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S/V Mari Hal-O-Jen
Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson
A Spring Flower Quiz!
March 13, 2007, 4:00 pm

I am a

What Flower
Are You?

Hmmm...what can I say about a flower I've always considered rather waffly? Will it be blue? Will it be pink? Let's bury iron nails at the base of the bush and see what happens! It's like a mad science experiment escaped from the lab. At least this hydrangea is the perfect blue for my blog without messing about with aluminum sulfate or lime!

Hat-tip to Dawn, who is planning a maple sugaring outing this weekend!
Wyland's Glasses
March 10, 2007, 7:10 am

Did you have a fun and fabulous weekend? We sure did! Very, very busy but very, very fun too! I hope you will enjoy seeing pictures of the Key Largo Whaling Wall that I promised a very long time ago, while I record some thoughts about a portion of the past weekend for which the camera was left at home! Oh dear!

A highlight of the weekend was visiting one (he has 2 within a block of each other in Key West!) of Wyland's Galleries to watch the man paint. If you bought a brush painting (50% off, only $3,500 today!) he painted it right before your very eyes and your picture would be taken with Wyland and the finished painting.

After that, he completed an oil painting of two dolphins over a coral reef, named it Coral Reef Dance and auctioned it off for $14,000. Since there were only two bidders out of the crowd, Wyland stopped the bidding and promised a similar, yet unique, painting to the second bidder for the same price rather than continue to drive the price up. Which I thought was very decent of him.

Now, that is all a very interesting yet fairly bland description of part of our weekend. But it is really only the background for the amazing and fun part of the story.

Wyland was painting away, speedy gonzalez, at the huge brush paintings but when he began the finishing touches on the oil painting he began working much slower and muttering to himself. Eventually he dove beneath a nearby table, pulled out a toolbox and rummaged through it. Not finding what he was looking for he called for the gallery workers to look in the back for his glasses at which point Hal stepped forward with his basic reading glasses extended.

Wyland accepted and was able to complete his painting.

Happy Birthday, Veronica!
March 8, 2007, 8:23 am


Happy Birthday, Veronica!!!

The Farewell Brunch Bunch and Other Photos
March 7, 2007, 1:29 pm, Bluewaters Marina to Boca Chica

Oh, Sophia! We'll miss you too!

Our littlest cruising friend came to say goodbye at Sunday Brunch. Those eyes! That lower lip! The quizzical left eyebrow! You're as sweet as sugar candy, Soph!

More pictures of the voyage, most not nearly as cute as this one, can be found in our photo gallery tonight. Link in the side bar, also here.

The New, 5 Minutes to Install (Yeah, Right!) AirCard
Chilly yesterday, should be warmer today
March 7, 2007, 6:46 am, Boca Chica, FL

Can I just say I adore my new flashy blue friend?

Port of Call, Destination Boca Chica
March 3, 2007, 2:03 pm, He turns his head, But in his ear the steady trade-winds run, And in his eye the endless waves, Ride on into the sun.

First things first, we made it!

Departure was not on Saturday as a neighboring boater needed some emergency work completed on their boat and Hal, being the good guy he is, couldn't say no. Besides, the next high tide would be early Sunday afternoon which would allow one last Sunday Brunch with the gang. Nothing like setting sail after Cajun Biscuits and Gravy, Gravlox on Bagels, Ham and Eggs, California Fruit and Berry Salad, and the flakiest, most delectable Quiche I've ever tasted. Oh, Mimosas and Tequila Sunrises too, of course!

At peak high tide we backed slowly away from the dock, waving frantically back at our friends and motored down the canal and out to Tavernier Key where we set the mainsail and jib for a great sail in Hawk's Channel. It was the best of sailing conditions, winds 20-25 knots, the boat heeled nicely to starboard and Marianna providing the entertainment on her harmonica. Watches were posted for the evening - Marianna the first 2 hours, Jennifer the second and Hal the third set, followed by Marianna again - which is where the system broke down. Marianna is the hardest person in the world to wake up and she didn't wake fully for that watch so Hal pulled a double. At the end of that shift we decided to anchor as we had made it to Long Key Viaduct, about 20 nautical miles.

After a beautiful sunrise we motored back to Hawk's Channel and raised the jib and mainsail again. As the morning progressed the wind grew less and less. The sails were left up but as we were averaging 1 knot the motor was called into service. That poor motor that we anticipated using for a few hours was instead used for ¾ of the trip. Excruciating.

Second night we anchored near Marathon. We contemplated a mooring for the rest of the week and continuing the voyage on the weekend as it was such slow going and Hal does have an actual job, you remember - the reason for this move to the Key West area. Alas and alack, nothing was available in Boot Key Harbor. Not a big surprise but it was worth a try! The watches were reworked for this night. Three hour watches beginning at 9 worked much better than the previous night. A kitchen style timer set every 15 minutes made the time go by very quickly and ensured that if one dozed off it wouldn't be for the rest of their watch.

0600 hours and the increasing daylight showed mirror calm seas. The poor little donkey was called into service again. (Can you guess what our read aloud choice was for this trip? Peter Duck by Arthur Ransome, of course!) Fuel was obtained and we motored passed the Seven Mile Bridge in the company of a pod of 30 or so dolphins, including a huge mother and an eensy-weensy baby who jumped completely out of the water for us. Mom didn't much care for such showing off and slapped her tail on the water a few times and the little one fell back into place along her side. The sails were raised again all day in hope of the breath of wind that never materialized. By evening the engine was much too hot to continue so we anchored in the Key Deer Refuge.

The same watches were kept as the previous night, Marianna prefers to read on her watch, Jennifer noodles around with the guitar but Hal did not get a peaceful watch on this particular night as the sky was beginning to light up to the west 2 hours into Jennifer's watch. The Capitan was called on deck.

The weather radio confirmed the line of thunderstorms moving into the area with definite cloud rotation and therefore, possible waterspouts. All the isinglass was dropped, the fish was attached to the rigging and dumped over the side again, (so lightning has a true path to ground) everything was quickly stowed from the evening at anchor, and the mainsail was lashed tight. Marianna was moved to her berth and Hal and Jen caught a few Zzzz's in between watching the lightening strike the ocean.

After all the preparation the storm stayed bayside and brought behind it 10 knots of wind. Up went the sails again and for perhaps an hour we were able to sail along with only the sound of the canvas and the water against the hull. Then the poor little donkey was brought back into service and we motor sailed through "By the Wind Sailors" and "Portuguese Men of War". A turtle caught our eye at one point and we were visited by another family of dolphins. Marianna thinks it may have been the same set as the previous morning as the mother had a distinctive C-shaped scar.

We knew we were getting close to our new home port when the parachutists began dropping from the C-130 to the north and the shrimpers appeared to the south with their long arms extended. Boca Chica Marina itself is down the longest cut through gorgeous flats and mangrove islands. We pulled into our slip at 12 noon and headed for Navigator's on our beach for blackened fish sandwiches and celebratory gin and tonics and pink lemonades. Then Hal was picked up by a friend for work that afternoon (and to get our vehicle from Fleming Key) and Marianna and Jennifer washed the boat down.

So the voyage took nearly twice as long as if the wind had held but any additional time on the water is definitely a plus in our book! The best part was listening to the marine radio hearing that we had 15 to 20 knots of wind, but we didn't feel a thing. The next day the marine radio reported the highest gust on Molasses Key at 7 knots. What crazy situation for a sailboat!!! We need about 15 to 20 to get above 5 knots of speed!!

The marina's internet access is abominably slow so a visit to the library's hot spot will be needed for picture uploads and additional details including nature notes from Marianna. Stay tuned...

The Sail Plan
As of Friday morning, open to change and modification, of course!
February 23, 2007, 7:36 am

Time is crunched and getting tighter everyday! Today Marianna and I attend our Scuba lessons, academics in the morning and pool time in the afternoon, concentrating on rescue diving today.

During our lunch break the plan is to buzz over to Wyland's Wall and take a few more pictures, he's been painting like crazy! I still have pictures to post from the previous promise, please be patient and if you are not, visit his website and see live updates!

After rinsing off we will scoot down to Key West and pick Hal up, come back to the marina (200 miles in one day! I feel faint.) for cocktails under the Tiki. This may happen at, like 10pm, rather than our usual 5pm. I'm not very lead footed in the pickup, you know.

Briefest of snoozes then up and final packing, readying of boat, provisioning, ice, and the docklines are released mid-afternoon as hightide is 4pm Saturday. The winds will be from the north resulting in great sailing toward Key West (no motoring - yeah!). With the 20 knot north wind the seas will chop a bit, 2-3 feet inside the reef, nearshore waters will be moderate to choppy. Temps will be in the upper 70's to low 80's daily.

Now you know about as much as I!

Congratulations to our future engineer - Vanessa!!!
February 22, 2007, 6:43 am, Kihei, Hawaii

My littlest sister (the one with a strawberry blond ponytail) stomped all the competition and led her Charter School to first place at a Engineering Expo held at the University of Hawaii-Manoa campus. The team designed and built a roller coaster made with poster board, chopsticks and popsicle sticks, with a marble that served as the "rider." The Kihei team designed this roller coaster with eight spirals that went into one hill and then dropped into a cup.

The project description was given out one week before competition, but the materials were not made available until right before the build out, which lasted approximately 40 minutes. In those 40 minutes they were judged on team participation, functionality, design and originality, and points were given on the final run to designs that featured loops, turns, hills and jumps.

Similar engineering projects that would be fun:

* Using string, eggs, ten rubber bands, uncooked spaghetti, straws, and tape make a vehicle that will protect your egg from cracking. To test out your vehicle, attach it to a straw. Carefully thread the string through the straw. Attach the string at an angle between two walls with tape. Let the vehicle go. Is your egg whole?

*You can use two aluminum pie pans, two plastic sandwich bags, and one meter of tape to build a boat. Load your boat with raw eggs. How many eggs could it hold before sinking? Is it very stable? What changes would you make?

*Use two cups, string, scissors, tape, a broomstick, a table, and up to fifty pennies to create something that will allow you to lift a tennis ball 50 centimeters into the air without using your hands. Did your invention do the job? Why do you think it worked or didn't work? Experiment with other types of balls and different coins.

*Can you find a way to get a super ball to go from one table to another and then back to the first table? You can only use 10 sheets of paper, 10 paper clips, 10 rubber bands, 20 feet of string, some masking tape, and a ruler. You can't use your hands. Set the two tables so they are three meters apart.

*Try to make a maze for a marble to go down s-l-o-w-l-y. Which materials worked best to slow down your marble? Does the distance the marble travels affect how long it takes to finish the maze?

* One last project that would be perfect for any other young Scuba divers out there - using styrofoam peanuts, 12 inches of string, some washers or pennies, and a large see-through container filled with water, make an object that doesn't float on the top of the water or sink to the bottom. What happens if you change the shape of your peanut? Can you add more pennies or washers?

With that, Marianna and I are off to practice bouyancy in the pool today. Rather than styrofoam peanuts and pennies we will be using neoprene wetsuits, shot-filled bean bags, and BC's (bouyancy control devices). Will we hang our tanks up on the lane markers? Will we crawl along the bottom? What will happen if we are horizontal? Vertical?

There's nothing quite like a good science experiment early in the morning!

The Result of the Rain
Very chilly! Last night's temp - 48 degrees according to Wunderground!
February 19, 2007, 6:14 pm

As a result of the major rainfall we experienced last week our Internet has been down for days! We've experienced a few blips of it being on only for it to fall right back into its "no connectivity" phrase. This happens after heavy rainfalls but not usually this extremely long!

So, there are a few things to catch up on...

1. This past weekend was our first choice for the voyage to our new home port of Boca Chica, just outside of Key West, as Monday was Washington's Birthday and Hal had the day off. On Friday we made the decision NOT to sail. Up to that point it had looked like a perfect weather window with the winds from the North. However, a Cold Front hove into view and we decided to remain in port as the winds were expected to be in the 30 - 40 knot range. Good Choice!!! Sunday the waters surrounding Key West had a Gale Warning posted. That would not have been a pleasant sail with a Gale on the nose and 50 degree weather and rain squalls to contend with too! We must be out of this marina on March 1 so expect news of a move soon!

2. You may recall Marianna and I did not attend Wyland's dedication of Wall #95 to Steve Irwin as we were rained in, for lack of a better term. We have passed the Wall since then and Wyland has not finished or signed it!!! Guy Harvey has his signature on the top above the manta rays but nowhere does Wyland's name appear. Also several sketched fish are still awaiting paint...therefore we conclude that the Wall is not finished yet! Expect a post full of pictures soon.

3. Dawn had a Field Day! We missed it - but you don't have too. Check it out, fabulous as usual and I'm so sorry we could not send our Tropical Warmth your way, Dawn, silly Internet - Aaargh!

4. Yesterday Nissa posted the Loveliness of Lent. Ash Wednesday is this week! Can you believe it? Time is certainly flying this year. For inspiration definitely check out Nissa's new blog, These Forty Days.

As she says: For the forty days of Lent, we'll be posting suggestions towards devotions, plain living, plain food, crafts and activities to do with your children, and beautiful thoughts about this season of fasting.

Marianna and I are debating, pancakes tomorrow or our traditional Seafood Caribbean Jambalaya?
Happy Saint Valentine's Day!
Perfectly pink sunrise this morning.
February 14, 2007, 9:04 am

I thought I'd share what my readings in the sunrise with my latte turned up this morning.

One for the sunrise:
Busy old fool, unruly sun,
Why dost thou thus
Through windows and through curtains call on us?
Must to thy motions lovers' seasons run?
Saucy, pedantic wretch, go chide
Late schoolboys and sour prentices,
Go tell court huntsmen that the king will ride,
Call country ants to harvest offices.
Love, all alike, no season knows nor clime,
Nor hours, days, months, which are the rags of time.

~John Donne

One for the holiday:
Love is the most terrible,
and also the most generous of the passions;
it is the only one that includes in its dreams the happiness of someone else.

~ J.A. Karr

The one that inspired this:
One ought, every day at least, to hear
a little song, read a good poem, see a fine picture,
and, if it were possible,
to speak a few reasonable words.

~Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Happy Saint Valentine's Day!

Our Faith

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S/V Mari Hal-O-Jen
Who: Capt. Hal, Jennifer, and our daughter Marianna, a great photographer!
Port: Boca Chica
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