Monday, April 29, 2013

Friends Having Fun

Since I'm landlocked for now it's sometimes difficult to look at all of the wonderful Facebook posts and blog posts that our cruising friends are posting day after day. Just taunting me with pictures and statuses (apparently that really is a word - statuses) of the fantastic places they are visiting. Places that Troy and I had planned to be visiting on Storyville right about now. They are all making plans to meet each other down island and talking about the next fun thing on their agenda. That's OK though. I can't stop looking and I'm living vicariously through them.

Since I'm suffering through this, I thought that some of my readers might like to do a little suffering too. Many of you (especially my sailing/cruising friends) already follow some of these blogs, but I wanted to remind everyone about some of the awesome people that are out there cruising and doing a great job of writing about it and sharing it with others.

Note: To be directed to the great blogs mentioned below, just click on the yellow link

Our friends Rene and Stacy on Pipe Muh Bligh and Patrick and Lucy on Illusions are still in Sint Maarten. Apparently they've taken up residence there. Just kidding, I think they will be moving on soon. I wanted to mention Pipe Muh Bligh because, not only are they wonderful friends (we've been cruising with them for the past 2 years), but Stacy kept a great blog at one time. I say this because I don't remember the last time she made a blog post. I am hoping to accomplish 2 things by mentioning her: 1) I can see if she is reading my blog!, and 2) I can shame her into starting up her blog again. You know I love you Stacy!

And then there's our friends that are charting beautiful catamarans in the Virgin Islands. There is our best friend Steve and his fiancĂ© Deb on Alternate Latitude. They keep a blog about their charter business in the Virgin Islands. If you ever want a dream vacation, give them a shout. Tell them that Storyville sent you and you might even get a discounted rate! We also have a wonderful friend Shane on Guiding Light who charters there and keeps a great blog detailing his charter adventures and his life aboard.

Everyone who cruises, or dreams about doing so, has probably already read Zero to Cruising's blog. We met Mike and Rebecca in The Bahamas 2 years ago and even though we had different sailing plans, we managed to cross paths again recently in Sint Maarten. We are hoping to see more of them when we make it back to Storyville in Grenada. Mike keeps a great blog and he manages to post really often - follow along and dream of living their life.

Even though we've never met Brittany and Scott, we've followed their blog, Windtraveler, forever. Brittany is a great writer and I love catching up with almost daily blog posts about their life cruising with the sweetest baby, Isla. It's the story of a family afloat on this big blue marble. They are also headed for Grenada and we hope to meet them one day soon.

Another blog that I love following is Turf to Surf. One couple, two cats and a monohull on the move. Tasha is a wonderful writer and they are just starting their cruising adventure. They fell in love with the Dominican Republic and are busy exploring that beautiful island that we fell in love with as well.

Our friends John and Jolanda on Joho are world travelers and have created cruising guides along the way. Stop in for a look at their blog and guides. We met them in Sint Maarten last year and cruised together back to the British Virgin Islands where we parted ways only to meet up with them again this year in Sint Maarten. I love it when we get to reconnect with friends!

There are so many great cruising blogs out there and several ways to find them. Click the links to take a look, but be warned! Cruising blogs can be addicting:

I have a list of blogs on the right side of this page. Almost all are friends who are cruising or living aboard or some mixture of the two. Some are still actively writing their blogs and some have given up on that venture. All are still interesting to read, especially if you ever dream of cutting those dock lines and setting sail.

I leave you with two of my favorite sailing quotes:

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.
--Mark Twain

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

Monday, April 22, 2013

Feeling Left Out!

Troy is in St. Martin/Sint Maarten with Storyville while I am back in Texas with my mom and family. Since we made the decision to stay in Texas for the next several months, it fell on Troy to make sure that our boat/home finds a safe berth for the upcoming summer and fall. That's hurricane season and a dangerous time for an unattended boat to be floating around in the Caribbean.

After weeks of talking to other cruising friends and sending many emails to boat yards and marinas, we decided that we would leave Storyville on a mooring in Grenada. Troy and our friend Damon will make the crossing next week and then Troy will spend the next couple of weeks securing a mooring and making sure that Storyville is ready for whatever may come while she is there all alone. Fortunately for us, many of our cruising family will be spending the summer in Grenada and will be able to keep any eye on Storyville for us.

It's killing me to see Troy and Storyville set out for the open ocean without me. It just doesn't seem right. Since the day we bought Storyville Troy and I have crewed her together. We've never made a passage without each other. After cruising for 2 years and making many overnight (and sometimes longer) passages, I can say that I'm never worried or scared. I trust Troy and I trust Storyville and I enjoy the time that we're out on the water. I think this will be the most worrisome and scary passage for me - the one that I'm not on. I won't have contact with Troy for several days and I will be keeping up with him though our SPOT device.
Why Grenada? Well, we had intended to spend hurricane season there anyway, because it's a beautiful island with many fabulous anchorages. The biggest advantage is that is considered to be south of the "hurricane belt". Having said that, Grenada has been affected by hurricanes in the past and, undoubtedly, will be hit again. The most devastating being Hurricane Ivan in 2004, when the 130 mph winds (Category 3 hurricane) decimated the islands nutmeg trees and therefore the nutmeg industry and 90% of the islands homes were lost to the storm, which killed 39 people on the island. Interestingly Grenada had not seen a hurricane in 49 years prior to Ivan.

Looking at the statistics, it is clear that Grenada is more likely to be affected by tropical storms than by hurricanes. We can't be sure that we're doing the best thing for our boat and home, but we are trying to make sure that she's in a secure place while preserving the cruising kitty so that we can get back to her and resume the cruising lifestyle that we love. 

Never a ship sails out of the bay
But carries my heart as a stowaway.
~Roselle Mercier Montgomery, The Stowaway

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

The Hard Decisions

My family - Mom is front row left
Every now and then in life we come to a time where we are forced to make a tough decision. Sometimes, the decision really isn’t even in our hands at all.

We left Storyville in Sint Maarten in March to fly back to Texas for a visit with our family. Just before our already scheduled trip my mother had a minor stroke and ended up in the hospital and then, in an assisted nursing facility. She is now at home, but the stroke and other underlying health issues left her with short term memory loss. The other health issues have also affected her ability to get around easily. As a result, she needs live in care at all times. She is also dealing with some personal issues that, due to her memory loss, will require assistance. My daughter and my sister have been doing a wonderful job taking care of her, but after seeing her condition and realizing that it probably would not get much better, Troy and I decided that we need to be here to help with her care, and, for the moment, my place is here with her.
She has a nice big house with plenty of room for us, so, we made the difficult (but obvious) decision to secure Storyville and return to Texas for an extended stay to help with her care.  I’m not sure how long we will be here, but I do know one thing:  our cruising days are not over.  We are not done living the fantastic life that we have made for ourselves. Our general plan is to stay here through the summer and help get mom situated as best we can, then we will re-evaluate and hopefully be able to return to Storyville.

Troy flew back to Sint Maarten and is making the decision about where to leave Storyville for the next several months. Because she will be alone during hurricane season, this is a very difficult decision for us. We are currently leaning toward sailing her down to Grenada for the season where she should be safely out of the hurricane belt, of course, those who pay attention to these things know that Grenada is not always safe from storms, but we will just have to pray for the best.
I’m just thankful that we have so many friends that are willing to drop everything and fly to a beautiful Caribbean island and go on a fantastic sailing trip in order to make sure our boat stays safe.  We are fortunate that we have friends like that. (Yes, this paragraph was just a little on the sarcastic side, since I really wish it was me making that trip).

The pity party is over though, because, although I’m sad to set the cruising and sailing aside for a short while, there are some wonderful benefits to staying here in Texas (besides the incredibly hot summer that I’m sure I have in store). My beautiful daughters, my grandchildren, my sister, my nieces, aunts, friends, mother in law and sister in law all live here. I feel very loved in Texas! I can’t wait to spend time with them all and especially time spoiling my grandkids.
I just hope I have some friends in Kemah reading this, because I will definitely need some sailing time! Hint, hint. You know who you are!

Youth fades; love droops; the leaves of friendship fall; A mother's secret hope outlives them all.  ~Oliver Wendell Holmes