Wednesday, April 20, 2016

A Moment of Reflection

We have lived aboard Atalanta, our Little Harbor 44, since the summer of 2013.  We are about to enter our third year and want to share a few reflections about our “lifestyle” experience.  We have a safe and seaworthy boat capable of cruising the ocean,  a body of  specific knowledge (seamanship, weather, basic first aid, navigation, etc.) and a partner to share it all with.
We have visited over fifty island and mainland countries, explored places we had never heard of, and met so many amazing people, natives and travelers alike.  Our particular (or some would say peculiar) way of travel enables us to discover places and people in a most special, unique way that is fundamentally different than the experience derived from a week at an all-inclusive resort or via cruise ship. 
Each island and each country has a unique history and culture waiting to be investigated. Guid books, internet sites, tourists and locals all help us to learn as much as we can.  Upon our arrival to a new country we usually have three missions: First, we have to negotiate our way through the customs and immigration process and pay the appropriate fees.  Next we must figure out how to acquire the goods and services we need including propane, food, diesel fuel, boat parts, etc.  The process of finding such items can be simple and familiar or challenging and a bit out of our comfort zone.  A different currency, different language, unusual forms of transportation and unfamiliar items can conspire to turn a trip to the market into an adventure. Finally, we explore. Most often we take the dinghy to shore and then walk.  And then walk further.  And walk some more.  We have worn out many pairs of shoes and sandals. Taxis, buses, rental cars, bicycles and scooters have provided our feet with some relief.

While the cruising life usually feels like a dream, it is grounded in a few realities that cannot be viewed as benefits.  First and foremost is the maintenance of the boat.  Boats require constant attention to remain safe, seaworthy and comfortable. Since many of the places we visit are not equipped to serve the yachting public, we have learned how to do much of the repair and maintenance work ourselves.  Every nook and cranny in Atlanta is crammed with spare parts and we have learned much about the repair of diesel engines, electrical and plumbing systems, sails and rigging.

Another challenge for us is passage-making which is defined as a cruise that extends for more than a day nonstop.  We have not talked to many sailors who claim to actually enjoy multi-night trips. The first three are the hardest because we have not yet adjusted to the rhythm of 3-4 hour watches.  One of us is always awake and at the helm, night or day.  We often feel “out of sorts” if not a bit seasick, preparing and eating food is challenging if the seas are rough, and so is sleeping when the boat is tossing.  Often passage-making is necessary given the distances we travel and the speed (or lack there of) of the boat.

While we would not trade a minute of the time we have spent traveling aboard Atalanta, we are feeling the call of family and land.  Children, grandchildren, and family members are deeply missed. We are spending more and more time discussing what the future looks like for us. Will we own a home?  Where will we keep Atalanta?  What new adventures are in store for us?

Pic from the Past Three Years

Richard, Richard, Anne, Toy, Kay, and Martin
Newport, RI
Bristol, RI

East River
St. Michaels,


Jason and Mom

Kay West

John as Statue
Key West

Ek Balam Mayan Ruins

Barbara with the Gang
El Milagro, Mexico

Hanging out at Oscars
Isla Mujeres

Merida, Mexico

At the Isla Animal Shelter

Conrad and Greg
Isla Mujeres

Talum, Mexico

Dingy Concert


Add caption

Suzy and Kay at a Hash

Tara in San Juan, PR

Jaz and Poetry Night



Gerta in Trinidad



SOCA in Grenada


The Gang in Grenada

Grenada Carnival

St. Martin

On the Maroni River
Suriname-Fr. Guyana Boarder
Rika and Noel
Waterland, Suriname

Kay and Dennis
St. Martin

Steve: Our Guide

St. Lucia

St. Kitts



Thursday, April 14, 2016

Isla Mujeres to Puerto Morelos, Mexico

Mexico continues to be a most pleasant surprise.  Our expectations were not especially high prior to arriving.  Not sure why, perhaps the conversations in the sailing community regarding safety and security problems, perhaps just the image that one forms over time based on misinformation or no information at all.  Instead, we found was one of the most magnificent places we have visited. 
When we landed in Isla Mujeres, we docked at El Milagro Marina  The entire marina staff and the other boat owners on the dock came out to help us in.  We planned to stay for 4 or 5 days but we left 45 days later.  Many of our Isla tales have already been posted but we recognize that we found a place that we will want to return to for years to come.

In the Square of Puerto Moreles

During our final week on Isla Mujeres Conrad, our good friend from Arizona, joined us aboard.  His near fluent Spanish was a wonderful addition to our being able to negotiate the landscape.  We left Isla mid- March and sailed south along the “Mayan Riviera” to Puerto Morelos. 
Pastor being prepared in Isla Mujeres
Puerto Morelos is south of Cancun, small and less touristy.  It's main plaza comes alive with activity after the sun sets and the temperatures cool.  Around the square are bookstores, restuarants, bars and an assortment of vendors.  We have found a number of “hole in the wall” establishments that cook some of the best Mexican cuisine imaginable.  Like most places we have been in the Yucatan, people are nothing but friendly and inviting.  Our Spanish vocabulary is slowly increasing and we courageously make attempts  to communicate using as little English as possible.

Ruins at Talum
We ventured to Tulum to visit another Mayan ruin.  This one was of particular interest as it was a port in the 15th century.  A walled Mayan community, it included homes and temples overlooking the Yucatan Channel.  With a bay and beaches protected by a sizable reef, it provided a point of ingress and egress.  While this was good for trade, it also created a vulnerability as the Spanish colonized this part of Latin America.

Our final outing was a car trip to Playa De Carmen, the third largest city on the Yucatan boasting a developed shoreline (mucho resorts) with a pedestrian walk over a mile long.  Here tourists congregate to shop, drink, eat, enjoy the beach, and shop some more.  Interesting to see, but not really our cup of tea.
Lunch on the beach at Akumal

On Saturday, we'll move to Cozumel where we anticipate good diving and snorkeling.  As usual our plans aren't made well in advance, so we're not sure where or when we'll move from there.

Richard and Kay

A few additional Pics

Best tacos ever

Anne, Tony and Conrad