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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!

Surviving Hurricane Irma

Our worst nightmare came true.

Peter, Betsy and our boat were in the BVI, in the path of a historical Category 5 direct hit from Hurricane Irma on September 6th, 2017.

(Islands outlined in purple in the photo above are the USVI. Road Town is the main city on Tortola, part of the British Virgin Islands, Northwest of the eye)

Brig and I had flown off island two days prior “just in case” while Peter stayed behind to secure our boat as well as our employer’s work boats in a mad dash to protect both our home and our livelihood.

It wasn’t until last minute that it was even an option for Brig and I to leave. Technically, Brig could not enter the U.S. without a passport. Since he was born in BVI and does not qualify for a BVI passport, we needed to wait until the US Consulate from Barbados came to visit in BVI to apply for his US passport.  This only happens twice a year and we still had several weeks before the next scheduled visit. Given our circumstances with an impending life threatening storm headed for us, the US Customs and Boarder Protection at the St Thomas airport granted me special permission to let us travel with just a birth certificate for him instead. The day after we arrived in the states we applied for Brig’s passport in person and have since resolved the issue. If it wasn’t for this ridiculousness of not being able to get Brig a passport immediately after he was born, we would have either hauled our boat out of the water like we did last hurricane season and flew up to the states to visit family, or we would have sailed down to Grenada where statistically fewer hurricanes ever hit. This year, we made the best hurricane plan we could with the circumstances we were given.

Irma was only a Cat-3 when I left and we had no idea it would strengthen as much as it did. Not only did it grow to become a major Category 5 hurricane, “Irma sustained 185 mph (295 km/h) winds for 37 hours, becoming the only tropical cyclone worldwide to have had winds that speed for that long, breaking the previous record of 24 hours set by Typhoon Haiyan of 2013″ according to Wikipedia.

I watched the news on TV as the eye passed over the entire country of BVI with wind gusts reached a frightening 220 mph. When wind increases, the force is not just incremental, it’s exponential. I can’t even comprehend that… I’m so thankful I have the support of my family – but especially during those awful hours when my communication with Peter was cut off. I couldn’t even take care of myself, let alone my baby. It was absolutely torture for me to know what had just happened to St Martin hours before and that Peter was now going through the same unspeakable disaster. I was terrified for my husband’s life. Thanks to Scott and Brittany’s satellite phone, he was able to call me as soon as the storm calmed down enough for him to go outside.

During the storm, Peter and a few others hid inside a well-built home up in the Belmont neighborhood on the West End of Tortola, British Virgin Islands. The house they thought would act as a fortress ended up with blown out windows behind hurricane shutters and was stripped of it’s roof. Debris blocking the roads to the lower part of the island caused them to hike by foot over the wreckage in order to go anywhere. They had the satellite phone which they used to relay messages for me to post on our facebook page in the early days following Hurricane Irma, and they were also able to reach other survivors to let them make calls to their family and loved ones. With great effort, Peter and others that wish to remain anonymous helped facilitate several medical emergency rescues as well.

Our boat was tucked away inside one of the well known hurricane holes and it took days for Peter to get back down there to check on her. At first glance he saw she was still floating! Hopes were high that our boat might have been one of the very few boats to survive. A closer look, however, revealed that our home had been destroyed. Peter did everything he could but no amount of preparation could have saved our boat or prevented any of the widespread destruction caused by Irma. Cleats and winches were completely ripped off. The mizzenmast was detached and tangled in the rigging of a nearby boat. The hull deck joints were severely cracked, and the vessel was bringing on water below the waterline from an unknown origin. Stanchions and chainplates ripped out of the decks.  Bow pulpit crushed. Bulkheads smashed. Most of the electrical system nonoperational. Mud, dirt and debris inside the boat. Water damage and mold everywhere. She was simply battered beyond repair.  What really salts our wounds is that while the boat was left clinging to the sides of other boats that had been tied to the mangroves, a family of rats had taken up residence in our absence of just a few short days and had been chewing, pooping and peeing on everything inside our boat. If there was ever a hope of salvaging any of our personal belongings, it was now completely gone.

It feels like it took a lifetime to gather the few items we brought with us when we moved aboard our boat four years ago. We couldn’t fit much in our 42′ sailboat but the things we did have in our tiny floating home meant the world to us. Every tool had multiple purposes. Everything that wasn’t a tool had a specific purpose or sentimental value. Friends and family had sent us all we would ever need for the first two years of Brig’s life. We had everything we would ever need for our whole family and we lost it all.

It took two weeks to finally get Peter and Betsy out of there. Thanks to our friends at Three Sheets Sailing, they were able to get on a relief boat in Tortola that was returning to St Croix where they could then take a flight to San Juan, Puerto Rico, then Houston, and finally arriving to Seattle, Washington late Sunday night. Although the Royal Navy had imposed martial law with territory-wide curfews, Peter still didn’t feel safe staying on Tortola. Everyone left there is just surviving. With such a significant lack of infrastructure it will be awhile before island life can continue as normal. Although the states doesn’t feel like home for us, we are all glad that our little family is together and safe.

(The above photo shows how Betsy had to ride on the plane from St Croix to Puerto Rico as there was no room for her by Peter’s feet.)

Part of me actually feels guilty that I wasn’t there and will never know what Peter went through. I will never understand the sheer terror he experienced. He literally survived a direct hit from one of the strongest category-5 hurricanes on record on earth. I know the most important thing is that he and Betsy are safe and our little family is whole again, but the grief and emotions surrounding the loss of our home and the shattering of our dreams are overwhelming. I recently read a post by Charlotte Kaufman about what she learned from Losing Rebel Heart and her words explain it best.

Before he left BVI, Peter did the best he could to re-secure our boat back on the dock with all the lines he had left. He sealed up all the cracks he was able to, cleared out the bilge and hooked up a solar panel in hopes that there will be enough power to run the bilge at all. Even if he could’ve salvaged anything off of our boat, there was nowhere safe and dry on island to store any of it. With Hurricane Maria on the way, the best thing Peter could do for our family was to get out of there. Hurricane Maria didn’t end up being a direct hit for BVI but it passed just south of the Virgin Islands and was the second Category-5 hurricane to devastate the Caribbean within a period of two weeks. At this point we have no idea if our boat is still floating or if she incurred any further damage. Hopefully our boat will still be accessible, floating, and not looted by the time any insurance surveyors ever come to inspect her.

We’ve filed a claim with our insurance company but I was told that it will take a very, very long time for it to be processed, if they ever make good on it. The volume of destruction that the BVI sustained is unimaginable. These islands that so many people love and cherish have been completely decimated. Everyone that survived this historical disaster are forever changed.

Basically there is nothing left for us to go back to right now. We are homeless and unemployed along with so many others that lived in the islands. There are very few structures for anyone to shelter in and not even a hotel for us to stay at. It will be a long time before power and water is restored and basic necessities are available to everyone.

BVI is where Brig was born and where our hearts will always belong. Our home, our jobs, and all our belongings are gone and our cherished islands have been practically leveled, but Peter and I would still love to go back. We would love to help the islands rebuild and help uncover the magic buried beneath the rubble that so many of us found there in a time before Irma and Maria. With enough support from those that feel the same way, it will happen. The islands will rebuild and start over.

To see many photos of the devastation, visit our facebook page where I’ve shared tons of photos that others have posted.

How You Can Help:

Individual Families:

Many of you have reached out asking how you can help *us* during this difficult time. You know who you are and we can’t thank you enough. Your kind words and generosity means more to us than you will ever know. If there is anyone else interested in how to help us directly, here are a few ways:

  • Donate via the PayPal donate button at the bottom of our website (Donations made directly from one paypal account to another incur no fees. Donations made via paypal  with a credit card incur a standard fee of 2.9% + $0.30 deducted before reaching us).
  • Donate via the YouCaring fundraiser that Stacy Najar set up to help us to get back on our feet. (Donations made via YouCaring with a credit card incur a standard fee of 2.9% + $0.30 deducted before reaching us. YouCaring has zero additional platform fees unlike sites such as Gofundme). www.youcaring.com/wherethecoconutsgrow
  • Use our Amazon Affiliate link at the bottom of our website! This is no additional cost to you but means a lot to us. If you click our link before making a purchase on Amazon, we get a small commission. Just save our website as a favorite in your web browser and it’s only one extra click to use our link before doing your regular Amazon shopping.


The Soeters Family – Very good friends of ours Darcy, Luuck, Stormer and Rio of the Sunkissed Soeters lost their boat and all of their belongings when Hurricane Irma made a direct hit on Sint Maarten, and unfortunately they were not insured.  Like us, they are now staying with family back in the states until we can all figure out what to do next and how to get back to doing what makes us happy.

USVI “Adopt a Family”

Communities as a whole:

So many relief funds have been created in support of the islands affected by Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Maria. Here are just a few of the links dedicated to supporting the devastated communities as a whole:


BVI RELIEF – Links for multiple options for donating money and donating supplies, news, resources and a gallery

Convoy of Hope – First responders to disasters all over the world

BVI Immediate Relief – Set up by our good friends Brittany and Scott for immediate relief on the ground in BVI

BVI Hurricane Irma Relief – Yacht Sea Boss providing relief supplies to BVI

BVI Meals 4 Kids – Al Broderick and The Lunch Box feeding hot meals to children in Tortola

#BVISTRONG Gear Shop Remember the Adventure’s #BVISTRONG gear shop where 100% of the proceeds go to VISAR’S BVI Relief Fund

VISAR BVI Relief Fund Virgin Islands Search and Rescue directing funds to those most in need in BVI

BVI Community Support Appeal – Fund for long term reconstruction of BVI, Virgin Unite’s overhead costs are covered 100% by Richard Branson & the Virgin Group

BVI Medical Supplies – Medical Supplies requested for the hospital in Tortola

Virgin Gorda Relief Fund – Community aid for the residents and infrastructure of Virgin Gorda

Jost Van Dyke Humanitarian Aid – Basic life saving needs and community recovery for Jost Van Dyke


Most importantly, the BVI SAFETY CHECK website was created just for people to search for loved ones and mark people as safe.

PLEASE know that BVI is not the only area that needs help. The US media coverage has primarily focused on Florida but Barbuda, St Barts, Anguilla, St. Martin, USVI, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Cuba, Turks and Caicos, Bahamas and Florida have ALL incurred apocalyptic damage from both Irma and Maria and left an unimaginable amount of people homeless and left with nothing. What makes it even worse is thinking of the combined damage from #Harvey#Irma#Jose#Katia, #Maria#mexicoearthquake#wildfires and so many other worldwide disasters all happening in such a short period of time. The fact that looting and civil unrest quickly spiraled out of control after these events is just heartbreaking when our world is hurting so much. Luckily most of it is now back under control. Everyone needs to come together NOW more than ever. Do what you can, however you can, to help somehow.


Caribbean in General:

Sailors Helping – Info on how to support several islands in the Caribbean that have been devastated

International Rescue Group – Disaster relief and humanitarian aid



USVI Irma & Maria Relief Fund – For USVI residents in need

St John Rescue – For the St. John Community

St John Community Foundation – Resources for the St. John Community

Love for Love City – Kenny Chesney’s fundraising campaign for Disaster Relief in USVI and BVI

Tim Duncan VI Relief – Relief fund matching every dollar for the USVI up to $1 million

Community Foundation of the Virgin Islands – Relief for short term and long term critical needs in USVI

Irma Relief for our Sister Islands – Relief for St. Thomas and St. John coordinated from St. Croix

Art for Love City – Proceeds go to Love for Love City relief fund

United Way USVI – United Way Relief fund for USVI

USVI Amazon Wish List – USVI and surrounding islands delivered by relief crews

ReVIve the VI – St. Thomas community relief


St Martin / Sint Maarten:

St Maarten Hurricane Irma Relief – Funds will go to families affected by Irma

Rebuild SXM – Foundation set up to help rebuild St. Maarten, St. Eustatius, and Saba

Dutch Sister Islands Fund – Dutch Sint Maarten relief

French St. Martin – French St. Martin relief



Fund Directive – Emergency relief for Dominica

The Dominica Red Cross – Local nonprofit relief


Turks and Caicos:

Turks and Caicos Hurricane Relief – Helping families, churches and the community rebuild

Turks & Caicos Relief Fund – Helping all those affected in T&C by Hurricane Irma

Turks & Caicos Just Giving – Relief efforts in T&C



Halo Foundation – Barbuda Relief Efforts

Barbuda Hurricane Irma Relief – Senator Freeland’s relief team

Barbuda Recovery and Conservation Trust Fund – International Community Foundation’s page for Barbuda Relief



Bahamas Humane Society

Bahamas – You Caring



If you want to help but aren’t able to donate, please share this post! 

Cinnamon Bay Estate Ruins

st john with wiley-4

After visiting the Annaberg Sugar Plantation with Peter’s Dad, Wiley, we continued our tour around the island of St. John.

In Cruz Bay, we stopped for fresh fruit smoothies.

st john with wiley-2

These handsome gentlemen were telling jokes all day long, making us all laugh :)

st john with wiley-3

The view of Cruz Bay, Great St. James Island and the Eastern tip of St. Thomas is breathtaking.

st john with wiley-5

We stopped at several of the postcard-worthy beaches…


…and we even got to see the wild donkeys along the roadside!

The Cinnamon Bay Estate was one of the most prosperous sugar cane operations on the island in the 1700’s. Situation on the North side of the island, ruins from the factory can be found along the Cinnamon Bay Loop Trail, preserved by the National Park Service.

We walked through the majestic forest and saw where the inner bark of the trees had been scraped off. This bark is dried to make raw cinnamon.

At the end of the trail we walked across the street to see what Cinnamon Bay looks like from the campground. We are used to looking in from the mooring field, never from land, so it was fun to see a new perspective.


Back at our boat we finished off the day with a gorgeous double rainbow! :)


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Annaberg Sugar Mill

I can hardly believe how the time flies. You might think we are lounging around with our feet propped up, drinking fruity drinks and basking in the sun all day, however that is far from the truth!! I honestly don’t know where the time goes. One minute we are tackling a project on the never-ending list of repairs and maintenance. Other times we are just keeping up with household chores like cooking meals, doing dishes, hiking to the Laundromat, or grooming Betsy.

Since there’s not much time in the day for relaxing on the beach, I usually have to sneak in a little bit of computer-time for blog posts and editing photos. We have just a few days before Peter’s Dad, Wiley, arrives to visit again and I’ve just realized I haven’t even posted all the photos from his last visit!!

Last time Wiley was here, he brought his sister, Emma. One of our adventures was to show them a tour of St. John. Our buddy Yisrael drove us in his taxi-van, taking the small car ferry from St. Thomas to St. John. It was a very strange movement, quite different from the way our boat moves through the waves, and also different from the way a passenger ferry feels. After a tipsy ride, we arrived at the West end of the island near Cruz Bay and set out to see the Annaberg Sugar Plantation.

Constructed between 1797 and 1805, the Annaberg Plantation spanned 1,300 acres and was operated by 662 enslaved workers.

The sugar mill ruins were officially turned over to the Virgin Islands National Park in 1956. We spent quite a bit of time talking to the National Park Service volunteers during our visit and really enjoyed learning about the history of this beautiful island. For anyone else visiting the US Virgin Islands, this stop is a great alternative if watersports aren’t your cup of tea!

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Time To Head South

passage north GND-STT-23

Well boys and girls, the time has come for us to begin our journey South again. Where has the time gone?! We are two months into “H” season and before August is upon us we want to get down to the Windward Islands where statistically fewer named storms travel through.

If a ‘big one’ comes, we can race down to Trinidad with a few hundred other cruisers who will be watching the weather with us several times a day. The forecast for this H season is very light so we’re not too worried, though we are always cautious.

A favorable weather window has opened beginning this Friday 6.17.15. We’ll leave cozy Christmas Cove and sail up to Virgin Gorda, then point toward Guadeloupe and beyond!

Last year we made this journey at the end of June. You may recall how our first time through the OH-MY-GOD-A (Anegada) Passage went, but if you’re new to our blog, be sure to take a few minutes and read it here —> http://wp.me/p41bpr-IO

We definitely hope for a less eventful and more restful passage this time around.

If all goes to plan, our buddy-boat Necesse will be traveling with us. Eben will be returning this Thursday from a wild and crazy sailing adventure off the coast of Tanzania so he may want to wait until the next weather window before they follow in our wake. Either way, we look forward to many new adventures down island with them!

Only another week or two and we’ll be back at our FAVORITE place in the Caribbean, The Tobago Cays!