Guest blog post: Kyle Runs Solo

*Hello All! I have been living at an Ashram completing a 30 day intensive yoga teacher training course. During that time Kyle has been on the boat and has had friends come visit. Since I have not had any time to write, he has taken over and the next few posts will be from him 🙂 Enjoy!*

We arrived in Nassau after a few days anchored at Rose Island. It had been 3 weeks since we had been anywhere “civilized” although that’s arguably a strange term of identification for cities. The hustle and bustle of the harbor, the constant noise of traffic, trash, smog and general decrepit nature of it all was well, a bit of a change. The anchorage we needed to be in for a multitude of reasons lies between an island that is dedicated to local commercial use and the docks/mooring jetties for the cruise ships. The outside edge of the anchorage is a commercial/main harbor channel, the inside being a small channel for the access to the 5 or 6 marinas and mega yacht docks. So the anchorage is a very strictly defined space.

We came into the harbor a few days early due to weather, a descending cold front and its low pressure were bringing 25-30 knot winds that were to last for conceivably the next couple weeks- according to our satellite forecasts which we prayed were wrong. Once we came into harbor in slightly milder conditions than forecasted at 15, gusting 20. We found a spot to anchor and spent the afternoon in the boat to make sure we didn’t move the anchor as this harbor is pretty notorious for poor holding. I had dived and inspected our anchor and its set- the bottom being grass (which is fairly unreliable on its own) and lightly covered in debris and garbage. We then went for a trip ashore and upon returning a few hours later found that our boat had bumped into our neighbor. Very, not good. So now in the dark and the wind we upped anchor and looked around for a new place. Nothing was available really, but we carefully found a compromise and anchored down. This worked until morning, when the tide changed again and we ended up literally 10ft from our new neighbor. Not good again. But we knew what was available in the packed anchorage and that there was no where to go, so we had a conversation with the neighbor and decided to stay. In the meantime we spent the day aboard anxiously watching out the windows during the gusts to make sure we didn’t get any closer to our neighbor. I decided to try my hand baking fresh cookies and we shared the yummy (though slightly bottom burned) results with our now new friends 10’ away- the kids loved them.

See the problem is that Sirocco in much more boat below the water than above. Like the noble iceberg, she is much more than what appears to the eye, or in this case wind. This means she generally ignores the wind and does whatever the water does, if the tide runs in one directions- that’s where Siroccos lays. Even in these conditions of 20-30kn of wind, she lies to the tide. Modern sailboats do what they can to reduce wetted surface of the hull (the area below the water) in order to encourage faster speeds in the light winds that modern sailors prefer to sail in. The rustling of that being that modern boats tend to ignore the tide and lie to the wind, subsequently creating a conflict between Sirocco and the boats around her.

In the middle of the night we very gently bumped into our neighbors and needed to move. At this point Danielle and I were VERY tired of the anchorage. We ended up after circling the entire anchorage anchoring nearby in the same place. The next day we tried moving to a completely different anchorage- it was way worse conditions there than where we had been and turned back. We tried the other side of the commercial channel, failure. Tried near a beach, failure.

Finally something miraculous happened: a big boat left! This opened up a gloriously large and spacious spot and as we raced towards it, light beaming upon it from the heavens, angels singing, even the first boat we had bumped into was pointing right at our destination encouraging us to grab it. Once anchored down, the relief we felt is difficult to convey. This experience had been the most frustrating anchoring/harbor experience we have ever had, Danielle and I have sailed about 10,000 miles together and this was by FAR the worst. But now that we had a space, the world was much brighter and our time here much happier. It’s not Nassau’s fault really, it’s Christmas, New Years, the weather and the only dinghy dock in the area..

We then reserved a rental car online and took bets whether it would actually be there when we showed up to the rental car shop. To pick it up we walked through a very impoverished part of town, the man singing in the middle of the street double fisted with beer at 10am was our first sign. Our second sign was a women in a nice car coming home from church pulling over to say “I hope you know where your going in this neighborhood”.. But in typical Bahamian style we arrived in safety with nothing but laughter from our walk. The car was not there, the door was locked, but we found a nice man “fixing up the old cars” and he called a women in charge, who quickly organized a car to arrive for us and off we went- only 25 minutes later than planned- wonderful!

Now being from the US, we drive on the right side of the road with the drivers seat on the left. The Bahamas has a long British history and they drive on the left with our rental car having the steering wheel on the right. I was nominated driver. Signed the paper, put in my license number on another form and we were ready to go. We had nothing to prove we had rented the car and when we asked the representative what to do if we are pulled over his response was “You wont be pulled over”… Okay. Off we go. It took us 15 minutes and 9 roundabouts to make it to the airport where we picked up Danielle’s parents Nina and Fred. They were in great spirits and surprisingly they happily climed into our tiny compact tin can without a word or sign of apprehension. As I pulled out onto the street without waiting for a spot to enter traffic and of course driving on the wrong side of the road: it hit them. “Oh my god” Nina says with a giggle. Fred was just openly laughing out loud and by the third roundabout Nina was laughing regularly saying: “I am so happy your diving Kyle!” Here in the Bahamas as in many developing countries, rules of the road are more akin to suggestions and the horn is not used to chastise, its a communication device of the highest order delivering an incredible amount of conversation. Everyone, although driving with haste in a seemingly erratic manner has infinite patience and generally carries on fine no matter the offense committed. Pretty much every car you see in the Bahamas is full of dents, except the new shiny ones, but I have come to understand that its fairly rare for major deadly accidents as the roads/traffic naturally limit the speeds to somewhere near 35mph or less.

The next day we ran errands all day and had a marvelous time laughing at the nonsensical nature of the stores and people. Why not sell machetes in the toy section of the store? Kids love machetes! And you would certainly need to gaze over some new bedding if you were shopping the shovels and garden tools because after a day of shoveling, you would be ready to lie in your bed right? We found a lovely couple of gals that do commercial laundry for the mega yachts and dropped off our modest bag of sheets. We came back to pick them up at the end of the day and gladly took a discount for them not being folded instead of waiting. We then parked the car, said thank you’s to the universe for surviving the day driving around and went to dinner. Fred and Nina spoiled us to dinner every night and they gave us some wonderful Christmas gifts on Christmas Eve (my families tradition is to give gifts on the eve anyway) as they flew out Christmas morning. Great time was had by all.

Personally one of my favorite reasons to visit other places is the food! People who go to a new country or even a new region of the US and eat at a chain restaurant baffle me. A chain restaurant is so homogenous and predictable,  where as the small local places run by families and passionate restauranteurs can give you the chance to experience something completely unexpected. Heirloom recipes of old favorites, new twists on ingredients you know or sometimes completely new dishes with ingredients you have never heard of. Some of my favorite foods to cook lately are not dishes I grew up with, but new foods I have picked up in the last decade along the way. Of the places we went with Fred and Nina, my favorite was a Phillipanese place, right when we walked in I knew it was going to be good as no one in the room eating spoke English. Everyone in the group loved their food and my squid was perfectly cooked, which can be very hard to do. I took both my visitors to this place and we always enjoyed it.

Now Danielle was scheduled to go to her yoga teacher training course on the 2nd. So we were able to celebrate New Year’s Eve together, which is very special here in the Bahamas because its Junkanoo night! Or morning? It’s a party so good they don’t even start until Midnight.  My friend Max (#1) came in early to celebrate the New Year with us and experience Junkanoo. We were out on the streets by 1am, after our “Disco Nap” as Max calls them (a saying I have taken up) and we stayed out until after 4am!! So wild of us. Haha Danielle and I have the habit of sleeping and waking with the sun (Circadian rhythm) so for us to stay out so late seemed the very essence of extravagance.

Junkanoo is a cultural event of the Bahamas that is spreading because of its fun loving and incredibly enjoyable nature. Large teams (some well over a hundred) and small teams alike are assigned a theme and they create a parade around this theme. It encompasses choreographed dancing, a band, individual headdress competitions “off the shoulder” individual float competitions and group versions of all the above. Danielle and I attended both competitions this year, although did not have the stamina to stay for the entire event or either. The costumes are one time use. They literally make a lap of two streets: the paid bleachers on Main Street, and then the “free standing” upper street. We chose the free standing upper street both times and were all the better for it. Surrounded by passionate locals we were let in on how the costumes, dancing, and performances are judged. It deeply enriched our experience to understand the competition side of the event and we truly thank the nice folks we stood with for teaching us.

Nassau has been inundated with Haitians since hurricane Dorian. On our second Junkanoo experience we stood with a large group of them and enjoyed their company, some small children found us white folk quite curious and we had some color based discussion that hopefully resulted in a change of perspective on both sides, especially with one particular young girl. We really enjoyed the opportunity to speak openly about some of our differences and laugh about it, in a honesty that sometimes only children can have. During our first Junkanoo a young Bahamian girl had questions for me about my missing ear (lost in a violent car accident for those who do not know), her father was embarrassed and I took time to dispel his anxiety over her questions and encouraged her open and honest curiosity. These experiences, discussing cultural differences and having close conversations while getting to know some of the residents on a first name level were the true joys of Junkanoo for me. I loved the dancing and costumes, but the opportunity to laugh and have fun with those that are unfamiliar with my culture and to spend some hours getting a glimpse of an important part of theirs was incredible. Being a cruise ship based tourism here in Nassau, I think the impression left by these 5-10 hour visitors/visits can be a little unfair on both sides. Patience is a virtue easily fatigued by exercise and the endless trampling of these single serving guests is exceedingly tiring.

Danielle was all packed up, Max1 and I had all our groceries and where ready to go. So I dropped her off at the Ashram with soft eyes and big hugs, wishing her the best. Max1 and I upped anchor and moved over to the fuel dock to fill up on water and take on 5 gallons of diesel before shoving off to Rose Island anchorage to state us for our passage to Eleuthera…

More on Eleuthera next time!

Rose Island


About a week or so before Christmas, Kyle and I left the Berry Islands and sailed the 40 miles towards Nassau. We had plans to meet my parents in Nassau on the 22nd for Christmas, but since we were a week early, we decided to avoid the city for just a few more days and anchor at an island called Rose Island, just 5 miles East of Nassau. The morning we left the Berry Islands, the alarm sounded at 4am and by 4:45 we had hot coffee, sails ready to go, and everything secured down below and on deck. The moon was providing just enough light that we didn’t need the spot light and we quietly lifted our anchor and navigated around our neighbors out the inlet. A couple minutes later we were in deep water and Kyle raised the sails while I set our course towards Rose Island. Even in the lull of the early morning we were able to shut down the engine and with the spinnaker set were able to travel at 6 knots.

We set the wind vane so we didn’t have to steer and then sat on deck sipping our hot coffee as the sun began to rise. First the sky changed from a dark deep blue, to a more gentle blue with the slightest tint of light. As the moments passed our surroundings became more vivid and I could make out the surface of the water. It was obvious where the sun was going to pop up over the horizon because there was a subtle glow where the water and the horizon meet. We watched as the glowing ball of fire began rising above the horizon line. That moment when the sun seems to be suspended half way up and half way down- it could be rising or setting. I closed my eyes and took a deep breathe. Whenever I close my eyes and focus, the movement and sounds of the boat are much more vivid. The surging of the boat through the water, that feeling when Sirocco catches a gust of wind and I know that our speed increased and I can hear the hull push through the water’s surface. Those are the moments I feel most connected with the boat and the water holding us.

As the morning continued I went down below and took a nap while Kyle stayed on watch. I got some pretty good sleep because the motion of the boat was calm and consistent. By the time I woke up it was close 10am and I got out some snacks and made some more coffee. We took the spinnaker down because we were making over 7 knots and the boat was over powered. Under the genoa, stay sail, and main sail we continued on at a consistent 5.5-6.5 knots. Kyle took a nap soon after and I had the most spectacular watch. I grabbed the speaker, my coffee, some crackers, the binoculars, the iPad (for the navigation chart) and headed to the foredeck. The sun was shining and began to warm up my body so I could take off layers. I found a comfortable seat on the forward edge of the cabin top and put the speaker on loud. It blasted all my favorite songs while I sipped on hot coffee and we sailed along. The waves were growing in size as we made our way towards Rose Island, but not in a threatening way. I found myself transfixed, just watching as each rolling wave moved under Sirocco. Or maybe we moved over each wave? Either way, the waves rolled by and I sat and observed. With my favorite songs playing, dark hot coffee flowing, the sunshine warming me, and Sirocco sailing herself along so nicely, I found myself with a grin affixed to my face. I felt so happy. So free. I really wanted Kyle to wake up to share it with me, but also enjoyed the solitude. Soon he did wake up and he came and joined me on deck. We sang, laughed, and checked our progress from time to time.

Soon we could begin to see land again, it was around noon that we could see the inlet leading into the protection of Nassau and Rose Island. As we began to approach the inlet, we disengaged the wind vane, dropped the main sail and the stay sail and ran under the big genoa in the front. We were making good speed as it was, and the inlet was a bit tight. I was on the helm and since the tide was coming out of the inlet and the wind was pushing through the inlet, the wind and the tide were against each other, thus creating very large waves. Easily 6 feet. This was a big difference from just 20 minutes prior and I had to put all my focus and attention on keeping Sirocco on course as we were surrounded by reef and rocks on each side. The waves were so large that I chose to stop looking back at them as Sirocco surfed down each one. Never once did I feel any fear or anxiety, instead I was overcome by intense focus and adrenaline. Kyle encouraged me saying that I was doing a great job and to keep our heading. He was ready to start the engine in case of an emergency, but it was clear that the boat was under control. And just like that, 5 minutes later we were in the calm protected waters. “Wow. That was intense and fun!” I said to Kyle, finally letting my breath out. He gave me a high five and said that I did a great job navigating. I felt pretty proud of myself 🙂 We turned left and made our way towards the Rose Island anchorage. It took a few tries, but we got the anchor down securely and Kyle dove it to make sure it was set correctly as we knew some heavy winds were coming in the following day.

The next few days were spent exploring the nearby islands. Something that I have really grown to love: exploration. For the past 6 years Kyle and I have spent a vast majority of that exploring. Whether backpacking, taking a boat down the river, sailing, or road tripping we often find ourselves in places we have never been before. And each time this happens, we get to explore. One of the dictionary definitions of explore is: “to traverse or range over (a region, area, etc.) for the purpose of discovery.” I like this definition because I find it relatable. All these new places we explore and we discover. I never know what is going to be around the next bend. What is down that road. Over the hill. On the other side of the island. Across the beach. Below the water’s surface. Each place is new and each horizon is new. It provides so much discovery and always keeps me guessing and wondering. Sometimes I get home sick for family and friends and community. But more often I feel grateful to get to truly explore. One day while at Rose Island we went to the small island across from it and walked around. We knew nothing about the island or what we would find. It was a small island and there was nothing on it, or so we thought. We were walking the rocky outer shoreline and came to some dock pilings. “Someone tried to build something here,” Kyle said as he walked closer. And then we found a sidewalk- the most random sidewalk. Surrounded by rocks, sand, and trees, a sidewalk formed and followed the edge of the island. We followed it and I found myself laughing. Where were we going? Does this lead to something? It can’t lead to something, I can see the end of the island and there is nothing there! But we had no idea. The anticipation caused us to walk a bit faster and then… it ended. This nice, rather long, sidewalk that someone obviously spent time and money making just ended at some rocks and trees. “Well that was interesting,” I remarked to Kyle. The sidewalk, for whatever reason, really put this thought of exploration and discovery in my mind. It was a reminder of why we are out here. Life is short and uncertain, and I want to spend it discovering places, things, and people that I didn’t know before. Soak up all the experiences and opportunities I can so that when it is my time to go, I feel fulfilled that I was able to see the world.

The following day we went to Rose Island and went on a coconut hunt. A few hours later we were rowing back to the boat with 1 opened coconut and 2 unopened coconuts. Finally! After all that talk in the Berry Islands about coconuts, we were both craving one and we finally found plentiful coconut trees. We were so excited about the coconuts that even though we didn’t have any tools, Kyle smashed the coconut on some rocks to get it open. We were able to drink fresh coconut water and eat fresh coconut meat while standing on the shoreline, listening to the waves crash on the sandy and rocky shore. It was a beautiful shore too, vast and the water so clear.

After a couple days we left Rose Island and motor sailed to Nassau Harbor. And my goodness what a change of world that was. We had been sailing around these mostly deserted and inhabited islands for weeks and hadn’t seen many other people or boats. As soon as we were within 2 miles of Nassau Harbor we were on our toes. Boats of all shapes, sizes, and speeds were going in every which direction. We had to call Nassau Harbor Control and state our intention for entering the harbor and let them know we were already checked into the country. Once we got the OK to enter the harbor, we dropped the sail and motored under the bridges. Huge mail boats, barges, and ferries motored past us. Fancy houses and condos lined the shoreline on one side and marinas and more run down buildings on the other side. Atlantis Resort towered over us as we motored by and entered the anchorage area. Six huge cruise ships docked right in front of us. I felt so small! We laughed at the change of pace and felt huge relief once the anchor was dropped.

The following few days were spent in Nassau Harbor at the same anchorage. Our days consisted of exploring Nassau, hiding from the rain and high winds in the boat, watching movies, baking cookies, listening to Christmas music, and doing boat projects. We were both really looking forward to my parent’s arrival and even rented a car to pick them up at the airport which was an adventure in itself, but I’ll save that for next time!

I hope everyone had a happy happy New Year!! 🙂

High Highs and Low Lows


The Lows

The rest of our time in the Berry Islands continued to provide us with surprises and exploration. We needed to move the boat one morning to a different anchorage in order to get over a shallow patch and set ourselves up for leaving for Nassau. We chose to leave around 6:30am and move the short 3 miles to an anchorage near the inlet we would use to leave the Berry Islands. We chose 6:30am because that is when high tide was and we needed the tide in order to move Sirocco over some shallow patches. The anchorage we were leaving was pristine. The water was calm, the wind subtle due to the high islands around us, the current minimum so we didn’t move around much. We had no idea how good our anchorage was… until we left. We arrived at the anchorage near Hoffman’s Cay just 20-30 minutes after picking up the anchor. Going over the shallow areas was no problem, so we motored towards the anchorage. However, it was very soon clear that this anchorage was very crowded and windy and wavy! We were both very surprised because had checked the weather and where we had just come from 3 miles away was a different world. We instantly had a hard time finding a spot to anchor with all the other boats. “Let’s try behind that catamaran.” “The depth is dropping! Turn around!” “What about over there?” “No that’s too close to that motor yacht.” “Kyle the current is pushing us towards that island.” “I’m aware of that, doing the best I can. Let’s try up here.” This is how it was going and it was not fun. The grey skies, howling wind, and confused seas did not help the situation. I became tense and this, of course, did not add anything positive to the situation. I am not sure why, but I soon felt as though we didn’t have control of the situation. I was stressed out, felt like we were drifting towards and island, didn’t know what to do, and just had to wait at the anchor until Kyle told me to drop it. “Okay now!” He yelled from the cockpit. I released the handle on the windlass and nothing. “Damn it! It won’t go!” Why wasn’t it working? I have done this before, what did I do wrong? I am thinking all these things while also feeling that we are getting pushed by wind and current towards another boat. Trying again, I was able to release the anchor, realizing I left the lock on before. But then the anchor was going and going and I couldn’t get it to stop! It all felt so intense and Kyle came walking calmly up the side deck to meet me on the foredeck. “Righty tighty, lefty loosy,” he said patiently and kindly, as he twisted the lock to stop the chain from running out of the anchor locker. We were secure. The anchor set quickly due to the wind. We weren’t too close to any boats and far from the island. However, I felt so shook up. The grey skies caused the water to have a steel look to them and I felt like I could taste metal in my mouth. I stood at the bow of boat, shaking a bit, feeling numb and confused. Why had that been so intense? Was it actually that intense or was it all in my head? Kyle hugged me and we went and sat in the cockpit to have a debrief about the situation. Turns out that yes, it was intense due to the conditions and proximity of the other boats, but that at no point did he not have control of the boat. That my mistake on the anchor wasn’t a big deal and that he barely even noticed it from where he was in the cockpit. To Kyle it was a pretty simple situation and at no point did he feel stressed or overwhelmed. I had to really contemplate this for a while because I felt like a wreck. And then the rolling started. The tide switched and the wind was against the tide and the anchorage, which was a bit wavy before, turned into a rolly mess. The seas were confused, the boat rolled from one side to another. Drastic movements to the point where things that weren’t secured down below were falling over and had to be secured. This piled on top of the stress from trying to anchor in those conditions was really difficult for me. I refused to move again, I wasn’t ready, and plus we couldn’t go back to our pristine anchorage because the tide was now going out. Why did we ever move?! At this moment our neighbor was swimming around his boat for some exercise and came swimming over to us. Seeing him in the water, laughing and joking with Kyle, made me feel a bit better, but the rolling of the boat was driving me insane. I just wanted to stop moving for one minute. I just wanted to be able to fully relax. This lifestyle is amazing and I am so thankful to be able to live it, but it comes with a price. These thoughts are constant and necessary in order to be successful while cruising, but they get exhausting: Will the anchor drag? What was the noise? Do I need to get up and check? Will our neighbor’s anchor drag and hit us in the middle of the night? Did I remember to shut that vent in case it rains? When is the wind changing, are we still protected by this island if the wind shifts? How big is the tidal change? Do we have enough room under the keel if the tide goes out? Did I turn the anchor light on? How much fresh water do we have left? Should I put on my rain gear so I can get in our dinghy and motor ashore, or just stay on the boat today? It’s been really cloudy lately, do our batteries have enough power? I could keep going, but you get the point. And then this mixed with the constant moving. Moving from island to island, country to country, new place to new place. Moving while in bed. Moving while cooking. Moving while reading. Moving while going to the bathroom. Moving while writing. Moving while sleeping. So much moving. Anyway, the rolling didn’t stop until we left the anchorage two days later. But as usual, I slowly adjusted and calmed down and by that evening Kyle and I were in the dinghy motoring over to an island with a big beach and running up and down the beach as fast as we could for some exercise. And the next day, the day after the low lows, was a day filled with high highs.


The Highs

“Is it this one?” Kyle asks while motoring Lucy in between rolling waves that seem rather large when in a 7ft dinghy. “No, not this one. I think it’s the next one,” I respond while looking down at the IPhone, trying to check the chart which is proving difficult in the sun and spray and movement. We come around a small point in the land and are greeted with a small cove that ends with waves lapping on a white beach with palm trees overhanging the water. “There it is!” Kyle turns Lucy towards the beach and is now motoring with the waves behind us. I prepare to get out of the boat quickly as the waves are crashing on the shore a bit bigger than we are used to. But within a few seconds we are both in the water, waves lapping on our knees as we haul Lucy to the protection of the beach. We empty her of our gear and haul her up the beach a ways in order to tie her to some trees and keep her away from the water while we are gone. “This must be the trail!” We are both feeling excited about what we might find at the end of the trail. Having heard of a blue hole on Hoffman’s Cay we set out to find it. I secure my hat to the backpack, retie my sarong which is now wet with salt water, and put the backpack on my shoulders. Kyle goes first and we enter a narrow trail surrounded by dense growth. We leave the confused seas behind and are engulfed into a world of green. The earth below our feet is soft, dead leaves creating a fluffy layer on the earth’s surface. Tree roots protrude at random from the dead leaves and I follow their snake like trail back into the dense woods around us. There are some palm trees, but mostly what surrounds us seems to be a mixture of mangroves and brush. Whatever it is, it comforts me as we incline up a small hill. A large rock lays on the side of the trail and Kyle sits down a minute. I take a big inhale and then comment on the smell. “It smells so sweet and earthy. I have missed this smell!” Being on the boat for so long surrounded by nothing but low lying sandy beaches has caused my senses to become rather intense. The colors are so vibrant that I can almost feel the greenness that surrounds us. The smells so strong that they fill my nostrils and invoke memories of backpacking the mountains. The sounds.. so quiet! So quiet that I stop and listen. Listen to the faint rustle of trees and leaves, but otherwise there is nothing. The earth below my feet is so still and sturdy. It isn’t moving. I remove my sandals and continue the rest of the way barefoot. Less than 10 minutes after entering this tunnel of a trail, we can see an opening in the trees. The trail begins to get a bit rocky and the sun is shining down, causing the leaves to glisten. Kyle stops just a couple feet outside of the enclosed trail and I walk up next to him and stop as well. We are standing on a cliff. It might only be 20ft, but it is a cliff and here we are. Standing on this cliff over looking a big blue hole. Literally, just a big hole in the earth, filled with water. I had never seen anything like it. The hole was surrounded by mangroves, trees, and brush, on all sides but the one we were standing on. “My goodness, it is incredible!” We stand there for a few moments observing. Everything is so still. No one is on this entire island but us, and the water below is shimmering in the sunlight which has finally come out after two days of clouds. There is another small trail to our right which we follow. It is a rocky trail that takes us on a switch back down towards the water. Now we have arrived at the shore of the water, a light sand sprinkled over the rock of the shoreline. We are standing in a cave of sorts. From the ground to the top of the cave is probably about 8-10 ft. There are random rock formations hanging down and I am in awe of their texture and patterns. The water looks so inviting. We set up our blanket and find a spot for our bag. I quickly remove my sarong and sun shirt and wade into the water in my black swim suit. The water is cool and my body feels more and more refreshed as I allow the water to envelope me. I dive down and let the cool water hold me. All the frustrations, tiredness, and ill feelings from the previous day are removed and I feel renewed. The water is invigorating and I let it invoke all my senses. I poke my head up and laugh at Kyle who is still standing on the shore, waste deep, debating about how cold the water is. He finally goes for it and swims over to me. We swim around our private swimming pool. Surrounded by cliffs, rocks, and trees, the sun shines down on us as we float easily in the salty water. Making our way back towards our towel we lay down and let the sunshine dry the water off our skin. We decide to walk back up to the cliff, where the original trail led us, to jump off the cliff into the water below. We had read that this was okay to do, and also checked to make sure it was plenty deep below the cliff. While only 20ft tall, Kyle thought nothing of this “cliff”. He has jumped from 80ft and was giggling at me for saying “its so high!” But being the kind and patient guy he is, he took a good 5 minutes and went over all the protocols for jumping off a cliff. I was ready and we counted to 3 and jumped together. It all happened so fast and as I emerged from the water’s surface I was coughing and sputtering and choking on water. “It hurts. It hurts. It hurts!!!” I was holding my ears and my jaw and doubled over in pain. Kyle rushed over to me and helped me clamor out of the to our tie dye blanket. “Oh my god it hurts. My jaw. My ears. It hurts,” was all I could say to Kyle’s questions. Thankfully it only took a few seconds for the pain to start subsiding, but behind my ears and my jaw still ached. Once it was clear that I had not broken my jaw or ruptured an ear drum, I began to feel better and Kyle and I went to work trying to figure out what happened. The jump wasn’t even that far! I felt like a baby and laughed at myself for not being able to handle such a small jump. After a 10 minute discussion we figured out what happened. When I jumped, I was staring down at the water. So when I landed in the water my face pretty much did a “face flop” and salt water shot up through my nose and mouth and felt like into my brain. It was awful. “I am so sorry I didn’t mention to look out. I can’t believe I didn’t tell you to look forward.” Kyle felt bad, but it wasn’t his fault. I was scared now and the idea of jumping again really frightened me- but I knew that I HAD to do it again or else I would leave being scared of jumping and wouldn’t jump the next time the opportunity presented itself. So once the pain subsided we climbed back up to the cliff. I made sure to stare straight ahead at some palm trees on the shore across the water. With my nose plugged and my eyes looking straight I jumped. Kyle was waiting anxiously as I surfaced. “Yeah!” I cheered as I swam towards the shore. Much better. The rest of the afternoon we spent jumping, swimming, napping, eating lunch, taking photos and videos, reading books, and exploring some other trails. When we decided to start heading back to the boat we took our time on the hike back. I stopped at one particular spot that had the sweetest smell. I made a note to remember that moment: Here I am. Standing on the side of this trail, taking in the earthy sweet smell of the plants around me. My hair is dripping salt water onto my white sun shirt and my colorful flower sarong is slightly damp with salt water. My hat is providing shade over my face and the backpack feels sturdy on my shoulders. Kyle is standing a few feet behind me, his face pointing up into the sun. We just had an incredibly romantic and marvelous day swimming in this blue hole. There are fairly large crabs that scurry across the trail in front of me. The earth is soft below my feet and the sun is warm on my shoulders. Life is good. Thank you Universe.

The following day we picked up the anchor around 5:00am and said goodbye to our rolly anchorage. We left the protection of the island and headed out of the inlet into the Atlantic Ocean. Within minutes the motor was off and the sails were up. Off towards Nassau we went.

The Berry Islands Continued


Last week after we spent the day exploring Frazer’s Hog Cay we decided to make our way North to some other Berry Islands. We were both feeling quite ready to leave our anchorage as we had been there for quite some time and were starting to get a bit stir crazy. It was a Monday and we did our usual weather and routing checking and planning and decided to leave the following morning. But first, we had one more island to explore! Kyle had been eyeing this outlying island since we arrived and kept checking it out through the binoculars. It was unique in that it looked completed surrounded by white sandy beaches- no breaks in the shore of rocks or mangroves. We loaded up the dinghy and headed towards the island. It turned out to be a further dinghy ride than we had thought, but still only took about 30 minutes. As we approached the island it was clear that Kyle’s thoughts were correct, white sandy beach surrounding the entire island with a large wooded area in the middle. We jumped out of Lucy and lifted her up onto the beach. I went to setting up our blanket and books and other gear we brought for our afternoon on the sand bar. It was a nice change to have such a large area of sand. The other islands we had been exploring were either very small, or only had a few patches of sand and otherwise were porous sharp rock. Choosing a direction we headed down the beach with the goal of circling the island. An hour or so later we had circled the island 3 times and had quite a bit of fun along the way. There was a tiny little sandbar a couple hundred feet from the beach on the opposite side of where we landed and we waded out to it. Running isn’t something we get to do very often, so we took advantage of the long sandbar and ran back and forth- chasing each other, racing, and giggling. There were star fish scattered all around the edge of the sandbar and I stopped to observe them from time to time. We stretched and took deep breathes. We talked about how grateful we were and how hard we worked to get there. We discussed the ups and downs that led us to that moment and looked around in awe at our surroundings. We felt like we were the only ones in the world at that moment and that we were free. It was clear that the tide was starting to come in as our sand bar began shrinking, so we waded back to the beach and continued our walk- checking out all the rubbish that is scattered on the edge of where the sand ends the woods begin. That’s something we do a lot on these deserted islands- look at all the garbage and plastic that has made its way to these desolate places. Anything you can think of we find the remnants of. Balloons, glass, plastic jugs, oil jugs, fuel jugs, milk crates, pieces of doors, houses, boats, TV’s, ropes, plastic pieces of any size and color imaginable- plastic and more plastic. We go through this stuff and look for things useful to us. The other day Kyle found a large net made from polyethylene that was wrapped around some mangroves. He took the net and cleaned it and fixed it up and it is now our bow sprit net! So we can lounge next to the bow sprit on calm days at sea. At first all this rubbish made me sad, but now after seeing it on every beach in every country I have visited, it has just become what it is. It’s just how it is. We clean up what we can, take what we think is most dangerous to sea life and birds, and dream about one day coming back in a huge boat and cleaning up all the beaches. But for now, as to not let it ruin our adventures, we include it in our exploring and see if we can find any treasures within the plastic.

The rest of the day was spent lounging on the tie dye blanket, reading our books, napping, and chatting. Around 3pm we headed back to Sirocco to get the boat ready for leaving the next day. But unfortunately as the night went on and we checked the weather, it was looking like the wind was picking up tomorrow and that Wednesday would be a better day to leave. Neither of us wanted to do this- we were both ready to move on and had just spent the evening getting Sirocco all secured and ready to sail. We held out hope that we could leave in the morning and went to bed early. I awoke around 4am to see Kyle checking the weather and a couple seconds later heard the wind howling outside. “Tomorrow is way better. Today will be rough,” he said rather glumly. For some reason both of us were rather disheartened by this news, but knew for our comfort waiting one more day was the thing to do. I know it probably seems like waiting one more day isn’t a big deal- which it really isn’t. It’s hard to explain, but living on this little boat surrounded by nothing but water and uninhabited islands is incredible, but it’s also very isolated. And after one week we had explored every island in sight and were really ready for a change of scenery. Kyle quickly settled down to do some work on his computer, but I felt anxious and antsy. Should I go through the hassle of untying the dinghy, launching it, getting out the oars, etc, just to have to do it again later that evening? No, didn’t feel like that. There were plenty of things I could be doing- boat projects, writing projects, cleaning, cooking. Didn’t feel like any of it. So instead by 1pm I found myself running up and down the side decks. I just felt like I needed to MOVE. So despite only having about 20ft of space on each side, I ran, jumped, jogged, and skipped up one side of the boat, across the foredeck, and down the other side. I did this for 20 minutes until I was out of breath and exhausted. Then I moved onto jumping jacks and other random exercises on my yoga mat. Finally I was hot and jumped in the water. Kyle got up and came swimming with me and we snorkeled around for a good half hour or so. By the end of all this is was 3pm and I was thoroughly tired. I felt much better and after showering and cleaning up I settled down to a movie in the v-berth on my iPad. Later that night I did yoga on the foredeck and reflected on what it was that was causing me to feel so unsettled earlier in the day.

By 6am the following morning we were pulling up the anchor and talking about how thankful we were that we waited a day because the conditions had lightened considerably and the wind was in the perfect direction for sailing the 22 miles North. The sail took about 4.5 hours and we were able to sail the entire way, only turning on the engine in the last 10 minutes to position ourselves and secure down on the anchor. The day was beautiful and it was a unique sail for us as we were able to skirt pretty close to shore, which we usually don’t do. So while sailing we could see the beaches of the outer Berry Islands and the rocky cliffs covered in grass and a random house or two. The seas were rather rolly and even though they were fairly calm, the rolling waves made me a bit seasick. It was mild, but I napped in the cockpit and towards the end of the passage found myself rather excited to be coming into the inlet. We arrived to Little Harbor Cay around noon and dropped the anchor behind some rocks, protecting us a bit from the rolly seas. We knew we wanted to move to a different anchorage, but in order to do so had to go over some shallow areas so wanted to wait until high tide and to sound the area in the dinghy to create a path for Sirocco. We launched the dinghy and took our lead line and rowed through the shallow pass, dropping pins on the deep spots on the navigation chart on the iPad. Having found a way through, we waited until high tide around 5pm and motored Sirocco to a more protected anchorage. We only hit the sand twice while motoring through the shallow pass, and both times were able to quickly motor off and move over a couple feet to find “deeper” water. The next anchorage was pristine and the water was so calm. The moon, being almost full, illuminated the sky long before it was dark and continued to do so for the rest of the night.

The next morning we filled our coffee mugs with hot coffee and hopped in the dinghy to go explore the area. We both found ourselves pleasantly surprised by this area. The islands were tall, at least 40 feet and had some rocky cliffs overhanging us. It was a nice change from the flat sandy islands. We motored the dinghy through some narrow channels and found a sandy beach to land on. Kyle suddenly became determined to have a coconut for breakfast and went on a mad hunt for coconuts. We motored all around these little islands and in and out of little inlets looking for coconuts. I’d drop him off on a shore and he would try to bush whack himself towards the palm trees in the middle of the island. Finally he decided he would have to abandon the mission of fresh coconuts as we were both getting very hungry for breakfast. I will say though, that for the next 4 days he talked constantly of fresh coconuts to the point where all I wanted was a fresh coconut too!

The following day was similar to this, checking out the islands, and finding beaches to enjoy a beautiful sunset. So while we were doing similar things as we had been doing before we moved the 22 miles North, it was new and refreshing and the islands had a completely different feel. We found one particular spot that I absolutely loved and we went back multiple times to enjoy it. Here is a little journal entry I wrote about that particular spot:


Motoring the dinghy close to the shore, we could see all the rock formations that lined the shoreline. Under the rocks had been hallowed out by water over time, leaving an overhanging ledge. The subtle waves would crash under the ledge causing water to spew out between the rocks and creating a hallow sound that Kyle and I both enjoyed listening to. Coming to a point on the island, we turned the dinghy right and followed the point into a little cove, also surrounded by rocky shore. Because we were in our hard sided dinghy, Lucy, we were able to pull up to the rocks and not worry about them being too sharp. Kyle maneuvered skillfully towards an opening in the rocks as I grabbed my green rubber Birkenstock’s and jumped off the bow of Lucy, carefully placing my feet among the rocks. The warm clear water engulfed my ankles and I wiggled my toes, letting the water cool my feet. With the motor off and lifted, Kyle joined me on the rocks as we balanced vicariously while also trying to pick up Lucy and lift her well out of the water. With Lucy secured we grabbed the backpack and found a little path leading from the inner calm waters of the cove to the crashing waves of the exposed beach on the other side of the small island. The path was surrounded by mangroves and covered in vines and some brambles so we weeded our way carefully through the narrow path towards the sound of the waves. Coming out from the mangroves we were greeted with the most magnificent view. The Atlantic Ocean was angry today and the waves crashed hard on the shoreline. It made me thankful that Sirocco lay to her anchor in the protection of island in clam water. Half the shoreline was white sand, while the other half was the same rocks as the inner cove. Due to the size and momentum of the waves, the water spewed 20 feet in the air through the porous rocks. Walking further out from the protection of the mangroves the wind gusted strongly in our faces and brought the smell of salt and sand with it. We combed the shoreline, staying as close to the mangroves as possible as to avoid the spray coming from the rocks. Kyle spotted something on the rocks so walked closer to the water and just as he was bent over to pick up what he found, the rocks spewed the salt water and the droplets came raining down all over him. I giggled and jumped backwards as to avoid as much of the droplets as I could, thoroughly enjoying the salty mist that covered my body. I laughed as I used my shirt to wipe my glasses clean. Finding a sandy spot, away from spraying rocks, we attempted to set up our chairs and blanket to have a picnic. I set my chair up and had to very quickly sit down before it blew away. Kyle did the same and we sat in the gusty wind enjoying the show the waves and rocks were putting on down the shoreline. We passed a tupperware of pasta salad back and forth between us while also sipping on a glass of wine. The sun was shining so despite the strong wind, it was a beautiful day and I felt really cozy in my chair wrapped in my shawl. Lunch was over so we stuffed our chairs and tupperware back in the backpack and took off to explore further, stainless steel wine cups in hand. Heading down the beach back towards the rocks we followed the shoreline around a bend and hiked along the rocks, as far from the water as we could. I use the word rocks, because I am unsure how else to describe them. Kyle and I thought that maybe it was hardened and very old coral, but we can’t be sure. Either way, these were not smooth large rocks. They were porous and sharp and many times I could feel the sharpness through the rubber on my sandals. It provided for interesting hiking as we were careful to avoid the gaps and particular sharp areas. At one point the path, which I think we created ourselves, got very narrow and I looked down at the crashing waves and sharp rocks 20ft below me. Choosing to pay a bit more attention through the narrow section I used might right hand to steady me while also trying not to spill any wine in my left hand 😉 Kyle followed behind me and once clear of the narrow spot we came to a point on the shoreline and could see the Atlantic Ocean from both sides. The waves crashed even harder here and the thunderous noise made it difficult for us to hear each other. We each went different directions and combed the rocky beach as we usually did- looking for anything interesting, gathering garbage and trying to condense it, and looking for treasures at the same time. I found a miniature cove within the rocks, only about 20ft by 20ft and jumped down the 4ft to land in the sand below. I was able to climb under the rocks and squat in the sand below. It was a neat little cove and I checked it out for a few minutes before climbing out to find Kyle. We decided to head back, and stood on the point for a moment, enjoying the sound and smell of the Atlantic Ocean. The water was a deep blue color, so vivid – and the white of the crashing waves created such a contrast to the deep blue- amazing! I took the last sip of my wine and turned back towards the shoreline where our backpack lay. We were quiet on the way back, each lost in our own minds, both observing our surroundings and taking deep breathes. While it wasn’t spoken, I think both of us were taking breathes of gratitude, feeling thankful to be able to explore these islands.

As I write this post we are no longer in the Berry Islands and have moved to an island outside of Nassau called Rose Island. But I will get to all of that later- for now it’s time to start my day and possibly go scuba dive a ship wreck nearby. Write soon! -D

P.S. It has come to my attention that there might be some issues with enlarging photos on the blog. Unfortunately I don’t know how to fix this, but have found that if rather than going to the blog from the e-mail that is sent and instead typing in: in your internet browser, you should be able to enlarge the pictures there. I am posting all of these posts and pictures on a small iPhone screen so please bear with me through typos, autocorrect mistakes, and odd formatting issues. Doing the best I can for being in some pretty isolated areas with limited connectivity 🙂 Thanks.

The Berry Islands


After two nights at Brown’s Marina in Bimini, we decided to leave the dock and head towards more isolated islands. The plan was to travel about 9 miles South towards Gun Cay and anchor there as the next morning we were going to make the 80 mile crossing across the Great Bahama Bank to the Berry Islands. After leaving the marina we traveled about half way between Bimini and Gun Cay before turning into the protection of the reefs and heading for a ship wreck call the Sapano. Kyle really wanted to snorkel it, and I didn’t really know what it was, but snorkeling a ship wreck sounded awesome! Once again, I was blown away by what we found. The Sapano is, according to a Bahamian website: “……”. For Kyle and I, it provided a very unique experience. As we approached the wreck, we dropped the sails and motored slowly towards it, wanting to get as close as possible while also staying a safe distance away. We had the whole place to ourselves, it was a hot clear day, and being mid afternoon the sun was shining directly into the water, giving us great visibility. We dropped the anchor and Kyle quickly jumped in to dive the anchor and make sure it was set well so that we could relax while snorkeling and not worry about Sirocco. Neither of us had ever snorkeling a wreck before and we were both so excited to swim over to it. With our free dive fins, weight belts, snorkel, and masks we jumped overboard and swam towards the wreck. I was instantly amazed at how clear the water was and how well I could see everything around me. The side of the ship was covered in colorful coral and hundreds of fish. We swam to an opening and I gazed in hesitantly. “Can we go in? Is it safe?” I asked Kyle through my snorkel. He laughed at me, and said “Yes to both things. Just be really careful when going in so you don’t get scraped on the metal.” I waited for a small wave to help push me through the opening which was bigger than my body. I had no troubles and found myself looking around in awe once I was inside the ship. It was an amazing experience, and I had the GoPro with me so I took lots of footage. I took 40 minutes of footage and turned it into a little 3 minute video using some music made by one of Kyle’s good friends. I’ll let the video and some photos show how much fun we had and how unique of an experience it was for us: 

After diving the wreck it was about 4:00pm so we quickly rinsed off, put on dry and clean clothes and stored all our snorkel gear. We had an incredible sail towards Gun Cay where we anchored that evening. It was our first anchorage in the Bahamas and we had dinner in the cockpit, sitting close to each other so we could both see the sunset that exploded the sky into deep reds and pinks. “Red sky at night, sailors delight,” I said to Kyle. We laughed really hoping that was true as we had a long day coming the following morning. Around 3:30am our alarm went off and we dressed warmly and went about the routine of getting the boat ready to go sailing. 80 miles East of where we were was the Berry Islands, we just had to cross the shallow Bahama Bank to get there. Again, we had researched our route and planned accordingly with the weather, and this time we had an 80 mile day which took us about 18 hours and we were able to sail the entire way! No motoring at all, which is our absolute favorite kind of day. Although a bit rolly, the conditions were pretty optimal for sailing and we traveled down wind at a pretty consistent 6 knots for the majority of the day. We did lots of sail changes as the wind came and went and tried all sorts of configurations to try and keep the sails full. Dead down wind is a bit of a tough point of sail, but the waves were behind us which created a nice speed boost, sometimes going 7 knots as we surged down the waves. It was a long day so we took shifts and napped on and off throughout the day. Around 5pm I was on watch and Kyle was down below sleeping. I could see on the chart that we were about to leave the shallow of the Bahama Bank and enter into what is called “The Tongue of the Ocean”. What I didn’t realize is that I would be able to see the line on the water as clearly as the line on the chart! As Sirocco surged towards the deeper water, I stood up at the bow and looked at the very distinct depth line. On one side the water was a clear, teal-ish color. On the other side a deep, dark blue. I had my headphones on and my iPod on shuffle. The universe is so fortuitous as literally moments after leaving the shallow water and entering the deep water the song “Rolling in the Deep” by Adele came blaring through my headphones. I giggled and very much enjoyed my alone time on deck, feeling a deep connection to everything around me. Kyle came up soon after from his nap and we sat in the cockpit together enjoying the sunset and checking our course to see how much longer we had. Around 8:30pm we dropped the sails and motored very slowly the last mile to where we wanted to anchor. It was dark, so we were careful to navigate through the shallows and dropped our anchor in about 10ft of water. I couldn’t wait to wake up and see where we were! 

We awoke to low lying islands covered with white beaches and large patches of trees. The water was shallow and clear and I could make out all the little plants and creatures living on the bottom. After breakfast we lifted the anchor and motored 5 miles North to a more protected anchorage surrounded by uninhabited islands where we planned to spend the next week. It was an enjoyable motor up to the new anchorage as we were in close to the beach and used the binoculars to check out the abandoned marina and some boats on Frazer’s Hog Cay. 

It is now Sunday December 8th and we arrived to this anchorage on Thursday the 5th. We have very much been enjoying the isolation of the Southern Berry Islands. We are surrounded by islands in all directions and anchored in 10ft of clear water. I often sit on the side of the boat and just stare down at the sand and watch as little crabs and snails crawl along the sand, leaving a trail behind them. Our days have been filled with exploring the islands, reading in the hammock, lots of little boat projects, working, and taking a dinghy ride to an island every night at sunset. Two days ago we packed a backpack and went to an island called “Cockroach Cay” (thankfully I didn’t see any cockroaches) and spent the day there. We found an abounded yurt homestead, lots of cool shells, and enjoyed the afternoon in the shade of a tree on our tie dye blanket. We both feel like we made it to “paradise” and are feeling so lucky to be here. The other night as we left an island and headed back to Sirocco there was a large sting ray under the dinghy and we just floated quietly on top of him. I stowed the oars and we drifted, the second sunset glowing all around us and the crystal water giving us a perfect view of the large sting ray and countless star fish that scatter the white sand. 

Today we are going to head to a larger island called Frazer’s Hog and check out an abandoned marina and road there. In a couple days we will make our way north 20 miles to check out some more of the Berry Islands. Onward! 

Hello Bahamas!


Kyle and I have made it to the Bahamas! We arrived on December 1st around noon and since have had an enjoyable time exploring some islands. We left Key Largo around 9:30pm on November 30th to make the crossing across the Gulf Stream and North to Bimini, a small Eastern Bahamian Island. We chose to leave at night because it was important to us to arrive to Bimini during the day light. There is a general “rule” of sailing that you don’t arrive to a foreign port at night – although we have done it many times – but it is much less stressful and easier going if arriving during the day – especially in the Bahamas where it is shallow and surrounded by reefs. With this thought in mind, we calculated how many hours it should take us to make it to Bimini and chose to arrive at noon. That way if we went faster than planned we’d still arrive after sunrise and if slower, before sunset. We had spent quite a bit of time planning our route from Key Largo to Bimini- pouring over charts, weather, and others’ accounts of crossing the Gulf Stream. The Gulf Stream, according to Wikipedia is: “a warm and swift Atlantic Ocean current that originates in the Gulf of Mexico and stretches to the tip of Florida, and follows the eastern coastlines of the United States and Newfoundland before crossing the Atlantic Ocean.” This is why we chose to leave from Key Largo, south of Bimini, so that we could ride the Gulf Stream to our destination. Being so strong, the Gulf Stream can cause some pretty hazardous conditions in the Atlantic if the wind is blowing against the current, so our weather window was very important to plan and I am so thankful we took the time to wait and really choose good conditions to cross. Anyway, it took us about 14 hours to make the crossing to the Bahamas. It was a pretty easy going passage, we had to motor sail a lot which neither of us really like, but being that we were playing a weather game, we didn’t want to spend any more time out there than necessary as heavy winds were forecasted for the following day. We took two hours shifts with the wind vane steering. So when on watch, it was pretty simple and relaxed: keep an out for ships, make sure we are staying on course, check that the sails are trimmed correctly, and just have an overall idea of what’s going on. While I was on watch I would listen to podcasts and enjoy the vividness of the stars. Kyle listened to some music and also enjoyed the stars and night sky while he was on watch. The night went by quickly and when I woke up from my third off watch the sun had risen, its rays shining through a cloud and illuminating the surface of the deep blue ocean water. 

Around 10:30am Kyle spotted land and we excitedly peered through the binoculars to see what we could make out on the horizon. I kept commenting on the water color and how teal it was, and then an hour later we crossing the depth contour which brought the depth from 600ft to 30ft and my mind was blown! I had always heard of the clear waters of the Bahamas, but we were just in the Keys which also has clear water, how different could it be?! I couldn’t have been more wrong. The water was as clear as drinking water and I could instantly see the entire bottom of the ocean, despite it being 20-30ft below us. “Is this really how the water is?! It’s this clear?!” I kept asking Kyle over and over as my mind took some time to adjust to something I had never seen before. He laughed at me and assured me this is how the Bahamas are. As we came closer to shore I made us lunch and we ate veggie sandwiches and carrots while taking in the white beaches, rock ledges, and incredible water that surrounded us. A bit after noon we spotted our entrance into Bimini and dropped the sails before turning up into the entrance. The entrance wasn’t very well marked with markers as we are used to in Florida, but we had two different charts guiding us as well as the ability to see the bottom. While a bit intense for a moment as we went over a shallow spot, we were quickly inside the break water and spotted the marina we planned to stay at for a couple nights while we got settled and checked into the country. 

I really had no idea what to expect from the Bahamas. I had zero expectations and hadn’t done much research on Bimini itself, other than navigating to it. I figured it might be similar to Florida since it was only 40 miles away. Within 10 minutes of docking the boat at Brown’s Marina I was quickly proven wrong. Nothing like Florida. It only took 14 hours and I felt like we landed in a different world. From the color of the water, to the way the people talked, to the just overall feeling of “island time”. I was thrilled. After docking and high-fiving and hugging a bit to celebrate our successful crossing, it was time to take care of paperwork and checking into the country. I had already printed and filled out our paperwork and had everything neatly organized in a folder, but the marina needed some additional information from us so we filled out some extra forms. We then stuffed all our important documents and passports into a backpack, dug out our shoes, and took instructions from the dock master on how to find Customs and Immigration. We walked out of the marina and onto the street and I instantly felt like I was in the Caribbean, in a land far away. Loud Caribbean music blared from speakers, run down and abounded buildings were scattered in between small dark bars also blasting music. Colorful buildings and shops with even more colorful clothes were scattered here and there. Cars and golf carts and mopeds zipped around the single road which had zero traffic signs. Everyone was very friendly as we walked down the road keeping an eye out for a building labeled “Customs”. Having found the building we found ourselves in a small, stuffy room surrounded by thick clear class, with the government workers behind the class enjoying lunch. Kyle and I stood around chatting quietly, wondering how long we should wait to say something to one of the 8 employees who were all looking at us through the glass but making zero moves towards talking to us. A few minutes passed and a younger woman reluctantly got up from her desk and came over to the counter. “How can I help you?” We explained that we had just arrived from Florida on our boat and she quickly asked for all our papers and documents. I let Kyle take over at this point as we were confusing her by both trying to answer her questions and I quickly learned that while we do most everything shared on the boat, this was a job for a single person. Some more forms, $150 dollars, and a couple stamps later, we were sent to immigration to finish the check-in process. We walked a few more minutes down the road, looking for a pink building labeled “administration”. A woman sitting in the courtyard of the building smiled at us and said “that way” pointing to a hallway. Clearly we stood out as tourists and we were thankful for her guidance. Walking down the barren hallway we followed a hand written sign: “Immigration – Third door on left.” The immigration officer wasn’t unfriendly, but also wasn’t friendly. Kyle tried chatting, asking him his favorite restaurant on the island, how his day is going, etc. He participated a bit, but mostly just wanted our paperwork. “That’s it”, he said and handed us back our documents. It only took 30 minutes and we were cleared into the country.

At this point we were both loopy, exhausted, and very happy. Despite taking two hour shifts, neither of us slept well the night before and I was really starting to feel it. We walked back to the boat, let the dock master know we successfully checked in, and in return he gave us the gate code and the WiFi password. Going back to the boat we quickly dug out some cold beers from the fridge and cheers’d. We had made it to the Bahamas! Kyle has been dreaming of this for over 8 years and me for half that long. With nothing on our agenda for the day, we called our families to let them know we made it and I quickly passed out taking a nice long nap while Kyle poured over cruising guides of the Bahamas. I woke around 4:30 and we decided to walk down to the beach and watch the sunset. It was a quick walk from the marina to an interesting little cemetery and over a little hill. The sun was closing in on the horizon and the clouds provided awesome textures and colors. The beach curved a round to the inlet we had come in earlier that day, and we could see the thin pass over the sandbar and into the harbor. It was a wonderful evening of sunsets, beach exploring, lots of thank you’s and of course a deep needed sleep. 

The next day we packed a backpack and went to explore the island. We walked almost 2 miles to the end of the island before turning back. Along the way we stopped and got a Bahamian SIM card and took some little side streets to explore the small island bit further. Later we met our neighbors at the marina and spent the rest of the day hanging and relaxing at the marina. I found myself with a cold drink and book sitting on a lounge chair overlooking the marina and the crystal clear water below. Life is good! 

As I write this we are currently in the Berry Islands, 80 miles East of Bimini. In the last week we have crossed the Bahama Bank and snorkeled an incredible ship wreck as well as explored lots of uninhabited islands. But I’m ready for breakfast, so that’ll be for another day!  -D 



The Keys


Well, as I write this we are anchored off Rodriguez Key in Key Largo. We are taking it easy this afternoon as we are leaving this evening to make our crossing to the Bahamas. We will leave around 9pm and will arrive in Bimini sometime tomorrow afternoon. The past week or so has been busy but really enjoyable.

Last week we left the Everglades early in the morning and made the 80 mile passage to Marathon where we spent a few days at anchor near Conch Key. Kyle’s friend, Gabe, from Wisconsin now lives in the Keys and he lives on Conch Key. He is a dive master and he took us out one afternoon on his boat for some scuba diving. It was a quick dive as the water was cold! But I saw more fish and colorful coral than I think I’ve ever seen diving. We also saw two moray eels, one of which was swimming around and looking at us rather curiously. The rest of the time was spent doing small boat projects, relaxing at anchor, and one evening Gabe and his family brought their power boat over to our anchorage and we enjoyed appetizers and drinks in Sirocco’s cockpit during sunset.

Last Sunday we made another 80 mile passage from Conch Key to Key Largo. Once in Key Largo we again did small boat projects, took the folding bicycles on a grocery mission, did lots of snorkeling, and spent some time scrubbing the bottom of the boat. On Thursday my parents drove down from Seminole and spent the weekend here for Thanksgiving. They stayed at a hotel about 10 minutes away and we had the most wonderful weekend. On Friday we took them sailing and out to Molasses Reef where Kyle and I took my dad snorkeling and he tried Snuba. The water was so clear and it was fun to show my parents how incredibly beautiful it is on the water here in the Keys. I had a pretty amazing experience swimming with a sea turtle. I had never been so close to a wild sea turtle before and I was calmly swimming next to it for a bit and it just sort of looked at me and also continued swimming near the surface. I did my best to give him lots of space and not encroach in what he was up to. When he dove down I waved goodbye and swam back to the boat. Later that day we drove down to Marathon and enjoyed the sunset before going out to dinner at funky little restaurant.

This afternoon after some breakfast and a relaxing morning hanging out at their hotel, my parents dropped us off at the dinghy landing and waved goodbye as we took our last dinghy ride (here in Florida!) back to the boat. I am very thankful that they were here for the weekend and were able to see us off before we leave for the Bahamas! I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving 🙂

As I mentioned above, to get to from the Everglades to Key Largo we made two 80 mile passages. Both of them were magical days, particularly the passage from Marathon to Key Largo. I haven’t written much lately as Kyle and I have been busy running around and spending time with friends and family, but I did take a few moments to write during our passage to Key Largo. We also took lots of pictures and videos which I’ll include below.



It’s 5:15pm. We’ve been sailing since 8am this morning and the conditions have been more than ideal all day. Kyle is sleeping down below on his settee. The only sounds I hear are the rushing of water along Sirocco’s hull as she surges at 6 knots with the wind and waves behind her and the tick tick ticking of the wind vane. The sun is slowly making its decent towards the horizon; it seems to be lingering a bit, as if it was preparing for the spectacular show it’s about to put on. Since the wind vane is steering for us, I do not have to steer, which means I am free to sit comfortably on the foredeck, rather than back in the cockpit. I am sitting cross legged on a cushion with my back leaned against the bulgy bag of the spinnaker sail. The water below me is the deepest blue I have seen in years. It reminds me a lot of the color of the night sky during the transition from dusk to darkness- that couple minutes just before all the stars come out. We don’t usually drink while underway, but the situation seemed to call for it, and I just cracked open a beer and cheers’d to the universe as a way of saying thank you. Plus, the cold, hoppy beer is refreshing and a nice treat to sip on. Every few minutes I check our course, our surroundings, and the trim of the sails, but other than that, I am pretty free to fully relax. That’s one of my favorite parts about being off shore, much easier and relaxed sailing than being close to land. Every once in a while a gust will come and Sirocco surges forward even more, creating a small bow wake as the sea breeze fills my nose with that salty, fresh aroma of the open ocean. I now hear Kyle stirring down below, filling his copper mug with fresh water. The sun is even closer to the horizon now and the canvas of the sky is transitioning from a pale blue to deep and vivid reds, pinks, and blues. There are some clouds hanging near the horizon line which add more intensity to the show. Kyle is on deck now, taking deep breathes and soaking it all in. The water is still a deep blue, but the surface is tinted and glowing with the reds and pinks of the sky…….. As if on queue, 3-4 dolphins started playing in our bow wave as the sun was setting. The water is so clear that we could make out their whole bodies as they played just below the surface of the water. Kyle and I hopped up to watch them and found ourselves giggling. With each passing moment the day just kept getting more extraordinary. The colors, the sea, the dolphins, the speed of the boat, the sunset, the conditions as a whole – everything around us seemed to be aligning and we were overwhelmed with joy. Thank you Universe.

After writing that and spending time on the bow with the dolphins, Kyle and I spent second sunset on the foredeck, playing dice, sharing a beer, and listening to some music. It was quite a remarkable passage, and one that I am very thankful for. Life is good and I can hardly believe we will be in the Bahamas tomorrow. We have been dreaming of this for so long, and now here we are. Onward!



Lemon Bay to the Everglades


Well, we are definitely starting to get into the groove of cruising. I sat down to write this, and after thinking it over for a few minutes, could not figure out the date or the day of the week. I think that’s one of the things I love so much about this lifestyle. My body starts to adapt to the rhythm of the sun, going to bed at 8:30pm and waking up around 6am. Our days are productive and busy, but in a different way. This morning Kyle worked for 3 hours doing design work and during that time I practiced yoga on the foredeck and started writing an article idea out. Sometimes I get a bit bummed out about technology and how much it has seemed to take over our society, but at the same time I feel so thankful that we are both able to make money while floating miles away from the nearest town and surrounded by mangroves- both doing things we love. So instead of being bummed I say my thank you’s and choose to approach technology in moderation. Anyway! Speaking of being surrounded by mangroves, as I write this, we are currently in an incredible anchorage in the Everglades.

Last week we left Lemon Bay and took the ICW 4 hours south to Charlotte Harbor where we anchored in Cayo Costa. It was a pretty chilly day, but the sun was shining bright and there were dolphins everywhere, so it made it an enjoyable journey. It was really nice coming out from under the last bascule bridge into the open waters of Charlotte Harbor. After being on the ICW for so many days, the open expanse of water was a nice change and we were able to sail as we didn’t have to worry about depth as much. It was a quick and rather uneventful trip from Lemon Bay to Cayo Costa.. right up until we went to enter the Cayo Costa anchorage. Kyle and I have been to Cayo Costa multiple times on many different boats and it’s always a shallow and a bit intense entrance into the anchorage, but we have always made it just fine. However, on this day, it was low tide and we were a little over confident because we had been there recently and felt we remembered where the deepest water was. As we approached the sign to turn left and follow the beach into the deeper part of the anchorage, our depth dropped so quickly that we couldn’t react quick enough and ran hard aground. Fortunately our boat is a full keeled boat so running aground isn’t really a problem, but we were really close to shore and it was making me nervous. Plus, whether your boat cares or not, running aground isn’t exactly fun! So after attempting to both motor and sail off the sand to no avail, we quickly launched Lucy, our dinghy, and Kyle hopped in while I handed him the oars and the stern anchor which is ready to deploy for this exact reason (and as an emergency break). Kyle rowed the anchor out to the deep water while I wrapped the anchor line around the winch. Once he was back aboard he used the winch to pull us off the sand and back into deeper water. The whole situation took less than 10 minutes from when we hit the sand to being back underway, but as always it was an intense 10 minutes and we acted in unison to take care of the situation. There is a saying “If you haven’t run aground, you haven’t be around!” And it’s very true! Kyle and I have ran aground more times than I can count over the years, and that is why we have a system in place. So after giving each other a high-five at how quickly we took care of the situation and how well our system worked, we slowed down, studied the chart better, and the second time around made it into the Cayo Costa anchorage with no troubles 🙂

That afternoon Kyle went up the mast for a couple hours to install some spreader lights, change out some rigging pins, and to just do a general check of the rig as we knew were going offshore soon. Usually I go up the mast because it’s hard for me to winch Kyle up and it’s easy for him to winch me up, but he had too many projects to do and I didn’t know how to do them all. So he sat patiently in the boson’s chair as I used the winch handle to very slowly pull him up to the top of the mast. He got some pretty cool pictures up there and we finished up a lot of loose end projects. Once down from the mast Kyle and I put on our wetsuits and jumped into the water to scrub the bottom of the boat. I wasn’t wearing a weight belt and was head to toe in neoprene and was so buoyant that I had the hardest time cleaning the bottom of the boat. Kyle watched me try to go to the bottom of the keel and I would just shoot right back up, usually turning upside down along the way. Everything about what I was doing was far from graceful and Kyle found it hilarious. Not sure how much help I was with the actual cleaning, but I provided some entertainment for Kyle! Next time I’ll wear my weight belt.

The next couple days were spent relaxing and cuddled up inside the boat as a cold front came down and brought rain and high winds. We busted out our extra kerosine lanterns and enjoyed a couple evenings of movies, reading, and cooking baked potatoes as the oven warmed the whole cabin. One morning, the sun decided to poke through the clouds for an hour or so and we took the opportunity to row over to a little beach. The beach was pretty small, but we were both excited to be on land so we paced back and forth the small patch of sand, hot coffee in hand, sharing stories and giggling at the pelicans as they dove beak down into the water creating a crash and splash- half the time coming up with a fish. We watched as the dark clouds began to move towards the anchorage from the North and guessed at how long we had before they brought rain. When the wind started to pick up and the sun tucked back behind the clouds, we hopped into Lucy and I rowed us slowly back to the boat. Dolphin played all around the anchorage that morning and I let Lucy drift a few minutes to observe them. Back aboard the boat and in the comfort of our cozy cabin, we sat down at the table and had a weather and route plan meeting.

We decided to leave the following morning around 4am and head South. The winds were supposed to be a bit higher than we would usually choose to sail in, but were supposed to decrease the farther South we went and as the hours passed. The plan was to head straight for Marathon, skipping the Dry Tortuguas due to a poor weather window, with a potential stop in the Everglades along the way depending on conditions and how we were feeling. With that plan in place, and knowing how high the wind and seas were going to be, we set out and prepared the boat for the passage. I meal prepped for two days of being underway because sometimes if the seas are too rough we don’t feel like cooking. I loaded the cockpit benches with snacks and filled up our water bottles. Kyle did a walk through of everything on the deck and made sure everything was secured down how he likes it and the decks clear and clean. I did the same down below- stowing my kombucha, oil diffuser, drum, and a few other items that only come out when at anchor. That night we went to bed early in anticipation of a long day and early alarm. Around 4am the alarm went off and we crawled out of the warm bed into the chilly cabin. Coffee was being brewed before I was even fully dressed and the stove quickly took the chill out of the cabin. I set up our lee cloths (pieces of cloth that tie up so we don’t fall out of our settees while sleeping and sailing) and made the settees cozy with sheets and blankets. The moon was out so it made picking up the anchor easy, but the high winds made it so we had to yell to hear each other as I commanded the engine and Kyle used the windlass to pull up the anchor. We motored from our anchorage out into the channel and as soon as we turned towards the Charlotte Harbor inlet, were greeted with steep waves and even higher winds. It was quite exciting and very wet as salt water sprayed all over the deck. We had to go into the wind before turning down to head South, so until we made it out of the inlet the wind and waves were against us, creating some pounding and lots of splashes. Kyle navigated and set sails as I steered and off we went into the open Gulf.


Within an hour we were far enough out of the large inlet to turn down towards our destination. This dramatically changed our conditions as instead of pounding into the wind and waves, they were going with us. However, the seas were still quite big and as we shut down the engine and reefed the main sail (made the sail smaller) we were traveling at almost 7 knots as we surfed down the large waves. That is pretty fast for our boat, especially under only one sail! Kyle took over steering because he is more experienced in heavy seas and I decided to try and get some sleep. The sleep didn’t really come, as I was being tossed and turned in my settee as we rolled and surfed with the waves. The forecast had called for 3-5 ft seas, but the waves started doubling up and we were experiencing some 8-12 ft from time to time. They looked huge and it definitely caused a bit of fear for me! Even though we have been in bigger seas and were prepared for the heavy conditions, it has been a couple years and I forgot how big they look when they are behind you! However, Sirocco was handling the conditions as though they were totally normal and we were able to use the wind vane, so didn’t have to steer at all. Eventually it became normal and we turned on some music and hung out and ate snacks in the cockpit enjoying the show. As the day progressed Kyle tried to get some rest as well but neither of us could really get any sleep. We knew that it was a long way to Marathon and without much sleep and both being pretty exhausted, we started looking at places to stop along the way. After some research on the IPad using Navionics and reading the chart and other people’s comments on the Everglades, we chose an inlet called Indian River Pass. It was about 5pm when we decided to head towards land and duck into the Everglades, but we still had a long journey ahead to get there. It took about 4 hours to get in past the shallow areas outside of the Everglades, and we navigated carefully around the shoals. The conditions got better and better as we headed south, so we were able to take turns napping. Around 9pm we turned up and headed for the light marking the inlet of the Pass. It was another 3 hours to get to the inlet but the conditions were much improved due to the protection of land and we were able to put out some more sails. Neither of us had ever been to the Everglades, and since it was somewhat unplanned going there, we started to get pretty giddy and excited about what we would find. The first thing we noticed as we started to get closer was that there was almost no light pollution coming from land. The stars shone so bright and the sliver of moon lit up the water around us. I hadn’t seen stars like that in such a long time that it took my breath away. As we approached the inlet we took down the sails and turned on the engine so we could better control our speed and position. Using our spot light (thank you Patti and Rick!) we navigated slowly and carefully between the markers, using the charts, depth sounder, spot light, and our eyes to avoid any shallow areas. The water was dead calm by the time we came into the inlet and navigating up to our anchorage was rather easy. By this point it was 1:30am and we found a perfect little hole surrounded by mangroves on all sides and dropped the anchor in 12 ft of water. We were both so exhausted and excited that our spirits were very high and we cooked some dinner and made a couple mixed drinks and cheers’d to making it through the trying, but enjoyable day. As the oil lantern and oven warmed our little cabin, we laughed and discussed how proud we were of Sirocco and how well she handled such rough conditions. Nothing broke, nothing moved down below, everything stayed secured in its spot, and we felt it was a true indication of our preparations and work during the refit. Sitting at the table scarfing down rice, beans, and warm tortillas we were both rather loopy from lack of sleep and when it was finally time to lay our heads down we talked about how incredible we felt. Overly exhausted, full, warm and cozy from the lingering warmth, and grateful. A deep sleep came on quickly and I couldn’t wait to wake up in the morning and actually see where we were!

On Sunday morning we woke up around 7am and I quickly hopped out of bed and started layering up. Leggings, socks, hat, long sleeve, puffy, and shoes on, I flipped on the propane switch and lit the stove, setting the half filled kettle on the burning flame. I lit our kerosine lantern and as the water began to warm up, I slid open the hatch and poked my head into the drizzly gray morning. One of my favorite things about sailing is coming into a port at night. You get to see it in a different light and have no idea what exactly to expect in the morning. It reminded me of a time off the coast of Honduras when we arrived to an island at night and awoke in the morning to crystal clear waters and a tiny wooded island 200 miles from anywhere. On this particular morning I poked my head out and saw mangroves surrounding us in all directions. I felt like we were in a little cove of mangroves and as there were no other boats around, it felt extremely isolated and I took a moment to soak in the utter silence of my surroundings. How long had it been since the last time we were so secluded from the hustle bustle of the world? The squealing of the kettle startled me out of my daze and I retreated back into the heated cabin where Kyle was groggily climbing out of bed. “It’s so warm in here… thank you,” he said while giving me a hug. We made coffee and joked that we would be needing more than one cup that morning.

The rest of the afternoon was spent doing chores around the boat. Washing the salt water off the decks, letting some lockers in the cockpit air out, inflating our inflatable dinghy, tidying up down below, and just a general clean of the boat. I lugged our unfortunately large dirty clothes bag on deck and retrieved the buckets and “washing machine” (aka a fancy plunger with holes to aerate the water). Sometimes I love doing laundry by hand, it feels nostalgic and is actually quite the work out. But on this afternoon as I looked at the overflowing bag of clothes I found myself thinking “and this is why someone invented a washing machine”. Anyway, an hour later I was splattered with biodegradable laundry soap and water and called Kyle on deck to help with the wringing out and hanging up. We had only seen one other boat all morning, and of course as soon as we lined our life lines with underwear, clothes, and sheets, a big pontoon tour boat comes cruising by chasing some dolphins a little up the way from us. Kyle shifted a bit uncomfortably, laughing. “Oh it’s a funny life,” he said. Kyle and I pride ourselves on keeping our boat clean and tidy and keeping the things on deck down to a minimum and try to not have things strewn about. But on laundry days, there is no choice and we giggled at the timing of the tour boat loaded with people.

Later that afternoon we decided to take our inflatable dinghy on a little tour of the Everglades ourselves. Some good friends of ours gave us the most amazing going away gift – an inflatable boat called a Nifty Boat. (Thank you Strobels!!!) It’s 10’ 6” long and has a hard transom for an outboard. It is equipped with oars and little covered bow. Once inflated it feels very much like a sturdy boat and the best thing about it is that it goes 2-3x the speed of our hard sided dinghy Lucy. When deflated and folded up, it fits perfectly under Lucy on the cabin top. We named this new dinghy Jude and have really grown to love him. With Jude loaded with life jackets, extra fuel, the outboard, and ourselves, we headed up the little inlet from our anchorage. We made sure to bring our GPS as to not get lost in the endless backwaters and passage ways that make up the Everglades. It was a gray afternoon, but the air was crisp and I enjoyed the coolness on my face, feeling thankful we bundled up so well. We saw lots of birds, dolphins, and fish, but no alligators or big snakes! It was a delightful little excursion.

The next couple days happened in a similar fashion, except the sun started to peak out through the clouds and we watched as the solar panels topped up our batteries. One afternoon we decided to make the 4 mile journey into Everglades City. We packed up Jude with lunch, drinks, and a variety of different clothing layers to accommodate the quickly changing temperatures. It was about an hour and a half dinghy ride into the town and we stopped half way through for lunch on an oyster covered sand bar. Once we arrived into the “city” (less than 700 people and very little there!) we found a restaurant with a dock to tie up to. Being known for its fishing and hunting, I was beyond pleased when we found a restaurant with a waterfront sign that said “vegetarian and vegan options!” We pulled up and I hopped out of the boat to ask if we could leave our dinghy there while we walked to the hardware store before coming back to get some food and drinks. The owner was extremely friendly and we secured Jude to the dock before venturing into to town. The town was mostly just a lot of houses on stilts, with lots of little inns and vacation rentals. We made our way to the hardware store to get a couple items. It’s always fun walking around a place we’ve never been. I like seeing how people live and what types of things they do for fun. It was a sleepy little town and we were able to see quite a bit of it in our short walk to the hardware store. Once back to the restaurant we ordered some drinks and appetizers and sat by the water watching all the airboats and fishing boats cruise by. We headed back to the boat around sunset and reveled in our surroundings as dolphins played 50ft from our boat and the sun dropped behind the low lying land. That night after a game of Monopoly we bundled up and sat on the foredeck gazing up at the incredibly vibrant stars. The night was so clear and crisp that we could make out the edges of the Milky Way and with such little light pollution we could make out all the constellations with the help of our star gazing pamphlet. Kyle was searching for a particular star with the binoculars and I sat back and took in every little sensation around me: the subtle wind, the lapping of water on Sirocco’s hull, my slow breathing, a fish that jumped, breaking the surface of the water. Here we were, floating on our little home, surrounded by nothing by mangroves and the vastness of the night sky. It was hard to tell where the horizon ended and the sky began. I truly felt that I was in a globe, it made me feel incredibly insignificant in the scale of the universe, but in a way that caused me to burst with pure joy. I laughed out loud at the situation I found myself in, and felt unbelievably grateful for everything in life that had led to that exact moment.

The next day we checked the weather and decided that the following early morning would be the perfect time to leave to finish the 80 miles to the Keys. With an alarm set for 2am, we spent the rest of the day resting and preparing the boat for the passage. We went to bed early in anticipation of what were supposed to be pretty ideal sailing conditions.

As I write this, we are anchored off a small island in the Keys, near Marathon. It was the most magical passage from the Everglades to here, but as I see my word count reaching nearly 4,000 words, I am going to sign off and continue the rest of our journey in another post.

Cheers everyone, have a marvelous day!


And we’re off!


As I write this, I am sitting crossed legged on the port settee of Sirocco. I have on my warm smart wool socks, comfy sweat pants, and a warm purple sweater. The candle light next to me is flickering and the aroma of the coffee Kyle just brewed is lingering in the air with a slight smell of kerosine as our lantern takes the chill out of the air. Kyle sits across from me at the table, working on some computer-aided design work. The song New Slang by the Shins is playing over the stereo and the wind is howling through the rigging outside. As I sip hot coffee from my favorite mug, I look around and am filled with gratitude and joy. Our little home on the water has left its port and is floating at an anchorage, safe and sound from the blustery wind offshore. I look around me and feel so lucky to be surrounded by things I love so much. Every inch of this boat has been worked on, cleaned, fixed, or replaced and I can feel the hard work we put in when I look around. It didn’t seem like it at the time, but it was all so worth it. From the new colored bulk heads and locker tops, to the shiny varnish and fancy legless table Kyle built. The wool rug and cozy blankets and tapestries. From the wrapped mast to the artwork and favorite books lining the shelves. We are both so proud of the work we have done on the boat, and the fact that we did it all ourselves makes it even more gratifying. We have been planning this for over 4 years and working non-stop on it for 2 years and well, we have arrived. We did it, and we are free and the emotion that evokes is overwhelming.

For the past few weeks we have been living at a mooring field in Sarasota. It was great fun living on the mooring ball because we had to take our dinghy to shore everyday and I have fallen in love with our little 3.5 outboard motor. I have never driven an outboard before, and it fits so well on our 7ft Fatty Knees dinghy, named Lucy. We have always just rowed Lucy, which I still love to do, but the outboard was a game changer and the amount of trips we had to make from the boat to shore during the last couple of weeks was made much more enjoyable with it. During the last few weeks we have done the following things: I had my last day of work, Kyle did countless random boat projects, we sea-trialed the wind vane and it works incredible, said good bye to friends and family, did last minute grocery shopping, bought A LOT of beer and stuffed the bilges and closets with it, filled all our fuel and water tanks, and closed up loose ends.

On Monday morning we had some special visitors to the boat. The original builders of Sirocco, Keith and Cindy who built her back in the 1970’s happen to live in Sarasota near the mooring field. It’s a long story on how our paths crossed again, but basically they built Sirocco from scratch when they were in their 20’s in the yard of the house they were renting in Sarasota. They then sailed her to the Bahamas and lived aboard in Florida for a long time. Sirocco has gone through at least 5 different owners since then, and Kyle and I have had the opportunity to meet 3 of them, including the builders! Keith and Cindy have become our friends and about a month ago they came to see Sirocco for the first time in like 20 years! Kyle and I were a bit nervous because we wanted them to be happy with what they saw as they hadn’t seen her in so long and we worked so hard. Of course, they couldn’t be happier and more supportive and it was a wonderful visit filled with laughter, story sharing, and a million questions on both ends. They have a little runabout boat that they brought over to the mooring field on Monday and tied up alongside Sirocco and came aboard for a bit. It was a special morning for me and Kyle because we knew we were leaving that day, and who better to see us off on our journey towards the Bahamas than the couple who literally built her and then sailed her from Sarasota to the Bahamas! They brought with them some cruising guides and a nice piece of cast aluminum for our spinnaker pole. Anyway, thanks to Keith and Cindy for all your support 🙂

Later that morning we rode our folding bicycles into town and made a last Ace Hardware run. We spent the rest of the afternoon securing everything down and organizing and putting things in their spots. Around 3pm we motored over to the fuel dock and filled all our water and fuel tanks. That afternoon we travelled 6 miles south on the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW) to an anchorage in Little Sarasota Bay. It was our first evening at anchor of this 6+ month journey we have ahead of us. The evening was filled with lots of laughter, joking, and deep breathes of “we did it!”. I made a tofu stir fry for dinner and used the oven to bake the tofu, which warmed the cabin while Kyle read some cruising guides. We enjoyed our dinner with a glass of wine and then played some games. On Tuesday morning we woke up early and headed farther South on the ICW. We have to take the ICW for the first 40 miles of our journey to get us to Charlotte Harbor because there is no good inlet between Sarasota and Charlotte Harbor that we feel comfortable leaving out of. That’s okay though, we are just happy to be underway and know that the next few months will have plenty of open ocean sailing. As I write this, we are sitting at an anchorage a little more than half-way to Charlotte Harbor. The bay we are anchored in is called Lemon Bay and is a nice protected spot surrounded by mangroves. We arrived yesterday around 2pm and tucked in close to the mangroves as we knew the next day or so was going to blow 25-30 knots of wind with the cold front.

Soon after arriving yesterday we lowered Lucy and packed a bag and went motoring down a little inlet. We found a spot on a beach and only had to walk a couple hundred yards through the mangroves until we arrived at the Gulf of Mexico. It has been so long since we have been to the beach or done anything other than boat projects, that it all seemed so new and exciting. We played frisbee, walked along the shoreline listening to the crashing waves, and looked for shells. Kyle found a shark’s tooth and a few other mini treasures. As the sun set we hopped back into Lucy and made our way back to Sirocco. We sat in the cockpit a bit as the final bit of sun dropped behind the horizon and then Kyle made us fajitas and guacamole for dinner while I did some coloring. I found myself laughing because it was the first time in years that I literally had nothing I had to do, and could do whatever I wanted to do. So I got out my mandala coloring sheet and some colored pencils and lost myself in the mindlessness of coloring. It was soothing and relaxing. Dinner was flavorful and clearly we were both very hungry as we didn’t talk much but giggled when we realized how quickly we both devoured our food. After dinner I spoke to my friend on the phone for a couple hours on the foredeck, while Kyle did his own thing down below. We climbed into bed around 10pm and woke up to a windy and chilly morning! Which leads me to right now, cozy on the settee, sipping my coffee. Life is good and I am thankful for each moment. Now it’s time to make some breakfast before we venture out to explore the surrounding area a bit more. We head to Cayo Costa Island tomorrow or the next day and hopefully (weather and wind dependent) take off for an offshore hop to the Keys on Sunday. Stay tuned. Cheers! -Danielle

Two Weeks To Go Time

I just re-read my last blog post, and can’t believe that 2 months have gone by! So much has happened and been accomplished during that time. We left the Municipal Marina in downtown St. Petersburg at the end of August and had an absolutely wonderful sail from St. Petersburg down to Palmetto. It was our first sail since the finish of the refit, and we both couldn’t have been happier with the results. The wind was behind us and we cruised at a consistent 5-6 knots. Since then we have been living on the boat at a marina in Palmetto, preparing to leave. Millions of little projects, lots of sea trials, finishing of the wind vane (huge success!), and a huge purchase of food. Last weekend my mom and I went to Costco and the grocery store and purchased 5 months of non-perishable food. My mom was amazing and spent the rest of the weekend removing labels from over 100 cans and writing their contents in sharpie. Kyle’s parents came for a visit and we were able to take them on a sunset cruise which was very enjoyable. And mostly, we have just been running around like crazy getting everything finished and finalized and spending as much time with family and friends as possible.

As I write this, it is Tuesday October 29th and on Thursday we will leave our marina and head south to Sarasota. We will stay at a mooring field in Sarasota until around Nov. 10th and then as soon as we have a weather window we will sail away and head towards the Dry Tortugas – the first stop on our 6 month cruising journey.

I plan to start updating this blog more frequently once we leave. As of now, there are too many little projects to try and document. So for now, here is another group of photos to sum up the last few weeks.

My next post will be about actually sailing and reaching destinations 🙂