Matthew Town, Great Inagua Island

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Author: Pete

 

Left the open, desolate anchorage off the south tip of Acklins island in the late afternoon and headed southeast after passing the tall, white, empty lighthouse on Castle Island. Hugged the island to keep us out of shipping lanes in the Mira Por Vos passage. Our first overnight sail up ahead of us, we talked through our game plans should things go awry, and trimmed our sails as tight as possible to make it to Great Inagua without tacking or motoring.

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The sun sank, fired a brilliant orange, and then all too quickly left us in darkness. My mom’s fancy solar lights lit up to keep us company. Those things are awesome! With no moon to speak of I was amazed at how much natural light was in the air even with no cloud cover and no other ambient light. You could still see clouds, the horizon, and wavelets. And let’s face it. When you’re offshore, that’s about all there is to see anyway!

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Also saw lights of a few ships passing in the night. Reminded me of a melodic song by Brazilian Girls. The close ones popped up on our AIS display, though I couldn’t get a copy from them when I hailed them on the SSB and VHF. Maybe they were ignoring me like a big brother ignores a dorky little sibling. Story of my life.

With fifteen knots of wind we scooted right along at six knots, the motion a touch uncomfortable since we were heading into the wind and waves, but not altogether unpleasant. We had some dinner in the dark, trying to keep our eyes on the darkened horizon for the sake of our stomachs. Then it was time to start our watches. We kept three-hour stints, which sometimes turned into four. One went below and tried to sleep while the other read or looked out into the black, and studies the horizon every ten minutes to look for big, fast, scary freighters. The motion and noise of slapping waves below made falling asleep annoying, but not impossible. After a few shifts, some annoyingly erratic wind just before dawn, and lots of midnight snacks, the east horizon glowed orange, and the sun shot beams out of the cloud bank. We’d made our first overnight! And we were bushed. Pulled into the anchorage off the rocky shore of Mathew Town, Great Inagua, and slept until the afternoon.

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The next few days we explored the town, picked up Liza from the airport, and made some Dutch friends along the way!

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Martjin and Seeneka were in town to survey the construction of the new port, as the old one left something to be desired. Bahamas Air lost their GPS antennas, so they had a little time to do some depth measurement of the waters surrounding the island. Thus, we happily decided to postpone the boat projects we had in mind in favor of a sailing day up to the Man of War Bay with our new friends! They showed up with snacks, drinks, and a heavy bruce anchor Martjin found on the bottom of the quay! They were both experience sailors (more so than us!) and it was fabulous to have a full crew to work the sails. Made eight knots heading north and were shadowed for some time by a pod of dolphins playing in our bow wake. The island’s main revenue is from Morton Salt, which makes it’s sea salt here. Huge mounds of the precious stuff loomed tall on shore and a freighter loaded maneuvered in to load up.

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Pulled into the bay and all jumped in the water to do some spearfishing! Only got one fish, but made a tasty fried snack for us. Sailed back in the dark under blazing stars and made dinner in our old anchorage. Really fun, impromptu day with some really interesting, storied, and fun people. That’s what we live for.

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This morning, Chris Parker’s forecast sounded promising for the Windward Passage and the crossing to Colombia. We made haste, and got to work readying the boat for an afternoon departure tomorrow. I worked engines, Liza did decks and rigging, and Miranda worked galley. In six hours we had engine fluids and filters changed, running rigging checked, foreword lockers battened down, and lunches made for the days on passage. A little provisioning tomorrow and we’ll be off like and reaching south! Colombia here we come!

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ps- Check out Liza’s take on Great Inagua here and here!

pps- Credit to Sanneke Reiche for the top-most image.

On Hold in Naples

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Author: Pete

Location: Naples, Florida

 

We found the boat, the cogs are in motion.  We just need time and energy to make all of the machinery work.  It’s a arduous, thankless task, but on the bright side, we are staying in a beautiful house in Naples.  My childhood neighbors serendipitously have a house here that they graciously offered to us while we’re boat hunting.  Such nonchalant generosity is rare and humbling.  We’ve been enjoying the gems of an easy, if bureaucratic life in Naples.

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Waiting around on the paper chase of buying a boat requires patience.  Documents are slow to be exchanged and fruitless insurance leads wind up dragging you down the rabbit hole before terminating.  Between daily trips to the ‘office’ (library, see below) we enjoy our time in Naples.  Citrus grows freely in the trees, fat and juicy from the daily thunderstorms that pummel down rain at some point every day.  We plan, prep, fix, build, research, call, read.  We make lunch, and do it again.  And sometimes we even swim in the pool.  Hard times kiddy.

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We are getting our first taste of living off the connection grid.  The Naples house doesn’t have internet, so when we need to be connected, which is daily with all this paper chase, we load up in Big Red and bounce on down to the Naples Public Library, conveniently located a few miles from us.  It’s like going to the office, icy-cold air conditioning and strange ‘regulars’.  We sure do get a lot of research done though.

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Back at the ranch we generally make the phone calls that we couldn’t in the ‘Shhhhh!  Keep your voices down, aside from all the crazy old people who feel free to talk really friggin’ loud because their hearing is going’.  Sorry.  Library.  Then we get a little dinner going.

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We usually unwind with some light reading, research, conjecture, notes, page flipping, text referencing, and highlighting.  Have to get used to being off the grid.  Our newest, fanciest equipment is an iPad mini with Navionics on it.  The 4G iPad version that we got also has a GPS chip in it, so you don’t actually need cell signal, only clear skies.  That’s what everyone says anyway!  The Navionics is quite frankly magic.  It loads maps of the entire Caribbean, Central and South America, and parts of the US.  You can zoom down to see minute detail.  We’ll check it out on the real water.

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Let’s face it.  We’ve been blessed with easy sailing so far and it should be expected that eventually (now) we’re getting some chop. It’s so beautiful in this little house with the canal right in the back yard, but we’re itching to get on our boat and make headway.  It may be slow and frustrating at times.  But one things for sure… even if it feels like w’ere on hold, we’re on our way in Naples.

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We found a boat!

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Author: Pete

Location: Fort Lauderdale, Florida

 

Short story:

WE FOUND A BOAT!

 

Long story:

WE FOUND A BOAT!

 

Coherent story:

Sorry. Still pretty excited. Okay, here goes…

After our 1 AM arrival to Naples, we still intended to make the boat scouting appointments that we had planned with our broker and some private listings the following day. All of the appointments were two hours away in Fort Lauderdale, so we were up at six o’clock and on the road again. Man we were getting sick of driving!

Made it to our appointment on time and met Steve Moore from the Catamaran Company who we had met on our previous mission to Florida. He introduced us to Kenan and his wife Julie, two young Brits who were selling their Lagoon 380 after a year sabbatical in the Bahamas. The boat was in beautiful shape for its age, and was very well equipped. Kenan is a professional captain on massive private yachts (220 feet massive), as well as a pilot. He knew the boat extremely well and kept good care of her. After a run through of the boat and some discussion of possible timeline we walked away with a distinct like of the boat and a good feeling about the owners.

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Our second, third, and fourth boats of the day went by in a blur. I don’t think we even got a picture of any of them! Our heads were still in the clouds about the Lagoon and nothing held a candle to it. We didn’t even discuss it much between us. We just drove back to the Catamaran Company, located in a floating office in a marina, and asked Steve to help us make an offer.

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It started pouring rain. The boat was listed outside of our comfortable price range. We decided to make an offer that we could afford, and make an itinerary for the hand over of the boat that would be attractive to the sellers. They were trying to fly back to the U.K. in mid-October, and were really hoping to move the boat before then. We crossed our fingers that giving them the option of a quick turn-around could make up for our lower offer.

With Steve’s help we filled in and sent a formal offer on the boat outlining purchase price, conditions, and dates for survey/sea trial, acceptance of vessel, and closing. We hurried a transfer to Cat. Co’s escrow account through some help with Miranda’s friends at her Wisconsin bank, and then sent the offer over to Kenan’s selling broker. Then we waited.

And we waited.

And it felt like forever.

In fact, it was only fifteen minutes, but I felt like the gun was going to go off for the cross country state meet, or I was going to sit a six hour quantum physic exam. This rates right up there in the stress. If I was prone to heart disease, I’d likely be dead.

And then Steve waltzes up the steps, sits and says casually, “Well, they accepted your offer.” I thought we’d fall out of our chairs but it was so nonchalant that I just stared at him. We signed some papers and made a few phone calls to set up sea trials and survey for the very next day.

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It was late in the day and we were to be back at the boat at 8:30 the following morning. Instead of driving two hours back to Naples, then retracing our steps the following day in the wee hours of the morning we opted to get a hotel in Fort Lauderdale. After a good night’s sleep we were back on the boat early and really, really excited.

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Kenan took us to the haul out, all the while making chit-chat in that British accent that will always make American ladies swoon. We navigated the busy waterways of Fort Lauderdale, avoiding towed yachts, ducking bridges, and jockeying in the respectable current. It was all very exciting.

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At the shipyard we docked carefully and waited for the lift, a massive motorized contraption that looked like it had been built out of Legos by some industrious ten-year-old. The workers guided thick straps under the hulls and positioned them carefully to not sit on the keels, rudders, or sail drives.

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With the grumble of a motor the boat was lifted slowly from the water, her undersides gleaming. The motorized lift rolled forward, for a second leaving the boat behind before it swung slightly and equalized in its motion.

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Once over firm ground the boat was lowered slightly and we gathered around it. Usually things look bigger underwater, like fish or skinny dippers, but this definitely looked much bigger out of the water.  I wondered what I was doing.

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The rain began to fall, fat and slow, and we all took shelter under the catamaran’s bridge deck. I wondered what people with monohulls did in this situation. Our surveyer Jon, who specialized in catamarans and knew the Lagoon 380 especially well, filled us in on his assessment of the boat so far. We were happy to hear positive news all around.

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The boat was put back in the water. I think I heard her audibly sigh. It’s unnatural for a vessel to be hanging from her hulls. We motored out into the Atlantic and put up sails. The wind was slight so we didn’t sail long, but enough to get the feel of the boat, work the sails, and give the surveyor a chance to check them.

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On the way back in the sky opened up again on us. I took the helm by request and let the others take shelter in the saloon. Without rain gear my shirt was quickly soaked. We waited twenty minutes for a bridge in the rain, working the twin diesels to keep us close enough to the bridge to shelter from lightning, but far enough to avoid collision.

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When we got back to dock I was soaked and chilly, but very much excited. We sat in the saloon and got the rundown from the surveyor. All in good, working shape, a few things that need to be addressed, but nothing major. Green light. We signed the Acceptance of Vessel.

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We stayed for an hour or so talking to Julie and Kenan about the boat and each others’ lives. They are a really interesting couple, extremely personable and open and we’re so happy to be accepting the boat from them and carrying on her adventure. Miranda and I drove back to Naples with our heads spinning.  We now are left with the task of getting all the paperwork settled and wire transfers lined up.  If all goes well, we close in early October and move aboard then. Oh, and one more thing- No name set in stone so far…  hmmm…

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