Ani riding bike

Adventures of Ani

Ani riding bike

We absolutely love when we’re able to get a rare chance to meet up with old cruising friends again.  Something about reminiscing of days past when, not only were we cruising, but when we were still total newbies and figuring it all out.  We have a small and tight knit group of cruisers that we were lucky enough to call our close friends our first season out back in 2013, and on this evening we were lucky enough to meet up with two of them again.  Only…their crew had now grown to three.

Back when we had just gotten into the Bahamas and started exploring them in March ’13, we made a stop at Long Island and partook in some of the Easter festivities, including a fish fry being hosted by the water on Good Friday.  We were still clinging to our friends Brian and Stephanie that we had just been reunited with a few days earlier, but lo and behold, there appeared to be other young cruisers at this get together.  Shyly walking up and introducing ourselves, we made quick friends with this new couple, Ren and Ashley.  Through a few drinks we found out that they frequently visited Long Island for it’s proximity to Dean’s Blue Hole, one of the deepest in the world.  This happened to be very important to them as they are both freedivers and also make their living by not only competing professionally, but giving lessons through their company Evolve Freedving.

Through the next few months we spent a lot of time with Ren and Ashley, traveling the Bahamas and even sailing over to Jamaica together where we parted ways, for who knew how long.  Turns out three years was how long it took to bring us all back together as they were just outside Indiantown with their new boat, a trimaran named Jade.  Going out to see them as well as their new boat, we were also able to meet the newest crew member, Ani.  A bright a cheery two year old that was just a bump in Ashley’s stomach the last time we were all together.

It was a great reunion as we pulled into the marina and saw our long lost friends.  There was so much to catch up on and a new boat to take a tour of.  Having done a pretty good refit themselves, they knew exactly how we’re feeling right now and gave lots of encouragement as well as tips.

Then it was time to wake Ani up from her afternoon nap so she could meet mommy and daddy’s old friends.

Ren and Jamal

Sandpiper Marina

Matt on s/v Jade

Ani Chapman

When she came out to be introduced to us she was still a little tired and understandably shy.  As the adults sat around with wine and snacks though, she wandered the boat and became more talkative and bubbly as the evening went on.  Instead of hiding her face in Ashely’s lap she was now running around the deck and showing off her toys including a tricycle that she desperately wanted to take for a ride.

With Ren rustling up Ani and her bike, I grabbed my camera and followed along. Having gotten her very own camera for Christmas, she knew what to do and was more than happy to take my Sony NEX 5T off my hands ans snap a few shots with it.  I tried to take a moment to explain the auto focus properties to her, but as soon as she found the shutter button she was off and snapping.

For a two year old she was doing a very good job of keeping both her fingers out of view of the lens and cropping the photos she wanted to take.  Here’s a few examples of her work.

Ani's photo of Jessica

Ani's photo of Ren

Then it was time to get down to the real business of riding her bike around the parking lot.  With white blonde curls poking out of her helmet it was all I could do not to scoop her up and make a run for the van so I could keep this cuteness with me all the time.  I refrained though.  I don’t think I’d be very hard to track down and I am in no way equipped to handle a screaming two year old when it comes to bed time.  The nightmares from my babysitting days still haunt me.

Ani riding a bicycle As the sun was already setting on us, it was a short bike ride and, after a few tears, we were back at the boat once more.  From then on Ani occupied herself with dolls and books and we were able to squeeze in a little more adult time with Ren and Ashley and their friends Tania and Jamal that were in the same marina (whom we’d also briefly met in Indiantown).

Before we knew it, dinner time had come and gone, Jade was filling up with new overnight guests, and Matt and I were far behind schedule to make stops at Harbor Freight and Home Depot before they closed.  Sadly we had to say goodbye as well as plan and wish for the next times our paths may cross again.  Our visit with the Jade crew was short, but it also warmed our hearts to see old friends as well as get the encouragement to keep pushing on and the motivation to get out sailing again.

With so many amazing memories with these two in our past, we can’t wait to make new ones in the future, with Ani running around and keeping us entertained as well.  It wouldn’t hurt if we could go back to starry nights and sandy beaches in the tropics instead of passing by each other in the States, so we’ll have to hurry our butts up so we can join them during parts of their Caribbean travels.

Ani swinging from companionway

 Make sure to follow more adventures of Ani through Instagram @evolvefreediving.