FRIEND SHIP VIDEO

ahhhh, this is long overdue seeing how this boat trip through the british virgin islands happened the first two weeks of january and we are now almost in march in costa rica! but! it's finally done! and these are such glorious memories! i just love sailing and blue water and green islands and beautiful friends so very much. something about seeing them in motion makes me grin from ear to ear. thanks Friend Ship 2014!

norman island

we spent the last couple days of our trip around norman island.

we spent a night hanging at the infamous willy t's boat bar, and then another night recovering from it. we toured a beautiful 72 foot yacht with a suave captain who wanted to hire me to live on his boat and work as crew. and we spent a perfect morning exploring the best snorkel spot i've ever seen. 

after our last day on norman island, we sailed back to tortola, where i caught the ferry back to st thomas. it's crazy how quickly this trip went by!

i used to wonder how people could live on a boat for long periods of time. the small spaces and lack of conveniences kind of puzzled me. but after i easily got used to being rocked to sleep by the sea, i began to like the idea of living on a boat for a while.

i think the small spaces are lovely. it forces everyone on board to come together and interact more regularly. and the wide open spaces you explore along the way more than make up for any temporary lack of wiggle room. 

it's a simplistic way of life---one that i got a taste of, and am beginning to crave more and more. i love the self-sustainability of it---the mostly relying on the sun and the wind and the sea to propel you onwards. it's a very romantic relationship with nature, and so very fulfilling. and it's certainly different from the hustle and bustle of just working on a sailboat. because at the end of the day, there are no rules or strangers or deadlines. just the elements 

so the real question is, who wants to hop on a sail boat in sayyy southeast asia and check out that part of the world with me?!? :) :)

seriously,

stefanie 

jost van dyke

we spent about a third of our trip around jost van dyke.

i think we can all agree that it's the best of the british virgin islands... small population, friendly people, a handful of world famous bars, perfect views of the surrounding US and british islands, and the clearest, bluest, dreamiest water you've ever seen. it's the kind of beauty that makes you want to stand back and gawk at it from afar, but also be totally immersed in it at the same time.

looking at these pictures again has me thinkin' i'd maybe give up oxygen just to be swallowed by the sea and dissolve into those colors forever.

maybe the best thing about living on a boat for 10 days

waking up and leaping off the top deck!

i'd like to start every morning of forever like this, please!

that time we got stranded on a deserted island

after our sail to anegada and another night in tortola, we stopped at a small, uninhabited island near jost van dyke, called sandy cay.

we tied our catamaran up to a mooring ball near the island and drove the dingy onto the beach. these gopro pictures don't do it justice, so just believe me when i tell you it was one of the most beautiful beaches i've ever ever seen. 

we walked around the island and explored this trail that went through the center of it, in one big loop. there was a really beautiful view from a cliff at the top of the trail, and a big tree a little more than halfway through. 

after the boys climbed the big tree, we were leisurely walking along the rocky path with our bare feet when a young australian man came toward us from the opposite direction on the path, stopped in front of us and said, "are you all from the catamaran with the blue sail bag? it's broken a mooring ball and is drifting away."

...needless to say, we all ran as fast as we could back to the beach only to find that our catamaran looked like a tiny little white spec, drifting out amongst the deeper blues.

the australian man hopped back on his dingy, wished us luck, and then rode on back to the gigantic yacht that was anchored near the island (straight off the bow in the first picture of this post ^^). 

and because our little dingy went painfully slow with six people in it, chelsea and her dad raced off to save our Friend Ship on their own, leaving angela, barrhett, dan, and i to nervously bite our nails on the beach...

actually, the boys went back onto the trail, monkey-climbed a palm tree and knocked down some coconuts, while angela and i went for a swim to cool off. because luckily, our Friend Ship was drifting back into the channel, so it wasn't in danger of running aground or harming any other vessels. we knew chelsea and captain chuck would get our boat back without a scratch... so we figured why not enjoy being stranded on this pretty island in the mean time? :)

it turns out, the mooring ball broke off way down at the base, perhaps from the weight of our boat. you BET we reversed on every single mooring ball we tied up to after that! because drifting loose in the middle of a crowded harbor would've been a lot more serious than drifting away from an uninhabited island... 

so as far as kind of losing an expensive boat goes, we were pretty lucky! ;)

sailing to the "drowned land" // anegada

we sailed 15 miles north from Virgin Gorda to the flat, quiet island of Anegada. the seas were rough and the winds hit 48 knots (i remember when 25 knots on the way to buck island used to scare me!). a tiiiny bit of seasickness ensued. and our entire bucket of alcohol bottles slid right off the counter and crashed onto the catamaran floor! but luckily it fell on the only piece of carpet on the boat so the only casualty was one wine bottle! the boys were just glad it wasn't their rum...

when it was over, the end destination was well worth it all.

all the other Virgin Islands were created from volcanic activity (which is pretty rad) and are therefore really mountainous and lush. Anegada, on the other hand, is all FLAT coral and limestone. so sailing in, all we could see was a row of tiny little trees that appeared to be growing right out of the sea! it was wild!

we spent two calm days and nights around Anegada. our first day, we took a cab across the entirety of the island to it's popular beach. we saw feral cows and donkeys and goats (oh my!), and even some pink flamingos from afar. (we were more interested in dipping our bodies in that beautiful water as soon as possible than seeing flamingos up close.)

the island seemed eerily quiet to me, so i asked our cabbie if it was always like that. he said yes, and he loves it. the population is only a little over 200, so it's a very tight-knit community. he waved and/or talked to every local we passed by.

on our second day, we digny'd out to another secluded beach to go lobster diving. but, those monster winds had churned up the sea too much and the visibility was awful. we had fun playing baseball with driftwood and coconuts instead.

we hung two hammocks on the back deck of the boat and took turns relaxing in them. the hammock at the stern was tied to the dingy rack, so we lowered it and dangled over the water. that was maybe my favorite moment of our entire trip :)

in the evenings, we made each other rum drinks and practiced tying bowline knots while barrhett played the guitar he brought. the sunsets were extra surreal here because there was nothing obstructing our view. nothing but deep blue ocean for miles and miles and miles.

if you've ever thought, "i just want to escape to a serene little island and not ever be bothered with society or 'real life' again," this might be the perfect place to do it. 

Friend Ship 2014!

on the second day of this new year, i left st thomas on a ferry bound for a british virgin island i'd never been to before. from there, a group of friends and i all boarded a boat that would be our floating home for the next ten days. 

as soon as my friend chelsea learned i was returning to the virgin islands for a bit, she urged me to make sure i was available for the first couple weeks of january for this sailing trip around the BVI. before i even got to the island, before i got a job, before i found a secure place to live, i promised to THIS. i stayed open. and everything molded itself accordingly.

thanks to my island connections, i was able to fill in on boats around st thomas whenever i wanted to, without the restriction of a weekly schedule. it was more of a day-to-day would you like to work tomorrow? and i could always say yes or no. that freedom allowed me to save some money AND kept me available to take part in this trip around islands i'd been longing to see since last year!

chelsea and her dad (a well-seasoned world sailor and ER doctor) were gracious enough to invite me and three others along for the adventure. 

we all hail from the same small town in central florida, but i knew none of them growing up. i only just connected with chelsea a little less than a year ago, and then hung out with her for the first time last summer, on my birthday in amsterdam. i've absolutely adored her ever since, so i was really excited to join her and her friends aboard the aptly named Friend Ship.  

we started the trip in Tortola, with a night docked in the harbor. we laid out on the forward nets, drinking, singing, practicing yoga poses, and sharing stories. we woke up our first morning on the boat just a little hung over, which made for some very fun sailing.

we went northeast to Virgin Gorda, which was overrun with partiers from "yacht week"---a week long spring break style shit show for mid-twenty-somethings. we observed the row of tied up catamarans from afar (^^behind me in the jumping photo), comfortably sipping at our rum drinks. we spied on the floating frat party with the boat's binoculars and were hugely entertained by some wasted souls. 

i'll take a quiet catamaran with an intimate-sized group of friends over complete debauchery any damn day. actually, i'd take a catamaran with friends over a lot of things ;) 

plus! this was only the beginning of our journey! we had to take it slow and steady if we were to survive 10 days at sea.