Monday, October 22, 2012

Are we ready?

Well, it's getting down to it. Time to sail away and we are really getting excited about the plans that we have shaping up for the next several months.  Before we can cut loose from our mooring here in Luperon Storyville is demanding a little of our attention.  When we leave here our first planned stop in is Samana, along the east coast of the Dominican.  It will be a 24 hour trip and Storyville has been sitting here since July.  We've both been busy checking things off the list but Troy has been especially busy and deserves some kudos.  Just a few of his recent adventures:

  • Repaired the pump on the water maker
  • Installed the new Pro Charge Ultra batter charger
  • Installed the new Nature's Head toilet
  • Changed the oil in the main engine
  • Changed the oil in the generator
  • Tuned up and changed the oil in the dinghy motor
  • Fixed a pesky little salt water leak
  • Purchased fuel
  • Painted the engine room
  • Re-arranged his tool locker about 100 times
I'm sure I'm leaving out something, but it just makes me realize that Troy is doing so much to make living our dream into reality. And, he's a great singer and guitar player. We do have it pretty good.  In the words of my friend Donna:

Hmmmm...let me get this live on a big beautiful sailboat, you wake up when you just do and its always warm, you sail to fantastic destinations many off the touristy path and blessed with Gods hands, your wardrobe consists of shorts T's and swim suits, shoes are a second thought and you fall asleep every night in a faithful, loving, devoted, guitar playing, talented singers arms, and then you get to do it all over again every day...You my dear friend are the reason why I will believe in fairytales....blessingsxxxooo. ~Donna Lee

While this quote certainly describes much of our life, as you can tell, there is plenty of work to go around as well. I must agree though, we certainly are blessed to be living this adventure with each other!

Love one another and you will be happy. It's as simple and as difficult as that. ~Michael Leunig

Love is the condition in which the happiness of another person is essential to your own. ~Robert Heinlein

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Charter Alternate Latitude and sail the Virgin Islands!

Have you ever dreamed about sailing in the US or British Virgin Islands? The islands are beautiful and relaxing and the water is cool, refreshing and so blue that words can't do it justice. We did lots of snorkeling while we were there and saw incredible fish, turtles, rays, cuttlefish and more. The beaches are world class with palm trees ringing white sand beaches. It really is picture postcard perfect. It's an experience that we will never forget, and of course, for those of you who know us, you know that we are planning more sailing in this area early next year. 

If you have followed our blog from the beginning of our cruising experience, then you will remember our friend Captain Steve Schlosser. Steve left Texas with us in December of 2010 on his Tayana 37, s/v Anchor Management. We had a great time in the Bahamas and were really sad when Steve left us to continue on down to Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. There, he made a decision to sell Anchor Management and buy a bigger catamaran with plans to charter in the Virgin Islands. He found a Voyage 440 cataraman with 4 separate cabins, each with it's own head. His new boat, s/v Alternate Latitude is big and beautiful and Steve is ready to start booking charters in the Virgin Islands.

For our friends Steve has agreed to give a 10% discount on any charters in the Virgin Islands! Just use discount code "Storyville". So, tell all your friends and be sure to click this link to check out his web site and read all about Alternate Latitude and book your next vacation today! - Alternate Latitude

If you want to experience offshore sailing, or spend a few days in the Bahamas aboard Alternate Latitude, check out the web site for opportunities to sail with Steve on his way down to the islands.

This summer Alternate Latitude will be available for charter in and around Galveston Bay.

Whether you want to sail, party, shop, eat great food, snorkel beautiful reefs, experience the Baths, or take quiet walks on the beach, you can do it all in the US and British Virgin Islands.

CLICK HERE TO SCHEDULE A FUN FILLED VACATION - ALTERNATE LATUTIDE - and don't forget to use your discount code "Storyville".

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Blog Work

If you've been a follower of my blog you might have noticed that I haven't always been right on top of things in the world of Storyville's blog. Since we've had some fairly reliable internet on the boat this summer (a first for us since we left Kemah) I've been trying to make up for my laxness. Is that a word? I'm pretty sure it is and it seems to describe my blogging attitude for the last couple of years.

We purchased a long range wifi system and we couldn't be happier. It's called THE WIRIE and so far, we're very impressed. Click the link to go to their web site and learn all about it. We've only had the chance to use it in Luperon but we're looking forward to tying it out in other harbors and anchorages soon. We have high hopes that we will have better access to the internet as we cruise down island.  So, fingers crossed, I will be able to keep the blog updated with more regularity.

Be sure to check out all the changes that I've made recently.  There are more options on the left side of the blog for you to use to keep up with us and to stay in touch.  I've joined a couple of blog sharing sites and I would love it if my followers would check them out.  Click the "Top Sailing Blogs" badge and give Storvyille a "boost" or start following us on "Network Blogs".  Some of the other cool things to do:

  • Find out where we are with the "Where is Storyville" button
  • Become a follower on Google
  • Check out the list of our friends sailing/cruising blogs
  • Subscribe to RSS feed
  • Follow us by email
  • Share posts of Facebook and Twitter
  • Leave a comment at the bottom of posts

So don't be shy.  We really love to hear from everyone.  

Beach photo - enjoy!
The Internet is becoming the town square for the global village of tomorrow. ~Bill Gates

National borders aren't even speed bumps on the information superhighway. ~Tim May

A journey of a thousand sites begins with a single click. ~Author Unknown

Friday, October 19, 2012


Luperon will always hold a place in our hearts.  We have spent almost a year here when you add up the months we were here last summer/fall/winter and this summer.  We have made so many friends, between locals, cruisers and other gringos from all over the world that have settled here and now call it home. The cost of living is very reasonable and the Dominican people are so very friendly.  You can't walk down the street without everyone you pass calling out "hola, hola".  And, yes, you must stay it twice.   And between the mountain ranges and the mangrove harbor the protection for Storville and our other cruising friends during hurricane season is unbeatable.

I realize that the word on the interwebs amongst cruisers is that it's not safe here. We love this country, for all the reasons listed above and many more.  In our opinion, having done a little cruising and having visited several different countries, there is theft everywhere. What we see here is mostly petty theft of gasoline, although some of the boats that are in the harbor with no one on board are obvious targets for thieves, and there has been several instances of break ins on those boats.   The frustrating part is that most cruisers are of the opinion that the authorities don't do enough to prevent these type of robberies and, we don't always understand the justice system here. We try to take the normal precautions and we always lock our dinghy when leaving it at the dock and our motorcycle when we are out and about. Of course, we use common sense and pay attention to our surroundings and stay out of any area that might be dangerous, especially at night.  Just like you would anywhere else. Having said that, I want to encourage cruisers to consider Luperon as a "hurricane hole" for the summer if it fits into your plans.  I don't think you will regret it.

As much as we love this place, we are getting really excited about moving on. Storyville's plans, which are carved in jello, are to head out of here in November and sail down the Caribbean to Grenada where we will spend next hurricane season.  Some times we will be sailing with our friends on Pipe Muh Bligh (Rene and Stacy), Island Dream (Pat and Darnell), Illusions (Pat and Lucy) and several others, sometimes we will be on our own.  We are hoping to catch up with other cruising friends that we have met along the way and we are sure that we will meet new friends as we go.  It always works out that way. We will definitely do lots of exploring and snorkeling and swimming.  I just can't wait!

Laundry day in Luperon
Chicharones - I won't miss those!
Naked moto riding - who wouldn't miss that?
The veggie market - definitely will miss that every Tuesday
My favorite veggie market guy
If you reject the food, ignore the customs, fear the religion and avoid the people, you might better stay home. ~James Michener

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The Blow Holes

The entrance to Luperon Harbor can be tricky.  One reason is the rocky shoreline, especially to the east of the entrance.  One cool thing about that rocky shoreline though is the blow holes.  Natural holes in the limestone that create blow holes, especially when there is a northern swell, as we have had for the last couple of days.  It's a nice, easy hike out to the blow holes and we decided that with the north swell, it would be a good idea to see if the blow holes were blowing.  Our hiking party consisted of Rene and Stacy (Pipe Muh Bligh), Pat and Darnell (Island Dream), Pat and Lucy (Illusions) and myself (Storyville).  We were rewarded with some spectacular displays......

The beach on the way over to the blow holes
Darnell and Pat (Island Dreams)
Pat and Lucy (Illusions)
This is a sad sight.  A hermit crab living in the top of a wine bottle.
Darnell and Pat
I don't know what kind of fruit this is, but it looks really cool

Saturday, October 13, 2012

This a a video of Storyville under full sail in the Bahamas.  It's a little blurry, but I still love seeing her sail in blue water.  The video was taken over a year ago and we've put many miles under the keel since then.   Enjoy!

To reach a port we must sail - sail, not lie at anchor - sail,  not drift. ~Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Up anchor! Up anchor!
Set sail and away!
The ventures of dreamland
Are thine for a day.
~Silas Weir Mitchell

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Another Favorite from the BVIs - Diamond Cay

One challenge of cruising in the British Virgin Islands is that most anchorages are filled with mooring balls that cost between $25.00 and $30.00 per night.  That might not be a bad thing if you are on a charter and plan on returning to work within the next few weeks, but for us, we would go broke pretty quick if we had to spend that kind of money every day just to "park" our boat somewhere.

We loved to find anchorages where you really could anchor, because, as of now, that is still free!  So that's just one of the many things that we loved about Diamond Cay.  There is good snorkeling there, we saw sea turtles, rays, fish and coral, all just a short swim from Storyville. And you are just minutes away from two of the most beautiful beaches in the BVI, Sandy Spit and Sandy Cay.  There is an awesome bubbly pool that is an easy hike away. There is a wonderful restaurant there, Foxy's Taboo.  I was fortunate enough to celebrate my birthday there this year.  In fact, as we sailed around the islands, we found ourselves returning to Diamond Cay several times.  Click the link above and get some information about Diamond Cay.  Check out the photos and videos below.

Storyville, Pipe Muh Bligh and unknown catamaran anchored at Diamond Cay
Wonderful birthday dinner at Foxy's Taboo (My birthday and Rene's)
View from the top of the Bubbly Pool
Twin boats Libery and Storyville (both Morgan OI)
Poison Trees!  Thanks for the warning about the Manchineel  Tree

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Water.  We all agree that it's important to drink enough water every day so that our bodies can stay healthy. I'm sure that must be doubly true here in the tropics where there is a lot of, shall we say, perspiration going on (because it sounds better than saying we're sweating like pigs). One of our favorite things that we discovered here in the Dominican Republic is bags of water (funda de aqua).  

We love them for many reasons.  Obviously the world would benefit from just a little less plastic.  Compared to a plastic bottle of water, this must leave a much smaller carbon footprint. When you're on the go you can put the empty bag in your pocket and toss it when you find a trash can.  Plus, they are portable and as an added benefit, you can freeze them and use them in your cooler.  As ice and then later, drinking water.  I like to take a frozen one along on a hot day and drink it as the ice melts.  

We are surprised that we've only seen them here in the DR.  I hope that we find more as we sail Storyville down through the Caribbean Islands.  Just in case, I think we will stock up while we can.

I believe that water is the only drink for a wise man.  ~Henry David Thoreau
     ~~~~~~~~~Thank goodness we never claimed to be all that wise~~~~~~~

Pure water is the world's first and foremost medicine.  ~Slovakian Proverb

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Pro Charger

Deana:  One thing I can tell you about cruising guys, or even boating guys in general, is that they really love to talk about batteries, engines, anchors, etc., etc, etc.  I admit that sometimes when a group of guys get together and start going on about their battery bank, I just kind of tune out.  But I do start to pay attention when I am directly affected by said battery bank.  We have recently stopped using our refrigerator because of the draw on our batteries.  Now, you've got my attention.  I really like refrigeration!  Luckily we can still use our Engel freezer/refrigerator, but it's a challenge, if I keep it cold enough to keep the meat frozen, well, you can guess what that might do to, say, lettuce.   

Fortunately for Storyville and myself, we have Troy.  He got busy figuring out what we need to do to correct our battery situation.  I will let him tell you in his own words (yes, I convinced Troy to write a blog post).    He did say that it was easier to write about it than to do it! So, maybe you will be like me and just tune out, but I bet there are some guys out there who will really enjoy this post:

Troy:  One of the challenges of living on a boat and “off the grid” is keeping your batteries charged and happy. We have one solar panel, an Air Breeze wind generator, and a 5kw Nor Pro diesel generator to keep the batteries charged up, our fridge box is cooled by an old style adler barber type that just draws too many amps to be useful, it just kills the batteries if the wind dies down or the sun goes down and that happens every day.. so we turned off the fridge until we update that, in the meantime I replaced our old weak 40 amp battery charger with a new 60 amp smart charger from Stirling.

Our battery bank is 4 Trojan 6 volt deep cycle batteries putting out 12 volts, and about 470 amp hours, and a starting battery for the gen set, so my research says it needs to be putting in about 60 amps to keep them happy. The charger I had was an old style 40 amp True Charge, and it was not running at capacity at all so out it goes, in goes new wiring, new 80 amp fuses, new terminals and a new location for the actual charging unit. So far, its been just great! I can run a desulphanating cycle automatically and I believe the batteries will really respond to that! We now have a remote control, and a battery temperature sensor that lets us see just how healthy the battery bank is.

We have a few more projects to get done, I think the next will be an Engel cold plate and compressor for the fridge box, these use about 2.8 amps and we have the Engel freezer that has been a great piece of equipment to have, I really recommend the Engel products. I also think we will add more solar panels to the boat, the cost is coming down and its always sunny around here. Maybe in Puerto Rico. I would like to add a bit more amp hours to the battery bank also, I think St. Martin for that.. we'll see..

On another boat project that has worked out, the Natures Head composting toilet is working just as advertised! No fuss, no smell, no water to flush and I can be rid of 4 thru holes and all that stinky hose and bladders, once again, I recommend this piece of equipment...

Ready for installation
What a beauty!
Installed and ready to go
Just look at it work it's magic
Fuses installed
Here is the remote
Storyville's batteries are happy and we have enough bananas to last a lifetime
You've got a lot of choices.  If getting out of bed in the morning is a chore and you're not smiling on a regular basis, try another choice. ~Steven D. Woodhull (U.S. geologist, 1976- )

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Sandy Cay, British Virgin Islands

Today I want to tell you about one of the most beautiful islands that we've seen. It's so beautiful there that we've used pictures taken at Sandy Cay, of both us and Storyville, on our boat cards and as profile pictures on Facebook. The picture of Storyville at the top of this blog was taken there. It's just one of those places.

It is a small island close to Jost Van Dyke and it has no protected anchorage so the moorings there are for day use only. The island is uninhabited and the beach is spectacular! We spent the better part of a day there soaking up the sunshine with Pipe Muh Bligh while they still had Geoie and Sarah aboard. In fact Sarah's Facebook profile pic was taken that day too.

Enough already – I'll just post the pictures and let them speak for themselves, aren't they worth a thousand words?

Enjoy a little day dream while you look at these!

Sandy Cay
One of my favorites

Troy's FB profile pic

The guys are having fun
Sarah's FB profile pic.

Hard to leave, but here is Pipe Muh Bligh headed to Jost Van Dyke

Friday, October 5, 2012

La Pulga

Yesterday Darnell decided that we needed a girls day out so Darnell, myself and Jackie from s/v Blackthorn Lady decided to take a trip to the nearby town of Imbert to visit the Haitian Flea Market, or La Pulga. The 30 minute gua gua ride was an easy one because we paid for an extra seat so that we could have only the three of us in back seat of a compact car, instead of the usual four.  Believe me, its worth the RD$60!

The flea market takes place every Thursday.  There are Haitian markets in towns all across the Dominican Republic, with some really big ones along the border of Haiti and in some of the larger towns.  Imbert is not a large town, so the flea market is probably small compared to some of the other ones.  The Haitians are selling items that are donated to their government as foreign aid. You can find toiletries, clothing, shoes, bags and all sorts of stuff. We saw lots of clothing from Old Navy, Gap and even Abercrombie. Some of the vendors are more organized and have nicer things, some of the clothes even have the tags still attached.  Some of them just put the clothes out in a big pile that you dig through.  For some you must ask the price and be ready to haggle, others just shout out that everything in their pile is one price (treinta, treinta, todo a treinta).  We even saw people sleeping on top of their piles.

Haiti is the poorest county in the western hemisphere.  Most of the people there make less than $2.00 US per day.  Many are illiterate and the widespread deforestation has led to soil erosion making farming impossible and leading to many many other problems.  There are some great organization out there with wonderful people helping the people of Haiti.  Oddly enough, we met one of those people at Leverick Bay in the British Virgin Islands. Michael Beans of The Legendary Micheal Beans Show raises funds for The Good Samaritan Foundation of Haiti, Inc.  Please take a minute to check out both web sites.  Michael Beans Show for fun and The Good Samaritan because you might feel the need to help them help Haiti.

Piles and piles of clothes to dig through
Darnell found something!
Too bad I didn't need any men's dress shoes
More vendors