Monday, December 31, 2012


After Church on Sunday, the waters were beautifully calm.  We checked the weather report and after some debate we decided to move further east along the coast to Samana Bay.  It was a tough decision.  The weather looked like it would be nice over night for the move to Samana, waves would be far apart and on our beam.  Winds would be light.  We weren’t sure we were ready to leave that area of DR.  There was more we could see and do.  Plus the airport nearby was where we would need to send Madison home from in a few days. 

IMG_8535I did want to move to Samana Bay.  It was one area I really wanted to go see.  They have a cool national park there, and the Humpback whales migrate there every winter and would be coming soon.  I wanted to make sure we had a chance to stop and see the area.  The big push to move on to Samana already was the extra crew that would soon be leaving.  Doug would need to fly home – for his real life and work.  And Madison would be leaving us to go home for several weeks.  Once she leaves we are not sure we will move the boat without calm and settle weather, or help.  So we decided to move on to Samana. IMG_8546

IMG_8548We prepared to leave late afternoon and would move all night to arrive in Samana in the morning.  In the Dominican Republic the Navy Patrols the ports and you must get clearance from them to move on, even if to another DR port.  The Navy must come to your boat and fill out a despacho form for you to take to check in at your next port.  The charge here was $20 USD.  We settled our bill with the Marina, had the Navy give us our clearance and Despacho.  We were off just before dinner.  We watched the sun set over Puerto Plata. 

The weather was nice, the waves were settled and far apart.  It was a smooth night.  Again because of the extra crew, Doug, Madison, and David handled most of the overnight shifts.  I awoke early in the morning and could tell we must have been on the bay, protected from any large waves.  The winds were so light the bay was almost perfectly calm.  We watched the sun rise and it was beautiful. It was Dec 31st, so this was the last sunrise of 2012. The night went so smoothly and we arrived before the marina staff.  We idled outside the marina and pulled in the tender.  We wanted to go in and dock, but with out dock hands to tell us which dock to go to, we weren’t sure about entering the marina, Puerto Bahia.  We had called them the night before, so they were expecting us sometime this morning, just not this early. IMG_8559

David took the tender in to look at the Marina and to figure out where we could dock.  By the time he came back and we tied the tender off on the boat, and started into the marina the dockhands were arriving and were ready to help us dock and tie up. We got settled, checked in with the Navy here, where we were told there would be no charge for a despacho to leave to another DR port, only a small $10USD charge if our destination is outside of the DR. 

IMG_8585The kids went to the resort playground, and pools and played.  It was New Years Eve, but since we travelled all night David and I were tired.  Or we’re just getting old.  David was asleep by 8pm.  The kids all went to bed at regular time.  Only Doug and Madison stayed up to ring in the New Year.  The Marina had a party with a band, which Doug and Madison listened to from the boat.  Below is the last sunset of 2012.



Sunday, December 30, 2012

Church in Puerto Plata

Our 2nd day in the Dominican Republic was a Sunday, and after a few weeks of not being able to attend—there are not any wards or branches in the Exhumas, we were excited to be able to go.  We looked at renting a car, but since it was the middle of the holidays, we couldn’t get a rental.  Taxi’s from the marina/resort were expensive.  The church building was only 3 miles away and right off the main highway.  So we decided we would walk out of the Marina to the road and catch the guagua, which is a minivan type of bus.  In Mexico we took them often, they call them collectivo’s there.  We were running late.  I thought we were going to a ward in the afternoon, I had let David look up the times, but he didn’t mention that the wards completely overlap, so there were no afternoon services.  So we rushed out the door.  As we left the Marina and walked down the street a little ways, a few taxi’s were there.  I told David we should at least ask the price and see if they would come down from the marina/resort price.  And sure enough, we were able to negotiate a much more reasonable price.  $15 USD for there and back after church.  The Marina’s price was $40 USD.  It’s 3 miles. 

We made it to church in time for the 2nd and 3rd hours.  They have sacrament meeting last, so we hadn’t missed that.  Members quickly helped us get the kids to classes.  Madison joined us for church as well. 

Saturday, December 29, 2012

27 Charcos

I had a few things on my “Must Do” list for the Dominican Republic.  #1 See the Whales.  But the whales won’t arrive till mid January, and another 100 miles east of where we currently were.  #2 Go to the Rainforest and the 27 Charcos.  This was something I had read about in a guide book.  And coincidentally the few chapters in the boating books for the area also mention it.  So we decided it was something we should definitely go and do.  We had been watching weather to see when we could move further east along the DR coast, so David said we’d better go to the waterfalls now rather than later.  So off we went.  We took a taxi—and paid more than we thought was fair, but frank got us there and back, so we can’t complain about that.  Had we walked out to the street from the Marina, I am certain we would have gotten a better deal, but having just arrived the evening before and not really acquainted with the area yet, we didn’t know.  So off to the waterfalls in our $80 taxi.

It was a 30 minute ride up into the rainforest and the Rio Damajagua.  I had read kids should be 8 and up, but felt certain this was something Isabel could do and would have fun.  So we brought her and Savannah and Calvin.  And of course David, Doug, and myself.  The other 3 kids stayed on the boat with Madison where they would spend the day at the Marina Pool.  DSCN2611

DSCN2618When we arrived and went to pay the guy we paid was concerned that Isabel was too little.  He said “it’s a 45 minute hike”  we smiled and said, she can do that.  Seriously, 45 minutes—who can’t hike that.  Okay, it was mostly up, and I had to stop a time or 2.  In fact Isabel is a great hiker, and had no problems hiking up.  Dealing with the cool water is another story.  She has not body fat so she gets cold easily.  I should have put her in a wetsuit, but didn’t think about it… next time.  On our way up, our guides – Gabriel and Renalto stopped a little way up.  Gabriel had gone off the trail and found some mandarins to share with us.  They were tasty.  They didn’t speak much English, but they were both very nice, and tried hard to understand our questions so they could give us answers.  We learned that they only get to take a group thru one time a day.  Their job is not paid, the only money they receive is a tip at the end.  Renalto even took a ton of pictures for us.  Unfortunately David put it in landscape mode, and that did not work so well with jumping people and rushing water.  We should have had it in sports mode.  SO, we got a lot of blurry photos, A LOT of blurry photos.  But because Renalto took so many,  we ended up with a few that will work.

DSCN2620Once we reached the top waterfall, in the river we went.We put on our helmets and tightened our life jackets.  Time for jumping and sliding down.  We started at the bottom of the 27th waterfall and climbed up just a little to jump.  The water was crashing down over the fall and would push us around.  



Savannah is a trooper.  The mind is a powerful tool.  She was quite scared about this expedition.  The 27th waterfall was just a little jump compared the slide of the 26th fall.  The 27th was really like jumping off a 3 foot rock into the pool at the bottom of the fall.  But the 26th…  well that was a serious slide.  Savannah didn’t like the 3 foot rock jump, and was already setting her mind against the remaining 26 waterfalls.  Rather than have an argument and ruin the whole trip, which is where we were headed—to force her to have fun. Instead I took this approach-- I told her that we would keep her safe.  She didn’t need to worry about not being safe.  I told her that we came to have fun, and we wanted her to have fun. Some things in life can be scary but if we don’t try them we might miss out on something great.  I told her that we knew this would be something great and would be a good lesson for her to learn that sometimes taking the risk is worth it.  I then asked her how we could help her have fun.  She didn’t know what to say.  She was getting worked up with fear.  A lesson I learned a long time ago – rewards (bribery) works. I asked her if thinking about going out for ice cream later could help give her happy thoughts. When she didn’t respond,I suggested we could take her out to dinner… and she asked “where?”  ahh ha!  I knew I had her.  We agreed on a dinner date with mom and dad.  And while she was still nervous, she was no longer complaining and saying she didn’t want to do it.  She was trying, and then she began to have fun.  She realized after a few more falls that this was just like the water park back home… but better.  it was all natural.DSCN2652


So back to the 26th fall.  it was very cool.  A fun slide and watching from the top sure had me nervous.  The water pushes super fast.  Renalto went down first and waited at the bottom.  Gabriel perched himself securely over the top of the falls and then would help us (by holding on to our lifejackets) get into position to “slide” or taken away by the water, down the fall.  It was awesome. 

DSCN2643Some of the falls were an easy climb down and swim thru them.  Such was the case with this one.  But we had fun swimming in the pool, trying to overcome the force of the water pushing us away from the fall.


This is Uncle Doug.  He lives in New Zealand.  He traveled 40 hours to come and visit us.  Luckily he is happy to make travel plans last minute.  Which works well for us, because we often don’t know too far ahead, where exactly we will be.  He called us and said he would come, and 2 days later he was on a plane.  Ok, he was going to  take a plane the next day, but it was cancelled due to bad weather.  He was also willing to make last minute travel arrangements to fly back home from wherever we ended up.  The kids loved having him visit.  We hope he will come back sometime!DSCN2645


Calvin LOVED everything about this adventure.  He was often at the front of the line waiting for Renalto to get in place at the bottom of the falls, and for Gabriel to be at the top giving him the go ahead. 





Poor Isabel needs a little more fat on her bones.  She gets cold quite easily.  Next time I need to remember the wetsuit.  She had a great time in spite of all her shivering.  Renalto was a sweet guy and he carried her often downriver.  Sometimes we made him put her down, just so she could move around and warm up. 



The rock canyon is made of Limestone, and it was so cool to see how the water was affecting the canyon walls.  We went thru a few slots, with narrow walls, and many had cave like walls.


The big drop… 7 meters to the bottom.  Who was brave enough…  Calvin of course.  David and Doug went first.  Then Calvin, but when he jumped he leaned a little forward and almost sort of belly flopped it, but not quite.  He hit the water a little bent though and it knocked a little wind out of him.  It hardly phased him though.  He quickly recovered and was ready for the next one before I even made it down this one.  The 2 girls went down a different easier way as a slide.  I needed to be brave, after all we were teaching Savannah to be brave too.  So I did it.  I jumped the 7 meters down.  It took me a few seconds to gain my composure and jump.   I think I am most scared I am going to trip or catch my feet on the rocks and not jump out far enough and then get all banged up on the way down. I stood at the top with Gabriel.  He would throw a small rock and say there, showing where I should aim to jump and then start counting 1,2,3…  That did not help at all.  He was kind when I needed a few more seconds and he waited a bit and then started over, he threw another little rock and counted again.  That made me laugh because it wasn’t helping at all.  Finally I jumped.  My heart was pounding like crazy. 



The 2nd to last waterfall we go to do twice.  The first time we jumped it.  The girls climbed down a ladder that was set up.  We used the ladder to go back up and do it again as a slide. When I slid down I found out—Yes, the helmets are needed.  When I came up, I surfaced under a low hanging side and whacked my head on the canyon wall.  It didn’t hurt at—thanks to my thick helmet.  It would have left a bump without the helmet.



Isabel was glad to get out of the canyon and into the sun.  She quickly warmed up on the hike back to the entrance and talked all the way out about what a great time we had.


Hidden in this mountain was the 27 cascada’s.  What a great time!  There were 6 of us, and it cost $3000 pesos.  In addition we tipped Renalto and Gabriel $1000 pesos each.  It must have been a good tip, we have seen and heard the people here in the DR ask for more when they feel their tip is not enough.  So a total of 5000 pesos, about $125 USD or $20 USD each.  It was fantastic.  David said he didn’t know it was this kind of trip, apparently I didn’t give him enough details, he thought we were just going to see some waterfalls and swim in them.  He didn’t know it was an awesome adventure.

We were gone for 4 hours by the time we made it back to the boat.  I was worried the baby would be starving, or have been crying all afternoon.  But Madison said he was a good boy the whole time. That’s good, because a little while later we left him again with Madison and fulfilled our reward to Savannah.  She did a great job, she changed her fear into a positive attitude and ended up having fun without us forcing her.  After a little planted thought, she kindly invited her 2 siblings and Doug to also join us for dinner at the restaurant at the Marina.  Savannah and Isabel had fun getting dressed up to go out to eat.  It was a fun night too.

Friday, December 28, 2012

54 hours to the DR

With Doug on board, and a nice weather window, we decided to pick up the anchor and set sail on the 26th for either Turks and Caicos or straight to the Dominican Republic.  It was a beautiful day, nice and calm, so we put out a couple of lines to try fishing.  We have decided we know how to fish, but not how to catch.  We are still working on it.  And Calvin enjoys every time we try.  He is using these fishing times to earn his fishing belt loop in cub scouts.



A few hours later we rounded Long Island in the Bahamas, and the swell picked up.  But still not so bad.  It was getting later in the day, soon it would be dinner, and the kids would go to bed.  They always sleep really well when we are under way, so that always makes it easier on me. 

The sunset was beautiful of course.  With 4 adults on board.  We worked out our night watch schedule.  Doug and David each picked a time slot for the middle of the night.  Madison and I took slots earlier in the evening and early in the morning.  Each of the 4 oldest kids got a 2 hour slot with an adult thru the night to be on watch too.  They enjoy the special time of being up in the middle of the night, watching a movie, eating popcorn, and checking to make sure we don’t hit anything. 

Sometime during the night, the waves picked up and were a little rougher, but then a few hours later, the winds calmed and the waves did too.  By the time the kids got up in the morning, it was fairly nice travel.  We usually don’t watch much on the TV while on the boat—except when we are under way.  It is just easier for the kids, especially the little ones, to sit and watch movies and shows all day.  So that is how they spent their day.  In between shows they would come up to the flybridge and have a popsicle or 2 and enjoy the sunshine, then back down for another movie.  Savannah and Calvin enjoyed listening to Books on CD while we travel.  Their favorite—Tennis shoes among the Nephites Series.


IMG_8485Later that day we considered stopping at Turks and Caicos for the night.  But after reviewing the weather we decided to continue on to the Dominican Republic.  We were concerned that if we stopped overnight, we’d run out of good weather to make it all the way to the DR.  So on we went again thru the night.  As we passed T&C a few miles off shore, we were able to pick up cell phone service to send out a quick text or 2.  Phone calls are quite expensive.  But I could spare 50 cents for a text or 2.   The waves lessened as we were in the lee of T&C, but then again around midnight they picked up which we had been expecting.  It wasn’t terrible, but enough to make Calvin sick during his night watch.  He opted to go back to sleep instead of staying up for his whole shift with Uncle Doug.  In the morning as we got closer to the DR, the waves became more consistent and  then lessened the closer we got to the Dominican Republic.  They were also on our beam more so that makes for nicer travel in waves too.

A little after breakfast time I popped my head upstairs to look around and could see the mountains of the DR off in the distance.  It was exciting, not just to see land, we’d seen it over the course of the trip, but this was land we were going to and it was mountains.  We hadn’t seen those in a long while. 


We had planned to anchor in Luperon and clear in there.  But as we pulled into the anchorage, it was quite full and we couldn’t easily find a place to fit.  A lot of the boats seem like permanent residents, rather than an anchorage of travelers.  So we decided to head back out to the ocean and go a little further east to the marina.  2 hours later we arrived at Ocean World.  Clearing in to the Dominican Republic was a breeze.  The officials were quickly all aboard.  Paperwork filled out, minimal fees paid and passports stamped.  All in time for dinner.  Everyone, including Jesse went ashore for a walk around the Marina and Resort while I cooked dinner with the baby.  54 hours of travel.  This was our longest consecutive trip yet.  We have now travelled over 5500 miles on the boat and it has taken us to some great places.  We are excited to explore the DR.


Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Christmas 2012

As is our tradition, each  year we decorate a gingerbread house.  Well our family has grown, and our participants are older and bigger, so this year we moved up to 2 gingerbread houses.  And as I did last year, I made them—not that hard, and soooo much tastier.  I had planned for this event before we left the states and had purchased some candy specifically for the houses.  I had to remember where I had put it, and luckily I was cleaning up the guest room and found them. 

We were spending Christmas in Georgetown, Exhuma, Bahamas.  Sunday, the 23rd, after our church lesson on the boat—no LDS Church nearby, so we had a primary lesson on board.  That afternoon we decorated our houses.  The kids had a great time!  I enjoyed eating the house, and the yummy homemade frosting.





Alexander is such a good baby!  he just hung out while we decorated.  Next year he’ll be enjoying the candy I’m sure.

On the 24th, David headed to the beach with the kids to visit with the boating community there.  One of the boaters held a small Christmas Eve church service, and sang some Christmas Carols.



Since we were on the boat again this year, I did not bring any presents for Christmas.  Last year was fairly minimal, except we gave the kids a surprise trip to Disney World, so I wouldn’t really call that minimal.  But this year we weren’t even in the states or anywhere near a store, so—we had nothing, no presents. I  was really excited to be away from all the commercialism and to really enjoy celebrating the birth of our Savior and focusing on just that.  We had prepped the kids.  They didn’t ask us for presents at all.  But… they did ask—what could they give to their siblings.  They stopped asking to go to a store after a few days of seeing—there was no store.  So without really any help from us, (maybe I once suggested acts of service)  they came up with their gifts all on their own.  I wanted to follow that theme…  we had internet service, and we considered giving them kindle or itunes gift cards.   But we kept with the same guidelines the kids had—Homemade and acts of service. 




We had a great Christmas.  The kids were just as excited as any other Christmas!  They couldn’t wait for their siblings to open their presents from them.  Santa even visited during the night and brought the kids a couple of candy canes, put into their homemade paper stockings. 

Savannah made beaded jewelry for everyone in their favorite color.  On Madison’s, Calvin’s, and Benjamin’s she added some pieces of coral she found on the beach.  Benjamin had colored everyone a square of their favorite color with his markers.  Isabel gave opportunities for her to help with each person’s chores.

For our gift to the kids, David and I came up with a list of “coupons” we could give the kids. They each received 5 coupons.  These coupons gave them things like extra tickles, a late bed time for the older kids, special reading time for the little ones, a cooking lesson with mom, or fishing time with dad.  Each kid also got a “no school” coupon to redeem for a day of their choosing.  They were so excited for each of their coupons.  I’m not sure which one was the favorite. 

Along with the coupons we wrote each child an individual letter telling them what we love about them and how happy we are to have each as a child in our family. 







Christmas was great!  I hope to keep it simple each year and this year we did it!  The kids did receive a few small toys from their Grandma Sanna that she had sent when we left Idaho.  They also received a small money gift from Grandpa Chris to buy something in one of the countries we visit.  They are always hoping to have money for souvenirs, so that was a great gift from Grandpa.

The other special present we received on Christmas showed up just after lunch.  We received a call over the VHF radio, that our “surprise” was in town and ready for pick up.  David zoomed off in the tender and the kids gathered watching for his return.  They were speculating over what it could be.  They finally decided it wasn’t a what, but a who, and then that created new speculation over “who” would be coming to see us.  They were soooo excited when David finally came back into view, and the excitement only increased once they saw their Uncle Doug was here for a visit. 

David’s youngest brother, Doug lives in New Zealand and he flew all the way to the Bahamas just to visit with us for a week or so!  I think it has been almost 3 years since we have seen him.  Next time we have to go to New Zealand… it’s only fair!