Friday, June 5, 2020

Back in Colorado!



Here is a movie showing how we felt after three airports and two long flights and making it back home to Colorado.

 Escaping from St. Maarten with the dreaded bridge over Captain Steve's left shoulder!

 Maria enjoying the freedom of the US Virgin Islands!

Francis Bay, St. John, USVI and the sailboats at anchor with us.

Puerto del Rey Marina, Fajardo, Puerto Rico.  Welcome back to the USA!

Maria doing laundry the old fashioned way during quarantine.

Aspen on land again at Puerto del Rey Boatyard, Puerto Rico.

It is great to be home in Colorado again.

S/Y Aspen – June 6, 2020 – Log #171
Aspen Position: 39 degrees 29’ N  105 degrees 23’ W
Pine Junction, Colorado

Back in Colorado!

Our journey home from the Caribbean started amidst the most restrictive lockdown among all the islands of the Eastern Caribbean, in St. Maarten, where we happened to be on Aspen when the virus struck. 

Captain Steve misinterpreted the words “indefinitely shut down”, as Maria emphatically reminded him daily.  Who would have thought?
 
Enduring a brutal ten week lockdown, we escaped by sailing to the welcoming beaches and trails within the USVI.  Our future plans remained uncertain until we received a surprise and most welcome email from the Puerto Rico Department of Natural Resources: “Permission granted!”  We were allowed to sail to Puerto del Rey Marina in Fajardo, Puerto Rico. 

Aspen was safely put away for hurricane season before we caught flights to the majestic Rocky Mountains of Colorado and back to our Pine Ranch.  Flying 3,000 miles in the midst of a pandemic is not something anyone should ever, ever attempt.  Yet it was time to come home to family and friends where we wait for things to creep back toward a semblance of normal. 

Sail on, sail on Aspen…

1. You can track our location using this: https://us0-share.inreach.garmin.com/SYAspen
2. Our sailing book, Voyage Into Hell, is available at Amazon.com (www.voyageintohell.com)
3. And the new book, Leadville Trail 100; History of the Leadville Trail 100 Mile Running Race is also available at Amazon.com (www.LT100history.com)

Monday, March 16, 2020

Sint Maarten, Oh Boy! Also, Star Struck!

 Maria admiring our new solar panels!

Hiking with our friends on Tarentela (Al and Michele).  Now we know where the aliens landed too!

Maria and Michele on the trails on St. Maarten

Dinner with our friends on Watoosh (Loonie and Rita) and Cloud Street (Joanna and Bill) on St. Maarten

Dinghy tour around the Lagoon on St. Maarten/St. Martin

The unguarded border between the Dutch Side and the French Side of St. Maarten

Al (Tarentela) and Captain Steve with the Carnival Queen in Grand Case, St. Martin

Our good friends from Holland, Jan and Ida at their apartment in Philipsburg, St. Maarten

Rita and Steve at Carnival in Grand Case, St. Martin

Carnival parade in Grand Case, St. Martin

Yes, I Captain Steve is star struck.  Right down the dock from us is the famous sailor, Jon Sanders: Jon Sanders was the first man to circumnavigate Antarctica solo, circling the continent twice in 1981 – 1982 in his yacht, the Perie Banou. Now 80 years old, he has successfully sailed around the world 10 times.  This will be his 11th.

Jon Sander's sailboat

S/Y Aspen – March 16, 2020 – Log #170
Aspen Position: 18 degrees 02’ N  063 degrees 85’ W
Sint Maarten, Caribbean

How quickly things change, even for sailors out on the wild blue.

The news we hear from our friends and family up North is not good, as you obviously know.  Down here in the islands, we feel more isolated while quarantined in our own watery world.  Luckily for Maria and me, St. Maarten is one of the best places to be, in times of a global pandemic.

The infrastructure on the island has recovered on the Dutch Side, where we are located, so there are supplies of food, electricity and running water.  Aspen is berthed in a secure marina which obviously makes things easier and safer.

The winds of change are still swirling everywhere as we try to adjust to the flow.  Beginning tomorrow, the island of St. Maarten will not allow any flights into or out of the country.  Those tourists already here must wait until the end of the month before returning to their lives again.

With all public gatherings prohibited, we are left to enjoy the many beaches, abundant sunshine and more boat work on Aspen.  Yet St. Maarten doesn’t have any cases of the Corona virus.  We hope it stays that way!

Our thoughts go out to our friends and families so far away, hoping you stay safe and ride out this storm.

As Jimmy once sang my favorite lyrics:
“I’d rather die while I’m living than live while I’m dead.”

Sail on, sail on Aspen…

PS: Just after I posted this blog, our friends from Australia told me Jon Sanders was in St. Maarten.  The last 2 pictures are of him! "Jon Sanders was the first man to circumnavigate Antarctica solo, circling the continent twice in 1981 – 1982 in his yacht, the Perie Banou. Now 80 years old, he has successfully sailed around the world 10 times.  This will be his 11th."

1. You can track our location using this: https://us0-share.inreach.garmin.com/SYAspen
2. Our sailing book, Voyage Into Hell, is available at Amazon.com (www.voyageintohell.com)
3. And the new book, Leadville Trail 100; History of the Leadville Trail 100 Mile Running Race is also available at Amazon.com (www.LT100history.com)

Friday, February 14, 2020

Guadeloupe, Antigua and on to St. Maarten/St. Martin!


 Hiking in Guadeloupe; near the start of a hike

  Hiking in Guadeloupe; the mud begins

  Hiking in Guadeloupe; and more mud

Guadeloupe waterfalls along the trail

Dawn from Cat Tales enjoying a tropical downpour

Maria and Dawn with a large fern umbrella

The trail used to be here

 Beach time with Laurie on Cat Tales running quickly from a typical wave

 Enjoying the Guadeloupe aquarium.  Laurie seems trapped...

Steve's favorite percussionist in Guadeloupe

Sometime you just have to explore to find the treasure

Downtown Pointe a Pitre needs a bit of cleaning up to do

Ah, Antigua and Jolly Harbour without the rain!


Maria enjoying our anchorage

Sailing to Sint Maarten/St. Martin and fisherman Maria is showing her catch of the day!


S/Y Aspen – February 15, 2020 – Log #169
Aspen Position: 18 degrees 02’ N  063 degrees 85’ W
Sint Maarten, Caribbean

We hiked so many trails in Guadeloupe with our friends, Dawn and Laurie, on the catamaran Cat Tales.  Driving on the island was fairly easy but traffic was a challenge with the sheer volume of cars, trucks, busses and people on the roads.

If you enjoy viewing waterfalls, well this is your island.  The volume of water cascading down the mountains was exceptional, not to mention the rivers of mud and water washing out the trails we hiked on.  It seems the hurricanes of 2017 destroyed nearly every trail on Guadeloupe.  What were once well groomed and carved forest trails were gone, only to be replaced by rutted, rooted and barely passable semblances of the once magnificent trail system all over the island. 

We persevered at times but rarely completed a hike to the finish because of the non-existent trails.  Ah, you have to take what you can get so our lunch breaks and refreshment stops made up for the lack of passable walks.  Of course since this is part of France, the restaurants were expected to be wonderful.  Well, that didn’t work either since in the Caribbean restaurants set their own very odd hours for serving food, if at all.  So finding places to enjoy any culinary delights was as much of a challenge as finding the forest trails!

With our exploration of Guadeloupe complete, we sailed Aspen north to Antigua where we could speak English once again.  We went into Jolly Harbour to hide from more intense winds and seas for nearly a week, while visiting with sailing friends who had also made Antigua their destination this sailing season.

Luckily another sailing weather window appeared and Aspen roared toward our favorite island, St. Maarten/St. Martin.  We had not visited this twin island nation (Dutch and French) since the hurricanes devastated them in 2017.  It was good to be back among so many island friends again.

The Dutch side of St. Maarten has and is recovering nicely with work crews everywhere, sweeping, shoveling and repairing the many hotels and restaurants throughout the Dutch side of the island.  However, on the French side of the island, time seems to have stood still, with strikes, riots and very little progress being made to recover from the damage.  It is like France has forgotten about little St. Martin and left the French side of the island without much help.  Or maybe the millions of Euros sent for recovery aid somehow disappeared and evaporated, as the locals seem to think.

But things change and good can be found all over this island, from the beach bars and restaurants lining Simpson Bay to the fun Carnival parade in French Grand Case every Tuesday night.  We also have rendezvoused with many sailing friends coming up from the south and down from the north at this sailor’s crossroads in the Caribbean.

Cheap rum, boat repairs, and well stocked chandleries are the hallmark of St. Maarten.  We are doing our best to support the local economy by working on Aspen and completely going through all her systems for the first time in what seems like ages.  Lockers have been emptied and cleaned, while we found things we forgot existed.  Aspen turns 19 years old this year so it is time for this project.

We always make time for happy hours, beaching and hiking with friends while we are here too.  There is no shortage of enjoyable activities to participate in, you can count on that.

Sail on, sail on Aspen…

Love,
Steve and Maria

1. You can track our location using this: https://us0-share.inreach.garmin.com/SYAspen
2. Our sailing book, Voyage Into Hell, is available at Amazon.com (www.voyageintohell.com)
3. And the new book, Leadville Trail 100; History of the Leadville Trail 100 Mile Running Race is also available at Amazon.com (www.LT100history.com)

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Leaving the Windward Islands!

 Fred on Dakota Dream with Maria and Dawn (Cat Tales) at his New Year’s Eve party

 Aspen in the early morning light off the volcano on St. Vincent

 The anchorage at Petit St. Vincent, Grenadines.  Lots of catamarans are common now.

 Maria on Aspen in Bequia, St. Vincent/Grenadines

 Panorama of Admiralty Bay, Bequia with Dawn (Cat Tales) admiring the view

 Maria and Laurie (Cat Tales) enjoying happy hour on the floating Bar One in Admiralty Bay, Bequia

 Conch pizza at the Fig Tree in Bequia with Maria and Dawn (Cat Tales)

 View of the famous Pitons on the south end of St. Lucia during mid morning with great sailing weather

 Sailing off the north end of St. Lucia when the squalls decided to pounce on Aspen during our trip to Martinique

 Martinique doing their part to eliminate plastic straws.  This one is made of pasta!

 Lunch in St. Anne, Martinique with Maria enjoying octopus and Steve having chicken.

 Panoramic view of the anchorage in St. Anne, Martinique with Aspen on the far left, in the middle of the bright glow.

 A huge cruise ship passing Aspen at anchor in Pointe a Pitre, Guadeloupe

 Hiking for rum at Bas du Fort, Pointe a Pitre, Guadeloupe

 The town of Pointe a Pitre, Guadeloupe needs some cleaning and point to restore her once fabulous glory.

 Steve’s favorite drummer in Guadeloupe

 Maria and Dawn (Cat Tales) enjoying the aquarium with Laurie (Cat Tales) safely trapped under the lion fish.

Aspen on a mooring ball again in sweet Bequia

S/Y Aspen – January 7, 2020 – Log #168
Aspen Position: 16 degrees 13’ N  061 degrees 32’ W
Pointe a Pitre, Guadeloupe, Caribbean

It has been a busy month with Aspen taking us to sweet Bequia and then on to Martinique for Christmas and New Years.

Bequia found us getting together with sailing friends from past seasons, eating great lobster and conch pizza as well as hiking some shorter trails.

Our good friends on Cat Tales (Dawn and Laurie) were in Bequia to meet us and help us savor the nice places to eat and visit with the friendly locals.

As you know, our movements are determined by the weather so off we sailed to Martinique, a 17 hour sail, with Cat Tales when the weather gave us a window to do so. 

Ah, Martinique, the land of French wine and cheeses.  The sail from Bequia, past the volcano on St. Vincent and into the lee of St. Lucia was breezy and bouncy but a nice sail.  However, the squalls hit the fan as we rendezvoused with Fred on Dakota Dream at sea off Rodney Bay, St. Lucia.  Winds up to 40 knots were recorded from the never ending squall lines that constantly pummeled us, Cat Tales and Dakota Dream the entire way to St. Anne, Martinique.  It was as bad as Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride!  Welcome to France.

Christmas Eve was spent on a catamaran named Jumbie (Kathy and Tom) with 25 sailors.  The next day saw us eating Christmas dinner at Ta Lou Lou’s on the beach at St. Anne, Martinique with 29 sailors.  The number of sailors partying gets larger as time passes, or so it seems.

Then it was onboard Dakota Dream with our North Dakota friend Fred where we watched the Caribbean fireworks unfold from our tranquil anchorage.  Maybe the rum tasting had something to do with the colors painted in the sky from the explosions?

Again, another weather window appeared and we sailed further north to Iles de Saintes and finally Pointe a Pitre, Guadeloupe where are are currently anchored, waiting for a blast of strong winds and high seas to rock Aspen in our anchorage for a couple of weeks. 

We have a car rented and plan on touring Guadeloupe with Cat Tales (Dawn and Laurie) as we enjoy another French island.  There will be a lot of hiking, lying on the beach and Ti Punches to pass the windy days.  Ah, the Caribbean in winter.

Sail on, sail on Aspen…

PS - More pictures can be found at:  http://syaspen.blogspot.com/
1. You can track our location using this: https://us0-share.inreach.garmin.com/SYAspen
2. Our sailing book, Voyage Into Hell, is available at Amazon.com (www.voyageintohell.com)
3. And the new book, Leadville Trail 100; History of the Leadville Trail 100 Mile Running Race is also available at Amazon.com (www.LT100history.com)

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Let's Go Sailing!


 Steve putting the final touches of bottom paint on Aspen before she splashes

 The boys, enjoying some pool time (Captain Steve, Fred on Dakota Dream and Laurie on Cat Tales)

 Sailors at the pool: Dawn (Cat Tales), Fed (Dakota Dream), Laurie (Cat Tales), Maria and Steve (Aspen)

 Port Louis Marina and the big boy docks near the marina entrance

 Shadow Fax taking island visitors out for a rum and beach tour

 This isn’t a picture of Aspen, in case you wondered.  Just a beautiful 295 foot gaff rigged schooner named Athena and owned by the founder of Silicon Graphics and Netscape, James Clark.

 Athena is for sale, if you are interested, at only $45 million (USD).

 Da Customs man's place

 Maria with Aspen at Port Louis Marina

S/Y Aspen – December 4, 2019 – Log #167
Aspen Position: 12 degrees 02’ N  061 degrees 44’ W
Grenada, Caribbean

Aspen is floating once again and put back together for another sailing season in the warm, sunny Caribbean Sea!

We brought Aspen to Port Louis Marina and reassembled her, making it easier on ourselves since there are showers, great WIFI and nearby grocery stores and boat chandleries for our needs.  Electricity is very expensive so we don’t use our air conditioning while at the dock.

Getting acclimated to 90 degree heat with matching humidity is still ongoing for us in this tropical climate.  We work in the morning until about 10 am before the sun gets too intense for any more chores to be done.  We go grocery shopping or run other errands during the heat of the day (sometimes sitting in the marina pool to keep cool!) until about 4 pm when the sun is lower in the sky.  Two hours of work before sunset and that takes care of most days in Grenada.

Late afternoons are also time for happy hours with friends who have arrived and are accomplishing the same things as we are.  Oh, we routinely check the weather back home in the States, just to make us feel better about roasting in the tropical sun.

Captain Steve awakes early each day, well before sunrise, in order to get his run in.  Once the sun breaks the horizon, bad things like lots of sweating happen quickly.  It is best to be finished running before sunrise!

When we shop for groceries or boat parts, the local bus system is our method of transportation.  The system works, is cheap but the normal size vans (called a bus) can be crowded and uncomfortable at times.  No, there is no AC on the bus, just open windows for the much sought-after breeze.

Lugging a heavy backpack full of groceries makes for interesting times, that’s for sure.

We’re stocked up and ready for some sailing now.  Let the wind fill our sails and the seas take good care of us in these little latitudes.

Sail on, sail on Aspen…

1. You can track our location using this: https://us0-share.inreach.garmin.com/SYAspen
2. Our sailing book, Voyage Into Hell, is available at Amazon.com (www.voyageintohell.com)
3. And the new book, Leadville Trail 100; History of the Leadville Trail 100 Mile Running Race is also available at Amazon.com (www.LT100history.com)