Dad Comes To Visit

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In December, Dad and Stacy finally came down to visit us! Although they had never seen the boat in person, they were so excited to take a vacation and come visit us that they booked a whole three weeks!

Stacy was able to use timeshare credits for a smokin’ deal at The Elysian Hotel which is directly across from where our boat was in Christmas Cove. They spent the first three days of their trip with a view from shore. Palm trees, a sandy beach, good food, and iguanas! What more could you ask for?

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They spent a bit of time exploring on land after making friends with our favorite taxi driver, Yisrael, who moonlights as a jumbie dancer at Iggie’s.

Eventually it came time for them to move aboard and join us in Christmas Cove.

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We spent a day or two enjoying the clear blue water and took them on some snorkeling expeditions. Check out this tiny little fish that lives inside a hole in the coral… can you see him?

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Peter and I shared the beauty and peacefulness of the evenings with Dad and Stacy. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but photos still just don’t do this lifestyle justice. You’ve got to see it in person to really take it all in.

It was just the beginning of their trip but they had already seen so many beautiful moments. I can only hope this helps them understand a bit more about why I’m down here in the Caribbean instead of back in rainy Seattle where they came from.

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We sailed away from Christmas Cove toward the South side of St. John.

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“Sure doesn’t look like the daily commute you’re used to, does it Dad?”

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In the quiet little anchorage we settled in, we spotted deer swimming across the bay! They scattered up over the rocky shore and up into the hillside.

We spent the next couple of days enjoying the solitude of the South side and Dad was quick to pick up the nearest power tool to help Peter with a few urgent boat projects. Together they reengineered the brackets for our two new 155-watt Kyocera solar panels which would replace the two 80-watt panels that were on either side of our lifelines. The 80’s got moved up to the bow and rewired in series to add a little boost to our solar array, though they aren’t as efficient as they used to be.

The reason for the urgency to add more solar panels is because our two 105-watt Aurinco panels had both just failed. They are still both under warranty but the manufacturer is refusing to honor the 2-year 100% warranty and it has turned into a huge mess. We depend on solar power to run our systems on a daily basis and to have our two strongest panels both simultaneously fail after less than a years time, we couldn’t waste any time in replacing them with panels we could trust. It got to a point where we couldn’t run our 12-volt watermaker without having the generator on. Disappointing to say the least. Stay tuned for an upcoming post on all the details of this nasty mess and why we strongly discourage anyone from purchasing semi-flexible Aurinco Solar Panels.

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We took plenty of time to play around in the water and show Dad and Stacy how we like to spend our afternoons 🙂

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Gunner and Betsy got to go to shore and run around!

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Gunner usually needs a little convincing before he will swim around.

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And of course, Peter and Dad went fishing every chance they could 🙂 I don’t think I’ve met anyone that loves to fish more than these two.

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Stay tuned for more adventures from when Dad and Stacy visited back in December!

We’re currently back in Christmas Cove where I am working at Pizza Pi. We are preparing to head back down island to Grenada in just a few weeks. My oh my how the time flies…

Denali: More Than Just A Viral Video

This morning I woke up to make coffee, then sat down to check my messages on the computer. I kept seeing this video called ‘Denali’ appear in my feed. Normally I don’t stream videos because of the bandwidth it takes to watch them, however I had a feeling this would be worth the data. It’s about this surfer/photographer, Ben Moon, who (together with a director and cinematographer) made a gorgeous video dedicated to his dog, Denali. (The article on littlethings.com gives a little more perspective and background on the video, as well as why it is is narrated by the point of view of Denali. Check it out HERE.)

I hit play and waited for the video to load. Sure enough, within the first two minutes my eyes were welling up. With tears streaming down my face, I clicked to share this post with you.
It’s more than just a viral video that will make you cry too. It’s more than incredible photography and cinematography. It’s more than a love story between a man and his dog.
This is a video that hits home for me with impeccable timing. Take a few moments to watch the video and come back to read why I shared this.

Though Gunner was 12 when we first brought him to the boat, we knew the day would come, eventually, when he would need to say goodbye. Over the last few months it’s become apparent to Peter and I that Gunner’s days are numbered. 

He’s been my sweet boy since the summer of my senior year in high school. He went off to college with me and guarded our home when I went off to work. He’s been on many adventures with me and I never considered even for a second that he was too old or too big to come with us when we made the decision to move onto a sailboat and sail away.

I’m not gonna lie… It’s not easy having a 75 lb Weimaraner on a sailboat, let alone a senior dog who is having trouble with his hips and his bowels. He can still hold his bladder well but he’s quickly losing the ability to know when he needs to go #2. We’re keeping him on a tight routine for trips outside to go potty on deck and it’s still mostly manageable but we know the situation isn’t going to get any better. Accidents happen when we’re least prepared, like when we are sleeping, or when we are trying to anchor, or even when guests are coming to visit.

I’ve been struggling how to write about this for awhile now. How do you know when it’s time? How do you know how much pain they are in? HOW DO YOU KNOW?!!?

I’ve never been through this with an old dog before. I’ve never been the one to have to make the decision. I can only pray that Gunner will make it for me and let me know, as Denali did for Ben Moon.

Until then, we show him as much love as we can each and every day.

Feels Like Home in the USVI

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After our 3 and a half-day passage North from Grenada to the US Virgin Islands, we spent a few days relaxing in Christmas Cove before sailing off again for more adventures.

Peter and I had both heard that St. Thomas wasn’t going to be terribly exciting to see, though there were a couple places we shouldn’t miss. Honeymoon Bay off Water Island was one of those places. It’s an idyllic little cove with umbrellas and bright colored chairs strewn across the palm tree lined beach. We also heard there is a movie night held on Mondays where they project against canvas tied up between the palm trees. Though we never made it to shore, the view from the anchorage was perfect.

After a couple nights, the swell direction changed and it wasn’t just ferry wakes rocking us ragged. The constant swell wrapping around the point was enough for us to move.

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We couldn’t leave, however, without taking a long dinghy ride out to some snorkeling spots to hunt for lobster. Much of the US Virgin Islands are protected either by National Park or Marine Preserve where there are restrictions on fishing and lobstering. It’s tricky to find places that aren’t protected, though there are a few. Leave it to the Lobbie Whisperer to find them…

We set up our hookah dive compressor, The Air Line, and jumped in.

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Just under the surface we saw a little nurse shark. They’re fun to see because in the day they are usually resting. I’d much rather see one of these little guys than a bull shark or huge Caribbean reef shark!

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Within minutes, Peter spotted a hole with four or five lobsters poking their antennae out, almost as if to say, “Pick me! Pick me!”

For those of you wondering what Peter is holding, it’s a snare. In the USVI you are not allowed to spear lobster with a gun or a pole spear, you can only catch them by hand or with a snare. This ensures that if you pull out a female with eggs or one that is too small, you can safely let it go. With a spear, you often don’t find out there are eggs until its too late.

Hunting lobster is truly an art and Peter has mastered it beautifully.

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Another successful hunt followed by a gorgeous sunset.

“I think I could get used to this life,”

Of all the islands we’ve visited, the USVI feels most like home. I think we’ll stay for awhile.

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What place feels like home to YOU?

Remembering Mary Christine

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May 25, 2015 marked three years since the ruthless disease of Breast Cancer stole Christine away from us.

Mary Christine Pieschel   10/11/1954 ~ 05/25/2012

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She would have loved to be on this adventure with us, and it is especially in her honor Peter and I are out here now while we are still young. We know she is watching over us and she continues to inspire us every day to keep doing what makes us happy.

She fought as long as she could and wore the biggest smile you had ever seen until the very end. She touched many lives and will forever be remembered for the amazing woman, mother, sister, aunt, daughter and friend that she was.

After hearing countless memories remembered and retold by loved ones, there is no doubt in my mind that Peter gets his adventurous spirit from his mother, Christine, and his father, Pete. They were both taken from this world far too soon yet both live on through their only son as he follows his dreams and his heart. They would both be so very proud.

Life is short, enjoy the time you have to the very fullest and do whatever it is that makes you happy.

Below is a very special photo that Peter had never seen until just a few months ago. Shown from left to right are the most influential people that helped raise him to be the man he is today: Lucile (Peter’s aunt and Christine’s twin sister), Christine (mother), Pete (father), and Wiley (Pete’s best friend and Godfather/step-father to Peter).

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Christine passed away with her longtime partner Dave by her side. He meant the world to her and has always been an amazing father-figure to Peter.

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WE LOVE YOU AND MISS YOU!!!

Christine’s twin sister Lucile has been participating in the Susan G. Komen 3-day walk in San Diego (60 miles in three days) for the last four years and has rallied a team of over 100 people walking in honor of Christine. She walks because she told her sister she would never stop…

Tiny House Recap: March and April

ragdoll-13Have you been following my weekly posts on TinyHouseBlog.com? In case you’ve missed any, here’s a recap of the posts that were published in March and April:

Tiny Floating Homes: Winterlude –> CLICK HERE

Tiny Floating Homes: Terrapin –> CLICK HERE

Safety At Sea: Inside a Ditch Bag and Med Kit –> CLICK HERE

Tiny Floating Homes: Salty –> CLICK HERE

Keeping Cool in the Caribbean –> CLICK HERE

Tiny Floating Homes: Rag Doll –> CLICK HERE

If there’s any Tiny House Topics you’d like to hear more about, leave a comment and let me know!

Goodbye Grenada, Hello Virgin Islands

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I know, I know, I’m terribly behind in sharing with you all what we’ve been up to the last six months. I’ve been a bit more active on Facebook but it’s time I catch up here on the blog. Lets step back in time a bit…

It was the end of November when we decided to pack up and leave our cozy little anchorage as we waved ‘Goodbye Grenada’. Our friend Steve on Lunacy was aiming for the same weather window we were to head North before the Christmas Winds arrived, though he took off a few days before us (pictured above). He knew it would be a little rough but preferred to have enough wind to sail the entire way and not have to motor as long as he could help it. We, on the other hand, preferred to wait for slightly calmer waters.

Instead of island hopping up the chain, we plotted a course straight to USVI from Grenada. The first day offshore was a bit uncomfortable, but we had been through worse. Eventually the wind and waves subsided and we motor-sailed the rest of the way in the light and variable winds. Could we have handled the rougher conditions that Steve experienced and used less fuel? Sure. Did we want to put the stress on our boat and on ourselves? No. Because we have dogs on board, rough conditions make it very challenging to take the dogs potty on deck and to simply make sure they’re safe. Gunner is getting older and we agreed it would be better for all of us if we took it easy.

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I’d say Gunner was comfortable, wouldn’t you? 🙂

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It was just us and the ocean. All alone. We were maybe 100nm away at most from any land though it felt as if we were in the middle of nowhere. After living in Grenada for a solid 4 months it was really strange to be on a passage again. Only this time, we felt at home. It was a new experience in the sense that it was our longest offshore passage to date, though we knew what to expect and we were prepared in a way that we hadn’t been before. A little bit of experience goes a long way.

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I had made a few ziplocks full of popcorn to snack on and the dogs sure were happy to share. It’s been Gunner’s favorite treat since he was a puppy so he was pretty excited when Peter kept tossing him some as we leisurely cruised along.

We saw gorgeous sunsets and sunrises, each with new palettes of colors painting the entire sky.

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We saw The Green Flash and even captured it on camera a few times… Can you see it? Look close.

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Before we knew it, three and a half days had passed by and we were sailing into the US Virgin Islands. We passed by St. Croix and headed for Great St. James Island. Little did we know, Christmas Cove would be our home for the next six months.

We are currently STILL sitting in Christmas Cove and preparing to had back down island for Hurricane Season. Stay tuned for photos of all the friends and family that came down to visit and kept us busy during the last six months!

Tiny House Blog: A Life Less Ordinary

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Our friends Wes and Elizabeth were a bit hesitant at first to stay in our tiny floating home but once they arrived it didn’t take long for them to see why we’re so happy living this life less ordinary.

“They shared how the most surprising part of their visit was learning how easy it is to live simply.”

Click the link to read my latest post originally published on Tiny House Blog –>> A Life Less Ordinary

Please leave a comment, I’d love to hear your thoughts!

We’re Still Here! 6-month recap

Lately, I’ve done a terrible job at keeping up with the blog! I think it’s been a whole month since I posted something here last.

Please accept my apologies for the gap in publishing and please keep checking back for new stories. There is SO much I want to share with you all but life on a boat is actually quite busy on the Mary Christine. The dogs keep us busy and there are of course always projects to work on and things to fix.

When we left Grenada (pictured below) we bee-lined it up to the Virgin Islands in a 3 and a half day passage. Ever since, we’ve had guests on board for almost more time than we’ve been alone. We LOVE sharing this life of ours with family and friends but it leaves little time for me to write both here and over at Tiny House Blog. If you don’t hear from me or see new posts for awhile, just know that we are off doing something really cool 😉

Here’s a little glimpse of what our last six months have looked like:

November – Izzy – 10 days

December – Dad and Stacy – 3 weeks

January – Lucy (Peter’s aunt) and Julie (Cousin) – 8 days

January – Wiley (Peter’s step-dad) and his sister Emma – 8 days

February – Captain’s School – all month

March – I worked at Pizza Pi helping out for a week and photographed a wedding!

March – Michael and Stacie – 7 days

April – Michael and Stacie – 5 days

April – Mom and Kevin are here on the boat with us now for two weeks 🙂

I know some of you that read the blog do not use Facebook. Please know that even if you don’t have a Facebook account, you can still see what we’ve been up to! Our Facebook page is public and you can check it out anytime, just like you visit this site. www.facebook.com/wherethecoconutsgrow – Consider it as our ‘second’ website!  This is where I post most of our updates, random photos and current info about what is going on in our world. We’ve shared some crazy adventures recently 😉 If you’re already following us there, THANK YOU for liking our page! We love to see your comments!

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Just in case you missed some of the recent posts I’ve done on tinyhouseblog.com, here’s a recap of the posts published in February! 

Tiny Floating Homes: Necesse – A tiny house tour of SV Necesse, home to our good friends Eben, Genevieve, Arias and Ellia. >>Click here<< for the full article

Outside My Window: Grenada – Living in a tiny floating home and exploring new places all over the world. >>Click here<< for the full article.

Tiny Floating Homes: Chance – Kelley and Jason traded in their Brooklyn studio for a 34′ sailboat back in 2012. Chance has been the perfect boat for them and their two dogs, but the time has come to find something just a little bigger. >>Click here<< for the full article.

Pet Food Storage In Small Places – Creative storage solutions for a LOT of dry dog food in a tiny floating home >>Click here<< for the full article.

Hopefully this will give you some reading material until the next post here on Where The Coconuts Grow 🙂 We’re currently on vacation with Mom and Kevin sailing around St. Thomas, St. John and the BVIs!

IZZY IN THE ISLANDS

It feels like yesterday that our friend Izzy was here on the boat with us…

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Peter and I had been chatting with Izzy over emails for quite some time. He found us while searching for cruising blogs with dogs and had a-million-and-one  questions about how we went from zero sailing experience to being liveaboards in the Caribbean. He had questions about having a dog on board, safety in foreign countries, how we have access to the internet, what we do for food, and all kinds of other questions about the cruising lifestyle. He seemed genuinely interested in the whole experience and was very appreciative of the time we spent talking with him. We knew there was something special about this guy, so we kept writing back.

You see, Izzy has the same dream we once did to sell everything, buy a boat and sail away with his furry four-legged best friend. He desperately wants to leave the rat-race behind and go explore the world. He shares our passion for the sea, for the tropical sun and for the feeling of freedom you get when you hoist those beautiful white sails and turn off the engine.

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We invited Izzy down to come sailing with us and see what this lifestyle is all about. He arrived in Grenada toward the beginning of November just after our haul out. We took him grocery shopping in Grenada and showed him how to get around. Then we showed him our whole routine. Docking the boat for fuel, cleaning the bottom of the boat, securing the outboard motor before a passage, navigating through channels, trolling fishing lines under way, and many other operational tasks. He learned about watermakers, engine maintenance, marine plumbing, and all kinds of other bits of knowledge we’ve acquired over the last year and a half.

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We left Grenada and sailed up to Sandy Island just North of Carriacou. Peter and I had been there before and wanted to show Izzy the pretty beach and great snorkeling.

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Peter showed him how he dives the anchor to make sure it’s dug into the sand well. We even had him watch underwater as I backed the boat down in reverse so he could actually see the anchor dig in.

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It’s a good thing we took extra care making sure our ground tackle was secure because later that night Izzy experienced his very first squall. We had gone over to visit our friends Mike and Jennifer on Three Sheets for sundowners and dinner when a 30-knot squall barreled through. It was pitch-black and we had anchored in the back of the pack just in front of a reef. It was more stormy than we cared to venture out in by dinghy to go check on the boat so we sat tight on Three Sheets and waited out the storm. Our Delta anchor held solid, though my stomach was in knots the entire time.

That night we laughed so hard we all got an ab workout and Izzy was super stoked to experience first hand just how amazing the cruising community really is. He couldn’t believe how easy it was to meet such kind people that all share a similar passion. We’re pretty sure he was already hooked but this night really sealed the deal 🙂

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To put the icing on the cake, we took Izzy to the Grenadines and made our way over to the Tobago Cays. Our first trip there a month before was amazing but seeing it again was just unreal. The view is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced and I’m pretty sure Izzy felt like he was in a dream too.

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We swam with turtles and dove along the drop-off at Petit Tabac. Izzy got the full Caribbean experience in our favorite place of all time.

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We visited with our friends Dustin and Courtney on Captiva over an incredible gourmet lobster dinner and Izzy heard even more amazing cruising stories.

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I’m short and all… but Peter was standing up hill from me, I swear 🙂

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We hope Izzy had a good time, we know we sure did! He is back in LA now tying up some loose ends and selling many of his belongings. When he finds the perfect cruising boat he plans on moving aboard with his dog, Kova, and then he’ll prepare the boat to meet up with us (we hope!) down island.

Izzy is a fantastic writer and an INCREDIBLY GIFTED artist, illustrator, designer and instructor. If you’re interested in learning more about Izzy and why he is choosing this amazing life at sea, click >>here<<. If you’d like to follow his progress be sure to check out his website: www.artaboard.com 

We’re currently in the US Virgin Islands looking for work now that Peter has completed all the coursework for his 100-ton Masters Captain’s license!  Do you know anyone that’s hiring?

The post IZZY IN THE ISLANDS appeared first on Where The Coconuts Grow.

The Windtraveler Twins Turn ONE!

You probably know by now that Brittany and Scott have returned to Asante with Isla and the twins to pick up where they left off cruising around the Caribbean. It’s even more awesome that just a few days ago the Windtraveler twins, Mira and Haven, turned ONE! Can you believe it?Haven and Mira First Birthday-3

We had sailed over to Maho Bay, St. John earlier in the week for Genevieve’s super fun surprise party on a local floating bar, Angel’s Rest. I still can’t believe Genevieve and Brittany got me to jump 😉 Be sure to check out all the shenanigans >>here<<.

For the twins’ first birthday, March 6th, we got everyone together again on shore for a little celebration which turned out to be a picture perfect location for this very special event. With Arias and Ellia (SV Necesse) and Isla, Haven and Mira (SV Asante) the beach was overflowing with cuteness!

It’s pretty obvious from the photos, but these darling babies really are THIS happy in person! Their little personalities are bigger than life and so different from one another. Hats off to Brittany and Scott for living on a boat with three under three and making it look so easy!

I’m so grateful I had the opportunity to capture all these gorgeous photos on such a special day, though it was so hard to choose my favorite photos. There are dozens more, but these are the ones I couldn’t wait to share…

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