Bonaire, Out of the Hurricane Zone

View from an Ice Cream Shop in Kralendijk in Bonaire

Escaping from hurricane season 2018 (June to November), we have chosen to stay in Bonaire, Curacao, and Colombia. This is our second time cruising in this area. It works with our scheduled goal which is “Crossing the Panama Canal in February 2019”.

People have often asked me what island is my most favorite. Each island has something which I like and dislike. In order to make a simple answer; I just say “Bonaire”. Visiting here for the second time, I realized why; it is yachting friendly, Customs and Immigration clearance is easy and simple, the mooring field is well-organized, it is peaceful and hassle free, nature is great, sea breeze is awesome, and ocean water is so beautiful. Bonaire is like a jewel except three things: loud motorcycle sounds (seldom), yellow dust (often), and the high price of mostly imported fruits.

Boardwalk in Kralendijk, Capital City of Bonaire Island

The other day, I met an American woman in a grocery story. She moved to Bonaire from New York about six months ago. Prior to that, she had visited here only for a week. At that time, without blinking, she chose Bonaire for her retirement place. There must be many reasons that she kept smiling the whole time we spoke to each other. By the way, US Citizens can easily apply for residency here.

Salt Farm in Bonaire, the Caribbean Netherlands

Beach in Klein Bonaire (Small Bonaire Island), the Caribbean Netherlands

Salt Pier Dive Site: One of the Dive Sites in Bonaire, the Caribbean Netherlands

A Dive Boat in Klein Bonaire (Small Bonaire Island), the Caribbean Netherlands

SCUBA Air Tanks in a Dive Shop in Bonaire, the Caribbean Netherlands

Cactus Plants in Bonaire, the Caribbean Netherlands

Iguana on the Rock, Klein Bonaire, the Caribbean Netherlands

Center of Kralendijk, Bonaire, the Caribbean Netherlands

Posted in Caribbean Islands, Sailings

Hiking in St. John, USVI

“In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing.” – Theodore Roosevelt

View from Hiking Trail, Leinster Bay, Saint John, US Virgin Island

(June 12 to 17, 2018) Visiting St. John Island, was not on our original plan.

We believed that shipping from Florida to St. Croix, would take about two weeks. Seeing an “In-Transit Status” for days, we went to the US Post Office in St. Croix to inquire about the delivery status. We were told it would take up to 8 weeks and there is no way to track the packages when they are in transit at sea. Now, what… Most of the cruisers are out of the hurricane zone this time of the year; and the US Virgin Islands are in the Hurricane Zone. Being here during the Hurricane Season, it is nice to have the whole anchorage by ourselves but we were still concerned. Thinking about alternatives, we concluded it is best to wait here until we get all the deliveries by the USPS.

Saint John, US Virgin Island

While waiting for the packages, we decided to sail to St. John Island from St. Croix, about 35 miles, 5-6 hours sailing. Three years ago, when we sailed to St. John, we didn’t explore the island because there were too many charter boats in the winter. Since we were here in the summer this time, we were the sole boat at most of the mooring fields. Most of St. John Island is a US National Park. Hiking trails are easy to access and beaches are picture perfect beautiful. Hiking in the Tropics in summer though, is like being in a steam bath or a sauna. I kept reminding myself that I love a sauna. There must be a reason for everything. I was glad that the US Postal Service took so long, so that we had an opportunity to hike all over St. John Island.

PS: Not having the Internet access on the boat (No SIM Card), I have been inactive updating my blogs and responding to emails. I wasn’t able to connect via US T-Mobile in St. Croix, US Virgin Island.

Sargasso seaweed in Brown Bay, Saint John, US Virgin Island

A Mailbox in Saint John, US Virgin Island

National Park Visitor Center, Saint John, US Virgin Island

Old Windmill, Saint John National Park, US Virgin Island

Old Sugar Cane Boiling Pots, Saint John National Park, US Virgin Island

Dead Trees and New Green after Hurricane Irma, September 2017, Saint John, US Virgin Island

Trail Sign, Saint John National Park, US Virgin Island

Posted in Caribbean Islands, Sailings

Meeting a Korean Friend in Saint Croix

Buck Island National Park, Saint Croix, US Virgin Island

(June 2018) When we were in Saint Croix three years ago, we met a Korean woman, Mia and her husband, Tommy. They built a beautiful waterfront house in St. Croix after retiring from Kentucky in the USA. They love SCUBA diving and an island life style. “Call us when you visit St. Croix again!” That was three years ago. At that time, I didn’t think it was going to happen.

We came to Saint Croix this time because we have some items to be delivered by the US Postal Service. Saint Croix is one of the United States Virgin Islands so it is easy to ship from the States. Being here, we visited Mia and Tommy’s house and enjoyed Mia’s Korean dishes and American steak. She even made “Kimchi” and packed some for us. Another day, all of us went to Buck Island National Park and had Korean Pork BBQ after snorkeling in the turquoise blue water. They stayed overnight on our boat. Our conversation continued till late watching stars together. After so long not speaking in Korean, I enjoyed talking in my mother language.

John showing me a Conch Shell in the water, Buck Island National Park, Saint Croix, US Virgin Island

Live Conches by Buck Island, Saint Croix, US Virgin Island

Sting Ray, Buck Island National Park, Saint Croix, US Virgin Island

Buck Island National Park, Saint Croix, US Virgin Island

Quick Snorkeling Shot, Buck Island National Park, Saint Croix, US Virgin Island

Christiansted Historical Area, Saint Croix, US Virgin Island

Rainbow at Gallows Bay Harbor, Christiansted, Saint Croix, US Virgin Island

Posted in Caribbean Islands, Sailings

Full Moon Sailing to St. Croix, Ted Talks

“All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.” — Pascal

Early Morning Selfie after Meditation, Sailing on the way to Saint Croix, US Virgin Island

(May 30 to 31, 2018) Night sailing from St. Martin to St. Croix, about 100 miles for 20 hours. Wind speed and direction led us effortlessly downwind sailing following in one direct line. As the full moon brightened the open ocean, only a few stars were visible. Gazing at the stars, I imagined the distance between the stars and I. What kind of lives there could be beyond the universe?

When we sail at night, my watch is from 2 am till 8 am. When John woke me up for my watch, I was in a deep dream. I wanted to sleep more but I know he has been up since…? Making a cup of coffee, I came out to the cockpit and set my timer on for every 20 minutes. When the timer beeps, I checked the ocean and the boat. Earlier when we left St. Martin, there were two Cruise Ships behind of us on the AIS screen: “Allure of the Seas” and “Harmony of the Seas”. They were far gone to somewhere. They move three to four times faster than we sail.

Sailing without Mainsail from Saint Martin (SMX), French Island to Saint Croix (STX), US Virgin Island

When I go on watch, the cats meow expecting a spoonful of canned tuna, their regular morning treat! They walk around the inside of the boat and sometimes play with each other. After I fed them, I took my Sony tablet and started to watch a “Ted Talk” Podcast which I downloaded prior to this trip. It is my recent hobby, listening to Podcasts. Each “Ted Talk” Podcast is about 10 minutes, short and concise. It lets me learn about various topics and trends. At dawn, I made ‘Zen’ moment, morning meditation surrounded by a big ocean.

Posted in Caribbean Islands, Sailings

Sailing in a Hurry in the Caribbean

Night sailing from Trinidad to Grenada

Two Waterfalls out of Seven Sisters Waterfalls, Grenada, West Indies

We were worried during our passage near the oil rig platforms after leaving Trinidad. We made sure we sailed at least 10 miles east of the oil platforms which is farther from Venezuela. We wanted to be invisible to any potential pirates so we sailed without lights and also turned our AIS off. However, we noticed there are many oil rig supply ships in this area. This made us somewhat relieved, and as soon as we felt we were in a safe zone, we turned our lights and AIS back on.

Closing an Old Bank Account in Grenada

Hiking Trail to Seven Sisters Waterfall, Grenada, West Indies

A white sandy bottom in turquoise water. We dropped our anchor in Prickly Bay Grenada. A hassle free and roomy anchorage is one of the major attractions in the Caribbean for cruisers. Hurricane season starts in June, and Grenada is out of Hurricane Zone.

We came here to take care of John’s bank account which he opened six years ago. It has charged a fee on of his deposit, but gives a 2% interest rate on the money. Grenada uses the Eastern Caribbean dollar which has a fixed value against the US Dollar.

In January, when we visited Suriname, we learned the devaluation of the Suriname dollar impacted the Surinamese economy. If one deposited money in a Suriname bank, the value of US dollars might be 50 % less than what was invested. These days, leaving money in a bank, looks to be a fool’s business

Swimming in Fresh Water by a Waterfall in Grenada

Swimming in Fresh Water Pool, Seven Sister’s Waterfall, Grenada, West Indies

We have more matters to resolve in the Caribbean Islands but it didn’t stop us hiking to the “Seven Sister’s Water fall” in Grenada. We jumped into the waterfall after taking two local bus rides and a short hike up the mountain. The mountain water was so sweet and tasty. It completely took the salt off from our bodies, even just for a day. I told John it was the best experience in 2018. He replied “That’s too sad.” Indeed, I really liked swimming in mountain fresh water, ironically.

Meeting a Taiwanese Sailor Girl in Grenada

Asian looking sailors are rare in this part of the world. When I see one; I immediately feel a bond and want to talk. I met Queena, a sailor from Taiwan the first time when we were in Cabo Verde. At that time, we were briefly introduced. She and her friends (from Italy) crossed the Atlantic Ocean a week or so before we did, maybe five months ago. Going to the Customs Office in Grenada, someone waved to us, Queena from Taiwan! It didn’t take much time to open our chatter box. We spoke very fast to catch up.

We learned that each of us has very little Asian food left on the boat. I mentioned to her that I ran out of Miso Paste (Soy Bean Paste). I also found that she loves Korean Hot Paste Sauce (Go-Chu-Jang) but she no longer has it. Next day, I gave a small tube of Go-Chu-Jang. The day that we left, she came by our boat and handed me some food from Taiwan. I am looking forward to making noodle soup with Dried Fish Flake and Spinach Miso Soup with Miso Paste from Taiwan. (John edit here: I would rather die a 1000 deaths than eat this stuff – end of John edit) Hoping to see her again somewhere…

Talking to “North Sails” Caribbean Representative in Antigua

Approaching Antigua, West Indies

Our next stop was Antigua. After finding a major problem with our main sail in Trinidad, we have been sailing without a main sail. We contacted the sail maker, North Sails. They have the Caribbean office in Antigua. John wanted to show the problem and also leave our ripped main sail in their sail loft, in case they need a special measurement while making a new sail.

We were told that our main sail is most likely sun damaged and the main sail cover (Sunbrella) life span is about three years. (North Sail’s Opinion) When we emailed Sailrite (major cloth and materials distributor), they told us the Sunbrella lifespan is about 10 years. We have covered our mainsail with a Sunbrella cover as soon as we arrive at a new place. In addition; we take our sails to a sail loft and get them inspected and repaired yearly.

After exchanging lots of talks and emails, North Sails has offered us a new sail at their cost. Our payment is a little less than if we were to order a new one from another sail maker. John told North Sails that a possible shipping place might be Colombia. In the meantime, we are sailing without a mainsail. We have been learning what a mainsail truly does when sailing. We have learned that it does a super job of damping the rolling and also makes tacking MUCH easier.

Finding Good Memories with My Mom, in Antigua

11 Years Old Picture with My Mom at Devel’s Bridge Park, Antigua, West Indies

Devil’s Bridge in Antigua! About 11 years ago, I took an Eastern Caribbean Cruise with my mom. Antigua was one of our stops. At that time, my mom and I took an organized tour to the Devil’s Bridge. Arriving in Antigua this time by a sailboat, I wanted to visit this place and recollect her joyful and childlike smiles.

She passed away last month at the age of 82. A decade ago, she started showing her health issues. A few years later after having both knees replaced, she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. This was the most horrible time in my life. I watched my ailing mom, who gave me nothing but unconditional love, degenerate until only her body remained; her mind was no longer there. Our siblings felt as if we and mom were living under a dark cloud during this time period. Her passing was deeply sad but we feel the sky is clear again. In my quiet times, I promise my Mom that I will live making her proud.

Enjoying French Grocery Shopping in Saint Martin, French Side

The best dinghy dock I have ever seen. Marigot Bay, Saint Martin. I recently read a book “Factfulness” by Hans Rosling. In his book, he categorized the people/countries around the world between Level 1 and Level 4. A majority of the people in a Level 1 country where the wages are about one US Dollar a day, in a Level 2 country 4 US Dollars a day, Level 3 country 16 US Dollars a day, and Level 4 Country more than 100 US Dollars a day. After reading this book, I no longer use some terms such as “Advanced, Developed, Developing, Rich, or Poor Country.” All of the people in the world thrive to move up to the next level, like we do in a school. Some Level 1 countries have moved to Level 2 and so on. By reading the data analysis on his book, the poverty and health level in the world has improved a lot.

The “Super U Grocery Store” in Marigot, French Side of Saint Martin Island is awesome! I have been enjoying the groceries from a Level 4 country, France: Gourmet Salad Leaves, Wine, Pate, Cheese, and Bread. I am realizing why French are famous for food, wine, and cheese. They are simply great and inexpensive. I wanted to stock up lots of wine and cheese but I decided not to. “Out of sight out of mind!” Having a lot of them on the boat would lead me to excessive consumption. For that same reason, I don’t keep cookies or potato chips on the boat.

One of our cats got surgery in Saint Martin, Dutch Side.

Our Cat Enemy with a Licking Shield after a Surgery, Saint Martin, West Indies

Some lumps on our cat’s belly alerted us. We found a veterinarian (Consultation Fee: 30 USD) and had Enemy (Nickname: Chubster) get the surgery (removing a big chunk of belly and one of her nipples). She has eight stitches on her belly and has to live with a licking shield for 10 days. Her tissue test will be sent to the USA for a lab analysis. The doctor told us that the island doesn’t have a lab yet to justify the business. We will get the test result by email as we will be leaving Saint Martin next week.

Boating Stores, Doctors, and Pharmacies in both French and Dutch Sides in Saint Martin

Hurricane “Irma” attacked Saint Martin in September 2017. The boating stores and repair facilities have plenty of jobs to do. There are a lot of the boats to fix not to mention that some buildings and houses are still without roofs or with blue tarps. In Marigot, about one third of the restaurant/business are still out of business due to the damage. There is a McDonald’s where we used to go to use WiFi. It looks like it will re-open soon. I also noticed some street lights have been replaced with a better system using LED lights. Hopefully, pain brings gain for the Island of Saint Martin.

John visited some doctors to get his prescriptions as he had four years ago. The doctors are still at the same place. The consultation costs about 30 Euros or 33 Dollars. Medication prices are relatively inexpensive also. This is one of the reasons that we stopped in Saint Martin. In Addition, John has been buying lots of boat materials and replacement parts as they are easy to find here.

John at Devel’s Bridge Park, Antigua, West Indies

Pigeon Island Anchorage, Guadeloupe

Falmouth Anchorage and Marina, Antigua, West Indies

English Harbor Anchorage, Antigua, West Indies

Good Free WiFi Available at Covent Garden Supermarket, Antigua, West Indies

Colorful Windows in Antigua, West Indies

Oil Drum Paint, Antigua, West Indies

The best dinghy dock I have ever seen. Marigot Bay, Saint Martin

Nice Anchorage, Marigot Bay, Saint Martin, West Indies

Broken Masts by Hurricane Irma in September 2017, Saint Martin, West Indies

New Sailboat Masts to be Installed, Sint Maarten, West Indies

Newly Delivered Mast in a Box, Sint Maarten, West Indies

Philipsburg, Sint Maarten, West Indies

Early Morning Beach, Philipsburg, Sint Maarten, West Indies

Posted in Caribbean Islands, Medical Service Experiences, Sailings