Trouble at Sea! Boat Thieves! Visitors! (and more Moxie fun)

When the dog cooperates for a family photo, it's like money in the bank. This tide pool is in the Guiness Book of World'...


When the dog cooperates for a family photo, it's like money in the bank.

This tide pool is in the Guiness Book of World's Records under "Prettiest Tide Pool". (Not really but it should be).

Travis + Coconut + Machete = Adorable Tropical Cliche

Our Telluride friends, Mishky & Caroline visited! We picked them up from the ferry dock in our dinghy even though Moxie was only like, 10 seconds away and we could have walked there.  (We were trying to be cool and sailor-y.)


Hud caught this HUGE Mutton Snapper and it was dinner for 6!

Moog on a swing!

Viv and this little girl met on the beach and played house for 2 hours straight.  The game of "house" is a universal, insta-friend maker.  Try it some time.  

My long-haired, wild and free, beautiful beach boy

We had 3 boys spend the night!  It was super fun!  These brothers are 3 of the Potter clan, a wonderful family we've befriended here.

One of Travis' clients let us stay in their house for 2 nights.  It was dreamy.  We took real showers and did all of our laundry.  And played tennis.

Snorkeling at Mermaid Reef.  When Viv sees fish, she screams into her snorkel and it is hilarious.

Provisioning in Marsh Harbor

We are hypocrites- we happily munch fish in restaurants, but when we catch one ourselves and eat it, we are all guilt-ridden.  Hud cried when we killed this one. (But happily scooped it on a cracker when Trav served it up later as ceviche). 

Drawing and labeling sea life we see while snorkeling is part of our boatschooling.


At Fowl Cay National Park

This is when we hit bottom and went aground.  It's kind of hard to tell from the photo but we were at a steep angle, tipped to one side.  We stayed like this for a few hours, until the tide came up.  Oops.

I am obsessed with the color of the water here.  There are a million shades of blue.  Here is one of them.

On the deck at sunset

Here is Trav fixing the windlass for the eleventy-billionth time.  Do you like his new glasses?  We got them at CVS in Florida. We are growing old together and here is the proof.
Lesson #5,743 learned on this trip so far:
We are not in charge. The ocean is in charge.

We are still in the Abacos.  This was not our plan.  Months ago, we guessed that by now we’d be far from here, most likely south of the Dominican Republic.  But what we’ve learned is that when and where we sail is just not up to us, and we have little say in it.  The wind, the waves, the tides, the currents—we are ruled by these things.  About a week ago, we learned this in a very big way.
            It was kind of a last minute decision to make the 55 mile crossing to Eleuthera.  We had a favorable weather window, but we weren’t fully prepped the way we usually are before a big sail. By “prepped”, I mean that all the food we’ll eat during the journey is prepared and ready, everything that moves is properly stowed and locked down in the cabin—we hadn’t done those things.   Also, our toilet had stopped working the night before and there was an ominous burning smell when we flushed it.  But at 6 am we decided to go for it, figuring that the 55 mile trip would take us about 10 hours and that we’d just use a handy bucket for our bathroom needs. (Why did this seem like a good idea to us? Oh, Sweet Jesus, WHY?)   
            The next big mistake we made was that we didn’t give the kids their Dramamine until we were already underway.  The wind was fair, only about 10 knots, but the waves were big, and the boat was rolling UP and DOWN, UP and DOWN, like a puker ride at the fair. We’d been sailing for about 30 minutes and the kids were awake and rolling in their bunks. Hud came up to the cockpit and announced that he felt sick. About 20 minutes later the seasickness had fully set in, and poor Hud was filling a bucket.  By his second miserable hurl, my sweet boy was crying and screaming, “WHY DID WE BECOME SAILORS???? I WANT TO GO BACK TO TELLURIDE!”. At that point, we decided to turn the boat around. 
            The Captain and I were totally exhausted and sailing back took us the entire day. 
            And then it got worse.
The Abacos are notoriously shallow and Moxie draws a lot of water, nearly 6 feet.  We rely on our instruments to give us depth readings so we know where we can sail safely and places we should avoid. We learned that day that our GPS depth readings are not always accurate.   Around 2 pm that afternoon as we made our way back to Elbow Cay, I had just successfully dumped a full bucket overboard (remember, the toilet was broken?) The same bucket Hud had puked in earlier was now being energetically filled with other human products, and I had made several cautious trips with it up the steep companionway stairs to dump and clean it in the sea.  All of a sudden, the boat lurched and then stopped, fast and hard.  Moxie heeled over dramatically to starboard, and the kids screamed out below as they found themselves at a crazy 90 degree angle in the salon.  We were aground.  “What the hell?!? The GPS says it’s 11 feet here!”  Trav screamed.  But the GPS was wrong.  It was low tide, the water was only 5.5 feet deep, and we were really, really stuck. To complicate matters, we were afraid that we were surrounded by even shallower water that we could potentially drift into, making it even harder to eventually float out.  Trav snorkeled down and measured the depth around us in every direction with a paddle.  Luckily, we were in the most shallow spot, and it was a bit deeper around us.  We tried to move the boat by raising the sails and trying to heel her over even more, by doing so hoping to budge the keel, but that didn’t work. All we could do was wait for the tide to lift us.  So we waited.  For hours. And finally the tide came in and lifted us enough to move.  By the time we limped back to Hope Town all the mooring balls were taken so we anchored nearby and were all asleep by 7 pm. 
We had wanted to be in Eleuthera but the ocean had other ideas for us.  So we’re still here, and you know what?  We’re fine with that.  We’re waiting for another weather window and we’ll get there when we get there.  This family is learning (often the hard way) to live in the moment, to be truly present in the here and now, and not to have our heads constantly asking “what comes next?”  Just like everything else we’ve learned so far on this trip, getting the hang of this latest lesson is more difficult than it seems, but we keep hoping we'll get it eventually.  This is a test you can't cram for.  All we can do is study.
By the way, we’re having a blast.  We’ve made some amazing friends (The Potter Family—we love you so!), and we keep exploring and discovering new things because there are dozens of islands all around us and every single one is different.  We had a surprise visit from some Telluride friends and it was a crazy, hilarious, not-quite-24 hours of laughter, eating, learning about the stars and drinking too much rum.  The adventures keep coming and I right now I feel like I could just go on like this forever, following the wind and letting each day happen as it comes.  Every morning when I wake up I wonder what’s in store and I’m telling you, it’s exhilarating.    
But there's one more story I want to tell you, it's kind of upsetting-- see this boat?


We discovered this sad boat washed ashore on the rocks on an uninhabited island.  The owners had written on her in marker in the cockpit, "THIS IS OUR HOME, WE ARE COMING BACK FOR HER.  PLEASE DON'T TAKE ANYTHING". It was a heartbreaking wreck. The boat was full of these people's personal possessions, and much of what they had was ruined. It was obvious that they were cruising on a budget, the boat was simple and they didn’t have much.  Trav had checked out the boat early in the morning and we all went back later in the day.  Trav tried to be helpful to the owners by pumping out water and tying up the sagging sails.  While he was doing so, he noticed that a bunch of gear (a jerry can, lots of spare parts, etc) that had been there before were now missing.  Despite the impassioned plea made by the owner someone had heartlessly stolen things from these people.  And it didn’t take long to figure out who—while Trav worked on the boat, a guy we had met earlier who was anchored nearby pulled up in his dinghy.  He called out to us, “So, are you guys taking things, too? We got a TON of stuff earlier!”  I was shocked and furious. “No, we’re not taking stuff!” I said sharply. “Did you read what it says on the boat???” I gave him serious hate-eyes. The guy, realizing he’d just asked the wrong the people the wrong question, started back pedaling pathetically. “Umm, no! I didn’t read what it says, oh my gosh, how terrible, blah blah blah….” he lied through his teeth.  Travis immediately cut through his BS and told him that he expected he and his friend to put back the things they had taken.  “Oh yeah, of course, we will, absolutely,” the guy said.
The next morning, we saw their boat pulling out of the anchorage.  We had been watching them like hawks and they hadn’t returned anything.  So Travis got on the VHF radio and announced loudly to every boat in range, “HEY BEN AND DAN, YOU GONNA PUT THAT STUFF BACK YOU STOLE FROM THE WRECK BEFORE YOU TAKE OFF?”. Sheepishly, the guys radioed back, “Umm, yes.  We were just about to do that.”  We watched through our binoculars as they sailed back, dinghied over and returned most of the stuff. They kept the jerry can and Trav called them out on that, too. “HEY BEN AND DAN, ARE YOU PLANNING TO MAIL THE OWNER OF THAT SAILBOAT A CHECK FOR THE JERRY CAN YOU KEPT?”  It was super tense and totally amazing.
The bad thing is we keep running into these guys everywhere we go.  They're like a bad rash.  Every time we see their boat we get angry all over again.  Hud and Viv refer to them as “The Stealers.” 

Until next time, Moxie Adventure-followers!  Thank you for reading, thank you for commenting, thank you for caring about us.  It’s so much fun to share our stories.  Much love. xo

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22 comments

  1. Jen - this is so amazing. I've been wondering how and yours on doing on your boat tour. Sounds like it is everything you could have imagined and many things you could not have! Thank you so much for the update, the beautifully descriptive photos and for sharing your adventure. Love you so much.

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    1. Rachel, I am so appreciative of your kind words, thank you so much. I'm super happy you're following us. Big hugs. xo

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  2. WOW! Bad people are everywhere! Good for Travis to confront them! By the way,
    you guys look great, and your blog shares your adventures so well that the reader feels like they are with you! Love you muchly!

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  3. I'd like to sign on as a deckhand, but since that's not possible, reading your blog is the next best thing! Such an amazing time! Keep writing! Am loving the adventure! In the meantime, wishing you" fair winds and a following sea!"

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    1. You'd be a welcome crew member anytime, MJ! Thanks for reading. :)

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  4. Oh my, those are some adventures! If you ever run aground again (although I don't think you will after this experience) you can try disconnecting the main halyard and use the dinghy to heel yourself off while the crew slowly motors in the best direction. Always trust the chart first, then your eyes, then the depth sounder. Also, make sure you know where on the underside the sounder is located and reading from, there could be a margin of error in the calibration. Lastly dump those electric toilets and exchange for manual ones, so much more reliable and the kids can get a good workout in. Thank you for the blog, I love it! ❤

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    1. Thanks for the great tips, Mindy! I wish we could dump that john but for now it's not in the cards. Agree that the pump ones are better. You must be a sailor. Thanks for reading!

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  5. I love reading your blog and getting the juicy updates! So proud of you for living in the moment and enjoying whatever the world delivers. Live and learn, even if it means hauling buckets of vomit and pee around (#1 mom). And I LOVE that you and Trav scolded the crap out of the thieves! WTF, very uncool. At least you were not stolen from. Hugs from Colorado. xo

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    1. You're such a great friend, Julia, I love and appreciate you a million times over. xoxox

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  6. What an adventure you are on! I just love reading about ALL of it! xo Stasia

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    1. Your adventures always inspire me, Stasia! Thanks for reading xo

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  7. I can totally relate to your blog!! We went aground near Long Island and Skip had to go underwater and trim the rudder post because we couldn't steer then wait for the tide to get us off but we were on a reef so every time we hit the sound was awful. Always use your visuals as well as the depth finder. He kept saying we have enough water and I was saying I can see fan coral!!! Then we hit.Even if you spend the winter in the Bahamas there are wonderful places. Lots of families in Georgetown in the Exumas. Have fun!

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    1. Yes on the visuals!!! Thanks for reading and story sharing, Carol!!! Hugs

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  8. As I am still "following you guys", story-by-story, I don't know if you missed Lynard and Little Harbour, but one's adventure is their own and reliving mine and Carol's through yours is a real blessing. Another old saying my very good high school friend used to say (we were in HS at the time) was "everything always happens for the best." I know you can never convince anyone puking in a bucket at sea of that, but it has been pretty much true all of my life. I trust that running aground and turning around provided for some good snorkeling and glass hunting on Lynard. Skip

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    1. Thanks, Skip!! Psyched you two salts are following our ride. Yes to Lynard! Hugs

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  9. Also, what a treat it must have been having Mishke aboard!

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  10. I'm reading this to Matt and the girls and you should see their faces - they belong on your stage! Thank God you all have a GREAT sense of humor :). What an adventure y'all are having!! Sending you all lots of love and hugs, and wishing we could send you toilet parts and an extra bucket. XO, Ashley

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  11. Thanks so much for reading sweet friend! Yes, the humor is crucial these days!!!! Love to your wonderful family xo

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  12. Jen--we are heading down to BVI's starting in Tortola next week until the 16th. Let me know if you will be in that neck of the woods. Much love, light and laughter! Sandra & Bartell Boys

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