Friday, November 30, 2012


Caden, Kayla, Caleb, Westyn, Kylie
One of the reasons that I am enjoying our cruising so much is that I am blessed to be able to travel back to Texas to see my daughters and their families.  In fact, as I've said before, the only downside for cruising, for me, is that I miss seeing my family and seeing the grand kids grow up.  It happens so fast. We were just here for a visit in July and they have grown so much in those few months that it's hard to believe.

Troy and I have a blended family and we are fortunate that our daughters have all loved each other from the day they met back in 1996.  We are also fortunate to have two beautiful nieces that love them just as much.  Since they all have other families and some of them are married now and have additional family gathers to attend during the holidays, they decided years ago to create their own tradition called "Sismas". Each year around Christmas they get together for their own Christmas celebration with each other.  I love that they have kept this tradition alive, especially now that their families are growing. 

Since I am home now, they decided to have Sismas even earlier than usual so that I could be there with them.  I love these girls so much!  The only thing missing this year was Troy or, as he likes to be known among his grand kids - Super Captain Pawpaw!  We missed you last night Pawpaw!

Welcome to the family Bryant and Westyn

Zada, Amy and Bobby

Tory and Danny


Time to open presents!

Tory and Luna

Let's have some cake!
Having a sister is like having a best friend you can't get rid of. You know whatever you do, they'll still be there. ~Amy Li

How do people make it through life without a sister? ~Sara Corpening

Monday, November 26, 2012

Home is Where the Boat is

Storyville at anchor with our neighbor Pipe Muh Bligh
If you follow this blog then you know that I am in Texas visiting family for Thanksgiving while Troy stayed behind on Storyville. We've been out cruising for two years now and we have been so fortunate in those two years to be able to visit our children and families back home in Texas several times. When we left on Storyville I wasn't sure how often we would be able to come back for visits, due to questions like: a) where would we leave Storyville? and b) could we afford flights back to the states from the islands?  Fortunately, we have discovered that there are many places that we can safely leave our boat (depending on the time of year) and that there are many friends who will happily look after our boat while we are gone.  We have also discovered that flights back to Texas (if planned far enough in advance) have not been so expensive that they break the bank.  My youngest daughter even commented the other day that she was happy that she had been able to see us more than she expected to.

We get many questions from family, friends and acquaintances about our cruising lifestyle.  Questions like "Where do you go to the bathroom?" - "Do you ever leave sight of land?" - "Are you afraid of storms?".  I was asked a different question yesterday though: "Do you ever miss your home?".  Here is my answer to that question:

My home is Storyville, and yes, I miss her when I am gone. Do I miss having a house on land? The answer to that question is "no".  I love our boat and our cruising lifestyle so much that I couldn't imagine living any other way at this point in our lives, and I think, no, I'm pretty sure, that Troy feels the same way.

Storyville has all the comforts of home for us, and as long as Troy and I are both there and happy and healthy, then this is where our heart is.  I guess it must be true, home is where the heart is - and our heart is on Storyville!

Every house where love abides
And friendship is a guest,
Is surely home, and home sweet home
For there the heart can rest.
~Henry Van Dyke

Where thou art - that - is Home. ~Emily Dickinson

Sunday, November 25, 2012


Storyville has a new crew member.  Her name is Luna and she's just adorable.  She is a bundle of energy and I've been trying for two days to get some good pictures of her.  She's just too fast! Either she's sleeping or she's moving at the speed of light.  I tried all morning to get a good picture of her, but she's just too fast for the camera. I hope Troy and I can keep up with this little ball of energy once I get her back to Storyville.  I see lots of trips to the beach in our future, but that's a good thing. 

She's smart too.  She's just 9 weeks old and she already has the puppy pad figured out, mostly anyway.  As long as she's in the same room with it she will use it, let it out of her sight and she forgets that it exists. 

We thought long and hard about the responsibilities of having a dog on the boat and we finally decided that the pros outweigh the cons.  Every cruising family that we spoke to that has pets (dogs or cats) say the wouldn't do it any other way. We are looking forward to welcoming Luna into the family and sharing some salty adventures with her! She has no idea what adventures await.

How can you not love this face?
Dinner time

Nap time

Meet the cat

I think she will make a good guard dog.  Look at those teeth! 
Happiness is a warm puppy. ~Charles M. Schulz

My little dog - a heartbeat at my feet. ~Edith Wharton

Monday, November 19, 2012

Time to Start Packing

I am flying back to Texas in a few days to spend Thanksgiving with my family and to pick up our newest crew member, Luna.  Troy will stay here on Storyville in Salinas, Puerto Rico.  I sure will miss him but he will be left in good hands with Stacy and Rene and our other cruising friends. Stacy promises to feed him Thanksgiving dinner!  He has some boat projects planned for the time while I'm away, so hopefully he will stay busy and he won't miss me too much.

I can't wait to see my family, my daughters and sister and aunts and nieces and grand kids and mom and mother in law and sister in law.  I have such a wonderful, large family and it really feels good to get to spend a little time with them all.  I'm also looking forward to fitting in some time with friends.  I feel truly blessed to have so many wonderful people in my life.  Definitely a lot to be thankful for.

Troy and I also feel so blessed and thankful to be living our dream of sailing in the Caribbean.  What a life we have!  We are really looking forward to exploring the French islands on the way down to Grenada in the next several months.  And I'm looking forward to blogging all about it.  Thanks to our new Wirie AP, we have been able to pick up Internet in almost every anchorage. Even some of the more remote ones.  Hopefully we will continue to have luck with that as we head down island.

This is Luna, she's a Border Terrier and she's gonna be the best little sailor dog ever!

Happiness is a warm puppy. ~Charles M. Schulz

One ship sails east and another sails west
With the self-same winds that blow.
Tis the set of the sail and not the gale
Which determines the way they go.
As the winds of the sea are the ways of fate
As we voyage along through life,
Tis the act of the soul that determines the goal,
And not the calm or the strife.
-Ella Wheeler Wilcox

Friday, November 16, 2012

South Coast of Puerto Rico

We've been enjoying some little anchorages on the south coast of Puerto Rico for the last several days.  Now we are back in civilization in Ponce, the 2nd largest city in Puerto Rico and are looking forward to checking out the malecon tonight.  We got to do some of the things we've been missing, like swimming and kayaking.  I took a kayak trip through some mangroves where the water was crystal clear and I saw all kinds of interesting sea life hanging out in there.

We saw a manatee in La Parguera! It's the first one that I've ever seen and I've been looking since the day we arrived in Key West.  I couldn't get any pictures of him, he was just hanging out in the anchorage and swimming around, but it was still exciting.  I have also been watching for whales and now that we saw the pilot whales on our crossing from the Dominican Republic, I can cross that off my list too.  I am still hoping to see some bigger whales, and, of course any other manatees that cross my path would be a welcome sight.

La Parguera was a cool little community with these awesome floating houses.  We same some similar ones in Key West, but I love the way these were just tucked up in the mangroves with a boat dock on the front porch, or even a boat garage. 

Keep your feet on the deck, your hands on the tiller, your eyes on the horizon and your beer in the fridge!  ~B.E. Marshall

Monday, November 12, 2012


Yes, we are going gunkholing tomorrow and we can't wait! "What is gunkholing?" you might ask.  Wikipedia defines gunkholing as a boating and sea kayaking term referring to a type of cruising in shallow or shoal water, meandering from place to place, spending the nights in coves.  We are looking forward to exploring some anchorages along the southwest coast of Puerto Rico this week.  We plan to spend the night in some beautiful places with clear water and sandy beaches.  We want to swim, snorkel, kayak, dinghy and hike.  These are the things that I dreamed about back when we were planning on going cruising and we know from experience how much fun it will be to get back into the clear water and beautiful beaches that we missed all summer in Luperon.

 Some of the places that we will visit are La Parguera, Gilligan's Island and Isla Caja de Muertos (Coffin Island).  I don't expect to have Internet connections in most of those places, so we will be off the grid for several days.  We can't wait!

Of course, you can always see where we are by clicking on the "Where is Storyville" button on the right side of the page.  I promise to take lots of pictures!

This looks perfect for gunkholing!
I love to sail forbidden seas, and land on barbarous coasts! ~Herman Melville, Moby Dick

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Luperon to Boqueron

Looking back at the protected harbor of Luperon.
You can't even see the entrance!
Storyville set out from Luperon to sail (really to motor, or if we were lucky, motor sail) to Boqueron on Wednesday, November 7th at about 7:15 AM.  We figured that it would take us 48 hours if we didn’t run into any trouble, so we planned to make Boqueron by Friday morning.  There were five other boats with us, Pipe Muh Bligh, Island Dream, Illusions, Mojo and Hornblower Too.  It was a beautiful and calm morning, the seas were flat and there was almost no wind, just the conditions that we were looking for in order to have a smooth trip to our destination.

Some of our buddy boats on a smooth sea
The water was deep blue and beautiful, the sun was shining and we were feeling great just to be back on the move.  A small Marlin even did a dance just for us, leaping out of the water over and over again, at least 10 times!  That inspired me to get the fishing gear out and try to catch something (hopefully not a Marlin, that bill looks sharp!).  I had been trolling a couple of lines for several hours when we heard from our friends John and Barbara on Mojo that they had reeled in a Mahi Mahi , then not long after, they announced that they had caught a Tuna.  Now John was just bragging!  I started changing out lures and getting frustrated, we got a couple of hits but nothing on the line that whole day.  The next morning I set the lines again and several hours later, I finally got a hit and a fish was on the line!  It took about 10 minutes to get my beautiful Wahoo on board.  Unfortunately he got tangled in the other line that I was trolling and he was pretty cut up by the time I got him on board, plus we had a nice mess to untangle while dealing with a flopping, bloody fish at the same time.  We persevered and managed to get him aboard and filleted in no time.  He was a nice fish, but the only one that I caught on the whole trip.  Oh well, better than nothing.

After all that fish excitement, I needed a nap! I had a good couple of hours sleep and the first thing that I saw when I woke up and poked my head out of the companionway was a large pod of dolphins.  We decided to circle Storyville around and have a closer look as they were all hanging out on the surface.  When we got a closer look we realized that they were much larger than any other dolphins that we had ever seen and from what we could see of them, they were shaped a little differently.   They also were behaving a little differently than dolphins, just hanging out on the surface.  We could see that there was a baby in the group.  After we got back underway, we started talking about how big they were and different from other dolphins that we have seen.  We have a book on board – The Sierra Club Handbook of Whales and Dolphins.  It really came in handy for a little research, it didn’t take us long to realize that we had just seen a pod of Pilot Whales.  Cool!
Best photo I could get of the Pilot Whales

Pilot Whale - Not my photo (taken from internet)

Kamakazie Flying Fish!
On my second watch on the first night, it must have been about 2:00 in the morning.  I’m just sitting in the cockpit minding my own business.  Keeping watch for ships and other boats, when suddenly, something hits the back of my arm.  I start looking around only to discover that I have been hit by a flying fish!  There he was just flopping around in the cockpit, gasping for air! I managed to toss him back overboard and he left me his fishy, slimy smell as a reminder of his presence.  We saw many flying fish during the day and not one ever hit our boat, but it’s a different story at night.  I guess they can’t see so well.  I think we ended up with five or six of them on board.  Some we saved and some we didn’t even know were there until they surprised us with their stiff little bodies the next morning.  One even landed down in the galley and flopped around there until I managed to get him back overboard!  Flying fish are amazing to see.  It’s incredible how far they can literally fly over the waves.  It’s awesome to see a school of 30 or 40 of them appear out of the water and soar over the waves only to disappear back into the ocean.

Beautiful sunset on in the Mona Passage
At this point we were about 12 hours from Boqueron and everything was looking good.  We watched a beautiful sunset while we ate a nice dinner in the cockpit. Just one more overnight and we would arrive early in the morning.  I went below at sundown for some sleep before my first night watch.  I think I was asleep for about an hour when I hear a sudden drop in the RPM of the motor.  I know that this cannot be a good thing and I spring out of my berth to ask Troy what happened.  At that point, he wasn’t sure, the RPM dropped dramatically and his first thought was that we had picked up something with our prop.  Of course, this had to happen at the worst possible time.  It was early in the evening and we would not be able to figure out what our problem was until daylight, at least 9 hours away.  I managed to hang over the stern of the boat, hanging on by my toes and I could see that there was definitely something around our prop. We were fortunate at the time as there was a little wind and we were able to sail towards our destination and continue to make about five knots.  That lasted for an hour or so and the wind died and we were left drifting. We spoke to our buddy boats (at that time Pipe Muh Bligh and Mojo were the only ones in radio range) and we all agreed that Pipe would stick with us in case we needed assistance and Mojo would go ahead to Boqueron.  There was a pretty good swell and you wouldn’t even notice it if you were making way, but try sitting there not moving and you could definitely feel it, not bad, just a little uncomfortable.  We hove to for a while (for our non-sailing readers, that means that we adjusted the sails so that the boat pretty much just drifts with the current, it’s the closest you can come to stopping the boat while at sea) and then, we eventually just sailed (in the wrong direction) at about two knots for the rest of the night.  It was a long one and we were just hoping that we would be able to resolve our problem with the morning light.
Morning finally arrived and at first light we set out to figure out how to get Storyville going again.  Troy is great at taking care of Storyville and of me, just click on this sentice to take a look at this past post and see what I mean.  Having said that, diving and swimming is just not his strong suit.  We had discussed this during the night and I was planning to be the one to go into the water to try to free the propeller.  As I was getting ready Troy informed me that he wanted to try first.  He said that it felt like the right thing to do.  As soon as he got into the water and saw the situation, he decided that he would give me a try at it! 
We are so fortunate (thanks to prior planning by Troy) that we bought a Hookah rig recently, in fact, this was our first time to use it.  And no, that doesn’t mean a bong like apparatus that you smoke through, it’s a scuba regulator that is attached by a long hose to a scuba tank that you leave on deck of the boat.  I got all hooked up and climbed the stern ladder to take a look at the situation. 

The seas were fairly calm but there was definitely a swell that had Storyville see sawing up and down.  I saw a great big ball of fishing net wrapped tightly around our prop and, to be honest, at that moment I didn’t think I would be able to clear it.  It was just so big and the boat was moving so much, not to mention that there was about 1,500 feet of ocean underneath me.  That did freak me out just a little.  It’s such a big blue nothing down there below us.  Then I just decided that I had to put my big girl panties on and get the job done!

This is what our propeller looked like
Of course, that was easier said than done, but I was determined.  At first I couldn’t find anything that would work to cut the line. I tried a sharp knife and then I tried a machete (even using the saw part of the machete) but it just wouldn’t work.  Finally I settled on my small pair of kitchen shears and just started cutting each strand, one or two at a time.   It was long work, especially with the surge and the boat moving around so much.  I had to wrap my legs around the rudder and hang on while cutting the net and trying not to get my head banged up against the bottom of the boat.
This is the wad of net that I removed
It took about 20 minutes of work, but I am proud to say that I got the job done.  Of course, the next day (and even still today) I feel like I went a couple of rounds with George Foreman and then ran a marathon and then got into a fight with a cat.  I have cuts and bumps and bruises, but I got Storyville back underway and we made it into Boqueron with about a seven hour delay.

We are so thankful that Pipe Muh Bligh stayed with us.  We didn’t end up needing any assistance from them, but we sure felt better knowing they were there if we needed them.  Thanks a million Rene and Stacy!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

What a Crossing!

Troy and I have made the crossing between Luperon and Boqueron three times now and this was by far the most interesting crossing yet.  I am still getting my thoughts together and thinking about how to put them all down on the blog, and of course, there are photos to be edited.

We are safe and sound in Boqueron after a 54 hour crossing.  We got here at about 1:00 pm yesterday (November 9th, I think).  We got checked in, and headed into town for a hamburger and a couple of beers with the other vessels that had arrived at different times during the day, and then, back to Storyville for the night. We thought we got plenty of rest along the way, but apparently not because we both just slept for 12 hours straight.  It was a great weather window for heading east so there were five boats that arrived from different places in the Dominican Republic.

A few of the highlights of the crossing:

  • Caught a nice size Wahoo
  • Saw a big pod of Pilot Whales
  • Saw a small Marlin jumping
  • Got bombarded with Flying Fish during the night
  • Fouled our prop on a fishing net causing a 7 or 8 hour delay
Be sure to check back for the story!

Monday, November 5, 2012

We've Made Our Decision

We got our motorcycle sold, but we're sad to see it go
We've looked at all of our weather sources and we've decided that we have a 48 hour window starting Wednesday morning to make it all the way to Boqueron, Puerto Rico.  Since we will be heading east, and the trade winds normally blow from the east, we won't be able to sail much and so we are looking for conditions without much wind and wave, plus, we want what wind and waves there are not to be from the north because that would put us on a lee shore all the way down the coast of the Dominican Republic.

So, we are just finishing up our last minute preparations and we will check out of the Dominican Republic tomorrow.  It's a hard thing to say goodbye to all the great friends that we've made here.  Especially because we don't know when, or if, we will ever see them again.  Ah well, I guess that's the life of a cruiser.

Be sure to check in on our location by clicking the "Where is Storyville" button on the right side of this page. We should be at sea Wednesday and Thursday.  If all goes as planned we hope to arrive in Boqueron on Friday morning.

This will be our route from Luperon to Boqueron - #14 is the middle of the Mona Passage

This is the waves for the Mona Passage on Thursday when we will be there (0.5 to 1 meter , perfect)

This is the wind for the Mona Passage on Thursday (0 to 5, perfect).
 Everything looks good, we are ready and so is Storyville.  We're really looking forward to the holidays and to moving on to some beautiful, blue water!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Decision Time

Gotta have coffee for those long crossings
We've been watching the weather for the last week and trying to make a decision about getting to Puerto Rico. To get there we will need to make a 48 hour crossing and the last 24 hours or so of that crossing will be the Mona Passage.  the Mona Passage is the body of water between the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico.  It's dreaded by most sailors because, if you don't pick the right weather, believe me, you will regret the decision to ever leave sight of land.  There are shoals and unpredictable currents everywhere.  The last two times that we crossed the Mona Passage we had no issues at all, and we are hoping for another uneventful crossing.

All weather sources indicated that we should leave Luperon on Wednesday and arrive in Boqueron, Puerto Rico on Friday morning.  As we have been watching, our weather window has shortened, making us contemplate leaving Luperon on Tuesday morning in order to arrive in Boqueron on Thursday morning. Another option is to sail for 24 hours and tuck into Samana, Domincan Republic on the east coast and wait there for a good weather window to cross the Mona Passage.  I think we will make a decision today because, if we plan to leave Tuesday morning we have lots of things to get done tomorrow.

We've also been doing some provisioning. We wanted to stock up on some things that are cheaper here than in the Virgin Islands.  We will do more provisioning once we get to Puerto Rico.  We are always excited to get back to the land of Home Depot, Walmart and Sam's Club.  Yes, I know, places that I always tried to avoid when I lived back in the states, but it's kind of exciting to shop there when you haven't been to Wally World in 6 months.

Anyway, stay tuned for our decision.  You can track Storyville by clicking on the "Where is Storyville" button on the right side of the page.

I chopped up some of those delicious Dominican peppers so that I can freeze them

Some of our favorite snacks for night time crossings

I love my Food Saver

We can't leave here without plenty of Bohemia

Most of us, I suppose, are a little nervous of the sea. No matter what its smiles may be, we doubt its friendship. ~H.M. Tomlinson

Thursday, November 1, 2012

We're Back and We're Busy

We got back from Lifestyles Resort where we spent 5 days relaxing and eating and drinking and having fun. We had a great time and it's a good thing we got to chill a little because now that we are back in Luperon and watching the weather, it looks like we will move on next week. We are busying getting the last minute provisioning done and getting a few more projects done on Storyville.

Yesterday Troy removed the forward head in anticipation of getting our other Nature's Head. The Nature's Head is a composting, waterless toilet.  Read all about it by clicking the link. We liked our first one so much that we bought a new one for Troy's head. Yes, we each have our own head. It works out so much better for us that way. Unfortunately, we will be sharing for the next month or so until we meet up with Steve on s/v Alternate Latitude. He's such a great friend that he's sailing all the way to the Virgin Islands just to bring us a toilet!

In the next few days we will be watching the weather closely and deciding whether we will head straight to Boqueron, Puerto Rico, or stop in Samana, Dominican Republic, so check back to see where we are going. Heading to Boqueron would mean about a 48 hour sail. I say sail, but actually, we will be headed into the trade winds, which are always from the east. Since we need to go east, we will be motoring. It's doubtful that we will get to do any real sailing on this leg of the trip. We are definitely looking forward to getting to sail once we get on further down the Caribbean island chain and start to head in a more southerly direction.

We are also trying to keep up with a busy social calender here in Luperon. It's so hard to say goodbye to friends that we've made over the last year. We know that we will be sailing away and we don't know when the winds and tides will bring us back here. I do have a feeling that we will return one day, one way or another. We have come to love this beautiful island.

We had a great time and even celebrated Pat on Illusions birthday

Captain Troy getting some much needed rest (and doing it in style!)

Beautiful full moon