LAHOWIND » Just you, me, + the dog.

One Year Later.

A few years ago, Jereme and I were sitting on the beach one beautiful Sunday afternoon, contemplating life and probably complaining about our jobs a little, when he turned to me and said, “what if we were to just quit our jobs to live on a sailboat in the Caribbean?” I literally laughed. Out loud. That’s quite the day dream, I thought.

One year ago today, we set sail on the adventure of a lifetime.

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^^This was just after Jer proposed on my birthday in Long Island, Bahamas! That’s our boat anchored behind us in Calabash Bay. What a year it has been!^^

One year. One boat. And countless memories made.

Honestly, this whole sailing idea kinda snuck up on us and stuck. We were both thirty at the time and part of the somewhat unfulfilled millennial generation (also known as Gen Y, but apparently “millennial” is way sexier). And honestly, we were no different than most. We stuck to the traditional course laid out for us…go to college, graduate, get a good job, etcetera etcetera. But after only ten years or so into the perpetual rat race, we veered off course. We decided to wake up and live while we’re still young.

79.8 years is simply not enough time.

Purposefully choosing a path less traveled and slowing down for a bit at this age is radical to many. No, we haven’t lost sight of where we want to go in life, and have quite a few lofty goals in mind for our future. We just chose to enjoy a little detour while we have the means and ability to do so.

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Although it feels like half a lifetime has passed since we untied our dock lines at the Naples City Dock and sailed out into the Gulf of Mexico headed for the Bahamas and beyond, it’s really been just one single year. Three hundred and sixty-five days of this floaty boaty island-hopping life.

It’s a bit unreal to think of how far we’ve actually come since that very first day as official cruisers aboard our lovely LAHO. I mean, I hate to admit this, but we had never even anchored. Not once. We had also never sailed with an actual “destination” in mind. Or tried living on the boat for any time at all. We just went.

(And no, we don’t think of ourselves as stupid or crazy.)

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Life aboard these past twelve months has been 90 percent amazing and 10 percent so-horrible-I-want-to-throw-in-the-towel-and-book-a-flight-back-home. But majority rules and we’ve persevered through those tough times.

Our first few months were spent cruising the Bahamas, some of the very best “beginner” cruising grounds in the world. I’m so glad we gained our sea legs there first. After leaving the Bahamas, we made our way to the Turks and Caicos, followed by the Dominican Republic, then onto Puerto Rico, and finally the U.S. and British Virgin Islands.

Along the way, we’ve snorkeled in the clearest turquoise blue waters I could ever imagine, found and harvested live conch, fed beach pigs in the Exumas, swam with stingrays in the Berry Islands and sea turtles in Culebra, hiked breathtaking waterfalls, motor-biked through sugarcane fields and gorgeous Dominican countryside, rode horses on the beach, met so many amazingly kind people, caught lots of delicious fish along the way, enjoyed some of the best sunsets of our lives, and have taken about a million photos and video to document it all! And all of this was from the comfort of our little floating home.

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But it hasn’t been all cocktails and dreams while living aboard. There have been plenty of insane boat projectslessons learned, and hard times too.

We almost crushed our cruising dreams on day two as official cruisers after we hit a crab pot while en route to the Florida Keys. We have also experienced our fair share of total meltdowns when everything feels like it is going awry on a big passage. And after retrieving a certain wet poodle on one too many occasions, we have definitely learned how to keep the dog from falling out of the dinghy on rides to shore. Somehow though, we have yet to master the fine art of keeping valuables high and dry. Too many items, including the dinghy itself, cell phones, sunglasses, beach towels, tools, and plenty of Oliver’s dog toys have been lost at sea (some recovered, others not) during the past year aboard.

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We have definitely learned a great deal about ourselves and one another.

Oh what an amazing, fulfilling year it has been! Happy one year to us!

I’m so so glad we didn’t quit that original day dream. xo.

KateMarch 21, 2015 - 1:33 am

Love, love, love this post. And I’m also so glad you didn’t quit! We’re in the same place – young, day jobs, bills and mortgage and car payments, but we’re about 2 years away from our Caribbean sailboat and island hopping, and I’m so excited for a simpler, slower lifestyle. Thanks for all your posts!

LAHOWINDMarch 21, 2015 - 4:39 am

Thanks so much Kate!!! Best of luck on your Caribbean escape. :) -Kim

AlyseMarch 21, 2015 - 2:35 pm

What amazing memories you two have created! I’m so glad that I found your blog when I did. You’ve given me the courage as well to say “hey I think I might like to do that” and then go for it! You are so inspiring to just LIVE life to it’s fullest.
Thanks for sharing your journey and gorgeous photos!
Happy Sailing guys!

NicoleMarch 22, 2015 - 2:12 am

How long do you plan to keep sailing for? I have loved following your blog. It is a nice distraction from work. We hope to be doing the same thing later this year or early next year at the latest.

BethMarch 22, 2015 - 1:59 pm

Simply exquisite everything. :) What a treat to tune in to your blog each day. :)

Kelley - Sailing ChanceMarch 22, 2015 - 6:23 pm

That picture of you on the palm tree is gorgeous!

jackieMarch 30, 2015 - 3:47 pm

I love your pictures! What camera do you use? Just stumbled upon your blog today…can’t wait to read every word.
Thanks for sharing!!!!

LAHOWINDMarch 30, 2015 - 4:13 pm

Thanks Jackie! Here’s a link to all my photo gear… http://lahowind.com/2014/08/01/photo-friday-take-a-peek-inside-my-camera-bag/ -Kim

Puerto Real-ities.

Oh you know, life wouldn’t be the least bit interesting if we weren’t greeted every so often with some kind of surprise boat project.

That is the life of a boat owner.

What makes life even more fun is when that surprise project turns out to be a pretty scary diesel fuel tank leak. Ugh. Fun times.

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After making our way back to Marina Pescaderia in Puerto Real, we pulled into their fuel dock to refill our tanks before taking a slip for a few days while we provisioned and waited on the perfect weather window to make the leap from Puerto Rico to the Bahamas. Our 55-gallon fuel tank was completely full when we tied up to our slip and continued on with our usual boat life business. It wasn’t until the next morning that we began smelling the dreaded and slightly nauseating diesel smell…and suspected the worst.

Sadly, our fears were confirmed when we removed our boat’s floorboards to peak inside the bilge and saw yellowy-green diesel fluid staring right back at us!

When your boat is slowly leaking 55 gallons of diesel, it is NOT a good thing folks. :(((

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The last thing we ever wanted to deal with on this trip was a fuel issue. But, hey that’s life I suppose and another notch in our boat owner belt.

Jereme immediately jumped into action and made a beeline to the marina for some recommendations on local companies that could pump out our fuel. We thought it would take a few hours (at a minimum) to get someone here to remove all of our diesel, but turns out one of the companies that is stationed out of the marina, Twin Electronics, had the necessary fuel pump equipment on premises. What are the odds of that? We are so lucky! Ten minutes later and we had the pump on the boat, a fuel barrel on the dock, our fuel tank open, and Jereme and the guys from Twin Electronics were pumping out all of our diesel.

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^^This definitely wins as my favorite photo from the project. Jereme and the dude from Twin Electronics dealing with the pump, plus our buddy + dock neighbor friend Liam just chilling in the background. Lol.^^
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With 400 lbs. of diesel off the boat, we now had the awesome job of removing our fuel tank, cleaning the bilge and any remaining diesel, and finding a welder to pressure test and repair our tank.

Jereme went to work removing all of the hoses, fittings, and the different parts and pieces connected to the tank, and we were able to gently weasel it out of the bilge with no issues at all. Luckily, our boat has a very accessible tank. We’ve heard horror stories of other boat designs (other Endeavours in particular) that require a total engine removal to access the fuel tank, or worse yet, having to literally cut a hole in the keel to remove the tank. Holy crap, can you imagine if we would’ve had to deal with that nonsense? Scary! (Thank goodness that was one of the key items we looked at when researching boats to buy way back when.)

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With the tank out and sitting in our living room, we both got to work cleaning the outside of the tank with industrial grade degreaser, along with scrubbing the bilge. After an hour or two, we were pleased with our cleaning job and carried the empty fuel tank off the boat. We couldn’t spot any obvious holes in the tank, and knew all along that a professional was needed to test the tank and repair whatever necessary.

Once again, our Puerto Rican friends here at the marina came to our rescue. Our buddy Milton served as middle man for us and contacted the very best welder in the area. Fifteen minutes later, that welder was waiting in the marina parking lot to pick up our tank, take it back to his shop, pressure test the tank and diagnose any weak areas, and make all necessary repairs.

Our fixed tank was returned the very next afternoon! Talk about efficient. Sheesh!

Two of the seams on the long side of the tank were heavily re-welded. Jereme and I brought the tank back on the boat, slipped it back down into it’s cozy spot in the bilge, and Jer got to work reattaching all the necessary hoses. The next morning, Twin Electronics wheeled the fuel pump back out to our boat and we pumped in all of our diesel.

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And guess what? We’re back up and running my friend. Just like that!

I still can’t even comprehend how this project went so insanely smooth. In Florida, I can only imagine that this sort of fuel leak issue would have taken weeks to rectify, and cost a ton more. We were petrified to think we might be sitting at the dock again for weeks on end repairing our tank. Fortunately, Puerto Rico is awesome (as we already knew) and everyone sprang into action to remedy our leaky situation, help us find the right people to fix the problem, and get us moving in less than three days total. Insane.

Luv ya PR!

>>Thanks for visiting LAHOWIND sailing blog! We’d love for you to get to know us and follow our story as we attempt to navigate a whole new world of sailing, as we cruise the Caribbean.

Deborah wrightMarch 19, 2015 - 11:52 am

Talk about good timing! That could have been a real mess, glad it worked out so easily. The hammock pic is great-I love the look on the workers face.
By the way, I have made a note that we need to add Puerto Real to our list of “must go”. Thanks for all the information. I’ve noted the cheap laundry and tasty doughnuts (you know, important details).
Deborah (SV Wrightaway)

BenMarch 19, 2015 - 1:27 pm

Did you ever find out how the leak happened?
Great blog by the way.

LAHOWINDMarch 19, 2015 - 5:08 pm

Thanks Ben! No, we don’t necessarily know “how” it happened, but the tank was leaking through some of the welds. -Kim

WillieSeptember 15, 2015 - 5:16 pm

Great advise to research fuel and maybe even water tank location before you buy – never thought of that.

Home Away From Home.

We’re back in our old stomping ground…Marina Pescaderia in the cute little fishing village of Puerto Real, Cabo Rojo!

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Coming back was seriously just like coming home. You know, kinda like when you drive all the way home to your parents’ house during random breaks from college and bring a car full of dirty laundry with you? Same thing here. Lol. We stockpiled what felt like at least 20 loads of dirts mcgirts since leaving St. Thomas, full well knowing that we would once again be able to take advantage of the really great $1 machines here at the marina.

Of course, it hasn’t been all about laundry though.

We pulled into the marina after our easy trip from Parguera, which was a wee bit different than our 300-mile slog all the way from the Dominican Republic that brought us to Puerto Real the first the around. When we arrived last week, there were plenty of hellos and hugs from friendly locals on the streets of town, tail wags and licks from the sweet marina dogs, and more than a few free Medallias handed out from all of our old friends at the marina! Quite the homecoming, if I do say so myself!

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This little welcome party definitely cemented my belief that sticking around Puerto Rico for hurricane season this past summer was one of the best decisions we made! (You can find some of my most favorite Puerto Real posts here, here, and here.) This quaint little fishing town really became part of us, and us part of it. So, needless to say, we were thrilled to stop here and reacquaint ourselves for a few days while we reprovisioned our pantry, refilled our propane tanks, and now while we wait for the perfect weather window to make the hefty leap from Puerto Rico all the way to the Bahamas.

And, of course, we couldn’t stop in Puerto Real without visiting a few of our favorites. Like, hello, the most amazing donuts ever from Mercado’s Bakery right down the road from Marina Pescaderia. You seriously cannot visit Puerto Real without enjoying one (or several) of this bakery’s delectable donas (that’s donuts in Spanish my friends). There’s also Claucamis Pizzeria right here in town that’s fantastic! And the house burgers at the marina restaurant are downright awesome!

We’ve also checked off a decent list of to-do’s and boat chores while tucked in our cozy slip. Laundry for one. A little random work on the boat. A bath for Oliver. Some battery maintenance. And we also borrowed a car from the marina and drove ourselves over to the propane facility (about 15 minutes away near Boqueron– take Route 307, km 5.8ish for anyone looking to find it) and then over to Ponce to hit up the Walmart Supermercado for a massive pre-Bahamas provisioning trip. We are hoping our current stash of goods will mostly get us through the islands of the Bahamas without needing much more of anything!

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While we’ve been hanging here for the past few days, we made a few new friends too!

Our dock slip neighbors might be the funniest and friendliest family of five that moved their entire bunch all the way from ALASKA!!! Kodiak, Alaska! Now, that’s one helluva lifestyle change! We were more than happy to partake in their fun boat renaming ceremony the other day here at the marina! And have thoroughly enjoyed reading their blog after exchanging boat cards with this great fam. PS –  This old post, a letter written from the perspective of their adopted Puerto Rican sato (street dog) Maya (who they found at Kmart in Mayaguez, PR), seriously made my week. Read it. You’re welcome. :)))

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Back to Puerto Real. It really is pretty darn great here.

We unfortunately (or fortunately depending on how you look at it and the insane timing) also sprang a leak in our diesel fuel tank right after we rolled into town. I know, just what we needed. Ugh. But Puerto Rico freaking rocks for helpfulness and inexpensive boat work. We have since removed, cleaned, and fixed our tank and she is running like new! …More on that fun little surprise project in a later post.

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Otherwise, we’ve just been soaking up our time in this charming town, knowing that it will most likely be a long long time before we see Puerto Real in person again. If you ever find yourself cruising the coast of Puerto Rico, this is a place you definitely want to stop.

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Some of the sunsets we’ve seen lately while sitting pretty in Puerto Real have been out of this world!!!

>>Thanks for visiting LAHOWIND sailing blog! We’d love for you to get to know us and follow our story as we attempt to navigate a whole new world of sailing, as we cruise the Caribbean.

JordanMarch 18, 2015 - 2:12 pm

Beautiful pics! It looks like everyone is having a great time – especially the furry friends! Thanks for sharing.

[…] making our way back to Marina Pescaderia in Puerto Real, we pulled into their fuel dock to refill our tanks before taking a slip for a few […]

Tuesday Tell-Tales.

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A certain cute gray poodlepants is definitely excited to be back living the good ol’ “marina life” here in Puerto Real! Almost as excited as Jer and I were to take “real” showers and do a couple loads of cheap laundry. Lol.

Although Oliver’s thrilled to be back in Puerto Real at his favorite marina, he’s not totally pleased with the fact that we’ve restricted his land access here. We definitely do NOT want a repeat performance of what happened last time so we are taking all necessary precautions. We’re still a little too freaked out to allow him past the dock gate and into the tick-filled jungle that lies beyond and, as such, Oliver’s been having a bit of a hard time adjusting to “going” within the confines of this concrete marina. A day or two longer, and he will be right back in the swing of things!

Anyhoo, Happy St. Patty’s Day guys! How’s everyone celebrating today??? We’ve got nothing crazy planned, and something tells me St. Patrick’s Day isn’t huge in Puerto Rico. Maybe I’m wrong…we shall see!

So we thought we’d be taking off for the Bahamas today, but the weather is kinda funky. We’re getting waves from the north which is a little unusual for this area. They should be coming more from the east so we are going to go ahead and wait a few days longer for something a little more ideal.

Oh oh oh!!! Can I please tell you that everyone’s sweet comments here on the blog and over on Facebook when we posted our little “turnaround” notice made us feel so so great! Seriously. You guys are the best. xxoo

Um, okay so this is weird. Last Friday, buzzfeed published this article about the movie Troop Beverly Hills. You know, just two days after my own Troop Beverly Hills blog rant? Coincidence or not? I wonder. Lol. ;))

Anyways, Happy St. Patty’s Day!

>>Thanks for visiting LAHOWIND sailing blog! We’d love for you to get to know us and follow our story as we attempt to navigate a whole new world of sailing, as we cruise the Caribbean.

Dolphin Daze + Breezy Nights.

Another day, another awesome down wind sail, and an equally as amazing dolphin sighting!

Let’s get this out there right now. Downwind sailing is really where it’s at. Following seas and gusty 20ish or more knots of wind filling our head sail is definitely a-okay by me. Seriously, I’m loving this sailboat surfy thing we’ve got going on as of late.

Now that we’ve turned around and are sailing back west, it’s back to making miles and sailing on the regular. And it’s a helluva lot easier to have the wind and waves behind us, instead of beating into them like we did for the past twelve months! So far, we’ve speed raced our way from St. Thomas to Culebra, on to Vieques, and then over Salinas.

And all of ^^that^^ took no crazy passages or special weather considerations really at all.

After leaving Salinas last week, we made the 48-mile trek west to Parguera with 25-knot winds and six-foot waves. Thankfully, it was yet another perfect day for downwind sailing! The icing on the cake was the fun little pod of dolphin who came to say hi just off the coast of Parguera!

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These playful dolphin surfed the waves all around us, rolled in our wake, and even showed off a little by leaping several feet into the air on a handful of occasions! Seeing them never gets old, I tell ya!

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And isn’t it funny that our only dolphin sightings in the Caribbean have occurred coming into or leaving Cayo Enriquee (Parguera)? I mean, there’s gotta be dolphin hanging out in other places, don’t ya think? Our first Caribbean dolphin encounter (way back in November) was in this exact same pretty little spot! …We had such an amazing time that first trip here, so we picked it once again for a quick overnight pitstop on our route back west towards Puerto Real, Cabo Rojo.

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Unfortunately, the extra breezy forecast this time around made for not quite as ideal of an anchorage as it was the first time.

Now, windy conditions at anchor are one thing, but having to launch your dinghy with 30-knot gusts in your face is another ballgame altogether. With a few colorful choice words exchanged, Jer and I very tensely launched our dink (which was stowed on deck for the passage), and were second guessing our choice of anchorage like no other.

It gets a little crazy around here when a 150lb. dinghy (that’s a guesstimate btw) is dangling by a halyard and you are desperately trying to lower it into the water without damaging anything or hurting yourself. You cruisers know what I’m talking about. ;))

As usual, the dinghy was successfully launched and we were off motoring Oliver to the tiny coral island nearby just before sunset.

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Turns out, the howling winds kept Jer and I on edge all night and I’m pretty certain neither of us enjoyed a good night’s sleep. We each kept a device within arms reach (me taking the iPad and Jer the cell phone) so we could quickly and easily monitor our position during the night.

We had taken one of the Department of Natural Resources mooring balls and had arrived a little too late to dive or check the mooring lines. In this particular anchorage, the conditions are not really ideal for anchoring with respect to water depths and proximity to extremely shallow areas/land. It basically goes from 60 feet deep to 10 feet deep (where the balls are) so your choice is to either anchor in 60 feet of water or pick up a mooring. We chose the latter.

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^^A super up close screenshot of our recorded track throughout the night. I must’ve turned on the iPad a minimum of 25 times that night just to make sure that little sailboat icon wasn’t shooting off towards the side. PS – I think we must’ve had a satellite switch and hence the weird random line jutting out.^^

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^^And zoomed out on our Garmin app. Clearly, our mooring held firm.^^

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^^Even though it was breezy, this spot gave us one heck of a sunset!^^

After an uneventful, yet semi-sleepless night, we set sail early the next morning for Puerto Real, Cabo Rojo our home away from home! You might remember, we spent a good three months waiting out hurricane season here. :))

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>>Thanks for visiting LAHOWIND sailing blog! We’d love for you to get to know us and follow our story as we attempt to navigate a whole new world of sailing, as we cruise the Caribbean.

Lisa YoungMarch 16, 2015 - 1:26 pm

The pictures are amazing!!!!!!!!!!!

Janet DormanMarch 17, 2015 - 1:57 am

Love your blog! I’ve been following it since last year when I read about you in the Fort Myers News Press!

LAHOWINDMarch 17, 2015 - 2:06 am

Wow, thanks so much Janet!!! :) -Kim

Scott ans SheriMarch 17, 2015 - 4:56 pm

Love reading along, and your pics are excellent. I was just kind of reading your “tone” during this passage and you guys are starting to sound like old salts! Listen to you, 25 knot winds and 6 foot seas and “it’s a-ok by me” I love it, this is a bit of a different tune than you were singing on your first few voyages. You guys are getting good at this! Awesome.

LAHOWINDMarch 17, 2015 - 6:16 pm

Thanks Scott and Sheri! We only sound more legit because we are sailing DOWNWIND! And it’s way easier. Don’t let my tone fool you. Lol. :) -Kim

[…] pulled into the marina after our easy trip from Parguera, which was a wee bit different than our 300-mile slog all the way from the Dominican Republic that […]