Where is YOLO?

...Off to the Sea for Adventure

...Off to the Sea for Adventure

Friday, January 21, 2011

Cockfights, waterfalls, and jammin!

YOLO flying the Dominican flag looking pretty.

Weighing in the cocks

beginning of a cockfight

end of a cockfight

Our excellent group of waterfall canyaneers

we climbed 27 waterfalls and it was awesome!

Jumping back down was even more fun.  Notice lance upside down mid-backflip.

Tarzan swinging on a vine

Miles and Jerome are the youngest entrepreneurs in the harbor.

Celeste making a high jump

Geoff and I 

This is a bridge on the way to the falls.  Our guide Bernie is leading the way.  The guides were great, taught us mucho espanol, and made very realistic bird calls during the trek.

Luperon also has a nice beach and we spent the day trying to surf on waves that were too small.

Conner stood up on a couple small ones

This is a local dominican named junior, he showed us around his town and helped us rent  motorcycles.

Lots of cruisers play instruments and once a week we have a jam session.  Gary and Celeste off "Sol Surfin are great musicians and tonight during the full moon there's another jam sesh! 

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Adios Bahamas, buenas dias Republica Dominica

Our approach to Mayaguana was a very intricate slalom through coral heads to an anchorage inside of a protective coral reef.  Our mouths were drooling at the thought of how many fish were going to be swimming in the crystal clear waters around this reef.  We dropped trusty rusty (the huge rusty anchor that "Eclipse" gifted to us) next to the only other boat in the harbor.  It was an old yellow trimaran that we had seen/ran aground next to while checking into customs at Bimini!  They said they didn't really notice that we were stuck so it wasn't too embarrassing.  It turns out that the yellow boat has four mates our age that are crewing for an old salt named Sterling.  They have had many problems along the way and were ecstatic to meet some cruisers their own age.  

The island of Mayaguana is quite large but only has a population of 250 and is a real Bahamian village with no tourism.  The locals don't see very many cruisers and they all wanted to be our friends.  The first night a local named "Yule" invited us over for dinner.  He said he would cook us dinner if we brought over the mahi-mahi we had caught on the way in.  We showed up with the mahi and some coke's, then Yule showed us the bonfire he had started for cooking dinner.  Turns out he lived in a tiny shack without water or electricity, but he did his best and cooked us up a slightly unsanitary feast in tinfoil.

The next day we met a great guy named Kyle Edwards.  He was from Freeport and was visiting his mom at this tiny village.  At 6' 10" he was a star basketball player for Texas A & M and was excited to see meet some americans on the island.  We invited him to go snorkeling at the reef with us and we each speared a fish for dinner.  Kyle cleaned and cooked the fish and I made some chicken chili for dinner, it was our last supper of the Bahamas.   

After college Kyle played professional basketball in South America.  He takes the cake as the tallest person ever aboard "YOLO" 

Kyle cooked the freshly speared fish for us Bahama's style!  He barely fit into our galley, but the fish turned out perfect.

At o'dark thirty the next morning we followed the yellow boat out of the cut in the reef bound for Turks and Caicos.  As we watched the sun rise the yellow boat fell behind YOLO due to our blazing fast 4.5 knots.  The course was slightly into the wind and after much contemplation we decided to continue the next 2 days at sea direct to Luperon, Dominican Republic.  It was a long trip, but the wind was great and the seas were not too high.  The third night we arrived outside the Luperon harbor at about midnight.  The entrance is a bit tricky so we kept outside tacking back and forth until first light in the morning.  
It rained for only about 15 minutes on the passage, could've gone for more but at least we got this rainbow.
Sunrise upon entering Luperon, D.R.  Beautiful morning, we could feel the warm humid breeze off the mountains, and smell the lush jungle from miles away.

Lance on the bow looking for the other half of our flotilla "Eclipse" 

Hundreds of boats are anchored in the beautiful harbor at Luperon.  As a natural "hurricane hole" it is protected from wind and waves from all directions because of the Lush hills and mangroves.
Repubica Dominica is all we had dreamed it would be!  Lush jungle, high mountains, authentic, friendly locals, and best of all cheap.  Everything the Bahamas wasn't, it's amazing that we are so close to the dry flat and expensive isles of the Bahamas.  The second day here we rented "motorconchos" to tour the island.  It was Lance's first time on a motorcycle so I showed him how to shift and off went went down the pothole covered busy road!  We took it slow to Imbert, and he was terrified so we stopped for a relaxing lunch in the town where we were definitely the only white people.  It gave us a great chance to practice our espanol, which is getting quite good.
Lance found a giant sack of his favorite food.  If he could fit all this garlic into one sailor stew he would!

Lance learned how to ride a motorcycle in the toughest conditions possible!  We found this dirt road without any traffic and rode it into the lush mountains along a hermosa rio.

This tiki bar/art stand was in the middle of the jungle and they made all kind of crafts from petrified wood.

The locals were surprised to see us whiteboys up in the hills.

This narrow bridge was fun to tear across using all 100cc's of power!

We never found the end of the dirt road, it got too rough and we tuned around.

Typical breakfast at Steves place.  Each morning we join other cruisers here for the great food, internet, swimming pool, and shower "all for 100 pesos"

Back to Georgetown AND beyond...

After dropping our buddy off from the Marina on northern Great Exuma, we set sail back out into Exuma Sound, heading southeast back to Georgetown. Many of our friends were still anchored here and we were glad to see the familiar faces. Now with just the two of us, our boat felt like a mansion again. We set the hook and got a good night's sleep for the upcoming day of heavy preparation towards our departure to islands unknown. We filled our diesel and water tanks, rid ourselves of our trash, collected a boatload of old charts. We ran all over town tracking down last minute items for our departure.

Our friend Eddie, aboard "Miss Emily"was still around so we connected with him. He happens to be a renowned yacht chef for crewed yachts all over the world. So we decided it to be a good idea to bring our catch of yesterday (Andy's fine tuna) to his Coronado 35 for a well prepared feast! We shared a great meal, listened to good music, and swapped tall tales. Thanks again Eddie for the delicious meal!

On the 6th we weighed anchor and set out for Long Island. It was a rather uneventful sail (motorsail really). Who knows where the fish were, we sure didn't. We spent the following day exploring the island. Turns out that Eclipse found a lot more adventure on this island and they told us we missed a bunch of cool stuff, but we were too excited for our next move anyway.

Pretty isn't it? Taken from the highest point on long island looking down at Thompson Bay.
After our brief stay in Long Island we were afforded another good weather window to further our progress southeast. The wind was blowing fresh from the north so we set out eastward in anticipation of the wind clocking back to it's prevailing easterly wind. Once that happened we turned due south straight for Mayaguana. Shortly after our turn south we saw two Humpback whales. They came within 50 yards of YOLO! A 1st wild whale sighting for both of us! All in all it was a nice 40 hour sail from Long Island to Mayaguana.

There's 2 whales here. look closely.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

A new year full of new adventures

Our return to staniel cay for the pirate party and new years bash with mark was an absolute blast. Such good times with such good people! On new years eve, andy had the chance to be a crew member (aka ballast) on the local Bahamian racing sloops during the annual new years sailing regatta. Although his team lost, he (and everyone involved) had a heck of a time!
Andy crewing aboard Lady Muriel. Traditional Bahamian Class A racing sloop. You can see him 3rd from the end of the "pry" out the starbord side.
There was also a long drive competition as well as a benefit auction that fellow cruisers put on. The regatta committee fed all who were interested a stellar free dinner (including adult beverages!). The turnout was well into the hundreds. It was a great time!

The spread for the cruisers! FREE DINNER!

We spent our new years eve night at the Staniel Cay Yacht Club. The local bahama's news team was there to cover the event. Apparently we chose THE spot to be in the bahamas to ring in the new year. Even had a celeb sighting or two. Of course we only party with the best of crowds.

Some lucky lady on new years eve getting interviewed by the bahamian press.
Dave and Leslie (Texas Two Step), Trina, and Andy ringing in the new year right!

Mark made himself right at home in the (much more capable) galley of Texas Two Step as he prepared the crushed macadamia nut encrusted mahi-mahi filets. Hands down the most deliciously prepared fish I've EVER had, thanks Mark! (note to the readers, crushed walnut yeilds very different results, don't bother).

During the previously mentioned auction, Dave (from Texas Two Step) successfully acquired a wakeboard. Little did he know though that he was actually in a bidding war with his very own daughter, Michelle! I think they ended up spending about $20 more than they needed to. Nonetheless it was a kick to have a chance to wakeboard again! They have a super quick dinghy capable of yankin us out of the water. Thanks guys for towing us around!

Michelle Hauling me around on the wakeboard with her "go-fast" dinghy. Impossible behind our little 3hp dink.

All good things must come to an end, so on the 3rd we made our way back towards Georgetown to get Mark back on his flight home on the 4th. We sailed back to a marina on the north end of great exuma for one night. It was a bit closer to the airport for Mark to get on his way. This marina (Emerald Bay) was the second nicest marina we've ever seen! and cheap too. (Second only to our home at Pikes Bay Marina OF COURSE!) Along the way, Andy caught us a delicious tuna! (details on our consumption to follow).

Andy and his Big Eye Tuna. Not the biggest, but he put up a huge fight!

While spending a relaxing afternoon at the marina we were able to do a metric ton of laundry. They had some sweet machines (and free to boot!). We had some much needed cleaning to do to YOLO so we tidy'ed up our vessel and internetted it up for a while as well. Later that afternoon we set out early to do some spearfishing at a nearby coral reef and came up with a couple of tasty lobsters for dinner.

ROCK LOBSTA! just kidding. Spiney Lobster.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Green Cruising on a Budget

This new cruising lifestyle of ours has proved to have made very little negative impact on the environment, when compared to our previous lives as landlubbers.  The main goal of our trip is just to have a great time traveling via sailboat to tropical islands.  Recently we realized one huge positive effect of having this much fun is reducing carbon emissions and our drain on the earth’s resources.
Our 30 foot sailboat is the perfect vehicle for green traveling, although slow and limited to water, it can get us to 70% of the planet using only the wind.  In reality we do use the engine, especially when motoring down all the rivers from Chicago to Mobile, AL.  YOLO has a small inboard diesel engine that is very efficient.  It burns less than half a gallon of diesel per hour.  Since leaving Bayfield, WI we have covered 3000 nautical miles and have used under 100 gallons of diesel fuel.  That’s less than I would have pumped into my car at home, and now that we’re in the islands our consumption had gone down drastically.  We rarely use the engine now, and prefer the quiet freedom of sailing anyway.
Many sailors have diesel generators onboard to power all of their electrical equipment.  They are loud, burn lots of fuel, and are constantly breaking giving sailor’s nightmares.  The key to not needing one is to reduce your electrical needs.  The biggest draw on a boat’s batteries is its refrigeration system; we solved that problem by installing a very small efficient refrigerator made by Engel.  We installed 200 watt solar panels and LED light bulbs which use next to zero electricity, and have manual pumps for sinks and the head instead of pressure water pumps.  With these modifications YOLO is off the grid.  We never have to plug in at a marina, and rarely have to run our engine to charge the batteries.  Wind generators are also very common on sailboats, and they produce lots of power.  They are expensive but worth it for the free energy, hopefully we will get one soon. 
Living on a 30 foot sailboat is almost like camping; we spend most of our time outdoors and appreciate the environment around us more than ever.  The Exuma island chain in the Bahamas is so beautiful that everyday we are impressed by a new island or underwater reef, and we want to do all we can to keep it the way it is.  Most of these islands are nearly deserted and leaving any garbage on them would be a travesty.  Growing up I was part of the Environmental Learning Program in Red Wing, MN and one of their big mottos was “leave no trace.” Disposing of garbage from the boat in these places is difficult so some people just dump it in the water and it ends up on the beaches.  It is legal to dump trash in the sea if you are 6 miles from shore, but we always carry ours until we can find a town with a dump.  It’s amazing how much less garbage we produce that we did during our land lives, and so far it hasn’t been a problem for us.  A positive side effect of living on a boat is that there is always another use for something, we save containers bags and anything else we can reuse. 
Fishing and spearfishing is one of our favorite activities lately.  There’s nothing like the thrill of fighting in a 20 pound tuna or Mahi-Mahi, or hunting underwater for lobster and grouper with a spear.  Basically the only meat we eat now is what we catch from the sea.  Another motto we had growing up in ELC was “you kill it you eat it” and we have the same philosophy onboard YOLO.  If we catch too much fish we can usually find some other cruisers happy to take it, or we catch and release if it’s not an edible variety.  Seafood is healthy and diving after it is a great workout, so that is another hidden benefit to this lifestyle.  Food in the Bahamas is very expensive so we stocked up on non-perishables in Florida which we are still using to compliment our daily catch.  Mostly the only food we buy here are fresh fruits and vegetables, if we could only grow those on the boat we would be completely self-sufficient and environmentally neutral. 
The biggest hidden benefit of being so conscious of our surrounding environment is the fact that it saves us a boatload of money, and we are on a tight budget.  Marinas are expensive and so is eating at restaurants.  So most often you can find us anchored in a beautiful bay catching fish while making free solar energy and planning our next days sail by wind power.  All of which are good for our planet and for our wallets! 

Return to Staniel Cay

During our 1st adventure in Staniel Cay on our way down to Georgetown, everyone wouldn't shut up about the legendary "pirate party" on the 29th of December. Knowing we had to be in Georgetown to pick up mark and see the junkanoo, we concocted a plan to return to Staniel with mark so Andy and I could sport these mega-awesome beards for the pirate party. Turns out this place was a stellar new years spot as well. AND... the annual Bahamain sloop regatta was on the 1st. What better place to be?

Our pilgrimage back to the north was made with a pre-dawn departure from Georgetown in tandem with the catamaran our new buddy-boaters "Texas Two Step" (Dave, Leslie, and Michelle). Fishing was on all our minds as we sailed north throughout the day. We were constantly trying to outdo each other. The victors, obviously, were the YOLO crew! Somehow Andy and I have become known as the local fishing experts. I call it luck, but if everyone thinks it's skill... I'll let them think that. One other exciting item of note during our buddy cruise back to staniel... Little Michelle, from "Texas Two Step" (as apposed to "big Michelle" the mom from eclipse), made a daring open ocean transfer to help crew on YOLO for the 2nd half of the passage. Dave maneuvered TTS in close to YOLO as we began to heave to. Michelle, donned in her swimsuit and carrying her clothes in a ziplock bag with her teeth, leaped into the ocean and swam for YOLO. We trailed a rope for her to grab and soon she was safely aboard YOLO. Definitely a 1st for the YOLO expedition!
setting up the risky maneuver. Texas Two Step is close behind closing in for the trade.

My 20lb MONSTER!!!
We arrived at Staniel Cay with plenty of time to spare for the pirate party! Good times were had by all!

Dave and Andy with their best pirate impersonation.


Our good friend from back home, Mark Tinucci, made his long awaited arrival into Georgetown as planned on Christmas day. He hit the ground running as we tried to get him into the cruisers mentality. A tough transition but he made due quite well. Unfortunately, Marks vacation is over as of today. 10 days goes by way too fast. Throughout the entire time aboard YOLO (and other buddy boats), he has been nothing but the best guest! He has more than earned a spot on YOLO's crew for any future adventures. Thanks for everything you've done for us Mark, you're welcome any time!

We spent the next couple days in Georgetown to ensure we were at the Junkanoo festival on the 27th. Quite the parade indeed! Still not entirely sure what Junkanoo is all about but it sure was a good time (reference pictures)! Everyone who was anyone in the Exumas was at this shindig. We couldn't stop running into cruisers we'd met and befriended along our Bahamian adventure. It was great to spend the time with all our new friends all at once.
The staging area for the wild parade!

The start of the parade
Andy and Mark with the legendary TORTILLA FLOTILLA! From right of Andy: Conner and Megan (on the catamaran "Gualaby") Angie and Brian (aboard the catamaran "Stray Cat") and Shannon and Ted (aboard "Salty Dog")
These guys are some of the coolest people we've met on the trip. The three boats are out on an epic adventure together and they are currently off to forbidden lands. Gualaby is actually on the start of their circumnavigation! Good luck guys. we'll be following you!
Shakin it!
spare no detail on these floats!
We found Fred from TIKI! Also in the picture is Ebin and Jenvieve with their 13 month old Arias. Hands down, cutest one year old EVER! It was great to get to know these guys in Georgetown. They have been very hospitable to us!

Me contributing to the delinquency of minors. Geoff and Michelles 12 yo, Miles, from Eclipse (for those of you concerned, this was a joke. I'm not THAT bad an influence.)
Arias having a BLAST at the parade! She kept repeating "wow!" and raising the roof.

Mia and Ensley!

Shannon and Ted showing everyone how to have a good time.
Ensley enjoying the company of YOLO! (perhaps it's the other way around)
The Rake 'n scrape. Talented people with basic insturments... (note the bucket, stick and single string the guy in the green shirt is jamming with)