Puerto Rico South Shore

There are many ways cruisers can run the south shore of Puerto Rico and  that is because, along the 92 nm coast, there are so many places to anchor, explore and dock! The south shore of Puerto Rico is a great section of the “Thorny Path.” You feel as if you have finally made it, and you have! You have made it to the Caribbean Sea once you round Cabo Rojo on the SW corner of Puerto Rico. The run we made this second time was similar to our last run in 2017, but we pushed a little harder as our destination is St. Thomas. Take a look at the run we made via this graphic and you will see the many challenges due to the consistent easterly tradewinds during the day time.

Running the South Shore of Puerto Rico

Katabatic Winds and Diurnal Wind Patterns

Puerto Rico is such a large island that it creates its own wind pattern and in doing so, it overpowers the east tradewinds. The island heats up during the day and then cools down at night. During this cooling the winds downdraft off the mountains and flow out to sea. This downdraft pushes the East tradewinds to the southeast and slows them down. These slower trades will be 5-10 knots, maybe 15 knots from the southeast. When the island heats up, the katabatic winds stop down-drafting and the tradewinds take over again blowing from the east 15-20 knots. The well-known solution to moving east into these trades is to run between 0300 to 0900 when the winds are most calm. Then by 0900, you need to turn into shore and anchor, waiting for the next day. Look at this picture of us pushing into the calmer katabatic winds as we rounded Cabo Rojo entering the Caribbean Sea.

Pushing east into the calm AM winds. Welcome to the Caribbean Sea

Here is our happy selfie at this SW corner of Puerto Rico. This is a big deal. We have been running from Annapolis, MD, 1,000 nm down the coast, and then 1,300 nm to here and we finally reached the Caribbean Sea! THIS is a point to celebrate. A lifetime goal accomplished, not once, but twice!

TAKE YOUR  OWN PHOTO HERE!

Hayden and Radeen reach the Caribbean Sea for the second time at Cabo Rojo!
Cabo Rojo, the lighthouse on the SW corner of Puerto Rico. The North Atlantic meets the Caribbean Sea at this corner!

Stops along the way

With the knowledge of katabatic winds and moving just 3 to 6 hours each day, the next question is:  Where do I stop? We have enjoyed some of the logical places.

La Parguera:
This is the place where you can first swim near the mangroves in the state park at Caracoles and play on a beautiful sand bar. If lucky, you can take the dinghy to one of the 5 famous bays in the world to look for the bioluminescence.  We were unable to see it in 2017 because of high winds and we were unable to go this year due to pouring rain. You can also take a fun dinghy ride along the shore to see all the cool homes built over the water.

Typical home on the water

Gilligan’s Island
On the weekend there is a real party with the locals which makes it even more fun. During the week, you can have it to yourself. Again, you swim, crawl, hike thru the mangroves and float with the tide in little rivers pushing out to the ocean beaches and swells. This is soooooo cool. Then you can hike the trails and relax on the many secluded beaches. All the while your boat is anchored in a wide open cove all to yourself.

Island Spirit anchored at Gilligan’s Island
Typical cove at Gilligan’s Island
Sharing Gilligan’s Island with Team TIGER, always much more fun with children!

Salinas, a must stop
We anchored all the way in past all the boats and past the marina to the head of the harbor in Salinas. There is plenty of room here and the holding is amazing. Our 55 lb Rocna came up with so much sand and grass and mud it was bigger than the hoop on the top. This is a hurricane home for sure. Many yachts are stored here on the anchor, just look around. From here we dinghied into the wonderful Marina de Salinas with their great pub and cafe. Sunday beers are $10 for 5 Coronas in an Ice Bucket. We enjoyed renting a car from Sidney, the marina will connect you, and from here we drove to Ponce and to tour the area. Lots of shopping, Walmart, Kmart, Walgreens, and a large grocery store. This is the place to reprovision.

Anchored out in Salinas with the wildfires blazing on the hills at night!

Meet up with NEW friends

We met up with mv/SMARTINI and their buddies Paul and Liz and we all had a really good time at the pub on Sunday afternoon. Fran and Butch connected with us via radio while off Big Sand Key. We talked about making the run directly to Samana or Puerto Rico in that weather window. They were only thinking of running south to Luperon. Well, we encouraged them to push onward to the SE and run toward Samana. Then, if all was good, they could keep pushing to PR, and they did. They were so glad they made the run. It was fun to meet them, especially since they are friends with Bill and Lauren on m/v Sea Star. Thanks for the beers! Good people and fun friends…

New boating friends, very fun

Long Push, 50+ nm to Culebra

For this leg, we pushed onward over 50 nautical miles into the east trades skipping Las Palmas and Fajardo and Vieques and onward to Culebra. Again, we like to take the weather windows and run as far as we can into the east when the windows open up. Of course, once out, this window was NOT like forecasted, typical. It was 15-18 knots and it was EAST, when it was supposed to be SOUTHEAST. Not ESE, but clearly SE. East is on the bow, SE is off the bow. So we powered onward and bashed our way into the 4-6 foot seas and winds. First with just a staysail and 20 degrees off the wind, then we added the jib when the winds were finally and briefly 45 degrees off the starboard bow. All the while motor sailing to push into the big seas. This is how we do it.

Pushing into trades with a staysail and 2700 rpms, running 20 degrees off the wind on B&G wind vane steering
Eventually, the winds moved to SE and we could add a jib, now making 7.5 knots

Arrival Culebra

As we pushed on to Culebra, our destination of St. Thomas could be seen on the distant horizon. Now that is a real thrill. We pulled into Culebra to enjoy the island for a day and to take a break. The winds are the same today and tomorrow, so we will move over to STT tomorrow, making our destination for now.

Rounding the corner of Culebra, we could see St. Thomas off in the distance!
We were treated to beautiful sun and clouds as we motored into Culebra
Celebrating the Spring Equinox, we were presented with the Super Moon rising over our bow at anchor off the town of Dewey, Culebra. What a day!

One more day

We have one more day, 20 nm, and we will have returned to St. Thomas and closed the loop since the day we shipped our damaged boat back to Colin Mack for repairs. Once we cross a line off the Crown Bay Shipping docks, we will call this delivery complete. Shipping was booked at $12,000, including travel costs, and Radeen and I now feel we have earned our money! Fun Fun Fun times.

Here are a few more photos … thanks for sailing along with us, we really enjoy sharing this adventure.

Rain day in La Parguera
Our mobile Whiteaker Yacht Sales office goes everywhere. Puerto Rican courtesy flag flying.
it is COLD offshore at 4 am, brrrrrrrr, even in the tropics
Santa Isabela Wind Farm east of Ponce
Sunset over our solar panels and wind machine
Radeen loves to travel and she loves to learn, check out the book 🙂  Bruce Van Sant’s “Passages South.”

LIVE Tracking here
https://share.garmin.com/IslandSpirit

Crossing the Mona Passage

The Mona Passage is the area between the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico. This is a very well know passage with a reputation for being very difficult and rough. This was our second time crossing the Mona and once again the seas were kind and the current not too strong. The route from Samana Dominican Republic to Puerto Real, the harbor where we arrived, takes you right along the DR coast line until you reach the point of Cabo Engano and at that point, you turn more southwest to cut inside and across the “Hourglass Shoal” at the narrowest part. The reason you do this is that the current is flowing north and the 1,000-foot deep waters are pushed upward to 80 feet which can cause serious sea state at the Hourglass shoal. So, you cut across this at the narrowest point and avoid that sea state. Here is a chart of the route.

Crossing the Mona Passage

Get Off Soundings

Another situation that you need to address is the fact that the Dominican Republic fishermen run miles and miles offshore in their little boats setting out their fishing gear. This can be polypropylene line and milk jugs and plastic barrels, etc. This gear is floating on the surface and usually anchored as well. So the solution to avoiding these fish traps and fishing gear is to run out to the deep water and get yourself off soundings. That is where your depth gauge no longer can see the bottom. This is where the fishermen will NOT BE and you will also not run into their gear. This is especially important at night because you will never see the gear on the water.  So we ran out to deep waters and had no problems.

Fish Trap area and your course will take you over this area, head left, out to deep water
The Hourglass Shoal off the Dominican Republic, run south to cross the narrow area

Last Night in Samana, Dominican Republic

On our last in the DR, before we crossed the Mona Passage, Radeen and I had a “Date Night” and enjoyed a nice meal out at the marina. What a good time to reflect on our run from Annapolis MD to here. We count our blessings daily and we are so grateful for the freedom and skills we have to be able to run our boat on these long passages. We now look at 150 nm as a day trip and  300nm leg as just a little bit more than “a Block Island run” as we call it. We reference that 240 nm trip because di it 10  summers in a row and loved it. Now, here we are, running for the Caribbean Sea. Thank you Radeen, you are a great sailor GrL. 🙂

 

Date Night with Radeen

Course 130 degrees, winds 090 degrees, usually

It seems like the entire run from the Bahamas to the Caribbean Sea is a course of 130 and the winds are usually 090. If you are lucky they move north to 080 or south to 100 which still places the wind 30-40 degrees off the bow. Unless you have a J boat, you can not sail this course. You will be motor sailing with a reefed mainsail or a staysail or a partial jib. Then you sheet in hard and run your motor and power into the wind. What you are looking for is a calm wind, something in the range of 10 knots to 13 knots, because at 15 knots to 18 knots the seas come up too much. Now you are bashing into the sea state and beating 30 degrees off the bow. That is an ugly ride and with hundreds of miles to run, you do not want to do that.

Daybreak is wonderful at sea.

We run Autopilot on Windvane steering

The way we run these long legs is on autopilot, of course. We do is set up our sail plan and that is usually a staysail or a double reefed main. Then we point the boat 25-30 degrees off the wind, sheeting in the sails hard. Now, set the autopilot to hold a given wind angle of 30 degrees. The pilot will keep the boat at this angle to the wind. As the winds move left, the boat heads left, as the winds move right, the boat heads right. Overall the course is good and the boat and the sails are happy. Nothing to do but stand watch and check your engine room and bilges and monitor the course.

The view over the helm from the port seat.

The Blue Ocean

We are always amazed at how blue the ocean really is. All these photos are cell phone photos and the ocean really is this blue. It changes as the sun is high or low and at night, of course, it is black. But when the sun is midday, 11-4pm the ocean lights up in this beautiful blue. Look at these photos…

Departing the Dominican Republic, Cape Samana
Full sail 40nm out of Puerto Rico, crossing the Mona Passage

Arrival in Puerto Real, Puerto Rico

The run from Samana DR to Puerto Real is 145 nm or 24 hours plus an hour or two at 5.5 knots. We departed at 1400 and we arrived in Real at 1400-1500. The Mona was very kind to us as the winds moved to 090 and eventually 080-050 and went very light. It was a port tack set the entire way. We ran a staysail and a full 110% jib most of the way plus the 2600 rpms on the Yanmar. We motor sail like this at 5.5 to 6 knots and we burn 0.75 gallons per hour. Once in Puerto Real, we went to the fuel dock, filled up 19 gallons and then moved dropped an anchor. We stayed anchored out for two days. Puerto Real is a great place to check in, as CBP is at this marina or you can use the CPB ROAM app which worked great for us. Welcome to Puerto Rico, a dream place to cruise along the south coast.

sv Island Spirit anchored out off Puerto Real
You can always find us with this 9 foot Gold Island Packet Battle Flag. We also fly the Whiteaker Yacht Sales flag as we are brokers for WYS team.

Live Tracking Map

Remember, we have a Garmin Inreach satellite communicator and this devices places a map pin down anytime the yacht is moving (provided we remember to turn it on and start tracking 🙂 The great aspect to this, is that it shows time, date and speed, so we can look back and study how long it took us to go from A to B. It is also a wonderful archive map of our travels. This map is showing the current trip ONLY from Annapolis, MD to our current position. We have other maps from our many years of cruising under our MAP menu link. Thank you all for following along with us. Here is our map:

https://share.garmin.com/IslandSpirit

Samana, Dominican Republic

We motor sailed out of South Side Marina, Turks and Caicos, southward to deep water running the 14 nm off the banks to French Key. There we turned SE to run outside the Caicos Banks to move the 75 nm around to Big Sand Key. This would be our staging point to make the 184 nm run to Samana, Dominican Republic. The challenge is getting across the 50 nm of Caicos Banks and not hitting a massive coral head.

Our Plan to run south, then SE to Big Sand.

A Bashing below the Banks

Well, the run south of the Caicos banks turned out to be one of the roughest passages we have had in many many years. Waves came up to 3-4 feet at 4-5 seconds, and the winds came up to 15-19 knots directly on the bow. We buried the bow light at least 50+ times. Now, that is really pretty at night when your bow light, that is 8 feet off the water, dives down into the coming wave, punches thru the wave and then illuminates the wave with red to port and green to starboard. WOW, that is beautiful, maybe once or twice, but when it happens from 7 pm to 5 am it is a real beating. It was not possible to sleep at all. We arrived at Big Sand Key at 6 am. What was to be a 14 hr passage turned into a 21-hour beating. Not fun. We dropped anchor, washed the boat, and crashed!

The view out the windshield at daybreak after taking salt spray over the roof all night long!

Big Sand to Samana, Dominican Republic

Now we were staged at Big Sand Key placing us 184 nm from Samana, DR. The forecast was holding, and that is good because there is no place to go from here except north to Grand Turk. The winds were to be calm, 10-15 from the SSE, of course, that is directly on the bow with a course of 130. So, we motor sailed again, a staysail and the engine on 2700 rpms making 5.5 to 6 knots. We ended up taking several tacks as we kept moving EAST. We knew the winds would shift and like clockwork, the EAST winds came in right on schedule and then we could tack back to port and run our 130-degree course directly to Cabo Cabron and then Cape Samana.

A very welcome sight, Cape Cabron at day break
Rounding the second cape, this is Cape Samana, DR

Docked at Bahia Puerto Marina, Samana

We sailed into here in 2017 on our first trip south with our fun “Team Six Knots” and we knew how lovely this place is. So, it was a joy to return to this five-star marina resort with infinity pools and cafes and pubs. This place is really amazing and at $1.00/foot, it is a real deal. Look at this clubhouse and condos!

The clubhouse with a gym, billiard room, pubs, and more

The pool is a big bonus here for Radeen, as she loves to swim. It is an infinity pool where the water is level with the edge and it flows over the wall to a lower reservoir overlooking the Bay of Samana. This makes for great photos looking out to sea and at sunset.

Radeen in the pool
Sunsets here are amazing

Rental Car adventures and Touring Samana

We rented a car with our buddies John and Darcy of 45 Ft Jeanneau KINDRED SPIRIT and hit the road. Within the first ten minutes, I nearly wrecked as cars were cutting me off and motorcycles passing on both sides. Welcome to Samana, DR. Drive like you stole it, and hope and pray you don’t wreck.

Typical downtown Samana and all the motorcycles.

Off to the Country Side

After a quick tour around Samana and a good 30-45 minutes to get a sim card for the cell phone ($2 sim and $5 for 5 GB) we now had coms to hit the countryside. We headed to a waterfall and hiked up into the hills only to not see any water as the riverbed was dry so we turned around and headed for the beach at Playa de Valle. This is where the real adventure began.

Typical bananas everywhere
Beautiful overlooks
Local transportation

Did anyone put gas in the car??

Well, we tried, and at our first fuel stop due to none of us speaking Spanish and the attendant not speaking English, we eventually were able to put in 300 pesos.  Great, we are good to go….WHAT? 300 pesos only gave us 1 gallon at best. Well, the next thing you know, we are in the middle of nowhere and nearly out of petrol. So, we stop in this village, horseman hauling bamboo, and locals having lunch, someone found us a gallon of gas! Really? Yes, the locals are so kind and so helpful. For $300 pesos, and of course, I bought some Brugal Rum off the little street vendor to help, and we tipped the local for helping us. By the end of this activity, we were drinking our Brugal with the locals and having a great time. WOW, how fun.

Local transportation and local casino!
Hoseman hauling bamboo home passes by
A local finds us a gallon of gas, pours it in

Gassed up, we can make the beach

With the car now fueled up, we can now push onward to the beach. By the way, this is all within a few miles from Samana. the rental car comes empty, you put gas in. Oh, thank you. We then found the Playa de Valle beach town with a beautiful scene, fishing boats and of course a great little pub. How about some Presidente on the beach?

Fishing boats on the beach

Local Services, Schools and Health Care

On the drive home, we noticed the health care building and we also noticed the local school. These government buildings are well cared for and provide services to the locals. Here are two buildings, a health care building and a school.

The local healthcare building
The local school

Back at the Marina….ahhhh

You can see why this marina is so amazing as it is beyond anything you will see anywhere else in the area. Yes, there are many 5-star resorts in the Dominican Republic, but only a few marinas like this. We enjoyed our time here and we really admire the Dominican people as they are so kind and so polite and so helpful. They really want us all to visit this amazing island.  I hope you can visit some day.

Down with the Q Flag and up with the Dominican Republic Flag
Hayden and Radeen at the Puerto Bahia Ocean Club pool. paradise.

Onward to Puerto Rico….

Live map and tracking here:

https://share.garmin.com/IslandSpirit

West Palm Beach Aground then onto Miami

We made ourselves leave Stuart, Florida, and that is a very difficult task to do! Down the ICW we went for two days to West Palm Beach, Florida. The ICW is a real dream as it is calm, easy, and very safe. Our first night we dropped the anchor where we usually do, at the south end of Hobe Sound right off Tiger Woods’ home. No call from Tiger, so we did not stop in. We simply enjoyed our first night on anchor since Nov 15th and it was now Jan 10th! Our boat was running great, which is always a concern after a yacht sits because the best thing for any boat is to keep it moving and to push it hard.  Island Spirit was back in action with all systems running well.

Hobe Sound, near Jupiter, Florida is a dream location

Arriving West Palm Beach, the 1%er area

We are always amazed at the enormous wealth of so many people as we arrive in the West Palm Beach area. Massive waterfront homes have even larger yachts that block the view from the house. These houses are probably second or third homes. The owners might only be here a few weeks a year. The rest of the time, the landscapers and property manager all take care of the estate.

Aviva – Yacht Length: 98 (323 ft) – Guests: 16 in 8 cabins (est) – Crew: 25 in 11 cabins (est) – Yacht Value: US$ 150 million: Joe Lewis a UK Billionaire with 200 companies!
Typical winter home with a little fishing boat.
Steve Wynn’s Yacht Name: Aquarius – Yacht Length: 92 m (302 ft) – Guests: 14 in 7 cabins (est.) – Crew: 30 in 15 cabins (est.) – Feadship – 2016 – Yacht Value: US$ 215 million

Yup, that is how the Billionaires roll with mega yachts, massive homes, tax write-offs, and wealth that they can’t even begin to spend.  Steve Wynn is worth 3 billion dollars and his yacht only cost him 215 million dollars. So let’s move some decimals around. $3,000,000,000 vs $215,000,000, what is that like to a normal person? Take off 5 zeros and you have $30,000 vs $2,150. So a person worth $30K buys a used car for $2K.  Or a person worth $300K buys a $21K car. NOT a big deal, right? It is all numbers. The super-rich should have much bigger toys, don’t you think?

Anchored in West Palm Beach, FL

We stopped in West Palm to hire a diver who would clean our prop and bottom before sailing off to Miami and then to the Bahamas. We had been sitting in Stuart for 2 months, so we expected the bottom to be dirty. The public dock at WPB is perfect for this. The diver walked down the dock, jumped in and an hour later he was finished. We left the dock to anchor out. What a great public day dock this is.

Waiting on the WPB dock for the diver, what a great town!

Martha and Robert connect

Boat Buddies from Massachusetts spend the winter in WPB and they drove over to the harbor to visit with us for the evening. Martha and Robert sail Island Packet 420 ENTROPY. Professor Rose is a Materials and Engineering Science expert at MIT. What an interesting couple and what lively conversations we always have, whenever and wherever we connect.

Martha and Robert Rose. Emeritus Professor of Materials Science and Engineering, MIT

OH NO, We Found the OYSTER BAY

We were anchored a few days in West Palm with the winds blowing from the east the entire time. Of course, we were waiting for the front to arrive so we could sail south on the new wind from the Northwest. Well, that wind shift combined perfectly with the morning tidal change and poor Island Spirit spun 180 degrees around on her anchor and was pushed aground onto the well known OYSTER BAR. This shallow area is right off the Henry Flagler Museum home that we toured the day before and now we were nearly inside the building. This was the oddest experience as it was 0600 with the engine running, ready to pull up anchor and head out. Depth was showing 7 feet. Then all of a sudden, the new winds arrived and we swung 180 degrees on our anchor and onto this bar. When 20,000 lbs are moving sideways and slide onto a ledge that is sloped perfectly to let the boat lay over, it all happens very quickly. I nearly fell off as I was standing on the deck, wiping down the windshield and next we were leaning over 45 degrees. The side deck was nearly in the water. Here are a few photos.

On the WPB Oyster Bar in front of the Flagler Home
There was no way we were getting off of this until the tide came back up
Radeen on the side watching the tow boat

TowBoatUS to the rescue

We have paid for unlimited towing with TowBoat US for 18 years. This is the second time we have called for a tow. They knew the spot well, they told us to wait for the tide, but they would come out and see what they could do. With 600 hp they tried to budge us, but we would not move. Good thing as we were on hard surfaces. So they hooked up to our bow and they ran the engines “dredging” us out as the prop wash pushed material away from our bow. With my 55 lb Rocna and our strong Lofrans windlass, we tried to kedge and be pulled free. Not working. So, we agreed to simply wait. Deep water was 15 feet in front of us, 1/2 a boat length, but 20,000 lbs was aground. So we waited.

TowBoat US arrives on the scene, he knows this spot well
He hooked us and tried to budge us, but decided his best bet was to dredge and blow material away. They came back in 2 hrs and then pulled us off. Great job!

How did this happen?

We had East winds for days and all was fine, with the boat west of her anchor. That morning, new NW winds came in so the boat swung to the EAST and laid right up onto the bar. Now I see and it all makes sense to me.  Mitzi and Alane of the IP38 formerly named Holiday met us on the dock and warned us about that area, but we thought we were fine. The frustrating aspect is a local boat knew this would happen and said nothing UNTIL we were on the bar, THEN they dinghied over and said, “we wanted to warn you…but….” Oh well!

This is how wind and current swung us onto the bar

Free at Last, Off to Miami

Once we were pulled off the bar around noon, we moved down to the Lake Worth Inlet and decided that it was too late to set sail. So we dropped the anchor at the inlet and relaxed. We needed to start up the watermaker and this was a great place to do that. The next day we set sail for sea and made it to Miami and south to Biscayne Bay for sunset. Of course, we entered Government Cut at 1700 right when the cruise ships were coming out, how exciting. Then we passed a container ship and went into the ICW. After turning south passing Brickell Point, then motoring under the Rickenbacker Bridge , it was WELCOME to Biscayne Bay!  Anchor down, we watched the city lights come on and popped the bubbly. This is one of our happy places!.

A fun leg south using the Code Zero, sailing with Larry & Hera of IP32 THE DOVE
We entered Government Cut with several cruise ships going out
We also shared the channel with container ships, always so colorful
Welcome to Miami and Biscayne Bay, our happy place
Watching the city lights come on from anchor off Virginia Key
We popped some bubbly to celebrate -we love it here in Biscayne Bay!

 

Stuart Fl Christmas Time

After Thanksgiving, our time in Stuart now extended into Dec and thru New Years as we help new Island Packet Buyers evaluate the IP 350 to IP 38 market. Radeen and I are always very excited to be representing new clients as their “buyer’s broker” and we love introducing them to the product and to our wonderful Island Packet community. Welcome to the “family” to Dave  and Dianne. We are so happy to help you find and buy your dream Island Packet 350!

Welcome to Dianne and Dave, new members of the IP Family.

We Evaluate the Market

Dave and Dianne decided to retire and start their cruising dreams right away. They focused on an Island Packet 38 and actually had a contract on one when we all realized that the 38 was too big for what they were planning to do. So, we returned to the market to evaluate 350, 35 and 37 MLS listings. With their stated goals, they decided the Island Packet 350 would be perfect. We shopped the 350 markets east and west in Florida and settled on the best one, MATIMA.  With a successful sea trial and survey, Dave and Dianne made the big step and bought their dream cruising yacht. We are so happy for them and are enjoying guiding them forward, as we do with all our clients.  Congratulations, you have a beautiful yacht! Insider tip: Look for all four of us in an upcoming edition of Cruising World magazine.

Dave and Dianne’s new Island Packet 350

Chrismas Party With Mack Yacht Services

Our dear friend Colin Mack has spun off a new company, expanding  Mack Sails. The new spin-off is  Mack Yacht Services, Inc. and adds full yacht commissioning and yacht refit services going beyond sails and rigging. Mack Sails and Rigging, headed by Travis and Mr. Mack, will continue focusing on sails and rigging with their skilled team. Colin and his amazing team are rapidly building a full yacht refit company. They are well known in the Island Packet Yacht fleet as the “Go to Team” for chainplate replacements, a well-documented issue with older IPs. Mack Yacht Services, MYS, bought a waterfront yacht yard with space for 8 yachts on the bulkheads and with plenty of room to build service buildings and even put in a travel lift. This is a big draw for us in Stuart, being involved with Colin and Travis. We really admire these guys and their family.

How exciting to meet Mr. and Mrs. Mack, who created Mack Sails!
My dear friend Colin Mack of Mack Yacht Services, Inc.
Colin with his team, building Mack Yacht Services, Inc.

While Driving Across Florida, We visited Friends

December found us driving across Florida about 8 times. Some trips were to look at yachts at Whiteaker Yacht Sales and in Ft. Myers, one trip was to the IP Factory, one trip to the pick up new sofa cushions and one was for an IP Mini-vous. Lucky for us, we rented a great car and hit the road, with fun friends to see along the way. It is about a 2.5-hour drive from coast to coast in Florida. Here are some of our great buddies…

Dear Boat Buddies, Julie and Rev Dixie, formerly IP32 MORNING GRACE, connected with us to send us off with a beautiful gift and a blessing. Thank you so much!
Our gift is a beautiful wine cork of  ISLAND SPIRIT with our Code Zero flying. This treasure was made by Julie’s cousins who are traditional scrimshaw craftsmen. So special!
Our other home away from home with Craig and Liana, always fun times.
John and Nancy IP420 ADVENTURESS  invited us for a few great days at their new home. What a festive time!
More Bahamas Boat Buddies Kathy and Alan (with their IP420 FLATLANDER) gave us a tour around Burnt Store Marina. Always a fun visit!
With Dr. J. B. Smith, on a swing thru Epcot. Thank you to Mary Fran and JB’s daughter, Shannon! The Festival of Lights was very special!
Radeen’s fun college friend, Annie, shared her beautiful timeshare with us! Thank you!

Merry Christmas to Radeen, new sofa cushions

On one of our trips across Flordia, we met with Peggy St. Cyr, who taught the factory how to make cushions. She has made custom sheets and beautiful pillows for us, too. We hired Peggy to make new sofa cushions for Island Spirit. Ours were getting flat, so we ordered only the bottoms. Peggy did a fantastic job. Here is happy Radeen unwrapping them as we made it back to the boat very late on this trip.

Radeen unwraps the new sofa seats
Perfect fit, great job Peggy
We love our laptop desk and our 32″ Samsung smart TV works great.
Radeen’s new Gooseneck Pin for Christmas 2018! Merry Christmas 🙂

Back at “Home” Sunset Bay…

With time in Stuart quickly wrapping up, we prepared Island Spirit and provisioned up. It is difficult for us to sail away from the safe harbor where we have great friends and where we feel so involved and where we are helping others. It is really hard to say goodbye and to make ourselves sail on. Before we did, we were lucky enough to visit a few more buddies….

Boat Buddies Linda and Mahlon IP35 JUST DUCKY and us enjoying TooJay’s!
Good times out with Tommy/Tracy IP40 SAILIN SHOES and Greg/Sharon IP40 DREAMCATCHER at Sailor’s Return.
Molli and Reuben, dear friends and parents of some of the smartest children on the planet, came to visit looking for a possible winter home for IP380 PRIORITY.
Boat Buddies Jim and Loretta formerly IP380 PLAN SEA met us at Jim and Vanessa’s home for some great food and flying stories. They are making plans to sail New England again together this summer aboard IP420 WINDRUNNER.

The Little Island Packet Mini-vous
(5 of us became 27 sailors?!? YIKES!)

While driving back and forth across to SW Florida, the idea came to us… let’s have a little IP Mini-vous and get maybe 5 of us together for pizza. Great idea! Next thing you know, we posted a Facebook announcement one week in advance and the party took off. We had 10 people, then 15, HELP! Then 20, OH NO! Then 25, and we stopped counting at 27. Sally and Conrad formerly IP38  IT’S ABOUT TIME had offered to host this event when it was at 5-10 people, but then things went out of control. Sally and Conrad did an amazing job under pressure and the food was outstanding!  Friendships are so wonderful within the Island Packet Fleet and everyone had a wonderful time. YOUTUBE superstar, Tinsley IP27 SALTY ABANDON joined the party. She produced a video interview of the owners and their stories. Thank you, Tinsley!  Her video is embedded below. Thank you, again, Sally and Conrad, hosts of the year!!!!

Sally and Conrad hosted a “little” Island Packet MiniVous (27 people!)

Island Packet Mini-vous Video by Tinsely

Happy New Year 2019

With the rollover of the New Year, we were invited to enjoy a wonderful meal and a really good time aboard the mothership, IP45 NORTH STAR owned by Sharon and John. Sid of IP40 QUEST joined us for the fun as well, while Kate made a quick trip home. We all had a memorable evening. Sharon made a traditional Southern New Year’s Day “good luck” meal, including pork, black-eyed peas and homemade cornbread. We brought wine, bubbly, chocolates and homemade brownies. Here are two fun photos of that happy night:

Happy New Year 2019
Sid and John raise a toast to a Happy New Year 2019. Notice our new Swarovski crystal champagne glasses. (Oh, the joys of the free pile at Sunset Bay!)

Time to sail on and head to Miami

With all these great times and wonderful friends in Florida and the Stuart area, it was time for us to push on south or we may never get back to the Caribbean Sea. We had thought we would leave soon after Thanksgiving, but as you can see, we got involved and really enjoyed ourselves.  Stuart feels like HOME…

Onward we go….Miami here we are, with an interesting adventure in West Palm!