Patton

A life well lived, Patton Mowrey February 25, 2002-April 24, 2017

Patton and his ball

Patton and his ball

It has been our policy to use our blog to share with all of you just how wondrous our family’s Caribbean cruising experience has been. Indeed, we think it has been a transformative experience for all of us. That said, magical trip or not, we have not been insulated from the ups and downs that life has for cruisers and our land based friends alike. Sadly, this post is not one that is likely to bring a smile to your face. We have kept this brief simply because the grief we are all feeling is something that has left us all without adequate words.

Monday, April 24, 2017, will be entered into the Pilots’ Discretion logbook as the saddest day of our Caribbean experience. We had to have our crew member, and all around best buddy Patton, euthanized at the veterinary clinic on St. Lucia. The specific illness that took our pal from us was a very aggressive metastatic series of mast cell tumors. The truth is that after 15 plus years of a wonderful life, Patton’s little body had worn out.

Our entire family was with Patton to the end. Ryan and Ronan waited in the clinic waiting room as the Dr. called Theresa, Patton, and I into the exam room. After the Dr. explained the specifics of the procedure, it was time to do what we dreaded but understood was in Patton’s best interest. Theresa and I held him in our arms as the last of his life ebbed away. Gladly, I can report that he did not suffer in those final moments. After he had passed, the entire crew of the Pilots’ Discretion took one last dinghy ride with our buddy so that Patton the “boat dog” could have a proper burial at sea. His final resting place is several miles offshore the island of St. Lucia.

We miss Patton terribly but we will never forget him.

Patton enjoying the sunset from The Bight, Norman Island, B.V.I.

Patton enjoying the sunset from The Bight, Norman Island, B.V.I.

 

Patton, Loblolly Beach, Anegada, BVI

Happy 15th Birthday Patton! (by Randy)

imageYesterday was a pretty important day aboard the Pilots’ Discretion. Patton, our intrepid, world traveling Cocker Spaniel turned fifteen (15) years old. Way back when we initially left the comfort zone of our home marina in Tarpon Springs, Florida (2 and 1/2 years ago) we had some concerns with how well our then 12 year old buddy would adapt to a life at sea. Our concerns were completely unfounded. Patton is the first one up every morning and the last one to turn in each night after surveying the boat to assure himself that the entire crew is accounted for.Patton Kindle

Patton crew

Patton crew

He loves excursions in the dinghy and he has his favorite spot picked out under the Captain’s helm chair for long passages.

Patton driving the dinghy in the BVIs

Patton driving the dinghy in the BVIs

Randy & Patton in front of Tthe Indians, B.V.I.

Randy & Patton in front of the Indians, B.V.I.

The story would not be complete without acknowledging there have been some concessions made due to the decision to cruise with Patton. We do not patronize places along the way that are not dog friendly. We have on rare occasions had more difficulty clearing immigration as a result of declaring Patton as part of our crew but all in all, he has been a very positive addition to our crew and we would not consider having it any other way.

Cable Car, Loma Isabel de Torres, Dominican Reupblic

Cable Car, Loma Isabel de Torres, Dominican Republic

 

For those of you following our blog who are not dog people, I am sure you just scratch your head when you see me acting like a very proud papa when talking about Patton. To the dog people following us, I know that I need to say no more.

Happy birthday Patton, the crew of the Pilots’ Discretion loves you❤️

Patton enjoying the sunset from The Bight, Norman Island, B.V.I.

Patton enjoying the sunset from The Bight, Norman Island, B.V.I.

 

Ronan, Theresa, Roland, and Ryan, Segway in St. Lucia

This is How We Roll – Lucian Style! (by Ryan)

Capt. Randy on the bow, Rodney Bay, St. Lucia

Capt. Randy, arm in a sling,  on the bow, Rodney Bay, St. Lucia

Two weeks post-rotator cuff surgery and the Captain seems to be recovering nicely. Tethered to an ice machine, watching the sun set over Rodney Bay in St. Lucia, is not a terrible way to navigate the post-op rehabilitation process. The hardest part has been keeping the arm immobilized. Anyone with a boat knows that there is always some project that needs to be attended to. Luckily, we have a capable crew willing to take care of, or assist with those never-ending projects. Mom, Ronan and I are becoming ever more familiar with the engine room and various boat systems!

SEGWAY

Roland and Ryan, Segway training in St. Lucia

Roland and Ryan, Segway training in St. Lucia

In the meantime, with the Captain resting and recovering on the boat, Mom, Ronan, and I decided to take a field trip to explore more of the beauty that St. Lucia has to offer. Friends of ours, Rita and Ralph off S/V Calypso, suggested a Segway Tour that sets out from Rodney Bay (http://lucianstyle.com/featured-tours). Just a short walk from the marina, we mounted the Segways and received initial maneuverability instructions. Having never ridden a Segway before, the motion control was initially unfamiliar. After a few minutes of practice, circling around the practice track, we all seemed to get the hang of it and set off!

Roland, Ronan and Ryan, Segway in St. Lucia

Roland, Ronan and Ryan, Segway in St. Lucia

We rode along the well-maintained nature trails on Mount Pimard until we arrived at our first stop where our guide, Roland, let us smell the spice of Bay leaf off of a local tree. He also put flowers in all the ladies’ helmets. Next, we stopped at Pebble’s Point looking across Rodney Bay. Roland explained some of the island’s history while his assistant took our Segways out of beginner’s mode and switched them into advanced mode.

Rodney Bay, St. Lucia

Rita, Ryan, Roland, Ronan and Ralph, Rodney Bay, St. Lucia

In advance mode, at a top speed of 14 mph, we kept gliding along the trails (built by the U.S. military during WWII) and stopped to check out a WWII bunker 30 feet underground.

We then proceeded to fly on a straight away dirt trail at about a 40o angle as fast as the Segways could go! We got to an opening with spectacular views!

 

Rita, Ralph, Ryan, Ronan, Theresa and Roland, Segway in St. Lucia

Rita, Ralph, Ryan, Ronan, Theresa and Roland, Segway in St. Lucia

Ronan, Ryan, Theresa, Ralph and Rita, Segway in St. Lucia

Ronan, Ryan, Theresa, Ralph and Rita, Segway in St. Lucia

Ronan and Ryan, St. Lucia

Ronan and Ryan, St. Lucia

Although not mentioned in the Segway tour brochure, we took a small hike up to a pond. We fed bread to the fish and then came back for Roland’s surprise! Just in case anyone reading this decides to do the tour I will not tell you the surprise. You will just have to find out for yourself! Hint: it came out of a WWII bunker and it was not dust. After that we flew back down the hill and visited yet another spectacular view point. It overlooked Rodney bay and you could see Pigeon island in the background.

It was literally all downhill (the trails) after that. We next visited the South end of Reduit Beach and got sodas at a beach front restaurant.

In the end, we did a victory lap and then returned to the track. We all got official Gliders Licenses for mastering the skill of gliding on a Segway X2. With the license if (probably when) you decide to do this 5-star tour again they put you in advanced mode from the beginning. By far this is the best tour I have taken in the Caribbean! We are hoping to do this tour again, but with the Captain when his arm is better, so he can enjoy this excellent tour as well!

VIDEOS

Click image below for GoPro video of our Segway adventures.

MOVIE TRAILER by Ronan(10) and Ryan (11)

Ronan (10) and Ryan (11) made a “movie trailer” for our Caribbean cruising adventures. We added it to our “VIDEOS” page at: https://pilotsdiscretion.com/videos/. We are also sharing it here, below. I think we found our new videographers! They had a lot of fun making it. We hope you enjoy watching it! Click on the below image to play.

We have also created a dedicated YouTube channel  where we have compiled the videos from our blog, and uploaded additional videos from our journey.  To view the videos click on the link below (or copy and paste into browser):

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC94z5hCIrRiEvY8MTJegTbA.

Plan B, Every Cruiser Needs One! (by Randy)

As I am writing this, it is late January and we are secured in our slip in the Rodney Bay Marina in St. Lucia, West Indies. We have thoroughly enjoyed our stay in St. Lucia, and we had thought we would be headed northbound by now, working our way back towards Florida. Unfortunately, the only member of the Pilots’ Discretion crew to get back to Florida was her Captain, and that was to see his favorite orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Daniel P. Moynihan.

Dr. Daniel P. Moynihan, Orthopedic Surgeon

Dr. Daniel P. Moynihan

My left shoulder had been bothering me since we were in Grenada but I considered it mainly a nuisance and intended to have it addressed when we got the boat back to Florida. This month, I went back to Florida to attend to some of our business issues and thought I would stop by Dr. Moynihan’s office to make sure he concurred with my assessment that I could defer action on my shoulder until the conclusion of our Caribbean trip. Initially, he was quite encouraging, telling me that he had seen the pictures on our blog of our Caribbean adventures and was fairly comfortable telling me that if the shoulder were seriously injured, I would not likely have been so enthusiastic with my outdoor activities.

He did however tell me that the only way to know for certain would be to do an MRI. Two days later, MRI in hand, the good Dr. gave me the news that the MRI looked very good except for that troublesome torn rotator cuff in my left shoulder. He outlined the specific issues as he highlighted the relevant areas of the MRI. Unfortunately, his conclusion was that any significant deferral of the surgery could make a full recovery more difficult. The good news is that Dr. Moynihan is a can do type of guy and a good problem solver. He told me he was confident that he could do the surgery on a Friday and have me back in St. Lucia the following Tuesday to begin my rehab assignment in the tropics.

Anyone that has gone through a rotator cuff repair can tell you that it is approximately as much fun as two root canals followed by a nice nap in a bed of fire ants.

That said, it sucks for me that I will be forced to do my approximately 3 month rehab in the shadow of St. Lucia’s fabled Pitons, being cooled by the  trade winds of the Caribbean.

Cruising Past the Pitons, St. Lucia

Cruising Past the Pitons, St. Lucia

The practical implications of all of this gets us to the Plan B mentioned in the title of this post. Given that the surgery is now scheduled for early February and accounting for  the length of the required rehabilitation program, we will be unable to safely move the Pilots’ Discretion before the beginning of the 2017 Caribbean hurricane season. Plan B has now come sufficiently into view for us to conclude that we will likely be enjoying the St. Lucian beauty and hospitality until the end of next summer. We will of course keep you apprised via our blog as we suffer through the execution of our Plan B.

Ronan, Theresa, Ryan and Patton, Fort Rodney, Pigeon Island, St. Lucia

Hiking to Fort Rodney, Pigeon Island National Park, St. Lucia (by Ryan)

After viewing Pigeon Island from the sea, by both boat and kayak, and by land from our marina, last week we decided to take a hike over there to check it out. Taking a left out of the marina gate, it is approximately a 40-minute hike to the island. We had so much fun over there that when our Uncle Jim came to visit, we took him to the fort to explore too.

Ronan, James and Ryan departing Rodney Bay Marina, St. Lucia

Ronan, Uncle  Jim, and Ryan departing Rodney Bay Marina, St. Lucia

Pigeon island is actually connected to mainland St. Lucia (i.e. it’s more like a peninsula). Wondering why they call it an island, I looked it up and learned that “once isolated from mainland, St. Lucia, in the Caribbean Sea, the island was artificially joined to the western coast of the mainland in 1972 by a man-made causeway built from dirt excavated to form the Rodney Bay Marina. “Pigeon Island (Saint Lucia).” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 07 Jan. 2017.

Pigeon Island land bridge (red roof tops are Sandals Resort), St. Lucia

Pigeon Island land bridge (red roof tops are Sandals Resort), St. Lucia

After arriving at the Pigeon Island National Park, we paid the admission fee and started up the first hill to Fort Rodney.

Patton and James, hiking to Fort Rodney, St. Lucia

Patton and Uncle Jim, hiking to Fort Rodney, St. Lucia[gallery type="square" size="medium" ids="2904,2903,2902"]

Fort Rodney is named after a renowned British Admiral. Admiral Rodney is most famous for defeating the French at the Battle of the Saintes in 1782. The French originally settled St. Lucia but they fought the British for it three years after signing their peace treaty with the Caribs in 1660. Control of the island switched back and forth 14 times, seven times to the French and seven times to the British. The British won control the fourteenth time and they had control of the island until St. Lucia gained their independence on February 22, 1979.

We first arrived at a platform overlooking Rodney Bay (also named after the Admiral). The views were spectacular!

Theresa, Ryan, Ronan, James and Patton, Fort Rodney, St. Lucia

Theresa, Ryan, Ronan, Uncle Jim, and Patton, Fort Rodney, St. Lucia

On a clear day looking north you can see the island of Martinique, approximately nineteen (19) nautical miles across the Martinique/St. Lucia channel.

Looking north from Fort Rodney, Pigeon Island, St. Lucia (Martinique on the horizon)

Looking north from Fort Rodney, Pigeon Island, St. Lucia (Martinique on the horizon)

When it was initially built in 1778, one of Fort Rodney’s purposes was to spy on French ships up in Martinique. The lower fort had a couple cannons and more great views. We even got to climb down a ladder into the gun powder room.

There was a sign explaining the system they used to bring cannons off of Admiral Rodney’s ships up to the fort. Using a pulley system, they hoisted the cannons off the deck to the top of the mast and then over to the fort.

Patton and James, hiking Fort Rodney, St. Lucia

Patton and Uncle Jim, hiking Fort Rodney, St. Lucia

We went back down half way and then scaled the next hill. The trail up to Signal Peak was a little steeper than up to Fort Rodney. The signaling peak was used by the United States during WWII as a naval communications signal station until 1947. Flags were hoisted up a large pole to send signals to vessels at sea.

The views at the signaling station were just as good if not better than the views from the lower fort.  

U.S. Signal Station (1941), Fort Rodney, St. Lucia

U.S. Signal Station (1941-1947), Fort Rodney, St. Lucia

 

 

 

Ronan, James and Ryan (Martinique on the horizon), Fort Rodney, St. Lucia

Ronan, James and Ryan (Martinique on the horizon), Fort Rodney, St. Lucia

 

The hike down from the upper peak would be difficult for people afraid of heights. On our way down we saw a strategic fort on the side of the hill for armed soldiers to fire down on the enemy while being protected by the stone wall.

Ryan, James and Ronan, Pigeon Island, St. Lucia

Ryan, Uncle Jim and Ronan, Pigeon Island, St. Lucia

We really enjoyed hiking around Fort Rodney, Pigeon Island with our Uncle Jim. I would definitely recommend this hike to anyone on St. Lucia. If you are staying at a nearby marina or anchorage, and you do not like hiking, there is a dinghy dock right on Pigeon Island.

VIDEO

Click image below for additional pictures and video of Fort Rodney, Pigeon Island, St. Lucia hiking adventure.

 

Theresa on the zip line, Rain Forest Adventures, St. Lucia

Ringing in the New Year with Rain Forest Zip Lining Adventures in St. Lucia (by Theresa)

For Christmas, Ryan and Ronan found in their stockings, certificates for a day of Rain Forest Adventures in St. Lucia, including an aerial tram, hiking, and adrenaline driven zip lining, high atop the rain forest canopy. Rainforest Adventures aims to promote environmental consciousness and conservation awareness while striving to provide world-class eco tourism. (See http://www.rainforestadventure.com/st-lucia/). Putting aside my general distaste for heights, I strapped on the required safety helmet and gear and set off into the rain forest with the boys.

Ryan on the zip line, Rain Forest Adventures, St. Lucia

Ryan on the zip line, Rain Forest Adventures, St. Lucia

Ronan on the zip line, Rain Forest Adventures, St. Lucia

Ronan on the zip line, Rain Forest Adventures, St. Lucia

After a few practice runs on the training low/short zip lines, we graduated to the aerial tram. The aerial tram took us from the forest floor, through the understory, and over the rain forest canopy. Our knowledgeable guide provided an encyclopedia of rain forest facts along the way. The panoramic views were nothing short of majestic.

Rain Forest Adventures tram, St. Lucia

Rain Forest Adventures aerial tram, St. Lucia

Aerial Tram, Rain Forest Adventures, St. Lucia

Aerial Tram, Rain Forest Adventures, St. Lucia

At the top, we hiked through the rain forest viewing and learning about the many different plant and animal species.

Hiking through the rain forest, St. Lucia

Hiking through the rain forest, St. Lucia

We then spent the next couple of hours zip-lining from one tree top platform to another.

Tree top platform, Rain Forest Adventures, St. Lucia

Tree top platform, Rain Forest Adventures, St. Lucia

Ryan, Theresa and Ronan, Rain Forest Adventures, St. Lucia

Ryan, Theresa and Ronan, Rain Forest Adventures, St. Lucia

VIDEOS

The system of automatic brakes, double cables, triple redundancy clasps and chest harnesses made us feel secure while whizzing through the tropical paradise.

Click image below for GoPro videos of zip lining adventures.

Wishing everyone peace, prosperity and many adventures in the new year!