After escaping quarantine and being admitted into the country, one of the first things we did was…eat. We enjoyed a reunion with the boat SV Dorothy Rose who had one of my friends on board, a teenage boy, Tanner; they had also been in quarantine and were signed into the country, only minutes before us. The customs office was connected to a marina that included multiple features, including a bar and restaurant. This is where we had our first meal as freed people.
Our day continued by us leaving the bay we had been held capture in for almost 14 days. We found ourselves in Prickly Bay, a relatively crowded place. Besides the semi-desperate need to do anything besides stay on the boat, we had another reason or coming to this bay: scuba diving. Less than a week after leaving quarantine, my dad and I had lessons for a scuba course. I would be getting a certification while he had his recertified, for safety’s sake.
My dad got his certification around the time my mom was pregnant with me; however, he never had much use for the skill as my mom could never complete the course. It may be a bit of a surprise, but pregnant women usually are warned to avoid the sport. My mom also has problems clearing her ears, which is a necessity when it comes to diving. So, my dad’s certification was mostly unused until one day I decided, that would be fun.
In the days before our fist dive, my dad and I spent a little more time on the boat we would have preferred. We both had to take an online course and complete a minimum of three segments before our first dive. For an idea of how challenging this is, you should understand that he and I both were struggling to balance diving and school/work and the dive course didn’t make it easy for us. The segments were long and took at least an hour each, plus a practice quiz and knowledge review. It was an interesting few days.
When our first dive finally arrived, my dad and I left the boat around 8:25 so we would arrive almost exactly on time for our morning lesson. The pandemic made the dive shop’s business slow, so we were the only ones at our lesson. We met our teacher Eveline Verdier (you should look her up, she’s pretty cool) and learned the basics to diving.
We didn’t do much the first day, we dove in shallow water and practiced a few skills, mainly on understanding and maintaining our equipment above and below water.
The following day had the same pattern, we spent the morning diving and afternoon on the boat. After our two shallow dives we would need our Open Water dives, we only got one day between the dives, which we spent primarily studying, before we were back in the water.
After those dives were completed, we were certified and able to leave Prickly Bay. So, we packed up and sailed towards Port Louis Marina.
For the sake of including the most recent information, I will be skipping the details of our time in Antigua.
We arrived on June 24th in Grenada, our home for the next few months. Most people haven’t heard of this country, but almost all boaters have. This is the place that most cruisers will escape to during hurricane season. The island is outside of the ‘hurricane belt’ so it is a safer option for hurricane season which runs from the first of June to the end of November.
In the time before COVID-19, we would’ve arrived here around the same time, but under different circumstances. We most likely would have spent the season traveling throughout the Caribbean and slowly making our way to Grenada before hurricane season started. However, as you probably know, that did not happen. Instead we were trapped in the USVI’s until we were able to buy a ticket for Grenada. Yes, ticket.
Grenada has been strict about their lockdown rules, so when they finally opened to the boaters, they had guidelines in place. First, you had to buy a ticket that would represent when you would arrive in Grenada. This is your time slot, you have to arrive within a three-day span. Two, you must have your temperature checked when you arrive in the country. Three, you must quarantine in a predetermined bay for two weeks. Finally, you are tested for coronavirus at the end of those two weeks.
So, on June 24th we arrived midmorning and were put directly into the first day of our two-week isolation. Now, we’ve been in a semi-quarantine this entire time, avoiding large groups, only hanging out with a small group of friends, etc. But this was completely different, we were not allowed to leave the boat at all. We weren’t even allowed to swim! (Though I don’t know if I would have wanted to, that anchorage was gross).
With no hiking or swimming or snorkeling or afternoon activities, you would think that I got ahead in school…I didn’t. I did do school; I just did do enough of it to get ahead. I was REALLY behind when we started our quarantine, almost three weeks behind in every subject. By the end of quarantine, I was only a week or less behind in those subjects. It may not sound impressive but its is, that is almost five weeks of work in two weeks!
In the times where I stopped doing school and we were all sitting around, I discovered a new hobby. Henna! I’ve always loved getting the designs on my hand or arms, I’d even done a few of them, but this time I went a little crazy. I gave myself a total of maybe five hennas and each of my parents received at least one. That’s not even considering the amount of times I did a design, hated it, and immediately rubbed it off.
By the end of our quarantine we were all just a little, tiny bit sick of each other. That’s something I’m sure everyone in the world can relate to right now.
So, on our last day, we took our dinghy to the dock and were tested for COVID-19. We were one of the first to arrive and we were in and out within an hour. We had to wait to have our fingers pricked and our blood tested, then another 15 minutes for that to cure. But it was all worth it because our tests came back negative and we were officially admitted into the country.
THIS BLOG USES EXTENSIVE BOAT TERMS, IF YOU NEED HELP UNDERSTANDING YOU CAN VISIT THE TIPS, TRICKS, AND DIYS TAB TO FIND SOME DEFINITIONS FOR THESE TERMS.
In 1493 Christopher Columbus arrived in Antigua on his second voyage, and on June 11th of 2020 an equally important voyage took place. On this “historic” day SV Dragonfly made their voyage to St. John’s, Antigua. We left out at 3:00 AM, arriving in our newest exploit on the next day in the afternoon.
Our passage only took one and a half days, but the majority of the time we motor-sailed. We rarely got to turn off our engines because the wind was both light and right on the nose. This meant that our sails had to be set at what’s called close hauled, which means they were trimmed to be as tight as possible. The issue with this point of sail is that in the right (or wrong) conditions our sails would luff and it’s not a very efficient way to sail.
Tacking is when the bow of a boat goes through the wind, since we were on such a tight close haul it made it a regular occurrence for the headsail to shift between a starboard and port tack. Luffing is the term for…flapping, that’s really all it is. When the sails start to flap and lose the lift they have created, this is called luffing. Neither of these are productive so our headsail was brought in regularly.
If I had to explain an overnight passage in one word it would be: sleepy. Night watches are both a torturous and required part of boat life, they can last anywhere from 2-5 hours and lead to very tired people. We always try to have two people at the helm, one to stand watch and another to make sure the other is awake. We have a rule that if you’re tired then you must switch with someone, you are no help if you can’t stay awake.
Our night watches also make our days uninteresting, besides a dolphin sighting during one of the sunsets, we don’t do much during the day besides entertaining ourselves (reading, movies, etc.) and eating or napping. Up until this voyage I wasn’t much help -a little ashamed to admit it, but it’s true- but now I was able to be an active participant, going so far as being the helmsman for a few hours where I watched the sails and steered away from anything in the water.
My dad is the captain of the boat so whenever something I didn’t understand was happening, I would always call him and this happened a lot. I spent four hours at the helm on our second day, and he probably spent at least two of four of those hours with me. He didn’t stay up there, he would always go back down once I had my problem resolved, but it only took a few minutes before a new one arose.
Antigua didn’t look much different from the USVIs or BVIs when we first saw it peaking out from the water, it has the same mountainous terrain, but the biggest difference is in the water. I’ll admit that the north side of the island supposedly has clearer water but where we were was murky and a little green. Still beautiful! Especially when you compare it to Florida water, but I guess you could say we’ve gotten spoiled.
It wasn’t until we got onto the island did we realize how different it was, but we weren’t able to do that until the 13th. We arrived past the hours the Customs office were open, so we had to raise our “Q” flag (quarantine) and wait to venture ashore for the next day.
Antigua has been closed during this pandemic and has only just started allowing cruisers to check into the country. There was still and a 50-50 chance that we could’ve been told to quarantine for two weeks before we could visit the island, in which case we would’ve turned around and headed back to the USVIs. However, we bypassed that and only had to spend an hour signing into the country and getting our temperature checked before starting our exploration of the island.
As previously mentioned, most people are starting to leave the USVIs. Hekla and Liberty have already left, taking most of my friend group with them. Tanner from SV Dorothy Rose is still in the Virgin Islands, but his family is trying to get their fill of the area before they leave for their Grenada dates a week into June. So that has left me in a similar situation to my time before quarantine. Just me and my parents.
It was nice. In the absence of everyone I was reminded of how it was before there was a consistent number of children on the boat…quiet.
Only a week into our solitude and it ended. We visited a boat called Sephira, who were friends with Hekla, and we were hoping to talk with when we got a chance. Hekla and this boat are both Chris White designs which probably doesn’t mean much to the people who are reading this. It doesn’t really mean much to me either because I’m still not “in” with boat talk. From what I can gather, it means they are by a man named (unsurprisingly) Chris White and they are almost always extremely fast.
Sephira was an interesting boat to tour. Though they are more than twenty feet longer, they had one less bedroom in exchange for a large engine room. The salon was almost double the size of ours and they had a cockpit near the steering wheel. However, the most interesting detail of this boat wasn’t in the interior but on the exterior. Unlike basically every sailboat in existence, this boat had two masts and two sails, each on a different hull.
After our very educational tour of the boat we just enjoyed talking to new people. There were no kids but there was 20-year-old that has further my want to learn how to surf. She lives in California and was visiting her parents for the pandemic and she loves almost all the watersports I recognize and some I didn’t.
So, it became official! I’m going to learn how to surf. After we clear our quarantine in Grenada- that will last two weeks-I’ll be taking a kite surfing course. That way not only will I learn a new sport but it will also help with my balance so next year when we return to the Caribbean, I can take a surfing course and possibly not make a fool of myself.
Most of our quarantine has taken place on the boat but the towns were slowly starting to open. So, the next day we took a taxi from Magen’s Bay to Charlotte Amalie. The area was still mostly closed so ended up being a flunk, but it gave us a chance to go for a much-needed walk.
While we were in Charlotte Amalie there was a small amount of time when going to McDonalds was considered. We’ve had nothing special for months, the potential for French fries was almost too good. But it only took us a moment to realize how awful and probably unsafe that would be with COVID still something we needed to take precautions against. It still doesn’t fail to surprise me that even though everything was closed, McDonalds still had its drive-thru open.
We did get to visit the Magen’s Bay beach in the following days and over a couple weeks we sailed from place to place, me learning the negatives of not being on open water for weeks on end. I used to have good sea legs, now I’m sick almost anytime I’m not at the helm or in the cockpit. I’ve had to put on one of the bracelets we keep for guests that’s supposed to cure sea sickness. I’m not sure it worked.
I’m happy to be back on the water. It has taken almost two years, but I am finally starting to learn how to sail. I can finally become a mate! I am a squab no more!
Most people are probably in similar situations where they are wondering what to do to fill the time. I probably have more options than the average person, because instead of being quarantined within my house, I get to be on our boat and go swimming. Even with the friends that I’ve gotten to hang out with, I still have a lot of time to kill.
A game we have all started to love is called (and excuse the curse word) Smart A**. While it isn’t exactly a friendly title, it is still a very fun trivia game. There are three categories: Who Am I, Where Am I, and What Am I. There is a fourth pile called Hard A**, which is an extra shot to move forward on the board. So far, I have won against the boys but when it comes to the parents, we are all at a loss. I blame it on their age.
We usually only start to break out the board games when we have started to get bored with swimming. We’ve taken to jumping off the top of our boat into the water, some of use even diving. It’s only a ten foot jump but it still can be absolutely terrifying. I’m not able to dive off, both because I don’t know how to and because I don’t have a death wish. I can barely jump off the side of the boat without squealing like a pig, not to mention the sheer will it takes to jump off the top. I’d probably scare any witnesses if I tried to dive, because I’d start pinwheeling my arms midway down.
There are still those of us in the mooring field who are a little more protective than others. An example is the boat SV Liberty who have been in quarantine since they arrived in the USVIs in March. Personally, I have no idea how they have survived so long without anyone besides their family and mate. The dad on their boat finally decided that we were safe and allowed his fourteen-year-old daughter to come hang out with me.
Don’t get me wrong. I love hanging out with the boys from Hekla and Dorothy Rose. I even got to hang out with another boy named Cobin one night, but… sometimes you just really need to be around another girl. I’m sure my dad feels the same way about my mom and I, he can’t always be around girls. I’ve seen first hand how crazy we can drive him.
The girl’s name is Micaela and we got to go to the beach when we met. She brought a speaker and we played her playlists while we walked down the beach. She is an extrovert and she made it blatantly clear how confused she was that she’s not insane. I was right! She barely survived life on the boat with only three other people, all of which are older than her.
I really understand how it is. I find it hilarious how everyone is freaking out about being stuck with only their family ad all I can think is, “Welcome to my life!” There is a real irony that the most I’ve gotten to hang out with other kids is when we’re in quarantine. We’re all forced into the USVIs because nothing else is open for cruising families, so now we’re all bundled together and able to make friends. It’s hilarious!
As quarantine is coming closer and closer to its end, all of us are starting to scatter. We’ve moved from our place in Maho and Francis Bay and into Magen’s Bay on the side of St. Thomas. SV Liberty will be heading north for the start of Micaela’s boarding school in fall (if it’s open) and Hekla will be leaving for Florida the day before Liberty leaves. The only boat left is SV Dorothy Rose who will be going the same direction as us… Grenada!
We’ve been patiently waiting for any sign that Grenada would be opening its borders. For non-sailors, it is important to understand that storm season runs from about July to November and during that time, cruisers have to find a way out of the ‘Storm Box’, otherwise there’s no insurance. Usually. So when Grenada released that we could start filling out forms and pick dates to arrive, we were very excited. This means we won’t have to backtrack for the third time, we wont have to return to Florida.
So sometime in the days following June 24th, we will be in passage to Grenada.
This blog covers everything from the last post to current time, for lack of content.
The mooring field in Francis bay became our official quarantine site. We stayed for weeks, enjoying the company of friends who joined us. Dorothy Rose was the first, a thirteen-year-old boy named Tanner aboard who was the reason for us connecting in the first place. He and I are both introverts, but we managed to find a shared interest in chess. We’ve played many rounds over the last few weeks and I’m happy to report that I’ve never lost, only stalemated.
A second boat joined us; SV Hekla, our friends from our last season. They were originally in Antigua but with the breakout of COVID-19 they were forced to return to a U.S. territory and decided to join us in the USVIs. Three more boys were added to the little kid group that was slowly growing. There are a good number of children, but most of them are between the ages of six and ten, whereas I was on the brink of turning fourteen. For the following weeks I stuck with the boys from Hekla and Tanner.
In the long days that make up our social distancing we started a business. The boys from Hekla (primarily Duncan and Kenneth) decided to find a use for their Brownie Lung, an electric device that would allow them to breathe underwater for a long period of time. They wouldn’t have to carry tanks on their backs and a certification wouldn’t be required. And thus, began the creation of Smooth Bottoms Boat Cleaning.
It is important to note that before SBBC was created, the only boat I’ve ever cleaned was our own and that was only once, so I was the least experienced on our little crew. I tried to make up for it in whatever way I could, especially since I always had to work at the waterline and not do the more taxing work of the hulls and keels. I believe I have but I haven’t asked any of the boys, so I don’t know.
After our jobs we always returned to my boat to hang out. It became a tradition where we’d swim or play games or have dinner, which was hard since each of the boys had a special diet. Tanner from Dorothy Rose is gluten and dairy-free and the boys from Hekla are vegan in the loosest of terms, though they do refuse meat.
I haven’t been able to participate in as many jobs as the Hekla boys (who have done twenty a piece) whereas I’ve only completed five. The reason is primarily that at the time when we had the most jobs, I was trying to finish school for the year. I’d cracked down on my schedule, working from 8:00-2:00 instead of the previous arrangement of 8:00-12:00, and since most of our jobs were around noon I had to skip out. Even with the days I missed, I’ve still been able to rack together over a hundred dollars, plus a little extra from when I did a “camp” for one of the younger kids on Hekla.
The reason for my sudden shift in priorities to finish school was because my birthday was coming closer and I didn’t want to be worried about deadlines. So, on Thursday the 16th of April I completed my 8th grade and was able to have a birthday party that weekend.
It hardly counts as a birthday because I did most of the same things swam, chores, and reading. The only difference was that I got to sleep in, a sign with the word celebrate was hung in the salon, I received presents, and I got to eat some of my favorite foods...primarily candy.
Only two of the three boys from Hekla (Duncan and Tommy) were able to come since the third (Kenneth) had a sore throat and with everything in the world, it was better to be cautious. Tanner came over a little before the others and we enjoyed a game of chess before starting to play games with the others. For a few hours, our main source of entertainment was video games. Sad, I know, but after that slump we discovered a great place to jump off the boat and into the water...the roof. The rooftop was about eight or ten feet off the water and two feet from the side. It was semi-terrifying but we all managed to go at least once or twice. Duncan even managed to dive off.
Our time in the water led us to paddleboard wrestling. We let out a line and our paddleboards were tied to that line. We took turns crawling on top of the boards and facing competitors to see who would be the first to fall off. I surprised myself by not doing awful. I got second place, beaten only by Duncan, who is an avid surfer, so I had no issue losing to him (his balance was amazing).
Eventually the day led us to movies. Somehow (and I am still lost on how it happened) we ended up watching Twilight. You know, the movie about a love triangle between a clumsy girl, a werewolf, and a vampire? Yes, I convinced three boys to watch that movie. “It is so bad it’s funny,” were my exact words, and somehow, we were watching it and Tommy was making comments about watching the next.
Tanner left for his boat shortly after the movie and the two boys from Hekla were invited to sleep over. And so, the next day when I woke up to the sound of kids talking in the kitchen at 7:00 in the morning, I just silently growled before joining them. Reminder, I get up at 7:30 and since I was on my “summer vacation” from finishing school, I should’ve been allowed to sleep in. I was, but no one can account for me being a light sleeper so there is really no one to blame.
After I wished them goodbye, my mom and I went about signing me up for my next courses. It may make me a nerd, but I love school and quarantine is boring. No shops, no hikes, no beaches, no restaurants. So, I gave myself two weeks to recuperate before starting my 9th grade, my freshman year of high school. As of the time I’m writing this blog, my break is over, and I start my class tomorrow.
On March 23rd we returned to the USVIs to avoid the expiration of our visas for the BVIs. While we got to see and do a good number of things in the British Virgin Islands, we also missed a lot of the more famous things on the list. One of which would be the Baths.
The Baths are by far the most popular destination and something we were planning to see before COVID-19 broke out. The Baths are a cave-like structure with an entrance to the ocean. The Baths are, of course, like baths. The flat surface is supposed to be great for swimming, especially with so little people in the area.
However, we left the BVIs in favor of Watermelon Bay, St. John in the US Virgin Islands. Recognize that name? This is the island my mom and I visited while we were on SV Kuma Too. We were almost at the exact same mooring ball as before. This was the place with a sugar mill only a short walk away which we, of course, hiked again.
This was my dad’s first time in this area. Therefore, the first thing he wanted to do was check out the island. So, the first day was spent discovering ruins. I had to opt out in favor of school, but they were able to explore a second trail that led to another set of ruins. My mom and I knew about this before, but with only a few hours we never had the chance to see it. I still haven’t had the chance to see it.
I will be the first to admit that I am not a “hiker”. I love the views and the animals, but the actual action of walking almost a mile to and from, no thanks. So, I was not in the happiest of moods when I was tugged off the boat to walk back to the sugar mill.
This area is great, but I was desperate to move on. The Wi-Fi was spotty and the hikes were repetitive. My pleas were answered! The following day was spent at sea to a second mooring field in Francis Bay.
A couple days after arriving in this spot, we spent the day at the beach. Only now am I realizing how long it has been since we have had a beach day. We brought our cabana, towels, games, books, drinks, and food. We were set. It has been almost a month since that day, but I still recall how I spent most of it reading. Am I a nerd? Most definitely.
I even remember the book I was currently reading: The Cruel Prince. A story revolving the protagonist, Jude, who lives in faerie land. No, that is not sarcasm, that is the world name. In this world there are fae and her foster dad is the general for the king. She wants to be a knight but she is mortal. In a land of magic that is a huge drawback. She faces off against a cruel prince named Cardan who she eventually conspires with to protect the world from her father. The book is followed by two others which I finished in the days following.
At the beach, there was a lemon shark skimming the surface and followed anyone in its vicinity like a lost puppy. It. Was. Adorable. By the time I joined my parents in the water, the shark was long gone. Though if he were still in the water, I probably would not have gotten in.
After destroying my dad at our beach games (I do not know the accuracy of that statement, it has been almost a month) we returned to the boat. At this point, I had been promising to bake my dad brownies for a couple days so I finally lived up to that promise. They were gone by the next day.
Moving to this bay brought news of another thing. Kids! My mom had been in contact with parents through different cruising communities for a while and she finally found someone I could meet. Tanner, a thirteen-year-old boy, who lives on the boat SV Dorothy Rose. I would be meeting him the next day.
The priority for our trip to Tampa was to have dental work done. Boring, I know. Most of the time was spent driving to and from orthodontists and the hotel, doing school, and occasional meals. We did a few things so we could check off our wish list for things you can’t do in the Caribbean i.e. McDonalds, Twistee Treat, Busch Gardens, and Charlie’s Steakhouse. Most of these are food related, but what can I say, you crave a LOT of stuff when you can’t have it. For months I’ve craved the crispy fries you can only find at McDonalds, the smooth ice cream from Twistee Treat, and any decent steak. We returned to the boat after our trip with full bellies, to say the least.
Our trip to Tampa lasted about a week before we left again. As we flew to Tampa, coronavirus was just beginning to be a thing, but by the time we left, my mom and I were holding our breath in the airport with little exaggeration. We didn’t fly through just any airport, we had to go through the Atlanta airport, otherwise known as the biggest and busiest airport in the world. If that isn’t a hotspot for germs, then I don’t know what is.
We meticulously wiped down our seats, screens, trays, and armrests on the plane, being sure that we didn’t touch anything that wasn’t cleaned. We brought no less than ten hand sanitizers with us as we boarded our flight from Tampa to Atlanta. We left that flight with about five full sanitizers and five empty. The next flight brought us from Atlanta to St. Thomas, USVI where we used the majority of our leftover sanitizer.
As we did on our trip out of the USVIs, we stayed with Mandy and Joe before returning to our boat in the BVIs. It was March 17th when we returned to SV Kuma Too, St. Patrick’s Day and a fairly personal day to our family. On March 17th three years ago our dog, Jett, passed away after almost fourteen years with our family. She was even in the household before me. My parents loved her very much, so every year on St. Patrick’s Day we wear a green shirt with a penciled version of our dog on the front as a way of remembering the dog that we all loved. We didn’t want germs on our Jett shirts so we waited until we got to Kuma Too before changing into them.
Of course, Mandy and Joe didn’t want to bring bags with airport cuddies onto the boat so we slowly passed up the luggage as Mandy sprayed our bags with Lysol.
It was fairly dark out by the time we arrived so we spent a couple hours drinking and socializing before being sent to our previous arrangements. Previous arrangements means, yes, we did do the weird bed arrangement from before. (Read the prior post to understand). After a few more hours of reading-because there is no such thing as me going to bed without a book in hand- I went to sleep.
The following day my mom and I spent on the boat. I wanted to go back to the restaurant Gringo’s since it would be our last chance to go before all businesses started to close, but we didn’t have the time. So we ate a quick lunch before going to a ferry that would take us from the USVI to the BVIs. By the way, this was the LAST ferry ride to the BVIs. The BVIs were no longer allowing non-residents on the ferry due to the coronavirus. We just made it. We were very lucky to be on that ferry. It was the only way we could return to our boat and our family could be together again.
Quick question before the blog continues, have you ever been on a ferry? Yes or no? Because I want to know if it was just ours that sucked or if it’s a common thing. Our ferry was so loud that I’d need to shout so my mom, who was sitting right next to me, could hear me. We got water sprayed in our eyes, on our face, and in our mouths. We were so desperate to stay dry that my mom used her dry bag to shield herself from the oncoming spray. I gave up on trying to get a decent view and moved inside, which only made the noise worse. I wasted so much time outside, that the only seat left was one in the very front with no window and a few inches of leg space. The one benefit was that I got the row to myself. No one else wanted to sit without a window.
When we reached our drop-off area we had to wait in line as the workers took our temperature. Even after we got through that we could only stay for a few days in the BVIs before being sent back to the US. For us, this meant going back to the USVIs because we didn’t want to travel the hundreds of miles to Florida. Plus, at the time, there were only about thirty or so cases in the USVI.
And at last! We were reunited with my dad. A delicious homecooked meal was waiting for us back at Dragonfly.
The peace and quiet of returning home lasted all of one day before it was back to school. The bars and cafés were mostly deserted but still open for the time-being. So my dad and I took advantage of the vacancy by eating at one of the cafés then working using their free internet for any customers. Chocolate croissant and free internet, what more can a person ask for?
A few hours of work was all we did the next day before sailing to a different island where the snorkeling was some of the best we ever saw. There was a small tie-off for dinghies so none of us had to patrol and we could all enjoy the vast amount of fish. We saw parrotfish, coral, various snapper and grouper, and after I got out my parents saw the best yet: a Caribbean Reef Squid. While that’s all fun and dandy, my favorite part were some of the caves that could be found in the outcropping rock connected to the island. There wasn’t anything necessarily cool inside, but I’m still a kid and I love anything small and seemingly adventurous.
It’s day and night really. The snorkeling was amazing and colorful, and the next day we went on a hike that I have officially named “The Torture Trail”. My parents may think I’m exaggerating but I was working hard to keep my breath. An hour to a small bay that we only spent fifteen minutes at and an hour back. My water was out before we even reached the bay. Besides kneeling over and almost hyperventilating a few hundred times, it was a good hike all jokes aside. We were able to see places we’ve been from multiple points on the trail, which seriously helped my poor understanding of geography.
The most satisfying part of the entire hike was when we got back and got to plunk down at a table (at the restaurant that would close the next day) and drank a gallon of water…each. The food we got to eat as a reward for our two hours of sweating was also a good bonus, especially since it wasn’t the ordinary island food. They had nachos and fish tacos and jalapeño poppers and conch fritters. Of course we didn’t get all of that, but we did order a few of the appetizers.
As our exhaustion started to wear off we became aware of a few things. 1) That we were all starving after our hike and would need even more food once we returned to the boat and 2) There was a game of Jenga just begging to be played on the beach. So obviously my dad and I faced off and after who knows how long, I decimated him in the game. Muahahaha. That’s my evil laugh.
The next day would lead us to traveling out of the BVIs and into the USVIs to avoid the expiration on our visas.
At this point, everyone in the world has heard about COVID-19 aka coronavirus. As my mom and I were preparing for a flight to Tampa, coronavirus was just starting to build momentum. It was already spreading to the US, with the first few cases popping up.
There were no extra regulations on entering the USVIs when my mom and I traveled to St. John on SV Kuma Too.
Our plane was a couple days from leaving from St. Thomas, but that area is crowded and wouldn’t allow Mandy and Joe to clean the bottom of their boat for the upcoming charter they would have after we left. After offering to help multiple times, we were sent onto the island for exploring and to get out of their way so they could work.
On the island of St. John is a sugar mill that can be reached after about a half a mile walk from where we moored. The walk was thankfully both easy and bug-free as we trekked our way to the sugar mill.
It was interesting following the trail around the mill which was over a hundred years old. The signs near each of the deteriorated buildings explained how sugar cane was harvested, placed in the windmill and ground. It was then placed in the hands of workers and slaves to stir and boil until it was a fine sugar. But they had to make sure they didn’t take it out too soon! Otherwise the mixture would be molasses.
While the history of the building was interesting, my favorite place on the property was the garden. The park had a small garden overflowing with plants native to the islands. I’m not much of a garden person, but I am if I get to taste some of the food growing. Which I did.
Standing on the sidelines was the gardener who would offer anyone who passed some sugar cane, passionfruit, or papaya. My mom and I each had some passionfruit, but neither of us knew how to eat it and unknowingly wasted most of the sweet fruit. We got to take a papaya back to the boat as a prize for Mandy and Joe (who had it for the first time and claimed it tasted like mud), after we had a few sticks of sugar cane.
You’d think for something that creates sugar it’d be sweeter. It was sweet, but not in the “omg my head aches” kind of way you get when you have too much refined sugar. It just felt like something I could chew on for a good hour before all the flavor was drained, it wasn’t overbearing at all.
After demanding we get some when we come back from Florida, my mom and I returned to the boat.
We noticed more animals on the way back then there was on the way to the mill. We saw multiple birds (well we heard them), saw two iguanas, and spotted a couple of deer on the trail. We got within a dozen feet of the deer before they scampered into the forest again.
We reached the boat as Mandy and Joe were finishing their boat’s bottom project.
The majority of our morning was spent on the hike so after Mandy and Joe wrapped up, we headed to St. Thomas. Once we arrived we spent a few hours just hanging out on the boat. After a few hours we lowered the dinghy and headed into one of Mandy and Joe’s favorite places to get a drink. I don’t know the name of the bar/restaurant but I remember a few details. Man-sized teddy bear. Semi-dirty fish tank. And bingo. Our table was at the back corner of the bar, right next to a lightly green shaded tank and teddy bear that I made the mistake of laying on. I’m very lucky not to have lice. Or whatever else finds its home in that setting.
We ate a little. I mostly just feasted on things I hadn’t had in so long. Iced tea being at the top of my list and, of course, they didn’t have it. But they did have Caesar salad, so I happily munched on that and a shareable tater tots platter that was brought out. After the food was served and a few rounds of drinks were had, we joined bingo. Sadly, we didn’t win anything but I did have a few close calls! We returned to the boat and almost immediately returned to our bedrooms.
Now, because I’m weird and a teenager who thinks it’s strange to share a bed with her mom, I forced us into an original sleeping arrangement. The bed in their guest cabin is a queen, the same shape as any other, but because I wanted as much space as possible I had each of our feet hanging off the bed as I slept at the foot and she slept at the head. The next morning I narrowly avoided hitting my head on a low-hanging part of our bedroom (no one was meant to sleep there, only feet were supposed to be in that area). Of course, like any other time, I slept in and my mom was already in the salon conversing with Mandy and Joe when I came up.
I devoured the leftover charter food Mandy gave me and spent about an hour reading. I got to finish multiple books while I was on Kuma Too, we had awful Wi-Fi so my phone wasn’t an option and Mandy and Joe refused to let us do chores. They eventually kicked us off the boat so they could do final preparations for their charter. My mom and I spent the day roaming through St. Thomas. We wandered through an outdoor market where almost all the vendors called me “Princess” or “Sweetie”, and attempted to bully my mom into buying one of their dresses. You know, the kind you found in almost every tent in the market. After narrowly escaping the onslaught of vendors vying for our attention, we walked along the water to a restaurant called Gringo’s. Mandy and Joe suggested we eat at this Mexican restaurant because of its exceptional margaritas. Since we didn’t know where else to go, we arrived just as it was opening…at 11:00. They were gracious enough not to be irritated when we arrived while they were still setting up tables. We were the only ones in the restaurant as our waiter served us. The margarita was great…not that I drank any.
The rest of the day was spent walking from shop to shop. Nothing really stood out. St. Thomas is like almost any tourist trap destination. It was all shops, no charm. Eventually we were picked up by Mandy and Joe. We ate, drank, and mentally prepared ourselves for the next day when we’d be facing the St. Thomas airport, aka a hotspot for the now growing coronavirus.
Following a night at Pusser’s we decided to return the next morning for a beach day. Our waiter from the night before told us that to get one of their chairs we’d have to pay for a drink, but that was untrue. She failed to mention that if a cruise ship was coming into Tortola then we’d have to pay about $20 for an umbrella.
The beach was far more packed then we expected. Rows and rows of beach chairs lined the shore and it was a stroke of luck that we found a few open to use about three rows back.
When we left for the beach I was prepared with The Handmaid’s Tale (which I couldn’t get through) and a swimsuit. My parents were far more prepared with their towels, books, snacks, swimsuits, and wallets. But even they aren’t perfect.
My dad forgot his phone which gave me the perfect opportunity to return to the boat to get my kindle and towel. I heard so many good things about The Handmaid’s Tale but I found it challenging to get through, the story is interesting and I wish I could read more but (most likely due to my age) the writing style was difficult to understand.
I may have worn a swimsuit, but that by no means meant I would get in. My parents running from the water screaming, “It’s cold!” was enough to keep me away. I’ve started to regret that decision when a pant-lined tan started to appear on my thigh, at least it’s better than my dad’s red arms.
When we got onto the boat our skin had lost any brown-tint we may have gotten from the months in the sun. We’d completely forgotten everything we’d learned on how to avoid sunburns. A few days into sailing my dad had a V-neck shaped tan on his chest and small circlets on his arms. I think he was embarrassed to go shirtless because of it.
Mark opted out of going with us, so when we returned, we spent the night with him saying our goodbyes. He’d be leaving early in the morning for the airport. He was originally going to take a cab but after our first night at Pusser’s we became friends with one of the waitresses and she offered to drive him.
The same day that Mark left, our friends Mandy and Joe from the boat SV Kuma Too arrived. The Virgin Islands is the home base for their chartering business, so they spent the afternoon showing us around some of their favorite spots.
The first place they brought us to was a bar called Quito’s where we spent most of the night. While my parents were talking at the bar, I was sitting on one of the high-tops reading. We ordered a few appetizers before moving to a second restaurant called Paradise Bar and Restaurant. The night ended with a game of Jenga where my dad played for me because I didn’t want to be crushed by the falling wooden pieces.
The next morning, we woke up a little later than usual to make up for the late night we had before Jost Van Dyke. We’ve already been to this island, but this time we were on the opposite side located near a restaurant named Foxy’s Taboo, owned by the restaurant Foxy’s that I mentioned in my last post.
I personally prefer this bar over the other because it’s more secluded with a smaller area and less busybody’s running around. We spent the day working at the restaurant before eventually ganging up with Kuma Too later in the day.
Mandy and Joe directed us around the bar to one of the trails that would lead us to the bubbly pools. We took one of the longer hikes up so we could see a cliff-like view of our anchorage. Besides seeing my life flash before my eyes a few dozen times, we got to the pools safely.
We saw a few goats (that I am almost positive are magical) on our way to the pools. Each goat was in varying coats of black, brown, and white. We saw so many that at some point we started naming them. Oreo. Brownie. Coconut. Well, I did at least.
The bubbly pool is a small circular pool with a sliver of space connected to the ocean. When the tide is up enough, water will crash through that sliver and fill the pool with water. Sea foam will flow in creating the appearance of bubbles. We didn’t come at the best time and the bubbly pool was slowly dwindling, with only a few bubbles to show for.
I initially planned to get into the pool but a few seconds in the frigid water with who knows what biting at my feet, made me opt for climbing rocks instead.
The bubbly pool is famous for its bubbles, but I think the entire area is like Elephant Rocks in Missouri. There are huge boulders that are just begging someone to climb them and not just goats. So, I did. I watched from the sliver of space between boulders for the good waves that would result in a bubble-filled pool so my parents could snap a decent photo of the area.
After we left the bubbly pool, we headed back to Foxy’s Taboo to share some drinks and talk. To be perfectly honest I didn’t bring much to the conversation because I was reading on one of the restaurant’s hammock chairs. Good drink + Comfy chair + Interesting book = Addison isn’t listening.
I was hoping to eat at the restaurant but instead we dinghied back to the boat and ate leftover burgers before parting ways and going to sleep.
Our final day in this area was spent working before heading to a famous bar called
B-Line. We did get to eat there. They have about five things on the menu and all of them are amazing. I assume. We ordered three separate dishes, two of one kind, two of another, and one of the last, to split between Mandy, Joe, my mom, my dad, and me.
They were out of one of the dishes and the other wasn’t something we could split among each other so we decided on three we would all enjoy.
For the first time in a long time, I didn’t read while we were waiting for food. Instead, I crushed all of them at cornhole. Not to brag…too much. We had a competition where each person squared off against someone else and the winner would face a new person. I had a royal flush and beat everyone, securing first place for myself.
I got increasingly worse as time passed. In the first round I got about eight in the hole, but by the final round I was almost neck and neck with Mandy, neither of us even landing on the board.
We quickly finished up our game when the food came out and set about creating a revolving idea where each of us would take a bite before passing our plate the person to the right. It didn’t end up working, so we just tried to eat a fifth of everything before giving it to someone who hadn’t had any of that dish yet.
You’d think the night would end there, but no! We went back to our boat with Mandy and Joe in tow to do G&P. G&P stands for Grab and Play, something we created for when we have friends over. We get out our music box of instruments, put on some music, and grab an instrument and play to the beat.
I went to bed early, so I can’t accurately say how long the adults were playing into the night. Using experience, I assume it was around 2:00 when they stopped.
The next day we returned to Cane Garden for our final night in the BVIs.
We all spent the day doing our own activities until the afternoon when we went over to Kuma Too for drinks. My parents had the drinks, not me. We spent a couple hours chatting until the guys decided to go in for a guy’s night with the girls prepared to take a separate dinghy for a girl’s night.
I was supposed to be with them for their girl’s night, but in the end, I drove myself back to the boat to read. Sometimes you just don’t feel like being around that many people and you want to be alone, with my parents doing their own thing it was the perfect opportunity. I’m not a crazy teenager, yet, so I didn’t do anything besides sit in the salon and read.
The next morning, we followed Kuma Too to customs where my mom and I would check out of the country before joining Mandy and Joe to the USVIs, then flying to Tampa.
I last left off was with us sailing away from what I imagined to be the best island to ever exist. Unsurprisingly, that title lasted all a week before a new island was awarded the honor.
After we left Mayaguana we made our way to Turks and Caicos, where we spent a day before continuing our slow progression to Grenada. Our plan is to try and get there sometime in either June or July for hurricane season, but we want to see anything and everything we can on the way.
We spent most of our day on Turks and Caicos sucking up sun light on a beach. We later regretted our decision to check out of the country so soon, but to check back it would be too costly.
Eventually we found ourselves in White Bay – Jost Van Dyke in the BVIs (British Virgin Islands) after a few days of traveling. I was less than merry when we finally arrived. You don’t know how precious sleep is until you miss six hours of it for watch duty. I didn’t even have to go on all my shifts. No one was out there with us and we were in thousands of feet deep of water, so my dad usually let me sleep for one of my two shifts.
It was our longest passage yet, with little to see beyond the endless water in every direction. As we pulled away from Turks and Caicos, I had my first look at a whale. We couldn’t identify it, but the assumption is that it was a humpback.
We spent our first few hours in White Bay searching for a mooring ball we could use. We began our search in a mooring field with a single open ball to use. So, we connected, spent 20 minutes on it before realizing it was rockier than any time we’ve spent on passage. And that’s saying something.
So, we moved to a deeper area to anchor and planned to snatch one of the mooring balls in the next anchorage, Great Harbor, the next day.
We spent the next day on our new mooring ball and cleared into customs. School still takes priority for me, so I had a good time on that before going in to explore. There’s a famous restaurant in Great Harbor called Foxy’s that my parents ended up going to for a date night.
The one restaurant we regularly went to had decent food. All island food is similar, so there wasn’t anything particularly interesting about the burgers and wings we ate. I did, however, discover that the restaurant was the perfect place to do school the next day.
One of my teacher’s had to call me the next day while I was in the restaurant. The music was blaring, and she asked me to move and all I could think was, “How do you tell your teacher it’s too loud because you’re in a bar in the Virgin Islands?”
When I eventually sat outside on the beach to finish our call, she asked me to move AGAIN, because it was too windy. I was snickering internally because I had no where to go. I was on a beach in the Virgin Islands and I couldn’t move too far from where my computer was still sitting within the bar. I just turned my back to the wind and hoped it’d be enough.
Apparently, it was, because we got through the call with only a few minor mishaps.
We spent the rest of our week jumping from one anchorage to another until we arrived in Cane Garden, Tortola.
Tortola was supposedly named by Christopher Columbus meaning “land of the Turtle Dove”. He originally called it Santa Ana, but the name was changed once the Dutch arrived. They called it Ter Tholen after an island that forms part of the west coast of the Netherlands. The last name change was to Tortola when the British altered the name.
I think a better name would be pelican. I did see some turtles swimming around, but they were nothing compared to the (with little exaggeration) hordes of birds around the water. Our plan for this island was to avoid spending money and eating out, we did far too much of that on the last island.
That rule lasted all an hour before we found Pusser’s. Pusser’s was our favorite restaurant to frequent when we went to Annapolis boat shows during the spring and fall. Our first assumption was that this was just some bar with the same name. It wasn’t. It is owned and operated by the same people. And what really melted our resolve was that they were having a pig roast that night.
We spent hours at our table happily munching on snacks and sipping on drinks while we waited for the pig to be served. We watched as the restaurant slowly filled with more people as the pork was almost done cooking. And rightly so. The food was so good.
After a delicious dinner we prepared ourselves to return the next day for a day on the beach.
When I imagined living on the boat I thought of hopping from island to island. I didn’t realize how much went into owning and living on a boat at the time. I always imagined the island would be small, a little run down but in the process of renovating, and a small community where everyone knew everyone. So far, the truth has been different from what I imagined. I love the boat and travelling, but no island has matched my design. Until Mayaguana.
I only spent one day on the island after we spent a day in passage from Georgetown, but I fell in love. When we first pulled up to the slab of concrete that served as a dock, I didn’t think much of it. All I could see from my viewpoint was a row of palm trees painted with various colors on their trunks. Red, white, green, and blue. Under the trees were a few picnic tables that I doubt anyone used.
We dropped off our trash at a little hut designed for waste and restrooms. There was a small path (maybe a car’s width wide) that we walked on to reach the tiny town.
The town was everything I ever dreamed. We had multiple people wave hello to us as we walked past buildings. On the side of a few buildings were paintings of the most vibrant colors. On the local government building there was a flamingo painted on the wall.
We spent little time exploring because there was little to see besides a few stores, a bar, and houses. My mom felt guilty dropping our trash without using one of their services, so we found our way to a little BCT hut (maybe one of the few air-conditioned places we could go and found an older woman who would help us find a store.
Another dream came true when she walked us a block from the BCT building and yelled someone’s name. A woman answered and opened a little store-about the size of our living room- for us. With a population of only 300 people, everyone knew everyone. Mayaguana had officially become my dream turned reality.
After that day, I regretted not going back to the town. We left a few days later for a two-day passage to Turks and Cacaos.
It’s been a while since we’ve been out sailing but we are at last in the final countdown! After months in a marina and weeks on the hard my mom traveled with a delivery captain to bring the boat to Ft. Lauderdale where we had our final boat projects done. My dad was busy with work – that’s the reason for the hired crew. For the first time in months we are living on the boat!
After upgrades, fixes, and several maintenance items the boat is better than ever. After almost a of year of being broken the fan in my room has been restored to its former glory. I now have a well-ventilated room that I can stand to be in for more than a few hours while awake! Which is perfect because now I can finally paint.
My parents gave me enough materials to complete my collection. It was among my favorite gifts from this year. Some of my favorite things I received was a gift card for books on my kindle, a Fitbit (that has informed me how out of shape I am), and some earrings I’d been eyeing for some time.
I was also very proud of the gifts I gave my family. All my dad wanted was some bracelets, so I made him one and gave him a little scented bottle meant to be calming. My mom gets headaches, so I gave her a face mask that can be chilled or heated to soothe. It was a very good Christmas.
Christmas wasn’t the only holiday to pass while we were on the boat. We were invited to a kid boat for New Years where we played games, ate, and talked. I got to know the kids aboard, though I spent a good portion of the night playing with their dog.
Their dog jump started a conversation I’ve been longing to have: Can we have a dog? I don’t know if I’m going to win this argument though. They add so much work to an already work-filled lifestyle. My mom is adamantly against it because she “knows” that she’ll be the one taking care of the dog. Until I do better on other chores, I can’t expect to see a dog in my future.
I’m not great at keeping up with my chores now. After months of living in hotels it’s an adjustment to wake up early and clean the kitchen. Or the deck. Or my room.
But I have gotten to do some pretty cool projects for our dinghy. I’d previously named the small boat Ladybug when we got it but after having custom covers made for the boat, the name we applied to the side was covered. My dad and I discussed ways to show the name again. We discussed painting the name on the chaps, painting the chaps similarly, and then finally we found the answer.
After a few hours of work, I had cleaned, sanded, and painted our motor cover to look like a ladybug. I was so proud of it. My grandma was there at the time and she helped me move it from place to place. I just loved it. I had meticulously carved tape to match the design I wanted.
I got into a little trouble with the marina security when I sprayed red paint onto our motor, but they just wanted to make sure I didn’t get red paint on any cars or boats. My grandma wasn’t very happy about that. She and I went to the parking lot and used soap and water to try and remove and red paint that got on the concrete. Security just waved us off and I was able to put the cover onto the motor.
We have yet to use the dinghy in action since I painted it, but we are planning to leave this marina in a few days with one extra crew member. Captain Mark is back on the boat and ready to help. He’s already helped us with provisioning and docking. We are ready to finally make our way back to the Bahamas and beyond!
I may not be sailing the ocean blues but I’m still travelling.
After our many issues with the boat we had no option but to have it placed in a marina until we could have it fixed. Until further notice we are living in hotels for the next few months. I don’t mind, I really enjoy staying at hotels. But what child/teen doesn’t?
Speaking of being a teen, I just realized something that is insane. I’m starting 8th grade this August, that means I’m one year away from high school! Highschool! My mind is blown.
Even though I technically start school in August that doesn’t mean I haven’t done any schoolwork this summer. Using FLVS (Florida Virtual School) I have been given the opportunity to take Geometry over the summer so that I can take Algebra 2 during 8th grade. It’s bittersweet. On one hand I’m getting ahead in school, on the other… I’m doing school over summer.
But I’ve been doing a lot besides school this summer. I’ve travelled to Mississippi, where I used to live and got to visit with old friends. While I was there, I also got to eat amazing food. I’m a foodie so I must mention it. There’s a restaurant in Mississippi called Cotton Blues that probably had some of the best fried chicken I have ever had. The restaurant had skillet cookies (the best kind of cookies) and homemade pickles. Yum.
We have a friend in Mississippi named Hampton that owns a restaurant named Sully’s that specializes in delicious steaks. We wet to his house while we were there, and he grilled us some prime ribeye. Anyone who does that for me, is a friend for life. We did go to his restaurant as well, though someone in our group of 15 paid for that meal too. People in Mississippi are so generous.
The day after my mom and I started heading to Missouri so we could visit my grandparents. While we were there I baked, hugged, helped, read, etc. Besides hanging out with my grandma the number one thing I did was write in my Whatever Journal. Which is basically a journal where I write or do whatever I want to do with it. Sooner or later it just turned into a quote book. I would ask people their favorite quotes and dedicate a page to each. I would write MY favorite quotes like-
“Don’t tell me the sky’s the limit when there are footprints on the moon,” or
“An eye for an eye makes the world go blind,” or
“You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”
One of the peaks of the trip was when I got to meet up with one of my friends from a camp, I went to for two years during the summer. She and I were setting up this trip for long before my parents knew. When they did find out my mom took it over and planned it out more smoothly and with less waste of my and my friend’s money.
My friend was from out of state, so my mom and I drove almost two hours from St. Louis to meet her and her parents halfway in Indiana. But it was so worth it. She and I got to sleepover at my aunt’s house and we would do activities during the day. My favorite out of all the things we did was going to Elephant rocks, which is basically what it sounds like. It’s a park with huge rocks that are so fun to climb on. She and I are both very outdoorsy, so it was the perfect thing to do.
And then we met back up with her mom to drop her off. Right now, I’m stuck in traffic on the way back to my grandma’s after dropping my friend off. The street is backed up because water is overflowing from the fields it’s not supposed to be in anyway and the water is a foot above the street. Sometimes I have a large distaste for Missouri.
It’s Monday the 22nd and we decided to start our day in Key West, with desserts. Yum. Best breakfast ever! We went to a Café that has been around for over 100 years. My parents were craving key lime pie so that’s what they ordered (well I’m actually not sure, I’m pretty sure my dad got a coconut pie). Eric ordered alongside them and got the same thing. I however ordered an apple cobbler. I’ve started to really enjoy all things apple. Apple pie, apple cobbler, and apple cider. It tastes so homey and yummy. I stand by my order. I think mine was the best. My cobbler was crispy and sugary. It had cinnamon and a big glob of ice cream on top. Bon Appetit!
After our sugary but delicious snack, we parted ways as we had done for the last two days. However, unlike the past couple days Eric, my mom, and I did not check out historical landmarks. Instead we were tourists and just went door to door in shops near the water. My mom and I ended up buying some really pretty dresses that are perfect for the boat. My dress is pink but my mom got two, one is grey and the other is blue.
We finished our shopping and went to join my dad at a bar. We sat at that bar and listened to a woman sing while we munched on some fries. After we left we went straight back to the boat to end our day.
The next day we set out on our sail to St. Petersburg. We started our sail in the early morning and we had a peaceful day. We caught a few fish, none of which we could eat. Everyone took multiple naps to prepare for the night. The height of the day was when a sparrow flew onto our boat and stayed for almost the entire night.
On Wednesday the 24th we continued our sail, but we had an issue. At about 2:00AM a part of our boat broke and pulled the front of our boat with it. My parents had to rig some lines to take pressure off. Throughout this terrifying event… I was sleeping. We had to put down the sails and motor the remaining time. We debated going back to Burnt Store Marina, but thankfully we decided to continue towards St. Petersburg.
This blog post begins with chickens. Yes, you read it correctly. On Sunday the 21st we (Eric, my parents, and I) had lunch at a delicious Cuban restaurant before we went our separate ways. While we were there, however, we saw an adorable chicken with even cuter chicks. They were just so cute! Moving on… after a delicious meal of steak Eric, my mom, and I split off to be tourists while my dad found a place to finish up his work.
We started our tourist journey by stopping by what I think was a cemetery with information on the most important people to live in Key West. We didn’t stay too terribly long because (1) I was bored (2) we read all the information really quickly.
So after we did that we headed to Mel Fisher Maritime Museum, which is a museum about a man who found a sunken ship off the Keys. He found so much gold, emeralds, diamonds, jewelry, and other goods that he ended up with items worth millions! It was crazy! The museum even had some of the goods inside, it was really cool.
We continued our day by heading into Mallory square where we ran into a henna stand. I convinced my mom to get one! She got a simple drawing of our late dog, Jett, whom my parents have an actual painting of in their room. While my mom was getting that, Eric and I headed into a restaurant where we waited until my mom was done and she was ready to head to a candy store called It Sugar. It good…
After probably too much time in the candy store, we took an Uber to a fort that was converted into a garden. Whoever thought of doing that was a genius because it was gorgeous. There was a butterfly garden, bushes of flowers that smelled similar to honeysuckle, and an ocean view. 😊
My mom got a text from my dad right as we were leaving telling us that he was done for the day. My mom and Eric got their thinking caps on and decided for him to meet up with us at the lighthouse. We got in another Uber and arrived at the lighthouse with my dad minutes behind. With that we checked out the old Lighthouse keeper's house from decades ago and headed up the spiral staircase to the top of the lighthouse. My mom didn’t quite think it through and halfway up she started to get nervous because of her fear of heights.
She did, however, make it to the top and even spent some time on the ledge, granted it was only like 5 minutes… but still, my dad and I are proud of her. At the top they had little information plates that tell you where important waypoints are on the island and I think I was giving my mom a panic attack every time I would lean over the edge to point or look at the points. Hehe. So eventually my mom headed down with the rest of us in tow.
Once we all made it down, my dad suggested food. We all perked up and so we started heading towards civilization. Along the way we passed by a restaurant that Eric and my dad went to when they were in Key West previously. We almost missed it because it was so hidden in shrubbery. We were all so ravenous that we sat down and were happily surprised by the food. (The adults were more so excited because of the Bloody Mary bar)… and that was how we ended our day.
You can expect the rest of the week in a post tomorrow, but this is already pretty long.
We start this post on the 17th of April, a Wednesday. We continue a sail from Staniel Cay to Highbourne Cay. We arrived a little after midday. That night we enjoyed a dinner consisting of jerk chicken, squash, rice, and broccoli. I think of this as an early birthday dinner because it was SO good! Afterwards I cleaned the dishes and blew the conch horn at sundown. We were getting excited because we thought we’d possibly see the fabled green flash. That night I made a chocolate cake for my birthday celebration the next day.
The next day I woke up very late and by that time we were already going at a quick speed heading towards Key West. My mom setup an area in the salon for me that was similar to a bed and hand hanging pieces of paper that read something similar to: Happy 13! She also laid out some presents for me. I got some GoPro supplies, art supplies, books, and candy. I spent the entire day laying down in that area and reading whilst eating candy. It was great! Until that night…
After midnight the rocking got really bad and I couldn’t fall asleep because I got really scared.
Thankfully we arrived in Key West a few hours later and attached to a mooring ball. We didn’t go inland that day because everyone was exhausted! We debated ordering a pizza and picking it up but my dad didn’t trust me to drive the dinghy over to get it.
On Saturday Eric, my mom, and I discovered the island and checked out may interesting historical spots. We saw six-toed cats at Ernest Hemmingway’s house from before he died, we saw the southernmost spot of the U.S. and we spent time in Mallory square. Throughout this my dad worked in a bar that we ate at for lunch. It was a great week if you count out my seasickness.
*Multiple days have been left out*
We start this post on Sunday the seventh when we went to a local café. We had our lunch but we also learned the history of the café from the owner. She told us about how she fought hard to turn a small Superbowl party into a popular restaurant on the island. She told us how she acquired a dock outside the building and basically anything we wanted to know. It was very interesting, though I think my parents were a bit more invested in the story than me.
On Friday the 12th we had some issues… we arrived in Staniel Cay the day before but that morning my mom walked into our guest room and was utterly repulsed. It smelled like sewage! We started working out the issue and determined one of our worst nightmares was the issue: the pipes were blocked. We would have to send someone down to unplug the pipes. My dad was the generous “volunteer”. We couldn’t find a plunger so we used a rolling pin (which we later threw away) and the actual plunger part of a plunger. I don’t know how else to explain it.
So after a little preparation my dad was sent down plunge the underside of our boat and swim away quickly before waste overtook him. Well that didn’t happen. I don’t know what went wrong but it didn’t work, so my parents continued to crack the case while I went back to school. They eventually got it working again while I was in my room (thankfully).
Afterwards a boat pulled up.
Do you know what that’s boat name was? Dragonfly! Do you know what they also had? They had an only child who just so happened to be a girl who was exactly two days older than me. Where have these people been?! On their way back from Thunderball Grotto they stopped by and invited us to join them and a second boat, Sandy Feet, to the yacht club for some drinks and food. We happily agreed.
We arrived at the yacht club and met up with everyone, I was introduced to the two girls from Sandy feet who were 11 and 14. (Where have these people been?!) After drinks were ordered everyone sat down at an outdoor table and enjoyed talking, but the kids didn’t stay long. The four of us set off for a tour around the island. We stopped at everywhere from grocery stores, to docks, laundromats, the airport which was only too easy to get onto the runway, and outside liquor stores.
After some struggles we found our way back to the yacht club where a partially melted virgin mango daiquiri was waiting for. I slurped it down quickly before we set off once again, but not as far as before. We walked out onto the rocks lining the dinghy landing and sat down, after some failed attempts at communication I pulled out my playing cards and taught them BS. By the end we dropped only two cards into the water and recovered them successfully (they are waterproof thankfully) and I won all but one of the four rounds.
I was getting hungry and so were the others so we headed back to the adults where one was missing to look for us. Oops. My parents already ate so we were preparing to go. The others left after I exchanged Instagram accounts with them. My mom and I ordered food to go but we all stayed longer to enjoy what would probably be our last time eating at a restaurant in the Bahamas. It was a great way to end the week, we got new friends and fixed a major boat issue before it could get out of hand.
The beginning of this blog post starts with the 23rd of March (yes, I realize that was last week and month, but not much happened that week and it would have been 2 paragraphs for the entire week.) That day we had a rental car parked in the marina parking lot; it was… different from the rental cars in the U.S. To which I reply, “It’s the Bahamas Man!” We took our rental car around the island to buy groceries and check out the best restaurant on the island, Big D’s Conch Spot.
We got back to the boat, but my dad got one of his headaches that he had frequently since he got back from Australia. My mom and I used this time to go down to the beach after my dad repeated multiple times, “I just need rest, I don’t think there’s anything you can do for me.” On the way to the beach we passed 6 jet-skies and started to talk to their owners. The owners have a television show where they cross crazy distances of water on the jet-skies and they just crossed the Gulf Stream! My mom and I were both surprised that their lower body wasn’t in extreme pain. After we finished talking, we spent the remainder of the day sitting by the pool.
The next morning, we used the last few hours with the rental car travelling to a French restaurant that, for some reason, only had French customers. After an okay breakfast, we drove to a little pier and checked out a near non-existent dock.
On Monday night my dad’s headaches got worse. My mom came up with a brilliant plan to make him feel better. We sent him off to the showers while we prepared without him knowing. He returned to us in our hippiest outfits and my parents’ cabin was transformed into a spa room. Afterwards he said that it felt good and distracted him from the pain in his head. Fast forward to Saturday and our dock neighbors came over to have after dinner cocktails with my parents. Unsurprisingly during this time, I was reading and not being very social. I know I should but I have serious social anxiety.
The following day, much to my dad’s pleasure, we left the marina! It was an easy-going sail after we passed through the cut out of the marina. We had our Code Zero sail out, music playing on our portable speakers, and me occasionally going to the helm between my reading breaks. On the way we caught about two or three fish. Sadly, they were ALL BARACUDA and inedible. Also, during our sail, we relaxed on the trampoline and watched as we neared our destination.
I guess now is as good a time as any to reveal where we were heading. We were originally going to Big Farmer’s Cay, but we were making good time, so we decided to go further North. Do you want to guess where we went? Timer starts now! 3…2…1… we arrived in Black Point a couple hours before sunset. I know we’ve probably spent too much time in this town, but we all agree it’s just so quaint and friendly.
The next day I was preparing to make some pizza dough when; Oh no! The bread machine paddle was missing! After a little bit of investigating, I concluded that the day before, when I was emptying out my first failed attempt at pizza dough, the paddle went with the dough into the water. My bad! So, it was decided that later that day we would all go into the water (we went in later because the water was cold in the morning) to look for the inch-long paddle. Sounds like a great idea, right?
The morning came and went and, alas, it is the time for us to search. My dad and I were swimming while my mom was on the paddleboard. We searched and searched but the only thing we found were adorable white-colored crabs. At some point, when I was losing my patience, I found another crab and started following him. By some miracle, I looked to my left a little and, lo and behold, there was the paddle! I quickly swam down because my dad was only a few feet away and I wanted to be the one who found the paddle. And I was!
Later that night we went into town to do I don’t know what but ended up staying for pizza. We tried pranking each other over dinner since it was April Fools day but none of the jokes lasted long.
Skip a day and we’ve landed on Wednesday the 3rd and we made one of our best dinners yet. Pizza! I made a successful dough earlier that day and it grew 20% before we put it onto a pan and put margherita pizza toppings on half and pepperoni on the other half. It. Was. So. Good.
The last day on this post ended the week with a high note. SV Stargazer (I know we were supposed to see them for the last time many weeks ago) joined us in the anchorage. We had Terry over and visited. Sadly, Aeriss left their boat a while ago so I mainly read before we began playing BS.
*Many days have been skipped due to dullness, we’ve been in a marina so there isn’t much to do. *
On Sunday the 16th of March my dad got back from Australia! He gave us a thirty minute or so warning with a simple text that read “Did you hear a plane pass over you about 3 minutes ago? I’ll be there in 30-45 minutes.” I was really excited because I knew that upon his arrival I would be freed from chores! My mom and I had been cleaning the entire day, we were given the task of cleaning the inside of our boat thoroughly by my dad before he left. We wanted it to be clean when he arrived, so we were planning to clean on about Thursday.
Well… that didn’t happen. We couldn’t clean on Thursday because we were busy with school and work. So, you may be asking, “Why didn’t you clean on Friday. Were you just lazy?” The answer is no, the reality is that my mom got SUPER sick with what we thought was the flu, so I took care of her until we went to bed.
The next day she was still sick, so she decided to get off the boat and take shelter in the upstairs of the marina office (which is a lounge). I spent most of the day delivering crackers, water, ginger beer, and anything that could remotely make her feel better to her. A little after noon she came back to the boat and together we created a to-do list for me to complete so we could get some work done. So, no I was not lazy!
Back to my dad’s arrival: My dad walked down the dock to us and after a quick outfit change and boat look through, we decided to have lunch out. We went to the same restaurant at the nearby resort and had sandwiches, wings, and drinks.
On Monday it was the first day of my spring break and oh my could it have gone any worse? I slept in far passed what I usually do and spent most of the morning in my room chilling. My mom invited me to join her in the upstairs lounge that she frequently used as an office so, that afternoon I started heading over. We were going to play some checkers, but that plan was cancelled when I accidently slammed my toe into the front door and staggered my way up the stairs with a bleeding toe.
After a little freaking out my mom bandaged my toe which I would later learn I had a high likelihood of losing my toenail. On the way back I started off all fine and dandy but suddenly, my vision was (this is the only way I can describe it) being saturated. Everything started getting darker and I was having a hard time not stumbling, but my mind was set on the boat. I got onto our dock before I was forced to sit down. I closed my eyes for a few moments until I was able to regain my vision.
Apparently from the point of view of my dad when I continued walking down the dock he thought my lips looked blue. He also said that I was extremely pale and that as I was getting onto the boat, he was grateful he was there because at that moment I fainted. He told me that had he not been there I would have fallen into the water, who know if I would’ve hit my head. I did come to in a matter of seconds.
It’s a strange sensation to faint because I remember trying to get onto the boat then I open my eyes and my dad is leaning over me while I lay on the dock. I felt utterly fine, but my dad insisted on helping aboard, so he did and thank goodness for that because not a moment after we got inside my vision blurred again and I fainted for the second time.
Apparently, I was out for a little longer but not more than about 5 seconds but nevertheless in that time I was on the floor again as my dad was asking a man on the dock to get medical help. It turns out that the man was an EMT earlier in life, so he helped/supported my dad in the process following my fainting. They checked my blood pressure, pulse, and eye dilation. They also checked my blood sugar which was probably the most frightening part to me because I realized the would need to draw blood. I still don’t know if it’s a good or bad thing that that’s the only point where I started getting nervous.
The two men tried talking out what could be the issue and finally reached the conclusion: dehydration. After a few questions like, “How much water have you had in the last two days?” which I answered with about 2 cups the answer became plain. Just to be sure however my dad called his sister who is a nurse to double-check and ask what else he should have done to check me (but not before he called my mom who I’m surprised didn’t go into full panic.)
For the next two hours I was given constant water until the time came when we agreed for my parents to go on the date night, they already had reservations for. Of course, they wouldn’t let me off that easy and gave me a few water bottles I was required to drink that night and a reminder to text every 30 minutes to make sure I was okay.
The next few days I had lazy days the one huge difference being that on Wednesday I made a delicious and utterly irresistible teriyaki turkey dish.
On Friday the 8th my mom and I kicked off our girl weekend with a festival. Sadly, it was a major let down. We spent a total of 15 minutes at the festival if only for the food before beginning to venture through Georgetown. My mom and I didn’t really know what to do so we just went for food. We found ourselves at a restaurant named Choppy’s where we had gone to with Jonah and my dad once before. We enjoyed some wings and drinks before calling our driver (CJ) to ask if he would pick us up an hour early. Before he could pick us up my mom and I bought a butt load of groceries from the store which we happily stuffed into the driver’s backseat.
On the way back from the disappointing trip to Georgetown we had a picture taken of us in front of three rocks out in the water called The Three Sisters. Via the internet we learned that the rocks supposedly represent three sisters who all loved one man. The sisters all decided to confront him and express their love but before they could reach him they drowned, creating the three rocks. One of the sisters was pregnant so that’s why one of the rocks has a tiny bump on it. A little dark but sweet and fun all the same.
The next day was a pool day. My mom paid for us to have a pass to use the nearby resort’s pool, beach, service, and towels. It was a great day of reading by the poolside and sharing lunch with the occasional mango daiquiris. It was great! The day only got better, however, because as my mom and I started to eat our homemade pizza after showers four of the boys from SV Hekla walked onto our boat and asked, “Permission to come aboard?” I was so excited!
The rest of the night the boys stayed while we watched a movie, only stopping to have their own dinner. (Though they ate a bowl of Cheeto puffs and some of our homemade pizza…).
On Sunday everyone (the boys’ parents included) headed to the beach for another day of pretending to be resort people. We had people bring us drinks while I read, Tommy (one of the kids from Hekla) snorkled for golf balls, and Kenneth (another kid from Hekla) kite-surfed. Unlike the day before, I did end up getting in the water and after a few failed attempts at boogie boarding, I settled for swimming before heading back to our setup to read.
That night I sat with the family while they ate. While everyone ate the conversation of Harry Potter popped up so thus created, me guessing what all the boys houses would be if they went to Hogwarts. (For all non-Harry Potter fans that probably made no sense and I’m sorry because more references are in the next couple paragraphs). So, while his brothers did their chores Duncan (yet another Hekla child) took the pottermore quiz to see what house he was in. Lo and behold, he got Hufflepuff! He wasn’t very happy, and having to pay me a dollar because I guessed his house correctly and probably didn’t make him feel any better. Let it be known that even though he eventually took the test again, he originally got Hufflepuff and, therefore, is a Hufflepuff!
On the 10th of March I joined the kids from Hekla at the marina lounge for school. We all did our individual schooling, taking frequent breaks to play and test the other boys for their Hogwarts houses. I guessed wrong on two of the boys’ houses. I’m extremely happy that I did not bet on those. I’m also extremely confused, both boys got Ravenclaw, which is the same house as me. Sooner or later the boys left to prepare their boat to leave. We waved them off as they rocked out of the marina.
The next day I finished school early so that my mom and I could enjoy another beach day. We were supposed to go snorkeling but I had a hunch that there were no interesting fish at the nearby reef. I was correct in thinking that as my mom went to check it out while I read only to return with a frown and saying that there were only two fish. I never stepped into the water but read my book silently until we left.
That night we waited anxiously for, guess what, PIZZA! On our way to the beach we talked with a person who agreed to deliver pizza to our boat, meaning that I would have my first slice of margherita pizza since we arrived in the Bahamas. The. Pizza. Was. Delicious.
Wednesday went by smoothly and uninterestingly while my dad worked far away in Australia taking too good of sunset pictures.
Happy March! This week started on the first of March. This Friday was like any other day of the week, meaning that we all did our business, like me doing school and my parents doing their work. That afternoon my mom and I went to a restaurant called Chat N’ Chill for a little so we could have some drinks, when we left the restaurant my dad and Jonah replaced us. While the boys were gone I started making my first meal on the boat. Meatloaf! By the time the boys got back there was only thirty minutes left… or so we thought.
It ended up that I used our instant pot wrong, seeing as it was my first time using it. Oops! We thought it was broken because my dad had dropped it a few days before, but no. After two wrong attempts at using the machine my dad finally realized that I was using it wrong and fixed it so we could eat at last! So basically what could have been a 45 minute meal, took two hours.
On Saturday we discovered. We spent the day walking around Georgetown. We found a mini farmer’s market that had three booths. I wanted the honeycomb one of the booths was selling, but no it was too expensive. After that we walked up and down the streets checking out bars and restaurants. We found a restaurant called Choppy’s but decided to go there later that night when they supposedly had live music. * Instead we had drinks at a little bar on the road.
The next day was probably the best time I’ve had on the boat yet. Sometime in the early morning my dad shouted for us to come up to the bow because there were dolphins! The dolphins kept circling back to our hulls so out of impulse my dad jumped in, without any goggles, flippers, or a snorkel. He expected to swim with them for approximately 8 seconds but instead they circled around our boat and started following him.
My dad had climbed out of the water and grabbed the closest set of goggles and snorkel that he could so he could continue to swim with them, when they continued to stay he came up to get his flippers. It was a big surprise when the dolphins stayed for an hour and a half! During which time I was able to change out of my pajamas and put on a swimsuit to join them. All four of us (Jonah, my mom, my dad, and I) took turns swimming with them 2-3 at a time so at least one person could document the craziness.
Every time we thought they were leaving when they swam away, we would turn back to the boat and swim, only to hear the person documenting yell “They’re coming back!”. It was so much fun! They preferred when a person had flippers probably because it makes us more like them, but they would hover near you if you wore them. Near the end, the dolphins started getting really playful and started copying whatever we did. So if my dad tilted his head to the right, the dolphin would also tilt his head to the right. It was adorable!
Following the incredible dolphin adventure we went to the beach to continue our already amazing day. We used this time to swim, have drinks, and read. While we swam my mom found a starfish! Later that night we had drinks and a snack at Chat N’ Chill to end our wonderful day!
On Monday (March Fourth) we moved our boat to Emerald Bay Marina. I was so excited for two reasons. The first reason I was excited was because we would get air conditioning, warm showers, and multiple pieces of toilet paper, these are things that you forget to be grateful for. The second reason I was excited was because when we entered I saw the boat Hekla in the marina. The rest of the day I did school, my dad worked as did my mom.
On Tuesday we all did our separate work and had an ordinary working boat day. The most entertaining thing to happen was that after midday my mom and dad went down to the beach to work instead of staying at the boat.
The next day was an exact mirror, not including my parents going to the beach. That night, however, we went to a restaurant to have a nice, decent meal for dinner. The restaurant was on the beach so my parents already had some food from it the day before. It was peaceful and I’m pretty sure everyone but my mom appreciated the rule we made for the night: no pictures.
On Thursday, my dad and Jonah left. The two of them caught separate planes from the airport, my dad going to Australia for work and Jonah going back to the states to see his friends before school starts again. After they left, my mom and I did our chores and work/school until dinner time when we were hoping to get a pizza, it didn’t happen. Nevertheless we ate at the restaurant we are at with my dad and Jonah the day before.
*They lied, there was no live music*
February 22nd was spent reading and playing games. We played some BS at night and read our own books as well as doing schoolwork.
The next day we sailed! We had to get up super early so that we catch the tides to move from Farmer’s Cay to Rudder Cut Cay. I was so tired! We finally arrived at the island and celebrated by having a WWMOABD (Why We Moved Onto A Boat Day), we swam, floated, and read. My dad used our floaties to connect to a rope in order to not float away, he was all setup with a floating drink and sunglasses. I spent most of the time swimming up until my dad went up to read with my mom, at that point I took his spot.
Later that day we checked out the area on our dinghy to find places to fish and swim for the next day.
On Sunday I woke up to a yummy breakfast of biscuits, gravy, and bacon. Yum! It didn’t take long before everyone was in our dinghy prepared to go and swim. We dinghied a little away until we reached a cut with an island where we saw coral that we thought would hold delicious lobster. We were wrong, while it was a beautiful area with loads of fish and coral, my dad was unable to get his hands on food. Though the view made up for it in my opinion, there were angelfish that were yellow and black, grunts, a stingray as large as I am, and coral 5 feet high. My mom even found a shell to add to our collection.
After about an hour of swimming in that area we moved to another area where only my dad swam, he had to get out though because a six foot barracuda was chasing him. When he joined us in the dinghy we set out for our final destination, a piano and mermaid David Copperfield placed in the water. This was the point when we really wished we had an underwater camera.
The next day I woke up to sleepy people who woke about 2 hours before me at 5:00. Everyone besides me had woken up in order to sail to Georgetown. My mom realized I had woken up so she pulled out Oscar ballots that we had all voted who we thought would win. I got 2nd place, Jonah got 3rd, my dad got 4th and my mom won. My mom had first pick for candy, I had second and so on.
Before we arrived we passed SV Hekla heading the other direction. It took us a while to realize it was them but once we saw the yellow hulls there was no mistaking it. In passing we secured the time when the would be at the same marina as us, next Tuesday.
To celebrate our arrival we went ashore to a bar called Chat n Chill where I had a banana daiquiri and my parents had drinks.
The next two days were spent doing school and work, nothing that different.
On Thursday we heard on the radio that kids were invited to bring board games to play with each other at Chat n Chill, so that’s what my mom, Jonah, and I did that afternoon. Most of the kids there were around 8 years old until a girl named Nele (I think that’s how you spell it) came who was also 12; she is from Germany and lives aboard their boat. She and I played multiple rounds of the game she brought, only stopping when we climbed a tree to swing on a rope or get a sprite. After two hours I left and headed home. It was a VERY busy week.