17 April 2010 | Green Island, Antigua to Fajardo, Puerto Rico
08 March 2010 | Martinique
20 February 2010 | St. Vincent & The Grenadines
30 January 2010 | Bequia (St. Vincent & The Grenadines)
28 January 2010 | St. Lucia
25 January 2010 | St. Lucia
15 January 2010 | Green Island, Antigua
12 January 2010 | Green Island, Antigua
05 January 2010 | Back in Falmouth Harbor, Antigua
04 January 2010 | just south of Jolly Harbor, Antigua
01 January 2010 | Great Bird Island, Antigua
30 December 2009 | Parham, Antigua
29 December 2009 | Rabbit & Redhead Islands, Antigua
26 December 2009 | North Sound, Antigua
22 December 2009 | Antigua
19 December 2009 | St. Croix, USVI
14 December 2009 | Christensaid, St. Croix
10 December 2009 | Christiansted, St. Croix
09 December 2009 | Somewhere in the Caribbean Sea
Sail Speak 101
19 December 2009 | St. Croix, USVI
This sailing adventure is complex. Beyond the sport of sailing itself, one needs to learn about weather, electronics, systems, engines, rope work, and the like. And then there's the language of sailing. It just wouldn't do to say right, left, up or down; instead you must master terms such as starboard, port, above and below. These are the simple ones of course, although in the beginning I did have to think "I left my port at home" to help me remember that port was on the left. But beyond these there's an entire slew of words that mean just the opposite of what one might think. Take "brightwork" for example. If I said I had to catch up on my brightwork, you might think I needed to polish the stainless and make the boat all shiny, right? Wrong. Brightwork refers to the varnished parts of the boat, not the bright and shiny stainless. Hmmm....
Then there are the words that have different meanings depending upon what you're doing, and where you're doing it. So a rope is a rope is a rope if it's sitting there all pretty, coiled on the deck. But when that rope comes to life and is actually doing something, it's referred to as a "line". But that's apparantly only in the US. In France, I guess it's still a rope, or a "corde" as they would say in French. Now, if you take that rope - or line - and attach it to a sail, the line becomes a "sheet". Not very intuitive, given that a sheet looks more like a sail than rope.
Ok, say you've mastered the basics of Sailing 101 Speak and are now out sailing. You decide to head into port. (No, you're not going left, nor are you burying your head in a fine bottle of fortified wine from Portugal. You're going into the harbour.) There's a handy little system of buoys to direct you into the correct deepwater channel, away from the reefs and other hazardous areas. Ever heard the phrase "Red, Right, Return"? It means when you're "returning" to the harbour you leave the "red" buoys on your "right". Sounds pretty straightforward, doesn't it? It could be, but that system is only in play in the "the Americas", which is in Region B of IALA Maritime Buoyage System. If you're in Europe - Region A - you use the exact opposite convention! And if you're somewhere else...well, you'd better check. Turns out, prior to 1982 there were 26 different systems in use! Can you imagine how chaotic that would be? It seems all 24 regions acquiesced except for the United States and Europe, so now we have 2 opposing systems. Sound familiar?
Anyway, we're in St. Croix approaching the channel, and the buoy marker is green - no red - no, it's both green AND red! What the heck does that mean? The red is on top, and we're in St. Croix, a US territory, so I guess that means we follow the red, right, return convention? But, we're not on - or even near - the American continent... we're in the Caribbean. So which system do we use? We decide to let our eyes be the judge and we bear left, away from what appears to be a reef lurking under the surface. Good thing, as the next day we watch a beautiful 70' yacht ground themselves on that very reef! Talking with the locals, we learn that they regularly pull boats off of this reef - not to mention the wrecks below.
Sounds like the dual Maritime Buoyage systems might be a good thing for the local tow boats anyway!
The Joys of Upwind Sailing
09 December 2009 | Somewhere in the Caribbean Sea
The lovely beam reach lasted only a short time and then we turned upwind to head to St. Croix, which is the closest we estimate we can get to Antigua. A funny thing about sailing...I remember thinking way back when that if you're headed upwind the boat would heel less and be more comfortable than if you were broadside to the wind on a beam reach. It seemed intuitive to me (a non-intuitive sailor, for sure!) that the wind at your side would more powerfully push you over than the wind at the bow of your boat. Nope. THE most uncomfortable point of sail is the close-haul, where you're sailing as close to the wind as possible. The boat heels uncomfortably and there is so much tension in the boat that moving about requires the utmost effort. Imagine you're in the back of a rollercoaster and you're hungry (or you have to pee), but the food (or the toilet) is in the front. The rollercoaster is hurtling down and around as you painstakingly climb from one car to the next, a handhold here, a foot there. Finally, you reach your destination: let's use the toilet example. (Sorry, dear reader, but it's Season 3 and you're still following the Scappatella blog. You've made it through Pole Dancing, Sex on the Boat, and Strange Sightings at Curacao Marine, so I'm assuming you're ok with a little bit of toilet talk?)
Ok, where were we...oh yeah, first, reach down into the belly of the rollercoaster car - don't look down or you'll get sick! - and find the teeny little handle that opens the toilet valve. Don't mistake it for the big handle that diverts the flow into the holding tank! (You know who "you" are!). You're grasping around - you know it's there - ahhhh, there it is! Open the valve, and now have a seat. Don't mind the water sloshing around. Fortunately you can brace yourself by putting your feet against the far wall and holding onto the grab rails of the car as the rollercoaster lurches one way, and then the other.
Oh, are you a bit queasy? Ready to bolt back to the rear car of the roller-coaster? Sorry, but you're not finished. Don't forget to pump the toilet 30 times and then reach back down to find that teeny little valve again and turn it off. Otherwise the next time you want to visit this car there may be seawater below you, making an unpleasant experience all the more, er, unpleasant. Finally, you're finished and - if you're like us - thoroughly seasick. You bash your way back to the rear of the rollercoaster, perhaps giving yet another offering to the sea...
Wanna come sailing on Scappatella?
"Talk to the Foot"
09 February 2009 | the Salon on Scappatella
It's 10:00 pm and I sit across the "salon" table from Louis...the heavy-lidded, dog-tired stare he's giving me doing absolutely nothing to curb my " I-just-finished-my-1st-coat-of-varnish" enthusiastic jabber. He gives me a knowing look while I wonder aloud if those slight varnish over-runs are going to mar the smooth-as-glass surface of my recently sanded wood trim. "What", I innocently ask, thinking that Louis, the Woodworking God, is about to impart some secret pearls of wisdom to me, his Varnish-Virgin. "What are you thinking?", I eagerly prompt him.
"Help, I'm talking and I Can't Shut Up" he responds, momentarily crushing my puppy-dog enthusiasm. But only for a moment. His comment sends me into hysterics as I realize it's right on the mark - I'm in one of those "Jabberin' Janet" kinda moods that Louis found soooooo adorable when we first got together. I try to contain myself and quietly begin my new blog entry. The moment would be much better portrayed, though, if I could truly capture the essence of his exhaustion via a photo. I grab my camera and try to pull one off, but he just looks pissed (go figure). The 2nd attempt gets me a shot of the bottom of his foot, put forth in a "talk to the hand" kind of way, and for some reason this just sends me into more hysterics. "Are you on drugs or something", he asks. (I do get a little smile out of him when I show him the photo, though")
The boat is engulfed in silence as I eventually go back to my blog-typing and Louis sits there, pondering the next day's tasks, no doubt. A loud "WHAP" breaks the silence as he goes for his 10th mosquito kill of the evening. "Missed him, the fucker" he says.
More silence (him) and out-of-control laughter (me).
He gets up to bring our dishes to the sink and dryly comments, "Boy, that was a rippin' dinner". He's referring to the lukewarm, dry, chicken wrap we just ate. It was the other half of our lunch we saved so we wouldn't have to bother cooking dinner. For some reason this just cracks me up more, and on I go with the hysterics. I really must have inhaled some varnish fumes today!
Maybe, though, I'm just in a giddy state because my CRAP-O day ended so wonderfully! After spending hours and hours this afternoon scraping and sanding off the oil sealer I had so meticulously applied the day before (because it didn't harden...bummer) I got my 1st coat of varnish on and, I have to say, it looks GOOD. Plus, there's a full moon out!
So, all-in-all, life is good!
Pole Dancing Anyone?
30 January 2009 | The V Berth
For any of you couples out there who are thinking of joining us on a (sigh) romantic vacation in the Caribbean sea, a word about pole-dancing may be in order.
On our boat, there are two cabins: a spacious aft cabin (ours) and a not-quite-as-spacious forward cabin (yours). Yours, except for right now. Since the aft cabin is currently in the "sanding zone", we've been sleeping in your bed, so to speak. And your bed is, well, "interesting".
It's what is called a "v-berth" which, for once in boaty-speak, is exactly what it sounds like. It's basically a v-shaped cabin at the bow of the boat. Picture how a boat narrows or v's at the front, and you'll get the idea. Your feet are at the narrow end, and the berth widens out substantially as you move "aft", where your head rests. It's standard on monohulls, and is actually a pretty spacious "2nd bedroom" for a boat our size. But there's one quirky thing about our v-berth: there's a pole running vertically down through it! It's actually a piece of 3 ½" pvc pipe set just off center, creating a "big person side" and a "little person side". Our anchor chain runs down thru this pipe into an anchor well under the bed. "Why the heck did they design it that way", you might wonder? They didn't. It was a (smart) solution implemented by the previous owners for a common problem many boats deal with: as you haul up the anchor with the electric windlass (a motorized anchor-puller-upper) the chain piles up into the anchor locker and eventually jams. Then someone has to go down below and "tickle the chain", pushing the chain further down into the well to un-jam it. Usually, it's just a hassle but it can actually be quite dangerous if, for example, the winds change and you need to leave an anchorage in a hurry! Or, of course, if the pirates are bearing down on you and your weapons have all been checked in at customs.
Anyway........where was I? Oh yeah, pole dancing. Well, let's just say that the "sport" of pole dancing takes on a whole new meaning in our boat...one which I think may require a lot of practice! Unfortunately, it also brings up terrorizing memories for Louis of his "bachelor party gone bad". If you haven't heard the story, ask him (gently) one day.
Bottom line: if you come for a visit with your sweetie, you're bound to have some laughs as you "learn the ropes"!
Sex on the Boat
23 March 2008 | the aft cabin, Scappatella
Here's an excerpt from the sea-farin' romance novel I'm working on...
As we locked in a passionate embrace, I breathed in the toxifying smell of sweat and diesel that has permeated his every being. I tried to pull away, but our bodies clung together from the sweet, sticky tropic heat. We rolled onto the bed and I wrapped my legs around his body, the coarse, white sand exfoliating our skin until it was as smooth as a baby's. I moved to straddle him, my heart quickening as I exclaimed "Oh", "Oh"...Owwwwww!!!! But not even the smack of my head against the corner of the berth would deter my passion. As my skin glistened and rivulets of sweat dripped down onto him, he moaned. I excitedly looked into his eyes only to see him staring at the water dripping down the side of the berth onto our bed, the leak that would be our nemesis throughout our time in the Caribbean. Distracting him with the rough calluses of my weathered hands, he turned his attention back to me, wincing a little as I ran my hands over his bronzed body. We moved together with the rhythm of the sea, thrashing about here and there until all of a sudden he leaped out of bed and across the length of the cabin, and in one fluid movement smacked the bulkhead with his hand. "What the hell was that about?", I exclaimed, my passion finally abating with, yet another, unwelcome distraction. He turned to me with the contented look of a satiated man, and pointed down at the small, dead cockroach lying on the cabin sole. "Aaahhhh,, that's my man!", I exclaimed and pulled him back onto the bed, the two of us wincing with each movement... to be continued (or not!).
Yes, it will be good to be home!!