Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Year Two

The hurricane season is coming to a close and we are getting the boat ready to leave Beaufort, North Carolina. It is a sad time and a happy time for us. We have met many new friends here and Vern and Kathryn have been wonderful hosts. Everyone one is here to see us off this fine Nov. 13, 2005.
Our first few days are uneventful and sailing/motoring is good. Cape Fear, Charleston, South Carolina, Fernandina, Florida, St Mary's, Georgia. These are a few of our stops.

Charleston had a little excitement when Gary took Doc to shore one morning. The current if very strong in this anchorage and Gary had had a little trouble when he stopped here on his way up to Beaufort. I am on board, and get a call on the radio from a neighbouring boat stating that he thinks we are dragging. I said - Not possible, but thanked him and said I would keep an eye. Well not five minutes later, I look up and we are now sitting on the other side of the channel. YES, we dragged. So by the time gary found us on the other side, White Diamond, the caller, was over at our boat with his dinghy and 25HP motor, Gary is standing on the bottom and the tide is going down. After a three person effort, we get off the bottom and re-anchor. Our saviours were Ron and Evelyne Chadband s/v White Diamond - fellow Canadians.

Fernandina will always be remembered as the small quaint town that celebrates the day after Thanksgiving by going shopping in their PJ's. That's right, everyone goes shopping in their PJ's and the shop keepers offer discount and coffee and treats. Even the dogs were dressed up. It was a fun time and a place not to be missed. St. Mary's, Georgia is just a short three miles up the inlet and had we known they host a big turkey dinner on the American thanksgiving for all the boaters going down the ICW. We missed it by a day. Next time.

Once in Florida, Jacksonville is our next stop and then the place we have always wanted to go to - St Augustine. What a beautiful place, good anchorage and wounderful people. We decide to leave the boat here as we travel to St Petersburg to spend Christmas with Gary's dad.

December 28, 2005 we are on the move again to meet up with good friends Alan and Anne in Fort Pierce. We had not seen them for some time and shared many exciting stories.

After New Year's, we are off down the coast of Florida, Lake Worth Inlet ( West Palm Beach and Peanut Island), Boca Raton and Gary's birthday, Fort Lauderdale, No Name Harbour ( Key Biscayne), Indian Cay, Marathon, and onto Key West. From Key West we take a short trip over to the Dry Tortugas and Fort Jefferson. Beautiful group of small islands and a very historical place. Dr. Mudd, who had treated John Wilks Boothe, was imprisoned. John Wilks Boothe shot President Lincoln.

April 29, 2006 it is time to say good-bye to the United States and we are off to Cuba.

We are greeted by the friendliest group of officials and after about tow hours, we are checked in and given a mooring slip in Hemmingway Marina. This is a good base to work from, close to Havana and by renting a car, we were able to see some of the inland sites. There are many Europeans and several Canadians moored here. We spend about three weeks at this spot and now it is time to head towards Yucatan.

We have a wonderful time going along the north coast, stopping at several little bays and cays along the reef. The perfect island for us was Cayo Del Palo. Not a soul lives here, no other boats to be seen and the water is gin clear, and there are shells for Kaija to investigate and collect.
Other stops were Bahia Honda, Cayo Levisa, Cayo Buena Vista and then last but not least Los Morres at the western most tip.

May 01, 2006 we have spent 24 hours crossing the Yucatan Channel to get to Isla Mujeres, Mexico. The distance was only about a 120 miles but the current is so strong, at times we were going bakcwards, or at least standing still. An island off the coast of the Yucatan peninsula close to Cancun. We arrive on a public holiday and there are many boats anchored here. The race from St. Petersburg is to arrive in the next few days and the party will continue.

Here we meet up with Don and Yvonne s/v Usquaebach. We have been in touch with them by email for some time. Also, new friends are added to our growing list. Special mention to Phil and Liz s/v Fine Tolerance who are from Australia. They came to Mexico the old fashioned way - via the Northwest Passage. That's right and did they have stories to tell - polar bears and ice.
They also had many good things to say about the Canadian Coast Guard who had "dropped" them a new life raft just south of Greenland after their boat did a 180 into the water (that's upside down talk for all you land lubbers....guess they missed being 'down under')

It is that time of the year and Kaija is going to Vancouver and then to Finland so we move the boat to Puerto Morales to get her to the airport. A very nice Marina, El Cid is home for a few days to get provisions for Gary and Doc.

May 20, 2006 Kaija is off by air and Gary and Doc are bachelors for 6 weeks and will cruise down towards Belize before Kaija is back.

Gary had a bit better weather than last years solo time, but the navigation and anchoring were tougher. But he met many other boaters, and officials. He did get to fly the spinniker by himself and enjoyed every minute of it. Gary visited Hut Point, Cozumel, Puerto Ventura, Tulum, Cayo Culibbre, Cayo Norte,Bahia Del Esperito Santo and Xcalak.

Xcalak was the check out point for Mexico and was a good experience with Jorge. (in fact the best check in check out experience had anywhere to date...and highly recommended)

June 21, Gary arrives in San Pedro, Belize. After spending a week anchored in a very busy anchorage where every sailboat seems to be used for target practice by the locals and there is no protection from the very brisk easterlies, he is off to Cay Caulker, Chappel Cay and then to Belize City where he will pick Kaija up fromt the airport. The boat is moored in Cucumber marina and is safe and the dock master, Paul is terrific. He even spends one of his days off and takes us on a tour of Belize and some Mayan ruins.

We spend the next few weeks in Cucumber Marina and then we are off again. All ships stores have been replenished and the islands await us. Usquaebach travels with us for the first couple of days and then they are off to Roatan and their new home.

There are many wonderful islands to visit and the reefs are great for snorkeling and Doc is in the water all the time. He really likes the fish along the shore and spends many hours chasing after them or anything that moves in the sand.

Water Cay, Goff's Cay, Rendezvous Cay, Alligator Cay ( we traded for lobster here from the local fishermen), Tabacco Cay, Placencia, Tom Owen's Cay (where the remarkable Gayle Scafe is building a retreat here out of only local materials and no power tools - more on this later) are just some of the places we stopped and enjoyed. Weather overall has been perfect and only a squall or two cleaned the boat. The time has gone by quickly and now we are into August and no real threat of hurricanes. We are wanting to get into the Rio Dulce soon - now.

August 9, 2006 we check into Livingston, Guatemala. this is the small town at the mouth of the Rio Dulce River. An exciting day was spent here. Gary will give a short summary separately. Then it is off down the river. What a gorgeous daya coming up the river in between the cliffs and lush forest. You would think you had turned back the hands of time. The folks here are still fishing in cayucas, and all traffic into town and to neighbours is by boat. We travel for a few hours through these pleasant surroundings. The end is near and the river opens up to El Golfete Lake. We are now in fresh water and the RIO DULCE.

August 11, we are finally moored in Mario's Marina for the balance of the hurricane season. From here we will travel to see Tikal, Guatemala City, and Antigua. There are many folks here and some are here for a long time, others like us for just the season. The local village of Esmerelda is where we walk to and the children are out to greet us each day.

October 31, 2006 it is time to leave the Rio Dulce and head back up towards Belize - Season Three is starting.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Pics along the way!

What a pleasant surprise to see our friends Ian & Sue on the good ship Hoyden at anchor welcoming us into Guadaloupe

The Admiral at the wheel..we have two wheels on KaijaSong...sure stops the bikkering...it's just who's strongest as to which way we go...altho the Captain would have to admit...the Admiral usually gets her way!...I guess that's why she's the Admiral!...wouldn't you think naming the boat after her would have been enough?

Doc and the Captain relaxing by the seashore...need I say more?

....a breathtaking view from the atop thelighthouse on Culabrita Island,...climbing lighthouses is one of the Captain's things "cause you can see forever!" Posted by Picasa

Trinidad - Our New Cruising Friends

One of the great joys in this sailing experience is the people you meet along the way. All the more special are those that 'share your dream' and are willing and able to offer helping hands when most needed. In our case it was meeting Alan & Anne S/v Freya of Clyde and Ian & Sue S/v Hoyden. We met these fine people in Trinidad at the Power Boats yard we all shared during the hurricane season of 2004 (hurricane Ivan), and spent our first season sailing the eastern Caribbean with them. What great fun we had along the way, sharing adventures (as pictured here during our Island Tour of Bequai (New Years 2005).

We have missed them muchly during this past season because we turned right at the bottom of Florida heading west and south, they continued back on down the Eastern Carib to Trinidad. We have enjoyed staying in touch by email and we look forward to re-connecting with them in the not too distant future as with any luck we will meet again in the San Blas Islands of Panama.

Alan & Anne, S/v Freya of Clyde have posted a journal of their journey on their website at
http://www.sailblogs.com/member/freyaofclyde/ Posted by Picasa

A TRUE FRIEND! -"Trip" aka Vern Mountcastle III

It is said that a true friend is not the guy that's there to bail you out of jail, but the one who's sitting in the cell right beside you!

Altho Trip & I have never had to share the above experience, we've come mighty close.

He was there in '92 when we crossed the ocean blue and our dream began, he was there when the goin got tough and the work was hard and hot in Trinidad, and we hope he knows that he is always welcome anytime anywhere...a Tried & True Friend!

We congratulate Trip and his new bride Kathryn on their recent wedding (October 21, 2006) and wish them a wonderful life filled with the realization of all their dreams. Posted by Picasa

KaijaSong 'the Ship'

KaijaSong is a Beneteau 50. Retired from the 'chartering life' in the Grenadines she was taken to Trinidad to begin her refit into our new home afloat. The refit from stem to stern, top of the mast to the bottom of the keel was long and hot and much thanks to our good friend 'Trip' who was there when the dream was born and there when the 'hard work' began. She has proven to be a fast, safe and roomy vessel and like all good sailing ships a safe harbour in any storm! Posted by Picasa

'Doc' learning to swim!

Hey that's me!...my name is Doc...here i am when i first arrived at the boat in Trinidad...can you believe it?...I had to learn to swim...I am a rescue dog who was petrified of puddles...yup i said puddles...not poodles!...anyway...i highly recommend the use of a lifevest for all Salty Seadogs 'in training'...it works great...and hey...i can float forever! Posted by Picasa

The Admiral and the Captain!

Like most we meet in this Sailing Lifestyle...our dream began years ago during our Atlantic crossing (1992) where 'lil miss iron guts' proved her mettle and 'the captain' realized he had a 'mate for life' who shared his dream!...the rest was just a matter of time...keeping the dream alive...and knowing that with the love of this good woman...they would see the world...together! Posted by Picasa

Do You Like a Nice Sunset?

One of the things we most love about our sailing life...the beauty of the ever changing Sunset! Pictures by Kaija....Color by God! Posted by Picasa

The Day in the Life of 'Doc' , a Salty Sea Dog!

'Doc' Learning to be a Salty SeaDog. It takes hours and hours of disciplined practice and includes the following daily routines....swimming....eating....naptime....fishing....naptime....don't forget eating....naptime....hangin out at the beach....naptime....did I mention eating....naptime....oh yeah...'En Guarde' (i'm chief Mate in charge of Security and that's what i do between naptimes)...and don't forget eating...sailing...checking the horizon for my little dolphin buddies....and let's not forget more of that all important NapTime and eating

....not a bad life being a Salty SeaDog...I think I can be good at this! Posted by Picasa

The Admiral, The Captain and Me, Chief of Security

Do I smell Dolphins....mmmm I Love Dolphins!....this picture taken by our good friends Sue and Fred (the chicken man) aboard their S/v Happy Hours Posted by Picasa

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Sailing is a Dog's Life!

Woof! that's me 'Doc' just enjoyin the ride and keepin an eye out for Dolphins!! Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Finally - After 10 years of planning The Dream Begins

Oct 2002 Kaija got her buy-out from Telus, signaling the time had come to find our dreamboat and go sailing.

July 2003 we purchased Napanee a Beneteau 50 in St. Vincent. We sailed her to Trinidad for the beginning of her refit. Christmas 2003 she was renamed Kaija’s Song.

June 2004 Gary left Vancouver, arriving in Chagauramas Trinidad to complete stage 1 of the refit process while Kaija put the house up for sale and shipped copious rubber made containers to Trinidad containing way too much ‘stuff’.

Season 1, December 2004 to November 2005

How we got there

Here is a short summary of what happened in our first year out. It was quite the year with many "things" breaking - most were under warranty so that was a good things. We had some great experiences with repair folks and those stories will be added later. But just to give you a snapshot.

We shipped the necessary items that were in our house in Vancouver , by boat, to Trinidad. Of course, you know that there were many books and other things that we will never use. Polar vests, Pacific Northwest rain gear, but they all went. Gary traveled down ahead of Kaija and Doc - who were to follow in a couple of months. Gary started working on the interior of the boat, electronics and all that stuff and receiving the boat load of stuff Kaija sent down.

On Sept 7, 2004 Kaija and Doc board the plane in Vancouver at 9:30 am and leave for Toronto and then to Port of Spain. But while they are in flight, all airports in the southern islands are closed due to Hurricane Ivan. So on landing in Toronto, they have no flight and need to change terminals. If you have never flown through Toronto and had to change terminals - you are lucky. Usually it is a short shuttle ride and that's it, but no - Doc's crate needs to be moved. Air Canada only arranged to have it arrive at one terminal but not to be moved. So, after some time, Kaija is able to get a flatbed dolley from the ground crew and take Doc up to the arrivals level. No help from Air Canada to move Doc, but finally a limo Van comes along and the crate just slides in between the row of seats. Then the short ride to Terminal 3 and the limo driver helps Kaija get Doc off the van and then leaves. The two of them are left standing on the side of the road with no way of moving Doc's crate. Sometime later, Kaija gets help and another flatbed dolley to move Doc inside. Then she finds out the flight is cancelled. No idea when they will be able to fly out. But with the dolley they are able to move around the terminal, get pizza for Doc, and take him out of the crate and go for walks.
Now it is Midnight, and they find out the the flight will go at 6 am and that the new airplane can accomodate Doc's large crate. So phone calls need to be made, emails to be sent, as Doc has to be met by the Trinidadian Vet. All this get co-ordinated, Jessie James in Trinidad has got my messages and has been in touch with Gary and the Vet.
The Vet and the quarantine officers are on stike and only work during business hours, so when Doc's crate, again, will not fit into the van, some fast talking takes place. During the time Gary was waiting for the new arrivals, he spent some time with the quarantine officer and found out that he had recently lost his dog and his wife said that until there is a house for the dog, there will be no new dog.
Guess what happened to Doc's crate??? Yes, the quarantine officer is the proud new owner and is very anxious to get back to the airport to retreive his new dog house, so he allows Jessie to escort us to the boat, and he is dropped off at his house. We continue to Jessie's office where the dinghy is and load Doc in and a few of the suitcases, the rest are left there to be picked up the next morning. Then off we go for about a 30 minute dinghy ride to the boat, which has been anchored in Scotland Bay, a hurricane hole near by.
Doc is quiet in the dinghy, jumps off and into the boat, up the stairs, down the stairs and says, I'm Home.
We stay in Scotland Bay for a couple of days and then move the boat back to Power Boats Ship yard where we complete the work required.
We spend the next couple of months finsihing the work and loading up on provisions for the start of our new life.

We continued working on the boat till Dec 20 when we departed Trinidad heading north past hurricane ravaged Grenada and on to Tobago Keys for Christmas. We all got our sea legs on that trip (sea sick) and as they say… “got that out of our system”.

Lands and Islands we visited

December was a short month, as we left just before Christmas. Our dream was to spend Christmas in the Tabago Cays, part of St Vincent and the Grenadines. We had been there before and loved the place. But what a shock. The bay was full of boats. We had never seen so many boats in this location, but we made the best of it. "Gold Tooth", one of the local fishermen, provided us with great lobster and it was cooked to perfection for us. We had met Gold Tooth on our last visit here and he was still there and providing great service to all.
Then, New Years , was the next stop. Bequia is a small island not to far from the Cays and we decided that was where we would spend New Years. Our friends, Anne and Alan on S/v Freya of Clyde & Sue & Ian on S/v Hoyden were also there. It too was a parking lot of boats. But a great time was had. Some folks even discharges old flares in the midst of all the boats, a little crowded for that sport.

We continue up the chain of Eastern Carib Islands and one by one all the newly installed boat systems broke. Each repair a lesson learned and new friends made. Some of the highlights of Season One, were Tobago Keys, Fran├žois the electrician in Martinique,
Sparky the mechanic in Guadeloupe, the much overlooked Spanish Virgin Islands, Gilligan's Island (south coast of Puerto Rico), Samana (one of Columbus' more remote stops) then San Salvador where we planted a palm tree (seen in the boat pic) in ’92 after our Atlantic crossing re-enactment of Columbus’s’ discovery of America.

Our first American Port of Call was Miami in May 2005. Doc learned about Dolphins and Tarpons and spent hours on the dock ‘fishing’. Kaija left for Finland and Gary and Doc proceeded north toward Beaufort NC. It was on this trip that Doc jumped ship in St. Augustine at midnight to rejoin his dolphin buddy’s met earlier that day. Gary awoke to find him gone and after two intense hours of searching found him busy paddling away and quite exhausted. They reached an agreement that Doc would never again leave the boat without supervision.

Gary and Doc arrived in Beaufort NC July 2, rejoined by Kaija back from Finland and KS went up on the hard to replace a section of the rudder that got left behind in the ICW between Boca Raton and West Palm Beach. During the next few weeks Gary and good buddy Trip completed the redesign of the Master Stateroom, while Kaija refit and recovered all the upholstery. We are pleased to say, that it all turned out beautiful.

During our stay in North Carolina, we weathered three hurricanes, Ophelia, Tammy and Wilma, and two were direct hits. The Good Lord kept the ship and us safe from harm, but we did manage to lose Trips whaler and engine, capsizing at the dock. We enjoyed a wonderful road trip to Louisville Ky, for the National Quartet convention and reunion with members of quartet days of old, also to Fort Knox, and the Grand Ol Opry in Nashville enjoying a wonderful morning service at ChristChurch.

We left North Carolina mid November 2005 beginning Season Two, and so far have survived many a storm and some very very cold nights. We are off to spend Christmas in St. Pete’s, with Gary’s dad and wife Kathleen looking forward to that reunion.

2006 will bring parts & Ports unknown as we head into the western Carib and Panama.