ashley seriously considered walking down.

Next we made it to a Natural Bridge. This one is the biggest on Aruba.

Then we found some ruins. So interesting how and where previous generations decide to build their structures and what remains after nature takes it’s toll.

Made it to the light house on the western tip. Interesting it had been hit by lighting a few weeks before and they had just gotten it relit which costs like $30,000.

After lunch we ventured to the northeast end of the island and found a really cool natural pool.

It was a great day of adventuring.

After a grand week of fun, Gavin left us to go spend Christmas with his family.

We began of December celebrations with Ashley’s birthday which included a spa day!

And a really unique dining experience. When you eat at Senses you are eating at the Chef’s Table. You have no choices but the food you are given is divine, the presentation exquisite and the wine pairing spot on.

Best birthday present ever is having the whole family together!

An added plus is that means extra hands to do Ashley’s favorite activity, collect sea glass.

The birthday celebration would not be complete without our boat family! We celebrated together at LG’s Steakhouse.

We enjoyed some memorable cocktails!

Now we are ready for Christmas in the islands!

Even Caper is in the spirit.

A few days before Christmas, Kathy, Addie and Ashley decided they needed to stretch their legs. They started walking and 4 miles later with no water left in their bottles, they had arrived at the Butterfly Garden. What a magical place that turned out to be.

So many varieties

So neat to see the different cocoons

They really liked Ashley.

Addie makes a beautiful butterfly!

Super enjoyable place!

Not so enjoyable, but definitely necessary – Shannon and Ashley were finally eligible for the booster shot.

So they waited the 3 hours and got boosted!

Mak and Ella have been boosted too. Just need to get Addie done when next back in the states.

Another amazing day!

More island touring, today we visit the Aruba Aloe Factory. This is the island’s number one export.

Say Cheese!

Next stop the Butterfly Garden! Makenzie, Ella and Shannon loved it!

And the butterflies loved them!

Then it was time for a dip in the pool!

Another great day! We are so very fortunate to have such awesome kids and to have each other!

Time to wrap. The elves are ready to help…

Santa found us!

Presents for everyone.

Headphones for Addie and Ella.

Money for Mak!

A much needed water bottle for the Captain.

Cheers to a great Christmas with our girls

And with our boat family!

Was super fun having the girls in Aruba with us for so long. Sadly they had to return to work and school.

We stayed in Aruba for News Years because it promised to be a very unique experience. It did not disappoint! During the day on New Years Eve, businesses set off street fireworks at different times out in the road. This is to celebrate the good fortune of the past year and their excitement for the year to come.

About 10pm the fireworks were planned to start. Every hotel down the beach had their own display to set off. The fireworks actually started as soon as the sun went down and lasted well into the night. It seemed that most locals set them off to celebrate as well as the hotels. As we waited for the Renaissance’s display, we watched a movie on the big screen on Raven.

Fireworks at the marina – right next to the boats!

One of the most amazing things we have ever seen is how Aruba celebrates New Years with fireworks. The entire island is lit up for about an hour. Fireworks are going off all over the island and you can see almost all of them from the hilltop. You won’t believe it until you see this video! Amazing.

It was time to go and start cruising again. Six months after our first visit to Aruba by air ambulance, 60+ days in the hospital, 7 surgeries, hundreds of OT sessions and over 3 months at the dock, we were ready to get moving. Shannon got the green light from his team at the hospital and we untied the lines. The plan for the spring is to explore the Western Caribbean. We left Aruba on January 3rd, 2022 bound for Jamaica.

August 2021: Visiting the states

Ashley and Addie flew to Atlanta on July 28th with plans of being in the states for 3 1/2 weeks. Customs was crazy. The line took 3 hours…

The next morning we were off to Boone to see the girls!

Addie got to enjoy Elk River Falls on a beautiful afternoon with her friend Brendan.

We made it to town just in time to help Ella move into her first apartment.

The four of us girls took a road trip to Sunset Beach, NC. We spent 3 days visiting with Ashley’s siblings, cousins and extended family.

Ashley with her two cousins who all turned 50 this year!

The girls had a fun time visiting with their first and second cousins.

Shannon was set to meet up with us on August 9th. On August 8th he tested positive for Covid while still in the hospital. He had to remain in the hospital until he tested negative which turned out to be 10 full days. So back to Boone we went.

Then Ashley and Addie headed to Nebo to relax and play at the lake with Don and Mel.

Addie got spoiled by Aunt Mel getting her hair done and getting bubble tea.

Shannon finally got to fly to Charlotte on August 18th. We spent the next two weeks visiting friends and family. A big thanks to Dad and Julia for getting Shannon cleaned up after a month in the hospital.

Cheers to finally being back together!

And cheers to being back in the water!

Next to Boone to see the girls

We grabbed the big girls and headed to VA to see Julie (Grandma) and the cousins.

It is crazy how old everyone is getting.

Time to get the girls back to school and see a few more friends in Boone.

We do love the water. Bass Lake holds a special place in our hearts so many walks and runs with the dogs here over the years.

Before we head back to the boat we make time for one of our favorite activities, brewery hopping in Asheville.

It never disappoints. Big smiles and full hands.

Addie loves to come along. It is a day of tasty treats for her too!

One last yummy meal where we load up on meat, good drinks and of course extra cheese rolls for Ashley!!

Goodbye friends and family. See you next time!

After a short 3 1/2 hour flight we make it to Aruba, so Shannon can check in with his team at the hospital.

After a few days in Aruba, we fly back to Bonaire. Shannon has not been on the boat in over 7 weeks.

July 2021: Bonaire

We left St. Thomas in the USVI just before sunset on Wednesday June 23rd, our destination was Bonaire. The plan was to sail as much of the 438 NM as we could. We needed to arrive by 2:00pm on Saturday, so that the dock hands at the marina would be there to help us check in and get settled at the marina. Bonaire is not a place where you can just anchor because of the nature of the underwater sea wall(which is what makes the diving so good). You must have a mooring ball or dock slip reserved before you come in.

Our friends Kent and Kathy on WE made the journey with us.

It was a relatively easy passage with beautiful weather and a lovely full moon.

We made it as planned!! Bonaire is a small island at 112 square miles and sits just 60 miles from Venezuela.

Such a cool place. The amount and variety of sea glass that Ashley found on day one was incredible.

We rented a car and began to explore the island. It had an amazing spot for Windsurfing.

And for Kitesurfing, which is on our short list of things we want to learn to do.

There are wild flamingos all over the island. Some nights when we were really lucky, we would see a group of two or four fly over our boats in the marina. That is a very unique sight with those long legs trailing their bodies in the sky.

Not your typical road sign, unless you are on Bonaire where there are 62 shore dives and many more than that for the experienced divers who are willing to be more adventurous on their water entry.

We of course found the Cudushy Distillery. A beautiful presentation, with a fascinating story but not our favor flavor as all the liquors are made with the cadushy cactus plant, that is very plentiful on the island.

The island is known for many things and one of the most charming is all the wild donkeys. Most are very kind and you can feed them from the side of the road.

With so much coast line on this desert island being covered with coral, there is a plethora of driftwood which leads to beautiful popup art.

In1499 when the Spanish arrived in Bonaire, they discovered salt. The Dutch took the island over about a hundred years later and have been capitalizing on the production of salt ever since.

Early in the process they used a system of colored obelisks to indicate the four different grades of salt. Merchants would come in and anchor as close to shore as possible. The women slaves would carry baskets full of salt on their heads to a small boat that would then transport the salt out to the merchants.

The slaves lived in these small concrete huts right by the water’s edge.

On the southwest end of the island the water comes ashore with a fierce power especially when the wind and water work together.

Addie has been practicing her painting feeling inspired by the amazing wild life.

Date Night!

Lots of new restaurants to try out, 150 to be exact!! Addie found her favorite!!

Time for a girl’s day of island exploring with our friends Darlyn, Celeste and Eden from Bliss.

First stop, Donkey Sanctuary where they have rescued 750 wild donkeys from around the island. We had bags of carrots and apples. They ate every bite and wanted more.

Old ruins capture Addie’s heart!!

The boys went on their own adventure. Shore diving on the east side of the island, jumping in from this ledge.

Afterwards, Kent, Martijn, Shannon and Harry (Bliss) celebrated at a small local brewery with the owner Arron.

The street art makes you smile.

Sunday brunch that includes a dip in the pool. Nothing better!

Can always find time for sundowners with friends.

“Thanks Mom and Dad. We love our new beds and haircuts!”

On July 19th, the boys head out for another island adventure. Shannon, Kent, Harry and Martijn check out the back roads of Bonaire in these open air vehicles.

New sights that require 4 wheel drive to see!

A super fun and dirty experience.

Until it wasn’t….

The ATV, that Shannon was driving with Harry as his passenger, rolled as they took a turn. Shannon’s hand got mangled under the roll-bar. He had to be flown to Aruba by air ambulance for surgery.

After second surgery looks he looks like Frankenstein…..

“Hope you feel better Dad!”

“Get well soon Dad, so you can come see us at Booneshine!”

“We miss you Dad!”

Sending you smiles and laughs to make you feel better.

“Thanks guys. Trying to follow Dr.’s orders.”

On July 28th, with Shannon still in the hospital in Aruba, Ashley and Addie head to NC for a 3 1/2 week visit with family and friends.

We left the dogs in very good hands with our friends, Cat and Martijn.

Shannon had one more surgery on July 29th, then he was set to meet up with them.

Unfortunately, things did not go as planned and Shannon was delayed in heading to the states. He tested positive for COVID and had to quarantine in the hospital for an additional 10 days.

Feb-June 2021: Spring in the USVI

Being back in the USVI for a second season means time to find new favorite spots and of course sharing them with friends and family. There is so much to explore and do in St. Thomas, St. Johns and St. Croix. One of our favorite new areas of St. Johns is Coral Bay on the southeast end of the island.

We love visiting Limeout the floating taco bar and getting pizza at the Salty Mongoose. Then we spend the night in Hansen Bay, where we have great snorkeling and keep some very high class company…

This end of the island has some great hiking. We made our way to salt pond and then on to Rams Head.

Another chill place we discovered and went back to many times this spring was Cannel Beach, very close to ZoZos.

And of course we spent more time in Maho Bay. Turtles galore.

We got to meet and spent time with Kathy’s sister, Barb and husband Jeff. Music teacher, Kathy taught us to play Cups.

Time to move

Time to Chill

Took Addie to Dinghy’s Beach Bar to get her french fry fix!

Then we met Parker!! Our friends on Dreamcatcher have a new crew member! Parker is a Portuguese Water Dog (same as Caper and Chance). These boys are smitten with each other. We got to babysit him one day and I was truly surprised they got him back.

Parker loved Addie. Even helped her with her school work.

Having Parker over wore Chancey out!!

Early March we got the opportunity to get vaccinated and we jumped on it. It was super easy. They were giving the shots at the University which was only a five minute walk from Brewer’s Bay.

Addie began collecting sea treasures and started making jewelry.

The dogs love to dry off with us after a swim.

Our dogs truly think they are people, as they practice their driving skills.

Our new batteries finally arrive!! YEAH!! A week in the marina to get them installed was well worth it. Aventis is much happier and Shannon can finally sleep through the night. No more alarms in the middle of the night.

Time to celebrate and enjoy the sunset.

Really cool learning thing happened while at the marina, dock hands were cutting coconuts out of the trees. They showed us how they open them to drink the water and then eat the inside. We are ready for Survivor!!

This is an uncommon sight in the USVI right now, a deserted beach bar with picnic tables and beach chairs. This little slice of heaven is located just outside of the main cruise ship bay for St. Thomas and we were lucky enough to have it all to ourselves on this particular day.

Time for another trip around St. Johns. This time we hiked to the petroglyphs with Kent and Kathy.

New batteries working beautifully!!!

Second vaccine, wiped Ashley out for a day! Addie and Shannon fared much better.

We had been talking about going to Chicken’n Bowlin since we got to the VI last spring. It was finally safe to go! The wings and fries were yummy and the bowling was super fun!

April got here and we were super excited to have Don and Mel back for another visit.

Mel celebrated her birthday with us. This is a tradition for us. We have been friends for 25 years and have celebrated all but a handful of her birthdays together.

We snorkeled and beach it.

Sailed around to Maho Bay and Sunchilled in Ashley’s new toy.

We visited body beach.

Shannon and Don hiked to Ram’s Head.

We all hiked to the sugar plantation and the petroglyphs.

We all four got a tattoo of the petroglyphs!

We showed them some of our other favorite spots. Sunset Grille at Secret Harbor Resort.

Duffy’s Love Shack

Taphus Bar

It was a really fun and memorable visit!!

The dogs agree.

With a few days between visitors we decided to head to St. Croix. We had one week to check things out.

We anchored by the pier in Frederiksted. If the cruise ships were coming, we could not be this close. Water is crystal clear and the sea life under the pier is amazing. We scuba dove the pier by going right off the back of our boat. Super cool!

Amazing sunsets over the water.

Ready to explore St. Croix! Aventis is directly behind us.

Visited Fort Frederik and found a sea glass museum.

Very neat art made with sea glass and chainey(broken pottery found in the sea).

Moko Jumbies

Addie pretending to be 18 so we could be at the Fred for a pool day.

Sun dial east end of the island.

Botanical Gardens

And of course a visit to the original Leatherback Brewery!

One last sunset

A proper turtle island farewell!

And off we go headed back to St. Thomas. This drone footage is courtesy of a gentleman on St. Croix who happen to be taking video of a boat near by and got this image of us.

And just like that we are back in Long Bay after a peaceful 7 hour sail.

Ready for round two of Chicken’n Bowlin.

Stocked and Ready! School is out and Makenzie, Gavin(boyfriend), Anna and Alex are headed our way for a week of fun in the USVI!!

First stop: No Passports Required for adult slushies

The gang is here!!

Second stop: straight into the water!

Next day we made our way to Maho Bay on St. John’s for some turtle spotting, sun chilling and sunset cruising.

From there, Limeout for drinks and tacos!

More water fun! If the sun chill is out, Caper is in it.

So many smiles and laughs…

Life is Good!!

So many fun things to explore above and below the water.

What an awesome week! We were sad to say goodbye to Gavin, Anna and Alex, but so glad we got to have this time together!!

The dogs are pooped from all the fun.

But then they perked up because Ella got here! This week is all about some family time!

Luckiest mom in the world getting to spend Mother’s Day with all three of her beautiful daughters!!

As part of our new tradition when the girls visit during the month of May we celebrate all the upcoming birthdays and Father’s Day.

Happy 21st Mak!

Happy 19th Ella!

We explored St. Thomas from a whole new perspective. Taking the Skyride up to Paradise Point.

Aventis is down there in the bay, close to the front of course.

Happy Father’s Day!

This was cute! Chance loves his toys and he carries them all over the boat to play with them. On this afternoon not sure exactly how it happened but this toy got knocked into the water. Chance never, ever jumps off the boat into the water, but today he was seriously thinking about it. The current was moving pretty good, so Capt. Shannon saved the day by taking the dinghy to get the toy.

We sadly said goodbye to Mak

And enjoyed a few extra days with just Ella.

We said goodbye to Ella!

And welcomed our friends Lisa and Lenny Cottom.

We day cruised around St. Johns by boat visiting Hawksnest Beach, Cannel Bay, Maho Bay, Hansen Bay and even got a bonus sail from the east end back to the west end of the island. We did lots of chilling.

Best memory was of the hike the we tried to take to Rams Head during what seemed like a tropical storm. This was something we knew we wanted to do with Lisa and Lenny so we did not let a little light rain stop us. No joke we stood under the trees half way up for the good part of an hour while it poured rain and the wind picked up. Rained all morning. At some point we gave in and tried to keep going, but it was really not safe, so we headed back. Got over 2 inches of rain while we were out there.

Consumed just a “few” beverages at the Beach Bar in Cruz Bay.

On one of our visits to the Beach Bar Mak was celebrating her birthday with family back in Boone.

Lisa, Henry and Jack are looking at the us on the web cam from the Beach Bar.

Happy 21st birthday Mak!!

We said goodbye to Lisa and Lenny and headed back to St Thomas.

We got to have a fun reunion with our friends Jake and Stephanie (Dreamcathcer) as well as David and Shirley (Maeva). Was super fun to catch up with David and Shirley as we had not seen them since Grenada.

Very exciting night for the three of us! Our first movie in 2 years. Movie was good but popcorn was amazing!!

Goodbye for now to St. Thomas, we are headed to the Spanish Virgin Islands when the sun comes up.

First stop is Culebra. Interesting place, very green, town was a little disappointing because not much was open. We did manage to find a place, just had to wait until they opened at 2pm to eat lunch.

Neat remains can be seen on Flamenco Beach from when the US Navy used Culebra for bombing practice. This lasted until the residents of Culebra protested and the Navy left the island in 1975. You can see from the picture too how bad the sargassum is right now.

But then we found a whole other side to Culebra and it became my favorite place we have been so far. On the northwest side, we grabbed a mooring ball and we found a little beach called, Carlos Risario. Most people would not come here by car it is a boat only beach. We could jump in the water and dive or snorkel this amazing reef that was right under the boat. The dogs had the run of the beach. For the first three days we were the only ones and then the day boats started to show up each day about 10 and stay until 4 or so. No big deal we just started our day drinking earlier!

Made a new friend. He came and swam with us most most mornings.

Had a great time meeting and hanging out with Kathy’s sister Susan and her husband Robert.

Completed our circle around the island and got back to the much smaller island of Culebrita. Beautiful spot with amazing water and a white sandy beach. Spent two nights here swimming and hiking around the island.

A nice welcome back to Long Bay, St. Thomas. Time to get the dogs checked by the vet, grab some provisions and ready the boat for the 3 day passage to Bonaire.

But at last it is Father’s Day and we got to enjoy such a nice celebration at brunch with our friends Kent, Kathy as well as Ron and Patti from No Passports.

Finally time to crash!!

Goodbye for now USVI!! See you soon Bonaire!

Addie’s Take: Feb 23-Mar

We got to babysit Parker because Stephanie from Dreamcatcher hurt her back and Jake was on a trip visiting his sons  and their nephew. We took Caper, Chance, Rosco, Daisy and Parker to the beach and let them run around and play to  get their energies out.  We took Rosco and Daisy( Parker’s brother and sister) back to Dreamcatcher and Parker back to Aventis. Chance was extremely jealous because we gave Parker a lot of attention.  It was fun watching Parker though it was also kind of a distraction. It was hard to get schoolwork done with him on the boat, because he kept getting up on my lap and messing with the computer; he kept asking me to play with him. We were doing a favor and helping out a friend, so it was worth it. Parker is a Portuguese Water Dog like Caper and Chance. He is just a puppy who is 11 weeks old. It was also fun taking all five dogs to the beach because they all got to play and swim and we got to play with them. I called it Aventis Doggy Day Care, a private free business. 

Me, Mom and Dad got the Covid-19 Vaccine here in the US Virgin Islands.  There was a community vaccination center at the USVI University. We got the Pfizer Vaccine. There are three companies that make the vaccines, Pfizer, Modernara and Johnson~Johnson. The  Pfizer is 95% effective. Here is some information on the messenger RNA Vaccine, it is a new vaccine that is meant to protect against infectious diseases. Most vaccines like The flu vaccine puts in weakened germs in our body’s. This Vaccine teaches our body how to make a protein that triggers an immune response to our bodies. The protein is called the Spike Protein, it is found on the surface of the virus that causes Covid 19. The cell gets rid of the instructions once the protein is made. It is given in the upper arm muscle. The vaccine never enters the nucleus of the cell where our DNA is. The vaccine does not use  the live virus. When you have the vaccine you can still get the corona virus, but it should help you fight it off faster (spoiler alert, we find this out first hand). You should not get sick. Your immunity does not begin until 12 days after you get the shot. It was fun getting the vaccine I felt good. I did not have any reactions or get sick. I did have a sore arm and was very tired. Dad also had a sore arm. Mom didn’t have a sore arm but she was tired, we were all tired. Kent and Kathy, our friends from Wind Ensemble also got the vaccine they got right after us. It was a fun and memorable day.

We went on a hike at Lameshur Bay with Kent and Kathy, Caper and Chance got to come on the hike with us. It was their lucky day. We passed little Lameshur which had a beach. Our friends Kent and Kathy wanted us to check out Lameshur Bay. We hiked up  a big hill and saw ruins of an old mansion that belonged to a plantation owner. It kinda looked like what I thought it would. It was built in the mid 1700s. We then hiked down another trail and saw more ruins. We think these were slave quarters. We then got to the Petroglyphs. They were beautiful and there were sacred  drawings on the rocks. The trail was 5.3 kilometers. The petroglyphs are a lost culture from the Islands past. It is located at the base of the valley’s highest waterfall. There wasn’t any water there not sure if it was because it is all dried up or because it’s the dry season. A spring fed pool reflects a 20-foot wide panorama of carvings year round with others nearby. When we headed back to the boat we were all tired and thirsty. We drank all our water on the walk. Caper and Chance were so tired they kept stopping in the shade, so Dad had to drag them to get them to keep going. It was a long walk. It was an excellent hike and we all had a lot of fun.

We got our second Covid shot. We made an appointment and walked to the University of the US Virgin Islands to be able to get it. We got it at the community center there, like last time. Our friends Kent and Kathy came with us and got their second shot as well. Mom, Dad and I were in separate stations for the shot.  I asked for the shot on my right arm because I’m left handed. I bled a little bit, but that’s all good. We felt fine afterwards and even went swimming. Later that day, we all had sore arms.  During the night we all had chills.  Mom and I had chills in the morning too. We were  all tired the day after. It’s great that we all got the vaccine.  On April 6th the vaccine will be fully effective.  I was able to get it as well even though I’m 16 and most places are not vaccinating people my age. This was a big deal for us to get vaccinated because we can travel easier into new countries, Caribbean Islands and hopefully I’ll even get to visit my grandma.

We went to this place called, Chicken’n Bowling. It’s the Virgin Island’s version of Bo’s in Lenoir, NC. Our friends, Kent and Kathy really wanted us to try this place, so we finally tried it. It was a lot of fun. We haven’t bowled in a while, so we kept trying different strategies. Mom ended up winning the games because she got a turkey and didn’t roll between her legs or use bumpers. Kent never let her forget it.  He nicknamed her, Turkey. He was not happy. He was a good sport about it though. We ended the day with a slushie from a place called, No Passports. We saw Jake and Stephanie and said “hi”,  but then they had to go because their charter guests were coming. We were Celebrating Mom’s big win. 

January 2021: Addie’s 16th birthday in the USVI and friends visit

January was a fun, easy going month for us. We got to celebrate Addie’s sweet 16, hang out with our friends on Wind Ensemble, and have our friends, Don and Melissa Marlett, on the boat for a visit. Once our battery testing was done at the marina it felt great to get back out on the water, even if we had to run the generator a lot since our batteries were shot. We spent the first two weeks in January hanging out in Brewers Bay on St. Thomas and in Rendezvous Bay on St. John. We love these two spots because the dogs can go to the beach in both spots.

Date lunch! We do not get as many of these now with the new Addie, who for some reason loves spending time with her parents. Go figure… But today, it was just Shannon and Ashley at a the beach bar at Honeymoon Beach.

Smile!

Dittlyf (at Rendezvous Bay, St. John) really is Addie and the dogs happy place!

More sunset pics but only because we are reminded everyday how lucky we are to have experienced the day that we did. We say goodbye to the sun and look forward to seeing her again the next morning.

Time to sail back to St. Thomas to get Don and Mel.

We checked into Yacht Haven Grande Marina for easy pick up and provisioning. This place lives up to it’s name. We are the smallest boat at the dock. This is where David Geffen’s yacht, Rising Sun, the Jobs’ family yacht, Venus, and Nancy Walton’s (Walmart heir) yacht, Kaos all dock sometimes. These yachts are all around 300 feet.

Even the chairs are mega!

First things first, a visit to Leatherback Brewery!

First night on anchor with the Marletts, we made our way to St. John and stayed on a mooring ball at Caneel Bay. We spent the afternoon snorkeling from the boat to shore, then got all fancied up and took Addie out for the first of her Sweet 16 birthday celebrations.

If you are visiting St. John, we can highly recommend ZoZo’s. It was a memorable experience. The food, staff and atmosphere are wonderful.

Next stop, Maho on St. John. Addie and Mel’s favorite spot for paddle-boarding and turtle spotting.

It is hard to put into words all the feelings surrounding Addie’s birthday. It has been an amazing journey watching her grow and mature. As we remember back to her first birthday, which we spent in the hospital, watching her have seizure after seizure with no answers. We worried for her life. It is such a gift today to see the beautiful, smart, happy young lady who shares this adventure with us.

We had lots of fun celebrating.

Off we go, sailing around St. John, looking for more trouble to get into…

We found it at Skinny Legs bar in Coral Bay. The Leatherback beer was calling our name!

More food and drinks needed, no problem. We just happen to know a floating taco bar with craft cocktails, Limeout. This was a “have to” with Don and Mel!

Next stop, Dittlyf Beach, Rendezvous Bay on St. John. A good quiet place to hang while Don did some work and the rest of us enjoyed the beach and the water.

Another VI treasure, Pizza PI, this is a pizza boat. You order you pizza over the VHF radio and pick it up by dinghy.
Very cool.

Another amazing day!

So funny story here. Let us start with Addie is babysitting the dogs and she is the one who took these pics! Our dogs do have manners and rules. This is not typical behavior, but having said that, with Caper anything is possible!

I do not think Chance had a clue what Caper was up too.

So glad Don and Mel got to come see us. It was a great week!

Addie had birthday celebration number 3 with Kent and Kathy. Lucky girl!

We spoiled her even a little more by taking her out for one more fancy dinner with just Mom and Dad.

There might be more pics of us drinking than sunsets this month.

This is a cool little place tucked away off the main street in Charlotte Amalie on St. Thomas. You would have to be looking for it to find it. Story goes that 300 or so years ago there was a well known beer house or a Taphus in this same spot and all the Caribbean sailors knew to come here. One day a nobleman with plenty of money showed up and bought the whole area for his bride and renamed it Charlotte Amalie in her honor.

A momentous day on the Thompson boat. Addie’s first time shaving…

Back to Dittlyf for some more R&R.

Where we share the bay with Eos. One of the largest sailboats in the world at 93 meters.

And with our good friends Kent and Kathy on WE.

Family paddle-board ride in Maho looking for turtles!

Ashley’s craft area is becoming unruly – might be time to find a use for all these treasures she has made.

Especially since she collects more sea treasures everyday.

Addie and Ashley have their hands full trying to keep Shannon out of trouble!

So long for now from the USVI.

Chance’s Favorite Activity

Chance does not swim as much as Caper. However, he is nuts about fetching a ball thrown out into the water as long as we are on a beach. He asks non-stop for us to throw the ball while on we are on the beach. At some point he does eventually tire out. When that happens he takes the ball and jumps into the dinghy or jumps onto the paddle board, sits down, and waits for us to head back to the boat! Crazy doggy, right?!?

If you remember, Chance had surgery on both of his hind legs (tore the CCL’s in both legs – same thing as ACL’s for people). We believe he has bionic legs now! You’ll see what we mean in his video, which is less than 3 minutes. You’ll see how much he loves this activity, which is why we try to take him to the beach everyday.

Addie’s Take: Jan 1-Feb 17

Recently I was on the paddle board and Mom said it was time to come in and do school work. I said there is more to life than just school. For example, there is the environment and spending time with family.  What I meant was I wish I could have more time to do other stuff that doesn’t involve school. Things like playing with the dogs, swimming, paddle boarding and connecting with friends on Snapchat, Instagram or in person. I also like to collect shells, swim off the back of the boat with Caper and go into town because it means I get to get off the boat and be on land for a while.  I will keep doing school because school is very important. I also want to go to college someday, get a job, and go off to live with a friend or on my own.

PS: This is not the original version of this entry. When I first wrote this blog entry my interests were not as wide as they are now. For those of you who know me, you can appreciate that I did not mention time on my IPad. My Mom and Dad say maybe I am coming out of the teenage funk?

Me, Mom, Dad and Caper on the paddle-board.

Don and Mel came to stay on the boat for a week in January. This was my Birthday week. I turned 16. We picked them up from this really cool fancy marina called Yacht Haven Grande. It had a really nice pool and shops. Mom and I got to have a “girls day” before Don and Mel came on the boat.

Girls Day

On their first morning we went to the pool before we left the marina. The water was really cold. They said they needed it because of the night before? Our first stop was Caneel Bay, where we went snorkeling and sat on the beach. For dinner we went to ZOZOs and had a progressive fine dining meal. It was great having Cheesecake again. I missed having Cheesecake.

Me eating Cheesecake.
Me,Mom and Dad at ZoZo’s

Next, we went to Maho Bay. I went paddle-boarding with Mel, where we were looking for turtles. We did not see many turtles though, or sharks. We did have a lot of fun.

Me and Mel on turtle spotting.

We went to Coral Bay for my birthday. Dad made me a big birthday breakfast. I got to have a day off of school and play on my IPad instead. When Mom, Dad, Mel and Don went to the taco boat, Limeout, I stayed on the boat and watched the dogs. I don’t like tacos and that’s all they have. Dad made my favorite for dinner – Shrimp Fried Rice.

My Big Birthday breakfast Dad made me.
Birthday Dinner
Vanilla cake with chocolate mousse

We went to Hanson Bay for the night. The next day we went to Dittlyf. When we were at Dittlyf we went snorkeling and had a beach day twice because Don was working.

We then went to Little St. James and had pizza from Pizza Pi (it is a boat where they make pizza). The next day we went snorkeling in my favorite spot for the week which is on Little St. James.

Enjoying a day at the beach.

Then it was back to the marina. The four adults went out and I watched the dogs. When I was watching the dogs, Caper got up on the table even though I was sitting on the couch beside him.

The next day we had to take Don and Mel to the airport to say goodbye. We were sad to see them go, especially Caper and Chance. They really enjoyed the extra attention from Don and Mel.  We are looking forward to seeing them again.

Caper enjoying the table.
Chance enjoying the couch.
Me and Mel enjoying our time together.

We had dinner with Kent and Kathy who made Chinese food from scratch. We had Egg Drop Soup, Egg Foo Young and Fried Rice it was a treat for me because we were still celebrating my birthday. Kent’s secret ingredients for his fried rice are bacon and ham. It was really Good! I had not tried Egg Drop Soup or Egg Foo Young before – it was great getting to try new things.   I also liked getting to celebrate my birthday with them.

Me enjoying my new Kava bag Kathy gave me.