- My birthday was this past week. Although the weather didn’t cooperate with my outdoor plans, I was able to go out to eat with my best friend Cindy. We went to a gluten-free restaurant. The food was amazing. They even had gluten and dairy free cheesecake. Plus it was open mic stand up comedy night. I’m thinking that would be a fun hobby. I’m planning on doing stand up in the near future.
- My daughter came home this past weekend. We started looking at places for her to live. It is starting to feel real that after 4 years she is moving back home. She also bought me a puzzle and mini vacuum cleaner for my birthday. It was everything I wanted but didn’t ask for.
- I spent a lot of good quality time with my daughter Angel and son Alex over the last few days. We went out to eat and did a painting class along with Paul and Angel’s boyfriend.
- I got a massage for my birthday week. Plus Paul gave me a gift card so I can go again.
- I am starting the training for the census job this week. It should be interesting!
- Paul and I took the church leadership sailing. It was very windy, but thankfully everything went well. We took them out without ‘taking them out’ which was a win.
- I am grateful for my daughter Angel whose birthday is tomorrow. I can’t wait until she moves back! It was nice to celebrate our birthdays together.
- I’m grateful to be busy since Estelle left. I miss her!
- Although I was supposed to be getting back from Europe this week and don’t have any vacations planned in the foreseeable future, I am grateful to have a sailboat we can get away on.
- Summer!! We’ve had a bit of a heat wave here in Wisconsin. It’s been in the 90’s for over a week. Typically we are lucky (if you like it hot like I do) to have one or two days a year that hot. I finally broke down and turned on the A/C.
- I have one less teenager in the house. I went from 4 teenagers this year down to one. Our exchange student from France, Estelle, went back home this last week. Now I am not grateful or happy about this, BUT Estelle and my daughter Arabella started out as best friends and left not even speaking to each other. It was difficult because Estelle wanted to do everything with me and Arabella wants nothing to do with me. So I am hoping for less stress now that she is gone.
- I am grateful to keep busy so I am not depressed about Estelle leaving. My birthday is next week and I have some fun things planned that I enjoy.
- My daughter came home this past weekend. Paul and I had a great time with our son Alex and our daughter Angel and her boyfriend Dan sailing and swimming.
- I feel grateful I am able to get away more now that the responsibility of having foreign exchange students is over.
- Paul taught me almost everything I needed to know about sailing over this weekend. This is wonderful because I need to know how to run the boat if something happens to him.
- After being gone the last four days I am grateful to be back home.
- I am grateful for my faithful followers and I can’t wait to share more of my story.
- I am grateful we didn’t run into any storms while we were out sailing. With the heat and humidity the weather has been volatile.
- I am grateful to have a supportive husband even if it means writing about him.
The time zone in the BVI and Puerto Rico is two hours ahead of us at home.
I woke up the morning of the 11th day at 12:45 AM to shower, leave by 2 AM, and catch a plane at 4 AM our time at home. I was approached by someone asking if I would do a survey at the airport. Normally I would say no because who has time for that. But there I sat while everyone else in the group waited in an endless line for coffee.
I didn’t get coffee. Instead this time I took my anxiety medicine. I was hoping to relax and sleep on the plane since I didn’t get much rest on the sailboat. But things never turn out the way I plan. The flight from San Juan to Chicago was 5 hours long and I’d be lucky if I slept half of it.
At the end of the flight, we were warned we were headed towards some nasty turbulence but that the pilots were very experienced and would get us through it safely. Terrified I braced myself to my seat for the longest time but the turbulence never came.
Many of the passengers coughed. I thought to myself that I would rather get sick after my vacation than during. That was until I got sick and decided I would rather not be sick at all.
We reached our connecting flight with just enough time for me to get a cup of coffee. I had play practice that evening that I couldn’t miss because I already missed 4 rehearsals from the vacation. Time to wake up!
Our second flight home was very short and as we were making our descent, I was filled with dread. There was snow everywhere! No more warm weather for a long time.
I had just enough time to unpack before heading out the door again. I heard stories of how things went when we were gone. Paul’s step-dad Darryl stayed at our house over the weekends we were gone. Monday morning he overslept and Arabella had to wake him up to take her to school. He left in such a hurry that he didn’t let the dog out and there was a mess to clean up later in the day when my mom came. He also told Arabella that he was going fishing on a day that she had to work and wouldn’t be able to give her a ride.
My mom stayed during the week and things didn’t go that much better. Alex skipped school one day because he didn’t wake up in the morning. My mom and Arabella were having so much fun that my mom didn’t take her to school one day until 10 AM. My mom wrote Arabella a note saying that she got stuck in our driveway which wasn’t true. Those things made me very angry (now you can see why I worry so). But I let it go reasoning with myself that the pets and my children were still alive.
That night I felt horribly tired at play practice. Jet lag I suppose. I felt dizzy as well. For all the time I spent on the sailboat, I didn’t feel like I was on a boat at all until I got home. Everything was rocking for two days. Then I got a really nasty cold for 2 weeks and maybe only slept two nights in a full month. But, hey, at least I had a pretty good vacation.
At this point you are probably wondering if I would’ve done anything different if you are still reading this. Yes, I would’ve left the wet suit at home. I would’ve brought a good pair of boat/water shoes. I would’ve done more research online. If you decide to read any books regarding the BVI make sure they are written post hurricane because some of the things we read about and wanted to visit simply weren’t there anymore.
Also, we opted to sail the boat ourselves without a paid captain or chef. I would recommend doing that if you have people onboard that are skilled at both. Also, it does help if the crew is in good physical condition.
It is always iffy to travel with friends. We didn’t know Tim and Cara that well and didn’t really know Stan and Angela at all. Overall, we got along pretty good. But there were instances when someone felt like the third wheel. Also, we were in very tight quarters and at times under stressful circumstances which doesn’t always bring out the best in people. There is a lot of invasion of private space and necessity to work together as a team to make decisions. I guess that’s what makes it a real adventure!
Thanks for reading!
**Photos of the hurricane damage in Tortola**
The morning of the day we left, the strong winds finally died down. We were able to sail to our end point. Why?? Maybe it would’ve been too hot without the wind. (Is there really such a thing??)??? Maybe we would’ve been assaulted by monstrous bugs. With the strong winds, we didn’t have a day where anyone felt too hot nor were there any bugs. I keep telling myself this as the warm calm winds soothed us to shore.
We ran out of water this morning. Thankfully, it was after I showered. Unfortunately, it was before I washed all of the dishes. We did have several gallon jugs of water left. We had some food left and also some alcohol despite my proclamation the night before that no liquor shall be left behind. Please don’t tell anyone from Wisconsin. Once we got to shore, Paul and Tim polished off the last bottle of wine. Tim also had a corked bottle of rum that he put in his luggage wrapped in electrical tape.
We had a late afternoon flight back to Puerto Rico. We headed to the airport early and ended up getting there too early to check in. We walked to a restaurant right outside of the airport and had lunch there. Then we sat at the airport until we could check in. We wanted to get some ice cream, but the ice cream was all watery and partially melted.
The good thing is that the airport had free wifi. Or was it a good thing?? I got notifications from the school stating that school was cancelled two days of our trip due to inclement weather. Was everyone at home still alive?? I also got a text from my son saying that he had to go to court. What!?!! It wasn’t entirely unexpected, but it caused a lot of extra stress while we sat waiting. Time to put the heavy weight back onto our shoulders.
The airport in Tortola was very small. We had to walk through a sliding door you couldn’t see through to get to security. We went through one couple at a time. They pulled Cara out and took her to a separate room, along with her luggage, to do a random thorough security check.
We had another small plane that seemed to be older than I am. The tickets were for general seating. Once we sat down, the flight attendant moved people to make sure the weight was balanced on the plane. Everyone was slightly nervous, but we were fine.
We got to our hotel in Puerto Rico at suppertime. We were so happy with our meal at Casita Miramar in San Juan the first time that we decided to go back. Again, the food was superb. I had the quinoa dish in an avocado. It was very flavorful for a vegetarian dish. I wasn’t disappointed as I usually am when ordering vegetarian food. I would give the restaurant a high rating. Probably the best food on our trip along with Pusser’s Myett in Tortola.
We left the restaurant to head back to our hotel room for a very early flight back home.
Today was the best day and our last full day on the sailboat.
We wanted to get as close as we could to our end point without actually going there. It was still very windy and a very rough ride. There were 6 ft waves that were close together. Everything creaked and loose stuff shifted position. It was hard to walk without falling down.
It seemed to take forever to reach our destination. Paul brought a bottle of Chardonnay and two glasses out after we moored while I was sitting on the bow. We shared the wine only to find out that it was only 10:30 AM. Whoops! Afterwards, we ate a huge lunch. We had a lot of food and drinks left over.
After lunch, we all went snorkeling. For the first time, I put on my wet suit. Just a quick bit of advice, leave the wet suit and flippers at home. They take up tons of luggage space and are not necessary. The water was cool and refreshing, but not at all cold. The only thing nice about a wet suit is that it provided a layer between my skin and whatever was in the ocean. It gave me a feeling of protection, but not enough to take up a quarter of my suitcase. The charter company had flippers to use. Save the room for extra clothes because laundry is a pain. Invest instead in a nice pair of full face goggles.
I felt indigestion after feasting, so I decided to go to shore. It was rocky, not sandy. It hurt to walk on the stones, they weren’t very smooth. At one time, someone was camping on shore. There were a couple of old boat cushions, remnants of a campfire, and miscellaneous empty bottles. At any time I was expecting Tom Hanks to come out with his ball Wilson. Behind the beach was hilly terrain and thick foliage which was rather creepy.
To make things more unsettling, I heard the intermittent crying of a kid in the distance. A kid?? Did someone have a child on their boat? Not that I knew of. Yet the crying continued. It was a while later that we spotted goats. It was a kid after all, just not the kind I originally imagined.
Later in the afternoon, we decided to visit the legendary Willy T bar for drinks. On the second story of the boat, people were jumping off into the water despite the no jumping, no diving signs. I watched several people jump and debated for at least an hour whether or not to give it a try. I spent enough time in my life watching other people have fun and decided I couldn’t forgive myself if I left without jumping. Paul, Stan, and Tim already dove off the platform.
This was the picture of the Willy T I posted earlier that was shipwrecked from the hurricane on Norman Island. The new Willy T is located on Peter Island.
I was utterly terrified as I stood on the platform overlooking the 15 ft drop. I talked Angela into jumping with me but Cara could not be convinced. Strangers cheered us on as we stood on the platform in fear. We couldn’t wimp out now! Jumping was utterly exhilarating! I convinced Angela to jump in from the water. After jumping once, we jumped in several more times. It was so much fun!
The hardest part about jumping was getting back onto the boat. There weren’t any steps, just slimy dock poles. The guys had to give us a hand. Angela and I bought hot pink Willy T t-shirts to remember the day. Then we decided to head back to our boat for supper. We had a lot of food left. Our adventures of the day bolstered our conversation that evening. But our adventure wasn’t over yet!
Later in the evening, the guys caught another shark. It took Tim 2 hours to fight the monstrous beast. They decided to bring the shark onboard for pictures then set him free back in the water. I thought it was a crazy idea. The shark was huge, almost 7 ft long! But by the time we brought the shark onboard, he was sick of fighting. I was kind of glad I wasn’t planning on doing any more swimming though.
Sorry the pictures aren’t the greatest. It was dark and I didn’t want to get too close!
What a great way to end our sailing adventure!
**This is a picture of the sailboat we stayed on.**
I was very happy that we awoke this morning without fish poisoning!
As the week progressed, my mood improved. We only had a few more days left. Any problem that might have occurred while we were gone was only a few days from a possible solution. My anxiety abated kind of like a reverse homesickness.
Our plan for the day was to sail to Little Harbor 2 1/2 hours away. It is Valentine’s Day. Stan surprised Angela with a big heart shaped box of chocolates. Kind of made the other gift less guys feel bad.
The wind was still very strong. When we got to Little Harbor, there wasn’t much to see and it was getting hit directly by the wind. No other boats were moored there. We decided to go to the next harbor. The next harbor was very picturesque, however there wasn’t an empty mooring ball to be found there. We decided to go to Tortola instead.
The harbor in Tortola was the busiest place we stayed at. We could see signs of hurricane damage there. A powerboat was laying on its side on shore. There was a crane working on the shoreline. There were houses without roofs with boarded up windows.
We went to shore to explore and asked where we could find a nice place to eat for Valentine’s Day. Someone said what sounded to me like My Ex which was rather troublesome considering the day. I apparently misheard the man because when we got there, it was called Myetts.
We checked out the restaurant by getting a drink at the bar. Then each couple reserved their own table for the evening meal that night. The girls left the guys at the bar and went shopping. The store within the restaurant area was very fancy and overpriced. We didn’t buy anything and wandered out the back door.
There were a couple local vendors set up outside. I found a cool red sailing shirt for Paul and decided to get it for him for V-day. I also bought a little gift for my mom for helping out at home. The vendors were very nice and told us about life after the hurricane. They said that some people still did not have roofs. There were many houses we saw with tarps for a roof. They said not only did the hurricane destroy their property, it kept tourists away for the season that they rely on to make a living. They were very thankful for the small purchases we made.
On the way back to the sailboat, we saw many chickens and kittens wandering the streets. The animals congregated at a dumpster that was overflowing with both garbage and recyclables together. A man walked by and pitched an aluminum can at the dumpster that scared a rooster from his task of finding food. There were two watch dogs that were tied up guarding a beautiful house that was damaged and had building supplies outside. They looked bored and didn’t bother to bark when we walked by.
I gave Paul his gift when we got back to the sailboat. He felt bad that he didn’t get me anything. Paul asked Tim if he wanted to take a quick trip back to shore with him. That evening as we got ready to go out we could hear the music of the steel drums on shore. Paul and Tim came back from their little trip bearing gifts. We got all dressed up and took nice couple pictures as the sun was setting.
Paul and I had the best dinner yet. He had lobster and I had the lobster mac. The restaurant had a DJ that played the sappiest love songs of the 70’s and 80’s. It was a little much and we were looking forward to getting together with our group to listen to the steel drums afterwards.
On the way back, we passed the nice house with the watch dogs. One dog was sleeping on a pile of lumber. I (of course!) worried if the dogs had food or any water on the hot day. I wasn’t going to go any closer to find out. There were times I had to remind myself that I was in a foreign country. I couldn’t save the people from their poverty. I couldn’t take the dirty dumpster kittens home. But I wanted to.
We made a quick stop at the small store for provisions. I scooped up whatever craft beer I could find which amounted to 4 bottles of British Island’s Summer Ale. We talked to the local people. Then we headed to the steel drum bar for a drink just as they were packing up the steel drums. Bummer!
After today we will only have one full day left on the sailboat.
We saw another rainbow this morning as we were leaving Scrub Island.
This morning Stan caught a shark! We decided to eat fish tacos for lunch with the fish the guys caught (not including the shark). By doing so, we took the risk of fish poisoning. Fish poisoning is from a toxin found in certain reef fish. We had an illustrated page that told us what our risk would be if we ate certain fish. The problem was that there were a lot of fish that looked very similar.
Fish poisoning is not like any regular food poisoning. It is like food poisoning on steroids. It can last for years, cause hospitalization, and in some cases death. This was something that I didn’t want and I was nervous that someone else’s interpretation of the guide for safe fish could be subject to error. I suggested that perhaps someone who knew how to sail the boat should abstain, but I didn’t get any takers. We all risked eating the fish.
Monkeys Point is paradise. It’s the kind of place I could stay at forever. It had a secluded white sandy beach and the bluest water. I am glad that we did not go there the night before, the weather wasn’t the best for the beach. I would’ve liked to stay here longer, but our trip was coming to an end and we had to make our way back.
Paul and I explored the beach while the others went snorkeling. We were hoping to find a place for supper, however the only building on the beach was the property of a private resort. That night we would be eating supper on the boat as well.
We hooked up to a mooring ball that was not maintained. Tim reinforced the mooring ball with rope. It was still very windy and we did not want the wind to whip the boat into shore. The sand swirled around into our eyes on the beach. But at least today is warm and sunny.
We still had to pay a mooring ball fee of $30 to stay at an unmaintained mooring ball. That is what we had to pay every night for a maintained mooring ball.
This cairn was located at the end of the beach. There were coconut trees on the beach. The guys were entertained by trying to take a stick and knock one down. They were unsuccessful in their efforts.
This spot had the best beach by far. It was very secluded, but on the flip side there really wasn’t anything to do there as far as restaurants, shops, and entertainment.
Would I go back again? Absolutely!
Last night after supper, the girls and I booked a massage. Before our appointments, we went to the local store to provision. The grocery store was very small. It reminded me of the small town grocery store we went to when I was growing up when we didn’t want to make the 20 mile trip into town to the big store.
The couple (owners?) that managed the store was very nice. The lady was humming along to the Christian music that was on the store’s radio. Half of the store held groceries, the other half liquor with a little meat section in between. The atmosphere was very laid back and friendly. A lot different from our little town store where the guy smoked a cigar and the lady smelled of liquor always touting the latest gossip.
I have to admit, I absolutely love massages but I am always a tad bit nervous about receiving them in a foreign country. The previous evening the lady behind the counter asked us if we would be comfortable with a male masseuse. Quickly, Cara and Angela said no. I told her I would prefer a female, however I would go with whoever was available. I would rather receive a massage by a guy than no massage at all. This whole massage thing was my idea.
We all had female masseuses. I was lead back to a room with a very small table. I could hear Cara talking in the next room which was partitioned by a closet door. My massage was awesome! The prices were very comparable to a massage at home.
Today we are planning on sailing to Monkey Point. We had the option before leaving to top off our water supply and ended up paying quite a bit of money to do so.
We never made it to Monkey Point. Today it’s cool and incredibly windy. We decided as a group to spend the night at Scrub Island.
Today was our third day of rainbows. Tim called me to come out to take pictures. He convinced me with the double rainbow over the water. It was beautiful.
That night we ate at Pusser’s. Cara ordered a drink in the souvenir Pirate Mug, but they were out of the mug she wanted. I don’t think she was too crazy about what she ordered either.
The next morning we were greeted with a glorious sunrise.
Cara had some eco friendly laundry soap. Since we packed light and my clothes were dirty, I decided to give it a whirl. To be honest, it wasn’t worth the effort. Off the back deck, I leaned down 2 1/2 ft and dipped all of the dirty clothes in salt water. I put small items in a plastic bag. I was afraid that I might lose some of the items. Then I washed the items in soap, rinsed in salt water again, hosed them off with fresh water, and hung them out to dry.
It was really hard on the knees. As I was hanging them out, I noticed that my pajamas had blood on it under the arm. I checked for a flesh wound, nothing. Then I thought I must’ve brushed it against some fish blood somewhere along the deck. Always make sure that the area that you are doing laundry in is clean. Apparently, I did not. It was a lot of work to have some clothes dirtier than they started.
I hung the clothes on the life line to dry. With the wind and the sailing, I was worried that they might blow off. They didn’t. Despite sailing and the wind, it took my clothes all day to dry. With the periods of rain and the humidity, some of the clothes felt damp and never fully dried.
Then we left for our original destination, Monkey Point.
This morning we sailed to The Baths (the picture on the right). There were two ways to enter The Baths from the water. We decided to tie our dinghy up to the beach on the left side. It was very windy again and the yellow flag was out at the beach. The water where we tied up the dinghy was over our heads and there were a lot of waves. Stan took his cell phone with him in a waterproof bag. Since the conditions were rough, we held onto the safety line to get to shore.
This beach wasn’t as scenic as we were expecting it to be. We hiked along the trails and took pictures in rocks that looked like skulls. Then we sat on the beach for awhile. The water near where we sat was like a wave pool and I swam in there for awhile. Everyone was getting burned by the sun, except me.
We went back to the boat for lunch, then debated whether or not to explore the other side of The Baths. Cara was still feeling sick and wanted to stay back to sleep. Stan found out that his bag wasn’t waterproof after all and his phone died. We decided to explore the other side and I’m glad that we did. It was beautiful. There were tons of caves in the rocks and the water. I wish I had pictures, but since we had to come to shore in deep water we didn’t want to risk the death of anymore phones.
There were tons of people exploring the caves. I was surprised that there weren’t any signs that said beware of falling rocks, tight places, risk of drowning, consult a physician before attempting any physical activity, etc. There are so many warning signs in the US that people don’t even follow them.
There were people attempting to go through the trails that were obviously not physically able or were carrying infants. The trails were not easy, nor were they marked very well. It reminded me of a very scenic obstacle course, very adventurous and fun. Too bad Cara missed out.
From The Baths we made our way to The Sounds. The Sounds was very busy and there were only a few mooring balls left. There were people everywhere, in boats and on dinghy’s. It was NYC on water. There was a close call with a dinghy. It was incredibly stressful for Paul to moor the boat here.
At this point, you are probably wondering how everyone got along in close quarters. On the 40 ft Catamaran, there were 4 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms. There were two bigger cabins. Paul and I shared a big cabin and Cara and Tim had the other. Their friends Stan and Angela shared the smaller cabin on their side along with the bathroom.
The bathrooms were awful. We were told that we could not flush toilet paper. We had to put used toilet paper in the bathroom garbage. The bathrooms reeked the whole time. We had to conserve water, so we couldn’t shower as often or as long as we would’ve liked to. Let’s just say we got to know each other really well. We didn’t have a lot of room so we packed minimally and wore the same clothes more than one time.
Paul and I did not know Stan and Angela very well before the trip. However, we got along great. After a few days, Angela and I started talking and found out we have the same personality type. We have some of the same pet peeves and quirks. From that point on we really clicked. As a group, I thought we got along fairly well.
That evening we went to shore to eat. The restaurant was fully booked so we ate at the pub. It looked like a fortress and we were able to find a place to sit in one of the towers. All of the tables on the beach were full when we got there from the live entertainment. Most of us ordered pizzas and they were great. Except for Cara’s, she found a bristle from a scrub brush in her food. Leave it to Cara!
There were cats that wandered around the tables. Then out of the blue, it started to pour. We tried to pull our table and chairs out of the rain as much as possible. By the time we were done, it stopped raining. This was the only place since we left that I was able to access wifi. All was well at home and I was starting to finally relax a little.
Cara got sick during the night and we ate the same thing. I feel fine. Cara was also feeling seasick. She slept a lot while we were sailing.
We left this morning heading to Cooper Island. We stopped at the Indians for a short snorkeling trip on the way. We still didn’t see any sharks. We were told if we did see a shark to make eye contact and stand our ground, not swim away frantically like I would instinctively want to do.
I decided not to snorkel with everyone else and opted instead to take photos of the incredibly scenic area.
We are heading into the wind today so we motored instead of sailing. It is very windy and wavy. The journal I am writing this in got wet on the bow. Paul was worried about my safety. We were very careful to make sure that everyone was accounted for at all times.
I feel so very far away from home. It is really difficult not having a way to communicate with those at home. Cara was able to access data on her cell phone and spoke of another snow storm that was supposed to hit home. I was worried about my son driving on the roads. But I reasoned to myself that he was in his element while we were out of ours. Maybe they should worry about us with the rough seas and sharks.
We got to Cooper Island at lunch time and decided to go to shore to eat. It was a lovely place. I ordered a bacon cheeseburger and fries. They also brought Cara the same meal although she just wanted a hamburger. She sent her meal back, they scraped off the cheese and brought it back. With Cara’s sickness and trouble with her meals, I jokingly said if we have any problems we might have to throw her overboard. It would be a shame because she did all the work to plan the trip.
After the meal, we went to the gift shop. Paul bought a swimsuit and I bought a Cooper Island Brewery shirt. The problem was I didn’t try any of their beer. I solved the problem by buying a keepsake mug of beer at the bar next door. It was the best craft beer I had on the trip. However, the local craft beer options were very limited.
After lunch we went snorkeling and saw a manta ray. Stan saw a shark while snorkeling. We hit a patch of rain in the dinghy on the way back to the boat which was chilly. It seems to rain several times everyday for about 10 minutes keeping everything damp. We saw beautiful rainbows for 4 days in a row starting today.
We saw another turtle with fish sucking on it. Paul caught one of the turtle sucking fish with his fishing pole. It looked like a cross between a worm and an eel. The guys spent the evening fishing.
I’ve been having a hard time sleeping. It is hot and humid at night. Most evenings it rains and I get wet through the hatch over the area where we sleep. I’ve been waking up stiff with a backache. I’ve been having a hard time relaxing. I feel sad and disconnected from the group because I am worried about those at home and have been having a hard time just letting it go. Sometimes it takes a few days and I wish it didn’t because it is frustrating. As if being close to home will prevent accidents from happening. Anxiety apparently cannot be reasoned with.
I had to escape my fear to truly enjoy the time away. It did happen eventually.