Monday, May 31, 2010

Yachts, Trains and Ocean going liners.

The Garden of the Groves in Grand Bahama is a beautiful and tranquil garden with waterfalls, peaceful glades and a labyrinth.

It is a magical place with a super playground and an excellent café run by Julie and Yvonne with chef Stephan, where the boys gave me American Mothering Sunday lunch.

My card was made from fresh flowers.

It is also a good place for reflecting on big decisions.

After chewing, debating and vacillating we have decided to ship, yes ship Seraphim to Southampton and explore homeland horizons. It was a hard decision which we have ground on for months. With hurricane season fast approaching the decision was pushed and shoved. South is out of the question. Chavez‘s Venezuela is no longer safe. Piracy has become a serious problem in the Rea Sea and Indian Ocean which blocks our way home if we go via the Pacific. Even before these dangerous waters we feel the boys are too young for the long hauls of the Pacific.

So, we were faced with heading north and then back south, along the US Eastern seaboard for the third time. This did not appeal. Since Palma in November 2008 we have sailed 4,700 miles and kept watch  for eighteen months, 24/7, over two hyper boys under five. Cruising unexplored home waters will give us a much needed break before completing our circumnavigation when the boys are 9 and 7.

From July 2002 to June 2010 with two years off for babies, we have covered over 24,000 miles in total from the Hamble in the UK, down the western coast of Europe, across the Atlantic, north through the Caribbean and the Bahamas to the Chesapeake in the USA and back to Grenada. We, then the Moonshiners, survived two hurricanes. Sadly Moonshine only made it through one and she was lost in 2004.
In July 05 we set off on Seraphim through the French Canals with eight month old baby Jack. After three years in Spain and another baby, we returned to the Caribbean in November 08 where we voyaged from Martinique to Barbados, up the Caribbean chain to Florida then north to New York City and Long Island Sound, with a 100 mile side trip up the Hudson River, escaping Hurricane Bill, and back south via Fort Lauderdale to the Bahamas.

What Next?

It has been an extraordinary, improbable and priceless experience of which we are very proud. The last few weeks have been a time of stress and change but it is a time of new opportunities and new dreams to fulfil.

 Coming to a Marina Near You

Seraphim will be shipped from West Palm Beach to Southampton, where she will be berthed in Ocean Village opposite the berth from which we left on 7th July 05 for France. In July this year we shall start a Home Coming tour of the marinas of the south of England.

Arrive Inspired Not Dog Tired….

And if all this news has not been exciting enough? We’re catching the Amtrak Silver Meteor overnight train from Florida to New York. Followed by two nights in a secret gem, the Wall Street Inn, a new and enchanting hotel near the South Street Seaport in Manhattan.

And then … what next?

Port Out, Starboard Home!
We are Sailing to our home port Southampton in a starboard cabin on the Queen Mary 2.

Photo Credit P&O

We’re bubbling over with excitement. Flying Virgin from Miami to London was the same price as a cabin on the QM2.  No brainer which way to go. We set sail on 7th June from New York and arrive in Southampton 7 days later.

Our last western Atlantic offshore voyage on Seraphim, for now, was from Grand Bahama to the USA. Seraphim slipped through a narrow weather window for a twelve hour crossing of the Gulf Stream back to West Palm Beach.

En route John caught a huge Mahi Mahi, the size of Jack, who was keen to land him and eat him. John and I did not have the heart or stomach to kill such a magnificent creature.

Reeling it in had been a Hemmingway-esque struggle, let alone landing it. Jack and James were deeply disappointed  and “upset” that their “sushi” was released.

The first time we saw America on the horizon in May 03 in Moonshine we were victorious, we had discovered the New World. This time it was a bitter sweet moment full of memories and hopes for the future.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Discover Scuba

A week in Port Lucaya, Grand Bahama even at a discount was expensive, and too full of sports fisherman and tourists for us. It had been a fun stop but it was time to head to the Abacos. But first, we had to find somewhere with a cheap laundry. With that intention we headed to Ocean Reef Yacht Club for a stop before the two day trip across the Bahama Banks.

Coming into Ocean Reef was another heart in mouth experience with rock outcrops on both sides. I shouted instructions and full speed aheads from the bow and John steered us through the shallow, narrow, uninviting entrance.

It's small and friendly and it suits us. Two swimming pools, a Jacuzzi, beaches, a laundry, a gym, cheap hire car and resort scuba classes.

Having seen me learn to scuba Jack was keen to learn. John gave him a special lesson.

Other resort activities include bingo of which Jack is a big fan, and, karaoke night - another Jack favourite. But most fun is the cruisers singalong.

I find the astanga yoga classes a real stretch but love them. It’s easy here and with John and I empty of energy, and our boys full of it, that’s important. Two weeks has gone quickly.