Slick and I have been back in Boston for nearly three weeks. I had to wait to make a final blog post about the trip as it has taken some time to digest it all. Returning to the place I left has at sometimes been happy, strange, disheartening, annoying and amazing. I will get more into that a little later but first I suppose I should just finish off the sailing part, then get to my impressions of “home” later in the post.

At the very last minute a very old friend of mine from school in the navy volunteered to do the last offshore leg with me. Josh and I hadn’t seen each other in maybe 15 years but, as good friends do, we slipped right back into the groove warn by so many common experiences and good times. I suppose a few beers helped with that too. We had a last night out in Portsmouth and then when the weather turned and the tide was right – we left, bound for, at first Newport, but then changed to Quissette Harbor as the weather only gave us a short window.

Leaving Portsmouth was easy but a long motor by the enormous naval bases and shipyards that line the Elizabeth River. Once out into the Chesapeake we headed for the non-commercial entrances to the north. As we were leaving a sub was pulling in, I guess this brought a smile to our faces as we were not on those types of boats any more.

The sailing itself was fairly uneventful, I am not even sure we ever went off soundings. It was a couple nights and a few days off shore and eventually the wind would fill in only to die again each night until the last night. I guess that was OK as this was the last time I would be doing this on Slick, I didn’t need any surprise specials of the day when it came to weather. This was Josh’s first offshore experience and he really enjoyed it too. The entire passage though was full of fishing trawlers everywhere each night so I was happy to have him on board, not just for the company but also so I could get some sleep.

There are a lot of balloons off the East Coast of the US. I have decided I am never ever buying anyone balloons again as they all seem to end up in the oceans, not to mention consume the worlds helium supply for something totally frivolous. I think I saw more balloons than plastic bags, which is rare. Anyway, I am sure a balloon floated by as I had my last sun-downer at sea. As Gordon played away, I really had a lot to think about on that one, such a long trip behind me and such a long task ahead of me. Not just reintegrating but starting the next thing.

After the sun went down the wind started to build, which was unusual. We moved into our night routine which was supposed to be three on three off as there was only maybe 8 hours of darkness. Josh seemed to like night watch so much though he let me sleep which was good. By early AM we were in the approach lanes of Newport and the wind was still building. A few ships passed close by as well as a couple of tugs and we rode the tide up into Buzzard’s Bay. The waves had built pretty significantly with the wind too and I was happy to get into the bay and behind the shelter of Cuttyhunk. We sailed up on main alone in 25 knots down wind. As we approached Quissette harbor the sun was well up and we put the main away and motored in. Slick was home, or at least her childhood home. I always like this harbor where I bought her. It is so beautiful and well protected and the local moorings folks are always surprised to see Slick in port – especially this time. I dropped Josh off via the dinghy and he left. It was a nice night in the harbor as the wind howled just outside. The occasional remnants of waves would make it into the entrance and rock us gently, even though Buzzard’s was tore up.

In the morning the wind was supposed to lull a bit and this matched up well with the tides so I departed around 1030. We missed the rock that everyone seems to hit on the way through, I think Slick just knows where it is from childhood as we have never topped it and I am not sure if it really even exists. Everyone else I know who has ever come through here will insist they have hit it, but I find that a bit incredible. The lull didn’t last long and the waves built back up fast as they do in Buzzard’s Bay. I passed by Catherine’s Ledge Light, a little shallower than I ever would have before. Then we approached the Cape Cod Canal. It was odd being back in waters were I no longer really needed a chart, back to familiar waters where I knew my way around. The wind and waves calmed as we entered the shelter of the canal. Slick and I rode a strong current through the canal, the motor barely off ahead-idle and still making the 10 knot speed-over-ground limit.

When we popped out the other side into Cape Cod Bay we were in for a bit of a surprise. The wind was nearly double what was forecast and it only took a little bit of a reefed jib to keep the boat going at eight knots toward Boston. The wind was blowing off the land so there wasn’t much fetch and it was pushing us off the quarter. I think we made the fastest time I have ever made to Minot Light. Off Plymouth was the worst of it with sustained gusts over 45 knots. I saw a few other boats drop sail and motor very close to shore. Slick refused though and was now in a hurry to get back to Boston.

When we rounded Minot light the wind had abated some but was now on the nose so I furled the remaining jib and used the motor to get into the harbor approaches. Once the angle was favorable, I rolled it out again. It was a bit surreal coming into Nantasket Roads. Of course to be in the shelter of the islands was nice, but the waves were never really that bad. It was a strange feeling seeing things I recognized from sometime long ago. Boston Light, Georges and Lowell’s Islands, Nixes Mate, and everything else on the way in. I was finally back to where I started.

And just in time, the Wednesday night races were well underway and boats were already on their second lap to windward. Slick and I cleverly hid behind a ferry so no one could see us as the fleet approached, then as the ferry moved we were right in the way and all the racing boats from my yacht club had to sail around us. At first people were a bit annoyed by the boat in the way until they realized it was Slick and the angry screams of panic turned into joyous welcoming cheers. When we finally docked some of my friends came running down the pier with beer in hand to welcome us home. We went to dinner and perhaps I told a few too many stories for one sitting. It was a very nice way to arrive. And that’s it, Slick’s Adventure is over. It only took three years, seven months, six hours and sixteen minutes.

So now I move on to the next part of life. I am slowly reintegrating into the regular world. I have a driver’s license for the first time in a year. That went amazingly smooth. Slick has a regular marina, although the cost is absurd. She and I both have insurance now, hers is boat insurance and mine for health. It was quite a debacle to get Slick updated insurance though as the marina at first wouldn’t take it, even though it was from a company they suggested. The second time around though they didn’t mind a different company that is more live-aboard friendly. In the end it’s quite expensive just to comply with all the requirements of the living here. More than half my annual budget while sailing has been spent in fees, taxes and dockage.

Boston in general has gotten much more expensive than I remember. I talk with my friends about the rents and they have climbed, as has the price of food. Many of my favorite regular places are gone, although the Fours is still around and they remember me, which was nice. The Sail Loft too, although they still don’t have chowder and fries on the menu together, despite my best attempts. I live, essentially under a bridge which makes it loud and dirty on the boat, but at least I don’t have to care anymore what the weather is going to bring me.

The weather, its cold here and it rains a lot. There have been several very nice days but I had to plug into shore power for the first time in three years just to run a heater – in June. Fortunately though there have been some nice evenings and I have raced on a few other people’s boats. I think the first race I went on after returning was the first time I have sailed a boat strictly for pleasure in as long as I can remember. I also have people I can spend the evening catching up with, it is nice to meet so many friends from former work or school and the sailing community.

My impressions of America though are not always so positive. As much as I love this country it is different than when I left. I am constantly surprised by how unapproachable and unfriendly people are compared to the rest of the world, well, maybe not Western Europe, but everywhere else. America seems very divided compared to when I left, politically, racially, and financially. Even the role of police and citizens has taken a turn down. Although my friend Spencer who visited recently got some big help from some motor cycle cops when his battery died, so it is still nice to see they can care. Oddly on one of my morning runs I saw a statie wiping the word “pig” off of the back of his car. He was yelling obscenities as he was cleaning off the perhaps-shoe-polish and I couldn’t help but wonder both who would be so disrespectful and why would an officer of the law not have the bearing to control his temper. The most disheartening part was I saw this in a parking lot of MIT. One thing that I find especially disturbing, it seems really violent here. I don’t mean around me, but seemingly everywhere else. I guess I just forgot about the culture of fear. Along with that, I assume, there seems to be a constant presence of military helicopters over Boston that I don’t remember. Sometimes they are escorting LNG’s (this is the only place in the world I have ever seen an LNG escorted) but often they are just flying around. Why? Oh, and what’s with all the homeless people? Seriously, this isn’t something you see much of in the rest of the world. A little, but not like here. How has this not been solved and why did it get worse?

Anyway, as much as I occasionally wonder what the fuck I am doing here instead of sitting in some tropical paradise I have to remember that the grass on that side wasn’t always all that green either. There are great things about being back in Boston, not the least of which is that I can run when I want. And then there is um, uh, wait, is that the only positive thing? Functioning internet, that’s a plus. Hmm, perhaps I am just in the traveler’s phase of returning after a long trip where you are cynical about everything you see. That part of reintegration where despite the familiarity and friend’s the place you return to is not quite home.

In any case, I am not ready to go back out to sea. I don’t know if I will ever be ready for that. I was eager to start the next chapter of my life and now I am doing just that. Yes, some days are spent chasing bureaucracy or cleaning out the boat or throwing away all the things I have lived without for the last several years from my ex-girlfriend’s basement (thank you for storing it all though). Most days though are spent moving the ball down the field to start one or more companies based on ideas I had while traveling. I have looked into several common work spaces and have settled for now to do most of my prototyping at one and do the design and business side out of the boat. That is until I need to get more serious about the business part and then I will get an office of some sort. In three weeks I have learned an incredible amount about start-ups and how they get financed. I have also had the chance to meet with some people who are farther down the road or are more familiar with the local funding scene to give me great advice for a way forward. These are all great advantages of the area and this is the reason, after all, that I came back to Boston.


Made it back to Boston, but I am not quite ready to write about it, soon though. In the mean time, here are all the pics of the trip up the East Coast. Also for some reason the pictures of Mitzpe Ramon from long ago didn't ever get posted, even though they are in the menu, so that is fixed.


Slick and I have made it all the way to the Norfolk area of Virginia. We are swallowing up the east coast much faster than when we came down it. Although, not quite as fast as I would have liked thanks to some fronts and the occasional tropical storm. This blog post will be long but should get the blog up to date and I will also review two more relevant books at the end.

I ended up staying in Bimini for a little over a full week, which is a full week longer than I meant. In the end it turned out to be OK though. I made some new friends. I met one person that was pretty interesting who is a part time circus performer, I keep meeting those actually. I also got to know the sailing yacht Jancris quite well. Oh, and I met some friendly but hungry bull sharks. They feed them off the dock of the bar I would visit for happy hour. The anchorage eventually filled up to as the weather seemed to get worse everyday. We waited forever but it got interesting watching the sea planes try to maneuver about the many anchored boats.

I finally managed to leave on a small southerly on an 8 PM high tide. It was a good thing I waited for the high tide as it is a really shallow entrance. Anyway, everything was going good until the weather changed at about 2 am and a northerly picked up. To be fair it was only about 15 knots out of the north but with the Gulf Stream running north at 2.5 knots it built some huge waves fast that were beating us up. So Slick and I were not able to make it to Ft. Pierce but headed for Palm Beach instead. We arrived about 6 am through the cut and anchored in Lake Worth.

It was actually Riviera Beach, Palm Beach’s seedy, stabby neighbor. There were only two murders while I was there which I think was a record low for one week. Anyway, I had to wait out weather again before I headed north. This time it was a preseason tropical storm, Ana. I knew it was going to be a long trip to Charleston and saw the storm coming and just had to wait. It wasn’t all bad though, I got to see my grandad a few times. Peanut island is a nice place to go for an early morning, pre-heat run, I got some work done on future projects and even did some maintenance on Slick. It’s pretty clear though that the cruising community is not really welcome there. They charge you $10-15 to dock your dinghy and the local boats sort of look at you with smite.

Ana was lingering around the Carolinas but I decided to go under the idea that she would be gone when I got there, and she was. The passage was a triple overnighter. It would have been faster if I could have used more of the Gulf Stream but it was full of thunderstorms while I was there. Many came off the land too but we managed to avoid them, sometimes narrowly.

The passage was just a long motor as the tropical storm had all but destroyed all other sources of wind. I did have a yellow footed booby land on the solar panels though off Jacksonville. The bird stayed for two days and finally flew off when we could see Charleston. It was certainly a stowaway which was fine except it shat all over the place. I saw some whales too but I am not sure what type and of course some huge dolphins came to play a few times. My sleep schedule on the trip is normally to sleep for 15 minutes at a time if there is traffic or 30 minutes if I am far enough off shore and if there is nothing around and I am way out then I will take 45 minute naps. This seemed to work well for the three night trip except when I got close to Charleston if I fell asleep and didn’t wake up I would end up on the beach, that would count as failing I think.

I pulled into Charleston very early in the morning. The approaching channel runs several miles out to sea but even Slick is able to cut in at the last minute, which we did. A few other boats followed us too. On the way though a large freighter entered the channel inbound. That was OK as I think everyone noticed. A tug though was on his way out, not to meet the freighter or for any other reason other than transiting as near as I could tell. I made room for him but he turned and bared down on me. I adjusted course again and he did too. He was moving ten knots and throwing a wake at least 8 feet. He yelled at me over his megaphone for being in the channel, which we had to be or go aground, and then rolled us and the other two boats too. The freighter came through ten minutes later giving everyone five honks just for fun. I found none of this to be particularly southerly behavior.

When I pulled into Charleston Maritime the dock hands remembered us and are even blog readers (thanks guys). They wanted to ask about the trip and I wanted to tell them but I was so tired I think I might have fallen asleep while trying to pay my bill. That evening Sandy and Joe, navy nuke friends from MIT who are stationed down here, came over and we had a few beers and dinner. It was quite good to see them. The next night Joe came down and we had a few beers on the pier. While in Charleston I got a lot of work done on Slick but then backing up I accidentally hit the dock when the wind picked up and the mud I was plowing on the bottom ended. Slick turned fast in the wind and current and smash, I bashed up the new ladder. Its a good thing it was a wooden dock or there might have been some real damage.

I really love Charleston, it is certainly a world class city. The thing about it is that it’s not huge like New York or Boston, but it still has all the class and history. The food culture there is great too so I had to get a fill of Southern BBQ and some other things. I certainly enjoyed running along the water and the old battery and visiting the old places I used to frequent when I was stationed there. For some reason though, that I still can’t quite explain, I still could not live there.

So I left for Beaufort, NC. This was a boring motor, but that was fine. The most exciting thing was finding a missing cotter pin in my forestay. Good thing it was a motor I guess. I wonder how long that has been missing. Anyway, I saw little traffic and no dolphins. The entrance into Beaufort was pretty rough too. Lots of sport fishers swamping the little boats. When I managed to get in near town there was a pretty good current running and so I needed to maneuver correctly or get in trouble. I lined up to get things set and was obviously docking when a speed boat with some probably-drunk millennials decided to get in my way. The dock master yelled at him and they told him to shove it. Unbelievable.

Anyway, when I finally got landed, there was Norm and Elizabeth from Averisera waiting for me on the pier. They had come down to meet me and do the Ditch. They were a welcome site since I haven’t had any guests since Alex left in the Bahamas. We had a nice easy dinner and a few drinks and left early the next morning to make the 6 AM drawbridge opening.

The passage through the Ditch is, of course, all motoring. Its mostly narrow canals or the occasional open but shallow sounds. I wouldn’t dare let Slick out of the channel but they are experienced boaters so I didn’t need to watch them closely. The first day though, my head plumbing clogged from too much calcification, so Norm and I spent nearly the whole day working on it to have a functioning toilet. I seemed to have just enough spares to fix it and not a single bit more so we managed and everything is fine now. As soon as it was fixed I drove and at some point passed a boat that seemed to be going out of the channel. They yelled at me for cutting them off, and they did it on channel 16! Anyway, I had at least two boat lengths from them so I am not sure why they were so nervous, obviously they never raced their boat, but they were really upset. They continued out of the channel and went somewhere. The lady asked if I knew I cut them off and I just replied “Yeah, I did.” They would never make it elsewhere in the world I think. Shortly after we came to the mouth of the Alligator-Pongo Canal. I wanted to try to do the ditch in two days only but some massive thunderstorms moved in and so we decided to anchor early for the night.

The second day was pretty much the same and we had almost made it to Coinjock when a huge cell decided to move. So we spent the last two hours motoring through massive lighting storms. We got sort of lucky though as the storm split right as we came into proximity and gave us a fairly easy, but wet, pass. So we made it to Coinjock and stopped for the night. We stayed at the Midway Marina and the owner was quite a nice guy. His own restaurant was closed so he lent us his car for the evening so we could go to another one. Some place that is famous for making prime rib, and it’s very good.

The next morning we left quite early for Portsmouth. The day was a bit uneventful in the beginning. We missed one bridge opening and then one of the other bridges wouldn’t open as I guess there were problems with the train bridge next to it. They yelled at us when I finally asked them for an opening as they said they had been trying to hail us, but not on channel 16, which is where I would expect to be hailed. Anyway, in the end we managed to get through after circling for nearly an hour. We finally arrived in Tidewater Yacht Marina and Norm and Elizabeth departed. They were very good guests. And they made the Ditch a very enjoyable trip.

So the next hop will be from here to probably Newport, Rhode Island. Then from there it is only a short passage back to Boston. I think I will leave Saturday morning as for the next two days a series of fronts are passing. Oh, and its freaking cold up here. Real cold, and I guess it isn’t even that cold. Who could enjoy boating up here in all this cold water? Well, I guess I used to and probably will again.

As for my impressions of America upon returning I am a bit surprised and embarrassed by the boating community I have seen so far. It seems to be very acceptable to be quite rude to everyone, they yell at each other and the dock masters and throw huge wakes when it really isn’t required. Yes, in other countries they go by you on step at max speed, but this only throws a tiny wake. Other than around the water though, I have really not been able to formulate much of an opinion about America, since I still haven’t stopped moving. Maybe the next post, which maybe will be from Boston!

Here are two more books I recommend. I put them here this time as it seems I have spent most of my time waiting or dodging weather on my passages up the East Coast. The first Book, Adlard Coles’ Heavy Weather Sailing, Sixth Edition, provides a detailed account of tactics for handling storms if you happen to get stuck in one. The book is so horrifying to read that Nathan was not able to finish. The book is split into two parts, one theory and the other practical stories. The stories are the scary part, but they do a great job of illustrating how bad it can get and how to handle it in several different boat types – monohulls, cats, power boats and even RIBs. This is a definite must read for anyone going offshore as you never know when you will get stuck in some nastyness.

The next book provides an introduction to oceanography of the average non-academic sailor. The book, Oceanography and Seamanship does a very good job of explaining how the wind and currents form, and covers a lot of other subjects that are really good to know for the blue-water sailor. I would like to see the book updated a bit though, since it is from the 70’s or so. This does provide a humor point in some cases for the modern cruiser as occasionally Van Dorn dedicates entire chapters to how he would do it, obviously on a wooden boat. So there are a few things he thinks we should have and don’t, like 15 gallons of roofing tar, cement or 1000 feet of large hemp rope. In any case I think most cruisers are not really familiar with the science of the seas and Van Dorn provides a great introduction to the environment that every blue water skipper should understand.


Every bit as nice as the first time. See all the pics here.


I have managed to make it only as far as Bimini. I have decided that the weather in the Bahamas really has an issue with Slick and I. I am not sure why, but I think it has something to do with Slick’s 7.5 foot draft. Anyway, I will catch up to date and hopefully the next blog post will be from the east coast. Oh, and there will be a new feature at the end of the blog.

It was easy to hang around Staniel Cay and hard to find reasons to actually leave. The place is quite a special one and one evening the owner and I got into a discussion. Basically I told him the was the second best cruising bar in the world. He asked me where is the first. Obviously I was just joking with him, but this got me thinking. Its hard to find a place like that, the view, the history, the friendly locals and the steady stream of visitors so you always meet someone interesting. Combine that with a great anchorage and beautiful water and you have something. So I guess it would be a toss up for me, Kramer’s in Palau, the Mai Kai Yacht Club in Bora Bora and Staniel Cay. I am not really sure which order I would put them in or which one I would go back to first.

Anyway, enough of my top three. The time there passed meeting fun people and hanging out with a few crews from mega-yachts and even getting to know some of the locals. I made a friend, Martin, who was also single handing. He came over from Florida in a thirty foot boat. One morning he woke me up a bit frantic. A passing catamaran caught his anchor line and drug him up into the shallows and he was hard aground. Try as we could, Mutley and I could not free him. So, he had to wait until high tide, which was going to be awhile as the tide was on its way out. Eventually when the spring tide came back in we pulled him off and into deeper water.

It was really relaxing there. I could forever hang out in a rocking chair on the porch and watch the sun go down meeting whatever traveler or local happened to walk by. I felt really at home there. One night we had a bonfire on the beach, we used pallets as wood. I used to do this a lot when I was younger, so it seemed only natural.

On one of the many lazy days my phone broke. This is a shame really. My friend sent the phone to me and it is my source for weather and contacts and everything else that people need smart phones for. It turns out though that there is a known problem with the microUSB slot in them and they break often. So now I can’t charge the phone in the normal way. Well what’s an enginerd to do? At first I tried to solder one from an old phone in, but I don’t have quite the right stuff here, so I hacked up the old phone and made a charger out of it. So this is how I must charge my phone, good thing I have two batteries I guess.

I kept finding reasons to hang around and not leave. It wasn’t all fun reasons though. One day, I was going to leave and a massive thunderstorm rolled in right as I wanted to go. The storm probably lasted an hour and there was maybe 30 knots of wind coming from the west where there is no protection. There was ground striking lighting all around and driving rain that made it so you couldn’t even see 100 feet. I thought I had better stay and go the next day.

Unfortunately that night was a tragedy. We had a very good time in the bar and even though there were not many of us it was a great little party. As the bar closed we all said our good byes and I was chatting with some people out front. Then the radio from the bar lit up loudly that a tender had gone onto the rocks and many people were hurt and the tender partially deflated. The tender managed to get to the bar and the staff of the club woke up the nurse and everyone was taken to the clinic. One guy was ejected from the dinghy and he had massive scalp wounds and punctured an artery as well as his sinuses. I am not sure how he didn’t break his neck too but he certainly had a concussion and his back was cut quite bad on the rocks. Another guy had a medium head wound and a few others had some smaller stuff, bruised rib or so. But they were all in shock.

The medical facilities there are quite dismal as the clinic is just the front of the nurse’s house and there is a very limited supply of medical equipment and certainly a lack of medical personal. Since I had training from the military and prior to this trip I stuck around to help. The primary goal was to stop the bleeding of the most injured person and the nurse and a local EMT took care of that. They were aided by another guy that was at the bar. I washed out the head wound of the second guy and took to helping with the first. The night turned into a long one and several liters of IV fluid later, bandages and pressure and a lot of moral boosting talk, the two most injured guys were stabilized. I left at 6 am pretty tired and I guess they were airlifted shortly after that. It was amazing though how difficult it was to coordinate the air service. I guess it would be one thing in a far off Pacific island, but the Coasties are only in Florida, an hour helicopter ride away. I guess though it was hard to get the Bahamians and the American Air Crews to communicate. Never the less, the last I heard is that both guys are OK even though the worse of the two needed some surgery. I think too that, given the popularity of Staniel Cay, the government really needs to build a better, proper clinic there.

So I still didn’t leave the next day, but slept. And I stayed just a little longer in one of my favorite places. Finally it looked like if I didn’t leave I would never leave and so the weather, my only real boss, forced me to go. I gave the bar a parting gift, a mask I traded for in the South Pacific, they hung it up. After a few too many more last nights I finally left.

I stayed the night off Shroud Cay and then the next day into Nassau. I only went into Nassau for one reason and that was to eat a delicious cheese burger at the Green Parrot. They have one of the best cheese burgers in the entire sailing world, perhaps even the best. Certainly the best in the Caribbean. I had been looking forward to it for three years and it did not disappoint me. It was every bit as good as I remember. That evening I picked up some groceries at the supermarket. Turns out the supermarket is a foreign version of Whole Foods and was the most expensive place in the entire Bahamas. Ouch, 9 bucks for regular bacon and 6 for peanuts that are not even that good.

Anyway, the next morning I departed for Chub Cay but when the weather looked like it would take a nasty turn I decided to go through the night. As I was coming up to the top of the Tongue of the Ocean I spotted some pilot whales playing nearby. Then Jim Gentry went off and on the end was a dancing dorado. I put the boat in forward idle (yes it was a motor) and reeled the little lady in. I was solo so landing her was a bit harder than usual and I couldn’t find the mahi-mahi-masher so I just put alcohol in her gills. Anyway, nice fresh sushi and filets the next night and fishwiches later.

The motor across the banks was easy at first but around midnight the wind picked up on the cheek from the south and the waves built quickly in the shallow water. It became a pound just tight enough I couldn’t sail. The banks are shallow and you don’t want to get off the designated path. Slick hammered her way to the lee of Bimini and we anchored about 4 am.

The next morning I awoke. I bathed in the clear blue water, and rinsed off with some fresh and though to myself, that is probably the last time I will bath in the ocean as where I go next the water is not so clean. Then I realized that this trip really is over. It was such a weird feeling, a sad feeling. As eager as I am to move on, it’s just hard to grasp the idea that this is over. People keep asking me how I feel having sailed around the world. I guess it’s sort of like when I finished the Ph.D. The feeling is confusing and disorienting, having reached a major life goal.

Anyway, those thoughts were all bashed out of my brain as I headed to the inside anchorage of North Bimini. It was a solid bash into 20 knots and exposed ocean swell running against current. The waves were steep and nasty. I made it to the entrance of a channel I was told had plenty of water and the charts showed 12 feet. Luckily, we came in at high tide and there was only about a foot of water below Slick’s keel. With the running waves it could have been pretty nasty had I tried at any other time, the grounding would have been real bad. To be fair, I didn’t know it was high tide, I just got lucky. Once inside it was impossible to find a place deep enough to anchor. So I ended up far from anything but Resort World. Slick and I are anchored in the turning basin for sea planes.

Bimini kind of sucks. I can only leave at high tide. They didn’t have any diesel and I had to take Mutley the Super Dinghy over to the next island. I handcuffed myself by even coming in here as now I need the weather and tides to line up. Something they don’t seem to do. The next hop is crossing the Gulf Stream so I want some fair weather for it. Right now we are riding out a double passing front and its pretty miserable. I actually set a second anchor because the wind is trying to blow me into a barge.

The place isn’t all bad though. I have met some cool people and the locals are really friendly. A small bird landed on Slick yesterday at the outset of the storm. It could barely fly and when I came out to look at it fell into the oil-sheening water. I scooped him out and gave him a soapy bath and let him get warm in an old rag. He then was totally confused flying around the inside of Slick. I caught him and put him outside and he flew off. He didn’t quite make it to shore though so I went and rescued him in the dinghy. By this time the oil was gone so I took him to shore and put him in a pile of logs. I assume he is fine.

So that’s it. Maybe I will leave Saturday for Florida. I don’t know. Then on to the next thing, up the coast and keep moving the ball down the field on starting my own company Oh one last thing. I decided to monetize the website. I am trying to do this in the least annoying and intrusive way possible. So I will start to write short reviews and links to products I used or books that helped me or whatever. Follow the links and spend some money and Slick and I get a little percentage. The amount we get is based on what you buy after following the link, not actually the item itself. So go buy a TV or something!

The first one of these I will put in will be about the author Alan Watts. I bring this up because of a comment on one of my videos about a joke I repeat all the time. Anyway, there are two books I found especially helpful, Instant Wind Forecasting and Instant Weather Forecasting. In these two books Alan Watts teaches you to read the clouds to understand what sort of weather is coming and where the wind is. They are most helpful, especially out in the open ocean as the weather forecasts are typically pretty broad. They cover at the smallest maybe 30 miles or so. By learning to read the clouds you can predict your own local weather, or at least know what is happening. Both of these books are full of pictures and charts. I found them to be generally very accurate too even though they mostly focus on coastal based stuff. You have to be a little patient with them though, it isn’t like they are something you just sit down and read. Oh, and the joke is that nearly every cloud you see indicates “deteriorating conditions.”


The circumnavigation is complete. Staniel Cay is the first place we pull into that we have been before and after three and a half years of going around to some of the most beautiful places on earth I still really like this one. So that’s good. I feel a great sense of accomplishment but shouldn’t rest too long. I still need to get back to Boston and move on to my next mission.

I should extend a tremendous thank you to everyone who helped and joined me along the way though. I suppose I can list them in order of miles spent with me:

Nathan – 11,000
Zach – 10,000
Susanna (the Phantom Traveler) 5,000 (not all sailing though)
Mathew – 4000
Sean – 3800
Joep – 1400
Linda – 1300
Alex – 900
Moritz 600
Will – 300
and the other visitors, Luisa, Lesley and Sara.

I hope I didn’t forget anyone. And also thank you to all the people who I met, old friends I found in various places and all those who helped me in any number of ways. This list is too big to recall.

Meanwhile, back in Staniel Cay. We left San Salvador after quite a nice week and headed to Rum Cay. We only stayed the night though as it didn’t seem that interesting. The next day we had a long spin run to Cat Island and anchored off the Bite. On the way we caught a fairly decent sized skip-jack so we had that for dinner with some friends we made on a catamaran. The next morning we left for Staniel and had another fantastic spin run, this time with a poled out jib. We hooked an enormous mahi but it got away. I could feel him still biting the line but the hook wasn’t grabbing. When I reeled it in to see what the problem was, the hook was bent straight!

We pulled in through the cut and anchored between Big Major and Little Major Cays. This was it, the finishing point of the circumnavigation. I felt only a little different but I was happy to have accomplished it. So, we went to the Stanaiel Cay Yacht Club to celebrate. Things were a little different that I remember, like they added a restaurant, but it is still a great spot.

I’ve been hanging around here since. And why not? It is absolutely stunning in terms of beauty, its full of fun people and you can watch children pet sharks, not to mention eat endangered conch every night. Oh, and there is even a beach here where pigs will swim off and greet you hoping you have some food. There is also a grotto here form a James Bond movie, but I saw that last time.

On a bit of a quaint Bahamian side of things, the day after we arrived the Bahamian FAA came in and closed the runway for having too many potholes. This was a problem for us as Alex had a flight out. Well, all the flights were now leaving from Black Point, a few cays down. We asked around about this and couldn’t find much of an answer since the place is pretty sleepy and answers are notalways readily available. Nor is anything else really, except conch. Anyway, we walked out to the airstrip to check it out ourselves. We just walked on to the run way and had a stroll, no security or anything like that. And why should there be? The runway indeed had a few potholes and some scrapes, but in the end it is no worse that any of the many grass or sand fields I have seen all over the world. Never the less we still had to figure out how to get Alex on his flight. So we stopped into a gulf cart rental shop next to the airport. They said we had to go to Samanta’s house as she was the rep for Flamingo Air. No Office? Nope, just knock on her door, it’s the purple one on the corner over across the bridge. We went, but no Samanta. That’s OK because this is a small island and everyone knows everyone else’s business. So we asked at the general store next door. They told us there was a shuttle boat and we just needed to be there an hour and a half before the flight. OK, great. They naturally also took the time to complain about the government and the new taxes and how they have been asking for a new runway for years. So, satisfied, we went and had some conch. But we thought we better come check how it all works, so we showed up for the afternoon flight and met Samanta and sure enough, there would be no problems for Alex the next morning.

Or would there? The next morning we showed up and, on island time, so did Samanta. They weighed Alex’s luggage and he was a little over the weight. Samanta asked for a fee but how could we pay, there is no cash machine on the island and we had no cash? Ahh, there was a form to fill out and the credit card would be billed in the next to weeks. Well another lady who was checking in had hardly any luggage and volunteered to take one of his bags, putting him under the limit. Samanta agreed as all this was easier than processing the form. After everyone was ready, they boarded the boat and that was the last I ever saw of Alex.

I heard later though that when he got to Black Point they took him off the plane as the entire thing was overweight. I assume they grabbed him as he was the biggest guy on there, I am not sure. In any case, this was a problem as there are only two flights a day and he would then miss his connecting flight by an hour. Nonsense, the Bahamians declared and the flight took off with out him, they promised to come right back and get him. An hour and a half later another plane showed up and took him and a few stragglers to Nassau and all was right again.

I could never imagine such a thing happening in the US. I guess though I have gotten used to this sort of thing, that seems to be the way it works in much of the world. It was not such a shock to me but I think it was probably the first time for Alex. Anyway, it was a great visit and he was surely helpful on the trip and we had a great time. Now I am alone again, but at least it is in a place with people around and a place that I really enjoy.

So next up I head to Nassau, then Chub Cay, across the banks to Bimini and then to Florida. I am not sure where I will land yet but I am thinking Cape Canaveral since it is pretty easy to get into. I guess even though the circular part of the trip is over and I am certainly a much better sailor than when I started, I still cannot take the last 2,000 miles for granted. It is the walk out, but in the end, the walk out is where most people get hurt. So there is still a little danger left, especially with unsettled spring weather coming off a continent.

Never the less, I am eager to get Slick to her new home in Boston. She will be staying at Constitution Marina for the summer and I will try to work towards starting a waste to energy company with the specific goal of creating a package solution for all the waterless islands I have visited around the world. I spend most my days designing and simulating parts of the machine and hope to begin prototyping when I return to Boston. With the meeting of my recent major life goal, this has become my new mission.

Oh, And here is a great big map of the trip so far:


Its been awhile since I made a blog post. So this one might turn sort of long. But plenty of great things have been going on like sailing and diving and visitors. Plus I have now crossed all lines of longitude. Well, we did that a few weeks ago but at least that box is checked.

Slick and I left USVI and had a short and sort of unpleasant sail through the Virgin Passage and stopped in Culebra, Puerto Rico. The protection of the harbor is incredible and so off I went to check in. Yes, even though I left USVI and went to Puerto Rico I still had to check in, with customs at least. So I parked the dinghy at the “Dinghy Dock” bar and walked out to the airport. The airport had a grass runway that wasn’t even flat. But the check in went smoothly and I had to get some special sticker issued by Homeland Security. Weird, I think it is just a revenue generator but I am not sure.

I was only in Culebra a few days and spent the evenings at the very relaxed Dinghy Dock bar. They have a good atmosphere and good food. Best of all, as the name implies, there is a place to tie up the dinghy. They feed the scraps to tarpon which draws in a lot of frigate birds. On one of the nights the frigate birds even enticed a labrador to swim across the narrow channel and try to retrieve them.

I did some diving there too. It was very cheap which was nice. I met some fun people on the dive too but the dive itself was just OK. Actually I thought it was a bit boring. The best part was seeing an enormous slipper lobster but otherwise it was sort of run of the mill coral and not much else. The disturbing thing though was that the dive sites were littered with unexploded ordinance. See something new every time I guess.

I came into San Juan a few days later with the express purpose of picking up my friend Alex. He actually started the trip with Nate and I but got off in Newport. So just a short rider. The way into San Juan brings you by a tremendous walled waterfront culminating in two giant forts built by the Spanish a long time ago. Once into the harbor there are plenty of cruise ships to dodge but I finally made it way in to the marina. As I was pulling into the dock the lead dock boy yelled at me that I am not allowed to go boating alone. Eh, what’s that you say? There was obviously a huge dissonance between us but once Slick was secured in the slip I heard no more of it other than I must be stupid.

I went for a walk through Old San Juan which was quite nice and I guess I can see why so many cruise ships call here. I was having trouble finding dinner though so I relegated myself to eating at a Subway. So when I left the US I remember Subway being one of the few favorable chains and not really having any sort of problem with it. As opposed to fast-food burger places that severely damage my poor tummy. Well, eating at Subway turned out to be quite painful. So I went to pick up Alex at the airport.

Miraculously he arrived with all his luggage. That makes three guests in a row, which makes me think something bad is about to happen. Anyway, we headed back to the boat and he settled in. The next morning we went out to provision and the only place we could find for breakfast was another Subway. Well, fool me once… We provisioned up and fueled up and were basically ready to go early so Alex and I headed for a walk downtown and through the Old San Juan again. It was very good to catch up with an old friend. That night we were pretty hungry and wanted to have a nice last meal before setting off. The only place close by that didn’t involve crossing several lanes of high speed traffic was a Sizzler. I hadn’t eaten at a Sizzler since I was 12. It was a truly painful experience. I am not sure what it is with American food, or at least system gastronomy.

We left the next day on a double overnighter to Cockburn on Grand Turk. The passage started out easy, and indeed stayed easy. It was a good introduction to bluewater cruising for Alex. On the way we saw whales broaching in the distance and bottlenose dolphins swam with us awhile. Alex hadn’t seen that before and they put on quite a show, I think there was probably 50 of them playing around Slick. As we were coming up to the banks of Grand Turk a whale surfaced very close to Slick but went down fast enough all we saw was the disturbed water. These whales, humpbacks, are migrating this time of year through here and we expected to see them. They can be mean though, unlike the bride’s whale that came across the Atlantic with us. We landed in Turks late in the afternoon, and unfortunately we hadn’t caught any fish.

We anchored were all the day boats that service the cruise ships are. It was easy to get into and gave fine protection for the night. The next morning I went into customs and checked in. On the way back I stopped by the bar, Jack’s Shack, to ask a few questions. The owner, Jack, from West Roxbury started chatting and when he found that on the way we crossed off my last line of longitude he insisted I have a drink. It was 9:30 AM.

We tried to move Slick up to the town but the fringing reef was too shallow to cross so we ended up back down by the cruise ship terminal but a little further north, anchored off Governor’s Beach and the ominous but beached Mega Triton One. This turned out to be a great anchorage and once the cruise ships left it was very quiet except for the islands generator.

We headed into town and arranged for some diving. The town itself was quite surreal but in a way that is not possible to describe. This is the capital of the country but you would never know it. There are a few shops, mostly catering to tourists off the ships and when the ships blow the return horn the entire town closes down and some crazies get let out. While the ships are around though, you can take all sorts of wacky tours, like segways, quads and mules to tour the island. No one on these tours looks happy and I am not sure why, perhaps it is all the dust and salt flake off the salt ponds, or perhaps it is because they decided to spent their vacation on a cruise ship.

Anyway, we arranged for the dive boat to pick us up on Slick, which was very convenient. We headed out on the first day of diving. Alex hadn’t dove in several years and I paired up with the rest of the group. The dives are all big wall dives with plenty of coral and fish and with the amazing visibility the view off and down the wall into the deep blue. I really enjoyed it, and so did Alex until he ruptured his eardrum. No more diving for him. I did a few more dives there and then it was time to go. The group that we were diving with were staying a month, they also didn’t breath. So some of the dives were an hour and fifteen minutes long, it was pretty incredible. When we suited up with them the first time they all had thick wetsuits which confused us. After being underwater that long though, it was clear why because it got cold.

We had a fairly easy overnighter to Mayaguana. About an hour off Grand Turk, two humpbacks surfaced right next to Slick. They were so close we could have jumped out and rode them. Shocked, we were not really able to get a picture as we were busy turning hard to port. They left us alone after that and the passage was a bit boring. Just more dolphins and some good sailing, and no fish.

We arrived at the isolated outpost island of Mayaguana at about 8 in the morning and the entrance was very tricky. We had to traverse about 3 miles of ten foot water littered with coral heads. We, of course, couldn’t see them as the sun was in our eyes, so we went real slow. We could only get about 1.5 miles from town before it was too shallow for Slick so it was a long dinghy ride. I went ashore to check in, it was a Saturday and of course customs was closed. I met a man on the street and he told me to go to the house with the pink roof and yell for Ina, she is the customs lady. I did and she opened the shop for me. Abraham’s Bay is a settlement that has about 150 people in the most isolated part of the Bahamas. Nothing happens there. Nothing except the weekly mail boat that comes on Mondays and the whole town vacates to go meet it. This is only important as Alex and I really wanted lunch before heading off to San Salvador, but no such luck, at least not at first. We waited probably 4 hours to get our lunch.

We spent four days there, mostly riding out a cold front which can be very nasty down here. It was nice in the sense that it was a giant swimming pool. The sand banks of the Bahamas are stunning to be in, as long as they are deep enough for your boat. We had enough free time that we managed to improvise a fix for Jocelyn the wind turbine with some wrong sized blades someone gave me awhile back. She works away now and I think is even quieter than before. So with the wind blowing and her working we now have power to spare. We were not able to leave after lunch so we tried to spear fish for lobster on the last day of lobster season. No luck, but the water and the reef were gorgeous, so that made it worth it anyway. And we saw a giant sting ray, which was nice.

In the next afternoon we headed out following exactly our track as before and made for San Salvador. It was about a 110 mile sail and started out pretty heavy but by the evening died down. It was an easy overnighter and on the way in we caught two barracuda. I was hoping for tuna. We had to throw them back as it isn’t safe to eat them here. One was pretty big though and it took me awhile to get my hook back, so I had to revive him in the flow of the boat. Once he awoke he looked up and asked why his mouth hurt so bad and off he went. Anchoring in the sand flats off, yet another, Cockburn Town was easy and I made arrangements to do some more diving. The two islands with the same city name both claim to be the site of Columbus’s first land fall.

This place is very close in terms of diving to Grand Turk except here is full of sharks. The dive guide carries a spear with him and spears lion fish and feeds them to the sharks. Its a pretty incredible thing to watch. The wall is huge and there are parts that fall right to 7000 feet and the visibility is well over 200 feet. In fact I would say the Bahamas has the best visibility in the entire world except for maybe Niue. On one of the dives I saw a hammerhead shark come up briefly from the deep but he was only around for maybe ten seconds and I couldn’t get a picture. He was way down so it wouldn’t have come out anyway.

Everything has been closed due to the Easter weekend but that’s OK. We have managed to keep ourselves entertained on this isolated little island and have completely enjoyed the friendly locals and the gorgeous water. I was wondering how it would be coming back to the Bahamas, I liked them so much the first time and was curious if after going around the world if I still would. Pleasantly, I still do. I am just hoping the fishing gets better, I remember it being some of the best.

Next up we move to Rum Cay and then Conception Island and finally we will land in Staniel Cay. This will be the first port I return to and at that point the circumnavigation will be complete. Alex leaves from there too so I will be alone again, right now for the rest of the trip but I am sure someone is bound to visit for the trip up the East Coast back to Boston.


Slick and I have now crossed every line of longitude, though not necessarily together. Next step is to return to a port we have been to before. More on all that later though in a real blog post. In the meant time, here are some pictures of The US Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and Turks and Caicos.


I am in the USA, or at least an island-pseudo version of the USA. US Virgin Islands, to be exact. It has provided me a strange, surreal reintroduction to the life I might be returning to back “home” in a way that is, at the very least, island paced. I’ll get into that a little more later, first though, the last few weeks have been enjoyable.

I hung out in Virgin Gorda for awhile waiting for my friends from Blue Note to arrive. I haven’t seen them since La Gomera in the Canaries, so it was nice to catch up. I spent many nights hanging out at the Bitter End Yacht Club as well as the Saba Rock resort. I particularly liked Saba Rock and their pain-killers at happy hour. It was also a pretty chilled-out place to meet interesting folks and watch tarpon get fed. Virgin Gorda is a gorgeous anchorage and small enough to get around the whole thing by dinghy, especially with Mutley on the back. I even made it over to the other side for a Joombie Party. These are locals dancing on stilts. Kind of cool, and the only piece of culture in all of BVI.

I moved down to Spanish Town in hopes of doing some diving out of there. There is a very famous wreck called the RMS Rhone. It was a mail ship that blew up and sank in a hurricane 150 years or so ago. I had heard many good things and it is the number one dive site in BVI. One would think that it would be very easy to get a trip out there but this was not the case. Since I couldn’t get the tour booked I headed to Cooper Island Resort where I was told they would be going in a few days.

Cooper Island was a nice place. Lots of charter boats coming through so there was regular new people to talk to. I met a lot of interesting folks there and hopefully will have contact with some in the future. The dive though, well, it was a let down. I am not sure if it was a let down as there was not much life underwater to see, or that there was 2-4 knots of current running in places and the visibility was bad. I think on a calm clear day I would have had a much different impression actually. I guess it was a nice wreck. The only eventful thing though was actually quite painful. While waiting for the three minute safety stop the current caused me to brush against the mooring line of the boat. Normally this isn’t a problem but it hit my neck in a place not covered by my wetsuit and I thought at first there was some barnacles that cut me. Then the dive guide held up a sign that read “fire coral” and he pointed to the rope. Thanks for post-exposure warning. It burned, but a little vinegar helped for awhile, but then it burned again. My neck still itches and that was ten days ago.

After the dive I headed for Jost Van Dyke, and the famous Soggy Dollar Bar. Too bad the wind was up from the south east and there was no where to anchor. I tried five different places and ended up heading to Soper’s Hole in Tortolla. I stayed there a few days and it was like most everywhere else in BVI, a rotating party of charter boats. Oddly though, I was sitting at happy hour one evening and I hear some one say “But I’m not the only asshole from Boston!” He looked right at me. I was confused and inquired how he knew I was from Boston. It turned out to be a man with a unicorn fetish from my yacht club in Boston, we raced against each other, his boat is named “Sparkle Pony.” Anyway, after I realized it was Francis, or rather he reminded me, we had a fun evening of dark and stormies and catching up about things back “Home.”

So the next day I left BVI for the USVI. BVI made a great first impression. Overall I liked it anyway, but it was pretty much downhill from Virgin Gorda. I think its a nice place to vacation for a week or so but I could never imagine living there. Especially since it’s English but nothing actually works right there. There is no culture and the locals don’t care much unless they are the bar tender. Also, it is really crowded and not particularly well preserved.

It was a short easy sail over to Cruz Bay on St. Johns. The only problem being a blinding rain storm while I was negotiating some rocks, but otherwise a nice inland sort of passage by some lush islands on one side and dry ones on the other. Cruz Bay was really shallow and there was no where to anchor, but I got lucky when someone offered me their mooring while they went out for a few hours. I rushed into customs and immigration and the American CBP agent behind the counter smiled and took my information. When we finished I asked if that was it, because it was so easy. She looked at me and said, “This is America and you are a citizen, welcome home.” Welcome Home, wow, that was a profound statement. It struck me so odd of a thing to hear, I was a bit confused. But yes, I guess, in a sense, I was home, back on US soil for the first time in three and a half years. I was so stunned by the very thought of “home” that I ran back to Slick and immediately sailed to the isolated Salt Pond Bay to think about the ramifications of being in my own country.

Actually I went to Salt Pond Bay because Blue Note was there for the night and I wanted to see them before we parted ways again. We had a nice time and went for a short hike up to an eco resort for a few pain-killers and then left when the bad open-mike night started. Anyway, the next morning I was off to Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, the capital of USVI.

Charlotte Amalie is like any island big city, I guess. You have the old historical part and some pretentious yachty parts and the cruise ship dock. This was where I was going to get my real first taste of America. But not quite. The first thing I did was head to K Mart to get a sim card. Hey, that’s AT&T, I remember that company. What? I get a US phone number too? Interesting. The internet is actually fast? How weird! So that was sort of nice. Then I headed up to a Home Depot. That was a mistake. I have not been to such a place in three years and it was absolutely overwhelming. There is so much stuff, assaulting you, all the time. Who needs all these things? Me, or past-me, I guess. Maybe future-me too, but I am not sure yet. I bought about five things and still spent $100. I think I was in there for over an hour just walking around like a child at a zoo. It was too much, I headed back to the pretentious yacht center where I was anchored. I washed the mega-box store away with happy hour specials.

The next day I picked up a visitor, Sara, a former lab mate from MIT. It was good to see her and she actually arrived with her luggage. She was certainly happy to be out of snowy Boston and we headed back to Slick to drop off her things. Then we me another friend, Jeremy, one of the dive guides from Palau. Two old friends from separate places in one day. Jeremy and his brothers treated us to a couple of drinks and it was nice to catch up. Then a few days later we met up at Water Island for some beach bar lounging. It was a great time. They paddle boarded over from the main island and the wind picked up, so I offered a ride back in the dinghy. Five of us piled in and Mutley was at full throttle towing three paddle boards to make it to shore. When we got there, Adrien (one of Jeremy’s brothers) car was towed. After all that effort. Anyway, once that problem was solved, we headed out for dinner and some fun. It was nice to hang out with normal people, even a bit comfortable. The ride back at 1am in the dinghy was a tough one though. Especially since it was Sara’s first exposure to long dinghy rides at high speed in the dark. I told her to just pretend she was a navy seal going to assault naughty Korea. This seemed to calm her down. Anyway, we made it back to Slick only a little wet.

In the morning we headed to Cinnamon Bay on the north side of St. Johns. The beach there is really beautiful. I hate beaches, so much sand everywhere. This one was nice enough though I could let it go and make a landing to check it out. The hills rise fast above it and being the wet side of the island, are lush and tropical.

In the morning we headed around to Salt Pond Bay. This time I had more time to enjoy the area. First we snorkled around the reefs by Booby Island and in the middle of the bay. It was surprisingly good, and alive. I guess that is the advantage of the US National Parks. Anyway, Sara saw her first baracuda, it was tiny, maybe 18 inches but it was enough to give her a scare. When we got back to Slick she wanted to see the underside of the boat so we swam toward the front. I turned around to make sure she was OK and there was an enormous barracuda following her. The fish was so fat I had to look more closely to see if it was actually a barracuda and not something else. Poor thing wasn’t proportioned correctly, probably because it gets fed lots of bacon. Anyway, when I pointed it out to her she may have gotten frightened. I think that is probably the right word for it. After shoeing the cuda away, we got back on board and the thing just hung around. This is normal I guess, there are always things living in the shade under the boat. This one though was a little more noticable as it would watch you shower on the back or just come over to say hi when you were doing the dishes. I think it was sad when we left.

We went on a hike out of Salt Pond as well. It was quite a nice, long hike over to a few of the other bays then up to the ridgeline. Along the way were ruins of sugar plantations and even some pre-columbian petroglyphs. The hike was challenging, mostly thanks to the heat and humidity but we made it. We got picked up hitching by a truck to take us to Coral Bay where we had lunch at a place called Skinny Legs. Turns out they are all New Englanders and where more than happy to toss up the sticker of a boat from Boston. Their cheese burgers where OK too. We hitched home and the barracuda was waiting for us.

We then went to Cruz Bay for Sara’s last night visiting and Adrien came over on the ferry to hang out too. It was a fun time just lounging and drinking and chatting. That night was another mission to get home though as there was some swell running from where Slick was moored. Never the less, it was easy and the next day we anchored off the airport and Sara flew back to the frozen north. One more figment come and gone. It was nice to have a visitor though, I get a new one next week.

So back to my pseudo-reintroduciton to the USA. The last few years have been full of things that most people wouldn’t even recognize or perhaps would never do. For example, most of the world still uses carbon paper on their quadruplicate forms. Sometimes you don’t swipe the credit card, but still make an imprint with a machine that wouldn’t be recognizable to anyone under 25. I usually shower on the back of the boat in my bathing suit (the Germans don’t use the bathing suit) instead of paying four dollars for a shower, I go to bed at 7:30 PM as if I turn the lights on I get pestered by mosquitoes and I have no friends. So all these things were not present here, I had friends, I stayed out late, stuff worked, and it all felt familiar instead of perma-camping.

But it wasn’t quite familiar. It isn’t quite America, and I wasn’t sure why. First, I think is the strange mix of people. That shouldn’t be too much of a surprise since America is a melting pot and these islands are islands. They use US Dollars, but everything is sort of expensive. There was something else bothering me though and I couldn’t quite figure it out. Then when we rode in a car it became obvious. The steering wheel of the vehicle is on the American side but they drive on the British side of the road. How odd. That was one of those details that makes life seem not quite right. I go to Puerto Rico next, but I still have to check in with Customs when I get there. Wait, is this the US or isn’t it? Seems to me that going from here to there is a lot like going from say, Florida to South Carolina, only a lot closer. So why do I need to recheckin with customs?

Anyway, I really have enjoyed these islands. I didn’t think I would but St. Johns is so beautiful and like many things in life, the people make a big part of the experience and seeing Sara and Jeremy and meeting Adrien greatly magnified my time here. Tomorrow I move to Puerto Rico and I pick up crew next week. The next figment, Alex, used to work with me at a pocket-nuclear reactor. Actually it is the same Alex who left Boston with Nate and I all those years ago. It should be great to see him and he stays until the middle of the Bahamas. So, getting closer, almost done.

Oh, one last thing, I finally posted the videos of the Atlantic Crossing and also here are a bunch of pictures from:
British Virgin Islands
St. Martin and Saba
Nevis and St. Kitts
All caught up for a change. Enjoy!


I can’t believe how fast it seems that Slick and I are swallowing up the Eastern Caribbean. We have visited six different island groups since the last blog post. Granted, mostly they are very small and there is not a whole lot to do on most of them, it is still moving pretty fast. Then again, it isn’t all that far distance wise, so maybe it just feels fast.

After my brief stop in Iles des Saintes, I headed north to Antigua. I made a brief stop on Guadalupe just to break up the trip and then made the crossing the next day. I think there was almost no wind and it was just the usual motor. It was so relaxing that I almost hit a pod of pilot whales sleeping on the surface. I am not sure how I missed them even, there must have been twenty of them and I didn’t see them till they were half way down Slick, about 10 feet of the beam! As I pulled into English Harbor, there was a maxi race going on. It reminded me a bit of Boston Harbor racing, since there was no wind, the only difference was that these boats were all over 100 feet long.

Anyway, I had great expectations for Antigua. It is the sort of place that sailors dream about, and I guess it is a right of passage to pull into English Harbor and stop and Nelson’s Dockyard. Even for racers to participate in Antigua Race Week is something everyone dreams of. Well, that was all the hype anyway. I found the area to be entirely overrated. It was nice for a day or two, but that was about it. I would have liked to explore the rest of the island but when I would enquirer about the best things to see all I got for a response was – English Harbor. I did get to watch the super bowl though, so that was a nice treat.

After too many days in the easy anchorage I left for Montserrat. This was another easy passage over, I actually sailed this time. The remaining anchorage is not the best. There is lots of swell and little protection, so its quite rolley in any weather. That’s OK, it was bearable. But why is this anchorage the remaining anchorage? Because a third of the island and the capital were destroyed by a volcanic eruption in the mid-1990s. To witness the devastruction of another cataclysmic volcanic eruption was really the whole reason to come to Montserrat.

What I didn’t know though was how beautiful the remaining parts of the island are and how friendly the remaining inhabitants. Fortunately, I met another American couple at the customs check-in and they had some friends on the island. They invited me over to the friends’ beach-bar and introduced me. The first unexpected lesson I received was about the music history of the island. It turns out that one of the few recording studios that existed in the 1970’s was here. It was run by George Micheal and all the British greats would come here to record. Aside from being paradise, the main reason was that no one bothered them as no one knew who they were. The actual bar was made from the desks of the old recording studio, I think. The owners lined us up with an island tour of the exclusion zone for the next day.

In the morning we set out to see the devastruction caused by the Soufriee Hills Volcano. The first parts of the island, that are still inhabited, are so lush and green, most of the time you are high up from the sea and have a nice breeze blowing the consistently 80F air creating a very perfect climate. We stopped at the volcano observatory and this was not so pleasant. Usually at least a vulcanologist comes out and meets you and have a conversation about the science side of things, but here they just made you watch a film on a very overused projector and that was that. Never-the-less the view from the observatory was amazing. Then we drove down through the river beds buried by the lahars and up over a ridge to view the remains of Plymouth, the former capital. When I say remains, I mean you could make out the old suburbs but the main part of the city was destroyed by pyroclastic flows, there was literally nothing left. It reminded me a great deal of Rabaul. Fortunately, they had sufficient time to evacuate the residents so only 19 people died, which considering the removal of an entire town, that isn’t so many. We stopped also at what was once a very posh hotel. It was not in the way of the flows or lahars, it was up on a hill overlooking the city. But the ash fall was sufficient to destroy much of the roof, fill in the swimming pool and make a general unusable mess of everything. It was quite amazing to walk through doors that were now only 4 feet tall as the first 3 feet are filled in by ash. Papers were strewn about the offices as the place was evacuated very quickly. The tour guide, who was the former chief of police, took us by his old home as well. It seemed to fair remarkably well compared to the other damage on the island.

The tour was concluded with lunch at the home of the beach-bar owners. And what a fantastic home they had. I think it is the sort of thing you think of when you think of your own place in paradise. Gorgeous hardwood work, a beautiful garden, small pool with a sea view, lots of fresh fruit, you get the idea. They made us a very nice lunch and we had some time to talk and hear the stories of the island. I liked Montserrat so much that I could actually imagine living there for a season ever year, the season of course being winter, especially considering the pounding Boston was receiving while I relaxed with some rum-lace sour-sop watching humming birds flit about a well kept garden.

I’m not quite ready to move to Montserrat yet, so I headed next for Nevis. I had wanted to visit Nevis and St. Kitts since playing Sid Meir’s Pirates as a child. I found Nevis to be a perfectly shaped volcanic island, and that was about it. The problem was not that there was a lack of things to do, the problem was that there was a lack of places to put the dinghy. The dock was two miles from the mandatory-mooring field and the beach nearby was pretty steep-to, so beach landings were exciting to say the least. On top of that, being alone makes pulling the dink up a difficult task, especially with Mutley attached to the back. In any case, I didn’t do a whole lot besides have a few drinks at the local reggae bars and once at the four seasons (they had a dink-dock but didn’t like you using it). I also got some work done, which was nice.

St. Kitts, just across a short passage couldn’t have been more opposite to Nevis. I pulled into a small marina in Basseterre as there was a very unusual southerly coming. I guess the weather was thanks to yet another massive snow storm somewhere that it gets cold. As I pulled into the marina, I could see that it was not going to be easy by myself. The man on the radio told me the most important thing to do was to get a rope around the starboard pilon. The marina had short fingers and then pilons that you tied up to. I missed the pilon, this made for a huge mess. There was no one in the slip next to me and the wind and prop walk in reverse forced Slick over and blown up against the wall. At this point, everyone with in eye-shot came running over to help. Well, I wouldn’t call it help as there were many people yelling at me and jumping on Slick thinking they knew how my boat worked. They all had different ideas and I kept telling them just to hold Slick off the wall. It was so frustrating but then a guy with only one functioning arm came up and he turned out to be the most helpful person. First he got everyone to stop yelling and half the shore-committee left. “He is the captain, let him handle his boat!” That was the best possible thing I could have heard in the stressful situation. Eventually I put the dinghy in the water and rowed out a long line to the pilon and put it on the winch. “That won’t work!” The shore committee insisted but I gradually wound Slick into place. With Slick moored correctly, I sat back and watched as every boat that came in had similar problems, this removed any remorse I had about screwing up docking.

The majority of Basseterre economy seems to focus around the massive cruise ship complex. It is basically a tax-free outlet mall that receives thousands of visitors a day to shop and then get back on the ship and depart my 5 pm. Not my sort of thing, but I did have something else coming – Will, a former racing crew member and lab-mate from MIT. He arrived at the tiny airport and the next day we toured the island with Scope, who had also arrived, without docking difficulty.

The island tour was, um, well, it was OK. Most of the vegetation was destroyed by the British to make sugar plantations and all that entails. The locals were friendly once you got out of Basseterre and our driver was great. The thing that makes it all worth it though was Fort Brimstone. This is the largest colonial era fort in the entire Caribbean. Its big, but not so big as things in other parts of the world. What is amazing is the view. The fort sits on top of a dormant volcanic cone and has a fantastic panorama. One could imagine being an enemy ship trying to approach this place, there is no way you could get by with out being noticed and pounded by the hundreds of cannons. One thing I noticed about the cannons, that I never noticed before, is they all had arrows pointing in the direction of fire, as if that could be confused. Well, obviously it was once, otherwise they wouldn’t have needed arrows. The military hasn’t change much in three hundred years.

It was nice to leave Basseterre, it reminded me of a toned down version of Port Antonio, not as pretty but also not quite as mad. The next island we headed for is one I had held high hopes of visiting for a long time. I had heard fabulous things of this wild cliff-side paradise which was nearly inaccessible. Cruisers from all over the world told me how it was their favorite Caribbean Island.
Even the name, Saba, invokes a mystical quality. Approaching the island from the east, we could start to see why it was described by so many the way it was. The cliffs drop straight into the ocean, the volcano rises straight up, it would be impossible to land here without a little foresight. And that was exactly how we found it, impossible to land. The little harbor allowed Slick in for an hour to clear, but then we had to go around the corner, four miles away to the mandatory moorings. The view here is stunning, absolute rugged beauty. We grabbed the closest ball we could, to try and get even a little protection. The cliff walls rose straight up above us and ran the length of the island. Turtles swam around Slick and sea birds flew from the cliffs. It was every bit of what we wanted, except there was no real way to land. We wanted to do some hiking and diving and so we mentally relegated ourselves to having to take the dinghy four miles back to the tiny harbor. That evening though Slick got wound up in the mooring line, it lassoed her keel. That’s never happened before, I jumped in and cleared it, but realized the line on the mooring was twice as long as it needed to be and half as fat as I would have liked. In any weather at all I wouldn’t feel comfortable leaving Slick out there unattended.

Well, all our plans and proposals were rejected the next morning when we awoke to 2-3 meters of swell rolling though the mooring field, slamming into the steep cliffs and returning, helping the waves to curl just a few Slick-Lengths away. Now I knew why the mooring line was so long. We had to get out of there, if the swell increased in size it would transition from uncomfortable to unsafe, especially with the waves breaking so close. So, off we went, dejectedly unable to penetrate the famous mysteries of Saba.

It was a short ride to St. Marten. The wind cooperated even if the swell didn’t and we had an easy time on the normally windward ride. We arrived and anchored in the somewhat less rolley Simpson’s Bay. I don’t even know what to say about St. Marten, other than it is just one massive rotating party. It was a good thing Will was with me and we were able to enjoy ourselves. I also found that there was a fair bit of marine resources available and cheap fuel. This was good as I needed to do some repairs on the dinghy and get some fuel. Most evenings we spent a the St. Marten Yacht Club downing dark and stormies with Scope. We would either do that late or go out for some dancing. On the last full day will was there, my friend, Brent, from the navy came with his wife and kids on a cruise ship. We took them to the most amazing thing on the island – The Sunset Bar. This place famous for topless ladies drinking free (a real family friendly atmosphere) but it is better known for the view it has over a peculiar stretch of beach. Peculiar because it sits at the leeward end of the airport runway. Jets land and are not more than 100 feet off the beach, creating an impressive racket. More interesting though, is when they take off. The people on the beach, obviously there for the first time, refuse to obey the signs and stand behind the jets as they rev up their engines. The wash and thrust coming from the jets is just a blast of hot air at first but when they are coming up to speed then the real action starts. Sand starts to fly, the waves break, tourists scatter if they can, water is torn from the sea surface and people get blown out to sea. When I say blown out to sea, I literally mean blown out to sea. Brent loved it, as I knew he would, and so did I. It was a fantastic place to go with him and that portion of the day was capped off by the take off of the KLM 747 bound for Amsterdam.

It was great to see a very old and good friend, even for a short visit. After they left, I think I just hung out at the yacht club, continuing the pre-hangover activities that started with bloody maries at 9am. Oh, those are so tasty first thing in the morning. After a few happy hour dark and stormies, Will and I headed over to a place on the beach that we heard had a nice party on Tuesdays. Upon arrival we were treated to some great Salsa dancing. To be fair that was an accidental treat, especially since neither of us had a clue how to do this dance. So, we got some lessons and met some great people and had a great night, till about 3am.

Will left the next day. I spent the day making Slick ready to leave, and recovering. After check-out I met Scope for a few drinks at the club and had an early night in bed. I left for BVI at 5am, my liver so thankful to be leaving St. Marten. It was a long boring motor sail. The wind was good, but I had to supplement with the motor to make the pass before sundown as there are lots of things to hurt you on the way in. I came in without issue and right as it was just getting dark put the hook down in the lee of an island in Virgin Gorda Sound. I awoke to paradise, crowded paradise, but still paradise. After check-in, I reachored off the Bitter End Yacht Club and here I sit. The weather has picked up the last day or two though, so I am not really getting out to enjoy paradise as there is a 20 knot squall blowing through every hour, but even that can’t take away from this beautiful sound.

As for me, well, I can’t believe I am almost done. I mean, really close, less than 400 miles to get to 70 West, the line of longitude I crossed first on this trip. Then comes my own track, then a port I have been to before, and then the long walkout back to Boston. I have some friends coming before then though, so that will be nice. All these visitors though I don’t get much work done. Work you wonder? Mostly design work for a start-up idea I plan to pursue. Although I am still a little unsure about the future, one thing I do know though is that the closer I get to the USA – the better the burgers get.