We just crossed our 10,000 cruising miles mark! Over the past year and a half, we have had some adventures, learned some things, broken some things, fixed some things, and most of all, have been grateful to have this opportunity to explore together. It’s hard to capture it all, but we thought we’d take a second to recap the last year or so, so here it goes…
We spent most of lockdown in the USVI, where we had a quarantine pod with a great buddy boat, SV Never Say Never. For a while we weren’t allowed on land, so we made do afloat and playing in the water. The biggest highlight of that phase was school coming to a complete standstill while the kids (and Amanda) jumped in the water to swim with the pair of dolphins that came into the anchorage. Our favorite spots were Hansen Bay and Maho Bay where we sometimes did school on the beach.
As hurricane season approached, we prepared to head back direct through the Bahamas. At that time, most countries were closed, and even Puerto Rico wasn’t letting Americans stop for rest, so we made a direct line to Florida from the USVIs, sailing over 1000 miles, with a brief couple of stops for rest in the Bahamas.
Once we were back in the states, we were able to knock off a couple bucket list items – watch DC’s fireworks display from the boat, and sailing in to New York Harbor. We even anchored right next to the Statue of Liberty. We also filled up on as much NY pizza as possible.
Speaking of pizza, we even made it to Mystic Connecticut where we made the required stop at Mystic Pizza and talked about the movie that came out during our formative years (a long, long time ago). We also got to stay at the dock at Mystic seaport and have full run on the multi-acre museum after hours. Long Island sound has some amazing ports and is worth a stop for those transiting up the coast.
The next stop was the Chesapeake where we prepared for the offshore passage direct to the Caribbean. Having already done the not-so-fun “thorny path” option of sailing east into the trades island by island, we thought we would try the more direct route to Antigua. We set off from Hampton, Virginia at the mouth of the Chesapeake with a few other boats for a long, early winter Atlantic voyage.
Our passage to Antigua was broken up into two legs – a very rough path riding the Gulf Stream to Bermuda, and an even rougher path from Bermuda to Antigua. The conditions were worse than forecasted, but we made it. Of our almost 2 years sailing, these 15 days probably contained 95% of the scariest parts of this blue water adventure.
We have to admit, Antigua was barely on our radar before we started this trip, but it is the perfect cruiser’s jumping off point for Caribbean exploration. Great yacht services, a good selection of food and other supplies, and many kid boats. We were fortunate to have a great quarantine bubble of kid boats during this period. We celebrated Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years together. We even pulled off a Christmas pageant with a live donkey borrowed from a neighbor thanks to the organization of the SV Alisara crew. We were also able to make it to Barbuda, a half day’s sail north of Antigua, to experience the miles of completely empty Caribbean-perfect pink beaches, turquoise water, and great company with our friends from SV Tiki Tour.
While it was hard to leave the COVID bubble of great kidboats, we had braved wild oceans to get that far east, so we wanted to explore more of the Caribbean. We could only visit a few islands due to the complications of clearing in and out of countries during the COVID era, so we picked Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, with multiple islands to explore after one check-in. We enjoyed great snorkeling, bountiful lobsters, a few birthdays and new kidboat friends. The tradewinds are not shy in that part of the world, so we had accept the high winds and rolly anchorages, but it was worth it.
We sailed directly from SVG to the small islands on the east side of Puerto Rico (sometimes called the Spanish Virgins) and enjoyed our time cruising around the islands. We were lucky to reunite with SV Noonsun, kidboat friends from Antigua, and sail together for a few weeks. Ethan was able to join us for a few weeks for a second experiment in what life is like on a sailboat for someone that is 6’8″ tall.
One of the highlights of our trip was our stop in the bioluminescent bay in Vieques. It’s very hard to capture on film, but these videographers did an amazing job. And what you see in this video isn’t lighting effects, that is actually what it’s like when you visit! If it’s not already on your bucket list, add it now :-).
In San Juan we were able to visit old friends and do a deep reprovisioning (they have Costco!) before heading to the remote islands of the Bahamas. We are so grateful to our friends Maria and Todd for hosting us, lending us their car and showing us around. They really made the stay in Puerto Rico memorable. Some of the highlights included the Ron Barrilito rum distillery tour and ziplining with Ethan. The guys even did a few surf lessons, which was a real hit.
We crossed the 10,000 mile mark on our way to the Bahamas, the last stop before we return to the states. We are excited to have a couple months to explore the parts of the Bahamas we missed when we first started. We are only just getting started in the Bahamas, so we will share the highlights in a future post.