Sunday, February 3, 2013

overnighters by ourselves

We have moved the boat twice overnight by ourselves, or without our nanny.  My big concern with an overnight, or even an all day trip on the boat, is the WHAT IF…  what if something goes wrong and David absolutely needs my help—then who’s going to watch the kids—especially Matthew, who can fall of the boat and die.  Savannah is a huge help, but she’s only 10 and I’m not ready to place such a huge responsibility solely on her shoulders. 

So we did out 2 big moves at night. The kids all sleep really well at night, even when the boat is under way, so I knew they would sleep and stay asleep.  We have a gate at the top of the aft stairs, so if that stays closed, then even if Matthew wakes up, he can’t get passed that gate. Another reason to move at night is to take advantage of the land breeze counteracting the sea breeze—which dies at night.  The theory is, the winds die down at night, and with the breeze coming off the land, the waves lessen.  It sound good in theory, but it doesn’t always give us calm conditions. But with the kids asleep I don’t have to worry about them getting seasick, or trying to move around with the boat rolling.  My big problem with all-nighters, are we are getting old—I’ve never done well without a full nights sleep, and now we were adding David without sleep, and no adult to watch the kids while we recover the next day thru napping. 

Our first alone all nighter was moving from Samana to Cap Cana in the Dominican Republic.  It went really well.  We pulled up anchor, put the kids to bed, David went to bed, and I took the first shift. Benjamin joined me for about 45  minutes until he fell asleep in the seat next to me, I am sure that was the effect of the Dramamine.  Off to bed he went. It was a little rough out, so I was glad the kids were all asleep. I don’t have to worry about Matthew trying to walk around while the boat was moving.

A little while later I tried to wake Isabel for her chance to be on watch but I could not get her to wake up.  So when David got up at midnight he woke her up to join him on watch for a bit. Around 2am it was Savannah’s turn for watch—and this was an essential part of our travel plan—to let Savannah have a significant part in night watch.  David used some chair cushions and to lay down on the flybridge and nap while Savannah watched the horizon and listened for the radar alarms.  Every 30-40 minutes David would get up, check the tow lines on the tender, check the radar, check the horizon—or what little we could see, and back to sleep for another nap.  This helped immensely. David was able to get a good amount of sleep.  A couple hours later, Savannah headed back to sleep while David finished his watch. 

I could tell when we turned to head south on the east coast, the waves became beam waves and it was much nicer to travel in.  I got up before sunrise to find David and Calvin on watch.  We had slowed down some because we made such good time we were going to arrive before sunrise.  We hailed the marina on the VHF to let them know we were nearby and to have them explain their channel.  They send out a pilot boat to help guide new boats to the area in their channel.  In our case we needed help with our tender as well.  The pilot boat transferred David from our big boat to the tender, where he unhooked and drove the tender into the marina to tie it up.  Calvin had the responsibility of quickly pulling in the tow lines.  I have to stop the boat and sit in neutral while he is doing this so he is able to pull the line in, and not get any of it wrapped around our props.  He did a great job. 

We did some circles in the deep water waiting for David to come back and help drive the boat in the channel and dock.  I considered driving the boat into the marina and waiting in the inner channel for David to reboard the boat so he could dock it.  But looking at the following waves in the channel, they looked like they were breaking in the channel.  I didn’t want to drive in that.  Following waves tend to push the back of the boat around and have the potential to turn us sideways.  It makes it hard to steer the boat.  So we waited in the deep for David to come back in the pilot boat.  Once he was back on board I prepped the dock lines and the kids got out the fenders for docking.  Once in the channel we could see that the waves break just outside the channel and it’s not as bad as it looks, at least not this morning, but it is a narrow entrance and I was glad to have David driving.

We had several dock hands meet us to help with docking, Pascal, even hopped on board and took over tying the bow up to the pilings for me.  What a great help.  Docking is another time I always need to know Matthew, and Alexander are being watched.  We get so busy and they can be overlooked.  Alexander had been placed in his highchair, safe and sound, and Matthew was eating his breakfast at the table watching a show, the gates were closed so he was safe too.   

Our 2nd overnight adventure was just last week along the south coast of Puerto Rico.  We were trying to make it to the east coast to stay in a marina while Grandpa came for a visit.  We had been moving a few hours in the early mornings.  After seeing that the weather was going to get rougher in the next few days we decided it would be better to move the last 10 hours at one time to get into the marina before the weather worsened.  Again the better time to move is suppose to be at night when the winds are less.  Moving along these two country coasts is difficult because the trade winds come from the east so they blow into you the whole way, which gives you wind and waves on the nose.  It is a tiring way to travel if the wind is really blowing.  So going at night was the better option—kids will sleep, and the weather should be better than during the day.

While I don’t know what it would have been like during the day, it was not very pleasant at night.  But the kids were all asleep, so it was okay.  We left our calm anchorage about 10pm and headed east.  The moon was up so we could see the horizon and water.  Most of the kids had been sick so the only one we let help with night watch this time was Savannah.  She hadn’t caught the others illness yet, and we needed her to help so David could nap during his long shift.  I was able to get a couple of hours of sleep before I got up to check on David.  Savannah had been up for 2 hours and the waves were making her a little sick, so I sent her back to bed and stayed up while David slept a little more. 

Twice during this trip we were approached by the Policia.  About an hour after we left the anchorage, while I was asleep, David said the Policia came out of a nearby port with their light flashing and trailed behind us.  He tried to reach them on the VHF ch 16, but they didn’t respond.  After a while they finally hailed us on Ch 10, which they said is the channel they use.  They should be at least monitoring ch 16, since that is the channel all countries monitor and use for hailing.  Once they reached David, he asked if they spoke English, but not so much.  They asked him to stop the boat.  David declined and said it wasn’t safe.  If he had stopped the boat we would start to roll and turn sideways to the waves and it is not fun.  With the kids all asleep, it was not something we wanted to do.  The stabilizers help to keep us from rolling—but only while engines are in gear.  So stopping wasn’t an option in David’s mind.  They asked him where he was going, and he told them the marina in Palmas Del Mar.  He told them they could meet with us there.  They told him they would watch us thru the night and check on us at the marina.  They followed for awhile and the disappeared.

Again in the morning, about an hour before we reached the marina, the policia came alongside again.  They reached us on the radio and asked where we were going, and again David said the marina.  They followed for a while, and then at about 2 miles away from the marina they went ahead of us into the marina. Once we docked in the marina they came over, with an english speaking officer, and asked us numerous questions.  It felt almost like we had entered a foreign country.  They asked for ID and our boat registration, where we had been, how long we had been in Puerto Rico, where were we coming from, where did we go to clear in with customs, and did we have a clearance number.  We provided them with all the info they asked, they didn’t even board us or search the vessel, but once we answered their questions they went on their way.  I asked the English officer why there was such a big Police presence and they explained there was a new governor that was trying to crack down on the smuggling.  We are happy to see the Police while traveling, especially at  night—it makes us feel like they are close by if we need help—and happy to answer any questions.  We know they are just doing their jobs, and they are doing a good job at it.

So we made it thru 2 overnight trips with out our nanny to help us.  They were successful trips, but tiring. It’s nice to know we can make it if we have to, but I prefer having extra hands on board.  Especially with the new tender, the more hands to help pull it in from towing and help when needed the better.  We feel very blessed with how well things have worked out for us being with out the extra set of hands.  It reminds me that God is watching over all of us.


  1. So sorry to hear everyone has been sick. I'm super proud of Savannah for all the help she is giving you while moving the boat at night. What a big responsibility. Tell Calvin he's doing a great job too helping with docking the boat, I think it's awesome that you all work together.

  2. I've been reading the posts on the iPad and for some reason it's not accepting any of them. I'm not sure if I'd feel it calming to see the police at night. I'd be scared they weren't really police. Just me... Sorry you didn't see the whales. Sorry everyone has been sick, especially you and David. Sorry you missed Kim in DR. Glad you got to see the temple. Glad you kept trying to find the church building and find it. I was sad to see that it wasn't us arriving on Christmas! I was hoping it would become tradition! ;) So happy that Doug was able to come out and spend some quality time with the family. Hope he enjoyed y'all as much as you enjoyed him! You mom makes me laugh, I was reading that post and just chuckling that is so her! Alexander looks like Matthew now, what happened to the Benjamin look? Miss y'all; you and David should have totally been on the snowshoeing Craters trip!

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