Archives for January 2013

Hot Buttered Rum

Hot Buttered Rum –  a tasty and warming treat on ultra-cold winter days. I must admit, I’d much rather be drinking a cold rum drink on a warm beach somewhere, but hey, for those of us that live in colder climes, this rich rum concoction will warm you all the way down to your frosty toes.

Hot Buttered Rum - copyright Rum Therapy
Hot Buttered Rum

(serves one)

1.5 oz. aged or dark rum (we used Cruzan Blackstrap)
1 tbsp. honey
1 tbsp. butter
Hot water

Put rum and honey in a mug. Fill with hot water and float the butter on top. Stir gently as butter melts. Can be garnished with a cinnamon stick or nutmeg.

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Honeymoon Beach, St. John, USVI

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Honeymoon Beach, a north shore St. John, USVI beauty.

Access: hiking or boat
Hiking: there are 3 ways to hike to Honeymoon Beach.
1. Hike the Lindt Point Trail from behind the National Park Visitors Center in Cruz Bay.
2. Drive up Route 20 from Cruz Bay up the hill, past the Cruz Bay Overlook and turn left, right before the Virgin Islands National Park sign.

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There are a few parking spots to the immediate right after you turn. Walk past the National Park sign until you see the Caneel Spur Trail sign. Follow it down the hill to Honeymoon Beach.

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Caneel Spur Trail (Access #2)

3. Park at Caneel Bay Resort (there is a fee to park there) and take the path from the parking lot to Honeymoon Beach.

Beach: Honeymoon Beach is a long stretch of beautiful, light colored sand with a gentle access. Some shade is available.

Honeymoon Beach looking left towards Solomon Bay.

Honeymoon Beach looking right towards Caneel Bay.

Amenities: Watersports Center, Gift Shop, restrooms, hammocks, picnic tables, guided eco-kayak, hike & snorkel adventures. Chairs and water toys can be rented.

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Honeymoon Hut at Honeymoon Beach.

Tip: We visited Honeymoon Beach fairly early in the morning and it was just us and these guys:

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Wild donkeys on Honeymoon Beach

We hear that later morning and early afternoons can get quite busy with boats bringing guests over for excursions, so if you’re on St John during high season and want to avoid the crowds, you might try to spend time on Honeymoon Beach earlier in the a.m. or later in the afternoon.

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Find Honeymoon Beach on our St. John Map

To see more posts on St. John and other islands, check out our Island Blog Directory

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s/v Buckeye

Have you ever thought of selling everything you own, buying a boat and sailing away in the warm waters of the Caribbean? Ahhh, well, that’s a scenario we have daydreamed about for years, but, alas, will remain a mere dream – at least for now. Instead, we’ll live vicariously through those individuals who have been able to “just do it” and are kind enough to let us follow along through their photos and writing, Here’s the story of Ben & Katie who “just did it” and, last I heard, were sailing around beautiful Marsh Harbour, Bahamas.

Ben & Katie

1. Can you tell us a little about yourself? What did you do prior to buying a boat?
We are a little younger than most cruisers, we started when we were in our mid to late 30s and now Katie is in her late 30s (and will probably stay that way for decades to come)and I am 41.  We both have had corporate jobs, 15 years in the pharmaceutical industry for me and Katie started off in banking before starting her own professional photography business about 6 years ago.  Unfortunately this left little time for boating so our experience level was low to start.

S/V Buckeye

2. How did you decide to buy a boat and sail the Caribbean?
I grew up fascinated with the ocean and traveling.  Weaned on Jacques Cousteau, National Geographic and Jimmy Buffett, sailing away to exotic lands has been a dream of mine since I can remember.  On our first date ten years ago, Katie and I talked about that obsession and then she was swayed by my romantic ideals.  However, it was not initially part of our short term plan after we got married.  Life circumstances changed and we began to think that we could move up our timeline and go for it. 

3. Has it been an easy transition?
Easy is a relative term.  While I think that we both transitioned well, there were some challenges.  Neither of us has ever been a pack-rat but it was still difficult to transition from a 4-bedroom house in the suburbs to a 38’ catamaran.  We sold the house and much of our belongings, gave away or donated a lot more, and still have a storage unit full of stuff.   We moved aboard while still working and lived on the hook for a year while we readied the boat and ourselves for full time cruising.  Riding in a dinghy for half a mile in rain storms or bad conditions just to go to work was not fun! 

4. What do you enjoy the most about your life sailing? What locations/islands do you like best?
I always struggle with “mosts” and “favorites” because there are so many wonderful aspects to this lifestyle.  Katie and I both love nature and travel and sailing is the best way to enjoy both.  There is just something magical about being on a broad reach, sails trimmed perfectly and watching a pod of dolphins play off the bow wakes.  Things like that are once-in-a-lifetime events for many people and we never take it for granted.  As for locations, we really find something to enjoy at every stop, whether it is a familiar east coast port or a remote island somewhere.  We have sailed up and down the east coast, Florida Keys, Bahamas and in the Caribbean and loved it all, but ultimately we are island-people at heart.  Anywhere there is warm, clean, turquoise water is fine with us!

Great Guana Cay, Bahamas
photo: Katie Smith

5. Do you have a set itinerary?
We try not to have a firmly set itinerary because of the fickle nature of sailing and cruising, weather and maintenance.  That said, we do plan destinations and trips.  For hurricane season this year we cruised up to the Chesapeake and are planning on the Bahamas for winter.

6. What are the challenges of living on a boat?
This lifestyle isn’t all boat drinks, Rum Therapy and sunsets.  There is a lot to maintain on a boat, from diesel engines to polishing the stainless, cleaning teak to scrubbing barnacles off the bottom, it is always something.  And it is physical.  Even digging into the fridge requires us to get down on our hands and knees to find something from the back of our front-loading refrigerator.  Provisioning requires long walks (no car) or public transportation, dinghy rides and carrying heavy bags for long distances.  Trying to chase down a needed part in a remote location can be a challenge, but also part of the experience.

7. How do you make it work financially?
Great question and one that we are still working out.  We are not independently wealthy and don’t consider ourselves “retired”, more on a sailing sabbatical.  After this winter we will come back state-side to find jobs for a while so we can re-build the cruising kitty before heading out again.  I am working on getting my U.S.C.G captains license and we eventually want to offer crewed charters, wedding and honeymoon packages from our boat.  Katie also chronicles our journey on our blog, and she wants to eventually publish a book.  And we are always looking for great companies to partner with to sponsor us in exchange for promotion on our blog.   I’m thinking of making a sign that says “will work for rum”!

8. How is your life different now?
It is very different from our former, land-based lives.  I think that overall, we are much happier.  We spend much more quality time with each other and communicate better.  And we find that this lifestyle is much less stressful than it previously was, no more interstate traffic jams, hustle and bustle of daily commuting and much less materialism and commercialism.   And of course, the weather – we are much more attuned to the weather since it dictates much of our travels. 

9. What advice would you give to someone who would like to sell it all, buy a boat and sail to the Caribbean?
Just do it! That was the best advice that we received and it is true.  If you keep waiting for the “right” time, you may never actually do it.  As for specifics, the list would be long for newbies like we were, less so for experienced boaters.  But in general, start downsizing now.  It takes a while and you start separating yourself from emotional attachments to “stuff”.  Also learn as much as you can about boat maintenance, weather tracking, navigation and route planning.Sailing classes were a great start for us but you will never stop learning and gaining experience.  And try before you buy.  A few charters are a good start.  Better to know that both people like to sail before buying a boat, heading out and finding out that one person hates it.

Sunset at Green Turtle Cay, Bahamas
photo: Katie Smith

10. Is there anything else we should know about you?
Katie and I are both from Ohio and overlapped during our time at Ohio State but never met until after I had moved to Florida.  Through circumstances she transferred down from Ohio to Florida several years later and we got married 10 months after that!  Our Ohio roots are important, hence the name of our boat, s/v Buckeye.  We also have two cats aboard, Sammie and Brutus.  Both were land-based cats before we thrust them into this lifestyle but both have adapted fairly well.  Sammie will even come up to the helm station to make sure that we stay on course when we are underway. 

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Latitude Adjustment

A few months ago, we received an email from someone interested in finding out about a Rum Therapy Banner for his bar called Latitude Adjustment. Well, as we are always in need of a little latitude adjusting ourselves, and thinking it was a clever name for a bar, we emailed back to find out more. Thinking this bar was either in the Caribbean, or perhaps Florida, we asked for the location. The answer was one we did not expect. More on that later….

In addition, this person named Michael, asked for permission to use one of our photos of Foxy’s Taboo on Jost Van Dyke as inspiration for a painting he wanted to do. It turns out that not only does he have a bar with an excellent name, he also paints beautifully colored tropical scenes. We gave him permission to use this photo and asked if we could interview him for “Making Your Tropical Obsession Your Profession”. Here’s what we found out….

Foxy’s Taboo Photo by Rum Therapy

1. Tell us a little about yourself.
My name is Michael Bolz, and I live in Fairbanks Alaska.  I was raised here, and lived in the states for about 12 years before moving back after having kids.  It’s just a great community to be raised in, and being the overprotective dad that I am, I felt that my boys would do well here.  My wife Dani and I moved up with the boys about 9 years ago now, and she has been plotting her escape ever since.  Our dream is to retire to the islands, selling the house for a boat and living a semi nomadic lifestyle as a writer/painter in my sunset years.  Of course those years are a ways away still, but I figure I should get in as much practice as I can before stepping off into the unknown. Currently, I work at the hospital here in Fairbanks in the engineering department, which is a great place to work, but it does not do much to stimulate the creative side of me that is constantly screaming for attention.  I studied graphic design and illustration in college, and while it is still a huge part of my life (we will get to that in a bit) but the steady work and insurance the hospital offers is hard to say no to in favor of a hit or miss full time job as an illustrator.

That being said, I have not given up my passion for artwork, and my side gig is that of a painter and illustrator focusing primarily on tropical/island lifestyle.  I have been painting for as long as I can remember, and I imagine I will be doodling or painting till the day I die.  

2. What gave you the “tropical bug”?
Again, from Alaska…that pretty much says it all.  I joke about that, but to a certain extent it really is almost required to be able to take a break from the cold and dark in the winter.  Thankfully, I married a travel bug who is willing to go on vacation at the drop of a hat, and she is the one who really turned me on to tropical locales.  Before we met, she traveled extensively in Mexico and the Bahamas and her stories of these places really are what got me inspired to see for myself.  Most recently, we were in Key West and I immediately fell in love.  There is something about the remote aspect of the island life, the fact that you don’t end up somewhere by accident, you have to intend to go to some of these places in order to really get there.  I was describing Jost Van Dyke that way recently to a friend of mine, explaining that it is sparsely populated, and unless you are going out of your way to get there, you won’t go.  I love that about a destination, maybe because it reminds me in a way of Fairbanks…minus the snow.

3. Living in a cold climate, how do you fuel your tropical obsession?
In a word?  Rum.  No, honestly, I think the fact that we are isolated up here, and we need to have a goal in mind sometimes just to get through the winters.  That travel goal is a huge part of it as a result.  Also painting up here is really one of the things that gets me through the winters more than anything else.  My studio is in my basement, and I will go down there and put No Shoes Radio on the computer and just spend hours transporting my mind to a much warmer place.  There is something about the colors, the deep turquoise of the water in the Virgin Islands, the bamboo tiki vibe of the south pacific, and the incredible rock formations on the coast of the Seychelles that I am drawn to.  I have recently been studying the clouds and the way the sunlight plays with them during sunset, so you can expect to see a whole series of those paintings sometime in the future.

Another thing is that Dani is always finding incredible destinations for us to daydream about and plan our next trip to.  I think she is really looking at the Virgin Islands right now, and I have learned to just go along with what she suggests, she hasn’t steered me wrong yet..  While I have not been to all of these locations yet, I have every intention of fixing that.

Of course, the fact that Jimmy Buffet and Kenny Chesney do such a masterful job of painting this lifestyle with their words and music helps a lot as well.  I currently have Kenny Chesney’s live album in my truck, and I vowed not to take it out until the spring thaw rolls around.  I’ll tell you, driving down the road singing “On the Coast of Somewhere Beautiful” at the top of my lungs while it is -45 outside gives you a new appreciation for the lyrics!

4. Can you tell us about your bar called Latitude Adjustment?
Latitude Adjustment is my escape in the summer.  As I tell everyone that comes over, it is proof that I am living in denial.  When we bought our house, there was a corner of the back yard that did not get enough sun in the summer to really be able to grow a decent lawn, and the dogs had a field day digging in the bare dirt.  After a few years of fighting that, I finally snapped and said “That’s it, I am building a deck” Well, the deck grew exponentially, and eventually there was a fire pit added, and a gravel “beach” around the fire pit, and finally the bar that was built a few years ago.  It has been a huge hit, and I told myself in the beginning that if I am going to do this, I am not going to go half way.  We have seating at the bar for three, plus countless seats around the fire pit and my requisite Alaskan bench made of old downhill skis.  I am going to be installing a new standing table this spring which will almost double our counter space, plus I have my eyes on a really nice stainless steel countertop/sink fixture that will finish up the whole thing nicely.  The name Latitude Adjustment just seemed natural being a tropical bar in Alaska.  Primarily inspired by Jimmy Buffets “Changes in Latitudes Changes in Attitudes”, it just sort of happened.  With my background in illustration, I figured if it is going to be a real bar, it will need a logo.  I designed the logo, painted it on to a huge piece of wood and cut it out, weatherproofed it, and my buddy and I attached it to the side of my house. 

Latitude Adjustment Logo

My wife was not particularly excited about having a giant Latitude Adjustment logo on our house, but she has grown to love it.  Like so many things, I think she came home one day and it was just sort of there.  She looked at it, shook her head and said “sure…why would I expect anything different?”  Most recently, my buddy Ron and I built a smoker for the bar, so in addition to two grills, I can smoke up to 12 rack of ribs or 20 good sized salmon at a time.  The nice thing about the salmon is that if you run out, you just go catch some more!   It may seem like overkill but when you think of how many people could be there at any given time, it is almost required. We have a very strict open door policy in the summer, and I enforce it with an iron fist…if you are anywhere near my house, just come in because there is always something to drink and great stories to tell. 

Latitude Adjustment – during the summer ;)

I can’t tell you how many times I have come home from work and walked in to the back yard, margarita in hand, and there is a full blown party going on.  I would ask my wife and her reply is usually “I don’t know, it just sort of happened”.  The nice part is that in the summer, the sun never really sets, so there will be folks hanging out and laughing at almost any time of the day or night.  The boys are now of the age where they enjoy having friends over as well and the bar turns in to a tropical soda fountain for them.  That being said, I am also proud of the fact that my youngest has studied my ways and is now able to make a pretty good margarita for us adults. And yes, I have received the requisite “Rum Therapy” banner which will be proudly displayed on the wall at the bar as soon as spring rolls around.  If you find yourself in Fairbanks, grab a bottle of rum and head over, we would love to have you!

5. Tell us about your tropically inspired paintings.  
Like I said earlier, I have been painting for as long as I can remember.  I have always been drawn to illustration and spent many hours in trouble at school as a result of my distraction.  I started off working in watercolors in high school, as well as pen and ink work.  Once I went to school, I was introduced to so many new mediums that I was like a kid in a candy store!  I was drawn to airbrush work, and spent a lot of time working in that field.  I have done custom paint work on motorcycles and helmets, as well as some other odd items.  While I still like working with the airbrush, there is a nice instant gratification about acrylic, which is what I am working primarily in now.  When I was in Hawaii, on Maui, I stumbled in to this gallery in Paella that was showcasing the most incredible and vibrant paintings of the locale there, and I was immediately swept up in the beauty of it all.  The colors, the themes…surfing and palm trees, these little tropical trails and the hills of the upcountry were depicted in a way that I had never seen and I knew at that time that I had to start painting again.  I considered trying watercolor, but the vibrancy of the paintings that I saw was something that just cannot be achieved with the transparent qualities of watercolor.

Painting by Michael Bolz

One thing led to another, and for Christmas this year, my wife bought me a domain name to showcase my work online.  It is in the very early stages of development, but I have found that it is the best way to really reach any masses outside of Alaska.  The address is and it is dedicated primarily to the island lifestyle as well as my humble attempt to get my name out there in the art communities.  I have the opportunity now to talk to people from all over the world, and I do commission work that I would never have been able to do otherwise. Drop me a line in the contact us field, I would love to hear from you and what you think of the site as well as my artwork.

Small Paintings by Michael Bolz

6. What is your favorite tropical destination?
Come on, that’s not fair, there are so many to choose from!  When I was in Hawaii, I had the opportunity to visit Sammy Hagar’s new rum distillery, and chat with Mark Nigbur, the master distiller.  That has to be hands down, one of the coolest experiences I have had.  This guy looks just like Sammy, and when I saw him walking towards me I had to do a double take because I thought I was seeing things.  That being said, I have to say right now that my favorite place has been Key West, which is ironic, because my dad was stationed there in the Navy in the 60’s and told me for years that he has no desire to ever go back.  I think I may have changed his mind though.  I had an opportunity to visit some of the bars that he went to when he was in the service, and came back with photos and stories. We sat there at the table for a while laughing and swapping stories, and…don’t tell him this…but I saw that twinkle in his eyes.  He wants to go back, though he would never admit it.   While there, my wife and I  visited every key lime pie place we could find, and I have to say, my favorite is still my wife’s.

We spent a fair amount of time on Duvall street, talking to the cigar rollers and vendors as we made our way to the southernmost beach where there is a sign saying “I work everywhere, but I work best here”, a quote from Tennessee Williams.  Our hotel room literally opened up to that beach, and I have never felt anything like getting up, putting on my shorts and going straight from bed to the ocean.  Tennessee Williams was right. 

I have not yet been to the Virgin Islands, and I am hoping that will be our next destination.  There is something about the Atlantic Islands that I am really drawn to.  Don’t get me wrong, I love Hawaii and would love to see more of the Polynesian South Pacific, but I feel a connection to the Atlantic Islands that I don’t get anywhere else.  I have been doing a lot of paintings recently that focus on the V.I. and I have been enjoying it.  Plus, who knows, maybe one day I could do an album cover for Kenny Chesney, he seems to like it there as well.

7. Is there anything else we should know about you or your business?
Oh there is all sorts of stuff you should know about me.  I write a lot, I have a couple of Irish Wolfhounds that keep us all on our toes, love to ride motorcycles, and my favorite shirt is one that I died orange myself!  I have tried every rum available in Fairbanks, and am considering trying to distill some myself, but don’t tell anyone…

I live a pretty good life and I surround myself with people that I love dearly.  I am not in the islands yet, but our retirement plans include a boat a paintbrush, some canvases and a guitar.  I am always open to travel  and painting.  I am not sure when the next trip will be, but I can guarantee it will be on the coast of somewhere beautiful.

Oh, and if anyone has Kenny Chesney’s attention, I am serious about that album cover.  :)

And Michael’s painting of Foxy’s inspired by our photo?
Painting by Michael Bolz

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