What a difference a year makes; our last holiday picture was taken on the wharf St. Croix, USVI. This year, we are still on the water, it’s just frozen. Saratoga Lake had a perfect sheet of black ice for a few days. It felt great being on the water again, only with many more layers on.
2010 started with a bang in St. Barts, the yachting capital of the rich and famous, including jet-skiing Lindsey Lohan. From St. Barts, we sailed over to St. Kitts for Carnival. As is typical in the Caribbean, Carnival started 2 hours late. Nevis next door was a funky, laid-back island. We enjoyed a hike in the mountains with new found friends. While in Nevis, we could not understand why there was a fine grit all over our boat. Montserrat had erupted and Side-by-Side was covered in volcanic ash. I had picked the wrong day to wash windows.
Our southbound distance covered, we headed north back to St. Croix, the jewel of the U.S. Virgins. The U.S. Postal system had held Sabrina’s birthday presents in St. John for over a month. She happily picked them up. After a quick stop in St. Thomas, we sailed to Puerto Rico with a tsunami watch on the radio from the Haitian earthquake. Little did we know how devastating the earthquake in Haiti was. In Puerto Rico, we picked up Grandma Sandy and Grandpa Bernie for a week of sailing fun. It was our first time exploring the outer Spanish Virgins by boat.
With large north swells, we had a brisk sail to the southern-most island of the Bahamas, Great Iguana. The Coast Guard called us and circled our boat several times but did not board. From there we explored the desolate reefs and islands of Hogsty and Plana Cays. At Crooked/Acklins we visited a local school and borrowed internet from the school master from Guyana. Again we had the pleasure of hosting the Case Family from Saratoga for a cozy week on Side-by-Side. A TV crew shot a pilot for a reality show “Kruisin Kids” with Parker and Sabrina, Jack and Katie. It was a fun and eye-opening experience for them.
At cruisers week in Georgetown Bahamas, Liberty (Chris and Josh) and Parker and Sabrina put together and performed a star-studded skit called Georgetown Squares. Local Georgetown celebrity sailors and weather guru Chris Parker were called to help fill the squares. They won first place for comedy and a bottle of rum. No, we did not drink it but it’s labeled for their 21st. The adults keep getting 4th in every event, even missing tie breakers. Departing Georgetown we headed to friendly Long Island for Easter and some community service beach cleaning. Conception Island with several kid boats kept us busy before returning to Georgetown for Family Island Regatta.
During the Regatta, Bahamian sailing sloops from near and far compete in a huge national event. I would compare its importance to our Super Bowl. Parker and Sabrina both competed on hand-made Bahamian race-boats. Parker’s team mates, Colby and Connor sailed their boat to 3rd place overall and awesome trophies. Sabrina’s team did well also and both kids learned some new “racing language” from the captains. In the main race, Marc decided to volunteer on the Six Sisters, captained by the 80-year old “Rev” with diminished reflexes, limited eye-sight and a poor memory for the rules of the road. After several close calls, they were T-boned during the main race and actually sunk the another boat. Marc decided to skip the next day’s sailing. (See bottom right picture above)
Leaving fun-filled Georgetown for the last time, we headed up the Exumas with several kid boats. For the first time in four years, Marc gave up a fish to an aggressive shark. As it hungrily charged towards Marc, he tapped the shark on the nose and it finally swam away. The adults and kids returned to the sail boats a little bug-eyed from the exciting adventure.
A high-light for the kids was a return Atlantis for one last visit and a goodbye to our friends on Liberty. From Nassau we visited Spanish Wells and the Abacos. The Abacos were much different from the rest of the Bahamas with more charter boats and green water. Treasure Cay and Hope Town were our favorites. Finally, it was time to return to the US with arrival at night in Florida. From Florida we had boat repairs done in the idyllic island of Jekyll in Georgia and two other kid boats next door. Our last passage was exciting and scary with lightening strike landing so close you could smell it. In the Gulf Stream, Marc wisely decided on a 3 mile detour after spotting 3 water spouts touching down to port.
Side by Side is now for sale at the Severn River Marina in Virginia. Her web site is http://www.manta42.com/. Please forward the link to anyone interested in a great boat. She shows as good as the day we bought her.
With Side-by-Side emptied and in prime condition, we headed to Michigan for July 4th then to Salt Lake City to rejoin the land yacht. The RV was in great condition after a year in Utah, it only needed a jump. We headed west combining the excitement of the big cities of San Francisco, Portland, Seattle and Reno with National and State Parks of Lake Tahoe, Yosemite, Muir Woods, Redwood, Crater Lake, Mt. Hood, Mt. Rainer, and Flaming Gorge. Oma and Grandpa Larry joined us for some cold, windy camping. We reconnected with sailing friends on Mima, Asolare and Las Serenas in Idaho. After several years we reconnected with Crystal and Sea U Mañana in beautiful Leavenworth, Washington. Seattle and San Francisco allowed us to visit with old friends and realize that cities are no places for 37-foot RVs. I will take 24 hours at sea to 2 hours in the streets of Seattle anytime.
Parker started 8th grade at Saratoga Spa Catholic. After 4 years of Calvert home-schooling he fell back into the regular school routine with no problem. Tennis, soccer and skiing help balance the love of his new Macbook, related iPod and Wii. At the Georgetown cruising regatta, he revived the home-made sailboat races as a sanctioned event. From the radio announcements to his laugh-filled award presentations, he did it all himself. It is now an official event for 2011.
Sabrina, our mature 6th grader, is a new mother to 5-year old Tristan, a Netherland Dwarf bunny. In the Bahamas, she would free dive 25+ feet to pick up the speedy conch from the bottom. In the Juementos, she speared her first lobster. He was a huge one with a 9.5 inch tail. Now back with her school friends, she is taking tennis and horse back riding lessons. Sabrina loves the barn and has become quite a great horseback rider. Daily we are lobbied for a horse of our own. Winter sports include skiing and ice skating.
In September, we returned to Saratoga Springs in time for school. Slowly we are putting our home back together after 4 years of “hard living” by Navy renters. Floors, furniture, doors and appliances need to be replaced. The choices are over whelming. Marc has attended two conferences on self storage and is actively becoming a storage guru. I’m busy being a chauffeur, volunteer, boat-seller and de-contenter.
I had good intentions of sending this out in time for Christmas. Of course, I have an excuse. I lost most of the pictures from our time in the Bahamas this year. Needless to say, my motivation for compiling a letter waned. We are seeking cruisers who may have pictures related to our time in the Bahamas. If anyone has regatta pictures from Georgetown, I would love to get a copy. If you can help, please drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“May the best of your past be the worst of your future”
Happy New Year everyone and keep in touch.
Love and Friends,
Marc, Angie, Parker, and Sabrina Johnson