Tuesday, February 19, 2013

St. George, Utah

We decided we hadn't spent enough time in the car driving across the country, so we headed 5 hours south to St. George with Preston's family.  We spent the weekend lounging by the pool, playing with kids, golfing, and hanging with the fam.  Preston's oldest brother has a great vacation house down there that we all love to go to.  The home is so much fun we spend most our time there.  All of the boys played a 4 generation golf game one day and then all the girls went to a movie that night.  We always have so much fun when the whole family gets together.  I am very lucky to have 4 fantastic sisters-in-law and the best mother-in-law that can all have a good time together.  When we are away from all the kids and men we joke and laugh the entire time.  We feel incredibly fortunate to have so many people in our lives that enjoy each others company.  In total we spent the weekend with 13 adults and 14 grandkids.  On the way home we stopped at the Meadow hot springs for a quick soak and to bypass some of the traffic.  Just 5 miles off the highway and in the middle of a cow pasture there are some great natural hot springs.  They are big and deep and have an average temperature of 102-104 degrees.  With the outside air at around 26 degrees the springs felt great.  I would recommend anyone driving I-15 around Fillmore to stop and check them out.  The 1/2 moon lit the way and the water was crystal clear.  I could see Preston as clear as if he was right in front of me only he was 12 feet down.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Best Friends

To Layla,

How do we let you know how much you will be missed? We have tried the last few days by putting you up on the bed and snuggling our heads by yours, because this is what you would do for us.  You have been the best friend that never disappoints.  When we were sad, frustrated, or lonely you knew it was time to pull out those big puppy dog eyes and drop your head on our laps so heavy it felt like it was all that kept you standing.  We feel lucky to have had you in the family for almost 11 years and selfish for not wanting to say goodbye.  You will always be Preston's baby girl and that can never be replaced.  You were the best dog, obedient, loyal, smart, well behaved, and above all loving.  Even though the last few years slowed you down we will never forget your energy.  Jumping on the back deck to come inside, chasing Preston anytime he got on a bike or motorcycle, and tearing up the grass chasing the frisbee are some of the things we love to think about.  You loved going to grandmas.  Running through her house so fast you would almost knock her over.  All to get outside and play with all the kids.  As hard as it has been for us to make this decision it has been even harder to see the dog we know lose her ability to "be a dog."  We know you don't mind laying on your pillow all day, but we know you would rather come to the door when we get home, spend the day outside chasing Lucy, and following Preston everywhere he goes.  You have always been more than a dog in our family.  We already miss you and have a hole in our hearts.  We want to thank you for being Preston's, Tara's and Lucy's best friend.  In the end that's all we can do. We can't say goodbye, only thank you and see you later.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Salt Lake City, Utah

We made it home Sunday night just in time for dinner.  Driving through I-80 got a little scary and semi trucks were wrecked and had slid off the road all over the place.  We made it through the 12 degree pit stops, barely.  As we got to Salt Lake City the temperature was now 20 degrees and everyone continues to tell us, "It's not cold today, it's warm."  I completely disagree.  If you can see your breath when you talk and have to wear gloves or your fingers will fall off IT IS COLD!  I now feel silly for ever saying I was cold in the Bahamas.  I was not cold, not even close.  We are so grateful and in debt to my dad and neighbor who plowed and shoveled our driveway after each storm.  We spent the whole day yesterday clearing the snow off the back side of our driveway.  We even used my dad's 4-wheeler with a plow and it still took the whole day.  Anyway we are back and excited to see friends and play in the frozen water.  Hopefully we can get everyone out of their nice 70 degree homes and out on some hills to go sledding.

Time to go to the grocery store!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Dirty Jobs

Ohh the joys of owning a boat with a bathroom. Our head (toilet) uses salt water to flush and we empty our holding tank when we are 3 or more miles off the coast. As we were crossing we could not get the pump to pump anything out. We tore apart the valves and fittings but all were clear. The problem was no air flow. The hose running from the head to the holding tank was plugged with salt build up and other stuff..... We had to pull out the old filled hose to replace it with a new one. We will just say that our bathroom has now been scrubbed top to bottom with bleach and we have a new hose run to the tank and everything is working perfectly.
We pulled the boat back out of the water, cleaned everything, and packed up to leave in one afternoon. Preston is anxious to get back for Sunday dinner with the family and we worked our tails off getting the boat ready for storage. We are now on the road and have only thought of a few items we left on the boat that are needed, not that one more thing would fit in the jeep. We are sitting snuggly with luggage and look pretty ghetto with our tarp wrapped totes on top of the car. We have crossed through Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, Missouri, Illinois, Kansas, Colorado, and are currently in Wyoming.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Freeport and Atlantic

Finley let us sleep until 10:00 and then he just had to get us up so we could hang out all day.  The sun was out all day and there was no wind and no clouds in the sky.  We had unlimited fresh water so we cleaned all the salt off the boat and made her look all shiny and new.  Preston got to work on a loose board that had bugged me on the dock since day one and it is now more solid than ever.  We went to lunch with Finley where all of us had the best chicken we have ever had.  It was a local bahamian joint that a tourist would never find, but we were lucky enough to go to.  We stopped at OBS and picked up some more fishing lures and noticed the anchor we traded was priced at $400.00!  We also filled a few gas cans and stopped at the grocery store.  Finley was excited to say the least that we were back in town.  He came down to the boat and played cards for a while trying to convince us to stay another day so we could go fishing again.  Too bad we have to follow the wind and we were set to have northeast winds the next day with small seas.  It was going to be an easy crossing and we didn't want to fight the weather again.
We left Freeport at 7:00am pulled out the sails and started across the Atlantic.  The forecast was for 10-15 knot winds from the northeast and 2-3 foot seas.  We started with about 10 knots of wind from the east and then it died down to nothing and we put the motors in the water and motored most the way back.  A few times the wind picked back up and we put the sails up but kept the motors running too.  It was the most perfect beautiful day we have had yet, only no wind.  In the middle of the Atlantic Ocean we had no waves and the water was glass.   Who would have pictured sitting in the middle of the ocean with no land in sight for hours and water this smooth.  We had a group of dolphins join the bow of our boat for a few minutes which was so much fun.  Every time we see dolphins we all get so giddy and run to the bow of the boat.  The rest of the day was spent reading, laying in the sun, and playing games.  We had the fishing lures out all day and just as the sun was setting we caught a big one.  It took 10 minutes to reel in and we had a delicious tuna dinner, with more steaks in the fridge for the next few days.  We pulled into Fort Pierce, Florida around midnight and anchored in the ICW for the night just outside our marina.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Northwest Providence Channel

We left Little Stirrup Cay at 8:00am with wind coming from the northwest, which is the exact direction we are headed.  It was only 55 miles so we figures we would just tack a few times to stay on course.  By 4:00pm we still had 37 miles to go and had been fighting a strong current all day.  We decided if we put the sails away and motored we would get to Freeport by 1:00am and if we kept going how we were basically making 3/4 mile per hour we would get there in 3 days!  We started motoring and the sun set shortly after leaving us in the dark of the night with no moon and billions of stars.  About 25 miles off the coast we were joined by not one, not two, not three, but 6 cruise ships all moving within a 12 mile radius.  This does not include the smaller crafts and handful of cargo ships that we only saw on the radar.  At one point I was calling a cruise ship that was 1 mile off our starboard headed for us and got no response.  Shortly after they did alter their course and crossed directly behind us and then turned course to follow on our port for 9 miles.  Just after he crossed behind us and was on our port we heard a call on the VHF for the sailing vessel going 4 knots headed at 340 degrees northwest at our exact gps location.  I responded and was asked to alter our course to 305 degrees as he would be passing on our starboard in 20 minutes.  I altered our course and sure enough 30 min. later we had 2 cruise ships flanking our sides and 2 headed toward us with 2 more a few miles behind us.  I was very happy our radar was working and all of our running lights.  They all came and left just a fast but for the 10 miles we were on edge looking 360 degrees every few seconds.  We pulled into our "home" or the marina we stayed at for 3 weeks just after 1:00am tied up and hit the sack.  It had been a long day of fighting the wind and current.  No matter how many times we adjust our plans to go with the weather it always seems to change and we have a rough passage.  One thing is for sure and that is we have had the most amazing sunrises and sunsets any of us have ever seen.  The sunset on this day takes the cake.  What is that old salt saying?  "Red sky at night, sailor's delight.  Red sky in the morning, sailor's take warning."

What does it mean when the sky is on fire?

Monday, February 4, 2013

Little Stirrup Cay

We left the marina around 11 and headed for the fuel dock but could not fuel as the fuel barge was there and we were told to wait until 2 or 3.  We decided to we had enough fuel to get us back to Grand Bahama Island so we left and anchored just south of Little Stirrup Cay.  Our plan has changed and we are now headed back to Freeport for a 1 day stop on our way back to Florida.  We will be heading back to Florida and then back to Salt Lake City for a couple months.  We still have some loose ends to tie up with our house and jobs.
Little Stirrup Cay is owned by the cruise lines and feels like Disney Land.  The beaches are lined with sun chairs, the water is filled with blowup toys, and the waters around the islands are buzzing with waverunners and parasailors.  The vegetation is sprayed for bugs every few days and when we could smell the BBQ we decided it was time for us to sneak on land.  We hopped in the dingy, motored over and conspicuously pulled the dingy up the beach between rocks trying to hide it.  Walking around the island we blended in fine and got to the restaurant where we found out they had just shut down for the day.  Then all of a sudden everyone started packing up and walking back to the shuttle boat.  We were the only people walking in the wrong direction and at this point we thought we were for sure going to get caught, but we made it back to the dingy and headed to the point of the island.  We jumped in the water to catch dinner and yet again anchored the dingy right on top of the lobsters!  The locals had stopped by our boat a few days ago to see if we wanted to buy some lobster for $10 and we were shocked at the size of their lobsters.  The tails were easily the size of your head and the whole lobster was bigger than a small dog.  We turned them down determined to catch our own monsters.  They told us to look by the cruise ship islands and so we did.  We didn't find the monsters but one was a fairly good size and the other two were the size our last ones were.  I even got brave and stuck my hand under the ledge one was in and just grabbed his antenna and pulled him out.  It was trying to get away and I could barely hold onto it.  We missed dinner on the island but ended up with fresh baked bread and garlic butter lobster pasta.

Market Fish and Soldier Cay Part II

I will start off by saying that we have not yet figured out how to get our SSB radio to work.  Without internet we had been using the VHF in the Abacos to get the weather, but in the Berries there is no broadcast on the VHF.  We have spent the past few days fighting the weather with no clue of what the day will bring.  The only manual missing is the SSB radio and we can not get it to pick up anything.
We left Market Fish Cay around 9:00 with the intent of going to Flow's Conch Bar for dinner which was only 10 miles away.  As we pulled out of the pass by Market Fish the seas were 4-6 feet and the wind was 15 knots right on our nose.  We spent the day being bounced up and down and made it to Frozen Cay around 4:00.  It was low tide and so we could not make the pass into the bay with Flow's Conch Bar and tried anchoring just outside but the anchor would not grab.  The bottom was hard and the wind was picking up to 20 knots and the current was strong.  We left the shallows to anchor in deeper waters that was more protected from the wind and waves.  We had no luck again as the bottom was hard rock again and the anchor just kept dragging.  It was starting to get late and the weather was getting worse and then we heard on the VHF something about a cold front moving in and the worst was yet to come.  Preston heard a few mayday calls coming from Nassau and we decided to head back to Market Fish Cay where we knew we had a good holding and protection for the night.  As we were headed back another sailboat was hailing on the VHF for any boats anchored in the Berry Islands.  After his second call and no answer I decided to answer to see if he was near us and looking for an anchorage.  Turns out he was in the same place we were trying to hold anchor with no luck as well.  I told him our plan was to head back north and that we had just left the pass between Frozen Cay and Little Harbour Cay where a reef lies in the middle and the wind was growing at 20 knots and the waves 10 feet.  He answered back that they would throw up sail and head our way trying to make it before dark.  Being the novice sailors we are were only motoring at this point until Dan and Preston decided that if he was going to sail so could we.  We only unfurled the jib 1/3 and were soon surfing down the 10 foot waves at 11.4 knots.  A new speed record for Jalapeño.  Watching the waves gather speed and height coming up from behind us was scary, but every time we just surfed right on top of them.  We pulled into our private bay leaving room for Sanctuary, our new friends we met on the VHF.  They hailed us on the VHF an hour later to let us know they were not going to make it before dark, but were thankful for the advice and would keep an eye out for us in the future.  We had a very restful night of sleep and the next morning decided that with the worst of the storm coming we no longer wanted to fight the elements and would head back to the top of the Berries hit the marina for a night, fuel up, stock up and use the internet.

 Preston caught a fish and while reeling it in something else caught it and left us with just the mouth

It took us all day and when we pulled into the Great Harbour Marina at 5:30 we tied up did some laundry and went to bed.  Oh guess who pulled in just before us and was in the slip right in front of us?  Sanctuary!  We were able to meet them and a few other liveaboards.  It was nice waiting out the storm in what they call a "Hurricane Hole."  Completely surrounded on all sides by land where the water doesn't even have a ripple let alone a wave or current.  We stay here for 2 nights and were able to walk about 5 miles to town and back.  It was nice to get off the boat and stretch our legs.

The locals use the dirt road to the left for a smoother ride

 The canal we enter to get to the marina