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The Sailing Stories on Island Time by Eric & Carleen

Report #1  
Subject:   The Plan
Date:        Fri, 13 Oct 2000

Well, the day of departure is getting close! We've been working our list of stuff to get done before leaving and feel pretty good about our progress. We managed to get the watermaker repaired, got the solar panel installed and operating, improved the refrigerator insulation, and made covers for the auxiliary fuel jugs, as well as a myriad of other items.  It seems you never get everything on the list done. Now we are working on provisioning, clothing, and overall stowage. 

Our departure date is set for October 28 from Annapolis. We plan to make our way down the bay to Salt Pond Marina in Hampton, VA and depart from there to Bermuda on November 2. We have two crew members making the crossing with us to Bermuda. Jim Martin is a friend from Georgia who Eric has sailed with before (to Halifax in 1997). The other crew is Greg Jakubowski who we have not met except on the phone but who came highly recommended by a captain that we both have a great respect for. Jim has also sailed to Bermuda once, Greg has sailed to St. Thomas six times, Eric has sailed to St. Thomas twice, and Carleen has sailed one round trip to Bermuda this spring with the Bermuda High flotilla. We know we've got a capable boat and crew.

>From Bermuda we'll loose Greg but Jim will stay on board so the three of us will make our way south to the Virgin Islands. We expect to leave Bermuda on the 15th of November, making landfall in the islands somewhere around the 23rd. Once in the islands we plan to head further south after Christmas working our way down to Dominica before turning around and heading back. The return trip will take us from the Virgins to Turks and Caicos, through the Bahamas, and from the Bahamas to Beaufort, NC and up the waterway to Annapolis. Return date is scheduled for late May 2001.

Wish us fair winds!

Eric and Carleen Petterson

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Report #2
Subject:    
Departure
Date:        
Wed, 1 Nov 2000 10:34:23 -0500

We pulled out of Spa Creek at 8:00 AM on Saturday, 10/28, headed for Solomons Island. Winds were from the NW at 15 to 25 knots. Quite a ride down the bay. We anchored in Mill Creek for the night and got an early start the next morning. Our destination was Fishing Bay in Deltaville.  Another day of strong winds and following seas. What a sleigh ride we had! We had good winds throughout the day. Dropped anchor in Fishing Bay just before sunset. What a gorgeous sunset it was! Lots of boats anchored there this time. Sunday we had a leisurely start before heading for Salt Ponds Marina in Hampton. Winds were still from the NW at 15 to 25 knots with calmer seas for the morning, but by the afternoon we were forced to motorsail. 

Since Tuesday, we have been preparing the boat to go offshore. Most everything is finished now. Our fourth crewmember arrives this evening.

We hired Jennifer Clark to do a Gulf stream analysis for us. The report came in this morning via e-mail. We also hired a meteorologist for a weather forecast. He told us that we are lucky because he has had people waiting for three weeks for decent weather to cross to Bermuda and that it looked like there was going to be a break on Thursday. We received his analysis last evening, which will be updated tomorrow morning. 

We listened to Herb (Southbound II) last night. There were quite a number of boats crossing. Most of their reports were about very high seas ( in one case 20 to 30 feet) and high winds from the north. Herb was telling everyone out there to head in a southwesterly direction because of gale force conditions and storms expected to develop during the night. Glad we are not out there!! He was also telling anyone who hadn't left to wait until Thursday.

Our intention is to set sail tomorrow morning, Thursday, 11/2, which was our target date. So here's to fair winds and calm seas.

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Report #3
Subject
:     BERMUDA AT LAST!
Date:         Wed, 8 Nov 2000 17:39:30 -0500 

Bermuda at last!! The voyage ended so differently than the trip we made this spring with the Island Packet flotilla. In the spring we spent the last day-and-a-half motoring in calm wind and flat seas, while this time we had to use all the horsepower the engine had in order to motor directly into the 30 knot winds blowing out of town cut at St. Georges, Bermuda. But in either case, landfall at the end of any voyage is a magic time and this voyage's end certainly created the magic feeling!! We and our tiny boat (exactly the size it feels on the ocean) made it!!

We left Hampton right on schedule on November 2, giving Greg Jakubowski barely time to get settled on the boat before we took off. Greg had been recommended to us but we had never met. He turned out to be exactly as described... enthusiastic, fun, and competent. With Jim Martin's upbeat and romantic view of sailing and Greg's attitude of "we can handle anything the ocean throws at us", we set off with a great crew!

The sailing was a really mixed bag of weather conditions for the five days (less one hour) that we took for our passage. Of course, it started off very cold as we predicted. The gulf stream crossing was bumpy but not too bad and the warmer air on the other side was welcome. Greg set a fishing pole on the stern and we trolled lures through almost every mile of ocean between Hampton and Bermuda. Greg kept promising that we were going to catch Mahi Mahi for dinner, but all we ever caught were great gobs of Sargasso Weed. We had some great days of sailing, making 24 hour runs of as much as 150 miles, encountering winds of up to 45 knots, seas of up to around 20 feet and some calms that required motor-sailing. We listened daily to the Coast Guard's weather reports and talked everyday to "Herb Hillgenberg." He suggested course changes to avoid some of the stormier weather. Nevertheless we were caught by a strong front the last day; a front that also surprised Herb and the Coast Guard's NWS (National Weather Service) with its intensity. Finally just as the weather was beginning to abate from this front, another one hit as we were making landfall.... but then that takes us back to the beginning of this report.

Since arriving we set about attacking the most important things first. A list that began with "hot showers," followed by celebratory toasts with the crew, dinner out, and a full uninterrupted night's sleep. Now we've begun the process of creating the to-do list of projects, setting about to repair things that broke (it is a boat after all), doing some sightseeing and relaxing, and socializing with other boaters that we've met.

We plan to leave Bermuda for the Virgin Islands in ten days or so, depending upon weather, boat repairs, and generally "when we feel like leaving". We'll try to send an update before we leave, otherwise the next report will be from the Virgin Islands.

-------------------------------

Report #4
Subject
: Voyage of Island Time In Bermuda, departing for the Virgin Islands!
Date: Fri, 17 Nov 2000 19:14:09 -0500
From: Eric S Petterson 

We've had a great stay in St. Georges. We had planned to leave here about ten days after arrival and it looks like it will be eleven. We've been checking the weather religiously the last few days and tomorrow represents a good weather window for our departure south. There are quite a number of boats here who also are departing for the Caribbean. We know of at least five other sailboats (includes an IP350 named Alobar) who plan to leave after the front comes through in the morning. We are discussing with this group about setting up a radio net so that we can keep in contact with each other as we progress southward. Hopefully the net will be established; it sounds like fun. Of the six boats, we are one of only two with crew. The other four boats are sailed by couples!

Speaking of crew, we said goodbye to Greg last Saturday, the 11th. Greg was a lot fun! When he left, the energy level on the boat dropped dramatically. However, we continue to enjoy our time with Jim Martin. We've been exploring Bermuda, taking walks around the town of St. Georges (where we docked), and enjoying meeting the other cruisers. Also we've been making repairs (like the other cruisers).

We broke a batten slide on the new mainsail on the final approach to Bermuda. Of course this is something that we didn't have any spares of.... but now we do. There are four on the sail, so we ordered eight (you just can't have too many spares). Also the lee cloths (things to keep you in your berth at sea) weren't standing up to the rigors of rough weather so we had new ones made, which seem to be much stronger.

On Friday evening (11/10), there was a party for all the "yachties" at one of the piers. There was free food and beverages from a number of the restaurants in town. The mayor gave a short speech, there were drawings for gift certificates to some of the restaurants and a performance by local gombay dancers. It was a lot of fun. In addition to our exploration of St. Georges, we took the bus to Hamilton last Saturday. Almost all the stores and restaurants were closed. It was November 11 and what the Bermudians call "Remembrance Day." A time to honor those who fought in wars. We believe that the origins of this holiday are the same as our Veterans Day. We did find a place to buy lunch and then we walked up to Ft. Hamilton which has been turned into a lovely park with quite a selection of plants.

On Sunday afternoon, St. Georges celebrated "Remembrance Day" with a parade and laying of floral wreaths at a monument in the square. The governor, mayor and other dignitaries were present.

It's now time to depart and all seems ready.. the boat, the weather and us. Next report should be from Virgin Gorda in the British Virgin Islands. This passage is about 850 nautical miles and should take us seven to eight days. Wish us fair winds and good sailing.

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Report # 5
Subject
: Arrived BVI 
Date: Mon, 27 Nov 2000 19:43:20 -0500 

We arrived in the British Virgin Islands (BVI's) on November 26, having spent eight days and four hours at sea. We will readily admit that we were ready to make landfall even though we didn't have a particularly difficult passage. What we really craved was very basic stuff like living in a room that doesn't move, particularly a bed and bath that were absolutely stationary while in use. However as always the event of landfall instantly erases all these thoughts and replaces them with ones of accomplishment and special memories. We talked tonight about what it is that makes one want to spend time at sea like this, but we didn't come to any concrete answers other than "we just like it".

We started our trip with four other boats and set up a radio check-in schedule for 8:45 A.M. every day. We enjoyed keeping up with the other boats and chatting about their weather, progress and other events. Jim fixed nice breakfasts so we bragged about our morning meals.

We started with favorable northwest winds following a cold front that moved through Bermuda. However, before the end of the next day these were replaced by southerly winds of about 12 to 15 knots which persisted for the next two days. These were too strong to effectively or comfortably motor south into them, nor did we want to burn up all our diesel this early in the trip. But sailing into the waves required us to bear off from the wind so the best we could do was sail east-southeast, which is what we did. Eventually the winds finally moved a little southwest and helped a little, but not enough for us to be able to alter our course to the south (which is where the BVI's are) so we kept moving east while we moved south. Each day we would commiserate with the other boats due to our mutual lack of southerly progress and the time this was adding to our passage. Finally the winds began to cooperate with us by moving to a northeasterly direction then finally to the east. We finished the trip in 20-25 knots of wind, making a grand entrance to the BVI's in the midst of all the charter boats.

We splurged with a marina stop, so we pulled into Virgin Gorda Yacht Harbor at 3:30 P.M. with a tired but happy crew. We found just enough energy to "race" to the showers. Oh, what a relief!!! The rest of the celebration took us to a local restaurant called "Fischer's Cove" that we had visited on a charter trip six years earlier. We enjoyed an excellent dinner and returned to the boat to collapse instantly into our berths for a much needed good night's sleep.

After working today to clean up and stow unneeded offshore equipment, we find it just a little amazing that for the first time in a month, we have no schedule, no commitments, no real plan of destinations ..... just going where we want when we want to go there. We think we could get used to this. Saw a quick bit of CNN on a TV in the restaurant tonight... glad we aren't there.

Eric and Carleen

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Report #6
Subject
: Cruising Update (In BVIs & USVI)
Date: Thu, 14 Dec 2000 08:02:57 -0500

It is now the 14th of December and we are just north of Caneel Bay off St. John, USVI. We arrived here yesterday after leaving the British Virgins, where we've been since arriving from Bermuda. We enjoyed our stay in the BVI and will be headed back next Friday to meet Jeff, who flies in to spend Christmas with us in the "islands". (By the way, meeting someone in the Tortola, BVI airport is really neat. You anchor in Trellis Bay, take the dinghy to shore then walk about a quarter mile and you are there.... just watch your step in the airport for the occasional chicken and chicks that might wander through.)

To briefly recap since we arrived, we left the marina at Spanish Town, Virgin Gorda and sailed to Jost Van Dyke. This was a special stop for Jim Martin (our friend and crew). He has been wanting to visit "Foxy's", a locally famous bar that has been a favorite sailing stop for years. >From Jost, we went to Cane Garden Bay on Tortola, one of our favorite anchorages from our past trips. It is a gorgeous bay with a white sand beach backed by palm trees and a small village. We had dinner ashore and listened to steel drum music at the restaurant. The morning of December 2 we said goodbye to Jim who caught a taxi to the airport. We stayed here several more days, just enjoying the luxury of not having to be anywhere at any particular time. Finally a change of scenery seemed appropriate so we sailed to Norman Island and anchored in "the bight", just off the floating bar and restaurant "the William Thornton". We were serenaded each day with music so we left for a quieter spot and found just that at Benure's Bay, also on Norman Island. We stayed here for three days, sharing the anchorage with three to four other boats. Finally we decided that we had had enough serenity and sailed off in an exhilarating upwind sail in 20-25 knots of wind in order to reach Leverick Bay in Virgin Gorda sound. We treated ourselves to a dinner out, which turned out to be so great that we went back the next night to the same restaurant. While here we also did things like laundry, made phone calls, and bought a few groceries. We also took a taxi up to Virgin Gorda Peak National Park and hiked to the top of the mountain, which is 1500 feet high. What a view!!!! The trail was supposed to have a lot of wild orchids along it, which we saw but none were blooming, but we did see lots of butterflies, geckos, land crabs and even a snake! >From Leverick Bay we left and sailed downwind in the continuing 20-25 knots of wind. ( This is the start of the what is called the "Christmas winds", which is a period of strong trade winds which may even build to a steady 30 or so by the end of January/early February.) We cleared out of the BVI at customs in West End and cleared into US customs at Cruz Bay, St. John, and spent yesterday exploring the town and finding an e-mail location.

It's still hard to believe that Christmas is almost here. However, we have noticed a few decorated houses and even a few boats here in our anchorage! And all the shops have Christmas carols playing. Merry Christmas to all.

Eric and Carleen

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Report #7
Topic
:  Update
Date:  1/17/2001

Our life aboard Island Time was suddenly interrupted by the unexpected death of Carleen's Dad's death. Our son had just arrived for the holidays on the evening of the 23rd. On the 24th we were anchored in Cane Garden Bay and we decided to catch the weather report given by Virgin Island Radio. Before giving the weather, they have what is called a "traffic report" where they call out the names of boats for which they have messages. We immediately contacted VI Radio and the message was for us to contact Carleen's sister.

We decided to take the boat to Crown Bay Marina in Charlotte Amalie. So we spent Christmas Day motor sailing to USVI and going through Customs in the BVI and the US. Tom Tursi and his wife were at the marina on his boat Halimeda. He introduced us to Eva & Curt on SITOA (IP35) who work for MD School of Sailing here. Such wonderful people! They offered to watch after our boat for us while we were away. We were gone 3 weeks. The marina called us after about a week wanting to move our boat to another slip. We accepted Curt's offer to move the boat. As it happened Ron McKie {Tao, IP35) had arrived to teach a sailing class for MD School and he helped Curt and Eva. As they were preparing to move Island Time, a couple we had met in Bermuda approached them. They looked at Eva and said they knew she wasn't Carleen, but they weren't sure about Curt. We believe the mustache threw them since we had only met them briefly in a group at a bar for happy hour. Anyway, they were concerned that these folks were "taking" Island Time and they were looking out for us. What a great community most of the cruising world is!

We returned last Sunday night (14th) and have reprovisioned, along with other chores. We plan to leave here tomorrow (Wed.) and pick up a mooring in Francis Bay and hang out there for awhile before heading further south.
Eric & Carleen

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Report #8
Topic
:  Passage to Guadeloupe 
Date:  Monday Feb. 5, 2001

We really needed time in Francis Bay to unwind after the stress of Carleen's father's death. This is such a great spot! Finally we were mentally ready to leave, and the forecast predicted the NE winds that we needed for our passage. Our passage included passing clear of Montserrat since it's volcano was spouting off again and sailors were advised to stay well off the island. We also set our initial port of entry at Guadeloupe to Pointe a Pitre since a predicted large north swell would adversely affect the normal landfall ports. This added some mileage to the trip, making it an estimated 250 nautical miles. In final preparation, we moved the boat around to Cruz Bay, St. John to do some shopping and errands, then moved around to Leinster Bay for the final wait for weather for our voyage to Guadeloupe.

We left St. John at 1100 on January 26, motor-sailing into a light E-ESE wind that was forecasted to back to the NE and strengthen. This it did as the afternoon progressed so that we were able to turn the engine off soon after nightfall. Winds built as predicted to around 20-25 making the sail rather boisterous. Finally we made landfall on the SW coast of Guadeloupe in the early morning of 1/28 and were at anchor off Pointe a Pitre by 1400.

We anchored off the huge marina just south of the city. Around the marina are shops, a grocery, a chandlery, a laundry, and multiple restaurants. Very nice location and very convenient.

We did discover one shortcoming with all our pre-departure preparations back in Maryland.... we didn't bring a French-English dictionary and we needed one since most people we have encountered don't speak much English. We should have known better .... so we bought one in town but it's somewhat of a challenge since it's set up for folks who speak French trying to converse in English. It works; it's just a little challenging. All the locals that we have encountered have been very nice and willing to struggle along with us to communicate. Very friendly people!

We have only seen two other US boats here, but lots of Canadian boats (most also flying the Quebec flag, naturally). We met a really delightful couple from Montreal and visited with them several times.... they've been in the Caribbean for two-and-a-half years.

We planned to head south to Les Saints, but with strong winds forecasted again we decided to leave Pointe a Pitre for a nearby anchorage off the village of Gosier. The anchorage is good and we are holding well in 25 to 30 knot winds. This is a gorgeous spot and the village is charming. At night it's really pretty with all the lights. It's full of French tourists, French shops selling croissants and great French coffee, and lots of restaurants. Prices here are very surprising as they are quite reasonable, not at all expensive like the BVI.

Now (2/5) we've just arrived in Les Saints. These are a small group of islands just south of the main island of Guadeloupe. We had a magnificent sail in 15 to 20 knots on the beam for most all of the 20 miles from Gosier. We'll be here a few days at least.
Eric & Carleen

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Report #9
Topic
:  Adventures in Guadeloupe 
Date:  Friday Feb. 16, 2001

Our few days at Iles des Saints turned into a week! We anchored in Fishing Bay off the town of Bourg des Saints, which happens to also be the only town. It is picturesque with charming houses, most of which have red tile roofs. The townspeople used to rely on fishing for their support, but now the largest industry is tourism. Lots of shops ready and willing to relieve you of your money. Still we loved just walking the streets.

Second day we were in the harbor, we were boarded by the 'gendarmes." They pulled their boat along side and asked to come aboard. There were two officers and neither one of them spoke English, just a very few words. So there was a lot of single words followed by lots of gesturing between us. They did not ask to inspect the boat, just had a form to fill out with generally the same information that we had supplied immigration and customs. The only things that they wanted to see were our ship's papers and our Guadeloupe customs papers. Both men were very polite and friendly.

We had dinner out one night at Ti Kaz'la restaurant. Eric ordered a beer before dinner and Carleen requested a Kir. They were out of Casis so the waitress suggested a punch named Ti Punch, which Carleen agreed to thinking it would be a rum-fruit punch of some sort. Wrong. The drink was a white rum with a small amount of lime juice and sugar added. VERY POTENT! It was good; however, it lasted Carleen through her entire meal. This was a Creole restaurant (the name is Creole) so we chose to order Creole dishes. Carleen had broiled fish with a spicy sauce. Eric ordered a dish that we had seen listed on menu boards ever since we arrived, even though we didn't know what it was. It turned out to be a fricassee of conch and octopus!! It tasted good nevertheless.

One of our favorite people, Jerome, delivered croissants, bread, juices, etc. almost every morning by boat throughout the anchorage. We quickly became dedicated customers. Delicious croissants and not expensive. Our favorite place in the afternoon was a little bar on the square in town where you could sit and relax on the balcony with a drink of your choice and watch all the day trippers gather to leave on the ferries, the older children returning from school on Guadeloupe, etc.. It was a great people watching place.

One day we walked up to see Fort Napoleon, which was built in 1867. Another day we rented a scooter and made the rounds of all the beaches. It turned out not to be the best beach day--cloudy and some longer than usual rain showers, but it was still fun. Eric hadn't driven a scooter since he was sixteen, but it wasn't long before we were zipping along.

And while here in The Saints we went to the movies! We met a couple on a 57 foot Swan named Hula Girl. We joined them aboard their boat for the works--movie and popcorn. It was their 3rd time to see this movie. Unlike us who haven't seen a movie for many months. It was a treat since we've opted not to put a TV and VCR aboard.

On Sunday, 2/11, we motor-sailed back to Pointe a Pitre (close reach, 25-30 knot winds and sea swells at 10-12 ft.). We decided we weren't ready to leave Guadeloupe yet. We caught a local bus one day and traveled to St. Anne, resort town with a large, white sand beach protected by reefs. The beach was fabulous, but we were disappointed in the town. We were expecting neat sidewalk cafes facing the beach where we could have a pleasant lunch. We never found one like that. The cafe we found was okay, but nothing to write home about.

Surprisingly we are anchored near some people we met in St. John in December. We had dinner with them two nights and caught up with all their travels. We, also, talked with Kim aboard Kewayden (IP40) who we last saw in Bermuda. The boat is in the marina, since they have been in the States. Kim is aboard now but leaving for England on business soon.

More later..

Report #9 Cont....
Topic
:  Adventures in Guadeloupe 
Date:  Friday Feb. 16, 2001

Later.......
On another day, we rented a car and followed one of the excursions outlined in a brochure that we picked up at the tourist office in Pte. a Pitre. Most of the employees there speak English and they were quite helpful. One woman, in particular, was interested in finding out where we were from and telling us that her daughter is going to a university in Columbia, SC. Her daughter plans to be educated so that she can find a career in the US, Canada, France or any French territory. But, I digress--back to our trip. We chose to go to Carbet Falls and La Soufriere Volcano (a 105 miles through the southern part of Basse-Terre. The route took us through some small fishing villages, residential towns just outside of the town of Basse Terre, large banana plantations, and some beautiful vistas. Carbet Falls are composed of 3 cascades; one at 65 ft., one at 410 ft. and highest one at 360 ft. We went to the middle one which was about a 20 minute hike along a rocky, fairly steep path. Some areas had been enhanced with wooden steps and walkways. Also, there was a suspended bridge to cross over. The falls were beautiful. Our next stop was at an Archeological Park in Trois-Rivieres where carved rocks are the last vestiges of the pre-Columbian civilization and the art of the Carib Indians. The grounds of the park were planted with many flowering plants and there was also an area of huge boulders to climb through and around the formation of which was caused by an eruption of Soufriere. It was in Trois- Rivieres where we met a delightful woman who approached us to offer help when we were studying our road map. She was originally from Dominica and told us that her father was a full blooded Carib Indian and that her mother was Black. She also told us that she had 5 children. She talked a lot about her Carib ancestry and wanted to know if we had visited the park. We enjoyed our brief meeting with her.

After the Carib Rocks, we drove up to the volcano. What a drive--narrow, twisty, steep roads--and was it worth it! We did not walk to the top because it was an hour hike to reach it and it was getting late in the day. We did walk around and discovered an area where sulfery vapors were rising from the ground and we felt the warmth of ground. Never had an experience like this one before. That was our last stop of the day. We arrived back at the marina around 1700 hours.

We are now preparing to leave Guadeloupe. We will sail from here tomorrow, 2/17, for Deshaies and on the 19th we'll leave Guadeloupe head for Nevis.

Au revoir!

Eric & Carleen

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Report #10
Topic
:  Nevis -St. Kitts-St. Marten
Date:  Tue. March 6, 2001

We arrived in Deshaies, Guadeloupe, on Sat., 2/17 and picked up anchor for Nevis at 2300 hrs. on 2/18. We had a great sail. The wind was 15-20 knots from the ENE & E & the seas were 2-4 ft. We sailed past the windward side of Montserrat about 5 miles off shore. The volcano had fiery lava flowing down the sides. Quite a show!. There are 3 small anchorages on the northern side where some cruisers were anchoring instead of sailing overnight to Guadeloupe and we heard that there were guided tours to the volcano.

We dropped anchor off Pinney's Beach, north of Charlestown and cleared customs & immigration that pm. The next day we rented bicycles and toured a portion of the island. We also visited 2 museums, the Museum of Nevis History & the Nelson Museum. Our stay in Nevis was cut short by a front bringing NE swells increasing to 9-12 ft., which would make all the anchorages on Nevis untenable, so we cleared out for St. Kitts on Fri., 2/23, & sailed north to a more protected harbor, clearing customs & then heading to Ballast Bay to drop anchor on Sat. AM. Our original plan was to skip St. Kitts & stop in Statia, the next island to the north. However, the anchorage at Statia is rolly in the best of conditions & would be completely unprotected with NE swells. By Mon., 2/26, the forecast was still unfavorable for a stop at Statia, so we decided to clear out and sail to St. Martin the next morning. We figured it would be a 12 hr. sail if we could maintain 5 knots & we would be able to anchor in Simpson Bay on the Dutch side before dark. The wind was supposed to be from the ENE & the swells still pretty high from the NE. We stuck our nose out from our very peaceful anchorage & for 2 hours we beat our way into the wind as the wind continued to shift to the north--exactly the direction we were headed. The wind speed was 15 knots & the swells were 8-10 ft. We could not maintain a 5 knot hull speed, even with the engine running. We calculated that we would not make it before sunset & the sailing conditions were very tiring since we were having to hand steer, so we decided to turn around. This time we anchored in Major's Bay & discovered a couple there that we had met briefly in Bermuda. They were going into town that pm & so were we since we needed to check back in with customs. Major's Bay is all the way at the southern tip of St. Kitts & there is no development there. Cliff & Mary Ellen were going to walk to the main road & then hitchhike from there. They told us that they had found it to be safe & easy on the smaller islands. We joined them (& we admit a new experience for us!) &, indeed, we were picked up by a guy on his lunch break. He worked for the local Carib brewery in marketing. He was full of information & took us to our separate destinations in Basseterre. We met up later with Cliff & ME & decided to rent a car for the next day.

On Wed. we toured the island, stopping at the plantations that have been turned into guesthouses. We had lunch at the Oakley Plantation. We had a lot of fun. Cliff & ME left for Antigua on Thurs. & we left for Statia on Fri., 3/2. We find it ironic that we spent full week at an island we never intended to visit!

We spent Fri. pm visiting the small town of Oranjstad. It has a very interesting early history. It was a major free port during the 1700s with as many as 100 sailing vessels from all over the world anchored there to trade goods. The town was divided into the lower & the upper town. The lower town was the commercial area filled with shops with all kinds of merchandise. Today, one can see the ruins of the ruins of the foundations of those buildings in the shallow water off the shore. It was also a major slave market & there is a very steep road from the upper town to the lower town called the slave road due to nature of its use.

Reached maximum character limit, see next email.........

...........We had dinner at a fabulous place called King's Well, which is a small hotel & restaurant which is open to the public for dinner. The couple, Laura & Win like yacht people. They are very friendly & entertaining. The evening is casual & diners are introduced to each other. All drinks are on the honor system, just help yourself and mark it on your tab. Laura has 5 macaws (unfortunately, they were asleep) & several cats & 2 dogs. We met a couple from the Midwest who were here on a diving vacation. For the last 11 years they have taken diving vacations all around the world. They were extolling the dive sites here. They did 3 dives every day for 6 days.

Saturday, we got up early to hike up The Quill, the local inactive volcano. Upon arriving at the rim, we opted not to go down into the center. We didn't have the right hiking gear & it was a very rocky & steep descent. We enjoyed the hike anyway. We saw a Red-bellied Racer snake (non-poisonous), a large ground lizard & several Bridled Quail Doves.

Our stay at Nevis is finished & Sunday, 3/4, we are sailing to St. Martin.

Carleen & Eric

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Report #11
Topic
:  St. Maarten--Heineken Regatta
Date:  Wed. March 14, 2001

Sunday, 3/4, we had a great sail from Statia to Simpson Bay, St. Maarten. The wind was from the east at 14-18 knots & 3-5 ft. swells for most of the 6-hour sail. Congratulations are in order since we were the 2nd boat to cross the finish line in the Heineken Regatta! Just kidding! However, we did indeed arrive just after the 1st yacht crossed the finish line. We were unaware of the race & that the end of the race was Simpson Bay. It made for an interesting landfall as we had to maneuver around quite a few spectator boats as well as stay out of the way of the racing ones. We worked our way up into the anchorage & found a hole where we dropped anchor at 1325 hours. We spent the rest of the afternoon in the cockpit with a cold one or two & a bowl of popcorn watching the boats pass to the finish line. They kept coming & coming. And of course, almost all of those yachts sailed over to drop their anchors. What a zoo! We've never had boats anchored so close to us before. We didn't even have to yell to talk with them!. We were planning to go through the 1730 bridge opening into the lagoon, but opted not to, since there was so much traffic headed in. We decided it would be easier the next morning.

There was a huge party at the beach starting around 1800. Very loud band, lots of dinghy traffic, & partying ensured that we didn't get much sleep that night.

On Monday, we moved into the lagoon. Our bilge pump switch and the sump pump had both died, so Eric spent quite awhile fixing those 2 items.

It looked like we would be anchored here for awhile, since there were large swells moving in from the NW (maybe 8-10 or 9-12 ft.) We dinghied over to Marigot, St. Martin for an excursion. We walked over to the bay to see what it was like. Big, crashing waves were driving through the anchorage. There were some anchored boats & they were really being thrown about. What a sight! A second front is coming through late this weekend with another round of high swells.

One evening we went to Goodfellas (a bar & Italian restaurant) to hear Eileen Quinn perform. She is a cruiser who, along with her husband, has been cruising about 7 years. About 4 years ago, she started writing her own songs & music about the cruising lifestyle. She has 2 CDs out & this winter will be producing another one. Most of her songs are quite humorous. The evening was a lot of fun.

Two nights we went to the St. Maarten Yacht Club, which is located right next to the bridge. You can watch all the boat traffic come through the bridge. The first time, we met a couple from Australia. They left on their journey 7 years ago & went through the Med to the Canaries & then to St. Maarten. They are waiting here for visas to arrive so that they can enter the US. They hope to explore the US for a couple of years (if the sailing kitty holds out) before heading for the Pacific. The next time we met a couple from CA who have been sailing up & down from St. Martin to Trinidad for the last 6 years. They bought their boat in the Virgin Islands. They have the boat for sale now & plan to return to CA.

Every morning at 0730, there is a cruisers net. Simpson Bay Lagoon is one of those places where many cruisers drop the hook & stay for long times. Anyway, the net reports on any problems, activities, items for swap or sale, etc. Unfortunately, since our arrival, there have been a number of dinghy thefts & boat break-ins. It appears that it is one person responsible, but he hasn't been caught yet. So we are very careful about locking everything. We understand that it is quite unusual for the Dutch side.

Tuesday, 3/13, we cleared out of St. Maarten for St. Martin. We've been hoping for rain for a week to clean the salt off the boat, well it came as we were leaving--2 squalls. Wouldn't you know it.

Carleen & Eric

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Report #12
Topic
:  St. Maarten & Trans Repair
Date:  Mon. March 26, 2001

We arrived in Marigot, St. Martin from Simpson Bay, St. Maarten and cleared into French Customs.

A digression .... So far we count that we've been through customs offices 22 separate times, either to clear "in" or clear "out"! Customs procedures becomes a major activity in cruising the Caribbean. More later.

We spent the night in Marigot & the next morning headed for village of Grand Case, which has a lovely white sand beach & a reputation for many fine French restaurants. We were interested in seeing if our old hangout, Surf City South, from our chartering days was still there. It was named after Surf City, NJ & was owned by former NJ residents. It had a local clientele with cruisers & charterers thrown into the mix. Lots of fun. Unfortunately, Hurricane Lenny destroyed it & not much was left standing. The town had a lot of new construction. We had great barbecue ribs for lunch at one of the local barbecue places. These stands have changed a lot, also... they've gone upscale. The grills are the same & the food is the same, but now all are under the same roof & actually have menus and tables. We asked the owner if she liked this arrangement better than before. Her answer was diplomatic, but the net of it was no.

We only spent one night there. We had noticed a problem with our engine--we were not getting the boat speed at the same rpms that we were use to getting & the engine sounded different. We decided to head back to the Dutch side and get things checked out.

That day there was a "mayday" call on the VHF. Very tragic. Two people had been found clinging to a capsized boat west of St. Martin. We followed the events on the VHF as they unfolded. Initially, there was a lot of confusion as to the location, type of boat & # of people believed to be aboard. We couldn't help with our engine problems, but many local boats and planes assisted. The vessel was recovered. It was a wooden, open fishing type boat with 2 outboard motors that had departed from Marigot, St. Martin with between 30 to 40 illegals from Haiti & China bound for St. Croix, USVI. No lifejackets! There were only 4 survivors. The captain of the boat is believed to have made it to shore & is in hiding.

We anchored in Simpson Bay & the next day a mechanic diagnosed transmission clutch plate slippage as the problem. So we went back into Simpson Bay Lagoon where it was removed & parts ordered. By this time the slippage was so bad that we couldn't get over four knots and only if you kept the rpms low and let the boat build up to speed slowly. At least it chose to die here with lots of repair facilities available. Glad we have a solar panel to charge our batteries!

We celebrated St. Patrick's Day with a group of Brits & our Aussie friends at a local restaurant where there was Irish stew (not very good), lots of Guinness beer (very good) & a live band with Irish music (good). Everyone at our table knew the words to each & every song, except us. Great time!

One day, we rented a car & went to St. Martin for a day at the beach. Other days we took the dinghy to Marigot for croissants and coffee for breakfast. We also had time for chores ... clean the stainless hardware, re-organize stowage, do laundry, change engine oil, etc. We missed our original departure date which was intended to get us to USVI in time to visit with a friend during his stay there. The wait did have its good side however. Our Aussie friends invited us over to their boat for a "Barbie". Great evening! Also we met up with the couple from "Wind Shepherd", one of the boats that we sailed with from Bermuda, and had a nice visit. We even went to play Bocci ball on the beach with a group of cruisers one afternoon!

The repaired transmission was finally installed and we took off for the USVI on 3/26 for the 108 mile trip.

Carleen & Eric

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Report #13
Topic
:  Return to the USVI
Date:  Mon. April 12, 2001

The trip over to the USVI from St. Maarten was uneventful with respect to weather. Wind was 10 to 15 dead on the stern... the 15's were fine but the 10's required the motor, so we motor sailed about 2/3 of the trip. A whisker pole would sure be nice. The trip was not however without interest.... Lots of traffic. We counted 7 cruise ships, 6 commercial ships, and 5 sailboats! Obviously a popular route.

We arrived in the USVI at St. John around 1400 and cleared customs. We then headed over to St. Thomas to prepare the boat for our guests that were due on 4/2. Of course, we also found time to visit with Curt and Eva Chapman (IP35 SITOA).

We really looked forward to Dave and Karen Gittleman's arrival. They sailed with us on one leg of the Bermuda High flotilla last spring, and they also own an IP35 (Packet Inn). We had a great week with them, visiting a different anchorage each night. Spent 2 nights in the BVI and the rest in the USVI. Celebrated (early) our identical anniversary dates with a dinner out at Cooper Island Beach Club in the BVI. All good things come to an end however, and they left on 4/9.

Then we started with the boat preparation again, this time for the start of our return passage to Annapolis. Our first leg is from St. Thomas to Turks & Cacios, a distance of 425 nm. This will be our longest passage yet without crew, and we're looking forward to it. For a while it looked like we were going to have a fleet of two as our Aussie friends that we met in St. Maarten made it here and were going to head out with us. However, they changed their travel plans at the last minute so we're off on our own. We will be sharing a radio contact with Curt and Eva though as they head off to Jamaica. We'll check in daily to see how we are each progressing.

After the Turks & Cacios we will be off to San Salvador, the to Georgetown, Exumas in the Bahamas, where our next report will probably originate from. At Georgetown we will be meeting more friends who will join us on our return to the States.

Carleen & Eric

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Report #14
Topic
:  Georgetown to Hopetown Bahamas
Date:  May 13, 2001

When we left St. Thomas on April 13 we thought we had all the time in the world to get to George Town, Bahamas, before May 1 when our friends from Seattle arrive. After all we only needed three days to the Turks & Caicos, two days to San Salvador and two more days to George Town...a total of seven days of sailing; only it took seventeen days! Once more it was proven that the weather is always in charge.

Our passage to the Turks & Caicos was peaceful enough. We started out with a nice breeze and good sailing for the first day. We even had a nice send off from the Caribbean by a school of dolphins playing in the bow wave, leaping from the water and spinning in the air! What a show! The morning of the second day the wind had dropped so we were forced to motor-sail, and by the afternoon we furled the sails and ended all pretense of sailing; we were now a motorboat. The sea became dead flat, providing an excellent way to see sea life since any movement on the water was quite noticeable. As a result we saw three or four whales! The third day we got a little wind so we dug out the spinnaker and flew it for several hours. Finally on the morning of the fourth day we arrived in South Caicos.

South Caicos was an interesting place. Only five hundred people on the whole island; tourists here are rare. However a strong cold front was on the way and we decided to wait for it to pass. We met two guys from Georgia who were taking their boat from St. Lucia to the States who were waiting out the weather also, so the four of us saw the sights. This consisted mainly of visiting the local restaurants that were run out of people's houses, a different and fun experience which allowed us to meet a few local people. But the weather wasn't through with us yet.

The forecast after the frontal passage was for 20-30 knot winds for the next several days, only to be followed by another front. After four days of waiting we gave up and took off when the forecasters reduced the wind forecast from 20-30 down to 20-25. We sailed together with our new Georgia friends and left for San Salvador.

What a difference from the previous passage. First passage NO wind, then too much wind. In spite of the forecasters, we had 30 knot winds anyway. When we arrived in San Salvador two days later we were really tired and ready to sleep. We decided to go into the marina as a treat (we had not been in a marina since our landfall in the Virgins last November). Unfortunately the marina folks in San Salvador were less than accommodating. After we tied up where we were told to tie up, they came by to tell us to move so that they could "have room for a big boat". We moved alright, straight out of the marina to the anchorage. We spent a day resting, then a day sightseeing. San Salvador is the island where Columbus is supposed to have first landed. Our plan was to leave San Salvador for Conception Cay, then on to George Town... but don't forget the weather.

Yet another cold front was on the way with forecasted strong north winds, and the only near island with protection from north winds was Rum Cay. This was an out of the way stop, but we took off for Rum Cay and the marina for the protection it offered. This turned out to be delightful place with friendly folks and a great restaurant. A real treat!

From Rum Cay our newly revised plan was to travel one day to Long Island and then on to George Town the next... but once more the weather didn't agree. The cold front that had passed, now came back and stalled on top of us with lots of rain and poor visibility (big problem in anchorages filled with coral heads), so we couldn't leave in the morning as scheduled. When the weather finally lifted there wasn't time to make it to Long Island. Finally we decided to anchor out for the evening near the harbor exit and clear of the coral for an early morning departure (3:00 a.m.) straight for George Town.

Finally we arrived in Georgetown on April 29 with only two days to spare. However, here in the anchorage to greet us were Ron and Terry Yates, our good friends we met on the waterway two and a half years ago. They own an Island Packet 35 just like ours and they are headed south. Seeing them made for an excellent ending to an event filled passage north from the Caribbean. We haven't seen them since we took off last fall, and we've got lots to catch up on.

Carleen & Eric

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Report #15
Topic
:  To Georgetown. Bahamas
Date:  April 30, 2001

The subject of this email should be called WAITING FOR WEATHER!!! Our friends Marilyn & Bill Bumpas arrived on the evening of 5/1 from Nassau. Our intention was to spend one day there with them getting settled in their quarters & doing some last day grocery purchases before heading out.

As it turns out, the weather was once again working against our plans. Lots of north/northeast wind, 20 to 25 knots--building up high seas which were making the inlets to the Exuma Banks unapproachable. So most of the yachts (unofficial count of 160) in the George Town area remained at anchor. We moved from Elizabeth Harbour to Stocking Island just north of Volleyball Beach.

Micki Parris (Sea Gypsy, IP38) organized an Island Packet gathering at the Chat & Chill bar/restaurant on Volleyball Beach. If I recall correctly there were 11 IPs attending. It was great fun & we met some wonderful people. We talked with the Taylors on Sambuca II who are on their way back to Alabama from the Med. They have had many interesting adventures some of which have been in the IP Newsletter. Also, Arla & Tom on My Weakness (IP 38) were very generous with their knowledge of the Exuma Banks, coming by our boat one morning & going over the charts with us. Paul on Alobar (IP 350) arrived in George Town on 5/1. We had last seen him in December, although we stayed in touch by SSB radio & email.

Marilyn, who is a watercolorist, got out her paints & did a painting of George Town. She also did many sketches for future paintings. We went snorkeling and played many rounds of a game called Rummikub.

With the high winds every, dinghy ride was a wet one with 4 people in our small dinghy! An unplanned adventure occurred one evening after we had hoisted our dinghy up on the davits for the night. Eric happened to see a dinghy float by our boat in 25-30 knot winds. He made an announcement on the VHF, but there were no responses. So as quickly as we could, down went our dinghy & we were off. The dinghy was almost 3/4 of the way across the sound when we caught up with it. There was no painter, so Carleen tied a line to a line on the side & Eric turned us back toward the anchorage. Unfortunately, we were making no headway. And then we heard someone shouting---Paul (Alobar) had seen us taking off for the dinghy & had come to help. Thank goodness, because even with the 2 of us, it was hard bucking the high winds & short, choppy waves. It was dark now & from the distance it was difficult to see our boat, but Marilyn & Bill were in the cockpit waving a flashlight. Talk about being wet & cold (& we had just had freshwater showers before the dinghy event!). The rescued dinghy was picked up that night around 10:00 PM when the owners found no dinghy attached to their painter after dinner party on another boat. The next day they dropped by with a thank you & a bottle of rum.

A weather window finally approached & we headed back to Elizabeth Harbour to resupply & do laundry after 8 days.

One 5/10 approximately 60 boats left George Town--most of them headed north up the Exuma chain. We decided to skip the Exumas (unfortunately, we were looking forward to exploring this area at least briefly) & sail straight to Abaco, along with Alobar. The inlet out of the harbor was a rough one with about 5 ft. swells crashing into us. We pulled up our anchor about 3:30 PM & were under way about 5:30 PM. The wind was on our nose from the ENE at 15-20 knots with NE swells until 8:00 AM when we changed course putting the wind on a close reach to beam reach. About 3:00 PM on 5/11 when the wind turned E & then ESE & reduced to 10-15 knots. We entered the Man of War Cay Inlet at noon & motored in light winds down to Hope Town, picking up an anchor at 1:00 PM.

After putting the boat in order & inflating the dinghy, we all enjoyed hot showers & then dinner on shore.

continued.....email #2 due to limit

This voyage was Marilyn's & Bill's first offshore passage. Marilyn found that the passage was not scary as she had anticipated & was amazed that we actually reduced the sail to slow the boat speed to ensure an arrival during a good light for the inlet passage. She remarked that in her experience no sailor ever reduces speed!!

Bill was expecting to hand steer the boat & was disappointed that we use our autopilot so much. We hand steer only when necessary or if we feel like doing so. He was also interested that we elected to use the engine to assist in sailing to maintain our course due to certain weather conditions that existed on this sail. Our philosophy is to sail, not to motor, but sometimes the weather conditions are such that we will use the engine for assistance, especially on short passages. Since we still have another 4 day ocean passage ahead of us, we invited Bill to hand steer as much as he wanted when he was the helmsperson.

They were both surprised by the effort it takes to do anything below (cook, eat, walk, brush teeth, etc.) while heeled over in the sea conditions we experienced on this trip.

We are enjoying seeing the sights of Hope Town before we head to Marsh Harbour to prepare for our next voyage to Beaufort, NC.

Carleen & Eric

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Report #16
Topic
:  Back in the USA
Date:  May 20, 2001

After 6 & 1/2 months, Island Time is now back in US waters. We arrived on the morning of 5/19 from Marsh Harbour. The trip was an uneventful four day crossing (fortunately) with calm sea conditions and light winds. In the midst of the motoring we did manage to have some nice sailing as well, one stretch with 15 knots on the beam in 2-4 seas with Island Time charging on at 7.0 knots!!

When we left, the weather forecast, while good for the seas between Marsh Harbour and the US, was "iffy" for the NC coast with a gale forecasted for the Hatteras area near our arrival time. So we chose to head northwest from the Bahamas in order to be able to head for Charleston if necessary. About the second day out, the gale was dropped from the forecast but a strong low was still expected. By the time we were a day further, there was no longer even a mention of a low!

Our arrival in Beaufort was exciting! It was Saturday morning and it seemed that every fisherman in the world was headed out the inlet. Of course they all needed get to their fishing spots in minimum time so they pushed their boats to max speed with their dual huge outboard engines. Also they couldn't allow themselves to get slowed down by traffic or channel markers. What a zoo! They passed us to port, to starboard, across our bow, close aboard, etc. Also some seemed to get the uncontrollable urge to stop and fish suddenly, so they would do just that... in the channel! Clearly we don't understand fishing. In any event, it added excitement to an otherwise calm crossing.

Marilyn and Bill became quite adept at moving about on the boat and settled in to the boat routine quite well. They both seemed to enjoy the passage and the experience of the crossing, even if wishing for more wind. (Of course us more seasoned sailors are very careful about wishing for more wind, because we know that often we get what we wish for.. and then some.)

We had an excellent dinner out to celebrate our landfall. Marilyn and Bill depart today (5/20) and we will leave tomorrow for our return home via the ICW and the Chesapeake. Next report will be from our home in Annapolis.

Carleen and Eric

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Latest Report

Report #16
Topic
:  Beaufort, NC to Annapolis
Date:  May 28, 2001

While in Beaufort we were able to get together with our friends Barbara & Dick Mushet, who now live in New Bern, NC. They own a big power boat, but we don't hold that against them. It was great to spend some time with them.

We began our 7-day journey up the ICW & the Chesapeake Bay on Monday, 5/21. We actually got to sail some as we cruised the Neuse River past Oriental, NC. Wednesday was a long day--we pulled up anchor on the Alligator River at 6:15 AM & motorsailed across the choppy Albemarle Sound, tacking our way into a northerly wind (15 knots), then into the ICW past Coinjock & across the Currituck Sound. Our plan was to anchor in a creek across from the Pungo River Ferry Marina, but the entrance was silted in & so we pulled into the marina at 6:30 PM.

Thursday, we were headed for Taylor's Landing Marina at Little Creek in Norfolk, VA. This part of the ICW is filled with 7 timed bridges & a lock (usually open on the hour & half hour). So it is easy to end up waiting for openings, but not this year. We were behind a tug pushing a barge & commercial traffic has priority at the bridges & lock. So-o-o, we just followed him through without ever even slowing down (except for the lock). At Taylor's Landing Marina, Tom Tursi & David Appleton were there preparing for student training sails to Bermuda (Maryland School of Sailing). We had dinner with them & spent a pleasant evening.

Friday morning we left Norfolk with the intention of sailing straight up the Chesapeake, arriving in Annapolis mid-morning on Saturday.

Unfortunately, the WEATHER once again took control of our plans. The weather forecast on the VHF radio predicted wind from the SE at 10 to 15 knots with scattered thunderstorms a possibility (30% chance), and the same for the next three days. We had winds from the SE as predicted, but at 25 to 30 knots in the morning, reducing to 20 to 25 in the afternoon.

About 6:00 PM, the Coast Guard issued a "Pan, Pan" warning for all mariners to seek shelter due to a line of severe thunderstorms approaching the area. We were just off Smith Point light caught between any close protective anchorages. We decided to head west & anchor close to the shore. After the first storm passed there was a lull & we took the opportunity to head south 6 miles to the Great Wicomico River. We finally dropped anchor in the dark at 9:00 PM.

Saturday's forecast was for more severe weather, so we decided not to move. We did, however, anchor closer to shore in a more protected spot. At 11:00 AM, a severe storm passed through with large hail, lightning & thunder. We were hit by lightning!! It knocked out our radar, instruments, autopilot & VHF radio. It also knocked the VHF antenna off the mast, which poked a hole in the dodger when it fell. Looks like one of our first calls in Annapolis will be to our insurance agent.

Sunday morning brought better weather so we left for Solomons, MD. We arrived about 3:00 pm and anchored, just in time to see the Blue Angels air show at the Patuxent Navy base. Monday morning we left Solomons for home under gray skies. The trip up the bay was uneventful, except for a short detour into Herrington Bay to meet up with Karen & Dave Gittleman who were out sailing on "Packet Inn." After a brief exchange, we continued up the bay & arrived back in our slip at 3:00. Amazingly the sun came out just as we were entering the harbor at Annapolis! We're glad to be home, but we're going to miss the Caribbean.

We would like to thank Hayden Cochran for creating the website & posting the emails we sent to him over the past 7 months. Thanks Hayden.

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