Monday, December 29, 2014

Pieces of Eight

Pieces of Eight
Yesterday Bob and I went snorkeling in 'the Caves', which is around the point in Bight Bay, on Norman Island, BVI, near where we are on a mooring. We dinghied around Treasure Point, past the snorkelers who were flapping around in front of the three cave openings, and tied up on a dinghy line. We put on our own flippers and headgear and swam toward the biggest cave, and went all the way in.
It was getting late in the afternoon and the inner part of the cave was dark enough so that we couldn't see in the water. There were urchins and other reef animals, which we avoided, and headed to the small pebbly area at the back of the cave. A dark space next to us was a possible further area in, but the water didn't seem to eddy in very far, so we were probably at the very back side of the cave.
From there, we tucked up onto the pebbles and looked up at the cave walls and 'roof' and back at the entrance. We joked about hiding on the sides of the cave, spooking the timorous snorkelers who came in, covering ourselves with the mounds of sargasso grass for added creepiness.
It was probably more funny due to the influence of the area, called 'Privateer Bay'. One is given leave to think piratical thoughts here. It is the location picked out by R..L. Stevenson for Treasure Island, which makes Norman Island a destination, along with Dead Chest and Treasure Bay on the other side of Peter Island, the next spot we are headed.
As far as snorkeling, we were more impressed with Cooper Island, especially near the rocks between Cooper and Salt Islands. Where we were yesterday, in front of 'The Caves', it was actually not very healthy coral, probably due to the big ships that stay on the British National Park Services' moorings overnight, when they are only supposed to be there a short while. Its popularity is creating a demise of healthy reefs.
One wonders why there isn't an even bigger effort to preserve these amazing treasures, as people spend a huge amount of vacation time and money in order to enjoy them. Coral Bay's demise is still preventable, and I am hoping to participate in that effort in some way.
Bight Bay is reputed to be the largest attraction in the BVI. It is located between the West End of Tortola (Soper's Hole) and Roadtown, where people come in on their charters. It is easy to get to and direct and deep, and the largest collection of yachts we have seen to date are moored around us.
Bob went to get the dinghy and I snorkeled back around Treasure Point, back into Bight Bay and alongside the other side of the cave area, where I saw a large number of boulders which looked like clumps of duckpin bowling balls all grouped together. It seemed to me that if the Pirates actually did hide their treasure, it wouldn't be on the Cave side of the Point but would be in the strange rocks inside the Bay where it is calmer.
Pirates did not have scuba gear or snorkels, so it would not be much fun trying to pull up a chest in the water or out of the caves, which had a strong tide washing in and out. No, if there are any pieces of eight, I warrant that they are on the inside, somewhere between the shore and the yachts nearby.
Yesterday afternoon, there was a monohull (i.e. not a catamaran) coming in to anchor (the moorings were all used up), and the group of men aboard were hooting and cavorting on deck. They were festooned with old fashioned sailor's whites and hats, posing for a picture in front of the infamous 'Willie T's' steel ship, which is a notorious floating bar, as they passed by. They may have been part of the 'Gay Armada' or some other cruise charter, which celebrates the lore of the days of old, whilst rushing like mad around the islands, trying to pack all they can in one week of vacation.
There are the people who go off and hoot it up at Willie T's and others who sit on their fancy yachts and use their binoculars, watching other people acting crazy aboard, jumping off the upper deck and making glorious fools of themselves. I was trying to catch up on my notes, sitting in the cockpit, enjoying the post snorkeling exercise rush. Oh, and drinking a painkiller Bob brought up for me. My sister said to 'go live the dream' and I am doing my best to comply. Binoculars do help spotting the names and ports of origin of the boats coming in and out, if not for actual snooping…
We had gone to Willie T's the day before, but prior to snorkeling, we had stopped in to have lunch and 'Friggin' in the Riggin' drinks (Mt. Gay Rum frozen with mango and banana, topped with Gosling's Dark Rum).  We got some gas for the dinghy from Tom, who manages the Eco-style Restaurant and beach area, with his wife Lena. When we found Tom, he was in the back of the 300 year old stone foundation (from plantation days) on which they had built their house. 
Tom was up the hill, with his cheerful son, hoeing and working the garden. He had planted out lots of edibles as well as ornamentals. There were also some starter plants in the nursery he maintains; along with managing the establishment, the R.O. (the reverse osmosis machine which converts the sea water), the bar and restaurant, and collecting boat fees, they have a myriad of other duties.
I have some books he graciously lent me on island plants and their uses. He took us around the planted beach area covered in sand brought from Barbuda in huge amounts. He had been there to spread it. He had been tending the planted material for awhile, and was a store house of information about the old uses of the tropical material. I took notes as he did a plant id walk with us, and am going to incorporate it into the design I am working on for a St. Thomas project that is coming together.
For me, the chief treasure here is the way these grounds have been maintained, with care, by Tom and family. Some of the plants, such as the Tamarind trees, are centuries old. The fruit is delicious. I have begun to taste the treasures, so this is more 'pieces of ate', than any buried gold 'pieces of eight', and it is a true forager's feast, island style.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Finding Treasure and Letting Life Happen

Pretty funny that a trip over to Norman Island, where Robert Louis Stevenson placed the location for Treasure Island, should be the location for an identity crisis, but I think live-aboards have a lot of adjusting to do. Add to that the fact that my Dad is in a hospital, about to be moved permanently to a nursing home for late-stage Alzheimers, and you have a prime opportunity for us to need to examine our situation, i.e. what are we doing? And having a minor emotional blow-out.
We know that we are living la vida loca, or living our dream, or what-have-you. We are doing what, as a sailor/pirate entertainer that we met today, Michael Greene, called 'unplugging from society'. He lives on a concrete boat made in the 70's in Canada that resembles an old wooden sailing ship. He has a pirate's musical act he has worked up, and plays over on Leverick Bay, Virgin Gorda, at the resort there. He told us that he writes and sings songs about people like us, who 'jump ship', except we are 'jumping land', or at least, 'jumping the mainland'. It's what he writes about and sings about in his show, which we plan to catch on Tuesday or Wednesday.
We meet so many interesting people when we show interest and talk to them; they give clues about how to deal with what comes up. Synchronicity is at work all over the planet.
Back to my point about examining what we are doing. It is not easy to live a dream and also be perfect at it, just as any other thing in life. While living the dream, you are subject to feeling many negative emotions: guilt, remorse, laziness, distractedness, alienation, etc. And our objectives while down here, which are to get really proficient at sailing and to make this possible for as long as possible, can get muddled in with a lot of other things, such as: do we need a car? Should we work and stay in Red Hook? Should we adjust our expectations? Should I go back and help the family?
We have a full life here, even when we are far away, even when it is spent imagining what life is like for others, elsewhere.
That's why it is so strange to go through all this on the back side of beyond. It is helpful to remember that living is sometimes done at a fast clip and you need to hang on and just let it take you down stream, or down island, or maybe just down the road apiece. Then you can figure things out after you have let life happen. Nobody has all the answers, is what I am saying, even people who have figured out how to evade cold weather and get their faces into some great sea breezes. We all still have stuff.

Save Coral Bay!

To: "Malinda" <>
Subject: fight, for God's sake
Date: Fri, 26 Dec 2014 20:39:18 -0400

Dear Editor,
Having heard about the fight to Save Coral Bay, in the East End of St. John, when I was in Cruz Bay St. John, where the ferries come in to the West, by St. Thomas, I believed that there was a fierce fight going on to stop development. The papers seemed to show a strong force of people leading this fight, and there are temporary tattoos and a Facebook page and experts and graphics people and other talent on board to make this a prominent issue.
Tonight, sailing into Coral Bay, naturally we stopped at Skinny Legs to share the music food and general vibe. I saw some tourist shops open, selling Coral Bay paraphernalia. I asked where the shirts were that said: 'Save Coral Bay' and both shop owners directed me to some place over inland, I guess. I am there by dinghy and I am not traipsing around. I thought that, right there in the harbor, they would be ideal places to educate tourists and show solidarity for this cause, but both times, the owners deferred. One said the Corps of Engineers would not let that happen to the mangoes. Also that the Americans should show that it matters to them first. Excuse me? That is a hippy reefer dream, if you ask me.
The other owner just waited until I was out of earshot to explain to the confused clientele that a small marina would be ok. Again, excuse me?? I felt like I was in the movie 'Dumb and Dumber'. Developers live to profit off this kind of inexcusable ignorance.
Having been in similar fights in the states, I know what fighting development entails. You have to do battle, because they will not concede without being forced to. As Frederick Douglas reminded Lincoln: 'Power accedes nothing without a demand-it never has and it never will.'
It doesn't take people from away to do the demanding, it takes people who will be hurt by it right here, to start the fire of conviction and to keep it blazing in people's hearts. Too little too late will not Save Coral Bay.
Who does it take to make this happen successfully? It takes parents who will see the place ruined for their kids. It takes people young AND old, who want to live a peaceful existence to see that the fight has come to them, no matter how far away they think they have escaped. There sometimes is never a place to run to if you don't stand up and fight for what you believe in. You can't retire from your conscience.
I was dismayed that these people seemed to mentally quit the effort before the fight has really begun in earnest. What in heavens name for? I have seen and heard enough: this plan is a disaster. Even more--it is a massive disgrace to anyone calling themselves a Coral Bay and a St. John resident.
And why should this even be happening? The island has miraculously managed so far to continue to be a jewel. This is 'paradise' as all the tourist crap will attest to. And this will terminate with the development of the marinas in the harbor. Who will you have to blame? YOURSELVES. YOU will have polluted your paradise. It's no good running away now--if you live here, the fight has come to your very doorstep.
Once the masses of catamarans take over your harbor the way they have taken over Road Harbor and other bays, you will carry the sense of failure and destruction with you.. Unless, of course, you make this fight personal. That means you stop caring about popular opinion and step into this fight and remind yourself and everybody else that this is not acceptable and you have to prevent it. That is the only way I know of, but sometimes it does actually work.
Don't think it is impossible. I have seen many MANY projects be successful when the whole community gets together. This is a fight for the whole island to fight but first, please, Coral Bay residents, make it YOUR fight.
Laurie Dobson

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Merry Merry Christmas card to all of you!

Andy came over from the boat H.B. Welch to join us for Christmas morning coffee and to pick up Bob so they could go work on some boats the next bay over this morning. Bob was feeling under the weather but he mustered himself for the task. Andy is trying to find out if we can be invited over to his friend's Mom's house for Christmas dinner, but Craig wasn't up to ask, so we don't know yet. Andy will be joining us later for some merriment, maybe some chicken on the grill at the back of the boat.
This is our personal Christmas, my first without my family, yet it is the same Christmas everywhere, when people join in the common hope that they and other people can find happiness in their circumstances.
While I await the dingies' return, I poured a mimosa, ate some crackers and brie and let some Christmas spirit bubble up. I watched my favorite movie, "One Magic Christmas" with Harry Dean Stanton (free on netflix) as the angel reminding that it is important to celebrate the spirit of the season. I love how that movie reminds me of how much I am thankful for.
So, now, as I wonder what else happens today, I know that there are ways I can make this day be full of spirit. There are the things I can do. Just as there are protocols for boating safely, for living reasonably well, for having a conscientious life, there are the things to do on Christmas, no matter if you are deep in snow in Kennebunkport, Maine or in Seattle, or any place my friends and family are spending today.
So I resolve once again, to make this the merriest of days, and I can do that here. I can -and will- greet total strangers with big smiles. In fact, I can say good morning, afternoon or evening any day, which is the custom here, but I can mean it. It can matter more to me. I wish this to be the way I spend the rest of my life.
Moreover, I can make sure to  be hopeful and positive. This is a harder thing for me, because I became accustomed to skepticism over time and it isn't easy to be a believer in life when so much seems not to point to the increase of possibly positive outcomes for this planet. But that could just me decrying with the naysayers and I can reject that modus operandi, and I do. The mind is vast, a Buddhist once told me. I believe it. I think infinite things are possible:
For instance, here's an actual fact: Bob and I are still managing to live our dream out loud. We found the boat we got here on, and we see ourselves making a new life on our terms and we are making it real. How's that for a merrymaking? And even if we chose to stay instead of to go, we could change our thinking and it would change our world. Change is good. That is the truth. You just need to believe.
So, Merry Christmas all you blog readers. Thanks for taking the trouble and I hope to continue to find interesting things for you to learn about. There is so much that would fit that bill, I just have to edit it down. That is what is so wonderful about life. You can find a way to be open to amazement. We can inspire each other. Love is not just possible, it is infinitely possible.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, from the Calypsonians, Laurie and Bob, with much love.

Because it's Christmas....Chocolate AND Paris

Captain Tom, take note, post cruise: no more m and m's on the boat, they roll into places and melt. Here's a better idea:
Wrap 6 cookies in clear cellophane with a pretty holiday bow... et voilĂ ! A gift with Paris origins that anyone would love. The recipe makes 48 cookies.

Pierre HermĂ© Chocolate Chip Cookies~

2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 sticks plus 6 tablespoons (11 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons fleur de sel
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
10 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped into 1/4-inch pieces (2 cups)

In a medium bowl, sift the flour with the cocoa and baking soda. In a large bowl, cream the butter. Add the brown sugar, granulated sugar, fleur de sel and vanilla and beat until combined. Beat in the sifted dry ingredients just until blended; the dough will be fairly crumbly but will hold together. Knead in the chocolate until evenly distributed. Divide the dough in half and transfer to 2 large sheets of plastic wrap. Shape each piece of dough into a 1 1/2-inch-wide log and wrap in the plastic. Refrigerate until firm, at least 2 hours.

Preheat the oven to 350°. Line 4 cookie sheets with parchment paper. Using a sharp, thin knife, cut the logs into 3/8-inch slices and arrange about 1 inch apart on the cookie sheets. If the slices crumble, re-form the cookies, pressing the dough together. Bake the cookies on the middle and lower racks of the oven for about 17 minutes, or until puffed and cracked on top; shift the pans from top to bottom and front to back halfway through. Let the cookies cool on the sheets for 5 minutes, then transfer them to wire racks to cool completely.

The cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week or frozen for up to 2 months...
(reprinted from the blog 'French Heart by the Sea')

Dip Ship

(Just a minor note, to drop the point that there are all sorts of morning experiences available on board, including going overboard.) 

On a boat, rolling at anchor, the movement gives you a sense that everything is at play; nothing is at rest.  So, presumably, one acquires a sense of relaxed readiness for whatever the next moment will bring. You learn to maintain alertness, as the boat is always giving you warning that you are fair game.

A house gives no indication of its preferences regarding gravity, other than creaking and complaining.  A boat, however, insists upon being attended. The ocean demands respect, you are continually told. If one disembarks and keeps their balance too high while taking the dinghy's rope off the cleat, it's only logical to presume that there is always the rogue wave ready to separate the two crafts in between, upsetting the balance. They conspire if you are found to be even slightly inattentive.

Therefore, supposedly, you guard yourself; you know the MOB drill, you learn the procedure for man overboard.

So, nevertheless, on Christmas Eve morning, all dressed nicely for a good breakfast on shore, I fell face first out of the dinghy, faster than imaginable, right next to the ladder. It was a split second and down in the drink I dropped. Dinghies pitch around more rapidly than the boat, but practice only makes you think you don't have to play by the usual rules. Well, you do.

Keep your weight low in a boat, bend your knees, keep down in gusty weather, even crawl when in a gale. When working on deck, keep one hand for the boat, another for yourself. Always hand your things from one person to another from boat to dinghy only after you are safely aboard. These are some of the standard precautions.

After my dunking, I'll add some other words to the wise:
Always wear a bathing suit under your dress. It doesn't look out of place when pinned to the lifeline, while drying it out, and no-one is the wiser (even though everyone finds out anyway). Wear flip-flops that hug your foot, so they don't come off under water. If you wear sunglasses around your neck, wear 'em snug, to make sure that they won't easily go over your head. If possible, contrive to find a sympathetic boyfriend who wouldn't dream of hooting at you, but pulls you out and makes a true effort to look sympathetically concerned.

Lastly, write in a blog and write it off. Ship dip happens.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Taking it All In

This wasn't intended as a blog that would be only intermittent, but I haven't figured out how to stop myself in the middle of all this adventure to write regularly. It will come.  Today was so full of snorkeling and enjoying the Cooper Island Beach Club with its beautiful accommodations and great beach bar that I have quite forgotten how to maintain any semblance of work ethic. Paddling around all the friendly fish, even some barracudas, sting rays and again, turtles, it has gotten commonplace to feel surrounded by gardens below and above the water. Paradise is accessible.
Yesterday we visited a remarkable garden, the J.R. O'Neal Botanical Garden in Road Town, which had a bench donated by Laurance Rockefeller, so it was one more piece of evidence of Rockefeller's hand in preserving the islands, in addition to the 11,000 acres that comprise the National Park on St. John, which he procured for the Government in 1952. He was not as concerned about the fate of St. Croix's Carambola area in the 4,000 acres in the northwest of the island, a very sensistive historical area for the Crucians. It is slated for massive development. Then there is Denis Bay next door to Caneel Bay, which is so lovely, where he spent millions making a beautiful place to come to enjoy the island; this area, also known locally as Jumbie Bay, was attempted to be developed by our own W. Donald Sussman, Chellie Pingree's hedge fund billionaire husband, who wanted to put in a huge personal pier for private use on Park Lands. I think, so far, he has been refused but money talks and bullshit walks. I digress.
I have spoken to the writer and horticulturist, Eleanor Gibney, over on St. John, whose family still owns the area called Gibney Beach in Hawk's Nest Bay. She has acquired near legend status on the island, being one of the key people making Caneel Bay, (originally bought and developed by Rockefeller), into the lovely area that it is.
She is a conservationist keen on keeping what is lovely about the island as preserved as possible, including the West Indies people who inhabit it, and who regard her with great devotion, from what I can tell, calling her Miz Gibney.
She and I discussed a landscape project I may become involved with and she gave me some suggestions.
I went to Road Town, Tortola, with Bob, to extend our stay, and I continued to study the flora for this project. Now, as of yesterday, seeing the beautiful Cooper Island Beach Club and speaking to their head gardener, Neal, I have a bead on how to organize this project.
The tropical vegetation existing in its natural and mature states is lovely. Learning how a devoted caretaker makes it all work, and conserves everything so as to make the most use of the resources, on the island, is inspiring. Beautiful material, beautiful design, sustainable environmental use. I just wish they could figure out how to pay the people a living wage. That's another story.
We in the North are used to seeing horticultural specimens in pots, the tropical ornamentals, yet here you see things in tree form which never looked like more than tiny vines. It is much more impressive seeing soaring palms of tremendous variety, and to see agave as massive specimens, for instance. It takes a lot of maintenance to look so natural, but it is clearly worth the effort to have ecologically developed areas than to have the developers run riot, which they are doing in some places, such as St. Thomas. Hopefully I can make a positive contribution.
Neither Bob nor I thought we would settle into doing some work, but it is good to earn what the Pardey's call 'freedom chips' which are monies which give you the freedom to keep sailing. We are in this cruising life, full speed ahead.
On a sadder note, my Dad is in full throttle decline and my great black cat has been missing in the cold Maine woods for a week, which does not bode well. Try to splice these two worlds together. 

Monday, December 15, 2014

Dispatch from Maine

--It has been reported to me via Mom that Commodore Karen wishes me to not ramble and to talk more about what I am doing in every day living. I will try to focus on how we are making this work as a lifestyle for others to follow and visualize and that is good liven' (the name of a cafe on St. John run by a new friend Olivia) and that can still happen these days.
I do have to sit and write more but am off to catch the 8 am ferry to St. John to meet a woman I spoke to by phone who is famous on the island for her landscaping projects there, particularly some of the beautiful resorts on the North Side. I hope to enlist her support as a colleague.
I also spoke to my elder daughter Lily who I sent pictures to last night and am urging her to come (or, as they say here, come-come) to visit and stay on the boat. This would be right up her alley.
The larger subject of staying on course vs. changing courses is an allegory I hope to explore but it will have to wait. Right now it's time to make the ferry.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Loosen the Mooring Lines

Bob just learned that his job has turned into a lucrative enterprise and could be a permanent situation; no surprise there as he is so capable. I have plans underway as well, doing something that could keep me/us here, doing what we do, creatively. Our plans are not curtailed by this development as we are live-aboards looking for a way to fund our lifestyle, and it hasn't taken long to find some worthy venues.
We learned also that Bob could take his six-pk captain's lisence prep course and as he already has the necessary boating days to qualify for the Coast Guard's required 360 boat days, he could probably pass without trouble if he took the two week course in January. Then he would be able to take people on charters and that sort of thing. I have some, but not enough so it would take longer, but eventually I would also like to become a captain. In the meantime I have a job prospect that would take me back to the flora/fauna work that is my area of expertise. Surf and turf.
It is better to be balancing our options this way than to just hang out here as long-term vacationers; that can be done, but it gets old. We are either going to be cruisers and not stay long in any port or else we will find the right place to be and work with it. So far, it appears that this is a fair haven to reside in, for awhile, and we will see what becomes of this. So many places around here to travel to that living aboard makes possible.
We met a delightful Spanish family and they have two girls and a boy who wanted to learn about our adventures traveling, especially alongside the pods of dolphins. We are going to take a short cruise with them and they have promised sangria and paella. Sounds like a fair deal to us! It looks like we will be home for Christmas, if only in our dreams. Meanwhile, live is meant to be lived and lived fully every day. We hope that our discovery of a means to do this has encouraged other people to take a similar plunge. As it is said: Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all. That's rather extreme, but most people find a way to either play it safe or risk something and exercise a little faith. I prefer giving a little credit to the universe for working with us in the faith department. It just requires, for starters, that we loosen the mooring lines...

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Giving Some Leeway

It has been over a week since my last post, so there is some catch-up to do. As for sites and impressions, there have been plenty, the most memorable of which was seeing a sea turtle swim to the surface after being on the bottom eating sea grass; with the light behind the turtle and its flippers fully extended, swimming upward, it closely resembled a bird in flight. I have heard about turtles being graceful in the water and it was truly moving to see; streamlined and seemingly airborne; it struck me as an angelic apparition. It swam eight feet in front of me, unperturbed about my snorkeling presence. The turtle, not me, was the creature with the true claim to be there, trying to eat the food that should be in plentiful supply for it, carrying on an ancient existence.  Even hummingbirds are not as graceful as the upward glide of that turtle and its up stretched arms.  I have a new, exquisite, totem animal. 
I also saw what I believe was a humpback whale coming to the surface, it was gargantuan, and supposedly they do swim in these waters. It is hard to believe myself, so I don't expect to be believed by anyone else that I saw a leviathan, but I did, I think. It was off Shark Island in St. Thomas, where we have been staying, in Red Hook. Bob has picked up some work and it appears that I have a project which will be very exciting, so we will see how this plays out.
Last week,  I took a great picture of two dolphins playing around the boat as we went to Tobago. The island is populated by birds and there are some lovely white terns which are commonly called tropic birds, as well as boobies and frigates. Pelicans are everywhere in the harbors. I saw some black shape shoot ten feet out of the water, some have said it could have been a sting ray. Then there are many fish that jump as well as fly, but in those cases, they are likely trying to avoid being eaten.
So many things have been happening that it makes my head swim trying to figure out how to record them all. I am becoming proficient with motoring a dinghy, and I 'drive' Bob to work in the morning by dinghy, going around the hill to the left of the harbor and going to a lovely resort and marina. The water is aqua, the moon has been full. The winds are shifting now and everyone is happy about their coming; I think I heard them referred to as the 'Christmas' winds.
I have been hearing great live music and dancing has been fun but my feet have been complaining, so it is important to invest in sensible thongs (flip-flops). We went to a party at a place called 'Villa Fantasia' at the apex of the hill on the right side of the harbor. The view was 360 degrees and it was possible to see St. Croix, 40 miles to the south.  Hot tubbing with some lady captains and swapping stories was a particular delight. Bob bringing me some dark and stormies while in the hot tub was part of the Fantasia experience. I reciprocated by bringing him some ice cream while he listened to two new friends playing guitar and blues harp by the pool as the moon rose over St. John. There really is no way to describe this stuff without preening. Please excuse me for this.
There are some downers to life here: the cinguaterra and the chikunganya for two. I am trying to learn about them and will post soon what I have picked up about these two varieties of island illnesses. The first is a disease you catch eating reef fish that eat a particular organism at a certain latitude and the second is supposedly mosquito transmitted. It, I believe, a fast spreading epidemic resembling malaria, if not being actual malaria. There seems to be a news blackout of this, or just a glaring lack of responsibility by the CDC (center for disease control) for managing it. I have heard that there are 400 cases on St. John, which means it is about ten percent of the population. This is a severe situation and it has already hit the U.S. and spreads quickly.  I will write more about it.
I realize that this log has to be more of a duty, as my sister reminded me, because if there is no discipline imposed, I will easily be subsumed with vacation mind think.  The pattern of life is very easy when you are just playing every day. We have our boat responsibilities but meeting up with people and making friends is much more relevant than cleaning house/boat. These opposing routines--the live-aboard life vs. vacationers play schedule-- have been vying for my attention, with the result that I am realizing that I will be giving short shrift to some of the wonderful things that have been happening, by not giving them the freshest description. This will not do; we are having too much in each day for me to let this time go by with it not being noted.
I will find a way to reconcile this adventurous life we are experiencing every new day, with making it worthwhile for those hearing and reading about it. It's only fair.

Monday, December 1, 2014

sailing the simpler life

This post was originally pirated by an outfit proposing to sell Facebook 'likes', pretending to be posted by me at 7:41 this morning, which is when I turned on my phone to internet. Security is at risk here until I figure out how to get the demons off my page, but hope you will subscribe once I figure out how to do that link to set it up.sigh.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Seafaring Lily

Lily, my seafaring musical and artistic daughter, who just had a birthday yesterday, has just sent a YouTube video with a terrific sea shanty. Enjoy!
sea shanty

Nov 30 learning the ropes

There are many expressions that come directly from sailing. They will make good titles for pages, as apropos. Such as the one above. I am getting the hang of this but it is remarkable how the same things done on the same boat can seem more or less a big deal depending on the perspective of the moment. This is the part where repetition just has to be the order of the day. I do enjoy the new outlook on everything, and new appreciation for how much the nautical side of existence on this planet has shaped so much of the human conditioned reactions to things; for this I will just have to find examples, which will happen.
Yesterday, we went to Tobago and enjoyed snorkeling, and I got some amazing driftwood which will be a challenge to stow, as I want to make mobiles as I used to do in college as a hobby, and haven't done since. I have read my second cs Forrester book, I am for some reason, very interested in naval history. This area is rife with the most bloodthirsty happenings, which I will elaborate on later.
Also saw two dolphins and hope to figure out how to add pics of that. I got one where they were both jumping and one with a face, eyes, and blowhole. Not bad for an action shot!
Today we went to White Sand Bay and hung out with all the depraved party people until it got old watching people acting like they were having the time of their lives, but on show. Sometimes I want to retreat to the boat and just hang onto some privacy, even here in wonderland. I still feel extremely territorial, even though there is less of it to sit inside. My territorial imperative is still fully functional; I even watched a white heron that had been perched on the boat while we were away, as though he were being impertinent, but that's because he could have left a deposit which some swabby will have to clean off the deck.

Nov. 20th Thursday

today feels uncomfortable; it was our first day exploring the island. Bob said we were piss poor at planning. I don't agree with that, but it wasn't enjoyable as I had hoped. I didn't like the feeling that I was intruding on the island but I feel as though I don't belong. There has to be the component of race being part of the issue, and it isn't easy to see how that can be overcome. Just something to be aware of. The white folks are not so friendly either; I guess you just have to have a thinck hide and be a bullishly in your face friendly as Tom is; he seems to get people to smile anyway.
I am learning more about the area and it seems like a nice idea to go exploring, but I hope that it isn't one long disappointment after another. My expectations are not in sync with the reality here--right now it feels like one long pub crawl, doling out the money as we go. this won't be much fun if it is just about drinking. It makes me want to go make a dark and stormy just thinking about it.
Bob is in a sour mood. It's affecting me, and it's hard not to take it personally. It is natural to come down after a big high. The first night I felt like I was in free-fall--so dazed and lightheaded. Now it is settling in, but in a discomfiting way. This is all transition, I know. Pretty soon we will be off adventuring, but right now, I just feel like holing up with a book and escaping. Guess that is natural.
Also, I don't feel all that qualified to write about this adventure, since there are so many other people who are self appointed experts. I don't even have a clue what would be interesting. I just am having an inner voyage at the moment and it happens to be surrounded by lovely scenery. So I don't feel I have the right to my emotions. Tomorrow will be another day--that's good.

Nov. 7 1:27 am For a spell

it is not an easy night to settle down, and not for the usual anxieties. There is a wreck positioned solidly in the waters off St. George's, Bermuda, not 50 yards from where I rock on a mooring in Calypso, my 40 foot sailing vessel, just bought this last July, with three other crew mates. That much rust makes one mindful of time; I have none to waste.
It is a full moon tonight, which accounts for some things, although it is invisible due to an expected incoming blow. That damned blow: it made a weakling of my weather router, the woman I hired to decipher the winds and tell me where and when to navigate this beautiful custom built sailboat. One cannot be too overcautious, even though the first owner and builder told me none has ever come to trouble for being too cautious. That is the tune an obsessive-compulsive plays, and though he may be right, I don't have the luxury of endless time. I am paying the captain and crewmate/navigator dearly, as we peg along, every day mattering to my dwindling budget.
It's also not truly possible not to play the tourist, as this is my first trip to Bermuda, my first experience overnight in any boat, my first blue water cruise, my first time as an owner going on my boat's delivery to the British Virgin Islands.
Tortola, specifically; Jost Van Dyke, to be exactly accurate. I am becoming more accurate, and more exacting. I find I cannot use my classic woman's tools of persuasion, entreaty, or apologetic wheedling; I must state my case as these men would expect of any other person in charge. This is not the easiest thing to do when I feel so over my comfort level on so many accounts, but even writing here to myself, I see I cannot appeal to my own timidity. I must stand up, timorous as that feels internally, and disregard the discomforts as would any man, intent on impressing his fellow shipmates.
For I have made a commitment--a marriage, really, to this boat, named for the nymph-goddess who seduced Odysseus for 7 years to linger with her, forgetting his cares and responsibilities, cleaving to him though he was not hers and was meant for a different destiny. She could only claim him for the length of her spell on him, for a spell.
I don't have the discomfort of feeling spellbound, because I can't accept that this boat, into which I have poured the whole of my fortune and destiny, is a seduction only. I am not prepared to believe that-fate would not be that cruel, cruel though I am learning she can be. Fate can be kind, since it can be arbitrary.
It can be what I intend, too, I hope. Do not the great men tell us that everything hinges on the inherent will that inspires the beginning of any endeavor? This undertaking has noble undertones for me, ones I want to know. I want to understand myself, for myself, just how much fierce drive and will I can extract in this phase of my life, so that I may be enabled to not only sail this ship to wherever I intend, but to grow into the person who can be confident in the expertise required to be successful. To become self-sufficient--that is what I have told people who have asked what this is about for me.
Dennis, our first mate, has said that he has advanced his skills for pride in achievement. It is his challenge to have a stern inner task master. My own has a mission orientation, my self-tasker wants me to be able to rise up and regain lost ground. There is a ground that gives way when a woman ages, and no matter how well I learned the art of gardening and design, the land eroded steadily under me as I could not easily bend, or pry, or dig, or hammer my fingers into the soil. I had to relinquish those exuberences, and let the seasons ravage my cultivated acreages.
I am talking about my face, now, and my body, not just my joints and muscles. I feel the imperative of climbing onto the boat with every push forward equating to a pushback against more loss of ground; I reason that if I voluntarily relinquish ALL ground, and come aboard a vessel held by water alone, that I may also become fluid, and follow my natural direction into the sea, the currents, the deep turbulences of myself, and maybe find a way to reconcile to them, for they seem as unknowable now as they have ever been for me.
I am a stranger to myself, and so strangeness can become me, can become what I can't explain, can just make me over into a creature that accepts it's own quixocity.
It is better not to know, in a world that has gone to hell the week I left the country of my origin, when it can so lose itself that it succumbs to tyranny and turns itself over to the evil tyrants. Elections are best left in my wake. Lot's wife's transmogrification into a pillar of salt is my image-lesson. I could see myself becoming salty and tearful, but not here, now, not yet, and maybe not ever. I would like to venture into lands where remorse and apprehension are simply unsupportable, and are shed, like lobster shells, and sink into the drink. I want to rise able in all things, so may I  do just that. May I manage, and in my managing, may I prove an achievement, for in 58 years of life, small steps have not gotten me to the place where my life NOW can supersede the regretful omissions and commissions in my life which drag me back.
They say that this is for lack of love;  maybe, and if so, may I not so lack in love for my own self that I am never able to overcome a lack of action when its time has come--as mine did this summer when I jumped off the highest high dive of all, and left for parts unknown. Not alone, though, thank heaven for Bob, who has accompanied me and who chooses to share this experience. Thank God for that, and for the others, and for this boat, and for all the ways life has enabled me to take this excursion. I will find out what I am to do; that's the easy part, since what I am to do immediately is to stay alive.

Nov. 4 12:49 am. Up late for a swabby.

This is as good a place to start as any. I have reached the part of the passage where the novelty has worn off.
I am sitting gingerly on my rear, having created a nastbruise across my backside, while tying to move a foot in a heavily heeled cabin in our boat.
She is called Calypso and I expect that this 'boat bite' may be a reminder to take great care in everything I do, since a fraction of a second of losing a grounded footing can mean disaster.
It is a rather foul mood day for me, even the sun is shining and I am 'living the dream', as so many people have reminded. They don't know that you can have your time completely absorbed by the vital necessities of life: eat, sleep, wash face, stand watch. My butt hurts wicked hard, or as they say in Kennebunkport where I lived: 'whikit had'. Pain does wake you up and out of romance and euphoria. The chagrin you feel, being vulnerable like that, can make you hesitant; fortunately, I had already got a 'road bite' or a 'fence bite' while riding a mini-bike and sliding into a fence. That time, the same as this time, I haven't really managed to nurse my wounded psyche, because there is simply not enough time. I can write or I can whine. We will see how long I can manage to do both.
When got into Bemuda from Falmouth Maine, leaving the 24 Oct. 2014, and making it into Ordnance Island to Bermuda Customs by 8 pm November first. There was a severe squall which our other companion boat, the Cimmarron, owned by Captain Rick Smith, got caught in, just 14 miles away north of us. We saw lightening flash--they endured three days of being hove-to in 40 knots wind and waves gusting to 65 feet. Smith said that he had never, in 50 years of sailing, ever seen any waves that high.
The routers failed to mention this to  us.
There were three young adults on board with about the same skill set as I have sailing-wise, and they were a treat to behold when their boat finally came into harbor three nights later. Bob, my beau, spotted them as we were sitting at the White Horse Tavern drinking the requisite 'dark and stormy' they are famous for.
We saw the Dockyard, having biked and then taking the ferry from Hamilton, where we returned later and brought fresh provisions on board from Hamilton's marketplace. Just about twice what things cost state-side, by the way.
We saw a window of time to travel in Bermuda going to Tortola so we left at 1 pm on Nov. 4, as the locals were using their dunking chair to tame a Revolutionary era wench, a  ritual performed continually for the tourists in the town square. We were right on dockside across the sidewalk from the large model of the early ship captained by George Somer; a little walk across the bridge, and there on one side is the tavern and on the other the stocks and stool. Ah, the good old days, when women never misbehaved!
I did met a few other women who were under sail, one of them named Kitty. She had steered 82 straight hours, piloting the boat while her man friend and captain Nigel lay unable to move on the floor of the kitchen, having fallen off the ladder and straight down into the galley--a trick I was soon to repeat. Their boat, Adesso, unlike them, sustained minimal damage, and their owner flew down to Bermuda to ascertain the next step. I found out after we left that he tried to woo our captain away from us with a promise of more money! Which would have left us high and dry in Bermuda.
After sailing all day in following seas, and gaining 65 nautical miles southward, the router warned us that we were heading into peril, in the most uncertain terms. We duly headed back to find this was not necessarily the case. It did give us a chance to get hooked up with Chris Parker, a well-regarded router.
Also, we downloaded a software package called weather net and grib explorer, so that we could get maps by satellite phone that were in compressed files and would be less likely to stop transmitting mid-download. It was complicated to get them but now we have them, I am sure they will prove useful in the future.
We were able to regroup with the Cimarron and we ended up leaving together at noon on November 8. We didn't stay together long as we were more rushed for time at this point, with our crewmate Dennis needing to be back by November 18. Cimarron had less fuel capacity than us and had to be more sparing with it.
It turns out that we had to beat weather most of the way, motoring hard while we did long tacks, not the best weather conditions, and then hit a three day doldrum after having broken our fresh water pump.
This meant we had to avoid using the motor and our battery power, including lights, watermaking and refrigeration, and ended up sailing into Soper's Hole, Tortola, with five minutes only worth of motoring, in the dark. We made landfall at 11:55 pm. It was challenging to make sure we got the mooring the first time so we wouldn't have to remanuever with the engine overheating, but we were okay and clinked many a glass in relief on board that night!

Nov. 1st

--Nov 1st
Halloween was scary for a bit, as we were tacking back and forth, trying to make headway. Our starboard tack didn't gain any distance so we had to get all we could off our port tack. Going into Bermuda, 2014, after some insurance companies wouldn't carry us because of bad history insuring to BDA. Luckily we are fully insured, and for a brief while in this long slog into port we made storm preparations by getting out our trisail and going over procedure; also I called Emma, left an email to let her know that she should keep the phone near her in the event of a call from the coast guard as she is our first contact.
Anne Lynch, Nick Nicholson, and Susan Genett were all in contact, helping us decide the course and to make ground contact in harbor.
 NOw we are heavily keeled as we have been all this trip just about; but I managed to get a pot pie into the oven. Last night I discovered that the coconut oil that had been living in the microwave above the oven had a loose jjar, which had leaked behind the oven and onto the floor, akin a royal slippery mess. Bob helped me some and we will have to leave the rest until we hit water that is safe to move around the boat in.

 at 11:35 am we are 17.2 miles to Bermuda, however we will have to tack back and forth so it will not be until 3pm to 4pm before we can get into the town cut
btw 200
long lat 32 39.719/64 36.589
waves 5 to 7
wind around 18
wind direction ssw

Cant wait to hit the White Horse Tavern and order a dark and stormy with my tired but high spirited crewmates.

Oct 30

Since my last entry we have had an adventure or two: me our Captain, Tom Searles, on Friday, set sail on Saturday out of Falmouth, fueled Calypso up at Portland Harbor, met another boat, the Cimarron, Captained by Rick Smith and took off at 6pm making it to Sandwich Marina the next day, meeting Dennis McKay, our crew and his wife Sue, at mid-day, ate lunch at the Pilot House there, then went through the CC Canal, trying to go further but bobbing too heavily with low speed and turned in at Pocasset Harbor.
Next day, Sunday,  we had a lively ride to Cuttyhunk and waited out the 25 knot winds there.
Left, passing No Man's Land and our last look at land on Monday Oct 27, as we headed to Bermuda in lovely weather, seeing great  a great sunset and even a green flash. Tuesday we saw the Queen Mary 2 and other ships going into NY Harbor at evening time around 6 pm, and we have a video of me hailing them on the radio and receiving replies!
Dolphins with their youngsters were spotted the next day, Tuesday and flying fish and possibly tune as we hit a Gulf Stream Eddy and tried to stay West of it but once it got us it shot us Eastward, where we have been close hauled all night and today.
Last night, Wednesday evening was pretty put cloudier. A flying fish 6 inched jumped on board and the Captain threw it back in. Waves and winds were high, the sea rising, as we crossed the Gulf Stream and came out pretty quickly. The Robertson autopilot briefly gave out last night and we hove to, until Tom and Bob were able to let the jib out and get our course back on.
This morning, Thursday, we woke to being near our latitude setting but off to the East on longitude by about 50 nautical miles, and as we are going up to 5 nm an hour with our speed over ground, we don't plan to hit our next waypoint, with distance to destination (DTD) of 214 nm until Saturday.
It is a bright sunny day but no one slept too well; it became impossible to sleep in the vberth with all the bouncing so I took Dennis' berth on the port settee and he too the starboard side when he came in from his watch.
We have had good meals and digestion is good, stomachs are still strong and spirits are high, with some singing and joking again this morning with us all eating oatmeal and drinking coffee in the cockpit.


Saturday, November 29, 2014

before we set off...Oct. 22, 2014

--Oct 22, 2014
as we are planning to go around the world, we will need to depend on ourselves and each other. Bob's the man for the job, I'm the woman. We are not lazy, as we have been busy creating a beautiful new home out of a neglected property; it is done now and we see our moment to move on. They say never to waste the moment, so we have jumped in headlong, and I am glad we have.
What I bring to the seas is largely unknown to me at present. My land life has been fulfilling, but my kids are grown and flown, with one returning to the nest to take it over, and it is time for me to begin yet again, and recreate myself. I am more than ready; it is what I've been doing all my life, and it seems a sufficient backdrop to this next grand undertaking.

This begins the official offshore blog!

This begins the official offshore blog! Having been reassured by my sister KK that she wanted to hear about our adventures, so she could live the dream vicariously, it is my duty to write. She said we could have fun 90% of the time and write about it 10%.
She is a most sensible sister and I will begin forthwith and phthalate.
Nothing is hasty here, actually. One possible exception is the rate of pouring painkillers at the Soggy Dollar Bar by Mic and other crew. This picture shows the crowd is is busy quenching: (once I learn how to post, save this idea).
 It is crammed with people of all stripes of bikini bathing suits, most look good, so figure this is a young crowd, except for their parents who trail behind, taking pictures.
This is the Saturday after Thanksgiving. At Christmas, and New Years, it terms with hundreds of boats.
Already, the stern anchors thrown onto the beach are only a few feet from the water line, and the lack of blockage means people wade in or dinghy onto the beach, hence the name' Soggy' dollar.
More later, casting off.