05/25/2013, Le Marin, Martinique
Mangos are ripe and it is time to make chutney
5 Cups ripe mangos- diced
1 Cups raisins or currents
1.5 -2 Cups apple cider vinegar
1.5 - 2 Cups brown sugar
¾ C onion - chopped
¼ C ginger root - chopped
½ - 3 tsp hot pepper
1 tsp salt
Combine ingredients and bring to a boil and simmer for 30 minutes or until thick.
Cool and pour into clean jars and refrigerate.
This is the basic recipe. You can also add ½ tsp cardamom seeds, or use cranberries or other dried fruit in place of the raisins.
05/24/2013, Le Marin
Martinique is the southern most of the French islands in the Eastern Caribbean and is blessed with many very nice, well protected anchorages. St. Pierre is a lovely little town at the north end of Martinique and when we first came south in 2007 we spent several days exploring around St. Pierre and the surroundings. The thing is you have to have settled weather and light seas or the anchorage at St. Pierre becomes a night at the amusement park on the ride called rolling boat.
On this pass through St Pierre the conditions were perfect and we stayed a few days. We had a great sail from the south end of Dominica and arrived on Saturday midday. Friends hailed us on the VHF radio to tell us that there was a cultural event going on and there would be a theatrical presentation and parade. The several day "Mai Culturel" was to commemorate the 110th anniversary of the eruption of Mt. Pelee that buried the town of St. Pierre and killed over 30,00 people.
We in company of Barb and Chuck on Tusen Takk II, attended the performance and even though I could understand sentences of the all French program, I really could not get the gist of it. The parade was fun to watch with marchers in historical costumes, including a few couples that were covered with mud to signify the importance of the eruption of Mt Pelee.
The next day the four of us walked the approximately one mile to the Centre de Decouverte des Sciences. This earth science center was reported to have English tour recordings, but apparently they were not functioning, but the 50-minute movie had English subtitles and even the non science geeks enjoyed the movie. The movie was about the volcanic history of the Eastern Caribbean Islands and especially about Mt. Pelee
On the way to the Science center we spotted a colony of Village Weavers, an African bird that has been transplanted to the eastern Caribbean. I think they were originally brought to Hispaniola, the island of Haiti and Dominican Republic and have moved south.
In the evening while playing spades on Tusen Takk II we were serenaded by very nice flute and percussion music with an African and Island sound and it was a nice change from the loud beach bar music that we often hear.
We made stops in Anse Mitan, Grand Anse D'Arlet, and Le Marin. We are in Le Marin now in a nice spot with friends waiting for a good conditions for the passage to St. Lucia. In the meantime we will take it easy and smell the cheese.
We just spent a lovely week in Dominica. We shopped at the Saturday market, which is brimming with local produce. Mangoes are coming into season and the pineapples are exquisite. We attended the PAYS (Portsmouth Area Yacht Security) benefit BBQ and I carefully abided by my rule of not having more than 2 rum punches. The rum punch goes down easily and has given many a boater a bad hangover. PAYS is a group of professional boatman who make their living serving the yachting community. They can a take you on an island tour, have your laundry done or get your propane tank filled. PAYS runs a security boat at night to prevent theft.
We also took a great snorkel trip with Martin, one of the Pays guides, and friends (Barb, Chuck, Ann and Steve). Steve spotted a scorpion fish, which is really hard to find because they are so well camouflaged.
We headed south from Portsmouth with Barb and Chuck on Tusen Takk II and anchored near the town of Mero. After seven years in the Eastern Caribbean we have to work a bit to find new places. Don't get me wrong- there are still plenty of new places to explore- we just need to look outside our usual spots. We have avoided the anchorages on the west coast of Dominica between Portsmouth and Roseau because they are often rolly. Yes, we did spend a rolly night but we did go ashore and walk to the Macoucherie Rum distillery. The distillery was closed down for the season but we did look at some of the machinery and got a taste of a few rums. I think one of the rums is responsible for the deadly nature of the rum punch at the PAYS BBQ.
We headed to Roseau to dive with AL Dive. Billy, the owner has mooring balls and a full service shop. He trains local folks to dive and gets them to be dive masters and boat captains. They were very professional. On the second day we did a two tank dive. After our first dive we moved to the next dive site and a small boat arrived in the same cove. The Dominica Cost Guard boat came buzzing in and the two guys in the small boat jumped off the boat and headed into the very near vertical hills. The Coast Guard guys started chasing them, but the runaways were nimble and fast. The little boat had a 75 horse poser engine, which is quite large for a small boat. Apparently there is a large market for transporting illegal Haitians from Martinique to Dominica. After our entertainment we took our last dive and saw a seahorse.
I am writing from Martinique, but that is the next chapter.
05/07/2013, Maire Gallante, Guadeloupe
The small island of Marie Galante lies south and east of Guadeloupe and has beckoned us for years, but the timing was never right to make the trip east into the wind and then explore the island that has few protected anchorages. After a very windy few weeks the wind died and we seized the moment. In the company of Tusen Takk II and Bodacious we motor sailed from Isles des Saintes to Grand Bourg, the main town in Marie Galante. The small harbor was well protected, but it seemed much more attractive to go anchor in the larger bay at St. Louis, the next largest town. This is all relative on an island of 61 sq. miles and 12,000 people.
We decided the ideal way to see the island was to rent scooters and spend the day circumnavigating the island taking the back roads, detouring for places of interest and finding a nice spot for lunch. We all rented single scooters except Jo and Jack, which worked out well because Jo navigated from the seat behind Jack. The first stop was the Guelule Grand Gouffre, at the north end of the island. It is a sinkhole at the sea that makes an arch. There was talk about how cool it would be to kayak from the sea through the arch and into the sinkhole.
The island of Marie Gallant appears quite flat from a distance and I have read the folks in Guadeloupe call it "La grande galette" (The Big Cookie) due to its round shape and almost flat surface and maybe because sugar is the main industry. In the past there were over 106 sugar mills and much of the land was planted in sugar cane. There are three rum factories in operation and there is quite a bit of other agriculture on the island.
We visited a few abandoned windmills and two rum distilleries. At Distillerie Bellevue we tasted rum drinks and wandered around the distillery at our leisure; something you could never do in a US factory.
Lunch beckoned us so we hopped on our scooters and headed to the coastal town of Capesterre de Marie Gallant. We had really nice salads with vegetables, local fruit and prosciutto. The next stop was the Habitation Murat, a former plantation site and museum. The grounds were beautiful but since it was between the lunch hour (12:00 to 14:00) the museum was closed. Well, that is a good excuse to return.
We ended the day at the beach at St. Louis watching the arrival and beaching of the traditional canoe Kanawa. Two teams of yoked bulls were employed to pull out the over 30 foot wooden canoe. Women in traditional dress were on hand singing and drumming.
04/28/2013, Lantana, FL
My parents are like two old trees standing alone in the forest propping up each other. Dad at 89 has survived 25 missions flying over Germany as a waist gunner in a B17during World War II. His squadron was scrubbed from a mission at the last moment and no one came home from that mission. He survived breast cancer and two three strokes. He still watches his diet so he can be as healthy as possible. He has not given up. Mom never acknowledged her cerebral palsy as a handicap. Midlife, Mom and a partner made a successful printing business in NYC. Now they live together in a nursing home with good care and each other.
04/19/2013, Falmouth Harbor, Antigua
I am sitting in the Panerai hospitality kiosk drinking my espresso and enjoying a fresh croissant. Panerai is an Italian company that makes time pieces and sponsors classic yacht regattas. They kindly provide complimentary espresso and croissants in the morning and tapas, wine, beer, and champagne in the evening. This is very welcome for a busy reporter.
Once again Hunter will be crewing on the sailboat, Genesis, and I will be reporting for the Caribbean Compass and writing a piece for the 2013 Regatta program.
There are about 60 classic sailboats in the regatta. The strong east winds and lumpy seas made it difficult for some of the boats to get here, so the exact count will be made when the race starts. The smallest boat is 24 feet and the largest is 109 feet. Yesterday the Concours de Elegance (a beauty contest for old boats) judges visited the participating boats and brass and varnish was gleaming.
04/10/2013, St. Kitts
I have an article in the current issue of All At Sea. The article is about staying fit on a sailboat. A former National Park Service colleague saw the post on Facebook and named me Jane Fonda of the Sea. I thought that was hilarious. You can see the article at: http://www.allatsea.net/caribbean/exercise-on-a-boat/
04/10/2013, St. Kitts
Every cruising year is a bit different. Early April of the last two years found us in Antigua a few weeks before the Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta. We helped our friend Alexis get his Carriacou sloop "Genesis" ready to race, we did various maintenance chores on our boat. Last year Hunter rebuilt our windlass (the motor that pulls up the anchor) and I did some sewing and wood projects. This year we will be wedging our selves into the busy anchorage at Falmouth as we arrive a few days before the start of the regatta.
We have had a great four months in the Virgin (US, British and Spanish) Islands and the route from the Virgins to Antigua is east and that is the predominant wind direction. In the winter there are more north winds and that makes for a much better trip east, but spring has sprung and we are into the east and southeast winds.
We watched the weather carefully and chose the days with the least offensive wind and waves. We left North Sound in British Virgin Islands at 09:45 on Monday and arrived in St. Kitts at 06:45 on Tuesday. We motor sailed for 21 hours, and it was not very comfortable, but we have done worse and now we two more days of sailing to get to Antigua and we should be able to sail both days.
The regatta is a great reunion with other cruisers and an awesome display of classic sailboats. One again I have a writing gig and Hunter will be crewing on Genesis. Antigua or Bust!
04/04/2013, St. John, USVI
Last August we attended our niece's (Hunter's sister's daughter) wedding and I was seated next to Elizabeth, one of the father of the bride's sisters. For years we have heard about Elizabeth and her husband Reilly and how they like to do the same things we like to do. We really enjoyed the brief visit we had with Elizabeth (Reilly was home in Colorado) and invited her and Reilly to join us on the boat this year. Yes, we invited folks we barely knew to spent ten days with us- they came highly recommended.
We really enjoyed the ten day visit and now the boat is a bit lonely. We always show our new guests around the boat and orient them to the marine toilet. After the orientation walkabout Reilly asked if it would be okay if he took a swim. They were gone for a 45 minute snorkel and they swam everyday. We hiked around the south end of St. John, walked from Leinster Bay to Coral Bay for breakfast at the Donkey Diner, snorkeled at the Indians and the Caves, had sunset drinks at the Pirate's Bar on Norman Island, toured the distillery at Cane Garden Bay, they both spent time at the helm sailing the boat and grinding winches, we watched the full moon rise at Little Yost Van Dyke and had Easter Brunch at the Concordia Eco-lodge.
We are so glad we took a chance.
03/12/2013, Ferro Bay, Vieques, Puerto rico
We are anchored in Ferro Bay, which is a bioluminescent bay on the south side of Vieques, Puerto Rico. Bioluminescence is just what it sounds like - biological things that glow. Dinoflagellates are the microorganisms (1/500th of an inch) responsible for bioluminescence in this bay. A dinoflagellate glows when touched so when you drag your hand through the water you leave a trail of sparkles.
A combination of factors creates the necessary conditions for bioluminescence: red mangrove trees surround the water (the organisms feed off the dead leaves); very little ambient light; the water is cool enough and deep enough; and a small channel to the ocean keeps the dinoflagellates in the bay.
We had an early dinner and waited patiently until dark. I did go to the bathroom a few times to see if I could detect bioluminescence in the toilet flush (fed by sea water). We paddled our dinghy around and watched the great illustration that when you paddle a boat your paddle stays in more or less the same spot as the boat moves forward. I put on my swim goggles and swam from the boat. I had a giant blue sparkly shadow as I swam. Very cool. I will be checking the toilet tonight.
03/10/2013, Culebra, Puerto Rico
Yesterday we rented bikes and biked around Culebra. We biked the steep road to Zoni Beach, then to Falamenco Beach and out on the peninsula to Dakity. Zoni beach is remote and lovely and is protected by a steep hill and has no amenities. By contrast, Flamenco beach was teaming with folks and food vendors.
03/09/2013, Culebra, Puerto Rico
We are on a mooring ball behind a reef in Dakity Bay, Culebra, Puerto Rico. I can hear waves lapping on the reef and during dinner we watched a royal tern taking a bath. Earlier in the day I watched a blue heron feeding in the shallow water. This is a nice peaceful place.
We are in a period of very light winds, which is not great for sailing, but in a day or two a very large north swell will come rolling into the eastern Caribbean. We had been planning to wait for a favorable wind to sail here, but in view of the north swell, we took the light wind (less than 10 knots) and motor sailed here, making good use of the engine by making water on the way.
We are taking a day to do a few chores- we have a dingy repair to do and I am might even tackle a long procrastinated sewing project.
03/05/2013, St John, USVI
We feel so fortunate to be able to live on a sailboat in beautiful places and share our lives with our friends. We have known Sharon and Craig since 1993 when we lived in Yosemite and were avid water kayakers. We met them on the Merced River and quickly became friends. We kayaked many rivers together including the Colorado through the Grand Canyon. They visited us in Alaska and we canoed the Killik River north of the Arctic Circle and then the Chitina at flood stage. We share many wonderful and humorous memories.
Sharon and Craig quickly learned our routine and both eagerly learned how to sail. We snorkeled and hiked, ate conch, played spades and enjoyed each other's company. We are returning to our deferred boat chores.
01/29/2013, US Virgin Islands
I used to think that time spent in laundromats was time subtracted from the rest of your life- as opposed to time spent on rivers; diving, hiking or doing whatever is your passion. Laundromats in the Virgin Islands have proven me wrong. In the last few weeks I have met very nice ladies managing laundromats. In Charlotte Amalie near the SCUBA shop, Lucinda runs a very small laundry and snack business. The local workers come in to grab a soda or a bag of chips and you can tell that they really like and respect Lucinda. She was kind and sweet to me; "good morning darlin, do you have laundry to do"?
A few days ago we had to go to Soper's Hole to help Barb pick up a water maker part. I really did not need to do laundry, but thought it would be a wasted opportunity. The Laundromat is about a quarter mile down the road, so I gathered the laundry and put it in my little pull cart and headed down the road. I just did laundry at this establishment just a few weeks ago so I expected to just do my laundry and be done with the process in just over an hour. When I walked in the gaggle of women were talking and laughing and I was greeted with the news. "Darlin, the machines not work". Turns out that only two of 20 machines worked and they were spoken for. Not to worry- "there is another laundry close by". The women said not far, maybe five minutes walking. After 17 minutes I finally reached the laundromat and was greeted by a warm smile from Emma. I told her about my walk and she said "that is good- you probably needed the walk". She coached me to not put the sheets into the machine without unfolding.... Emma was very sweet.
Then there is Jerry at another Laundromat in Charlotte Amalie. He works for a hospital or some facility and folds a lot of sheets. He hates to see incompetent sheet folders and always beckons me to turn over my sheets for proper folding. He even folds the sheets when Hunter does the laundry alone.
Did I tell you about the time I was visiting my sister and brother in law on their boat in the Virgin Islands in 2000? Louise and I went ashore at Fat Hog Bay to do laundry and a small herd of goats just walked into the front door and through the laundromat and through the back door, leaving their droppings behind.
01/24/2013, Salt Pond, St. John, USVI
I am back on the boat and trying to get back to our "normal" cruising life. I still feel the pain of my parent's situation, but really cannot do anything to improve it. They both get excellent care. The happy note is that we are back in the company of Barb and Chuck on the boat Tusen Takk II. We have travelled with Barb and Chuck off and on for several years and enjoy their company.
A few days ago we (Arctic Tern, Tusen Takk and Suzi and Mike from the catamaran Awakening) free dove for conch and for 6 of us we picked up our two conch per person. Hunter and Barb cleaned the 12 conch and I turned 7 conch into a tender curried conch, or as we know it from Trinidad and Grenada- curried lambi. The next day I made a fresh conch salad with lots of lime, cilantro and fresh vegetables.
01/16/2013, Lantana, Fl
I just spent two days with my sister moving my parents out of their three bedroom apartment in Lantana, Florida. They are both in the nursing portion of the facility and it was time to vacate their apartment. It is a sobering thing to look at 66 years of collected stuff and treasures. So many things that I grew up with and other times that I watched my parents accumulate all had to go somewhere. I chanted my mantra "I live in on sailboat and have not extra room. My sister and I got teary when we looked at their wedding album and I had a hard time reading my father's love letters professing his undying love to my Mom when he was waiting to be discharged from the Army after WWII. That was 67years ago and he is still by her side, even as her mind dims.
Tonight we celebrated Dad's 89th birthday and Mom and Dad's 66th wedding anniversary. Harriet Wolaner and her husband Elliot Thaul joined us for dinner. Mom and Harriet go way back- they grew up in the same building in the Bronx and Harriet was at my parents wedding. For the occasion Harriet and Elliot wrote a little poem and we toasted to long lives, long marriages and long friendships.
Well, I would like to say that I made a New Year's resolution that I would do a better job of keeping my blog updated, but I did not make any resolutions, but I will try. I am going into my 7th year of keeping this blog and have really enjoyed writing the blog and am glad that someone reads it.
Now for the current news; we have our nephew Reid and girlfriend Katie aboard for 10 days. Unfortunately we have had a spell of really high winds so we have not been able to go to some of the places we had planned, but we have explored some nice anchorages and snorkeled in some clear water with lots of fish. In Leinster Bay Hunter dove for conch and brought home four conch for dinner. I made curried conch and that was a first for Reid and Katie. From Leinster Bay we hiked across the island of St. John to Coral Bay and had breakfast at the donkey diner. We did a quick stop at Sopers Hole to check in to the British Virgin Islands and do laundry. At Norman Island we snorkeled at the caves and in Benures Bay. We also did a few hour hike on Norman Island which gave us impressive views of the Virgin Islands.
It is so much fun to share our lifestyle with friends and family. This is Reid's third visit to Arctic Tern and he knows how to help out and I am grateful to be relieved of some of my daily and other chores. Reid helped Hunter take down the wind generator for maintenance and that is a job I am not keen to do because the blades and the generator are quite heavy and very awkward to receive into the cockpit. Katie has become a professional mooring grabber
12/22/2012, Francis Bay, Virgin Islands National Park
At times the clear blue water boils with schools of tiny fish being chased by larger fish. When we came into the anchorage a few days ago I was in the bow getting ready to pick up the pendant for the mooring ball and a four foot barracuda was hanging in the shade of the mooring ball. I have not seen him since. A few times a day I am startled by sound of Pelicans diving so close to the boat that it sounds like some one just jumped in the water. This is not a wilderness anchorage; it is Francis Bay in Virgin Island National Park. There are many boats on mooring balls and the shoreline is dotted with tourists snorkeling and enjoying a perfect day at the beach. It is still lovely.
We have many friends in the mooring field, some we just met last night at an "End of the World" party and some like Chuck and Barb on Tusen Takk II, who we have known for years (5 ½ years). We have shared so many adventures with Chuck and Barb, from hiking in the Andes in Venezuela to a month off shore in the Venezuelan offshore islands. It is so nice to share this lovely place and holiday season with friends. We were delighted to see them come into the anchorage a few nights ago from a long day passage from St. Martin.
On Christmas Eve we plan to join the cruisers in a dingy raft up for cocktails and appetizers and perhaps Christmas carols. The big event on Christmas is the Christmas dinner at the Maho Bay Camp. Until then we will do our chores; today Hunter made an improvement on the water maker, he has been varnishing the cockpit, cleaning filters and is considering a toilet project. I have been stowing the stuff that accumulates in the aft berth in anticipation of guests, writing an article about coral and chasing rust on the stainless steel. We have been swimming everyday and today we both swam 1.3 miles in one hour. That is not a fast pace, but it feels good to swim.
12/15/2012, Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas
Happy Holidays to family, friends and fans.
Yesterday we moved from Christmas Cove to Charlotte Amalie to see the lighted boat parade and holiday festivities. The waterfront area in Charlotte Amalie is usually filled with pale, pudgy passengers from cruise ships and sometimes as many as four large cruise ships arrive at the same time and disgorge thousands people mill around on the streets that are filled with shops selling stuff. You can buy diamonds, emeralds, cameras, watches, Belgian chocolate, linen or lace on these streets. Last night these very same streets were jammed with local folks eating and dancing. There were local pan bands, a blues band, local island music, delicious street food and not so delicious looking street food. There was also a parade of boats with holiday lights.
An historical note: We bought our boat seven years ago today.
12/11/2012, St. Thomas, USVI
This is not a blog about sailing. This is a blog about being part of a family.
My father had a stroke a few weeks ago. This was his third stoke and after his first stroke in 2005 the doctors felt that the stroke was due to taking Tamoxiphen after he was treated for breast cancer (yes, men do get breast cancer). Tamoxiphen predisposes older folks to strokes.
Dad made an incredible recovery after the first two strokes. He regained his speech with almost no slur; he was walking, and fought the loss of function of his left arm and hand. For seven years he worked hard to keep what he had left. He also took care of my mother whose mind has been dimming.
Dad is now working on walking and speaking clearly. I can understand him most of the time, but I usually know what he wants to say. Yes, it is heart breaking. There is nothing about being a kid that prepares you for aging parents.
This is a photo of Dad dancing with my beautiful sister, Louise.