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Monday, January 8, 2018

We cannot direct the wind but we can adjust the sails

   The above quote is true for life not just for sailing and it looks like we are due for a big adjustment.

They call it "Irmageddon"  -  a monster storm,  a Category 5 hurricane,  the strongest storm to ever make landfall in this hemisphere.  With sustained winds of 185mph and gusts of 220mph, it blew right over Nanny Cay marina on Tortola, BVI, where Megerin was stored on land in the boatyard for hurricane season.   It was a strange, emotional, and surreal experience to watch on TV the eye of the hurricane pass right over the marina, knowing that everything it's path would be destroyed or terribly damaged.   The beautiful Virgin Islands were devastated,  thousands of lives were threatened and  some lives were lost,  so we consider ourselves very lucky as we were in Pittsburgh safe and dry.

Irma on Sept.6th,  hurricane Maria 2 weeks later, and many days of torrential rainstorms in between means that most of the eastern Caribbean is in for a very long recovery.  At Nanny Cay the docks were destroyed, many boats sank, whole buildings were blown away, and our boat, along with over 300 others in the boatyard, was blown over and demasted.  An overwhelming job of recovery in terrible physical circumstances.  Priorities were saving and helping people first and the BVI was aided by the Royal Navy who sent troops to instill martial law for the protection of the residents.
A curfew was mandated and no one was allowed on the island for two months.  Anyway, the airport was unusable and there was no where for anyone to stay.  Communications were spotty at best for quite awhile so we all were without concrete information re' general conditions and the fate of our boats.

What we do know is that Megerin lost her mast and rigging, has some damage to on-deck structures but the hull (the main body of the boat) has no damage found so far.  Due to the fallen mast blocking the surveyor (he assesses damage) from getting inside parts of the boat, we are not 100% sure of the final damage report.  So.....we are going down to Tortola on Jan.9 to try in person to solve some of these problems.  If we do and get Megerin in the water we will try to live on her until she is repaired, which will take months due to the huge number of boats that need fixed.  We have been told it is chaos down there.   We know many people whose boats have been declared total losses and they will not be back.
Meeting great and interesting people has always been our favorite part of the cruising life, and maybe we'll still do it for awhile.  But maybe it is time to adjust the sails for a new chapter in our lives?

Monday, June 13, 2016


Time has flown, as usual.  We returned to the Pittsburgh area, Sewickley to be specific, after a long travel day that included 3 cab rides, 1 ferry ride, and flights from St. Thomas via Charlotte, NC - 18 hours after waking up we were finally safely and gratefully in our own bed - what is it about sitting around airport terminals that is so exhausting?  Then we hit the ground running - attending Charlotte's graduation plus watching her go to prom, visiting my mother, Dr. appointments, etc.
Although we love being home with friends and family (and going to Macy's, Target, Giant Eagle and farmers markets),  we are already nostalgic for the island life.  We are two lucky people!
Here are a few pictures to recap our last weeks.  While we did a lot of snorkeling, not many of my underwater pictures turned out - I am seriously bummed. I think I need a new camera.

Oddly enough, we had never before stopped at Salt Island in the BVI and we loved it.  It is not very protected in high or north winds but in May it was perfect and we had it to ourselves at night.  The charterers come by during the day for snorkeling and exploring but at night they want to go somewhere to PARTY.

Sea grapes
Salt island is uninhabited now, but piers remain for visitors and fishermen.  At one time they harvested salt and the house remaining looks like it was really nice.
I think this is a perfect fixer-upper for us.

We also found a small cemetary covered with conch shells and hardhats - not sure why  the hardhats.
Hard to believe this palm tree is still alive and growing like this but the roots are intact.
Backing into the haul out slip at Nanny Cay, Tortola, BVI

Getting in the sling

Out of the water.  Our keel is sitting on a cement block but the boat is in the sling while the crew power washes the bottom.  Ours was really clean this year - hardly any barnacles.

The propellor, which needs a rebuild.  Ray removed it (with great difficulty) and we brought it home in our suitcase.

Our rudder

46 feet long, 13.5 feet wide, 17 ton vessel being moved to her land home.  It's always a little scary to watch.

Line up of boats stored on jack stands for hurricane season.
                                      Amazing sunsets the last few nights at anchor

Last night at Nanny Cay.   See you next year !

Monday, April 18, 2016

A Change in Latitude

While we love our lifestyle living on a boat, recently we had been pretty homesick - actually "familysick".  We needed to see everyone we love and care about, and, truth be told, a little break from the boating life sounded more than fine.  Change is always good - it makes you appreciate what you have and keeps life from becoming stale.  And at our ages now we try not to get in a rut.  Soooo - we found a very good air fare from San Juan, Puerto Rico, to Chicago and set off for the 3 hour sail from the Virgin Islands to Culebra, one of the Spanish Virgins 20 miles off the mainland of PR.  We found Culebra unchanged from previous visits, which means it is still a somewhat shabby little place with lots of dogs and chickens running around.  But the anchorage in Ensonada Honda is safe with a large  number of boats anchored around us to watch over Megerin while we are gone. The cruising community is active and friendly and the dinghy dock easy to reach.  We discovered a place called Zaco's Taco's with delicious fresh ingredients - yum.  The ferry ride to the mainland is $1 for seniors, so off to San Juan and then the US for 2 weeks.  When we return we will sail back to St. John and then the BVI's with only 40 days before our return June 1st for summer/fall in Sewickley.

View from our hotel in Old Town San Juan

Old San Juan

Narrow Cobblestone streets in Old San Juan

Our hotel the El Convento

Old San Juan

Narrow streets lead right to the water
A non-stop flight from San Juan took us to some chilly but mostly pretty weather in the Windy City.
Of course, we had no clothes but a trip to Macy's solved that problem for the week.  We had some great meals, especially Joe's Crab House, and a new one - City Winery in the West Loop.
Definitely a change in latitude - and attitude - view from street in front of Megan's building in the West Loop of Chicago.  We love this area as it has been gentrified the past few years and all the "in" restaurants are here.

This sweet silly dog-person named Audrey was waiting for us when we got to Chicago.  She is so lucky to be adopted by Megan!  What a life she leads with comfortable cushy surfaces to lie on,  an abundance of toys, elevator rides up and down to her walks.  Life is good for Audrey.  We also like this city life - nice doormen, walk to numerous eating/drinking establishments, a 5 minute bus ride downtown for shopping - not too shabby for boat people.

Audrey thinks she should also be at the buffet.

Signs of Spring in Chicago
Amazing breakfast pizza in Chicago

The limited availability of good fresh food in the islands have made us appreciate these kinds of scenes in the USA.   Amazing.  This is the French Market in Chicago.

Couldn't resist one last picture.

After a week in Chicago we drove Megan's car to Pittsburgh (she left on a trip to Amsterdam and Italy),
and took Audrey with us to visit family and new additions to the Madson family - puppies Henry and Theo.  Guess Erin and Mark just have to have a full house !  It was great to have some beautiful Spring days in Pittsburgh.  Here are a few pics.  Now back to the Caribbean we go !


Henry and Theo

Love Spring !

Henry and his older brother Cooper on a walk in fine Spring weather

Sunday, March 27, 2016

It's now Easter Sunday so here's a brief wrap up.

 Just a few pics from Anegada - we really grew to appreciate it this time more than we had before.  I like the dramatic hills of the BVI islands and Anegada is flat like the Bahamas, but the beaches are beautiful and it's nice for a change.

We didn't catch it but sure did cook it - after Jim and Ray did some major surgery.

Great to spend time together.

The colors here are amazing at Cow Wreck, Anegada

Conch shells everywhere

Ready for sunset watching on Cow Wreck

After Jim left Ray got to snorkeling with friend Jerry who caught this huge lobster.  We fed about 8 people that night - this poor guy!

Our big thrill lately are the Luci lanterns Jim brought down for us - living on a sailboat means you have to be energy conscious all the time, and these little things are inflatable solar lamps with bright LED lights.  We just hang them out in the ever present sun daily and have bright light at night - NO batteries.  Love them.

On St. John there is a place called Concordia, which is an eco-resort.  On Monday nights they have open mike night where anyone with talent (or not, I guess) can come to jam with the house band.  Usually there are some of the same but also travelers, maybe on vacation or frequently someone from a visiting band to the island.  Anyway, we get treated to some great music in an incredible setting.

Check out the view

Sky above the band

Beautiful reflection on the water.