Had a wonderful nine months at sea and we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. So much so that, although we love coming home and really enjoy catching up with family and friends, we both wanted to just keep on going….. We don’t like leaving Morphie on the hard – and I get quite emotional about it every time – and now I spend any spare time watching for developing storms. Currently Tropical Storm Erika is flexing her muscles as she approaches the islands and is very large with winds extending 105 miles outwards. The majority of the models show Erika heading towards the east coast of Florida….. Obviously it is not an exact science and she may not survive beyond her interaction with her first landfall – but fingers crossed for everyone out there right now! Stay safe Morphie.
So this year’s trip was different to season two in that the majority of the islands we visited were new, which we really enjoyed. The cruising lifestyle enables us to explore new places and to move around freely when the mood takes us. Overall we covered almost 3,000 miles from Curacao to Florida via the US Virgins, the British Virgins, the Spanish Virgins, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Turks & Caicos, the Bahamas and across to Florida. We visited 45 islands with multiple anchorages in each destination.
So what was different this year? Well, we spent more time in marinas. This was a necessity in some places – particularly the Dominican Republic where the customs and immigration system doesn’t really allow for exploring the coastline in the way we normally do. That said the Haitises National Park anchorage has to be one of the highlights of the season. In the Turks and Caicos we couldn’t access land from the anchorage in Providenciales so needed to pull into a marina to explore. Marsh Harbour in the Bahamas was for a different reason – no working outboard engine because of our prop! And Fort Pierce was our usual end-season marina visit to prepare Morphie for storage. Another difference was also the use of mooring balls in the Bahamas – they are pretty well maintained and enable more boats to get into an anchorage than would otherwise be able. Plus the bonus was only $20 a night rather than the $30 a night charged in the BVIs.
What else? Well, we spent more time alone than we have been used to as most of our cruising buddies remained down island, with a couple of them swallowing the anchor for land-based adventure. That said, the notable exceptions, were meeting up with Lyle and Julia on Orion who we spent Christmas and New Year with – followed by our annual reunion with Ron and Carolyn – in the BVIs. Then shortly afterwards we met up with Eric and Pat on Cutter Loose who we enjoyed time with in the Spanish Virgins and later in Puerto Rico while we were waiting for weather to cross the Mona Passage. And of course we made up for it when we got to Florida with our delivery crew reunion, our reunion with Sha Sha, and our end-season land trip to Canada.
Anything else? First thing was HUGE FISH…. Richard kept the freezer pretty well stocked with his Mahi Mahi. Also the cruising grounds of the Bahamas are beautiful but many of them – particularly the Exumas Land and Sea Park have no infrastructure, no bars, no people – just great water, good snorkelling and deserted anchorages…. This was new for us and we didn’t realise just how difficult it would be to get basic provisions – luckily we had stocked the freezer before we left – but underestimated the need for beer and wine, so ran out a few times. But that was good for us from a health perspective LOL. Oh yes, and we were disappointed not to get any diving in this year, but at $300 for a morning for both of us, we decided that we had other things to spend our money on.
Oh yes, and of course, the sailing conditions. Skinny – ie shallow – water was a feature, particularly in the Bahamas and our depth comfort zone had to move accordingly. Couple of feet under the keel – no worries! Then there were the thunderstorms, the strong winds / waves, and the tides / cuts to navigate. So technically a more challenging year all round – which was a good thing. We have come through without any damage to either us or Morphie and feel quite proud of what we have achieved – and more confident in our abilities for the future.
So – next season. Well, we return to Florida at the end of November. Not sure of our passage plan yet – we’ll probably explore the Florida Keys, return to the Bahamas, and then meander around until we get to Panama where we plan to store Morphie again in preparation for a trip through the Panama Canal to the Pacific Ocean in early 2017. Options include Cuba, the Caymens, Cozumel, Guatemala, Roatan, San Blas islands….. Any destination is up for grabs – but we need to research safety, customs, currents etc etc…. So there is some serious passage planning ahead of us while we are home.
So I leave you with some memories from this season and say a final bye for now. Please come back to visit again in November…..