Dorothy, we miss you.
17 March 2023
Dorothy passed a few weeks ago. She embodied the spirit of Huahine, French Polynesia island meaning "power of woman."
Kaia from 2K and I interviewed Dorothy for a few hours to get the following stories in December 2020. Sadly, Kaia passed a year ago, leaving quite a void in our lives.
The following is part of an article published in "Latitudes and Attitudes" June/July 2021 for Bob Bitchin:
It is no secret to those who read our blog that Huahine is our favorite island in French Polynesia. We have visited here about a dozen times and stayed for a total of six months. Huahine is a beautiful island with clear lagoons, great biking and varied terrain. But the spirit of Huahine is what has captured us.
Huahine has over 200 ancient religious Marae, stone worship sites. Huahine means fertility of woman. From the main town, Fare, you can see in the mountains a pregnant woman reclining with knees bent, ready to give birth. Bobby Holcomb, musician, artist and cultural Polynesian hero lived here. On a Marae overlooking Maeva, Bobby Holcomb and Jimmy Buffet wrote the song, “One Particular Harbor.”
Captain Cook visited Huahine during his voyage here on the Beagle. One of his famous sketches is the Beagle in Fitii harbor. Cook witnessed two human sacrifices here on Huahine.
Bernard Moitissier, my sailing hero, was winning the 1969 Golden Globe race and decided he didn't want to stop sailing and win. He abandined the race, tacked and went around Cape Horn a second time. After 1 ½ years at sea, alone, he made French Polynesia his home. He visited Huahine often.
We wouldn't know any of this had we not met Dorothy Lubin Levy. Dorothy is the spirit keeper of Huahine! We met Dorothy on our early visits to Huahine. This past year we got to know her better and spent some time visiting, listening to her stories. I can't begin to tell all here but suffice to say, she has a lot more to tell and we regret we haven't spent more time with her.
Dorothy's great grandfather sailed from France to Tahiti and set up a trade and finance business. He married a Polynesian woman from the royal family (money attracts money as told by Dorothy). Dorothy's grandfather married an American woman and Dorothy was raised in California until age ten. She visited Tahiti and has lived in French Polynesia ever since.
When Bernard Moitissier landed in Tahiti after his epic voyage, he was besieged by reporters and the public. “He could hardly speak after being alone for 1 ½ years. I was one of the first people he met and he asked me if I could help him. I took him back to my house to keep him away from the intimidating crowds.” Dorothy formed a life-long relationship with Bernard.
Later she met Bobbie Holcomb. “I had a Citroen 2CV. Bobby and Bernard would climb in and we would explore the valleys in Tahiti where there were small farms. OK, we did this to pilfer fruits and vegetables. The local people knew but didn't mind. Bobby and Bernard loved these little adventures.”
When Dorothy was pregnant with her daughter, she went to the hospital for an ultrasound. “Bobby said he wanted to go with me to see the pictures. On the way there, we ran into Bernard, carrying his javelo (spear) to get some exercise in the athletic field. We told him about the ultrasound, he wanted to come too. So there I was in the waiting area with Bobby in his dread locks and Bernard, looking like Gandolf, with his spear. The doctor and nurses didn't know what to make of us. Bobby and Bernard were fascinated by the ultrasound pictures.”
Dorothy and her two year old daughter, Sabrina, sailed on the Dutch Schooner, Free, to New Zealand to protest the French nuclear testing in the Tuamotus, French Polynesia. They were hitch hiking and got a ride with a nice couple. Down the road Dorothy spotted Bernard walking. She yelled, “Stop, that's my dad.” They picked up Bernard, he had sailed to New Zealand just for another voyage in his boat, Joshua.
“Bobby moved to Huahine in the ancient village of Maeva. He called me and said, “Why don't you and Sabrina move here with me?” He said to be sure to bring the geese, guinea pigs and the horse. We did! Bernard visited and taught one of the geese, Mr. White, to sing along with Happy Birthday.”
“Bobby like Bernard, didn't seek public attention. Bobby just enjoyed being Bobby. He didn't own a car but rode his bicycle into Fare for shopping or to play music. He always wore a couronne de tete, flower and leaf wreath. He would get up early and climb to the Marae overlooking Maeva. There he would paint and compose music.”
Jimmy Buffet visited Huahine and someone in Fare told him about the local musician, Bobby Holcomb. They brought Jimmy to the house around noon.
“Bobby loved his afternoon naps and I tried to keep visitors away during these naps. But the visitors with Jimmy just walked into his bedroom and woke him up. No, Bobby hadn't heard of Jimmy Buffet. Jimmy was carrying his Martin guitar and said, “Maybe you know this song.” He played Margaritaville. Bobby said no, he hadn't heard it. But the two of them started playing music together and gained respect for each other's talents. Bobby took Jimmy through the jungle path to his marae and there they composed “One Particular Harbor.””
“One Particular Harbor” is played at all Jimmy Buffet concerts. The opening chorus and other verses are sung in Tahitian. Audiences always sing along but I wonder how many understand the Tahitian composed by Bobby. “Ia aora te natura” Love nature.
Dorothy lived with Bobby until his death from cancer in 1991. His grave site is a simple mound in Maeva, surrounded by colorful croton plants.
Dorothy is active with the world heritage site, Fare Pote, a restored religious site on the picturesque Maeva lagoon. We visited the site for a dedication ceremony for the Japanese archaeologist, Sinoto, who first started exploring the site. He initially met with resistance from the local people but gained their respect and interest in this historic site.
Dorothy embodies the woman spirit of Huahine.
“When I was ten years old, we landed in Tahiti for my first visit. I heard the drums and knew I was home. One drop of Polynesian blood is like one drop of vanilla extract, it flavors the entire dish.” We are somewhat thankful to the Polynesian mosquitos. We now have at least one drop of Polynesian blood. Huahine is our island home.
Bobby Holcomb's song “My Island Home” is my favorite Polynesian song. I have been fortunate to sing it along with a few local musicians, always bringing a tear.
Thank you Dorothy for awakening in us our Polynesian spirit.
"Do you know Jim Butler?"
16 March 2023 | Portsmouth, Dominica
A fellow cruiser came up to me at the cruiser’s BBQ in Dominica with the most random question I could imagine, “Do you know Jim Butler?” Hell yes, I know Jim Butler.
Rick was a college room mate of Jim’s. Jim was in my classes at Barnes JHS and Fairmont West HS. We were also in boy scouts together.
Rick made the connection on Facebook and recognized me from some pictures. Talk about a small world. It’s hard to hide, even in remote locations on a boat.
Jim doesn’t know this but he had a hand in my sailing life. Jim, Dean Jewel and other friends had a pretty good band in the seventh grade, the Victorians. Jim’s older brother was the bass player at times but he grew tired of playing with younger kids. I was just starting to play guitar and was told I could be in the band if I bought a bass guitar. The summer between seventh and eighth grade, I cut lawns like crazy and earned $250. Some lawns paid only $1.50 to put that amount of money in perspective.
It was still not quite enough to buy a guitar and amp but Dad reluctantly said he would foot the rest of the bill. Dad hated rock and roll, “It will never lasts…..” When school started in the fall, the Victorians had broken up. Good thing I hadn’t bought the bass guitar yet. Or perhaps not.
We spent a few weeks every summer at my grandparent’s cottage on Base Lake, near Ann Arbor, MI. There we had a dumpy, old sailboat and were all just learning to sail. It was so slow, we would spit in the water to see if we were actually moving. A friend down the beach had a battered Sailfish. We loved to go out in it and tip it over. Upside down, it was a great swimming platform.
I spent the bass guitar money on a wood Sunfish kit. It cost $244. The fiberglass Sunfish cost $305. I couldn’t afford the fiberglass one. I bet I bought the last wood Sunfish kit made by Alcort, it was 1965. I’m pretty sure I spent at least $50 on paint and other finishing materials. Dad helped out on much of this. He was very happy I bought a boat instead of a bass guitar.
I loved that boat! It was a magic machine for me. When I could drive, taking girls sailing was my favorite date. In college, I had a nasty but lucrative job. I spend some of it on an Olympic class Flying Dutchman. From there I bought Veloce (Laser 28) which we sailed and raced for 25 years on Lake Michigan. We estimate we sailed 1,200 races on Veloce! Then Uproar came to our dock 12 years ago. Now she is home.
Jim, you played a small part. OK, I could have been a rock star and made the Victorians famous. At the BBQ in Dominica last night, at least I partied like a rock star!
Sam Suffit Means Honey Badger Attitude
07 March 2023 | Too damn close to Sans Suffit
A moonless, Caribbean sky shows off the stars like no other. Very little shore light spoils the view. Anchored sailboats must show a masthead anchor light for safety reasons. These become gently waving, low level stars to add to the show.
I would love to continue telling the reader about the beauties of our night sky, however we can all smell a but coming!
Sure, the anchor light gives some protection from a speeding powerboat smashing into your hull but some overly cautions sailors opt for a flashing or strobe light to protect their ride. These are among the most inconsiderate sailors around. Imagine a harbor full of strobe lights. No one could sit out and enjoy the evening without fear of seizures.
We have been a few days in Deshaise (day hay), Guadeloupe. This is a lovely little French Caribbean village surrounded by mountains. There a French catamaran with not one but two strobe lights flashing all night. One is at the top of the mast and one is just off the aft deck. Seems like catamarans like things in twos.
I vowed a few nights ago to dinghy over there and as gently as possible, tell them what jerks they are. Kelsey and Bobby were aboard, sailing with Lisa and me for a while. None of them wanted me to confront the offenders in a rum-fueled rage. I carefully rehearsed what I would say to them. It sort of went as follows: "We would appreciate it if you would turn off your strobe lights and join the ranks of considerate cruisers." I had a more succinct version in French, "Ferme les strobes, svp."
Still, I was restrained. Finally, Lisa said I could go if I brought a bottle of (French) wine as a peace offering. I agreed and picked out a bottle that was not high on the demand list. Still a free bottle should smooth the conversation.
It didn't work. No one was on the boat. We have been here for five days and still no one is on the boat. It is in dead storage, annoying everyone in the anchorage with nightly regularity. Of course no one is on the boat. The lower strobe light would weld the retinas of anyone in the cockpit.
Since this is becoming a more frequent problem, I'm going to print up cards. "Please join the community of considerate cruisers by turning off your flashing anchor light. And did you know a flashing light on an anchored boat is illegal, it is reserved for navigational marks. If you don't know this, I'm sure your insurance company will remind you if there is a claim. Cheers!"
I'm open to ideas that don't involve violence.
15 February 2023 | Portsmouth, Dominica
Russ Whitford | Just perfect
“You know our cruise is half over.” Lisa and I sailed into the calm, lee of Dominica. We had crossed the blustery pass between Martinique and Dominica. Seas were up a bit and wind peaked around 20 knots. Ahhh, to be in calm water again.
Lisa said, “Would you rather be home in Wisconsin?”
“No way.” We were having great weather, new adventures, beautiful spots and hanging out with friends on Makarious and Windwicher. These islands remain some of our favorites. What’s not to like.
But thoughts often turn to things back “home.” Home used to be Uproar. Lisa and I lived full-time on Uproar for nearly seven years. Uproar was home and the center of our existence. Our thoughts were merely the present and to where we would sail next.
Now, thoughts of time, schedules for airline flights, a car not starting, house projects, our temporary renters and fun projects at the River Retreat (our river home) creep in. We often muse about visits with grandchildren, children and friends. These are not unpleasant thoughts. But they are thoughts that are not “in the moment” as we were taught by our Zen master, John.
Being a Snow Bird entails two transitions per year. These can be a bit stressful. Our lives are uprooted from an easy existence with all comforts to one of some unique challenges. If you believe you know which of these “lives” I am referring to, “easy existence” or “unique challenges,” you may be wrong. Sometimes we are not sure which is the easier lifestyle. That’s good! We love both.
Our friends Bill and Judy have what seems like constant transitions. They sail in the Bahamas during the winter season. They put Whisper in a boatyard in Florida and hook up their travel trailer. This is their home while they prepare and launch their trawler, Gracie, their home for the summer at South Shore Yacht Club. Gracie gets put away in the early fall and once again Bill and Judy inhabit their travel trailer. A slow tour south brings them to Indian River, Florida, where they prepare Whisper for another season in the Bahamas. That seems like constant transition. But Bill and Judy do it with grace and love their varied lifestyle.
Compared to the Bill and Judy show, our transitions are simple. We are very lucky to have the best of two worlds. Summers in Wisconsin are idyllic. We spend a lot of time with family and friends. Crew for weekly sailboat races, enjoy boating on the Milwaukee River, all with mostly nice weather. I also enjoy time tinkering with my machines and building projects. On Uproar, we sail and live where people (Pink People, previous blog) spend a lot of money to visit for a short time. Our beautiful Uproar keeps us safe and comfortable and swiftly sails us to new adventures.
I must learn to not let my anticipation and excitement of the place where I am not present, interfere with the present.
My special dinghy knot
16 January 2023
“Russ, I could tell you are here by the way you tied your dinghy at the dock.”
Woah Bones! We sure know each other well. I haven’t seen you since 7,000 miles ago in French Polynesia. And you recognized me by the my dinghy mooring knot!
Yes, we are a close knit group. We met Bones and Anna in 2016, sailing in the Caribbean. Doesn’t’ take much to recognize we are brothers from a different mother. Bones and Anna sail Emily Morgan, a classic ketch which they use for their own cruising adventures and share as a boutique (my words) charter. Emily Morgan is a classic in every sense and so are Bones and Anna.
Among our fun times together was the Christmas in Martinique where Lisa and I were the only Yanks invited to a British Christmas. So fun!
Bones and Anna put on a lot of miles. We met again in Fakarava, French Polynesia. Don’t know exactly when but a few years ago. Doesn’t matter.
What does matter is that we make life-long friends afloat. It is hard to say goodbye. Goodbyes are short and sweet because somewhere, sometime we will meet again.
Yes, I tie Uproar’s dinghy, Houdinki, with a special Wisconsin fisherman’s knot. Guess I’m the only one. Bones spotted it and knew we were about.
Cheers, Bones and Anna. We look forward to more adventures with you guys!
Cap Caroline sails the Grenadines
14 January 2023
Everyone who sails on Uproar is vulnerable to a blog. Cap Caroline is no exception. In fact, she holds the Uproar record. Caroline, I think you have sailed almost three months with us on Uproar. First trip was on the Hudson River, NYC, Delaware City and into the Chesapeake. Second cruise was a big leap to French Polynesia. There we sailed through some pretty tough conditions for Christmas and New Years, in the Tuamotus.
This year, fun in Grenada and the Grenadines. Another great time for New Year’s Eve in Chatham Bay. Well, we made it until about 9:00. I’m happy to report we didn’t’ challenge you with any tough weather this time.
Caroline has sailed with us on Lake Michigan but that is most of her sailing experiences. She takes to the life afloat well. And we have challenged her. Our sail from Sandy Hook to Atlantic City had both of us feeding the fish. Huge swells and the anchor locker on Uproar was clogged with about 800 pounds of water. Dolphins led us into Atlantic City where we devoured mediocre pizza like it was our last meal.
In Fakarava, French Polynesia, we dunked Caroline into the South Pass where at least 50 sharks got a good look at her and she them….close up and personal. We holed up on the north end of Fakarava for a Christmas with our cruising friends on La Mitsu. Winds were raging but we just didn’t care. It was Christmas!
We had a great time and somewhat more sedate in the Grenadines. OK, when we rented a car and I played “chicken” with buses in Grenada, that was a thrill! It doesn’t have to be easy.
We miss you and so does Pearl. She goes into your cabin every morning looking for you to play. Just so you know, we always refer to it as Caroline’s Cabin. Please come and sail with us again.