The ABCs of Cruising

A is for anchoring. Look for sand when you can see the bottom. Never underestimate the importance of having a good anchor and enough chain unless you don’t care about sleeping. Having another anchor is good when a storm is coming or tides are strong and you need to stay put.

B is for bitch wings. The stance used on deck when someone anchors Way too close. Place hand on hips and stare intently. They will usually move unless they are charter captains who don’t care about the boats because they don’t pay the bills. If someone shows you their bitch wings it’s time to re-anchor. Most will adhere to the code of whoever gets there first has priority over who stays and who goes.

C is for comfort. Nice cushions, protection from spray, a good fridge and freezer so you can eat well, and anything else that makes you happy. Unlike race boats, you can be very comfortable while cruising unless you are bashing upwind in big waves. Then all bets are off.

D is for Ditch Bag. The bag with all the things you need in an emergency if the ship goes down. We place it on deck for passages and hope to never use it. Cats are generally safer as if one hull has a bad leak the other will still float. The exception to this is a fire. Otherwise the rule of thumb is always step up to a life raft, not down.

E is for eating. It’s a well known fact that Everything tastes better on a boat. Because you never know when you’ll get to eat that again.

F is for fishing. Refer to E. Catching fish facilitates eating well. Plus it’s high up on the Mediterranean diet which is now rated the healthiest diet of all.

G is for GPS. Having it has made cruising a million times easier in terms of navigating. Knowing where you are is a life saver. We have 3 back ups. Just in case.

H is for helpfulness. The cruising community tends to be extremely helpful towards each other. Complete strangers will help others in the middle of the night if need be. This is so refreshing and comforting compared to being on land.

I is for the ice maker. The greatest luxury ever invented for boats! It’s also a way to make friends with Brits and others who think they don’t need ice but love it when you bring it to their boat. In a pinch it can even be used for bartering.

J is for jury rig. There’s always something that needs fixing and oftentimes you have to be creative. Stores like West Marine are few if non existent anywhere but the states.

K is for Kraken. A mysterious sea monster that plays tricks on us. It’s left the ice maker door open, thrown clothes overboard, let a windsurfer get away while underway, hid a precious cord that’s needed for watching movies, and once it drank all the rum. We’ve seen traces like footprints and have heard it stealing ice in the middle of the night therefore we know it’s real.

L is for latitude. Where are we now, where are we going? Closer to the equator please. Less clothes, more turtles, and better swimming.

M is for Mexican Train Dominoes. Having board games is a fun way to relax and entertain. They also bring out the best and the worst depending on the game and the quantities and types of alcohol consumed.

N is for navigating. Good instruments and charts are priceless. Knowing where you are is a good thing. Having the skills and desires to go from location to a new location is fun, challenging, and keeps you on your toes.

O is for the oceans. They are big, wide, majestic, and must be crossed to get to new countries, islands, and adventures. When in the middle of one you are reminded how tiny we are in this huge magnificent galaxy. It’s breathtaking and just a wee bit daunting if you let your imagination run wild. This is where having good instruments and weather info is a huge priority.

P is for pirates. We haven’t seen or met any but we know they’re out there. Lock the dinghy, hide the good stuff, but no guns. We’ll take our chances by giving them everything in exchange for life if we ever have the misfortune of being boarded. And we’ll stay away from places that are desperate for food and money.

Q is for questions. Asking others is a great way to learn things like where to go, how to fix something, what’s for dinner, and where the heck did I put that?

R is for reefs. Two kinds. Reefing the main before it’s too late is always the goal. Hitting a reef is a nightmare.

S is for snorkeling. Refer to the letter R. This is the preferred way to experience a reef. S is also for swearing. You need to do it now and then to prove you are a sailor.

T is for tonnage. Either you have it or you don’t. It’s important to know.

U is for underwear. Seldom needed when cruising. Buy the good stuff though because hanging them on the life lines is how they dry and all your neighbors will see them.

V is for VHF. The radio can be turned on to listen to fellow boaters, cruiser nets, emergencies, and chatter in other languages. Use channel 16 for making initial contact with another boat, ship, or for an emergency. Use channel 68 for ship to ship and many cruisers nets held most mornings in frequented anchorage’s. Once you make the initial contact select another channel to communicate. But don’t think for one second it’s private. Radio stalkers love to listen in to your conversation. Think of it as party line and go with the flow.

W is for weather. It dictates everything else. Whether you stay, go, which anchorage has protection, and which sails to use. Knowing what’s coming is the key to good planning. Being surprised still happens but it’s less frequent if you have something like the PredictWind app. We can’t imagine cruising without it.

X is for marking the spot. With electronic charts this is easy breezy. Talking to fellow cruisers with phone in hand you can mark the spots on your Navionics charts when others share good info.

Y is for just saying yes. Keep yourself open for new experiences, people, places, and take yourself out of that comfort zone. You’ll be glad you did.

Z is for Zulu. Knowing the phonetic alphabet is a good thing for radio communications especially in other countries.

Guest Blog by Diana and Heidi

ARE WE THERE YET? Guest blog by Diana and Heidi

This blog has been brought to you by Starbucks, providers of hot cocoa mix for this El gato voyage. *Disclaimer – Do not consume a banana after you have enjoyed a cup of Starbucks Hot Chocolate as it might result in a PV** event. (projecti.. v.mt.ng).    Who knew? See, we are ALL lifelong learners! 🙂

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Those aboard the Catana Cat El Gato never had to ask that question, for as soon as dock lines were dropped, we were where we wanted to be! Sailing is the destination and we were Bahama-Bound. Captains Annie & Eric and guest crew Heidi and Dianamal were already unwrapping this early Christmas Gift with Glee.

IMG_1900 (1)Heidi: Maybe we’re getting ahead of ourselves a bit. Our first glimpse of El Gato was from underneath the boat, not really the preferred perspective when afloat.

IMG_1911The boat was on the hard at Dennis Point Marina on the Potomac in Maryland. She had a fresh coat of Sea Hawk bottom paint and we were overcome by how sturdy and immense she looked!IMG_1664

Right, so now time to launch the sexy beast, and the equally sexy and sturdy (it’s a thing…) Men of the Marina set to slinging and travel-lifting El Gato into the chilly harbor. A tight fit with literally two inches between dock and beloved hull x 2, Eric instructed the crew to gently push against the hulls, as she was lowered to ensure clearance – close only counts in horseshoes and Bocci Ball, so we were good to GO!

IMG_1917IMG_1842As we boarded the regal Cat, suffice it to say she looked like she had coughed up a hairball.  Tons of tools, random systems parts, a plethora of pillows and sexy sailboard gear filled the spacious cockpit as if it had already spent a tumultuous time at sea.

IMG_1670 To Eric’s credit, he had already spent many many hours sorting through gear and said systems, and this was “the look” that all boat owners sport before leaving their home country for years to come. That’s okay with us and Eric used his new crew effectively as we went hands-on from the get-go. Annie and Heidi hit the streets for provisioning and weather windows, using PredictWind, IMG_1682and software programs filled every screen from minute one. Local Annapolis sailors Captain Holly V. and her Significant Other Dean jumped in the trusty Volvo and delivered El Gato’s mainsail and brand new Gordo furling headsail, not to mention still warm blueberry bread. Many thanks to these two, who know just what it takes to winterize a boat by Heading South as fast as possible!IMG_1916

So we all fell to our tasks and bonded as crew too, sharing a hotel room and food bites at the Longhorn Steakhouse (Heidi loved her Lobster Baked Potato) and the Zanzibar Marina Inn. Who knew how exotic remote Drayden Maryland could be? “WOW,” a true Eric Exclamation, NOW we’re ready to GO!

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BOOM, heading down the Chesapeake Bay and loving life, our 0700 Dec. 3 departure saw a typical misty morn with temps reading 18 degrees Centigrade, whateva that means.

It’s Cold and Time to Make Tracks! After approximately 80 nautical miles of getting to know the boat heading out of the Chesapeake Bay, the 13-mile span of the Bay Bridge Tunnel lay ahead. We crossed over the submerged section as El Gato’s masthead was a bit close for the 74-foot bridge section clearance. And as evening fell, sailed smoothly through this gate to the North Atlantic and our Gulf Stream Crossing.

After clearing Chesapeake Bay with the setting sun, Annie guided us south, following a dark coast searching to find the best break in the strong Gulf stream current. She used Passage Weather to pull her best image of Tuesday’s Gulf Stream prediction and we headed for the Southeast-angled gap that led us through a smooth crossing while we acclimated to our watches and ocean life.IMG_1687

As we sailed out of sight of land, there were events over the next few days that seemed miraculous to us. The dolphin escort,

the two chickens that continued to feed us meal after meal and the fact that we never had any head winds or waves.  Still, we knew the breeze was coming Wednesday, and would be our next challenge after a successful and cooperative crossing of the Gulf Stream. Some excerpts from the trusty log show us making the most of things at 0810 with 398nm to go on a course of 210 degrees “Hauling Ass!” True dat baby, El Gato, she be our sleigh ride South! The 0900 entry saw a top boat speed of 15 knots by Captain Annie, followed by fresh Biscuits and Bacon by Annie & Heidi.

IMG_1897Eric and Di were grateful for this and Eric had been brainstorming a number of projects onboard and nailing every one!  Di & Heidi made their goal of breaking the 350 nm half-way mark to go, with VMG of 9.5 recorded in the log. Happy crew, happy boat!

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Now as evening of the third day fell, the wind and seas joined in building together just as expected. The wind shifted from west to NW big-number 40 degree shifts and breeze from 23-39.5 knots! We performed our new Offshore Cha-Cha with our larger and smaller headsails with Dancing with the Stars Names… Gordo, Flecko, REEF REEF REEF!

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Annie’s midnight watch stood with Di just for fun saw Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride video game in the salon’s glowing Command Center. Annie sported her new auto-helm clicker technology as we were clicking to the shifts, laughing and holding on, 3 reefs and ¼ Flecko, gazing astern as the stars were also breezing by in the big shifts with waves dancing in El Gato’s 5-9’ seas & white-capped wake. No moon, stars with clouds, ships passing in the night with AIS technology. Visual checks every 10-15 minutes, and no worries as a mysterious glow became an island of its own, a glowing cruise ship off uh, I don’t know, one side or the other, Florida or Africa baby, she’s out there! (Funny story – ya had to be there ☺)

Thursday morning we saw a balmy 24o C and replaced our boots, socks and heavy jackets with shorts, t-shirts and sunglasses.

Now, our final challenge presented itself, Could we make it to Abaco before sunset Friday?  Annie told us the story of the Caribbean 1500 Rally from Chesapeake to BVIs 8 years ago. A fellow traveller had decided to stop in Bahamas for a rest, but it was after nightfall, and seas were big. The other boats advised them not to attempt to cross the rocky shallows of the Bahamas in the dark. They ended up on a reef, forced to abandon ship and barely make it to the beach. One crew member was never found.   With this story stuck in our minds, we raced for our goal of arrival by  sunset on Friday. 

Dolphin spotted again at 1700 on Thursday, 25 hrs out Spinners this time and Annie Sings to them! Enchiladas that evening (chix of course) with domino training to follow – sober! Good thing as there is a lot to Dominos. I made the comment that this would be good to use in our older age. And Annie gently reminded me – Di, you are here. This is when you play dominos. Wow, as our wonderful Eric often exclaims – another revelation!! Game on baby – I’m going to need a new moniker – Domino Dianamal! With less than 100 miles to go and the need for speedy VMG, Di also broke out her 1989 lucky still serviceable Green Flash bra that had nestled me well during lots of deliveries and racing. 

Our last morning at sea saw twin fishing poles and a hand line out pulling and at noon our 30-pound tuna chomped the challenge!  Phone cameras clicking and all biceps bulging, our skipjack tuna boarded El Gato after a worthy fight that traversed both hulls.

Ceviche a day later was the best evah, but back to the Action as time spent catching our fish meant with four hours to go till the need to navigate the reef strewn Whale Cay channel ( are ya with us?), Tigger and a full hoist main came out to Play!

Winds light and inconsistent so with only 2 hours to go it’s engines full speed ahead!! And we’re doin’ It!! Barreling downwind to race the clock to arrive before dark, Spirits high with no room for error. Our 5:30 date with sundown meant ‘stayin’ out all night’ if we didn’t make curfew and you know how much trouble that can mean ☺ with the powers that be. 

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Land HO! Spotted by Annie and confirmed by Di at 4pm Tea Time on Friday. Hardly time for a true high tea, it was Eric and Heidi forward for a Tigger down douse, main centered.

IMG_1744 We could see the Abacos, but the sun was low and only about 45 mins of day remained. We were not going to make it before sunset. Annie charted a new course to cross a safer opening in the reefs, and we pressed on. The ease of the actual passage was ironic compared to the nervous last minute navigating, waypoint entering, and locating a sheltered place to anchor overnight. I sat on the bow stared in extremely shallow waters with just the glow of post sunset. It all seemed to happen quickly and easily. We made the cut entrance at 1720, 4 minutes after sunset! Annie made the call to shoulder the risk as we entered Whale Cay Channel, entering Chart Waypoints with one hand and Navionics on her phone display in the other, while steering with her teeth – Ah the stuff of legends! And Poof! We’re there – the question is answered! Yes darling Yes! We are there – 107 hours to the minute and approx 800 nautical miles, as anchors away at exactly 6 p.m., nestling nicely in the white sandy bottom in 2 meters of crystal clear 80+degree salty water off No Name Cay in the Abacos. 

Settled in quietly just South of Green Turtle Cay, we celebrated our first Caribbean cocktail hour. Martinis were deployed, as well as a bit of rum, ginger beer and lime taboot. For dinner Chicken quesadillas, the end of our stalwart chicken buddy, signaling the end of our simple miracle trip.

Thanks for reading sailing friends, from your El Gato Captains and Guest Crew, We are most grateful for the mighty El Gato, her trusty engines and suite of sails, and most of all Annie & Eric too! Happily we said of our time together, “Ya’ do whatcha Do & Cheers to You!”

Editors Notes:  Here are some photos from after we entered the Abacos – Green Turtle, No Name, Man O War, Great Guana, and Elbow Cay (Hope Town). The girls only stayed for a few days so we packed it in with watching wild life and being the wild life!
Eric and I wish to thank Diana and Heidi for being such wonderful shipmates and for helping to make our journey south a safe and memorable one.

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The Hardest Part is Leaving

And it’s not what you think. After all the goodbyes to house, kids, family, friends, Amazon, and Trader Joe’s, it’s a mad scramble to get everything done. Taxes, insurance, bills, tenants, and the piles of paperwork gets checked off the list first. Then the huge items get attacked like bottom paint, putting sails back on and provisioning when you won’t be returning with the boat to the USA for several years.

The boat looks like it vomited on the inside. It’s so messy it’s hard to believe we’ll ever get it all sorted and put away.

And this morning at the butt crack of dawn we tossed the lines and left the harbor with long time friends Diana Klybert and Heidi Schlageter. Diana was a teammate on the America3 Women’s America’s Cup Team. We’ve worked together for over 20 years team building with the University of Denver’s MBA program. She brings a sense of humor that reminds me of SNL. Heidi and I met when we started our families, and became fast friends both on and off the water. We trained together and won silver medals in Dubai at the ISAF World Games racing Hobies.

Eric is happy with our crew. Di has been by his side non stop assisting in numerous boat chores while Heidi has assisted me in the provisioning and moral support when the shit hits the fan.

So now that we are cruising down the Chesapeake there is a sense of relief and excitement. Our first landfall will be Abacos Bahamas. ETA Friday.

Hoping to have a smooth slide downwind and with PredictWind and Iridium Go! we can do our own weather routing.

The stress should slowly melt away as we head out to sea.

Wish us fair winds and we will try to post positions on FB but no promises.

New England Revisited

 

What a whirlwind of island hopping, relishing our time with all 5 kids, visiting dear friends we haven’t seen enough of, and finally sailing up the Connecticut River to enjoy 2 weeks of family reunion time behind my sisters house.  It was the best of the best.  I finally understand why folks live in the New England area.  Places to gunk hole, cool cities, American history, and everything is relatively close.

And then there is… Trader Joes!      The USA is “the land of plenty”.     Amazon Prime, Trader Joes’, Fresh Market, DSW Shoes, Apple Store, West Marine, wow.  We are back!   From independent contractors who speak English to ordering parts and installing ourselves, it’s so nice to be home and complete projects or upgrade. You have no idea how difficult or expensive it can be in other parts of the world.

In typical Gato style we did not stay anywhere for long.  From the time we arrived in July and left New England mid August we sailed to Cuttyhunk which is in the Elizabeth Islands and officially part of Massachusetts.IMG_7668IMG_7674

Onsett to clear customs, Duxbury where we barely managed to squeeze between the hundreds of small moorings to have a mini America3 reunion with Marci Lucier and Sarah Cavanah.

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On to Marblehead to visit Amy And Seamus Hourihan (Seamus wearing a gift basket from Grenada because he though it was a hat?) and Eric’s buddies Toby and Sally Reiley.

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Provincetown for the 4th of July to look for whales and celebrate son Rico’s birthday with his sibs Helena and Lucretia and best friend Ryan.

 

 

 

 

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Hadley’s Harbor to raft up with Bob and Jane Gleason.

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Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket with California friends Megan and Bruce Peeling, Marie and Lewie Wake.

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Newport where we dined, raced, and played with Dori and Scott Vogel, JB, Christy and Trev Prior, Susie Leech, Linda Lindquist, Johnny and Scott McGowan, Amy Baltzell, visited mansions, and had another mini America3 reunion with spouses, cousins, their mates and kids. Guest appearance from Mike and the newly named Mrs. Easton (Lindsay).

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Marci Lucier’s son JJ following Eric’s lead.

 

 

Back to Cuttyhunk to play with Bob and Jane, Christy and Trev.  Cuttyhunk was our favorite place to revisit. Quiet, good hikes, fresh seafood, good pizzas, and some interesting history.

 

 

 

 

My kids flew in to Boston, we toured a bit then drove back to Newport where we rented scooters, celebrated Bobby’s birthday,  then motor sailed to Block Island.

 

 

Mystic was next where we just had to try Mystic Pizza after watching the movie in our mini theater onboard.  And yes, we know they built the restaurant after the movie was produced but it was still fun. The pizza? Not the best. Cute town though. Museum is outstanding.  You can anchor right behind it. Kids ate their first lobster rolls and the shirts were a hit. Sex Drugs and Lobster Rolls!

 

My niece and grand nieces were dropped off to sail with us to Haddam where my sister lives. A family reunion was planned in two parts.  Kids first, then siblings.  Our family keeps growing so we needed to space things out.

And for the first stage of my 60 days of 60, we celebrated in Italian style with Bocce Ball, Italian meals, Italian wines, and Italian dress.  One night for each couple hosting started with a trip to dinner and the Theater to see Oliver. Other days and nights were spent feasting on fine food in true Gardner style. My family owned and ran Gardner’s Markets in Miami for 3 generations with sister Elizabeth and Brother in Law Maurice running them, until we finally sold them all a few years ago.  We celebrate with food and bring our families together around meals and our kids will carry this wand with them as they grow and expand their own families.  A familiar scenario is to be eating and planning the next meal!

 

 

 

Our departure was by way of NYC and we stopped in Sandy Hook for a few hours to rest before sailing all night to Cape May.  A nice lunch with Hobie Catter friends Wally and Lynn Meyers, and onward south to the Delaware and Chesapeake. We had 2 bats join us overnight in the Delaware and thankfully they departed the following night when the sun finally dipped below the horizon.  Stow aways!

 

From there we motored to West River Sailing Club, close to Annapolis. Rented a car and did some city touring.  Behind the WRSC we are enjoyed a few days with our sistership  Carlota’s Promise.  Paolo and Charlotte chartered with us 2 years ago and purchased their beautiful cat last year.  So fun to buddy boat!

 

We met up with locals Paul and Kathy Parks,they hosted and we enjoyed a fabulous meal at the Annapolis Yacht Club, and we anchored behind their backyard. Paul took this one.  West River YC is behind us.IMG_9084

We’ll relaunch in Late November and head south to the Bahamas, then sail on to CUBA.  As a girl who grew up in Miami with a dad who raced there, and friends in high school whose parents fled, I am more than curious to see that country/island. My new bedtime story is the cruising guide for Cuba.  Super psyched for new adventures and a completely different culture and politics.

From there on to Jamaica, especially after seeing Shaggy play with Sting at a concert here in SD!  Possibly Caymen Islands, then southwest.  Sometimes it’s good not to plan too far ahead.  We like to go with the flow!

Until then, we relish our time at home visiting friends and nearby kids.

Hope you have a beautiful Fall and until the next blog, Happy Thanksgiving and Happy Holidays!

 

 

 

Bermuda 2018

Sometimes it’s hard to write about something when you’re right in the middle of it.  Once you remove yourself, the thoughts, memories, and special moments come flooding in.  So it is with our trip to Bermuda.  We had a non-eventful ride north from the Virgin Islands with Greg Vadasdi. 850 miles of easy weather. The boat in the distance is Gunboat Flow!

The first few days in Bermuda were spent exploring St George’s where all yachts must enter and depart because of the barrier reef and customs.  While Eric has raced to Bermuda, and we both flew there last year for the Cup, we really didn’t get much time to get the feel for the island, it’s history, and the unique and beautiful islanders who live there.  This time we did.  This blog is in 3 parts. The first is when Eric and I arrived, the second was during Goddess week and Newport Bermuda Race, and the third is our sail to the USA and how good it is to be in home waters.

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Part 1:

After a day of clean up, a small celebration with crew Greg and wife Katie who flew in, and after a swim and a bit of R&R, Eric and I took El Raton outside St George’s Bay and inside the reef  to find hidden beaches on small islands in Castle Harbor.   The Nature Reserve on Coopers Island had a lookout tower with photos and explanations of wildlife, with historical info as well.

Green Turtles come here but are not born here.  The Parrot fish are huge and of the darkest blue we’ve ever seen, with funny shaped heads compared to down south.   Tropical Long Tail sea birds that graced the rocky volcanic cliffs in pairs followed us when we came too close to their nests, and the famous nocturnal Cahow was not to be seen but their nests both manmade and natural were along the cliff tops of islands.

These photos tell the story.  It is beautiful.  Think Bahamas water and islands with elevation and beautiful houses in all the Caribbean colors.

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Bermudians are proud of their history. Because it’s further north, about the same latitude as South Carolina, and it’s in the middle of the ocean, explorers did not find it for a long time.  When they did, it was deemed to to be haunted.  Evidently the night birds sounded like ghosts so no one wanted to make this their stopping point. In fact when the first settlers arrived in 1609 it was because they were shipwrecked from a hurricane.  On their way to Virginia from England with supplies, they all survived and figured out there was a lot of natural food to be had.  They built 2 ships and finished the journey to Jamestown only to find the first settlers  were starving and down to about 55 in numbers. Bermudians claim they saved the first settlement.  Did you know they were behind the scenes in the war of 1812?  While the Britts sailed off to burn down the Whitehouse, the locals got the governor drunk, raided the fort with the ammo supplies, and sold it to Americans who went back and fought the Britts!  In a nutshell, they were a good stopping point to store ammunition, armies, and supplies.  Because there were no natives to begin with, no water reserves for plantations, no gold or silver, this was not necessarily a place to fight over.  Once the Britts landed and built their forts, there were few who dared or bothered to try and overtake them.  The barrier reef had a lot to do with that.  Can you imagine trying to find the one hole to go into a bay with boats that barely go upwind? They had to wait for the wind to shift to come and go.  The Bermuda Sloops helped solve this problem.  They were developed by a Dutch seaman using hard native woods and these could go upwind far better than the square riggers.  Today’s local Bermuda sloop is called a ??? Dinghy. It has extremely low freeboard and humongous sails so the crew is constantly bailing. We watched one get swamped thus ending their day of match racing. Evidently this is common.

Enough on the history.  It is fascinating however even for one who never liked history in school.

Eric and I rented bicycles and toured around while enjoying the benefit of getting our legs to move more than 40 foot distances.  It felt great! St Catherine’s Fort, Tobacco Bay, the Railway Trail, fresh veggies next to the airport, and a new herb garden were part of the 2 days riding.

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One of our favorite things to do while exploring new islands is to ask the locals where they like to eat,  Not the tourist places, the local places.  After stopping a rasta mon who had a mouth full of food were he would go we found Momma Angies.  It’s a small diner type restaurant that has THE BEST fish sandwiches!  We were prompted to try it local style which was made with  caramelized Bermuda onions, Cole slaw, tomato, lightly fried Rock fish (Grouper/Snapper) on wait for it….raisin bread!  Now who would have thought of that?!?  And geez, it was DELICIOUS!!!

We chatted up the owner Wesley and learned it’s a 2nd generation business that he named after his grandmother.  As we hoped, it was filled with locals who knew where to eat and not pay through the nose.

He placed a Gato sticker proudly by the register.  So if you ever come to Bermuda, make sure you don’t miss this local spot on Duke of York Street, and tell him you know us!

 

If you are a foodie and want to splurge, Bermuda is famous for good food.

Pick up a magazine displaying food art from the many restaurants that compete for the tourists money.  There is a hefty price tag that goes with most of those meals.  But there are some very good places that we’ve found to be reasonable with tasty and hefty servings.

The White Horse Tavern, The Wharf, and Wahoo’s have good menus and are close to the water in St George’s. As for Hamilton we found Angelos to be our favorite.  Excellent Italian dishes served with a smile.  Some places they did not serve with a smile so I will not mention them. The next photo is with a group of Brazilians we met at Wahoo’s.  Fun and lively!

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PART 2:

Goddess Week and the race

Girlfriends came to play in paradise while Eric flew back to join friends in the famous Newport Bermuda Race.  He would be watch captain on Herme’s Louise, a Little Harbor previously owned by Bill Koch and now owed by Jay and Leah Harris.  Eric has raced with them in the past and loves this race as do most East Coasters who don’t have Bahamas or Keys in their back yards.  For West Coasters it’s usually Mexico or Hawaii, but in this race famous navigators and crews from across the continent were on board the rocket ships.

Who joined me?Betsy Crowfoot, who sailed a couple thousand miles with us 2 years ago from Cartagena to the Cape Verdes, got a gig from Cruising World and will be writing her thoughts on cruising in Bermuda.  Christy Radecic is a professional sports photographer and her big ass camera was always al the ready for the money shot.  We will get to see their article and photos in print in a few months!  Miami friend for life, Diane Davis, joined us for her first retirement trip after 37 years of teaching kids to love learning!

The gals arrived the same day Eric left and the party started!  We toured St George’s by foot and bus,

checked out the Crystal Caves, drank Swizzles, and checked out the same islands by dinghy.  Exploring a wreck that was only partly submerged was a highlight.

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Mermaids love that stuff!  Another big surprise and delight was taking the dinghy to a small cove and beach that was littered with sea glass.  That led to art projects on El Gato.  There was water coloring involved too.

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A few days later we sailed around to Hamilton and spent the night behind some gorgeous houses, and the next morning played with paddle boarding before sailing around the south side.  Pick your way through reefs that are marked with red and green posts on a sunny day and you can go pretty far around.  So we did!  At one point we followed a glass bottom tour boat that stopped at caves and wrecks and stopped to tell us how the fish would come to us if we threw them bread.

Back up to Mangrove Bay to watch the Bermuda Fitted Dinghy Races, and after dragging the anchor we found out why.  The joke onboard was it was a bomb as it sure looked like a missile.  Most likely plastic buoy filled with sand and it finally ripped off but not before we scratched our collective heads trying to come up with a solution.  Grateful!

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The races were close match races, and the locals invited us to the BBQ but we opted out to go anchor somewhere safer for the night.

Up to Hamilton about 1/4 mile from the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club, all set to explore this side of the island.

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We used our ferry passes that can be used for busses too, and went to the Dockyard.  More history, more tourists than we like as the cruise ships land there, and some fond memories of the Cup.  It Looks completely different as most harbors do after the big event leaves.  But it left it’s mark and the locals are grateful.  I never missed an opportunity to let folks know we were back because we had such a good experience during the AC.

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The best part IMHO are the artists.  There are glass blowers and potters, painters, and jewelers and we enjoyed finding a few treasures to buy for each other and bring back home.

After the Dockyard, we took a cab to Church Bay, and hitch hiked home.

 

Met a lovely local, Joelle, who we invited aboard the next evening for happy hour.  Happy!IMG_7598

 

Since we WERE in Bermuda, and it’s known for good shopping, we did what some girls do best – shopped!  Bermuda shorts are super comfortable and I liked them so much I bought 2 pairs.

The biannual Newport Bermuda Race was slow.  Rambler arrived ahead of the fleet, 4 boats arrived within the next 8 hours, and 2 days later the rest came in as a pack waiting to dock.   We greeted Eric and Barry at 4 and 5 AM and kidnapped them from their boats until it was time for them to return for customs.  Yes, rule breakers.  We don’t always behave.

After 2 days of R&R and it was time to sail to the USA.  But not before celebrating our 4th anniversary!

The girls flew home and Eric and I took off.

PART 3

We’ve been enjoying land time!  First a stop at Marci Lucier’ss (and family) sweet new home and an America3 Women’s America’s Cup Team mini-mini reunion dinner with Sarah Cavanah.  Then we headed north to a land bed at our friends house in Marblehead.  Amy and Seamus Hourihan own Thirst, the Gunboat we’ve raced on for 3 events in the Caribbean. They own a beautiful renovated home above Ft Sewall where we can see El Gato from the yard.  So nice to have long warm showers! And laundry!  Thank you Marci and Amy!

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Everyone has been so helpful and nice right up to the little harbor master boat that lead us through a maze of boats on Moorings to the Duxbury YC dock which is tiny and at the end of a snake like channel.  Check it out on a chart or map!  He had to use his boat to PUSH boats away to make it wide enough for us to get through.   11 foot tides with the full moon!

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Here’s part of a letter I wrote to my GF’s friends while sailing.

Night #3 – I’m on watch, it’s 1 AM, and the weather changed so not heading to MH.  We sailed through some nasty shit this AM.  I barely had time to put a foul jacket on and no time to zip it up when I took the wheel and it blew up to 39.9!  Eric was on watch and I was coming on, he said we might need to put another reef in, we had one, and it was too late to take in another.  It was daybreak so about 6AM.  I sailed low and surfed waves with a top speed of 19 knots going down one!  The wind was blowing the tops of the waves sideways and it was kinda like a white out.  White water streaming along the top of the water, rain blowing sideways, and the best part it wasn’t cold.  It didn’t last too long but the day was filled with wind and waves and the Gulf Stream current which topped at 7 knots.  Once we got past that, everything calmed down.  But a few waves crashed over the bows and soaked the back deck including cushions even with the sides down, and the rain flew into our little tiny bedroom indoor windows!  Water was everywhere, and our bed was soaked on my side so we are sleeping on port aft.  Good thing we didn’t strip that bed!  It’s kinda damp inside so once we land I will have to wipe down all surfaces with vinegar and water (good to prevent mildew) and go from there.  The laundry service will be a huge load!!!  Rugs will be cleaned too.  Yuk

OK on to more exciting news.  It was foggy tonight at sunset.  Not too bad now but it looks like it will be that way tomorrow too.  Yuk.  Gotta get out the conch shells. Here is a
Fog rainbow!
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I miss the Caribbean and Bermuda already.  The swimming?  The water temp says it’s 66 degrees. And I have a sweater over a long sleeve shirt with long John foulies.  So much for tropical summer…

Bye Bye Windwards and Leewards

Today we depart for Bermuda!

So here’s the wrap up for this part of the planet:

After escaping the magnetic hold of Grenada and the Grenadines we absorbed ourselves in adventure and a check list of what we want to do before we say goodbye to this part of the world.  Three seasons down here means we’ve had time to visit almost every island.

Our bucket list included some hairy climbs,

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a gorgeous botanical garden,

a fantastic tropical forest waterfall,

snorkeling and diving on wrecks and reefs, thrilling races on a friends 55 foot Gunboat catamaran,

doing some really fun charters,

and having some of our favorite sailing friends visit.