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When you don’t get to say goodbye

It’s been two weeks since she’s been gone. It doesn’t feel real and it’s taken me this long to find any words at all. There’s already been so many times I’ve thought about calling her and then my heart breaks all over again when I realize she won’t ever pick up the phone again. I always had to call twice because she could never get to the phone in time. She was busy in the garden or taking the dogs out or just waking up. She never called me because she said she didn’t want to bother us if I was trying to get Brig to sleep. 

I just don’t understand why she had to leave us so suddenly and without saying goodbye! There are so many things I wanted to tell her. Like how much I appreciate everything she did for me over the years, and how thoughtful she was, and how glad I am that she could meet my husband and my baby, and how sorry I am for not showing my appreciation nearly enough. I pushed her away so many times. She always had an opinion or advice to give especially when I didn’t ask for it. I think that bothered me because of how she also taught me to always think for myself and have my own opinions. But I know she only did it because she cared about me. When you’re growing up though, you don’t realize that your parents have feelings too. She protected my feelings. I never knew I had to protect hers too. 

It’s just not real. I still feel like she’s just over the mountains at her house, doing what grandmothers do. She was supposed to live forever. She was supposed to hold all of my babies. She was supposed to see my babies grow up. I was going to help her do so many things at her house. “When I come back next time…” I’d always say. I did what I could to help her with computer stuff over the phone but it was always too hard to explain. I always had her make a list of things we were going to do together when I came to visit next time. 

Did she know? Did she know that she would be leaving us so soon? Why didn’t she tell me how bad it was! Why didn’t she tell me to come there sooner! It’s times like these that living out of state or out of the country for that matter is so hard. I’ve been so far away from my family for so many years that you forget that the years are numbered. Time passes by. I know she was proud of me though, for going out into the world and not being afraid of taking chances and living a life of adventure. I know there are more things she was supposed to teach me. She taught me so much already though. I just wish I had let her into my adult life more. I wish I had shared a little more with her. 

She was one of the strongest women I’ve ever known. She was a protector. She never let me know if anything was wrong. Sometimes it felt like I was living in a bubble because she never wanted me to worry about anything. Was it an illusion or was it just Love? One thing I do know is that she loved me very much. She raised me from when I was just a baby and I had a good life growing up. 

There are SO many memories. Like how she taught me how to make oatmeal cookies, and the best pie crust, and how to wrap presents, and how to make believe. I remember the places we used to live. I remember going on the boat in the summertime up to the San Juan Islands and playing on the docks poking at sea anemones on the pilings and catching crabs with my net. I remember going off to school and the lunches she would pack for me. All of the visits from the Tooth Fairy and Easter baskets and Christmas stockings from Santa. The Halloween costumes she made for me. Birthday presents and ‘just because i love you’ surprises. I remember her letting me get black jelly beans every time we went to the grocery store.  The crafts she would make with me. Watching Disney movies. Taking her snorkeling in BVI for the first time, and taking her hiking to the top of Saddle Rock so she could check it off her bucket list. And then there is so much I don’t remember. So many memories I took for granted. I thought she would ALWAYS be there. She wasn’t just a mom or a grandma. She was Bean. She was different. 

I don’t know why Cancer affects so many people. It happened so fast. So suddenly. No one knew what was going to happen or how soon she was going to be taken from us. 

It’s not fair. I’m only 35 and the two people that raised me are both gone. I’m lucky to still be so close with both my mom and my dad but it’s different, it’s just not the same. I lived with my grandparents growing up and now they are both gone. I’m angry and sad and numb and in disbelief all at the same time. 

Now i’ve got a beautiful family of my own – a wonderful husband and a sweet sweet little boy. I know my grandparents were so proud of me. I just wish they could see. I wish they could see they did such a good job and that i’m so thankful for everything they taught me.

This past year has had so many life altering events for me. The birth of my baby, losing our home in Hurricane Irma, the passing of my Grandmother, and so many other monumental things in between. Some days I don’t know how to find the strength to get me through. Some days I forget that there are so many other people in this world that have much greater struggles.  On the other hand some days I can’t be believe how blessed I am. Life is a funny thing. Everyone has a story. “Everyone you meet is afraid of something, has loved something and has lost something” so before you judge anyone, remember they have feelings too. Hug your loved ones tight. Tell them you love them all the time. Don’t take one second for granted. 

Rest In Peace, Bean. I love you. 

You are home now, free of pain and back in the arms of the love of your life. 

 

Jeanne Frostad 

“Bean”

4.4.44 – 7.16.18

Forever, your little one.

Sailing South and other thoughts

Here we are smack in the middle of July and well into the Atlantic Hurricane season – a time of year where we should’ve already been heading South. Peter and I discussed our options months ago and we both agreed that moving South to Grenada in June was the best thing for us this year. We’ve already spent two Hurricane seasons down there and we absolutely love it. It may sound like a simple plan to pick up anchor and set sail but things haven’t exactly unfolded the way we had hoped.

We knew we bought a project boat. We knew she needed some TLC to bring her back to the condition we knew she was once in. What we didn’t know was just how many other unforeseen repairs and upgrades would be needed along the way. The money we got back from our insurance claim on our last boat helped us to buy this one and get back on our feet but the cost of additional repairs has far exceeded what we had left over. Because of this, Peter has been working pretty much full time here in St Thomas in order to pay for the extra parts we needed and for our weekly groceries. I thought BVI was expensive but honestly I don’t see the food here on St Thomas being much cheaper at all. With a paycheck-to-paycheck budget and with Peter gone all day at work it’s been very difficult to get everything done to the boat that we want or need to do.

We thought we were finally ready to go. With three days left in the month of June we left our favorite spot in Christmas Cove and pointed off toward Grenada. The weather window was promising and our friends Rob and Deb from Cosmos Mariner were buddy-boating down with us. About two hours into the passage South when the seas started building, Peter noticed a significant amount of saltwater pouring into the vberth. How much you ask? Like a gallon a minute. It was pouring in from the dorad boxes and about four other places every time the bow sliced through the waves. The seastate wasn’t terrible but we also weren’t used to a boat that buried the bow so much. Our Whitby didn’t sail to wind this way. This boat was made to slice through in such a different way. Peter also never had these issues on the passage from Antigua to the VI because it was all downwind. We had done a small shakedown but nothing offshore in this direction. Brig was getting frustrated with having to stay strapped to me in our Lillebaby carrier and Peter determined there was no temporary fix he could do while under way that would keep that much water out of our forward cabin for the next 2 and a half days. At that moment he decided it was better for us and for the boat to turn back, make some repairs and wait for the next weather window. *sigh*

No big deal except for now our insurance wouldn’t cover us after July 1 in a named storm if we stayed “inside the box” instead of getting down to the lower latitudes. I immediately got a rider for our policy allowing us to be covered for another month in USVI – another unexpected added expense – and Peter began making repairs. He serviced the frozen dorad scoops so they could be removed and the covers installed closing them off. He recaulked our forward hatch at the base and along the top of the glass. He recaulked the windlass controls. He recaulked the staysail connection to the deck. He pulled up and rebed our two forward cleats, both of which ended up badly needing new bolts. And lastly he pulled up, serviced and rebed the windlass!! That was a NIGHTMARE job but really needed to be done. All I can say is thank goodness my brother Brandon is still here because he’s helped Peter every step of the way, to make this boat safe for all of us, as quickly as possible.

Our weather window is finally here. This time Peter doesn’t want Brig and I to go. Instead, he insists that we fly down to Grenada and wait for him there. It should only take him 2.5-3 days and then he won’t have to worry about us if the waves are miserable. My brother is still here with us and will do the passage too. Our friend Mike from Three Sheets Sailing is also going to go along so Peter can actually get a little sleep and take real shifts. My brother will be able to help a little but he’s never done anything like this before so entrusting him with the responsibility of being on watch when he doesn’t know anything about navigation or sailing isn’t really fair to him. I fly out in two days with Brig. It will be a very long day with one ferry and four connecting flights to hop down island but the good news is we will get to spend the weekend with our friends from the Sunkissed Soeters!! Brig will have so much fun with Darcy and Luuck’s boys, Stormer and Rio and it’ll be good for me too.

I get it… I understand Peter just wants to keep us safe. It’s a new-to-us boat and he wants to gain a little faith in our boat first before taking his baby out to sea in it. I also know it would be very difficult to entertain a one-year-old on a passage to wind. The first attempt a few weeks ago was challenging and that was just a couple of hours worth. Going below to use the head and to change Brig’s diaper just one time was very tiring. But part of me also feels like i’m failing at “cruising with kids” if I can’t even do a little 3 day passage with my baby. SO many other families take their babies on passages longer than this all the time so why can’t I? I know I shouldn’t feel that way and that I’m not failing and that we just need to do what is right for our family. But it’s hard to not think it. Oh well. It doesn’t even matter anymore. It’s another extra expense for the plane ticket but it’s just money right? Peter will just work a little more.

By Monday we should be all settled back on our boat together as a family in a Grenada. I can’t wait. ❤️

7 Reasons To Love Turkish Towels

As I began packing my bags to head back to the islands and move onto our new home I started thinking of all my favorite basic necessities I once had on our old boat before the Hurricane. We really learned a lot over the last four years living aboard about what we truly needed and what we didn’t. There isn’t much space on a sailboat so every single item must be carefully chosen based on it’s value.

A little secret I learned from my good friends Genevieve and Brittany was that Turkish Towels are WAY better than regular towels! Not all brands are created equal though. I first tried out some cheapies from Amazon but they were too thin and wore out within the first year of Caribbean sun and daily use. I began my search for a better brand and the next ones I tried were from a non-profit organization called Education And More. They aim to reduce poverty in Guatemala by providing educational opportunities and supporting local Fair Trade artisans to create ethically made hand-crafted products. They sell several different types of products but I was specifically looking for Turkish Towels.

I’ve been using them for quite awhile now and I can honestly say they are still truly wonderful! Here’s why:

100% cotton

Call me crazy but nothing is better than wrapping yourself in 100% cotton, Natural fibers just feel so much softer than synthetic fabrics. It’s personal preference I guess, but if you are able to tell the difference, most people will choose 100% cotton every time.

Compact

These towels are easy to store, they take up very little space and they are super easy to stuff into a beach bag, backpack or purse. Our new boat is lacking in the storage department so the fact that I don’t need a full size linen closet to store our towels in is a huge plus. If we used regular terry towels they would literally be sitting in a pile up in our cockpit because they wouldn’t fit anywhere else.

Lightweight

Probably the best thing about Turkish Towels are how lightweight they are.  They are easier to wash than big heavy terry towels and they dry so much faster. We are in and out of the water all day long down here in the Caribbean and that means our towels are always wet. We hang them on the line to dry and the sun bakes them to a warm perfection in no time at all so they are always ready for the next swim. A regular terrycloth towel would take hours to fully dry. Granted, you get a better absorbency from terrycloth towels but because these are made of pure cotton they are more than sufficient for drying off.

Gorgeous colors

These towels come in the most gorgeous colors! Their soft hues look so inviting.  Every time I take mine to the beach I always get lots of ooohs and ahhhhhs asking where I got them. I got a soft brown (which I love) but all of the colors would look so nice!!

Versatility

These towels come in full size or hand towel size and can be used virtually anywhere. We take them to the beach, we use them as our bath towels, our dish towels, our hand towels in the bathroom, as a blanket, a diaper changing mat, and as a sunshade! You could use them as an upholstery cover or even as dog bed ;)

durability

What I love the most is that they last. The women that make these must put a LOT of love into them because the quality is fantastic!  They are slightly heavier and maybe not as soft as some other Turkish Towels but they are made to last. The sun and the wind have not worn them too thin like the first cheapie brand I tried, and they continue to get a little softer with each wash. Also, with a little heavier weight (relatively speaking – since they are still super lightweight) it makes Education and More towels a perfect choice for a beach towel because you can sit on it on the sand without all the sand going right through it. Most importantly the sand shakes off easily.

fair trade

Lastly, with each purchase you are helping others. Education and More is a non-profit organization that offers a Buy One, Give One, Help One program where “for every fouta towel that you buy from The Fair Line, we will give one to a Women’s Crisis Center here in the United States.  Additionally, each fouta sold provides a Guatemalan Woman a fair wage for her artistry, which in turn helps her provide for herself and her family.” It makes me happy to be able to support such a good cause and share these amazing towels with you.

 

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Settling In

Brig, Betsy, my brother Brandon and I are settling in after arriving safe and sound in St Thomas a little more than two weeks ago. Peter had just arrived with our new boat from Antigua and everything was still in full on project mode. Day by day we’ve chipped away at the list and its just now starting to feel like home.

Every new boat comes with a few hiccups – a few surprises we couldn’t have anticipated. As soon as I got there the refrigerator and freezer keel coolers stopped working.  Peter only had the boat in the water for about a week at that point so many of the systems were being put to the test for the first time.  The good news is that Reefco, the local marine refrigeration company, was able to diagnose and supply the parts we needed. The bad news is how much the parts and labor cost us :( We began to work on getting on the schedule to haul the boat out to do the repairs.

We were on the dock at Crown Bay Marina for the first few days after arriving back in the islands, then moved to a nearby mooring that our friends Jesse and Stacey on SV Smitty helped us arrange.  When we tried to leave, our alternator and oil alarm were both giving us issues. Eventually we got it resolved enough just to get us up to Christmas Cove a short sail away but as we approached the mooring field that afternoon, our troubles continued.  The engine wouldn’t start! We calmly thought about what could be wrong and continued to try starting it a few more times. Suddenly it turned over… Our engine started and we anchored toward the back of the pack. We could have come in under sail but it’s always nicer to be able to back down on your anchor. A ton of boats were there already in anticipation for a regatta so there weren’t many spots to choose from. After we got settled Peter determined it was pure luck that we got the engine started just then and that it would NOT be starting again.

We had to wait almost a week to get Offshore Marine out with a replacement Electronic Control Unit, so not only did we have no way to start the engine, we still had no refrigeration. Our plans for hauling out to fix the keel coolers would have to wait until we had an engine to get us into the haulout slip. I’ve got towing on our new insurance but it wasn’t worth the hassle of filing a claim.  We resorted to eating soup, mac n cheese and pb&j.

Eventually we got it all fixed. We sailed back out to Christmas Cove now and we can finally relax! There will always be boat projects but we hope the major stuff is all done now.  Peter’s birthday was March 30 and luckily we got to spend it in paradise.

We’re all adjusting pretty well. Brandon is getting used to boat life. Betsy is so happy to be able to lay in the sun all afternoon again, and Brig is busy as ever. At 9 months he can walk around the whole inside of the boat using the walls for stability, he loves eating goldfish and he’s learning to like swimming at the beach! Peter and I are just happy to be back to where we belong <3

Our New Home

Almost exactly 6 months after Hurricane Irma flipped our world upside down, we finally have a new home!

She’s a beautiful 1981 Stevens 47, bigger than our last boat with three staterooms instead of just two. You may recognize the Stevens/Hylas 47 design as it’s the same kind that our friends on Totem have sailed around the world over the last 10 years. A true bluewater boat perfect for anywhere our next adventures take us. We will do a renaming ceremony soon to keep the same name we had before, Mary Christine. It’s only fitting as our last boat was named after Peter’s mom, and she will continue to keep us safe. Our order from DIY Lettering is in the mail now!

***

You’d think that buying a boat would be so much fun. It definitely was fun to search online for awhile, until we’d seen literally every boat on the market and still weren’t sure if we’d found the right one. We weren’t just looking for fun. We needed a home. We could sit around searching every day for something else to get listed, but instead we made a shortlist of five possibilities that fit our criteria and then started booking plane flights to get us closer to the East Coast.

The last blog update was when we were visiting friends in Georgia over New Years. From there we drove to go see a boat for sale in Alabama that ended up having some undisclosed issues we couldn’t look past. Then we flew to Florida where we got to spend a lot more time with family and friends.

We saw another two boats in Florida, one of which Peter really liked. I really did NOT like it but it was affordable and it would get us back on a boat, in our very own home, right away. We already had flights booked to go look at a boat in Antigua and one in Grenada, both of which were our top two choices after months of scouring YachtWorld, so we continued on our way.

The stop in Antigua was brief, just two days, but we got to catch up with our friends Rob and Deb from Cosmos Mariner. That’s where we first saw what is now our new home ;) We took a good look at the boat and I actually liked it more in person than on paper. At that point it was a definite possibility but we had one more stop to make to know for sure.

We flew to Grenada and stayed with our friend Steve on Lunacy, a Whitby 42 just like our old boat. It felt really good to be back in a familiar place on a boat that almost felt like home, but kind of strange at the same time. We were still homeless. I loved the boat for sale in Grenada but there were yet again some previously undisclosed concerns that we didn’t learn about until we saw the boat in person.  So, we made an offer on the Stevens, but it was rejected. Based on the work it needed we just couldn’t justify or afford to go any higher. With that, we flew back to Florida to regroup.

After a lot of soul searching and settling, I agreed to make an offer on the boat in Florida that Peter liked. Long story short the seller wanted more than we were willing to offer and the deal eventually fell through.

With our heads hanging low once again, I remembered there had been a tentative offer on the Stevens after ours. Just for kicks I emailed the broker asking if the boat was still pending or if it fell through. Turns out it was still available. The guy that came to see her just didn’t want to take on as many projects as it needed. With some serious number crunching, we made another offer and we were absolutely thrilled it was accepted!

I booked a ticket for me and Brig to go back to Washington State and pack up our things. It’s unreal the kind of stuff you can accumulate in such a very short period of time while living on land. Most of it is for Brig but there are a lot of things I needed to buy to replace the rest of what we couldn’t recover. Peter got a one way ticket back to Antigua and began preparing our new home.

It will be 5 weeks apart by the time we see Peter again… we fly out on TOMORROW!! I’m so excited I can hardly stand it. Far too much time apart over the last six months. Our baby is almost walking on his own and he turns 9 months old the day we leave. It’s all a blur.

Just how am I going to manage carrying all of our luggage, baby and dog by myself on two airplane rides? My brother, Brandon, is coming with me! There’s no way I could manage alone with both Brig AND Betsy. It’s an overnight flight out of Seattle so we fly into St Thomas on Wednesday afternoon where Peter will be waiting for us.

He hired our friend Rob to help him get the long list of repairs done faster and to help him deliver it from Antigua to USVI.  They both worked so hard to make it all come together. The first photo above is them leaving Jolly Harbour Saturday morning. Waiting for that next phone call was almost as bad as waiting for the call after Irma. I knew he would be fine but of course I was still worried. They made it safe and sound after a great passage!

Still wondering what happened to our old boat? The insurance claim was processed and paid relatively easily, it just took a little longer than it should have. We bought the boat back from the insurance company as part of the settlement and months ago Peter went back to BVI to get her all cleaned up. It was a monumental effort but worth it in the end. He was able to salvage and clean some of our personal belongings but some of it was either destroyed by the rats, water damage and mold, or impact from during the storm.

The most serendipitous part is how we met the guy that bought her. YEP, we sold her!!! At first we thought we would just clean her up and live aboard at our mooring ball until we could find our forever boat instead of buying a replacement that doesn’t really suit our needs. Then, Peter met Trent. His boat sunk in Irma and he just needed a place to live so he could continue working in St. John. There was still some serious damage that needed to be repaired, and the boat will never be as seaworthy as it was before, but it was doable. The thing is, Peter wouldn’t have felt comfortable selling her to anyone at all, but Trent does fiberglass, teak and finishwork by trade! And he has done many boat refits before. If there is anyone that could make this boat beautiful again it’s him.

Trent and his brother Tracy made fast work of getting the mizzenmast detached and basic systems functioning, then they delivered her down to Coral Bay St. John where she will get a little R&R ;) She’s in good hands and for that I’m thankful.

It’s Monday now and by Wednesday afternoon we will finally all be back where we belong: on a boat down where the coconuts grow 🌴

So what’s next?

We will be heading to St. John USVI where Peter hopes to find some work. The repairs our new boat needed didn’t leave us with much savings but we now have an amazing fully functional home.

This year we are choosing to be south of 12 degrees 40 minutes (Grenada) for Hurricane Season like we did the first two years. It was much easier to get insurance for “outside the box” and it’s statistically better odds for staying out of the path of another hurricane. We are required to be down there from July 1 – November 1 so we’ll probably start heading south in May or June. Until then you can find us in the Virgin Islands!