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The Voyages of s/v Silverheels III
...a virtual ship's logbook, and some thoughtful (unabashed?) reflections on our sea-going experiences.
Sometimes It Is the Little Things that Can Make a Difference
03/12/2016, Long Island, Antigua

This boat has been our home for a pretty long time. Come to think of it, I've lived on this boat almost as long as any other single dwelling that I have lived in for my entire life, including childhood homes. Give it about half a year, and it will be. In that time we have become very comfortable in our floating domicile, and there are a few things that we have done that just makes it that much more pleasant for us. This really struck us after we visited some friends on their boat that is currently in charter; they have "visitation rights", so to speak.
We have art on the walls, and the homey Dutch tiles with sayings on them that came from my parents' house. A couple of souvenirs, like a half model of a traditional Bequia whaling boat, also adorn the walls or bulkheads. Our keel stepped mast has a beach wrap or, pareo, wrapped around it to cover the naked, stark (and stained by Toronto Island Cottonwood Poplar trees) aluminum. Beach wraps also cover the settee cushions - easily washed, inexpensive, and feels better on the skin than other cushion materials.
We've made alterations to the boat, like safely altering our propane tank locker to take full sized 20 lb tanks, and a hidden away garbage that is easily accessible. Even the toilet garbage has a MacGyvered installation in the vanity door.
In the galley, we could not imagine not having our Thermos brand insulated French Press coffee maker. For one, it is stainless steel and can't break (the dent in the side attests to that), and it is insulated, so the coffee actually stays hot in it... something the Lexan ones can't do, even if they are hard to break. We can even get replacement filter screens from Thermos, and have had to do that a couple of times in the 10 years we have been using it. Our hand grinder for the coffee beans is also an important thing to have. We don't drink gallons of coffee, but what we drink, we have reasonably high expectations for it.
We have a stove top toaster. Some people have water makers and no toaster, we are the opposite. Besides when we have baguettes, I must admit that the morning (turkey) ham and egg without toast just seems, I don't know, wrong. I can live without fresh water showers, but toast is a whole different thing. We happen to have a propane stove top waffle iron that works very well, too, but I've been lazy and have been doing pancakes instead - less fussy.
We have his and hers sunglass holders close to the companionway, mine also holds my GPS watch for running. They are marketed as shower organizers (and we DO have one in the head to hold deodorant and Q-tips), but they work well for other things as well. We have one tucked away to hold our wallets and the "Foreign Currency Bank" (small containers that hold the coins and bills of the currencies we are not currently using; we have to flip between Eastern Caribbean dollars and Euros, and occasionally USD, down here).
We have mounted a couple bookshelves on bulkheads; the one by the companionway holds our cruising guides from Chris Doyle, and also the cameras, our tiny knap sack (it goes everywhere with us, as it tucks away easily until we need it) and hammock for convenience.
Hats are hung up behind the galley door, out of sight, on a line, using shower curtain rings for the actual attaching. Some of the small bags, like a couple of small, cute purses, also hang there on another hook. No point taking up useful space with them. We have folding hooks that are on a head door and the door to where the non-existent v-berth is. Handy, and they can be closed up when not in use.
Our pillow cases on the settees don't hold pillows, they hold linens and clothing. We can live with the wrinkles, which are less of a problem since we really don't wear much cotton anymore.
There needs to be a place for everything on a boat. Sometimes, we have a brainstorm (one of those possibly less threatening "I've been thinking" moments, although sometimes it can mean a big change) for another home improvement project or small tweak to something we have already done. Ken doesn't get overly concerned when I get the power tools out now; any major project will require discussion, little tweaks just get done as we see a need.
There are other things we have done, much bigger things, but these are the little things that make 'Silverheels III' home. She isn't the tidiest boat, nor the cleanest, and after almost 13 years of living on her full time, there are a few areas looking a little more worn out. But she's home, our home, and will be for the foreseeable future.

Limin' in the Caribbean
Flag Waving
03/10/2016, Douglas Bay, Antigua

Not that long ago, we had the opportunity to meet Sam and Adrian, a lovely couple that crew a gorgeous 75 foot sailing yacht with classic lines. This is a boat that will be participating in the Classics Regatta next month here in Antigua. We don't usually "rub elbows" with crew of large yachts but they are very nice and down to Earth (and really, just cruisers), and we cut a rather long lineoff their prop that they were trailing. This gave us the chance to have a couple of drinks onboard.

Adrian enjoys things nautical, and is ex-Royal Navy. Flag etiquette is something he has an interest in, and an opinion. This is something we have an interest in, but really, very little knowledge, outside of observations and what we learned in our CPS classes. One of the things that'shad me doing a little head scratching was the Q flag protocol. The Q flag, which is just plain yellow, is traditionally flown when one enters foreign waters and haven't checked in with the authorities yet. It started out in the old days as a Quarantine flag.

We have seen it flown on the starboard halyard under the courtesy flag. We have seen it fly alone (as we do), until checked into the country, then the courtesy flag goes up. We have also observed it on the port signal halyard, with the courtesy flag on the starboard halyard. I wanted to know Adrian's opinion on this whole business.

First, as part of the discussion, the courtesy flag is not just the act of flying the flag of your host country as a nod to their hospitality and out of respect. It has traditionally been a statement that the crew of the vessel, and all on her, will abide by the laws of the land. In Adrian's opinion, after some study, the flag should be flown as soon as you enter a sovereign country's waters... on its own, in a place of honour. The starboard signal halyard is a place of honour, and the ensign of the visiting vessel should not fly higher than the courtesy flag (unless in a "junior" position, like the top of the mizzen mast). We agree with the place of honour... but what about the Q flag?

The Q flag should be flown from the port signal halyard (if you have one, which we do), untilnyoure legally checked in, while the courtesy flag flies from the starboard signal halyard for all of the time you are in the waters of the host country.

Okay, this works for me. And NO other flags fly with the courtesy flag, that is very disprespectful!

While we were at it, the topic of whether to take in your own ensign at night was discussed. This was a more grey area. Theoretically, your own country's ensign should fly at all times when you are in foreign waters, but who can see it at night? That one was a toss up.

So, we will fly the courtesy flag from the start, and the Q flag from the port halyard. The good old Maple Leaf will fly from the staff at the stern. Done.

Limin' in the Caribbean
03/14/2016 | Geoff
Your boat should wear the Canadian flag from 0800 until sunset or when underway—day or night, weather and rig permitting.
While in port, if you leave your boat and will not return before sunset, lower the national flag before you go.
You can fly the flag at night if it is lit.
These rules are shared by many countries.

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