Yesterday 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.
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
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 Republic
El Yunque Rain Forest, Puerto Rico
Randy & Patton, La Mina Falls, Puerto Rico
Patton, Randy, Ryan, Ronan, Cow Wreck Beach, BVI
Patton, Fat Virgin, Biras Creek, Vigin Gorda, BVI
Patton pointing the way on the Quill volcano trail, Statia
R,R, and Patton-Port Louis, Grenada
Mount Cinnamon, Grenada
Family Concord Waterfalls, Grenada
Patton reading Tricks of the Trades by Bruce Van Sant
Randy andPatton exiting the Boiling House, Rum Distillery, Grenada
Patton & Randy at the Hope Town Light House, Elbow Cay, Bahamas
Patton enjoying touring the fort, Gustavia, St. Bart
Patton taking Mom for a hike around Nelson’s Dockyard, Antigua 🙂
Patton, Fort Berkeley, English Harbor, Antigua
Patton taking Randy for a hike in Antigua
Patton taking in the view from his jet pack perch at Fort Berkeley, Antigua
Patton relaxing on the beach, Mount Cinnamon Resort, St. George’s, Grenada
Patton watching the Hawksbill turtles in Bequia
Patton and Uncle James, hiking to Fort Rodney, St. Lucia
Ronan, Theresa, Ryan and Patton, Fort Rodney, Pigeon Island, St. Lucia
Ryan, Patton and Ronan, Rodney Bay, St. Lucia
Patton and Randy on Patton’s 15th Birthday, St. Lucia
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.
One of our many pre-departure preparation items was the purchasing of the yellow Q (quarantine) flag, along with courtesy flags for each of the countries that we would be visiting, either intentionally, or potentially due to some change of course or boat maintenance requirement. International law mandates that vessels fly the yellow quarantine flag upon entering territorial waters of another country. The yellow Q flag must remain flying until the vessel and its crew clear customs and immigration at which point it is taken down and replaced with the host country’s courtesy flag.
Since our vessel is registered and flagged in the United States, in accordance with proper flag etiquette, we proudly fly Old Glory from the highest place of honor on our vessel, her stern.
Courtesy flags are flown at the next highest place of honor, e.g. a starboard halyard, or in our case a jack staff on our bow.
As a supplement to the boys’ homeschooling, we have assigned them the duty of raising and lowering the quarantine and courtesy flags as appropriate to our immigration status and our host country du jour.
We have also assigned them the task of researching and keeping a journal about the meaning of the flag for each country that we visit. This week they learned that the aquamarine stripes at the top and bottom of the Bahamian National Flag depict the colors of the Bahamian skies and water while the yellow stripe in the middle represents the shore. The black triangle on the left of the flag signifies unity. The courtesy flag for the Bahamas have the Bahamas National Flag on the top left corner of a red flag with a cross on it.
Yesterday we had an enjoyable crossing of the Gulf Stream and are now savoring our first day in the wonderful country of the Bahamas.
PD crosses the Gulfstream
The weather models were showing relatively benign sea conditions for our crossing yesterday with 3-5 ft seas. There was a forecast for a line of squalls to develop over the Gulf Stream late yesterday afternoon with steadily steepening seas but after reviewing the available data, conferring with our weather Guru, Chris Parker, and taking a look at the NexRad radar on our chart plotter, we made the determination that we could make the crossing safely by staying in front of the developing line of inclement weather. Originally, we had planned on crossing at 8 knots (our most economical speed) but given the potential for developing weather we increased our speed to 17 knots to stay at a comfortable speed for the sea conditions and stay in front of the line of weather that showed ominously 3-4 miles astern of us as we worked our way across. In the end, we did have to alter our course slightly to avoid a couple of thunderstorms but other than a few minutes of moderate rain with a few 5 foot waves we had a smooth crossing.
The customs and immigration procedures at the Old Bahamas Bay Marina could not have been more convenient. When we called in by radio (Channel 16, then switched to channel 10 ) we were told that Customs would not require us to tie up at their dock first but rather, sent us to our assigned slip and requested that the Captain report to the Customs and Immigration office after the Pilots’ Discretion had been secured in her slip. The paperwork was routine (helped significantly by the fact that the first mate, my wife Theresa, an immigration attorney who is type A, had converted all the Bahamian Customs and Immigration documents to fillable PDFs and had them completed before our arrival). Our Cocker Spaniel, Patton, was also pleasantly surprised when our concerns about bringing him ashore were completely dismissed by the Customs Officer. A very quick glance at his forms and veterinary health certificates and he was welcomed into the Bahamas.
R&R Old Bahamas Bay Hammock after clearing Customs & Immigration (blue building behind them across the bay)
R&R Starfish – Homeschooling recess in Old Bahamas Bay, Bahamas
The boys could not believe how clear the water is here and when we turned on our underwater lights, they thought we had changed them somehow because in Tarpon Springs they illuminate an area about 3 ft astern of the Pilots’ Discretion while here in the Bahamas, the water is illuminated for about 50 ft astern. After a day spent relaxing and home schooling we will head out tomorrow to begin our exploration of the Abacos. First stop, Great Sale Cay then on to Green Turtle Cay.