Sailing Life!

Coches Prietos anchorage off Santa Cruz Island located in the Channel Islands, CA.  We didn't want to leave.  Can you blame us?

I haven't been everywhere, but it's on my list     ~Susan Sontag

Check out a few of our sailing trip reports and videos below.  If you'd like to read about how two land-locked Coloradans learned to sail check out this blog post .  If you have any questions about destinations we've sailed to or about sailing in general please reach out to us here.
British Virgin Islands, 2011
In early December 2011 we convinced four friends to join us and set sail from Tortola, BVI for a 10 day sailing adventure.  It was our first sailing trip since becoming certified sailors the previous year and where we captained the boat ourselves.  It was such a blast and a HUGE learning expereince for us.  Chartering a sailboat can be pretty expensive to do on your own so luckily we had friends who trusted us despite us being newbies! 

The BVI's are perfect for beginner sailors because you never lose sight of land and for the most part the sailing is pretty protected.  Also, as newbies we did not have to worry about anchoring because in the BVI you can pick up a very well maintained mooring ball for about $30 per night (as of 2011).  This gives beginners peace of mind that they will not be dragging anchor during the night although learning how to pick up a mooring ball took some practice.

We spent our days sailing in 20-25 knot winds, bouncing around from one cool ancorage to another.  Not only was the sailing really fun but there was so much to explore on land.  The BVI isn't really known for it's secluded anchorages but it more than makes up for that with funky little bars and resturaunts, beautiful white sand beaches, crystal clear water and friendly locals.

On this trip we were able to dive for the first time from a sailboat.  If you are a certified diver it is really easy to rent all the gear you need and get your tanks refilled throughout the islands for less than $10 per refill.  The boats even come with special scuba tank racks. 

We truly loved sailing and exploring in the BVI and if we didn't have a zillion other places we wanted to visit we would be happy to return year after year.

Thailand, 2012
Our next sailing trip we decided to venture a little further from home and went to Thailand.  Two of our friends joined in on the fun while we spent seven days sailing in the emerald waters of the Andaman sea.  Our charter began in Phuket but we left civilization behind immediately as we explored secluded anchorages and were surrounded by towering limestone cliffs.  While the sailing wasn't that great (we had to motor due to lack of wind), the beauty of Thailand was breathtaking and don't even get us started on the food!  I mean who doesn't love Thai food??

We rented scuba equipment again and did a few dives from the boat but it was not as easy to find places to refill tanks so we mostly snorkeled and explored pristine beaches and small villages.  We spent two days swimming with a wild dolpin who befriended us while we were anchored.  Scroll down for a video! We were also able to anchor right off shore where the movie "The Beach" was filmed.  It was a bit busy with tourists but then when they all left for the day we had the place to ourselves.  That is a huge benefit of traveling by sailboat!

The local people we met were so friendly and at times went our of their way to help us.  It is a long trek to get to Thailand from the States but oh so worth it.  Derek and I had a layover in Beijing so we visited the Great Wall of China and The Forbidden City.  It was a great way to start the trip.  After our week on the sailboat we all went to Koh Lanta and rented a house right on the beach for a week.  There is so much to explore in Thailand and South East Asia, we have talked about returning because two weeks wasn't nearly enough time.
Tonga, 2013
When we told people we were going to Tonga the biggest response we received was "Oh how fun! where is Tonga?". The best answer we could give was "Oh, it's near Fiji". Most people's faces would light up because they have actually heard of Fiji....but we wondered, do they even really know where Fiji is? Don't get us wrong, there is nothing wrong with not knowing where someplace is. In fact quite the opposite. We've always been fascinated with new places, and we hope our travels inspire people to go off the beaten path ~ to become a traveler, not just another tourist. So, where is it? Well, it's pretty much in the middle of the South Pacific. Lengthwise, the kingdom stretches over a distance of about 500 miles in a north-south line located about a third of the distance from New Zealand to Hawaii.

Tonga is a Polynesian sovereign state and an archipelago comprising 176 islands with a surface area of about 290 sq miles scattered over 270,000 sq miles of the South Pacific. Only fifty-two of these islands are inhabited by its 103,000 people. Tonga has 3 major Island groups starting with Tongatapu to the south, Ha'apai in the middle to the north and the northernmost grouping, Vava'u where we spent all our time sailing. Vava'u is an hour away via island hopper plane ride from the main island and it was boarding that plane that we finally felt like we were on vacation when we heard the unmistakable Polynesian music playing when we boarded. It took us over 24 hours of travel, but we were on island time. Instantly.

Vava'u is compromised of 41 islands, most uninhabited. Vava'u, and Tonga in general, is mostly known for seeing whales during their annual migration from about June-October. We unfortunately missed them by a few weeks but we were blessed with amazing weather, great sailing conditions, clear water the color of dreams, healthy coral and an amazing crew. We spent 2 weeks aboard a 40 foot catamaran named "Vahanoa" which in Tonga translates into "far out there" or "open water". It was perfect. That is exactly where we wanted to be... far out there.

We spent two weeks sailing, snorkeling, relaxing, diving, cannonballing, reveling in the natural beauty of the islands and laughing. It was amazing. Truly amazing.

After sailing for two weeks, five of us boarded an eight seat puddle jumper to Eua.
Known for its hiking and remoteness it did not disappoint. We thought we couldn't be any more out there. We might have found it in Eua. We stayed in a "tree house lodge" and had every meal cooked for us using
only local and fresh ingredients. We are still dreaming of the coconut butter. We hiked, dived, relaxed, and celebrated Thanksgiving with wood fire pizza, rum and wine. We had a lot to be thankful for, near and far.

Tongan people are simple, happy and friendly. We have never felt more safe while
traveling. . In fact we did not even have a lock for our boat. They grow their own food, get their meat from pigs they raise and fish from the ocean. Polynesian culture has always fascinated us and we feel like we got a very small glimpse inside their life.

What an amazing part of the world.
“Not only is Tonga breathtakingly beautiful but Tongan people are simple, happy and friendly.  I have never felt more safe while traveling than I did in Tonga”
Jennifer Rose
Sailing Videos
Channel Islands, CA
Jenn's 40th Birthday Sailing Adventure
9 of us set sail on "Jenny Lane", a 50ft Catalina monohull from Santa Barbara to Santa Cruz island which is an aprox 25nm sail.  We spent 5 days exploring Santa Cruz and Anacapa by diving, snorkeling, kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding and beach combing.  It was our longest day sail to date and the conditions could not have been more perfect.  Calm seas, sunny weather, and 15-20 knot winds made for epic sailing and adventuring.  We edited a short video that recaps our trip.
Andaman Sea, Thailand
Wild dolphin encounter
We spend 7 days sailing in the Andaman Sea in Thailand.  We spent two days in a secret anchorage and were befriended by an alone, wild, male dolphin.  We never fed him yet he continued to hang out by our boat and we swam with him many times.  To sum up our two day encounter wouldn't do it justice.  We do feel blessed and honored to have swam, hugged, played and looked into the eyes of this kindered spirit.  The expereince only deepened our pull to the ocean and the creatures within.  To see this animal or any other dolphin in captivity would break our hearts.  This video was shot on an older GoPro.