In December of 2019 we first began talking with Ray about moving onto the new boat that he was having built in Knysna. In November 2020, George and I arrived in South Africa expecting the boat to be completed in Jan/Feb. And now, finally, after more than 3 years of design and construction, the very first Knysna 550 rolls out of the shop and down to the waterfront. The boat is so high that they could not install the helm and top of the flybridge in the factory.
After almost 8 months of waiting here in South Africa, it is almost time for us to move onboard the new boat.
To say that we are excited is an understatement. Soon we will publish videos of moving the boat down to the waterfront, installing the roof on the flybridge, floating the boat for the first time and eventually adding the mast and boom.
Then the big one, a guided tour of our amazing new home “Private Island”
Soooo….it’s June and the boat is still under construction ??♀️. Since neither the designer or the builders have ever built this model boat before, there have been plenty of unexpected design/construction issues that needed to be resolved – this is one of the reasons folks are hesitant to buy “Hull #1”. However, the flip side to the longer build time is that we’ve had an opportunity to learn this boat inside and out as well as make real time changes that will improve the boat’s performance and livability.
Meanwhile, if you’ve been watching our videos, you will know that George and I have been finding plenty of
trouble fun to get into while living in South Africa. We’ve sailed and safaried (not sure that’s a word, but I’m going with it), wined and dined, and even travelled back home to visit family (and get vaccinated!).
Our latest target splash date is July 1 and we’re supposed to move onboard on July 16….(cross your fingers).
Watching the boat being built and providing input to day to day decisions does not take up all our time. We wanted to make sure we took in some of the local culture, so we plan trips (such as our game lodge trip).
Last weekend we traveled to the lovely town of Franschhoek, we stayed in a wonderful B&B with some of the largest rooms we have ever seen in a hotel, anywhere in the world.
We also spent the day being delivered from one farm to the next onboard a Tuk-Tuk, which is a great alternative to driving. Another alternative would be to take the wine tram, but we shied away from this given COVID.
We did wine tastings at five sites, ate some amazing food, purchased 47 bottles of wine (at some of the best prices we have ever seen) and had a great time! You can watch the video we made of the day, and see the impact of the wine throughout the day.
If you find your self in South Africa, anywhere near Cape Town, make an effort to visit Franschhoek, you will not be disappointed.
You may have heard us mention that we are launching a new video channel about our adventures onboard a new 55 foot catamaran that is being built in South Africa. Well, the day has finally arrived and the first video is online now. We will be delivering a new video each week. We hope that you will enjoy the channel and help us spread the word about it. The first video is just over 16 minutes, so grab a glass of something refreshing to drink, get comfortable and don’t forget to subscribe so you won’t miss an episode!
As we prepared to (finally!) leave Mexico, our friend Van took us on an excursion to the Agua Termales (hot springs) in Puertecitos about 90 km south of San Felipe. We drove about an hour south from the house, paid the 200 pesos entrance fee and turned into a pretty shabby looking settlement of houses and outbuildings. As we drove up to the springs we had a gorgeous view of the Sea of Cortez.
The springs themselves are a carefully created set of pools, built into the hillside, each slightly higher than the last. The hot springs feed directly into the top spring, bringing the water temp to a scalding level. This scalding water feeds down into the lower pools and finally directly into the ocean.
At low tide each of the pools are isolated from the ocean water and are thus all quite warm. As the tide rises the pools begin to fill with sea water and the thus become cool enough to sit in and enjoy. The trick is to move up the hill to each successive pool thus staying in the balmy water.
As noted, the highest pool which is fed directly from the hot springs and is scalding hot. The only time you can sit in this pool is when the tide is at is peak and washing enough cool water in to make the temperature manageable and it is lovely.
As you might have already guessed, as the tide turns and begins to go out, the top pool gets increasingly hot and eventually you are forced to move back down the hill to more suitable temperatures.
Since it was a full moon, the tides were very dramatic while we were there. We hopped from pool to pool while enjoying a cool beverage and, in general spent a lovely day in the Agua Termales!
Adios, Mexico y hasta la vista Sam!
Now that the list of house projects has dwindled and the dune buggy is purring, I’ve had some time on my hands (thanks COVID). So I decided to try my hand at creating a time lapse video. All of the images were captured on my GoPro Hero 5 Sessions mini cam.
I did not have a tripod, so I borrowed a floor lamp from the house, clamped the GoPro to it and set it up on the rooftop deck.
After a bit of setup, I got the cam to take 1 high resolution image every 5 seconds, so ended up with 1,300 photos at 1.2 meg each. I imported all of the images into the Luma Fusion video editor and merged them into a video. From there, I color corrected (Bonnie said I got a little too much purple in the sky). At this point the video was still more than 20 minutes long, so I had to shorten the length of time each image was shown until I got the length down to about 1 minute 30 seconds.
I needed to add some music, so I searched around in the library of license free music on YouTube until I found an audio clip I liked, imported the audio into LUMA fusion, shorted the clip and tailed off the audio at the end of the movie.
Finally I produced the video, as a high resolution file and saved it. I must say that the high resolution file looks much more impressive than the one with all the compression that happened when I loaded it to YouTube, but it still looks pretty cool….
When we planned a quick visit the the states to visit family and friends between house-sits COVID was still just something happening in China. As we got on the plane in Liberia, Costa Rica, the virus had starting spreading and by the time we reached Washington DC we realized that we needed to make some major adjustments to our schedule. We cancelled visits to family who were considered at risk and headed south. After short stops in Shelbyville and Atlanta we landed in St. Pete Beach where we spent several weeks quarantining with our friends Leslie and Becky. Our next house-sit in Costa Rica cancelled, but we decided follow through with our planned trip to San Felipe, Mexico and headed to San Diego.
After a quick conversation with Christopher and Van about where we were heading and how COVID was affecting our plans, they generously offered the San Felipe house to us for as long as we needed. Two and half months later, we’re still here….
So about San Felipe: we are staying in an amazing home on the beach called Casa Aramara, it is in a quiet gated community about 25 minutes south along the coast from the actual town of San Felipe. The “house” consists of a main house with two bedrooms and 2.5 bathrooms. Out front is a courtyard bordered by 3 guest rooms and 2 more bathrooms. Beyond that is a three car garage that houses a dune buggy and other toys such as a collection of four wheelers. The community is gated with a 24/7 guard, has two pools, a hot tub and tennis courts. Our backyard is the beach with the Sea of Cortez as the backdrop.
While we are here, George has keeping himself busy puttering around the house working on this and that. Bonnie has been experimenting with new recipes. The increasing heat during the day has slowed us both down. Daily highs of more than 110 degrees Fahrenheit (43 C) have encouraged us to adopt the slightly slower pace typical of this region.
We can’t begin to express our gratitude to Christopher and Van and Connie and Mark for allowing us to quarantine/shelter in their beautiful home. It has been a spot of tranquillity during the craziness that has been occurring in the world – while it seems like the world is on fire, we’ve landed in paradise….how surreal.
One thing we have learned in our travels is that none of our house sits are ever the same. This is very true of our last couple of sits in the enclave of Sanctuary Cove in Northern Australia when compared to the one we are on now. For the last three weeks we have been looking after a beautiful home in the Northern Highlands of Costa Rica. The house is in the very small mountain town of Tronandora. It is located on a high hill with amazing views of the local lake.
Lake Arenal is now the largest lake in Costa Rica. We say now, because previously the town of Arenal was situated in a lovely valley, the town was moved to higher ground so that the local power company (I.C.E) could flood the valley and create a lake to power it’s hydro-electric plant. The lake covers just over 89 square kilometers (33 square miles) and varies from 60-80 meters deep (200 – 250 feet) deep depending on the season. It sits at bout 2,200 feet above sea level. At the east end of the lake is an active conical volcano that is 5,480 foot high.
We are living in a very modern farm house, on a large section of very hilly property. We wake to the sounds of cows mooing and wind chimes. Given the elevation, the weather is lovely and cool, it is also extremely windy here. In addition to the two domestic dogs, the owners advised us expect visits from monkeys, armadillos, iguanas and hedgehogs. We have seen a white faced monkey and George is planning on strapping on his headlamp one evening and going in search of a hedgehog. He has been trying to find one ever since we visited Portrush, Northern Ireland.
Our charges are Emma, an 8 year old golden retriever and Mae a 5 year old foxhound. Each day we load them up in the car and set off into the hills. Once we find a convenient spot to pull off the trail (calling it a road would be a misnomer) we let the dogs out and enjoy a lovely hike. Emma wastes no time finding a suitable stick and for the whole walk, we throw and she fetches. Mae waste no time with stick fetching and would rather romp in the high grass in the fields. Worth nothing that Mae’s unusual name is a Costa Rican slang word which is equivalent to the west coast word “dude”. Emma and Mae’s humans are on a safari in Africa and have been sending us texts with wonderful photos.
As we have a car on this sit, we are able to explore the surrounding area. We have found several local restaurants including a local microbrewery, appropriately named Lake Arenal Brewery L.A.B. We have heard mixed reviews about the attached hotel, but we can report that there beer in the brewery was well made, the food delicious and the staff and customers extremely friendly. A big should out to crew members Gabby, Dennia and Jason.
This will not be a our only house sit in Costa Rica. Once we leave here we will be heading to the USA and then Mexico for about 3 weeks visiting family and friends. Afterward, we head to the beach town of Tamarindo Costa Rica where we will spend 8 weeks looking after a dog and two cats.