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.

We then went to the Bob Marley museum in Kingston. Bob Marley had 12 kids, he also had cancer and he was shot by someone. They don’t know who shot him.  

We went to this restaurant called Island Vibez. I decided to be adventurous and order curry shrimp. It ended up being too spicy for me because there was no coconut milk to cut the spice and there was jerk seasoning in it.  

The second tour we went on was to Reach Falls. We went into a water cave and it was pretty cool.

We went to Boston, a village in Jamaica which is where “Jerk” seasoning was invented and we ate lunch at a jerk restaurant. It was delicious! I had jerk shrimp. We also went to this place called Blue Lagoon which was a cool place. It felt like there was a hot spring somewhere in the water because at the bottom it was warm, but it was cold at the top.

It was fun getting to explore the island of Jamaica and the town of Port Antonio where our boat was docked. After a week, we left Port Antonio and sailed to Oracabessa and saw James Bond Beach and explored the area. It was fun exploring Oracabessa.

We left Oracabessa and sailed to Ocho Rios for my birthday. We explored the cruise ship area, went shopping and went to Margaritaville.

Mom and I got our hair braided on my birthday.

We also went river tubing. I was here in Jamaica once in 2015. We came on a cruise ship. I didn’t enjoy river tubing as much in 2015, maybe because I was young at the time, or tired and hungry, or maybe because we had just come from the Blue Hole. Either way, I enjoyed the experience much better this time.

We went to Spicy Shack afterwards. I had shrimp in coconut cream. It was really good. I enjoyed getting to explore Jamaica. 

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.

Addie’s Take: Nov/Dec 2021

Makenzie, Ella and Gavin came down to the boat. Gavin only came down for a week.

Makenzie, Ella and Gavin got to see Renaissance Island which we call, Flamingo Island.

There are flamingos that live on the island, but they are not native to Aruba. Some flamingos are pink. They are really good at hunting for food like algae, plankton and shrimp. There are also some white flamingos. One of the reasons I think the flamingos are different colors is that the pink flamingos bully the white flamingos. The white flamingos eat less.

We went on a tour of the Island.

We went to the natural bridge, which was really fun, the lighthouse which was really cool to climb and the natural pool which was amazing.  We went to a cave the Native Americans used to hide in. They were hiding from the Spanish who came to take over the island. The Spanish would grab the slaves and shipped them to Venezuela. We also went to a pond and got a fish pedicure where the fish eat the dead skin off your feet. I tried it and it tickled when the fish touched my feet.

Our last stop was baby beach, where we got to snorkel, have a drink at the bar and chill. The tour was fun. I liked the stories Big G and Tony told us about each place.

Swimming at Baby Beach was beautiful
Celebrating Mom’s birthday
The butterfly farm was fun.
Spent some time chilling at the pool.

Visited the Aruba Aloe Factory and learned about how all kinds of stuff is made with aloe. It was pretty cool.

The Butterfly Farm was so much fun, we went back a second time so Makenzie, Ella and Dad could see it.

We love Aruba!
Flamingos are pretty.
Opening Christmas presents.
Caper ate his new octopus all gone in one day!
Flamingo Island on Christmas Day was really magical.

Stay tuned to see where the new year takes us.

Addie’s Take: Sept/Oct 2021

While in Bonaire, I made new friends and saw a few that I met in Grenada last year. I had some of my girlfriends over on Aventis to see the new Cinderella on amazon prime with Camilla Cabelo. I have been talking about this for a long time. I was excited to finally be able to do it. The girls I had over are Celeste(Bliss), Eden(Bliss), Grace(Matriarch), Aidan(Matriarch), Aliona(Song of the Sea) and Anesthesia(Song of the Sea), Cadence(Otoka), Talya(Otoka), Layla (Mala) and Eva(Bubble Moon). We had our own group chat that was only girls. One of my friends, Ivy didn’t come because she had the second vaccination and didn’t feel good. One of our boat neighbors told Mom she heard us laugh and giggle. We had snacks before the movie, while everyone was arriving. I had a good time having everyone on the boat and it was great to see everyone. I hope I get to do it again.

We said goodbye to Bonaire and moved the boat to Aruba.

We saw a sunset on passage.
The Renaissance Marina.
Me by the Aruba sign.
me on the water.
The red anchor.

On Saturday October 16th, we celebrated Dad’s Birthday. We decorated the boat with black and gold decorations. Dad turned 50, which is an over the hill age. We had french toast casserole and bacon for Dad’s birthday brunch. Dad opened his presents, a toucan swimsuit from me and message oil from Mom. We then got to watch a video that Kent and Kathy made for his birthday. We then got to watch another video made for Dad’s Birthday by Mom and Makenzie where everyone in our family and friends made a video saying happy birthday. I really liked Joffry’s video when he said “Happy 60th Birthday” and then his wife Diana corrected him telling him it’s his 50th birthday. Dad was on the phone with a lot of people after the video. For Dad’s birthday dinner we went to LG’s Steakhouse at the Renaissance Casino across the street from the marina we are staying.

We had Don and Mel visit on the boat for a few days in Aruba for Dad’s Birthday. We picked them up from the airport and ate at West Deck for lunch. The food was pretty good then we went to the pool. We then went to Zucchini to eat, which was Amazing. The next day we went exploring around the island and ate lunch at Lola’s. The food was pretty delicious.

We then went to the Renaissance Island in the afternoon to hangout at the beach and see/feed the flamingos. The flamingos ate dog food out of my hand.  Their long black beak tickled my hand. Some of the flamingos were white like vanilla ice cream and some flamingos were pink like ice cream with strawberries in it. 

I ran into my new friend Stella who I met at the pool on Sunday and I also made a new friend on the island Melody. What’s cool is that Melody is my age 16. I haven’t had many friends in the Caribbean who were my age before.

We had brunch on the boat the next day before Don and Mel had to leave when Don and Mel had to leave Mom and Dad took them to the airport. I stayed on the boat with the dogs and did school work. It was fun having Don and Mel on the boat and showing them Aruba. It’s too bad they could only stay for two days. At least we’ll be seeing them soon when we come up to North Carolina for Thanksgiving.

Addie’s Take: Aug 2021

Mom and I went to the states while Dad was in the hospital. We flew into Atlanta and cleared customs. The customs  line was crazy and overwhelming.  We stood in line for two hours.

The next day we drove to Boone, North Carolina. We got to see Makenzie and Ella. We stayed at the Towne Place Suites with Ella and her cat Lily. 

I got to see my friend Kelsey and my new friend Sarah. I was excited to see Kelsey and Sarah because I had not seen them in a long time.  We had them over at the hotel for swimming.

Brendan and I went swimming at Elk River Falls. The water was very chilly, but we had a great time swimming and floating around. Brendan even jumped off one of the rocks into the water.

We left Boone and went to Sunset Beach to see Mom’s family and spent a couple of days with them.  It was mind blowing to see everyone, but also exciting. We got to see our second cousins from England who we haven’t seen in 5 years. I played a word game with Lauren to compare English words to British words.

We went back to Boone to drop Makenzie and Ella off, then we went to Nebo to see Don and Mel. Don left for work and Mel, Mom and I had a girls day on the boat. It was exciting because I missed our boat, Aventis. Dad and Don kept teasing Mel about wrecking the boat, but she did a good job driving it.

Another day, Don grilled hotdogs on the boat and pulled me around in the tube. It was fun, luckily he went easy on me. Don surprised us when he told us he wanted to knee-board, so Mel pulled him. I am going to ask Dad for a unicorn float like this for Christmas.

We saw Grandad and Nana in Charlotte with Makenzie and Ella. We got lunch from Makenzie, Ella and my favorite restaurant, Cowfish. It was delicious! What was even better was the dessert they had us try called, Butta Pie. We then went shopping. It was a fun day.

I got to spend sometime with Mel by myself while Mom went to Boone for doctors appointments and then to Charlotte to get Dad.  I got to experience being in Tropical Storm Fred. It was weird. We lost power, so we had to go to town and get coffee and tea. Later that same day I had lunch at an Asian Fusion Restaurant and I had Bubble Tea. I haven’t had it in a long time. It was delicious! I recommend it to anyone who hasn’t tried it before. It’s a tea that tastes like soda with tapioca pearls that sit at the bottom to make it taste like your eating bubbles.

The day before Mel and I were at the hair salon getting haircuts and there was a little bit of an earthquake. It was my first time being in an earthquake. Luckily the earthquake was short so it wasn’t really scary. The ground shook a little bit, but nothing fell and broke. We had a movie night and made popcorn and candy bowls. This is where each person fills their bowl with whatever combination of sweet and salty treats that we have in the house.

Dad Arrived Yay! He got to spend some time with Grandad and Nana then he and Mom came to Nebo to see me. I was glad to see him. We joked that he was like Captain Hook.

We went to Virginia to see Grandma. It was hard because she is not what she used to be. We saw Shawn, Miki, Lucas and Theo. It was fun and nice to see them.

We went back to Boone to drop Makenzie and Ella off then we went back to Nebo and saw Don and Mel and went “Brewery Hopping”.

I got to see Kelsey and go swimming with her again.  We swam at the Blowing Rock Pool, which is an outdoor pool near to where Blowing Rock School is.

I also got to see my English teacher, Mrs Carter.  It was nice to see her and spend time with her. She still helps me with my literature assignments. We went to Charlotte one more time to see Grandad and Nana and have dinner with them at this Italian place called, Little Mama’s. It was amazing! It felt different seeing them without Makenzie and Ella, but in a good way. We went to Atlanta and had dinner at Fogo de Chao. It was a unique place because it had a salad bar with plenty of choices both warm and cold. It also had good rolls and dessert. The one thing I wasn’t really happy about was that they came around with meat on a stick to your table and cut it and put it on your plate. It was a memorable last meal in the states. We flew to Aruba and stayed a couple of days there. The doctors wanted to see Dad again. The hotel that we stayed at is called Playa Linda. It had a nice pool and beach. I stayed there while Mom and Dad went to meet with the doctors.

We flew back to Bonaire. That flight was scary because it was a small plane with 20 passengers and it was a shaky flight, but we made it to Bonaire. I was happy to see my dogs and my friends.

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.

Addie’s Take: July 2021

We took off from the Virgin Islands and were on our way to Bonaire.

It was great the first night. The next day mom and I felt fine at first, but later on we both started to feel seasick. We think we might have overdosed on Bonine trying to make sure we did not get seasick. The next day we took less Bonine and felt better. We arrived in Bonaire when I woke up the third morning. It was an easy passage overall no big waves or rain. I mostly sleep, listen to music and watch downloaded stuff on my IPad during the passage. I sleep outside by the dining table and Mom and Dad took turns sleeping on the bench seat across from me. We zip all the enclosures up at night, so the dogs can not sneak out and so we do not get wet if it rains. We had a full moon all three nights which was cool because we never had a full moon on any of our passages before. We also saw lots of flying fish, but luckily none landed on the boat.

We made it to Bonaire. We explored the island by car. We went to the flamingo sanctuary and saw pink flamingos.

We also went to the distillery called Cadushy Distillery. They make their drinks out of cactus that they find on the Island. We had gelato three times the first week. I also met up with some friends of mine from Grenada,and some new friends as well. Tanner on the catamaran, Dorothy Rose, Celeste and her sister Eden on the mono-hull, Bliss and Liam, Grace and Aiden on the mono-hull, Matriarch.  I had them over a couple times on the boat. We played games and watched movies. It’s nice to see old friends and make some new friends. Hopefully, I can continue to make some other new friends as well.

We also went snorkeling/diving at night to see Ostracods. They are like underwater fireflies. Technically they are Bio-luminescence. They glow underwater when you make a movement. They move as well. The male ostracods light up to attract a lady ostracod.

We also saw slave huts and slave camps from when the slaves were here on the island, working to collect salt. It was fun being able to explore a new country that’s an island. Somethings surprised me about Bonaire when I got here. I thought they would use Eastern Caribbean money like they did in Grenada.  It turns out they use American money. It also turns out that they primarily speak English not Dutch. But they do have a local language they speak to each other, Papiamento. It was really fun to hangout with friends. Hopefully, I can continue to explore the Island and hangout with old friends and new ones.

 Homemade blueberry soda from Sugar Thief Brewery. My friend Brendan would have loved it!!

Marshmallow Crepe! Yummy!

One afternoon we hung out with Darlyn, Celeste and Eden (Bliss) while Dad, Harry (Bliss) John (Gypsy Blue) and Kent went diving with Martijn (new friend we met who lives in Bonaire) to complete their nitrox certification.  Dad forgot his mask which is funny because he is usually so organized. Everyone of the guys gave him a hard time about it. Us girls drove a truck around the island to see things. We went to the Donkey Sanctuary to feed donkeys. There are 750 donkeys at the sanctuary.

There are park rangers who rescue and take care of the donkeys. It was neat for a while, but then it got annoying and startling when the donkeys kept surrounding us. When we wouldn’t feed them, they got pushy. We only had so much food and we wanted to feed as many as we could.  It was kinda funny when a donkey came in and all of a sudden grabbed my shirt. It was captivating feeding the donkeys. We couldn’t exactly sit down because the donkeys were so close to the truck and tried to get their heads in. They kept us on our toes. We also got to see pregnant donkeys and baby donkeys. In addition, we saw flamingos and turtles. The donkeys were pretty, friendly, so it was actually really enjoyable over all.

Next we went to Sorobon Beach. We were gonna swim, then it turned out we couldn’t really swim because it was more of a wind surfing beach. It was still cool to look around. We checked out Jibe City Beach Bar which was a nice place. We smelled the food that the chefs were cooking and realized we were starving so we headed to Foodies to eat. It was “Phenomenal”(as Mom would say).  Bonaire makes salt from the sea. We got to see the salt fields and how they get the salt on to the ships to send it other places. We also saw the slave huts which are where the people who worked in the salt fields would stay. I don’t know how I would feel working as a slave and having to live in a slave hut; luckily I don’t have to see what that’s like. I feel pretty lucky about that.

We saw the lighthouse, which is what the ships used to guide them home, and hopefully keep them from bumping into land. We ended the day with a sunset dinner at Ocean Oasis. It was a Fantastic day. I hope we get to do it again.

Mom, Kathy and I were sitting at a gelato shop called Gio’s. We were having gelato and looking for our friends that we were gonna hangout with…

All of a sudden Mom gets a call from Darlyn (Bliss). I get excited at first because I thought we were going over to meet them. It turns out it was about my dad. Kent, Harry(Bliss), Martijn and Dad were driving ATVs around the islands. Dad and Harry were riding together. Dad was driving the ATV because they just switched drivers and then they got a flat tire. The ATV rolled! Harry was ok. Dad on the other hand, wasn’t. He wrecked his wrist and had to be taken to the hospital. When Mom, Kathy and I arrived at the the hospital, Mom was the only one allowed to see him. We then got a ride back to the boat from our friend Cat. I stayed on the boat with Kathy and the dogs. Dad and Mom had to fly to Aruba for surgery. I spent the night on Kent and Kathy’s boat, while Martijn and Cat watched the dogs at their house. Kent, Kathy and I went over to swim and walk the dogs.

I also hung out with my friends while Mom and Dad were in Aruba. We had a karaoke night and we went to Eden Beach for some pool time. When everything first happened I was confused and not sure what was going on. Everything was moving at such a fast pace. But it ended up ok because I was well taken care of by Kent and Kathy and had a good time spending time with them on their boat. I did not have a lot of time to think about what had happened because I was very busy seeing the dogs and hanging out with my friends.

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!