Leap of Faith – Ed Robinson

We received an email recently from Ed Robinson, author of “Leap of Faith – Quit Your Job and Love on a Boat” to see if we’d be interested in reviewing his book. Being the Caribbean sailing enthusiasts that we are, we were anxious to receive it. It was a good  read and we finished the book quickly. We particularly enjoyed the chapter on Debt Free Equals Freedom which outlines steps Ed and his wife Kim took to get rid of  their debt in order to embark on this journey. A phrase used several times in the book  sums it all up.

“We gave up everything. Now we have it all.”

After finishing the book,  we wanted to find out more about Ed and what inspired his writing.
This is what we found out…

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1. Tell us a little about yourself such as
where you lived and worked before taking the leap. I was a reporter and editor of a weekly newspaper, The Smyrna Times. I was also a contributing writer for The Mariner Magazine, a Maryland based publication covering all things boating and fishing. After twenty years working for a major utility, I quit my job and moved onto a boat. Me and my wife Kim are somewhere on the west coast of Florida, drinking rum and watching the sunsets.

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2. Your book gives some very practical advice on downsizing and getting out of debt to make a move to a better life. Was this something easy for you to do once you made the decision, or was it a bigger challenge than you thought? The whole downsizing thing was not that hard, Kim was initially reluctant, but she go on board one I got the ball rolling. As I say in the book, the more stuff we got rid of, the less burdened we felt.

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3. What made you decide to write a book about your experience? Have you written any other books or do you hope to write more? I had a lot of time on my hands and always enjoyed writing. I thought I had a story to tell that others would find interesting, even if they had no desire to live on a boat. The response has been greater than I had hoped for. I’m well into a second book that deals more with the humorous side of life aboard. The working title is “Poop, Booze, and Bikinis.”Leapoffaith3_EdRobinson---O
4. What are some of the challenges you’ve found with your new lifestyle?
The biggest challenge we face living aboard is the weather, which we can’t control. It’s not always sunny and calm. Sometimes it’s downright nasty. Minor chores like doing the laundry or grocery shopping take on a whole new dimension when you live at anchor. Also we tend to hang out far from society, where it’s peaceful. If you get a craving for pizza, or you run out of rum ‘. . . you’re out of luck.
 
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5. What has been your favorite tropical destination to date? What other islands would you like to explore?
By far our favorite spot is Cayo Costa. It’s a little known barrier island on the west coast of Florida. It’s uninhabited, beautiful and serene. The beaches are stunning and you rarely see another living soul. If we called one place home it would be there. Our bucket list of places we really want to see includes the Dry Tortugas, and maybe someday Belize. Of the places that we’ve actually been outside the U.S., the British Virgin Islands are tops. White Bay on Jost Van Dyke in particular is a place everyone should see once in their life.
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6. Is there anything else we should know about you or your book?
The book is not a technical manual on cruising boats, nor is it a dry retelling of our financial plan. Yes, I divulge how we were able to make our plan work, but it’s more about what it feels like to experience ultimate freedom. For others, that may be a cabin in the woods, or a condo on the beach. I humbly offer a plan to achieve whatever your dream life may be.


Leap of Faith: Quit Your Job and Live on a Boat
is available on Amazon.com in both paperback and Kindle versions.

Ed’s second book, Poop, Booze, and Bikinis is now also available on Amazon.com in both paperback and Kindle versions. 

Give them a like on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/quityourjobandliveonaboat
 
Check out their blog: http://quityourjobandliveonaboat.wordpress.com/
 
Email them: [email protected]

Read more posts in our “Making Your Tropical Obsession Your Profession” Series

A Tropical Music Escape with Joe Moorhead

I received an email recently from a lady named Karla with a link to a video  she thought we might be interested in. The fresh island sound caught my attention and I quickly started singing along with the catchy lyrics “It’s a bad day in the islands”, bad day in the islands today, bad day in islands….today.” What the heck? A bad day in the islands? I began to wonder where this musician was going with the lyrics as the video played on and and as I watched, I began to spot some familiar places – Ivan’s, Foxy’s, White Bay and Saba Rock…

I emailed Karla to find out more about the band, the music and the video locations and found out a lot more. Joe Moorhead, who hails from the decidedly un-tropical city of Cleveland, has been around for a while and has amassed some serious fun loving music fans through his very busy tour schedule, his unique – but a bit Jack Johnson-ish sound and his original tropically flavored songs. Sounded like a great story for our “Making Your Tropical Obsession Your Profession”  Series, so we sent him some more interview questions.

Check out the video for Bad Day yourself and see what locations you can spot – then read more about Joe Moorhead and his band in our interview below.

1. Can you give us a little background about yourself such as where are you from and when started getting interested in music?
I grew up outside of Cleveland, Ohio.  Music has been a part of my life since I can remember.  Listening to music started as a hobby with my Dad sharing the music of his days.  That hobby has followed me all my life.

2. What is your musical background and are there other musicians that have been an inspiration to you? 

Growing up, I took guitar lessons as a teen.  I never looked at the guitar as something I would pursue professionally until I was in my early twenties.  I had written some songs and friends started to push me to record a demo.  After playing a few gigs and recording a demo, I fell in love with the business of music.  I have never looked back since.

Joe

3. Coming from Ohio, where does your island vibe come from? Where do you get the inspiration for your music?

Most people laugh when I tell them I grew up around Cleveland, Ohio as my music portrays “island living”.  I have spent a lot of time in the Caribbean islands and have traveled to island destinations across the world.  There is no place I have found as beautiful as the USVI and BVI.  That is were I truly get inspired and where I write most of the my music.

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4. I love the video for both Bad Day and Ukalayme and see that some of the footage was shot on Jost Van Dyke and possibly Saba Rock?? Can you tell us more about the shoot locations and why you picked them?

Ukalayme was made from footage and pictures I had from years of traveling around the islands.  The “Bad Day” video was a more produced video.  After meeting the film director, Marcus Morelli, we talked about where we would travel to capture the story of the song “Bad Day”.  There was no question that we had to get down to the islands where the story had taken place.  We spent a week traveling the islands on my friend Brian’s boat.  We filmed on St. Thomas, St. John, Jost Van Dyke, Tortola, Virgin Gorda, etc.  Everytime we thought it was a “wrap” we found another location that we had to capture.  We really had no plan on exactly where we wanted to film, it all just came together as we bounced around the islands.

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5. Is this a full time gig or do you do something else as well?
I feel very fortunate to say music is my only job.  The old saying, “do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life” is very true for me.  As music pays the bills, it also makes me happier then doing anything else.

6. Can you tell us about the rest of the band?

The band is more then just a group of musicians.  They are all family.  Jonny Morrow, lead guitar, has been my best friend since we were 10 years old.  Tyler Lovell, bass player, has been in the band since it’s start.  Justin Banks, drummer, is the newest member to the band but it feels like he has always been with us.  There is no hierarchy in this band.  Everyone has a voice and we make decisions as a whole on what are next steps are.  On top of that, there isn’t a group of people I would rather live in a bus with.

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7. It looks like you’ve got a pretty extensive tour schedule. How many night a year are you on the road?
Our goal is to tour and spread the music.  We prefer to stay on the road as much as possible.  I couldn’t tell you how many dates we play a year because our tour schedule is always growing.  If we can get a gig we stay on the road.

8. Hopes for the future?
The only thing I can hope for the future is that we have the opportunity to still be playing music together as a band.  My dreams come true everyday I get to wake up and play music.  There isn’t much more I want than that.

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9. What’s your favorite tropical destination and rum drink, or rum?
If I could be anywhere on this planet, it is Soggy Dollar Bar on Jost Van Dyke, BVI, drinking a “pain killer” made with Pusser’s Rum.

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10. What islands are on your must see list?
There is a group of British islands called Tristan Da Cunha.  They are considered the most remote islands in the world.  I would love to sail to them someday.  I guess the thought of that type of adventure is what intrigues me so much.

11. Is there anything else you’d like to let us know about you or your music?
We (the band) would just like to thank all our fans, friends, family, and Rum Therapy for the support. We all feel very lucky to have the opportunity to play music for a living.  We hope everyone enjoys our new album, Tides Are Rising, and the videos that we will be releasing this year.  Make sure to check out www.JoeMoorhead.com to see when we will be in a town near you.


Pictures courtesy of joemoorhead.com

Free download link for “Sunshine Driving”

Follow Joe on Facebook

Check out the tour schedule here

 

The video for Ukalayme by Joe Moorhead- recognize any of these spots?

Check out other posts in our “Making Your Tropical Obsession Your Profession” series

My Island Art

We’ve followed My Island Art on Facebook for a while now and have enjoyed their mutual tropical attraction. Last fall, I had the chance to briefly meet and speak with owner Jeff and find out more about his company. After hearing his story, (and the hope that one day their company would be successful enough to get a nicer hammock!) I thought it would make a great post in our Making Your Tropical Obsession Your Profession series. This is what we found out about this unique Island Themed Company that has focused on the artists of the Caribbean…so far…

1. Tell us how you started My Island Art.
First, a big thanks to the gang at Rum Therapy for reaching out to us for this guest post. We’re always excited to talk with other Caribbean souls, and especially happy to talk about My Island Art. Actually, when it comes to the Caribbean and My Island Art, good luck trying to shut us up!

My Island Art started in 2007 as an effort to marry our two passions, the love of art, and our need to maximize our time in the Caribbean. After several trips to the islands, it quickly became apparent that we had found our Mecca. I absolutely had to find a way to make this a recurring destination, and turning such trips in business trips had a certain attraction as well! My stated objective was to establish a business I could run with minimal effort, and one I could operate while lying in a hammock, on any beach in the world!

After 3 months drafting a Business Plan, setting objectives, and reading everything we could about bootstrapping a start up, we only needed inventory. As a side note, I could write a book on the things I learned not to do when building your own website! But we persevered, and in February 2008 we set off on our maiden buying trip. I still have the hand scribbled sign I hung in my office with the digits 7-4-08, a simple reminder of the goal I’d established for the site to go live. We ultimately beat the date, and the site went live in June of 2008!

How do you find Caribbean artists like Ruby Bute?
Researching the art community was actually the fun part of establishing MIA. Part of the credit has to go to my beach bum attitude. That is to say, let someone else do the work for me!

During my research I hired a virtual assistant to build a list of artists throughout the Caribbean. Once the list was delivered, I discovered that a large percentage of artists in the Caribbean called St. Maarten home. This played well into our hands, as we had already visited St. Maarten 6 or 7 times, and knew a good deal about the art community there.

When we set out in 2008 for that first trip, my wife actually fell into her element. Meeting the artists, learning more about their lives and their interests, and engaging with them in a personal manner is what drives her. Her ability to communicate, and her genuine interest in them as individuals, has been integral in building relationships with the artists that goes far beyond our business dealings together. Ruby Bute in particular is a genuine lice of Caribbean heritage. The story of our meeting and subsequent business dealing are recorded in the book “A Beach Less Traveled“, available on our site. You can also see a series of our interviews with her at My Island Art You Tube.

When traveling to the islands, we are constantly looking to add new artists. Shopping in galleries, talking to taxi drivers, or visiting at local markets makes each stop a potential resource for us in continuing to build our stable of talented artists.

What are some the favorite items that you offer at My Island Art?
My Island Art offers a wide variety of art and related gifts. Some of my personal favorites are the serene pastel watercolor images by St. Martin artist Antoine Chapon. His images depict such a relaxing setting that I can almost hear the water lapping at the shoreline.

My Island Art 1
I also personally like any of Ruby Bute’s images of island life. Her images of day to day life in the Caribbean are a true remembrance of a bygone era.

And I must confess I am very proud of the Wooden Keepsake Boxes we have created. With the advance of high-resolution printing, we are able to create a number of products that are of a very high quality, and in keeping with the integrity of the artist’s original image. These boxes are a great example of this quality, and they make for a truly unique slice of life from the islands.

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Describe your work with children’s charities in the islands.

At My Island Art, we are committed to giving back to the people of the islands. We are active in supporting charities in both Belize and St. Maarten, and annually we give a percentage of all our profits to these organizations to help meet the needs of at risk children.

We are currently working on a line of textile art products. In this new line, we utilize artwork created by the children, and then depict these images on a line of cloth napkins, placemats and table runners. We have committed that 100% of the profits from this line will go directly to the children of the islands.

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 Where do you hope to go from here?
My Island Art is still in its infancy but we have lofty goals for expanding our presence, so that one day we can get to a nicer hammock! We have the objective of growing the company to cover the full spectrum of ‘island’ art, wherever it is found.

Caribbean art as we know has a very recognizable style, and we feel we have begun to put roots deep into its sand. Eventually though, we intend to spread to the diverse markets of the South Pacific, and beyond. So stay tuned Bora Bora, we’re on our way!

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To find out more, check out the My Island Art Website

Read more posts in our “Making Your Tropical Obsession Your Profession” Series

Art & Soul – Savanna Redman, artist

We’ve learned so much and had such fun writing articles for our series “Making Your Tropical Obsession Your Profession” due in a big part to the interesting folks that we’ve been privileged to meet and write about. Our friend Susan at The Limin’ House on Tortola emailed us recently to tell us about an amazing artist on Tortola in the British Virgin Islands that certainly fit the MO for making her tropical obsession her profession, so we contacted this artist to ask about her story.  What we learned is that she is a total free spirit, follows her heart, is extremely talented and gets to live and work on beautiful Tortola!

Read on to find out more about the Art & Soul of artist Savanna Redman.

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1. Please tell us a little about yourself.
I’d been visiting the BVI on and off for 20 years or so while living in Honduras, Belize and most recently Thailand. I moved to Tortola in 2005.

I love the Caribbean Sea, its colors, motions and moods, when I’m away from shore, feeling the sea under me: my bones melt. Snorkeling, diving, boating (in anything from a kayak to a ship), seeing reef fish, dolphins, turtles, shorebirds… It’s my heaven. When I’m not focusing on the pretty blue, I enjoy hiking in rainforest areas and experiencing the wildlife there.

All of these experiences filter through my dreams and bloom, in some creative way. On rainy days, there’s always a good book or the sketchpad and the hammock waiting. There’s so much to enjoy in the BVI.

I was shocked once when a visitor whined, “There’s nothing to do here! I’m going insane!” To her nothing was the lack of malls, nightclubs and fast food chains… and she was going cold turkey off-line offshore. Even seeing turtles in a bay and dolphins playing off the bow wave didn’t impress her, she said, she’d seen it all on TV. When her holiday was up, we happily drove her to the airport. Misery may love company, but not in the close confines of a small boat. It made me realize how different our basic needs for contentment and happiness can be. I don’t miss, what she desperately needed. Island life isn’t for everyone.

2. Tell us about your art. Were you trained in a certain medium?
I grew up with creative parents; I had a brush in my hand and was tent-camping, before I could walk. Wildlife and a sketchbook arrived together as a package. My favorite mediums have always been watercolor, ink, and oil on canvas, though I enjoy sculpt too, and have worked in nearly every medium out there, but my soul’s stayed splattered with paint.

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Each creative project comes to me in its own required medium, and each medium for a different reason. My large wildlife paintings are in oil on canvas so the veils and layers of color can shine with a depth that is impossible in other media and I love painting large, some were mural-size 8’x10’. When I’m painting I step into a different dimension, but painting large is even more so, I feel like Alice, with my peripheral vision inside the canvas edges, when I step away at the end of the day it feels more like stepping out of it. Pretty cool when it’s an underwater scene, and I’ve been in the depths all day with colorful fish, corals and dolphins: without a tank.

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Savanna painting a mural in a pool at the Tamarind Club Hotel, Tortola

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Finished ray on the bottom of the pool at the Tamarind before adding water…

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After filling the pool with water…

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Mural by Savanna at Megan’s Bay, St. Thomas

My nautical charts are drawn in ink; creating fine detail (that’s impossible with a brush), embellishing them in an old world style with mermaids and sea monsters, and then finishing them with light layers of wash. I’ve always loved old maps but the information was usually wrong. I wanted the style and charm of the old charts, with the islands and ports correctly named to reflect where I’d been diving and sailing. I also love all the doodling in ink, where I can fill every scrap of space with a detail representing the flavor of that particular place.

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Caribbean Nautical Chart by Savanna done as a Custom Tile Mural

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Virgin Islands Nautical Chart by Savanna Redman

For the Chart of the Virgin Islands, I included the locally built Sloop and British and American sailing ships from the late 1700’s to 1800’s and their flags, and game fish are woven into the borders with reef fish, dolphins and mermaids. I enjoy the process of pulling history into a modern decorative chart. And the direction the work grows, my series of mermaids spun off the mermaids I created for the charts.

Watercolor is liquid light. I use it when I’m working on location, or painting something has come to me in a dream that requires it, like the Queen Conch Shell. Its pink contrasting with the turquoise sea was irresistible and to me the painting wouldn’t have worked in any other medium.

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I dream painting. My experiences filter through dreams. I know the story, the scene, and see the final painting or drawing before I’ve created it. Since I was a kid, I’ve always believed it was my job is to produce what my dreams presented.

3. What is the inspiration for your art? What are your favorite creations?   I dream painting. My experiences filter through dreams. I know the story, the scene, and see the final painting or drawing before I’ve created it. Since I was a kid, I’ve always believed it was my job is to produce what my dreams presented.    Nature and wildlife primarily, reef to rainforest. However, my loves of travel, and hobby of archaeology, trickle into the mix. I find ancient art and symbolism irresistible.

Artwork is study and practice, for life. With every drawing, I learn, and with every painting, I evolve. When I look back on any piece that’s over a month old, I see flaws, or what I could have done better, but I learn from the process – not the finished piece. Like life, the journey is the destination.

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Beach House – Savanna Redman

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Dionysus with Dolphins – Savanna Redman

I’ve always found it is impossible to predict what will sell, what will be treasure or trash to a gallery owner. What I have learned is, if I’m in love with the moment, in love with what I’m creating and it’s a vision, telling its own story; kindred spirits will find it like magnets to steel and feel it on a cellular level, through their own experiences, it touches a cord and they connect.

My clients have more options now than they did 10 years ago, via the internet, several sizes, paper or stretched canvas and even ceramic tile and glass that can be installed in a shower, backsplash or in the pool (I find that surreal, a watercolor or silk painting in a pool). And I adore the web for opened more doors to kindred spirits, they tell me what they like and why. When working solely with galleries and doing exhibits, I rarely knew who bought a piece or why, now I receive e-mails, tweets, comments, and even photos of the artwork in their homes. I treasure those connections.

4. How is it to live on Tortola? What do you especially like about the island?
I love living here, but I’ll admit I’m a natural born tree hugger and the country has changed a lot in the last 20 years. I wish the government’s focus were on saving and promoting the islands natural resources (rather than attracting more cruise ships, mega yachts and large property developments). I believe, creating nature reserves, taking sea turtles off the seasonal fishing and hunting list, protecting the reef from run-off from drains, sewage and construction sites, would be better for the island’s future. And, I believe a bonus for the local economy, would be an expanding tourism, focused on the beauty and nature. With every election, there is hope for a positive, environmentally-aware change.

The BVI is a beautiful place to live – but it can be like the box of chocolates (to steal a line from Mr. Gump), you never know what you’re going to get. Some days the place is picture-perfect, easy, laid back, absolute paradise. The next day, the electricity is off, the cistern’s leaked dry, the phone and DSL is off, or the island has run out of coffee. You just never know. I advise friends that are considering a move to the Caribbean to read Herman Wouk’s Don’t Stop the Carnival, it’s fiction, it’s old, it’s funny and light, but it has a strong thread of truth about the underbelly of island life. And, if they can arrive with a suitcase of patience and a sturdy sense of humor, they’ll survive, and maybe even thrive.

5. If you did not grow up on Tortola, was it an easy transition to move and live there?
I love traveling, and exploring different cultures. I moved back to the Caribbean after living in Thailand. The British Virgins are a lovely place to sail and dive, so my plan was to spend a few days visiting friends, then head back toward the East Coast of Central America and fall in love with a new island, but after a few days, I decided to stay. That was in 2002. I applied for my trade license, as an independent/sole proprietor – to create and sell artwork. Then I left to travel, coming back occasionally to see how the progress was going. Mid 2005, my papers were approved and the immigrations and work permit were stamped in my passport, permitting me to stay.

Every place has it’s yang to its beautiful paradise-yin. The BVI is no exception. Probably the toughest thing here is to get approval to start a business or to be self-employed. The immigration law in BVI is; you cannot be living in the country while your work papers or trade license are in for review. This process is usually lengthy and there are no guarantees. Many people go through the process, only to discover six months or a year after they move down, that island-life is nothing like they’d experienced on their holiday, pack up, and leave. It’s always sad to see. This isn’t limited to the BVI. Belize, Costa Rica and many other countries have taken a firmer line toward new residents, retired or self-employed.

6. What are the challenges of living on an island?
I’ve lived in smaller places with more galleries and gift shops, and larger places with fewer, so I guess the challenge as a self-supporting artist, has always been to find the best way to get my work seen by the public, given the local formula.

Thinking outside of the box is required. In the BVI, with the wonderful sea breeze, most shops have more windows than walls, so my artwork is scattered around the island at small shops, restaurants, hotels, wherever wall space is available. The larger paintings are only available as Giclee prints online.

7. Anything else we should know about Savanna Redman, the artist?
I believe, doing what you love, can change life in ways unimagined.

I sometimes step out side the studio and shift gears, painting a mural on a wall or in a swimming pool. Recently, I’ve been sculpting more, creating silver jewelry using the lost wax method of casting and playing with fire. I don’t believe it will ever replace my paints or ink work, but I’m enjoying the heck out of sculpting tiny wildlife pieces and other Caribbean inspired jewelry, like the wild Tamarind seed bracelet and a Rastafarian Lion (for my Rasta friends scattered around the world – one love!). Working in a different direction for a few days always refreshes my creative energy.

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I enjoy connecting with those that share similar passions.

…find me through my website, Facebook, Twitter and at my blog, ‘Thorny Trails of a Creative Life’

Website – SavannaRedman.com

Twitter – @SavannaRedman

Facebook.com/s.redman.art

A quote I believe –
All true Art must help the soul realize the inner self. True Art must be evidence of happiness, contentment and spirituality of its authors.” – Gandhi


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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, svbuckeye.com 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 www.LatitudeAdjustment.org 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
www.LatitudeAdjustment.org


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Cool Signs

As you know, we’re always interested in hearing about people who have been able to make their tropical obsession their profession. We recently heard about the owner of a shop on St. Thomas that manufactures signs and thought that her story was intriguing. Meet Jill Farley, the owner of Cool Signs. Oh, and did I mention, she met Kenny Chesney while doing some boat graphics for him??

1. Can you tell us a little about yourself? I’m actually a civil engineer and was working for the Port of Houston in 2000.  I came down here on vacation with a girlfriend and just decided that I didn’t need to be miserable anymore where I was.  I NEVER planned on staying here –figured a few months would be enough.  Now it’s 12 years later. . .

2. Has it been an easy transition to the islands?  For me, not bad.  I do understand how it would be difficult for most people, however.  I was also lucky enough to meet my wonderful husband down here and he brings a good balance into my life.

3. What do you enjoy the most about your life in the islands?  Sunshine / beach.  After that would be Carnival – I just finished up my 6th year in the Infernos Carnival Troupe and it’s just so much fun.  Parade day is like a day full of joy.

4. What made you decide to start your own business?  It was never my intent to start my own business.  I started working for a lady whose husband had a vinyl plotter and it all just kind of evolved.  It was like I found my niche – after years of not enjoying or being particularly good at my job (as an engineer) I was finally good at something! 

Cool Signs now has 12 full-time employees and is one of the largest sign shops on island.  5. Which famous bars and/or locations have you made signs for?  One of my favorites was going up to Necker Island to put graphics on wind surf boards for Richard Branson.  No, I didn’t actually get to meet him although I did do boat graphics for Kenny Chesney and Sterling Marlin and met both of them.. 

6. What are the challenges of living in the islands?  Living in the islands is a real challenge and hard to describe.  Here’s an example – you find yourself being guarded about making friends b/c it’s such a transitional place.  People come and go for the most part so you don’t really want to let yourself get too attached. 

7. What advice would you give to someone who would like to relocate to the islands?  That’s a tough one because I really don’t encourage people to move here for the most part.  I’ve just seen so many people come and go and know how difficult it is.  Just because it works for me doesn’t mean it works for most people.  I would advise people to practice patience & restraint.  To me, the fact that it’s hard here forces me to remember what’s important.  You just have to let the little things go!

8. Is there anything else we should know about you or your business?  This is my favorite question.  Living here and having this business has given me the opportunity to make people’s lives better and that’s amazingly rewarding.  I get to conduct my business with the highest integrity and standards.  No, I don’t make much money.  I rent an apartment and make car payments and struggle financially but I get to live MY way instead of having to follow a cookie cutter life.

Jill is currently working with photographer William Anthony Torrillo (Old Mango) to publish postcards from the VI’s made from some of his wonderful photos.

Old Mango Postcards will be available in packs of 6 soon on Jill’s website:

Website:  www.coolsignsvi.com

Twitter:  @coolsignsvi

Facebook:  facebook.com/coolsignsvi

 

Other posts on Making Your Tropical Obsession Your Profession:

4242 Miles to St. Lucia – The Boiled Frog Guesthouse – Danielle and Steve Unruh

Tears of a Mermaid – Elizabeth Ivy, Glass Jewelry

Searching for Pieces of Eight – Thomas Gidus

Okolemaluna Tiki Lounge, Kailua Kona, Hawaii – Brice Ginardi

Vessels of Freedom – Captain Darrel Hearne

Through the Eyes of a Tropical Soul – William Anthony Torrillo, Photographer

A Pirate Looks at 10 – Fletcher Morton, Trop Rock Musician

I’m Gonna Live My Life Like a Jimmy Buffet Song by Anthony Bjorklund (book review)

Railean Distillers – San Leon, Texas, Kelly Railean

4242 Miles to St. Lucia – The Boiled Frog Guesthouse

Danielle and Steve Unruh are the owners of the Boiled Frog Guesthouse in St. Lucia. Their story is an unusual and interesting one that takes them more than 4242 miles from Canada (I calculated from Vancouver – so no doubt it’s even more) to the tropical island of St. Lucia and we thought it would make a great post for our “Making Your Tropical Obsession Your Profession” Series. The Boiled Frog is currently #1 on Trip Advisor’s List of Castries BB’s & Inns.

We became FB friends with Danielle and Steve a couple of months ago when we saw a picture of a beautiful rum drink being served at the Boiled Frog Guesthouse. We’re planning a visit St. Lucia for the first time this fall and are hoping to meet them in person and to enjoy a rum drink on the deck with their amazing view. I’m sure you will enjoy Danielle and Steve’s story as much as we did.

1. Can you tell us a little about yourself?
Well, we’re a family of five. Myself, my wife Danielle, and our three boys, Alex 17, Sasha 14, and Kieran (aka, The Podamus) 2. Together, we are from north eastern British Columbia, Canada, from the area around Dawson Creek, the start of the Alaska Highway.

Danielle and I were both employed in the oil and gas exploration industry. She was originally an environmental consultant and I started out in oil and gas production and later moved into Environment, Health and Safety. We met working on industry projects together. We were both doing very well financially, both earning six figures, plus benefits etc. etc. and both not enjoying what we were doing. In an industry starving for talented, experienced people, we had boundless career possibilities in front of us but no desire to get even deeper entrenched in something that was obviously not what we wanted to be doing.

We had traveled quite a bit to the Caribbean, to Jamaica and Mexico together and Danielle to many of the windward islands on her own and we LOVED everything about it. Every time we left we were asking ourselves why we kept going back to someplace so cold and to jobs so unfulfilling. We just decided to stop talking about it and to really explore if it would be possible to move permanently. We had no idea where or what we could or would do so we just started exploring and researching, looking at every possibility.
One day, while Danielle was in Calgary at a management training session for Shell, I was working my way through a book that I had bought for Christmas for my staff, called “5”. It was a book I picked up at Starbucks, and it’s intent was to challenge you with the very simple question, what are you going to do with the next five years of your life. (http://www.amazon.com/Where-Will-Five-Years-Today/dp/1932319441/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1336326158&sr=8-1)
It’s a fun book, I highly recommend it. Anyway, as I said, I was working through it and one of the things it asked you to do was to draw a picture of the house you wanted to live in. So I drew a picture of a house, with pillars on the front, beside the ocean, on a little peninsula, with a couple of palm trees in the front yard. Meanwhile, down in Calgary, Danielle was being asked by the facilitator of her training session to do a similar exercise, so Danielle drew a picture of a two story house, with pillars, on a little point, on the ocean, with palm trees in the yard, but she added two little plastic lounge chairs to her drawing. The funny thing is, she and I had never actually discussed anything about this. Danielle took a picture of her drawing and emailed it to me, just to show me what they had been working on and when she got home later in the week I showed her what I had drawn. It was one of those twilight zone moments. But it gets better.
A couple of weeks later I was getting frustrated with my Caribbean business searching. I wasn’t finding anything on the western side around Mexico or Belize so I thought I’d broaden my search out to the rest of the Caribbean and I started a real estate search in the windward islands and a website for St. Lucia popped up. I started scrolling through the businesses for sale and on the third or fourth click a guesthouse for sale flashed onto the screen, and the picture that came up was identical to the pictures that Danielle and I had drawn, right down to the two plastic lawn chairs. I immediately emailed the link to Danielle and we decided that day that we had to go and check this place out.
Well I’m going to fast forward a little. We did come and visit the place. We loved it. The owners were great and we even came back a second time with the kids to see how they felt about it. They were skeptical but willing to give it a try. However, to make a long story short, we didn’t end up buying that place. Now you might think that it would make a better story if we had because it was a perfect fit for the image we had of the place we wanted to live, so I can assure you that the place we did end up moving into actually looks the same too! Only it’s bigger! It has pillars and palm trees and sits right on the ocean on a little point called Choc Bay and that’s where we set up The Boiled Frog Guesthouse.How we ended up here instead of there is a story in itself and in the end, turned out to be a very fortuitous turn of events for us. We had driven by this place several times during our stays on the island and every time we did we would look and say wow, wouldn’t that be a great place for a guesthouse. We even went so far as to make inquiries about whether it was available for sale or rent but we were never able to get much help from the realtor. When we got back to Canada we called up another realtor that we had taken a realty tour with the second time we were down and asked her if she knew anything about this place. She said that as a matter of fact, she knew the owner personally and she would make inquiries for us. Turns out she was renting her office space from the same guy who owned this house and she convinced him to let us rent the place. So in a matter of weeks she had the lease set up and let us know that if we were still interested, the place was ours. Soooo we decided that night to make the leap and we signed the lease. From that point on we had to sell two houses, two vehicles, a boat, and somehow manage to sell or give away pretty much everything else. We managed pull it off. We sold the house we were living in for about 30% above market value (which was good cuz we knew we needed the money if we were going to survive long enough to figure out how to generate revenue here), we sold the other house for market value, we sold two vehicles and pretty much gave away everything else and what we couldn’t give away we threw away and moved down here with 16 suitcases, two teenagers and a baby.
We had no idea if we were going to be able to set up the guesthouse business. We knew we had six months to get something going. Six months to figure out what was required to stay longer than six months. Six months to develop and launch a business of some sort that would generate enough revenue within a year, to allow us to stay here full time.
In the end we ended up doing a number of different things! It turned out that the gentleman who owns the house is a very successful businessman on the island and he has been instrumental in helping us navigate our way around. By accident Danielle picked up some regular work for one of his many companies, doing sales and marketing (something she had done a little of back in Canada). Together we do quite a bit of on-line health and safety consulting for companies we were involved with back in Canada as well. By accident as well, I do some maintenance on gym equipment at one of the local gyms and I also do a little personal training on the side and on top of all that we run The Boiled Frog Guesthouse which, in the space of less than a year, went from being non-existent to the number one rated guesthouse on Trip Advisor, in the Castries area, and the number two rated guesthouse on Trip Advisor on the whole island. We only have three rooms to rent out, so it’s not enough to make a full living off of but it helps pay the bills and it lets us stay living in this beautiful home, in this beautiful setting on this beautiful island.
SO! that’s the readers digest version of our story (sorry if it was too long!) Now I’ll try and answer the rest of the questions.
2. How did you decide upon St. Lucia? Tell us what is great about St. Lucia.
We decided on St. Lucia for a couple of reasons. It has a friendly outlook on foreign ownership of property at the moment, so if we decided to buy here, it would be relatively easy to do so.
Being a former British colony, it actually has governmental systems that at least feel familiar to us as Canadians. In addition it’s official language is English and pretty much everyone speaks English at some level although the Patois is not easy to understand. Really a different language.
Having two teen age boys, schooling was a big question mark. We were prepared to home-school them as this is a fairly common practice in Canada and the home schooling systems are well developed but in the first year here we found an excellent international school and we enrolled the boys there. It was a very good year for them and they made a lot of social contacts which was also important to us.
Aside from the weather, which is amazing, and the beauty of the place, which is breathtaking, the best thing about St. Lucia has been the people. They have really made us feel welcome and are incredibly friendly. Living some place like this is so different from visiting it at a resort and it has been unquestionably the best experience of our lives to immerse ourselves in a community that is so foreign to what we have always known. The world is both a bigger and smaller place to us and our children because of it.
3. Has it been an easy transition to the islands?
To be honest, I don’t think this is for everybody, but for us it has really been a very easy transition. That’s not to say that it hasn’t been without it’s challenges but we have looked at it from day one as an adventure that we were going to embrace fully and as a result, despite some bumps, it just hasn’t been that difficult.
As an example, we had been here a month when hurricane Tomas hit. I was back in Canada, finishing up my work commitments and was actually en-route back when I got the news that the hurricane had hit the island. I was stranded in Toronto for 4 days while my wife and children rode out a hurricane. Something none of us had ever been through. Once it was all done, Tomas turned out to be the most destructive hurricane in St. Lucia’s history and for the next 6 to 8 months it felt like a real struggle for the local population. We had a few weeks of rationed water but eventually things came back around and now it feels like things are pretty much back to normal.
It has also been a very interesting experience just to live on an island. Canada is the largest independent land mass on the planet and you get very used to big spaces of land and always having everything you could possibly want or need twenty four hours a day, seven days a week. That is just not the case on an island. I remember going into a grocery story, fairly modern by North American standards, and finding that they had no milk. Went to the next grocery store up the road, and they had no milk either. Turned out that no one had milk anymore. That has never happened to me in Canada. I’ve never seen a grocery store without something as basic as milk, but you learn that on an island, sometimes they run out of things and then you just have to wait until the next ship comes in before you get more! Things like that happen frequently but these are things you learn to plan for and you just adjust. If having to switch to UHT milk for a couple of weeks is your biggest hardship…you’re not doing too badly.
4. What do you enjoy the most about your life in the islands?
Oh there are just so many things that I enjoy ‘MOST”! I love NOT having a 9 to 5 job! I love having so much time with my children, priceless! I love love love love love the weather!!!
I was born and raised in a place where 24 deg C is hot whereas here 24 deg C is a cool day. I love living right beside the ocean! I love living on a beach. I love working for myself. I love building something that has been received so well by the people who have stayed with us. I love meeting people from all over the world and having them share in the beauty of this place and sharing themselves with us. It’s been an amazing experience. I love the pace, I love the warmth of the people, I love the cheap and oh soooo good rum!! I love it all.
5. What made you decide to start your own business? Tell us about your business.
Well, a big part of moving here was the desire to find some sort of revenue generating business that would allow me the time to write. I’ve always wanted to write for a living (novels) but there just isn’t the time to do that when you have a full time job. So we needed to find something that would create that kind of income. When we came down and visited the first business we looked at, we saw that they had that kind of lifestyle and so we knew then that it could work.
Originally and hopefully somewhere down the road, we wanted to own a beach bar. The name “the Boiled Frog” actually came from the fact that we thought it would make a great name for a bar. The concept of the boiled frog was something we had heard from a speaker at a health and safety conference in Canada. She had described the idea that if you put a frog in boiling water it will jump out, but if you put it in room temperature water and then slowly over a long period of time, turn up the heat it will eventually boil because it won’t jump out. She equated this to the kind of pressure that middle managers were under and how companies were asking more and more of middle management, turning up the heat so to speak, and this was eventually burning them out. We knew what that felt like, as it was particularly prevalent in under resourced health and safety departments throughout our industry. We wanted to get out of the water ourselves, and we wanted to create a place where others could do the same. The beach bar seemed like the perfect vehicle to do that. We just took the same concept and applied it to the guesthouse and it has taken off. The feedback from guests has been overwhelmingly positive, so we think we’ve hit on something that strikes a chord with people. We’ve had guests tell us that they chose to stay with us, just because of the name. They wanted to see what that was all about.
6. What are the challenges of living in the islands?
Well I’ve touched on some of the physical ones like running out of staples at the grocery store and there are lots of those kinds of things that can be interesting to manage. We get a lot of stuff brought down to us by guests and family. Things we can’t get here. A lot of people will do excursion shopping to places like Miami because the prices are better and there are things there you just can’t find here, but those are really pretty small inconveniences. Not that challenging. In truth the biggest challenges have been related to navigating the governmental requirements for work permits and visa’s that sort of thing. There are professionals, lawyers etc., who can help and for anyone seriously considering doing something like this it would likely be a good idea to contact someone like that. It’s difficult though because it’s hard to know who is reputable and skilled at that sort of work when you don’t already live here.
We got very lucky in making the contacts we made when first got here and in having six months to sort things out. Ex-pats from other countries such as the US and Britain don’t have that much time. Having said that, we know of others who have made the transition as well so it can certainly be done but just know that it will be a lot of bureaucracy that will be very frustrating at times and it will likely cost more than you think it should.
7. What advice would you give to someone who would like to relocate to the islands?
Ha, got ahead of myself there. My advice would be a) do it! b) don’t get discouraged by the things that don’t make sense c) don’t be discouraged by what seem like insurmountable walls, there’s always a way through or around if you want it badly enough, d) do your research, the more you know the more prepared you will be to ask good questions.
8. Is there anything else we should know about you or your business or your life in the islands?
hahahaha…ummm I feel like I’ve bored you enough so I’ll stop now!
Here’s our website and a link to our FB page and our page on Air BnB and on Trip Advisor. Thanks for this opportunity! I hope you can make use of it!


Other posts on Making Your Tropical Obsession Your Profession:

Tears of a Mermaid – Elizabeth Ivy, Glass Jewelry

Searching for Pieces of Eight – Thomas Gidus

Okolemaluna Tiki Lounge, Kailua Kona, Hawaii – Brice Ginardi

Vessels of Freedom – Captain Darrel Hearne

Through the Eyes of a Tropical Soul – William Anthony Torrillo, Photographer

A Pirate Looks at 10 – Fletcher Morton, Trop Rock Musician

I’m Gonna Live My Life Like a Jimmy Buffet Song by Anthony Bjorklund (book review)

Railean Distillers – San Leon, Texas, Kelly Railean

Foxy’s Tamarind Bar

18.43° N and 64.71° W – Great Harbour, Jost Van Dyke, BVI.

According to their website, this is the location of Foxy’s Tamarind Bar. For those of you, like me, who’d rather get an address you can plug into your smart phone, you’ll be hard pressed to find a street address. Just sail in to Great Harbour, go ashore and look for the party. There’s usually one of some size going on in this eclectic place that boasts one of the greatest “Old Years Eve” parties in the world.

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Foxy Callwood is the man behind the name and has been serving food & strong rum drinks to sailors and visitors since 1966. He’s quite the storyteller and loves to talk with and sing to the many folks who wander into his bar.

Foxy’s is a great place to people watch and drink rum – lots of it. Foxy even has his own rum – Foxy’s Firewater Rum, which you can purchase from his gift shop. Foxy’s serves up some serious rum drinks and as hard as we tried to work our way through his Rum Drink List during our week on JVD, we fell short – just slightly. Darn. Guess we’ll have to go back.

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Foxy's-6-(600)-OFoxy has another bar on Jost Van Dyke at Diamond Cay called “Foxy’s Taboo” – named after his dog seen here.

Foxy's-12-(600)-OYou can listen to live music Thursday—Saturday and enjoy BBQ every Friday and Saturday night and there are many other fun events throughout the year.

We read somewhere that if dinghying in to Foxy’s for the Old Year’s Eve Party, you should bring a lock and chain for your dinghy, ’cause all dinghy’s look the same at night after some heavy drinking. Apparently revelers occasionally can’t even find their own boat, just pick another to pass out on and worry about finding their own in the morning. Must be that Firewater!!

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Have you been to Foxy’s? Tell us about it!

Want to find out more about Foxy’s? Check out their website and Facebook page.


Find Foxy’s on our Jost Van Dyke Map


To see more posts on Jost Van Dyke and other islands, check out our Island Blog Directory

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Tears of a Mermaid

We’re always on the lookout for individuals who are doing something they love to do – especially if it involves something tropical. That’s why we were thrilled when William Torrillo – the amazing photographer who we interviewed for our “Through the Eyes of a Tropical Soul” article told us about Elizabeth. William suggested that we check out Elizabeth’s sea glass jewelry and we’re glad we did! Elizabeth had long enjoyed collecting sea glass during walks on the beach with her daughters and recently began making jewelry from the glass they have found. We asked if we could interview her and this is what we found out:

1. Can you tell us a little about yourself? I have lived in Maryland all my life and I’m 32 years old. I’ve lived in Calvert County for about 22 years. We are a water oriented area, known for crabbing and our ginormous Rock Fish! We are surrounded by water here on 3 sides. The Chesapeake Bay to our East and the Patuxent River to West, The Patuxent spills into the Bay at the southern tip of the county. We are a family of Beach Bums for sure and at home in Maryland we lived about 5 blocks from the Bay and our Beach House is in the Outer Bank of North Carolina where we spend most of our summers.

2. What made you decide to start making your own jewelry? I am a stay-at-home Mom of 3 Daughters 10, 7 and 4. I’ve been home about 5 years and my collection of sea glass was getting out of hand. So, my Hubby suggested we try to wire wrap a few pieces and see what happens. 3. Why sea glass? 3 years ago I found my first piece of Cobalt which is not easy to find. I found it on a girls weekend trip to our beach house and you’d have thought I had found a million dollars!! I immediately took it to a bead shop and had it made into a necklace. Everywhere I go to this day I’m complimented on how gorgeous my necklace is…  After years of finding tons of glass and a friend sharing her secret beach for amazing glass, we decided to give the jewelry making a try!

4. Where do you find your sea glass? The majority of my sea glass is from a place my girls and I call “Our Secret Beach”.  We find gorgeous colors there, aquas, lavenders, and cobalts, as well as the more common colors like greens, browns and whites.

5. What are the challenges of using sea glass? What are the benefits? My only challenge so far has been the earrings. Finding two pieces that are somewhat similar in shape is not an easy task! The benefit is that I have plenty of glass!! HA!

6. Where do you sell your jewelry? We showed the pieces my Hubby and I created to some friends and got an overwhelming response so I decided to open a shop on Etsy.com.  I chose the name Mermaids Jewelry Box because of the old folk lore that says that pieces of Sea Glass are Mermaid’s Tears. 7. Has this been a good career change, choice or path for you? I’m not really looking to make a career, my Hubby and I enjoy sitting together and wrapping the glass. It’s more of a passion that I wanted to share with others that may not have access to it like we do.

8. Is there anything else we should know about you or your business? I never use artificially made sea glass. I use pieces from my own collection. For some reason “Our Secret Beach” keeps us well stocked. I don’t have much luck finding glass in the Outer Banks, only random pieces here and there.

Oh, and I don’t know if I mentioned it or not but the little girl in the picture is my youngest daughter Haley. She’s a Sea Glass Mermaid also! She knows all about it… She’s my Sea Glass Buddy, we go hunt for glass when her older sisters are at school!
And yes, after checking out Elizabeth’s Etsy shop, I had to get a Mermaid Tear of my own (see pic above!) Be sure to check out the Mermaid’s Jewelry Box and see if there’s a piece calling your name too.

Other posts on Making Your Tropical Obsession Your Profession:

4242 Miles to St. Lucia – The Boiled Frog Guesthouse – Danielle and Steve Unruh

Searching for Pieces of Eight – Thomas Gidus

Okolemaluna Tiki Lounge, Kailua Kona, Hawaii – Brice Ginardi

Vessels of Freedom – Captain Darrel Hearne

Through the Eyes of a Tropical Soul – William Anthony Torrillo, Photographer

A Pirate Looks at 10 – Fletcher Morton, Trop Rock Musician

I’m Gonna Live My Life Like a Jimmy Buffet Song by Anthony Bjorklund (book review)

Railean Distillers – San Leon, Texas, Kelly Railean