May-June 2022: Florida, Last Stop of the Season

After returning to Mexico after visiting Boone for Makenzie’s graduation, we left Cozumel early on the morning of Saturday, May 14th. We enjoyed a pleasant day of motor sailing north to arrive in Isla Mujeres (an island across from Cancun) just before sunset and anchored for the night.

With the sun just coming up, it was time to get moving to the Dry Tortugas!

We had 2 days and nights of sailing ahead of us.

We were now on a northeastern path headed straight to the southern most FL key. The charts said we had 2 days, 6 hours to go if we stayed at a consistent speed of 5.2. When you are sailing, speed is not a consistent. You are at the mercy of the wind as well as your own knowledge and ability of how to best point your boat and trim the sails.

During our overnight passages we each take 3-4 hour shifts during dark hours, so each person can get a few solid hours of sleep. It was not until some of these later spring passages that we would actually go below to our bedroom and sleep. Tonight we got to watch a total lunar eclipse.

Our phones can not begin to capture how truly amazing this was so see.

On passage, the water and the sky become our focal point. Today, we were gifted with a marvelous sunrise.

Later that morning we had a stunning encounter with 30-40 dolphins. We could see them coming from far away to swim with us and enjoy the ride our boat waves provide.

There are always boat repairs and today it was one of the electric wenches, which helps us raise and low the sails.

Smooth sailing days are always enjoyable and give Ashley the ability to create.

It was a lovely day on the water.

The second night of this passage provided another night time show with lightning over to our east. Luckily it was far enough away that we did not need to change our course.

About mid-day we got sight of land, Bush Key. One of the seven islands that make up the Dry Tortugas. These islands got the name Tortuga from Ponce de Leon because of all the turtles and later they became known as Dry Tortugas because there is no fresh water.

Fort Jefferson National Park is a bucket list item and even more so to visit it in your own boat.

The fort is located on Garden Key, 70 miles west of Key West.

It is the largest all-masonry fort in the United States; built between 1846 and 1875 to protect the nation’s gateway to the Gulf of Mexico.

We got to join a tour of the Fort that one of the day-boats was doing. This was really lucky because the park does not do their own tours.

We had a great anchor spot just outside of the Fort.

Cuddle time

May 19th arrived, our 27th Anniversary, we celebrated by going on an adventure. We dinghied over to the lighthouse and hiked to the other side of the island where we found a beautiful secluded beach. Addie hung out on the beach while Shannon and Ashley snorkeled. It turned out to be a buckle list item. We even had a black tip reef shark check us out.

We are extremely fortunate to be able to live this life with each other.

With the sun just starting to come up we set out in the direction of Key West.

We got within about 10 miles of Key West and anchored for the night at a little barrier island.

Time to chill

We landed in Key West for a little boat work; no fancy marina. It was more like taking your car to the garage.

We had a few days to check out the lower keys.

Our hotel had a nice pool, breakfast on the patio, and waterside bar.

We were excited to find a neat brewery.

Always up for a little research to find our favorites.

Addie is a great sport. She loves trying all the different drink options, too.

Ashley and Shannon had a date night.

Happy Birthday Mak! We love you!

Boat work is done and it is time to make our way toward Fort Lauderdale.

After an easy day sailing north up the Keys, we make it to Marathon Key.

After a day on the water there is nothing our family likes more than hanging out in the water with a drink in their hands.

Except for Chance, he prefers to nap in shade.

Another stunning sunset to end a productive day.

We woke to very still water, but it turned out to be the calm before the storm.

We made our way up the rest of the keys and tucked in for our last night just across from Miami in Key Biscayne.

Turned out to be a fairly restless night with us making a full circle due to a lot of wind, rain and the currents. One of the first upgrades we did years ago was to install an 85 pound manta anchor just for this reason.

Up early and on our way to Safe Harbor Lauderdale Marine Center. We have a Monday morning haul out.

We had great weather with low winds, making the haul out much less stressful Our haul out weight was a staggering 22 tons.

We came in to see about bottom paint and to get our sail drives repaired. Unfortunately, the repairs were more excessive than we had imagined and we were going to have to sit out of the water for a week or so longer than we had planned.

We took up residence in a nice house near the marina so we could easily go back and forth to check on her progress and get Aventis cleaned up.

Addie did a good bit of hanging out with the dogs that week while we worked on the boat.

It was really warm in early June and we were very thankful to have a pool to cool off in at our house at the end of the day.

Our work on the boat started as just a deep cleaning to get her ready to sit vacant for hurricane season, but it quickly became something very different. The thing that had brought us so much happiness had also brought us much headache. We had tried to look past the constant repairs and maintenance, but it had finally caught up to us. We had to make the hard decision and make it quick. There were buyers ready and waiting.

We decided there were too many signs and we needed to listen. Before she was even listed there was an offer for more than we had asked. That part was easy.

The hard part was removing ourselves (and our 7 tons of stuff) and our memories from this vehicle, that had been our home and had carried us safely for so many nautical miles and allow our eyes to see so many unbelievable new places.

We are thankful for dinghy too, as she was an integral part of allowing us to get to and from land.

With the boat emptied and cleaned, we are ready to relax and frequent some of our favorite spots. Addie’s top pick, Le Tub for the Old Bay shrimp.

We visited old friends at Suntex Marina. It was great to see Joffry (Willow), as well as Steve and Thea (El Jefe).

Kent and Kathy (Wind Ensemble) were back in their original spot on the dock. This was a stop over on their way to Savannah, where they will put their boat on the hard for hurricane season.

One last celebration of our time together, Happy Birthday Kent!! This experience would not have been the same without our boat family!! We love you all boat family!!

It was with a heavy heart that we said goodbye to our home, s/v Aventis! She had provided us with the opportunity to be explorers in a way that few get to have. Four years of water adventures through the Bahamas, US, Spanish and British Virgin Islands, Grenada, Bonaire, Aruba, Jamaica, Belize, Mexico and back to Florida. So many beaches, exotic foods, diverse cultures, and amazing new experiences. We are so grateful for all of it!!

Life on a boat is not for everyone. You go days without seeing land and much longer without stepping foot into a grocery store. Seeing family and friends becomes much more complicated and costly. The weather determines everything you do. But everyday you are surrounded by water, you see the sunrise and set, you feel the power of Mother Nature, you learn to live with what you have and all of this is truly invigorating. Life on Sailing Vessel Aventis was absolutely a gift, our memories will live with us forever! We are not done living the water life, just taking a break.

Our toast to our time on Aventis and all those we encountered:

To incredible adventures with the people that we love; So grateful for the life changing time we shared on the boat and looking forward to all the marvelous experiences to come in our next phase of life.

So, what now? Well, we start by doing what we originally planned for hurricane season – we head to Asheville, NC for a few months.

Asheville here we come! With an apartment waiting, we will hangout for the next 4 months or so.

Head over to to follow our next adventure!

April – May 2022: Cozumel, Mexico

Sailing from Belize to Cozumel, Mexico was a short but difficult passage. It only took about 30 hours to get from Caye Caulker, Belize to Cozumel, Mexico, but it was a challenge from the minute we pulled up the anchor. The first two hours making our way out of the cut between reefs definitely tested Aventis and her crew. For the remainder of this passage the wind and waves seemed to be working in opposition. The rough water took a toll on Ashley and the dogs.

We arrived in Cozumel early afternoon, right when all the dive boats were returning from their afternoon dives, so there were lots of boats moving around along the coast. During our journey a piece of hardware from our reef line had gotten caught in the mast. It had to be released for us to bring the main sail down. As soon as we were in calm enough water with no dive boats or divers near by, up the mast Ashley went so we could lower the sail!

We made it safe to our spot on the dock where Wind Ensemble joined us. Aventis would sit at the dock here for over a month while we explored Mexico and took a short trip to NC.

Every country we visit has their own system for the check-in process for cruisers. in Mexico we had to use an agent to facilitate the process. He arranged for the 4 different departments to come to our boat and check us in. You are not allowed to bring meat, produce, plants or excessive amounts of alcohol into the country, so we may have hidden some stuff. Wind Ensemble may have used their sail bag to hide some things which was very clever.

Once all checked in, cleaned up, and rested from our passage, it was time to get out and explore.

So much cool stuff to discover.

We quickly got a rental car so that we could see more of the island. The east side has a distinctly different look from the calm west side that we came in on.

We had been looking forward to diving in Cozumel all season; it is a diver’s paradise.

With two dive sites each day, we got to explore 6 total. The underwater world here was lovely. So many creatures and coral to see as well as structures to swim under and through.

An interesting water feature we got to experience was the thermocline or halocline. This is when a layer of separation forms between two water masses of different density or temperature. Here it occurs because freshwater and saltwater are crossing paths. The salt water is denser and sinks leaving fresh water on the surface. The water seems blurry to look through, but only for a few feet in this zone between the two bodies.

The dogs and Addie waited patiently for us to return from our dives.

Kathy and Shannon took advantage of the nice roads and sidewalks to take a bike ride around the west side.

Cozumel is a busy cruise ship port with 6-8 ships docking per day. This means there are tons of shops and restaurants catering to the tourists.

There are also these amazing sculptures that line the waterway. This was one of our favorites with the scuba divers.

The sea glass collecting proved to be plentiful. The area between the cruise ship dock and the ferry dock had enough glass to make Ashley happy.

The payment process for our marina spot was very unsophisticated. Every week we had to pay $15,000 pesos in cash and this is how they kept track.

Don and Mel came to visit us for Easter week.

We were excited to share this beautiful island with them.

One of our first stops was the famous Coconuts bar, known for giving free drinks to any female who will lift their shirt.

We did not participate of course, but did enjoy the great location and super view of the east coast.

We rented a house with a pool for the week since we could not take the boat out to explore, there were no fun amenities at the marina, and we had power issues so no air conditioning on the boat.

Having the pool was awesome.

It was definitely a very unique house, but it served us well for the week.

Beach clubs are a big thing in Mexico. The good beaches have all been purchased and sectioned off. The clubs provide towels, chairs, hammocks and cabanas, with wait staff for food and bar service. Another plus are the stairs built over the rocky edge, so entering the water to swim or snorkel is easy.

This makes for a very relaxing beach day.

In our search for unique things to do, we came across this highly rated experience. In a small group of 10, you are taken to the northwestern tip of the island to a location exclusively accessible by boat to see the area’s only Pearl Farm.

The Cozumel Pearl Farm is a small family owned and operated business. They are extremely passionate about what they do, but the elements take a toll on their exposed facility. It is truly a labor of love. The water was too rough for us to snorkel and see the actual oyster beds, but we really enjoyed learning about the process of how the pearls are produced, cared for, and harvested.

After a fun week of eating, drinking and exploring Cozumel, it was time to say good-bye to Don and Mel and head back to the boat.

We met up with Kent and Kathy for a little Mexican food and tequila tasting.

Because what else do you do in Mexico????

Well maybe… find a brewery.

Our next adventure required a ferry ride over to the main land of Mexico.
It was a short ride of 45 minutes or so.

We landed in Playa Del Carmen, a neat little town on the coast. From here the girls went one way and the boys went another.

Shannon and Kent were going Cenote (cave) Diving. These are underground caves that have filled with water. During their two dives they swam through narrow tubes that lead to large open spaces. To enjoy these dives you have to be ok with small tight spaces and have a lot of trust in your dive master.

The location of the cenote was beautiful; the water was crystal clear.

The wildlife was everywhere.

Ashley, Addie and Kathy headed north toward Cancun to a fancy resort for a little sun and pool time.

Addie was quick to make friends.

This is a coati. He was not the least bit afraid of us.

We had a really fun, Girls Day!

Back on Cozumel, we had many awesome days exploring the land and trying the many restaurants.

We were fortunate enjoy to get another day back at the Cabana Beach Club. This time we got to enjoy it with Kent, Kathy, Kent’s sister Denise and her husband Brad.

We took a small break from Cozumel to fly home for Makenzie’s Graduation.
We will share more about that in another post!

While we traveled back to the states, the dogs stay at a Mexican doggy hotel. This one had a pool.

And plenty of toys and friends. As usual, Chance made a girl friend. He truly has a girl in every port!

Once back from the states, we had time for one more authentic Mexican meal
before sailing to the Dry Tortugas.

At Casa Mission our Caesar salad was made table side to add to our experience.

And to top things off, we were serenaded by a mariachi band.

It was the perfect way to conclude our time in Cozumel.

We had stayed our allotted 6 weeks and now it was time to start making our way back to FL.
We had boat work scheduled for late May in the Keys which means we only have a little over a week to get there.

With everything stored and put away, off we go.

As we said goodbye to the beautiful blue water of the Caribbean Sea that morning, it was definitely with a bit of sadness and unknowing of when we would be back in the Caribbean again.

With Wind Ensemble leading the way, we set out on a beautiful morning in mid May, our next stop was the Dry Tortugas.

February and March 2022: Belize

In late January we said goodbye to Jamaica and started to make the journey to Belize. This would be our longest passage yet at 570NM. With weather approaching we decided to go with just a one day notice. Our first day of the passage, we were able to go about 70NM due west following the coast of Jamaica and actually spend the night in a little bay at the west tip of Jamaica. At day break, we hit the open water and headed for Belize.

The wind was coming from behind us at from 5-20mph, so it was the perfect time to try out the wingaker, a sail made especially for down wind sailing. It is a complicated sail with four lines coming back to the helm and can be tricky to get down if you do not adjust the boat before you try to snuff it, but it is so worth it when you have it up!!!! It is an amazing sail and we made good use of it the first two days of our journey.

After two days and nights we were able to stop at a small Honduran Island in the middle of the ocean called Isla Santanilla. We anchored in 25ft of water that was loaded with beautiful coral that we could see because the water was so clear. It took a while to find a safe spot to anchor away from the coral. We did not go ashore but we were able to make dinner and sleep for the night.

During those first two days, we chaffed through reef line 1 on the main sail which broke it and made it tricky to bring the main sail down. The jack line that holds the sail bag up, snapped and was no longer doing it’s job. In addition, we got two small tears in the wingaker making us super cautious about using it in winds over 15mph. All things that make the adventure so memorable!

We enjoyed nice calm seas on our last night sailing. Addie is a master at Dominos.

After a week at sea, we are all still smiling. Life is good.

As we entered the waters around Belize the sky and seas were very unsettled. A water spout formed just ahead of us, with several others all around!

Coming into Placencia, Belize – a beautiful sight, other boaters, fresh food and cold beer!

Even more amazing was the Placencia Yacht Club, where we spent many a nights and enjoyed numerous great meals and cold drinks while in Belize over the next two months.

It did not take long to find the local rum!

Our first boat project upon arrival was to fix the main sail. Ashley went up the mast – no worries, Shannon had full control of the line.

Made it down safe!

We make an awesome team!

All that boat work made us thirsty! Time for a little day drinkin!

Time for an island tour. We were promised macraws and monkeys – just had to walk through the jungle a bit.

We met our guide at 5:30am so that we could drive the hour and a half and still be there early because that is when the animals are more active.

We hiked up into the mountains, where we waited and waited. Then down again to the river, where we waited and waited some more. The coolest thing we saw was the start of this palm tree…..

No worries though because we did find one of only two breweries in Belize.

We were ready to start venturing out by boat – sails fixed, fridge packed and gas tank full.

In hunt of the only sea glass in Belize, we headed south to Punta Gorda.

Not many boaters make there way here, as you can see because we are the only boat in the bay.

But it was worth it! We found goodies for Ashley to make into sea treasures!

And a neat place to get some yummy lunch and cold drinks.

Nature is so giving to us sharing a bright rainbow

And then and incredible sunset

Back to Placencia we go!

So many fun bars and restaurants to check out!

Don’t let this scare you. Took the Jamaican braids out……

We then took off to explore the many islands of Belize – over 400!

Date night, sunset dinghy, ride cocktails in hand exploring the little islands we are anchored around.

The dogs were more than ready to go for a run and play on the beach.

We found King Lewey’s Island. This cute little island has 3 cabins you can stay in, a bar, a restaurant, fun water toys and great water to swim and snorkel in.

Did I mention BIG portions…..

We got to start celebrating Kathy’s Birthday!


And Beautiful Place!

Next stop Hideaway Caye, a really neat little island the owners built from scratch themselves. While living on their sailboat in Placencia, they used a small boat with a good motor to bring materials over and build a simple house. Their family of three are the only people living on the island. There are a few mooring balls to accommodate overnight guests, because you can only get here by boat.

As the years have passed, they added a tree house restaurant and bar, where we continued Kathy’s birthday celebrations.

As we decide where to go next, we reference the best local charts we can, even if they are 20 years old.

Incredible next stop, South Water Caye!

Time for a beach day!

We then headed back to Placencia because our big kids are coming down to Belize to visit. Wind was blowing a nice 5-10 from behind, so we are used “Big Blue Bayou” to carry us.

Addie in her spot for travel. Definitely need to do some cleaning before company. The scuba diving at South Water was amazing.

Ashley has been crafting again.

Back on land, there was more rum to be enjoyed!

The calm before “Spring Break Week!”

Makenzie, Gavin, Ella and Sarah finally here after a long flight and a 3 hour taxi ride.

We sailed off for an adventure around the islands. Time to swim! Caper is of course the first one in the water!

Mak and Gavin are off on the paddleboard to explore.

Everything stops for sunset!

The dogs are helping Shannon secure the toys, so we can make our way to our next stop.

Notice the dogs are no where to be found when Ashley needs to raise the anchor!

There they are, helping Shannon drive the boat.

And sunning with Mak!

We made it to King Lewey’s with kids!

Toes in the sand and drinks in our hands!

The trampoline was a ton of fun for all!

Enjoyed just hanging out!

More fun water toys to play on.

All that fun wiped Ashley out!

Next stop was South Water Caye where we pulled up really close and anchored in about 8 feet of water.

Awesome spot for hanging behind the boat and watching the rays swim by.

Some took advantage of the sunning.

And others enjoyed the shade.

Took a break from playing pool at the island bar to appreciate the amazing sunset.

Next day – time to snorkel,

time to play,

time to relax,

and time for family swim behind Aventis.

The next day we sailed back to Placencia Yacht Club. If Shannon and Ashley ever go missing be sure to check here as it is very likely you will find them.

Last stop for the week with the kids – Placencia Beach Club!

It was a super fun week!

We were sad to say goodbye to the big kids, but it was time for them to get back to school.

We did some laundry, bought some groceries, replenished the beer and got moving. A lot more of Belize to see before we head to Mexico.

Lighthouse Reef was a must-stop for us. We spent our first night just off of Long Caye.

Aventis and Wind Ensemble seeing new things together.

Dinghy ride to shore to check out the wild life.

Found sharks and rays

An osprey nest with mom and babies

even a gorilla or two…

Life is better with good friends.

Next stop, the famous Blue Hole! We had to creep through about 6-8 feet of water for 2 hours at a speed of 4kn per hour. The only way to describe the water is think swimming pool with conch shells everywhere. It went on for miles to the Blue Hole. Jacques Cousteau did a lot of scientific work in the blue hole. The old videos showing how they got their big boat there and how they explored this bottomless hole is really neat.

We stopped at the Blue Hole and snorkeled the sides of the hole.

Then made our way back through the shallows to Half Moon Caye to spend the night.

The swimming here was awesome!

We went over to land to check things out. No one spends the night on this island. It is for day use only for people who have come to Lighthouse Reef to dive. It was late afternoon and we had the island to ourselves.

The wild life here roam freely.

Holidays are celebrated even in the middle of the Caribbean Sea, thanks to Kathy’s sister Barb! Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Next and last stop in Belize, Caye Caulker.

Time to check things out…

Caye Caulker use to be twice as long, but Hurricane Hattie in 1961 split the island apart. In the late 70’s the government decided it would be better for the fishing community to dredge it out even more and make it so boats with motors could pass through the split.

Not sure it is a good idea to buy property from these people…

We had amazing sunsets here with our back always facing west and no one behind us.

Time for another tour. This time it is a snorkeling expedition.

We had great success. We swam with manatees,

An octopus

A giant moray eel

And hundreds of nurse sharks and string rays. It was a super cool experience.

Next adventure was a trip to see the Mayan Temples. We took a 45 minute ferry ride over to the main land of Belize. If we had gone by our boat it would have taken us about 4 hours to get there.

The second part of our adventure was a pontoon boat ride down the Belize River.

Everything was so lush and green.

We even saw a few black howler monkeys hanging in the trees.

The wood work and conch shell art in Belize was amazing to look at and very inspirational to Ashley’s creative spirit.

Belize was full of surprises, like these seahorses that were truly a hidden gem.

But at last it was time to see new things. As we prepared to leave, the dogs got a haircut.

We traveled by ferry from Caye Caulker to Ambergris Caye and checked out of Belize in the town of San Pedro.

We had a great time in Belize. We will never forget the beauty of the water and all the sea creatures that it shared with us while sailing, swimming, scuba diving and snorkeling. In addition, the exquisite wonders we found on land including the abundance of local produce, intricate woodwork, unique shell crafts, and fascinating ancient ruins just to name a few.

It was such an incredible experience to be able to spend 2 months is such a lovely place. The best part was being able to share the adventure with each other!

At last, we said good bye to Belize. Think it was windy the 2 months we were in Belize?

Before day break we pulled the anchor and began our pleasant trip around Caye Caulker to the open ocean, but the weather had other plans for us. What was supposed to be an easy exit from Belize, turned into one of the most harrowing sails of our time on Aventis. With falling rain and little light, we slowly made our way through very shallow water (the depth gauge reading -2), scraping our bottom on the sand along the way. Creeping toward the narrow cut that would allow us to avoid the barrier reef surrounding Caye Caulker, we watched as the waves got larger and larger. The waters at the cut were especially rough with waves upward of 8-10 feet. But there was no turning back. Just as we had entered Belize with a tremendous show from nature, we were exiting in the same fashion. Just when it seems as if you can not take another wave, the rain faded, the waters calmed and we began to see the sun. Aventis with her courageous crew has carried us safely into the big blue ocean and we are on our way to Cozumel, Mexico.

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.