Since we had to have work done on the water maker we decided to also have the boat hauled out and the bottom stripped and painted while we were at it, which had the added benefit of giving us the opportunity to travel to see family and friends before the holidays, bonus!
There was not enough time on our visit to cover all that we have missed in the last three months, but my very wise sister has said "it's always better to leave wanting more", and we did. So after a few days in Florida with family and a quick trip to snowy Buffalo to see family and friends we headed back to Tortola. You would think that the 14 hours of travel would ease us back into the island life, but it was still a culture shock when we stepped off the plane. (seriously not a bad trip though if you're planning on visiting!)
The first thing to hit me was how much the airport on Beef Island in Tortola actually smelled like beef, the tricks the mind plays when you've had no sleep and little food. Life in Buffalo couldn't be further from life on the islands, and I'm still working on figuring out how to bring the two together. It's the simple things you miss, long showers, flush toilets and cell phone coverage. The last was a huge revelation to me. At home I always fought the daily intrusion of cell phones. Now that they are my life line to the outside world I am hanging on for dear life. The pace of the islands is also much slower and have I mentioned that everything takes so much longer to do when living on a boat? By the time we got a taxi back from the airport, had lunch, got the boat put back in the water, unpacked, caught up with friends and grocery shopped our day was done. A friend at home was asking us how we spent our days, honestly we are still working on finding purpose to the days but we never seem to run out of ways to fill them. Getting bored is never an option.
Having work done on the boat was no easy task. The parts for the water maker had to come from the UK so someone's son that was visiting Tortola for the holidays was nice enough to carry them on the plane to make sure we got the parts in time. We also discovered that one bow thruster blade (a bow thruster is pretty much what it sounds like, a prop that helps to turn the bow) was torn apart so someone else carried two new blades in their luggage, not so easy due to their size, weight and a lot of questions from TSA. To do our part, we brought back a couple of blow up paddle boards for friends with us.
Now that the boat is put back together we are looking forward to exploring new places. Heading further down the islands can be a bumpy sail with the wind coming from the east and us mostly heading east, so you have to wait for a favorable weather window before starting out. It looks like we will have one in the next few days with moderate winds a little off the east. After we check out of customs we will be traveling to Saba, a 12 hour sail away. The plan is to stay in Saba for a few days to celebrate the holidays with friends before we move on to St. Kitts and Nevis where we'll meet up with our kids in the beginning of the new year. Holidays and new year, not sure where the time has gone.
In the spirit of the season, we hope the holidays find you surrounded by the love of family and friends, sharing new traditions and old, and an abundance of food and laughter. You are all in our hearts as we celebrate this year.