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.
12/02/2012, St. Thomas
We are resting comfortably in Christmas Bay, US Virgin Islands after a passage from St. Martin. We left the lagoon and went through the French side Bridge at 14:30. I did the pre-passage chores; stowed the loose things, put up the jack lines, filled the thermos with coffee and made passage sandwiches and snacks. We lifted the anchor at 17:30 and headed west to the Virgin Islands. The wind was very light and almost behind us, which is not a very favorable point of sail, especially in light winds. We knew that the winds would be light and behind us, but decided to take this less than perfect weather window because the forecast for the next few days was for the wind to die.
The sunset was very nice and we set the main sail and the jib a trimmed the sails and motor sailed for a while. We ended up motor sailing for most of the trip and taking down the main and trimming (fidgeting with) the jib all night. The swell was light from behind us, which made the ride a bit rolly. We passed through a few rainstorms, which gave us a lift in the wind and a fresh water wash. We arrived in the calm waters of the British Virgin Islands in the early morning. We checked into the United States by phone using our Local Boater Card and grabbed a mooring at Christmas Cove. We swam in the warm and clear water of Christmas Cove and rested. We will be here
11/25/2012, St. Martin
We spent last night in the east side of Antigua in the Five Islands anchorage after checking out of Customs and Immigration in Jolly Harbor. It was one of those days when things just seemed not work. Our plan was to check out at English Harbor office and sail around to Jolly Harbor for a midnight departure. First the wifi in English Harbor was down so we could not do a last check on the weather forecast, the customs officer was not in and after waiting for an hour and the office filling with impatient captains we decided to check out at Jolly Harbor. We tried to pick up a mooring ball at Jolly, but they did not have pendants and the wifi (Hot hot) was still down. We checked out and dropped the mooring ball that we rigged and motored around the corner to the Five Islands anchorage. We had a really nice swim and at last there was wifi.
We intended to leave at 02:00 and arrive in Simpson's Bay before the 17:30 bridge opening. Hunter dropped off to sleep around 19:00 and I gave it a try about an hour later, but it just was not happening. The wind died and the boat lay sideways to the swell. We started rolling- just gentle class 3 rolls. I finally dropped off sometime about 22:30 and at 22:45 Hunter announced he was done with sleep for the night and let's go.
The winds were light so we motored sailed, but the passage was gentle and I was feeling pretty good. We had a nearly full moon. At sometime in the morning, Hunter realized that we might just make the 11:30 bridge opening. We added a few RPM and trimmed the sails. A rainsquall brushed by giving us some more wind and more speed (and a bit of a much needed wash-down) and it was nip and tuck. We were about 8 minutes late for the bridge. At 14:45 I heard an anchor chain coming up to see our neighbors motoring to the open bridge. We hailed the bridge tender and asked if he would hold open for a minute and he said the unscheduled opening would not wait. We really only intended to make the 17:30 bridge, so there was nothing lost and I have nothing to complain about. We are in our intended location, the water tank is full and the crew is happy.
We will stay here for a few days, rest up and do a few chores and look for a north wind to take us the US Virgin Islands.
It has taken me a few days to post this because we have no wifi on the boat.
My Dad is out of the hospital and in the rehab facility. My sister is with my parents now assessing the situation and helping the transition. Thank you all for your good thoughts and prayers.
11/23/2012, English Harbor, Antigua
We have been on the move, sailing north for the last 10 days. We left Trinidad on November 13 and have been sailing part of each day since then. We are taking advantage of the very calm wind and seas before the winter weather pattern starts with strong winds from the north. Last year left Trinidad in late November and worked our way north between strong weather patterns. We did a lot of hiking and exploring and had a good time. This year we are taking a different approach.
It has been so easy to travel to islands that we are familiar with and hoist a yellow quarantine flag or go ashore and check in and out at the same time. We did stop in Grenada long enough to chat with our fisherman friends and share news. We also stopped in Le Marin, Martinique to buy some supplies (wine, cheese and a few other delicacies), Portsmouth, Dominica to speak with our friend and local boatman, Martin and Deshaies, Guadeloupe to check out of the French Islands. When we came ashore here in Antigua we were surprised to see so many local businesses still closed for the slow season. We have been told that things will pick up in a week or two. The seas and wind have been low so the passages have been quite pleasant. I have been reading and listening to podcasts.
A few days ago, while at the north end of Martinique, I learned that my father had another stroke and as much as I wanted to just fly out and be with him and my Mom, I left the immediate family crisis to my sister and will go to Florida when we reach the Virgin Islands. It is very painful to not be there and able to help.
There is not enough wind to sail so we are enjoying two days to catch up on chores and do laundry. The telltale "foul towel" odor let us know that it was time (overdue) to do some laundry. I did laundry while Hunter disassembled the marine toilet for a dose of lubrication and then replaced a fan that had cracked blades.
The photo is of Rodney Bay, St. Lucia
I love Saturday mornings in Trinidad. I got up at 05:30 and had a cup of coffee and did the basic morning ablutions. By 06:25 I was on the main road waiting for my ride to the market. I had lots of small bills, my market bags and two lists; one for the fresh market and one for the grocery store.
The bus collects "yachties" at the boat yards and marinas and by 07:00 we are in front the Port of Spain market. We pile out of the van for an hour of combat marketing. My list is short because we are still in the boat yard "on the hard", which means no refrigeration. We still need to eat and I am desperate to get some fruit and vegetables. It is a bit of an art to buy the small stuff first to keep the weight down and then when you start buying the heavy stuff (pineapple, watermelon, oranges and onions) you need to protect your tomatoes, bananas and lettuce.
I am ready for breakfast and I always have a sada roti filled with various vegetables. Sada roti are like pita bread and today I have a whole-wheat sada with bagain choka (roasted eggplant), spinach and aloo (potatoes) with slight peppa. It is divine and I eat it in the van on the way to the grocery store.
More combat shopping... We have 30 minutes to shop and check out. I know the store and can find my items with a once through and be back at the van on time. We are a van load of pros; we have our market bags packed and organized and we are on time. I am back at the boat at 09:00 with fruit and vegetables to wash. It feels like noon! Maybe I will take a nap.
10/25/2012, Chaguaramas, Trinidad
We are back in Trinidad getting our boat ready to go back in the water and we have a bit of work to do before launching. The first few days are always a bit overwhelming if you are doing most of the work yourself. Boat yards are inherently filthy, gritty dirty places, but this year the clean up was a bit worse than usual. We had the yard grind off 16 years of bottom paint and the very fine dust settled onto the topsides and hull and baked on for a few months. After lots of elbow grease, toilet bowl cleaner and a mild compounding wax we have a clean and shiny boat (mostly).
Inside the boat there is a bit of mess too. There are cans of paint on the floor of the salon, sails in bags hogging the aft cabin. A new windlass in the box is the aft head with engine mounts atop, as well as a bag of rags, the cleaning supplies for stainless and other odds and ends. We have rented bikes so our helmets and spare tires are floating about. Chaos, really.
The weather at this time of year is usually quite rainy, but we have been fortunate to hit a spell of fair weather. This little holiday from the rainy season (June through December) is called Petit Careme. It is hot, but it is easier to get work done without the rain.
Okay, back to sorting the inside chaos until the sun goes down and it is cool enough to work outside.
09/16/2012, Lenox, MA
We are filling our landfills and oceans with single use water bottles. In 2007, Americans consumed over 50 billion single serve bottles of water; between 30 and 40 million single serve bottles went into landfills each year. Here is another disturbing fact; it takes 17 million barrels of oil per year to make all the plastic water bottles used in the U.S. alone. That's enough oil to fuel 1.3 million cars for a year.
I know that bottled water is a godsend for people living in countries with non potable tap water. I lived in Mexico for 6 months of 1977 and again in 1978 and would have loved to have access to bottled water. One of America's largest producer of bottled water uses tap water. Instead of buying the bottle, bring your multiuse bottle and fill up with tap or other good water. In the United States several University campuses and a few towns have banned the sale of single use water bottles. Recycling is not the answer. Much of the world does not recycle and the cost of recycling exceeds the value of the recycled product. Check out the Ban the Bottle website:http://www.banthebottle.net/
09/16/2012, Lenox, MA
We have been doing a lot of bicycling and enjoying the hilly Berkshire Mountains. On Tuesdays we bike with a group called the Tuesday Play Group. The members are mostly retired folks who live in the area year round, and some are working folks who arrange to have Tuesdays off. On the weekend we get an email with the bike route and show up at the assigned place. Often there are over a dozen riders and we ride at our own pace and stop for lunch. Hunter and I are always in the first group of about 5 folks, but I am usually last in that line. My heavy hybrid bike is a lot to push up the hills and I decided to get my birthday present several months early. I bought a light road bike and I love it! It is light and fast! I have to learn a whole new suite of bicycle skills. The shifters are on the brakes and my feet are in bike shoes clipped into the pedals- got to be heads up at all times. I am having a great time and getting plenty of fresh air. They say you light up new portions of your brain when you learn a new sport.
08/18/2012, Raleigh, NC
Here is a photo of Hunter and I with his brother Starkey and his wife Becky. When I posted this on Facebook I got a comments about shoes and tan lines. Got to love your friends.
08/14/2012, Raleigh, NC
We would not have missed this for anything. Our niece, Hunter Brooke Jackson was wed to Brandon Sabol this past weekend so we took a short road trip to Raleigh North Carolina for the wedding. Yes, this is the intrepid adventurer who twice visited us in Alaska and twice on Arctic Tern. Now she is starting the big adventure of marriage to a wonderful guy.
The wedding was great and everything went as planned. The dance floor was packed all night and we all had a great time
08/03/2012, Lenox, MA
We are enjoying the summer in the Berkshire Mountains in Massachusetts (I finally learned how to spell Massachusetts!). On Tuesdays we bike with a group called the Tuesday Play Group and meet some where within 25 miles for here and take a 20+ mile bike ride. We bike though small towns, past fields bursting with corn, past cows and old barns and family farms.
It is blueberry and corn season and the farmers markets are over flowing with fresh produce. The other day we picked 10 ½ pounds of blueberries. Yum, blueberry cobbler.
07/16/2012, Lenox, MA
This is not a sail blog, just a sailor's blog. We left Trinidad two weeks ago and flew directly to Fort Lauderdale to visit my parents. It is tough to watch parents get older and become limited in what they can do. My mother is wheelchair bound and has care attendants 12 hours a day. Dad is like a Timex; he keeps on ticking (remember that commercial?). Mom's care attendants are wonderful ladies who are kind and respectful to her and give her excellent care. Dad has not forgotten his wedding vows and spends most of each day with Mom. Dad had a list of chores for us that ranged from accessing a computer program to upholstering eight chairs with fabric that I had purchased in Trinidad. He was grateful for the help with his chores.
It feels like we have been away from the boat for more than two weeks. I am still overwhelmed by the selection of food in grocery stores and feel the luxury of long showers and unlimited ice cubes. Also, in the category of cheap luxuries is the ability to open the refrigerator door and look on shelves and see the stock of food. The efficient refrigerator that most of us have on sailboats is a chest type box that you have to hang over and reach into to obtain the food. There is no "shopping" in the fridge. The other luxury, yes this is a big luxury for us, is high speed internet.
We are enjoying bike riding in the hilly terrain of the Berkshire Mountains, doing many house chores and I am hoping to catch up on a few writing projects.
This is a photo of Dad on the 4th of July.
Trini's love to eat and their food represents the diverse cultures of the country. There is a strong East Indian influence since 40% or more of the population is of East Indian descent. Equal (more or less) amounts are of Creole/African descent. There is a bit of Chinese, British, Syrian and Lebanese influence in local foods as well.
Today we joined our local friend and tour guide, Jesse, on a tour he calls "A taste of Trini". Twelve cruisers loaded up in Jesse's van at 09:00 and started our gastronomic tour of Trinidad. Below is a list of what we ate and where we ate it. Thanks to Leigh for compiling the list of food with the time and locations. I added a few bits of information about the food.
Where: In the bus sitting at TTSA
1. Coconut Bake (a bake is like a big bun)
2. Smoked Herring
3. Buljol (Salt Cod, veggies, spices)
Where: Along the road from Chaguaramas on the left
4. Doubles (two pancake like things with chick peas and lots of sauce made of mango, pepper and other spices) One of these is called a doubles- always plural.
Where: On Ariapita Avenue
5. Cow Heel Soup (yes, made of the heel of the cow) delicious!
Where: On road out of POS
6. Roast Bake
7. Patchoi (like bok choy)
8. Cheese Pie with Tamarind Sauce
Where: Valencia roadside
9 Bodi Beans raw
Where: Stand on right
10. BBQ Pigtail with garlic sauce. What this lacks in meat makes up for in taste.
11. Buttered Cassava
Where: Young's on left
12. Chicken Pelau (rice with chicken and vegetables)
13. Beef pie
Where: "Sandy Grandy" Sangre Grande
14. Chicky toe figs (small sweet bananas)
15. Silk figs (small sweet bananas)
16. Pomerac aka French Cashew
17. Kitchorie (fried split pea flour)
18. Baighanee (eggplant)
19. Aloo pie (potato pie)
Where: Stand on the right on the way to the beach at Mayaro
20. Brazil nuts fresh from the tree
Where: At the beach at Mayaro (lunch- can you believe we ate lunch after eating all morning?)
21. Paratha roti (buss up roti skin)
22. Dal puri roti
23. Chicken gizzards stewed
24. Baighan choka (roasted eggplant mashed with spices) I could eat a pint of this.
25. Curry goat
26. Stew beef
27. Curry chicken
29. Curry mango
30. Macaroni pie
31. Pineapple chow
32. Bake and Shark
33. Mauby- local drink made from the bark of a tree
34. Sorrel- local drink made with a species of hibiscus with sjpices
35. Peanut Punch
36. Seamoss/linseed- a seaweed drink that is reputed to be good for men
Where: On the road from Mayaro
37. Watermelon - perhaps the best watermelon I have ever tasted.
38. Pommecythere -pickled, also called golden apple
39. Pulouri -another fried thing
Where: A bakery in Rio Claro
40. Coconut sweet bread
41. Coconut turnover
42. Ballerina- more coconut pastry
Where: En route from Rio Claro
43. Milk fudge
44. Kurma- Indian sweet made
45. Barfi- made from sweeten condensed milk, flour- so sweet it hurts your teeth
46. Tamarind Ball-
47. Channa- fried spiced chickpeas
Where: Water park
48. Curry duck (yummmmm)
Where: On the road west
49. Cassava pone
50. Coconut drop
Where: (near) Grand Couva
51. Cocoa Bean (sucked the seed from a fresh cocoa pod)
52. Grapefruit from the tree
Time: After 1900
Where: El Pecos, POS at Ariapita and Verteuil (this is dinner)
53. Geera Pork
54. Fried plantain w cinnamon sauce
55. Green fig salad
56. Boiled and fried dasheen
57. Fried sweet potato
Where: Near St James amphitheater, POS
58. Ice cream -I had coconut pineapple
Where: Chaguaramas fruit stand near the new Boardwalk
59. Starfruit aka Five Fingers
The photo is of Jesse holding the seed of a brazil nut tree. The nuts are inside.
06/24/2012, Chaguaramas, Trinidad
We have been in Trinidad for about 10 days. We had a good passage from Grenada with wind for most the way and it was not too lumpy and bumpy. We decided to go to a marina to do some projects and prepare to haul the boat out of the water for a while. For most of the year we make our water with a watermaker that uses a desalination process and water must be used thoughtfully. Trinidad has plenty of water and it is free on the dock, so for me this is an opportunity to wash things that rarely see fresh water. When I was digging around for tote bags for carrying our stuff to the shower I noticed that the tote bags had a funky odor. The bags all went into the tub for a wash a rinse. In this photo the bags drying on the boat.
Today is Sunday, so the workers in the yacht services are not working, but the dock is buzzing with activity. Hunter is up the mast checking on a bulb, our neighbors are washing sails, someone else is varnishing wood and another person is dong a woodworking project. This a very international group with folks from: Denmark, Poland, Brazil, Canada, South Africa, Holland and the United States. I guess I better get back to boat chores...
06/17/2012, St. Georges, Grenada
I guess you could not use the excuse that you did not inhale.
We really enjoy having guests aboard our boat. We like to share our cruising life and the things that we think are special about the islands. We like to share the beautiful sunsets, the warm water with brightly colored fish, delicious local foods, hikes on the islands and our local friends.
We picked up Amy and Tom in Grenada and took the nice weather window to sail up to Carriacou. On the way to Carriacou we stopped at the underwater sculpture park (previous post). In Carriacou we took a walk and took the bus to Windward to look at the boatyard where the traditional Carriacou Sloops are built. We detoured to the Cowheel for lunch.
In this photo Amy and Tom are enjoying a refreshing swim in Upper Concord Falls in Grenada.
06/09/2012, Moliniere-Beausejour Marine Protected Area
We have passed the Moliniere-Beausejour Marine protected area on the leeward side of Grenada, just north of St. Georges, countless times and today we decided to explore the area. The dual attraction of the site is the protected marine area and the underwater sculptures by Jason de Caires Taylor. There are 65 sculptures and some tell bits of history of Grenada others are just art. The sculptures are made of rebar and concrete, which does not last all that well underwater but have provided substrate for corals and sponges. The water is warm and clear and small fish are abundant. The signature sculpture is called "Vicissitudes" which is a circle of 26 life-size children of diverse ethnic background, all holding hands and facing outwards.