Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Top 10 Tuesdays: 10 Things We'd Do Different

While we did a lot of things right when we shoved off a year and a half ago - we would be remiss if we didn't reflect on our time away and make a note of the things we didn't do right or, rather, would have done differently if we could have.  There were a lot of extenuating circumstances that led us to make many of the decisions we did (I got pregnant, Scott got a job...etc) but here are some things that we would have done differently if we lived in a "perfect" world (which, we do not!)...

Ten Things We'd Do Different 
  1. We'd have left earlier - this isn't really fair because there was work to be done and there were factors beyond our control that played into our timing, but in a perfect world we would have left for this trip earlier.  Leaving from Chicago in September was 'pushing it' timing wise.  While we left as soon as we could and it wasn't that big of a deal, it would have been nice to have been able to take more time going through the Erie Canal and down the East Coast without the threat of snow looming over us each and every day stopped to smell the roses.  We have vowed to return to both areas to explore under less of a time constraint in the future because both areas were incredible.  
  2. We wouldn't provision like we were crossing an ocean - Note to new cruisers:  Don't provision like you are crossing an ocean unless you are crossing an ocean.  I don't know who got it in my head that we had to provision like it was the dawn of Armageddon and we were readying our bomb shelter for years of underground living but it was not necessary.  Scott and I gave away about forty pounds of food in cans and bags the other day - most of which was leftover from our initial provisioning trip in Ft. Lauderdale!  Not only could we have saved ourselves some precious space on our boat - but we could've saved ourselves some coin too.  Seriously, if you are island hopping, don't go nuts like we did.  Believe it or not, they actually have grocery stores and eat food just about everywhere and, if you aren't too picky, you'll be just fine.
  3. We'd have spent more time in certain places - This sort of goes hand in hand with numero uno, but we felt like we rushed through some places that we wished we didn't.  We spent over two months in the Bahamas, and by the time we left there - we had to really cover some ground to make it somewhere "safe" for hurricane season.  Particularly, we would have liked to have spent more time cruising Puerto Rico (for example we only spent 2 days in Culebra, and easily could've spent a week or two) and we just skimmed the surface of many of the islands down here due to timing.  Luckily, we're going cruise the Windward and Leeward islands extensively next season - and much talk has been had about enjoying doing this at a much slower, steadier pace. 
  4. We'd have explored shore more - One of our "whoopsie" mistakes was leaving without any guidebooks (well, we did have one from 1982 but that was used more for comic relief than anything else - I mean, what were people thinking in the 80's with those outfits?!?!).  This made shore exploration difficult.  Sometimes it really is best to do a little homework on a place and find out where hikes, hot springs, waterfalls and other attractions might be.  Having guidebooks for reference really helps out in this regard. We are happy to report that we are now proud owners of updated guidebooks for the entire Windward and Leeward island chain and we plan to explore more with our baby girl strapped to our backs next season.  We also bought a Caribbean hiking guide that lists hundreds of hikes and walks throughout the island chain and we're looking forward to strutting our stuff all over the place with our baby girl.
  5. We'd do more research on places - See #4.  In addition - if you do your homework, you can time your trip with cool festivals and local events that are happening in these islands (of which there are many).  This is a GREAT way to really get involved and get to know a place when it's at its best.  For example, you might want to make it down to Grenada for Carnival, or to Bequia for the Bequia Music Festival or St. Maarten for the Heineken Regatta.  All this can be achieved with a little research and a flexible schedule.
  6. We'd be better at meal planning - I'm not a cook.  For those of you who have been long time followers you know I have really been kicking it up a notch, but I still have a long way to go.  I tend to find something that I like to is easy to make (i.e. soup, beans and plantains, rice and beans, toast and peanut butter...) and make the heck out of it.  Next season we're going to focus on having a more varied diet that explores more than four recipes.  Plus I'll be a baby food making machine.  Look out people!
  7. We would not have sat idle for six months - while we LOVE Grenada, we have no idea how people can sit here for six months every hurricane season year, after year, after year...While this was more or less out of our control because of planned visits back to the USA and Scott getting a job (which will allow us to keep cruising for a LONG time now), when we come back next season we're going to try to plan our timing a little better and either find areas we can cruise during the hurricane season, or do something else like rent a little beach house in Costa Rica and spend three months exploring and learning how to surf with our little beach baby.  Who knows?  You'll just have to keep reading and find out where we end up!
  8. We would have left with a better dinghy - this was a BIGGIE.  We left with a twenty-five year old 2hp motor and an even older dinghy.  This is not an ideal cruising set-up.  We had so many dinghy problems the first eight months of this journey that we could do nothing else but laugh.  In all honesty, however, it really hindered us.  Not having a reliable dinghy is a serious handicap out here.  There were times we had to stay in marinas because our dinghy motor wasn't working, times we couldn't explore certain places because were weren't sure our dinghy would make it there, and - overall - a lot of missed opportunities all because of a dodgy motor attached to a heap of inflatable hypalon.  Obviously, we're all sorted now thanks to our sponsor Island Water World, (we have an 8ft Caribe hard bottom dinghy with an 8hp Mercury 2-stroke outboard) but for those of you planning a similar trip - do not brush the dinghy issue under the rug.  It will impact your trip in a HUGE way.
  9. We would not worry so much about hurricane season - we rushed through the Windwards and Leeward islands mostly so we could get down to Grenada in order to fly out for two weddings we were in this past summer but we also rushed to be here by the June start of the "hurricane season".  One of the perks of not having any insurance is not having to answer to anyone about where we need to be and when (insurance companies often deem that a boat must be at "x" place by "y" time in order to be covered).  We rushed south just like everyone else and we really didn't need to.  While hurricane season is not to be taken lightly and cruising during this time should be done with caution, LOTS of people continue cruising throughout the hurricane season.  I'm not saying you should cruise through hurricane season - so please don't take this as a suggestion!  I am just saying that, for us, we would have slowed down a bit and taken our time (with prudent weather monitoring through our sponsor, marine weather guru Chris Parker, of course).  A huge reason we didn't cruise more, however, was also due to the fact that Scott got his fantastic job with Island Windjammers (he has now been offered a permanent position in the rotation and we'll time our cruising around it!!).   We all know that the cruising kitty is as essential to a journey like this as a reliable vessel and we consider ourselves VERY lucky that work and play seem to work symbiotically!
  10. We'd have refrigeration - our next boat* will have refrigeration.  Been there, done that, bought the tee-shirt.  We want cold beer.  Do you blame us? 
All that being said, do we have any regrets??  HECK NO!  But if someone else can learn and benefit from the things that we would have done a little different, then our mission is accomplished.  If those people also happen to be us being better prepared for next cruising season, then all the better!

*Yes, many of you who follow us on Facebook know we are looking at bigger boats.  It's possible that this "hiatus" home will be filled with new boat talk and possible trips to visit potential contenders.  We'll keep you posted.  Exciting things are in the works, that is for sure!

Monday, January 30, 2012

Porcelain: A Caribbean Video Interlude


Made another little video the other day to another one of my favorite songs...

This one is to Porcelain, by Moby.  I could listen to him all day long. 

Hope you enjoy this little kick-start to your week!!  

Love,
Brittany & Scott

PS. We will be leaving for Trinidad this evening - sailing through the night and hoping to arrive sometime tomorrow morning (between 6am and 10am depending), so if you are interested be sure to check our SPOT tracker page.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Buzz of Regatta Weekend

The time has come for the 2012 Grenada Sailing Festival and let me tell you - things have been kicked into high gear around here!

Scott was originally going to race in this regatta (and I was hoping to be on a spectator boat), but due to our change in plans (namely going to Trinidad to store Rasmus instead of staying here) the timing didn't work out.  C'est la vie! Lucky for us we get to sample a little taste of the action...okay, and the Mt. Gay Rum (the main sponsor of this and practically every other sailing event in the world).





Race crews are flying in by the droves proudly wearing their red hats* and strutting their stuff in high-tech sailing shoes, fancy embroidered sailing shirts and donning the shiniest of mirrored Oakley sunglasses.  They're loud, they're proud and these folks are here to have a good time.  Sails are being schlepped, rigs are being tuned, battens are being pushed and the excitement in the air is palpable. Scott and I are familiar with the racing scene - it's something we spent a lot of years involved with in Chicago and while we prefer cruising, the racing "vibe" certainly has it's appeal!  Despite the fact that the scene here is more tame and on a smaller scale than some of the larger regattas Scott and I have participated in - it's still about the sailing, and when it's about sailing - it's all good.

While we're sad we're not going to be able to partake in the fun - it's nice being a fly on the wall for a bit!

Love,
Brittany & Scott

* These "red hats" are the famous Mt. Gay Rum hats that are given to just about every sailor during a regatta and are the "calling card" of the racing sailor.  Some people collect and wear these hats with a pride that is a little out of proportion with the fact that it's, well, just a hat.  You've really reached the holy grail if you have a really faded, old, jalopy of a hat from a really 'cool' race like "Antigua Race Week" or the "Chicago Mac Race".

Friday, January 27, 2012

Scrub a Dub Dub

The importance of a clean bottom cannot be denied...especially when it comes to a boat.

Racing sailors know this all too well, and cruising sailors usually learn it the hard way; like when they're slogging along the Northern coast of the Dominican Republic pounding into head seas going 2.5 knots after spending ten days in the cesspool that is Luperon wondering "Why are we so damn slow?!?" Well, I'll tell you why you're slow.  You've got a virtual aquarium living on the bottom of your boat.  Barnacles, algae, sea grass and mollusks will all be found living and clinging for dear life to your underhull and believe me, it will slow you down.  A lot.

Sailboats aren't known for being the zippiest form of transportation around in the first place, so when you lose a knot or two of boat speed - it makes a big difference.  Therefore, bottom cleaning should be a part of every cruising sailor's routinely scheduled maintenance.  Tropical waters are famous for breeding sea life aplenty and if you don't move regularly (like sitting at anchor for a week or more), the speed at which life will grow will be much faster.  Usually, Scott and I would dive our boat every couple of weeks in a nice anchorage somewhere with some scotch brite pads and give our boat a scrub.  However, here in the harbor - it would take a pretty lucrative ($$$) dare to get either of us to get in the water and do this (we've seen everything from hypodermic needles to dead rats float by our boat).

Enter our buddy Martin!!

Not only does he not mind getting in the water, but he's got a scuba set up which means he can do a much more thorough job, much faster than we could.  For a $100 even - we get a pristinely scrubbed bottom (we've checked his work before and he does a great job) and the peace of mind that we have potentially managed to escape nasty case of giardiasis.  Sometimes, money spent is well worth it and in this case, we're happy to hand over a Ben Franklin, thankyouverymuch.

We should enjoy a nice, fast ride to Trinidad now.  Here's hoping!!

Love,
Brittany & Scott

Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Sponge Man

Yesterday, at the beach as Scott and I were lounging in the soft, white sand reading our (respective) Kindle and Nook...I heard the call, "I am the sponge man"!  Always interested in unique sales pitches, I turned up my gaze and saw this guy.  "Loofas!  Natural loofahs!" he called out.  While I don't need a loofah - or luffa as the genus is more commonly known - (I'm a synthetic "bath poof" girl myself) I did think these were really interesting, particularly because he had a few that were still in the raw - meaning they were contained in the pods they grew in.

Despite my original supposal that these products come from the sea, the loofah is actually from a plant that grows on land called "cucurbits" and grows like a gourd from a tree.  A tree!?  All my life I wrongly assumed these things came from the ocean!  Am I the only one who was in the dark here?  Pretty interesting stuff really.  For you trivia types out there, you can learn more about the natural loofah and how it's harvested here.  You never know when Jeopardy might call!
Love,
Brittany & Scott

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Next Steps...

Lots of questions coming in about our next steps these days!

When we announced that we were having a baby back in September, I also mentioned we would be going home to have her around the beginning of the new year.  Well - believe it or not, here we are!

After much deliberation, we decided to bring our beloved Rasmus to Trinidad for the seven months or so that we will be away.  While there were a lot of reasons contributing to this decision (more in a later post) we also got a fantastic deal on high-security storage with our newest sponsor Peake Yacht Services, the Caribbean's largest and most comprehensive yacht haul-out facility.  We are honored and excited to partner with such an esteemed yachting facility.

So, weather permitting, we will be sailing for Trinidad this coming Saturday.  Being that I am eight months pregnant we thought it might be nice to have another hand on board in case things get dicey (as they do from time to time on the water) and I threw out an invitation to my dad.  Lucky for us - he took the bait and booked a ticket.  Seeing the news on Facebook, his best friend (and the best pseudo-uncle there ever was) called him up and said "I'm coming too".  So now, we will be a motley crew of four and having my dad and uncle Tom along will make what will be a bitter-sweet journey err on the "sweet" side.

Once we're in Trinidad, Scott and I will be thrown back into "work mode" prepping the boat for long-term storage (again, more on this in a later post!).  From there, we will be flying back to Chicago where we will live with my parents (believe it or not, all parties involved are excited about this!), have our baby (due March 21st) and remain home with our little sea monkey for the 2012 hurricane season as we adjust to being parents.  Scott will get a part-time job to make more money for our cruising kitty and will also be returning to Grenada for five weeks in July to work for Island Windjammers.  We have lots of places to visit and people to see while we are home, so we're going to be busy and if the past year and a half is any indication - time is going to fly!

We plan on returning to the Caribbean next September to complete some projects and continue cruising full-time.  There is talk about getting a bigger boat, and we're exploring our options on that front.  We'll keep you posted.  We will remain here in the Windward and Leeward Islands and we'll probably head south to the ABC's (Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao) or somewhere else after next season.  We're not sure where we'll spend the 2013 hurricane season but we don't want to sit idle on our boat in one place again and we're liking the idea of renting a house in Costa Rica for a few months and surfing every day.  Who knows?  When two dreamers like us get to talking and planning, just about anything is possible!

Windtraveler is not going away!  We're only taking a little break while we amp up for phase two - this next year is going to get really interesting and rest assured, we'll keep you in the loop!

Love,
Brittany & Scott

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Top 10 Tuesdays: Top 10 Things We'll Miss about Grenada

Grenada has become something of a second home to us...considering we have been here since June, we have really grown accustomed to this life and now that our time here is coming to an end I've been reflecting on what I will miss about this place.  It's hard to believe how fast time flies - I mean, it feels like only yesterday we arrived here and yet, we've been here long enough to grow an (almost) full-term baby.  Insane.  So, here are the

Top 10 Things We'll Miss about Grenada

  1. The market.  I love going to the market and shopping for produce and visiting with my favorite market mamas, Theresa and Shirley.  The noises, the colors, the smells, and the energy that is the Caribbean market will be something I miss.   Somehow, going to grocery store stateside doesn't quite cut it.
  2. Port Louis Marina.  This is home to us.  While we had no idea when we first got here that we would still be here, we are.  We love it here and the marina staff have become friends of ours and take very good care of us - we're going to miss this beautiful (oh-so accommodating) place and will look forward to coming back and visiting next season.
  3. Grand Anse Beach.  The Grand Anse Beach is beautiful - probably one of the prettiest in the Caribbean if you ask me.  We love it and try to make it over for an afternoon at least once a week.  Many a wonderful meal has been spent beach-side at Umbrella's Beach Bar and I'll miss taking dips in the crystal blue water of this idyllic spot.
  4. Walking everywhere.  Not having a car makes it easy to use your legs as your main mode of transport.  I love taking walks and I probably walk at least three miles a day just running errands and getting to and fro places.  Strolling down the familiar Caribbean streets with nothing but my thoughts and my camera to keep me company will be something I miss.
  5. Waking up to the sun coming through the hatches.  There's nothing quite like waking up lazily on a boat with the sun in your face and the breeze blowing through the hatches.  I can't really explain it, but some things really are better experienced on a boat - and waking up is one of them!
  6. Our friends and the people here.  The people in Grenada are, hands down, the best.  Some of the friendliest and kindest we've met in the Caribbean Island chain.  We've gotten to know quite a few people here and are lucky enough to call them our friends.  From the guys that work with Scott on Diamant (Island Windjammers is also based here at the marina) to other locals that we have befriended, it's going to be tough to say goodbye!  Luckily though, it's not "goodbye" but "see you later" for us.
  7. My daily run route.  I LOVE my daily run route here.  The hills, the ocean view, the little school kids who smile and say "good afternoon" as I pass...I will miss it all*.  It's my 'zen' time and while I plan to continue running when I get home, running in the suburbs just isn't the same.
  8. The fruits and veggies.  I love the tropical fruits and veggies that are so readily available here and the fact so cheap is such a luxury.  I'll miss having things like soursop, passion fruit, mango and callaloo on a weekly basis. Next season...sigh.
  9. The weather.  I am a summer and sunshine girl.  I do not like the dark, gray, cold, and dreary days of winter (unless I am in a ski town out west, of course! Then the snow is FUN).  I will miss being able to wear shorts, a tank top and flip flops every single day.  It's going to be VERY cold when we go back home - luckily though, we'll have a cuddly little baby to keep us warm and spring will be right around the corner!
  10. Living on our boat.  This is what we will miss the most.  Me and Scott, together in our own little world, with our own little routine, on our little boat.  Brings a little tear to my eye...
Love,
Brittany & Scott

* Okay, I tell a lie.  I will not miss the cat calling from rude men.

Monday, January 23, 2012

The Aquarium Restaurant in Grenada

When Scott and I first got to Grenada, oh - I don't know - a million years ago...we heard about the infamous "Sunday's at The Aquarium".  We went once when my mom came to visit - but because of timing, we couldn't make it on a Sunday and instead went on a week night.  We had said we wanted to try out this whole "Sunday" thing but hadn't quite gotten around to it because a) Scott and I aren't really 'foodies' (has anyone noticed that all we've eaten for the past two months is soup?) b) it's a little pricey and c) why spend money on really good food when you can eat home-made soup? (...In case you didn't pick it up that is sarcasm, the lowest form of wit). 

Well, lucky for us my brother Kevin and his lovely wife, Stephanie, got us a pretty incredible Christmas present in the form of a very generous gift certificate to this fine restaurant.  Stephanie is good like that - she does her homework and finds super cool gifts that impress - like gift certificates to happening restaurants... 5,000 miles away.  We were very excited.

Because we'll be leaving Grenada very soon (more on that later), Scott mentioned we should see what the Sunday BBQ was all about while we still could.  Boy are we glad we did!  The Aquarium is a great restaurant on any evening, but Sunday is the day to go.  The vibe and menu are completely different and being that the BBQ is (for most) a daytime event, you can really enjoy the beach-side, laid back ambience they create.  The sound of waves crashing into shore blend with live reggae as customers sip their colorful rum cocktails, dig into their juicy barbecue and gaze out into the horizon.  Scott and I spent over two hours slowly grazing through our delicious meals of salads from the extensive salad bar, grilled fresh Caribbean lobster and a to-die-for coconut cream cake.  Scott even topped off his meal with a creamy Irish coffee.  Bon appetite, indeed!

If you ever find yourself in Grenada over a weekend - the Sunday BBQ at The Aquarium is not to be missed.  Though it is available from noon until 10pm,  I'd suggest going earlier so you can really enjoy the peaceful, beautiful surroundings in daylight (it gets dark around 6pm here).  Expect to pay anywhere from $35 to $65 a person depending on what you order and make sure you have plenty of time, as this will be a meal to savor!





Special thanks go to Kevin and Stephanie for a WONDERFUL day!  We love you guys!

Love,
Brittany & Scott

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Sometimes you just need to lie back

...and realize that when you can wake up to this view while feeling the sun and the breeze on your face every morning, life is pretty hunky-dory.  Yes, I will enjoy every second of this while I can.

Love,
Brittany & Scott

Friday, January 20, 2012

Island Jewelery

I've never been a big "jewelry" person...If it can't weather the storm of an every day active lifestyle, it's probably not for me.  I wear my super simple wedding band and a couple of necklaces by Bronwen* that I love (the short ones pictured above) and that's about it.  Keep in mind, anything with a silver chain (if not worn every day) will eventually rust.  I learned this the hard way...

To be completely honest with you - I am actually not a big fan of a lot of the island jewelry that we see down here but every now and then I see something truly unique and beautiful.  The above layered necklace is one such piece.

It's the only one I have ever seen of it's kind and it is simple and lovely.  Created in Bequia by a beautiful local gal named Molissa, it's called a "fisherman's" necklace (because it is made of fishing line strung with tiny shells and beads) and can be worn SO many ways.  Long, short, layered, as a bracelet...it's versatile, light and comfortable.  It looks delicate but is sturdy and goes with just about anything.  I only bought one, but kind of wish I bought a few more because they look so nice layered together.

Luckily we'll be back there before too long!

Love,
Brittany & Scott

* This is not a sponsor or anything, just a brand I love.  Focused on beautiful jewelry for the active traveler, her pieces are great for land and sea.  Gorgeous.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Personal Location Beacons

Just one of our very expensive items that we hope we never have to use.
We literally have thousands of dollars worth of gear on our boat that we hope we NEVER have to use.  It's crazy, really.  EPIRB, life raft and our extreme offshore medical kit just to name a few of the biggies.  Not to mention all the flares, fire extinguishers, and life jackets we have as well (as required by the coast guard).  None of this equipment is cheap. In fact, all of this equipment is quite expensive which is why lots of boaters on a budget forego some of it.  We're in the conservative camp of cruisers.  We like to have our bases covered.  In our minds, it's better to be safe than sorry and we were lucky that we could afford some extra peace of mind with these safety measures.  We've met lots of boats who are not in our camp for various reasons and some who believe that things like EPIRBS and life rafts are a waste of money - to each his own, as they say.

The other night over drinks with some new friends who just completed an Atlantic crossing, we talked about their uneventful journey and they told one pretty harrowing tale of a crossing that occurred a few years ago that didn't fare so well.  Pretty much the worst thing that can happen on a voyaging boat would be to come up for your watch to find the person who should be on deck, gone.  It is my own personal nightmare and I know it is shared by many other cruisers as well.  This is exactly what happened to this particular boat.  This story was told to me second-hand so the details are fuzzy, but apparently when the one friend came up for his shift, the other was gone.  There was no sign of him but the broken shackle where he had been tethered.  The skipper had no idea if his friend went over 10 minutes or three hours prior.  For those of you who aren't familiar with boating and man overboard situations, finding a person in the water in any condition is very, very difficult.  Add in waves, wind, currents, and pitch-black night and it becomes almost impossible.  This friend eventually gave up hope and continued on his trip devastated and alone.  Luckily, this particular boat had left on their crossing just before the ARC rally and had a slew of boats coming behind them.  Unbeknownst to the skipper, his friend was picked up by another boat and they were reunited in the Caribbean.  It should be understood that this is nothing short of a miracle.  Most people would not be so lucky.

I tell this story because it got us talking about man overboard situations and ways to protect yourself and avoid them.  First and foremost, the number one rule on our boat is:  STAY ON IT. While Scott and I have an impressive array of quality safety equipment aboard Rasmus in the event of an emergency, one thing we do not have are personal location beacons (PLB's).

The Echopilot caught my eye because it acts differently than most other PLB's I have seen.  This one is attached to AIS so in order for it to work for you, you must be set up with AIS (we have this on Rasmus and it is for sure one of the best systems we installed).  It works like this: instead of notifying the Coast Guard (which is on land and could take many, many hours to organize a search and rescue - days if you are in the middle of the ocean somewhere) or simply sounding an alarm on the boat, it sets of a very loud AIS alarm on your boat and any other AIS boat in the near vicinity and (thanks to GPS technology) gives the exact position of the person in the water, right there on the chart plotter.  There are several advantages to a system like this, first of all - the boat that is most likely to rescue the person who has fallen overboard is the very one they fell off of (assuming there is another person on the boat to pilot it).  Also, giving that boat the victims exact position doesn't only greatly expedite rescue, but increases the odds of rescue tremendously (never underestimate the power of currents, wind and waves and their ability to make things disappear on the ocean!).  The other advantage is that it will also notify all other boats equipped with AIS within a four mile radius.  There are several other types of personal recovery systems - but this technology is touted as the "wave of the future" in terms of the evolving sophistication personal location beacons.  We shall see.

Like I said, we don't have any system like this on board Rasmus yet, but before we cross an ocean I'm sure we will spring for something similar to the Echopilot.*  When it comes to safety at sea, money spent on safety gear can be replaced.  Life cannot.

Love,
Brittany & Scott

*As I mentioned - in order for this system to work for you it assumes a few things:  1) That you have a chart plotter equipped with AIS and 2) That there is someone else on the boat who can maneuver the boat to the victim.  Therefore, as stated on their website, this system is not ideal for a solo sailor.  For a single hander, personal EPIRB is probably the best.  After not falling off the boat, of course.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

I'm Still Pregnant


I mentioned the other day we get a lot of email from friends and followers...  One thing several of you are curious about these days is this elusive baby I've been growing.  Well, despite the fact that I don't write about it much on the blog (this is not going to turn into a "mommy blog" and while we will write about her more once she is here, the focus of this blog will still be sailing and cruising) - we're still doing great and growing our beautiful baby girl, as evidence in the photo above which is me just on the brink of being eight months pregnant (eight months...can you believe it?!). Time flies.

I love being pregnant and I have thankfully enjoyed a beautiful, healthy and very peaceful pregnancy.  I managed to dodge just about every pregnancy symptom in the book from morning sickness to food cravings and I actually think I am more emotionally stable than before.  Being pregnant hasn't hindered my daily life or slowed me down at all (yes, I am aware parenthood won't necessarily come as easily).  I've been eating normal, very healthy meals (lots of soups and all-natural smoothies these days!), I run four miles five times a week, swim, walk everywhere and - in general - just go about life as usual.  Well, aside from the fact that I am drinking a lot less wine these days.

Lots of you have requested "baby bump" photos and up until the past few weeks, there wasn't much of a bump to speak of (which, admittedly had me slightly worried for a while - but I measure "perfect" for where I am in the pregnancy and my midwife assured me that every body is different and each woman carries her own special way).  At six months pregnant I didn't even look pregnant and I still have yet to have a stranger ask me about being pregnant, my due date, or mention this pregnancy at all. However, I am definitely starting to look more "pregnant" and less "thick" so I'll share with you these little pictures of me at 31 weeks taken this morning...
The pregnancy has brought Scott and I closer together than ever and mornings and evenings always include lots of cuddle time with my belly talking to baby girl and feeling her kick and squirm in utter amazement.  Scott makes a point to tell her stories and play her music from my wind-up teddy bear, Corduroy, who sings "This Old Man" and he is also diligently working on perfecting "Rainbow Connection" on the ukelele to play for her.  Many hours are spent dreaming and scheming of what she's going to look like, where we will take her, and how much she will enrich our lives...it's such an exciting time.  Both Scott and I are preparing as best we can by reading lots of books about birth and parenthood and, while we are acutely aware of the fact that we have no idea what we are in for, it feels good to be pro-active.

So - while I haven't mentioned it much on the blog - all is going well over here!  Baby girl is growing, mommy and daddy are as happy as can be and the whole experience has been full of positive energy and love. I feel incredibly lucky and thankful to be able to experience this miracle and even more thankful that I have such a loving and supportive husband by my side to experience it with me.  Our greatest wish at this point is that I give birth to a healthy, happy little baby.  Everything else will just be gravy after that.

Okay, that's enough of the gushiness...

T-minus 9 weeks till we get to meet our little sailor girl!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Top 10 Tuesdays: 10 Items You Can Not Have Too Many of on a Boat

Our impressive collection of sunglasses.  Excessive?  Perhaps.
There are so many items that make living on a boat more comfortable.  I've probably touched on many of these items before but I thought it might be nice to consolidate them into a Top 10 Post for reference.   These are all items we use pretty much daily and have learned that you simply cannot have too many of them aboard a cruising sailboat.  Here are our

Top 10 Items You Can Not Have Too Many of on a Boat
  1. Bungees. Bungee chords are useful for everything from quieting slapping halyards to securing items on and below deck.  We have a dedicated "bungee bin" with a wide variety of bungees and shock-chord in different sizes and thicknesses.
  2. Zip-lock bags.We have a LOT of ziplock bags ranging from quart size to extra large.  We use ziplock bags to store everything from small electronics (to protect from water and/or salt air) to open packets of cookies or crackers (to prevent from going stale) to flour and sugar (always double or triple bagged!).  I aslo bought a big selection of oversized ziplock bags before we left and keep everything from clothes to spares in them (the large are the most versatile).  For quart and freezer sized bags, we prefer the Hefty brand with the lockable zipper, much easier to use.  We also carry the standard zip-locks as well for everyday things.  In fact, it's pretty safe to say if there is a ziplock out there, we've got it on board somewhere!
  3. Flashlights/head lamps.  Boats have lots of nooks and crannies in them and boat lighting sometimes doesn't cut it if you're looking for something deep in a locker somewhere.  We actually have three airline-grade emergency flashlights that are permanently mounted to bulkheads in our boat which are fantastic for the quick and easy grab and go type stuff but in addition to these we have countless smaller flashlights and about five LED headlamps.  We also have two LED high-powered spot lights which are excellent when navigating a harbor or anchorage at night or looking at sails in the dark.  We have two because in the event that one runs out of juice (which has happened more than once) we have a backup charged and ready to go.
  4. Line.  We have SO MUCH line.  Spare halyards and dock lines are a given, but I'm talking about smaller line from twine to line that is the diameter of a pinky finger.  We have lots of smaller line which is great for everything from making lanyards for tools, to using for a laundry line, to securing our outboard motor to our motor bracket and much, much more.  Keep lots of lengths and sizes of line handy (not just the mooring and docking lines!) and you'll use it!
  5. Bins.  I've sung my praise of bins many times before.  Just about every locker and lazarette in our boat is fitted with bins that stack and fit perfectly in those spaces.  We label each bin with the contents and keep them in their designated places.  It makes finding items much easier, less messy, and helps to keep our boat organized and tidy.  Aside from those obvious benefits, water-tight bins protect whatever it is that is in them from water, mildew and rust, and also contain any spills that might happen inside them (we once had an oil spill in a locker and because we keep all our oil in a very large bin, it stayed contained and didn't spill all over everything else in the locker).  Again, we have a variety of sizes from jumbo to small and keep everything from gallons of oil, to spares, to screws in them.  Keep in mind that square store better than round.
  6. Batteries.  Speaking of 'bins', we also have a "battery bin" where we keep tons of spare batteries in every size and shape.  Each type of battery is removed from the packaging and put into a ziplock bag and labeled so we don't have to deal with packaging and loose batteries when we need them.  We also have a small array of re-chargeable batteries on board Rasmus.  We stocked up on these in the USA because batteries (especially long-lasting lithium which our SPOT tracker requires) are not easy to come by on all islands and are much more expensive.
  7. Chip clips and Clothespins.  Chip clips are great for obvious reasons.  Down here, if you leave a bag of chips or crackers open for longer than a few hours, it's stale city.  We have a variety of chip clips to help fight the staleness.  Some people use clothespins to secure food bags, but I have found they are not strong enough and don't really work well for this purpose, hence the proper chip clips.  We do however, use the plain old wooden clothespins every single day to hang laundry or just dry dish towels or bathing suits on the lifelines.  
  8. Bags. Tote bags, duffel bags and re-usable shopping bags all come in handy on a daily basis.  Remember - bags with PLASTIC zippers are best.  We've had to perform surgery on most of our metal zippers and our new policy on the boat is that if we can buy it with a plastic zipper, we do.  No more metal zippers on board if we can help it - such a pain in the butt.
  9. Sunscreen and Sunglasses.  The sun is brutal down in these parts.  If you saw what it does to gear out here (from breaking it down to bleaching it) you'd hate to imagine what it's doing to your skin and your eyes.  We use SPF 30 and 50 daily and use UV protected polarized sunglasses and carry lots of both (and yes, we have a sunscreen bin!).  Because glasses have a tendency to find their way to King Neptune, it's best to carry a few spares however one need not carry as many as we have.  That's just ridiculous.  How in the heck did we end up with so many I wonder?!?
  10. Amps.  When I asked Scott for his input on this post this was his answer and it is pretty much the best one.  "Amps" is slang for "Ampere" which is a unit of energy measurement.  Because live-aboard cruising boats are (for the most part) self-sufficient most of us are constantly looking for ways to boost the input of amps into our boats with solar, wind or water power to keep our electrical systems running.  If you want to make friends with a cruiser, admire his or her solar/wind setup and ask about their boat's energy maintenance and/or use.  You'll be talking for a long time.
Other great items that we also use daily or regularly that folks suggested via our Facebook Page are books (love my Kindle), toilet paper (we pay a little extra and use the quick-dissolvable marine kind that can be flushed in a marine toilet - throwing TP in our garbage is just gross to us), paper towels, zip ties, hair ties (for ladies), bug spray and of course spare parts (stay tuned for a more in-depth blog post on this soon).

What are items you use on your boat daily that you couldn't live without?

Love,
Brittany & Scott

Monday, January 16, 2012

Disclaimer...

We get a lot of emails from fans and followers...

It's actually amazing, and opening our inbox has literally made my day more times than I can count.  Your emails have made me laugh, cry, think and some have even inspired blog posts.   Words of praise, gratitude, inspiration, and thanks come us every day and I LOVE them.  Along with these very flattering emails are also letters from folks who share our dream but are not quite there yet.  These folks have questions...lots and lots of questions.

Questions like:
Do you think I should re-power with X or Y?
If I am traveling from A to B how much fuel will I need?
What kind of bottom paint should I use?
Based on my experience, do you think I could do it?
How many solar panels will my boat need?
How much money do I need?
Is "X" amount enough to refit "Y" boat?
Should I install a high output alternator on my engine?
What should I upgrade on my boat?
Should I buy a life raft for my boat?
What kind of boat should I get?

First of all, let me say I do not want to dissuade anyone from asking us questions, that is not the point of this post!  I love to help people out if I can and if I have an opinion or an answer for you I am more than happy to share it (I mean, have you noticed?).  On the flip side, I'll also reply with a big fat "I have no idea" if I cannot help you and will try to point you in the right direction of someone who can.   I pride myself in the fact that I personally respond to each and every email we get (it might take a while, but I do) but every now and then we get some really, really serious questions that would be better fielded by experts like Lin and Larry Pardey, John and Amanda Neal, James Baldwin or Tania Aebi (to name a few of the 'big dogs').

Which brings me to the point of this post:  We are not experts. 

Let me say that one more time so that we are all clear: WE. ARE. NOT. EXPERTS.

The afore-mentioned people are experts.  They really know what they are doing.  They have been at it for a lot longer than we have and have sailed hundreds of thousands more miles than us.  We, my friends, are newbies.  In the high school of long-term live aboard cruising, we are mere freshman.  Okay, maybe sophomores...but still.

So... I thought I should write a disclaimer:

All the opinions stated in ramblings on this blog or otherwise are just that, our opinions.  They are subject to change and any advice we give might not be the best for you.  What we do to our boat might not be the best thing to do to your boat.  We might even be flat-out wrong from time to time.  We are human, we are evolving, and we're on one hell of a learning curve out here.

When we say we love something, that doesn't mean you will.  Similarly, when we say we don't love something, that doesn't mean you won't.  I mean, lots of people really like those super weird looking headsets that couples use to communicate with, we just happen to think they are ridiculous.  While we think a center-cockpit, full-keeled boat is ideal for cruising, it doesn't mean it's ideal for you.  We've all got to find our own way in this world nobody goes through the starting gate with all the answers.  I mean, I haven't a clue how to re-wire a boat from 220V to 110V.  But I'll bet Nigel Calder does!  Now, if you want to talk existentialism, books, and the hilarity and sheer ridiculousness that is Sky Mall Magazine,  I am your girl!

So like I said, I am not trying to dissuade anyone from writing us with their questions, by all means - keep 'em coming!  But what I do want people to do is take any advice we give with a grain of salt sand.  I urge people who are planning a similar trip to ours to use a variety of resources to find the answers to your questions.  Personally, I loved (and still love) doing research on the SailNet and CruisersForums.  While they have there share of armchair cruisers flapping their lids, there's an equal number of real-time cruisers that offer great advice - both sites have been helpful to us, as well as the good old Google monster.

Oh - and if you ask us if you should buy a catamaran or a monohull, the answer will be monohull.  Every. Single. Time.*

* We're purists in this regard (just like all those "big dogs" I mentioned above...none of them have catamarans.  Coincidence? I think not).  Catamarans, while roomy, just don't feel like sailing to us.  Again, just our opinion.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Today is the kind of day...

...where I just want to sit under a little cabana, on my own private beach, and just chill out with my husband as we soak up the sun.  It sure is good to have him back for more than 24 hours!  We're back together now for good...well, at least until his next work rotation in July!

Love,
Brittany & Scott

Friday, January 13, 2012

Lost In the Sun...


I've always loved this song by Keane, it was (for some reason or another) really popular when I was backpacking solo through South East Asia in 2006 and always evokes feelings of nostalgia and wanderlust in me.  It came up on my playlist the other day and I thought, "Now that's a song to make a video to!"  So naturally, I did!  I hope you enjoy.

"Lost in the sun, can anybody find their home?"
- Sunshine, Keane

Love,
Brittany & Scott

Note: You can make the video larger if you click on the grey arrows in to the left of the Vimeo logo in the bottom right hand corner.  If for some reason you are having a hard time viewing this video on the blog, try giving it some time to load or visit it on Vimeo HERE.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Beautiful Serendipity

Captain Scott at the helm of Diamant

ser·en·dip·i·ty/ˌserənˈdipitē/

Noun:
The occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way: "a fortunate stroke of serendipity".
A lot of you wrote wondering how Scott got his job with Island Windjammers...

It's actually a pretty cool story, but first I have a not-so-little anecdote...

The other day, a friend and I were talking about the Universe and how - when you are on the right path - things fall into place almost seamlessly.  On the other hand - if you are not on the right path, you might find you are coming against obstacle after obstacle and maybe just maybe something doesn't feel 'right'.  I have countless examples of this happening in my life - from both sides of the fence.

When my college roommate and I were driving to Key West, Florida one spring break, for example, I had this deep down, super eerie gut feeling we weren't going to get there.  Of course I ignored it.  There were beer bongs to be had and tans to be gotten!  Upon leaving, about a hundred things went wrong; phones went missing, credit cards were lost, items forgotten... little things like that.  Looking back, these were all signs to 'stop'.  The Universe was trying to tell us something, I believe that wholeheartedly.  Of course, being nineteen and invincible we plowed past these roadblocks armed with Dunkin' Donuts coffee and No-Doze.  Not ten hours later we were in a horrific car crash where we skidded across three lanes of traffic on a highway, rolled twice and ended up hitting a tree in a ditch on the side of the road.  The paramedics had to use the "jaws of life" to get us out of my completely totaled Ford Explorer and told us that it was nothing short of a miracle that we were alive.  I've never been the same since that day.  I learned something about instincts, about trusting your gut and believing in the Universe.  It truly will guide you if you are receptive to it.  Unfortunately, most people are not observant enough and pay no mind to (or don't even see) these signs.  Ever since that day, however,  I honed in on that channel and have been tuning in ever since.

How Scott got his gig with Island Windjammers is another such story, albeit one with a much more pleasant outcome.

As we were sailing down island taking stock of our finances, we realized we were going to need more money sooner than later.  We've always known we would need to work along the way, so this was no big deal.  I was making a pittance with the blog and other online gigs I have, but Scott wanted more.  He started emailing marinas, boat yards, crew forums and marine chandleries looking for work over the hurricane season.  He also sent a blind email out to every single charter and/or cruise company offering his services and he got a reply about a position for a deckhand on a tall ship that was based out of Port Louis Marina.  Ironically enough, we had just decided that was the marina we would be living after confirmation of sponsorship and a great deal on berthing.  That was the first sign that we were on the right path.

Scott emailed back and forth with the owner of the company a few times, and while she was very kind and accommodating, it didn't really seem like it would pan out.  However, she mentioned going to the boat, Diamant, once we got to the marina, checking it out, and meeting Captain Matt.  Scott said we would.  If you hadn't noticed, when Scott really wants something - he doesn't give up easily.  He'll continue to pursue whatever it is he is after even if it seems like a dead end.  To him, there is always a way up or around a road block.  It's one of the things I love most about him, where there is a will there is a way.

Meanwhile, we kept making our way South to Grenada.  One evening, we dropped the hook in Mayreau and were enjoying a cocktail during sunset when all of a sudden a beautiful tall ship pulled in and anchored right next to us.  "I think that's the Diamant " Scott said as he grabbed the binoculars.  It was, in fact, Diamant. "It's a sign!" he exclaimed.  We sat in the cockpit admiring the boat,  excitedly dreaming up how wonderful it would be if Scott could work on her.  Sign number two.

When we finally got to Port Louis Marina here in Grenada - we walked over to Diamant.  Captain Matt was there and Scott made an introduction and said that he was interested in the deck-hand position.  "Oh, you don't want to be a deckhand.  That's chump change" Matt began, " You want to be a captain.  If you really want to make some money, get your captain's license and then come talk to us".  Scott nodded and listened to Matt's reasoning.  We left a little discouraged because not only was the deckhand pay not bad (I mean, when you have no income any income is good!) but to get a Captain's license just seemed so far away and involved.  Scott just wanted some temporary work.  We walked back to the boat, jobless and a little bummed out.

A seed, however, had been planted (sign three if you are keeping track)...

We returned to the US for five weeks during the summer to stand up in two weddings and visit family and friends.  Scott kept rolling this captain idea around in his head.  "I think I should get my Captain's license.  There's a course in Michigan that coincides perfectly with our timing...what do you think?"  Of course it was a no brainer, I said go for it.  We got our money together, Scott signed up for the course and before we returned to Grenada three weeks later, he had passed his exam and was on the fast track to Captain-dom.

Things started to happen upon our return to Grenada.  The president of the company, Liz, emailed Scott asking him if he would sign on as relief deckhand and simultaneously offered us a free trip on the boat beforehand to see what IWJ was all about.  The answer to both was a resounding yes!  We had a fantastic time on the trip and within a few weeks, Scott was working as a deckhand.

After seeing what a great worker Scott was and how well he fit in with the culture and crew, Liz said she would like to take a chance on newbie Scott to be their relief captain once his license came through.  If you haven't noticed, his boss is an incredible woman.  Not many people would take a chance on a such "green" captain who'd never piloted a boat over 55 feet, but Liz is not most people.  She's been around the block a few times when it comes to captains and she's dealt with her fair share of "Captain Ron's" with mile-long resumes who brought with them nothing but problems.  The way she tells it, she figured "What the hell? Why not try the other way?"  We were ecstatic!  Sign four!

Getting the actual license was a bit of a scramble due to the bureaucracy of the whole thing - but Liz and Scott never lost hope and kept plugging away, again despite seemingly impossible odds.  We were working against the clock.  Liz, incidentally, is another woman who's tuned into the Universe and, while I was frantic trying to get everything in order while Scott was away training on the boat, she was cool as a cucumber.  Despite Scott being license-less not a week away from when he was scheduled to take over the ship, she simply said, "I'm not worried at all.  It will all work out".  Girl's got some zen, that is for sure.

Anyway - his license obviously came through (though it was only mere days before he took the helm) and we all know the end of this story.  It was incredible.  I have never been so proud (and relieved).

It's hard to believe that it was only six months ago that Scott and I gazed at Diamant lying at anchor next to us, dreaming and scheming about what it would be like to work on her - and here we are.  He's been working on her thirteen of the past nineteen weeks and has loved every minute.  To say we are thankful doesn't describe our gratitude.  I have a very good feeling that this is only the beginning of what will be a wonderful working relationship.

Moral of the story:  Once you make up your mind, the Universe really does align itself for you.  Granted, you have to be willing to do a lot of work and must be an active participant to make things happen for yourself - but if you can listen to the voice within and pay close attention to the signs that whisper "keep on going" you will get where you need to go.  It will happen.  It's amazing.

All the powers in the universe are already ours. It is we who have put our hands before our eyes and cry that it is dark.  
- Swami Vivekanada

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The World is SMALL My Friends!

That's our marina right behind the boat!
The other day, I got a glowing email from a blog follower...

He mentioned that he too had dreams of setting sail on the seven seas but, like so many others before him, life kept getting in the way.  He gave me some ego-boosting* compliments regarding the blog, how it was the very best and well-written sailing blog he had ever seen, and how - ever since he discovered us in Cruising World - his dream has been re-awakened with vigor.  I love emails like this and, truth be told, we get them quite a bit.  Sure, they're great for the ego but really, I love that in some small way we really, truly are inspiring people.  That's just cool.

Anyway - in his email he mentioned how he had sold the majority of his business to free up more time and is now looking at boats.  "In fact" he wrote, "There is a boat down there that I am interested in.  If you happen to see a boat called Azimuth II, I'd love it if you could take a look and give me your opinion".  Well, as serendipity would have it - I had actually been in email correspondence with the owner of Azimuth just the week before regarding a new dinghy for a friend.  I only remembered the name because a) it was in this particular sailor's signature and b) it's a pretty unique name and stuck in my head.

Of course I was game to look at another boat because if I can help someone out I will and, well, what sailor doesn't enjoy looking at other boats??  I got to work...

I found the email from the boat's owner, we'll call him "S" and told him that I had a blog follower that was interested in his boat and if he would mind me coming to take a look at it?  I then wrote our blog follower, we'll call him "V", and told him how, ironically, I had just been in contact with the owner in regards to a totally unrelated circumstance.  Before I finished the email to "V", "S" had written back telling me not only was I welcome aboard, but that he was not 1,000 feet from where I am here in the very same lagoon.  He dinghied over and picked me up - and I took a look at his pretty boat, snapped some pictures for "V" and had a wonderful conversation with "S" over the course of about an hour and half.  Boat people love to talk boat stuff.

Who knows how this story will end or if "V" will end up buying "S's" boat...either way, it just goes to show what a small world we live in and makes you think twice about serendipity, fate, coincidence and just who or what is pulling the strings in this magical, wonderful world we live in...

Love,
Brittany & Scott

* Speaking of ego-boosting, we were recently named one of the Top 9 Sailing Blogs of 2011 according to the venerable (and very funny) "Tillerman".  This is quite an honor because not only does this guy live, eat and breathe sailing he follows a LOT of sailing blogs.  Thanks for the love Tillerman.  You're not so bad yourself.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Top 10 Tuesdays: Top 10 Moments of my IWJ Cruise

I'm still riding the high from my week away with Island Windjammers, so allow me to indulge...

There were many fantastic moments of this past cruise.  Not the least of which was the fact that I didn't have to do, fix, mend, maintain or cook a thing.  However, all that was just icing on the cake.  Here are my

Top 10 Moments of our Island Windjammers Cruise

  1. Beach barbecue on Tobago Cays. What is it about beaches and barbecues that seem to make the world just seem right?  Captain Scott donned an apron and grilled some mean burgers for us despite the fact that he's been a vegetarian for 11 years and hasn't grilled a burger in at least as long (he waited for the verdict on the burgers before letting out that little gem).  This day was a great one - quintessentially Caribbean.
  2. The Old Hegg Turtle Sanctuary on Bequia.  Who doesn't love sea turtles?  Now imagine a couple hundred baby sea turtles no larger than the palm of your hand all swimming around in a protected pool in the name of conservation and you've got love on steroids.  Such a great place to support and visit.  Plus there are friendly larger turtles who love to have their necks scratched!
  3. Laughter during swizzle hour. For those of you who don't know, "Swizzle" hour refers to "happy hour" aboard s/v Diamant.  It happens every day at 5pm when Brandon whips up a delicious rum drink of his choice (I have to take other's words for it on the "delicious" bit, since I'm off the rum these days) and Philbert, the chef, presents a delectable array of appetizers.  Lots of laughter was had during these hours.  I can personally attest that Sky Mall Magazine (I brought along a copy for fun because...well...because I think it's the funniest thing EVER) can really get people laughing.  From "Bashful Yeti's" to "Slankets" (look out "Snuggie"!) this magazine will either revive or diminish your hope for humanity.  Whatever the verdict, laughter will abound.
  4. Hermit crab races on the bow.  Don't knock it till you try it folks!  The verdict is still out as to whether or not the crew dopes the crabs to sway the odds, but we'll take their word that they don't.  Bets are made, money is exchanged and one lucky crustacean crab-walks his or her way to victory and into our hearts for thirty seconds.  It's lively, it's fun, and I'm surprised it's not happening in Vegas.  
  5. Swimming with turtles in the Tobago Cays.  Swimming with sea turtles in the wild is awesome.  Period.
  6. Cha-cha slide followed by Euro dance party on the bow.  Okay, the "cha-cha" slide might have come up during a swizzle hour and I might have suggested we all do it on the bow one evening.  Luckily the president of the company, Liz, had it on her iPod and pretty much everyone was game.  It wasn't long after our final "to the left!" that the bow of Diamant turned into a dance floor of the Euro-techno variety.  It was prophesied that I would give birth to a Mexican jumping bean. 
  7. Bobbing and relaxing in Salt Whistle Bay, Mayreau.  After a nice hike up to the highest point in Mayreau (don't get too excited, I think it's probably 600 feet above sea level) a few of us went down to the beautiful Salt Whistle bay and bobbed and chatted in the water for a while.  If you're not familiar with it - Salt Whistle Bay is probably one of the most picturesque bays in all of the Caribbean.  Wonderful time with wonderful people.
  8. Getting to know new friends.  As always on a trip like this, people go from stranger to friend in no time.  I had the best time getting to know the folks on our trip - from learning about their travels and their stories to hearing about their families, none of us were ever starved for conversation and lasting friendships were made.
  9. Group karaoke on Mayreau.  Anyone who follows us religiously knows that Scott and I are fans of karaoke.  BIG fans (and not in the "we take ourselves way too seriously" way but in the "lets sing like fools and if we don't scare people away that is good" way).  Apparently we weren't the only ones and our group sang our hearts out with such vigor that we all woke up sounding like we power smoked a pack of cigarettes.  We turned it into a guys vs. girls competition and each group had to pick the other's song which I highly recommend if you are looking to "up" the comedic quotient.  Highlight?  The men singing (and strutting to) "I'm too Sexy" by Right Said Fred.  Yes.  Yes you are.
  10. Hearing "Amazing Grace" every time the sails were raised.  Engine off.  Sails flying.  Amazing Grace playing in the back ground.  Perfect.
Interested in having an experience of your own?  Book your trip today!  They fill up fast (they recommend to book 6 months in advance)!

Love,
Brittany & Scott

Monday, January 09, 2012

Island Windjammers

Having a working sea captain as a husband has it's perks...and last week I cashed in some major "perk points" when I was invited to join him on a cruise to the Grenadines.  Ummm....Yes, please!

As most of you know - Scott is now gainfully employed as "relief captain" with Island Windjammers.  If you are someone who is longing to get away and experience the pure magic that is sailing the Caribbean on a tall ship, then this is definitely for you.  The atmosphere on the ship is incredibly laid-back and casual but definitely not "rustic".  Each guest room is air-conditioned and has it's own private bathroom and the meals that are served (8am breakfast, 12pm lunch, 5pm "Swizzle Time" and 7pm dinner) are delicious.  The boat accommodates twelve passengers who, despite being from all walks of life (I've met guests ranging from Rumologists to foreign diplomats and everything in between), seem to effortlessly find themselves on the same page on the ship.  It's all about relaxing and having a good time while enjoying the beauty that the Grenadines has to offer from the deck of an incredibly beautiful sailing ship.  You make the trip your own.  I laughed so hard I am honestly surprised I didn't go into early labor and - as in my previous trip with Island Windjammers - I made some great new friends and had a fantastic time.  I'm only sorry it had to end.


Speaking of end - this is Scott's last week for this rotation!  After six continuous weeks of work he will now be off until July 2012 when he returns for another rotation.  While I am so grateful he has this job (I mean, could it be any more perfect?!), it will sure be nice to have him around again.  Being able to see him in action was such a treat - I was so proud of him and cannot believe how far we have come.

You can learn more about Island Windjammers on their Facebook Page and be sure to check out our pictures of this trip HERE!
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