Boatyards – A Dirty Business

El Gato has been on the hard (the term for being out of the water) since last August.  Originally we thought we’d spend 60-80% of our time on the boat and the rest in San Diego.  But we aren’t the type of cruisers to sit still very long and with so many places to see we kept moving.  The Med, The Caribbean twice, Turks and Caicos, Bahamas, Florida to Maine are where we’ve sailed as of 2017. After over 2 years of full time cruising with a few weeks off here and there (Christmas, a visit to Chile) we decided last summer to take a break, visit kids, check out Israel and Costa Rica, and avoid hurricane season.  We left El Gato at Clark’s Court, a fairly new marina on the southern end of Grenada with hundreds of other boats doing the same thing.  As we were leaving I asked the yard manager the what if question. What would happen if a hurricane hit. He shook his head and said it would be a disaster. So much for feeling confident about our decision!  We watched the weather apps frequently while we were away and prayed the storms would not hit that far south.  Our insurance requires us to be below 12 40 Latitude or we aren’t covered. Even if they didn’t require it, we would have stayed south as we don’t want to be anywhere near a big storm.  This was the year.  Two major storms lashed the Caribbean and took with it hundreds if not thousands of yachts, homes, people, animals, businesses and vegetation.  It will take years to recover and we’ve heard many stories of people who sailed north only to lose their house (yacht) and all possessions in Puerto Rico, St Martin, St Barths, VI’s, etc.  We have not splashed yet and I worry about what we will find in Barbuda and Dominica, two of the poorest islands that don’t have a big country behind them like France England or the USA to support the rebuild and ship food and supplies.  We’ve donated to several organizations and private GoFundMe’s.  The latest is an adopt a family organization. My nephew inspired me to sign up and I will be sending a package to 2 families today. It’s easy to do and will help someone who is struggling in ways you can never imagine. Please check it out and send a small box that will be greatly appreciated.

OK so back to why boat yards are dirty.  We’ve hauled out several times for various reasons like painting the bottom with anti fouling paint (very nasty business but necessary if you don’t want to sail with a reef on your bottom), replacing engine seals (so we don’t ruin the engines or sink), putting new stripes on, etc.  Each yard is different but they all have one thing in common. They are filled with chemicals, trash, and unnatural ingredients.  Clarks Court, although new and butted up to a hillside is like a huge mud puddle after it rains.  There is no tarmac or cement ground, just dirt.  And on that dirt are all the pieces and chemicals from boat paint, bottom paint, bleach from cleaning teak decks, and a host of other things I don’t know about.  Boats don’t miraculously become shiny and bright and pretty. It takes a lot of work and products.  The boat shops attached or next to the yards are filled with so many products it will make your head spin.

Boats are stacked side by side and if your neighbor is sanding then the residue comes on to your boat.  If they are painting you could get some spray although they usually put tarps around them for that. But not always. Grinding metal? You could find this under foot or on your deck.

This brings up the question of do you stay on the boat at night or rent another place to clean up and breath fresh air.  Just opening the windows during the day brings in all kinds of dirt.  And taking a shower at the yard is an adventure too.  Water pressure and heated water is precious and not always available.

Many people choose to stay onboard to save $$ but we decided to rent an affordable room during our stay in November.  Even in November it can be incredibly hot during the daytime and when Eric is finished working he usually is soaking wet.  My jobs aren’t as physical and even then I sweat plenty.  We rented a scooter which Eric loves and I tend to ride on the back unless doing errands in the yard and then I drive around like a biker chick. The traffic is too unpredictable for me to feel comfy on the busy streets.  And in Grenada the driving is unique.  They will stop and park In the street for various reasons like at a barber shop.  It’s always on a narrow road so everyone has to stop and wait while it’s one direction only until there’s a break.  They also drive on the left as this was a British territory and before that French.

As for Grenada, we’ve spent enough time there to know people and places and feel connected.  The cruiser network is great and they speak daily about what’s going on today and all week.  Too bad we rarely had time but we did do another HASH and had a wonderful Thanksgiving on the beach with professors from the Med School.  Our landlords Inga and Hap were incredibly friendly and helpful. She is German and built her house 20 years ago by herself and it’s beautiful. An interesting character, Inga hitchhiked across Africa in her younger days.   They don’t own a car and they hitchhike everywhere in Grenada usually getting picked up by someone who knows them.  I was grateful we were staying there as I arrived with a nasty post Halloween cold and staying on the boat would have just added to the misery.  We can’t cook or clean on our boat because we are keeping the water tanks empty (nothing growing thank you) and clean up would be impossible.  So we were thankful to find a nice place.

I’m back in San Diego for a month and although Eric was scheduled to come home too, his projects need more attention so he will return in 2 weeks.

In mid January, after another week of work while on the hard, we will splash EL Gato and head up to Bequia for the Music Festival.  We will spend February in the Grenadines because once we head north we won’t be back.  Tobago Cays and Bequia are our favorites so we will play there before we sail up to the Virgin Islands.  Thirst, the Gun Boat we raced on last year is returning for more regattas and we will join them for the BVI Spring Regatta, Les Voiles St Barthes, and Antigua Sailing Week.  Which takes us into May where we have 2 charters booked in the Virgin Islands.  We feel fairly confident that by May many places will be up and running in the BVI’s, especially if they are hosting events in March. Just to be prepared, we will shop in the French Islands for all the good stuff first, and ask friends flying into the VI’s to bring goodies too.

After the charters we sail north to Bermuda!  We loved spending time with friends during the AC and decided we should not miss the opportunity to sail there on our own. Nice anchorages, and it’s above our insurance limits as well as early in the H season. From there we will sail to New England hitting some of our favorite places like Cape Cod, Newport RI, Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard. We missed Block Island and will check it out as well as heading up the Connecticut River to visit my sister Elizabeth and family.

In November we will sail south and start making our way towards the Panama Canal.  Galapagos, Marquesas, the South Pacific, New Zealand are all waiting for us!

Hope your holidays are filled with love and laughter. We will be cherishing our times with kids and friends before heading back to being full time gypsies!



Quick Update:

The San Diego-based Waitt Institute has established the Barbuda Recovery & Conservation Trust Fund to accept US tax-deductible donations. They state that 100% of monies donated will go directly to Barbuda and its people.
Further northwest, Sir Richard Branson has set up an appeal for the British Virgin Islands – one of which he owns – through Virgin Unite. Donations can be made in either sterling or US dollars, with 100% of all donations going to aid and relief for the BVIs.

As I search the net and wait for word from loved ones in the Caribbean, my heart breaks knowing how devastating it is down there.

A few weeks ago we left El Gato in Grenada, the southernmost island in the Windward chain, just above Trinidad and Tobago. It is not immune to hurricanes, but the chances are better of not getting hit. As we packed her up I had a lump in my throat. What if we never see her again? She’s in a good yard, Clarks Court Marina, and we took all her sails down and did the 100 things you do when leaving. But after watching Irma approach the islands for the past week, and now seeing the photos and videos of the places we know and love, my heart hurts.  When I asked the yard manager what he thought would happen if a big hurricane hit, he said it would probably be a total loss. WHAT?!?  But now I see where friends left their lovely yachts on the hard in Tortola and I grasp what he means.  When it blows 150-200 kts there is nothing that can stay upright except for cement houses with cement roofs. Now we know why Bermuda requires it.  And why some yachts were safe on good docks in St Thomas. We hope one of them belongs to our buddy Teri who can’t get to her cat Safari. Roads closed. She has no idea how her condo or boat are but she is safe. Thank God.

We particularly are fond of Barbuda, a small island that is an independent nation with Antigua and unable to get help from a big country like the US or England.  Only 1400 inhabitants and the island is literally in rubbles.  They were poor to begin with.  Their houses are gone…

Below is an Ocean Cruising Club notice I copied and pasted. I’m personally wary about sending $ to their govt because every cab driver we met said the officials were takers. Can’t confirm either way. And who knows, maybe in times like these takers can change into givers.  But I post anyway and if you read all the way through you will see there are some hands on ways to help.  There will be more and you can bet Eric and I will be part of something good.

For now, we hope and pray for those affected.


How cruisers can assist victims of Irma

How cruisers can assist victims of Irma

Sally Erdle of Caribbean Compass has passed on information about ways to assist Barbuda, in particular…

By Daria Blackwell08/09/2017

Thanks for your concern! We are in Bequia, in the Grenadines, and thank goodness well away from any danger.

Pretty much all of the northern Leewards took a bad hit, but St Barts and St Martin will be receiving aid from France, St Maarten from the Netherlands, the Virgins from the US and UK…. but poor Barbuda (part of the independent nation of Antigua & Barbuda) has no such “mother ship” and Irma’s eye went right over Barbuda, causing unimaginable devastation.

Here’s how OCC members can help:

Our sister island Barbuda was hit by the eye of Hurricane Irma and suffered catastrophic damage with the threat of Hurricane Jose behind. Read the latest alert from National Office of Disaster Services.
We now have official information with regards to financial contributions – sent directly from the Government, Sir Ronald Sanders, Ambassador/High Commissioner.

Please be aware that unscrupulous persons are setting up websites claiming to be relief agencies for Barbuda. The Government of Antigua and Barbuda can take no responsibility for them. The details of the OFFICIAL ACCOUNT for sending contributions are shown below. If you wish to verify this information, please call the Embassy of Antigua and Barbuda to the US, and the High Commission to Canada at: (202) 362 5122. Members of Staff will confirm this information.

56A: The Bank of New York Mellon (Intermediary Bank)
One Wall Street
New York, New York 10286
For credit to:
57A: Crown Agents Bank, Ltd. (Account with Institution)
St. Nicholas House
St. Nicholas Road
Sutton Surrey, SM IEL United Kingdom
Account #8900319011
For Further Credit to:
59: Global Bank of Commerce (Beneficiary Bank)
St. John’s, Antigua
ACCOUNT# 33086101 (USD)
For Final Credit to:
70: Government of Antigua and Barbuda – Barbuda
Relief and Rebuilding Fund
Account #100-019-74
Nature of Payment is to be included (SWIFT
Field 70)

56A: Deutsche Bank, AG (Intermediary Bank)
Taunusanlage 12
Frankfurt AM Main 60262
For credit to:
57A: Crown Agents Bank, Ltd. (Account with Institution)
St. Nicholas House
St. Nicholas Road
Sutton Surrey, SM 1 EL
United Kingdom
Account #9608217
For Further Credit to:
59: Global Bank of Commerce (Beneficiary Bank)
St. John’s, Antigua
ACCOUNT# 33086401 (EUR)
For Final Credit to.
70: Government of Antigua and Barbuda — Barbuda
Relief and Rebuilding Fund
Account # 100-019-75
Nature of Payment is to be included (SWIFT
Field 70)


56A: Intermediary Bank – Name and Address:
BNY Mellon, New York
ABA #: 021000018

57A: Account with Institution – Name and Address
Crown Agents Bank Ltd, Sutton

59: Beneficiary Customer – Name and Address:
Caribbean Union Bank Ltd
Friars Hill Road, Antigua
Account # 33178101

70: Ultimate Beneficiary Customer – Account Name, Number, Address
GOAB Barbuda Relief & Rebuilding Fund


56A: Intermediary Bank – Name and Address:

57A: Account With Institution – Name and Address
Crown Agents Bank Ltd, Sutton

59: Beneficiary Customer-Name and Address
Caribbean Union Bank Ltd
Friars Hill Road, Antigua
Account # 33178401

70: Ultimate Beneficiary – Account Name, Number, Address
Barbuda Relief & Rebuilding Fund

Other ways you can help assist victims of the storm:

Financial contributions can also be made to two key places below at this time. We know there are lots of funding links out there but these are the two very trusted sources we are confident will pass all money on to the relief efforts.

1. Make financial donations via the ticketting APP on behalf of the Antigua & Barbuda Red Cross.The ticketting APP is a locally owned and run company and will be passing on 100% of the funds donated to the Red Cross.
2. Make financial donations to the Curtain Bluff’s non-profit (501c3) “Old Road Fund”.
3. Adventure Antigua and Team Antigua – Atlantic Rowers are doing vital work to help provide relief support by taking the boat over with supplies first thing today. For anyone wishing to donate, Adventure Antigua will collect from clothing & household linens from anywhere on the island which will then be taken to a warehouse in Coolidge for sorting and distribution. Call 723 6355 to arrange.
4. Call Joely Anton-Hall (720-5282) at Best Cellars Wines and Spirits to drop off donations to be delivered by Adam Barrett via helicopter
5. Donate supplies at the Antigua Yacht Club Marina for ABSAR’s team that is transporting items to Barbuda and who willl carry injured victims back to Antigua.
6. Barbuda is now under voluntary evacuation due to impending Hurricane Jose. If you have a room in your home you can open to a Barbudan, please call any of the following numbers 464-5056 / 736-3419 / 736-3420 /736-3421 / 736-3423
7. Drop donations at NODS on American Road (about half way between All Saints Road and Factory Road. Unfortunately they are not in a position to take cash support – that should be routed through the above agencies.
8. The Antigua and Barbuda Port Authority are collecting donations – right at the entrance to the Port. Please drop off supplies directly at the gate.

If you are aware of any relief efforts that we don’t have listed, please email and we will continue to update this post with new updates for as long as we have access to power.

The Windward Islands

El Gato is loving the SE part of the Caribbean chain!  We had to book it south of N12 40 latitude for our insurance compliance so we sailed to Mayreau, Tobago Cays, Union Island, Carriacou, and of course the last and biggest island down here, Grenada.

When you stay in one area you begin to get a feel for the islands and it’s nice to recognize other cruisers, fishermen, locals, and to know where to buy fresh fish and veggies.  For sure Eric and I are sea gypsies, and we know that someday whatever I don’t photograph or write about will be a blur. We’ve already had so many incredible memories and memorabilia, and we embrace everyday knowing how special our time is being on the water and at one with nature.

We’ve yet to stay in Grenada long enough to say we are experts, but we’ve had some super good times with friends and cruisers hiking waterfalls, doing a hash (run or walking trail through the mountains following a paper trail), swimming around underwater statues, windsurfing, going to full moon parties, dancing, and playing our favorite game – Dominoes.   They have a cruisers net on VHF Channel 66 every morning at 7:30AM and folks take turns running it. The topics are everything from safety issues, who is coming or leaving, social activities (this is a big one that includes yoga, Texas Hold Em, Carnival details, music nights at the brewery, etc), shopping trips to stores that are prearranged,  treasures of the bilge, parts and services, and local businesses chime in with deals and menus. It can take easily 30 minutes and it’s nice to hear so many people connecting.

Living on a boat with one other person or alone 24/7 is not very natural. People tend to need people. And so it is with cruisers. Some you connect with, others you stay away from, but most are very nice and almost all are helpful and would do anything they can if you need help whether it’s to borrow a tool, fix something, share info, or share a recipe.

In this past month I learned to make sour dough bread, pizza dough, and how to drive an island boat from Bequia (pronounced Beck Way).

Today is our last full day here as we decided to take a few months off and spend some time in San Diego and beyond the reach of El Gato.  We’ll visit our 5 kids, travel to Israel with some cruising friends, and check out Costa Rica for some surf sessions. First Eric will fly to Ct and pick up his F18 and things in storage and drive them to SD. I’ll head straight home and snuggle with our kitty Pebbles.

To take the boat out of the water and leave it unattended is a long process and we have been working our fingers to the bones.  Making covers, cleaning, sorting, tossing, donating, shopping (this is not the land of plenty and with no car it’s always an adventures), cleaning, putting window shades up to keep the ridiculously hot sun outside, scrubbing, taking things apart, packing, cleaning, and sweating are just some of the things we are up to.  Did I mention cleaning? It’s like when you are going to have a dinner party and you know you better clean up the place.  This is worse. One woman said it was like her boat vomited on the inside! Stuff EVERYWHERE! But it feels good to go through it all. The lists are long but we are chopping away and tomorrow we say goodbye to our lovely Gato.  I’ll be stuffing my suitcases with clothes I haven’t touched, and some favorites I can’t live without.

Are we obsessed? Yes. Are we worried about a hurricane coming here and destroying our dreams? Yes. But we figure if we really prepare we then nothing will happen.  Like the storm named Don. No offense if your name is Don, but these days it’s not our favorite name.  We prepared a lot for that storm and literally 2 hours before it was scheduled to hit Grenada it fizzled out. Big storms seldom hit here but when they come they come. Like Ivan. It destroyed about 80% of the island. Category 5 is a whopper.  So we are outta here, leaving our baby behind, and wishing with all our might nothing happens. Other cruisers stay onboard and sail south to Trinidad if the prediction says it’s coming that’s probably the safest thing to do. But we made a choice and are sticking with it.  Time to take a break and spend more than a few days at home.  This is after all a very good yard and they promise to look after our dream. Clarks Court.

September 13th I will be giving a presentation at the San Diego Yacht Club so between now and then I’ll be compiling my best photos and stories to entertain the folks who want to know what it’s like to cruise full time or to hear more.  If you are in the area I invite you to make a reservation and attend. It’s called Ladies Night but men are welcome. Eric will be with me adding his 2 cents.  🙂

Happy Carnival Week from Grenada! Stay safe and pray for peace and for peaceful men and women to be our next leaders!

Bermuda – AC35 qualifiers

Eric and I had a last minute whirlwind decision to go to Bermuda and no regrets! In fact if you ever have to choose when to go see an Americas Cup and can’t stay the whole time (who can unless you’re on a team or live there) it’s best to go at the beginning. All teams have high hopes and once they start racing the drama unfolds.  Cruising friends Simon and Kim Forth on Aura welcomed us aboard and we could not thank them enough for their hospitality!  A bonus of living with them was I learned how to make sour dough bread from Kim!

Steve Tull and Deann of La Mischief were great hosts for watching races and we loved all the energy that climbed on and off LM each day. It was a full boat of friends from all over the globe.

The first photo is Frank Cammas out playing on his F18 after he was eliminated from the series as skipper of Team France. Eric and I have raced against him in the Catacup in St Barthes.  The next is of Team USA with Matthew Whitehead as wing trimmer.  He’s one of the top F18 sailors in the USA.

The hen was just a typical island shot but the turtle. Oh the turtle. As we disembarked from the ferry to watch races at the village I noticed a guy transferring this baby turtle under a fence upside down to another set of hands asking if she should keep him upside down. He answered yes. Turns out every morning there is a turtle rescue mission to clear them from the race course.  When Team Softbank hit something but did not declare what it was on TV there is a good chance that’s what it was. They are slicing them up is a quiet rumor and of course hush hush.  After all, how can a turtle possibly hear or much less go down under fast enough if it saw one of these machines coming their way? Speed is their enemy. In San Fran it was seals. So…the big question is how do we continue to enjoy our sport at these speeds if we know it costs innocent bystanders who just happen to live there, their lives? They did a good job of moving them to another area but I wonder how the turtles like that?  Anyway, that’s my tree hugging moment. Moving on.


We loved seeing these machines flying about the course area and it was a great place (other than the turtle situation) to host an event in terms of sea state. Flat seas and turquoise water with decent breeze almost every day. Sometimes even a bit too much for these craft! We watched from the village on the day it poured rain and there was no shelter. We braved the wind and rain and yes it was cold too. Watched as the Kiwis rounded down before building speed and crashed. Hard.  Everyone held their breath and waited to hear all the guys were OK.  Two days later they were out on the course again and now they are closing in on their overall victory. Peter Burling has what it takes but so does the whole team. You can’t win it by yourself and it can take many attempts before you get it right. Wondering who will back an American Team next time if Oracle loses.  The new nationality rule will be good. Another thought. If the Aussies bring a team, who from Oracle will be on it? If no one steps up from the USA it will be the first time the USA has not competed in an AC. Imagine!

Lots of fun days with the tall ships parading around the island, the J Boat Class gearing up for their regatta, the kids playing on Hobie’s with pink sails in front of the grand stand, and a few super yachts mixing it up before they raced too. We had a nice day on a super yacht for one race day. It’s always nice to mix it upbeat a guest on one of those!

The Crystal Caves? Amazing!!!! If you go to Bermuda you must visit this underground wonder.

And of course when in Bermuda it’s almost mandatory to rent a scooter for one day if you like bikes. Eric loves them and I will only go if we’re on an island. Even in Bermuda it’s not all that safe but they won’t rent cars to anyone and they have a one car per family rule. Keeps the traffic down and the taxi drivers in business.  We rode the bus one day and that was fun too.

All in all a very cool island and we were happy to learn that there are lots of places to anchor next year when we head north again.

For now El Gato will stay south of 12 40 Latitude for insurance reasons and also to try to stay clear of storms. Last year we went all the way to Maine and this year it’s been nice to stay where we can swim with turtles, starfish, conch, and stingrays.

Tomorrow is a big day. ETNZ needs one more win for the holy grail, and we can’t stay to watch because we are sailing 180 miles south. Double handing to Martinique on our way to Grenada.

We look forward to scooting along and sailing at night! Go El Gato!!!

Regatta Fever in the Tradewinds

Living on El Gato in the Caribbean gives us the best of both worlds. Cruising and  competitive racing. We do not race the house anymore in case you were wondering! Too much “stuff” and although we know our Catana 472 is fast, we don’t need to push it around a race course when it is filled with all the comfort creatures of home. With an icemaker, washing machine, full fridge and freezer, bikes, windsurfers, fishing gear, and loads of other goodies, the list is long. We listened to an owner of an Outremer complain that their rating was not right because they were loaded down with “stuff” and while we were sympathetic, it confirmed our choice.  Watching other boat owners leave all their “stuff” on a dock while they race looks like way too much work!

As passionate racers we’ve stepped aside for almost a year to continue our journey of exploring new islands and living the dream. That said, we decided to pick up the pace this year by joining 2 different crews and compete in high profile regattas that attract US snow birds, Europeans, and plenty of locals. At Antigua Sailing Week there were teams from over 35 countries and the types of yachts ranged from charter boats to super yachts.

When Latitude 38’s founder Richard Spindler posted on FB that the Santa Cruz 70 named Hotel California Too was looking for crew we immediately signed up. We had planned to be in St Barthes for racing on the new Gun Boat Thirst, but Thirst wouldn’t be ready until Antigua Sailing Week.  HCT’s owner Steve Schmidt has sailed thousands of miles single handedly and knows his boat well. What he didn’t know well was the cast of thousands that joined him in St Barths.  He tapped me to do navigation/tactics, and Eric to trim main.  With old sails, no spinnaker, and a new crew, we somehow managed to sail consistently and fast enough to finish 2nd in our class. It helped that some of our competitors were DSQ’d for various reasons.  Was it painful to sail downwind without a kite? You BET! But we had a good crew who never gave up and Steve even handed me the helm on the last day when it was so light we worried about making the finish time limit. We did, with 30 mins to spare at 5:30PM. Steve added extra incentive by promising me a bottle of Veuve champagne if I didn’t let Sapphire III, a gorgeous new 85’machine pass us. It worked! LOL

The parties in St Barthes are legendary.   This was the 6th year running for the Voiles and as it grows so does the organization to keep the racing as good as the onshore entertainment. There were under water treasure hunts for champagne bottles (no goggles allowed), paddle board team races, pole dancers, cabaret shows, live bands, dancing and of course the most delicious French cuisine. Our crew bonded day by day and with Richard and his first mate Dona’s help, Eric and I met several locals on board as well as at the local hang outs.

The bay of Columbier is a Sunday tradition for locals and our crew wound up rendezvousing and boat hopping all day after the regatta finished. It was hard for all of us to say goodbye. You know that feeling when everything clicks and the magic is the people? That was us thanks to Richard and his wizardry at being creative, witty, and basically an all around super nice guy who knows everyone on St Barthes. After 30 years of visiting he knew that island like the back of his hand and he took us under his wing from the get go.


A few days later we sailed with daughter Lucretia and her friend Megan down to Antigua and gave the girls some various excursions as well as decent fishing. Four fish in two hours had Eric cleaning fish and boat non stop.  We finally pulled the lines to give him a break. Their last night we hiked up to Shirley Heights and the views were breathtaking on the way back down over the cliffs at sunset.

Gun Boat 55 “Thirst” arrived and we anchored close by in Falmouth Harbor near the Cat Club. With friends stopping by and dinners on board we introduced Seamus to our buddies from other yachts we’ve bonded and crossed oceans with. We also had the opportunity to sail with Seamus for a few hours to check out the systems.


A couple days later Eric’s Dartmouth fraternity friend Tobi Reiley, his wife Sally, son Andrew, and Mike Taber from Sea Hawk, a bottom paint company and event sponsor completed our crew.  With one day of practice under our collective belts, we raced in the first race in blustery conditions and steep waves placing 4th. Once again no spinnaker was to be seen on our boat.  Seamus had yet to put it up and these were not the right conditions to train the crew and learn the boat all at once. We needed more time to practice and learn the complex systems. Inside there are only 2 winches and lots of hydraulics to do everything. Without going into details, Eric and Mike were the foresail and traveler trimmers.  With the exception of a hydraulic mainsheet, all trimming and pit functions were handled on two 3 speed winches in 8 square feet of space.  I trimmed mainsheet with one finger, managed the boards up and down with another finger and did tactics/navigation (most races were between 13-18 miles up and down the coast in a choice of 54 courses).  Tobi did the bow. The others assisted with various jobs like preventer and line clean ups. Day 2 was a disaster. Someone pushed a “dumb button” as my mom would call it and the anchor bridle got sucked far up into the bow sprit. It took 2 hours to pry it out and while we were struggling and after we’d called the RC that we would not be competing, our friends from Sugar Shack, Christine and Matt Mitchell anchored near us and came to see if we had really pulled a dead body from the water like another boat told them. Tobi had been hanging off the bow sprit to pull that sucker out but to no avail. Christine and Matt raced with us on HCT and we loved their energy, willingness to learn and do things efficiently. They were coming to watch us race and now we knew we needed them. After that debacle we practiced with the spinnaker and were ever so thankful when Seamus invited them to join our crew.  Tobi needed at least 2 more hands up there on the tramp and his son was injured from snow skiing (dangerous sport!).  The next morning I took Christine with me to find the guy in charge of our races so we could request they do 2 races per day instead of one for the multihulls. She was my wing man. I figured bringing along a pretty girl could only help our cause.  With a minimum of 6 races we could have a throwout and  toss the “dumb button” DNS. It worked so well I almost cried and literally had goose bumps on my arms. As he walked away he touched his chest and declared I pulled his heart strings. That day and the next race day they announced we would have 2 races so we had races to spare. Thank you RC!!! We placed 2nd in every race until the last day when there was only one very long race and we won it!   It was exciting and adrenaline filled with us learning the systems, racing against other fleets, rounding marks to port and starboard and jumping off of waves.  We held our breath as we watched our bowmen fly in the air and thankfully land back on board, except once when Tobi went over the front, hung on, and flew back up and on again with the next wave. That last day was also Matt’s 50th birthday, and at the prize giving of the 50th anniversary of the event they made the announcement so everyone sang to him.  The evening was rounded off perfectly with a crew dinner hosted by Amy and Seamus at the Nelson Dockyard Restaurant, and the next table was occupied by Frederick Moe, the 60′ Gun Boat Moementum’s owner and his crew from Jamaica. We were in good company! That team was fun!

Racing this past month definitely got our competitive juices flowing and we’ve been invited back to race Thirst next season. We highly recommend anyone who’s ever thought about chartering or racing down there to just friggin do it!  No regrets!

We now sit in our Cali house enjoying unlimited internet and phone service, long hot showers, cats who need scratching, and tonight will head to San Francisco for son Rico’s graduation ceremonies at UC Berkeley. Nice to see most of the kids this week and share stories and hugs with dear friends.



100 Years of US Virgins

March 31st, 2017 marked the 100th anniversary of trading 25 million in gold for what is priceless! St Thomas, St Croix, and St John lay between the Spanish Virgins and British Virgins and each island, like all islands, has it’s own colorful history.FullSizeRender.jpg

Cool Facts:

Founding Father:

Alexander Hamilton, one of our founding fathers was born on Nevis, a nearby Caribbean Island, and in 1767, when he was 8, his parents moved to St Croix. His dad left, his mother died, and as an illegitimate orphan he became a clerk. Locals saw his potential and sponsored him to go to school in the states. Imagine this… he was shot in a duel by the Vice President of the United States.  I hate guns. A punch in the nose might have been sufficient in getting the point across.


Camille Pissarro was born in 1830 on St. Thomas to Jewish immigrants. There is a good read called A Marriage of Opposites that tells his story.

Many professional boxers and baseball players were born here. Two famous sailors were born on St Thomas. Peter Holmberg won a silver medal in the 1984 Olympic Finn class, was on top of the world in match racing and continues to drive or do tactics on super yachts, and the new hero here is Taylor Canfield. Taylor has been the #1 ranked match racer In The World for the past 5 years and has his sights on the America’s Cup for future endeavors. Go Taylor!

Rich and Famous:
Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Group (records and airlines, etc) owns 2 islands in the BVI’s close to Virgn Gorda. He hosts friends and celebrities alike. Recently he had a contest with Obama.
“We decided to set up a friendly challenge: Could Barack learn to kitesurf before I learned to foilboard? We agreed to have a final day battle to see who could stay up the longest,” Branson wrote in a post on

“We were neck and neck until the last run on the last day, when I got up on the foilboard and screamed along for over 50 metres, three feet above the water,” Branson wrote. “I was feeling very pleased with myself, only to look over and see Barack go 100 metres on his kiteboard! I had to doff my cap to him and celebrate his victory.”


Golf or kitesurfing. Both are good sports but I prefer a president who is athletic and brave enough to fly with the wind! You can’t beat that smile either. Nuff said.


Kelsey Grammar who is best know for his role as Frasier on Cheers, was born in Charlotte Amalie, St Thomas.

When you die, if you were a really good woman in your lifetime you will be given your own island full of male virgins. Agh! I think I’ll stay badass.

Mardi Gras, Heinekens, and El Raton

Having never gone to the USA/New Orleans traditional Mardi Gras, we made sure we saw one down here in the Caribbean!

Wikipedia says Mardi Gras is French for “Fat Tuesday, reflecting the practice of the last night of eating richer, fatty foods before the ritual fasting of the Lenten season. In Martinique this tradition is a biggy. It may be about food but that certainly wasn’t the focus! Everyone dresses up and if you can imagine Halloween being practiced for 4 days you are close. Except that the music is loud with a rhythmic pounding and it’s mostly adults and the costumes on certain days have a color theme.  Red, Black, White and Gold, and Rastafarian were popular.


Paula and Janet Heineken arrived in the midst so we all dressed up and took part one night. On our way back to the boat we noticed a circle of locals with music and chanting going on in the park. On further inspection we saw two not very young women doing a form of martial arts that was part of their heritage. Since none of us speak French we could not ask but clearly it was observed with quiet respect while the drummer and chanter made the noise. During every dance/fight, the fighters would pay homage to the drummer, almost as if they were getting power from the drum beat. We felt it too.


A solid week of fun with the Heinekens while coincidently the Heineken regatta was going on in St Martin. We visited Dominica and finished in Martinique before sending them back home to San Fran.

Eric and I waited out the blustery week and then sailed north to Jacques Cousteau’s nature conservancy where turtles were abundant. From there we headed up to Deshais  (pronounced Day Ay) for one last yummy French meal, and then a 200 mile sail to St Croix under full moon and mostly clear skies. We visited Seamus Huolihan who owns a  new Gun Boat 55 named Thirst, met his brother John who lives high on the hill, and then sailed back to St Thomas.

St Thomas feels like our home away from home. Friends and a yacht club that is warm and welcoming, plus a sweet cove to swim and hang out in while we do our normal and sometimes not so normal maintenance.

As for El Raton, after 2 years of enjoying him, we knew at his ripe old age of 17 we should look at replacing him. We think we found him a good home and are excited about not having to pump up the tubes everyday. Funny thing happened today tho. When Eric tried to sneak off the back of the boat without waking me so he could work on the new Raton at the beach, he let go of El Gato and drifted back. That’s one of my only rules. Never let go of the boat or dock without having the engine on first. The ONE time you do it won’t start. And that’s exactly what happened. We think the engine was afraid we were selling it too. But turns out it just needed some new spark plugs. And yes, Eric made it back to the boat no problem. The wind was not up yet.

Internet is ALWAYS a challenge!
I wanted to add my iPhone photos of Raton and Thirst but alas, no can do.

Stay tuned!



El Gato

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