Archives for 2015 | Distant Shores Sailing Newsletters

Transatlantic to Saint Lucia with ARC+

Wow! 11 days (and a few hours) to cross the Atlantic! The winds were absolutely perfect with no gusts higher than 35 knots - almost all was 15-25 knots from ENE
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Main boom well out for downwind sailing!
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Our downwind rig with bow jibs flying - the windward one set on our Selden downwind pole…
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Main and Jib to port side and genoa poled out to starboard.
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Our sailing rig for almost all of this trip. Main on one side with a preventer, genoa on the other side on the pole, and the jib as well filling in on the same side as the genoa. More on this rig in an upcoming technical blog!
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A bright moon for much of the passage. Easy to sail and see the sails we always put the bimini back to enjoy the night skies.
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Sheryl prepared amazing meals!
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Lots of Sargasso Weed. We do not remember seeing so much weed on previous trips south like this. It fouled our rudders and our propeller a few times. We had to turn around and drift backwards a few meters to clear them.
transat_SL-a - 9
Our longtime Maltese friend Anthony came along to experience the transatlantic sail and "enjoyed every minute"! Our crew was excellent!!
transat_SL-a - 8

ARC+ to Cabo Verde Islands

Setting off on the ARC - we had been practicing our dual headsail rig… flying the jib on port and the genoa on the pole to starboard.
Sailing-to-cabo-verde - 7
Fast sailing the first 2 days with surfing up to 12 knots…
Sailing-to-cabo-verde - 2
We had a more than a few visits from dolphins…
Sailing-to-cabo-verde - 4
We tried setting the headsails 2 different ways…
1) with the smaller jib on the pole
2) larger genoa on the pole…
In the end we used this rig for more than half of the passage.

We used the smaller jib poled out when the wind was stronger. Then the larger genoa was somewhat hidden by the mainsail (which is on the same side). In lighter winds we wanted the extra area of the larger genoa, and poled that one out projecting more sail area.
Sailing-to-cabo-verde - 3
Sunset in the hazy skies… we come less than 150 miles from the Sahara and the air is mainly hazy from sand…sunset-sailing
A visitor comes for a rest. The little fellow flew off again but another came the next day…
Sailing-to-cabo-verde - 5
With light downwind conditions we were able to catch quite a bit of wind with this rig. Sort of like having a small spinnaker. But unlike a spinnaker we could fly it all night and one crew could reef it.
Sailing-to-cabo-verde - 6
A Sahara sunrise… even quite high up the sun is in the sandy haze.
Sailing-to-cabo-verde - 1
Desert on the sea! Red Sahara sand settled on everything…
Night sky as the sun sets… note the pole is set with an after guy. In combination with the foreguy and topping lift the pole is completely steady. If we need to we can reef the jib as it is and the pole will stay in position.
Sheryl made many great meals but the best had to be Ribeye steak on the last night at sea.
Arriving at 2am we are tired but happy! It was a very fast passage and we all did well.
Sailing-to-cabo-verde - 8

Prize Giving for Leg 1 Las Palmas to Cabo Verde - we won first in our class. Time is corrected by adding the amount you motor. We motored just 2.5 hours of the whole trip and won our class!!! Happy Campers!!!

cabo-verde-arc-class-winners - 1

Sailing Madeira - Porto Santo Island

By Sheryl Shard, copyright 2015. All rights reserved.
madeira-porto-santo-beach-02This past summer Paul and I have been revisiting the mid-Atlantic islands of the Azores and Madeira aboard our Southerly 49 sailboat, Distant Shores II, but on previous Atlantic voyages (1990, 1992, 1997, 2007, 2012) we never had the opportunity to visit the starkly beautiful island of Porto Santo.

Porto Santo is an island within the Madeira archipelago that lies 30 miles to the northeast of the main island of Madeira but is so dramatically different, both visually and geologically, you feel as if you’ve sailed to another part of the planet.


Where the island of Madeira is dark and volcanic with lush green forests, fertile fields and mountains; Porto Santo is mostly low, sandy, dry and desert-like. But this is its appeal! Good sand equals good beaches and the sand bottom in the surrounding seas equals clear turquoise water - great for swimmers, divers and sailors.
madeira-porto-santo-north-coast-natural-pools-12Porto Santo is usually where sailors from Europe make landfall in Madeira since it’s the closest island in the archipelago to the Portuguese mainland at 545 miles. It’s a port of call, has a good marina and optional anchorage right close to the beach and main town of Vila Baleira and is a wonderful place to relax after an offshore passage of any length. Porto Santo is a quiet friendly place and many Madeirans use it as an escape haven, taking the ferry over for weekend get-aways.

We have met many European sailors over the years who have waxed poetic about the 9km-long crescent beach in Porto Santo but, having sailed in the Caribbean and Bahamas where we have enjoyed some of the best beaches in the world, we couldn’t imagine that it would be anything special. Maybe compared to the beaches in the Mediterranean, we thought. We were wrong.

madeira-porto-santo-beach-04The beach in Porto Santo really is amazing! And the sand is said to have healing properties due to the minerals in it. Whenever you visit the beach you see people covering their legs or entire bodies in this sand for hours at a time to heal their aches and pains.

Madeira to Porto Santo
We sailed over to Porto Santo from Funchal, the main harbour in Madeira. It’s 39 miles from Funchal Marina or 28 miles if you are staying at the beautiful Quinta do Lorde Marina and Resort on the Sao Lourenco Peninsula at the northeast end of Madeira, an easy day sail from either harbour.

It was a light wind close-hauled day and by afternoon the winds had dropped so we switched on the engine to motorsail the final distance. To our dismay, a submerged drifting fishing net fouled our propeller and Paul had to dive on it in the open ocean to clear it. (You can read the whole story of how he did this in his
Tech Blog “Offshore Diving on the Prop” 22/08/15.)

net-porto-santo - 1

We arrived at Porto Santo in the late afternoon motorsailing along the golden beach since the Porto Santo Marina lies at the far end.


On our way we passed the main town of Vila Baleira where New World explorer, Christopher Columbus, who married Portuguese noblewoman, Filipa Moniz Perestrelo, had a home at one time. The house is now a small museum. Porto Santo does tend to be a place where sailors get “washed ashore.”


We had called ahead to let the staff at the Porto Santo Marina (Tel. +351 291 980 080) know we were coming and were greeted by Marina Manager, Nelson Vasconcelos, as well as officers from Customs and Immigration. Although we had cleared into the European Union in the Azores, you are required to report your arrival and departure to these departments at each port while cruising in Portuguese territories. To our delight, one of the officers was a longtime fan of the Distant Shores sailing TV series! The show aired for many years on Travel Channel in Portugal and now airs primetime on Nautical Channel as well as across the rest of Europe, Asia, Africa and Australia. What a welcome!


The Porto Santo Marina is owned by the same company as Quinta do Lord Marina and Resort in Madeira and has good facilities for visiting sailors including a boat yard where you can have work done on your boat. Many sailors also store their boats here for the winter and return for Atlantic cruising in the summer.

The Marina has 140 berths on floating pontoons, for vessels from 6 to 30 metres long. There is a minimum depth of 3 metres. The 10,000 m2 shipyard can hold up to 80 monohull vessels (on metal stands) not exceeding 5 metres in length, 25 tons and a beam of 4.40 metres. The shipyard can provide the several services, amongst them water and electricity, technical repair services for vessels, bathrooms and changing rooms.


Unfortunately we only had time for a short visit to Porto Santo, 2 days, before we had to get back to Madeira to haul out the boat before flying home for 6 weeks to complete post-production on new episodes of Distant Shores Season 10 we filmed during the summer and also to conduct seminars at the United States Sailboat Show in Annapolis, MD, October 8-12. So we organized a 4-wheel drive tour with Lazermar to take in the sights and do some hiking.

With Sofia from Lazermar 4-wheel drive tours
Sand dunes of Porto Santo
Natural pools on north coast of Porto Santo
Beach at the hidden cove of Zimbralinho


Fantastic basalt formations inside the volcanic crater at the Ana Ferreira Peak

Although Porto Santo is a just a small island, 42 sq km (16 sq miles), two days there is too short! We really wanted to stay longer and get into the slow relaxed pace of the island and meet more of the islanders but we were just so glad that we didn’t miss the place this time round. We highly recommend making a stop there if you are ever cruising in this part of the world. Until next time!


Madeira Adventures

Welcome to Madeira - as we arrive we meet a fan who follows Distant Shores and remembers our last visit 8 years ago. He puts us in touch with RTP Madeira who interviews us for their news program… “film crew arrives to film the island” Cool!!
sheryl and rtp

A visit from another old friend! On our first visit to Madeira in 1991 Jose Luis was manager of the marina and introduced us to the beautiful walks along the "levadas" (irrigation canals). We enjoyed this so much we ended up hiking over 100 miles staying 6 weeks. He made a surprise visit to the boat to say hello!
Hiking day😀 Start of the walk well up above Funchal with 3 cruise ships in port.
paul fillming madeira
Madeira has the world's largest number of irrigation waterways which they call "levadas". The result is a dense network of ‪‎hiking‬ trails throughout the island. Today we are hiking the path following "Levada dos Tornos" using the Sunflower walking guide. There are also great recommended walks on the tourist office website at
levada dos tornos
The trail along Levada dos Tornos today includes a tunnel so we packed the headlamps that we use on night watch and a flashlight. You have to be careful because there are no lights, the tunnel paths are often narrow and the roof and sides rough since many were hewn by hand using pick axes in days of old! Amazing! (If you look closely you can see the light at the end of the tunnel.)
paul and levada tunnel
More remote walks on the northern side of the island reveal one of the many sources for the “levada” irrigation system.
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Some of these levada paths can be slippery or vertiginous as there can be a steep drop on one side.
Offroad jeep excursion - a great day out with guide Hugo.
paul and sheryl and jeep
Overlooking Curral das Freiras in the middle of Madeira!
sheryl and curral view
Luckily our visit coincided with perhaps the largest festival on Madeira, at Monte. We filmed the festivities at the evening party…
And also the procession… very moving!
Today we're leaving Madeira to sail to the island of Porto Santo, about 40 nm & also in the Madeira Archipelago. I'm making a final visit to the city market in Funchal, one of my favourite foreign markets!
Definitely make time for some sightseeing! Here on the second highest peak at over 1800 meters we are above the clouds!
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Azores Passage to Madeira

The passage to Madeira was quite a mix of light winds, close hauled, calms and then force 6-7 gusting 8!!
Here are a few pix!

We start off with dolphins visiting as we leave Santa Maria and a wonderful time in the Azores! We will be back!!!
The first day is fairly calm and we have a lovely sunset!! Santa Maria is still visible upper right…
Sheryl in the galley making a delicious soup! Thick chicken lentil stew/soup … hmmm
Another one of MANY dolphin visits on this passage. They always look so great as they charge up to see us…
The wind builds half way through the passage… waves are over 2 meters.
Wind was forecast to get up to 20 knots or so for the last 200 miles to Madeira. This would be ENE so close-reaching…
Keeping watch Paul gets a wave in the face :-)
It built more as we got closer to the island! We saw Force 6 (21-27) then with 50 miles to go we saw steady force 7 (27-33 knots) with gusts of force 8. We dropped the already double-reefed main and reefed our tough little 100% jib. Still making 7 knots to windward!
Finally we get into the wind shadow of Madeira. Suddenly its calm (with 2-3 meter seas) and we approach this tall dramatic island.
We get a slip right in Funchal’s marina - normally crowded later in the season when boats are heading south we tie up and have a quiet night with no Nightwatches!

Sailing Azores - Flores

By Sheryl Shard, copyright 2015. All rights reserved.
Sheryl and Paul at the waterfall at Poco do Balcalhau, Flores

"Flores is the most beautiful of all the islands of the Azores!"

This is the comment we hear time and time again about the island of Flores (meaning “flowers” in Portuguese) from sailors and other visitors familiar with the Azores and also from many Azoreans who have to made the trip out to the most western island in the Azores Archipelago. We had stopped here briefly in 1997 to catch our breath after a previous transatlantic crossing and since then have longed to return to spend more time discovering the island's charms.

Arrival at Porto das Lajes Marina
This year's passage from St. Maarten in the Caribbean with just the two of us on board took us seventeen leisurely days (see links to blogs below) but regardless of the gentle conditions it is still always a delight to reach land and a safe harbour. The fact that our landfall was in the beautiful island of Flores just added to our anticipation to reach this distant shores!
Anchorage and harbour at Lajes das Flores on the southeast coast

Since our 1997 visit to Flores, a small marina has been built in Lajes on the southeast corner of the islands but there is still lots of room to anchor outside if there isn't space inside the tiny harbour when you arrive although there is always a bit of a roll but you also find that inside the marina. The entrance to the marina is a bit tight and it is recommended that you go in slowly prepared to back out if the slips are full. flores-azores-porto-das-lajes-marina
Small marina in Lajes das Flores.

Fortunately, I had the mobile phone number of the marina manager, Tiego Pimentel,
which Paul had found in the online update to our Imray RCC Pilot Guide to the Atlantic Islands by Anne Hammick, so I made a call from sea using our IridiumGO! satphone connection to learn the status before we arrived. You can also call on VHF 16, working channel 10, but Tiego is not always at the harbour or near a radio. The marina email address is also in the guide.
Distant Shores II at the marina in Lajes das Flores

Tiego speaks excellent English and let us know that, at that moment, the T-head at the end of the main pontoon was available with lots of space for our 15 m Southerly 49 to tie alongside since a group of boats had just left for Faial. We were very fortunate! When we arrived sailors from boats already secured came out to help us with lines and greet us. Several of the crews we knew from St. Maarten but there we boats there that had arrived from all parts of the globe. Everyone had all been at sea for weeks themselves so realized how much it meant to be welcomed and safely tied to a dock. When you go cruising on your own boat, you become part of an international brotherhood of sailors that look out for one another. A very nice community to belong to!
Clearing In
Clearing in is easy in Flores. The marina manager, Tiego, can do all the paperwork right in the marina office and often will come to your boat when you arrive. Later you will receive a visit to your boat from the Guardia to check your paperwork, but despite the initial seriousness of these officers they are all very friendly and welcoming to visiting sailors.
Guardia checks over our papers

Paperwork completed, we walked up the hill to the Clube Naval (a bit of a challenge to our wobbly land legs after being at sea for over two weeks) to satisfy our cravings for French Fries and ice cream. We smiled when we saw the crew of the Dutch yacht "White Witch in Blue" who arrived just before us enjoying the same menu. We eat well at sea but there are a few things you just can't do easily on a moving sailboat. A little further up the hill towards town is the sailors bar and local restaurant, Beira Mar. The owners speak good English making it easy to order their delicious but affordable meals of meat, fish, omelettes and pizza.

Other Harbours
There are only a couple of other harbours in Flores. They are rarely used by cruising sailors and only in the most calm of conditions. These are:
The old harbour at Santa Cruz

The tiny harbour at Ponta Delgada, Flores, on the north coast

Taxi Tour
Although we longed for a day of sleep and boat-tidying after our arrival, the weather for the next couple of days was going to be extremely clear and perfect for filming so the Flores Tourist Board, who we were working with to produce a new episode of Distant Shores, had organized a guide and driver for us first thing the next morning. We were up early (and in fine shape since we were still in the rhythm of keeping watches) to meet with Silvio Medina, owner of Tours of Flores, a knowledgeable and enthusiastic guide who, after having lived in Boston for many years, speaks excellent English. He has several vehicles including two vans so can accommodate groups of sailors and other visitors for cost-effective and enjoyable tours. He also works with tour operators organizing hiking vacations for which Flores is a great destination we were soon to discover.

There can often be mist or fog for parts of the day in Flores especially at the top of the island where the main attractions of the Sete Lagoas (Seven Lakes) filling the islands' seven inactive volcanic craters as well as several interesting volcanic rock formations are located so Silvio whisked us up there at 8:00 AM to take in the spectacular views. The roads are all newly paved and in beautiful condition so it was a very comfortable ride.flores-azores-morro-das-frades
The Morro das Frades look like 2 monks at a monastery.flores-azores-rocha-dos-bordoes-basalt-columns
The vertical basaltic columns Rocha dos Bordōes called the Walking Sticks by the islanders and Pipe Organ by tourists.
There are 7 inactive volcanic craters on Flores that are now lakes.flores-azores-lagoa-rasa-and-funda
Lagoa Funda and Lagoa Rasa are close but at different altitudes.
Flores has many waterfalls and beautiful flowers.
This modernized cottage Moinha da Cascada (Waterfall Mill) is available for rent for 80 euros per night in the high season and is near the natural seaside bathing pools at Faja Grande. flores-azores-moinha-da-cascada2
If you needed to get off the boat for a few nights, Moinha da Cascada would be a great retreat!flores-azores-faja-grande-bathing-pools
There are few beaches in Flores but these natural seaside pools are popular swimming holes in summertime.flores-azores-ponta-delgada-picnic-area
Picnic area at Ponta Delgada, Flores
At many of the seaside villages in Flores there are fabulous public picnic areas with wood-stocked BBQ's, clean bathrooms and showers like this one at Ponta Delgada. If you love outdoor activities, Flores is a tranquil place to get away from it all.
BBQ with sink and counters ready for woodfire cooking

We had a full but extremely pleasant working day filming around Flores on Day One which concluded with the 500th Anniversary of the Parish of Lajes and a procession at the church in town. We marvelled at the loving preparation of the flower carpets leading up to the church. Unfortunately it rained for the procession but that didn't deter anyone and following the ceremony we crashed into our berth to get up early again the next morning to continue our tour and to experience one of the islands most beautiful coastal hikes.
Islander preparing flower carpet for the procession and 500th Anniversary celebrations of Lajes das Flores

Stay tuned!

< Previous Newsletter

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Passage to Azores Part 1 - Week One

Passage to Azores Part 2 - Arriving

Sheryl and Paul Shard have now been cruising internationally for 25 years. They are sailing authors, instructors/consultants and the fun-loving hosts of the Distant Shores sailing adventure TV series (AWE TV, Vimeo on Demand). The Distant Shores series profiles the world's best sailing destinations and provides insights into the joys and challenges of living aboard a cruising sailboat. The shows are also available on DVD and as HD downloads.


Passage to Azores Part 2 - Arriving

By Paul Shard, copyright 2015. All rights reserved.

Here is a summary of the trip with the pix we put up on Facebook using the IridiumGO unit (see IridiumGO tracker below)… This is the second part of the trip…

Click Here for Part 1

May 25 - Wind is up to 7 knots wow! Will these calms ever end ?? Sailing at 4knots close hauled again. Smooth seas grey skies. All well on board
May 26 - Squalls come through with wind up to 20 then back to 10-15 closehauled. Sailing well with 971 miles to Flores
May 26 - Sailing North! It's noticeably colder now and we're wearing fleece for the first time in years! Sailing close-hauled wind is 15 knots - I start nightwatch. Good night everyone!
May 27 - Closehauled! Lucky we are good at closehauled! Wind is ESE at 10 knots so we are hard on the wind still not pointing the Azores. Today will be a tweaking day trying to maximize the miles made good with this wind. I am nervous to check the forecast since I think we may have more calms!!
May 28 - Sheryl takes over the watch at 0300. Sailing closehauled at 4.5 knots 2 other sailboats around on AIS I'm off to bed
May 28 - Dolphins! Over 100 of the exuberant Common Atlantic Dolphin come by at breakfast. 10-15 play at the now! Lovely!!
Staying in touch!! We're testing the IridiumGo unit on this passage and it has been brilliant! We use sat email (no attachments) upload photos, tweet directly. Dawn in our office posts the photos to FBook! Cool #‎IridiumGO!
Heading north through Azores high means perfect calm seas for a proper dinner!
May 28 - Dinner together at the table!
Thanks to friends Dave and Janice on catamaran "Livin Life" who gave us some mahi mahi they had caught!!
May 29 - Moon set in the Azores high. Wind 2 knot motorsailing north perfect nightwatch. We sailors are all so lucky to see our beautiful planet!
May 31 - My wonderful first mate makes another great dinner at sea. We're sailing in light winds so it's nice and level for cooking otherwise I usually reef or feather the main to stand the boat up to make cooking easier
Downwind rig with genoa sheet run aft. It's a bit rolly downwind so we have the keel down to steady us. Nights are cooler now that we are so far north. Fleece and perhaps a hat
Sunrise on the Atlantic. Have picked up a NW wind Force 4 & are sailing wing & wing into the sun. Flores, Azores, 470nm to the east...
Enjoying the sunshine on my 1100-1400 watch. Breeze up. Sailing wing & wing at 6.5kts. #‎Flores, #‎Azores, 440nm to go. Sailing in company with S/V Indiana, a 39' catamaran that we caught up to last night. They left Puerto Rico on May 11. Track our position at
Atlantic crossings aren't all like this wow a proper sit down Sunday meal with roast duck (tinned) veg and mashed potatoes! The Azores high has given us such settled conditions
Evening watch as the full moon comes up. We are sliding downwind at 5-6 knots wing and wing with just 250 miles to Flores! Good night all!
Pouring rain still brings no more wind! True wind 1-2 knots!! So we motor a bit more. Just 172 miles to go. Can almost taste that dinner ashore.
June 2 - Practicing my Portuguese. 130 miles to go to #‎Flores, #‎Azores! #‎transatDS #‎passagemaking
Auto steering (as usual) we take a break at the bow while filming dolphins! We got some great shots!! Naturally this will be in Season 10 of Distant Shores come sail with us on video as well!!
0603 ps selfie
105 miles from Flores in the Azores! All going well, this will be our last night at sea on this passage. And it's a gorgeous night! Big moon rising as we sail under main & genoa in light west winds. Just spoke to the Dutch sailboat "White Witch in Blue" who I saw on AIS was 9 miles ahead of us. They were anchored beside us in St. Maarten in early May, then sailed to Bermuda with several other Dutch yachts before making the crossing. They left Bermuda 15 days ago. We'll all meet for a drink in Lajes, Flores, tomorrow! #‎transatDS #‎passagemaking #‎sailingadventure
0603 moonrise
38 miles to go!!! 8am and we are on the chart with Flores. Sailing 7 knots but can't see the island yet... Who will "get" the "land ho"? #‎transatDS #‎raymarine #‎navionics
0603 paul and plotter
June 3 - Calamari anyone?? At least 2 came onboard last night. Glad I didn't get hit by that!! 20 miles to go!
0603 squid

First view of land!! 13 miles from the south end of Flores ETA 1500 UTC

Arrived June 3 at 3pm local time - almost exactly 17 days…

We have arrived! We're in the Azores after 17 full days at sea! Distant Shores II is safely tied up in the new marina in Lajes and we have had a good walk to get our land legs back! We'll sleep well tonight and start exploring the island tomorrow. Thanks everyone for all your kind comments and for sharing in our adventures. More to come!

Passage to Azores Part 1 - Week 1

By Sheryl Shard, copyright 2015. All rights reserved.
Here is a summary of the trip with the pix we put up on Facebook using the IridiumGO unit… This is the first part of the trip… Click Here for Part 2

May 17 - Departure
We leave St Martin with the 1030 bridge out of the lagoon. This whole area for hundreds of miles has seen higher than average amounts of Sargasso Weed in the last few months and we try to divert around these house sized floating islands of the orange weed. When it gets caught in our rudders/keel and prop keg we are slowed quite a bit. We reverse and try to clear it every few hours but it is impossible to dodge in the dark. Nice sailing for the first day.
Passage Sun-Thurs - 2
Caribbean breezes take us north. Wind is not too strong and seas not very large so getting our “sea legs” seems easier than it would have if winds were stronger.
Passage Sun-Thurs - 5
We are testing an Iridium Go unit to get email, upload photos and tweets, as well as to access Predictwind and get routing advice and Gribs.
Passage Sun-Thurs - 8
Every morning we have a few flying fish onboard. Sometimes 5-6. They only come on board at night when they can’t see and make the mistake of hitting us in the dark. The first night a large one lands in the cockpit flapping wildly around until I manage to grab his slippery muscular body and toss him overboard.
Passage Sun-Thurs -flyingfish
May 21 - we put in our 4 spare jugs of diesel.
#‎autoprop testing. We are motoring in a "zero wind puddle" and want to extend our range as much as possible. The autoprop adjusts it's pitch so hopefully we will make more miles at low revs than a conventional prop. We have been making 5.6 at just 1600rpm in a flat calm.
May 21 - Wind is just 2-3 knots seagulls around all day. Mainly shearwaters plus tiny British Petrels and flying fish. Good night
Passage Sun-Thurs - 3
May 22 - Sea legs and a calm night mean we can have an amazing dinner! Sheryl makes an excellent flank steak with baked potato and green beans. We even get a small glass of red wine Bon a petit wherever you are!
Passage Sun-Thurs - 7
#‎Sunrise on the Atlantic. Another day of calm weather on Day 6 of our #‎offshorepassage to #‎FloresAzores from the #‎Caribbean
Sailing in the rain. There is a little more wind in the rain shower passing now so we can sail.
We are now one third of the way to the Azores so might expect 10 more days at sea. Fair winds everyone

Sheryl makes dinner as we get ready for nightwatch. Sailing fast closehauled we have reefed the main to slow up a little for the night so we are going 8.2 instead of 9 knots. I slow us to 7 to stand the boat up while making dinner. More comfortable for my wonderful galley chef!
May 23 - Close reaching 7knots main and Genoa. Sher is making bacon and egg sandwiches for breakfast plus cappuccino. All well onboard
May 23 - Morning stroll today's crop of flying fish plus there was also a squid who squirted ink all over deck and dinghy but managed to escape (we hope)
May 24 - Wind is 3 knots on the nose so we motor on a gorgeous sapphire sea. Just saw our first Portuguese man-o-war jellyfish. 1300 miles to go.
Omg- 3kt wind again! ESE breeze motor sailing main and jib weather a bit cooler as we are out of the tropics now nearly half way to Flores
What is this?? Steel tank floating looks like part of a ship. It hasn't been floating long judging by minimal growth in it and good condition. Will try to post more shots of other angles. What is this?? Steel tank floating looks like part of a ship. It hasn't been floating long judging by minimal growth in it and good condition.
May 24 - That she blows!! In the middle of 3-4 sperm whales. Easy to see in calm conditions. Smaller juvenile swims towards us to take a look. He is perhaps 30-35 feet long (full grown are over 50)
Wind is up to 6-8 knots so we are sailing main and jib 32deg apparent at 4.6 knots. Unfortunately the wind is directly from Azores pretty evening. We had another visit from a pod of sperm whales…
Continued Here

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Part-time Cruising: A Boat and Home in the Caribbean

By Sheryl Shard, copyright 2015. All rights reserved.

I have written previously about the benefits of part-time cruising, maintaining a home base while cruising and earning money while cruising but on this year’s visit to St. Maarten we were contacted by friends from Canada who, with their families, are enjoying all of the above in a way we’ve never considered before.

We meet up with Linda and Mario, fans of Distant Shores, at the St. Maarten Yacht Club

Mario from Calgary is both passionate about sailing and dreamed of sailing and cruising in the Caribbean one day. However, his wife is not comfortable with the idea of living aboard or spending extended time on a sailboat. So our friends have both come up with the idea of building a dream home in the Caribbean, in St. Maarten to be specific, where they can continue working, escape the cold winters of Canada and sail to their heart’s content all year long in glorious tropical splendour.

Mario and Linda will continue their careers in real estate and interior decorating in St. Maarten

Mario and his wife, Linda, were motivated to seek a slower paced lifestyle in the tropics following a health scare as a result of stressful times at work. After a lot of research they came up with St. Maarten as a good location to build a new home mostly due to the tie to the EU the island has. Mario holds an Italian passport which allows him work opportunities as a real estate agent in St. Maarten. The standard of living is good and the international airport makes the island easily accessible for family members such as their grown children and parents remaining in Canada. Separation pains were difficult at first but everyone is adjusting now that they see how healthy and happy Mario and Linda are here.

They bought a beautiful condo and joined the St. Maarten Yacht Club where they can sail with new friends and crew in island regattas, so Mario’s dream of sailing in the Caribbean has come true in a whole new enjoyable way from what he originally imagined! Linda, an interior decorator, is enjoying setting up their island home and establishing her new business in St. Maarten.

Mario being interviewed for House Hunters International before filming on Distant Shores II began

Mario and Linda are long-time viewers of the Distant Shores sailing adventure TV series and when they saw on the Distant Shores TV Facebook Page that we were in St. Maarten they contacted us to say hello. At the same time their story was being documented by HGTV’s TV series, House Hunters International, and the producer called to ask us if they could film the final segment of the episode aboard Distant Shores II. Great fun! We had Mario, Linda, and some of their new island and yacht club friends plus the film crew aboard our boat to toast their new found life ashore and afloat.

Linda and Mario conclude their story for House Hunters International on DS II

If full-time cruising doesn’t seem possible for you but you long to get out on the water in the Caribbean, there are many variations on part-time cruising that just may satisfy the itch and keep everyone in the family happy.

Sheryl and Paul Shard have been cruising internationally for 25 years. They are sailing authors, instructors/consultants and the fun-loving hosts of the Distant Shores sailing adventure TV series (AWE TV, Vimeo on Demand). The Distant Shores series profiles the world's best sailing destinations and provides insights into the joys and challenges of living aboard a cruising sailboat. The shows are also available on DVD and as HD downloads.

You might also enjoy:
Maintaining a Home Base while Cruising
Making Money while Cruising
Keeping Romance Alive while Cruising

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Finding Festivals When Cruising

By Sheryl Shard, copyright 2015. All rights reserved.

Distant Shores_Festivals4

Happy Easter! The end of winter and the coming of spring is an event celebrated by most cultures in many splendid ways around the world. Paul and I have been fortunate to participate in quite a few of these celebrations in the Caribbean, Mediterranean and Scandinavia throughout our 25 years of cruising aboard sailboats. We have had fun filming and writing about the experiences to help you plan your own cruising adventures…

Fun Festivals All Year Long

We often plan our sailing voyages to arrive in places in time to participate in local festivals. And not just in the spring. There are amazing festivals around the world in places you can sail to all year long! Festivals and feasts are a great venue to meet local people since everyone is out and in a festive mood. As a result they are often more open to chatting and usually proud to explain their traditions. There is always lots to do and photograph at festivals including tasting new foods, watching parades, playing games and practicing the local language if different from your own. Take into consideration the best time for sailing in these places first and then look to see what events are going on during those times.

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Easter procession in Malta

What are our favourites? The most memorable spring celebrations for us have been Easter ceremonies in Malta, which is located in the central Mediterranean, and the festival of Smell the Breeze in Egypt, both of which we filmed for the Distant Shores sailing adventure TV series. Many festivals in Spain and Greece as well as Caribbean Carnival are tops on our list too. Check out past Newsletters under the category Festivals.


Last spring we had a special Easter experience at the small island of South Caicos in the Turks and Caicos after a 5-day passage from the British Virgin Islands. We arrived and cleared in on Good Friday and had our papers stamped by the Customs and Immigration officials at the local church where they were directing the youth group reenactment of the Easter story! We were welcomed in and had a memorable weekend with the people there. (See newsletter 21/04/14.)

Distant Shores_Festivals1

How to Find Festivals when Planning Your Cruise

You can find out what local events are taking place before sailing there from tourist board websites and travel guides, sailing blogs and Facebook Groups about various destinations and watching travel shows as part of your research.

Easter Week in Malta

The Maltese are enthusiastic Christians. St. Paul was shipwrecked here as documented in the Acts of the Apostles 27:39 to 28:10 so the Maltese are amongst the first Christians and proud of the tradition. They celebrate religious events with great passion and ceremony. The events leading up to Easter are especially colourful and dramatic - candlelit night processions, astonishing acts of penance such as dragging chains through the streets on Good Friday, reenactments of the Easter story and processions of great splendour. We filmed Easter Week in Malta for episode #56 in Distant Shores season 5 (more info here) before sailing to Italy. Here's an excerpt from the show to give you the idea of what you can experience if you sail there…

Sham El Nissem (Smell the Breeze) in Egypt

This festival in Egypy dates back to the 3rd millennium BC and is now a National Holiday celebrated by both Christians and Muslims on the day after Orthodox Christian Easter. The name Sham el Nessim also has ancient Egyptian roots meaning "renewal of life" but with the adoption of Arabic language, the term “Shemu” in ancient Egyptian morphed into “Sham el Nissem” or literally "Smelling the Breeze" and that is exactly how Egyptians celebrate this popular festival. There are colourful parades and everyone spends the day outside enjoying picnics with friends and family. The food is traditional - a) eggs decorated the night before as a family event symbolizing life (did you know it was the ancient Egyptians that started the tradition of decorating eggs?) b) onions to ward off evil spirits and 3) salted mullet fish honoured as a symbol of prosperity. This fish is extremely stinky and the Egyptians pride themselves as the only people with the stomachs to eat it. We joined in the Sham el Nissem festivities when sailing up the Suez Canal from the Red Sea and filmed it for episode #50 in Distant Shores season 4 along with four other episodes about boating in Egypt.

There are great festivals going on at all times of the year and planning to be in a cruising destination when they occur can add greatly to your cruising experience.

What festivals have you attended while sailing and would recommend to other sailors or travellers? We welcome your comments below…

You might also enjoy
Distant Shores Tech Blogs

Sheryl and Paul Shard have been cruising internationally for 25 years. They are sailing authors, instructors/consultants and the fun-loving hosts of the Distant Shores sailing adventure TV series (AWE TV, Vimeo on Demand). The Distant Shores series profiles the world's best sailing destinations and provides insights into the joys and challenges of living aboard a cruising sailboat. The shows are also available on DVD and as HD downloads.

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Sailing BVI to St. Martin 2015

By Sheryl Shard, copyright 2015. All rights reserved.

Greetings from the half-French half-Dutch island of St. Martin/St. Maarten in the Caribbean!

Sunset St Maarten 800
Sunset anchored in Simpson Bay Lagoon, St. Maarten

After almost two idyllic months cruising in the British Virgin Islands (BVI) we are now anchored in Simpson Bay Lagoon on the Dutch side of St. Maarten.

Departing the British Virgin Islands
Wednesday March 24 we raised anchor at 0600 and slid off the shallow bank we were anchored on at the mouth of the inner harbour at Road Town, Tortola, in the BVI planning to make an 18-hour non-stop upwind passage to Simpson Bay in St. Maarten. After showering and getting ready to depart, we determined we were too low on water for comfort. We had enough to be fine for the day but decided it would be safer and more convenient to top up our water before sailing offshore across the Anegada Passage. You never know what can happen. So instead of leaving for St. Maarten from Road Town we decided to sail up the Sir Francis Drake Channel to North Sound, Virgin Gorda, where it would be easy to stop at Leverick Bay Marina to fill up on water. The timing was good. It would be open by the time we got there.

Wednesday was a beautiful day with winds E 10-15 and a forecast that the winds would go to the NE in the afternoon, meaning we could sail versus motorsail to St. Maarten for at least half the day. Sailing from North Sound out the Necker Channel would give us an even better angle on the wind improving our chances of sailing upwind so was another good reason for changing our plans to go up there.

We motor-sailed up Sir Francis Drake Channel to make good time for the marina opening and marvelled at how few boats were out at that time of the morning. Not a bad morning commute :-)

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Leaving the inner harbour at Road Town, Tortola, in the British Virgin Islands

Luckily there was space at the dock when we arrived at Leverick Bay Marina - just a charter catamaran and a mega-yacht with a guy polishing the helicopter on deck - with space for us at the back. Water is 15 cents US per U.S. gallon and we totally filled our water tank for $22.00 US. Even with lots of showering and cooking and washing up we can go for about 2 weeks without a fill. Since we have good water capacity on our Southerly 49, Distant Shores II, we chose not to go with a watermaker on this boat since it's easy to get water where we've been cruising with the boat in Europe and the Caribbean. But at some point we may choose to add one. We had a Schenker watermaker on our previous boat, a Southerly 42.

We quickly filled and set off happy that we hadn't been delayed too much. Life in the galley at sea was going to be much better now that I didn't have to watch the water levels too closely and we could have a good long hot shower when we made landfall later that night.

Crossing the Anegada Passage
I won't go into too much detail about crossing the Anegada Passage since we have made the trip several times and have written about it in previous newsletters about St. Martin plus documented it in Distant Shores episodes in season 6 and season 9. However, I will say that on this trip the air was so clear that we were 40 nm away from the British Virgin Islands before Virgin Gorda disappeared below the horizon and we picked up St. Martin when we were 32 nm away! The whole voyage from Road Town was just over 100 nm.

Silver Cloud II_800
We saw lots of boats including the tallship cruise ship, Sea Cloud II, on the Anegada Passage en route to St. Martin

Arriving in St. Maarten
On this trip the winds never did go to northeast as predicted but picked up to 15-20 knots from the east which was pretty much "right on the nose". Distant Shores II is a long narrow boat with a 10 ft. 3 in. draft with the keel down (2 ft. 10 in. with the keel up for shallow draft) so slices through the waves and goes great to windward so despite this and the time we added for our water stop we were anchor-down at the Simpson Bay anchorage in St. Maarten at 10:30 PM, an hour and a half earlier than we predicted. Woo hoo!

The anchorage at Simpson Bay is large and we've come in there in the dark several times before so it was no problem arriving especially with the moonlight. We anchored at the back of the fleet in 4 metres with a sand bottom, so good holding, and despite it being a little rolly, as it often is here, we slept soundly. The only disturbance we had was at around midnight when a very drunk but happy couple returned to their boat in their dinghy and mistook our boat for theirs so were loudly puzzled why the stern ladder was raised. They burst into gales of laughter when then realized they were trying to board the wrong boat and sped off :-)

The next morning we saw another boat had anchored behind us in the night but the captain must have been very tired and not set his anchor carefully or not put out enough scope. We watched him drag across the harbour and almost out to sea! We couldn't raise him on the radio and we had our dinghy on deck so couldn't chase him but just as we were about to lower it and go after him we saw someone on deck and the situation was remedied.

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Coming through the Simpson Bay Bridge, St. Maarten

At 0930 on Thursday morning we caught the Incoming Bridge Opening at the Simpson Bay Bridge (bridge opening times here) and went into the smooth protected waters of Simpson Bay Lagoon where we anchored in our favourite spot in a very shallow but convenient-to-everything spot near the bridge. However we barely had the anchor down when a family in a Bavaria went aground beside us not realizing our Southerly 49 is shallow-draft. This happens all the time so today Paul wrote a new Tech Blog, Warning Shallow Water, that is essentially a field guide to Southerly Yachts. Our boat looks very similar to a new deep-draft Jeanneau so people see our boat and assume there is lots of water around us. We’re getting very good at helping people get their boats off shoals…

After helping the Bavaria get free of the ground, we took the dinghy to the customs dock which is right in by the bridge and cleared in to St. Maarten as well as paid bridge and anchoring fees. Info on clearing in at St. Maarten.

We'll be here for a couple of weeks before heading down-island doing the maintenance and repairs we weren't able to complete when we were here at Christmas before flying home to conduct boat show seminars. On the to-do list is to build a new cockpit hatch, service the freezer and generator, install a new winch base on the mast winch since the support is corroding, make some new oar holders for our Avon dinghy to store them better and pick up our new Sailrite Ultrafeed LSZ-1 Plus sewing machine and get to work on some long overdue canvas projects. Can't wait!

What spring maintenance projects are you working on? We welcome your comments below…

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Provisioning - Starting a Provisioning Notebook to Track Your Use of Supplies

By Sheryl Shard, copyright 2015. All rights reserved.

The delights of shopping in foreign markets.
The colourful market in the Portuguese island of Madeira.

Several months before our first major cruise in 1989, Paul and I started tracking our food and supply usage at home. This was the first step in designing a custom provisions list based on our individual needs and preferences.

We used a small three-ring binder with alphabetical index tabs which now contains complete and thorough lists of all our regular supplies. We entered items alphabetically in our binder every time we went grocery shopping and as we used things around the house and boat.

Over time, we developed a custom inventory of food items, cleaning and maintenance products, household goods and first aid supplies. We made notes beside each entry on how quickly we used things up, in what seasons we tended to eat more of certain foods and the changes in consumption rates of various products when guests stayed for a while.

This book is still our bible for provisioning. We consult it every time we go shopping to remind us of things we need. It is the foundation for our cruising inventory and provides reliable guidelines for how long we can cruise in isolation based on the supplies we have on board at the time.

Of course, when living aboard the boat, your regular eating habits and supply usage change somewhat due to factors such as the availability of certain products, your increased appetites due to physical activity and the galley equipment aboard your boat. However, we have found that our favourite foods at home are still the foundation of our provisions list for the boat.

As we travel, we discover new foods when we explore local markets and sample exotic cuisine in the ports we visit. In Spain, we developed a fondness for custard apples; in the Azores, two local women showed us how to prepare a delicious octopus stew; and in Brazil, a village boy introduced us to a refreshing bottled drink made from the fruit of the cashew tree. We make notes in our binder of any new “finds” and take them into consideration for future provisioning. I'm sure there is an app for this somewhere but my good old fashioned binder notebook that fits easily in my purse or backpack has served me well for years.

In France and the French islands of the Caribbean we discovered sauces in very small jars - handy when cooking for two.

Sometimes, we have to make substitutions or learn to live without products we enjoy at home when they are not available in the areas we are cruising. It was quite a shock to discover that peanut butter is only a staple in North America and difficult to find (or outrageously expensive) in most other countries. Now there is a big note in our provisioning binder to stock up on peanut butter when we’re going foreign!

We also take note of any changes we make in our regular routine while cruising. For example, we're real meat and potatoes people on shore but in many places around the world good meat is hard to find, expensive, or difficult to store. So when we are cruising, we are happier eating more stir-fries, stews and vegetarian meals (which are better for us anyway.)

Like many first-time cruisers, we initially made the mistake of loading the boat with canned goods we would never eat at home because books we had read said they stored well on a boat. If you don't eat canned corned beef or baked beans now, don't put them on the boat. Serving a crew food they hate will make them mutinous. On the other hand, nothing cheers up a wet miserable crew on a rainy night like a delicious meal of their favourite food or a surprise pack of a snack they love.

Building a list of food items and supplies you use regularly and annotating it with notes on how frequently you restock them, takes only a little time and starts you on the road to custom provisioning.

Go with What You Know
There are probably many things on your grocery list that you know how often to buy. For example, we know, without a doubt, that we go through 4 litres of milk every week whether living afloat or ashore. Start with the information that you know, and build from there. Any items you are uncertain about, make a point to observe and record your consumption rate in your provisioning notebook.

Of course, if you are planning a short-term cruise or cruising in an area where shopping is easy, you won’t need such in-depth records to plan your meals. But the longer and further you travel, the more helpful this kind of detailed information becomes.

When Paul and I were building our first boat, Two-Step, and our Atlantic cruise was a far-off dream, designing our stores list became an uplifting project after busy day's work. We'd quickly forget the stresses at the office as we added items to our provisioning binder and discussed the supplies we'd need for an ocean passage or a winter in the tropics.

Fuel your imagination as you create a master list of foods and supplies important to you!

Creating Your Own Provisioning Binder, Notebook or Spreadsheet
A good way to begin a custom provisions list for your cruise is to set up a binder, notebook or spreadsheet to record the supplies you use regularly. (There may even be an app for this that I haven't discovered yet. If you've found one you use, please let me know.)

Whenever you shop for food, household items or marine supplies, add the items to your book so you will have a master list of the common supplies you depend on.

The next step is to record the rate at which you consume them. This way, you will know how long things will last during your voyage and how often you will need to replace them.

A laundry marker and masking tape are useful tools to help you record the consumption rate of each item on your master list. Whenever you open a new tube of toothpaste, write that day's date on it with the laundry marker. When it's all used up, record the number of weeks it took to finish it.

Repeat the process a few times to get an average. For items that you can't or don't want to write on, such as paper towels, write the date on a piece of masking tape and stick it inside a nearby cupboard door.

Every couple of weeks, go through a cupboard in your kitchen, storage room, or the lockers in your boat to remind yourself of items that you don't buy regularly but like to have on hand. Certain spices, soup mixes, and cleaning products fit into this category for us. Add them to your lists and estimate how often you'll have to replace them if you are planning a long-term cruise.

These records are invaluable when provisioning for your cruise since they reflect your personal needs and preferences.

Check out more articles on Provisioning here.
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Sailing Recipe - Pumpkin Tomato Soup

By Sheryl Shard, copyright 2015. All rights reserved.

Sailing Recipe_Pumpkin Soup_Shard 35
Chilled Pumpkin Tomato Soup

Paul and I love trying new recipes and when we have friends come to visit us on Distant Shores II we ask them to bring one of their favourite recipes so they can teach us how to make it on the boat. Cooking together and then later sharing a meal at anchor in a beautiful place is a nice way to get caught up with friends and loved ones.

Sailing Recipe_Pumpkin Soup_Shard 04
Cruising friend, Wanita, in the galley of Distant Shores II

Recently we had our friend, Wanita, from Toronto, Canada, on board. (If you have watched Distant Shores season 7: Channel Islands to Scandinavia and San Blas Islands, episode 83, “Frisian Islands”, where we sail from England to The Netherlands, you will have met Wanita on video.) Wanita shared this recipe for Pumpkin Tomato Soup with us while she was visiting us in the British Virgin Islands and we have made it several times since adapting it slightly.

You can eat this soup hot or cold making it a versatile recipe for cruising. It also freezes well and doesn't lose flavour or texture when reheated. In fact, the flavours blend and improve if made ahead and eaten later.

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Pumpkin is a popular vegetable in the Caribbean so it is easy to find. Fresh pumpkin is often for sale in convenient pre-cut packages at the grocery store. If not available in your location, you could also substitute butternut squash or other available squash.

Sailing Recipe_Pumpkin Soup_Shard 32

For even more convenience and equally delicious taste, Pumpkin Tomato Soup can be made from canned pumpkin puree (not spiced pumpkin) which is great for the boat.

Pumpkin Tomato Soup

¼ small pumpkin or squash, about 1.3 lbs/500 grams or 1 X 16 oz can of pumpkin puree (pure pumpkin, not spiced pumpkin)
1 tablespoon /15 ml olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1-2 garlic cloves, minced (optional)
1 chicken bouillon cube + 1 1/3 cups / 300 ml hot water
1 14.5 oz/411g can crushed tomatoes
Juice of ½ lemon / 1-2 tablespoons lemon juice or to taste.
1-2 tablespoons of curry (start with a little bit, taste and add as desired)
Additional water to bring soup to desired consistency

Wash pumpkin piece and scoop out seeds with a spoon. Chop pumpkin into squares. (Wanita leaves the rind on since it's easier to remove rind after cooking.)

Sailing Recipe_Pumpkin Soup_Shard 02

Put pieces into large saucepan and cover with water. Cover pan. Bring water to boiling. Simmer until fork tender, about 10-15 minutes or so. Don't overcook or it will make the soup too watery.

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Remove pumpkin from water and allow to cool slightly, enough so that you can handle it to cut off the rind with a paring knife.

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While pumpkin is cooling, saute the chopped onion (and garlic if using) in olive oil for 3-5 minutes in a frying pan, until onion turns clear. Remove from heat.

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Open can of tomatoes and add to blender including all liquid in the can. Add softened onion/garlic to the tomato in blender. Puree until smooth.

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Remove tomato onion puree and put in a large saucepan.

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Add pumpkin pieces to blender and puree.

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Add the pureed pumpkin (or can of pumpkin puree) to the tomato onion puree in the large saucepan. Stir to blend.

Dissolve 1 bouillon cube in the hot water and add to the pureed liquid in the saucepan. Stir to blend.

Add salt and pepper, curry and lemon juice to taste.

If soup is too thick for your liking, add a little water until it reaches the desired consistency.

Serve hot or cold.

Sailing Recipe_Pumpkin Soup_Shard 36

Garnish with garlic croutons, chopped green onion and a dab of sour cream or plain yoghurt.

Makes 4-6 servings.

Check out more Sailing Recipes here.

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Keeping Romance Alive while Cruising

Paul Shard Sheryl Shard Distant Shores2

Thirty years ago this week Paul and I did a bareboat charter in the British Virgin Islands with some school friends and decided we were going to get married and fulfill our dream of building a boat and going cruising.

After launching our first boat, Two-Step in 1988, the Classic 37 we built together.

And we are back in the British Virgin Islands this week celebrating this decision! We're here on board our third boat, our Southerly 49 sailboat, Distant Shores II, having sailed 100,000 nautical miles and completed 5 transatlantic crossings over the years that we've spent visiting and documenting our experiences for television in countries in the Caribbean, Mediterranean, Northern Europe and Scandinavia as well as South and North America. So much to celebrate!

"But how can you two spend so much time in a small space and still get along?!" we are often asked.

The secret? Romance!

Paul Shard Sheryl Shard Distant Shores4
September 21, 2014, we celebrated 25 years of international cruising together

I thought that since it is Valentine's Day today, the topic of how to keep romance alive while cruising might be an interesting one. It is a topic that isn't discussed very much since when you start planning a cruise you tend to get deep into studies of safety and survival. As instructors and course designers for the Extended Cruising course (initially the Offshore Cruising course) of the Canadian Power and Sail Squadrons, Canada's largest boating safety and navigation training institution, Paul and I know and respect the importance of building skills to prevent accidents on the water and gaining knowledge to deal with emergencies at sea should they arise.

However, from our observations, the thing that destroys people's dreams of sailing off into the sunset more than improper safety procedures is that, as they get into the execution of their cruising plans, they forget about the Romance with which the dream is usually born - thoughts of sailing off into the sunset with a loved one across turquoise seas with no schedule, of candlelit dinners together in the cockpit anchored in an idyllic bay watching the sun set, feeling warm trade wind breezes on their faces, the excitement of arriving at a new exotic port after a well-executed passage together, walking hand in hand along deserted golden sand beaches…

Paul Shard Sheryl Shard Distant Shores5
A beach to ourselves at Atwood Harbour, Aklins Island, Bahamas

Instead they get mired in lists of equipment, gear and provisions that focus on getting through storms at sea. (Lists that don't include packing sexy lingerie so you can play out your fantasies with the one you love on an adventure of a lifetime!) Freedom is the goal but when they get out there they can't give up scheduling every minute, they stick to plans that don't go with the flow or even suit the weather and just make things miserable for themselves and their crew. Where's the romance in that?

Romance gets you through a lot of bad times and, I have to say, along with all the amazing wonderful enriching experiences there will be challenging times in the cruising lifestyle. You are more affected by weather and cultural differences and language barriers and equipment breakdowns and you don't know where to get things since you're always in new places and you don't have your car to make things easy and something as simple as laundry can take the whole day plus a host of other issues you don't even think about at home.

But a Romantic attitude can minimize troubles and prevent things from coming between you and your mate.

Planning for Romance starts with showing super consideration for another person - remembering to always say thank you for the nice things they do for you, slowing down if they are feeling rushed or insecure (cruising is a whole new lifestyle after all), respecting their fears even if unfounded and finding ways to make them feel comfortable, safe and loved. Never putting them down or making fun of them in public, especially with new people you're meeting as you travel. Making nice gestures such as letting them sleep a little longer when they're off-watch and the weather is crummy. Going out of your way to find foods they like in foreign ports and cooking their favourite meals or taking them out to dinner now and then.

Paul Shard Sheryl Shard Distant Shores6
Dinner out and dancing to the steel band at Deadman's Beach Bar, British Virgin Islands

Not asking them to work at the chart table or down in the galley when the boat is pitching uncomfortably. Turning back to port even if "everyone else is going" when your mate isn't happy with the conditions. Giving them "alone time" when they need it which is more often when you're living in a small space such as a boat. Tolerating their friends who are necessary to their happiness. Creating a budget that allows them to call home often to stay in touch with family and friends if that's important to them.

Romance seems to go hand and hand with a sense of adventure and making things fun and exciting. Paul and I have a lot of fun together! And we are constantly finding ways to have a good time together and looking at situations to make them fun. When one of us gets upset about something we try to defuse the situation with humour. Life is too short to hold a grudge or stew in anger. And when you're cruising there are so many exciting beautiful things to share together each and every day that you don't want to waste a minute being angry with one another. Keeping that in perspective really makes a difference.

So if you're planning a cruise or are in the midst of one that you're losing your enthusiasm for, think of ways you can add a sense of romance and adventure. Plan celebrations that show your loved one you appreciate him/her and the new things that cruising is bringing to your lives. Surprise them by fulfilling a few of their fantasies!

How about you? What are your favourite ways to make things Romantic and keep things Fun with your Sweetheart? I urge you to start thinking of things and becoming more Romantic today. It does make life delightful…

Paul Shard Sheryl Shard Distant Shores3

Happy Valentine's Day!

Plan your passages around the world with us aboard Distant Shores
Order the Super Pack on DVD and get Season 1-10 Downloadable.
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British Virgin Islands - Cruising Outpost Party at Cane Garden Bay

Back on board Distant Shores II,Village Cay Marina,Road Town,Tortola in the British Virgin Islands

Greetings from the British Virgin Islands! Paul and I are now back on board our Southerly 49, Distant Shores II, following a 3-week trip home to Canada for our annual winter speaking tour including 10 days conducting seminars at the Toronto International Boat Show and to catch up with family and friends at home. It's such a great way to start off the New Year!

Now that we’re back on the boat, we'll be spending the next few weeks in the British Virgin Islands (BVI), an annual stopover for us when we're in the Caribbean, to catch up on our editing and writing projects before continuing filming season 10 episodes of the Distant Shores sailing TV series further down island this winter.

Paul and Sheryl Shard, hosts of the Distant Shores sailing TV series, Peter Island, BVI

Related: 10 Reasons Why We Love the British Virgin Islands

One of the sailing publications we write for is Cruising Outpost magazine (formerly Latitudes and Attitudes) where you'll find a community of fun-loving cruising sailors living life to the fullest while traveling the world on their boats. The charismatic editor of CO is ex-biker and longtime sailor, Bob Bitchin'. Bob and his wife, Jody, know how to throw a good party! You may have attended one of their beer and pizza parties held at American boat shows. Last year we attended Bob's birthday party in the British Virgin Islands which I wrote about in a previous blog.

Sheryl, Bob Bitchin, Jody and Paul at the first annual Cruising Outpost Party
Myett's Cane Garden Bay, BVI. Photo by Wanita Meed.

Related: Bob Bitchin': Not Your Average Cruising Sailor

Following the Strictly Sail Chicago boat show in January, Bob and Jody flew down to the islands where they are hosting a new series of winter parties in the Caribbean in partnership with Tradewinds Radio with food, drink and cruising tunes by the The Eric Stone Band. The first, of what promises to be an annual event, was held last weekend on Saturday January 31st at Myett's Beach Resort on beautiful Cane Garden Bay on Tortola in the British Virgin Islands. Of course we attended and had a wonderful evening with fellow cruisers!

Sheryl with cruising friend, Wanita Meed.

With videographer, Rick Moore, getting a demonstration of his Mariner drone.
Photo by Wanita Meed.

Rick Moore's Mariner drone. Photo by Wanita Meed.

Mariner drone in the air.

Sheryl and Paul as filmed from Rick Moore's drone.

Myett's Resort, Cane Garden Bay, Tortola, BVI, the site of the first annual
Cruising Outpost/Tradewinds Radio Party

Sunset at Cane Garden Bay

Dinner by torchlight at Myett's Cane Garden Bay

Sheryl and Paul enjoying the ambience at Myett's. Photo by Wanita Meed.

The Eric Stone Band flew in to provide cruising tunes for the party.

Sheryl, Jody and Bob dancing to the music of The Eric Stone Band

Sheryl and Marie Inshaw of Sail Delphine

A good time being had by all at the first annual Cruising Outpost/Tradewinds Radio Tortola Party

Bob and Jody's next stop is St. Maarten where they'll be holding a second party, this time on Saturday February 7th 2015 at the famous Buccaneer Beach Bar on beautiful Kimsha Beach, Simpson Bay, home of many memorable Heineken Regatta parties. This great location is perfect for cruisers and charterers alike because it’s just outside the Dutch side bridge into Simpson Bay Lagoon and a short walk from hotels, casinos, and The St. Maarten Yacht Club (open to all) which is just across the street. The family friendly party will start in the afternoon with cool steel pan music, beach barbecue, and beverages, and even some acrobats and clowns. Meet celebrities, win big in the charity raffle, and pick up a souvenir T-shirt. When the sun goes down, party to the Eric Stone Band.
Anchor out in Simpson Bay or Simpson Bay Lagoon and dinghy ashore, or take an easy trip on the local Dollar Bus from anywhere on St. Maarten. Hope you can make it!

Jody and Bob and are sailing to St. Maarten aboard friends Tom and Sharon’s Hylas 54, Distant Star.

There are lots of fun things to do when you're cruising or chartering in the Caribbean! We've filmed numerous episodes featuring Caribbean destinations in the Distant Shores sailing TV series over the years which are available on DVD and you can also download them in HD on Vimeo on Demand. Check out the trailers for season 5, season 6, season 9 and season 10 (download only) including the ever-popular episode, "Bareboat Chartering in the British Virgin Islands", from season 5. Here's an excerpt to warm you up on a cold winter day and turn your mind to sailing in sunshine in the tropics. Feel free to share it with someone who can use a lift...

Plan your passages around the world with us aboard Distant Shores
Order the Super Pack on DVD and get Season 1-10 Downloadable.
Order the Super Pack on Vimeo and we will send you the code for Season 10 as a bonus.


Help with Your Sailing Plans at the Toronto International Boat Show

Happy New Year, Everyone!

sheryl in dinghy
Sheryl and Distant Shores II in Simpson Bay Lagoon, St. Martin

Following a cosy Christmas onboard Distant Shores II anchored in Simpson Bay Lagoon on the French/Dutch island of St. Martin/St. Maarten, we sailed north to the British Virgin Islands. Here we left the boat in the care of friends while we flew home to Canada to celebrate New Years with family and to get ready for the Toronto International Boat Show which ran January 9-18.

Heading home. Nothing goes to windward like…

Related: Maintaining a Home Base While Cruising

For over 20 years (yikes!) we have been conducting seminars and workshops on the weekends of the annual Toronto show but for the first time we spoke all 10 days of the show. Our topics were "Cruising the Bahamas and Caribbean", "Cruising in France and the French Canals" and "Provisioning for Cruising". Once again we had standing room only attendance at our seminars. Thanks to everyone who came out to join in the fun!




I also worked with sailing author and circumnavigator, Liza Copeland, to give a workshop for women about the "Fears and Fantasies of Cruising". This was highly popular and we are planning to offer it again at next year's show.

Paul, Liza Copeland and Sheryl

Paul and I also served on the expert panel of the World Cruising Club's Ocean Sailing Forum organized by Mia Karlsson and moderated by her husband, Andy Schell. We really enjoy participating in this forum, our third. We also did this with Andy and his wife, Mia, at the Annapolis Boat Show last October and the Strictly Sail Chicago Boat Show in January 2014. You can learn more about World Cruising Club forums and rallies here.

Sheryl, Mia Karlsson, Andy Schell and Paul together for the WCC Ocean Sailing Forum

Another new feature for us at the 2015 Toronto Boat Show was that for the first time we had a booth where fans of the Distant Shores TV series could come by to say hello. Those planning upcoming voyages could stop by to ask questions and get advice. We loved this! We will definitely do this at boat shows in the future. It was such a great way to meet you all in person and learn about your plans and dreams.

Related: Annapolis Boat Show - How Boat Shows Can Help You Achieve Your Cruising Dreams

It was great to hear how watching episodes of Distant Shores got you through cold winters, kept you inspired about your cruising plans and helped skeptical family members understand how fun the cruising life can be!

Comments from the Toronto International Boat Show 2015…
"I can't tell you how many winters your shows have got me through! Whenever I get depressed about the weather I pop in one of your DVDs and head for the tropics!"

"When everyone around me was doubtful about my dreams of cruising I would watch your shows and realize I wasn't alone in my desire to sail off to interesting places. The shows kept me inspired and now my boat and family are ready to go south next year!"

"Never stop what you're doing, guys! We love your shows. They keep us focused on our cruising dreams and one day we'll see you Out There!"

Here are some more photos from the boat show. We hope you will join us next time! ...

Sheryl with Distant Shores fans following one of our seminars

Distant Shores fan, Matt, flew up from St. Louis to get advice on his newly begun cruising plans.

Paul and Sheryl at the Distant Shores booth #1794 at the Toronto International Boat Show 2015

It was great to meet you all in person! We look forward to seeing you next year or out on the water!

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