Charlotte Amalie, Lit Up

Monday February 23, 2015

Charlotte Amalie at night

I love the sunsets here in Charlotte Amalie.  They truly are something special.  They always feature every color from the oranges and yellows to the pinks, purples, and blues. The sky is only part of the show though.  Just while the sky is getting dark, all the lights of Charlotte Amalie begin to flicker on.

The harbor is surrounded by small hills, and slowly they begin to light up as all the homes, hotels, and restaurants prepare for the night.  At the other end of the harbor, the mega yachts illuminate themselves and the waters around them.  It’s an extremely beautiful anchorage to be in once the sun goes down.  Possibly one of the best we’ve seen yet.

I can’t say I’ve missed a single night yet sitting out on deck with a gin and tonic in my hands and the sun goes down and the lights come on.  Tomorrow, though, will be a different story.

For tomorrow we begin our direct passage back to Florida.  Approximately 1,000 nautical miles, traveling on the far east ends of Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, eventually tucking in to the Northwest Providence Channel in the Bahamas and making landfall again in West Palm Beach.  We’re hoping this will only take us 10 days, but based on some light wind passages we’ve had in the past we’re also preparing ourselves for two weeks just in case.

So we are officially leaving the Caribbean until we can return again on our new aluminum boat.  Catch you on the flip side you amazing islands!

Charlotte Amalie at night

Charlotte Amalie harbor at night

Charlotte Amalie harbor at night

Charlotte Amalie harbor at night

Charlotte Amalie harbor at night

Charlotte Amalie harbor at night

Charlotte Amalie harbor at night

Charlotte Amalie harbor at night

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In Search of Sunset

Sunday October 5, 2014

Funchal harbor at sunset

If I thought the fates had been aligning against us for what I still consider one of our worst overall passages ever, it turns out they were actually aligning for us to bring us to the most wonderful place in the world. Seriously, we have been in love with Madeira ever since we spotted it’s little hillside villages and elegant bridges spanning across the many valleys. The love continued once we stepped foot on land yesterday to take a walk though the high end and completely picturesque town of Funchal. The sidewalks are still paved with little black and white stones depicting beautiful designs, and the buildings, statues, heck, even the city bank, are perfectly maintained and sharp, but still hold an old world charm. Hard to explain, but just trust me when I say the whole area is gorgeous.

Tonight I took a chance to explore it a little more myself when I accepted a challenge from Jennifer over at Three Sheets Sailing for Share a Sunset on Sunday. Ok, so it wasn’t so much a challenge as a group invitation for cruisers all over the world, but it was my own personal challenge to find the most beautiful spot in the city to watch the sunset from and capture that moment.

What Jennifer had put together on her Facebook page was a really cool and unique opportunity for us who travel the globe to remember that no matter how far apart we may be at times, we’re all watching the same sun set in the sky every night. Starting out in the South Pacific, those who had first exposure to that day’s sunset would post a photo of it on this page along with the location. Then as the world continued to turn and others watched day turn into dusk, they would put up their photos. An extremely cool idea that I hope carries on.

Grabbing my camera and leaving Matt back on the boat, I set off for the hills, determined to find a nice spot on a hill that would overlook the city and the harbor as the sun was setting on it. Even though we’d done a little wandering the past few days I found myself in areas of the city we hadn’t passed through yet and were definitely missing out on. The old city with all of it’s character and bistros, and a pizza place that smelled absolutely heavenly. I walked up the hillside past a church holding a celebration, and through balconies glancing down at natural Atlantic pools.

Needless to say, I got a lot more out of this challenge than just finding a pretty picture to put up online. I discovered parts of a city that I keep falling in love with more every day. Watch out Cuba, I might just have a new favorite island. Oh, and the part of global togetherness was pretty cool too.

stone beach in Madeira

sunset in Madeira

sunset in Madeira

Funchal at sunset

sunset over Funchal

Madeira at dusk

Funchal, Madeira, at night

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A Sunset over Ponta Delgada

Thursday September 18, 2014

9.18.14

I have an embarrassing admission to make. With all my love for photography, I pretty much know nothing about Pinterest. Sure I’ve heard the name thrown around a million and one times, but since it’s popularity mostly came up while we’ve been cruising and a lack of Internet at most points keeps me from doing anything besides updating the blog and trying to keep in touch with my friends, learning anything about it kind of fell by the wayside. That was until we were in Horta, and upon finding out that we’d be visiting the island of Sao Miguel, I started to do a little research on it. Research meaning that I typed the name into a Google search engine and immediately clicked on the Images link.

While scrolling through the gorgeous photos of Ponta Delgada, I stumbled upon (Stumble Upon….hmmmm, another media source I know nothing about) a link to someone’s Pinterest page of the Azores, and in there was a breathtaking photo of the sun setting over the marina in Ponta Delgada. Right where we’re sitting now. I vowed to myself that once we arrived, I too would capture anything as close as I could to this photo.

It’s hard to believe that we’ve been here almost two weeks already, and I’m not lying when I say that just about every night I’ve looked out the window to see if I’d be able to capture my beautiful sunset, only to be met with gray skies and gloom. I had an opportunity one of our first nights here, but of course I thought I had all the time in the world for this and that idea went out the window when I discovered I could purchase a 3L box of wine for 3,50€. Sitting with a constantly full glass of wine and a good book was a much more entertaining way to spend the night at the time.

But ever since then I’ve been looking at my hypothetical watch and thinking to myself, as soon as these clouds clear up it probably means there’s a weather window to get out of here and we’ll be using it. I need to grasp at any kind of sunset I can get. And lo and behold, after days and days of cloud cover, it finally decided to peak out just long enough for me to run up to the large amphiteather area next to the marina and sit in awe for the next 30 minutes as I watched the sky go from blue to orange to pink and then finally black.

I’m not sure if what I got was as good as the original photo that brought me to this spot, but since I can’t seem to choose just one of my own anyway, I’ll leave you with a little time lapse of my sunset over Ponta Delgada.

9.18.14 (1)

9.18.14 (2)

9.18.14 (3)

9.18.14 (4)

9.18.14 (5)

9.18.14 (6)

9.18.14 (7)

9.18.14 (8)

9.18.14 (9)

9.18.14 (10)

9.18.14 (11)

*I’ve finally gotten into the swing of things and started my own Pinterest page! Make sure to follow along where I’ve been starting boards with images of our trip thus far.

 

 

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Pizza and a Sunset

Thursday January 23, 2014

Elmilagro Marina Isla Mujeres

There still isn’t much to update here in Isla Mujeres.  We keep looking for a weather window to get ourselves to Florida, and they keep disappearing as soon as we get hope that there’s something on the horizon.  We’ve actually been spending a lot of time on the boat, really enjoying ourselves here now that we have a fast internet connection.  Couple that with the sun keeping our batteries pretty full lately, and we’ve been electronic maniacs for the past few days.  Tool around on the internet in the morning, read a book and catch some rays on deck in the afternoon, prepare a tasty meal and enjoy in while watching a movie at night, and then maybe a little more internet time before hitting the sack at night.

Tonight I decided that we needed to get off the boat to finally do something more than grocery shopping.  Matt suggested we try one of the pizzas over at Marina Paraiso.  Luki and Elmari had told us the portions are very big, along with the pizza itself being really good.  Plus, since we land our dinghy there every 2-3 days and haven’t actually given them any business since having lunch with Lee and Amanda about 10 days ago, we figured they were due some of our cash.

The nights here have been getting a little bit cooler, enough for me to start nagging Matt that I need to pull out the down comforter that had just been stored away when we were leaving Guatemala.  Donning long pants and t-shirts, we went to the open air bar/restaurant, and put our orders in for pizza and beer.  While glancing back and forth at the many tv screens playing various sporting events, the wind was still kicking up and making it a very chilly evening.  As soon as the pizza was set in front of us we quickly picked up the piping hot pieces to keep our hands warm, but couldn’t seem to stick around any longer than when we’d had our fill.  As Matt was paying the tab and getting the remaining, truly generous portions, boxed up, I snuck away to the docks to get in some photos of that night’s sunset.

Matt kind of likes to mock me each time I run out with my camera to do this, but really, do amazing sunsets ever get old?

Sol

sunset at Marina Paraiso

Sunset at Maraina Paraiso

Sunset Marina Paraiso

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Sunsets on the Rio

Wednesday November 27, 2013

Serendipity, sunset, anchor

There hasn’t been much going on here on the ‘Dip since we’ve been on anchor.  Ever since our trip on Lago Izabal on Sunday, we’ve just been hanging around the boat and enjoying the fact that we’re at anchor again, falling back into a relaxed pace of life.  All projects have basically stopped and we’ve been filling our days with reading and evenings with a cold beer in hand as we watch spectacular sunsets.  Ok, maybe that last part is just me.  I still can never get Matt to enjoy a beer, but he sits there all the same, enjoying the views with a Pepsi in his hand instead.

The only semi-interesting thing that’s been going on here is that ever since our watermaker went through it’s flush cycle after our first night at anchor, I’ve gone into complete water conservation mode.  Matt says we shouldn’t run the watermaker while in the river since the water here is contaminated enough that it would clog the filter and cause too many chances to destroy the membrane.  Since our forecast has now changed and we truly have no idea when we’ll get back out into the great big blue, I’ve been trying to preserve every necessary drop.

Before, we had the luxury to take full showers in the cockpit, using the water for pre, mid, and final rinse.  Now, I’m enforcing a decree that all bathing must be done with river water, and yes you can use fresh water for a final rinse, but by god it better take less than 20 seconds.  Before, all dishes were done in the sink where a hefty amount of water was applied to the pre-rise, getting all those sticky or dried on bits of food removed from the plate. (We no longer have a hot water heater, read back to this post to find out why)  Now, all dishes, utensils, and anything else that needs a cleaning is dragged out on deck where I drag one of our 10 gallon buckets through the water and do a pre-wash  with last week’s sponge.  Then I can bring the dishes back to the sink, suds them up, and give them a few dribbles of fresh water.

Even with all this water hoarding, I was afraid we’d run out before we could get back into the Gulf of Honduras to replenish ourselves.  So whenever it’s possible now, we’ve turned to catching rain water.  We honestly have no kind of fancy set up for this.  We just wait for the rain to start pouring down, open one of our deck based tank filling areas, and set up a dam just behind it with a towel so that water can no longer rush from the bow to the stern, but instead builds up flows into the opening.  I don’t think we’ve been catching enough to sustain ourselves, but it’s enough that I don’t feel bad about sneaking a few cups of water a day for coffee.

It’s funny, back in the Bahamas I used to chuckle at my friend Stephanie for the way she would conserve water, doing all the steps I’ve listed above, and even a few more, since there’s not a water maker onboard their boat and they don’t enjoy constantly lugging water.  Now, I can completely relate.  I feel you Steph, it is not easy trying to manage a boat without a constant water supply coming in!

So that has been our week thus far.  Time for me to sign out though, the sun is just starting to go down, and I think a Bravah and a seat in the cockpit are calling my name.

sunset on Rio Dulce bridge

sunset over Tortugal Marina, Rio Dulce Guatemala

 

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View from the Bridge

Thursday November 7, 2013

11.7.13

One of the most distinguishing things about Rio Dulce is the large bridge at the edge of town that crosses over the river.  It’s long and fairly high, I think just over 70 feet at the center, and has a nice little arch that actually makes it quite pretty instead of something plain and boring.  It’s so dominant in anyone’s mind that has been there that you could show a photo to a person that only captures the bridge and the water, and it wouldn’t take them two seconds to reply “Oh, that’s Rio Dulce!”.

One other thing about this bridge that is very noticeable is how many locals will sit at the top of it and sometimes spend hours watching the world pass below them.  It’s not uncommon to see 2-3 cars or tuk-tuks pulled off to the side, even though there is no shoulder and everyone must now move around them, as they enjoy their lunch, dinner, or just a cold beer with the views that surround them from the top.  Although we’ve gone over this bridge a few times on buses we’ve only been able to get a quick glimpse of what made it so special before we were already at the other side.  We, actually meaning Elmari and I, decided this needed to change.

One afternoon when all of us had finished our boat projects for the day and we were now entering the golden hour just before sunset, we dragged our men along as we all piled into t/t Skebenga and motored over to the local marina where everyone leaves their dinghies, before hitting the main street and turning left to get to the bridge instead of going right towards town.  Walking up the incline, we stopped ourselves at the center and were shown why it was such a popular place for the locals.  The views were genuinely beautiful, and the sun making it’s descent made it even more so.  Having packed a very small cooler, I offered everyone a beer and we stood there, among young lovers and families with small children, and took it all the splendor around us.  I’m just sad it took us four months to do so.

bridge in Rio Dulce

 

Backpackers Hostel, Rio Dulce, Guatemala

Elmari and Matt on bridge, Rio Dulce, Guatemala

passenger truck, Rio Dulce, Guatemala

view from bridge, Rio Dulce, Guatemala

birds flying under bridge, Rio Dulce, Guatemala

sun sets behind power lines, Rio Dulce, Guatemala

main street, Rio Dulce, Guatemala

dinghy dock at Bruno's, Rio Dulce, Guatemala

 When the four of us arrived back to the marina we found out that we had enjoyed out time atop the bridge so much that we were running late for the dinner club!  It only took us a few moments to gather necessary items off our boat and were soon enjoying great food with great company.  I love this arrangement.  I have no idea what’s going to happen when we leave here.  It will be back to orange spaghetti and cans of soup.  I think I have picked up a few things from the great chefs at our table though, and I hope they stick once we’re left to our own devices again.

And as usual, our night wasn’t complete without a visit from a dog that lives across the bay and occasionally likes to trot over for scraps or to lick our plates clean.  He’s gone though a few names since we’ve ‘adopted’ him at the ranchito, but for now we just call him Foxy, due to his foxy looking appearance.  Matt is actually so smitten with him that part of me thinks we might have a new dog aboard once we leave Guatemala.

flan by Luis

Luis made us flan!

Elmari talking to a marina guest

Foxy coming to visit

Foxy, our soon to be skebenga’ed dog.

after dinner cigars

Enjoying an after dinner cigar.

Ana Bianca and Luis Ana Bianca and Luis

 

 

 

 

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