Spearfishing in Dominica

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Guadaloupe was a very short stop. After a late morning nap we gathered ourselves together and prepared for the next leg of the trip leaving just a few hours later for Dominica.

Portsmouth in Dominica treated us well for the next few days. Liquid sunshine glistened on our skin and we enjoyed the quiet anchorage.

Most of the beach bars and restaurants were closed because it was so late in the season. Luckily, one very small local bar called Monty’s was open and serving the fresh catch of the day. If you ever visit Dominica, be sure to find this hidden gem in the northern most corner of Portsmouth, marked by a small rock jetty.

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After a bad incident a few years back, several of the locals have gotten together to form what is called the Portsmouth Association of Yacht Security (P.A.Y.S) – a group of trained and certified locals that patrol the harbor 24/7 from November through May. We were told that even if you can’t see them, they are watching. We felt very safe. These guys also double as tour guides each with their own flair.

For our first time in Dominica, Titus became “our guy,” representing the Lawrence of Arabia group of boat boys (also part of the P.A.Y.S. association. We took a wonderful tour up the Indian River with him (stay tuned for pics in the next post) and he even took us out on a private tour to all the best local spearfishing spots!

Foreigners are not allowed to spearfish in Dominica, unless accompanied by a local. Titus was just doing us a favor by taking us out on his boat, but he was pleasantly surprised when Peter slayed one Lionfish after another in just a short two-hour period.

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Peter got two in one shot on his first kill!

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He carefully handed the spear up to Titus where he clubbed the two monsters and then removed the spear tip, sliding them off the end of the spear into his boat.

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We ended up with at least 10 large Lionfish and shared half the catch with Titus. Five Lionfish provided a decent size meal for two people.

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Here are two videos we managed to capture on our iPhone 5 in an Otterbox Preserver case:

Peter was happy to get some spearfishing in while doing his part to help eliminate this terribly invasive species. For more information on this serious Lionfish problem click <HERE>.

Have you ever tasted Lionfish before? What did you think?

Nevis to Guadeloupe: Spinner Dolphins and Rainbows

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It was such a short hop over to Nevis once we left St. Kitts. The hillsides and black sand beaches were breathtaking at Pinney’s Beach.

We took the dinghy around the point for a little snorkeling near the rocky points. The water wasn’t very clear that day so we headed back toward where we were anchored and snorkeled off the beach near some scattered coral heads. Peter got a little too close and accidentally poked himself on an urchin. NO FUN!

Our diving adventures were cut short, but we still enjoyed the scenery.

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Unfortunately we left our credit card at Salt Plage back on St. Kitts so we had to turn back and get it the next day. The management was incredibly helpful and even bought us a drink for our inconveniences. It’s not so easy to just cancel a credit card and have a new one mailed out when we live on a boat with no mailing address. Oh well. It was an easy sail and it only set us back one day.

As we set out for Guadeloupe, a small pod of spinner dolphins came out to play as we passed by Nevis around dinnertime….

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We left St. Kitts at 5:45pm on July 7th. Our night passage started off terribly uncomfortable when we made the mistake of not getting far enough off shore. The shoals south of Nevis stirred up the sea in a violent way and had us considering turning around to wait for settled weather.  Our friends Dustin and Courtney were planning to leave Nevis not long after us and we later heard they took a wave on the flybridge of Captiva, a 75′ Catamaran, on that very same passage! We persevered, wearily arriving at Deshaies, Guadeloupe at 10:15 am just in time to see a beautiful rainbow above our sistership, Lunacy.

We were finally a good distance down the island chain!

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We’re currently in Grenada wrapping up Hurricane Season and preparing to sail back north to the Virgin Islands… stay tuned for more adventures!

St. Kitts: Wreck Diving

While anchored in White House Bay, we dove this awesome wreck in shallow water. See for yourself!

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Would you go explore an underwater wreck? Leave us a comment!

Tiny House Blog: Adjusting To Simplicity

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Check out my latest post on Tiny House Blog!

Click <HERE> to read about Adjusting To Simplicity and how Peter and I got acquainted with our new tiny home one whole year ago!

In what ways have you adjusted to simplicity? Leave a comment and share your inspiration!

St. Kitts: White House Bay and Salt Plage

Back in July we were glad to get away from Basseterre where the local ferry remained at anchor. We cruised down the St. Kitts coastline toward White House Bay. Interesting architecture scattered the lush and green hillsides. A thick layer of fog blanketed the mountain tops.

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Nestled into White House Bay is the newly built bar and grill, Salt Plage. We took a ride in with our friends Dustin and Courtney on Captiva for some small bites and tied up at the gorgeous dinghy dock.

The service was exceptional, the food was delicious and the surroundings idyllic. This new beach bar is just a preview of the ultra-exclusive Christophe Harbour currently under development on this part of the Island.

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What a relief we felt to finally be back in a calm and quiet anchorage!!

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Tiny House Blog: Helpful Tips For Downsizing (PART 3)

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The third and final part to my Helpful Tips For Downsizing series has just published on Tiny House Blog!

If you or anyone you know could use a little hope and inspiration for beginning the process of downsizing or organizing, please take a moment to consider the tips and tools I’ve described in Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3. (Click each link for the individual posts).

If you missed the announcement on how I became part of the Tiny House community, click <HERE>!

Did you find this article helpful? Please share it with anyone you know that might need a little help getting organized.

If you’re still stuck, send me a message and I’ll be glad to help you ‘sort it out’ 🙂

How We Almost Lost The Boat In St.Kitts

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As the sun was setting, we pulled in to the anchorage at Basseterre. It was a commercial and unprotected bay, yet the regulations in St. Kitts left us no choice but to anchor here for the night and check in to Customs the next morning. Other cruisers had warned of skipping this stop where, if caught anchored in the more desirable locations to the South without checking in first, the fine are astronomical.

The entrance to Port Zante Marina was right in front of us, but daylight was quickly fading. We had tried hailing the marina on the radio from 4:45 pm all the way up until our arrival at 6pm with no reply. (We later found out the marina staff had decided to leave work at 3pm that day. How convenient.) Without being able to see the approach and availability of slips, we decided to not enter the narrow channel and instead anchor just outside in 20′ of water. Only one other boat was in the harbor; a 226 passenger ferry named Caribe Surf, anchored maybe 200′ away. We dropped the hook, made sure our anchor was set, and went to sleep after a rough passage from Statia.

Monday Morning 6.30.14, 6:15 AM

Peter had been awake all night worried about our anchor holding. He had finally fallen asleep around 5am. I awoke a little after 6:00 to the sound of Windy (our wind generator) cranking faster than we’ve ever heard before. With a quick peek outside, it was apparent that we were smack in the middle of a squall. Winds were gusting at 45+ knots and we were surrounded by a wall of white.

I woke Peter up immediately and within seconds he flew up the companionway ladder into the cockpit. Still in bed I called out, “is everything okay?”

“NO!” he shouted back.

“Are we dragging??”

“NO!”

I was a nervous wreck as I climbed outside as fast as I could. Rain started pouring in from every direction. I looked around. We had left the mizzen sail up overnight for stability so we were a bit concerned that the sail might blow out in the squall, but I quickly saw we had bigger problems.

Big is an understatement. The 90′ ferry was coming right for us, backwards.

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It just didn’t make sense. Why was it getting closer and closer? Just then we realized, “there’s nobody on that boat and it’s dragging!” The crew had left it anchored overnight with no one on watch. Surely no one was expecting a squall to blow through.

The big blue power-cat was swinging like a pendulum in the wind as it grew closer and closer to our bow. Back and forth it swung on an arch, with each gust getting dangerously closer to us.

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We knew we needed to get the sail down, but didn’t have enough time. From where I was standing it looked as if the ferry had already bumped us, though I hadn’t felt the massive aluminum hull bump us yet.

Our Delta style anchor was holding perfectly but Caribe Surf was about to either hit us like a freight train, or catch our chain and drag us to shore. Luckily it was a catamaran and swung just above our rode, avoiding a nasty tangle.

Peter was on the bow trying to hold on to the lifelines as we bounced up and down from the waves. He let go of the snubber after wrapping the main rode around the cleat. His original plan was to let out 50% more rode but just as the last of the rode burned his hands as it slid through his fingers, the ferry was within four feet of our bow. It wasn’t helping.

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My whole body was shaking at this point. Both fear and the chill of the piercing rain and wicked wind set me into an unstoppable tremble. Within a matter of seconds I turned the engine on and I yelled out, “Cut the anchor loose!!!!! HURRY!!

It seemed like the wrong thing to do at the time, but Peter knew we had no choice but to let the anchor go.

I scrambled to get the chartplotter, radar and instruments turned on. As soon as he confirmed we were free from the anchor, I hit reverse as hard as it would go. Everything was happening in slow motion. Rain had soaked our entire cockpit but that was the least of our concerns. Suddenly, we started pulling away from the ferry and just as it swung left, I gunned it forward right at 2,000 rpms. At that moment, I was more grateful than I had ever been for our 34 year old 80-horsepower tractor engine.

Still trembling, I motored out to sea away from that horrid ferry.

Peter quickly ran from the bow to the stern to drop the sail after we were out of immediate danger. The squall was still blowing 30+ with zero visibility. He singlehandedly dropped the sail as fast as he could, tying it to the boom in a big heap. Next, he pulled the brake on the wind generator, locking it down. We both looked back to see that the ferry had already run aground on the rocky shore. Whew! That was a close one.

We’re so grateful it happened in daylight. Even though the wall of rain reduced our visibility dramatically, we were still able to see the cruise ship pilings which matched up perfectly with the charts.

Entering a new anchorage, it’s always difficult to know which way gusts will come from and which way a boat might drag. As was the case in St. Kitts, this ferry was on top of us within seconds even though we thought we had picked a good spot to anchor.

After we were motoring out to sea I dug out the lifejackets. We were headed into larger seas and there was no telling when the storm would blow over. Eventually the winds subsided to a manageable 15 knots.

While we were motoring back and forth across the harbor, we saw a small orange tender arrive at Caribe Surf an hour later where they were grounded near shore. We motored closer to them as they prepared to reset a second anchor and we yelled off the bow for the Captain to turn the radio on.

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Peter tried a few channels before finding one without traffic and spoke to the Captain.

“Good Morning, this is Caribe Surf. How can I help you today Sir?” He had such a cheery voice, despite the unfortunate chain of events that had just taken place.

Peter wearily explained how their boat had just drug into us during the squall and that we had lost our anchor, leaving no way to secure our vessel. He calmly and kindly told us to pull up to his stern and toss them a line while we wait for his diver. “He can retrieve your anchor.” It was like de-ja-vu pulling up to their stern in the wind. Peter was on the bow while I was at the helm. The damn thing nearly hit us, and here we were getting back into the very position we tried so hard to get away from! A little PTSD ya think?

It turns out that Caribe Surf busted a fluke on their anchor during the squall, causing them to drag with half an anchor still buried. The crew laughed, “That was a nasty squall, wasn’t it?”

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After what seemed like an eternity in the early morning hours, the diver finally arrived. Peter went with him bringing our iPhone to show him where our anchor was on the Garmin app. The crew on Caribe Surf had gone back to shore and I was on Mary Christine alone with the dogs watching intently as the two men searched for the anchor.

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As luck would have it, the light winds turned fluky and Mary Christine gained slack on the line connecting us to Caribe Surf. I was drifting too close for comfort and even began to face opposite ways. I shouted across the harbor as loud as I could to signal Peter that I was in trouble. I quickly turned the engine on and began to reverse away from a second possible collision with this ghost ship. Of course our full keel and undersized rudder makes it near impossible to reverse in the direction I want to go, but I managed to get far enough away until Peter and the diver could release us from the ferry.

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We hailed the marina again letting them know we were coming in to tie up and the diver promised to deliver the anchor to us at the marina.

After a few attempts to tie stern-to with our boat that doesn’t like to reverse, we eventually got the boat secured. Shortly after, the diver brought our anchor over as promised and helped Peter feed the chain back into our anchor locker. He didn’t locate the snubber but at least we got the anchor back free of charge!

We got a great deal at the marina and spent about a week recovering mentally from that ordeal.

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“My worst fear was having to cut the anchor loose in a squall,” Peter admitted. Back in the Bahamas we met some young guys on Humdinger that had to cut their anchor loose in an squall and their engine couldn’t overpower the current and wind. They ended up on the rocks totaling their boat and crushing their cruising dreams that had only just begun. Ever since we heard their story, it became Peter’s biggest fear. I still can’t believe it actually came true.

If only the marina staff had not gone home early… If we had just gone into the marina and found a place to tie up… But we’re safe now.

What’s your scariest moment at sea??

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Tiny House Blog: Helpful Tips For Downsizing (PART 2)

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Are you ready for Part 2?

Click through to my article on Tiny House Blog to learn some helpful tips on how to make a decision about what to keep and what to get rid of.

You can find Part 1 <HERE> on Tiny House Blog.

If you missed the announcement on how I became part of the Tiny House community, click <HERE>!

The third and final segment of this series will give you some new ideas on what to actually do with everything… from displays to donations to storage. Stay tuned!

Did you find this article helpful? Please share it with anyone you know that might need a little help getting organized!

If you’re still stuck, send me a message and I’ll be glad to help you sort it out 🙂

Quick Haul Out Checklist

untitledHauling out SV Winterlude from www.CommuterCruiser.com

Mary Christine is scheduled for haul out tomorrow morning for some fresh paint and a few minor repairs to be made over the next few days before we begin heading North, up island.

Before we go, we wanted to make sure we are totally prepared. We knew our good friends at Commuter Cruiser would have JUST WHAT WE NEEDED! Jan and David have put together a very helpful checklist of all the things we need to remember to do BEFORE, DURING and AFTER our time on the hard. The process may seem like a no-brainer for some, but Peter and I both found some very helpful things in this article that we wouldn’t have thought of otherwise during our first time hauling out.

With many of our cruiser friends also getting hauled out this time of year, we urge you to take a peek at the wisdom Commuter Cruiser has shared.

Check out www.commutercruiser.com for a TON of helpful how-to articles!

Tiny House Blog: Helpful Tips For Downsizing (PART 1)

Do you get overwhelmed with clutter? Does it stress you out to open your closets? Can you find what you’re looking for in your home? Are you getting ready to move to a smaller space?collect memories

I’ve put together some helpful tips on HOW to actually begin the process of downsizing. For those of you that have already moved onto a boat or into a smaller home, you know this is no easy feat. For those of you that are dreaming of your new boat or preparing to move into a smaller space, I hope these simple tips will help make the process a little less daunting. They are also good things for anyone to practice to stay clutter free, downsizing or not!

You can find these tips <HERE> on Tiny House Blog.

If you missed the announcement on how I became part of the Tiny House community, click <HERE>!

Part 2 comes out in a few days with tips on HOW TO DECIDE what to keep and what to get rid of.

Did you find this article helpful? Please share it with anyone you know that might need a little help getting organized!

If you’re still stuck, send me a message and I’ll be glad to help you sort it out 🙂