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!

Addie’s Take: May-June 2022

In early May we left the dogs at the dog hotel in Cozumel, Mexico while we went to Makenzie’s graduation in Boone, NC.

We celebrated Makenzie’s graduation by having an afternoon lunch.

It was fun hanging out with Makenzie before her big Graduation ceremony.

Makenzie opened cards and presents from friends and family before the graduation walk.

We had a party after graduation – all of Makenzie’s friends got to come over. We catered Chinese food from Taste Grill.

We played a game called cup pong. You pair up in teams of two, I was paired up with Alex. We were the champions, don’t tell my Dad.

We had a disco dance party.

What’s great about being in Boone is getting to see friends. I got to see Brendan. We went to Waffle House and went to the mall. I picked out my birthday present, which was an agate bracelett. We had a great time. I hope to see him again soon.

I got to see Kelsey as well. We went to the pool and Chick-fl-a. We had a great time. I hope to see her again.

When we went back to Cozumel, we then sailed the boat to Key West. We stayed at a hotel with a pool and two food trucks while work was being done to the boat. We went to a museum that was part of the First Flight Restaurant and Brewery It was Pan Am’s first headquarters in the 1920’s. Pan Am was the first airline to fly planes out of the area. It’s kinda like American Airlines, now. We walked around the plaza and went shopping. I had a great time there. I hope to go back someday.

We then sailed up the keys, making our way to a marina near Fort Lauderdale for more boat work. We went to Jaxson’s Ice Cream Shoppe for Kent’s Birthday. They have good hotdogs, burgers and sandwiches as well as big servings of ice cream treats. We had fun and the food was delicious.

We said goodbye to Jaxson’s.

Another day, we went to Le Tub. We met up with Joffry, Kent and Kathy. We told them that we sold the boat. Kathy cried when she found out. I didn’t blame her, I was sad too, when I found out. What I’m gonna miss most is boat friends, being adventurous in various cultures, exploring so many islands, different beaches for the dogs to play on without being on a leash all the time and trying all the particular foods in each distinct location. This experience has helped me to expand socially and it has helped to expand the foods that I eat. It has also helped me to appreciate everyday things. When I was growing up there were places that I would go to like Bojangles, the mall, and the movie theater, which the islands don’t have a lot of these places.

It is the beginning of a new chapter for us. We bought an RV and are getting ready to travel around the United States. I miss the boat life, but I can’t wait to travel around and see all the different states. Stay tuned for our next blog about our adventures on RV Aventis.

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.

Addie’s Take: April 2022

We left Belize and sailed to Cozumel, Mexico. Don and Mel came down to Cozumel to visit!

We stayed in a house because the marina didn’t have a lot to do there and it gets really warm on the boat. The house had air conditioning and a pool.

Caper really enjoyed the pool. He stole Chance’s ball, chased it, and played with it. Chance enjoyed the shade and the air conditioning. Caper also enjoyed the shade and air conditioning.

The house also had a patio by the pool, a rooftop living room area which was pretty small, and large bedrooms. 

We went to Cabana Beach Club. We got a cabana with a fan, a couch and plenty of shade.

We entered the water by going down the steps because it was a rock wall. The water was clear like a swimming pool. We were able to do what we usually do on the back of the boat, sit on a floatie with a drink. I had a coke.

We went to the Cozumel Pearl Farm to learn how pearls are made. It is a small family business and they do everything by hand.

We learned that Japan uses bigger machines. The oysters there grow much larger and have a longer lifespan. We also learned they are the number 1 pearl producer in the world. They produce lots of pearls, most range in size from 2.0-9.5mm and very rarely 9.5-10.0mm. The pearl farm that we went to only produces about 200 pearls a year and they are very small 2-3mm. 

Don, Mom, and I went on a 20 minute hike to see a lagoon, while Dad and Mel swam out to a sandbar. For lunch they grilled burgers. I had a veggie burger for the first time. I had it with cheese, pineapples and grilled zucchini.  It was really good. I’ll probably start eating veggie burgers with bean patties.   

We went to an Italian restaurant. It was really good. I had tortellini with cheese stuffed inside with pesto. We also had different types of bread with cheese, onion, tomato etc… There were not a lot of Italian restaurants in the Caribbean. We were really excited to find one in Mexico and have it be really good. We had to stay at the house all day one day because everyone but Don and I were sick with upset tummies. They never were able to figure out what got to them. Another day, we went to town to shop and have lunch. One morning, Mom and Mel went to look for sea glass while Dad, Don and I went to Starbucks.

It was fun having Don and Mel visit. I can’t wait to see them in North Carolina.

Addie’s Take: March 2022

We had Makenzie, Ella, Gavin and Sara on the boat for their Spring Break week. I did the boat survey which basically asks what everyone’s favorite food and drinks are. I also helped plan the meals for the week.

When they got here we took them to a bar on the beach called Barefoot, where we had dinner. They were starving after their long travel day. The next day we went to Lark Caye where we swam off the back of the boat with Caper.

We went to King Lewey’s. We jumped off a trampoline, had a drink(I had a coke) and ate lunch at the bar. We even played golf. It was a fun day.

We then went to Southwater Caye. We checked out the beach, went snorkeling and explored the island. We also hung out in the sun chill and the floats and swam off the back of the boat with Caper.

We then sailed back to Placencia, it was a long sail. The next day we went to the beach club to hangout. We swam in the pool, had lunch and drinks. I had a virgin pineapple mango daiquiri and a coke.

We went shopping on the way to dinner.  We ate at Chachi’s and got gelato for dessert. The next day Makenzie, Ella, Gavin and Sara had to go to the airport and we said goodbye for now. I really enjoyed  having them on the boat. I hope we get to see them again soon.

We went on a snorkel tour around Caye Caulker with a company called Caveman.

We fed the tarpons. The tarpon came and was ready to take the sardine out of my hand, but then I pulled my hand back and threw the sardine into the water because I was scared.

We then went to see the manatees and swam with them. We didn’t scare them so they stood still which was pretty cool.  Some people call them sea cows because they are ugly, but I actually thought they were really pretty.

We then went on a guided snorkel tour where we saw an eel. The eel’s name was Angela. She was really friendly with the boys. She particularly had a crush on Dad and loved his camera. 

Next we saw an alligator on land. It was actually pretty cool that we saw it right when it was going hunting. Next we saw a Christmas tree worm, which are underwater worms shaped like a Christmas tree.

We then saw about 50 nurse sharks and a dozen sting rays.  Dad and I went swimming with the sharks and rays.

At the end of the tour, we had fruit and happy juice. I tried a couple sips of happy juice and it wasn’t bad. I still would prefer to drink a coke. I was used to snorkeling with people I know, so this adventure snorkeling with people I didn’t know was new to me, but it was enjoyable and I had a really good time.

We took a ferry to Belize City. It took about an hour. They picked us up from the ferry dock and took us to a little hotel where they served us breakfast. We then went on a tour of the Mayan ruins.

I was really interested by the Temple of the Sun God. The story behind the temple fascinated me.

We ate at this little restaurant on the side of the road; you wouldn’t really know it was a restaurant. They served either beans and rice or beans with rice. I had the beans with rice (beans and rice mixed together) and Dad had beans and rice (beans and rice separated). Dad’s beans were like a soup. They made it however you like it. After lunch, we went on a river tour.

We saw howler monkeys. We could just barely see them because they were hiding in the trees.

We went back to the hotel where our tour guide Ben picked us up and took us back to the ferry terminal. The ferry took us back to Caye Caulker and then it was back to the boat. It was a long day. On our other island tours they did not always remember to feed us. What was cool about this tour is that they actually remembered to feed us and we ate really well. It was a fun tour.

Everytime we go to a new country we have to check-in.  For Belize this included Immagration, Customs, Health Department and Port Authority.  Our visa was only good for 30 days. We had to pay $1,500 Belize which is $750 US for the first check-in. Our first check-in was very expensive but easy. We were able to dinghy to the dock in Placencia and meet the people right there. We had to recheck-in twice because we stayed so long. When we went to check-in a second time we went on a water taxi from Placencia to the mainland.  The water taxi ride only took 15 minutes, but it was not somewhere we could bring our dinghy. We went in this old beat up taxi car with a missing door and the other door was being held by a string. We called it an “open air taxi”. It probably shouldn’t have been on the road. We went to Port Authority and to Immagration which was in a different building. We didn’t have to do Customs because this time we were rechecking-in.  It took a while for us to get our passports back.

This time we paid $550 Belize or $275 US.  We then got back to Placencia and ate lunch at the Pickled Parrot. It was a long day, but it was pretty fun.

When our second 30 days were up and we were ready to head to Mexico, it was time to check out.  In order to do this, we had to take a ferry from the island we were on, Caye Caulker to another island, Ambergris. When we got there, Kathy, Mom and I sat outside on the steps while Dad and Kent went into Customs and Immagration. We had to pay $150 Belize or $75 US. In total it cost us $1,100 US to visit for 2 months. This was the most expensive country to check in and out of that we’ve been to so far.

Addie’s Take: Feb 2022

We went on a passage to Belize from Jamaica. On the 5 day, 6 night passage, I just listened to music and watched movies that I had downloaded.

I slept in my room all 6 nights and one night I saw a flying fish who had landed on my hatch. At first, I thought it was a lizard because one day I saw a lizard on our boat. Chance came into my room to try to get to the flying fish and was thinking about how to eat it. We saw lots of dolphins by our boat. Caper and Chance were thinking about how to join them.

We stopped at  Santanilla in Honduras to take a break and rest for the night. We then sailed some and motored some the next two and a half days because the wind was changing a lot.  We were low on fuel and one of our engines was giving us trouble, which meant we couldn’t go very fast.  Seven days after we checked out of Jamaica we arrived at Placencia Yacht Club in Belize.  It was a fun, eventful passage especially due to Caper and Chance’s antics.

We went on a tour of Belize. We went to see the scarlet macaws and the howler monkeys and the Mayan ruins. We had to wake up at 5:30am because the macaws came out in the morning. We went on a long car ride and hiked up into the hills, all the way to where the macaws were, so that we could see them.

Two macaws flew over our heads way up in the sky. Dad and I barely saw them. Mom didn’t see them at all.

We didn’t see even a glimpse of the monkeys.

We couldn’t eat lunch for a while because the place we were going to eat lunch was closed. We did get to see the Mayan ruins eventually, but we were so hungry. We did eventually eat. The Mayan ruins were pretty cool and had a neat history. Our tour guide and bus driver were pretty nice. The monkeys and macaws just decided not to come out. It wasn’t the best island tour we had been on.

We explored the islands on the east side of Belize. Lark Caye was the first stop and sleep over.

The next day we went to Maho Caye and went to the beach there to hangout and explore the area. After that, we took the dogs to the beach to let them swim and play. Caper got to swim and Chance got to play ball.

What happened next was we left Moho and went to King Lewey. We ate lunch and dinner on King Lewey. I got to swing in the water, jump on a water trampoline, and play huge connect 4.

We then went to Hideaway Caye. We were celebrating Kathy’s birthday. The people at the table across from us sang her happy birthday in Spanish. We met a girl there named Ama who is 9 years old. Ama gave me a tour of the tiny island, then we colored and played games.

We went to Southwater Caye. I hungout at the beach and explored the area. Mom, Dad, Kent and Kathy snorkeled the second largest barrier reef.

It was fun getting to explore these islands around Belize. My favorite Islands are King Lewey and Southwater. King Lewey because it is a pirate themed island and it has a trampoline that I got to jump on.

Southwater because it has a nice beach and water to swim in as well as internet.

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!

Addie’s Take: January 2022

We left Aruba the beginning of January and headed straight to Jamaica. We went on a three day passage. It was easy. On the passage I watched movies like Aquamarine, Pitch Perfect, Another Cinderella Story, etc… and watched TV shows like Lost in Oz, Just Add Magic, etc… and listened to music from Glee, Disney, Lady Gaga, Taylor Swift, Selena Gomez, etc…

Aventis at the dock in Jamaica!

After we arrived in Jamaica and got checked-in, we did two different island tours. On the first tour we got to see a blue mountain coffee farm, which is where they harvest and roast coffee beans. Coffee is their main export. When I saw where the coffee was being made, I tried it and liked it. I drink coffee now. I drink it just straight up black coffee with a little bit of sugar.