Author Archives: Theresa

HURRICANE MARIA (SEPTEMBER 2017)

Hurricane season has arrived in full force. As cruisers, we spend an inordinate amount of time monitoring weather systems. The latest shows Hurricane Maria intensified into a catastrophic Category 5 storm Monday, with maximum sustained winds of 160 mph (260 kph), as it surged toward islands in the eastern Caribbean.

Projected track for Hurricane Maria, September 18, 2017

Projected track for Hurricane Maria, September 18, 2017

Hurricane warnings have been posted for the U.S. and British Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Guadeloupe, Dominica, St. Kitts, Nevis and Montserrat.

A tropical storm warning was issued for Antigua and Barbuda, Saba, St. Eustatius, St. Maarten, St. Lucia (where Pilots’ Discretion is currently located), Martinique and Anguilla. Many of these islands are still recovering from direct hits from hurricane Irma. (See http://www.msn.com/en-us/weather/topstories/cat-5-hurricane-maria-threatens-storm-battered-caribbean/ar-AAs6sKy?ocid=spartandhp.) We are continuing to keep all those affected in our thoughts and prayers. We will post additional updates after this storm passes.

Willie T's, Norman Island, BVI (Before and After)

BRITISH VIRGIN ISLANDS – BEFORE AND AFTER HURRICANE IRMA (2017)

Before & after photos of the British Virgin Islands, culled from various Facebook pages and cruiser forums, which highlight the damage to the beautiful islands so many of us cruisers have had the pleasure of exploring.

Sabba Rock, BVI (Before & After)

Sabba Rock, BVI (Before & After)

Bitter End Yacht Club, Virgin Gorda, BVI (Before and After)

Bitter End Yacht Club, Virgin Gorda, BVI (Before and After)

DeLoose Mongoose, Trellis Bay, BVI (Before and After)

DeLoose Mongoose, Trellis Bay, BVI (Before and After)

Foxy's Taboo, Jost Van Dyke, BVI (Before and After)

Foxy’s Taboo, Jost Van Dyke, BVI (Before and After)

Last Resort, Trellis Bay, BVI (Before and After)

Last Resort, Trellis Bay, BVI (Before and After)

Willie T's, Norman Island, BVI (Before and After)

Willie T’s, Norman Island, BVI (Before and After)

Cane Garden Bay, BVI (Before and After)

Cane Garden Bay, BVI (Before and After)

Corsairs, Jost Van Dyke, BVI (Before and After)

Corsairs, Jost Van Dyke, BVI (Before and After)

Nanny Cay, Tortola, BVI (Before and After)

Nanny Cay, Tortola, BVI (Before and After)

The Facebook group page “BVI Abroad – Hurricane Irma” has provided a lot of useful, and consolidated, information regarding the British Virgin Islands. Richard Branson’s “Virgin Unite” and “BVI Volunteers”  are two, of many, groups coordinating relief and volunteer efforts (See https://www.virgin.com/unite/bvi-community-support-appeal and https://www.bvivolunteers.com/.  See also: http://mailchi.mp/487269e6b930/bvi-volunteers-weekly-update.)

Click here for additional photos, and to see several prominent business owners (including the infamous Soggy Dollar, Foxy’s, Corsairs, and Willie T’s) who have already vowed to rebuild!

ARC Caribbean 1500 Will Arrive in Nanny Cay, Tortola, BVI as planned

World Cruising Club director, Jeremy Wyatt, has announced that the ARC Caribbean 1500 will continue as per the published schedule to Nanny Cay, Tortola this November, commenting

“The best way as sailors that we can help the communities rebuild, is to visit and spend in the economy. The communities need and want visitors; World Cruising Club are encouraging participants to be sympathetic to the efforts of the communities in the BVI and give their support by sailing to the islands, this Fall. The islands may still bear the scars left by Irma, but the welcome will be as warm as always once crews step ashore.” See: ttps://www.worldcruising.com/arc_europe/newsarticle.aspx?page=S636410969472923870&CategoryID=190&src=

Cameron McColl, of Nanny Cay Marina, responded

“Nanny Cay took a major hit from Hurricane Irma, but within 7 days our team has restored power, water, septic systems, and the Beach Bar is already open serving cold beer! We have plenty of brand new docks in the new outer marina and we expect to be open for business again within the next two weeks. We look forward to welcoming the Caribbean 1500 and to running a full series of yachting events throughout the upcoming winter season.” See: ttps://www.worldcruising.com/arc_europe/newsarticle.aspx?page=S636410969472923870&CategoryID=190&src=

For our part, we are planning on stopping in the British Virgin Islands as we cruise north after the hurricane season ends. It will, of course, be with a different mindset than previous visits, with an aim towards rendering assistance in the community as best as possible.

We are continuing to keep the BVIs, and all of the Caribbean, in our thoughts and prayers as Tropical Storm Maria, makes her way up the Caribbean chain in the coming days.

Tropical Storm Maria

Tropical Storm Maria

Hurricane Irma (photo from Marine Weather Center's post)

HURRICANE IRMA – 2017

First, thank you, to everyone, for reaching out to see how Pilots’ Discretion, and her crew, fared as Hurricane Irma tracked through the Caribbean. In preparation for the storm and in accordance with our hurricane plan, we spider tied Pilots’ Discretion, with doubled lines, in a double slip, on a floating dock, alone with no other boats, in St. Lucia. Irma was set to track north of St. Lucia, however, to be on the safe side, we left the boat in St. Lucia and flew to Florida to stay out of harms way!

As predicted, Hurricane Irma passed north of St. Lucia. We were incredibly grateful to learn that our pre-hurricane preparations were sufficient, and that St. Lucia was spared from the ferocity of the storm. The island received some rain and wind from the outer bands of the storm, but on the whole, the island and our boat, weathered the storm and are fine.

Having flown to Florida, we then holed up with family in Spring Hill, just north of Tampa, on the west coast of Florida. Having just gone through the hurricane preparations drill in St. Lucia our crew was ready and able to  assist with preparations for the “high impact” potential hit headed for our relatives in Spring Hill.

We listened to reports, and observed, painfully, the pictures of the devastation from the direct hits on Barbuda, St. Barthélemy (St. Bart), St. Maarten/St. Martin, Anguilla, Antigua, the British Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. We have travelled to all of these islands in previous cruising seasons, and our thoughts and prayers go out to all those affected by the storm.

Paraquita Bay, British Virgin Islands (Before and After)

Nanny Cay Marina, British Virgin Islands, post hurricane Irma, 2017

Isleta Marina, Fajardo, Puerto Rico, post hurricane Irma, Sept. 2017

Foxy’s before (2016) and after (2017)

Forecasted Track for Hurricane Irma, Sept. 7, 2017

Forecasted Track for Hurricane Irma originally had her skirting up the east coast of Florida, Sept. 7, 2017

In Florida, the original forecasts had the storm tracking up the east coast. Slowly, the storm edged west with the later predictions indicating she would run up the middle of the Florida peninsula. Finally, within the last day prior to Florida landfall, the forecast consensus had Irma tracking up the west coast of Florida. We weathered the storm just north of Tampa. The eye passed just to our east during the middle of the night. We were extremely fortunate that a slight variation in the actual track of the storm placed us on the weak side of the circulation at the same time the storm was beginning to fall apart. We had a few hours of heavy rains accompanied by gusty winds mostly in the 40 knot range. Like most, we lost power and had a few downed trees to deal with but for the most part we came through the storm wiser for the experience but without taking any direct hits. We are all very aware of the potential devastation that just barely sidestepped us.

Our thoughts and prayers continue to go out to all those affected by the storm. Florida, the islands, and those living and cruising in Florida and the Caribbean islands, are a resilient bunch. Communities have already banded together to address immediate needs and start the lengthy rebuilding process. Click here for additional photos, and to see several prominent business owners (including the infamous Soggy Dollar, Foxy’s, Corsairs, Willie T’s) who have already vowed to rebuild!

Dwight, Theresa & Mary, diving in St. Lucia

SUMMER IN ST. LUCIA – PART 2 (by Theresa)

AQUATICS CENTER

Rodney Heights Aquatic Center

Rodney Heights Aquatic Center

With school out for the summer, we enrolled the boys in a summer swimming camp at the Rodney Heights Aquatic Center, located just outside Rodney Bay Marina. The Aquatics Center has an Olympic-short (25 m) sized pool, a karate studio, a gym, a soccer field and weekly field trips to various fun places on the island, including horse back riding and Splash Island Water Park! The boys are looking forward to the end of August, when there will be an island wide swim meet with competitors from all over the island.

Rodney Heights Aquatic Center, St. Lucia

Rodney Heights Aquatic Center, St. Lucia

OPEN WATER DIVER SCUBA CERTIFICATION

While the boys were in camp, I decided to finally take the plunge and get my Open Water Diver Scuba certification. Fortunately, Dive St. Lucia, one of the nicest dive facilities that we have seen throughout the Caribbean, is located right next door to the marina. My instructor for the course was “Mary,” and my dive buddy was “Dwight.” Coincidentally, Dwight is also one of the Captains of the Dive St. Lucia dive boats, who, like me, decided he wanted to see what life was like under the boat.

Dwight, Theresa & Mary, diving in St. Lucia

Dwight, Theresa & Mary, diving in St. Lucia

After completing the preliminary online testing, and confined water diving exercises in the pool, we set out to complete the open water diving portion of the course.

"OK" signal, Mary, Theresa & Dwight, diving in St. Lucia (2017)

“OK” signal, Mary, Theresa & Dwight, diving in St. Lucia (2017)

The first day we completed two tank dives and multiple underwater exercises.

Theresa & dive buddy, Dwight, diving in St. Lucia (2017)

Theresa & dive buddy, Dwight, diving in St. Lucia (2017)

Theresa, diving in St. Lucia (2017)

Theresa, diving in St. Lucia (2017)

Theresa, diving in St. Lucia (2017)

Theresa, diving in St. Lucia (2017)

Our second day open water diving was extra special since Ryan, who already has his open water diver certification, came along with his Go Pro to dive with us.

Theresa & Ryan, pre-dive, St. Lucia (2017)

Theresa & Ryan, pre-dive, St. Lucia (2017)

Ryan, pre-dive, St. Lucia (2017)

Ryan, pre-dive, St. Lucia (2017)

Mary, Dwight & Theresa preparing to dive, St. Lucia

Mary, Dwight & Theresa preparing to dive, St. Lucia

Ryan diving in St. Lucia (2017)

Ryan diving in St. Lucia (2017)

Ryan, diving in St. Lucia (2017)

Ryan, diving in St. Lucia (2017)

Dwight, Theresa & Ryan, diving in St. Lucia (2017)

Dwight, Theresa & Ryan, diving in St. Lucia (2017)

Ryan & Theresa, diving in St. Lucia (2017)

Ryan & Theresa, diving in St. Lucia (2017)

SEGWAY

Since Ronan was still not cleared to go scuba diving (due to his recent tonsillectomy), he and Randy opted for a land based Segway adventure. Since Ronan had been sewaying on the island before (See, This is How we Roll, February 24, 2017), he had fun showing Randy around the trails.

Randy & Ronan, segway in St. Lucia (2017)

Randy & Ronan, segway in St. Lucia (2017)

Nigel, Randy & Ronan, segway in St. Lucia (2017)

Nigel, Randy & Ronan, segway in St. Lucia (2017)

Ronan, segway break, St. Lucia (2017)

Ronan, segway break, St. Lucia (2017)

Ronan, segway break at beach side cafe, St. Lucia (2017)

Ronan, segway break at beach side cafe, St. Lucia (2017)

As the day came to a close, both sea and land adventures intersected on the bay!

Randy & Ronan Segway in St. Lucia (2017)

Randy & Ronan Segway in St. Lucia (2017)

As the end of the summer and hurricane season approaches, we are continuing to monitor the Caribbean storm systems, all while enjoying all that the beautiful island of St. Lucia has to offer.

Lone horse & the sea on the northeast coast of St. Lucia hike

FLORIDA and ST. LUCIA, SUMMER 2017


FLORIDA

We have been remiss in posting updates lately, mostly because we have been busy travelling (land based), preparing the boat for hurricane season, and tackling various boat projects; all the while Randy finished up his post-op rotator cuff surgery rehabilitation. When the Captain’s sling finally came off, we all flew back home to Florida and had a spectacular visit with the boys’ grandparents.

Ryan, Jim (GrandpaSir), Lorraine (Nana) and Ronan

Ryan, Jim (GrandpaSir), Lorraine (Nana) and Ronan

The boys enjoyed going to the driving range with their “Grandpa-Sir,” the movies with their Nana, and over all being spoiled by both their grandparents.  As always, we all had a TERRIFIC time!!!

Ronan and Ryan, FL 2017

Ronan and Ryan, FL 2017

While in Florida, our youngest crew member, Ronan, had to have his tonsils and adenoids removed. The procedure went smoothly, and he enjoyed all of the recovery ice cream that followed! Regrettably, that means no scuba diving for him for at least the next several months. Once he was cleared to fly, we all returned to the Pilots’ Discretion back in St. Lucia.

We were thrilled, upon our return, to find our dear friends on M/V Seamantha were still tied up in Rodney Bay Marina. That meant lots of shared adventures ahead.

HIKING DONKEY BEACH ON THE NORTHEAST COAST OF ST. LUCIA (9.37 miles)

Our former Grenada hash (hiking) pals on M/V Seamantha suggested a “short” hike to Donkey Beach on the Northeast coast of St. Lucia. From Rodney Bay Marina (on the west coast of St. Lucia) we hiked across to the eastern side of the island and then headed up the northern coastline.

Ronan, hiking the mortheast coast of St. Lucia

Ronan, hiking the northeast coast of St. Lucia

Our hike led us to several peninsulas and across open fields filled with free roaming and grazing horses.

Lone horse & the sea on the northeast coast of St. Lucia hike

Lone horse & the sea on the northeast coast of St. Lucia hike

Horses on the northeast coast of St. Lucia hike

Horses on the northeast coast of St. Lucia hike

Our hiking buddies logged our hike, and other hikes on St. Lucia, on Wikiloc at: https://www.wikiloc.com/wikiloc/view.do?id=18443065

DIVING THE PITONS AND TURTLE REEF ON THE WEST COAST OF ST. LUCIA

After recovering from the arduous hike, we decided to set out with Dive Saint Lucia to explore the famous St. Lucian Pitons from below the sea. The Pitons dive is nick-named the “Superman dive” because of the strong current that runs along the base of the Pitons.

Theresa, Ronan, Ryan & Randy, dive boat, St. Lucia

Theresa, Ronan, Ryan & Randy, dive boat, St. Lucia

The second dive of the day was at “Turtle Cay,” appropriately named for the numerous sea turtles that inhabit the reef.

Sea snake, Turtle Reef, St. Lucia

Sea snake, Turtle Reef, St. Lucia

M/V Seamantha eventually set off to Martinique. Randy volunteered to tag along as crew (and  for a mini-vacation) in Le Marin. Details on that adventure to follow.

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.

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!