Thursday, March 30, 2023

Points North

 Hello Dear Readers,

We've roared 170 miles north to Clarence Town, Long Island and tied up at the Flying Fish Marina. This gives me a chance to reflect a little on our short visit to Matthewtown.

There was no parade or joyous celebration - all my people are gone. But everywhere we went we ran into folks with shared memories which was wonderful. Neicy Saunders was our virtual guide, giving us directions and pointing out folks who knew my folks. She guided us into the basin Monday night via social media and was there in the morning to say hello on her way to work. She was also there to wave us off when we left Tuesday morning. Thanks Neicy!!!

Hello Great Inagua Light

Looking out to the rolly anchorage

Miss Pearl's AfterWork Bar

View from the Light

Trusty Crew

Cracked Conch at SnL

Foundation from my old classroom

Elementary school across the street

Looking for a lost shaker of salt?

At the end of a long day we retired to the Blue Pearl in preparation for our trip up to Long Island. We had a few beverages and celebrated a successful day of touring. 

I remember when the school year came to an end in 1978 Pam and I had an important decision to make - stay for another year or go home. We had staked out our positions and were at an impass. We were sitting on the dock, staring silently at the water when the Harbour Master swam by. The Harbour Master was a huge hammerhead shark that patroled the harbour and ate the odd unfortunate dog who was having a cooling dip. After yapping excitedly to each other about having seen the legendary Harbour Master we got up and walked to a nearby phone booth and made preparations to return to teaching in Canada. So, that's that.

Decision Dock

More exciting news soon from Clarence Town!

Monday, March 27, 2023

Blue Pearl Back to the Beginning

Hello Again Dear Reader,

An emotional day! My daughter, Jen put pen to paper (or fingers to keys) to chronicle our journey over the years. And I'm not able to put it any better than her...

I hope I'm not breaking the internet... but here is her story that leads to our visit here in Matthew Town, Great Inagua. 

Here is a story that I think is pretty cool and deserves to be shared.
In 1978 my dad was teaching at the local school in Inagua - the southernmost island in the Bahamas. My mom was finishing her PDP back at home and so he was there alone for a few months and after work he’d often go to a bar overlooking the boat basin owned and run by a woman named Pearl Ingram. As he told the story, day after day he would come to the bar and watch the boats coming and going and dreamed of one day having a boat of his own. Miss Pearl, in her thick Bahamian accent would shake her head and say “Roger man, you’ll never have a boat.” And he would reply “Miss Pearl, one day I’ll have a boat, and I’ll name it after you.”
Well it didn’t take long. Just one year later and back in BC, while my mom was pregnant with me, they bought a shiny new red sailboat and named her Miss Pearl. Throughout my childhood, our weekends and holidays were spent on Miss Pearl, sailing around the San Juan and Gulf Islands. I hold those memories close and am ever so grateful. S/v Miss Pearl was part of our family for over 30 years, with a framed photo of her namesake on the wall. In 1992 we traveled to the Bahamas and got to meet her. She has since passed away.
In 2008 my mom retired, and my dad the following year. They flew to Florida and worked with a boat broker to find exactly what they were looking for. In early 2010 their retirement dreams of sailing the Caribbean were launched aboard the newly christened s/v Blue Pearl.
They spent several years sailing between Florida and the Exumas in the Bahamas, never quite making it to hard-to-reach Inagua where my dad always wanted to return in his very own boat. They sailed all the way down the Caribbean chain to Grenada, and then part way back to Antigua where they stayed several years, and then were stuck a few more during the pandemic. You can (and should) read their blog for some really excellent storytelling.
Now 14 years later, with the future of their sailing adventures uncertain, they have decided to return to Florida. Leaving in January of this year, their route from Antigua took them to St Martin and through the British, US and Spanish Virgin Islands before arriving in Puerto Rico in February. They came home for a bit and a few days ago my dad returned with a couple of friends who are going to help him sail north. Instead of heading offshore across the top of the Dominican Republic, Haiti and Cuba and catching the jetstream to cruise up the coast of Florida, my dad has an important detour to make.
As I’m writing this, the Blue Pearl is north of the Dominican Republic on her 2nd of 4 days of continuous sailing that should have her captain and crew setting anchor in the Inagua boat basin late Sunday or early Monday. And I just think that is just the perfect story and I’m thrilled for him and wish I could be there; however it turns out that despite growing up with a sailboat I’m a terrible sailor. Instead we are following their progress at home and eagerly awaiting news of landfall. I hope they have steady winds and smooth seas with dolphin escorts and that they catch the green flash every night. I hope they have starry skies and shooting stars and beautiful sunrises. We’re not sure what the future holds for the Roger Family Sailing Adventures, but this sure neatly wraps up that storyline.

Introducing s/v Miss Pearl

We played so many games, read so many books, caught so many crabs!

Miss Pearl's bar in 1992

Meeting Miss Pearl in 1992

Hello Blue Pearl!

Captain in training

So that's that. What a wonderfully written story about relationships.

We had a lot of fun wandering about Matthew Town today. I was able to connect with local family and friends who know our ghosts. Not so many left now but great memories.

Photos of our Great Inagua tour coming soon along with more of the continuing adventures of the crew of the Blue Pearl!


Fajardo to Matthew Town, Great Inagua

 Hello Faithful Reader,

We had some glitches on our way down with airline schedules and related changes so our idea of leaving really early seemed out the window. Mike got there before John and I and figured out that he needed to be responsible for shopping. Which explains why we have so many Hostess Twinkies. When Uber failed to deliver him back to the boat from Ralph's he explained his problem to the produce guy. And the produce guy drove Mike back to the boat and refused any compensation. There are some lovely people in the world.

I've got a trusty crew of salty sea-dogs to help me sail the boat back to Florida. I've known John and Mike for many years and I value their experience and friendship. So nice to spend time with good people.


Yes, it was a long trip. We've had time to exchange grooming tips, talk about winning in the stock market, why certain politicians need to clean toilets and many other important topics. 

The nights are challenging. We've been doing 2 hours on and 4 hours off. There isn't much sleep on the 4 hours off due to the banging and crashing and weird noises. And our conversations during the day keep us from napping so that needs to change. Less talking, more napping.

Supper in a YVR lounge

Yum! Toronto breakfast

Houston lunch


San Juan Sunset

Cruise ship

OK. Just a little bit of fun.

We caught a Blue Marlin on our second day. The line whizzed out of the reel and I worried that we would lose it. It was spectacular watching it leap into the air trying to shake the hook. As I watched its frantic attemps to free itself I realized I was rooting for the marlin. It would have been a gong show trying to get it onto the boat and then process it. But more than that, we saw a magnificent animal trying to survive and we were just fishing for something to do. So you will be pleased to know that the marlin won - but now he's going to have to explain to his mother why he has new hooks and bling attached to his cheek. I wish him all the best.

Inagua lighthouse

We've had contact from relatives and friends in Matthewtown who've been great about information on docking and making arrangements for things. We look forward to lots of activity tomorrow.

And after 4 days and 3 nights sailing we arrived at dusk to tie up and get some well earned rest.  Five hundred miiles at 6 miles an hour! A quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trip's over.

What will tomorrow bring?

All the best... and fair winds!

Captain Chaos

Wednesday, March 1, 2023

Comin' Home for a Visit (and I said Alright!!!)

Hello Again Dear Reader,

We are doing last minute chores prepping Blue Pearl for a short stay-cation while we come home for a visit. Uber to SJU at noon AST and we'll climb into a bed same evening at midnight PST. Nice!

On the 27th we saw this strange apparation in the sky. Turns out it was Mr. Popular's SpaceX rocket delivering more StarLink sattellites into space. Wow!

SpaceX in Florida

We've been enjoying the amenities of this place. It is quite spectacular and caters to folks who have lots of disposable income! These boats that come past one after the other are VERY expensive. And they are just boats for running about.

Many, many expensive boats!

And this is a fairly small one with "only" 2 engines.

Down our "Dock 8" We are in a slip waaaay at the end.

Couple of Grady Whites with beastly engines.


Neighbour with his toybox open

Washrooms, showers and meeting room complex that was turned into St. Hogg Marina for Captain Ron

Everywhere we walk we see young men in snuba gear scouring the bottoms of the boat. Same thing for topside cleaning. It is constant.

Snuba Diver Down

Out for a beach lunch?

We've meet some lovely cruisers. A newly retired liveaboard couple, Andy 1 and Kristi on a Cabo Rico that they are retoring for ocean crossings. Also Heejung and Andy 2 on a nice Farr... doing a practice run from Annapolis to Saint Lucia. Practice for next year when they undertake the World ARC. Wow!

So we're home for a short visit and then John Burns is coming down with me for a salty adventure. We will do a 500 mile run to Great Inagua and then shorter passages up through the Bahamas to southwest Florida. Pam plans to rejoin Blue Pearl once we are moored at Stuart Florida to help prep the boat for summer storage in Indiantown. We've been down in the Caribbean for more than 10 years... it's time for something different!

Thursday, February 23, 2023

Puerto Rico Problems

 Hello Dear Readers,

We are in Puerto del Ray Marina (also now called Safe Harbour) tied up to an amazing dock with wonderful staff, great shower facilities, a super admin team, laundry, restaurants, stores... in other words, heaven! Apparently there are 2000 other boats in here with us!

Lotsa boats on Dock 8

Had terrible internet in Culebra so just catching up.

After the BVI we sailed 32 nm to Culebra and camped out for 5 nights to find PR accommodation. 

Sopers Hole, BVI visitor

Hibiscus on the way to CBP in Culebra

Our Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) folks in Culebra were unexpectedly friendly and helpful clearing us in and even knew the difference between a "Decal" (for Americans) and a Cruising Permit (for all nations with a bilateral agreement like Canada.) So that was nice.

Transient moorage is really challenging. Most marinas don't even answer their phones. Others have outdated info so no way to contact them. San Juan Marina is rennovating so they can't accommodate. Puerto del Ray advised us that accommodation was limited and didn't give us much hope. So we were prettly glum as we considered out limited options.

So, as much fun as it is to be in Culebra, we were in a bit of a funk.  Seemingly no hope of finding a place to leave Blue Pearl in Puerto Rico while we made a short trip back home to hug grandchildren. Took the same photos as the rest of the world of the stars but this one is better than any of ours.

Moon and planets

Thank goodness the Dinghy Dock opened after a seemingly endess weekend. Pam accuses me of always having menu-order envy. Never happy with my meal when it arrives. But after Mike ordered the ribs 3 years ago on our golf-team voyage through here, I was on a mission.

Mike's Ribs 2019

Glen's Ribs 2023

I was so full I had trouble sleeping that night. Pam had the much more modest, but still huge tuna on spinach.

Mmmmm healthy!

Sopers Sunrise

We were relieved that PdR found a spot for us so we set out this morning to cover the 20 plus nm, arriving around 2. Along the way we spotted whales furiously slapping their tails and fins. Might have been humpbacks but who are we to know one whale species from another?

Arrived to the most helpful dock guys we've had and I masterfully guided Blue Pearl into her berth. I'm pretty sure Pam was impressed!

This is the video of us coming in to dock at Saint Hoggs - aka Puerto del Ray!

Our north-most cruising limit from our insurance company is Puerto Rico so I asked about a rider to complete our trip to Florida. They said, "NO." Flat out. So if we leave here to the north we are uninsured.

So that's what we are working on now. Insurance. Or Not? So many challenges, not so many solutions.

Who knew this was going to be such a PITA?

Wishing you all well from the balmy breezes and gentle waves of the Caribbean!

1000 nm at 6 knots!

Friday, February 17, 2023

Sopers Hole

Hello Family and Friends!

Experimenting with ideas, we decided to try a different overnighter from SXM to the BVI. I like sailing in the day more than at night so we waited until 2AM before we left. Sun comes up just after 6 so only a few hours in the dark. We didn't go as fast this time so we didn't arrive until 5PM. Just in time to clear in, have a shower, make some dinner and go to bed. The alternative was to leave at dusk and get in at noon - and we saw folks leave the anchorage at 6ish so assuming that was their plan. But that means you spend many more hours in the dark. In the end you get to the same place. Will have to think on that strategy.

On the way we spent the better part of an hour watching our friendly dolphin pod put on a display! There were 10 to 20 of them - all small - and they kept cycling around for more antics!

We ended up on a mooring ball in Sopers Hole and had a lovely rest.

Sopers Hole

Our chariot - Murphy - awaits

The main sail is attached to the mast at 10 or 12 points. During the day we saw that several of those points had come loose. When we got in and dropped the sail, several more of the points came away from the mast. It turns out that our sail track is compromised and needs attention.

Broken track

So we've had lots of interaction with experts and have arranged to have some repair work done in Puerto Rico. Luckily, our path to PR is downwind so our massive jib will get the job done adequately.

When we arrived here 10 years ago, our kids had arranged for a 60th birthday surprise at the Pussers Store.... a case of Pussers Rum. Well a couple of hurricanes and a lot of inflation later we went to replenish our stock. The price has doubled... and they don't have any. So we hunted around to a small store up the creek - and found a few bottles so we are good there.

We are checking out tomorrow (Saturday) for a Sunday departure. We'll run over to Norman Island (aka Treasure Island) to meet Blair and Sharon and their friends on their charter. Leave the next morning for Culebra and a plate of ribs at the Dinghy Dock!

We'll leave the boat in PR for a couple of weeks to spend some time at home with family. During that time our repairs will be done so that when I return in a couple of weeks with friends we can sail the boat back to Florida.

So that's that for now!