Tuesday, April 28, 2020

The Exit Plan - Sunshine State or Bust!

Happy 15th Birthday, Emma!!

By Kathy

Here is a quick update from the SandStar Crew. Our position has not changed at all in the last few weeks but plans are being made to change that! We are still in the same marina in Puerto Rico on lockdown but the borders of the Bahamas have been opened for boats who are transiting so it is time to start moving! Now, there are several rules to how you transit the Bahamas but we will get to that later. For now we are excited that we have made it to the WHAM! BAM! GET THERE NOW! part of the plan.

Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico is still on lockdown. They tried to move the curfew back to 9pm but that lasted all of a day before they moved it back to 7pm. From what we heard it had to with local officials wanting it to be 7pm again.  We still do not have a way to rent a car so within walking distance we have the mini-mart and three restaurants and last night we made the discovery that Pizza Hut delivers to the marina. 

We wish we could see this island in its true form. It is so beautiful and the people are very friendly. There is always a kind greeting and a few words of conversation with everyone you meet here. We have had several people offer to give us a ride to the regular grocery stores and I even had a stranger offer to pick up food for Easter weekend for us when everything was closing for three days when he learned we did not have a car. The restaurant owners have been really nice and we hope that they can survive this lockdown. We really want to come back by air when travel is permitted and the island is fully opened.

The beautiful beach right next to the marina

We are very thankful to be in a nice and safe marina

We have had a little bit of fun with our meals. The family size sub for lunch was a hit!

Sam wanted to try the 80's culinary masterpiece - the Hot Pocket! He had learned about them from The Goldbergs. Luckily they had them at the mini-mart.

A "to go" special from one of the restaurants - An adult version of a capri sun. Flavor: Sangria. 

The State of the Crew

Just like everyone, we are getting a little restless. The seasons have definitely changed in the last 6 weeks since we arrived and it has gotten HOT! So now we are restless and sometimes sweaty and uncomfortable. Dan and I miss meeting new people and just hanging out and chatting with friends. The kids miss other kids. We actually said good-bye to our kid boat friends in January and February and we had one bonus afternoon in early March with our friends on Sea Sparrow so it has been a while since they have played with other kids but they are trying to keep in touch with text messages. 

We miss these crazy awesome people! This picture was taken in Jan 2020, only a few months ago but it seems like it has been much longer. 

An afternoon of DND - Our last kid playdate with the Sea Sparrow crew in early March 2020

The Plan

The moment we have been waiting for has arrived! The borders have been open in the Bahamas for boats trying to make it back to the states. Each boat needs approval from the Bahamian government to sail through the waters. All vessels have to follow certain rules about not going to shore and only stopping in certain designated areas if needed. They want minimal to no interaction with people who are moving through their waters. Last Thursday we got our approval from the Bahamas for our passage! We are planning to set sail this weekend (May 3rd). It will take us about 7-10 days to make it to Key West. This is where we had to really think hard about what to do next once we reach the sunshine state - East Coast vs West Coast?  There are pros and cons to both but in the end the west coast won and we are heading back to St. Petersburg!! This is where it all began when we casted off the lines a few years ago. It was very exciting to make the reservation for the marina downtown. After we arrive, we will unpack the boat and put all of our personal belongings in the POD that has the rest of our house contents. Then we hit the big question mark. Where to go next? Our house is not available until August so we will need to figure this out. Stay tuned for our Land Plans!

Highlights from the last few weeks:

The Internet and the Boat Break

We still have it but it is like riding a roller coaster and immediately switching to watching turtles race. Up, down and sometimes it just stops! It is really annoying and not a huge deal most of the time but when you need to have some important video calls it is a no-go! To fix this problem we rented an apartment in the neighborhood with screaming internet for a few days. Dan was able to have some important video conference calls and we got a little boat break. The apartment had AC and HOT SHOWERS!! This was a huge treat!!

Taking advantage of the extra space and nice TV to play Just Dance. This can be a bit challenging on the boat

Emma is 15

On April 8th we celebrated our little girl turning 15!!! I still can’t believe she is already 15. Everyone was excited for a great day of celebration.  We snuck her big gift back with us in our luggage in November when we flew from Florida to Grenada. We kept it hidden and under wraps which is a lot harder to do on a boat when the kids feel like they can look for things anytime and anywhere in any cabinet. We really surprised her which was awesome!! We were also able to pick up a few little things the two days we had in Puerto Rico before the lockdown and from the mini-mart to fill out 15 bags to celebrate the 15 years. We also invited two new guests to the party – Ben & Jerry. This was a big treat to find dairy free ice cream and we have never been able to get ice cream from the store to the boat without it melting when there are bus rides and dinghy rides involved. It was an awesome celebration with lots of calls and messages from friends and family, double decker tacos, a juice bar, cake and ice cream! She felt lots of love!!

Let's Celebrate!!

Bag #14 was the big one - She was so surprised!!


This is our third Easter celebration on the boat. I have been carrying around a set of plastic eggs that have been used in the Bahamas, Antigua, and now Puerto Rico. They have come in quite handy. If you are thinking about living the cruising lifestyle with kids this is a good “must have” on your boat that might get missed. We were able to have a great egg hunt around the marina. It really doesn’t matter how old they get they still enjoy hunting Easter eggs.

We had one special egg - Sam found it this year!

An egg hunt at the marina's closed restaurant. We had some pretty good hiding spots.

Time to Prep

Since we got our approval from the Bahamas we are in full prep mode. This will be our longest passage so everyone is a bit nervous and excited. Dan has been working on our route planning and this morning he is working an alternate route because it looks there is a possibility a front that might develop next week and head south. We will know more as the week progresses.  

The beginning our trip to Florida! This part will take us about 3 days

We also want to make sure we have enough fuel to make it to Florida if we never raise the sails so we ordered a fuel bladder from a US based company called ATL. I know that sounds a little odd but it is exactly how it sounds. It is a heavy duty bag that you fill with fuel and when it is not in use it can easily be stored. It arrived on Friday and the quality seems top notch which is a big plus when you put 50 gallons of diesel in something. We will fill it up before we leave and I will get another picture of it all set up for our next post.

The fuel bladder arrived!

And they sent us a bonus pair of sunglasses! 

I am working on planning our passage meals and reorganizing the pantry so all of our snacks are within reach and not in some random cabinet or bin.  We will do a lot of pre-cooking before we leave so most meals you can throw together and eat cold or just quickly heat up on the stove. We are also going to bulk order some chicken lo mein and soup from the local Chinese restaurant. Dan is also very hopeful we will catch some fish!

The kids have been working hard at accelerating some of their school work. We knew that a long passage was very likely in our future so they have been trying to finish up some subjects for the year and get to a good stopping point in others. Lots of excitement and high fives this week as they finish up some subjects but they will still have about 3-4 weeks left when we reach land for other subjects.

Trying to get the morning started!

Overall, our emotions are all over the board. We are still worried for family and friends on land and hoping they stay safe and healthy. As we are starting to see some of the effects of a closed society, we hope that in the coming weeks a plan can be made to help with jobs and the opening the economy that does not jeopardize health.  We also worry for our friends that are on boats. Some are still “stuck” on islands in lockdown and others are making plans to make a big jump to a safe harbor in the coming weeks. All of us on SandStar have some nervous energy around this big passage coming up this week. It seems that everyone is nervous about a different piece of it. This is a situation where I think we will all feel better once we cast of the lines and start the passage. Then there is a lot of excitement about the next chapter and what that will be like as we make landfall and think about new jobs and new schools and where the heck we will be this summer. Stay safe!!

1 comment:

  1. Best of luck to you all and my thoughts and prayers are with you all on your adventures back to the craziness here on the main land!!!