Another summer in the Caribbean

posted in: Uncategorized | 32

Boating is what we want to do and the Caribbean is where we want to be. Who doesn’t! This was our attitude for years and that is why we chartered a couple of times per season with and without the kids in Tortola, St. Lucia, Martinique St. Martin, etc. Finally, when we were ready to take the plunge (our youngest left for college) we headed to Tortola and bought our first sailboat. A Hunter 49 that we based out of Nanny Cay in the BVI. This was sailing ground zero and we had a blast. When the first summer came, we didn’t think much about Hurricanes because Florida and the Caribbean had been largely unaffected recently so it wasn’t a grave concern. That first summer, our insurance company was willing to drop the language that said we had to be south of 12.5 degrees north latitude (i.e. Grenada) by June 15th and until November 15th. We simply asked and they deleted the requirement…for the next two summers we sailed all over the Caribbean.  It was great – largely empty and unspoiled. We even wrote about it being the “best time to cruise” and many charter companies began doing lots of business in August and September. Then, with our Leopard 48 (after a near miss in Turks & Caicos with Juaquin) we spent 2 ½ years cruising California, Mexico and Central America when Irma and Maria hit the Caribbean and all the resulting carnage – including almost total destruction of our previously owned Hunter 49. What a great time to be out of the Caribbean!

Not so fast

When we took delivery of our Leopard 50 last spring, we had a plan. Well….our original plan was to join the World Arc 2020 but we realized the boat needs a year or two with its new owners to get to know each other. We are currently one year into this relationship and it is time well spent. After we got her outfitted, we planned on spending the summer in the Bahamas. After one great trip to the Exumas we headed to the Abacos for Labor Day and just missed Hurricane Dorian by two days. Then, as we ran back to Florida, another tropical cyclone locked us down in Bimini. At this point I told my insurance agent “not to worry” we will sail the Caribbean this winter and have her in Grenada by June. No need to ask the insurance company for favors or upcharges we just want to protect this boat from these now inevitable storms.

Along came a Pandemic

And then, after only two trips to the BVI, the Pandemic locked us down and the cruising once per month was not possible. Again, our plans changed and that brings us to where we are now. The islands were not accepting visitors and we couldn’t travel south so we are in St. John, USVI, on a sailboat in HURRICANE SEASON. So, then we sent an emergency message to our insurance agent and pleaded for the price to stay in the northern Caribbean. As soon as the upgraded insurance was bound a storm popped up called Gonzalo and it was headed for you know where. Lennie and I hopped a jet last Saturday and by the time we landed the storm had actually died. Phew. We planned to stay for a week and sure enough here comes another one. And this one was forecast for a direct hit on the Virgin Islands. It wasn’t named yet so it was called Invest 93. We called our weather router Chris Parker and discussed our options. Head south? Too late. Head North and the storm may chase us. Nope we had to hunker down. We headed to Maho Bay and spent 24 hours prepping the boat for a storm. We were ready. Us and some other cruisers had an evening beach party which felt more like a wake as we talked about storms and watched our boats bobbing on their moorings. Eventually the gathering ended and we headed to our ships. The storm never built as forecast and we easily rode out a Tropical Storm which later became Isiaia . The boat did fine and we felt like we dodged a bullet. We never planned to be in a Hurricane Zone during Hurricane season but life throws you curve balls. As I finish this post, we are flying home but eyeing two more systems rolling off of Africa. Who knows how soon we will have to turn around and head back…

Storm rolling in. Maho Bay, St. John


32 Responses

  1. steven W. Arnold

    I’m new t your site however, will be a regular now. I’ll be getting a power cat 53 outfitted with the 4/3 cabin with the utility room. Actually with all the upgrades you have done with your 50. A power version copy cat of Happy Together with all the upgrades via Just catamarans. After watching your videos, I want to do the same and meet others in the community. I plan on going to the factory and hiring captain and crew to bring her to Florida. I figure I’ll be able to learn quite a lot.
    Thank you for all your videos. Both inspirational, educational and entertaining
    Cheers, Steven

    • happytogether

      Hi Steven, Fantastic plan and I am glad you found our channel and blog. Send me an email and I will forward my build sheet with all before and after market installation! Randy

      • steven W. Arnold

        Thank you Randy. I have decided to get my Captains license prior to picking up my Power cat. I haven’t decided my name for her Pipe Dream or Power Together are the two I’m kind of stuck on right now. I have a lot of work to do right now but your outfitting answered so many questions I had. Thank you and lennie for your out standing videos

  2. Gary Byron

    DAMNED if you do, DAMNED if you don’t.
    Hello Randy and Lennie, I hate being on pins and needles as you guys are, WOW.
    Its as bad as Holger & Karin Binz on River Cafe, have a new Leopard 45 in Capetown, but they can’t get to it.
    What a frickin mess this world is in.
    Have you decided not to do WARC 2021??

    Stay Safe and the very best to you guys…

    • happytogether

      Hi Gary, World Arc hasn’t even decided if they are running the 2021. Probably 2022 for us! Rnady

  3. Tim Clark

    Wow we have been wondering since the last time we spoke. So glad ya’ll are ok!! Chloe and Siboney says hello!! Please please be safe and thanks for the update.

  4. Kevin Herrema

    Nice post, i always appreciate the insights and experience. I stayed in Chocolate Hole last week and saw a Leopard bobbing in the harbor on the hook, thought it might be yours but it looked too small and plain to be HT.

    • happytogether

      Hi Kevin, We saw that boat in Chocolate Hole also but it left when the storm blew through. I think it was a 45. We will be back early September. Randy

  5. Carol

    Great blog post. I watched all your youtube videos. You guys are my fav. youtube channel. Miss seeing your adventures and positive energy. It would be great to see more videos, even if they were only once in awhile. I know you stopped doing youtube. It would still be great to see even a short video clip now and then of your adventure. Even if it were only for 5 minutes or less and would fit in your blog post on this page. That would be great too.

    I am watching and reading these blog post from my couch, recovering from a car accident. It is thru all the youtube videos that has taught me, that there is a whole new world out there that I didn’t even know existed. It is thru watching sailing videos that a new dream has amerged within my heart & soul. I have always love the sea, sand & sun, but never knew a life at sea or even on a boat was a thing. But now I know and now I have a new dream, thanks to all who have shared their lives, stories and adventures, online, blogs, videos, etc…

    Thanks for all the info; the good, the bad, the adventures, the positive energy and of course the smiles!!!

    Your videos and others have helped me get thru the hard days of recovery and given me a new way of thinking life should be. It is thru your videos and others that my spirit has been lifted, my bad days are less bad and my good days are getting better and longer.

    Thank you again! Smiles from the USA

    • happytogether

      HI Carol, and we don’t know what to say….wow…..just wow! Thanks so much for sharing how the videos have inspired you and I hope you find many other channels to study with as there are several out there. I think you have some adventure coming your way and I hope you recovery is every thing you want it to be. Get healthy fast and go sailing!! Randy

  6. Danny Thompson

    I’ve watched all your videos since you bought the Leopard 48.. I’m 65 and retired so I lived my love of the Bahamas through your videos.. I hope you and Lenny are doing well and looking forward to seeing more videos..I always wanted to do a long passage before I pass away,but guess that will never happen..With the coronavirus locking down videos on youtube are the same places..

    • happytogether

      Hi Danny, Thanks and glad you enjoyed the show. The lockdowns are terrible for cruising and ramping up again as well. Check us out in instagram,. We post there every month when we are on the boat. Randy

  7. Adrienne

    People always say “Stay safe!” What exactly does that mean? If we are to constantly “stay safe”, then I guess we’ll never leave the house. We’ll never turn on the stove, the oven, or walk up or down stairs. We won’t cut fruits and vegetables or turn on anything electronic during a storm. And we certainly won’t get into a car, step foot on a bus or airplane, or a boat.
    What sort of life would that be? Some people live that life. Good for them. I choose to take risks in my life. I want to enjoy it while I’m here, because we’re only here once, that we’ll remember. It’s all about the risks you are willing to take.
    You guys take risks, and you do your best to “stay safe” while enjoying the life you live. Keep doing it, and thank you for sharing it with the world.

    • happytogether

      Go ahead Adrienne, I like your sentiment! Easy to stay safe but hard to have an adventure at the same time. Heres what I will say to you. Get out there and have some fun. Live a little!

  8. Lee

    You two are awesome! So happy for happy together! Finally found the channel that will get the wife onboard! We love your videos and are 2years out from making the move to a cat. Please share your build list.

    • happytogether

      Hi Lee, Thanks so much! I sent the list to you and hope it helps. Our channel brings a lot of women into sailing. When you see that it can be first class and comfortable. 😁 Randy

  9. Kyra

    Hi Lennie and Randy, Glad to hear that you have come through the storms safely. Your channel is one of our favorites and we miss seeing your videos. I still remember the Hurricane Irma video you posted. I think I recall a post where you were on land and doing workouts (TRX and a stand up pedal unit), but I’m not sure which episode. Was this you two? Can I get a copy of your build list? A Leopard 50 is our top choice for when we downsize and get sailing. Thank you!

    • happytogether

      Hi Kyra, Thanks so much! Yes that was us and its the video where we sail to the Caribbean on the new boat. Its #78 I think so check it out. I will send you the build sheet! Randy

  10. Kimberly K Brown

    Lennie and Randy, I am so glad you got Happy Together finally. I have to tell you i started watching you, started at 70 and decided i was hooked. And then when i got to 79 i was sad. I know i can go and watch the others but since i now know you guys were leaving your channel i was sad. I sure hope you guys continue with your YouTube channel. Love watching you guys. Thank you for all your videos as they all were amazing. Sending love from Las Vegas, NV.

    • happytogether

      Hi Kimberly, Thanks so much!! Please go back and watch some of California and Mexico. It was an awesome adventure and I think you would enjoy it! Randy

  11. Mark

    Hi Randy!

    You mentioned on your YouTube video and above one can ask for the spec sheet on your upgrades if we send you an email. Problem is… I can’t seem to find it. Can you please help? Thanks!


  12. Anjeli Sonstegard

    I am so sad you guys are leaving! I would love to hear how you guys work when you are traveling. My husband and I have jobs we don’t want to leave but we really want to set sail. I saw your gear but I am very curious to learn how you continue to work while sailing.

    • happytogether

      Hi Anjeli,
      Our jobs are pretty much done by others so we don’t work that much on the boat. We had our business’s for years so good management teams etc. We do have to use email a ton and use our satellite systems and local wifi a lot. Satellite is expensive but there is good LTE almost everywhere unless you are on passage. Good luck! Randy

  13. Jim Woodall


    We miss following your adventures, but understand how much work the videos require. We met briefly in White Bay last February. We own a Lagoon 42, Ocean Song. We are long-time scuba divers and I have a random question: what size are your scuba tanks? We are installing a scuba compressor and I’m trying to decide the most user-friendly size, especially for my wife (115 lbs. soaking wet) to manage. We usually use 80’s, but we’re thinking smaller, shorter tanks might be easier to manage on the boat. I doubt we’ll do many dives deeper than 60 – 75 feet, so losing a little volume seems like a reasonable trade off for having tanks that are easier to handle. Thanks for any insights you can share!

    • happytogether

      Hi Jim, Thanks and yes we remember meeting you. We like the steel 62’s because they are small and you can fill them to 3600 so you don’t lose much down time over the 80’s and you will love the size. Good luck!

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