Saturday, March 31, 2012


We're alive and safe after a long 500 mile trip :)
We left Puerto Rico late Sunday night and for the first couple of days, had pretty calm weather, mostly motoring with the sails out just in case. That was just fine with us, especially since we'd heard horror stories about the Mona Passage. We were glad it turned out to be a bunch of hype for nothing. There was a slight swell coming from the north, but overall pretty calm. We spent the first day crossing the passage and then the next day cruising up the coast of Dominican Republic. We were never within 20 miles of the "D.R." but we could just make out the lights of the bigger cities in the dark.
By day three, the wind definitely showed up and picked up to 20-25 knots. Just in time to head north toward the Bahamas. We spent the next 36 hours, through Thursday morning sometime after midnight, making great time. But as usual, when we're making good time, we all end up feeling pretty seasick :( We also had our share of beds wet from waves that made their way inside, and with Maggie, Levi and I taking the night shifts, we were trying to encourage each other to hang in there. The most wind we saw was just over 30 knots. Then the wind started to subside a bit , but it still took almost 12 hours for the seas to calm back down.
By late Thursday afternoon, we weaved our way though the southernmost islands of the outer Bahamas, and made our way to Acklin Islands. We also had a welcome from a pod of dolphins, which was very cool! and found an anchorage in 'Jamaica Bay' with a booming population of 80 people. Not the calmest anchorage, but we were all tired enough for it not to matter. We were all asleep VERY soon after sunset, with damp sheets flapping on the clothes lines.
This is a really remote part of the Bahamas and very few tourists make their way down this far(or anyone for that matter). Usually, the only people are cruisers either coming or going from the Caribbean. This makes for some very stark scenery. It feels like the absolute end-of-the-world. Miles and miles of empty beaches on low sandy islands with nothing but a few scattered bushes and scrubby trees. The water is crystal clear and every shade of turquoise and blue, green, aquamarine.........incredible.
We're still several days from Internet, so we'll try and post some photos of Bahamas in the next few days. Thanks for your prayers! We'll see you soon!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Thursday, March 22, 2012

On the move

We're back on the move, after sitting for almost two weeks, we hope we remember how to make the boat move! In some ways, when we don't move for a while, we all get the jitters and it feels like we're starting over!
Random graffiti in San Juan

We got Maggie's passport this morning and we're continuing on around the bottom of Puerto Rico, making a pit stop today at an island called "Caja de Meurtos" or Coffin Island. It is supposed to be really beautiful, despite the name and we're hoping for some clean water for swimming. It is also reported to have the best snorkeling in Puerto Rico, so we hope to be able to give a report.
The bay we've been staying in at Salinas seems to be a dead-end, the water is cloudy with no water flowing through it and the bottom of Mehari is covered in barnacles in only two weeks!! So Levi and I will be busy this afternoon scrubbing the hulls once we parked in clean water. It will make a huge difference on our upcoming crossing to the Bahamas, and because our boat is so loaded down with food and people and books, we need all the help we can get. 

We are hoping to leave the corner of Puerto Rico on Sunday, which looks like a good weather window to make the 'Mona Passage' The Mona Passage is rumored to be one of the hardest passages in the Caribbean if not the Western Hemisphere. This is because it is where the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea meet in a very narrow passage. Also, the second deepest section of ocean in the world (second to Mariana Trench in the mid-Atlantic) rises from the ocean floor to only 20 meters in the space of less than a mile! So, if there is strong breezes from the Atlantic, it 'pushes' huge amounts of water up this ramp and creates a swirling mess of waves and currents. We have chose to wait for a very calm day, which we hear will only create 5-6 foot waves instead of 15-20. Fine by us. The passage is only about 80 miles across, but for our boat having to motor in calm weather, means it should be a passage of 18-20 hours. Then we will be through the worst of it and it is still another 2 days up into the first island of the Bahamas. It will hopefully be a smooth 3 days total and from other cruisers we've talked to, and the pictures we've seen, it looks absolutely amazing! We can't wait.

Also, it's been too long in shallow waters for us, and we have caught NO fish in the past month. So we are all rigged up and very hopeful to snag a Mahi or two on the passage. We bought a new bottle of spicy Teriyaki hoping it would change our luck. We are ashamed to report it is as yet, unopened :( 

Thanks for your prayers and support and we'll try and drop another note from the town of Boqueron, Puerto Rico before we leave.

See you!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Old San Juan

So the Hemingway's are on the road......quite a difference going 60 miles an hour instead of 5 knots, you have to keep your hands on the wheel the WHOLE time ;)

We drove up from Salinas, the little town where we're anchored, to the north side of the island, only 50 miles or so, and into the historic sites of San Juan. The island of Puerto Rico has been strategic throughout it's history and the King of Spain once called Puerto Rico the most valuable piece of land in his whole empire. 

There are HUGE fort walls and towers all along the coast that have been well used over the centuries and added to and updated as recently as WW2. Now, the whole place is a US National Park, and it's really well maintained. 

Fascinating history as it was, all the little ones wanted to do was run in the grass. This is not unusual, they have a pretty low tolerance for museums. That turned into a PB & J lunch in a park and we had a great day, exploring the narrow streets around Old San Juan. It reminded us all of our months in the different Greek islands, and we were really tempted to pull up anchor and head back across the Atlantic..............OK, not that tempted, but it did bring back a lot of great memories of exploring Europe.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Puerto Rico

Columbus landed here in 1493, on his second trip across the Atlantic, and most of the first settlements in the new world were all here in the middle of the Caribbean.  In San Juan, the capital, lives 2 million people, and is one of the top 15 metropolitan cities in the Western Hemisphere. Also in San Juan, you are able to walk through 600 years of history in 7 blocks all in a walled fort in Old San Juan. Definitely on the to-do-list!

We first made landfall at a town called Palmas del Mar, Palms of the Sea. It is a resort town, full of condominiums and golf courses. Rachel and I took a hike around the town and we saw tons of empty condos and after looking at some real estate magazines, the prices seemed really low for such an amazing area. If anyone reading this has a spare few hundred thousand dollars lying around, this looks like a great place to invest. All the ingredients are there: lush green hills, sea, beautiful climate, and super clean neighborhoods.  

OK, so we spent one night in the marina, our chart showed an anchorage(free) in the bay, but has been replaced with a marina($$) But, no one was complaining with the first hot showers in I don’t want to say how long, and the kids also spent the day at the pool there and were shocked to discover that not all swimming is in salt water! So they were not so happy when we left the next day.

We scooted around the south side of the 100 mile long island, and after another 30+ miles of sailing, we tucked into some mangroves, finding a pretty calm corner. Our first try was up a narrow river between some mangroves, and coming in after dark, we managed to get stuck on the mud bottom. Engines revving, and going nowhere! So, we dropped the dinghy in the water and with Levi pulling from the front with the 15 horsepower motor, and me revving the main engines on full blast, we slowly unglued ourselves from the muck. Next time, we didn’t try to get too far off into the bushes. ;) 

So, we pulled into Salinas, a very calm and crowded bay about 1/3 of the way around the south side, and looks like we’ll use this as a base for exploring inland. We plan to rent a car while we’re here, and do a major provisioning for the Bahamas, also a trip to the capital of Old San Juan, and a huge mall Maggie is really excited about. If we plan it right, we won’t have to shop again until we reach Florida in late April. We’ve heard from our friends on S/V Imagine, who are already in the Bahamas, we do NOT want to be stuck shopping for groceries up there, very expensive and hard to find anything.

See you soon!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012


There's new pictures of the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico!!

Check them out on the link in "Photo Albums"!!

-Mehari Crew

Friday, March 9, 2012

The ‘bio-luminescence’ that wasn't :(

We had a bit of not-so-fun sailing/motoring straight into the wind to wrap around the southern-most island of Vieques. It is the largest island in the SVI’s and has roughly 9000 inhabitants.  The first stop was an enormous bay with lots and lots of ‘hurricane’ holes. Hurricane holes are places where people can bring their boats during hurricane season, starting officially in July. Boat owners not wanting to risk the path of a hurricane, need to be either pretty far north (South Carolina) or West to Honduras or Guatemala, or south past Grenada or to South America by then.

At a hurricane holes, you tuck your boat in as far as you can in a mangrove slot, and tie lines from all corners to the trees themselves, often putting out an additional anchor (or 2!) then hope for the best. So people that are sailing through the islands during hurricane season, typically don’t want to be too far from one of these spots, really cutting down their mobility.

Anyway, since we’re no-where near hurricane season, it just wound up as a super calm anchorage and with steady breezes, and made for a few nights of VERY quiet sleep!

The next place was a bay where there is supposed to be a large concentration of ‘bio-luminescence’ a strange phenomenon in the water from little one cell organisms that glow when disturbed. When the conditions are right, the water glows and there are various kayak tours, swimming tours, etc. etc. to come and see the magical waters they create. I don’t know if we ‘zigged’ when we should have ‘zagged’, or the stars didn’t align, or somebody spilled “anti-bio-luminescence” in the water, but we didn’t see anything.  Nothing.  Bupkus.

I mean, we’ve certainly seen ‘em……all over the Mediterranean and all the way across the Atlantic, but for some reason, didn’t see ‘em in the place they were supposed to be thick as ants at a picnic.  Oh well, I guess we left ‘em there for whoever is reading this to see them when you go. When you go, please tell us how great it was!

So, after another couple days, we’ll be on toward Puerto Rico, another 25 miles away. 


Culebra and the little cousin......Culebreta

Sorry for the lack of posts this week(s?) time seems to be going quickly!

We spent a few days pin-balling through some of the Spanish Virgin Islands.  The Spanish VI’s seem to have slipped through the cracks, not touristy at all like St. Thomas or St. John, and no infrastructure like Puerto Rico, but they feel really remote. There are approximately 25 islands altogether, although most are uninhabited. Some are privately owned and we heard that the Bacardi Family (rum) owns an island complete with a pack of dogs to ward off stray visitors. But, we are in the Caribbean, and the lines between truth and exciting fiction tend to get a bit fuzzy, so it probably means they have a lap poodle and the rest makes for good stories.

After leaving St. Thomas the day after we dropped Rachel’s sister and niece off, we headed out early the next morning, well, early-ish toward an island called Culebreta. It’s a little island off the bigger island of Culebra. We had a bay almost entirely to ourselves, only 2 other boats, and it was gorgeous. There was a small roll wrapping around from the north, in though the mouth of the bay, but besides that, it was an idyllic bay. There was a huge long beach with sugar sand, a few scattered palm trees, and exactly zero people on it.  Picture “Cast Away,” and you’d be pretty close.  

Once ashore, we spent a few hours flying a kite we bought in St. Thomas for a whole $1.79, figuring it wouldn’t last too long. It didn’t. But all the kids got a chance to fly it and we got our money’s worth. The beach is a sea turtle preserve, and there are signs on the beach reminding you the beach is only ‘open’ from sunrise to sunset, to give the turtles a better chance to climb up and lay their eggs in season. The next morning, we saw turtle tracks all over the beach, so they must be busy!

Also, in the center of the island, is an old run-down lighthouse with a huge residence attached. So we took an early morning hike (Rachel, Erik, Emma, Levi, and Zoe) while Maggie relaxed on the beach with Miles and Lily. The view from the top was stunning, and REALLY windy. We could see Mehari bobbing alone in the bay to one side and the string of the rest of the islands off to the other side……..incredible.

After there, we headed over to Culebra, the ‘main’ island, but still really remote.  We found a calm anchorage tucked into some mangroves, and tried to get a bit of water from the town of Dewey. Dewey is the main town and ironically, also the name of the little town we were from in northern Arizona. We can’t believe it’s been just over 4 years since we’ve left Arizona, and as our time on the sea seems to be coming to a close over the next few months, we are all getting excited for the next adventure.

See you from Vieques!