Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Canadian Road Trip - the beginning

It feels like such a long time ago we hauled out Askari in Oxford as we've done so much, however it's only been a week. Askari was hauled out at 8am and we were packed up and on the road by 2pm and made it as far north as Williamsport, PA that night. We picked the town by random, after a beautiful drive along wide rivers and ravines. We were totally surprised to find a modern university town with a real buzz about it. We picked out a pizza restaurant in the centre of town and to our delight there was an open mike music event happening in the lovely courtyard. What a great first night away from the boat.
Great night out in Williamsport
Day two was super exciting as we drove to Canada! We crossed the border at Buffalo, NY and were welcomed 'Bonjour'. It was super quick and easy, although the customs officer did ask us a few more questions than the Canadian car in front.
Crossing the border
We headed straight to Niagra Falls. I hadn't seen the falls before and it was really impressive, even though the area around is a bit like a theme park. We walked the river front and then headed out to Niagra on the Lake for lunch.
Selfie at the falls

This was much more our sort of place. We stayed at the lovely Jourdan Valley Campground for our first couple of nights under canvas. We were told about the quality of the wine in this area and wow we were so impressed by the Pinot Noir we tried during some wine tasting and a favourite was definite Flat Rock. The trip onwards was delayed a England was playing in the world cup soccer so we found a pub in the village that agreed to put it on for us.
Flat Rock Vineyard

Not sure what George Bernard Shaw was doing in Niagra on the Lake

Old English Pub in Niagra on the Lake - dates back to 1789

 We had planned to spend Canada Day (1st July) in Toronto, however much of the celebrations were out of town when we looked into it. So we changed our points reservation at the Hyatt to just one night and spent a lovely hot day in the City a few days before, keen to push on West for more adventure in the parks.
Hot Day in Toronto

St Lawrence Market - dates back to 1845 and really is fantastic produce right in the city 

Mexican on a hot Friday night  fun!
Great Lakes beckoned early the next morning and we made our way across Ontario to Pancake Bay Provincial Park. Where we found lakeside camping right on the beach and clear water - how bizarre...

Beach - Lake Superior

Beer time on Lake Superior
The weather was so hot and stormy so we used the next day to drive on and get further west, stopping for a few opportunities for sight seeing along the way.

Pinguisbi - just a short hike off the main road

Wawa Falls

Miserable cloud on the road - should have been spectacular
Canada Day we arrived at the Sleeping Giant Provincial Park and I think due to the weather a few people hadn't turned up so we snagged a camp right on the lake front. The sunsets were stunning. We spent a couple of days here and did a lovely hike out to see the Giant. Andrew had pulled an ankle so we were keen to test it gently before we get to BC and this was perfect.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

No updates....

We left Havana on 6th May for the Bahamas and had a great trip arriving at Great Sale Cay 36 hours later anchored in the night before moving to our old favourite spot at Double Breasted Cay for a few days of holiday - remember this place from Christmas Double Breasted Cay
Willow and Askari at Green Turtle Cay

I have to admit it was great to be back in the Bahamas but after Cuba everything has felt a bit bland so I lost the inclination to blog. I never like to go back..... We moved down to Green Turtle Cay where we hadn't been before and spent a week in the rain before a three day passage back to the USA, we sailed near to Oyster 46 Willow for the first couple of days and had some radio contact however they were heading to Maine so we parted ways. The sail was super speedy with plenty of wind and then a very fast gulf stream crossing, which Andrew timed perfectly to miss some pretty yucky convection and storms

We arrived in the middle of the night (again) at Norfolk Virginia and travelling through miles and miles of Navy shipyards all lit up was pretty surreal. It was a good job we opted to come in to the marina as the customs team arrived to clear us in at 7am.

Moored by the city lights - back in the USA

Tidewater marina in Portsmouth turned out to be a really welcome place to relax and get things organised. We met some fantastic local people and enjoyed the fantastic Harborfest.  We ended up spending over three weeks, did all our annual maintenance, bought a car and planned our next adventure to Canada. We met Fred and Tiffany who own the fabulous Commodore Theatre and they were so helpful and even invited us to a preview of the New Star Wars movie - which was great!
The fabulous Commodore Theatre entrance

You order food from your table at the Commodore

Enjoying a beer bore the movie

Out for the biggest Jewish lunch with Fred and Tiffany - that lasted us 3 days!

So today we hauled out Askari in the beautiful village of Oxford in Maryland, where she will stay until we get back after the heat has calmed down a bit. The blog will continue, in the meantime here's some pictures from the haul out and our time in the USA.

Hanging out on a Navy Boat at Harbourfest

The Waterside during Harborfest

American Authors were fantastic on the main stage

Yacht Virginia at Habourfest

The end of Harborfest

Deep Point - Piankatank River - invited for drinks with the locals

Solomons Island Cruisers

I made a pie for Bob & Anja on Sea for Miles when we met up in Solomons Island

We spent a few days preparing Askari up the River near Oxford, MD it was so beautiful

Our local in Oxford, MD
It's like a resort at Oxford Marina & Boat Yard

Sailors lounge at Oxford - wow!

Out of the water - always so nervwracking

On the hard next to the water tower for a few months

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Hanging out at Hemmingway's hang out

Marina Hemingway turned out to be a destination in it's own right. Here we met up with cruisers from all over the world who had spent the majority of the season in all corners of the caribbean and were all heading in so many different destinations. It was a really interesting time learning not just about Cuba but of lots of sailing stories too, over quite a few rums. We even had a rum tasting on board one night that ended up a little messy.

We spent time at the Hemingway International Yacht Club, where all were welcome. The pictures on the wall showed the infamous fishing trip with Hemingway, Fidel Castro and Che Guevara where they went out together from the marina and Fidel caught a bigger fish than Hemmingway. Che was pictured looking very relaxed - not something that often was caught on camera. 

With our friends from South Africa, Denmark, USA and Australia at the Yacht Club
Front of the Hemingway International Yacht Club
These pictures show a very special tine in history
We spotted the OCC pennant too

With Ley & Neil Crystal Blues under the flags
We left with a flag to take back to our sailing club in Fremantle and many new friends.
Here she is in Havana
Meanwhile Askari took pride of place on canal 1 in the first berth - this was great for fantastic internet and being so close to the bar. However every weekend a party took place at the public water front area and every person under 30 in the whole area turned up for a crazy afternoon. However, in Cuban style it was pretty controlled and very friendly and all was done by 8pm. We really enjoyed seeing all the kids having fun, but Askari became the object of the 'selfie' for all so was given her own security detail- no seriously.  
Wild afternoons at Marina Hemingway
Selfie central in front of Askari

Askari with her security guard
These guys also liked to visit us at Hemingway - I promise there's no stow away but it was tempting
Towards the end of our stay it became time to provision. Neil and Ley had met an Australian who lived in Cuba who spotted their flag at the marina. Steve had made a life for himself in Havana and had a beautiful old car and is building a home on the waterfront near to the marina. Steve was really generous with his time and took us all out shopping. What a different insight to see how an ex-pat lives in Cuba. The good thing was that Steve knew exactly where to find the sort of goodies we wanted and his car had air-conditioning.

I get to ride up front

Posing in front of Crystal Blues

Amazing fresh veggies from an organic market Steve took us to

Anyone for smoked pork?? Totally delcious..... 
After our provisioning trip I posted a picture on Facebook to our Cuba Land and Sea page that has been so helpful, just to show how fantastic the produce is - people often worry they can't eat here. What I didn't expect was a social media bashing for being an imperialist taking advantage of Cuban's who apparently were struggling to feed themselves! Wow where did that come from?? Oh and also how did I know it was organic?? Cuba certainly divides all and I feel so privileged to have spent enough time here to judge for myself. My view is, whilst the system isn't perfect, the people here are so much happier and healthier than nearly everywhere else I have travelled and lived I feel that there is a lot the rest of the world can learn from Cuba - both, so called developed as well as developing countries. Oh and as a sailing cruising destination, I honestly think this is one place that has it all - what an absolute privilege and honour to spend time here.