Pioneer Update

It has been a very interesting few months here in North Carolina.  In December, we moved off Pioneer so that we could better prepare her to show to potential buyers.  We have rented a lovely apartment above a garage which is attached to a house on the shores of the Neuse River.  While the owners are away, we house and cat sit. Our landlords, Jayne and John, are very helpful and it has been a pleasure to deal with them.  The view out our window is a sandy shore with the water lapping on the beach.  It has been ideal.




  Our view on a lovely sunny afternoon


When evening comes we are almost facing the sunset. It is just around the corner but the colours out of our window are quite magnificent.




A sunrise from our apartment at Janeiro Park





Sunrise #2 in Janeiro






The famous Oriental dragon is depicted here just down the road from our apartment




We listed Pioneer on For Sale by Owner sailboat listing sites.   The listing sites we used were:, and in Oriental.  After setting up the listings we got busy polishing her up and moving all of our belongings off. We wanted potential owners to see her as possibly theirs as opposed to ours. We waited patiently for that windless day when we could raise all the sails and clean off any of the mud dauber nests.  The day finally came and her sails were virtually mud free!




Pioneer at dock in full sail – clean and bright – no mud wasp nests in site!




The weather, for the most part, in December and January, was ideal to be doing boat work and to be working at cleaning up our storage locker.  We took full advantage of that time!  It wasn’t long before that cold Canadian air caught up to us, however, and deposited snow and freezing rain on us and on Pioneer.  It got so cold that the creek, where our marina is located, froze over. We had a lamp and incandescent bulb shining on Pioneer’s engine throughout the cold snap.  She came through it all just fine.




Snow on our apartment deck with temperatures of 18 degrees Fahrenheit






Ice in the creek happens, but not very often.  Each time we boarded Pioneer, the ice would crack – a very strange sensation for us southern winter sailors!





Our first opportunity to show Pioneer was on Friday January 13th (somewhat unnerving if we were in the least superstitious) .  We were also supposed to show her to a Florida couple the following day, but that showing was cancelled mid week. The couple that came to see her lived near the mountains in North Carolina.  Their dream was to sail into the Caribbean this coming Fall and experience their own adventure of a lifetime.  They reminded us so much of ourselves when we bought Pioneer!  They ended up spending all of Friday and all of Saturday with us and Pioneer.  By Sunday we had a virtual handshake deal, via Facetime, and on Tuesday we had signed the Agreement to Purchase.  We got the blank copy of an Agreement to Purchase off the BoatUS website – very useful information there on selling your boat!  The following weekend, the potential new owners had arranged for a surveyor to do the survey and sea trial needed before we could close the deal. As we took our dinghy, Scout, off the davits to leave her at the dock during her sea trial we took our potentially last picture of Pioneer’s backside!




Ron gets his last view of “our Pioneer” from the water




The survey went very well but the sea trial had to be delayed a day because the water level was too low to safely get out of the creek.  The following morning the water was up and it was mighty foggy out on the river, but we decided that it might be our only opportunity for weeks, so off we went.  The channel coming into the marina from the river was still pretty “skinny” but we managed to bump and push our way out and back in again.  The sea trial itself was lots of fun with 12 knot winds and Pioneer sailing at a little over 5 knots.



Pioneer on her survey haul out with the surveyor checking the hull for moisture






Pioneers potential new owners, bring Scout back to her home on Pioneer



With all the pieces coming together, we finalized the sale of Pioneer and arranged to have the papers notarized the following Friday.  Several days before the survey we took down our “For Sale” sign and said our goodbyes to Pioneer. 





Ron covers up the “FOR” on our sign as we prepare to remove it from Pioneer’s Pulpit





Judy signs the papers in front of the notary while Pioneer’s new owners look on






What a whirlwind 2 weeks it was.  Ken and Sharon saw Pioneer for the first time on Friday, January 13th and 2 weeks later, on Friday,  January 27th, she was officially theirs. The only remaining official thing to do was for us to have Pioneer removed from the Canadian Register of Vessels and get a Deletion Certificate so that her new owners could register her in the US. We were able to do this by email with Transport Canada and had only a one day turnover before we had the certificate in hand for the new owners.  Perhaps it was good to sell Pioneer in the middle of winter as it gave the Canadian Registrar of Ships something to do while all the Canadian boats back home were shrink wrapped and winterized!  Saying goodbye to Pioneer was not easy and we had our emotional moments, however, we are so pleased with her new owners.  They are a perfect fit for Pioneer, who is now named “Charis” (Greek for Grace).  Ken, Sharon and Charis will have an exciting and adventure filled sailing future.  We wish them all the best.  We plan to be available to them, for questions and help, until the end of March when we return to Canada and our home on Salt Spring.


Ken and Sharon aboard “Charis”

Posted in Minnesott Beach, North Carolina, United States | Leave a comment

Pioneer is For Sale

Sadly, we are hanging up our anchor.  It has been 12 years of great sailing and getting to know many in the cruising community.  Out travels have taken us to Honduras, Mexico, Cuba, Bahamas and into many ports from Baltimore, Maryland to Marathon, Florida.  To our sailing friends we say goodbye and fair winds.  Thanks for the memories.

Cabo Rico 38 – Private Sale


Pioneer is a 1987, cutter rigged CR 38. We have trusted her to get us safely to our travel destinations for 12 years. She is solid, strong and safe with a classic beauty much admired in many ports of call. Presently, she is docked at Wayfarers Cove, Minnesott Beach, North Carolina. Interior pictures can be viewed at our website,  We can be contacted via email at, or by phone at 252-876-2552.


Builder: Cabo Rico Yachts Designer: W.I.B (Bill) Crealock

Dimensions: LOD: 38 ft. Beam: 11.5 ft.

Displacement: 23,000 lbs. Draft: 5.4 ft. Bridge Clearance: 54 ft.

Tankage: Fuel: 50 Gal. Water: 150 Gal. Holding Tank: 40 Gal.


· Modified full keel with cutaway forefoot

· Fiberglass non-skid deck

· White hull with green trim and sail covers

· Tan dodger/bimini/connector, 2011, with full set of isinglass curtains and bug screens

– complete set cockpit seat and back cushions, 2011

· Aft shade screen, 2011

– folding teak cockpit table and teak drink holder

· Exterior teak on toe rail and eyebrow treated with low maintenance natural teak colour SEMCO, 2016

· Hand rails, hatches and cockpit treated with Honey Teak Signature Finish

· Interior is Costa Rican honey teak in excellent condition

· Extensive interior brass fixtures including, lights, cabinet hardware, faucets, towel bars and hooks

· Weems and Plath brass tide clock and barometer

· Drop down nav table with paper map storage

· Salon cushions covered with washable ultra suede

· All hatches and portlights are bug screened

· Pioneer is a Plan B layout and sleeps 2 in a forward Pullman berth, one with a lee cloth in the salon and one in the quarter berth


Main: Quantum, 2004, with Doyle Cradle Pack and Strong Track, 2011

Staysail: Doyle, 2011, with cover, 2011

Yankee: Omar, 2009, Harken Reefing system


· Yanmar 4JH3E, 56 HP, 2002, 4500 engine hours

· Balmar Alternator 60-100 SR-IG, 2016, Balmar Max Charge MC614 Voltage Regulator, 2016

· Balmar Digital Duo Charge Flow Regulator, 2016

· Auxiliary remote Racor fuel filter, Yanmar primary filter

· Oil filter with 12VDC oil change pump


· Magnum MS2812U inverter charger, 2016, with remote control on power panel

· Nature Power Marine Grade 400 Watt Wind Turbine, 2016, with remote controller

· 2 x 130 watt solar panels, 2009, with MidNite Brat solar remote controller, 2016

· 600+ Amp. Hours in new battery bank, 2015

· AGM start battery, 2015

· Raymarine SPX SmartPilot Auto Pilot System with Raymarine ST70 instruments at helm and L Drive Type 2, 12V, 2011

· Icom M-710 Single Sideband Radio, 2003

· Icom AT-130 automatic antenna tuner for SSB, 2003

· Standard Horizon GX 2100 Matrix Series VHF, 2010, with AIS and DSC

· Standard Horizon remote VHF transceiver at helm, 2010

· Garmin GPSMAP 4208 with AIS and electronic Garmin charts for US and Bahamas (built in), 2011. Also Southwestern Caribbean electronic charts on SD card for the 4208

· Garmin Homeport computer charting software for your trip planning and easy transfer of routes/waypoints to 4208, 2012

· Garmin GPSMAP 76CSx handheld mapping GPS with extensive charts of the Caribbean, USA and Bahamas

· Garmin GA29 radome. Radar image displayed on 4208 chartplotter, 2009

· Paines-Wessex GPIRB

· Honda EU2000i portable inverter/charger (generator), 2011

· Ritchie pedestal compass

· TV antenna at top of mast

· West Marine 3000RF marine receiver with RF remote, 2012

· Bullet booster system at top of mast for internet signals, 2011

· Netgear wireless N 300 Wifi Router for internet on the boat, 2011

· Marinco stainless steel power inlet, 30A-125V, 2016

· EEL Shorepower cord set, 50 ft. 30A-125V, 2016


· Anchors: 65 lb CQR with 250 feet 3/8 inch chain rode, secondary Bruce anchor, two fortress anchors with rope rode

· Kato dinghy davits and Engine lift

· AB 9 ft. inflatable dinghy, 2010, with Nissan 9.8, 2 cycle outboard, 2002

· Winslow Life Raft

· Lofrans 1200W electric windlass 2003

· Cruisair air conditioning/heating system

· Dometic Alder-Barbour 12VDC refrigeration with freezer, 2010

· Tasco 755LP propane stove with oven and three burners, 2010

· Propane tanks, 2x 10 lb aluminum, in propane locker under helm seat

· Seaward water heater 2007

· Seagull IV water purification system in galley, 2010

· SK Watermaker, 2009 (has not been used in 4 years – needs new membrane)

· Blakes Lavac Head

· SHURflo Extreme Pro Blaster wash down pump, 2009

· High capacity electric bilge pump, Jabsco automatic electric bilge pump with remote counter, 2010, and Guzzler hand bilge pump in cockpit, 2016

· Jabsco Flexmount Series 35440 blower for engine cooling, 2015

· Lifevests: 2 Mustang inflatable PFD’s, 4 offshore life vests, 2 dinghy lifejackets

· Lifesling

· Fire extinguishers, 3, annually inspected

· Smoke alarms

· New for/aft stay 2007





Posted in Cuba | Leave a comment

Minnesott Beach – Fall 2013

Our plan had been to arrive at our marina – Wayfarers Cove – in the first week of October, get a few IMGP5240projects completed and then head south in early November.  It is now the third week in November and we are still here.


The Wall Street Journal and the National Post were traded between Tom, our dockmaster, and Ron.  The large pile was saved by Tom during the summer.  The pile is still about a foot high!


Our initial delay was due to our wind generator.  We had to send it off to the factory to be reconditioned.  It arrived back almost four weeks later than we had expected.  Luckily we were able to get it installed the next day and complete the last of our boat loading/preparation chores.  It looked like we could leave the next day to catch a weather window to Charleston out of the Cape Fear River.  When we took a close up look at this 24 hour passage, and the three-day trip down the waterway we had some concerns.  Three severe weather systems were going to be plaguing the east coast of the US beginning our second day into the trip.  The winds would be up to 25 knots on the waterway and 35+ outside.  Our passage between Cape Fear and Charleston showed a break in the wind, but unfortunately, the seas were still up and the temperatures were below freezing, making for a very uncomfortable passage.  Our weather guru, Chris Parker, was amazed at the severity of theIMGP5283 November weather and the lack of passage opportunities. 


This tree fell during one of the many storms passing through the area – good thing the house was abandoned!



It seemed that the cold fronts and related weather systems were only a few days apart throughout the month, leaving little opportunity for the seas to calm to allow for a comfortable passage.  Now, we are fairly hearty sailors but we are not foolish.  Freezing temperatures in rough seas is not a good idea.  So, we elected to pass on the opportunity and are still here at Wayfarers.  BUT, we are warm even though it is below freezing with a very cold wind outside. 

IMGP5331Around mid November we got a very big SURPRISE!  We woke up at midnight to below freezing temperatures and a snow storm! 


Snow falling on Pioneer’s deck at midnight




Judy couldn’t resist getting a handful of snow and taking it to Ron, who was still in the warm bed.  For some reason, he was just not as excited about the snow as she was. 

Snow and ice collected on the deck during the night




In the morning, there was still snow on the dock and ON OUR CAR!


Ron negotiates the slippery deck as he checks our water taps for freezing


We have not seen snow on our car since 2005.  Today it is alsoIMGP5341 below freezing but sunny, so no rainfall that could result in snow, thank goodness.


Our Mazda rests under a blanket of snow as we prepare to head off into New Bern



We are disappointed that we will miss the American IMGP5346Thanksgiving potluck at Vero Beach but we should be able to make Marathon around Christmas, that is, if the weather improves. 

Pioneer patiently waits in her slip as we watch for a chance to head south


Meanwhile we get to update our blog with all the fun activities that we have experienced over the last 45 days. 

Our first fun event was the “Group Hug” gathering.  We managed to get together with several of ourIMGP5259 friends, all former boaters, now CLODS (cruisers living on dirt), who live in the Minnesott/Oriental area. 


The Minnesott/Oriental “Group Hug” gets together once again!






The “Group Hug” girls, Carol, Kathy, Judy, Cindy and Deb, celebrate Tom’s  birthday



This usually happens once in the Fall and once in the Spring.  It is always a great party.


Kathy, Deb, Judy and Carol horse around in the kitchen before dinner


Then we enjoy quiet evenings with our friends Rex and IMGP5351Carol, and Kathryn and Enrique.


Rex, Carol and Judy work together to prepare our last supper together before we head off south






Enrique, Ron, Judy and Kathryn reminisce about the fun we had in Honduras where we produced this sign,  The FFFC stands for the Freddie Fender Fan Club.  We all love his music and he is very popular in the Bay Islands of Honduras


We also went on a sunset cruise with Paula and Phil and Bill IMGP5311and Cindy in a small fishing boat that allowed us to explore close to shore on the River Neuse. 


Starting out on our sunset cruise with Phil, Paula, Cindy and Bill






Now this is a coastal North Carolina sunset!


A few days later we enjoyed dinner all together at Bill and Cindy’s followed by a fun game of Train Dominoes.  When we aren’t out enjoying the social scene, we are very busy getting Pioneer ready to take her south.

Even though we have experienced a weather delay we still find lots of jobs that we can work on to keep ourselves busy.  The pictures have told our story.

Posted in Minnesott Beach, North Carolina, United States | Leave a comment

Salt Spring Island 2013

By mid-June we had arrived safely at our island retreat.  This would be our second summer there andIMG_1099rs we had lots of projects that had to be done by experts as opposed to ourselves. 


Our island home in a forest of Douglas Fir and Arbutus trees






The pool will get a new safety cover next summer but will not be revived just yet – right now it makes a great cistern!


The staining of the cedar siding, de-mossing the roof, pointing the chimney, replacing deteriorated window trim and running  a new beam between the house and the pool was all very important.IMGP4816  We hired a local contractor to complete the various projects and were very pleased with the result. 

Brad sets a new support beam in place









Briggs cleans out the old cement and points our chimney





The chimney has a new look!









The new glass goes into place!

We also needed to replace the windows in our living room as they had lost their seal.  The local glass shop was able to complete this project in fine order.  The new glass is UV resistant glass and should help to preserve the furniture, walls and flooring from further fading. We are researching refinishing the cedar walls and the cork flooring which we will tackle next summer.

Judy, as is her usual pattern, visited with her mother three times a week, at Greenwoods CareIMGP5158 Facility on the island.  Phyllis is doing very well and is now 101 – to be 102 in January 2014.  Judy and her mother do crosswords and puzzles.  Phyllis is very good at crosswords!


Judy and Phyllis enjoy their visits


Before her visits, Judy heads off to the local pool for an aqua fit class and then to the fitness centre for some weight training. Then it is off to the coffee shop followed by a visit with her mother and some grocery shopping. All this time away from the house allows Ron to get his pet projects completed.




Judy keeps her mothers 1988 Honda Accord in good working order for those weekly trips into town

The sights in downtown Ganges are quite interesting, to say the least.  Having been an old “hippie” destination, the grown up hippies are still around.  You can see them twirling on their roller skates on McPhillips Street – with fairy wings on their backs.  They have also decorated up old pianosIMGP5126 and placed two of them in Ganges and one in Fulford.  On any given day you might hear chopsticks or Chopin!


Time for a piano break at the Fulford ferry stop



One of our joint projects was to clean the drapes in the living room and remove some to increase theIMGP4934 viewing range.  However, we soon discovered what 35 years of sun can do to fabric – very scary!


Clean but torn curtains are hung out to dry before disposing of them


Another project was “cookie making”.  It was a difficult process to find the perfect cookie….that is a cookie made exactly like Judy’s mother used to make.  The infamous Crunchy Crisp Cookies.IMGP5054  Once perfected – after weeks of attempts – then Judy was able to modify the recipe by adding walnuts, pecans and chocolate chips. Both of us packed on a few pounds as a result of this project!

The search for the perfect Crunchy Crisp Cookie!


IMGP5191This summer our personal projects kept us busy while the major ones got completed by the contractor that we hired.


Ron and Elvin take over the kitchen as they fill, cork and label the wine bottles




Ron puts together the framework for several shelves in his new wine storage room


Ron’s projects revolved around winemaking with the creation of a wine storage room and the production, with partner Elvin, of hundreds of bottles of wine!  The winery is appropriately named, the ELRON Winery.

To help in the cutting up of logs for the fireplace, Ron built a sawbuck – Utube is wonderful for IMG_1104rshelping figure out projects like this.



The new sawbuck has been wonderful for cutting up large branches into fireplace logs





Judy is right at home with her new electric chainsaw and new sawbuck



Pruning back branches of our fir trees that grow into our view is always a project for us.  Ron has perfected the technique IMGP5149by climbing into the trees and using the pole pruner to lop off the errant branches.  Judy directs his aim by verbal commands from the viewing deck (not always appreciated!). 


Ron reaches out to an errant branch with our new pole pruner – marvellous invention!



Ron also rewired our covered deck lights that had been constructed of cedar by Judy’s dad.  Judy refinished the wood while Ron rewired the lights.  What a difference! IMGP5153


Ron completes the final attachment of the newly refinished and rewired porch lights





Judy’s main project was refinishing the deck chairs and tables that her dad had built in the 70’s from the cedar left over from the house construction.IMGP5009 She dutifully carved her initials in each piece to accompany her dad’s initial, carved on the underside of the furniture.


Judy refinishes a cedar deck chair made by her dad in the 70’s






Final sanding touches on the cedar tables before the finish coat





The garage is a great place to apply the finishing coat to the deck furniture






The final touch!


We did have a little excitement at the house when we discovered what we thought might be an iguana hiding under our steps to the lower porch.  After a IMGP4854call to the wildlife rescue people and a search on the internet for “lizards”, we discovered that we had found an adult  “bearded dragon lizard”.

Strange visitor to our home!



With turkey vultures circling overhead, we rescued the lizard and placed him in a large box with some chopped up veggies. 

Ron starts to like the idea of having a pet lizard….

Then the process of finding the lizard’s owner started.  After numerous calls to neighbours we got a lead which turned out to be very positive. IMGP4865 We had found the lizard’s owners, learned that his name was “Muffin”, and returned him safely to his home. 


Muffin’s owners were relieved to have him returned safe


As a reward, we were presented with a jar of homemade spearmint jelly!  That jelly is excellent on pork and chicken!

We had lots of visitors while on the island.  Both Ron’s sons and his daughter arrived with family and/or friend.  It was good to see how all of them had grown.  IMGP4883


Ron’s daughter, Jocelyn, who lives in nearby Victoria, visits often



Jocelyn, Ron’s daughter, visits us often and brings us freshly caught salmon, crabs and smoked salmon.  Her friend, Nick, is a recreational IMGP4935fisherman and Jocelyn often accompanies him out on his boat.


Jocelyn and Nick arrive on Salt Spring with crabs and smoked salmon – yum!



Ron eyes the crabmeat that was removed from the claws of the freshly cooked crab






Ron’s eldest son, David, and his two boys, Jack and Conrad, prepare to take a tour of the island on this motorcycle with sidecar

When David and his two sons visited, they spent most of their time camping in Ruckle Park – a great experience for the three of them.  We had them at the house for one night before they had to head back to Vernon.

Ron’s second son, Aaron, his wife, Liz, and their new daughter, Morgan, also paid us a visit.  They touredIMG_1070rs the goat cheese farm and also the island during their two day visit.

Liz, Aaron, Morgan and Ron visit from Edmonton



Judy’s son and his family visited as well.  Unfortunately IMG_0992rsdaughter Kelly was not able to visit.


Rob and daughter, Sage, make funny faces at the camera while Carol, Carol’s mother, Judy and Jade try to be “picturesque”


All good things must come to an end and so it is that we left Salt Spring and headed back to Lethbridge to visit with our friend, Phyllis, and her son, Richard, in our old house. It is always fun to visit the old house, especially when it has old friends in it!

After out stay in Lethbridge, it was “on the road again” to Pioneer at Wayfarers Cove in NorthIMGP5225 Carolina. 

We have perfected “eating on the go” at rest stops across the USA


We have several boat projects to complete before we head out for the Florida Keys, Bahamas and final destination, Cuba.  We will stay only for two months maximum in Cuba this winter as we have to be back in Lethbridge by mid April.

Posted in Salt Spring Island, BC | Leave a comment

The Trip Back to North Carolina: March 2013

Our plan was to enter the US at Fernandina Beach and then cruise up the coast to Beaufort, NC.  Of course, a sailor’s plans are set in jello, and ours certainly were!  IMGP4616En route we saw some beautiful sunsets and sunrises and even managed to refuel our diesel tanks in the calm seas. 

Sunset on our first night on the water







Refuelling off Fort Pierce



For the most part our passage was uneventful until we reached the latitude of Cape Canaveral.  At that point, during our weather check-in with Chris Parker, he advised us to exit the Gulf Stream (which we had been riding for the past few days) and head into the protection of the coast.  A few high-intensity squalls were headed our way.  Interesting coincidence as the same thing happened the year before.  We managed to stay clear of the squalls until we arrived just off Jacksonville, Fl. and the entrance to the busy St. John’s River.  When the first squall hit we had only our reefed main up.  If we had moreIMGP4642 warning, it would have been down! 


Pioneer heads into a squall off Jacksonville




The squall had 45 knot winds and rain, but no lightning.  The waves stayed at about 5 feet because of the protection of the land but the winds were dead on and slowed our speed to 1 knot under power.

The cloud formations in the squalls were unusual and a bit frightening


We were mostly concerned about the two containerships right behind us.  After speaking with them on the VHF radio, they agreed to give us space.  We were only able to maintain position and they had been coming up on our stern.  It was  probably one of the worst storms we have gone through.  Storm #2 was not as severe as the first one. In approaching it, we were able to take pictures of the cloud formations which were formidable.  Once we reached Fernandina Beach, the weather continued to be very windy, so windy that at times we could not take the dinghy from the mooring field to the main dock.IMGP4655  We definitely found it hard to adjust to the colder weather after the warmth of Cuba.

The pelicanos of Fernandina Beach – messing up all the dinghys!







Our trusty mascot and boat guard, Poopie,  looks a little green in the turbulent inland waters just off Fernandina Beach


After filling up with fuel and water, we left Fernandina hoping to make the Cape Fear River. IMGP4663


We are definitely no longer in Cuba!









Filling the water tanks in preparation for the trip to the Cape Fear River



Fortunately this leg went without incident.  At dawn we navigated up the Cape Fear River and dropped anchor in Wrightsville Beach, just asIMGP4721 another storm hit. 


Judy and Poopie keep a watchful eye for ships as we approach the Cape Fear River






Ron and Poopie seem to get along better




The next morning at first light we headed to Beaufort on the waterway.  This leg was only a day sail,IMGP4746 but a 12 hour day sail!  We anchored off the coast guard station in Beaufort, in amongst all the dredging equipment. 

At first light, the Wrightsville Beach Bridge opens to get us started on our long trip up the waterway






“The Pink House” – one of many huge homes on the waterway


The next morning it was a motoring trip down the waterway to our home marina, Wayfarers Cove.

We spent about six weeks getting Pioneer cleaned up and ready to leave her for the four months that we would be in Alberta and BC.

Posted in United States, US Travels | Leave a comment

Cuba: February-March 2013

After spending two months in Marathon, it was time to get out of the US and see some new sights. We left Boot Key Harbour in the late afternoon, unusual for us in that we normally head out in the late morning.  We were planning on a mid-afternoon arrival in Varadero, to coincide with some gentle south winds which would provide safe passage up the Paso Malo canal and into Marina Darsena.

The trip was uneventful, although we did get pushed further east than in past years due to the Gulf Stream current and the southerly winds. Next time we will wait for light easterlies!




Judy cleans the salt off our bikes at Marina Darsensa in preparation for our first trip into town



We arrived on Valentines Day – a very big event in Cuba.  On the first Sunday we headed off to the BIG weekly market where we sneaked some pictures of our Cuban friends as they hawked their fruitIMGP4518_thumb and vegetables to the locals. 


Garlic anyone?




It was good to see Ramon, Dolores and Raul once again.  IMGP4511_thumbDolores parks cars outside the market, Raul has a bicycle parking area that he supervises and Ramon is our favourite market vendor.


Our good friend Ramon always has a crowd around his vegetable and fruit stand


The market sights are fascinating. The butchers, selling fresh and smoked pork, are lined up along one side.  They display their cuts well but the flies are a littleIMGP4521_thumb disconcerting…..


Pork anyone?



As the vendors get to know us they joke around (in Spanish) and try to attract our attention.  Being tourists in a Cuban market, we stand out IMGP4524_thumblike sore thumbs – but it is still fun and no one takes advantage of us.



Is he waving at us or trying to sell us oranges?








The wheelbarrow method of product display is popular when you have only one product (lettuce) and it goes quickly




Outside the market there are many vendors in their horse drawn IMGP4526_thumbcarts. A few years back this practice was forbidden, now there are almost as many vendors in the street as there are in the market.


Hey mister – how about my onions – good price!







New meaning to the rhyme “This little piggy went to market”



Although cars have become more numerous in the past few years, they are mostly used as taxis. When the government took a large majority of the people off their payroll, many families that owned cars turned them into taxis, called “maquinas”.  Alternatively, the horse drawn carriage or bench style cartIMGP4532_thumb could be used as a taxi or bus in order to bring home some money. 



Common bus/taxi system in every Cuban town


Some Cubans have become very creative and have constructed and IMGP4536_thumbdecorated bicycle taxis that get you there, but not quickly!




Highly decorated bicycle taxis are becoming very popular


As is our usual practice, we stopped by Rafael’s “store” to get our IMG_0582rsbarbecue lighters fixed at a cost of 8 to 10 cents.



Rafael always has time to refill our lighters






A good bottle of Cuban rum is stowed aboard Pioneer to be consumed over our time there



The previous year in Cuba, we had met a young couple, Juan Carlos and Yanni.  After we landed at IMG_0577rs_thumbVaradero, we called them up and told them we were in town. 


Juan Carlos visits us on his “Naranja Rapida”!


They had moved to a nearby town, Cardenas, so we set up a day when we would go to their house and visit with them and their brand new baby.  IMG_0595_resize_thumb We took a maquina – old car like a taxi -  to go the 18 km. at a cost of 5 tourist pesos (about $5). 


Our maquina – good on the outside, primitive on the inside and sounded like it was ready to go to the junkyard – but – it got us there!



Juan Carlos said we should only have paid the equivalent of IMG_0591rs_thumb75 cents which was the going per customer rate.  However, we were the only customers and the taxi would normally have 5 paying customers so we thought it was a good deal. 


 Juan Carlos, Yanni and Yan Carlos






Ron and Juan Carlos – the cool cats!






Clowning around in the kitchen – boys will be boys!




We had a great visit and the baby was a big, strong boy.  After dinner we walked the streets of Cardenas and then took a horse drawn carriage to the water and back.IMG_0623rs_thumb



The street outside Juan Carlos and Yanni’s house









The neighbours across the street…..






A stroll down the street of Cardenas




IMG_0661rs_thumbFor our trip back, Juan Carlos made sure that we got a cheap transport – an intercity bus – at the cost of the equivalent of 75 cents.  It was a very nice bus, too!


Our carriage!  Lucky for us  we got back to town before the rear axle broke!





We also were invited to Jorge’s house for dinner one night.  Jorge is a local fisherman from whom we buy our lobster, shrimp and fish.  He fillets them for us right on theIMG_0478rs_thumb sidewalk in front of his house. 


Ron and Jorge at the sidewalk fish-fileting shop


That evening, we met an elderly neighbour who was at their house for dinner.  The younger Cubans are assigned elderly Cubans to care for IMG_0486rsand feed so that no one suffers without adequate food. 




Jorge and his elderly neighbour enjoy a hug






Jorge’s daughter in her favourite chair



Jorge served us fish cooked in his special batter – yummy!  Since he has the local distributorship on bulk ice cream, we had some delicious ice cream for dessert. 





Jorge dips the fish in his special batter – it was sooooo good!



After the meal we cycled home to Pioneer in the dark through the dump with only our headlamps to light the way.


Our one road trip was to Cienfuegos on the south coast.  It was a town we had never visited before and it said in the Lonely Planet that you could see all you needed to in a day and a half – we did it in aIMG_0506rs day.  It had its nice areas like the malecon ( road by the water) and the punta (point of land out into the Bay of Cienfuegos).  We stayed in a lovely casa particular (bed and breakfast) out on the punta for 25 tourist pesos (about $25).

Judy on the front porch of our casa particular, Casita de Oshun






This Casa was one of the prettiest on the street – so we stayed there!





Ron discovered this sculpture just outside the nearby marina – very nautical???









In keeping with many casa particulares a gnome can usually be found hiding in the bushes – is it the Travelocity gnome??






Sunset overlooking the Bay of Cienfuegos







Cuban fisherman out on the Bay at dusk


Luxurious two person BiCi Taxi in Cienfuegos







Typical gathering of Cuban bus transport, waiting for workers to finish for the day



Just before we hoped to catch a good weather window out of Cuba, we had help cleaning the bottom of our boat.  A Cuban research vessel was docked at the marina and there were several divers aboard.  For the equivalentIMGP4590 of $20, we had our hull cleaned and ready for our imminent departure.


Proyecto – the Cuban research vessel that enabled us to clean Pioneer’s hull before we set out for North Carolina




On March 16th, we cast off at 0730 after a speedy checkout by the coastguard and immigration.  IMGP4605Our last sight of Varadero was the entrance to the Paso Malo just as the sun was rising.



The Paso Malo light at sunrise

Posted in Cuba, Cuba 2013 | Leave a comment

Marathon – Two months of Fun and Biking

Marathon is an interesting area and very boater-friendly.   We had a pleasant and peaceful sail down the Hawk Channel with an overnight at Rodriquez Key.  Upon arrival at Boot Key Harbour, we IMGP4288found that little had changed – the same wildlife and lots of available moorings. 



Wing drying perfected!



We had no idea how long we would be staying but started out with a month rental on the mooring ball.  It turned out to be two months on the dot! Some of the very special experiences when sailing or at anchor  are the sunsets.  IMGP4217_thumb


Boot Key Harbour, Marathon at sunset





More sunset shots in Marathon!


It just doesn’t get more beautiful




We purchased bikes while we were in Marathon to give us the ability to explore both Marathon and Cuba. The bike seller was a Cuban by the name of Juan.  For two months we biked all over the place. IMGP4349



 Fascinating vegetation as we ride by the houses on the canals



One of the “not so good” things about Marathon is the harbour water and the vegetation that clings to your IMGP4364dinghy. 


Scout gets her bottom cleaned – what a mess!

It becomes necessary to wash and wax the dinghy bottom at least every three weeks.  Alternatively you can raise the dinghy out of the water every night – somewhat of a pain IMGP4376to do, so we settle for the cleaning adventure off the beach at a state park.


Scout looks beautiful once again!





On our trip out to the park we saw a very decrepit large, old dinghy that had been transportation for IMGP4389nine Cubans who made it safely across the Gulf Stream and got their feet on dry land in the US.  For doing that they get to stay and they get some money to start out their new life in a new country.


Very scary transportation to take across the Gulf Stream!



The crowd in Marathon is a very eclectic group.  There are many cruisers, just like us, and then there are the permanent residents who live on their boats full time because it is the cheapest way to live. Both their dinghies and their boats can be a sight to behold.IMGP4428



Moby Dick gets a new look!





There are all kinds of interesting dinghies made of anything you can imagine!IMGP4430


The Blue Bomber makes it into port!





We met several funny and friendly cruisers who shared our love of Sunday breakfast at the Legion.  We would head off on our bikes and pile into the Legion every Sunday for two months!IMGP4345


Barbara (foreground) from Bob Ra Anne gets ready to fill up at the Legion

Every Saturday night there would be an informal and very good jam session at the Tiki Hut for all the cruisers.  We would dance and bring dinner and drinks.  It was a super fun time! IMGP4463


Kent and Jane on Carina had a Miniature Schnauzer which Ron dutifully babysat while his owners were off dancing







The talented  cruisers perform, while we listen, sing along and dance



IMGP4457Then there were many evenings when we just visited other boats or invited them to Pioneer.  For one month, Sally and Conrad on Its About Time were moored beside us and we had lots of fun together. 


Joey (dark hair) and Jim (yellow shirt) aboard My Pleasure were often the source of laughter and good times


For the second month we were on our own while Its About Time headed up the west coast IMGP4416of Florida on a house hunting expedition. We filled the void with many new friends and good times.


Kent and Jane on Carina kept the party lively


There are many activities to keep you busy in Marathon – Mahjong, yoga, seminars on cruising, battery management, solar and wind and just about anything you can imagine. We attended many of them and learned a lot about the systems on our boat.  When you realize that this wealth of information is free, it makes Marathon a stop that you won’t want to miss.

All good things must come to an end so we responded quickly when a weather opportunity to cross to Cuba  presented itself – February 13th, the day before Valentines Day.

To spruce up Judy’s bike and add an element of fun to each ride, we got a parrot horn to honk at friends and others that we passed on our rides.  When we loaded the bikes aboard in preparation for IMGP4501the crossing to Cuba, the parrot was too precious to leave on the bike so he graduated to the helm, and he has been there ever since!


During the crossing, Ron tried to feed an errant flying fish to our parrot – everyone knows land birds don’t like fish!







Posted in Cuba | Leave a comment

Fall 2012 – The Trip South:

In accordance with our departure plan, Mother Nature gave IMGP3846us a break and created a very calm weather window for us to leave Beaufort, NC headed for Fernandina Beach, Florida.


Two of three sailing days were “dead calm”


In past years the same trip had been attempted but we were hood-winked by the weather and forced in at Charleston or Port Royal Sound. It seemed that Mother Nature was overly conscious of our comfort, resulting in the first two days motoring over calm seas.  The final 24 hours gave us wind to sail by and the rolling coastal seas to go with it.  Exactly on schedule, we arrived at first light in Fernandina Beach.IMGP3850 



Containership offloading in Fernandina Beach




Accompanying us on the trip was another boat from Wayfarers Cove, Veseley, with Walter and Becky aboard.  Another weather opportunity to head to central Florida occurred the next day, so we had only one night to catch our breath in Fernandina Beach.  Fortunately we were able to meet up with Its About Time – Conrad and Sally – in Fernandina and sail on south with them the next day.  We sailed as far as Cape Canaveral then entered the waterway there to rest overnight at Coco Beach.




Pelicans – a beautiful sight along the waterway




True to our travelling form we headed on to Vero Beach the next day, November 15th, where we stayed until December 4th. 




Judy at the helm on the way to Vero Beach (her Che shirt preparing her for Cuba)





The long stay in Vero allowed us to get some unfinished boat projects IMGP3875done, socialize with cruising friends, partake of the American Thanksgiving potluck, and explore the city on their free bus system. 


Judy and Conrad compare nav notes in preparation for the Miami trip



Vero Beach is a good stopping place, having all of the big box stores and many restaurants that agree with our cruising budget. IMGP3885


Ron clowns around with his “broken” underwear – great Halloween costume!



On December 4th, along with Its About Time we threw off the mooring ball and headed to Miami.  In the past we have only anchored overnight in Miami and never ventured into the city to explore. 



The Miami skyline from Pioneer







Judy tries to convince the boys to buy some new, exciting underwear!






This time, with Conrad as our guide to the city, we explored South Beach and the big city, specifically IMGP4035Little Havana – the total opposite of Havana, Cuba.


Ancient boulevard tree in the center of Little Havana




The standard of living was better, the streets cleaner, and the people seemed happier and busy with their chosen occupations.  The Cuban food was wonderful – quite a change from the bland diet we experienced in Cuba.  IMGP4058



Artisans ware in Little Havana









Cuban man plying his talents on the street





One afternoon, we set out on a dinghy exploratory trip, with Conrad, down and around the canal system in South Miami Beach.  To keep usIMGP3956 fed and watered, we had beer and chicken wings.  It was a great picnic!


Picnic cruise under a bridge in South Miami Beach




After Sally re-joined Conrad in Miami we headed off to the Holocaust Memorial.  The entire area was IMGP3987breathtaking.  The sculptures were compelling and frightening. What a sad time in the history of man.




The main sculpture in the Holocaust Memorial





Two weeks after our arrival in Miami, with everyone aboard,  Its About Time and Pioneer headed off to Marathon in the Keys.

Posted in United States, US Travels | Leave a comment

Salt Spring Island 2012

We have enjoyed an extended summer here on the island.  Judy’s mother continues to thrive in her senior care facility and Judy sees her three times a week.  Even though it takes Phyllis a few minutes to realize who Judy is, she always figures it out.  Between the two of them they have completed half a book of crossword puzzles, with Phyllis getting most of the difficult questions!





Ron diligently replaces old worn out boards on the deck



This summer we have done a lot of work on the family home.  Ron has repaired and power washed the aging decking.  Judy had the task of treating the deck with preservative.  We have both worked cleaning up the gardens and berming up branches from topped trees in the forest below the house.  Luckily we own all the trees that potentially could impede our panoramic view of Stewart Channel and Sansun Narrows.  Within a few weeks of arrival on the island we had our logger come up andIMGP3255 clean up the view a little more. 


One of the restored views from our deck







Another angle from the deck







The last section of the 180 degree view from our deck



We also had him remove some very large arbutus trees that were dying and were way too close to the house for comfort.  Needless to say, we have our shed IMGP3167now full of firewood that we can’t use for a year until it dries properly; however, we have more than enough already stockpiled for those cool nights.


Our Logger, Thomas, 40 feet up a large arbutus tree that hangs out over the house – or should I say “hung”





Judy had a lot of fun draining and cleaning the cement swimming pool that had been built into theIMGP3280 hill beside the house back in the early 70’s.  It is amazing how well the pool survived after 8 years of neglect.


The green/black slime in the long neglected pool was a formidable challenge



Next year we will try to patch up a few spots, paint the pool and get the machinery running again.  It probably won’t be usable next year but you just never know!




With the pool all cleaned up it is time to put the winter cover back on, says Captain Ron







The spiders seem to think this is their home!!




We have decided not to redecorate the house at this time, at least until we actually spend more IMGP3257time there. 


Judy in the living room watching the Olympics







Living room view towards the front hallway




Although some of the furniture and rugs are “tired” and the wallpaper could use a “strip and paint”, it still looks pretty good considering the house was built in 1971.  At the time, Judy’s parents selected quality furnishings and appliances, so the twin ovens may be avocado but they are built in and they still work well! We have decided that it is somewhat fashionable to live in a “retro” house.  IMGP3343The living room with its large stone fireplace is the most awesome room in the house.  We have changed around the furniture and added our own touch, including our Cuban carvings and paintings.


Judy relaxes in her dad’s old chair and takes in the magnificent view, watched over by Pedro, one of our Cuban paintings







Ron’s hideaway in “the room under the house” – also with a great view!






Tough chick here, cleaning up her chainsaw after a hard day’s work!







Judy cuts up the brush that mounted up after the logger trimmed up the trees






We had tremendous fun with our Vesuvius friends Elvin and Sally and Norah and David.  A few nightsIMGP3224 Norah and David treated us to dinner on Scout, their West Coast wood trawler – a most beautiful boat with the same name as our dinghy – karma!

Judy, Norah and David in the wheelhouse of “Scout”







Relaxing on Scout’s flying bridge




The views of Vancouver island from the water level were truly magical. IMGP3243


Vancouver Island at dusk from Scout




One evening we joined Norah and David for Chinese food and then a presentation at ArtSpring called the “Scrotum Diaries”.  The presenters were local and had us in stiches the entire time!   However, for most of September we have been on our own with David and Norah off to Desolation Sound in  “Scout”, Sally off to Ontario to visit her grandkids and Elvin off sailing “Omache” singlehanded to Hawaii.  He has arrived safely and had great conditions for his passage. Ron would like an adventure like that but I am not sure that I am ready for 27 days on the high seas, at least not IMGP3368yet!  Before Elvin left on his great adventure, he and Ron started making their own wine up here at the house.  They figured the cost per bottle is about $1.50!  They aptly named the operation the ELRON Winery!

Elvin corks up the first batch of red wine





Judy and Sally prepare a luscious Caesar salad for dinner




We enjoyed several visits from Ron’s daughter, Jocelyn, who lives in Victoria, a mere 35 minutes by IMGP3293ferry from the south part of the island.


Jocelyn enjoys the view from the kitchenette as she works on her computer


On her first visit she came with a huge fresh caught salmon fillet that she and her boyfriend had caught from his fishing boat.IMGP3300



The salmon starts to cook in our “retro ball-b-que”



It was sooooo…… delicious.  I think that we could live on salmon alone without any cravings for other meats!




The salmon is cooked and mouth-wateringly ready to eat!



Judy also made yoghurt and learned how to strain it to get Greek yoghurt.  Making your own yoghurt is easy and not much bother as it does all the work on its own.  Between that and the bread maker it made for easy baking days.  We shall miss the bread maker on the boat.



Judy and Jocelyn prep the milk for creating yummy yoghurt






The most outstanding thing about this summer has been the weather.  No rain for almost three months!  Unfortunately no rain means extreme forest fire conditions…… so we are really hoping for rain soon.

Before heading off island, the annual Fall Fair on Salt Spring is a “must see”.  Besides the IMGP3600prize chickens, rabbits, cows, llamas, sheep, goats, etc., there are  baking, crafts, photography and wine-making contests. 


Garden tractors strain away at the weights in the tractor pull



Old restored cars and converted electric cars are on display and the souped-up garden tractors even have a tractor pull contest.  My mother’s craft group at her nursing home (which she takes part in religiously) won  two firsts and one second place for their craft entries.  The crafts were a bouquet of paper flowers, a California Raisin and a cookie monster made out of paper Mache and snakes made out of men’s ties.  They are a very imaginative craft group and reflect the artist colony flavour that is Salt Spring.  The highlight for us was the performances by local musicians and singers at the small outdoor pavilion.  We made sure weIMGP3553 were in the front row when Valdi, a Canadian folksinger, came on stage.


Valdi performs with the “Raging Grannies” of Salt Spring 








Fairgoers gather at the pavilion to get their “Valdi” fix




Being so close to Whistler, Judy’s son, Rob, and family were able to visit although their summer was very busy.  This year they brought with them “unwanted guests” – LICE!!! IMGP3417


At 11:00 pm. a very tired crew gets “Mayo head” to kill the lice





In case you haven’t tried it, mayonnaise on the head overnight under a plastic cap works great!




Clear night and a full moon at the house







Our companion, frog/toad poses for a good shot on the railing


At the end of September we headed back to Pioneer via Edmonton and Lethbridge to prepare for our annual trip south. We hope to make it to Honduras again this winter but we are always prepared to adjust our sailing plans that seem to be set in jello! While in Edmonton we visited with Ron’s son, IMGP3667Aaron, his wife, Liz, and their new baby girl, Morgan.  We had a great time with them and hope to visit again in the future.



Mt. Robson, on the Jasper highway as we head to Edmonton






Aaron, Liz and Morgan with Ron






After leaving Edmonton, we headed for Lethbridge where we stayed with Phyllis, a wonderful friend IMGP3704who bought our old house from us.  It was like coming home. 



Phyllis enjoys the ambiance of our old kitchen



From there we went to visit Ron’s mother, Evelyn, in Shaunavon, Saskatchewan.  She was not doing very well when we saw her and unfortunately passed away a week after our visit.  The memories of Evelyn, the laughter we shared, her kindness and her engaging personality will stay with us always. Her love for us and ours for her will always be remembered.




Evelyn Hardie  November 6, 1913 – October 9, 2012

Posted in Canada, Salt Spring Island, BC | Leave a comment

The Texas/Arizona Trip

We left Minnesott in late May, 2012 hoping to take a little over two weeks to travel through Texas to IMGP2776Phoenix and then up into Saskatchewan. The stop in Texas was to meet up with cruising friends on “Big Fun”, Wayne and Elda. In the summer they keep their boat in the Rio Dulce in Guatemala and head back to Texas to spend time with family. 


Our first rest stop in Texas gave us a glimpse of this “bathing beauty”

IMGP2805We arranged to meet them in Kemah, Texas (near Houston and (Galveston).  We had a great visit with them, spending one day in Kemah at the marinas and one day on the seashores of Galveston.

Judy, Wayne and Elda try out a friends boat in Kemah







Dinner in Kemah with old friends (Wayne and Elda) and new (James and Carol)





Some Galveston waterfront muscle







Galveston harbour, a tall ship the “Ellisa” and this beautiful bronze



After leaving the Houston area and saying goodbye to Wayne and Elda we headed for El Paso. 

Many years ago, Ron used to live and work in El Paso.  Yes, folks, those were Ron’s velvet paintingIMGP2923 days! In El Paso, we spent a few days meeting up with Ron’s old friends and chasing down some of the Mexican artists that formed Ron’s production lines. 


Ron’s old velvet painting warehouse in El Paso




It was a special time.  Ron had also lived across the Rio Grande in Juarez.  We were surprised and shocked to hear of IMGP2931the lawlessness across the border.


Ron’s old house in El Paso


At one point we had thought to cross the border into Juarez, but we were advised many times against it. So, no trip to Juarez!


The initial reason for this trip was for me to meet up with my friends from Ontario, Judy and Deb. WeIMG_0248 had arranged for accommodation at the Mariott Resort in Phoenix.


Lounging by the pool at the Marriott




Ron, stayed on his own at the Days Inn so that I could have time with just the girls.



Adventures in the Pioneer Village at Cave Creek


On our anniversary, the girls took me and Ron on an outing  to Cave Creek, just north of Phoenix.  Sightseeing and Mexican food were positive highlights of the day.  The heat – well over 100 deg F. was hard to handle.  We often tried to convince ourselves it really wasn’t that hot because in the desert it’s a “dry heat”!




Our “mantra” while suffering through the hot days






As per our usual format, the girls and I swam in the pool, shopped and went out to dinner. 


Shopping for the famous western “cowboy boot”




Can’t escape the desert without a picture of an armadillo









The “girls” house hunt in the desert



Typical desert scene with some “nasty” cacti!


One day we headed up to Sedona to see the sights – Mother Nature can sure paint a beautiful picture!







Sonoma  in the middle of a beautiful “painted” desert





Great rattlesnake country!


The desire to shop and relax was foremost in the girls minds. So…..we headed off to the resort spa for a pedicure and a pitcher of Margaritas! 




Judy, Deb and Judy relax with a Margarita whilst their toes soak up a warm bath






New toes and a smile on our faces!








Shoe shopping was in order after the “new toes” look!




Our next stop was Shaunavon Saskatchewan where we visited Ron’s mother.  IMGP2969



Ron and Evelyn visit in Shaunavon


After that it was two weeks in Lethbridge where we stayed in our former house while the new owner, a good friend, visited family in the USA.

Then we continued on to Salt Spring.

Posted in US Travels | Leave a comment