Tag Archives: Ronan

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.

 

Junior Captain in Training – by Ronan

Last week after a nice long hike behind the Rain Forest Café, in Marigot Bay, St. Lucia, I was thrilled to learn that I was going to have the opportunity to captain and command our Sea Ray 480 motor yacht from Capella Marina, Marigot Bay, St. Lucia, to Rodney Bay Marina, Rodney Bay, St Lucia (with appropriate supervision of course)!

Ryan, Theresa and Ronan, Marigot Bay, St. Lucia

Ryan, Theresa and Ronan, Marigot Bay, St. Lucia (spot Pilots’ Discretion)

While driving a boat, you do not just put it on autopilot and hope that you arrive at your destination before sunset. You have to be on high alert, at all times, for what is around you, including being on the lookout for other vessels, fishing pots, and shoals. You have to always be paying attention to your electronics and navigational instruments.

On the trip to Rodney Bay, according to our Automated Identification System (AIS) and the radar, I was on a potential collision course with a sailing vessel. Using Randy’s wise advice which was “don’t hit anything,” I switched from autopilot to standby which allowed me to control the vessel manually. After using two of the most important gadgets on board, which are the wheel and the throttles, I managed to get a safe distance away from the sailing vessel.

Pilots' Discretion Track from Marigot Bay to Rodney Bay, St. Lucia

Pilots’ Discretion Track from Marigot Bay to Rodney Bay, St. Lucia

Only a couple of nautical miles from Rodney Bay, with the help of my lookouts, who were my Mom and my brother Ryan, we located and avoided some fishing pots. When we got to Rodney Bay we hovered just before the channel entrance to the marina so that the crew could get the lines and fenders ready for docking. Finally, we safely docked at Rodney Bay Marina.

Rodney Bay Marina, St. Lucia

IGY Rodney Bay Marina, St. Lucia

With a lot of practice, time, and dedication, learning how to drive a boat is not as hard as you may think. In my opinion, captaining the boat from Marigot Bay to Rodney Bay in St. Lucia was one of the coolest experiences ever.

Ronan at the helm, BVIs

Developing the Boys’ Mariner Skills: Part 2 – by Theresa

Last year while cruising around the British Virgin Islands (BVIs), we spent a significant amount of time developing and honing the boys’ maritime skills. (April 17, 2015 post, “Developing the Boys’ Mariner Skills”.)  The BVIs is an excellent cruising location to advance one’s mariner skills as all but one of the islands are within eyesight of one another. It was here that Ryan and Ronan mastered picking up mooring balls, keeping their dock lines neat and how to safely maneuver the 25 hp dinghy.

Wow, what a difference a year makes! With each passing day, the boys have been devouring their marine environment, learning about all of the various systems on board. While they are still adept at previously learned skills, they are now more interested in how to run “the big boat.”

They are planning routes and plotting courses between the islands. They navigate the vector (digitally created layered charts) and raster (scanned paper charts) charts with ease and are more familiar with the Rules of Navigation and crossings than some of the adult boaters that we have encountered.

Ryan & Randy changing the oil in the generator

Ryan & Randy changing the oil in the generator

When not running the boat, they are often tinkering about in the engine room helping Randy with some boat project or another. After taking on fuel they are responsible for managing and running the fuel polishing system. They also help with basic maintenance projects such as changing the generator oil and filter, changing the water maker filters, and washing down the boat after a day at sea.

As our world revolves around the weather, monitoring sea and wind conditions has become routine for us all. While the Caribbean is mostly sunny, every good mariner has foul weather gear close at hand.

On sunnier days, the boys get a charge watching our battery voltage increase from our solar panels. They understand how the solar power is harnessed and distributed throughout the boat. They also now wholly understand the mechanics of the patent pending solar powered picnic table catamaran in Cane Garden Bay, Tortola.

Ryan and Ronan routinely monitor the VHF radio and listen to transmissions between the Coast Guard and vessels in distress. They know that having capable crew on deck is important to running the boat safely and efficiently. Having witnessed other vessels in distress only heightens their safety awareness. Nobody ever wants to return to the dock like the boat we saw being towed in on air bags in Nanny Cay!

This is not how any boater wants to return to the dock

This is not how any boater wants to return to the dock

As the saying goes, “all work and no  play makes Jack a dull boy.” Hence, as we have been cruising around the BVIs, honing the boys’ mariner skills, the boys have also been honing their having fun skills. They have reconnected with friends met during our previous stay in the BVIs, as well as having made some new ones.

R&R, Nanny Cay Marina, Tortola, British Virgin Islands

R&R, Nanny Cay Marina, Tortola, British Virgin Islands (2016)

Soccer at Nanny Cay, Tortola, BVI

Soccer at Nanny Cay, Tortola, BVI (2016)

Sidney’s Peace & Love, Jost Van Dyke, (2016)

Ryan Village Cay, Tortola, BVI

Ryan, Village Cay, Tortola, BVI (2016)

Ronan, Village Cay, Tortola, BVI

Ronan, Village Cay, Tortola, BVI (2016)

Ronan on the rope swing, Nanny Cay, BVI

Ronan on the rope swing, Nanny Cay, BVI (2016)

We have thoroughly enjoyed cruising the British Virgin Islands, and are grateful, once again, for the maritime lesson opportunities they have provided for the boys. Alas, weather, time and immigration restrictions have us pressing on. We have discussed our go forward cruising plans and have decided that at the next appropriate weather window we will be continuing our Caribbean journey heading south towards Grenada where we will ride out the next hurricane season. Our next port will be in St. Martin where we will post additional updates.

Belmont Estate 17th Century Historic Working Plantation, Grenada – by Ronan

Two weeks ago our boat neighbors on “M/V Seamantha” invited us to go to the Belmont Estate. The Belmont Estate is a 17th century historic working plantation. We took a taxi to Belmont Estate. When we got there our tour guide showed us a table full of local fruits. He told us which ones you could eat and which ones were poisonous.

Ronan with Cocoa Pod

Ronan with Cocoa Pod

After he was done talking about the fruits, we went out into the cocoa fields. My brother Ryan got to pick a cocoa pod right off the tree and I got to smash it on a rock to open it. The tour guide told us we could suck on a cocoa bean but we couldn’t swallow it. Our guide also told us it taste like Skittles or Starburst. I don’t like Skittles or Starburst but I tried it anyway. I didn’t like it at all.

After the fields we went to the place where they used to dry the cocoa beans in the sun. Now they dry the beans inside shelter because then they dry better and don’t get wet in the rain. We got to try nibs which are small bits of dried cocoa beans that have no sugar added, just 100 percent cocoa. It might sound good but in my opinion it was bad and bitter.

Next we went back to where we started the tour and got to sample chocolate that was 60 and 70 percent cocoa! That was a lot better than the nibs.

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After the chocolate tasting we went to the Belmont Estate restaurant for lunch. The food was great! After lunch we followed our guide and he showed us a talking parrot that sang happy birthday and asked for crackers.

Then we went to the dairy farm and fed goats leaves. We also discovered that goats have horizontal pupils.

Ryan and I got to feed monkeys bananas after we fed the goats. The monkeys weren’t hungry and only took one banana.

The monkeys made weird noises at Patton and they were not very fond of him Next we checked out a couple gift shops. We had a very great time at the Belmont Estate, I hope we can come back soon.

 

Ryan docking the dinghy

Developing the Boys’ Mariner Skills – by Theresa

It has been truly amazing watching the boys develop and hone their mariner skills, and what better place than the BVIs to sharpen their mooring abilities. In the British Virgin Islands, many, if not most bays have mooring balls as the preferred method of securing your boat. Capturing a mooring ball and securing a 50′ boat to it require close coordination between the helmsman and the deck crew. Since we have been in the BVIs for over  a month now the boys have become quite proficient at line handling and getting us on and off the moorings.

They are equally adept tying up in the marinas. Both boys have become fastidious about keeping their lines neat on the docks!

They are developing great situational awareness driving the dinghy and glide into the dock with ease.

It is all hands on deck at all times and we are fortunate to have such willing and capable crew.

We have thoroughly enjoyed cruising the British Virgin Islands, and are grateful for the maritime lesson opportunities they have provided for the boys.  Alas, weather, time and immigration restrictions have us pressing on. At the next appropriate weather window we will be continuing our Caribbean journey and heading on to St. Martin where we will post additional updates.