This family vacation was unlike any family vacation EVER! It was a wonderful week of unadulterated exploration and adventure, the likes of which none of us had experienced…until now.It’s always good to have an A plan, B plan and sometimes, to make sure all your bases are covered, a C plan. Both our A and B plans got kyboshed due to tropical storm (eventually hurricane) Cristobal. As we were getting ready to set sail south, Cristobal was moving north and no one knew which way she was going to veer.
Cristobal lined up exactly for the beginning of our trip – it was disheartening.
So we monitored the weather and when she made a move westward we made ours south. It wasn’t the original plan but it got us going and kept us on the opposite side of where Cristobal was.
Listening to the weather reports on VHF raido is exasperating at times. Every time they would get to the storm report it would cut out a really crucial bit of info like LOCATION or PATH.
When the weather report for Lake Okeechobee was on it was crystal clear, no offense Lake Okeechobee but you were not our focus!
Catamarans have a very shallow draft, 4.5 feet. This opens up a whole world of exploration of harbours and islands.
We didn’t pass a lot of other boats as we travelled along but the ones we did were always stuck outside the really cool anchorages due to their deep keels. Everyone has a tender so they can explore further but the catamaran allowed us to stay where we played.
The initial trip out of Freeport was 8 hours of sailing open ocean. That was a lot for our kids, but we had to make the jump to get to the good stuff and they slept through half of it cause we left early.
Sailing provides you with those rare quiet moments.
Our destination after this 8 hour run was Slaughter Harbor. Slaughter Harbor is tucked between two “private islands” owned by cruise lines.
These two islands are then jam packed with the cruise ship guests. You know the TV ads where they say “enjoy your own private island” and show you a deserted beach?
It’s a gong show. They stay for the day and then head onto the next buffet or island or whatever it is you do on a cruise ship.
We were SO happy to FINALLY be at our destination (even though the name did creep the kids out a bit) we jumped right in to the water with our masks to check it out.
This harbour should have been called Jelly Fish harbour.
The were ALL around us, Everywhere we looked.
So we freaked out a bit and got the heck outta the water.
That didn’t stop us from going in the water though.
And there was no reason to not play on top of the water.
We found time to hunt.
Each night we would make a plan for the next day. We would head out while everyone was sleeping and try to get to some of the more scenic anchorages.
Every day brought a new adventure – total unscripted.
Fly by the seat of your pants if you will.
There were some tight squeezes along the way. This one was the entrance to Hoffmans Cay a beautiful shallow playground.
Some big water fun on the Atlantic.
The first leg of our Berry Islands tour was reminiscent of Ontario lakes in some ways. The water was grassy and dark and the island had a forest like brush not really palm tree tropical.
The weather and water temperatures were 100% tropical hot hot hot!
The beautiful waters did make an appearance.
On this particular day the kids took the paddle boards over to check out this reef, maybe see some lobsters.
They got more then they bargained for – a shark of some sorts.
It took off in one direction and they the other. I’m sure the shark was just as freaked out as they were.
Never saw the kids paddle so fast!
When the kids had asked “no really, what else do we need besides bathing suits and t-shirts” we really meant just bathing suits and t-shirts!
What else do you need on a deserted island?
Our late afternoons and dinner times were filled with the sound of Harry O’Donoghue. If a ship were to pass by us during those times he would think we were a boat load of Irish.
Singing good old Irish drinking songs the likes of The Blarney Rose, Johnny Jump Up and The Old Dun Cow (Macyntire).
Our last day was spent at Hoffman’s Cay. This is where a Blue Hole is located. A short trek through the forest brings you out to a really deep …hole for lack of a better word.
We all jumped off the cliff’s edge into the very warm buoyant Blue Hole.
The beach at the entrance to this trail was awesome.
Snorkelling happened everywhere.
Who doesn’t love to snorkel.
At one of our stops we had a barracuda that hung around under the boat, he was weird.
You look away for a second and he was gone, then when you didn’t expect it there he was again.
He reminded me of one the kids friends, Piney.
One of the coolest things was a little budgie type bird that flew right into the boat while we were making dinner. He didn’t freak out or try to get away, he was checking out the interior, checking us out then he flew out.
Then back in again.
Obviously never seen humans before, no fear, just curious.
After dinner we sailed out for our overnighter back to Freeport.
We headed back to Freeport after dropping the kids off at the airport, 15 hour sail putting us back in Fort Lauderdale in time for the 17th street bridge opening at 7 am.
Now it’s back to work again!
Here’s a summary of our sailing family vacation – the first of many…