Saturday, September 29, 2012

SOLOMONS DELIGHT


It's been a while and a lot has happened over the summer. I'm still not really sure why we're back in the US, but life flows with the wind and currents, and we're in an eddy. The good news is that it's absolutely beautiful in the Chesapeake Bay and Solomons is a perfect spot to consider our next adventure.

Devon, Simon and Izzy are in school... ouch. Simon likes the routine and knowing what's next, Izzy is attracting boyfriends like flies, and Devon just wishes he was back in the islands living the dream.

Doreen is in limbo too... transitioning back to "dry land" after 3 years on the ocean is proving to be very difficult. The complexity of mainland society, the rules, the BS... it's overwhelming and frustrating. There's an urge to turn south and follow the flocks of geese passing overhead, it's almost a feral sense, driven by nature. But the new anchors that we've attached like a car and school are pulling at the chain, so I think we're safe from a spontaneous move... well for now at least.

I hope it will pass, but as long as we have Odessa, we have an exit. I was joking that we are the ultimate survivalists, not an underground bunker full of food, but a vessel that can go anywhere and take care of us if needed.

The next step is a house... I'm shuddering at the thought of that anchor. It'll get cold here in a month or so, and Odessa isn't designed for living in freezing conditions. I'm not fancying running up the dock to the bathhouse in the snow either. We'll rent a place for 6 months and see if we have found the next adventure in the spring.

Adventure list:
1. Buy some cheap land in Maryland and build a sustainable house (if it's possible with all of the rules)
2. Move to the mountains, buy some land and build a sustainable house
3. Turn south and sail to Panama
4. Go to China

It's going to be an interesting winter.


Wednesday, June 6, 2012

STUCK IN JACKSONVILLE

We're stuck again... while sailing up from Palm Beach and during the night, the radio was buzzing with other boats caught in storms off the north Florida coast. Fortunately, we only had one squall off Cape Canaveral and tacked back and forth between shallower water and a freighter for an hour or so until it moved out easterly across the ocean. 30 nautical miles to our north east we could see a huge storm constantly flashing with lightning and with so much energy it wasn't going to dissipate in the same way as the smaller squalls. We had lucked out by staying on the western edge of the gulf stream as opposed to the conventional thinking of getting into it to gain the speed of the north flowing currents.

Entering a new and unknown port is always nerve racking, but Jacksonville is several miles up a very wide river with lot's of deep water and well marked channels. We motored up three miles and turned into Clapboard Anchorage. We found it with Google Earth (our new tool to find out where everyone anchors). To our surprise Periplous (a sailboat that we briefly met in Palm Beach) was anchored and we felt confident again. Gordon and Pam live on Periplous and have sailed further than most have dreamed, they are in their 70's and have more life and spirit than many landlubbers we know who are half their age.

There aren't any facilities near the anchorage, but we did find Clapboard Creek Fish Camp just under the bridge and David the manager. It's so nice to be in the real south... David could provide ice and immediately offered to drive us up to the supermarket a few miles away.

The anchorage was lovely... quiet and serene, I can recommend it as a safe, deep and secure place to stop for a day or two.

We have become very good friends with Gordon and Pam aboard Periplous, learn't a lot and when they suggested that we come with them up river to downtown Jacksonville for a few days while we waited for the bad weather to pass. we jumped at the opportunity. We can take on fuel and water and of course food and services are readily available downtown, the kids might actually find something to do and it provides some good shelter.


The bridges are spectacular and we enjoyed a night of calm water and a barrage of questions from the tourists enjoying their time on River Walk.

The forecasted storms and wind arrived this morning, so the once calm dock is now pitching and it's a bit sloppy onboard. It's a mad dash to do laundry and get supplies so that we can move back down river a couple of miles to a small protected anchorage or back to Clapboard Creek to wait until the weekend when the weather is forecast to turn in our favor allowing us to run up to Charleston, South Carolina.

NY seems a long way with over 1000 nautical miles left to go, but the allure of Long Island Sound, the big city and a home for the summer is compelling. Sailing and living aboard in the USA is very different than the Caribbean Islands... far more difficult and lonely with very few cruisers attempting to run the full length of the east coast. Ah... but if it wasn't a challenge then it wouldn't be worth doing.


Wednesday, May 30, 2012

ST LUCIA DREAM

It really does feel like a dream... 12 months ago we were enjoying life to its fullest sailing amongst the beautiful islands of the windwards. This is the sail from Rodney Bay. St Lucia to the Deux Pitons in the south of the island.



Isabel hooking in to a spanish mackerel. 




This fish gave Isabel a good fight, but in the end he made an excellent fish curry thanks to Devon's cooking skills.






Our first look at the Pitons.




After grabbing a mooring ball. It was all fun and games.


Just beautiful. Captain Allan relaxes. 




A nice shower after our snorkel feels wonderful. 


So lovely. 


The colors. 






I would go again.








St. Lucia, I Miss You

On all of our travels I have to say, the Wild Wrights never go back to a place a second time. But St. Lucia was just one of those magical places that we had to return to.
The genuine kindness of the people and their love for outdoor adventure is what made this island a two time visit for us.


Sailing from Dominica to St. Lucia was a little sloppy.




The kids felt every wave and sea sickness came over them.




Land, Our first look from sea.




Big ships like this are scary when they get to close.




Our first islander came as soon as we anchored.
The fruit man.




Nice fresh fruit.




Our first morning was a delight with fresh banana pancakes.




Simon spends his day fishing.






We take a hike on Pigeon Island.





Fort Rodney







This is one island that you wouldn't mind being stuck on.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

AGROUND AGAIN... & AGAIN... & AGAIN

We're getting tired of Florida... It's too hot and way too shallow, so much so, that we can't fit on any dock. We did finally get a spot at The Circle Yacht Club but again,we can't fit into the slip and have to tie stern-too at the end of the fixed dock. This puts us in a precarious position right on the very edge of the channel and the deeper water that we need.




The EXO isn't happy... we had a tug and barge go by pushing against the 7kt outgoing tide and it's wake nudged us just enough to get Odessa's keel stuck on top of the edge of the channel. Ten minutes later I heard "why are we leaning"... it took a little investigation (the rain had finally abated) and from outside it looked quite dramatic. Well... the tide was going out in a big way, as it had for a couple of days with a full moon, and we have a couple of feet left to go and about 8 hrs before we'd be floated back on the rising tide.


It took two dinks and the boom swung way out to port to nudge the keel about 12 inches and off the ledge. It was a relief to see Odessa slide back to vertical and settle in her normal position, even if she does look odd sort of sticking out into the channel, with her butt tied to the last post of the dock.

Unfortunately, if it happens once, so it can happen again. As a sailor you must act in these situations and the next hour was spent rigging a third anchor to go off the bow and restrict it from going to starboard and sliding our keel back up on the ledge.


Blu had the right idea, lay as low as possible and hope know body tells you to pull a line.


We're sitting as pretty as we can for now and dreaming of heading north to cooler weather and deeper water. The trip north may be more harrowing than sailing out in the open Caribbean. Longer runs because we can't get into most of the ports up the eastern seaboard, dealing with bad weather shooting off the mainland as we realize how unpredictable coastal sailing can be. And of course there's the gulf stream with it tendency to amplify the weathers effect on the ocean.

All of these factors are unpredictable... and that's what makes it challenging and exciting, and much more fun than driving up the I95 to New York.

Monday, April 23, 2012

HAITI... WHAT CAN YOU SAY

Looking back on our sailing adventure to Haiti and not knowing how to describe this amazing and different place, I find it hard for me to form the correct words to express our love and adoration for these people.

I thought that all hope of me writing a blog about Haiti was lost, because I found myself with no photos to show this unique place. It was too dangerous for us to pull out our cameras and film or photograph our time there. But, I was surprised when I came across a few pictures on one of the cameras memory cards. There were only a few shots that Allan had taken on our first days there and before we were told very firmly that it was not a good idea. I hope that the photos will show you this beautiful small island off the southern coast of Haiti called Isle a Vache.


Isle a Vache in the red circle. This is the only safe place to bring a boat in Haiti. We were accosted by pirates a few days before when we touched the mainland... that's another story. But the bottom line is that any boat, no matter how small, is a floating palace to the local people. They see running water, electricity pulled from the sun and wind, people with sun glasses and diving gear... this is unreal to them and the stuff of legend.


Odessa in Captain Morgan Harbor. Completely protected from weather and surrounded by a small village. This lagoon was the base for the Pirate Morgan and is a jewel compared to the squaller of Les Ceyes a few miles across the water on the mainland.


Fisherman brave the rough seas to provide for their families and villagers. Haitians are the best sailors we've seen... probably the best in the world and their methods haven't change in hundreds of years.


These boats are handmade with skills past down from father to son. We would wake just before sunrise to the sound of men singing to the chopping beat of axes.


Local children sit in hand made fishing boats that are beached on the shore. 
There are no docks or marinas here.


The locals not only craft their own boats, they have to make the planks of wood with no electricity and only rough metal tools. Nothing is shipped to the island, there is no money... just trade. Wood and power tools bought off the shelf is just a dream told to the villagers by those lucky enough to come to the US and go shopping at Home Depot. It all sounds like fantasy to the villagers.


If you look close you can see the the sail powered
 fishing boats, no engine because it is a rare item. 


A mother and father wait as Allan stitches a gash on their young son from an accident. Basic first aid doesn't exist here. We found ourselves becoming the local doctors for small wounds, it was overwhelming and we had to divert many to Sister Flora and her clinic two hours hard hike to the other end of the island.


Ashtun, a fantastic teen fishes under our boat for lunch. The young people are the future of Haiti, it'll take time for them to become powerful enough in their society to make a difference. The most devastating hurdle to the young is the culture of corruption created by the aid cycle and perpetuated by their peers... we hope that they make it.



Ashtun, Colbe and Castro work hard to provide for themselves. School serves a purpose beyond education... it keeps kids busy and out of trouble. We were surprised at the lack of trouble here with so many kids having nothing to do all day. They're ingenious, they have aspirations, and just frustrated with the situation that they're born into.



The relaxed life style here is quickly embraced by Simon. Spot the difference between our US bred kids and the local children. Our youth are a reflection of our society and in general we see more singing, smiling, proactivity and general lust for life from Haitian children then any of their counterparts in the US and 1st world countries.

The last few things I would say about our time in Haiti is that the people are warm and friendly. The locals have a resilience that I have never experienced before. They can make something from nothing and are very tough,.. but on the inside is a heart of kindness when you take the time to open it.

We have met many people who have opinions about Haiti, easy solutions and a complete misunderstanding of life there and the challenges it faces. It's a country that is continually disappointed by their goverment and has becoming a country of welfare and hand outs by other nations that naively want to help. You must remember one thing... you have to live there to understand and never ever let your guard down, keep your street smarts on high alert at all times... it is a very different world.



BACK ON THE GRID... AHHH



Life back in the USA isn't as easy as I thought.
With mounting paper work and government services to deal with... I am truly frustrated.

I went to renew my driver license and thought I had everything that I needed to do it.
But, I was turned down!!! Here's a picture of the paper work that I needed to renew my license, minus one missing item.

7 forms of documents just to renew an existing drivers license.



Now to touch on taxes.
This is a project that has taken us many weeks to just get the papers in order. 

This is a picture of just some of the paper work that I have to have for U.S. taxes. Remember that we live off the grid and don't really have any bills. I will also have to rent out a storage container and hold on to this maze of paper for seven years.

This years tax paper work for one very very small U.S. Business.


Life in the U.S.A. is not fun at the moment.

The "rub" is that living for 2 years off the grid, where most things are done with cash or trade, there is no paperwork, so... the tax rules don't make a lot of sense. I guess that taxes are good when you're "in the system" and using all of the services provided by your tax dollars, but when you're not... it all seems a bit ridiculous really. A flat tax would be nice and simple, but then you'd have thousands of poor attorneys and accountants opening sweet shops or something.

It'll all be over soon and we can get back to living... until next year.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

LUNA - EXPLORING IN STYLE

We had to film LUNA... she is another mega yacht owned by Roman Abramovich, and she just happened to drop anchor right behind us in Grand Cayman. Luna is the biggest luxury exploration yacht in the world, and like her, we're very lucky to enjoy Billionaire views and experience incredible locations. Champaign taste, but we do it on a beer salary.




Now that we're back in the US, it's slumming on old sea walls and dealing with dusty boat yards for a while... we already miss the crystal clear water, warm sun and island life. Hopefully we'll be off the hard and back in the fluid soon.

Odessa Makes it Home


This was our best sail ever! We sailed from Cayman Islands to Key West in 3 days (633 Nautical Miles, averaging 8.5 knots).

It was a gratifying and pleasurable sail, with perfect weather, and perfect company....

We were blessed with everything, from perfect sun sets to wind that offered speed. And best of all, my favorite, calm seas with low swells across the Gulf Stream. We even had dolphins greeting us back to the United States, "WOW!!" is all I  can say.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

STINGRAY CITY SWIMMING WITH THE FISHES

Here's a lovely video of our day swimming with the Stingrays off Grand Cayman. We stopped here for a while to install a new and very beefy autopilot (nicknamed "winky"). We've fallen in love with the people and the amazingly clear ocean. But, we must move on, and our next step is a long 3 day passage to Fort Lauderdale.


Monday, January 30, 2012

OUR DREAM BOAT

ok... we're very behind on our blog. It's been a wild and crazy ride over the past few months, with unexpected delays, tense moments in Haiti, huge seas in both the Mona Passage and the Cuba Passage and a month with no access to basic food and rationing water. 2000 miles without an auto pilot and getting marooned on a tiny rock 100 miles south of Guantanamo, really makes you stop and smell the roses when you get to a place like the Cayman Islands. We're holding here while we instal a new auto pilot and swim in the clearest water we've ever seen. It's time to take stock and plan out the next few months, catch up on the blog posts. So in the meantime here's a video clip we did of our dream yacht... she was anchored with us under the shadow of Mt. Pelle in Martinique.