From the Mediterranean to the Caribbean

Catching Up

So much has transpired since my last post.

We arrived home from Italy mid-November.  To our delight and extreme indebtedness we found our property and home as if we had never left.  Our gardens were weed-free, our houseplants thriving, our home dusted and vacuumed, and our refrigerator provisioned with an assortment of fresh food including homemade salad, dressing, and curried butternut squash soup.  All, courtesy of Diana who wasn’t busy enough with her own life.

We had just enough time to catch up with some friends and we were on our way to Allison’s and Michael’s home for Thanksgiving.  Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday and doubly so, when family members from far away are able to come together.  We managed to have all the youngest members of our family make the trip to Michigan – Susan (California), Marilla and Mitch (Colorado), Brian, David and Brenna (Florida) – joining Allison, Mike, Riley and Tristan.  Margaret and Burt (Pennsylvania) and George and I represented the older generation.  It was a very special Thanksgiving.

Following Thanksgiving, Margaret and I spent very precious time with our oldest brother Tom. Sadly, our attempt to address his request to move to a long term care facility that would provide him with the support he needed was unsuccessful and Tom passed away less than 2 months later.  He joins, David, our youngest brother who passed away 10 years ago.  We will always love them, miss them and remember them.
David (Dave) Coughlin, left and Thomas (Tom) Coughlin, right

Life’s experiences include the highest, highs and the lowest, lows and we move forward – bringing both along with us.

Sailing in the Caribbean

Ice Floe arrived in St. Thomas the day after Thanksgiving and George flew down that same day to meet her and get her settled in at Crown Bay Marina, Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas.  Details of the experience having her shipped across the Atlantic Ocean by Sevenstar Yacht Transport and our past two months in the Virgin Islands may be topics for future posts, time and internet permitting.  This one will serve to catch you up to the present.  

Boats are hauled from the water, put aboard ship in cradles that are welded to the ship, and strapped down for the passage.

George flew back north several days later, having already swapped the loaner prop for our refurbished one, refitted Ice Floe’s cooking fuel from butane to propane, lowered the stove so we could fully open the cabinet above it, and installed the grill.

Duhkxy, (Nov 29) at exactly 8 weeks of age, on ride from Lancaster to his new home

He joined me at Margaret’s and Burt’s, who had driven me from Michigan to their home so we could visit Tom AND attend the Broadway smash hit “Hamilton”, then playing in Buffalo.  Margaret, Burt, George and I had seen it on Broadway and Margaret, and I could not miss this second opportunity.  Margaret’s friend Ruth joined us and we could not have had a crazier, more memorable, and fun time.

Next stop was Lancaster, Pennsylvania to pick up the most recent member of our family, Duhkxy (pronounced Ducksy).

After Duhkxy got the all clear from the veterinarian and we fulfilled all requirements to bring him to the US Virgin Islands, we flew back to Ice Floe on December 29.

Duhkxy – First full day on Ice Floe – No adjustment issues!
Duhkxy, Dec 23 on Ice Floe (Day 3) showing off his life jacket and rubber duck
Duhkxy, Dec 29 – master sailor

We spent our first several weeks in Crown Bay Marina putting the boat back in order (cleaning, putting sails back up, and installing a wind generator and water maker).  These, in combination with our solar panel have given us independence to anchor out as long as we want rather than needing to stay periodically in marinas.  The winds are so nearly constant, we are able to sail almost exclusively – we have hardly put a dent in our first tank of diesel.

To date, we have been visiting the Virgin Islands (US, St. Thomas, St. John, and St Croix; Spanish, Culebra, Cullebrita, Vieques and Puerto Rico).  The British Virgin Islands were off limits as Duhkxy is not old enough to have completed some of the requirements for a dog to visit.

Zoni Beach in Culebra

Marilyn came to join us for a bit over a week in February which we spent in the Spanish Virgin Islands.  George and I were visiting these islands for the first time, as well, so it was all new for all of us.  Through Marilyn’s eyes we remembered our first impressions of countries where poverty is prevalent, litter is heartbreaking, and waste management stretched beyond capacity.  In combination with the damage from the 2017 hurricanes, this paradise has been sorely challenged. 

Nonetheless, we had a wonderful time snorkeling off beaches (turtles!) and touring via golf cart in Culebra.
Touring Culebra by golf cart
Fornicating Iguanas interrupted while touring Culebra via golf cart
We spent a night anchoring off Vieques and kayaked that night in the most amazing bioluminescent bay (Mosquito Bay) you could imagine.  The bioluminescent dinoflagelates lit up to show every fish swimming by (and there were hundreds).  If you placed your hand in the water and drew it out, it was as if the Milky Way was in the palm of your hand.  Just amazing.

 We enjoyed some local dishes and relaxed on the boat.  Winds were relatively calm.
Marilyn ate everything on her plate (mostly)
Marilyn on Ice Floe
We rented a car to explore Puerto Rico.  First day out we visited the El Yunque Rainforest.
Bromelids in El Yunque Rain Forest
El Yunque Rainforest

Artfully cropped from this photo were some strikingly beautiful young girls in bikinis
who appeared to be posing for a portfolio.
View of San Juan from tower in the El Yunque Rainforest
We spent a long and interesting day in Old San Juan.
Sharing a carafe of Sangria with Marilyn (her favorite turned out to be Pina Coladas – George and I developed quite a fondness for them too!
Marilyn managing crowd control for Duhkxy’s adoring fans
Performance Art in Old San Juan

The festive umbrellas on this street on Forteleza Street in Old San Juan memorialize the recovery from Hurricane Maria
On our final day with Marilyn, we visited Ponce, a town that was described as a must see.  Unfortunately, we were not aware almost everything was closed on Mondays, the day we visited.  The boardwalk along the beach was also barricaded due to hurricane damage.  

Traveling and exploring some days are better than others – all part of the experience!  Marilyn took everything in stride – a perfect boat guest and friend.

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