For SALE

Not us! Pelita, our boat. She is up for sale!

One of the phrases you will hear as a boat owner is: “The two happiest days of your boating life: the day you buy your boat, and the day you sell it.”

Yes, we were undoubtedly happy when we bought our boat, but mixed along with that emotion was a dash of excitement and anxiety. It was after all our first boat purchase. We named her Pelita (in my Malaysian language, it simply means a vessel of light and conveniently it was the name of our favorite hang-out joint in Kuala Lumpur where people of all walks of life gathered). She has certainly lived up to her name.

Pelita is a 35-foot catamaran, Wildcat 350, with a beam of almost 23 feet! We think of her as our little chubby-cheeked baby. We knew we would be spending a lot of time on the boat…it being our home so we wanted a comfortable ‘living space’: an inviting salon, comfortable cockpit (we spend about 90% of our time here when at home) and a galley that inspired Francois to cook more. When we walked onto this boat, we were floored by the spaciousness of it. For a small boat, it certainly packed a punch! It felt like we were on a 40-foot boat, and that’s not us or the specifications saying it. Our cruiser friends all commented on that. Yeah, so, we were sold on that. Plus, we loved our ‘love seats’ as we call them, where we can sit and keep an eye on the auto-pilot when we sail. Definitely delightful!

For those of you who know me…I can be a little OCD. Think of Monica on the TV series Friends…yeah, I’m kinda like that. I clean when I’m stressed, clean when I wake up first thing in the morning, clean when the boat needs (or not need) cleaning, clean, clean, clean. However – the true detailer is Francois. After all my incessant cleaning, he can still find spots I’ve missed! Really?!? Anyway, the point is, we try to keep Pelita clean and in good condition.

If anyone tells you their boat is perfect….do not believe them! All boaters/cruisers know that ALL boats regardless of size and cost has their fair share of problems. Where do you think the phrase ‘Boating is just another name for fixing things in exotic locations’ comes from?

Since we had her 3 years ago, we have made a few upgrades: new engines, a new headsail, bought a nice 35lb Manson Supreme anchor, new anchor chain, new forestay, had our rigging inspected, new chain plates, re-did the anti-skid of the entire boat, replaced our old and underpowered dinghy with a 9.8hp outboard engine and a Caribe 9ft dinghy, new bottom paint (January 2017)…just to name a few. Makes me think of another popular saying: B.O.A.T (Break Out Another Thousand).

So, about the engines. Yup…we replaced BOTH the engines in 2015 – NEW engines that are still under warranty. We learned that there was an installation flaw that caused us the grief. We have rectified the problem and ever since then, Jan and Annelise (we named our engines after our Mothers (lol) since we all know Mothers are the heart of any home) have been wonderful. The purring of our new engines…ahh, music to our ears indeed!

We have had the time of our lives cruising on Pelita, but we are ready to move on to our next adventure. So, is it a happy moment (as they claim) now that we are selling Pelita? The answer is not entirely. We will miss her terribly: sundowners on the trampoline, mouth-watering meals from the galley, entertaining friends in our ‘garden’ aka cockpit, and even the sweat (blood, tears interlaced with a tad bit of profanity) we have poured into the cleaning, fixing and the overall maintenance. It was all worth it. She was worth it.

So….are you ready for the adventure of your life? Yes? Well…what are you waiting for?

Check out the link:
http://www.yachtworld.com/core/listing/pl_boat_detail.jsp?slim=broker&boat_id=3049355&checked_boats=3049355&hosturl=littleships&&ywo=littleships&&ybw=&units=Feet&access=Public&listing_id=74527&url=

MAKE US AN OFFER!

 

Top view

View from the top of the mast

The Beginning Of The End!

We started Season 3 with very specific intentions:

1) This will be our last and final season
2) We will put Pelita on the market
3) We will celebrate Christmas in St. Martin
4) We will usher in 2017 in St. Barts
5) We will be heading to Switzerland and Malaysia to celebrate my father’s and Francois’ stepfather’s 80th birthdays

We were focused!….which is kind of a rarity in itself.

Sometime mid-October we slowly made our way up the island chain again. From our hurricane nesting point: Union Island in St. Vincent and Grenadines, we moved up to Bequia, spent a few weeks there until the hurricane season was officially over. November saw us in Martinique where we met up with one of our good friends from another boat. She actually stayed with us for a month before flying back to Germany. She made the meanest ghoulash! Thanks Anke!

After a couple of weeks in Non Such Bay in Antigua for kite-surfing, we made our way to St. Martin to meet up with our best buddy, Morgan. By this time, we had most of our closest sailing buddies with us. We celebrated Christmas and a friend’s 70th birthday AND a couple’s 50th Golden Anniversary. Boy! Was that fun! We feel so blessed to have shared the joyous occasion with this loving and crazy couple.

Unfortunately the Christmas winds didn’t let up (it was blowing between 20 and 30 knots). We all opted to stay put and not head down to St. Barts. Bummer! We were very disappointed as we truly wanted to be there – the rich, famous, bold and beautiful (we fit right in!) all hang out there for New Years. Boo-hoo! Well, that’s the life of a cruiser – weather dictates when and where you go.

Happy 2017! Time to get back to work. We got Pelita out of the water, and slogged to get her ready to be put on the market. I don’t remember us having worked as hard before. It was grueling! We found a broker, got Pelita ready, and BAM! Pelita is on the market!

Meanwhile, Francois and I flew back for the birthday celebrations and food orgies. We returned to St. Martin 6 weeks later both carrying about 15-20lbs more on us. So, now we are back in our favorite playground. While we wait for Pelita to sell, we are just enjoying being on the boat and looking forward to catching up with our cruiser friends.

Quite a productive start to Season 3. Cheers to our Third and Final season.

Wish us luck!

Season Of Appreciation, Gratitude and Friendship

It’s been a great season. We had a blast. Pelita and her crew are still in one piece. We made some new friends, ended some others (ooo…that got your attention, didn’t it?). Saw dolphins, whales, turtles. Francois kite-surfed. I tried wakeboarding. I learned to drive a dinghy (finally). Witnessed a boat hit-and-run. Woke up one night and found a boat that wasn’t there when we went to bed just 5 feet away from us. Watched men parade around their boat in their birthday suits, while wishing women did it more often. Made it through a tropical storm that later turned into a hurricane. We are safe and still loving the lifestyle and we still have each other. End of story.

Now…wouldn’t that just be the greatest blog post ever? Short, sweet, no bullshit. But hey, tough luck. We don’t live in a perfect world now, do we? Plus, honestly, this is our first post in 10 months. We HAVE to write a teeny bit more. So, hang on tight.

Well, for those of you who didn’t read our previous post, we left Trinidad after spending 5 weeks working our asses off on Pelita. Francois lost 20lbs, and I, 10lbs….just from the sweat. Kidding. We chose to go on a diet after all the feasting we did during our short vacation from our ‘longer’ vacation. What? You think we are crazy? You wouldn’t if you saw how much we actually consumed!

We knew that in this 2nd season, we wanted to spend less time cleaning and fixing the boat and more time enjoying Pelita, cruise at a slower pace and to make an effort to meet and get to know the locals. What’s the point of rushing by all the islands and never truly experiencing the place, culture and its people, right?

We fixed almost all the major problems on Pelita while in Trinidad, so, other than the maintenance and some issues that cropped up, she performed really well. We are thankful for that. While I continued to keep the boat as clean as possible, I tried not to obsess over it (easier said than done – the obsessing part)…Haha. We made it a point to enjoy our apero on our trampoline in the evenings to people/boat/sunset (yes, in that order) watch, and when we didn’t, we were out having sundowners on another cruiser’s boat. We practiced yoga almost every morning….which lasted a whole month. We quickly settled into a nice comfortable rhythm. Who knew life could be so blissful.

We certainly enjoyed the slow-paced cruising. Compared to the 3,500 miles of season 1, we only sailed 1,200 miles in season 2. We spent an average of 3 weeks in each anchorage, allowing us to stop and smell the roses. But, how do you know when you have stayed in a place long enough? When local vendors present you with going away gifts. Lol.

The best part about cruising is meeting people. We reunited with old friends from the previous season, made new friends, and even our friends from Boston visited us in St. Lucia. They had booked their trip 10 months prior and a date was set. Such a treat to spend a week and Valentine’s Day with this family. Our favorite cruising buddy/brother, Morgan, from the Caribbean seas returned after our friends from land left. We partied the night away (what else would we do) and over the next few months, we were seldom apart. In fact, he even stayed on our boat for 5 weeks to kitesurf in Antigua before heading back to France to work. I certainly enjoyed having two good looking men on the boat. Lucky me!

I finally attended my first cruisers’ ladies’ lunch. For those who knew me on land, this ladies’ lunch thing was an event we all looked forward to. One hour, good food with an adult beverage for those who don’t turn red like I do and the best company ever….a few like-minded ladies from work. The cruisers’ ladies lunch usually included use of a fresh water pool and a nice hot shower and is a great way to meet other women. I’m happy to say that I have met a few ladies whom I’m proud to have as friends.

Speaking of friendships – There’s a saying out there: We can’t choose our family, but we can certainly choose our friends. As we grow older, we find we only need a handful of friends. Friends who are loyal, who celebrate differences, friends who respect each other and most of all, friends who appreciate one another. To all our friends out there: we appreciate you. Thank you.

We consider ourselves fortunate to have had only one major storm come our way. We had been tracking it for 10 days and we knew we would be affected. Some of our friends moved their boats to the mangroves, some sailed south. There was rain, lots and lots of rain, then came the wind, howling like hyenas (or werewolves if you prefer). Needless to say we didn’t sleep that particular night. Just 2 hours after the storm passed us, Matthew turned into a hurricane. Our thoughts and prayers immediately went to all our friends further up north who were going to be in his path. We came out unscathed and for that we are thankful. We quickly offered a glass of wine to Neptune for his protection. Unfortunately, the hurricane badly hit the poorest islands and created havoc in Haiti. Some of our friends joined other boaters and sailed there to support the rescue operations, kudos to all of them. We salute you.

Our second season comes to an end tomorrow when we head north. We’ve had what we would call an almost perfect year. Thank you for a safe and unforgettable season.

We’d like to share a few of the moments that happened unexpectedly, but have created memories that made this season extra special.

Iguana Stew
Paradise Beach in the island of Carriacou (Grenada) is definitely one of the nicest in the area. During one of our many hikes here, we came across a couple stirring a big cauldron. Curiosity won. We stopped and asked what was inside.”Iguana”, they replied and offered us a sample. As we ate, we learned that they were fishermen from Tobago (of Trinidad and Tobago). They came all the way through the open sea in their fishing boats: a family of about 30 all crammed into 3 boats. The boats had powerful engines, but no roof for protection: Imagine Grandma squatting at the bottom for hours with a plastic tarp over her head. They vacation in Carriacou every year for a week, and always with the entire family. We decided to join them the next day with a pot of chicken wings and had another blast, but no more iguana… or so we thought! They actually kept a small bowl of last night’s stew just for us to enjoy. How thoughtful is that!

Boneless
??? Yeah.
Hiking again, we were staring at an impressive gated piece of well maintained land with all the signs to discourage trespassers. One of our friends stood right in front of the gate and stared. Out comes a man, with only one arm, accompanied by a very fierce-looking watch dog. Turns out he was the owner. Phew! and the dog…a sweetheart. Double Phew!
He invited us inside, walked us through his orchard and garden, showed us his house (which he built himself), offered us wine and asked us to stay for lunch. Chef Francois prepared spaghetti bolognaise using fresh herbs and vegetables from the garden and our host (with our friend) took his boat out to retrieve some freshly-caught fish.
He played us some youtube music and soon enough, we had a live performance. We learned that he is actually a well-known Soca singer, a celebrity on the island, performing in carnivals across the islands and recording his own CDs. He lost his arm to a machete at a tender age of 21, but he never lost his positive attitude. He learned to do things with his one good arm and proudly wears the name Boneless. What an inspiration he is.
Drinks, music, tour of the estate, lunch and such warm hospitality…hmmm…Not sure that Justin B would have given us the same welcome.

Family on the Beach
We love our beach bbqs. We found the perfect beach for a barbecue south of Frigate island, with two tables protected from the sun and the rain. Off we went with our friends. As everyday is a Sunday for us, we didn’t realize it was actually Sunday. The beach was buzzing with kids running around and locals cooking and enjoying their rest day. We were ready to postpone our party, but the locals came to help us beach our dinghies, then freed up one table for us and squeezed on the second one. Very soon, everybody started sharing their food (they had a delicious goat stew) and mixing up at the tables. The paddle board was the main attraction for the kids and they played with it non stop, while we were enjoying the stories of our new friends. Lovely afternoon!

The Singing Chef
On yet another hike, we stumbled into Sailor’s Cafe…well, we were urged to enter by a very friendly man, who was a customer. You know how it goes, first comes the pleasantries, then a drink, more chit-chat, more drinks, then out comes Sunset, a local high proof white rum. BAM! Needless to say, it was almost sunset when we left.
Meet Elfic, the owner of Sailor’s Cafe a.k.a. the Singing Chef. Elfic is a well-travelled and well-educated man. You mix Morgan Freeman, Denzel Washington and Samuel L Jackson and you have Elfic, even more charismatic. The story goes is that Elfic used to cook and very often comes out and sings to the crowd, hence – The Singing Chef. Yes, Elfic serenaded us while we enjoyed his yummy dishes. What a treat! Sailor’s Cafe serves the best fish nuggets, cod-fish bakes and Chinese food in town. Stamp of approval from the Asian chick. I love my food. I KNOW my food. We returned many times and met many members of Elfic’ family and circle of friends. He even arranged for his friends’ steel pan band to come down from mainland St. Vincent to perform for us. Amazing. Once in a lifetime experience.

As we begin the 3rd and perhaps, final season (plans can change!), we can’t help but feel bittersweet. We have grown to love the cruising lifestyle: it’s freedom and flexibility. Remember we mentioned that we could move our house whenever we like, especially if we dislike our neighbors (either by appearing naked, playing loud music or ‘politely’ asking them to leave)? Well, we really love being able to do that. Then there’s the awesome people we’ve met: It is heartbreaking just thinking about parting ways with them. But, but, but,….one last hurrah!

We are all meeting up to party from Christmas up to New Year’s. It’s gonna be one hell of a week of fun, sun, shenanigans, sarcasm, alcohol and inappropriateness!

BRING IT!

 

TLC

 

Tender, loving, care. Yes. That…but for us, it now carries a whole new meaning: Trinis, Liming and the Chi-nee boat!

We fell in love with Trinidad when we visited for a few days 3 years ago. So rich and colorful in culture, vibrant community, beautiful landscapes and such gracious people. When we started cruising, we decided that our destination would be Trinidad: the end of the Caribbean islands and out of the hurricane belt.

So, after our land vacation, we returned to Trinidad. Pelita was out of the water, on the hard at a marina/boatyard called Power Boats. Excellent boatyard with good facilities and people…highly recommend this place.

The week we returned, it was scorching hot and humid. We were sweating buckets. I kid you not! Drip. Drip. Drip. We felt like we were being punished for enjoying ourselves too much during our vacation! We were slogging it out here. We washed, we cleaned, we sanded, we polished, we waxed…..Pelita that is, not us. We worked on the trampoline, the davits, the hatches, the anti-skid, the bimini, the sailbag, etc. etc. I assure you…Pelita definitely received her fair share of T.L. and Costly C!

We could have stayed longer to work on Pelita, but we have learned that work on a boat is never-ending. As they say: Cruising is working on your boat in exotic locations. So, after 5 laborious weeks, on November 11th at 11am, we finally wrapped everything up and launched Pelita. Back on the water, woohoo! It’s good to be floating once more.

We spent a total of 2 months in Chaguaramas, the main port for cruisers. We truly experienced the courtesy and hospitality of the people here. Trinis, as they call themselves are a laid-back bunch, always smiling, laughing and extremely friendly…and kinda loud! Reminds me of my Chinese family (the loudness that is). Lol.

Their courteous attitude was most apparent in the airport. I was ‘randomly selected’ for special screening – big surprise there! But man, was I glad to be the chosen one. They approached me with respect and explained to me every step of the process. They were so polite and friendly and performed their duties with a genuine smile! At the end of it all, I actually got through the security lines waaaayy ahead of Francois! I also took the time to thank them for making the experience so pleasant. USA…you have lots to learn!

The crew at Power Boats were awesome! All sorts of characters. There was a guy nicknamed Cow because he is a vegetarian. He would bring us some of the best organic chips made out of cassava, bread fruit, plantains, and sweet potatoes. He even brought us sugar cane from his home. Another guy carried the name Smalls…he was a big man! We gave another worker a name of Hands. Guess why? He told us that he had 10 girlfriends and that’s all he needed! You work it out. These Trinis sure are a fun bunch!

Limin’: No…not extracting juice from limes, but Chillin’, Hanging out. Limin’ (pronounced lyming) is Trinidad and Tobago’s No.1 activity! Haha. Don’t get me wrong. They work hard, but they also know how to take it easy. We really need to learn from them: work hard, play hard, hang hard (hmmm…that didn’t come out quite right, did it?)!

The Chi-nee boat (not shiny) – there was only one such boat in the boatyard, and it was ours! I was the Chinese (only they pronounce it as Chi-nee (chai-nee)) gal, and Pelita became known as the Chi-nee boat. Francois?…they just called him Cappy. Kept it neutral. Haha. Anyway, they would yell across the boatyard ‘hey Chi-nee, where you going?’ or ‘hey, the Chi-nee boat needs the anti-skid done’. We had some good laughs. For the record, I was not offended at all by the label. My own boyfriend sometimes calls me (lovingly…I hope) Flat-Nose, Small Eyes, and most recently, Take-Out…as in Chinese take out.

It was tough to bid our friends good bye, but the waters were beckoning us. On Thursday, Nov 12th, we officially started our second season of cruising.

Fair winds and smooth sails Pelita!
 

Absence Makes The Heart Grow Fonder

Top view

View from the top of the mast

Missed us much? Yea? Awww….that’s so sweet. Don’t fret…We are back! Actually, we’ve been back for more than 3 months now. Just a little slow in writing the blogs. We are operating on island time!

After 18 months of being on a boat, we were ready to get back to being a landlubber! We missed our families. We were growing a little tired of fixing things, worrying about this and that all the time. I was looking forward to being connected (internet) when and where I want, a good night’s sleep, hot and long showers, turning on lights as and when I want – honestly, I just wanted to get off the boat. What a terrible thing to say huh? Sorry Pelita.

It was marvelous seeing our family and friends. We had a blast. We didn’t have much to worry about except for deciding on the next meal or outing. Nice life eh? We sure got our dose of some tender loving care. We were spoiled rotten by everyone during our summer vacation in Switzerland, Malaysia, Seoul and our short layover in Boston. We are truly thankful, grateful and humbled by all the love showered upon us.

One of our cruising friends told us that it is a good thing to leave the boat after a long stint. He promised us that we would miss life on the water after a few weeks on land. I just laughed at him. But of course….he was right!

The first few weeks on land were heaven. We could sleep without worrying: didn’t matter if the wind was blowing hard or if it was pouring down like cats and dogs. We didn’t have to lug our water jugs to get water. Great. Just wonderful. But after those first few weeks, we found ourselves missing the cruising life! All those things I complained about seemed so frivolous now. None of it was an issue. I didn’t take longer showers just because I could, didn’t simply waste energy, nor did I care about being connected all the time! We missed waking up to fresh air, seeing the mountains and the blue turquoise waters around us. We missed spending time searching for turtles that would pop their heads up for air from time to time. We missed the sheer delight of seeing dolphins prance and dance around the boat. We missed the rainbows, the sunsets, the sundowners, and our crazy cruising friends.

Okay, just so you know how much we missed all of that…we actually went to Marseilles, France to visit a cruiser friend whom we met in St. Martin. We had sundowners (activity that involves snacks and alcohol) on his boat and watched the sunset. We also sort of invited ourselves to a marina where our friend’s friend worked so that we could get a tour to see some boats. We drove around Langkawi, an island in Malaysia looking for anchorages where there were boats. We had it bad.

Most of all, we missed Pelita and being on Pelita. Last season I was bitching a lot about a lot of things! Hahaha. Excessive cleaning, lack of this, lack of that, work, work, fix, fix, stress, etc. I realized that life for most people on land isn’t too different. My friends clean more than me, they work harder than us (we work on our boat, but at least it’s at exotic locations), things break in a house, and the list goes on. So, anyway….what was I bitching about??? Promise to self: bitch less next season!

Pelita may not have all the land amenities or the space, but she has given us something we both always treasured: freedom. We love being able to travel and see new places as often as we wish. Pelita is our vehicle as much as she is our home.

Tested and proven: Absence does indeed make the heart fonder. We thank our family and friends for taking such good care of us feeding us copious amounts of adult beverages and food! We loved our time on land because of you!

We are excited to be back with Pelita and to start a whole new season…with a new attitude!

(photos will be posted on our Facebook page soon….very soon)

 

 

One Year and Over 3,000 miles later…

We are alive! We are still talking to each other! Most importantly: She…,Pelita…,Our Boat, Our Home…, is still intact. In one piece. Phew! We are grateful for the good weather and are thankful for a safe first season. A toast to Neptune for keeping us safe.

July 10th 2014 – Our journey began on this date and took us from Annapolis in USA to the Bahamas, Turks and Caicos, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, The Virgin Islands (Spanish, US and British) Anguilla, St. Martin, St. Barthelemy, Saba, St. Eustatius, St. Kitts/Nevis, Montserrat, Guadeloupe, Dominica, Martinique, St. Vincent/Grenadines, Grenada, and finally Trinidad by July 2015.

So, you must be wondering how it’s been. Truth be told, it has been quite a year. I can tell you that it has been wonderful…which it has, but then that would only be half of the story. Fact is: this was our first season…our first time living away from land…our first boat. We had a lot to learn….about everything.

We read a lot of books related to cruising and sailing before we started this crazy adventure, but nothing could have prepared us for the real thing. So, my advice for those ‘thinking’ about it, or wanting to test the waters…just take the leap of faith.

Our friends are always asking us:

How can you stand being around each other 24 hours a day??
That’s the burning question, isn’t it? Well, first let me say that living 24/7 on land versus living 24/7 on a boat are two very different scenarios. When you are on land, you have a lot more room and space, other distractions to keep you occupied, other roles to play (parent, child, work-related, etc), you can walk out, drive around, go shopping, etc. We don’t quite have all of that on the boat. We are learning to read each other’s moods a little better and trying to give each other more space. As much as we are sometimes at each other’s throats, we also know that we wouldn’t want to share this experience with any other.

What are your favorite and least favorite islands?
This is a tough question. Every island has her own beauty and drawbacks. We loved the quiet and beautiful waters in Bahamas (we were there during the hurricane season, thus we usually had the entire anchorage to ourselves!), we loved the scenery and people in the DR, but hated to deal with the officials. The Virgin Islands were stunning albeit a little overcrowded, and it goes on and on. In short, we loved them all.

Were there any scary moments?
Hell yes! There were storms to avoid: sometimes we did so successfully, other times, not so lucky. But we came out unscathed. Our scariest moment was when our propellers snagged some fishing nets. We were just off the coast of Montserrat, known for its strong current, sailing towards Guadeloupe when this happened…at 6:30am! We turned off the engines and Francois dove down with a rigging knife (small knife about an 3 inches long) to cut the nets loose while fighting 6-8 foot waves and currents. I was helpless, holding a life jacket, scared out of my mind and keeping an eye out for the not too far beautiful cliffs of Montserrat…which we might just slam into! When Francois emerged out of the water with the fishing ropes after 20 minutes of chipping away with the small, but sharp rigging knife, he was rewarded with a beer! He certainly earned it. My hero.

Are you going to sail around the world?
That’s a big N-O. No….thank you. We will however be heading back up the islands to spend more time at places we loved the first time and visit islands we missed the previous year.

Life on a boat:

B.O.A.T: Break Out Another Thousand
After we bought the boat, we found out that our surveyor (and us, but we can be forgiven because we lack the experience) was not as thorough, which ended up costing us major mullah! In any case, anyone who has owned or owns a boat will tell you if it’s on the boat and if it can break, it WILL break. The. End. Simple as that. If you don’t know how to fix it, well…you’d better learn…unless you have deep pockets…which we don’t. Luckily Francois is a quick learner, but even then, we have had dig deep. Ouch.

Code For Cruising: Fixing Things (and Cleaning) in Exotic Places
Did I mention that everything that can break WILL break if on a boat? Yes? Good? It’s the bible truth. Most cruisers keep a running list of things to be fixed…and this list is never ending. The constant boat cleaning and maintenance is enough to drive anyone crazy. For someone (like me) who is a little OCD, this task of keeping the boat clean and neat drove me up the wall. My favorite (not!) is ‘discovering’ something leaking, filling up with water, or breaking. The thing is…it’s usually me who finds these problems, and therefore I am always the bearer of bad news to Captain Francois. Whenever he hears me say..”Guess what?”, he cringes and moans.

Has The Boat Moved?
You must be wondering what in the world is she saying…of course you want the boat to move! Well, yes…when we are sailing, but not when we are anchored! Once we drop our anchor, we ‘gun’ our engines into reverse to set the anchor, and pray it doesn’t drag…then nor later! We are constantly keeping an eye on how our boat swings (with the wind), the distance between us and our neighbors. We have an anchor alarm and set it to anywhere from 50 to 150 feet depending on the conditions. We do sleep a little better with it knowing it would awaken us when or if our anchor drags. Now…the main thing is for us to hear it!! Lol.

Conserve! Conserve! Conserve!
For the record: We are fast becoming masters of water and energy conservation.

Lights? Who needs it? We manage just fine with torchlights.

Unlike some other boats which can hold between 120 – 400 gallons of water in their tank, Pelita only holds 60 gallons. A normal landlubber usually uses between 50 and 70 gallons of water in a SINGLE DAY! All we need now is one gallon of water for both shower and hair wash. How do we manage to accomplish such a feat? Like most cruisers, we do the main bulk of our shower in sea water. We do the armpit test: if it smells fine, then we are clean! Just kidding! So, next time when we shower at your home, and indulge ourselves in the bathroom a little too long, let us be, ok? Thanks 🙂 We have also become really efficient when washing dishes. Invite us to your home for dinner, and ask me to help you with the dishes. Again, I can’t promise you the dishes would be absolutely spotless, but it will be washed and it won’t cost you more than half a gallon of water!

To replenish our water tank, we take our empty jerry cans (we have six 5-gallons jugs) to shore, fill ’em up and then shlep them back to the boat, or sometimes we just move the boat to the dock and fill her up there directly with the hose. It all depends on what’s available and what is easiest. Most times, I just pray for rain!

We Gotta Eat!
Before you ask the question, let me just tell you that we haven’t had much luck in fishing. So…no. No fresh caught fish for us unless we buy them, but when we do get fresh fish and lobsters, it is the freshest it can ever be! We buy groceries just like you do…from the stores/markets….with a slight twist. You landlubbers get into your air- conditioned car, park, grab a cart, shop, pay, load up the car, drive back home. For us, we get into our dinghy (Arnie), tie him up at the dock, walk (could be anywhere from 50ft to a mile), to the different grocery stores/markets as you get different items at each place, shop for a month’s worth of groceries, walk back to the dinghy with the shitload of food, load them up, untie the dinghy, and finally load them up onto the boat….all in scorching heat and 90% humidity. It is not a one-hour task: grocery shopping for us can take up to 3 hours and is a workout (for me)… as Francois (like most men) like to do it all in one go. Haha.

Life on the boat must be so relaxing!
Yeah! Right! Someone once told me that sailing is 90% relaxation, 10% of intense activity and stress. There is a lot of truth to that actually. For example: we could be sailing in calm seas and fair winds, enjoying the breeze, drinking beer, or reading as Pelita glides along happily, and then suddenly gusts of 30 knots of wind (sometimes accompanied by a squall) hits! We find ourselves scrambling to steer the boat into the wind, pull in the head sail, reefing in the main sail all while the waves are crashing over the bow and hulls. We are screaming at the top of our lungs to be heard. Yeah. Absolute chaos and a little frightening! You know what happens next? As soon as we get all that accomplished, which actually takes less than a minute, the rain and the winds are gone. Ahh, the joys of sailing. But we are learning, getting better at handling the boat and we are beginning to truly enjoy the sport of sailing.

Say that again??
Oh…and of course there is an entirely new language to learn. The front of the boat is called the Bow, the back is Stern, left is Port, right is Starboard. The toilet is referred to as the Head, kitchen: Galley, rooms: Cabins, windows are Hatches, ropes are Lines. Then there’s upwind, downwind, close haul, close reach, beam reach, and on and on it goes. WTF! No wonder sailors swear as much as they do. I am proud to say that I have now perfected the art of swearing in 4 languages: English, Cantonese, Malay and French.

As you can tell, life on the boat has not been a bed of roses. We find ourselves (mainly me) in tears (both from fear and frustration), we sometimes shout at each other (also from stress and frustration and irritation when I don’t follow the Captain’s orders), but you know what? All of these challenges/so-called hardships are so worth it because the positives outweigh them.

Are you able to take your home along with you as you travel the world?
No? We can! It is wonderful not having to pack and unpack. We just take our home with us.

You have a new neighbor, and they are rude, noisy and obnoxious. In short, you dislike them. You can’t just move houses, can you?
We can! Usually we stand on deck looking all menacing should a boat come too close to us in hope of fending them off, and if they are too near (for our comfort), we become the rude, noisy and obnoxious neighbors…hoping to drive them away. When that fails, we burp and fart as loud as we can! Hahaha.

Can you have a different view from your house every day should you choose it?
Well…We can! If we like the view, we stay longer. Don’t like it…we move. Easy as ABC.

Can you walk onto your garden naked and not get arrested?
We can! Not that we do (others do…and it’s usually the ones we don’t want to see naked), but we certainly can. Nudity while isn’t encouraged, is quite common.

Who Needs Sea World?
Front row seats for free! Dolphins doing their acrobatic spins in the air, turtles calmly swim by, surfacing for air every so often, remora fishes attached to our hulls, barracudas seeking shade within our 2 hulls, all other kinds of fishes flock to get fed as I wash the dishes in the ocean…how can we not forget our troubles and marvel at these exquisite creatures?

Somewhere Over The Rainbow
Imagine waking up and walking onto your garden (naked, if you wish) and you are greeted by a beautiful rainbow or two? That was my daily ritual for almost a month while in the Bahamas. Stunning! (Francois was usually still asleep).

Sunrise, Sunset and Sundowners
Are you able to sit and enjoy the sunrise and sunset every day? We definitely can…and do! Well, not the sunrise as we are usually still asleep, but sunsets…oh yes! Almost religiously. 365 days, 365 sunsets: none the same. Glorious.

The best thing that comes with sunsets are sundowners. This is the time where cruisers visit each other’s boats, enjoying one drink too many, munching on snacks while reveling in the beautiful colors of sky and sharing stories. We picked up on this activity quickly and are proud to say we are pros at it!

Do You Need Help?
I have never ever met people who are as helpful as cruisers. It’s crazy. Perhaps it’s because we know we have no one else out here except each other and therefore, we all tend look out for one another. When we first started in Annapolis, we were rookies, but everyone in the marina were always ready to lend a helping hand. As we continued, we met more and more people alike: always willing to share their knowledge and take time off from their ‘busy’ schedule (of basking in the sun, reading, drinking, eating, snorkeling, etc) to help solve our problems. Cruising has renewed my faith in humanity, the goodness and kindness in people. The world is a better place because of you. Thank you.

Friendships
Over the year, we have met some incredible people, all with inspiring stories of how and why they chose this lifestyle. We have met solo sailors, retired folks old enough to be our parents, but so much stronger and younger at heart than us, families traveling with young toddlers or teenagers and middle-aged couples (like us) who chose to leave the rat race. We are thankful and proud to have you as our friends. Your stories motivate us. YOU inspire us.

So, one year and over 3,000 miles later…

… We want more!

(For more photos, check out our Facebook page: bonjour pelita)

The cause of our scariest moment!

The cause of our scariest moment!

View from the top of the mast

View from the top of the mast

Life on a boat!

Life on a boat!

Huffin’ & Puffin’, Bitchin’ & Moanin’.

How did I end up being with a man who enjoys hiking, AND a sailing buddy, sports enthusiast, Morgan, who also enjoys a rigorous hike? To top it all, Morgan’s mother, Joelle, who was visiting tells me that hiking is her specialty! What?!? No! No! No! Just for the record, if you haven’t already guessed…I am not fond of hiking (nor of any other sports for the record), especially when we are talking about 4-8 hour hikes to mountains and volcanoes. Uh-uh…this ain’t my cup of tea! I was born, bred and raised in a city. My entire family isn’t very much into any form of sports except for ‘dry swimming’ as they call it in Chinese – mahjong! (Google it).

Therefore, is it so surprising that I was whining as we were hiking these trails? In fact, Francois would tease me, saying that when my bitching was at its breaking point, he knew we were just 5-10 minutes away from the summit. I call it my peak radar. Nevertheless, the hikes were truly mesmerizing and breath taking (literally!). Once I got into the zone of walking and breathing (hard), the world around me seemed to stand still. It felt so peaceful. Very zen. Part of me…a SMALL part of me really enjoyed it…but hell! I sure ain’t gonna tell them that!

Saba, St. Eustatius, St. Kitts/Nevis, Montserrat make up the Islands That Brush The Clouds. Isn’t the name just so romantic? Every time I say it, I say it in a whisper with a slight pause on the word ‘brush’ and have this dreamy look on my face. You try it! It’s magical.

Saba: also known as the Unspoiled Queen has a few trails that can be quite challenging. One of the highlights there is Mt. Scenery, a potentially active volcano, which stands almost 3,000 feet tall. There are also over 1,064 thigh-busting steps on this trail. I read somewhere mentioning that the peak is almost always in the clouds (hence the name Islands That Brush The Clouds), and it is clear for something like 20 days in a year. However, if you hang around long enough, the clouds will eventually move away. The view is supposedly stunning. I took the easy way out, claiming that I didn’t want to waste my time climbing all the way to the top for nothing. I know, I know….shame on me. The rest of my team went up though…an achievement, but not much of a view. I did try to warn them…

St. Eustatius, affectionately called Statia lies southeast of Saba. The Quill in Statia is the 2nd highest mountain in the Netherlands and is a dormant volcano. A mountain? What are we waiting for? Let’s go! We chose a trail that lead us to the crater. It was so green and lush with vegetation. Not what I expected. When we reached the rim of the crater, we were greeted by 2 resident roosters who kept coming after our food. Since it had been raining a little and I didn’t want to get my shoes all muddy, I chose to stay behind to keep an eye on the bags and to fend off the roosters while Francois, Morgan and Joelle went down to the slippery trail to the bottom of the crater. What a team player, huh? 🙂

We decided not to stop in St. Kitts due to the rolly anchorage, and so, ended up in Nevis instead. No major trekking here for us. We were still recuperating from the two rigorous hikes. One of our stops was at the thermal bath. It was very hot..about 108 degrees and after 15 minutes soaking in it, our muscles felt like jelly and we were exhausted beyond belief!

The Soufriere Hills in Montserrat is an active volcano! It was a dormant volcano for the longest time, until 1995. It has continued to erupt, destroying the capital city, Plymouth, rendering half of the island inhabitable and causing two-thirds of the population to flee the island. The volcano is closely monitored by the Montserrat Volcano Observatory. We anchored at the northern part (which was allowed), but did not check in with immigration and customs. Majestic views from the boat and so very peaceful.

As we were leaving Montserrat, we sailed by the scene of crime and saw the devastation from the last eruption.

The Islands of Mountains and Mangroves is made up of Antigua, Barbuda (we will visit these 2 islands next season), Guadeloupe and Dominica. The trails here were phenomenal! Rain forests, rivers, waterfalls, crater lakes, dormant and active volcanoes…Spectacular.

Guadeloupe has over 110 miles of hiking trails! We definitely couldn’t do them all, and so, we had to choose. We went to some of the smaller ones, but the big one that we chose to tackle was an active volcano, La Soufriere. It was one of the most scenic hikes (for me) with some challenging parts, but manageable. We had to navigate around some rocks, but the trail was clearly marked. We huffed and puffed, I bitched and moaned…and voila! We were at the top. It was windy, misty and cold! But who cares…we made it to the top: 4,800 feet! Woohoo! On the way back, after speaking to a local woman, we went to a nice natural hot springs to relax our muscles. Perfect end to the day.

If you are looking for a nature haven, filled with trails and waterfalls, there is only one island to go to: Dominica. Truly absolutely unparalleled. Oh, and this is where parts of Pirates of the Caribbean were filmed! Like Guadeloupe, there were numerous trails to undertake. We took a short river trip that still had the props from the movie. It was a very peaceful ride with our guide having to row half of the way. We also visited the Trafalgar Falls. In order to swim directly under the falls, one would have needed to be a cat (agile and with 9 lives)! Francois and Morgan were jumping from one moss-filled and slippery rock to another. Both Joelle and I decided to admire from afar. We did however partake in soaking in the natural sulphur pools. But no trip would be complete without a hike to the summit, would it? We went for the gold…Morne Diablotins (pronounced Diabloton), the highest peak in Dominica. Standing at 4,747 feet high, it is the 2nd highest peak in the Lesser Antilles, after La Soufriere in Guadeloupe! We hired a guide for this trail: his name was Bond…James Bond! I kid you not! Well, that’s what everyone in the island calls him. The sweetest guy ever…he even brought us all mangoes from his yard. He made this hike so enjoyable and fun, stopping every so often for us to catch our breath and to listen to the parrots and birds. It was a tough hike…we felt like Indiana Jones, well…more like a monkey (but Indy Jones sounds cooler), climbing over and under roots and branches. Thank goodness it didn’t rain, or else, it would have been muddy. We were fortunate. This trek was definitely the highlight of the trip.

Back to my ‘favorite’ activity…I must tell you of my most embarrassing moment. Joelle totally out-walked me in all of our hikes and she even had to push me (my butt, that is) up a few times. If I were an ostrich, I would be sticking my head in the ground.

As much as I hated it, I am glad Francois and my friends coerced me into it. So, umm…thank you? Haha. All jokes aside, hiking these trails truly allowed me to fully experience the entire island. Not to be missed.

Next season: Boiling lake in Dominica and Mt. Pelee in Martinique! They are supposed to be two of the best hikes. I will start training soon, but I won’t promise that I will stop bitchin’ and moanin’. That’s part of the fun!

Current port: crew – Malaysia, boat – Trinidad

Totally felt like Indiana Jones

Totally felt like Indiana Jones

La Soufriere. We made it to the top!

La Soufriere. We made it to the top!