Theta Chi for life
30 May 2023
It’s not just a slogan. The tenants of brotherhood were foremost in our pledging Theta Chi. How else do you get over 70 guys to live together and operate a complex fraternity house? But there is much more and harder to describe.
Larry Fortress and I have stayed friends throughout our lives. Larry has been on Uproar several times in the Caribbean and Florida. Through the book of face, I reconnected with Jay Peterson, also a sailor. We met for a lunch in New Orleans two years ago. Rick Loheed and Jay were high school friends and sailed together. Rick and I reconnected. He is still immersed in boats and sailing as a profession and hobby.
The idea of all getting together on Uproar grew from a few emails to meeting all three at the Grenada airport on May 15. Strangely enough, Lisa opted out of the Theta Chi Cruise. She and Pearl flew back to Milwaukee a week prior.
Our first night was spent at the West Indies Brewing Company. This is the only brew pub in the Eastern Caribbean. We enjoyed not only great beer but were treated as family by the staff. We must be getting old, there were complaints about the ½ mile walk to and from the pub. Or perhaps it was the tropical heat.
Early the next morning we sailed to Carriacou. Cruising with guests is quite different from our regular cruising life. We spend a week or several in most anchorages. With guests, we move almost every day to give a full Caribbean experience. After a quiet afternoon in Tyrrel bay, we had dinner at the Slipway. The Slipway is our favorite restaurant in the Caribbean (along with Zanzibar in Martinique). Roxanne is a first class chef, Dede always gives us great service and Nakka makes rum punch “pirate strength” especially for me. Team Theta Chi raved about the food and fun ambiance.
The trip continued to Sandy Island for snorkling, a quiet night in Anse La Roche, Union Island to clear into the Grenadines, Tobago Cays for snorkeling with turtles and rays. Then on to Bequia. We spent three nights in Bequia. Larry flew out of Bequia but Rick and Jay sailed with me back to Union Island and on to Carriacou. The passages between islands were ideal. Some were on the boisterous side but it was the kind of sailing we enjoy.
Enough of the itinerary. Telling old Theta Chi tales was accompanied by a draining of Uproar’s rum and wine locker along with a few cases of beer. The four of us together could trigger more memories and stories. A few songs were sung, hopefully not loud enough for nearby boats to hear. One-by-one we would tap out of the evening stories, often past midnight. With a house of over 70 brothers, we had no shortage of material! Over the years, some of the more bizarre events are hard for even me to believe but the four of us brought them back to life.
We had dinner at the Fig Tree in Bequia. The Fig Tree generously hosted a cruiser’s pot luck for Christmas as they didn’t have staff to serve a dinner. We so enjoyed the gesture and return when in Bequia. Kristen, our 21 yo server yelled at me as I walked up the steps, “Wet paint on those steps!” That joke was just the start of a great meal and her endless entertainment. Kristen has the personality of half-a-dozen ladies her age. The next night we dinghied up to Bar One, floating bar at Princess Margret Beach. Kristen showed up later with hugs all around. She virtually ignored her boyfriend, hanging out with us. Hey! We still got it!
The guys just loved the contact with locals. It isn’t hard to make friends in the Caribbean. We all bought scrimshawed teeth pendants from Richie King and Clifford who dinghied up to Uproar. Jay bought a beautiful half-hull of a famous Bequia whaling boat. Jay was delighted to see a Dynamique 62 in the anchorage, a boat like one he owned.
Uproar has only three, double berths. Jay generously offered to sleep in the cockpit….until it rained, then he curled up on the setae , barely long enough. The boat looked like one of our rooms at the House. Clothing snorkeling gear and bags were everywhere. No problem.
Getting together with old friends reminded us of something else. We are getting old. We don’t move around like we used to but are doing OK. Even after 47 years, we are still brothers. We cherish our experience at Theta Chi, Theta Chi for life.
Dinde Osso Bucco
11 May 2023
No pictures of tonight’s dinner. I was hungry and ate it before thinking it was noteworthy. Instead, a beautiful Flambouyant tree!
Cooking is one of our favorite activities on Uproar. We have a propane stove and oven that doesn’t quite match a good home unit. Still, it gets hot and fortunately, our oven can get hot enough for great pizza.
As sailors and former racers, weight aboard is a big issue. When we raced overnight races, we insisted our crew share a tooth brush and we cut the handle off. But on Uproar, we have a Le Creuset size C dutch oven. It’s orange like the Flambouyant tree, and heavy. I wouldn’t be without it.
We have talked about the French food, viva la France! I was in a grocery store in Guadeloupe and saw Dinde Osso Bucco in the frozen meat section. Dinde is turkey. The French seem to cook a lot of turkey. This package was of turkey legs, sliced into one-inch slices through the bone. And it was cheap. With the name “osso bucco” I knew just what to do with it. But it sunk to the bottom of our freezer, unappreciated.
Today was a work day on Uproar. Lisa and Pearl flew back to Wisconsin. I’m boat alone and decided to paint the cockpit sole. In between coats, I cook the turkey I thawed yesterday. It turned out great to my taste buds. I’ll share what will become a go-to for me in the future:
Brown turkey leg slices in olive oil (I use duck fat of course). Remove and brown a large sliced onion and a few cloves of garlic, chopped. When translucent, add about a pound of peeled and chunked carrots. Toss for a few minutes and deglaze the dutch oven with about a cup of wine (red or white, that nasty bottle you opened last week and nobody liked).
Add a cup or two of water, cube of chicken bouillon, slug of concentrated tomato paste from a tube, teaspoon of herbs Province, and ground pepper. Oh, why not a few bay leaves? Stir and return turkey leg slices to the mixture. Arrange so the vegetables surround the turkey slices and the liquid comes up midway on the turkey. Add more water or wine if necessary.
After it comes to a boil, cover and place in an oven at about 350F. Bake for 1 ½ hours. Let rest for 15 minutes and serve. I just ate it as is but served over pasta or spatzle would be a treat.
It lacks the hole-in-the-bone pudding/marrow from beef shanks but is a cheap and perhaps healthy alternative. This is exactly how I cook osso bucco with veal or beef shanks. The beef should cook a bit longer and perhaps the turkey doesn’t need the full 1 ½ hours. Your mileage may vary.
Candice, Uproar's first Stowaway
02 May 2023
Candice Goujon is Uproar’s first sea hitch hiker, not really a stowaway. We see a lot of bulletin board ads for young people wanting to crew. It is another form of backpacking. Some just ask to join a cruising boat for a period of time, promising to help with the work, cook, wash dishes or even teach children.
Some cruising boats take on volunteer crew for long passages to help run the boat. But we have read about problems with customs and immigration when bringing crew along. Officials don’t want the captain to bring people without visible means of support and dump them off in their country. There have been instances where the captain was forced to pay “repatriating” air fare for a crew member! This and obvious concerns with taking a stranger into our home have kept us from participating.
But last week we saw an ad of a young lady from France who needed a ride from Guadeloupe to Martinique. We don’t need to clear out of Guadeloupe and into Martinique as they are both states of France. Candice is a French citizen who is free to travel in these islands. It is a 120 mile sail which we do overnight. Candice’s English-speaking friend arranged with Lisa to meet us at the Deshaise, Guadeloupe dinghy dock.
Candice spent five months in Guadeloupe on a Work Away project, tending bar, laying tile and coaching a kids soccer team. She had a place to stay in Trois River, Martinique for a month and help bartending, before returning home to the south of France. Her Work Away host family eyed us with concern and kissed Candice on both cheeks bidding farewell. I gave them an Uproar boat card with our contact information, some assurance as to who we are. We loaded her huge, pink suitcase into our dinghy and putted out to Uproar at anchor. The anchor came up around 12:30.
For once, I was with someone from France whose English is more limited than my French. It was good to converse in French and she helped me with a few words. But few words were spoken. Candice just loved to look out over the water.
The sail started off smoothly, then wind quit and we motored. Then came a strong wind funneling around the south end of Guadeloupe. We reefed, unreefed, motored and sailed through the night. Candice was a bit shocked with the power of the wind when the strong gusts wrapped around the mountains. But she took it in stride along with a Sturgeon, seasickness pill I gave her.
Around midnight, she retired to her cabin and slept well. Lisa and I took short, three-hour watches through the night. Candice was up soon after dawn, much more relaxed and comfortable with the Uproar program on the big pond. She kept saying how beautiful it was. “I am happy!”
We sailed into Fort de France, Martinique around 10:30 and dinghied Candice and her huge, pink suitcase ashore. There were ferry docks nearby and Candice purchased a ticket for Trois Islet, about four miles across the bay.
Au Revoir, Candice. You were a trooper during a bit of tough sailing and recovered from mild seasickness well. We hope the rest of your stay in the French West Indies continues to be the trip of a lifetime. We were glad to share our adventures with you and deliver you safely to your next stop.
Antigua Tot Club
19 April 2023 | Nelson's Dock Yard, Antigua
“On this day, in the year ___, the HMS ___encountered the enemy and with_____ dispatched them_____.”
Lisa and I joined about 50 sailors in a circle in Lord Admiral Nelson’s dockyard, Antigua for a ceremony, only worthy of the nation who brought us butterfly chasing and train spotting.
The Tot Club has been meeting at 18:00 in Nelson’s Dockyard, every day, without fail, for 31 years!!!
We had witnessed this daily ceremony from a distance when we were here in 2016. But this morning, I ran into Dave, from Persephony, whom I haven’t seen for at least five years. Dave and Trudy sailed from the Caribbean to Europe where they spent a lot of time in Portugal. We have somewhat kept up via Facebook. Now they are back in the Caribbean as are we.
Dave mentioned he and Trudy are running the Tot Club and invited us to join them. We arrived early and watched as members signed in and paid their 10 EC ($4 USD) for the ceremony and a large tot of rum.
We collected our tots (large for men and slightly smaller for the ladies) and gathered in a circle. Since this was our first time, we weren’t certain if we had to cluck like chickens or suffer some other initiation. The only admonishment was for Lisa to remove her hat, timely before the ceremony commenced. Later we learned the wearing of a hat incurred a fine of a bottle of rum ($40 EC). We were also warned that Pearl would have to remain silent. She did.
Newcomers, including us were introduced. Birthdays mentioned, those leaving the island were pitied. And those returning were toasted. Then Dave read from a huge volume of British Naval history. Each day had stories from many years ago, read and cheered! We even cheered good naturedly when the British vessel dispatched an American warship. Hear, Hear!
One member read another naval story from this date in 1945. The German U boat 1206, was newly launched with an innovative head (toilet) that could be flushed while submerged. Imagine a submerged submarine enduring tons of pressure. Heads used at depth needed to store excrement until the submarine surfaced for discharge. But not so for the newly launched U 1206. They had a special head with high pressure discharge. Specialists on the boat were tasked with the complicated procedure of valves and pumps to properly flush.
“On this day in 1945, U 1206 was sunk. Records of the sinking vary but the general theory was that the captain decided he could use the head without enlisting the aid of head specialists to send his waist to Davy Jones Locker. The result was a flooding of the boat and sinking.”
“Hear, hear!” And the rum was tossed off.
In Case You Were Wondering.....
14 April 2023
Ken and Missy joined Uproar in Antigua for ten days of cruising. We quickly sailed to Barbuda, 30 miles north of Jolly Harbor. Ken and Missy are tied with Jeff and Terry as “frequent sailors.” They each have cruised on Uproar five separate times and both made the long flight to French Polynesia to sail with us. The competition continues.
Uproar had never been to Barbuda, a new experience for all. Approaching the turquoise water of these low, sandy islands, we all exclaimed, “We are back in the Bahamas.” Shallow, sandy water and long, sandy beaches reminded us of our three voyages in the Bahamas. The main town, Codrington also felt much like the Bahamian villages. This is quite a contrast from the mountainous Caribbean islands.
No one enjoyed the long, sandy beaches more than Pearl. She ran free as the ladies combed the beaches for shells. Ken and I enjoyed the walk while swapping sailing stories, as we often do. In the distance, we saw another couple enjoying their beach walk.
We met Chris and Bill about a half-mile down the beach and naturally talked about cruising plans, boats and things to do in Barbuda.
As promised when I started blogging, I’m going to tell it like it is, good, bad or ugly.
We talked mostly to Chris. Bill was as friendly as can be but his choice of beach uniform that day was….lacking. It wasn’t that uncomfortable to stand to his side, look out over the water and converse. What was a bit uncomfortable was when Bill told Ken (Lisa also within earshot), “In case you were wondering, I’ve been castrated.” Yep, Bill had suffered from prostate cancer, not that any of us were making detailed observations.
There you have it, another Uproar story in living color.
PS. Names have been changed to protect the naked.
04 April 2023
"I'm reading, would you mind taking Sophie ashore?"
"No problem! OK, Sophie, let's go for poTi Punch."
Uproar first arrived in the Caribbean in 2016. One of my fond memories of Deshaise (dey-hey), Guadeloupe is sitting at sunset with Sophie on my lap, enjoying a ti punch.....or two. Sophie was 16 years old when we first anchored in Deshaise. She needed her potty runs each morning and evening, no problem. I enjoy café au lait and pain au chocolat in the morning and ti punch in the early evening. Sophie was a willing participant.
Being old, she didn't need to walk far. When we arrived at Madras Bar (prominent set for "Death in Paradise" BBC series) she just wanted to lay down in my lap. Warm, soft puppy, sharp beverage and beautiful sunset....what's not to love. I didn't even know we were enjoying life in a famous place.
Ti punch is a strictly French West Indies drink. Our last few laps in the Caribbean were in 2016 and 2017. Most of our cruising friends did not like the French Rhum Agricole. They found it sharp and not as smooth as the English Island rums (Antigua, Barbados, etc). True, they are not as smooth but they contain an array of grassy, sugar cane notes along with pepper and hints of spice. Rhum Agricole is made directly from sugar cane squeezings, fermented, distilled with nothing else added. Their art is in growing the right varieties of cane and harvesting only when sugar content is high. Fermenting and distilling skill combine to produce a memorable product.
English rums are made from molasses, a byproduct of sugar refining. The art of English rums is in the distilling and aging. Some may add flavors but don't admit it. We are not talking Captain Morgan here. One legged pirates are nowhere to be found. French distilleries make aged rum too, again a bit sharper than English rums. I enjoy and respect both forms of rum/rhum art. Most of our cruising friends now enjoy both types of rum. Perhaps I'm gaining converts. One lady, we hadn't seen in five years said, "Popeye, I still remember hearing you say, "I can be challenged by my rum.""
Back to ti punch. White rhum is between 50% and 62% alcohol! One is served a small glass, wedge of lime and a tiny jar of raw sugar with doll-sized spoon. Ti punch couldn't be more simple, just squeeze in some lime and add less than ¼ t raw sugar. Sometimes a funny stick with projections like broken umbrella spokes, called a lele, is used to swizzle the ingredients and "wake up" the rhum.
Back to Madras. Ti punch is served as above but the rhum glass is empty. They just put the whole bottle in front of you! I usually get my 3 euros worth. We call it a favorable wave when the boat rocks and the bartender pours in a little extra. I find favorable waves even on shore at Madras.
Pearl is now my potty run/ti punch companion. She loves her shore leave. Even being an energetic puppy, she insists on lying in my lap as we enjoy our sunset ritual.