Cruising with the Peters

One family cruise led to another, and the next trip out we had the Peters family join us for a rather cool and rainy trip… but we still managed to have some fun!

We got in plenty of fishing…

Mike Peters big fishMike catches a whopper!

and some hardcore sailing in the rough seas…
Don Peters at helm

Don at the Helm

S/V Stess in strong wind

And there was even a day we just kept sailing south in hopes of finding shelter at Tom Owens Cays… but not before the passing waves did their best to try and break every wine glass in the boat!!

but we still got Dave, Candy, Mike, Don… and even Jean into the water for some fantastic snorkeling!

And when things got really crappy we began the Taboo tournament!! So now there is the Peters’ Challenge… can you get more than 8!!?? I’m not sure it can be done!

Walk David. No, only one fish.

After the craziness of the New Years crowd, we went out on charter with a great family – the Zellers. David and Eileen, 19-year-old twins Trevor & Kellen, 16-year-old Chelsea, and not forgetting the bundle of fun and energy that is 10-year-old David.

S/V Stess

Sadly, in spite of the not-so-favorable weather, we had a load of fun… so much so that we don’t seem to have any photographic evidence of that week with the family (Zeller’s – we’d love to steal some of your pics for the blog!).

There was snorkelling… and fishing… swimming… and fishing… sailing… and fishing… diving… and fishing… of course, plenty of eating…. and fishing…. I think you’re catching on – little David was by far the most avid, not to mention successful fisherman we’ve had on board. And no overcast skies, strong winds, rolling waves or absence of light (yes! night fishing!) could deter him… the only thing that seemed to slow his enthusiasm was the number of electronic fish that appeared on Tadd’s fancy fishing watch that apparently tells you when the fish are eating in any part of the world by putting up between one and four little fish on the face.

We did the rounds and tried to forget the cool weather and dark clouds, while still enjoying the amazing sites of the outer Cays, as well as the taste of conch fritters and the many rounds of Uno and Taboo!

A jaunt back to the mainland allowed them to enjoy the wildlife Tadd and I had seen last fall in Monkey River.

And we still got in some great snorkeling and diving, including a snorkel on the old wreck off Hunting Cay.

Shipwreck of Hunting Cay in Belize

Anglefish at shipwreck in Belize

Champagne for all

Lindsay and I took out Stess and six guests for a charter during the New Years week. It was a mixed bag of guests and emotions as well. Two of our guests had a request for more champagne, so our manager, Melissa, sold them eight bottles. They were excited, and quite generous. They set a new record for us, and stayed up almost till midnight drinking wine on the first night aboard. (My oh my).
The Monohans

The Monahans

Four of our guests had been looking forward to their trip in Belize for almost a year. We had an absolute blast out there despite the occasional rain shower. We had some beautiful snorkeling areas where the sun came out just for us. I learned a new rum punch recipe and built a new playlist on my Ipod from the songs our guests chose.
SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

We snorkeled on a shipwreck, miles offshore.
shipwreck in Sapodillas, Belize

We all donned party hats, poured the champagne and picked up kazoos to celebrate New Year’s Day for London at five o’clock, and again in about four other time zones. (dear oh dear) At midnight, we had a front row seat near Hunting Cay for their fireworks display. The next day, as we returned to the dock in Placencia, the party hats were back on and the kazoos were blasting away to annoy all present. They set a new record of five cases of Belikin beer downed by Friday afternoon! Priceless.
Monohan's bottles

Having too much fun?? Never!
Tadd on Stess

p.s. AND! The guests were so nice they gave me my very own island for the new year!! Linz Cay!! Not too shabby – check it out! Great snorkeling and a small lean-to… if anyone wants to come and stay!

Linz Cay

We Survived… Woo Hoo!

So, it wasn’t easy… I don’t think either of us really slept for the first few nights… but we got lucky and had some really nice guests on board, who we believe had a wonderful time with us during that week… and Geoff didn’t have much criticism of our first charter… so I think we did ok!! Yay!!

I can’t say I can actually remember that much of the week at all… Hmm… or maybe that’s just the wine!

Talk about trial by fire… and then when we got back to the dock and saw the guests off on the Saturday… we had to turn the boat around and do it all over again from 5pm with another group!! Our real, first live charter!

There’s no substitute for getting started

Lindsay and I returned to Belize from our training charter in Antigua on December 3, 2009. We made our way back to the Tradewinds base in Placencia during the afternoon. Our dinghy “Ayelet” gave us a bit of trouble for having been left sitting for so long, so we finished the last leg of our travels under tow by a kind neighbor named Steve because our dinghy’s motor kept stalling. Thankfully, all was well when we finally made it back aboard.

The next morning, Lindsay and I were wondering what we would do with the next two weeks before our vacation with her family up in Ambergris beside, as Lindsay put it, “drive each other crazy.”

We started by sleeping until the sun heated up the boat. We put up our tarp for shade and got around to eating breakfast about ten. By eleven, we were both firing up our laptops and about to hoist the wifi booster when we saw Peter Rea, the TradeWinds Sales Manager aboard “Tank Boy”, coming out to see us as we swung on our anchor in a gentle breeze. I smiled and gave a big wave to him as he approached. He didn’t wave back. He came alongside and shut off the engine. Then he said something that I couldn’t quite comprehend, but it contained the words walk, job, and quit. Of course I asked him to repeat what he’d said even though I was pretty sure that I didn’t want to hear it again.

“Jason and Lindsay just quit. They’ve walked off the boat and I have guests arriving for a charter this afternoon on their boat. Can you go to work today?” Or it was mostly like that. I felt the anxiety skip all warning levels by twisting my stomach into a knot. I responded with, “Wow. I’m disgusted to hear that!” Peter replied with “I know Mate, believe me, I’m disgusted as well. I need you guys to take this charter. Will you do it?” I looked directly at Lindsay and wondered if she could figure a way out of this one. She looked back at me wide eyed and shrugged (I was desperately trying to think if there was any acceptable way of saying no!! Lx).

Lindsay and I both started talking at the same time convincing each other that this just is one of those things we have to do and there’s no other way and all that stuff. If we want the work, it looks like we have to do it right now. We might as well start out proving ourselves willing to go the extra mile right off the bat. So much for taking the time to drive each other crazy! “Are you going to come with us?” I asked, knowing that I didn’t have enough navigational information or any time aboard “Stess”, a Priveledge 45 catamaran weighing 14 tons. “I won’t send you out there alone, guys. Don’t worry. How much time do you need, we’ve got to get Stess ready.”

We negotiated one hour to pack and be at the base to provision the boat and get some information about the guests. Needless to say, things were a bit hectic at the dock that afternoon. We had lots of others helping us prepare food, checking lists and asking us what else we needed done. “How should I know?” was my eventual response, with a huge crazy smile! “Do I have enough Diesel?” The water tanks hadn’t been filled, Lindsay was rummaging through the cabinets, trying to find some sense of order. She was lugging huge bins of frozen food and veggies aboard, stowing them in all sorts of compartments. The base crew was busy cleaning the boat and we were all in each other’s way. The guests were expecting to walk aboard a boat ready to go in three hours. Peter arranged for Geoff, another captain with TradeWinds, to accompany us for assistance in navigation and to manage the membership process. He was expecting to have a week off and wasn’t happy about having to come out with us, but everyone pulled together to make the best out of what was given to us. That’s the most important point, performance under pressure. So what if I introduced Lindsay to our very first guest by my ex wife’s name? Everyone thought I was joking around when she corrected me! Lucky me.

Off Around the Island

Antigua postcard 1
At the end of November they sent us off to Antigua for another training charter… by then we had really become the whirlwind travelers … Belize… Miami… US Virgins Islands… British Virgin Islands and then finally to the Island of Antigua.
Antigua Postcard 2
While our new friends Dax & Kristyn were headed out on their first live charter, we jumped aboard “Passion” with at British couple Nick & Vanda and 3 couples and went out to explore what Antigua had to offer.

Antigua was a very different experience from the trips we do down here in Belize – you are cruising the waters around the big island, checking out all the different, little bays. There’s lots more ashore, from little hikes up to all the old forts…
Postcard of Antigua 3

So we had a great time exploring with Nick & Vanda and seeing how they run their charters.

All in all it was a great week, and we made some great friends… Nick & Vanda will be joining us in Belize, and we hope to catch up with Derek & Christine in the UK or Ireland sometime soon!

Hanging in here

View from Tortola

After our first training charter back in November, we were sent off to the British Virgin Islands for some land-based TradeWinds training. We met up with 3 other couples who were all about to launch into their TradeWinds debuts like us… we had a great camaraderie among the group and have enjoyed hearing about how they’re doing during the weekly staff meetings!!

And we had some fun running around the island on our day off… our lives at the hands of a crazy South African driver!

And then it was all over and we all went off into the TradeWinds sunset!

Busy Busy Busy

“So… do you want a job?” Peter stuck out his hand to me and asked, having spent another hour blowing us over with all reasons we really should “Join the Club” and work for TradeWinds. I’m not sure we could have said no even if I’d wanted too… but of course we didn’t want to!

A few days later, on the Saturday of Halloween, we zipped around the point of Placencia, into the canal, and into the controlled, craziness of changeover day with TradeWinds.

At 5pm the guests were invited on board of Restless Spirit(Privelege 47’) and we headed out with Captain Geoff and 1st Mate Anna, along with John & Miriam, Harvey & Ann, and Bert & Kay to really find out what this TradeWinds Cruise Club was all about.

Over the next 6 days, while we were cruising some of the many tiny little Cays of the reef east and southeast of Placencia we tried
to absorb as much as we could about how to cook, clean, entertain and generally dazzle the guests into loving the crew, the boat, the experience and everything about the fab concept and reality that is TradeWinds.

I spent A LOT of time in the galley… inevitable really feeding 10 people on a yacht… or at least it did seem that way, but there was still lots of time for many snorkeling trips, games of spoons and pickled pigs, and taking the helm and sailing the boat through the rain – we had a fair amount of it, thanks to Hurricane Ida passing around us (though we had no idea about her at the time!).

Tadd busied himself helping Geoff out around the boat, picking up cocktails (I mean learning how to make them!) and wooing the guests, which was a particular success when he pulled out our emergency moustaches.

The guests were loads of fun, a great mix of ages, backgrounds and personalities and I think we all mingled pretty well… it can be hard when you’re thrust on a 47-foot boat with a bunch of strangers! So, by the time we arrived back on the dock in Placencia Friday afternoon, we were quite a merry bunch as we headed out to a local restaurant.

All in all it was a fun time, with a lot to learn… but the main thing is that it didn’t turn us off the idea of chartering with TradeWinds, so after a bit of a debrief and a couple of days relaxing we headed off for the next step in the training process.

We mustached the group!

The Good News and…

The really good news!! After all these stimulating days here in Placencia borrowing, pilfering and even (gasp!) paying (highly) for wireless internet… we have a job!! AND… we don’t have to miss out on Christmas is San Pedro, Ambergris with my crazy family… extended family… random weird and whacky friends… and anyone else that turns up.

Did this miraculous job come from all those many, many, many emails we sent to random charter companies, I hear you ask? Well, no… not exactly.
It was kind of a referral from a the TMM charter people in San Pedro (who wouldn’t hire us) and we kind of tried to get hold of the local people here in Placencia… and ended up emailing their head base in the British Virgin Islands … there was a meeting a few weeks ago… and another meeting last night to clear up some details and get more information… and it was sealed with a shake and a hug!

We will be working for TradeWinds Cruise Club, running one of their catamarans. This coming Saturday we will be tagging along on another charter run by another couple to start learning what’s expected (read: helping out, but getting to sail to some other cays and snorkel, dive and generally schmooze with the guests). Then, when we get back the following Saturday we’ll have some time to debrief with Peter and Melissa (who run the local TradeWinds base here in Placencia) and then we fly to Tortola in the BVI for more training, followed by a couple more weeks on some supervised charters before we finally find out where we will be based.

tradewinds

The current hope is that we’ll get to come back to Belize and work here… but we won’t find that out until the training is done. In any case… IT IS A JOB!! Wooohooo! We had our back-up plan (well, of course I did!), but we were still getting a little concerned.

This way we’ll work for 6 months and then have a month off. During the six months we’ll work two charters followed by a week with a few days off and the rest of the week as prep/maintenance for the following two weeks of charters.

Bring it on!!