Month: April 2017

Leisure with Purpose

by Jen Pate What does leisure mean to you? Maybe it’s hanging out with friends, reading a book, surfing, sailing, going for a hike, chilling at the beach, snowboarding…the list goes on. The truth of the matter is that whatever you enjoy doing – it’s […]

“We cannot direct the wind, but we can adjust the sails”

By Ally Nobles Written on the white board in our galley this morning, this quote could not be truer than today. By lunch, we had completely lost all wind and were drifting slowly! So, we adjusted our sails, as well as ourselves, and took a […]

The Ocean is a mighty Harmonist

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By Ally Nobels – Guest Crew
Hello from off the Northern Coast of the Dominican Republic! We are now half way to our final destination of Key West, Florida from the mesmerizing St Lucia. We’ve got a sturdy crew of eight, four men and four women, led by the latter! For me as a young aspiring sailor, there is nothing more inspiring than to see a skipper, first mate and deckhand all rock it on board!

The winds have been fairly good to us, always shifting, as they do. We’ve had our share of rain and swells, a storm, but anticipation has been the number one rule. When at the helm these bits of the ocean always tend true; the waves come in sets, the squalls always pass. The sun always rises and sets in its predictable way, no matter which team is on watch.

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Considering our sea flight, we’ve had quite a bit of marine life to see, a couple of whales on the first day, a pod of dolphins a few days after and the occasional squawk of a lone bird dancing around the rigging. Quite a few flying fish have come up for a look, and at times we’ve found them stranded on deck.

Everyone is getting their bearings as much as they can. A lot of sleeping mixed in with a breath of socializing over our impeccably cooked meals. Always something new and different! It has been most invigorating to get to know this group of strangers, all coming together for one purpose during these two weeks. We’ve all touched on our mission and our goals in being here for a multitude of reasons. Some of us have an unquenchable thirst for adventure, no matter what age. Some of us maybe looking to escape and gather some clarity away from our respective homes for a while; for some, this is all a part of a career in boating, the next step towards further qualifications. We come from many places, the Netherlands, France, Canada/ Brazil, the United Kingdom and the United States. However we all come together in sharing our love of the sea, the whipping of the wind, the crashing of swells, the rocking, rising and settling of our beautiful vessel Sea Dragon.

It’s been nearly two years to the day since I first stepped foot on board- incredibly near to where we are now in the Dominican Republic actually. I know now, still as I knew then the kind of grand opportunity this is, and to share it with so many like-minded, compassionate and ambitious souls from all walks of life. I am so thankful for the friendships we’ve built and adventures we’ve shared, getting to return for this more challenging passage is a dream of mine, I’m sure as well as the rest of the crew. To complete this journey, accomplish whatever it may be that we wanted to face here, and step off albeit a little more sun burnt perhaps- a more confident, inspired and experienced sailor as well as human being- that’s all I could ask for. But for now, we keep sailing, can’t believe we’re already halfway there!

A passage of discovery.

By Cath Hough eXXpedition – Barbados to St Lucia The first watch team arose before sunrise to lift the anchor and set sail to St Lucia. After an adventurous first sail, a few days before the ladies were hoping for a smoother downwind passage! We […]

Spanish Rias, Whale & Dolphin watching | La Coruna to Madeira

[divider] [tabs] [tab title=”Overview”] Join us in La Coruna, a Galician city with roots dating back to the Romans. It’s home to the Tower of Hercules, the oldest Roman lighthouse still in use, and a great spot to get a spectacular view of the peninsula […]

A ‘swell’ ride to Barbados

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The power of the ocean can take your breath away, as the women aboard Sea Dragon this week for our Caribbean eXXpedition have found out. From feeling on top of the world to sea sick in a bucket, many emotions have been experienced in the two day and night passage from Grenada to Barbados.

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On setting out the team was buzzing, there was excitement as we yelled ‘2, 6 HEAVE!’ when hoisting the sails and switched off the engine to start our passage. Unfortunately, as we sailed out of the lee of Grenada we discovered both the wind and current was not in our favor, so after setting out on a beam reach we lost some ground but headed up onto an upwind track. The skipper kept a close eye on our navigation as we attempted to adjust our course to make better progress towards our destination.
As we plowed upwind the boat naturally heeled at a greater angle and the sea state increased, meaning seasickness was soon to come! However, despite most people’s dinner not staying inside their tummies, everyone still had a smile on their face!

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As darkness fell we moved into a three-hour watch schedule with the group split between three watches. In my opinion, I was lucky enough to have the best watch times as my team was on watch for the magical moon set and sunrise between 0300 and 0600. We watched silently, mesmerized by the natural beauty of the moon disappearing behind the horizon, whilst the sun peaked out from behind the clouds ahead of us with pink and orange rays. Light started to illuminate the deck, revealing again the vast stretch of sea ahead of us and a new day.
As we settled into our watch system of four-hour shifts during the day and three at night, life on board became more settled and everyone adapted to the routine of life at sea. The crew learned more about how the boat worked, using the winches, steering and trimming the sails as well as keeping the boat on course and entertaining each other with stories. For some, the achievement of finishing the bowl of rice you’ve been trying to keep down all day, making it out of the hatch before being sick, or seeing brown Boobies and Frigatebirds circling our rigging brightened up the day.

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As we neared Barbados we saw the distant glow of life and lights on the horizon which brought a lot of joy and relief to the watch team on deck. We felt like we had been through a great journey which had brought us closer together and awakened our senses.
On reflection of the trip, we laughed at the entertaining stories from the
trip and concluded that the ocean has been so cleansing for the mind and body. Many of the women felt like a reset button had been pushed and the ocean had given them a new lease of life.

Mermaids unite for Caribbean 2017 on Sea Dragon

The arrival of the new crew on board Sea Dragon, sees eXXpedition Caribbean get underway, for their 8-day island hop through the Caribbean. 8 glorious days of science, sea, stories and sunshine. Excited conversations, inspiring stories, laughter, happiness, and anticipation filled the air as eleven strong, powerful […]

New Stay Sail!

By Cath Hough Most sailors will appreciate the excitement of hoisting a crispy new sail for the first time! Today we had the perfect conditions to get our new @North Sails staysail out of the bag for a short sail from Prickly Bay, Grenada round […]

Exploring Tobago Cays

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By Cath Hough

Crystal blue waters glistened as we navigated our way around Petit Rameau into Hoof Channel, Tobago Cays. Sandy white beaches, clear water, and uninhabited islands awaited a true tropical paradise.

Swimming over the sandy bottom we were on a mission to spot some turtles. Before long we saw the majestic creatures gliding gracefully through the water. The way they moved was so peaceful. They were happy for us to swim alongside within touching distance, and it was an incredible feeling to be so close to them in the water.

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Another breathtaking moment was being hoisted up Sea Dragon’s 96ft mast to take in the stunning views over the Islands. There was no better vantage point to take in the white beaches, different shades of blue to the water and panoramic views across the bay where we were anchored.

As with all adventure in between exploring regular maintenance and ongoing repairs had to be made aboard. Since coming onto the boat I have been amazed at the endless list of jobs it takes to keep a 72ft yacht shipshape! When repairs are noticed they are jotted on the whiteboard in the saloon and once one is completed there will undoubtedly be another to replace it! This week’s task, amongst others, was to sew hanks onto the new staysail we had picked up in Antigua. It was a relaxed and relatively easy process, with three pairs of hands we worked together making it not too time-consuming a task.

With a little bit of work comes a little play, so as a reward we jumped in the water for some snorkeling to take a look at the nearby reef. An underwater world awaited as we swam amongst many varieties of tropical fish, including Blue Tangs, Cow fish, Trunk fish, Grunts, Moray Eel and Tiger Grouper. Watching them go about their life underwater was fascinating as they swam in and out of the coral.

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It has been an amazing couple of days exploring this part of the Caribbean, I have seen and experienced so much natural beauty, it is a pleasure to be able to sail here.