Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Hard Decisions Are The WORST!

It has been over a month and I apologize.  A lot of change is taking place and I think it is time to lay it all out there.   

Our last passage to Boqueron, Puerto Rico was an overnight to give me some more experience.  Once again we had dolphins follow us in as we approached our anchorage.  I was anticipating this stop because a friend of mine from St. Thomas was currently there with her husband on their boat.  She is an experienced cruiser and has a lot of stories and advice to share.  Boqueron was a cute little town.  One morning my friend Steph, Jake and I  walked the beach for exercise which was refreshing.  It was wonderful to have the wisdom of a friend and the outdoors to look at the future.  With this stop came a few challenges on the boat.  Our refrigeration was not working properly and our alternator was not charging the way it should.  Both those issues were diagnosed with trial and error of what we thought might be the problem.  The alternator problem was able to be fixed however the refrigeration is still not working properly.  With boat problems and high anxiety (on my part) created a decision making moment that would change our future.  

My sweet friend Steph
Jake and I have lived on the boat for four years.  I was used to living on the boat.  I didn't mind it most of the time.  The things that frustrated me were, #1 I felt like I was living in a garage because when maintenance has to be done it is completed inside your living room, kitchen etc. #2 When you need a tool or a part it is most likely under the seat of the couch in storage and to get it out and put it back is like an ongoing game of Tetris. #3 Living on an boat, there is constantly something that needs to be repaired, fixed or checked.  I got used to all of these dislikes but still didn't love the idea of them.  

While we were in Boqueron, we evaluated our schedule with the boat repairs and knew we were in a time constraint.   We had a few choices: we could dock the boat in PR in a safe place and come back for it after our Mexico trip to continue our cruising, we could "blue water it" straight up to Florida without stopping at any other islands etc.  or I could fly back, and Jake and his dad would "blue water it" back to Florida.    This was the moment I had to decide what our future was going to be.  I was anxious about the time restraint, money, and still scared while sailing.  With lengthly conversations on what to do and a lot of tears it was my choice on what to do next.    I had to admit that the cruising and traveling full time on a boat wasn't for me. 

As I pondered all the options and spoke to family and friends for advice, I knew I needed to make a hard decision. The decision was one that would effect our future and our lives greatly.  It was a decision that made me feel like I let Jake down and crushed his dreams.  I had to be strong and make the difficult decision to fly to Florida and have Jake and his dad deliver the boat 10 days straight.  We decided that it was time for us to move forward and change our adventure.    

We aren't sure what our next adventure will be but we are in Florida staying at Jake's parents, our boat sits on their dock while were fix it up and decide what is next.  

When I made this decision I worried about the repercussions it would have with our blog and the outlook others would have on me.  I felt like a quitter, a failure and wasn't sure if anyone would even be interested in our life now that it isn't as exotic.  I worried that Jake would feel trapped in the normality of being in the states and always want more.  

Since being back in Florida, traveling to Mexico and settling a little more in Florida we are making this work.  We are still decided all our options and weighing them carefully but until we decide; we are safe, happy and excited for the future.  

So to those that follow for an escape from their monotonous schedules and days I hope that our stories will still be seen as an adventure.  We will go crazy without some sort of adventure, so here is to the next step.  Change is difficult and scary but we are looking for our next adventure and excited for the future.   

Friday, June 5, 2015

Night Passages Across The Southern Coast Of Puerto Rico

We left Fajardo, Puerto Rico ready for me to experience my first night passage.  Well, I wouldn't say I was ready but we went for it.  Jake's dad Fred is traveling with us right now because I have been nervous about sailing with just the two of us.  We have been planning a couple night passages in our itinerary so that I can get comfortable with them while he is still on board with us.  

Thinking about night passages made me nervous.  I was nervous about not seeing what was around us and having to be at the helm sailing by myself.  Pretty much everything about the situation made me nervous.  Well, I made it! I have now completed two night passages! 

The first night we didn't make a set schedule for sleeping shifts so that  was a big "oops" on our part.  Fred, Jake and I barely slept at all.  The winds were fair and we traveled at a good speed through the night.  The seas were small but rocky and it made it difficult when attempting to sleep.  Even though the auto-pilot and radar use a lot of power Jake let me use both of them while I was at the helm.  Having those two tools assisting me made things a lot less stressful.  Night passages are pretty peaceful.  The only thing that was frustrating was how tired I was.   When I am tired and hungry I am not happy.  I am grumpy and frustrated!  It was not fun to wake up to tack the boat after finally getting to sleep.  I was completely exhausted, we all were when we arrived in Salinas.

Salinas, Puerto Rico was a stop to rest before our next passage.  We didn't do too much research on the town or what was there, just figured out some of the essentials.  Filling our propane was something that we neglected to do in Fajardo and knew it was available somewhere in Salinas.  We figured the propane fill was in the big town about 2 miles from the marina/anchorage.   Once we spoke to some other cruisers we were informed it was in the same neighborhood as the marina.  Finding it was an ordeal.  With the language barrier, asking for directions lead us in circles through the neighborhood during the hottest part of the day.  We were told that the propane fill was next to the Florist that was next to the hardware store.  So… we needed to locate the hardware store, then find the Florist, and that is where we can get our propane filled.  Though all this took about an hour, we found what we needed to and dropped off our tanks to be filled.  

Wanting to explore a little more we ventured the two mile walk into town.  We got some groceries, lunch, ice cream and exercise.  It was nice to get off the boat and stretch our legs before our next passage. 

The next afternoon we left for my second night passage.  This one went a little more smooth than the first, we were able to take turns attempting to sleep and had a beautiful sunrise in the morning.  My favorite part was the dolphins that met us in the morning as we were making our way into Boqueron, Puerto Rico.  

I am feeling a lot more comfortable sailing, but still nervous.  I just need to breathe, trust, let go and see what happens.  So here is to more adventure. 

Our first night out on the water
It's difficult for me to cook while sailing so this was dinner.
Jake taking his turn sleeping and staying outside to make me feel comfortable.  All strapped in and safe.
Dozer and Crew finally settling down to sleep in the cockpit.
First day's sunrise

Sailing in the morning light.
Dolphins on our bow.

Jake carrying one of our propane tanks to get filled.
Chinese restaurant in Salinas, Puerto Rico serves french fries with everything. Odd.
This is the hardware store that we had to find to locate the florist to fill our propane. 
Jake relaxing in the cockpit in Salinas
Our anchorage in Salinas, Puerto Rico 

Sunset in Salinas

Walking into town, Salinas 
Sunrise during second night passage. 

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Work Hard To Play Hard

Fajardo is a small city located in the East Region of Puerto Rico bordering the Atlantic Ocean.  It is very popular amongst boaters because it is a good launch point when traveling to Culebra, Vieques, US Virgin Islands, and the British Virgin Islands.  The city offers a variety of amenities that we needed to complete boat projects, so it was a good stopping point for us.  Fajarado is also the home of the largest marina in the Caribbean, Marina Puerto Del Ray.  We made a reservation to stay at the marina while there to receive boat parts in the mail as well as have easy access while provisioning.  

When we arrived at Marina Puerto Del Ray we were informed that we needed to check into U.S. Customs and Border Patrol.  It was odd to us since we had stayed within U.S. territories but we complied.  We spoke to them on the phone then we were asked to come down to their building to fill out some paperwork and pay for a boating decal that we needed for the year.  The U.S. Customs House was constructed in 1930 and is still in use.  On our four trips to the building I wasn't aware of this fact or I would have taken a picture. Anyway, that was a hassle for the next couple of days due to island time and normal Caribbean situations, but we worked around it and got everything done. 

Most of our days were spent shopping (for boat parts, food and essentials), completing boat maintenance and repair and doing chores that were easier to do on land. It was nice to have easy access to West Marine and other places that we have missed while living in St. Thomas.  We drove to San Juan one day to get some parts from that West Marine and provision at Costco.  San Juan is about an hour from Fajardo so we took a whole day to get everything there that we needed. 

Fajardo was successful but didn't feel like a vacation.  We were working hard most of the time and tried to complete everything in a timely manner.  At the end of the day our favorite part was the long hot showers at the marina.  We were exhausted but felt productive with our time there.   I wish I would have taken more pictures, but the ones I have document what the days were like. 

This marina is HUGE! I wish I could have found a better spot to capture just how big it is.
These golf carts were amazing! Because the marina is so large, they offer a service that will take you to and from your boat. We had a lot of stuff to move so it was wonderful! Nice guys that were willing to serve with a smile.  Thank you!
Walking down the dock at night.  Beautiful.
The shower that was so nice at the end of a long hot day.  
A large dock cart full of essentials from West Marine and Costco. 
This is our favorite place to shop for our boat!

Thursday, May 28, 2015

The Exploration Continues

Authentic culture, friendly people and fresh food is what you will find in Culebra, Puerto Rico.  An island with these sought after beaches and culture would seem to be a tourist trap, however the balance between commercialism and reality is wonderful.  
When approaching Culebra I reached out to a Facebook group called "Culebra Cruisers" for insight on the "don't miss" spots.  With such little time we find it very helpful to locate resources that will provide us with information that is most applicable to our travel style.  Connecting with cruisers we are able to receive this important advice such as where to dock our dinghy, where the best anchorages are, and where our dogs are welcome to accompany us.  
When reading our cruising guide we learned about a restaurant called "The Dinghy Dock Restaurant".  With a bunch of cruisers backing the info, we found that it was the best place to dock our dinghy.  As we docked and walked through the restaurant and up to the street we started to get acquainted with the island and what was available.  We saw quite a few Jeeps and golf carts cruising around and learned that there are two places that rent them.  We called up a place called "Jerry's Jeep Rentals" and booked a reservation for a golf cart to cruise the island.  This was the best decision!   We had so much fun driving around exploring.  We drove around with no location in mind, just taking in the views and all there was to experience. 
Some of our favorite places were the two beaches we visited (Tamarindo and Flamenco Beach), the community library and downtown Culebra. 
Flamenco Beach is a very popular beach.  The community has created a camp ground there with vendors and facilities.  Jake and his dad were adamant that we visit Flamenco.  They had taken a dive boat to Culebra in the past and found the World War II tanks on shore fascinating.  There is an endless amount of history on this island, it is amazing.  
 Tamarindo Beach was a much smaller beach with gorgeous snorkeling reefs.  After some beach time we ventured through the main town.  We visited art shops, restaurants, and a fresh food market.  The art was unique, the recommendations for restaurants were delicious and the fresh food market had the sweetest pineapple and mangoes we have ever tasted.  We were captivated by the small town feeling and simple lives that the people from Culebra live.  A simple life is what we prefer and this is the reason we live and travel the way we do. 
One of my favorite places was the Community library and Cinemas.  Jake had read somewhere that the library in Culebra was one of a kind and interesting to see.  We sought it out and loved the experience.  The building is built using shipping containers, one side is the library with computers and books in both English and Spanish.  The second half of the building is a cinema.  They show a movie every Tuesday and Friday evening.  The library had books for sale that allowed you to choose the price, and they considered it a donation to fund the facility.  It was awesome to find a book I had been looking for and also be able to contribute to a great cause.  
Culebra was breathtaking, unique and an experience we will never forget.  

 Sailing to Culebra

Dinghy Dock Restaurant

The golf cart we rented and some of the places we saw.

A property growing fresh food.

The Museum wasn't open the days were were there but looked interesting.

They have one school and it is an Ecological School teaching the local children to be conscience of their environment.

Zaco's Tacos, a restaurant recommended which was delicious.

Visiting the beaches 

While walking through the long stretch of sargassum most would be frustrated by its presence.  Instead, Jake told me about the American Marine Biologist and Explorer Silvia Earle who as a child used to search the sargassum at beaches for hours to find all the critters that lived there.  I love Jake's love for nature and sense of exploration it is very similar to Silvia's. 

Foot Rinse

Fresh food market

Things you will see around the town.

If you look close you can see the dog laying on the sidewalk as well as the dog painted into the wall.

A sculpture made from wood by a famous Puerto Rican artist.

This man is the reason why Culebra is the way it is today.

The delicious pineapple from the market.

Leaving Culebra