Friday, July 2, 2010

Final Leg Completed

Starshine is now in her new home in Long Beach, California. We had a cold, uneventful motor-sail up from Ensenada, Mexico last weekend. There was almost no wind for the entire 160 miles and we stopped in San Diego to check in and get fuel. It was quite a difference sailing into one of the world's busiest ports (LA) after many miles off the beaten track in the Caribbean. There are even huge oil wells in the LA harbor (though none leaking oil thankfully).

Now that we have made it to the Pacific Ocean we are thinking about a future sail to the South Pacific. But first, it's back to the real world: buying a house, raising two high school kids and of course, working. The list of projects on Starshine seems endless but then so does the time between now and when we can go cruising again.

Wow, what an amazing trip it has been. Over 3000 miles, two oceans, 8 countries, 6 months, one marriage, countless new friends and enough memories for a lifetime. I will continue to post about our upgrades and repairs to Starshine but there probably won't be any long passages for a while. To those of you still out there sailing, carry on, we'll catch up with you in a few years on the other side of the world.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

A Ride on the Beluga Fantasy

Starshine is ready for loading on the Beluga Fantasy, 06/03/10. After transiting the Panama Canal, she should be off-loaded in Ensenada, Mexico on or about June 20. We have a slip lined up for her in Long Beach where we will sail for the next few years as we get her ready for our next adventure. I also helped Trevor load up Lea Scotia (below) on the same ship in Port Everglades. She is bound for Victoria, BC and then home to Seattle.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Wahoo !

The last long leg in our circumnavigation of Cuba was a 4 day passage from Isla Mujeres, Mexico to Key West, Florida. This should have been a 350 mile trip but ended up being more like 450 due to a strong current and wind pushing us north from Mexico before we could turn East and head for the Florida Keys. The good news is that we sailed almost the entire way. My crew, Chris, showed off his fishing skills (including cleaning and cooking!) with the capture of this huge Wahoo. We estimated it to be about 30 pounds, so big that I couldn't get the whole fish and Chris in the same picture. We caught this on the first day out from Mexico and so we had fish for the rest of the trip (and then Chris took some more home with him!).

After we made it to Key West, we had a great overnight sail up to Ft. Lauderdale where Starshine now sits. Meanwhile, I picked up my truck at Matt's and drove out to my new home in California. Next week, I will fly back to Florida to load Starshine onto a freighter to be shipped through the Panama Canal to Ensenada, Mexico. From there, it will be a short sail up to her new home port in Southern California.

When I said we circumnavigated Cuba, I want everyone to know that we did not actually stop there as it is still "illegal" (though lots of Americans go there now). See the "Travel Map" link on the homepage to see the route of our trip. All in all, we went about 3000 miles in 4 months and visited 7 countries. We missed the earthquake in Haiti and the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, but not by much. We learned a lot about diesel engines and ourselves and, of course, got married. A successful voyage I'd say!

As I begin the daunting task of looking for work, we have already begun talking about our next voyage ... Tahiti?

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


It has been a few weeks since our last post because of so much activity! We did end up spending several weeks in Belize checking out quite a few of their cays. The snorkeling was amazing at Rendezvous Cay! We also stopped and visited several cities, notably Placentia and San Pedro. We stayed at San Pedro anchorage several days longer than expected because of the infamous motor issue, but finally gerry rigged a part to allow us to continue on to Mexico.

Since it is a two day sail to Isla Mujeres where we are currently staying, we stopped at Puerto Aventuras which is about the half way point. We stayed several days as we waited on customs to clear us in and then visited the Mayan ruins at nearby Tulum which was amazingly beautiful next to the ocean up on a cliff. Check out the pictures to see what I mean. We also played "tourista" and visited Cozumel and Playa Del Carmen. Puerto Aventuras, Cozumel, and Playa Del Carmen are all the resort areas and tourist traps as one would expect to find. We did rent a scooter at Cozumel and drove around the island which was a lot of fun and allowed us to get away from the cruise ship tourist shops. We stumbled across a Tequila museum and discovered how Tequila is made. We also had some local food at another "Bob Marley" restaurant on the beach. It was a wonderful day!

Sunday we then motor sailed on up to Isla Mujeres where we have been visiting Cancun and of course the island of Isla Mujeres itself. It is wonderful to pick up the Gulf Stream current that is with us as the boat got up to 8 knots which is a first on this trip and maybe for the boat herself! I am indulging my love for "mole" sauce and had chicken mole both in Cancun restaurant and then again last night at another restaurant which we visited with friends Pat and Jay. I figure if you can't indulge one's love for Mexican food when in Mexico, then there is something definitely wrong! Isla Mujeres is a jumping off point for those going to Florida as well as those going further south to Rio Dulce. As such, we have met up with several boats and friends here at this marina that we have been hopscotching along the way and it is great to see everyone again.

Sadly, my cruising experience is quickly coming to an end as I fly out Saturday for California. Dave's friend, Chris, will be joining him here on Tuesday to help sail the boat back to Florida, where we will then have it transported to California for her final resting place for awhile as Dave and I go back to work to re fund and dream about the next adventure. It has been an amazing experience as I knew it would be, and I would not have missed it for anything!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Belize It!

Cruising is all about the ups and downs ... First, one of the highlights of our trip - Mahi Mahi sashimi! I finally decided to use one of the many flying fish to land on the deck as bait on the fishing lure since I was having no luck with the lure by itself. That did the trick, I got a hit in less than an hour. As I reeled it in, the first thing we noticed was the bright colors of the fish, greens and yellows. I knew right away it was a Mahi Mahi! After I got him near the boat, Gail gaffed him and then I cleaned and filleted the beautiful fish. The first thing we did was mix up some Wasabi and soy sauce and had our fill of some of the best sashimi ever. The rest was grilled up for lunch. What a treat!

After a great passage from Roatan, Honduras to Belize we anchored the first night off Hunting Cay, an idyllic South Seas-type island with crystal clear water. We snorkeled on the reef there before sailing to the Belize mainland to check in at Customs, Immigration and Quarantine. After that we sailed around to Placentia for a day off, exploring the town and sampling the local delicacies (Belikin Beer, for one).

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Central America

We are currently in Roatan, Honduras and what a trip it has been! From Jamaica, we sailed for two days and two nights to Grand Cayman, about 230 miles. We had a great broad reach in about 15-20 knots and arrived with no problems. We checked in at George Town and anchored off the town for a few days. We went around to North Sound and tied up in the new Barcadere Marina for a few days and got a rental car to run chores and pick up Matt and Shannon at the airport. We had a beautiful wedding at Smith's Cove and dinner and drinks on a Pirate Ship (see the pix link).

After recovering from the big party, we took off from Grand Cayman for a 3 night and 2 day sail to the Bay Islands of Honduras. We arrived in Guanaja early in the morning and checked in at Bonnaca, a tiny little cay with 8,000 people and a population density similar to Hong Kong! We found a great anchorage in El Bight where we rested and recovered from our long passage. On St. Patricks day we sailed from Guanaja to Roatan and anchored in French Harbor where we walked around the town, ate at some local restaurants and did some great snorkeling. The reefs there were awesome with lots of colorful fish and coral. When it was time for Matt to fly out, we picked up a slip in the Barefoot Cay Marina here in Roatan. I celebrated my 53rd birthday here yesterday with a great lobster dinner and some good scotch at this charming little resort.

We plan to stay here for a few days, getting the boat ready for our next adventure - most likely an overnight sail to the islands of Belize but we are also considering a side trip up the Rio Dulce in Guatemala. From there, we will probably gunkhole North to Cancun, Cozumel and Isla Mujeres in Mexico before working our way back to the states and the real world ...

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Wedding in Cayman Islands

Cayman Islands will always be one of my favorite islands on this voyage as Dave and I were married at Smith's Cove on 11 March there! I must have passed all the sailing tests that Dave could think of and he ran out of excuses. Seriously, it was a wonderful day and a beautiful location. We only wish that many more of our family and friends could have been in attendance. We are so glad though that Dave's son Matt and girlfriend Shannon were able to attend. We also thank a fellow sailor and friend, Jay, for altering his plans of sailing to Cuba and attending the wedding in Cayman as well.

After the wedding ceremony, Dave had planned the reception on a pirate ship (surprise to me) that had anchored next to us a few nights before. It was truly appropriate and we all had so much fun that evening with dinner and dancing on a moving ship that sailed along the island as the sun set! Thank you Dave! Like I said, it was a most wonderful day!

Even with all the excitement of planning and participating in a wedding (from a sailboat with intermittent email and internet access no less), we were able to sight see a few other places that the pictures will show. There was a Tortuga rum and cake factory on the island that we visited on a previous day, so that we thought it was appropriate for our wedding cake. There is also a town named "Hell" on the northern part of the island that we visited prior to the wedding with pictures on this web site. Thankfully, we were married on the opposite or southern side of the island at Smith's Cove away from "Hell"!

Cayman Islands however is very expensive and after spending thousands of dollars there to help out the local economy, we have moved on to the Bay Islands next to Honduras. This was a 330 mile passage which took three nights and two days and we were happy to arrive with no major problems. Dave will provide the next blog update from these islands. As for me, I am one happy newlywed still enjoying this voyage and now honeymoon!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Montego Bay

Still in Jamaica but now on the Western end at Montego Bay. Left Port Antonio on Friday with "Blue Jay" and hopped along the north side of the island to Orcabessa and Discovery Bay. Montego Bay is the second largest city in Jamiaca and there are now 2 huge cruise ships here too.

Once we got to Jamaica, we have stopped seeing many US and Canadian boats (they must all be in the Bahamas). We have met cruisers from England, Holland, Germany, Australia and South Africa, just to name a few. It is a much different world here than the Bahamas, deeper water, steady trade winds and mountains. We are getting way out of our comfort zone here but having a great time.

Will head out Thursday or Friday to Grand Cayman, about 200 miles from here so a two day sail. Matt and Shannon will be visiting us in Cayman starting next week and may sail with us to Roatan, Honduras and Belize. Check out the photos link, Gail has loaded lots of new pix! Will update with lots of news from Cayman!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Jamaica !

We left Provo, Turks and Caicos on Thursday morning for our longest passage yet, 350 miles in 55 hours to Port Antonio, Jamaica. And what a trip it was! The first day, we sailed out the Caicos Bank past West Caicos and then South past Great Inagua, the last Bahamas Island. We had great wind on a broad reach and flew at up to 7.5 knots. By Friday morning, we were in the Windward Passage between Haiti and Cuba. The wind continued to blow all day Friday at up to 35 knots. With a reefed genoa and mizzen (jib and jigger) we flew past Cuba and Guantanamo Bay, but about 50 miles off shore.

Port Antonio is one of the most beautiful harbors I have ever seen. We are definitely in the tropics now, very lush with lots of mountains after months in the flat Bahamas and Turks and Caicos. The locals are very interesting. This morning, a dread-locked local rowed over on his bamboo raft and we bought some neeseberries (sp?) and coconuts for $100 Jamaican. Don't be alarmed, this is only about $1.15 US dollars. The Erroll Flynn Marina is quite nice and not expensive, only $.75 (US) per foot per day. And yes, Erroll Flynn's widow actually still lives nearby.

We plan to go to the Cayman Islands where Matt and Shannon will join us to sail to Central America. We hope to cruise the Bay Islands of Honduras, Belize, Cozumel and Cancun. Then we are considering returning to the states (Texas) and having the boat trucked out to CA before hurricane season.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Turks and Caicos

The journey continues as we left Clarence Town on Long Island and headed to Provo at Turks and Caicos. However, we made a pit stop at Landrail Point on Crooked Island which was a 40 mile sail. The snorkeling on the coral reefs was fun as we saw a sea turtle among the myriad of fish. He was content to hang out until Dave tried to dive down for a closer look. That turtle then took off like a rocket. It is amazing how fast they can swim.
Landrail Point is primarily settled by Seventh Day Adventists (SDAs) and at Gibson's Lunchroom we met the owner, Willie, who is SDA. She was hosting the Bahamas' conference president, Leonard Johnson, as well as the local pastor, and Gail got to meet them all. As always, the SDA hospitality was very welcoming.
From here, we met our guides who took us to the other side of the island via skiff boat for a tour of some caves. Of course, their boat would not start on the return trip after the tour and we were on a tight schedule as we needed to leave the anchorage due to weather. It was a nervous thirty minutes, but the boat finally started and we were were able to just make our next anchorage.
Our next passage to Provo was the longest so far at 170 miles which included an overnighter. It is fortunate for me that Dave can get by on one hour of sleep, but we were both tired after arriving at Provo. We had a great sail though since it was almost all downwind at fifteen to twenty knots. It was a hair raising experience getting into the marina though as there are so many coral heads and reefs and narrow cuts. It was still challenging even following a guide boat into the marina, but Dave did an outstanding job. We now have to wait for the swells to subside to leave as we do not want to crash on the reef as our next door neighbor large fishing yacht almost did last night!
Provo is definitely the tourist attraction with the long stretch of beach with the many resorts and restaurants. With the many reefs and coral heads, it is one of the top diving spots in the world. We are going to check out the snorkeling here this afternoon. Dave is also itching to do some diving. Yesterday we checked out the town which definitely has more businesses than what we have been used to.
When the next weather window allows, we still plan on leaving for Jamaica via Mathew Town at Great Inagua. This will be the greatest test yet as the longest passage for either of us at over 200 miles and encompassing several nights with little sleep. I am sure seeing the land of Jamaica will be a welcoming sight, but as Dave says, "One day at a time!" Yes, we are taking it one day at a time and having an amazingly awesome time! Now, off to do some snorkeling....

Sunday, February 7, 2010


We are officially in the Tropics as we passed the Tropic of Cancer latitude of 23 deg 27 min and no complaints here as the weather has been in the high 70s, humid, and sunny every day. Our thoughts go out to our friends in D.C. area which we understand received two feet of snow this weekend! That is why I have enclosed a beautiful sunset that was taken a few days ago from Cape Santa Maria for everyone to enjoy. Oh well, snow makes for a great Superbowl Sunday, right? Actually, to our friends in California, we will be thinking of you outside with the outdoor grilling of carne asade on a beautiful day as Super Bowl plays... As for Dave and me, we will try to catch the game on a sports bar around here in Clarence Town.

We are still on Long Island comparable to the last blog, although we have been busy in the interim. Because we needed to leave from the other side of the island for Turks and Caicos, we have basically been navigating around the island. From Salt Pond, we left and sailed to Cape Santa Maria on the north side of the island and arrived about 3:00. We snorkeled on some coral heads and saw a wide assortment of beautiful fish. There was even a large fish (grouper?) that was hiding out in the bottom of the coral which would have been an easy catch for Dave. Alas, he did not have his spear with him. Cape Santa Maria has apparently been listed as one of the top five most beautiful beaches in the world and it was definitely gorgeous, but basically deserted! There were two other boats anchored out with us.

The next day we sailed to Rum Cay which should have only been about thirty miles. However, that was a brutal day as we were beating in the wind the entire day and had to motor sail the whole way even though Dave tacked out another ten miles. We barely made it there in time before sunset which is always a consideration when keeping a lookout for coral heads and reefs, so unfortunately did not get to explore much of the island.

The next day we came back to the other side of Long Island at Clarence Town. It was a beam reach sail and made great time with 17 average knts which made up for the previous day. We decided to stay at a marina for the weekend which is where I am currently posting this blog. Oh the luxury of it all! We have not been in a marina for about a month and the things that we normally take for granted. This Flying Fish Marina is definitely my favorite so far! It is relatively new having being built ten years ago and seems to have it all. The appreciation of a nice, hot, flowing shower with electricity in the bathroom (a first), along with laundry facilities ($16 for two loads which is standard price here in the Bahamas), free internet, and a small restaurant with a comprehensive menu (something other than cheeseburgers and conch fritters). There was even a decent grocery store up the road (decent being relative) which I went crazy in.

The best thing that Dave would say happened yesterday here at this marina concerns tuna. A couple of fisherman that were down on their fancy fishing boat for vacation had just caught some rather large fish (tuna and wahoo) and were on the dock filleting them. They had so much fish that they gave us some wahoo steaks and tuna fillets. Dave and I went immediately to the boat and had sushi a.k.a. fresh tuna in soy and wasabi sauce which was amazing! The tuna basically melted in your mouth and obviously doesn't get any fresher. Dave was in heaven!

Tomorrow we are continuing the journey to Turks and Caicos through a few more island hops. Not sure when internet will be available but will keep you posted as able.

Friday, January 29, 2010


Greetings from the end (almost) of the Bahama chain of islands. The last two weeks have been amazing as we have explored the islands in the Exumas with so many memories. One of my favorite is trying to feed the boars (pigs) at Big Majors/Staniel Cay. We had arrived in the afternoon for anchor and then dinghyed over about 5:00 in the evening with our carrots to feed them. The stories I heard were that the pigs roamed the beach and would run up to greet you as you arrived. Alas, we arrived and there was nary a pig around. So here we are walking up and down the beach with our carrots and calling for pigs that never showed up. We settled for a picture of me holding a carrot so that I could later photo shop a pig in. We gave up and told ourselves that the pigs must be so full from feeding all day that they had passed out in their dens.
We decided on a different tactical strategy and went early the next morning figuring that they would be nice and hungry and happy for our carrots. Since we were then going to the beach and snorkeling at Thunderball Cave afterward, we had also packed a picnic lunch. On the dinghy ride over, Dave was commenting that the story was that the pigs would actually swim out to the dinghy which he did not believe. Sure enough after that comment, three large pigs come swimming out to greet us. However, they were not interested in my carrots, but were attacking our lunch, especially my potato chips (which I can't say that I blame them). So here we are trying to anchor the dingy, keep pigs out of the dinghy, while I am trying to get pictures of them. Thankfully, I had some success with the pictures which can be viewed on the photos portion of the web site.
Speaking of Thunderball Cave, I must say it was an amazing snorkeling experience. Since we went at high tide, we had to swim under the rocks or ledge into the cave, which was somewhat intimidating for me since I was not quite sure how long I would need to hold my breath. Dave kept assuring me that it was a real quick dive and thankfully it was and well worth it. Coming up inside the cave with just the two of us was amazing and the fish and coral were awesome. We had brought bread crumbs to feed the fish, and one mistakenly bit Dave! It was so much fun!
So many experiences come to mind but one more. We took a six hour hike one day on Waderick Wells in the Exuma Land and Sea Park that wove in and out of small beach fronts. We were so hot but ended up taking a refreshing swim in the beautful waters of Rendezvous Beach. We then ended our hike at Boo Boo hill where we left our evidence of driftwood as so many other boats before us have done. Again lots of pictures on the site.
Currently we are at Georgetown which Dave warned me as a place of adult day care. I am loving it though as we play volleyball every afternoon, eat at pot lucks in the evening, and Dave even got to go to poker night last evening (alas neither he nor I won). We will be leaving Georgetown on Monday as we join the others here in a sailing race to Long Island which will be a three day event of sailing and parties and award banquets. We will not be returning with the others though but will continue our journey along to the Turks and Caicos as our next big stop in the next few weeks. This too is the end of the line for Dave's comfort zone as he has been to the Exumas and Bahamas before as far as Georgetown. From here on, it will be a brand new experience and adventure for both of us! Needless to say, I am having the time of my life!

Friday, January 15, 2010


The weather is finally warm, we are anchored in Nassau and I finally feel like we have escaped! Have been so busy working on Starshine for the last 6 weeks but now I am enjoying Island Time. We had a great overnight sail from Bimini to Nassau, 120 miles in about 24 hours. We went across the Great Bahama Bank, through the Northwest Channel and across the Tongue of the Ocean into Nassau. We plan to head south to the Exumas in a few days, once the next front passes. In the mean time we have been exploring Nassau, sampling the local delicacies (conch and Kalik) and relaxing - along with attacking items on the "Nagging List". Starshine and Gail are both doing great and we are having an awesome time.

Here is a photo of our friends Chris and Louise on "No Keys" as we approach Nassau in the early morning.

Sunday, January 10, 2010


We made it to the Bahamas! Finally had a window on Friday and left early in the morning at 3:00 AM and arrived at noon. The sail over was beautiful and I was able to capture the sunrise. The boat on the horizon is "No Keys" that our friends Chris and Louise own and we followed over from Miami.
The other picture is Dave and I that evening having fresh lobster dinner on their boat. It was such a wonderful, warm day.

I am so glad that I enjoyed it as the next day (Saturday) was stormy, rainy, windy, and cold. Dave worked on the boat's bilge pumps all day while I read. It is so amazing that there is always something that needs to be done on the boat. I understand that the acronym "BOAT" means "Bring on Another Thousand" which I am beginning to believe. Today at least is sunny but still very windy. It looks as though our next window for sailing will be on Tuesday through Friday, with plans to head on down to Nassau Tuesday. It is finally supposed to warm up as well with 70s by Thursday! Hooray!!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Miami Beach

Arrived at South Miami Beach yesterday - land of the beautiful people. Too bad that we can't see them because everyone is bundled up against the cold. It is 40s at night and 60s during the day - not really that cold - but on a boat seems much colder, especially to those of us from California. Oh well, it can only get warmer as we head south. The current plan assuming the weather holds is to leave for Bimini in the Bahamas on Thursday.

Today and tomorrow, Dave is trying to finish up the SSB radio and hook up the water maker as it was a real eye opener yesterday how much water we (read that as I according to Dave) used in the last few days, about 5 gallons a day. Doesn't seem like that much to me but of course there is only a limited supply of water on a boat. Boat living really makes you appreciate the little things in life, especially long, hot showers.

I'm loving every minute of it though, and the amazing sunsets every night actually make the lack of showers worthwhile! So poor Dave is working, while a friend (Louise) and I hang out in internet cafes and shop at the mall (thank goodness for the boat dinghy)! Life is rough...