Reasons to be Cheerful

The moonlight calm of nights in Baia Almodova, Culebra Island off Puerto Rico was restoring spirits and ambition as hoped.


We didn’t always have the bay to ourselves and our favourite temporary “neighbours” were two local guys in a small motor boat who stayed for the weekend. Brothers, friends or lovers we were never sure but they sang together and pottered with a barbecue on the back rail of the boat. One lolled on a foam noodle in the water while the other snorkeled comically with a spear fishing gun in 18″ of water.

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Trampolines and Palominos

We had made a deal with Hans that he would teach us how to sail our new boat and he honoured it above and beyond!

Our last job was to visit the lovely Heather at her blue and green sail makers loft in Fajardo, to collect our main sail with its new 3rd reef point, for extra safety in case of rough weather. With her guys working at the sewing machines we walked barefoot over the sail, laid out for us to check and it was then loaded into a wheelbarrow, down the stairs past the lady smoking a fat cigar…and into the car boot.So it was marvelous to finally be living aboard on the water, and getting some home comforts in place.

The next week was all about new skills and practising routes to local islands such as the dinky Isla Palomina and larger Culebra, which we could retrace ourselves later. So much to learn…

How to catch a bouy? (yes really), raising sails? reefing? tacking? getting the dinghy up and down? navigating? manoeuvering around marinas? starting the outboard (still working on the bicep strength for that one), managing the solar and wind power generators and remembering to turn the bloody gas solenoid off!!

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Trying to get Underway

We had some great incentives to inch forward with the many jobs that needed doing on our new boat.

Firstly, every day we seemed to spend between $200 and $700 on boat bits at overpriced shops, new tools that had battery power, boatyard services, groceries and rent. It was like that queasy feeling I get in the January sales but without any nice new cashmere jumpers to show for it.

The cuckoo clock was ticking for Hans. Our Swiss American friend had sold us the boat but with our condition that he would come out to Puerto Rico to give us 7 days help getting it back in the water (boats are bloody complicated!!) and 7 days of much needed sailing training. His flight was booked and we needed to be as far ahead as possible so as to not waste a minute of his visit.

Life in post hurricane Puerto Rico was seriously getting us down!

As we were fortunate enough not to have to stay we were keen to go. The rainy season was in full flow; the bugs were breeding; the piles of post hurricane tree branches, coconuts, ruined kitchen cupboards and general rubbish lined the roads – the bonfire sized pile below our balcony stayed there until THE VERY DAY we left 6 weeks later, when a trio of open top trucks arrived to clear the street.

Marina life is very curious.

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Back to the Beginning…

Buying a super sailing boat, that was securely strapped down in a marina dry storage area in Puerto Rico seemed a good bet, until two hurricanes went over it in summer of 2017.

As we watched from our rented hippie cabin in Devon and then Mum’s house in Dorset we wondered if we would be skipping straight to the insurance claim part, bypassing the part where we actually sail it!

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Time for an Adventure

Hello! My name is Sue and this a blog of my sailing adventures with my husband Lawrence (the invisible one..) on our sailing catamaran Pentesilea.


This website will probably look a right pickle but as I expect readership to be very limited indeed that’s OK too! I have called it “not just blue” as I hope to add something of interest beyond just beautiful blue seas and skies.

I have a personal checklist in one of my notebooks of “why we are doing this” and in case it isn’t blindingly obvious the list goes like this.

  • Choices. Sell up in the UK and give up work or carry on? (I do struggle with the word “retire”) ..anyone who knows me understands why the latter was not a good option. Say no more.
  • There are lots of reasons why it’s a good time to put it all into the pension pot for now, take ourselves away and live cheap and free for a while.
  • Time to learn something new. Together.
  • Things to talk about when we are old.
  • I have often pretended to be an adventurous person – time to call my own bluff!

I am a bit late starting so I may back track somewhat too. Hope you enjoy it!