June was anything but quiet. So many activities and the culmination of one of the biggest trips we’ve ever taken, resulting in an absolutely incredible month! Our little girl, Charlie, is getting so big. I think she is already doubled her weight as compared to when we brought her home. She weighs about 20 lb. now! Hanleigh wrapped up her end-of-school festivities with the annual field day and a fifth grade party. That evening, we enjoyed an adult night at our neighbors’/friends’ house, the Bartley’s, for an amazing dinner and lots of laughter. I know I say this a lot, but we are super lucky and blessed to have so many amazing neighbors that are really friends who happen to live close by. Brayden had a field hockey play day in Durham and it just so happened that Leslie and Emilia were in town, so they surprised her and stopped by to watch her play one of her games. That was super special! Brayden’s friend, Sejal, spent the night, and Hanleigh and I enjoyed a mom/daughter graduation dinner at her best friend, Mila’s, house. Katya went out of her way and created the most amazing charcuterie boards for us all to enjoy. It was so cool to see her gaggle of friends hanging out and catching up about their years in elementary school and how their friendships have evolved. It’s a bonus because I love all the parents as well!
On Wednesday, June 8th, our family assembled for Hanleigh’s fifth grade “promotion” ceremony. As you can imagine, it was pretty emotional for me to see our baby girl transitioning to the next phase of her life. Of course, she mocked my tears, but I owned them! The hardest part was realizing that our days of visiting her school were over and that we would no longer have a reason to go back there again. Trent felt the same as he dropped her off at school for her last official day there. We are so happy that she had such a great elementary school experience full of amazing teachers, fabulous friends, and incredible memories. She looked so beautiful and grown up as she walked on stage to get her diploma. I know she’s also super proud of herself. After the ceremony, we went to lunch at Cowfish…her request. Nana, Aunt Patty, Mimi, and Kyle all met us there to celebrate her accomplishment.
With both girls wrapping up fifth grade and ninth grade, and we couldn’t have been more proud since they both got straight As! Tonya hosted a girls’ night at her house one evening, and we ate some delicious food and drank some yummy wine. Optional field hockey practices began, so we are slowly ramping up for the fall. We all went and saw the new Top Gun movie, which is extremely awesome. We enjoyed a date night with the Farrells and Whitcombs at Juniper Grill, a new local restaurant that is super tasty! It’s so nice to have a place nearby that we can rely on with amazing food. We followed that up with a cocktail at our local watering hole. Nana has been playing a lot of pickleball lately and has taken both of the girls on separate occasions to play. Now they both have their own racquets and really enjoy the game! Hanleigh enjoyed a slumber party with her friend, Alexis, and took her first camp of the summer which was at Carolina Flipz with her best friend, Mila. I enjoyed an amazing massage and Mimi turned 93 (happy birthday…we love you so much!!!).
However, the absolute pinnacle of this month and the last three years was a trip that we took to the British Virgin Islands to sail on a 45 -ft. catamaran for a week with our best friends, Leslie and Joe, and our great friends, Carolina and Craven. Leslie and Carolina grew up together and I met her when I met Leslie about 20 years ago. This is a trip we have been waiting on for way too long. All six of us have been to the BVI before, but not all together. We were supposed to go in 2020, but, of course Covid shut that all down. Then, we rescheduled to 2021 but again, Covid played a role in making the trip way too complicated to take place. The company who owned the catamaran that we were using decided to quit chartering since his captain and chef returned back to Scandinavia and it was too much of a hassle for him to keep it going. We were completely set for 2022 with a new contract with Horizon Yacht Charters, but about four months before our trip, we learned that the BVI had indicated that all vessels who were not registered to sail there were not welcome or allowed to do so. As it turned out, our catamaran was only registered to sail in the US Virgin Islands. This is not at all what we wanted to do, so we canceled that contract and had our charter broker work quickly to find us a new boat, chef, and captain. We actually looked into another catamaran that one of my coworkers actually owned, so that was awesome. We didn’t even know who our chef or captain was until a couple weeks before! We didn’t really care. We just wanted this trip to happen!!! Trent’s parents and my mom tag teamed and watched the kids for the week. For that, we are super thankful!
We flew into St. Thomas on a Friday and after some lunch and painkillers (local drink and our favorite!!!) at Red Hook Marina, we took a private ferry over to Tortola where we checked in at customs and then went to Nanny Cay Marina, where we spent the night in a hotel. The next morning, Leslie and I went for a run before boarding our gorgeous boat at noon. We were so excited we couldn’t even stand it. Her name is Gelos, which is Greek for laughter. What’s even better is that her dinghy is named Giggles. We knew we would have plenty of these throughout the week, but it really couldn’t have been named more perfectly. Kind of like a self-fulfilling prophecy of sorts! We came complete with all kinds of swag that included t-shirts, stickers (Trent designed a logo from scratch!) a flag, and much more. If you’ve ever seen the movie Stepbrothers, you’ll know what I’m talking about when I say we nicknamed our group Boats n’ Hoes, but we had that nickname for the past three years…just needed the trip to happen! After some provisioning and a safety briefing, we made our way out of the marina. Let’s get this party started!
We headed over to Jost Van Dyke where the infamous Soggy Dollar bar is located. We collected our dry bag materials, jumped overboard, and swam to shore. We even called our kids and told them to check us out on the webcam there! After scooping up some souvenirs and swimming back to the boat, we made our way around the corner and anchored up for a delicious dinner. After dinner, we made our way ashore to Foxy’s, another very popular bar. Let’s just say that we shut that place down. There was a DJ and we danced like crazy until the DJ decided to shut the place down. If you’re not familiar with how Foxy’s works, people like to donate things to the bar by stapling them to the ceiling rafters. Craven decided he really wanted to have a captain’s hat, so he removed one from the ceiling and we told him that he should give something back, so he chose for all of us to sign his shirt on the front and staple it to the ceiling. However, this wasn’t just any normal shirt. The bartender cut out just the chest area and nailed it up, so you can imagine what was left of his shirt was absolutely hilarious. He walked around for the rest of the night dancing and cracking people up with his nipples and chest showing. I don’t think I’ve laughed that hard in a long time. We went back to the boat for some late night dancing. It was an incredible first evening. I still smile thinking about it!!!
The next day was Father’s Day! I gave Trent a fun shirt from Johnnie-O and we went to a beautiful tiny island called Sandy Spit. Apparently, this is where they do Victoria’s Secret & Sports Illustrated swimsuit photo shoots. We walked around there a bit and then headed over to Norman Island where we tied up to a morning for the evening. We went over to Pirates Bight, a delicious restaurant where we ordered up our first batch of conch fritters and a round (or two) of painkillers. It was so awesome watching the sunset and laughing. We made our way back to Gelos for another tasty meal, and then started getting ready to go over to the Willy T’s, a pirate ship that is quite the party place. This is where the evening took not the best turn. We had communicated to our captain that we wanted to have our conch fritters, then dinner, then go to Willy T’s. However, once he dropped us back off of the boat after our appetizers, he basically ghosted us for the next two hours and we had no clue where he was or how to get in touch with him. Total fail. You can imagine that I was pretty pissed off to say the least. And when he finally made his way back to our boat around 10pm, Craven even told him we were not happy. I think he got the picture. We hopped on Giggles, and made our way over there. His bad vibe wasn’t going to ruin our evening, though. We did our shotski and made our way upstairs to jump off the boat. I already knew there was no doubt in my mind I was jumping off in my birthday suit, which is a very standard thing to do here. This trip was three years in the making and it was dark and not crowded and I was going for it. Very freeing and fun. All of us jumped off numerous times and then made our way back to our boat. Second evening in the books and another amazing time!
The next morning, I awoke to our chef, Lyn, telling me that she had taken it upon herself to call our charter broker and let her know that we were unhappy from the evening before. I didn’t think it was okay for her to take it upon herself to make that call, but it was already done. Unfortunately, we all felt that the charter broker called and talked to the captain and smacked him on the wrist for it. The reason we felt that happened is because he kind of was a jerk to us the rest of the day. Very quiet and gave us quick, cold comments. One thing of note is that he his personality is very type B, so him being quiet and withdrawn was not out of the ordinary, but he was especially cold that next day. Honestly, I didn’t really care because he screwed up. So, that wasn’t the best start to the day, but again, I compartmentalized it from all the great things that were happening and moved on. Next page!
I got picked up that morning and went scuba diving right off of Norman Island where I saw a turtle up close, tons of lobster, a ray, an eel, barracuda, and other amazing tropical fish. While I was diving, Trent, Leslie, and Joe went snorkeling at the Caves, which is a hot spot for that. We learned that our water filter system on the boat was not working properly, so we had to go back to Nanny Cay Marina to get it fixed. After that, we tried to make it to Cooper Island, but there were no Boaty Balls available, so we went to Marina Cay instead. After three nights at partying, we had a quiet evening there, which was nice. We sat up on the flybridge and chilled out and just enjoyed the sunset.
On day four, we sailed over to Virgin Gorda, an island that holds a very special place in all of our hearts. We went to the Baths, which are humongous granite rock formations that flank the coast and are submerged into the sea, making for amazing snorkeling, gorgeous hiking and incredible photos. We snorkel for about 45 minutes and did some swimming and then hiked through the rocks and up to the top of the hill where we had an amazing lunch! Fresh fish sandwiches all around! After lunch, we sailed to Leverick Bay where we stayed for the night. While we were there enjoying the sunset, we noticed around dinner time that there were about 20 dinghys coming from different catamarans, each carrying a gaggle of teenagers ashore where they would be met with a DJ and beachside barbecue. This looked like trouble to us! We now had a mission to figure out what in the world was going on. Some of our crew went on shore to provision and to do some digging. We found out they were part of a larger organization that teaches teenagers how to sail and navigate. We nicknamed them “CPO”, which I will not say what that means on this post. We had an awesome evening laughing and acting silly on the flybridge that night as well!
On day five, we made our way further up the coast of Virgin Gorda where we anchored right in front of the newly rebuilt Bitter End Yacht Club and Saba Rock. This place is very special to both Trent and me because we went there in 2005 for our baby-making trip (unsuccessful, but still fun!) and had the most amazing time. Carolina and I did some paddle boarding and then we all hung out at Bitter End for most of the day, enjoying cocktails and a delicious lunch. We met this attractive, older guy named Buck, who was from Texas and was just the nicest man and so fun to talk to. He was super charming. Then, a few minutes later, we met a guy named Robert, who we happen to know similar people because he was from Raleigh and co-founded a pizza joint that all of us have been to at some point before. Robert was especially annoying and loved to tell you about how much money he had and all the materialistic things he owns or belongs to. Most of the sailing community is super amazing and so friendly, but every now and then, you stumble upon a braggart and just have to roll your eyes about it. It was still pretty funny thinking about all the stuff he discussed with us. That night, we took Giggles over to an amazing dinner at Saba Rock. Craven cracked us up because he ordered a dirty martini from our waitress and then gave her a sexy look and said, “I like them dirty. What’s your name?” We were dying laughing.
On day six, we took an hour-long sail to Anegada. This island is unlike any other in the BVI because it is flat and pretty arid, whereas the rest of the islands are very mountainous. When we got there, we got a old beat-up Dodge rental van and nicknamed her “Flash of Beauty” (the same name as a restaurant we would go to that evening). Let’s just say it was the dirtiest rental I’ve ever seen and I’m surprised it even took us where we needed to go. Of course, we thought that was hilarious. We went to Flamingo Point, Loblolly Beach, Anegada Beach Club, Cow Wreck Beach and had tasty cocktails at Tipsy’s, where we met the owner (Ann), who has quite a business going on that side of the island between her restaurant, boutique, and rental properties! We did some snorkeling throughout the day as well. There was another miscommunication with our captain as he had rescheduled dinner reservations for us without telling us. We had so much food left over on the boat that we really didn’t want to spend $200 round trip to take a cab back to the north side of the island after we’d already turned in our rental car. But, we decided to ante up, pay the money to the taxi driver and make our way to dinner at Flash of Beauty. As it turns out, they are only open for lunch, but decided they would stay open for dinner just for us. And we were literally the only people in the entire restaurant. We did judge a book by its cover, but quickly realized it was the best meal we had all week. We met the owner, Mimi, who had been operating this restaurant for 30 years. We also met her granddaughter, Chardine. They were the best people ever and we had such an amazing dinner!!!
On day seven, we woke up and made the long sail back to the main chain of islands. Knowing that it was my last day, and my history of getting emotional when I am sad to leave a place that is dear to my heart, my tears started flowing as I sat on the bow, took in the scenery, and looked back on how thankful I am to have spent such an incredible trip with people that I love so much. This is what life is about! We reached our destination and settled in at Cooper Island where we had a blast floating, swimming, and hanging out at the Rum Bar. The Pamela cocktail was incredible. Trent brought his drone and got some amazing footage of the boat and of all of us hanging out. We did some paddle boarding again and watched the best sunset of the entire trip from the flybridge. We knew this was our last evening and we had an amazing dance party at the stern, all donning our Boats n’ Hoes t-shirts. While this was not our only dance party at night during the trip, it was definitely the longest and best. We had packed a wireless microphone with us, which was a great accessory. Lyn joined us for a couple songs and dances as well. It was an amazing way to cap off one of the best trips I’ve ever taken in my life. We all collectively decided that we want to do the same trip again in three years when our kids are older and can join us. Since there would be 12 of us aboard, we would need to either pay a lot more money for a much larger catamaran, or some of us would need to get trained to be captains. The latter is the route we’ve decided to go.
As I’ve said a couple times above, the trip was so amazing. My tips for those of you who have not done this and want to would be this:
- Go with people that you love and can enjoy spending time with for an entire week in close quarters. This is very important.
- Go with people who are flexible and can go with the flow. Itineraries change.
- If you hire a captain and chef, make sure they know each other and have a relationship, as in husband/wife, partners, siblings, etc. something. I think not having this on our boat caused a lot of issues.
- Get a bio from your captain and get sample menus from your chef ahead of time. Understanding what you’re entering into will make expectations more aligned. You want to make sure that personalities jive.
- Be sure to provision appropriately. We ended up having way too much leftover food that we paid for that went to waste. Super unfortunate. I feel like our chef didn’t do a great job of buying the appropriate amount of food.
And that wraps up the trip of a lifetime. There will be many more to come…so many more.
The remainder of the month was awesome, albeit I was in a state of depression from not being on that catamaran still. The good thing is that I eased back into reality by spending the Sunday when we returned at the Ballantyne Spa for a massage and some pool time. While we were gone, Hanleigh went to a camp at Twigs & Figs, where she made some awesome terrariums and moss boards! While she was doing that, Brayden volunteered at our local YMCA for an all-sports camp, which helped get some of her service hours in for high school. Hanleigh spent the day at Carowinds with one of her best friends as well.
- I woke her up one morning and she swears she was awake already, but she definitely was talking in her sleep because she said, “It’s okay, I have the sticker.” to which I responded, “What sticker?”. She then said, “The Starbucks sticker.”