A circumnavigating catamaran

Swingin’ on a Star

This is a year by year summary of our circumnavigation adventures and plans. As the accountants would say: Actuals and Projections.
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We did a Jed Clampet in the opposite direction on October 2nd, 2006. After loading up the truck and leaving Beverly (Agua Dulce California that is) we drove to Florida in three days. Our Ford F150 was packed to the roof with just enough room left over for Hideko, Randy and Roq, it was everything material we would carry forward from our old life. We spent almost two months at the Lauderdale Marine Center adding gear to our boat and getting her ready for a world cruise. It was the weirdest time of our lives. After living in California all of our adult lives with jobs, two cars, a lazy dog and a house on dirt, like most everyone, we were suddenly living on a boat with 3% of our prior possessions (and half of those were pending sale on ebay). We were on the other side of the country where we knew no one and couldn’t even find the grocery store for the first week. And we knew we’d be farther afield soon.

Thankfully we chanced upon Kent and Johan from Just Catamarans. Not only did they fix and install everything we could list in the most professional fashion but they also became friends, helping us in more ways than we can describe. We met kindred sprits Fred and Cindy on Kelp Fiction II at LMC, though we would not see them again until 2007. We promised to catch up with Rick and Myrna, also new catamaran owners, aboard Red Leopard. We will always miss the awesome Churasco Steak sandwiches and wonderful company of Kenny and Jenny, the owners of the Wake Zone at LMC. We wouldn’t have gotten far without help from Ron at the largest West Marine in the world and all of our friends at Blue Water Charts and Books.

After several delays we finally left the boat yard in late November. For the first time ever the two of us and Roq anchored in our new boat in a place we had never been before. We were in the lee of Key Biscayne looking out at the lights of Miami. Not something you forget easily. We spent the next few weeks around Key Biscayne and No Name harbor waiting for a window to cross the Gulf Stream into the Bahamas. We met many wonderful new friends aboard other boats in those early days. Meridian, Ishmael, Merlin, Magic, and Wind in the Willows all befriended us and helped us in various ways. Lowell and Jane on Edelweiss made the crossing to the Bahamas with us and met us again in Georgetown Exuma.

On December 1st we reached Bimini. It was a rough ride and our first real crossing with only three of the six boats that departed making it across. In Bimini we met Alex, Helen, Mia and Loic aboard Eyran. We would travel on and off with Eyran over the next few months ultimately adding them to the list of friends for life. Hideko inexplicably took up baking the most amazing French Baguettes from scratch while at the Bimini Blue Water Marina. The Complete Angler had just burned down and we were sad at the loss of Hemingway memorabilia but the beaches and natural beauty of Bimini charmed us.

We sailed to Great Harbor in the Berrys and spent Christmas with family at the Atlantis Marina near Nassau. By New Years we had reached Norman Cay in the Exumas with a crew of 9 aboard. The Walkers, Jessica (Randy’s lil sis), Garret, Alyssa, Logan and Brayden as well as Ma and Pa Abernethy. That’s 10 if you count Roq.

It was an amazing three months and the beginning of a fantastically adventurous and stirring chapter of our lives.

January: Tobago, Grenada & Venezuela

February: Venezuela, Bonaire, Curacao & Aruba

March: Columbia

April—May: Panama

June: Galapagos

July-August: French Polynesia

Fall: Cooks, Niue, Tonga, Fiji, Vanuatu, Solomons

Winter: Thailand, India

Spring: Maldives and Seychelles

Summer: The Red Sea and the Eastern Mediterranean

Fall: Western Mediterranean

Winter: Papua New Guinea and area

Spring: Micronesia [Kapingamarangi, Chuuk, Guam, Yap]

Summer: Palau

Two thousand seven was the year we sailed the eastern Caribbean. January found us in the Exumas near the southeast end of the Bahamas. We spent some weeks in Georgetown with friends and the company of hundreds of other cruising boats. Georgetown is a kind of Mecca for the snow birds. We met lots of great folks in Elizabeth harbor and the Emerald Bay Marina including Rosario, Shaza, Mica and Dragon Lady not to mention “old friends” Red Leopard, Edelweiss and Eyran.

We discovered our tendency to move out or camp out in 2007. From Georgetown we moved quickly through the beautiful islands of the southeast Bahamas and on to Turks and Caicos in February. During these passages Hideko revealed that she was a talented fisherman and fed us on several occasions. On Provo we met friends from Bimini on Audrey as well as our sister ship Aphrodite. A boating/diving enthusiast friend from the Internet, Byron and wife Polly, gave us a great tour of the island. We also did our first large diesel service at the local boat yard.

It was interesting to see the change in yachts past Georgetown. Many people from Florida, the east coast of the US and Canada winter in the Bahamas, particularly Georgetown. Once past Georgetown you meet a completely different kind of cruiser. The folks you find in Turks and Caicos and down into the Caribbean are more of the long term cruiser type, not planning to be home for Springtime.

After a few weeks in Provo we set sail with a vengeance for the British Virgin Islands. We had an early March flight to Japan for Hiroatsu’s wedding (Hideko’s brother). Ma and Pa Abernethy were set to met us in Leverick Bay to look after Roq and Swingin’ on a Star.

The Dominican Republic was an eye opening look at the developing world, complete with rugged sailing and an unforgettable night at the Escondido anchorage where we made friends with Blue Jay and Alma. We crossed the ominous Mona passage and reentered the USA in Boquerón Puerto Rico. Beating eastward along the south coast of Puerto Rico was one of the hardest won stretches of our journey to date, the path was certainly thorny there.

We sailed into Leverick Bay BVI one day before our flight departed for Japan, and left our boat for the first time since moving aboard, it was interesting to note that we felt like we were leaving our home. We had a wonderful time in Japan and welcomed a charming new member, Rie, to the family. Hideko’s parents flew back with us and two generations of Abernethys and Matsuzawas cruised the BVI together.

In April we reunited with Fred and Cindy aboard Kelp Fiction II in Leverick Bay. Fred and Cindy were working at dive BVI where Randy completed his Divemaster certification with  our new friend Marc. We developed a friendship with the skipper and mate of the classic sloop MacJay, Wayne and Dorothy, and generally enjoyed the company of everyone in and about Leverick Bay. In May we anchored in Maya cove for a few weeks while Randy completed the Dive Instructor program at Sail Caribbean divers on Tortola.

After a long and lovely stay in the BVI (with hops to the USVI now and again to keep from exceeding our clearance) we began to head south to get out of the hurricane box before anything unpleasant moved in. As we prepped for Saint Martin, our last true passage to windward, Fred and Cindy miraculously decided to join us with Cindy’s sister Jill rounding out the crew. Over the months of June and July we sailed together to Anguilla, Saint Martin, Saint Barts, Saint Kitts, Montserrat, Guadalupe, The Saints, Dominica and Martinique.

The beaches of Anguilla were charming and after some time and experience on the water we availed ourselves of the quality facilities in Saint Martin for maintenance and upgrades. Saint Barts was truly beautiful and had a nice European flair. Saint Kitts was wild and out of the way giving us a chance to experience a second world hospital (we’re afraid we can’t recommend the experience). Montserrat’s smoldering volcano was awe inspiring and the desolation it has wrought upon the island was unsettling. Guadalupe marked a welcome return to France, and especially French food. The Saints were quaint and lovely. Dominica does not have much coastally to recommend it but the interior is the most lush and beautiful of all of the lesser Antilles. Martinique is another pleasant highly developed French island.

In July we sailed to Saint Lucia to meet our good friends the Mac Kenzies. Thomas, Emily, Kory, Maddy and Sammy helped us sail the coast and have a tremendous time in Saint Lucia. Kory agreed to be Randy’s first victim, achieving the Junior Scuba Diver rating. Rodney Bay, Marigot Bay and the Pitons are all memorable spots if you can avoid the boat boys.

We sailed south with Kelp Fiction II briskly at this point, after already hiding out in Rodney Bay for two false weather alarms. Saint Vincent is rugged and raw but the Grenadines are beautiful and popping with secure anchorages and turquoise water. The Tobago Cays and Salt Whistle Bay on Mayreau are not to be missed.

We cleared into Grenada on the island of Cariacou which has one of the best hurricane holes I have yet seen in Tyrell Bay. We slowly cruised down the coast of Grenada enjoying the wonderful lagoon (now turning into the Port Luis Marina) and capital city of Saint Georges. Little did we know we would be staying in Grenada for three months.

August brought hurricane Dean in from the South Atlantic. We holed up at Martin’s Marina in Mount Hartman Bay waiting to move into one of the deeper anchorages. Ultimately Dean passed between Martinique and Saint Lucia leaving us only with a strong south wind and swell. Our adventurous friends Razmig and Atsuko joined us for a direct hit by Tropical Storm Felix and some wonderful cruising in the Grenadines in September. 

By October Swingin’ on a Star and her crew were itching to be moving on. As we waited for a window to make the windward passage to Tobago our friends on Blue Star hauled out at Grenada Marine. We were impressed by the work done and were due for a good coat of paint so we stayed another few weeks to get a slot at the yard. The yard hauled us but never got around to painting our bottom. Fred, Cindy and Jay came back just in time and helped us get the boat painted and back in the water in early November.

With a years worth of experience under our belts and our Pacific crossing only a few months away we had several projects we wanted to complete. Shops in Grenada seemed too busy to help us so in November we headed for Trinidad. Once Swingin’ on a Star was on the dock in Chagaramas Randy returned to Florida to complete his 200 ton masters license. In the end Trinidad was busier than Grenada as all of the cruisers returned to their boats for the season. We had a nice time in Trinidad though and sailed for Tobago to spend a lovely Christmas and New Year.








Copyright 2006-2011 Randy & Hideko Abernethy, all rights reserved

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