Monday, January 3, 2011

Happy Holidays 2010-Recap of the Year

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 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 MaƱana 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

“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

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Land trip, day 1

         Thanks to the Grego's from Free Spirt who we have not seen in 2.5 years.  They offered their home to us so we did not have to sleep in 104 degree heat.  The day we were ready to leave, our ride to the airport  has arrived but the boat and the Johnson's are  not ready to go yet. Marc and I are still covered in sweat. Another cruising family has offered us a ride to the airport and has arrived. A half an hour later, quick shower, some pictures of Side-by-Side for the blog and we are finally ready to go. Thanks to the iphone, we found out the flight was delayed and had plenty of time. Otherwise, we would have missed our flight from Richmond to Salt Lake City. It is a relief to be off the boat, with the kids finally done with school.   Sabrina finishing hers in the car ride to the airport. The delay means we might miss our connection and can reconnect with our friends on Liberty in Houston. I call ahead, get everyone excited and then, darn, we make our flight. All of us were hoping for a delay and a good night sleep. Instead, we have to find a hotel. We hadn't thought about that earlier. Just before boarding, I use HOTWIRE and hope for the best when we get to SLC. Wow, what a great deal. For $50 we get a ride from airport, a suite room and a breakfast. Marc's birthday is the next day but after all the traveling, no one is prepared. He actually calls a guy who he met on the airplane last year and has a nice lunch at Charlie Chow's Mongolian restaurant while the kids and I hung out at the new modern downtown Library. With bated breath we head toward the RV in storage for a year. I had left cans and bottles in the shower and hoped I did not have a big mess. It is amazing how different a dry climate is from the humid ones on a boat. Everything was fine, even the cereal was not stale. Wind had been an issue and the cover was all cadywompus with one tire cover gone. The battery disconnection switch did not work so the rental car was used to jump the RV. For our first year of winterizing an RV, no major disasters. After a night at the Pony Express Resort we headed west.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Excitement at Sea

After an exciting father's day, we are having a very pleasant sail. At about 4 a.m. last night a squall overtook us. The wind reached 35 knots and the boat, with one reef in, handled fine. The scary part were 3 very close lightening strikes. On land, there are other good targets for lightening. On the ocean, we have a 60 foot metal object that is the only tall items for miles around. The strike was so close that Marc's hair stood on end and the boat shook with the thunder. Instead of running downwind with the storm we tried to get out of it after the close calls. In the confusion. our sun shade blew over board. It will be an expensive oversight on our part. We headed off shore to avoid the squalls.. but one got us.

This afternoon Marc diverted 5 miles (about a two hour detour) to avoid 3, count them 3 water spouts! We have some good pictures. On a positive note, dolphins have been following us today and the skis are blue. Hopefully tonight will be less exciting.

Our position is updated online,, call sign kc2hcj. We look forward to hearing from you. Twice daily at 6:30 a.m. and 7:30 pm. we are checking in at 4045 on the SSB for anyone with a radio.

Angie, Marc, Parker and Sabrina

Monday, May 24, 2010

Sabrina's Leap of Faith

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Our weather guru, Chris Parker came on the SSB at 6:30 a.m. the other day and said, "all my weather models say something different and I have no idea what the wind will be like!". "However, plan on squalls to 50 knots from any direction". Nothing like that to get sailors excited. Especially sailors with kids who like to keep together with other kid boats. So over coffee and banana bread we had a 3-boat 6- adult, "where should we go" conversation. Finally, after a dingy exploration, Liberty and Side-by-Side went into Norman's Pond at high tide on Norman's Cay, Bahamas. It did rain all day but the wind was not that bad. The next day we moved to the northern Exumas. Everyday we thought it may be goodbye with our good friends on Liberty. The kids were very close and we had lots of fun, great dinners and adventures with the parents. On the day it was supposed to be goodbye, Marc got up early, looked at the wind and said, "we are going to Nassau". Liberty agreed and we headed for a surprise night at Atlantis one last time. The kids and adults had a ball on the rides and lazy river. Who knew the lazy river is more fun with a Rubbermaid lidded cup of Bahamian sky juice? Those signs that say no alcoholic beverages on the rides are not for us. Thanks Liberty! Atlantis was even playing Avatar on the big screen! Now onto Spanish Wells.