SCAPPATELLA

n. scah-pah-TELL'-ah 1. Italian word for "escapade"; an adventurous, unconventional act or undertaking 2. a journey with a little bit of intrigue; the secret escapade of two lovers 3. an affair, or in Rome, "a quickie in the bushes"

17 April 2010 | Green Island, Antigua to Fajardo, Puerto Rico
10 March 2010 | Bequia
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

The Last Voyage...

17 April 2010 | Green Island, Antigua to Fajardo, Puerto Rico
Well, after weeks and weeks kiting our brains out the day has finally arrived. We've extended and pushed our trip, but sadly it's time to go. In a few minutes we set sail for Puerto Rico - our last Caribbean voyage together aboard Scappatella. Sniff. But, the exciting news is we're bringing her home to California!!! In May Louis will head back to Puerto Rico joined by "the boys" (Dave Martinez and Bill Green) who will sail Scappatella to Florida. From there she'll be trucked to California where we hope to continue our adventures while we try to find Scappatella's next owner.

Yup, Scappatella will be for sale soon but not before we have a chance to enjoy her back home in local waters. So, stay tuned and come visit us/her in the Bay Area!

I Can Name That Salad Dressing In...

10 March 2010 | Bequia
Remember that TV show where the participants attempted to identify a song after hearing only a note or two? "Bob, I can name that song in three notes", Contestant Number One would say. Well, for me, it's my senses: I can 'name that smell' from miles away, which can actually come in quite handy on a boat. Propane leaks, mildew, or dreaded head smells - you name it, I can usually uncover the source in just a few sniffs. And who needs maintenance logs when my finely tuned palate can tell us when it's time to change the water filters or bleach the tanks? Hey, it's good to be proficient at something in the "boat fix-it" department, even if it does mean sniffing around in the nastiest of places!

So what does all of this have to do with salad dressing, the title of today's blog entry? Well, my heightened sense of taste also means I'm, let's say, selective when it comes to food. And, unfortunately, the Caribbean isn't exactly known as the culinary universe of the world. Now don't get me wrong - Louis and I have enjoyed many good meals at funky little food stands throughout the islands. But, with a few exceptions, the restaurants we've eaten at have been kind of ho-hum. So I tried not to get my hopes up when I spied "Conch Ceviche" on the menu the other day. I figured they couldn't go too wrong with something so basic. I mean all it is - or should be - is some very fresh conch, a bit of onion and tomato perhaps, some lime, and a secret spice or two. When it arrived, however, all hopes vanished. The generous pile of fresh conch meat was swimming in some kind of gelatinous-based salad dressing. I hesitatingly took a bite. As I feared, there was no taste of that sweet conch meat to be had; instead the entire dish was overpowered by that oh-so-familiar flavor of American bottled salad dressing. "How is it", Louis knowingly asked. "Ugh - tastes like Wishbone Italian" was my disgusted reply.

Well, wouldn't you know...a few minutes later the waitress brought my sister some over-barbequed ribs and a nice green salad. And, then, she set down a bottle of - you guessed it - Wishbone Salad Dressing. Hey, I can name that salad dressing in...one bite!

Some French Culture

08 March 2010 | Martinique
Yeah - we finally made it to Martinique and all the wine, cheese, and foie grois our hearts desire. And rum...let's not forget the rum! We rented a car for the day and drove from one end of the island to the other, visiting 3 distilleries along the way. One of them, Le Clement, is what originally sparked my interest in "sipping rums". Last year, we enjoyed quite a few glasses of a fine, aged Clement rum on a little French boat named Lazararina, and ever since then I've been in search of it. Interestingly, Le Clement is the meeting site of ex-Presidents Bitterans of France and good ol' George Bush, following the end of the Persian Gulf war. After dropping some bucks on 10-year old "agricole" rum at Le Clement, we went on to the Depaz distillery. Depaz is a working distillery with an incredible self-paced tour where we learned all about the process of turning sugar into rum - very cool. Their rum wasn't our favorite, but in all fairness it was a free tour so they didn't break out their good stuff. At the end of the rum trail we ended up in the little town of "Le Precheur" where we treated ourselves to a wonderful dinner at Lari Zabine - a local restaurant featuring French-Creole specialties like goat stew and "accras", a type of fried fish dumpling. It was close to 11:00 before we made it back to the southern end of the island, dropped off our car, and dinghied out to Scappatella...quite the day!

4 Countries in 5 Days!

20 February 2010 | St. Vincent & The Grenadines
Remember how I talked about the challenges of visiting us on Scappatella? Well, cousins MaryAnn and Laura got the full experience of that! Let's see...they took a red-eye from San Francisco to New York where they connected to a 4-hour flight to St. Lucia. Then, it was a 90-minute cab ride to their hotel on the other side of the island, followed by a 6:00am puddle jumper flight to Barbados. After a quick stopover, they continued on to the teeny little island of Canouan, where we finally met them...but not their luggage. That came several phone calls and rum punches later.

After all that travel they were understandably a bit exhausted but were game to "see the sights". Problem is, they only had 4 days before they needed to do that process all over again in reverse! So the next morning we sailed off to the infamous Tobago Cays where the girls swam, snorkeled, and slept. (At this point, they were in Country #3: St. Lucia, Barbados, and now St. Vincent and the Grenadines). A day and a half here, and then an hour sail over to Union Island for the night. The next afternoon, we set off for our last stop at Petit St. Vincent - a stunning anchorage with reefs on one side and a beautiful white sand beach on the other. After a relaxing day at the beach, we all piled into the dinghy and zoomed off in the darkness over to Country #4: Petit Martinique, an island belonging to Grenada. One more day and night here meant that we had to get up at 6:00 the next morning to sail back to St. Lucia in time for the trip back to Barbados-St. Lucia-New York-San Francisco. Exhausting...but they were troopers!

Friendship Bay...Not!

30 January 2010 | Bequia (St. Vincent & The Grenadines)
Unfortunately, calm and uncrowded anchorages are a bit scarce in Bequia: seems you can either anchor with the masses in a calm, protected bay or opt for a bit more "action" during the night. We chose the latter at "Friendship Bay" and dropped the hook in what looked to be a reasonably calm spot. But after letting out 100' of chain we ended up a bit too close to shore for comfort. We pulled anchor and dropped in another spot - nope, way too rolly. 3rd spot - too close to shore again. By now we were all a bit tense - just drop the damn hook already! So here we sit, rolling around at anchor in the big swells of what we've renamed "Tension Bay"!

Les Pitons

28 January 2010 | St. Lucia
Marigot may not be not very dear to our hearts, but we were all captivated by the spectacular anchorage between "Les Pitons". (That'd be French for "The Peaks). The pair of 1,000 foot pitons dwarfed our little boat, providing a stunning backdrop to the deep blue anchorage. A pebble beach beckoned to Suzanne and I, so we floated in ontop a big drybag filled with towels, books, and the like. We collected sea-treasures and napped on the beach while Louis strummed his guitar back on Scappatella. Two days later we left St. Lucia and the Pitons in the dark of the night for our next destination, the island of Bequia. Despite her best intentions, Suzanne succumbed to sea-sickness and spent the majority of the 50-mile trip asleep and drugged out on Meclazine. (Hey, it happens to the best of us!)

Hurry Up and Relax!

25 January 2010 | St. Lucia
We picked up Sister-Suzanne today in the bustling town of Rodney Bay, St. Lucia. After a quick hike to a fort perched way up on the hillside, we headed south for Marigot Bay. "Another of the Caribbean's spectacularly beautiful anchorages", our cruiser's guidebook exclaims. We entered the deep, narrow bay and it was crammed full with over 100 yachts of various shapes and sizes. It may be spectacular, but we can't tell because of all the people and boats in the way!

Immediately the boat boys are on us, aggressively zooming around in their motorboats trying to lead us to a mooring for some unknown fee. "No thanks, we've got it" we tell them. But they don't give up easily and basically plant themselves in our intended path, forcing me to play chicken with them. I tensely steer Scappatella toward our intended mooring, weaving through a mass of boats in the tight little bay. They're shouting at us all the while, trying to convince us we're in need of their "service". "Nope, don't need any help, thanks", Louis again asserts...a bit more forcefully this time.

No sooner had we picked up our mooring and settled down when another boat boy is on us, telling us we owe $80EC for the mooring - about $30. He claims to be part of the Rodney Bay Park Association, but he has no official-looking anything. We're skeptical and ask for a bit of time. I get on the VHF trying to get the scoop from other cruisers. Meanwhile, more boat boys are on us! I apparently upset one guy by waving hi, but not talking to him. (Kind of hard to converse while you're on the radio.) Anyway, the guy starts shouting at us, thinking I'm being rude and just "waving him off". Louis is great - he's got my back, but doesn't get all agro with the guy. We're unable to get any info but decide that the park guy is legit. We agree on a more "reasonable fee "of $50 EC and settle down to "relax". By this point, all three of us are a bit agitated and more than ready for a drink! We decide a "Lime-In-Da-Coconut" is in order and toast to our "Hurry Up and Relax" anchorage at Marigot Bay.

Last Days in Antigua

15 January 2010 | Green Island, Antigua
Antigua has gone from being an island that didn't really excite us our first year to one of our all-time favorite places! It's got a bit of everything - interesting yachtie history, fun sailing regattas, beautiful calm anchorages, big-ass turtles, and excellent kite-boarding terrain! Jen, our visiting friend, had a blast learning to kite from the lovely and talented Italian instructor Irene at 40 Knots, while Louis and I took turns riding and rescuing each other. The winds have been a bit dodgy, but we've managed to get a few great days in. Things really clicked on the last day and I was able to go from the "scary fun, all hell is breaking loose" feeling of flying through the water at the mercy of the kite to the exhilarating rush of skimming the surface, directing my speed and course - somewhat - over the turquoise blue Caribbean waters. Now if only we could figure out how to deal with all those damn lines!

When not kiting, Jen split her time between us and her friends on the boat "Pilgrim". We snorkeled, meditated, and beach-combed for sea treasures, the latter much to Louis' dismay as Jen and I came back to the boat one day with a big hunkin' piece of sea-patinad wood, er...I mean "art".

But it's now time to leave Antigua and explore uncharted waters south. Next stop: Martinique - finally!

Back In The Saddle

12 January 2010 | Green Island, Antigua
Well, it's been a solid year since Louis and I body-dragged and nose-douched ourselves learning to kiteboard at Green Island. After one very fun week last March, we left Antigua fledgling kiters: able to inconsistently ride in each direction and crash our kites to the water with the best of them. We had big plans to continue our new sport back home, but life got in the way...as did the thought of the freezing cold water in the San Francisco Bay!

So here we are back in the saddle, or harness, as it were. Amazingly, we're both up on the board on our first try - that's pretty encouraging! Turns out the challenge this week is more about rats' nests than riding, as time and time again one or the other of us returns to shore sporting a maze of lines resembling a plate of tri-colored linguini.

Our last big tangle was upwind of one of the largest sailing vessels in the world - the Mirabella V. At 250 feet, it's like having your own private island...except it wasn't ours, and it was directly in our path. Louis was in the water at this point trying to re-launch the kite after a recent crash. The kite wasn't cooperating - its lines had gotten tangled and it was wildly thrashing around like a mechanical bull given an endless supply of quarters.

Meanwhile, the winds were gradually dragging Louis and the kite closer and closer to the behemoth which, we'd noticed, had just started its two very powerful, 1,000 hp engines. I'm in the dinghy - the "rescue" boat - but the kite's mechanical-bull-like action makes it a bit sketchy to motor to the downwind side and deflate the kite's tube. And upwind are all the lines, so I can't get near them either. (Prop + Lines = Bad). Hmmmmm. Now, rest assured, this is not a dangerous situation. Worst case, Louis could unclip and swim away, but then we could lose the kite to Mirabella's kite-munching engines.

There's a few chaps up on deck watching us. I give them a friendly "got it all under control" wave followed by a "hey, we're just learning" shrug of the shoulders. They give me a faint nod. Finally the kite rolls and bucks around so much that the lines appear to have tangled themselves around the kite itself, wrapping itself up like large involtini. (What's with all the Italian food metaphors? Must be cuz I'm about to watch "Under the Tuscan Sun"!) Anyway, for those needing another visual...remember your Grandma's roast that was wrapped up and tied with string to keep it together in the pan? Sort of like that.

With the lines temporarily restraining our unruly kite, we see an opportunity so I maneuver the dinghy between the kite and Mirabella. Jamming it into neutral, I struggle to find the "deflate" valve that will suck the life out of our fire-breathing dragon kite and put an end to this rather tense moment. PSHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH....found it! Kite deflated. Various muscles unclenched. And back to shore with yet another rats' nest!

p.s. Turns out there was a more "controlled" way to restrain the kite, but we'd forgotten it! Note to self: don't wait a year after lessons to "practice"!

Fate?

05 January 2010 | Back in Falmouth Harbor, Antigua
We love having friends visit us on Scappatella, but the planning and scheduling of it all can be a bit challenging for both us and our friends. Due to weather, the inevitable mechanical issues, and a desire to remain spontaneous and "unscheduled", it's impossible for us to know exactly where we're going to be at any given time. All we can do is give it our best guess and ask that friends who want to visit are a bit flexible and spontaneous with their travel plans. But, if it's a bit complicated meeting up with us, just imagine what it's like for the friend who wants to visit us AND another cruiser during the same timeframe. Such was the case with our adventurous and fun-loving friend Jen Fuller.

When we started planning her visit back in November, Jen was trying to coordinate a visit with both Scappatella and with friends on another boat - Pilrgim - who at the time were in Rhode Island. While we're emailing Jen from Curacao, deep in the Southern Caribbean, Pilgrim is in a boatyard some 2,000+ miles north of us! Both of us were still in the yard at this point, and both of us had "plans" to be in Antigua at some point. Jen's idea was to meet up with one or the other of us, and then hopefully sail and/or fly between islands and catch up with the other boat. All in the space of 10 days.

Many emails go back and forth as Jen tries to get a handle on all of our various plans and learn the general lay of the land...where she could fly into, out of, and what islands we might possibly be in January. Of course, both boats are delayed. Pilgrim is dealing with ongoing mechanical issues (yup, every boat has them) while our earlier weather delays result in us getting to Antigua a few weeks later than planned. At some point she throws caution to the wind and books a flight to Antigua, figuring it will all work out...somehow.

So here we sit having drinks at the Mad Mongoose in Falmouth Harbor, waiting for Jen's taxi to drive up. And there sits Pilgrim, in the boatyard just a stone's throw away! Now, what are the odds of that? Isn't it interesting what happens when you just let nature - and boats - take their course!
Vessel Name: Scappatella
Vessel Make/Model: Lafitte 44
Hailing Port: Coloma, CA
Crew: Louis Debret & Janet Maineri
Extra:
Just Married!! (I guess we can't really say that anymore as it's now 2010!)
We bought our boat, previously named Enkidu, in Bonaire in May of '07. She's our 1st boat, and we looked long and hard to find her. (Like for a solid year-and-a-half!) We put her on the hard in Curacao for the [...]
Scappatella's Photos - Louis' 1st International Gig!
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PROFILE

Who: Louis Debret & Janet Maineri
Port: Coloma, CA

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