Sunday, May 29, 2022

Not as we planned

 

After the pit bull attack in Grenada

Ready for our flights out of Grenada



Flying away...

 

S/Y Aspen – May 28, 2022 – Log #184

Aspen Position: 12 degrees 00’ N, 61 degrees 00’ W

Prickly Bay, Grenada, Caribbean and Colorado

  

Not as we planned

 

Our departure from sunny Grenada, after securing Aspen for hurricane season, didn’t quite go as we planned.

 

Captain Steve was attacked on his daily run, by a vicious pit bull dog the day before we flew off the island. 

 

The dog surprised Steve.   

 

There was the devil dog, standing in the middle of Dusty Highway at the dawn of a new day, around a blind corner.  The dog was right in front of Steve before he saw him.

 

Suddenly, realizing there was no escape from the lunging, hateful dog, Steve sprinted past the beast only to trip and fall, hitting a tall, solid and large concrete curb, during his getaway.

 

But his sprint took him out of the dog’s protective area, so Steve was never mauled or bitten by the pit bull.

 

The tall concrete curb did all the damage:

·      7 broken bones in his face requiring triage in Grenada, followed by 4 hours of delicate, painful face surgery in Denver

·      Broken clavicle (9 mm clean break).  Grenada doctor used tape to stabilize the bone and permit Steve to fly.

·      Lacerations to Steve’s face requiring 20 stitches/sutures to stop the blood flow in Grenada and make him look horrific for the flight to Colorado.

·      Two black eyes

 

All this happened 5 days ago, with our flights scheduled for the day after the attack; how lucky was that?   

 

Yes, it was a horrific ordeal to put Maria through: airports, flights and trying to keep Steve from becoming a DNF (Did not finish) on this ultimate journey seeking expert medical attention, capping off an epic year of sailing and adventure.

 

The outcome would have been much worse if our dear dear friends, Dawn and Laurie in Grenada, Cool Running Apartment staff, Zach in Colorado and neighbors Art and Liz.  It would not have been as successful without them.

 

I’m alive and hope to keep living, to tell the tale.

 

Sail on, sail on Aspen… 

 

Steve and Maria


Friday, May 20, 2022

It’s a wrap!

St. Georges, Grenada with Fort George high atop a hill at the harbour entrance.
Having lunch in downtown St. Georges, Grenada with Dawn from Cat Tales.
There are always Carnival festivities happening in Grenada, no matter what time of year it is.
Maria and Dawn under a Kirani banner.  Kirani is an Olympic gold medalist, who represented Grenada, in the 400 meter running event.
The big day when Aspen meets dry land once again
Maria and Laurie of Cat Tales, at lunch in downtown St. Georges, Grenada

S/Y Aspen – May 20, 2022 – Log #183 

Aspen Position: 12 degrees 00’ N, 61 degrees 00’ W 

Prickly Bay, Grenada, Caribbean 

 It’s a wrap! 

It was a close reach, sailing for three days from St. John in the USVI south to Grenada. 

For sailors, that term ’close reach’ means you bash your way into the winds and waves. But close reach sounds so much nicer than reality. 

Our landfall at Carriacou, Grenada found us deep in the southern Caribbean, where time passes very slowly in the tropical heat. 

After the fast-paced life in the USVI, it was a culture shock to once again ease into each new day as slowly as the sun rises above an endless horizon. 

Our stay in Carriacou was not as long as planned, once westerly swells made life onboard Aspen difficult with each uncomfortable roll while at anchor. 

So, without much hesitation, we sailed south to mainland Grenada and the comfort of Port Louis Marina. Ah, no rocking or rolling in the marina! 

While in the marina, we prepared Aspen for her stay on land, due to the upcoming hurricane season. 

Yesterday was haulout day; The long process to move Aspen from the warm Caribbean Sea to a hot and dusty boatyard. 

We call it the boatyard blues, when we work on Aspen sitting on land in the tropical heat and unpleasant humidity. 

However, we fondly raised a toast to a safe hurricane season and dreams of a new sailing season for Aspen in the Caribbean this November. 

Sail on, sail on Aspen…

Thursday, April 21, 2022

Heading South

 

Annaberg sugar mill ruins on St. John and the spectacular view

Geology: Vertical beds with a lava flow intruded on the left side near Maho Beach, St. John, USVI.  Maria is providing scale, ha!

Maho Beach concession area.  This is new since 2017 and provides some refreshing drinks for beach people!

St. Thomas, USVI.  This is Long Bay, where we anchor close to Charlotte Amalie.

Maria visiting the Annaberg sugar mill on St. John

View of the British Virgin Islands from St. John.  The BVI's have become unfriendly to sailors so we won't be visiting them.

St. Thomas, as seen from our National Park mooring at Maho Bay, St. John

Maria enjoying the wind at Maho Bay, St. John

Maho Bay (foreground) and Francis Bay (background) on St. John, USVI.  The National Park mooring field is where vessels can tie up and stay.
 

S/Y Aspen – April 21, 2022 – Log #182

Aspen Position: 18 degrees 21’ N, 64 degrees 44’ W

Francis Bay, St. John, USVI

 

Heading South

 

Easter has come and gone down in da islands. 

 

Easter is a very important time of year because it heralds the end of high tourist season and the imminent migration of sailors in preparation for the looming hurricane season.

 

Some of our friends departed early this year, but the majority of sailors are enjoying lighter winds and smaller seas in the Caribbean, now that winter winds have thankfully moderated.

 

Maria and I forgot how easy things are in the USVI.  Cheap National Park moorings on St. John, an endless number of restaurants to choose from and even boat parts that can be flown in via USPS are just some of the attractions of being in US waters again.

 

Our daily entertainment in the Virgins is watching enormous charter catamarans jockeying for a mooring, with their guests basking in the warm sunshine as the crew works to entertain and feed them. 

 

We have never seen so many 50–60 foot catamarans in one place before, as the enormous catamarans have multiplied in the USVI since COVID hit.

 

It seems people simply want to enjoy themselves once again with more disposable income than we thought existed.

 

Those who have dreams about buying a catamaran and sailing away have to get on the proverbial waiting list for up to three years until a new catamaran is available.  Used catamarans and even monohulls are selling faster than a greased pig, or so the saying goes.

 

What are Aspen’s plans?

 

Sailing south, of course! 

 

Some COVID restrictions are still in place further south of the USVI.  So, Aspen will head offshore again, making landfall in Carriacou, Grenada which is sailor friendly.

 

After all, Maria needs to get her sea legs back and enjoy those wonderful sunrises and sunsets, out on the big blue, or so Captain Steve tells her.  Hmmm.

 

Sail on, sail on Aspen…

 

Steve and Maria

PS - More pictures can be found at:  http://syaspen.blogspot.com/

1.     You can follow Aspen’s route here: https://forecast.predictwind.com/tracking/display/SV_Aspen

2.     Aspen will also have a Garmin tracker working so you can follow along:  https://share.garmin.com/SYAspen


Friday, March 25, 2022

Back in the Sunny Caribbean!

 

Unloading Aspen in St. Thomas, USVI

Conditions in Patagonia at exactly the time I would have been there.  It would not have been pretty with hurricane force winds and nearly 40 foot seas...

Maria enjoying St. Thomas again

Dinner with Fred on his catamaran, Dakota Dream

Maria and Fred, leaving Charlotte Amalie Harbor, St. Thomas; going to meet Aspen

Aspen transiting the Panama Canal from the Pacific Ocean, back into the Caribbean Sea

Maria and I dropping Aspen off in Golfito, Costa Rica on the transport vessel Yacht Express

Visitors in Golfito, Costa Rica

Steve, Maria, Peggy and Bruce playing golf in Costa Rica.  Great venue!
 

S/Y Aspen – March 25, 2022 – Log #181

Aspen Position: 18 degrees 21’ N, 64 degrees 44’ W

Francis Bay, St. John, USVI

 

Back in the Sunny Caribbean!

 

Aspen arrived safely in St. Thomas, USVI aboard our transport ship Yacht Express.  What fun was that, seeing her glide into the warm Caribbean waters once again?

 

With Aspen loaded onto the ship in Golfito, Costa Rica, Maria and I had time to explore Costa Rica.  Everywhere was where the jungle met a blue Pacific Ocean with so many endless beaches.  It was stunning, to say the least.

 

The active Arenal volcano, with Baldi Spa built on its’ flank, was so relaxing, along with the vibrant and active beach towns of Dominical, Jaco and then Flamingo Beach.  We watched the sunset every night at Flamingo Beach with our Colorado friends Peggy and Bruce, who spend winters in the tropical sun.  Golfing, beach walking, dinners and hiking passed the time while we waited for Aspen to arrive in St. Thomas.

 

Then it was a redeye flight to Houston, followed by a direct flight to St. Thomas where we felt at home again.

 

Our friend Fred, who spends winters in the Caribbean aboard his catamaran Dakota Dream, invited us to stay aboard his catamaran before Aspen made it safely to St. Thomas.  It was so much better and fun living on his boat, rather than on land while the time slipped by.

 

Unloading Aspen from our Dockwise ship in St. Thomas was easy and smooth, helped by our friend Fred who got to experience a float on-float off transport ship.

 

Once Aspen touched the warm Caribbean waters in St. Thomas, we prepared her for the sea again: rigging sails, cleaning and getting all the onboard systems functional after her long Pacific Ocean wanderings.

 

As I write this, we are tied to a national park mooring at Francis Bay, St. John, USVI.  Warm tropical breezes are wafting through Aspen’s rigging with a brilliant white sand beach off our bow and endless hiking trails disappearing into the surrounding hillsides. 

 

It just doesn’t get much better than this.

 

Sail on, sail on Aspen…

 


Thursday, February 3, 2022

Spending Time in Costa Rica

 

 

Panoramic view of Banana Bay Marina, Golfito, Costa Rica

Maria's tree top flyer ride to Golfito

The Bay

Earthrace, the anti poaching vessel

Appa, the anti poaching dog. They train him by using coconuts in the water

This is the anti poaching drone, wow!

Mess hall onboard the anti poaching ship

Maria enjoying the spacious engine room

At the top of our rain forest hike

Sunset at Golfito.  The photo is un-retouched and as it happened. Notice the raindrops on the water too.

Lunch with our Maine friends, Lisa and Justin, in Golfito after their diving adventure.

View from our rain forest hike
 
                                                Video of the view at the top of our  rainforest hike

S/Y Aspen – February 3, 2022 – Log #180

Aspen Position: 08 degrees 37’ N, 83 degrees 09’ W

Golfito, Costa Rica

 

Spending Time in Costa Rica

 

Maria flew into Costa Rica, nearly a month ago, and instantly recognized Steve waiting for her at the airport in the dark of night.  That was nice!

 

Flying back to Aspen in Golfito, on a tree-top flier, was Maria’s thrill the next day.  I kept telling her the plane seemed high enough to clear so many endless ridges on the way down to the Pacific Ocean.  Luckily, I was right as we landed in Golfito without any pieces of jungle hanging off the plane’s wings.

 

Maria got Aspen and the galley back in ship-shape, after Captain Steve’s big adventure out on the ocean.  That took a while and a lot of work but Aspen looks great once again and is ready for more sailing.

 

Aspen even had her bottom cleaned by a diver in the marina.  Gooseneck barnacles hung like stalactites from Aspen’s stern after being so long at sea, so it was time for some scraping and scrubbing under the water.

 

Captain Steve opted not to do the underwater work and pay someone instead.  Why?

 

Ha!  It seems a salt water crocodile lurks underneath Aspen and can be seen swimming about every now and then.  Bottom scraping was better left to the professionals who don’t mind swimming with that kind of danger, Steve thought to himself.

 

Waiting for our ship to arrive in Golfito, we hike in the rainforest that is at our doorstep, besides taking long walks to the grocery store and little restaurants that sit beside the only road in town.  Yes, this is a very quiet and remote part of Costa Rica, not really visited by many gringo tourists since it is in the very south end of the country.

 

Once the ship arrives, we will do more exploring of fascinating Costa Rica by car, instead of boat.

 

Stay tuned!

 

Sail on, sail on Aspen…

Monday, January 3, 2022

Down to the Banana Republic

A helmet???  Wonder why I needed that?

 

 Bashing in the Pacific Ocean.  Notice the diesel containers taking a beating, along with Aspen and Captain Steve!  Yes, we are heavily reefed for a reason...

Sunrise approaching Golfito, Costa Rica, after 50 days without touching land.

 

How Captain Steve felt after making landfall at Golfito...
Historical marker at Golfito, marking the end of a thriving banana industry.
Rusting debris in the jungle at Golfito, Costa Rica.
Aspen on a mooring in the river at Puerto Amistad, Ecuador
Aspen secured to a dock for some R&R at Golfito, Costa Rica, Banana Bay Marina.

 

More historic sites from the banana industry at Golfito, Costa Rica
A world-class protected Bay, at Golfito, Costa Rica, just waiting to be discovered.

 

S/Y Aspen – January 3, 2022 – Log #179

Aspen Position: 08 degrees 37’ N, 83 degrees 09’ W

Golfito, Costa Rica

 

Down to the Banana Republic

 

Oh my, who would have thought this is where I would start a new year, in Golfito, Costa Rica?  Least of all me!

 

Let’s see, it was 3,000 nm from Easter Island to Golfito, Costa Rica and it took me 26 days for that leg, since they didn’t want me at Easter Island.

 

That is not including 20 days at sea from Ecuador to Easter Island or the four days rolling my guts out while anchored at Easter Island.  So, a total of 50 days before I touched land once again.

 

For an ultrarunner like myself, that just isn’t right.

 

How was it walking on land once I arrived in Costa Rica?

 

‘What do you say to a drunken sailor’, as the song goes? 

 

I was bobbing and weaving like Mohammad Ali in his fighting days, along with crashing into walls and people while trying to walk into the customs office.

 

‘Ah, too much rum’, I heard them mumble or at least what my saltwater logged brain thought they said.

 

Golfito, where I docked Aspen, is truly a backwater and forgotten place.  Every banana consumed by North America, until the mid 1980’s, came from Golfito.  Then labor strikes, banana disease and economic factors caused a complete collapse of banana exports, leaving Golfito essentially a ghost town.

 

Today, relics from plantations owned by United Fruit/Chiquita litter the jungle everywhere you look.  Locomotive engines, warehouses and once majestic houses paint hillsides with decay, rust and memories.

 

The largest sailor’s paradise in the Eastern Caribbean is called Le Marin on Martinique, home to well over 1,000 sailboats.  That is nothing compared with Golfito.

 

Golfito’s Bay would very easily swallow Le Marin in size.  It is truly a world-class harbor here.

 

But there is clean water in this bay, enormous calm anchorages, no mooring balls, small marinas and an undeveloped shoreline that is unsurpassed compared with anything in the Caribbean. 

 

Ah yes, there is also spectacular jungle enveloping everything with toucans, pelicans and so much wildlife everywhere, not to mention world class fishing.

 

Small restaurants are everywhere, including at the marinas, and very reasonably priced.  Oh yes, beer is 50 cents in case you were wondering.  They also have good rum!

 

Maria is flying in to see me after so long away.  I just hope she recognizes this sea-worn, battered, skinny, longhair and sun-burnt sailor.

 

Sail on, sail on Aspen…

Steve

PS - More pictures can be found at:  http://syaspen.blogspot.com/

1.     You can follow Aspen’s tracker and see my route: https://forecast.predictwind.com/tracking/display/SV_Aspen

2.     Aspen will also have a Garmin tracker working so you can follow along:  https://share.garmin.com/SYAspen

3.     Our updated sailing book, Voyage Into Hell, is available at Amazon.com (www.voyageintohell.com)

4.     And the new edition for the book, Leadville Trail 100; History of the Leadville Trail 100 Mile Running Race is also available at Amazon.com (www.LT100history.com)