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We’re back! #177983
12/14/2018 09:46 AM
12/14/2018 09:46 AM
Joined: Jan 2008
Posts: 410
Toronto, CANADA
Ritchard Offline OP
Traveler
Ritchard  Offline OP
Traveler
Joined: Jan 2008
Posts: 410
Toronto, CANADA
After all the trips we’ve enjoyed to St Martin, we’re back, this time on our sailboat. We sailed from Hampton VA and arrived a couple of weeks ago. The SXM experience is totally different when staying on a boat in the Lagoon.

Today we’re taking our first ‘round the island car tour - winding up with dinner at Le Piment this evening with friends from home.

A sunny SXM greeting to you all!


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Re: We’re back! [Re: Ritchard] #177984
12/14/2018 09:49 AM
12/14/2018 09:49 AM
Joined: Feb 2007
Posts: 3,024
Rhode Island
RonDon Offline
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RonDon  Offline
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Joined: Feb 2007
Posts: 3,024
Rhode Island
Enjoy!

Re: We’re back! [Re: Ritchard] #177991
12/14/2018 10:23 AM
12/14/2018 10:23 AM
Joined: Aug 2000
Posts: 68,593
Central Florida!
Carol_Hill Offline
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Carol_Hill  Offline
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Joined: Aug 2000
Posts: 68,593
Central Florida!
Enjoy! When you get the chance, would be interested to hear about your sailing trip down to SXM.


Carol Hill
Re: We’re back! [Re: Ritchard] #178020
12/14/2018 01:08 PM
12/14/2018 01:08 PM
Joined: Dec 2017
Posts: 43
Long Island NY
S
SurferMike Offline
Traveler
SurferMike  Offline
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S
Joined: Dec 2017
Posts: 43
Long Island NY
Wow! Now that’s the way to travel to St Maarten. My sister and her husband have a sailboat on Cape Cod, maybe I can talk them into a sailing trip instead of Jet Blue!

Re: We’re back! [Re: Carol_Hill] #178406
12/19/2018 06:52 PM
12/19/2018 06:52 PM
Joined: Jan 2008
Posts: 410
Toronto, CANADA
Ritchard Offline OP
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Ritchard  Offline OP
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Joined: Jan 2008
Posts: 410
Toronto, CANADA
Wow, this turned out long.

We left Toronto on August 30, made our way to Oswego, New York where our mast was removed and placed on deck (bridges and such allow no masts on the canals). We went south thru the Oswego River/Canal until we hit the Erie Canal. We took the Erie Canal East over a period of around two weeks until we hit the Hudson. After Lock #1 at Troy, New York we were on the Hudson, and experienced tide for the first time this would really come into play over the next weeks. Traveling south on the Hudson we stopped in at Catskill, NY where the mast was put back up. It felt good to be a sailboat again after several weeks of being a motor vessel.

Next major landmark was of course The Big Apple. Amazing to ghost down the river and pass by so many landmarks that we are all so familiar with. We stopped in at Sandy Hook New Jersey for a few days where we anchored in massive winds. This was so exhausting we took a dock for a couple of nights in Atlantic Heights Hew Jersey. The marina there is a fantastic, brand new facility, the old one having been basically erased from the earth by Sandy a few years earlier.

After Sandy Hook you make your way down the coast of New Jersey. I had no idea that the New Jersey coast was basically 120 miles of beach. Quite impressive going past the resort towns and looking at their piers and promenades through the binocs. In New Jersey we overnighted at Barnegat Bay, Atlantic City and Cape May. In Atlantic City we went to a casino for dinner. Turns out there is little chance of me becoming a problem gambler. The place held no appeal for me at all.

From Cape May we got into the Delaware Bay headed vaguely North. Delaware Bay has very strong tidal currents and it was important to time the travel well so that you could actually make headway. Sailboats only travel 6 miles an hour, so if you're in a 4 Mi opposing current it takes a long time to get anywhere, if at all. At the top of the Delaware Bay is the C and D (Chesapeake and Delaware) Canal. This very old canal leads us to the Chesapeake Bay, when we started to feel like we were really getting someplace. The first major stop on the trip is Annapolis, site of the United States Sailboat Show. This is where sailors from all over North America gather to spend money on stuff they don't need.

We spent nearly three weeks at anchor in Annapolis. Such a nice town. However we couldn't stay there indefinitely, it was starting to get chilly in mid October and we had places to go. We spent a long weekend in lovely St. Michaels, then Solomons, then Deltaville. The Chesapeake is a very impressive body of water - this coming from someone who lives on Lake Ontario, a very impressive inland sea. Our final push in the Chesapeake was to Hampton, VA, where we would spend 8 days in the marina with a group called the Salty Dawgs, who stage a rally to the Caribbean each fall. In all 88(?) boats of varying size and description would make the rally crossing from Hampton to one of Bahamas, BVI, or Antigua. Our destination was the third of the three.

In Hampton we enjoyed a week of seminars and social gatherings to prepare us for the crossing. We met a lot of nice people as we nervously waited for the weather to make our departure. We left - me and and my crew of two old sailing buddies from Toronto - a couple of days after the intended departure date of November 3. The idea is to sneak the passage in between hurricane season and winter storm season. With a bit of luck, you depart after a cold front, and the Northwest wind that results pushes you quickly south and east. This did not happen; more below.

Every sailor speaks of the Gulfstream with at the very least with respect if not outright fear. We got to the Gulfstream proper about a day after departure, after making our way about 120 miles south and a bit east along the coast to get a good angle at a narrow part of the huge current. In short, the Gulfstream deserves the respect or fear. It took us a day to get through it, and the boat and crew took a heck of a beating. We didn't get the expected Northwest wind to take us briskly across the 'stream, instead the wind and waves were in opposition, which build the seas in the Gulfstream in a fearsome way. There was no-one in the rally who reported anything but a rough, rough crossing. Our boat is kind of a racy hull, and as such lacks the wight to punch through huge waves and was tossed about badly. Water crashed over the boat repeatedly as we smashed our way along, and it turns out everything that could leak on the boat eventually did. We ended up with saltwater everywhere and a lot of stuff was ruined, food, clothing, cushions, etc.

Now the forgoing may sound like complaining, but it's actually bragging, 'cuz despite the discomfort, the experience was awesome. The sea gave us a bashing and we stood up to it and learned about ourselves, my boat, and life at sea. The days that followed included catching a few beautiful Mahi Mahi, being escorted by huge pods of dolphins, dodging and not dodging scary squalls, nearly hitting a huge utility pole 300 miles from the nearest anything, a night sky that cannot fail to invoke awe, and seas a colour of blue that simply does not exist anywhere else.

If you know sailing, you know that sailboats cannot sail directly into the wind. Instead, we sail at an angle to the wind and by a miracle of physics we can make forward motion. For our trip the problem was that the wind persistently came from the direction we needed to go. After about 4 days of getting beat up, we realized we couldn't make Antigua by sailing in the wrong direction nor with the fuel we had, so we ditched to Bermuda for a rest and more diesel.

Bermuda is wonderful, though the most expensive place I have ever been. We got to St Georges Harbour very late on the 10th of November, 5-1/2 days after we left. It is a small island ringed with terrifying reefs that have claimed countless ships. It is so dangerous that Bermuda Maritime Radio talks each visiting vessel into the harbour. The entry to the harbour is also difficult if not treacherous, especially for newcomers, and especially when it is raining cats and dogs and visibility is reduced to not far beyond our own bow. As a number of boats from our rally and another concurrent rally ditched to Bermuda at the same time, we turned in circles in the harbour for a couple of hours to wait our turn at the Customs Dock. I had never been more relieved to tie up to a pier in my life. Checking in to Bermuda was easy, the staff was very cordial despite working late into the night because of this unexpected influx of boats. The funny thing was we were experiencing land legs for the first time. After days of rocking in the boat your inner ear becomes acclimated to the motion, but once you step ashore your ear makes the motion persist. The Customs staff laughed at us a bit as we filled out forms while holding tightly to the countertop to offset the swaying of our legs.

We ended up enjoying Bermuda for 8 days while we waited for weather and for a change of crew. My good pal Rob had taken three weeks off work for this voyage, and it became clear that there was no way he was gonna get back to work in time with the delays so I recruited another Toronto sailing pal to join us in Bermuda. The people in Bermuda were invariably kind and generous. The place is lovely, but as I mentioned it is expensive. Bermuda has to import almost everything and if you look it up on a map it's really off the beaten path. That said it has the highest GDP per capita in the world, and no income tax, so people seem to be able to afford $5 coffees and $10 sandwiches. I can't, and as much as I really enjoyed the place, we eventually had to shove off. This happened the morning of November 18th.

We were once again bound for Antigua, but like the first leg of the trip, the winds did not cooperate. We either had winds "straight on the nose" as we say in sailing, or no wind at all and had to fire up the diesel. Like the first trip it became clear that it would be very difficult to reach Antigua in time to get another crew member totally exhausted every vacation day he had saved up, so we altered course for St. Martin, which is 100 miles closer and a little easier to get to as the winds wanted us to go a bit more west anyhow.

This second leg was marked by a few noteworthy things. We caught a Mahi Mahi so large we named him Thor, and had Mahi for supper for days. We had visits by more pods of dolphins, this time with little baby dolphins somehow able to keep up with their parents and the boat, we experienced a blinding full moon at sea along with large bright moons for days on either side of the full one. We experienced phenomenon known to all sailors where if there are two boats within 10 miles of each other they will pass right beside each other. We saw three vessels on the second leg, and ship and two sailboats. The sailboats each passed within 300 yards of us - in the middle of the ocean.

The highlight of the trip - oh heck, the highlight of my year - was the pilot whale that breeched directly in from of the boat, so close that I couldn't see all of the whale, it was obscured by the bow of the boat. I had never seen a whale in the wild before, and to see one within 15 feet of the boat was awful exciting, as evidenced by my shrieking and waking of the other crew. They briefly didn't believe me until we spotted the rest of the pod blowing and breeching off our starboard stern.

Though we decided to make for the closer destination of St. Martin, we ran the boat out of fuel, and only had one 5 gallon can of diesel to make the last 120 miles or so. Of course there was no wind, so there was nothing to do but wait. We couldn't risk burning what diesel remained when we couldn't be sure when the winds would fill in again. We bobbed for a few hours while I worried about how we were never going to get my pal Dave on a plane in time for him to get off work. He had been communicating with his employer and had negotiated some extra time, but this was really stretching it. Finally, after a few hours of bobbing, the easterly trade winds we had been hoping for days showed up, and as though apologizing for being late, were very strong. We ran like a rocket the last 100 miles or so to the eastern tip of Anguilla, where exhausted, we decided to douse the sails and motor the last bit to Marigot Bay.

We anchored in Marigot Bay very early on the morning of November 27, 8-1/2 days after setting out from Bermuda. We'd had a heck on an adventure, and were very happy to have reach St. Martin. There was a little regret that we couldn't make Antigua, but in the morning when the sun rose we went for a swim off the boat in Marigot Bay and everything seemed pretty great.

So would I do it again? In a heartbeat, though I'd choose a heavier boat more suited to the conditions.

It's now nearly Christmas, my wife and I are learning to live on a boat in Paradise. This sounds silly I am sure but there really is a learning curve. It's easy to take though when you wake up anchored in places like Anse Marcel.

Thanks for reading.


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Re: We’re back! [Re: Ritchard] #178409
12/19/2018 07:00 PM
12/19/2018 07:00 PM
Joined: Apr 2001
Posts: 12,251
Brookfield, CT.
pat Offline
Traveler
pat  Offline
Traveler
Joined: Apr 2001
Posts: 12,251
Brookfield, CT.
Wow! What an incredible adventure though not for the faint-heartened or financially insecure, and I agree with every word said about Bermuda. Beautiful but ca-Ching, ca-Ching!!! Thanks for sharing......


Respectfully,

pat



"Always keep your words soft and sweet, just in case you have to eat
them."
Re: We’re back! [Re: Ritchard] #178410
12/19/2018 07:17 PM
12/19/2018 07:17 PM
Joined: Mar 2017
Posts: 429
Maine
SXMbeacher Offline
Traveler
SXMbeacher  Offline
Traveler
Joined: Mar 2017
Posts: 429
Maine
Very awesome trip report. Glad you made it safely.



[Linked Image]


Re: We’re back! [Re: Ritchard] #178422
12/19/2018 08:57 PM
12/19/2018 08:57 PM
Joined: Mar 2009
Posts: 9,954
Auburn, WA
SXMScubaman Offline
Traveler
SXMScubaman  Offline
Traveler
Joined: Mar 2009
Posts: 9,954
Auburn, WA
Wow. What memories your going to have. Hope the return voyage goes safely for you.

Re: We’re back! [Re: Ritchard] #178429
12/19/2018 09:40 PM
12/19/2018 09:40 PM
Joined: Apr 2001
Posts: 1,518
Long Island, NY
RICKnGRACE_LI_NY Offline
Traveler
RICKnGRACE_LI_NY  Offline
Traveler
Joined: Apr 2001
Posts: 1,518
Long Island, NY
All I can say is WOW!


Rick and Grace
Re: We’re back! [Re: Ritchard] #178431
12/19/2018 10:11 PM
12/19/2018 10:11 PM
Joined: Jan 2006
Posts: 182
Ontario, Canada
C
CanadianCutie Offline
Traveler
CanadianCutie  Offline
Traveler
C
Joined: Jan 2006
Posts: 182
Ontario, Canada
Thank you so much for taking the time to post your adventure. Very interesting read!

Re: We’re back! [Re: Ritchard] #178435
12/19/2018 10:50 PM
12/19/2018 10:50 PM
Joined: Jun 2008
Posts: 2,556
L
LBI2SXM Offline
Traveler
LBI2SXM  Offline
Traveler
L
Joined: Jun 2008
Posts: 2,556
What an incredible adventure! Have done some sailing but nothing like the experience you have gone through. Good luck with your continuous sailing trip where ever you may go. Fair winds...………….

Re: We’re back! [Re: Ritchard] #178437
12/20/2018 01:12 AM
12/20/2018 01:12 AM
Joined: Dec 2008
Posts: 2,764
Boynton Beach, FL
EdB Offline
Traveler
EdB  Offline
Traveler
Joined: Dec 2008
Posts: 2,764
Boynton Beach, FL
Richard,
i have always and continue to LOVE the trip reports we get here....but....this one has to be the BEST ONE ever written !!! What a fantastic voyage to get to SXM. I do hope maybe you have some pictures of the dolphins you encountered....the seas at night under the full moon....etc. Please if you do....post them!!! We all have great memories of being on SXM every trip....but so few have had the experience of getting to the destination on a long sail. I hope you enjoy the rest of your journey.

Re: We’re back! [Re: Ritchard] #178441
12/20/2018 07:10 AM
12/20/2018 07:10 AM
Joined: Aug 2012
Posts: 1,385
P
PelicanPirate Offline
Traveler
PelicanPirate  Offline
Traveler
P
Joined: Aug 2012
Posts: 1,385
Wow, not just high adventure, but Extremely High Adventure. Cool.

Re: We’re back! [Re: Ritchard] #178443
12/20/2018 07:28 AM
12/20/2018 07:28 AM
Joined: Apr 2010
Posts: 70
Calgary, Canada
O
oceanbreeze Offline
Traveler
oceanbreeze  Offline
Traveler
O
Joined: Apr 2010
Posts: 70
Calgary, Canada
An excellent report. To better understand the challenges you faced would you mind telling us the type and length of your boat.

Re: We’re back! [Re: Ritchard] #178444
12/20/2018 07:32 AM
12/20/2018 07:32 AM
Joined: Mar 2001
Posts: 13,966
Ohio
ruralcarrier Offline
Traveler
ruralcarrier  Offline
Traveler
Joined: Mar 2001
Posts: 13,966
Ohio
A great read!


J.D.
Re: We’re back! [Re: Ritchard] #178445
12/20/2018 07:34 AM
12/20/2018 07:34 AM
Joined: Jan 2015
Posts: 314
South Coast of MA
S
SXMBND Offline
Traveler
SXMBND  Offline
Traveler
S
Joined: Jan 2015
Posts: 314
South Coast of MA
Thanks for taking us on your journey......great report!!!!

Re: We’re back! [Re: SXMScubaman] #178459
12/20/2018 11:36 AM
12/20/2018 11:36 AM
Joined: Jan 2008
Posts: 410
Toronto, CANADA
Ritchard Offline OP
Traveler
Ritchard  Offline OP
Traveler
Joined: Jan 2008
Posts: 410
Toronto, CANADA
Originally Posted by SXMScubaman
Wow. What memories your going to have. Hope the return voyage goes safely for you.



Truth is we’re not really sure we’re going back.


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Re: We’re back! [Re: oceanbreeze] #178461
12/20/2018 11:40 AM
12/20/2018 11:40 AM
Joined: Jan 2008
Posts: 410
Toronto, CANADA
Ritchard Offline OP
Traveler
Ritchard  Offline OP
Traveler
Joined: Jan 2008
Posts: 410
Toronto, CANADA
Originally Posted by oceanbreeze
An excellent report. To better understand the challenges you faced would you mind telling us the type and length of your boat.


We have an early ‘90s Beneteau First 38. This boat is great for ripping around Lake Ontario at great speed with your hair on fire, but less good for the Atlantic.

When we first were thinking of cruising, a larger, heavier boat was part of the plan. But life doesn’t always work to a schedule and we were able to take off a couple of years sooner than expected. We decided to take the boat we already owned.


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Re: We’re back! [Re: EdB] #178462
12/20/2018 11:41 AM
12/20/2018 11:41 AM
Joined: Jan 2008
Posts: 410
Toronto, CANADA
Ritchard Offline OP
Traveler
Ritchard  Offline OP
Traveler
Joined: Jan 2008
Posts: 410
Toronto, CANADA
Originally Posted by EdB
Richard,
i have always and continue to LOVE the trip reports we get here....but....this one has to be the BEST ONE ever written !!! What a fantastic voyage to get to SXM. I do hope maybe you have some pictures of the dolphins you encountered....the seas at night under the full moon....etc. Please if you do....post them!!! We all have great memories of being on SXM every trip....but so few have had the experience of getting to the destination on a long sail. I hope you enjoy the rest of your journey.


I posted quite a bit of stuff on our Yacht Sayonara page on Facebook. That’s the easiest way to see what happened.


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Re: We’re back! [Re: Ritchard] #178463
12/20/2018 11:49 AM
12/20/2018 11:49 AM
Joined: Mar 2005
Posts: 517
Colorado
sxmbeachlover Offline
Traveler
sxmbeachlover  Offline
Traveler
Joined: Mar 2005
Posts: 517
Colorado
Very interesting and fun reading about your trip! I was imagining being in the boat with you, but I'm not as daring!!!


Famous Quote from SBHonline: The best moderation is the least moderation.
Re: We’re back! [Re: Ritchard] #178483
12/20/2018 02:13 PM
12/20/2018 02:13 PM
Joined: Aug 2000
Posts: 2,405
MIA
I
irina Offline
Traveler
irina  Offline
Traveler
I
Joined: Aug 2000
Posts: 2,405
MIA
Ritchard,
Love sailing reports. Yours is one of the all time best!
We have sailed (as ballast LOL) around the Grenadines for a week.
BVI's for a week.
Pods of dolphins yes, but your trip was incredible! Whale breaching!!!
Brilliant.
Enjoy.
irina

Re: We’re back! [Re: Ritchard] #178484
12/20/2018 02:26 PM
12/20/2018 02:26 PM
Joined: Jun 2008
Posts: 1,066
CT
pony600 Online content
Traveler
pony600  Online Content
Traveler
Joined: Jun 2008
Posts: 1,066
CT
Wow! I'm not a sailing type of person, but your trip & report was fantastic!


[image][Linked Image]
[/image]


If life hands you a lemon, just squeeze it on a lobster!
Re: We’re back! [Re: Ritchard] #178485
12/20/2018 02:46 PM
12/20/2018 02:46 PM
Joined: Feb 2007
Posts: 3,024
Rhode Island
RonDon Offline
Traveler
RonDon  Offline
Traveler
Joined: Feb 2007
Posts: 3,024
Rhode Island
Your great and detailed report was awesome!

I actually started to feel a bit of Mal de Mer reading the part about little wind and the attempt to save fuel by bobbing around.

Re: We’re back! [Re: Ritchard] #178491
12/20/2018 05:28 PM
12/20/2018 05:28 PM
Joined: Dec 2017
Posts: 43
Long Island NY
S
SurferMike Offline
Traveler
SurferMike  Offline
Traveler
S
Joined: Dec 2017
Posts: 43
Long Island NY

Now that’s the way to travel! Maybe I won’t ask my sister for a trip to St. Maarten on her sailboat after all. Besides, I think it should stay in Nantucket Sound where it belongs. Not in the ocean. Great report!

Re: We’re back! [Re: Ritchard] #178492
12/20/2018 05:30 PM
12/20/2018 05:30 PM
Joined: Nov 2003
Posts: 257
CT,USA
DICKG Offline
Traveler
DICKG  Offline
Traveler
Joined: Nov 2003
Posts: 257
CT,USA
What a great experience read the whole report WOW ! My Brother-inlaw and his wife did a sail from Saybrook to Europe first port was Bermuda to pick up a friend to make it 3on the boat they landed in Tunisia , many problems while there I tracked there whole trip getting reports each day ( better them than me ) there trip back took more than 3 weeks longer , the wind was not where it was reported to be ,wanted to make port in SXM But wind took them to Aruba .
Love reading your report . Good luck on the return . We were in SXM OCT 28 to nov 19 our 35 th visit .

Re: We’re back! [Re: DICKG] #178494
12/20/2018 05:39 PM
12/20/2018 05:39 PM
Joined: Nov 2003
Posts: 257
CT,USA
DICKG Offline
Traveler
DICKG  Offline
Traveler
Joined: Nov 2003
Posts: 257
CT,USA
The three weeks were longer than they expected ran into a flat wind tacked to find the wind kept going furtherr south supply’s ran thin great fishing which they needed

Re: We’re back! [Re: Ritchard] #178504
12/20/2018 08:10 PM
12/20/2018 08:10 PM
Joined: Mar 2009
Posts: 9,954
Auburn, WA
SXMScubaman Offline
Traveler
SXMScubaman  Offline
Traveler
Joined: Mar 2009
Posts: 9,954
Auburn, WA
Saw your short videos on the Facebook page. Nice.

Re: We’re back! [Re: Ritchard] #178534
12/21/2018 12:54 PM
12/21/2018 12:54 PM
Joined: Jan 2008
Posts: 12,807
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
islandgem Offline
Traveler
islandgem  Offline
Traveler
Joined: Jan 2008
Posts: 12,807
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Thanks for sharing your wonderful sailing adventure! It truly will be a time to remember. Enjoy your remaining time at sea and living on your boat.



[Linked Image]


Re: We’re back! [Re: Ritchard] #178556
12/21/2018 03:55 PM
12/21/2018 03:55 PM
Joined: Mar 2007
Posts: 271
Sugar Land, Tx
I
IslandBoi Offline
Traveler
IslandBoi  Offline
Traveler
I
Joined: Mar 2007
Posts: 271
Sugar Land, Tx
now that's an interesting trip report, and not just about eating or full of silly pics of food and people eating thumbsup

Last edited by IslandBoi; 12/21/2018 04:21 PM.

[Linked Image]
Re: We’re back! [Re: Ritchard] #178580
12/22/2018 12:20 AM
12/22/2018 12:20 AM
Joined: Nov 2015
Posts: 149
the Long Island
the captain Offline
Traveler
the captain  Offline
Traveler
Joined: Nov 2015
Posts: 149
the Long Island
Best TR ever!

Re: We’re back! [Re: Ritchard] #178682
12/23/2018 02:29 PM
12/23/2018 02:29 PM
Joined: Apr 2005
Posts: 6,270
Long Island, New York
sxmmartini Offline
Traveler
sxmmartini  Offline
Traveler
Joined: Apr 2005
Posts: 6,270
Long Island, New York
Originally Posted by Ritchard
Wow, this turned out long.

We left Toronto on August 30, made our way to Oswego, New York where our mast was removed and placed on deck (bridges and such allow no masts on the canals). We went south thru the Oswego River/Canal until we hit the Erie Canal. We took the Erie Canal East over a period of around two weeks until we hit the Hudson. After Lock #1 at Troy, New York we were on the Hudson, and experienced tide for the first time this would really come into play over the next weeks. Traveling south on the Hudson we stopped in at Catskill, NY where the mast was put back up. It felt good to be a sailboat again after several weeks of being a motor vessel.

Next major landmark was of course The Big Apple. Amazing to ghost down the river and pass by so many landmarks that we are all so familiar with. We stopped in at Sandy Hook New Jersey for a few days where we anchored in massive winds. This was so exhausting we took a dock for a couple of nights in Atlantic Heights Hew Jersey. The marina there is a fantastic, brand new facility, the old one having been basically erased from the earth by Sandy a few years earlier.

After Sandy Hook you make your way down the coast of New Jersey. I had no idea that the New Jersey coast was basically 120 miles of beach. Quite impressive going past the resort towns and looking at their piers and promenades through the binocs. In New Jersey we overnighted at Barnegat Bay, Atlantic City and Cape May. In Atlantic City we went to a casino for dinner. Turns out there is little chance of me becoming a problem gambler. The place held no appeal for me at all.

From Cape May we got into the Delaware Bay headed vaguely North. Delaware Bay has very strong tidal currents and it was important to time the travel well so that you could actually make headway. Sailboats only travel 6 miles an hour, so if you're in a 4 Mi opposing current it takes a long time to get anywhere, if at all. At the top of the Delaware Bay is the C and D (Chesapeake and Delaware) Canal. This very old canal leads us to the Chesapeake Bay, when we started to feel like we were really getting someplace. The first major stop on the trip is Annapolis, site of the United States Sailboat Show. This is where sailors from all over North America gather to spend money on stuff they don't need.

We spent nearly three weeks at anchor in Annapolis. Such a nice town. However we couldn't stay there indefinitely, it was starting to get chilly in mid October and we had places to go. We spent a long weekend in lovely St. Michaels, then Solomons, then Deltaville. The Chesapeake is a very impressive body of water - this coming from someone who lives on Lake Ontario, a very impressive inland sea. Our final push in the Chesapeake was to Hampton, VA, where we would spend 8 days in the marina with a group called the Salty Dawgs, who stage a rally to the Caribbean each fall. In all 88(?) boats of varying size and description would make the rally crossing from Hampton to one of Bahamas, BVI, or Antigua. Our destination was the third of the three.

In Hampton we enjoyed a week of seminars and social gatherings to prepare us for the crossing. We met a lot of nice people as we nervously waited for the weather to make our departure. We left - me and and my crew of two old sailing buddies from Toronto - a couple of days after the intended departure date of November 3. The idea is to sneak the passage in between hurricane season and winter storm season. With a bit of luck, you depart after a cold front, and the Northwest wind that results pushes you quickly south and east. This did not happen; more below.

Every sailor speaks of the Gulfstream with at the very least with respect if not outright fear. We got to the Gulfstream proper about a day after departure, after making our way about 120 miles south and a bit east along the coast to get a good angle at a narrow part of the huge current. In short, the Gulfstream deserves the respect or fear. It took us a day to get through it, and the boat and crew took a heck of a beating. We didn't get the expected Northwest wind to take us briskly across the 'stream, instead the wind and waves were in opposition, which build the seas in the Gulfstream in a fearsome way. There was no-one in the rally who reported anything but a rough, rough crossing. Our boat is kind of a racy hull, and as such lacks the wight to punch through huge waves and was tossed about badly. Water crashed over the boat repeatedly as we smashed our way along, and it turns out everything that could leak on the boat eventually did. We ended up with saltwater everywhere and a lot of stuff was ruined, food, clothing, cushions, etc.

Now the forgoing may sound like complaining, but it's actually bragging, 'cuz despite the discomfort, the experience was awesome. The sea gave us a bashing and we stood up to it and learned about ourselves, my boat, and life at sea. The days that followed included catching a few beautiful Mahi Mahi, being escorted by huge pods of dolphins, dodging and not dodging scary squalls, nearly hitting a huge utility pole 300 miles from the nearest anything, a night sky that cannot fail to invoke awe, and seas a colour of blue that simply does not exist anywhere else.

If you know sailing, you know that sailboats cannot sail directly into the wind. Instead, we sail at an angle to the wind and by a miracle of physics we can make forward motion. For our trip the problem was that the wind persistently came from the direction we needed to go. After about 4 days of getting beat up, we realized we couldn't make Antigua by sailing in the wrong direction nor with the fuel we had, so we ditched to Bermuda for a rest and more diesel.

Bermuda is wonderful, though the most expensive place I have ever been. We got to St Georges Harbour very late on the 10th of November, 5-1/2 days after we left. It is a small island ringed with terrifying reefs that have claimed countless ships. It is so dangerous that Bermuda Maritime Radio talks each visiting vessel into the harbour. The entry to the harbour is also difficult if not treacherous, especially for newcomers, and especially when it is raining cats and dogs and visibility is reduced to not far beyond our own bow. As a number of boats from our rally and another concurrent rally ditched to Bermuda at the same time, we turned in circles in the harbour for a couple of hours to wait our turn at the Customs Dock. I had never been more relieved to tie up to a pier in my life. Checking in to Bermuda was easy, the staff was very cordial despite working late into the night because of this unexpected influx of boats. The funny thing was we were experiencing land legs for the first time. After days of rocking in the boat your inner ear becomes acclimated to the motion, but once you step ashore your ear makes the motion persist. The Customs staff laughed at us a bit as we filled out forms while holding tightly to the countertop to offset the swaying of our legs.

We ended up enjoying Bermuda for 8 days while we waited for weather and for a change of crew. My good pal Rob had taken three weeks off work for this voyage, and it became clear that there was no way he was gonna get back to work in time with the delays so I recruited another Toronto sailing pal to join us in Bermuda. The people in Bermuda were invariably kind and generous. The place is lovely, but as I mentioned it is expensive. Bermuda has to import almost everything and if you look it up on a map it's really off the beaten path. That said it has the highest GDP per capita in the world, and no income tax, so people seem to be able to afford $5 coffees and $10 sandwiches. I can't, and as much as I really enjoyed the place, we eventually had to shove off. This happened the morning of November 18th.

We were once again bound for Antigua, but like the first leg of the trip, the winds did not cooperate. We either had winds "straight on the nose" as we say in sailing, or no wind at all and had to fire up the diesel. Like the first trip it became clear that it would be very difficult to reach Antigua in time to get another crew member totally exhausted every vacation day he had saved up, so we altered course for St. Martin, which is 100 miles closer and a little easier to get to as the winds wanted us to go a bit more west anyhow.

This second leg was marked by a few noteworthy things. We caught a Mahi Mahi so large we named him Thor, and had Mahi for supper for days. We had visits by more pods of dolphins, this time with little baby dolphins somehow able to keep up with their parents and the boat, we experienced a blinding full moon at sea along with large bright moons for days on either side of the full one. We experienced phenomenon known to all sailors where if there are two boats within 10 miles of each other they will pass right beside each other. We saw three vessels on the second leg, and ship and two sailboats. The sailboats each passed within 300 yards of us - in the middle of the ocean.

The highlight of the trip - oh heck, the highlight of my year - was the pilot whale that breeched directly in from of the boat, so close that I couldn't see all of the whale, it was obscured by the bow of the boat. I had never seen a whale in the wild before, and to see one within 15 feet of the boat was awful exciting, as evidenced by my shrieking and waking of the other crew. They briefly didn't believe me until we spotted the rest of the pod blowing and breeching off our starboard stern.

Though we decided to make for the closer destination of St. Martin, we ran the boat out of fuel, and only had one 5 gallon can of diesel to make the last 120 miles or so. Of course there was no wind, so there was nothing to do but wait. We couldn't risk burning what diesel remained when we couldn't be sure when the winds would fill in again. We bobbed for a few hours while I worried about how we were never going to get my pal Dave on a plane in time for him to get off work. He had been communicating with his employer and had negotiated some extra time, but this was really stretching it. Finally, after a few hours of bobbing, the easterly trade winds we had been hoping for days showed up, and as though apologizing for being late, were very strong. We ran like a rocket the last 100 miles or so to the eastern tip of Anguilla, where exhausted, we decided to douse the sails and motor the last bit to Marigot Bay.

We anchored in Marigot Bay very early on the morning of November 27, 8-1/2 days after setting out from Bermuda. We'd had a heck on an adventure, and were very happy to have reach St. Martin. There was a little regret that we couldn't make Antigua, but in the morning when the sun rose we went for a swim off the boat in Marigot Bay and everything seemed pretty great.

So would I do it again? In a heartbeat, though I'd choose a heavier boat more suited to the conditions.

It's now nearly Christmas, my wife and I are learning to live on a boat in Paradise. This sounds silly I am sure but there really is a learning curve. It's easy to take though when you wake up anchored in places like Anse Marcel.

Thanks for reading.







You are a great writer! Thank you for your TR. ⛵️⚓️

Re: We’re back! [Re: sxmmartini] #178983
12/28/2018 02:36 PM
12/28/2018 02:36 PM
Joined: Jul 2007
Posts: 250
Tustin CA
d_fish Offline
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d_fish  Offline
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Joined: Jul 2007
Posts: 250
Tustin CA
Very much enjoyed reading your report! Look forward to another installment.

My husband and I plan on a similar life once we retire. Boat already purchased, now commuter cruisers until retirement.

Are you in Simpson Bay? Would love to hear what you've been up to there.

Re: We’re back! [Re: d_fish] #179089
12/29/2018 05:02 PM
12/29/2018 05:02 PM
Joined: Jan 2008
Posts: 410
Toronto, CANADA
Ritchard Offline OP
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Ritchard  Offline OP
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Joined: Jan 2008
Posts: 410
Toronto, CANADA
Originally Posted by d_fish
Very much enjoyed reading your report! Look forward to another installment.

My husband and I plan on a similar life once we retire. Boat already purchased, now commuter cruisers until retirement.

Are you in Simpson Bay? Would love to hear what you've been up to there.


Sorry, once I get going...

When we arrived we stayed in Marigot Bay for I think two nights, the first wasn't much of a night as we got the anchor down late, and there may have been some adult beverages after that. The following day, with land legs and minor headaches we did a couple of things. I got a Digicel SIM card, and we officially checked into the island. The Digicel SIM card is a great value, at least compared to Canada, 30GB of Data for 40Euro, and the card is good anywhere in the Caribbean, save for, ironically, Dutch St. Martin. My phone gets blazing signal on the other side of the mountains, but right now we are in the lagoon, and service is a bit hit or miss.

Checking into St. Martin presents you with a choice. You can go to the immigration office at the Simpson Bay bridge, where it is reputed to be rife with formality and various charges, or you can walk to Island Water World on the edge of Marigot and check in there. I had gone online to find out how to check in, and found that there is a pre-clearance site, where I could enter all of the boat and crew information, then upon completion it gives you a code so you can simply call up your file on the terminal once ashore. We got to Island Water World and I asked about the use of the computer - the nice clerk pointed me to it, then asked about the code. "Oh, we don't do that", she replied, in English better than mine. I went about entering all of the info once again, this time on a French layout keyboard. You never realize how much muscle memory is involved in typing until you use another language's keyboard. It took a very long time of hunting and pecking to fill out the info. At one point I asked Crewman Chris if it was okay if I simply allowed his name to be entered on the weird and frustrating keyboard as "Qsawd."

I finally got it done, printed the form, took it to the counter and another store clerk stamped, signed and dated it, and required $2 as a fee. The most wonderfully lackadaisical such official undertaking as I have ever experienced.

Once we were in the country, I wanted to take a slip in a marina for a couple of days to rest, get some maintenance done, fill tanks, wash the salt off the boat, all that stuff. A friend who lives on his boat at Porto Cupecoy arranged for a slip for a really fair price. Porto Cupecoy is really nice. We made good use of the facilities for the three days we wound up there. Such a pretty resort development. Having that lovely pool to swim in was glorious, and you can't beat having a mini Carrefour mere steps away from the dock. We at at a couple of the restos there, the one that stands out is "Mama" that has opened at Cupecoy after I gather switching from another location after the storm. Anyhow, Qsawd and I each had a pizza, and $16 each it was not just great value, but one of the beast pizzas I have ever had in my life.

From our brief home base at Cupecoy we started finding our way around the lagoon by dinghy. It's pretty fun to roar around on a little boat visiting the Chandleries and such, but basically it's about going the the St Martin Yacht Club for bloody Marys and lunches.

My budget only supports so many marina days per month so we had to get off the dock at Cupecoy and settle in elsewhere. The same friend that lives at Cupecoy has a couple of moorings in the lagoon, and has allowed us to use one while we're here. It's near the Causeway Bridge, just inside of French waters, in the lee of "the witch's tit" (a much more colourful name for "Mount Fortune"). This location is fairly safe and sheltered, and as it's kind of on the highway on the water we get to watch a lot of comings and goings. There's a daily tourist boat here called the Explorer, and we have become part of the tour. They briefly interrupt the non-stop Bob Marley for "There's Sayonara, a boat from Canada. Who here is from Canada?!? Yay!!"

I had been away from home since the end of August, so the first weekend of December I went home for an early Christmas to see my Mom and kids and friends but mostly my dog. It was nice to go home, but while I was gone, Qsawd stayed behind to keep an eye on the boat and have a bit of a vacation. While I am freezing my buns off in Canada making my visiting rounds, he's living the life of the yachtsman, posting endless pictures of beaches and bloody marys on Facebook. "Get off my boat - that's my life!" I didn't actually yell out loud.

I got back from Canada and didn't see the interloper on my return as he was on the same Westjet plane going north that we had taken south, so we were in different parts of the airport at the same time. He told me later that everyone on his flight wanted to be my friend as I had arranged with the the flight attendant to deliver a beer to him as a thank you from his friend Ritchard. Qsawd is a good guy.

My lovely wife came down with me on my return so that we could, as I said in the last chapter, commence learning how to live on a boat in paradise. Looking back on it now, I have to admit that a lot of it is real laziness. We get up and have our coffee and listen to the morning cruisers net on the VHF radio, maybe have breakfast, do a bit of chores, and figure out how we will spend our lazy day. It may be a trip to the beach, or grocery shopping, but it invariably involves quite a bit of reading and napping. Sand Gravity does not only apply to your time on land here.

A couple of weeks ago we had some friends visiting from Canada who had a brief layover before boarding a windjammer cruise. They suggested that we get together for drinks and dinner, near where they were staying at The Esmeralda. We rented a car and made a day of it. The first obligatory stop we had not yet made was Maho, where, we stopped at the Driftwood bar just in time to see the KLM flight come in overhead, and watch the same silly behaviour that has been endlessly amusing us for years now. We took the long way around thru Maho, Mullet, Cupecoy etc to Marigot, where I once again got a look at the destruction I had seen on our arrival. After a bit of time you grow a little more accustomed to the damage everywhere, and it ceases to shock so much. We got into the biggest traffic jam we had ever experienced on the island, making our way up the hill outside of Marigot on the way to Grand Case. The traffic was bumper to bumper that whole way and we were thankful that we had left ourselves plenty of time to explore before our dinner date. That traffic jam would have made the Don Valley Parkway in Toronto proud, and the cause of it, a minor road repair being carried out with island efficiency, would have made any Toronto road repair crew proud as well.

We finally got to Grand Case and parked in the public lot. Up close, the damage is still quite shocking. You can only imagine what it must have been like a year earlier. Since first arriving I had been a little pessimistic about the damage, unable to get my mind around how they could ever overcome such a devastating event. At Grand Case, my mind started to be changed. Sure there was damage, and plenty of it, but at the same time, some stuff was getting back to normal. The Lolos were in full swing nd the BBQ smell is amazing. As we walked down the main street we saw that about a half a dozen of the great restos were open for business, and a couple more were getting ready to open. After destruction, I realized, there is renewal. A terrible thing, but this town might actually come back better in two or three more years.

We found much the same in Orient - there was still so much damage in evidence, but like Grand Case there has been rebuilding underway. We passed La Plantation where we used to stay to see that it was in operation, and the Cafe Plantation was going to be serving dinner under a lovely canopy that had been installed. The village is battered, but coming back, Yellow Sub looks better than ever, Bikini is open, the Plaza is scarred but the fantastic restos are ready to serve.

The Beach itself was quite startling. It was not yet 4 in the afternoon, but the people there could be counted by dozens rather than hundreds or thousands. This coupled with the lack of buildings made the place seem so foreign. Still, we went for a nice long walk in the surf and it smelled and sounded the same, and brings back memories of so many fantastic days spent there. As we walk to each end we see that there is still more building going on, and a couple more of the beach clubs are either open or will be very soon (this of course is two weeks ago, so now it's Bikini, Waikiki and Kontiki?) All of the beach clubs look as thought the same renewal through disaster is going on here. A terrible blow, but things end up better than they were before.

My outlook on the place was changed entirely by that couple of hours of walking around, and I really have to give the people all kinds of respect for rebuilding business and lives. But I guess that's what people do, they get on with it. But this is a heck of a task, and I admire the guts it takes to carry on.

Oh, so the reason for the trip was drinks and dinner, and our friends treated their poor yachtie friends to drinks at L'astrolabe and dinner at le Piment. I had never had drinks at Esmeralda and what a lovely bar it is. The server knew who we were because our friends had mentioned we were coming the next day, so when we arrived we were quizzed about our trip and I felt like a sailor rock star telling the servers the same stories I did in chapter one above - though with more detail, vigorous hand gestures and sound effects in person.

Dinner at Le Piment was truly excellent. One of our friends grew up in the South of Italy and knows a thing or two about food. He thought that dinner at Le Piment was about as good a dinner as he had ever had. Of course, there had been a few drinks, and the ambiance is lovely and kind of exciting, and it has to be said that we were charming company, but still, this is quite a claim from a fellow that has seen a lot of good meals. We did have a lovely night and were thankful for the treat.

I was getting restless being located in the lagoon. It is convenient to be able to zoom around the lagoon for most of what you want to do, but I want to go swimming, so it was time for a road trip. We prepared the boat for travel - it's surprising how long it takes to square your stuff away after you have been living on the boat - and got ready to leave on the first bridge opening. Sadly the French side bridge is broken, so one has to go out the Dutch side right now - it is apparently going to take some weeks to get the French bridge repaired. What would normally be a quick trip ends up quite a few hours going out the Simpson Bay bridge and all the way around the west end of the island (yeah, I know, on my sailboat. first world problems). We got out the bridge and into Simpson Bay and it felt good to be on the move, even for what was only going to be a few hours. Our first stop was Grand Case, where we anchored in the bay. After squaring the boat away and admittedly another nap, we got ready to go into town to see what we could see this time, and have a delicious Lolo dinner. On our way in we passed by a Canadian boat and said Hi. I love the instant connection you have with boats from your own country. There aren't *that* many of us down here. We were instantly invited aboard for cocktails (see a theme here at all?) and snacks. A part of cruising that I have come to love so far is the friendships with the other yachties that are so easily made. We hung out chatting for a while and later went ashore as a group to the Lolos. Talk of the Town, Baby.

Well you know I love eating a meal of chicken and ribs and three sides, all washed down with a cold carib. We had a lovely dinner and more laughs before we went for another stroll down the street. At the far end of town we were enticed by the young fellow in the road into the LTC boutique hotel bar for one last beverage. "It is Paradise," we were promised. This place is lovely, and has excellent service. The guy from outside who promised us paradise, Riccardo, was not that committed to his job, it seems, as he joined us for drinks. I stood at the rail of the deck looking over the lit-up beach, listening to the waves wash ashore, and staring out at our own boat bobbing at anchor. That was one of many moments when I was struck with the knowledge that I was literally living the dream.

This is getting real long so I'll go faster.

In the morning I dinghied (sp?) out to Creole rock and went for a quick dive. I did my first scuba dive ever at creole rock with the dive guy at Le Flamboyant many years ago. Back then I should perhaps have been skeptical of being taught to dive in 10 minutes in French, but, whatever. It is a nice nostalgic feeling to go back there and look at the fishies. After the dive we went on to Anse Marcel. This may be the only trip in the world where it might be quicker to go by sailboat than car. We put down the anchor the afternoon of another glorious day. It was crazy to be in that big bay with only two other boats. Both of them seemed to belong to people that were working on repairing stuff in the area - so we were the only cruising boat in the bay. It's lovely there, though there's a crazy wind/swell/current effect that keeps spinning the boat around its anchor.

We hung out there for four days, getting our lazy on. I would wake up, walk straight to the transom and jump off the swim deck. What a way to start the day. We went ashore to hang out on the beach but I didn't actually get to the just-opened beach bar. While I am keen to support the local business, $22 for a pair of chairs seems real steep when I just want to have a couple of beers. We brought our own chairs and umbrella ashore and plonked ourselves down in the floury powder sand and read our books.

There was a bit of an incident as we left after our last beach day. As I walked the dinghy back into the water Kim hopped aboard and was settling in, then warns me to look out for the big wave! which lifts the boat up, throws her off balance, and slams her face into the outboard motor. I was certain she had broken her nose if not worse, and tried to figure out how to help as she's bleeding like a horror movie while I am trying not to lose the now full-of-water dinghy to the waves. I have to give her credit, she stayed calm while I helped as I could, made sure she was mostly okay (it looked terrible but there was nothing broken) we bailed the dinghy and got back to the boat so she could lie down and get some ice on her face. She ended up pretty bruised, still looking a bit black-eyed now a week later. This episode did teach us to adopt a new boarding method.

We finally ran short of fresh food and have to look at getting back to the Dutch side. We stopped in Marigot to have breakfast (Croissant Royale) go to the Super U. Kim felt fine but looked pretty terrible, I was having trouble walking to the store having cracked a bone in my foot on the same trip as the great outboard-to-the-face incident. That's how stuff goes for us.

Still wanting the ability to swim, we took a mooring in Simpson Bay on our return to the Dutch side. That pleasure only lasted for three days because it is so rough in that bay that you get seasick just sitting around. So on Dec 26th - after a great Christmas Day supper at Toppers where we laughed our asses off singing and watching others sing karaoke - we brought the boat back into the lagoon and got back to the mooring the boat had been on in the first week of December.

Now it's the 29th. We're hoping to go to Mama in Cupecoy this evening for dinner to celebrate our anniversary, but it has been blowing like heck-and-a-half for the last 24 hours and our dinghy may be too treacherous in the resulting waves.

So, it seems we're starting to learn how to live on a boat in Paradise. Sun, swimming, sundowners, Lagoonies Happy Hour, Yacht Club, Beach days, napping, reading, chores, Next up - traveling with friends to the next island to do more exploring. St. Barth's? Gudeloupe? Dominca? All three?


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Re: We’re back! [Re: Ritchard] #179156
12/30/2018 04:40 AM
12/30/2018 04:40 AM
Joined: Jun 2009
Posts: 3,552
Portland, OR
jazzgal Offline
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jazzgal  Offline
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Joined: Jun 2009
Posts: 3,552
Portland, OR
Really fabulous reports - love every word of them.


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Re: We’re back! [Re: Ritchard] #179162
12/30/2018 08:37 AM
12/30/2018 08:37 AM
Joined: Aug 2018
Posts: 41
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Airlegs Offline
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Airlegs  Offline
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Joined: Aug 2018
Posts: 41
Thank you so much for sharing your experiences! Enjoyed every word! Happy new year!

Re: We’re back! [Re: Ritchard] #179207
12/30/2018 06:28 PM
12/30/2018 06:28 PM
Joined: Jan 2008
Posts: 12,807
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
islandgem Offline
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islandgem  Offline
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Joined: Jan 2008
Posts: 12,807
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Thanks for sharing your adventures! I was travelling right along with you.💖



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