This past week I set sail on 44-foot yacht and while snorkeling and sailing in the Caribbean, I was reminded of the favorite part of my job.
In the fall of 2015 is when I met Garden Oaks resident Kim Ellis. The Leader was working on printing the Green edition – the section was composed of everything from recycling and environmental practices, healthful practices, green food, and more.
Loyal reader Kim Ellis is an environmental scientist, and at the time was working on building her wildscape consulting business, Habitats.
We featured Ellis and her business in the Green edition, worked on a successful and fruitful marketing campaign for Habitats, convinced her to contribute a monthly column, taught her how to tune her writing for newspaper, badgered her with deadline reminders, and we grew a friendship.
Kim is married to a crazy nut named Jason and the two have a sweet son, Benji.
The Ellises aren’t your typical neighbor. For starters, you can usually find a vintage Volkswagon Vanagon being dismantled and yelled at on any given weekend in the driveway. There’s probably also a homebrew boiling in the garage or a summer wine being made – or both.
The latest Ellis adventure has been their recent purchase of a 44-foot catamaran, Mimzy. The Ellises are currently chartering Mimzy in the Caribbean with a captain and first mate taking groups out to explore the Caribbean.
At the top going clockwise, Garden Oaks residents Jason and Kim Ellis in the captain’s seat sailing SV Mimzy, their 44-foot Catamaran and soon-to-be home. A look at Maho Bay in St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands. An excited Kim and Jason Ellis, with an also excited Christina Martinez, cheersing to making it to St. Thomas and the beginning of their summer sailing adventure. The Seafood Mofongo at Puerto Rico Cafe, a Puerto Rican classic that shines plantains and fresh seafood. A view of Playa de Flamenco (Flamenco Beach), one of the world’s best beaches. Sunset at Caneel Bay in the U.S. Virgin Islands (photos by Christina Martinez).
This time next year, charter season will come to a close and the Ellises will have (hopefully) sold their Garden Oaks house, the camper van, put things in storage, and will be packing their bags to permanently take residency on Mimzy – or at least for a few years.
Charter season just came to a close with hurricane season alive and well, picking up again in November. Until then, Mimzy takes a break in a marina in Fajardo – giving a good excuse to take her out for a summer sail and that’s where our adventure begins.
Our adventure crew consisted of the Ellises plus me, and the Wells family – Trampus, Rachel and their two boys, Trip and Carrick.
We flew out of Bush Intercontinental on a Friday morning, landing in St. Thomas that afternoon.
For our first night, we stayed docked in the marina and were welcomed by Mimzy’s charter Captain Darrin, and First Mate, Desire. Dinner that night was prepared by chef Desire – along with her signature stiff drinks – serving one of her specialties of grilled grouper in a halved grilled pineapple, topped with marinated pomegranate seeds. A wonderful welcome meal to the Caribbean.
The next morning we were moving a bit slowly after a few of Desire’s signature island cocktails, but eventually got going with St. John as our desired destination for the day. Before setting full sail, we made our way to Pizza Pi VI, a pizza food boat in the U.S. Virgin Islands. We eventually made our way to Maho Bay where we anchored for our first night out. The beauty of this bay is one I’ll never forget; the bay welcomes you with lush green trees on the beach and the bay rich with fish – a nurse shark slept on the ocean floor, right underneath our boat – and the stargazing at night was unforgettable.
The next day, we island hopped over to Waterlemon Cay, and at this island is where we had the best snorkel of our trip. The colorful parrot fish, fun file fish, swaying purple sea fans, another nurse shark and all of Waterlemon’s beauty captivated me in a sea spell that I never wanted to end. After, we hiked Annaberg Sugar Plantation to get a glimpse of the ruins and to take in the full panoramic view of our dive destination. To end the night, we parked in Caneel Bay.
The next morning we set sail to Buckeye Bay, where we met six sea turtles feasting on a healthy bed of sea grass, in crystal clear water. I swam out to catch a glimpse and stationed myself directly above the turtles, hoping one would come up to greet me. Just my luck, a turtle came up for breath inches away from my mask and I got to say a friendly hello.
Our main sail of the trip was roughly six hours, venturing from the USVI to Culebra, Puerto Rico, where we bay hopped around the island on Mimzy. On our second day in Culebra, we eventually made our way to land to explore and stretch our legs. The next day, we rented jeeps to do some serious beach exploring for the next two days – exploring the beauty of Playa de Flameco (Flamenco beach), Zoni beach and Playa Punta Soldado. All very different beaches; all uniquely beautiful.
The morning of Friday, August 4, I said farewell (for now) to the adventure crew and boarded a six person plane as the only passenger to San Juan. The captain said I was flying like a queen for the day.
I explored the old city of San Juan, taking in history at the San Juan National Historic Site – learning about the fortifications that were built by the Spanish to control Puerto Rico, the “front door” to the U.S., and how they fought for 400 years to keep Puerto Rico.
My final meal of the trip was at Cafe Puerto Rico, trying the local cuisine of Mofongo. My waiter suggested a seafood mofongo, with mixed plaintains for a sweet and true taste of the starch. Mofongo is something I never knew I needed to try, and now I’m wondering where in Houston I can get a fix.
I ended the night and trip walking in the cobblestone paved streets of Old San Juan, listening to locals drum an upbeat, romantic tune in a nearby plaza, all while reminiscing in our adventures and coming to final thoughts of gratitude – the best part of my job is the relationships and friendships I get to make along the way.
I’m grateful to call the Ellises friends.