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Shangri La of the Caribbean

April 30, 2018

Shangri La!! That is the word the kept popping into my head during our stay at the lovely island of Saba. We had never heard of Saba and frankly, it doesn’t even appear on some maps of the Caribbean. A couple of people had described their experiences on Saba and we were sold. By the time we left the island, we were thoroughly in love. To give you some idea of how far one can see on the ocean, Saba was visible to us in our anchorage in Simpson Bay, St. Maarten. It was a 45-mile sail for us to reach Fort Bay, Saba’s only port /harbor. The magic of the island enchanted us as we approached the tall cliffs. It was stunning. A few facts about Saba. It is an extinct volcano with a total area of 5 square miles. It is part of the Netherlands and we were told, has about 1500 residents. They are some of the friendliest people we have met and very hard working. There is no unemployment and we found that having multiple ‘jobs’ was not unusual. Carmen, for example, who owns the Lollipop Inn and restaurant, also drives taxi and makes fabulous pies and pastries that she sells to the local grocery and several restaurants. Despite its small size and population, the island has a nice K-12 school for is 170 students; a hospital and clinic; a senior housing residence, a pre-school day care and a medical school. Joanna, who drives taxi and school bus, gave us a tour of the island. It was hit by Hurricane Maria, but you would hardly know it. Everything looks clean and beautiful with charming red-roofed buildings. Joanna proudly told us the Sabians know how to build sturdy houses and they were. Evidence of the industrious nature of these people is demonstrated by the ‘road that couldn’t be built’ and the ‘airport that couldn’t be built’. Engineers from Holland had told the islanders that neither of these could be completed (and lets face it, the Dutch are pretty good engineers). Without a road, the residents had to walk steep mountain trails between the villages of The Bottom and Windwardside (while not poetic, the village names certainly describe the locations of the villages on the island). Prior to the 1940’s, cargo had to be carried up 800 steps, that are cut into the side of the mountain, to the Customs house and then carried on the trails to the villages. One individual, Joseph Hassel, played a key role on the island. He ordered a correspondence course for road building and led the effort to build the road which first opened in 1958. The airport, and the road to the airport, were completed in 1963. The airport’s runway is very short. Any pilot landing on Saba better be very experienced. Over the past few months, we have rented cars and driven on several of the islands we visited. Despite the altitude and mountainous terrain that Saba’s road transverses, this was probably the best road we’ve been on anywhere, including in St. Maarten, St. Thomas and St. Bart. We had a marvelous time during our 4-day visit. We completed several hikes and had the best snorkeling of our trip so far. Doug was disappointed he couldn’t schedule a diving trip as Saba has a reputation as a primo place to skin dive.  We saw many dive boats during the days we were there. If you are looking for a destination with beaches and resort hotels, Saba is not for you. If you are looking for beautiful scenery, hikes, snorkeling and especially skin diving in a charming, friendly authentic Caribbean location, keep Saba in mind. We definitely would return.

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Saba as seen from St.Maarten 40+ miles away

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The top of Saba is almost always shrouded in a cloud and is rain forest at the top

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Saba’s tall cliffs overwhelm sailboats anchored near them

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A welcoming sign as one arrives in the small, lone harbor at Fort Bay

The sign says “Symbiosis: Nothing in this universe exists alone.” Sabian’s take great pride in their island and want to preserve the natural resources and marine life










Wednesday is delivery day at the harbor and its a busy place



Pallets of supplies for the week ahead

The ‘road that couldn’t be built’…but was


The fact the road was built is more impressive when seen from this vantage








The ‘airport that couldn’t be built’ with its rather short runway


Seeing a plane take off is special and a little scary

One of several churches in this small community

Families often have their family plots by their homes

Another lovely church


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The Bottoms village with its red roofs

The Custom house and the 800 steps cut into stone to reach them

The Custom house ladder steps as seen from above







Ladder steps leading back to the bay









Ladder Bay beach is made up of volcanic sand









The rocky shore of ladder bay we had to traverse to get to the ladder steps

Surprise!!  At the end of the ladder step hike we found the dingy had been swamped by waves and had to be baled out…as the waves continued to crash more water into the boat. Lesson learned…pay attention to the waves when anchoring on the beach.

Temperatures don’t vary much over the course of the day


Just another week of weather in Saba


Minnehaha anchored in Saba’s Ladders Bay

No blog post is complete without a sunset picture. This from Ladders Bay, Saba


A Day in the Life on Minnehaha

Cruising on Minnehaha is very similar, in many ways, to taking a cruise on a large ocean liner.  Both can transport you to exotic, beautiful locations as you sail across the vast ocean with a chance to see sea life, such as dolphins or whales, and enjoy fantastic sunsets.  Depending on the ‘chef’ on the boat its possible to enjoy exquisite meals as you glide along (not the case on Minnehaha, however) and at night you fall asleep to the gentle rocking of the boat.  Sounds wonderful, and it is.   There the similarities end.  With no crew or chef to prepare meals, clean the boat, do repairs,  do the laundry, etc. etc. many of our days are spent doing mundane, routine tasks.    For those of you that have never spent time cruising from place to place on a boat,  I thought I’d show you an example of one of our days in pictures.  This was a day in early April when we were anchored in Simpson Bay at St. Maarten.

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Deb is up early and watches the sunrise over St.Maarten

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I love sitting on the sunbed on the aft deck and watch the boats in the harbor come alive and the cruise ships arrive


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I grab a cup of coffee and, if we have internet pull up the Mpls newspaper to see whats happening

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I check the weather in Mpls and here…glad I’m here today!!

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Doug wakes up later than Deb and steals my spot on the day bed

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Time for some exercise


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Followed by a shower….sometimes on the aft deck after a swim or in our very comfortable shower


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Doug starts the generator to charge the batteries and make water….a 2-3 hour process

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Time for chores…wash a load of clothes and clean up the galley 

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Doug makes repairs and clean up around the boat. It involves a LOT of leaning over

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Time for lunch and errands. Hop in the dingy. First stop lunch at LagooniesA picture containing building, outdoor Description generated with high confidence

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Back in the dingy to head to Island Water World for some parts including new line for the boat

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Time to get groceries…again in dingy. Store are well stocked especially with rum and liquorA store filled with lots of food Description generated with high confidence A picture containing indoor, scene Description generated with very high confidence

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Two bags of groceries to schlep across a vacant lot, a beach and thru a beach bar to the dingy dock where Doug awaits.A motorcycle is parked on the beach Description generated with very high confidence A group of people on a beach Description generated with very high confidence


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Take a break on the boat to have a drink and enjoy another beautiful sunset

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Back in the dingy to head to St. Maarten Yacht Club for dinner with friend, Craig

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Head back to the boat where we can climb into bed with the hatch above open and fall asleep with a cool Caribbean breeze and gentle rocking of the boat. Ahhhhh.A single bed in a bedroom Description generated with very high confidence

Cruising is not a vacation… its a lifestyle or in our case, a second home.  It still involves doing mundane chores and doing ‘home’ repairs.  We don’t escape the bills, emails and other administrative tasks that have to be taken care of and its often made more difficult with lack of internet connection (you don’t realize how much you miss internet until you don’t have it.  The world revolves around doing everything online.)  That being said, cruising is a wonderful way to see the world.  Our view of the old and new places we see is very different than being on vacation.  We are a combination of visitor and resident.  We feel like we get a closer look at life in these various locales and we get to meet wonderful, interesting people that may become lifelong friends.  We are new to the cruising world and everyday we learn something from others who have been sailing for years.  They offer invaluable advice and tips and its nice to connect with people who understand daily life on the boat.  We miss our family and friends back home and can’t wait to see them again but while we are here, we will enjoy the beautiful scenery, the sunsets, the marine sea life and the new cultures that we experience.

Apologies for misplaced photos etc.  This WordPress blogging is a challenge but please hang in there…hopefully I’ll get better.

Thanks for taking the time to read the blog.  Love to hear comments and would love any topic suggestions or questions as well.  Please share with others that may be interested.    


Post- Irma Overload

map Virgin Islands (2)

Saturday, March 23, 2018   British Virgin Islands

I am ready to move on.  After 3 months I’ve seen enough of the destruction to this area from Hurricanes Irma and Maria and I find a sadness, sometimes verging on depression, lingers over me.  First and foremost, I’m sad for the all the residents who live here and have had to endure such loss. I’m sad because, having never been here, I did not get to experience the full beauty of this area before Mother Nature delivered her catastrophic blow.  I still see glimpses of the beauty that existed before and, of course, the beauty of the water, the terrain and sunsets that even Irma couldn’t alter, but the realization of how long it will take for this area to recover is overwhelming to my psyche.   This in turn, makes me feel guilty, in that typical mid western Lutheran kind of way, because I am so fortunate.  I can sail away at any time to better places while the residents who have stayed, either by choice or circumstance, must deal with the aftermath for some time to come.  The clean-up alone boggles the mind.  The restoration of the services that we take for granted – internet and phone access, electricity, garbage collection, etc. is underway but it will be a long process to get back to normal.  People adapt…we’ve adapted …but the lack of these services can be frustrating, to say the least.  The extent of our dependence on fast, convenient access to the internet, for information and communication, becomes much more pronounced when it’s not readily available.  There is a third world feel to the whole experience.

The level of destruction in the British Virgin Islands (BVI), in my opinion and based on my limited observations, seems to be greater than in the U.S. Virgin Islands.  Whether this was due to more storm damage in the BVI and/or a slower response to generating recovery, I can’t address. The BVI has traditionally had more charter fleets which translates into a higher number of boat casualties.  Its not just the number of destroyed boats.  It’s also the level of damage to buildings in the larger cities, like Road Town or Spanish Town, as well as on the smaller islands like Peter, Norman or Cooper.  These have beautiful bays with white sand beaches but many of the ‘watering holes’ that were popular before the hurricanes, such as the Willie T barge on Norman Island or Foxy’s Taboo by the Bubbly Pool on Jost Van Dyke, have been destroyed or severally damaged. Where palm trees once provided shade along the beaches, now there are none.

As I write this, I don’t want to leave you with the impression that this is a region to avoid, because it is not.  As I’ve mentioned there is much to see and enjoy and the residents are so grateful for the visitors that have arrived to support their economy.  Their welcoming embrace and positive outlook for the future is inspiring.  We are always met with smiles and friendliness (except at the Custom’s offices where it must be a requirement of their positions to present an unfriendly and intimidating presence).   We have experienced much enjoyment in our time here and I will write about that in the next blog.  For now, I will let the pictures tell the story of some of the damage Hurricanes Irma and Maria inflicted on the BVI.

West End/ Soper’s Hole, Tortola, BVI

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Destroyed mangroves

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Norman Island,BVI

Road Town and Village Cay Marina, Tortola, BVI

        Village Cay Marina

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Everywhere you look, the mangroves are filled with debris.  No easy task to clean up

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Cement piers ripped apart by the force of the boats and wind. Many are completely gone.



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 Spanish Town, Tortola Island, BVI

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Someone’s home destroyed

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Former shops at Virgin Gorda Yacht Harbor

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Boats on the hard in the Virgin Gorda Yacht Harbor knocked over like dominoes








Jost Van Dyke Island, Diamond Cay, BVI

Whats left of Foxy’s Taboo near the Bubbly Pool; a huge pile of trash; destroyed coral washed up on the beach; and a ‘coral tree’ to honor the lost coral (or at least that’s my interpretation)

Thank you for taking the time to read the Minnehaha blog and please, share any comments or thoughts you might have as we love to hear from you and please share this with others that might be interested.

The End




Minnehaha in Virgin Islands Post ‘Irmageddon’

March 11, 2018

200 mph SUSTAINED WINDS!!  200 mph!!!  Can you imagine sitting in your home, in the dark, for almost 12 hours, listening to winds of this strength battering your house… and not just once, but twice within two weeks?!?

Minnehaha has been in the US and British Virgin Islands since late December and we’ve heard many stories from residents who lived through Hurricanes Irma and Maria last September.   Residents who have lived here for decades shake their heads and have told us they have never seen hurricane winds reach this level.

I have never experienced a hurricane first hand.  My only experience has been television coverage of hurricane destruction such as Katrina, Irma in Houston and Homestead, Florida in the early ‘90’s. Coverage of those stories lasted as long as the hurricane itself and then moved on to other news events.  I wasn’t sure what to expect when I first arrived in St. John in early January.  My only experience in the area was a one-day cruise stop in St. Thomas 6 years ago, so I had no prior memories to compare the ‘before and after’.

At first glance, when we arrived 4 months after the storm, the full level of destruction was not readily visible and it took some time to grasp the true extent.  Green foliage has returned to the island and some flowers are blooming.  Residents recounted walking out of their homes, after the storm passed, and finding every bush or tree that was still standing, completely bare. Not one leaf remained.  Others shared stories of driving across St John (an island that is 8 miles long) and not knowing where they were because the landscape was totally different.  Valleys and buildings that had never been visible before the storm, suddenly were.  Of course, thousands upon thousands of trees were blown down, but now the majority are covered over by the returning foliage.  The hillside foliage somehow looks ‘blunted’.  It reminds me of the trees that are found at the top tree line of mountains – stunted and twisted because of the harsh weather conditions.

Some damage was immediately obvious when we arrived.  Sailboats had been washed up on shore and now were lying on their sides.  Other boats that were tied to mooring balls had lost their masts or had broken windows or severally damaged hulls. The US Customs office in St. John had been completely demolished and is now a tent set up on the pier.   Many buildings were missing their roof or were covered with blue tarp.  The hurricane doors and shutters on many shops and restaurants were closed and padlocked with no sign of opening anytime soon.  Frankly, some of the less affluent neighborhoods have the appearance of a 3rd world nation and it was hard to determine how much of the debris and damage was the result of the hurricane or the normal living conditions

On St John, two of the major resorts, the Westin and Caneel Bay, were so severally damaged that neither is open.  The Westin is scheduled to open in January 2019 and the future for Caneel Bay is uncertain.

Infrastructure on the island was destroyed and is slowly coming back.  We found internet access at the Market Place, a mall that houses a grocery, drug store, deli, bank and other various businesses.  People gathered at outdoor tables in the courtyards accessing free DIRT public wifi.   Some businesses have wifi/internet but its spotty and not available to customers. AT&T has the best coverage in the USVI but we have been able to use Verizon for phone and text.

Many areas did not have electricity or water for 4 months.   In late January, we drove to Coral Bay located on the east side of the island, which had been really slammed by both Irma and Maria.  Utility trucks from Joplin, Missouri were installing new electrical poles and finally bringing electricity to those areas after 5 months. Think of the challenges of replacing infrastructure in a location like St. John or St. Thomas.  Utility trucks and workers are brought half way across the U.S. to be put on a ship for transport to the Virgin Islands (or Puerto Rico) to replace infrastructure that was completely destroyed.

FEMA is present and residents say it has helped but mostly, as in disasters around the world, the locals have helped and supported each other.  In Coral Bay, in the weeks immediately after the storms, residents in that area gathered at the local fire station at 10 am every day to get the latest updates on what was open; where could they find water or phone service; were grocery stores stocked, etc?  All the myriad day-to-day services we take for granted.  Many left the islands for a few months until things began to sort themselves out.  Livelihoods and businesses were destroyed.  Charter captains of sailboats found new work as construction workers or waiters or bartenders.   Outside labor was brought into the islands due to a shortage and many were housed in cruise ships or in places like the Westin, where some rooms were undamaged and available.  The influx of laborers is an offset for some businesses, such as restaurants, that have experienced a major decline in tourists.

After Irma the USVI relied on Puerto Rico, which is about 90 nautical miles from St. Thomas, as a source for emergency supplies.  The situation became even more desperate with the arrival of Hurricane Maria 2 weeks later when it hit both the USVI as well as Puerto Rico.

The Coast Guard had a contract with Restore, a Florida firm, that brought in barges to recover boats and debris from the local waters.  A representative of that company told me that as of mid-January they had pulled almost 300 boats from the waters around St. John.  There are boats that are being chartered despite the tremendous loss of boats from the charter fleet.  However, popular bays and locations, where, in the past, you had to arrive by noon to get a mooring ball, there are plenty that are free any time of day – which is an advantage for us but is an example of the diminished charter business.

In St. Thomas, the Yacht Haven Grande which caters to large private or charter yachts and is next to the Cruise Ship pier, appears to be 80% empty.  It has wonderful cement piers with a row of 2×4 boards running the full length through the middle of the pier.  We were told by a project manager that the boards in those piers were lifted and loosened by the hurricane.  One 180 ft. steel-hulled sail yacht banged against a cement pier so hard that it destroyed the cement.  That Hull had to be cut into thirds and lies along the shore of the harbor. Most of the stores in the complex are closed.

The next challenge for the islands – what to do with all the storm debris?  There are big and small piles everywhere. I’m told most of it will eventually be put on barges and shipped to landfills and recycling centers on the mainland.

It is not all gloom and doom, however.  The islands are on the road to recovery but it will take time. I left the area for two weeks in late January to head back to Minnesota and Florida and it was gratifying to see how much had changed in just that short time.  Repairs are being made everywhere.  More openings; more clean-up had been done; and noticeably more tourists on the street.

Tourists are coming back but we are told its very slow compared to the norm. We’ve met a few who have spent time in the area and love it so much they wanted to come back to support the economy.  In fact, we have had several restaurant owners and staff who have made a point of thanking us for being in the islands and supporting them.

Grocery stores are open and fairly well stocked.  For example, in the Starfish on St John you can get the essentials, as well as a good selection of liquor and wine (also essential) and gourmet cheeses.  Each week more and more shops, bars and restaurants open.  In the face of the challenges, its amazing how many restaurants have white tablecloths and the food is fresh and delicious.  Shop owners have told me they are treading water to get through this slow season but they are optimistic they will be back next year. Cruises ships, usually two, arrive in St. Thomas every day and the jewelry stores that St. Thomas is known for, are all open, busy and selling.

The coral reefs were hit pretty hard and when you snorkel you can see the destruction.  Again, the good news, the sea life is plentiful, which is essential for the reef recovery, and you can see new, colorful coral slowly growing.  We have seen many varieties of reef fish along with many rays, sea turtles and starfish.

I don’t know that any of us, who have not lived through a natural disaster can appreciate the impact it has on a community – both the negative but also the positive such as the people pulling together to help each other.

The hurricanes were not successful in destroying so much of what makes this area so special and beloved by so many.  It is incredibly beautiful with its many islands and their mountainous terrain all covered in green.  The water is so clear you can readily see the bottom and sea life below and the color is everything you’ve seen in pictures. The beaches are still white sand and clean.  Rainbows, sunrises and sunsets rarely disappoint.  And the temperature for the day stays in the range from 75 -85 degree F with cool tropical breezes at night for easy sleeping.  There is almost always wind for a nice sail and getting from one island to the next.

I’ve mostly written about the US Virgin Islands and the following pictures were taken around that area.  In my next blog, I’ll write about what we’ve seen and experienced in the British Virgin Islands, which were also victims of the hurricanes.

Thank you for taking the time to read the Minnehaha blog and please, share any comments or thoughts you might have as we love to hear from you and please share this with others that might be interested.

Miscellaneous pictures of hurricane destruction:

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Customs building in St. John destroyed – now housed in tent

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Recovery of a dinner boat that never had its first voyage before Irma hit

Caneel Bay Resort hurricane damage

Lost boats and recovery barge in Coral Bay

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Yacht Haven Grande Marina and the destroyed 180′ Steel hulled yacht


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Home Depot well stocked with mold fighting bleach

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Palm tree snapped off

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St. Thomas stop light still disconnected after 6 mos.





Piles of debris and damaged appliances  

Cruise Ships are in and jewelry stores are selling`

Help in different ways

‘Irmaria’ cannot diminish the beauty of the area

Charlotte Amalia, St. Thomas at sunset from aft deck of ‘Minnie’

31118 st thomas charlotte amalia from minnie

Summer in the Hamptons …and Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket Island continues… Part 3 of 3

August 23, 2017

Locations we have visited and/or anchored during our tour of the Hamptons, Martha’s Vineyard, and Nantucket Island

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An advantage that we have had sailing from location to location for 4 weeks is the opportunity to experience and observe the uniqueness of each island and village as well as the common elements.   The historical aspect of the region is unmistakable.  Many of these locations were first settled in the late 1600’s and played roles in the founding and early development of our country and that alone has influenced the culture.  In several of the locations – Sag Harbor, Martha’s Vineyard, and Nantucket Island – whaling was the predominant industry in the late 1700’s into the 1800’s.  In these locations, there are beautiful homes that were originally built for whaling captains and are still private residences today.  Notably on Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket, cedar shake siding, that has faded to gray, is very, very common.  One resident of Nantucket told us that this was preferred due to the impact and wear of the weather and salt water on regular house paint (the whaling captains’ houses, however, were all painted or brick).   The harbors and marinas, while different, also begin to look the same except I noticed that in some locations there seems to be more of one type of boat versus another (e.g. sailing versus power; newer versus classic) and I’m not sure why that was the case, except in Montauk.

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Example of architectural style of many of the whaling captain homes

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The barn-like roof and gray cedar shingle siding is very prevalent particularly on Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket

The following are my observations of each of the places we visited and some pictures I took of each location.  This is not a definitive overview of each location since we usually only saw a partial piece of each island and town, and when we had the opportunity to explore further, always discovered there was more variety than we saw at first blush. 

Long Island and the Hamptons:

Our visit to Long Island was confined to the north side of the island, along the Long Island Sound.

Sag Harbor, NY:  We arrived in the town of Sag Harbor on our dingy and immediately encountered an extremely busy road that ran behind the marina with cars backed up – rush hour on the island. Locals told us that Sag Harbor has changed quite a bit in last few years with many more vacation homes being built in the area and summer congestion increasing greatly.  Walking up Main street from the busy road, Main Street is a mix of restaurants, shops, grocery store, the Post Office and a laundromat but a bit further on, there is an area of Captain houses, which are beautifully maintained, and the Whaling Museum…which is appropriately located in a former captain’s home.  Sag Harbor does not appear to be as focused on maintaining historical preservation as other places, such as Nantucket.

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Sag Harbor marina and harbor

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Sag Harbor Whaling Museum and originally a whaling captain’s home.

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Life on Sag Harbor…on a Sunday afternoon, a float plane flies in to collect guests from the yacht to return them home.


Greenport, NY:  Across the channel from Shelter Island, Greenport was one of our favorite stops.  It most resembles an authentic New England small town.  It feels as though it has not been discovered as a prime spot for a summer vacation home, like Sag Harbor.   Its main street and shops are beautifully maintained and it feels as though there is a local effort to maintain that small town, main street charm.

Montauk, NY:  Located at the very far eastern tip of Long Island, this is definitely a fishing town and all the sport fishing boats in the harbor were proof. The marina appears to be 95% sport fishing boats. Montauk is a prime location to get to good fishing grounds quickly.   Its main town was more modern, not located next to the harbor / marina and, in my opinion, not particularly charming.   We biked 8 miles up and down hills to visit the lighthouse and then climbed the narrow 137 steps to reach the top. It is the 4th oldest in the U.S, commissioned by George Washington in 1792.

Block Island, RI:  An island that lies further east from Long Island and is part of Rhode Island.  We anchored for 1 night and spent very little time to exploring the island.  However,we can highly recommend The Oar, one of Chris’ favorite spots, where we enjoyed some delicious Mudslides and played a very heated game of corn hole with Chris and Lauren, which Doug and I won, I might add.  Funny, that second Mudslide seemed to give me greater accuracy in my toss.  I’ll have to remember that in all future games.

Cuddyhunk Island, MA:  OK, seriously, who couldn’t love that name?!?   Cuddyhunk is a very, very small island that lies across Vineyard Sound from Martha’s Vineyard.  We anchored for 1 night and shared the harbor with a regatta from the New York Yacht Club, which included NALA, the 66’ HH that will be docked next to us in the Newport Boat Show in mid- September.   There is a small village on Cuddyhunk named Gosnold.  It is very small and charming and feels almost like an isolated oasis. Golf carts seem to be the predominant means of getting around the island.

Martha’s Vineyard, MA:  We sailed past Woods Hole, with its famous oceanographic research center onto Martha’s Vineyard.   We explored the western side of the island, or as the locals call it, down-island because it is at a lower longitude.   We really enjoyed what we experienced on Martha’s Vineyard and would definitely recommend it as a place to visit along with a side trip to Nantucket Island which is very close and readily accessible by ferry from the Vineyard.

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Martha’s Vineyard bike map. Rode from Edgerttown to Oak Bluffs to Vineyard Haven and back to Edgertown. .


     – Vineyard Haven/ Tisbury:  This was first port of call for us. It is the busiest port on the island and primary ferry entrance.  When we first arrived, it was bumper to bumper traffic on the road running along the harbor, similar to our Sag Harbor experience and not terribly inviting.   On our second trip to shore, though,  we wandered up the hill a bit and discovered a very lovely area of shops and restaurants and further along, very beautiful homes and quiet streets.

Edgartown:   The first colonial settlement on Martha’s Vineyard, that was established in 1642, Edgartown is best described as an elegant community.   Attention to historical preservation reminded me of Charleston, SC.  There are many preserved whaling captain homes and it’s obvious that there are building codes that insure newer homes conform and blend well with the historical structures.  Considering that tourism is the primary ‘industry’ on the island, its understandable why so much attention is paid.  I also think that the long- time residents have a lot of pride in their history and want to preserve that.  Edgertown was my favorite location on Martha’s Vineyard..

Oak Bluffs:  We did not anchor near Oak Bluffs but we visited this cute town a couple times – once to do laundry and the second time as a stop on our 20 mile bike ride from Edgartown to Oak Bluffs to Vineyard Haven and back.  Oak Bluffs strikes me as the more ‘funky / fun’ village – more like Tybee Island is to Savannah.   There seemed to be more partying going on around the marina than in the other locations and great nearby beaches.  Oak Bluffs became a popular destination for upscale African American professionals to build summer homes and form a community.  It has over 300 ‘Ginger bread style’ homes which are very distinctive, lovely and well-preserved.  They are a hallmark of this town.

Nantucket Island, MA:   Nantucket was our last stop on this tour before heading to Newport, RI.   This was my favorite location of all the many places we visited.   It is a beautiful, historically preserved town and island.   There are loads of tourists, many spilling off the numerous ferries that arrive every day during the summer.   This marina had the most boats of any we had visited, and a good mix of classic, modern, yachts and sail.   The Whaling Museum was awesome and worth a visit. I’ve visited to 3 or 4 whaling museums over time- this was by far the best, primarily due to the presentations made by the docents.  A short distance out of town and one finds a bucolic, rolling countryside with beautiful homes.   While we were there, the annual parade of Rainbow Cats (children’s sailing boats) was held as well as the Opera House Sailing regatta.  On that day, the harbor was buzzing with activity.   One unusual aspect of anchoring for us was the current running through the harbor.  It was so strong, it would outpace the wind.  Our instruments record the location of the boat while anchored and a screenshot of our anchored position over a couple days looks like a child’s scribbling as opposed to a smooth circle around the anchor point.    The waters were also filled with jelly fish floating by the boat – apparently an annual occurrence around this time of year.

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Nantucket Marina

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Nantucket Marina from the roof of the Whaling Museum

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Low tide

81817. Whaling museum. Nantucket

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Deb’s vote for most beautiful whaling captain home

82017 shoes tacked by front door nantucket

Not sure of the significance of these shoes but it looked pretty cool

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More whaling captain houses on Nantucket

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All the streets in the main area of the town were either cobblestone or brick. Wonderful preservation… not so fun for bike riding.

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Quaker burial ground. Apparently over 1000 people are buried here but traditionally grave markers were not added to graves. These were added in the 1800’s

82017 bike ride nantucket private drive

Rural bike rikde. This was driveway to someone’s private estate

82017 cedar shake sidi g widow walk nantuckdt

Widow’ s walk on newer homes was not unusual .

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At the end of our bike ride from Nantucket harbor to Madeket beach on the Atlantic Ocean

82017 minnehaha anchored boat swing in nantucket

Minnehaha moved around a whole lot while anchored in the Nantucket harbor.

81917 doug trying to take pix of jelly w go pro

Picture of Doug taking video of jelly fish, as they swam by the boat, with his GoPro, which was NOT turned on.

Conclusion and adieu for now….

We set sail for Newport, RI on August 21 (eclipse day) where Minnehaha will get some much needed repairs and will be readied to be on display in the Newport International Boat Show from September 14-17.   I am planning a short trip home in the next few weeks to catch up with family (including 4 new babies, born to nieces and nephews, either just before we left or during our time away) and friends.  Doug will stay with the boat to oversee repairs and I will return for the boat show.   We will be leaving Newport shortly after the boat show and heading south towards Annapolis, MD where Minnehaha will again be on display during the Annapolis International Sailboat Show from Oct. 5-9.

As I write this, I am inspired to once again share how much I have loved waking up in the morning, looking out of the back of boat at the water and the sun slowly rising.  I love the views of other boats gently rocking nearby and the small towns surrounding the harbor.  It is so peaceful and soothing.   The view from my condo back home is also wonderful (I am blessed) but I have equally come to love this view.   It is wonderful to watch the world come alive.  The fishermen as they begin to head out early in the day; the first ferry as it enters a port; the fish jumping in the water around us and the birds taking flight.  It really is magical.   I am going to miss this when we are away –  but the memory will bring me back again for our next adventure.

I also have learned a very important lesson for myself.  I started this journey with a lot of anxiety and fear (I’ve written about this in an earlier blog posting).  Much of this anxiety was due to a fear of change in my life.  A change from the daily life with which I was familiar and loved, to a life in the great unknown.    I mourned that when I was younger I was much more open to impetuous adventure, sometimes naively and sometimes with bad results, and with years and experience, I had become much more cautious and reluctant to undertake the unknown. Oh sure, I’d still have my moments of spontaneity but mostly I had grown to seek refuge in the comfort of the routine and the known.  Fortunately, I have a wonderful partner, Doug, who made it possible for me to have this adventure.  And I had my own innate sense of commitment and courage, my belief that once I made a deal ‘to give it a shot’, no matter how much anxiety it provoked in me, I had to plunge ahead.  Thankfully those qualities were steadfast. As I reflect on this experience I have learned that I can adapt to change and that ‘change’ does not necessarily mean giving up everything I already have but adding to it.  It is about resilience and being open to the moment.  It’s about making new friends; taking chances and continuing to learn…and giving up control (something I’ve never been very good at).  So, on this note of self-reflection, I will conclude.

During the times I am in Minnesota, I will take a break from blogging, but whenever I return to Minnehaha, for the boat shows and sailing, I’ll be back at the computer.

Thanks for reading this blog.  It has been fun to write and gratifying to hear from those of you that felt it has added interest to your lives.

Take care and more to come….

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Left Nantucket before dawn heading to Newport RI

Summer in the Hamptons …and Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket Island continues… Part 2 of 3

Common themes across the region:

Every location we have visited in this area has had a different vibe, even those that are just a few miles apart, but naturally there is much commonality to the area, which is to be expected but is unique in many ways to those of us from the prairies.

  • Water – centric: Well, duh!!  Of course, the area is focused on all things water – after all, we are on Long Island Sound, Nantucket Sound and the Atlantic Ocean .  As  someone from the ‘Land of 10,000 lakes’, I’m very familiar with ‘water’ and water-related activities.  This area brings a whole new level to what it means to be ‘living near water’ such as:
    • Boats…. Boats, boats, boats …everywhere and all types and sizes except we have seen no canoes, and only a few kayaks and pontoons, which are Minnesota staples.

  Yachts- motorized and sailing:  During our time in this area we have seen at least 3-4 super-mega motor yachts (at least 200 ft. plus in length and two with helicopters) and countless ‘smaller’ yachts in the 100-200 ft. range. While we were anchored in Nantucket there were 4 motor yachts around 120 ft;  at least 6 – 8 larger yachts, either at the dock or anchored, in the 170 ft + range’ and 4-5 sailing yachts from 120-150′ length.  I could not begin to count the number of motorized yachts in the 70-100 ft range.    It’s sounds ridiculous, but after a while the boats in the 70 to 100 foot range begin to be ‘ordinary’ and look modest while back in the land of 10,000 lakes they would be very, VERY noticeable.  The following pictures are just a sampling.


180′ Abracci

81117 Vine haven on Marthas Vineyarxd2

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Our neighbors in Edgartown harbor- of the smaller 70- 110′ yachts


3 of 6 yachts lined up at the dock in Nantucket

81917 Silver Shalis 179'

The 179′ Shallis, owned by Larry Silverstein, developer of the NY World Center, came cruising right behind our anchored boat in Nantucket harbor

82017 neighbors azzura 156 & snow goose 115

156′ Assura on left and 115′ Snow Goose

3 masterd Arrabella 157 ft 3 mast sail yacht. Nantucket

3 masted Arrabella, 157′











81717 Vava 2 302' $150 mill

The largest super yacht we saw, 302′ Vava 2 anchored not far from Minnehaha

Tall ships and classic wooden boats:  One cannot help but be impressed when sailing near a classic Tall Ship and of course, these have a special meaning to Doug because of Zeeto, our boat on Lake Superior.   In every port, we have seen beautifully maintained wooden sailing and motor boats of all sizes.  It’s like one giant classic wooden boat show around here.

Sport fishing boats:  We are not talking about commercial fishing boats.  I’m talking about very large (and not so large), private sport fishing boats (not aluminum runabouts, another Minnesota staple).   The fishing gear (rods, reels, etc.) mounted on these boats is probably worth as much as some of the boats.

Dingies:  Any boat that routinely anchors or uses a mooring ball will have a dingy – the mode of transportation to get to shore.  Dingies buzz around the harbors like bees in a field of clover.  In every location, we search for the designated ‘dingy dock’ (or a  public beach where we can pull our dingy on shore) and these ‘dingy docks’ are always VERY full and busy.  It has not been unusual to pull up to a dock that has dingies 3 deep which means climbing over/ through other peoples’ dingies, with your line, to reach the dock- essentially an obstacle course on water. It becomes even more interesting when you must cross a dingy that has been sitting at the dock for a long time and is half filled with water.   Try carrying a bag of groceries or a fold-up bicycle across 3 inflatable dingies without falling in the water and you’ll appreciate what a challenge it can be.

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Dingy dock in Edgertown….and you thought finding a car parking spot was a challenge. Try climbing over 3 or 4 cars to get to your car.

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Ummm…which one of these is ours?

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Trip to the grocery store with bikes can be challenge with dingy transport








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Ferries : Probably the most cost efficient and accessible means of transportation ,is by ferry.  Ferries to the mainland, to other islands or other towns.  The usual are passenger and car ferries as well as a ferry dedicated to carrying semi-trailer trucks.  The most unique ferry we have seen is the one that runs between Edgertown, on Martha’s Vineyard, and Chappaquiddick Island.  It carries cars and passengers a total distance of …hmmm… maybe half a football field…and its always full…with 3 cars per ferry.

81117 Vine haven on Marthas Vineyarxd8

81317 ferry at vineyard haven81117 Woods Golr MA

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Semi trucks lined up at Nantucket ferry dock

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Ferry carrying trucks into Nantucket

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Chappaquidick ferry in Edgertown harbor fully loaded

  • Sailing classes, regattas, and races: We have loved sitting on the boat, while all around us classes filled with kids, of all ages, learn to sail. We have not anchored in one location that didn’t have daily classes out on the water in rain or shine.   It is so fun to watch these little sailors racing around us.  Every weekend you can count on seeing ‘big kids (aka adults) racing as well.
  • Lighthouses: Lighthouses stand guard all over.   We have passed only a few of these wonderful structures.  They still function and I can tell you, when there is fog in the area, the fog horn sounds…sometimes for hours on end which, frankly, can lose its charm and become a bit annoying, unless you are one of the boats out on the  water in the fog.

Beaches: August is a particularly big month for people in the northeast to take a vacation (kinda like Congress) and the crowded beaches in this area are a testament to that.  Colorful umbrellas line the shores and kids play in the surf or dig in the sand.  As I was sitting next to a young man on a bench in Nantucket I asked what was the favorite part of his visit so far.  His reply, ‘the beaches- I really like the beaches here.’  We have not spent any time on a beach other than walking— who needs sand in your bum when you can use the swim platform on the boat?

81617 at the beach Martbas Vineyard
Beaches are full on sunny days

81617 at the beach Martbas Vineyard2

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This is the “Jaws bridge” near Oak Bluff where, in the scene from the movie Jaws the shark swam  under the bridge and into the pond. T shirts can be purchased that say “I jumped off the Jaws bridge”

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This is the sign posted at each end of the “Jaws bridge’…. totally ignored

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I found Nemo in the surf on a walk along the bridge












Part three of  this blog about our adventure in the Hamptons / New England area will follow in couple days.  Stay tuned



Summer in the Hamptons …and Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket Island continues… in 3 parts

 Because I have not posted for such a long time, I am breaking this down into 3 posts.   This is the first.  The other two will follow in  next couple of days.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017  

Wait!! What?!? Summer is almost over?!?!  When did that happen?  What month is this?  Did I miss the Minnesota State Fair?  Ok…I haven’t lost complete track of time, but the days do tend to blend into each other.

You thought you had heard the last from me, but ‘NOooo’… we’ve been puttering around Long Island, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket Island and, frankly, thoroughly enjoying the adventure.  I’ve come to realize that I would not have visited as many places in this area if I wasn’t on Minnehaha.  Traditionally, I would have selected one location, such as Martha’s Vineyard, and probably never visited Long Island.  And if I was travelling by automobile, I would have missed so much of the atmosphere of what happens in the marinas and harbors of this very ‘ocean centric’ part of the country.  As a resident of ‘fly over’ land in the middle of the U.S. I find this all terribly interesting.

map LIS and Martha vineyard Nantucket jpg_LI

A quick summary of what we have been up to and where we have been, since the last posting on August 6:

  • We returned to Sag Harbor to pick up Chris, our commissioning captain from HH, and Lauren, of HH’s marketing, who joined us for 10 days of sailing, boat repairs, and fun (because they are FUN and they play well with old people …or is it tolerate?). During their time with us we sailed from Sag Harbor back to Greenport and then onto Montauk, Block Island, Cuddyhunk, and finally, Martha’s Vineyard.   We spent time at each of these and I’ll give quick overview of each of these locations later.
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Capt. Chris and Lauren returning after taking photos of Minnehaha from the water

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Photo by Lauren

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Lauren on the main sail trying to free the down haul line. This lady is stronger than she looks..


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More work than play on Minnehaha


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  • Our first visitors from Minnesota, Doug’s son Arlo and his fiancé Katherine, joined us in Greenport for a day. They had taken a train from New York, where they had attended a concert, and they sailed with us to Montauk where they caught another train back to the city.  They seemed to enjoy the boat as much as we have and hopefully will return in the future.
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Katherine and Arlo


Went from being a bit tentative about walking on the trampoline to jumping right out on the front.

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Late concert and quiet, relaxing sail…perfect for a nap

















  • The weather has mostly been glorious (sunny, low humidity and temps in the high 70’s) with the exception of a few very rainy days… which are also nice for curling up on the boat with a good book… or to work on a blog. The wind has not been as cooperative.  We’ve had to motor sail quite a bit which gets us to the location but is not nearly as pleasant as being engine-free and silently sailing along.
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Rainy day in Sag Harbor

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Foggy morning at Cuddyhunk








We continue to have the ‘new boat woes’ otherwise known as breakdowns in systems such as pumps, electronics, generator, etc.  As first- time owners of a new boat, this is not what we expected… quite naively we have been told by virtually everyone from other boat owners to captains to the manufacturer.   In fact, we have been advised that our boat has had fewer issues than most other boats of this size and type.  It has been pointed out that this is not like buying a new car.  Essentially, we have purchased a new ‘home’ with all the systems of an electronically controlled ‘smart’ home and then some, that lives 24/7 in salt water and it is not uncommon for our ‘home’ to get bounced around on 2-6 foot waves on a regular basis.  When you put it that way, it seems like a miracle we haven’t sunk yet.  Fortunately, these are warranty issues and HH has been responsive in getting them addressed (part of the reason Chris came onboard).

  • Besides the usual routines of daily living (cooking, cleaning, laundry, emptying the ‘black water’ tank (yes, it’s what you might think it is); making fresh water, and washing accumulated salt off the hull we have spent our time riding bikes around some of the islands; learning to use our paddle boards, walking beaches, reading and, after all that exhausting effort, taking naps on the sun bed on the aft deck.  Other exciting past times include practice tying bowline knots (the older mind needs LOTS of practice) .

Doug cooking on the grill on the aft deck

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Dinner for 4


Deb’s too lazy to paddle to shore

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Walking the beach and I found Nemo in the surf.

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Martha’s Vineyard bike map. Rode from Edgerttown to Oak Bluffs to Vineyard Haven and back to Edgertown. .

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Not sure what he’s reading but must be somewhat stressful judging from the hair.


Deb taking picture of Nala . A lot of time is spent taking and editing pictures.

81717 a mom selfie.

Some pictures don’t always turn out well. (Emily calls these ‘parent selfies’)

820q7 practice tying a bolin knot

Never know where you might need a bowline – like on the helm wheel.




Reading and dozing as we sail along












  • Oh, yeah, we’ve done some ailing too!!    See the video of Minnehaha sailing past  the 66 ft. HH Nala below.



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Deb at the helm

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Looking up at the main sail through the sunroof

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Looking down through the sunroof at Doug and the inside helm.


Main sail folded and covered in the cradle /boom above the sunroof.



Summer in the Hamptons – New York to Long Island Sound


Sailing up the East River, under the Brooklyn Bridge and past the United Nations, we headed out of NYC for Long Island Sound (LSI) on Friday, July 28.   Rowland and his beautiful, bright daughter Savannah had rejoined us as we began our new adventure of exploring the small towns on Long Island including the Hamptons.

map of long island (2)

Long Island Sound

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Sailing under Brooklyn Bridge, NYC

Port Jefferson, LI, NY

First stop was Port Jefferson, a town that was recommended to our daughter Emily by a co-worker that lives on Long Island.   With high winds forecast the next day for LSI, we opted to spend an extra day in Port Jefferson and we were glad we did.  It’s a lovely little town that was filled with summer tourists.  I hate to admit it, but my most vivid memory of Port Jeff will be of the fabulous bread pudding we found in a little spot called Sweet and Savory which had at least 20 flavors…almost as good as Izzy’s ice cream back home.   Savannah was only able to join us for a day, so she caught a ferry back to the mainland later in the afternoon.

72917 minne in port jefferson NY

Port Jefferson and Minnehaha

72917 port jeff on long island sound NY

72917 rowland patriots fan

Who let this New England Patriot’s fan onboard

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Minnehaha at Sunset in Port Jeff

Sag Harbor, LI, NY

Sag Harbor was our next destination, with its reputation of being a summer haven for wealthy New Yorkers to escape the city’s summer heat.   We refueled for the first time since leaving Miami in May (you can go long distances when you spend most of your time under sail versus engine power) and as it turned out, winds died and we ended up motor sailing most of the way.  First a stop at Orient Point, at the most eastern point on the northern shore of Long Island (LI) to drop Rowland off so he could catch a ferry and head towards home in Connecticut.

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Cooking breakfast on the aft deck

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Tennis?? No. Killing a sudden influx of biting flies with the zapper.

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Doug returning in the dingy after dropping Rowland at the ferry

73017 goodbye Rowland...miss you

Good bye Rowland, Hopefully we’ll see you in Newport

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Light house on Long Island Sound near Orient Point

Hard to believe, but after all this time it was the first time that Doug and I were truly on our own sailing.  Time for the ‘little birds to leave the nest’ and the security of having an experienced captain on board.  I hoped that our first ‘flight’ would not be as difficult as these little birds have when they leave a nest in the video below.

In terms of weather, Sag Harbor did not disappoint.  Gorgeous, bright, summer days with a mild breeze and no humidity—completely understandable why someone would want to spend their summer there.  Sag Harbor is a small town, towards the end of LI, whose population swells in the summer as well as the traffic.   We arrived on a Sunday and there was a steady stream of helicopters flying out of the area-  undoubtedly bringing residents back to the city from their weekend vacation home.

Safely tied to a mooring ball, and relaxing on our aft deck, we saw our bigger beautiful ‘sister’ Nala, HH 66-03, sailing into the harbor.  Sag Harbor is Nala’s summer home port.   It was the first time that an HH55 and HH66 catamaran were together in the same location anywhere in the world, other than the factory in China.  Of course, we had to head over and say ‘hi’ to the captain.



We spent a few days in Sag Harbor, exploring the town, doing laundry (same drill, different laundromat), and relaxing.  Sailing is popular in these parts and kids start learning early.   We loved sitting on the boat while the classes would sail around us in their little ‘Optis’ (short for Optimist) -boats that are designed and used extensively for teaching kids to sail. The youngest age group reminded me of soccer games of 5 and 6 year old kids – they all seem to be confused and congregate together in one location on the course.

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Sailing school- getting positioned for a race

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Sailing school over- ‘little ducks’ get towed back to shore

Shelter Island, LI, NY

On Wednesday, we pulled up anchor and headed for Shelter Island.  Shelter Island is only short distance from Sag Harbor and can only be reached by boat.   We took advantage of the 15 mph winds and took the long route to the island.   We had decided, before we left Sag Harbor, that we needed to get more exercise and should have paddle boards (well, OK, the exercise was an excuse for a new toy).   Chris, who had been our HH commissioning captain in Florida had a friend with a paddle board shop in Greenport, which was right across the channel from Shelter Island.   Once anchored we fired up the dingy and headed to Greenport to get our inflatable paddle boards.  We had decided on the inflatable (SUP) types because they are easier to store onboard.

Shelter Island, day 2, started with our first attempts at paddle boarding- successfully, albeit slowly, I might add, followed by a bike ride around the island.  I loved Shelter Island.   Very limited development, with lots of fields and tree-covered country roads.  We were told that Billy Joel had a home there but alas, no Billy Joel sightings.

During the previous night, a 208 ft. mega yacht named Vibrant Curiosity had sailed into the channel between  Shelter Island and Greenport, well within spying range of our binoculars.  Around 5:00 in the afternoon we watched as a helicopter descended and landed on the back deck.   For those of us living in a different region of the country, not to mention income strata, it was exciting to see.  Try as I might, the binoculars were not strong enough to get a good view of who was dropped off.  Just call me the neighborhood snoop.

8317 Vibrant Curiosty @ shelter island NY

Shelter Island with Vibrant Curiosity mega yacht



New York, New York

Thursday, July 27, 2017    Our Days in New York City

So excited!!! Back in New York, a city that I love.  What should we do first?!?!?  Head for a great restaurant in Greenwich?  Long stroll in Central Park?   How about first things first – check into the marina; clean the boat; and do laundry!!!

We docked at Newport Yacht Club and Marina in Jersey City, NJ – directly across the Hudson River from mid-town Manhattan.   Unlike Thunderbolt, a repair/work marina, this marina is much smaller and filled with private recreational boats.   It is in the heart of the city, just a short, two-block walk to catch the PATH train to either midtown Manhattan or the World Trade Center and a one block walk to a shopping center, restaurants and stores.

During our stay at the marina, Minnehaha attracted quite a bit of attention.  As the first model of the HH55 catamaran line, Minnehaha stands out as something new and unique (and, as proud ‘parents’, we think beautiful).  We had several people who would stroll by and snap photos of the boat.  One young couple, living on a sailboat in the marina, stopped by to chat.  They had been following the HH Catamarans and knew all about Minnehaha.

We spent three days in New York.  After completing our ‘chores’, Rowland, who is from Newport, RI, elected to catch a train from Penn Station and go home for a few days.   We hopped on the PATH train and headed to the city each day to explore.

The first day as we were walking around, in the midst of thousands of people, I couldn’t help but feel I’d somehow been ‘transported’ into this alien environment.  It’s hard to explain. For five weeks, we had been in relatively quiet Savannah, followed by four days of isolation on the ocean.  To suddenly find myself surrounded by all this humanity seemed so foreign.  Don’t get me wrong.  One of the things I love best about NYC is the hustle and bustle and the sheer diversity of the people on the streets.

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Whoa…where did they all come from?

As always, we had a wonderful time in New York.  Always fascinating just to experience life in the city.   The pictures below give a sampling of our time there but I must share one particularly memorable experience.

One evening we had dinner in Little Italy, at a restaurant named Sophia’s.  Food was excellent as was the service.   Towards the end of the meal we began chatting with our waiter.  It is a conversation that I think exemplifies why so many people want to come to the U.S.   The waiter appeared to be in his early 30’s and was originally from Albania. He told us about Albania and it was obvious he loved his country and encouraged us to visit.   We inquired about his experiences while in the U.S. for the past three years.  I asked if he ever planned to return to Albania.   His response (I paraphrase):  “I LOVE the U.S.  It’s not just the opportunity I have, if it wasn’t for the U.S. and what they did for Albania (in the Bosnian War) my country would not be free.   I told my father that if the U.S. would go to war with Russia or some other country, I would sign up and fight to protect the U.S.  I owe my life to the U.S.”   It was a powerful testament, delivered with so much emotion, to the ideals that I find so great about the U.S. which I think we often take for granted.  Hearing this response from a person whose life was truly changed, because of my country, made me feel proud.

Other memorable moments:

72617 dawn in newport marina NYC
Dawn from our boat looking across the Hudson River to mid town Manhattan
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Minnehaha with new One World Trade Center in background.

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One World Trade Center with one side of the new mass transit rail center, Oculus, in front

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Inside the new transit center Oculus located by World Trade Center. A beautiful building

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One World Trade Center up close and personal

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Washington Square Park

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I love people watching. Note the expression of the bystander on the left? Hmmm?!?!

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Shubert Theater- last minute tickets = way back.

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Take my word for it –David Hyde Pierce and Bette Midler (center) taking a bow at conclusion of Hello Dolly.  Bette rocked this show— perfect in the role.

72717 NYC dinner Little Italy

Sophia’s in Little Italy- wonderful dinner, wonderful memory from the evening.


Savannah to New York Good Days and Not so Good

Thursday, July 20, 2017   Day 1 of the Sail to NYC

Pay our invoice and we could shove off around 8 a.m. and get an early start.  After all, we had to sail approximately 750 miles to our destination- New York City- an estimated 4-day sail. That was the plan but as we are learning, plans only go as far as the paper they are written on.  Paying the bill was more complicated than we thought so we finally left the dock at 11:00 a.m.

To reach the Atlantic we had to sail 12 miles down the busy Savannah River.   The skies were bright blue with light winds and we averaged about 8 knots without an engine.  A great day for a nice relaxing sail.  Doug was in 7th heaven finally, firmly at the helm and it was great to once again sit at the front of the boat in my beloved bean bag chair and enjoy the breeze.   We threw open all the doors to the salon which had been closed most of the 5 weeks we were in Savannah while we kept cool with air conditioning.  It felt glorious to have all that open space and fresh air.

72017 in happy place

Once again, at the helm

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Its great to be out on the water relaxing (luckily I had a pedicure just before we left)


Beautiful to see wind in the sails

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A Pelican ferry… aka shrimp boat on the Savannah River.

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All doors wide open to the fresh breezes

Doug set out the new fishing rod and reel with the pretty pink squid lure and lo and behold we caught our first fish (rather Doug caught the fish with the help of Rowland)- a barracuda.  Barracudas are on our catch and release program.    Tunas and other delicious fish will probably not be so fortunate.

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Trying to land our ‘first fish’ for the boat … it takes two novices to reel it in.

72017 1st fish on boat barracuda

Well not exactly a monster….but barracudas do have sharp teeth. Back to ocean.

That evening, just after sunset, some dolphins paid a visit.  This was the first time we had dolphins close to the boat and it was amazing to see them swim right beside us and between the hulls under the trampoline.   Since that evening I catch myself humming the theme song from the TV show ‘Flipper’ (and for those of you old enough to remember that show, the song is probably now stuck in your head).

72017 sunset 1st day head north

Sunset 1st evening out

Friday, July 21  Day 2 of the Sail to NYC

We re-started the ‘watch’ schedule that we had on the passage from the Bahamas.  4 hours each, twice a day- Rowland from 8-12; Doug from 12-4; Deb 4-8.   I must admit, I dread the nighttime watch.  Of course, it’s dark, and hard to see and one must rely on instruments to track other vessels, changes in wind speed and direction, and approaching squalls, etc.- in other words, events that could sink the boat potentially.  Plus, for some reason, Doug and Rowland want to sleep at that time, unlike during the day, leaving the novice alone at the helm (that statement tells you how desperate for sleep they are) .  This first morning, I awoke with a bit of a headache and upset stomach – low grade seasickness that stuck with me all day despite my sea sick remedies.

Doug told me that he had witnessed a dolphin feeding frenzy during the night when a school of flying fish came by over the boat. When it got light, I found one of the unfortunate fish, that had not gained sufficient distance to get to the other side, lying on the hull.

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First light on the ocean. Such a wonderful way to start a day

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This little guy didn’t quite make it across the boat

We sailed through the night but lost wind early in the morning so we started the engine and motor sailed a good portion of the day.  Without the wind, the day was very hot and by afternoon the doors were closed and AC was back on. To be honest, it was a boring day – long hours without much action-  just lots of ocean. And in the middle of the ocean, one does not stop the boat for a quick swim.  The major excitement (the only excitement) was catching a second barracuda.  The trip to NYC was going to be much longer if winds didn’t pick up.

72117 doug catch 2nd barracuda

72117 doug catch 2nd barracuda 4

A bigger barracuda. Maybe these are the only fish that can swim fast enough to catch the swift Minnehaha


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Sunset day 2 somewhere in the North Atlantic

Saturday, July 22, 2017   Day 3 of the sail to NYC

Woke for my 4 a.m. watch with a worse headache and upset stomach. It was definitely sea sickness even though the seas were fairly calm. Doug sat with me for an hour, on at the front of the boat in the bean bag chairs, before he departed for sleep.

There was no moon or clouds so the sky was filled with stars and Venus was so bright it reflected off the water. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many stars at one time.   It’s amazing how one’s eyes adjust to the ocean at night and can begin to see with just the light of the stars.   Around 5:30 a.m. the skies slowly began to lighten and I could monitor the slow disappearance of the stars until only the brightest constellations finally disappeared.

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Sunrise day 3 calmer seas

Later in the morning, the winds picked up and the sea became much more turbulent and with no clouds, the day became very warm.  Not a good situation for combating sea sickness.  I spent the day on the aft sun bed, where I had a good breeze to alleviate some of the heat; did a bit of reading and mostly watched the sky and waves. There is nothing to obscure one’s view of clouds and you can see squalls approaching from 20 or 30 miles away.   It reminds me of the open prairies of South Dakota where one can see forever.

I’d be lying if I didn’t say that I was ready to shout, “GET ME OFF THE BOAT and get me off NOW!!!!”   Unfortunately, while this could be accomplished, it would not result in the relief I was hoping for at 100+ miles offshore.  Additionally, as anyone who has been on a boat, in rough water with confused waves, knows there is the incessant ‘rock and roll’. Even in a smooth sailing catamaran like Minnehaha, it becomes a challenge just to move around. Over the course of the day, all of us had a bout of sea sickness.   Sailing like anything in life has its good days and bad days, and this was NOT a good day.

And it got worse around the middle of the afternoon when not one but BOTH auto steering instruments went dead once again.  We had deliberately had a redundant system installed in the boat to avoid this very scenario.  The prospect of sailing manually, for a couple hundred miles to the nearest marina, taking turns standing at the helm in confused seas was horrifying…at least to me.  Once again, Rowland went on a mission to find the problem and ultimately got both systems up and running.  Remarkably each system failed for different reasons, but at the same time.  Talk about relief.  Once again, Rowland saved the day.

During the night, the winds increased to 20-25 mph and the waves were around 6-9 feet.   Minnehaha just continued to cut right through. I love to watch the hulls just skim along the surface.   I began to think of her as ‘the little boat that could’.  I realize that at 55 feet Minnehaha is not necessarily ‘little’ but when you are out on the ocean all alone, she is very small.  Because we weren’t feeling so well, and were getting a bit tired of the endless hours of rough seas, we had considered sailing towards the Chesapeake or Delaware, instead of directly to NYC, to take a break (well, truth be told, I initiated the suggestion).  Because of the increased wind during the night, the boat speed also increased quite dramatically, at one point briefly reaching 19 knots, and by morning we had made so much progress we decided to stay on course for New York.

Sunday, July 23, 2017   Day 4 of sail to NYC

The seasickness finally disappeared and we estimated another 24 hours until we reached NYC.   The winds and seas calmed late in the morning and it was another glorious, nice easy sail.  We used the time to do mundane things like clean, repair and just relax.  Unbelievably, we were invaded by biting black flies 100+ miles offshore and ended up having to close all doors and retreat to air conditioning once more.   Early in the evening, the wind was so light, we restarted the engines to make faster progress.

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Doug taking advantage of the calm to repair a reef line

72317. Debs seasick & reading spot

Deb’s favorite spot for dealing with sea sickness or, on good days, reading and relaxing

Minnehaha smoothly cutting through the water

Monday, July 24, 2017  Day 5 of sail to NYC

Around 2 a.m. I woke to lightning, crashing thunder and the sound of large waves of water slapping the side of the boat –KABOOM! KABOOM! The winds had picked up to 30-35 mph.   We were in a huge thunderstorm and Doug was at the helm.  I debated whether I should even get out of the bunk since I knew there wasn’t much I could do, but in the end my curiosity got the best of me.  Rowland was already up and checking instruments as Doug controlled the boat.  Again, and again, there would be a loud crack on the hull as a wave hit or the boat went up a wave and crashed down.  This went on for over 3 hours.  And again, Minnehaha performed like a champ… and so did Doug.  I was impressed with how cool and collected he was and how he knew just how to respond to prevent the wind gusts that lashed at the sails, from pulling the boat off course or damaging the sails.  This was the worst storm he and I had ever experienced but I was never afraid.  I felt confident in both the boat and Doug …and it helped to know that a long-time pro like Rowland was with us.   Our boat has a forward, inside helm station and we all commented that this choice was ideal for these conditions.  No standing outside in the wind and rain to steer the boat.   I finally went back to bed and left it to them.

In the morning, when I got up around 5:30 a.m., while it was calmer the seas were still quite rough with waves coming from different directions.  Doug and Rowland were exhausted from the night before and went to get some sleep.   We estimated we were about 7 hours from our destination in NYC and land was beginning to come within sight off the side of the boat. Around mid-morning, once again, the seas calmed into a nice easy sail.  We began to straighten our boat and lines from the previous night’s storm. The main sail was somewhat in disarray.  We had reefed it 2 points the evening before, in the event of higher winds, which turned out to be an excellent decision.   Portions of the main sail had fallen out of the cradle, in which it rests, and in the front there was a huge ‘bulge’ hanging off the cradle  which was part of the sail filled with rainwater .  We spent some time suctioning out the water and got the sail resettled into the cradle.

72417 sails fill w water &out cradle afthigh wind

Rough night on the main sail. Note the huge bulge towards the front- filled with rain water. In the back sails had to be replaced into the cradle.

We picked up WiFi service about 35 miles out.  Heads bent over cell phones we renewed our contact with the outside world…texts, emails.   That’s when I looked up and noticed a boat about to pass right in front of us!!! LOOK OUT!!     OK, just kidding, but texting and boating can be dangerous as well. 😊

I did get a bit of a shock though.  Seems my son and his girlfriend had been in a 4- wheeler accident over the weekend.  While they had some serious injuries, they were now at home and on the way to recovery.  This is always a major concern to me-  that I will be offshore and someone gets seriously injured and I’m not there.  We have a satellite phone so we can be reached in emergencies when offshore, but my son told me he did not want to bother me offshore and cause me to ‘panic’ when there was nothing I could do.  He’s right- I would not have been able to do much- they were already in good hands- and I appreciated the thoughtfulness, but I still hate to be so far away in that situation.

We entered the mouth of the NY harbor looking for relief from the rough waves but none was to be found.  In fact,  the waves seemed to be more confused and a bit higher and the ride was once again very rough as we sailed into the waves and salt spray repeatedly hit our windows.   We were all surprised by the lack of any boat traffic but surmised that because of the bad weather and seas, pleasure boating would be limited but there wasn’t much commercial traffic either.  We still had about 1.5 hours to go before we would reach our marina in NYC (remember, we are on a sailboat traveling at 5 knots per hour).

Finally, the Verazzano bridge and the skyline of downtown Manhattan came into view and the water calmed.  Commercial boat traffic picked up.  We were all looking forward to sailing past the Statue of Liberty in our own vessel.  It felt like a ‘reward’ to have this opportunity after our long trip.   And it was special… so, so special… to sail past that symbol of our country and past Ellis Island, where, at one time, Doug’s and my ancestors probably entered the U.S.

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Verrazano Bridge

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Sailing under Verazzano Bridge. May not look like it but had a 100 ft clearance for the mast

72417 sailing towards Manhatten

Lower Manhattan in sight

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Lady Liberty needs no introduction. Notice the mass of tourists at the base of the statue waiting to get inside.

We sailed up the Hudson River to the Newport Yacht Club Marina, located on the New Jersey side of the river, directly across from mid-town Manhattan.

WE MADE IT!!!—over 750 miles in a little over 4 days.  After a few days of rest and enjoying one of my favorite cities in the world, we are going to head out to Long Island Sound.