Never Judge A Book… You Haven’t Read

Having dipped our toes in the shores of several different Caribbean islands, I began to feel that I was really developing my sea legs.  At least I thought that I had.  For many years now, much of my spare time is often spent exploring the www, and traveling, albeit virtually, to a new and different island with only the click of a mouse.

I often pour over brochures, blogs, and websites, developing a sense of each islands unique characteristics.  One island excels as an eco-tourism destination, another as a sport and active travel hot spot, and yet others may be noted for shopping or dining.  Happy is the traveler that finds a destination that matches their personality and objectives.  Destitute is the traveler that avoids a destination, simply because of its perceived shortcomings.  Especially when the perceptions are misplaced.  Such was the case on my own personal assumptions about St. Thomas, USVI.

I had delayed a St. Thomas visit for some time, thinking it held no appeal to me.  An over-crowded cruise ship destination, filled with neon lights and fast-food chains.  At least that was my perception.  We decided to target St. Thomas, a couple years ago as we continued to investigate more and more of the diversity the Caribbean has to offer.  I am happy to report that my assumptions were sadly misplaced, and that St. Thomas in the USVI has much to offer even the well traveled island hopper.

We did indeed find bright colorful lights, but the view of the Charlotte Amalie Harbour from Bluebeard’s Castle left us begging for more.

The Marina at Charlotte Amallie
The Marina at Charlotte Amallie

The bright lights of the harbor however held little in comparison to the natural beauty to be found at every turn.  The island was literally covered with brilliantly colored flamboyants.

Magnificant Flamboyants Decorate the Island
Magnificant Flamboyants Decorate the Island

Shopping was easy to find, but we opted to stray a bit off the waterfront.  In doing so we found simple pleasures like these quirky bar stools at Mountain Top.

Bar Stools at Mountain Top
Bar Stools at Mountain Top

And lest you think you can’t find a nice meal in a quiet corner of the island, this is Romance with a capital “R”!

Water Side Dining, Secrete Harbour
Water Side Dining, Secret Harbour

But to our happy surprise, we found the gem of the island to be very much to our liking.

World Renowned Magen's Bay
World Renowned Magen’s Bay

Take a lesson from this now humbled traveler, and given the chance, indulge yourself in all that St. Thomas has to offer.  It is easy to get to, and is a great stepping off base for other nearby islands.  The island has more than enough to offer in dining, shopping, or just beachin it!  And never, ever, judge a book… without reading it!

Live the Lifestyle,
JVbytheSea

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THE ART OF THE DANCE

Had we known the respect she held over the entire island population, we may have been dissuaded from ever even approaching her regarding our venture.  But our naiveté of her position dictated that we forge ahead.

I initially contacted a select group of artists by email to see if there was interest in participating in a calendar project we were producing for Island Art.  It was intended to feature the works of some of St. Martin’s talented art community.  Having spent a little time on internet searches, and reading the volumes of information available about her, I admit to a certain degree of surprise that she was interested.  Having Ruby Bute in our calendar would definitely lend an air of credibility and help insure further commitments from the fence riders.

We made preliminary arrangements via email, and exchanged phone numbers for our pending arrival on the island.  A couple of brief phone conversations from the states left us excited to meet her face to face, but with an image already beginning to form, we knew that this was indeed a special woman, and that we were going to be in for a unique and rewarding experience.

…Upon our arrival we pulled up to the large painted steel gate and honked per the posted sign.  After a few minutes the gate slowly slid open to allow our passing.  Driving on to the yard we see her sitting on the front porch of her home as the gate slides shut behind us.  We were on the “inside” now.  We felt elite, part of a select few, allowed briefly to see behind the curtain.  We approach with nervousness and trepidation wondering how we will be received.

The Boardroom
The Boardroom

We were given a grand tour of the entire home and previewed a wide array of her completed works.  Numerous attempts on my part to direct us towards the purpose of our visit were rebuffed as if a pesky gnat or fruit fly.  We were treated as special quests and her hospitality was humbling.

…At the conclusion of our two-hour “visit”, she announced that she had needed to find out who this man from the states was before she committed to the project.  “Now we can talk business” she declares, “but not today.”  She had another appointment that she had to keep and would have to leave.  We were invited to come back the following day to talk business.

So we learned that this entire meeting had only been held so that she could see if there would be a need at all for a 2nd meeting.  As we drove off the lawn and back to our resort, we were jilted a bit by the lack of progress, but celebrating the fact we had passed muster.  I have not known before or since, an island resident so clearly in command of everything that goes on around her.  Nothing happens without her knowledge and subsequent approval.  To have survived this first test of character was exhilarating and left us in a celebratory mood.  We now knew that with her in the stable, the rest of the calendar would fill quite easily..

Majestic Silk Cotton tree on the grounds of the Gallery.
Majestic Silk Cotton tree on the grounds of the Gallery.

I started the business discussions by pointing to the agreement, and started to briefly discuss the merits of each article in it.  Mind you, this is a very brief legal document; only two pages in length, but nearly one half of its contents are dedicated to the discussion of royalties, the calculation, and the auditing of it.  As I reached Article 3, Royalties, she stopped me in my tracks.  “Why do we need all this?”  “Well” I explained, “I wanted each of the artists to feel I was being transparent and forthright in my dealings.”

“I understand, but I don’t want to have to worry about what this Mr. Vanderpool is doing back in the states” she said.  I was beginning to see the picture she was now painting without benefit of brush or knife.  “Would you rather have a certain quantity of calendars to sell in your own studio” I asked?

“Exactly!”  Now quite clearly pleased that this stranger from the states has finally caught up with her unspoken directive.  Now all that would remain would be to determine a proper quantity for her contribution.  So after a few uneasy moments of pregnant pause, I finally played right in to her hand, “Did you have a number in mind?”

“Well, whatever you think is fair” she coyly responded.  I now quickly make some royalty calculations in my head based upon the projected sales and first run printing.  “How does 100 or 150 units sound?”

“150 is a good number… but I was thinking of a different number.”  I laughed out loud and she too chuckled, both of us realizing we were now entering into the Art of the Dance…

To read the this story in it’s entirety, and to hear other tales of transitions to a slower-paced island life, check out the book “A Beach Less Traveled” by John Berglund.  It’s a great read for a beautiful day on the beach!

Live the Lifestyle,
JVbytheSea

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Artist Spotlight – Sylvie Charlot

Artists throughout the Caribbean, we have come to learn, come with personalities and characteristics as diverse as the works they produce.  Very early in the foundation of My Island Art, we had the good fortune to meet an artist on St. Martin that absolutely personifies the serene images of island life she paints.  We were soon taken in by her warm and welcoming personality, and quickly a friendship developed.  We are thrilled today to introduce you to St. Martin based artist, Sylvie Charlot.
Sylvie Charlot copy
Born and raised in Pau, France, grew up the daughter of a father who too was an artist.  Her father was an artist, as well as a street performer, dressing as a clown and playing his guitar for the approving crowds.  His influence on her life was profound, and soon she became sensitive to painting too.  At a young age the pleasure of painting eventually became a passion in her as well. 

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                          Islet Pinel

 

Tragedy unfortunately struck this young girl,  and at the tender age of 15, Sylvie found herself alone as both parents succumbed to prolonged illness.  Her heart was crushed, and as we can all imagine, she felt a need for a change in her scenery.  In 1992 she wished to discover new horizons and decided to set down her suitcases and paint brushes in Saint Martin, F.W.I.  Sylvie shares that she was instantly taken by the beauty of the landscapes, the colors that were before her eyes, the infinite blues of the Caribbean Sea, and the soft, peaceful life of the islands.

Like all of us, life’s events have a way of leaving their marks on our character.  Such is the case with Sylvie as well.  Many of her customers have discovered and appreciate the tender views she has of the beauty of the islands.  Her depictions of its fauna and flora, as well as of the West Indian lifestyle and traditions are soothing reflections of the tropical spirit.  From her paintings swells a love for the island, that was becoming a little more her’s with each subsequent brush stroke.

Vegetable Stand

 

Sylvie is a self-taught painter whose gentle touch and pleasant smile evoke a softness found in each of her works.  She prefers to work in watercolors, finding that the transparent colors sublimate the charm of the Caribbean landscape, and likes working in acrylic oils as well.  She sets up her booth and daily exhibits her work, at the simple market along the waterfront in Marigot, St. Martin.  Always ready with a smile, and a gentle greeting, Sylvie Charlot is a shear delight to visit with.

 

We invite you to explore the works and the world of Sylvie Charlot in our Charlot Catalog.  And if you find yourself in the Market in Marigot, stop in and meet the gentle spirt that is, Sylvie Charlot.

 

Lost in a Lifestyle,
JVbytheSea


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Saba – The Unspoiled Queen

Our decision to use St. Maarten as our vacation hub has always been largely based upon its close proximity to neighboring islands.  This geographical arrangement makes for a handy retreat to slightly more remote beaches when on St. Maarten the cruise ships come calling.  But head to an island without beaches?  What could possibly be the allure?  We would soon learn a wonderful lesson in eating crow!

SabaApt
Credit – www.skipharper.com

The Dutch island of Saba, weighing in at a scant 5 sq. mi. of land area, lies just 28 miles SE of St. Maarten.  There are two distinctly different means whereby one can reach this quaint retreat.  Winair offers a short 20 minute flight five times daily, and there are two boating excursions offering 1 hour 20 minute rides aboard competing Vomit Comets.  For obvious reasons, we chose the former rather then the latter.

The flight was quick, and exhilarating.  The approach takes a heading directly towards a rocky face, before suddenly dropping to a smooth landing along an ancient lava flow.  A  breeze through the terminal’s Immigration booth and we were off to explore the highest point within the Kingdom of the Netherlands.[rule]

Mount Scenery, 2,855 ft., and 1,064 steps.  But who’s counting!
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The climb up Mt. Scenery is a hike well worth its promotion.  A rainforest so dense and arid it brings to mind the tales of Bilbo Baggins in his heroic quest.
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saba 3

We began the morning with a quick breakfast at Scout’s Place, and even found it a welcome reward following our epic climb.
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The island is dotted with scenes that feel a world apart from the beaches and shopping of most Caribbean tourist destinations.

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windwardside
                                                                  Windwardside from Mt. Scenery

Windwardside is a picturesque town that plays well the part of post card and picture puzzle subject.

Be sure to check out the islands celebrated art and gift reputation.  The handcrafts of the ladies of the island is well known, as they still create their own hand made lace.  These pieces each create a beautiful and delicate finish to any table.  One of our favorite stops was the studio of glass artist Jo Bean.  Jo makes stunning hot glass creations unlike anything we had seen before.  The colors were so brilliant and her effusing personality was a perfect punctuation to our day on Saba.

An island without a beach, what could possibly be the attraction?  We found the answer to be its people, its quaint villages, its stunning scenery, its bars and restaurants, its thriving art community…

We encourage you, take the diversion off the beaten path and visit Saba, The Unspoiled Queen of the Caribbean.  But we also encourage you, take the plane, not the Vomit Comet!

Lost in a Lifestyle,
JVbytheSea

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From the Blogosphere – Week in Review 07/17/13

Fresh off a whirlwind six-island tour at the beginning of last month, things are finally starting to settle back into a sense of normalcy.  Yes, we recognize we’ve taken a bit of artistic license with the use of that term!  Nonetheless, we are currently busy working at tweaking a few site issues, chatting with some awesome beach bums through social media, and working to develop some great new products.  And for the next 60 days it’s full speed ahead planning for our maiden voyage to exhibit at Surf Expo.

Today we thought we’d take a step back, and share a few of the postings we found from some of our favorite Island bloggers.
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Soggy Dollar Bar
               Soggy Dollar Bar

Bahama Bob Leonard dropped in to tell us about the Beach Bash held to celebrate the 43rd Anniversary Party at the Soggy Dollar bar on Jost Van Dyke.  If you’ve ever stopped in for one of the infamous Painkillers, you’ll want to read the details of this Day on the Beach!
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Loblolly Bay, Anegada
              Loblolly Bay, Anegada

 

From our friends at Rum Therapy, they say it’s really not that easy to get to Anegada in the British Virgin Islands.  But in this great post, they share some of the great beaches that await.  If you love stunning images of beautiful beaches like we do, check out Loblolly Bay, Anegada.

Pssst, you might also want to check out the revamped site over at RumTherapy.com.  Great job guys!
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Ever wonder what the locals recommend for favorite activities to the friends and family visiting the islands?  Then check out San Pedro Scoop’s Catamaran sailing from Ambergris Caye to Caye Caulker.  One of the better photo essays we’ve seen in a while.
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One of the things we really enjoy about island life, is their more direct manner of speech.  No harm and no offense intended, they simply speak more exactly what they mean.  Political correctness takes a back seat.  Found in St. John, is this stunning example of what I mean.  Find out where it’s located in the story from On St. John.

 

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Everybody likes free, and this time the opportunity is X2!  Simply sign up for the Anguilla Beach Lovers Newsletter, and you are eligible to win a $200 Blanchards Gift Card.  Run by Bob and Melinda Blanchard, their two popular restaurants, the high-end Blanchard’s Restaurant and the low-key Blanchard’s Beach Shack next door, offer top Anguilla dining experiences.  And if you’re curious about the island transition, check out the story of their move to island life in A Trip To The Beach.

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Be sure to check out our Caribbean blogging friends.  These guys truly help to put us in an island state of mind!  And until next time, get…

Lost in a Lifestyle,
JVbytheSea

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The Caribbean -A Palette of Inspiration

As we have traveled throughout the Caribbean, and met with countless numbers of artists, we often ask where they draw their inspiration from.  Almost unanimously they tell us that they selected this life in the tropics, not only for its enviable climate, but because the calming colors are an inspiration to their artist’s spirit.  We have to say we can certainly see the attraction.

In this issue of our Lost in a Lifestyle Blog, we wanted to give you a glimpse of the color that to be experienced in the Caribbean, virtually at every turn  From scenic overlooks, to pristine beaches, to flora and fauna, take our quick tour of the Colors of the Caribbean!

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 One of our favorite overlooks is this aptly named scene in St. Martin called Paradise View.
It has served as inspiration for several of our featured artists, and can be found on a number of the products in our catalog.

Blog 1Beautiful Trunk Bay in St. John is blooming with natures colors.

Blog 2This sunset palette reveals the greatest artist of them all.

Blog 3Even a trip to market is a vision for the senses.

Blog 4This final view of Shoal Bay East even served as the inspiration for the colors found on our logo when we updated early this year.

You see beauty is in the grand and in the everyday, but there is no denying that the Caribbean is indeed a palette of inspiration.  Share your comments below and tell us, What colors of the Caribbean inspire you?

Lost in a Lifestyle,
JVbytheSea

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From the Blogosphere – Week in Review 042013

After the week that was, we’re definitely needing some time away from the headlines.  We continue to remember those touched by the tragedies in Boston this past week, and pray for healing of both the body and spirit.  Stepping back from the horrific scenes,  here’s a look back at some interesting blog postings we found through the week that was.
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Charles at Big Kahuna took us on a tour of the eco-friendly resort Concordia on the island of St. John.  From the Eco-Tents, to the community aspect, and even the Work Exchange Program, this small resort on the east end of the island appears to have plenty of appeal.  Read more in Big Kahuna’s Eco Friendly.

Big Kahuna - Eco Friendly[rule]

If your thinking of a girls outing for the Ultimate Shopping Trip, check out this post by Pirates Paradise Adventures on the great shopping in St. Thomas.  Heads up guys, this could put a serious dent in the plastic!  Read all about it in this tale of Best Virgin Islands Shopping St. Thomas.

Havensight
The Waiting Game played out at Havensight, St. Thomas
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Do you love Kenny Chesney and  love to party?  If you’re in or around the Dallas area, you chesneymay want to check out the special tailgate package being offered by the gang over at Team Cocktail.  A full day of fun in the sun is scheduled for May 11!  Believe me, these guys give you bang for your tailgating buck.  Get all the deets at Kenny Chesney Ticket & Tailgate.

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Parrot Cay Resort
One more stunning resort is introduced to us by Laura from Caribbean Travel News.  In this update, Laura reports on new additions to the Parrot Cay Resort in the Turks and Caicos.  Designed to make your friends jealous, check out all the images of this beautiful layout in Parrot Cay Resort.

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Be sure to check out our Caribbean blogging friends.  These guys truly help to put us in an island state of mind!  And until next time, go get…

Lost in a Lifestyle,
JVbytheSea

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From the Blogosphere – Week in Review 041313

Slackards!  That’s us, just a bunch of lazy beach bums.  But we’re back again, with a bit of news from the best Caribbean bloggers on the web!  We save you the daily grind, and we’ve done all the heavy lifting for you.  Filtering through the many bloggers we follow, here’s some interesting site postings we found through the past week.
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If you’re a foodie, or a spirit aficionado, you’ll want to check out the newest release from Carlton Grooms of Coastlines & Tanlines.  His newest book Rum & Contemporary Cuisine is now available on iTunes.  It’s a cooking show and a cookbook combined into one, and now available for your iPad.

 

 

 

 

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Our friend Patrick from Uncommon Caribbean introduced us to Sandy Point Beach.  The Bennett brothers are always proud to show off their home island of St. Croix, and their home-town pride comes across loud and clear in this Wallpaper Wednesday special.

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Wendy at My Irie Time wrapped up a really great alphabetical survey of all things Caribbean with this final posting in the series, “Z is for Zymurgy”.  We really enjoyed this series.  If you missed it, go to her site and check it out, and follow the Caribbean from A-Z.

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burger

 

And finally, highlighting a Lunch of the Week is this St. John favorite at Skinny Legs!  This Burger of the Day” features smoked bacon, pepper jack cheese and a thick slice of pineapple.  Bon Appetit!

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As always, we encourage you to check out our blogging friends.  Follow along with the ones that pique your interest, and soak up a little bit of the island vibe!  And until next time, go get…

Lost in a Lifestyle,
JVbytheSea

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New To MIA – Old Mango Photography

At My Island Art we are uber excited today to formally announce a new photographer to our fold, and to now make his works available to the great customers at My Island Art.  Many of you know him by his frequent Facebook posts, and his twitter updates, and like us you’ve probably wondered, just how does he do that?  Well we’re not giving away any trade secrets, but we are thrilled to announce, available exclusively to My Island Art, select photo works from

William Torrillo, Old Mango Guide to the Islands!

Devil's Bay, Virgin Gorda
                                      Devil’s Bay, Virgin Gorda, by William Torrillo

We first became introduced to William in the same way that many of you have, by drooling every day at his stunning photographs posted on his Facebook Page Old Mango – Guide to The Islands.  We’ve watched his posts and followed his tweets, and dreamed of one day adding his works to our gallery.

In 2012 while sitting at the Cruzan Beach Club at Secret Harbour, St. Thomas, I noticed a new photo from Old Mango had just been posted to his Facebook Page.  What caught our attention was that the caption revealed that it was just taken only moments before, and at the exact same location we were now sitting.  We quickly spun around trying to locate the identity of the now mysterious photographer.

Salomon Bay, St. John
Salomon Bay, St. John, by William Torrillo
Cinnamon Bay, St. John
Cinnamon Bay, St. John, by William Torrillo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At long last I finally narrowed down the short list of bar patrons, surely it couldn’t be that geriatric woman at a corner booth, and eased up to a table.  “Are you William” I asked.  Meeting William was a real treat for us.  We sat for a brief time as he awaited the arrival of a business partner, and visited about our common love of the islands, and the lifestyle of a Island Boy.  I loved hearing him speak about his love of the islands, and his passion for capturing its beauty.

William has a wonderful eye that captures the true island beauty and warm tranquil settings, each so life-like, that you can almost hear the surf at your feet.  My Island Art is proud to be the exclusive outlet for this set of fine art images.  Our offerings are printed with the lab exclusive Pearl Print process, that highlights the image saturation and lighting captured by the artist.  Each is double-matted, and ready to frame and hang.  Included in our selection are images from Cinnamon Bay, Cruz Bay, and Salomon Bay, St. John; Devil’s Bay Beach, Virgin Gorda; Long Bay Beach in Tortola; and the famous Soggy Dollar Bar on Jost Van Dyke.  See the full collection of this catalog at Old Mango Pearl Photo Prints.

Old Mango Art Cards
If you are a frequent visitor to the Virgin Islands,
or if you just love beautiful island settings, you will want
to add these images to complete your tropical decor.
We also offer a limited number of sets of Photo Art Cards.
These are packets of six (6) cards depicting some of his
most popular images.  These cards are even suitable for framing.
These look awesome in a small grouping!

 

If you’re an Old Mango fan like us, drop us a comment below and let us know how much you appreciate his work.  And let us, Bring the Islands to Your Door!

Live the Life,
JVbytheSea

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2013 Photo Contest Winners

The votes are cast, and the ballots have been counted, in the 2013 Warm Faces, Warm Places Photo Contest!

What was a close contest for a number of days, turned into a landslide win, and an unforeseen display of sportsmanship.  For a good part of the contest, two entries went head to head as voters weighed in on one of two images leading the pack.  We then received word from Sandra Nall that she was going to be taking her focus off the contest, and would be unable to continue recruiting votes.

Sandra learned that her husband had a serious health concern that would require her immediate attention.  We can all understand that her focus and her priorities surely should have been on her loved one.

When her closest competitor, Andrea Gerhoff, learned of Sandra’s concerns, she immediately sent a message to us through our Facebook page, making a very unusual request.

Andrea, by now leading and with a comfortable margin, asked that we take all her votes, and re-assign them to Sandra, thereby forfeiting the win.  Andrea reasoned “This contest is just for fun, and I would really like to know that someone going through a rough time could benefit from it, as maybe it would help cheer her up in this time of need.”

We couldn’t agree more Andrea!  Our fans truly are the best! Thank you Andrea for your genuine spirit of kindness. For our part, My Island Art will be awarding prizes to both ladies. If you haven’t already done so, please drop a line here or on our Facebook Page to let Andrea know how much we appreciate her kindness, and be sure to lift up Sandra and her family in prayers. I know they are appreciated.

Here are the winning images:

Image No. 1, Andrea Gerhoff, Islamorado, Florida Keys
Image No. 1, Andrea Gerhoff, Islamorado, Florida Keys
Image No. 5, Sandra Nall, Fanning Island
Image No. 5, Sandra Nall, Fanning Island

Thanks to everyone who participated, and thanks to Andrea for the true spirit of friendly competition!  Keep watching our blog and our facebook page for more contests in the future

Live the Life,
JVbytheSea

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