Thursday, December 22, 2011

Merry Christmas

Christmas 2011 is coming and arriving way too fast! Here we thought we had weeks to go before the caroling and Santa hats needed to be unpacked. Is it really only days away? Needless to say we are less than prepared, and perhaps under the gun to find where the lights and decorations are hiding on the boat.

Our time in Grenada has been wonderful and all that we hoped for all the way around. The people have been friendly, helpful, and have gone out of their way to aid and assist us. One day we hired a taxi and circumnavigated the roadways that took us around the island. There were many ravines, waterfalls, tropical plantations, lush vegetation, trees heavy with fruit, bushes fully in bloom, and tight curvy roads wide enough for almost one car but no worries, two cars can pass each other if they are moving fast and no by standers get in the way. We climbed 1900 feet, viewed lakes, abandoned airstrips, churches, bakeries, schools, cliffs, neighboring islands, and so many goats tied in fields (to fatten themselves up no doubt for the holiday meals to come). Our stops included a local rummery and the tasting room, Carib’s Leap cliff, a beach that has to be one of the top in the world, a great bakery, the famous Chocolate Factory, and lunch in a local town famous for its fish frys.

Life is good and we count our blessings each and every day. 1. That we have our health and can be here learning about others and seeing how they live. 2. That our families are in good shape and don’t need us nearby. 3. That there is never a chance of ice or snow unless we leave the boat behind. 4. That each day brings new friends and their friendship our way, and, that there are few differences even when we do not speak each others language. 5. That our old friends still write and let us visit them when we are in town. 6. That family and friends are able to come and visit us and make us less homesick. 7. That the internet works in some places so that we can Skipe and see for ourselves that everyone is growing older and wiser.

Last year Kelsey, Kiele (and two friends, Mel and Russell) were able to come down and spend Easter with us. Mike was too busy with his last year of PhD research projects to fly down and relax. This year Annie, our niece from Texas, came. She spent time with us in Trinidad and in Grenada.

There is now an empty bed and bathroom available at Hotel Rockin’ Jammin’. We prepare two meals a day and sunset celebrations start around 5 daily.

Looking forward to hearing from all of you,

and to all Have Yourself A Very Merry Holiday Helen and Dave Peoples

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Dec. 6, 2011 Sunset and on the Water
All the preparation were done and we slide into the water this afternoon. It is so wonderful to have the breeze off the water cooling our faces and the gently rocking of the waves massaging our tired limbs. Dave and Annabelle prepared eggplant, pigeon peas, and rice for our dinner. We are just ready to settle down for our first meal on the sea.
Tomorrow we shop for the forgotten items on our grocery list, and Thursday the new rigging will be tuned and finalized. We will turn the corner and sit in a different anchorage before leaving for Grenada or Carriacou.
We were only sinking slowly for about 20 minutes when we first put in. The hose clamps around our shaft seal had been left loose by the people installing the new shaft. We tore the junk room apart, found the right tool, tightened the screws, flipped the switch on the bilge pump and we were floating higher right away. It wouldn't be natural to not have one or two exciting moments. If you didn't check out the pictures yet Dave and Annabelle put Trinidad pictures on the blog just the other day.
P.S. A special toast tonight at sunset for Jan Anderson from us to her. A life dedicated to others and well lived. We will always remember the gift of her friendship.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Season 2011-2012 Begins

Like the migrating red land crabs that travel down from the hills to get back to the shoreline, we slowly prepare for our journey back to the sea. Dave has taken 7 weeks to ready the boat for this season. We have a new HARD dodger and bimini that will give us shade and rain protection. Sails that were 15 years old are now retired and new crisp white ones lay ready to catch the wind. The new rigging will make us all feel safer and help us get the most from our new equipment. A new autopilot is still in the box as Dave works on other projects that need to be completed before we leave the boatyard.

I arrived in Trinidad a week ago and last Wednesday our niece, Annabelle from Texas, joined us. She will be traveling with us for a bit. In order to get our bearings, we signed up for a tour of the island that included tastes of Trinidad foods. The record was broken on our trip as we hit 57 foods in a mere 11 hours--that's right a taste about every 10 minutes. Our guide drove us around the north west and northeast side of the island pointing out the sights, culture, practices (Hindu prayer flags), wildlife, vegetation, and stopping at all the little food stands/holes in a wall that he had checked out before. Barbeque pigs tails was one, cow foot soup another, and chicken foot soup the final dish that some of us passed on, but all the rest were flavors and delights that blended Trinidad and its cultural influences into delightfully tasty foods. There are hills, plains, mountain ranges, and many rivers on this small island. Our equivalent to Christmas holidays has just passed for the Hindus and their decorations and lights are still up and on display each night. I missed the world famous Festivals of Lights, where oil lamps are hung from every nook and cranny and the people walk the town sharing gifts of food and goodwill with any and all they meet. Open doors and arms are prevalent on that night--all people are one and treated with great respect and reverence.

Daily the rain comes, usually in the afternoon, and washes the accumulation of dust off the boats. It falls heavily for 10 minutes, pauses, and follows up with another short shower. Humidity is high and then higher after the rain. We have just started sleeping with a sheet over us. The temperature here is 86-90 and the night drops to 75 every night. Beats Oregon weather right now, which is 38 degrees. Our fellow cruisers span the world from Brazil, Europe, Canada, Australia, and a few from the US. Dave's Thanksgiving Feast was 3 foreigners for every 1 American. All had a great time trying different dishes and reenacting the pilgrim/Indian holiday.

After many trips to the stores we now have our food supplies for about 3 months. The water tanks will get filled on Monday and the boat will get fitted for traveling--tying down all the essentials that sit on the decks. With man's three basic needs met we will add on the fourth basic need of all cruisers--boat in the water. On Tuesday the boat will be lifted off the hard and gently dropped into the sea. Before we can leave port, however, the new rigging must be tuned to how the boat sits in the water, customs must be visited, and checking out must be accomplished. Then we look to the sky, to the radar images, and weather reports to time our leaving with the weather gods gifts of wind. With luck we will be able to leave on Thursday and head to ????
Well, we were thinking about Grenada and then the Grenadines, others have suggested heading to Tobago and then hit Carriacou. All we know for sure is that we will not be going to Venezuela but rather head north and a bit northwest after we get to the leeward islands.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Grenada and a little slice of Trinidad

Our time in Grenada was short and quick. but while there we met many cool people and like Columbus found two other ships for the crossing to the New to Us World. We entered the waters of Grenada and took some needed sleep in the closest harbor we could find, Grand Mal, on the western coast. Another boat had the same idea and even though we didn't meet them we met up with them later down the coast. After gathering the winks and counting the sheep on the hillside, we pulled anchor and sailed down to Prickly Bay to check into the country. Check in was convenient but time consuming...but the cool drinks were in sight and we were patient. Next on our agenda was meeting people so we could get local information and find traveling buddies for the trip to Trinidad. So off to Happy Hour we trotted where we met a Brit that had been in the area for over 17 years--much was shared and we learned of many great future stops. No traveling contacts were made the first night but we did hear on the net about another Happy Hour on Tuesday. Tuesday we took the bus into St George's and went to the local market for spices, the fort for pictures, and the waterfront for lunch. Tuesday night we met our Brit buddy and we met Steve from England. He builds canal boats and spends his summers there and winters in Grenada. Still no travel buddies.
Wednesday morning on the net we found our travel buddies. Bodacious and Smidge were ready to go! It was decided that we would leave from Hog Island so we moved over there--what a beautiful place surrounded by big, unmarked reefs. We had a meeting with the two boats and another couple, Chuck and Barbara, who had the experience of doing this crossing. The three boats traveling were all newbies, with more questions and concerns than knowledge so Chuck and Barbara were a great source of information and soothed the concerns some of us were feeling. Wednesday night was hamburger night so off we went. Along the way we stopped off and listened to the music at the dinghy raft up. The band was on a raft tied to a ship and the dinghies tied to the raft and each other. The music was so good but the stomachs were growling and dinner was the goal. The dinghy was untied and off to Clarkes Court Bay we headed. Over a beer we met a young couple who sail for 6-8 months and then go back to San Francisco and work for 4-6 months. They joined us and the party grew bigger. The people we hadn't met at the earlier anchorage were there and we introduced ourselves to each other. They too were headed to Trinidad but wanted to just let us know they would be out there behind us. Thursday came and it was roti lunch time in Woburn. Yes, we do eat and drink our way through each day as it seems. The roti hut was built around a huge tree and was next to Nimrod's Rum Shack--no we didn't stop for a sample this time as the white rum is reported to be HIGH octane. Once again we met our anchoring buddies as they were enjoying the roti lunch as well. After lunch we did our check out and prepared the boats for the night passage.
The passage between Grenada and Trinidad has a history of being uneventful and problem free as well as pirate attack potential. The most recent attacks have been on the Trinidad oil rigs and we decided to travel to the east of those by 3-10 miles. No pirates, no problems, and great sailing with luminescence aplenty. It was 17-20 knts of wind and 5-6 foot seas. The sun rose and were were in sight of land.
Trinidad has been a stop where we have seen little but accomplished a lot. The boat is being put to bed--put on the hard is the right term--and we have been cleanings, disassembling, storing, and summer proofing the interior and the exterior. The best part of this experience has been the little airconditioner Dave bought. Mike and Gloria on Respite (in Bocas del Toro) spoiled us with their cool salon last fall! We have walked from the boat yard to the boat shops, bank, repair shops, bank, parts shops and bank again. That's the sight seeing so far. We met up again with our anchor buddies and exchanged names and met for dinner. Ellen is from San Francisco and Houston, Rick is from Scotland. She is in the banking world and he taught survival skills in Anartic--that's where they met. His two sons arrived and we had them over for a quick refreshment before they headed out to Tobago...
Oh, to be able to be on the water again, seeing the sights, smelling the fresh air, and kicking back and relaxing...reality check WORK CALLS! In three days we will be on a jet for the states. Once back in the states we will travel for the months of June, July, and part of August before hitting Oregon. Looking forward to touching base with old and new friends along the way.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

A Hop, Skip, and Jump Passage

This passage from St Martin to Grenada feels like a hop, skip, and jump trip
1:30 AM I am feeling reflective this morning...
The nightly east winds fills our sail and propels us gently through the flat seas. The water parts at the bow and runs down along the port and starboard side sending hundreds of glistening bits of luminescence out on the surface of our wake. Above, the sky is cloudless. To the northwest the Big Dipper is tilting down and almost touching the dark horizon. In the south the false cross and the southern cross confirms we are still on course. Off to the east the lights of landbase civilization illuminate the outlines of the islands of Mustique, Canouan, and 3 others as well as the various reef makers we are careful to avoid. A cathedral like dome of constellations hang overhead and are crystal bright as are the major planets. Makes one humble, calm, and grateful in the presence of such magnificent energy. DMYABKY
2:40 AM...The moon finally appears in the Eastern sky, a crescent yellow slice rising above the tiara of lights crowning the island below. The Milky Way is a swirl of mist dotted with dimensional glowing globes. There are no other ships out tonight, and we are the sole sailors seeing this night at this position.
3:21 AM I just found the "skip" in our trip...
Our navigational charts SHOW the semi-active new underwater volcano at 213 degrees, but our Chris Doyle guide says it is at 233 degrees and we need to be 1.5 to 5 nautical miles off of it. I see our course is set for 227 degrees--luckily we are hours away and when Dave awakes for his shift, I'll point out the hot bath we want to avoid taking.
4:38 AM Now we are headed to 216 degrees, a shift in current? Dave will be up within the hour luckily! Plenty of time to set a different course. Made it pass and not even a sign of the underwater giant.
8:33 AM We are in the waters around Grenada this morning and near the end of this passage. Where we stop today we can jump ino the water and swim. The passage started in St. Martin, with an overnight stop in Guadalupe,an equipment stop in Martinique, and a finish line of Grenada. We blew through the leeward islands as well as the windward islands only getting a taste of what is yet to come. The sailing has been fantastic, the winds and seas very kind, and Dave loves the silence of the motor.
Weather is coming early next week and we may sit it out in Grenada if we haven't met any other boaters going to Trinidad by Monday. Grenada is the kind of place where people stay for a LONG time, so much to do and see. The morning net is famous for its a la carte menu of organized activities and helpful information. They start early at 7:30 AM so we will have to set the alarm clock to listen in and get the reports. We would have loved to stay here but our insurance prefers Trinidad, we are told, so one more passage is in our future before we haul Jammin and get her ready for a summer of resting and hopefully not so much rusting as last summer/fall.
P.S. Our ham radio e-mail finally kicked in and started receiving and sending Friday night around 9PM. We appreciated catching up with all the messages and positive support sent by all of you out there.

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Friday, May 27, 2011

Heading for Grenada

We officially left Martinique last night to avoid the, "Never leave port on a Friday" curse...
Friday, 5:40 PM:
We are sort of heading south.
We left Martinique this morning with a fixed Pactor Modem. A local Icom, Pactor dealer was able to find a loose wire in the cable and had me up and running last night at 6. The only problem is I have had terrible propagation and no e-mails are going out or coming in. Could be an antennae problem with the same corrosion I have been having trouble with all year. Anyway it should be working and we will keep trying to send this message out. We have loved the French Islands and hope to spend more time there next year. Not very many of the people speak English though, so ordering anything other than a beer has been sometimes a challenge. The coast of St Lucia looks amazing. We look forward to next season every time we look at those beautiful sandy beaches. We are skipping pretty much everything to make sure we don't have trouble getting to Trinidad. At least the weather looks good to get to Grenada.
Now the sort of heading south issue...
The channel between St Lucia and St Vincent has a HELLISH cross current. Under full sail I could only go 2.2 knots. My boat was pointing 150 degrees and my COG was 197. Didn't really pay much attention to it till Helen (with the setting sun in her eyes) said, "What big island is on the right of St Vincent?",oops. My chart plotters were showing St Vincent on our left and us missing the island by 8 to ten miles on the west side. Surprise to us, we were crabbing across the top of the island. Would have really been a surprise at night--no towns or lights on the north end to our knowledge. We are now going 6.5 knts and almost in the right direction. And the sun hasn't set yet. We should make Grenada some time in the afternoon. We Hope.

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Thursday, May 26, 2011

Adapting to Cultural Differences

Well, we have been in the French islands for a few weeks and have been disappointed with the lack of any "Happy Hour" bars or parties on boats around us. What is up here, was our reaction...then we paused and thought we are in France, we are where they drink wine, we are where wine is part of lunch and they take a 2-3 hour lunch break. Wait, they are smarter than us--their Happy Hour starts at noon and we need to get aboard this stand of thinking! So with that in mind Dave's grocery shopping list of late starts with wine,bread, cheese, and the other stuff. We are adapting to these cultural differences and finding an afternoon nap helps after lunch with wine. Another adaptation is the money exchange rate. To accommodate this difference Dave is calling the EU and US dollar a straight exchange rate. He believes he is paying $2-3 dollars for wine and $5.30 (which is roughly $7.50/gallon) for diesel. We heard gas and diesel is over $4.00 gallon in the states and thought that was high.
We are still without our ham radio, without internet, without e-mail and the local Wifi provider has been out every time we have tried his services. However, each day out at anchor we get on for less than 10 minutes at a time and with luck this will go out today, Thursday, May 26.
P.S. Dave is working on a new concept "Cruiser Trawler Extended Care". he see a wide open market for this service. More later.

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Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Monserrat to Martinique

May 18, 2011 From Montserrat to Martinique

No volcano action, thank goodness…but no engine action, ARRUGH!

After sending the post on our night passage, the morning started but the engine wouldn't. Dave got the tools out, and four hours later he had installed an additional fuel pump and we were up and running. I had plenty of time to get pictures of the volcano while we cut cookies in the passage. The engine ran until we were entering the anchorage of Anse La Barque on the west coast of Guadeloupe. Fuel issues? We weren't sure what was up but we circled around, got it to start again and dropped anchor. This anchorage was a working man's niche and big enough for 5 small boats. We were number 5. In the morning we woke and set sail for the islands at the tip of Guadeloupe called Iles des Saintes.
As we dropped our sail, to enter the harbor of Terre-de-Haut, Iles des Saintes, we were caught between a rock and the shore when a squall hit, the motor quit again, and the rain poured sideways due to the squally winds. We do make dramatic entrances these days. We missed the rock, the other rock, the ferries, and found a place to legally drop the anchor--not breaking any laws.
Then the rainbow (figuratively speaking) appeared in the sky.
What a find! The French atmosphere, the snug harbor, the bakery, the restaurants, and Dave's birthday was off to a great start. Our neighbors were Canadian, American, and a sinking working boat. The water was crystal clear and rolly (due to the 3 ferry lines that dropped or picked up passengers every few hours) but the scenery was worth the price of the rolling. We checked the internet and Dave had received one birthday wish. The morning was off to a good start so we headed to town. We met Steve who had a loaf of French bread in hand so we knew we could ask him for food recommendations. He suggested a few places for Dave's birthday lunch. A short walk took us to one end of the town and after turning around we headed towards lunch up and over the hill. Dave ordered the smoke fish salad, I had the Greek lamb and of course a dessert. We were overlooking the bay and the sun shined all day.
Upon returning to the boat, we discovered internet was no longer working-a single side band equipment failure not within our ability to fix. We set up my laptop to take to town so we could let people know we would be in-between communications when not on land. After accomplishing this task, we met Steve's wife, Anne and other boaters-Daniell's Storey and Artic Tern. They had hiked over to the fort. Day three brought a cloud burst and while hiding from the shower we met Highheeled, a boat from Canada. The meeting ran over into lunch and a great time was had by all. We then found internet ($7.50 per hour), checked in with the family, and read all of Dave's birthday messages. Sunday we left, but we will be back next year as there was much to see and do that we missed.
The sails went up and we were headed to Le Marin, Martinique. Our course took us pass Dominica, which is incredibly gorgeous and we will be spending time there next season. The motor is working, the fuel looks good, and we are eating our way through the islands still.

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Heading to Martinique

May 24, Martinique

Hot, Hot, Hot is the name of the local internet supplier and we are feeling the HOT, HOT, HOT love of Martinique. It's 90 degrees inside the boat and the sun is shining at high noon. Dave is shopping for the fifth time in two days for treats and just asked for more money-this time its for more cheeses and rum. Dave is getting the hang of the food names and returns from each excursion needing to look up more words. Quiche for dinner served with salad, bread, cheese and fruit, to compliment two different French wines that he watched local people buy in large quantities -pretty smart move we hope.
Le Marin, Martinique is a slice of France in mood and design. Everyone is laid back but at the same time passionate about their ideas and opinions. You listen to conversations and hear the emotions rise and fall. They speak of weather, the expense of things, and that's about as far as my French gets me.
Art work abounds everywhere; no opportunity to display art is missed--even in the multicolor metal poles that run up and down the streets.
Yesterday we took the ham radio in, hopefully to be repaired, so we can once again send and receive internet emails. He said to return on Thursday-fingers are crossed. In the meantime one café has internet. Off we went this morning for croissants and espresso with an internet connection and we ended up with the pastry and coffee-no internet this morning. No reason why, just a shrug and a mention of maybe later in the day from the waitress. They also serve cold beer so we will try around 4 for a connection. (Post script: no internet, no joy, but good cold beer)
Tomorrow we will spin around the corner to one of the three beaches with exclusive hotels beyond the sand. It's been awhile since we have been able to snorkel or soak in the ocean salt. Next week we will head for Grenada and hope to meet other boats heading to Trinidad. June 15th, our departure date, is creeping closer and closer.

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The Saints to Guadeloupe

With the rising sun off our port side, we pulled anchor and left St Martin this morning. All day we have been riding on the wind and surfing down the 3-6(daytime)4-10 foot(night time) waves past various saints--St Martin, Sint Maarten, St Eusatatius, St. Kitts. The boat lunges forward, then dips down to the left and lifts up to the right. Quite a dance step we are doing with extreme dips and lifts at uneven intervals while maintaining a tilt of 15 degrees. And so, as the sun set on Nevis tonight we are headed towards Montserrat.
In about an hour or so we will be in line with the famous volcano. The course one takes keeps you out of the ash zone so your sails don't get toasted by the ashes. I have heard that you will smell the volcano well before you see it with the right wind, and tonight the wind is coming from the southwest where the activity is on the island...more later, I need to check radar, the charts, and give the horizon a visual check right now.
All is safe and sound--no ships, same waves, same wind, and the smell of Montserrat is in the air. The north end of the island is visible and contains most of the existing population as well as the new airport. The lights on shore are thick and clear so there must not be too much smoke in the air. Clouds keep covering the full moon but I am hopeful that we will get a view of the volcano when we pass...
12:40 AM I see a huge bank of lights on shore and they appear to be yellow or orange...and I just read an excerpt from my book, An Embarrassment of Mangoes, about the daily color codes used for volcanic action. Volcanic alerts are given daily by the Montserrat Volcano Observatory, ranging from green(quiet), yellow, orange(eruption possible within 24 hours), to red(eruption may begin without further warning or is in progress). I wonder what the alert was for today? Boats are advised to stay 10 miles clear, and our course is set for 12 miles. I'm going with the thought that those were indeed YELLOW lights.
1:20 AM The night sky has high wispy clouds until you look at the bottom half of the island. From the horizon up there is a large billowing cloud rolling and growing wider. Dave woke up and watched it dissipate with me. Our winds are now kicking up to 27-30 with gusts of 33. He has the main up and we are bucking a current, making only 3.8-4 knots. As time moves forward the lights on the island get dimmer, the cloud must be moving forward as well.
2 AM We are at 16 degrees 41" N, 62 degrees 26 W and I can see very little of anything. The moon has been buried into the cloud coverage, the island has dimmed to almost nothing, but the winds have picked up to 35-37 and we are reefing the sails and holding on. Yeeha!
4:40 AM O.K. Dave got drenched at least 8 times, me just 3 times. Squally winds caught us and have been swish swashing us like a washing machine for almost 3 hours. It has calmed down to 3-8 foot swells, a few seconds apart, and the wind has slowed down. We can finally get a look again at the volcano, Dave says, in about an hour when the sun rises. I'm thinking the heck with that I want some sleep without the bounce effect that lifts me off the cushion every 3-6 seconds.
Hope you all got a great night sleep, we will be catching some quality winks when we drop anchor around noon today in Guadeloupe.

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Saturday, May 14, 2011

May in the Tropics

See Pictures on other link

Here the flowers are blooming, the rain is falling, the sun is shining, and the humidity is building to match the temperatures of 85-90--normal conditions in this part of the world. Yet unlike home in Oregon, things are winding down rather than up. This is the end of the season, when the businesses and shop clear stock and prepare for a slow summer. Dave took his boat repair lists and shopped like it was Christmas; the boat is one lucky lady and we are a few thousand dollars poorer. The to-do list is now 3 pages long. No, Dave is not ready to go to work…it is mostly for his return in November.
So what’s been happening since the last up-date?
We were lucky enough to meet up with Shirley and John from Solstice in St. John, USVI and spent some time getting jazzed up to follow their path and cruise in Europe in a few years. We had not seen them since 2007 in Mexico. After that we waited in St. Thomas, USVI to rendezvous
With Joan and Ted on Panchita. We had not seen them in 17 months. They arrived with Joan’s brother Craig and his wife Mary. Both visits were too short yet our paths will cross again.
What great timing—it was Carnival in St. Thomas and we made it to two of the parades. The first was the Children’s Parade with the dancers, twirlers, marching bands, and trucks loaded with super sized speakers preceding each group. We are talking 14-20 2 feet by 4 feet and bigger! The next day was the Adult Parade which started at 11 and ended at 5 PM. People parked and camped out on the parade route, bringing their grills and chairs. Some backed their truck beds up to the path and had coolers of beer and soft drinks to sell with food hot off their grills…no permits needed.
We took pictures of the participants who came in all sizes, shapes, and ages. The colorful costumes reminded us of exotic birds and the brilliant colors used in the Caribbean were everywhere. The elaborate head gear and rolling skirts were the leaders in most case announcing the arrival of groups or in some case following…perhaps they were returning from the “refreshment trucks” (that followed each group)loaded with ice, juice, booze, wine and water. Most participants were well infused with their favorite drink by the first ¼ mile as they had been waiting to start for hours in some cases. One refreshment truck was decorated as a Tiki Bar—how appropriate.
Steel drum bands performed being towed by one single truck pulling 3-4 trailers of double decked musicians—OSHA would have had a fit! Bands from other islands (that have cut CD’s) performed on truck beds and local fan club members dressed up in costumes followed the bands while dancing to the music and “refreshing” themselves. The Zulu tribe is always a crowd favorite and fierce warriors they were. Dave’s favorite is the stilt people who had to keep moving in order to not fall. It was a great day and Dave saw it all.
At 9 PM the firework show started and we were moved by the elaborate display. Some of the rockets sent our showers of light that we had never seen elsewhere. A local, named Karen, had given us special glasses that broke the lights into prisms of colors and that enhanced our experience 10 fold. Following the light show was a band festival of Calypso music that went until early in the morning. The night before was the Battle of the Contemporary Bands that went until 3 AM, and the day before that was the 4 AM to 9 ish Jump Up Music Parade of thousands grooving and singing down the waterfront—that one we missed.
With Carnival over, it was time to make our goodbyes and head out to sea. So we bit the chain, raised the anchor and traveled 105 miles to St. Martin, the French side of the island. And a miracle occurred…nothing broke or failed, a first in two years.
Today we ate French pastries, last night Happy Hour at the Sint Maarten Yacht Club, dinner on the waterfront (a four course French dinner with a Banana Rum liqueur after dessert), and tonight we are raiding the freezer to balance the food budget. A weather event arrived at 5 PM and the dark clouds gave the boat a nice bath just as Happy Hour was starting in the lagoon. So instead of socializing we are hunkered down listening to Time Life Legend Ultimate Rock Collection of 300 songs and just limin’ the evening away. Life her is a blend of French and Dutch, depending on the side of the island you are on at the time.
So where are we headed next?
We might end up stopping in Antigua, Guadeloupe, The Saints, and Martinique before landing in Grenada. We will be by passing many islands that we plan to catch on the way back up next January. Ultimately though, we will end the season in Trinidad with a haul out date of June 10th and plane reservations for June 15th back to the states. We are looking forward to seeing friends, family and solid land this summer and fall.
Hope to see you all!
Until later our best thoughts and prayers to all of you out there.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

April winds bring bread, muffins, and chocolate cake

April 27, we are now into our third day of a tropical front/trough that has kept us pinned in Francis Bay on St John, US Virgin Islands. We have read 5 books, and are now baking our way through the day. In the Northwest when we had stormy and rainy weather, we would hunker down below and make bread, cinnamon rolls, and cookies...some habits are hard to break. As the bread cooks we are icing down rum instead of drinking hot Spanish coffees...some habits need to adapt to the surroundings. The temperature here has stayed in the 80's, the gusts have been up to 30knts off and on night and day.

Since writing our last blog update we returned to St. Thomas to mail some forgotten items, bought fresh food, and restock our rum cabinet. We left there and went to Christmas Cove, where we met Ann and John Taylor on Livin the Dream. Over dinner they told us about 5 beautiful beaches within dinghy distance, the fabulous snorkeling, and the PRIME RIB NIGHT at the campground off Francis Bay on Friday nights. So we made plans to meet up later in the week for the great company, the beaches, the snorkeling, and the HUGE PIECE OF BEEF! As we ate, Dave stopped chewing when he ran into something solid and hard in his mouth--and discovered a cap on a tooth had fallen off. The next morning at 8 AM on the Coconut Telegraph, a radio net that goes from The Bahamas to Trinidad, Dave put out a request for a dentist nearby. Two people came back with names and numbers.
A quick phone call and Dave had an appointment with a clinic for 11 AM that same day. We sailed over to St John, found the clinic, and he had his tooth glued on by 11:10 AM, the cost ZERO DOLLARS! Needless to say we can highly recommend St. Johns Dental Clinic by the grocery store.
By sailing around the corner we were now in sight of the 5 beautiful beaches and we took our pick of places to tie up. Ann and John were right. We dove off the back of the boat and we were in a reserved for snorkeling. The first thing we saw was a turtle, followed by an abundance of coral, fish, sponges, and other sea creatures. Our new underwater camera came in handy as we learned how to take pictures that are worth keeping. Once we get internet again we will post some of the latest pictures. Five days in a row we snorkeled for 1-2 hours, and were lazy bums the rest of the day.
Before we realized it, it was Friday night and we headed off to PRIME RIB NIGHT. By climbing 99 stairs we were above the bay and had a front row seat for sunset. It's a bring your own drinks kind of place so we brought our box wine and toasted the sunset before getting in line for our 1 1/2 pound serving of beef, baked potato, beans, salad, and trimmings. After a great dinner we went to the craft store where glass artists show off their latest creations. They have a community here where they invite artists from other places to come and live, work, and sell their wares using recycled glass from the island. This night a very talented man and his wife from Vermont were working and made a beautiful intricate serving bowl. He was excellent in his teaching and explaining his process as he worked for almost two hours.
Saturday was another snorkeling day, and great weather. Sunday came and the weather began to change. The weather forecast told us that we should stay in this protected area and so we did. Which brings us up to date and why we are going to gain 10 pounds eating bread, muffins, and chocolate cake. The snorkeling is not so good on these wind blown days with surface chop white caps putting water into your snorkeling tube. So here we sit, reading, baking, sewing, reading some more, and eating our way through the days... no complaints from the captain or first mate.
Our plans are to go to the British Virgin islands of Norman and Virgin Gorda this weekend and then head back to St. Thomas to meet up with Panchita, (who we haven't seen in over a year) and then back to St. Johns to meet up with Solstice who we met back in 2007(they are returning from Europe). And with luck we will make another PRIME RIB NIGHT in Francis Bay.

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Thursday, April 14, 2011

St. Thomas and beyond

Now that the gang (Kelsey, Kiele, Russell, and Mel) was all aboard again we took off to repeat some of the earlier spots, and see some new territory. We only had 5 we went around to the North side of St. Thomas and found Magens Bay and Beach...the water toys came out and we soak in the rays, salt and slurped down the rums. The next morning we walked the beach and took gorgeous photos. Back to the boat and across to Jost Van Dyke. There Kiele met Foxy and his son while the rest of us met the bartender. As the sun set we ate dinner on the boat and one tired girl went to bed while the others put on their dancing shoes and went to shore for some more dancing and fun. Oma and Opa heard the music on board--just the right amount of volume for us. The next morning we were off for Culebra and a storm followed us in. Once in Culebra we checked back into the states, and had a Dinghy Dock beer hour. Dinner was once more on the boat and we turned on the music--thanks to Russell boat's gift of an Ipod player with great speakers. Kiele was not feeling good--her ears have been on and off again infected--so we left Culebra and went to Fajardo and the clinic. There was presure behind her ear drums and drops were ordered. A final dinner out for fish and fun was in order. After that we returned to the boat and everyone dug around for clothes, shoes, chargers, gifts, etc. and packed bags fuller than ever before. Tuesday arrived and we took everyone off to the airport. We made our goodbyes and headed off to Home Depot for the final supply run of the season. Knowing we are headed back to the land of hot and humid we bought a small air conditioner for our time in Trinidad, bought supplies we would have bought back in the states and lugged down here next fall, and took long showers at the marina. Life is good, we are still loving our lifestyle, and the people we meet are so much fun and full of the adventurous spirit that make cruisers cruisers.

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Friday, April 8, 2011

Kelsey's Visit

March 27th we picked up Kelsey, Kiele, and Russell(who has been a friend when ever we have needed help moving, packing, or anything else). March 28 we drove around Old San Juan, saw the fort, the city, and the walled sea front that greeted the pirates and the invading forces over the past 400 years. What a beautiful place it is. We will attached pictures when we get internet again.
We set the sails and crossed over from Puerto Rico to Culebra on the northwest side to see the luminescence--there were a dozen or more that night over a 15 minute period.
The following day we bit the bullet and took off for Jost Van Dyke. Kiele did great, she is use to no balance as she tries to stand and walk before her first birthday. Kelsey and Russell did fine considering it was rough and rolly. It was our 37th wedding anniversary and as we dropped anchor, Helen fed the fish 3 days worth of food. Needless to say, Dave, Kiele, Kelsey, and Russell went to the world famous Foxy's and had a grand night celebrating while Helen huddled under her sheet and had a few belts of gatorade once again. The next day Helen went to shore looking for yogurt, ginger ale and a glimpse of Foxy. After that we went to Sandy Bay, a gorgeous beach with great shells, wonderful beach sand, and picturesque water lapping its shore in every shade of green imaginable. From there the boat and crew headed east to Tortola and we ran into Zoo Keeper, Jenny and Malcolm from Australia. A few beers later we were caught up and exchanging info on where to go next. We had heard about the bubbly pool on the east side of the island and we took off for it. Finding a small niche, designed for one boat we dropped anchor and launched the dinghy. A short walk past Foxy's Tabu and the poisonous trees, we were the third group waiting for a turn in the jauccuzi like natural pool. It was worth the wait and twice that day we found ourselves enjoying the waters around this bay. The next morning came and went, and we just chilled at this anchorage for another night. Another sunrise, another short jaunt, another great little beach and then we anchored at Soper's Hole. There we found a restaurant, ate bar food, and left them $100.00 richer and us looking for grocery stores. Soper's Hole also had a Pusser Rum Bar, which we enjoyed, and some shops for souvenirs, and a grocery store for YOGURT, finally. Needing to be in St Thomas, we left Soper's, over-nighted at Round Bay on the east side of St. John's, and found a short reef to swim on. April 5th we went to Cruz Bay on St. John and checked back into the US. There we found some shops, found a grocery store, and better food for a better price. Before sunset we crossed over to St. Thomas and stayed at Christmas Cove on a buoy--which we now remember is NOT a quiet night for the crew--that whopped and wacked the side of the boat all through the night! April 6th we headed west to Brewer's Bay and dropped anchor off the runway of the airport--preparing to pick up Melissa Bennett from Washington,DC (WHO HAD DECIDED ON A LATE NIGHT WHIM TO JOIN US AS WELL--we can be pretty persuasive). Before sunset we realized Limburgh Bay would be better so we moved. A 10 minute walk and we were at the airport for Mel. She packed light and she survived a dinghy ride through the night surf from the beach to our boat.
An here we are, all caught up. Oma and Opa are babysitting while Kelsey, Mel, and Russell enjoy a bit of fun in St. Thomas while Dave waits for the phone call to pick them up. We can hear the music from the boat and hope they have become enough of a cruiser to realize midnight is 9 and the wee hours are from 10 to 11 PM. It is now 10:37 and Dave has been yawning since they left...

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When was the last update?

So, we may have appeared to have dropped off the grid for awhile. Not having internet to tell us when we last updated the blog, we are a bit sketchy on the last time we checked in---a common life hazard in the cruising world. We do know it is April, and that it is pass April 10 as our daughter and granddaughter arrived that day and they have taken over the front room, while a friend of the family has taken over the back room and we have been jaunting around for days and some nights with them...and we know it is not TAX DAY, because we are still waiting for info to give to our accountant to complete her work. So happy almost middle of April to you all!!!!
So, where have we been?
Did we tell you we left Ponce and went to Isla el Caja de Muertos and finally made it back into the water? I think we did but we both fell sick the next three days and stayed in a comatose state while staring at a beautiful beach, watching the ripples of the wind over emerald green and aquamarine blue water,and chugging away on gatorade.
Gathering strength we took a dinghy ride around the other side of the island and found a snorkeling site. While there we met a local dive boat couple and had a great visit with Lynn and David from Caribbean Image Tours. They work out of Ponce and give their customers great trips on and in the water. From there we went to Salinas, a sleepy little anchorage where time has stopped for many cruisers. Our first day there we met Marianne from Tradewinds sail and canvas who clued us into all the great spots for wifi, food, hardware, and fresh bread. It was a comfortable and cosy town. We should know, we stayed almost a week so we could be part of the Thursday night burgers at Drake's and Friday night BBQ at the marina. We didn't make it into the water but we did sew, and snapped, and tied things closed as we baby proofed the boat for the arrival of our first grandchild on board. In the evenings we met cruisers who have spent years in this part of the Caribbean and picked their memories on experiences and places for work on the boat as well as places to "lime" when work is not a priority--Granada is a favorite stop they all agreed.
Isla Santiago was a overnight stop, dropping anchor just before sunset. This island is a natural habitat for research monkeys, hundreds or thousands we aren't sure. But at sunset a number of monkeys were swimming, jumping from trees into the water, or just running up and down bent palm trees before night stopped their monkeying around antics.
We then sailed to Culebra and spent a few days dinghy around the island and anchoring off the beautiful beaches. We found a few nice bars, a great sandwich shop for Cubano sandwhiches, and walked ourselves back into shape. We met Beth and Art Bauer on Adagio and ate at a restaurant where you order at the kitchen door, bring your own liquid refreshment, wait for your name to be called so you can return to the kitchen and get your dinner. Food was great and the company superb!
The next morning we sailed to Fajardo, tied to a dock, and washed clothes.
Now ready we rented a car, shopped for provisions to feed 5 people for 16 days, and ran down parts to fix the boat, of course. Then we unpacked the car, shoved every corner of the boat with stuff we didn't need to make room for the stuff we did need to be handy and available. I should have drawn a map or listed all the NEW places we discovered for stuff so when we regroup and have a need for something we might find it again in less than 3 days of saying, "So where else might it have fitted and ended up?" Perhaps when we finally sell the boat we will be able to find all those missing parts we currently know as "they're on the boat somewhere, aren't they?"...

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Wednesday, March 9, 2011

First Carnival in Puerto Rico

Check out our Carnival pictures in our picture folder
Tomorrow should be Thursday and we will be leaving the world of internet, roads and stores for an island that has flora, fauna, and beaches with a few humans.
We have not submerged our bodies in salt water since a glorious day in December down in Panama and the thought of floating on a tube or noodle is so delicious to us right now!
We arrived in Puerto Rico on Sunday, two days before the end of Carnival in Ponce, Puerto Rico. Carnival has been a 150+ year tradition and we were able to view only one of the events--the burial of the Sardines. This was a fun and audience participation parade for the night before the start of Lent. It started with bands, baton twirlers, dancers, and along the side lines a large group (50+) of masked and costumed marauders swinging paper mache' "bladders" at the young and attractive rumps of young women.
Some say the burial of the Sardines is symbolic for the number of fish that will be eaten during Lent, others say it is letting go of the old and negative, and welcoming the new and repentant. We copied some past pictures that capture the participants and flare of the night. I will try to down load them to the blog site.
March 27 Kelsey, Kiwi, and a friend arrive to spend time with us. We will explore Puerto Rico and with luck also some of the Virgin Islands. Grandma is super excited, but mom is more excited to see her daughter. Dad is just plain excited!
So we will be out of contact for awhile, sunning, reading, and working on child proofing a boat that has never been home to a baby! Yikes, child proofing at our age is a challenge!

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Monday, March 7, 2011

Lost a Day, Gained an Hour

March 6, Lost a day,gained an hour
After 5 straight days of non stop sailing, we arrived in Puerto Rico. Traveling non stop makes you loose time as well as sleep. During these long trips we each take a watch of 4-5 hours, sleep or work and then follow it with a 7 hour watch. The idea is to get 6+ hours of sleep, but due to boat issues over the pass two days we didn't get those long stretches. Sleep deprivation can do some strange things. When we turned on the computer this morning we learned it was SUNDAY! Not a good day for clearing into a country--overtime charges can be a killer. When we called in at 2 to clear customs, they said we needed to meet with an official and he would arrive between 5 and 6. Having not slept, we were looking forward to our pillows and a bed...but what can you do? We stayed up and waited till 4:30 to go to shore only to be told the local time was actually 5:30 OOPS! Luckily the official was running late. He arrived 20 minutes later, gave us the name of three local restaurants that will feed us real Puerto Rican dishes, and recommendations on two other beaches to visit on the south side.
It is Carnival week here and we missed the parade today, but we will hopefully get glimpses of the fete tomorrow and Tuesday as they wind down for Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent. Currently we are anchored in front of three dueling night spots with the ever famous walls of speakers. Since 9 PM they have tempered down the volume so we can only hear 2 opposing systems. Off to bed now to clear the head and get back in touch with the benefits of sleep.

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Tuesday, March 1, 2011

March 1 leaving Jamaica

March 1, 2011 Sailing Away from Jamaica
Pictures have been added to our picture file for this and previous blogs-check them out!
It is with regret that we leave the island of Jamaica. Here, in Port Antonio we have found genuine people with large hearts and big souls. Yesterday we made our rounds to the veggie market, the butcher, and the bakeries. Each stop we said our goodbyes and the shop keepers came around to give us hugs, squeezes, and knock fists (Jamaican handshakes). As we walked around others that we had met stopped us, greeted us, and asked how our day was going? We had over 20 locals that made us feel valued. It amazed us that by day three we felt accepted here.
Daily we walked the length of the town in both directions, went out at night eating at the local drive-by Jerk Chicken stand, and never had a moment of worry or fear.
Everyone said we must come back and be in Jamaica again---and you know what, we will. This part of Jamaica made us feel welcomed, accepted, cared for, and appreciated. Yes, the hagglers were there, the beggars were there, and the hustlers were there, but if you talked with them, exchanged pleasantries about the weather or their town, and then said, "Not today, another time." they felt respected and gave back respect. Respectful actions and words make all the difference in the world. They are living examples of their national anthem. Often their parting words were, "Respect, mon." The rest of the world could learn a lot from this model.
Here in the anchorage we have met so many great people. First we met Mucho Gusto, Jeannie and Keith from Albuquerque, New Mexico-who knew Inspiration's Sandy and Ralph. Then we met Andres and Petra Heimlich from Vienna, Austria on Ulysses, and 8 of their 10 children-pure joy and love surround them. We also spent some time with Tim and Alexandria on Braveheart (who gave us valuable information about the Virgin Islands and Dominican Republic). We played with their 7 month old daughter, Amelia, and spent a bit of time with their crew Annie, Ben and Wendy from England. The crew went with us to Piggy's and to the Saturday night music fest that they called Carnival. Dave said the dancing style was close mashing body contact with clothes on-that is my G-rated publishable version of what he described.
Tasting foods, new to us, has always been a priority and our favorite was Piggy's Chicken-it's a drive by stand located where the road splits into three lanes--two going one way and the third going the opposite way. You ran for the middle space between lanes, order your chicken, and then ran back to a triangle in the center of the road and ate your dinner at a table for 4. Then for a beverage you waited for traffic to clear, walked to the bar across the street, ordered a beer, and returned to your table in the intersection. Dessert was a 50 cent bag of roasted peanuts from the appliance repair shop next to the bar. Best smoked chicken in town and definitely the hottest home made spicy jerk sauce.
While here we have been introduced to all sorts of new things:
Holey Bulla, a spice cake donut with banana flavor
Naseberry, a kiwi looking fruit that taste like buttery brown sugar and fruit mixed together
Sweet apple, slice open & white custard oozes out, be sure to spit out the watermelon size seeds
Otaheiti, a pear shape fruit that is a blend of apple and pear flavor
Saltfish, a salted dried cod similar to jerky
Ackee, a starchy veggie that cooks up and looks like macaroni and has a nutty flavor
Jamaican Jerk chicken with a wet and dry rub
Curried goat and coconut rice
Brown pork and brown chicken
Wild cinnamon, with a deeper, smoke flavor
Patties, a meat or veggie filled turnover
Banana flavored deep fried fritters
Calaloo, greens like collar or spinach
Blue Mountain Coffee
Nutmeg nuts and pimento that you grind fresh into your recipes
Red Stripe beer and Rum punch
News Flash: For the first time ever Dave actually said NO to a new food--twice. He decided he could live without tasting cow foot soup-the chef showed him the delicious amount of oozing gelatin between the joints) and the turkey neck/nuts stew.

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Tuesday, February 22, 2011

February 20, Sunday in Port Antonio

Sunday in Pt. Antonio

A perfectly sun shining day. After clearing a fuel tank of sediment, Dave and I take off for a Sunday stroll. There is a point in the distance in the next bay that Dave has been eyeing and a restaurant called Anna Bananas about 20 minutes out in the same direction. On our walked we are honked at by the taxis all wanting our business, some stop, and we say, “Our legs are too fat, we need the walk, may be after the 5 miles we will need your help.” Some of the sites were too great to pass up as you will see in our pictures. We were walking by funeral homes, ice cream shops, goats tied to a stake, rum bars, food booths, small shelters with chickens clucking, candy stores, big speakers blaring music—many times country western from the states, reggae, and island rap tunes.
We were early for Anna Bananas meal time so we practiced Limin’ and sat sipping cold Red Stripe beer and coconut water. I took many pictures of the bay, the buildings from town, the hills and houses, and the herd of goats that wandered by on their way home for the day.
After lunch we walked out to the point. There was a park built by the local Rotary and many families were enjoying the day. Some were swimming, some were playing soccer, and there was even a cricket game in play. We walked and greeted everyone along the way and they in turn answered us and asked how we were enjoying their town. At the point we were able for the first time to see the Blue Mountain range, world famous for Blue Mountain coffee beans. Around the corner from the point were the ruins of the Folly Mansion. Made from beach sand concrete it stood for 32 years before collapsing. It was featured in music videos by Shabba Banks and Lauryn Hill. Here we turned around and walked back through the town and to the boat. On the dock we touched base with some cruisers we had met, some we were meeting for the first time, and exchanged the names of good places to eat. Cruising life has its own partyline of information and it is freely exchanged and taken.
February 18, Jamaica

It’s been rainy and overcast since our arrival on Thursday, so our first pictures lack the sunshine but are rich in foliage and color. Yesterday, Clive, the local fisherman (and dweller of the mangroves) stopped by on his hand tied bamboo raft and sold us bananas. Dave gave him some new fishing lines. Today is market day in town and we are salivating for fresh fruit and Jamaican jerk. With bags in hand we go foraging for food—a five hour adventure. We have learned to first browse and watch where the locals stop and shop, so we walk up and down various streets checking out the shoppers, shops and stands.
A man yells,“150 for 12 juicy juicy, here mon get you from me.” Then when we get closer to his wheelbarrow of oranges he says, “100 Jamaican dollars for you, mon.” The books say the “hagglers” will banter and barter with you and you should counter offer 20-30 percent less and settle in the middle. When we say “no” we need to do so politely, and here that means thrown in some humor with the “Need more time, mon.” So we reply, “Too much for these weak arms to carry for now, need more time.”
Across the street from the clock tower and taxi parking lot is the open air market. Here we enter and are immediately assaulted by a sensory overload. Music is blaring from a wall of 4 foot by 8 foot stacks of speakers, the aisles (?) are ragged paths through the excess stock, children, people sitting on the floor, and you gingerly cut your way through. Goods are hanging down from the rafters so Dave ducks below 5 1/2 feet as the vendors yell, “Look here, buy here, you need what, maybe coffee, t-shirt, we have what you need, come see,” as they take your arm and guide you to their 4 by 8 booth of wares. I see some hand carved wooden spoons and the Rastafarian artist shows me his collection of handmade items, there is a smile and eye contact that is friendly and accepting on his face. We talk and I admire his handiwork. Then I tell him that we have no Jamaican dollars yet and we will see him on Monday. An elderly smiling man walks Dave through the t-shirts and Dave indicates he sees one he likes so the man gets it down and it is his size. But we are browsing first, so we say, “We have no money, just got here, we need the bank, we’ll be back after the bank.” Of course he tells us the way to the bank and then adds, “You remember me, mon, best t-shirts in whole market”. We then cut our way through this maze, music still blaring, smells mingling together—fresh fruits, coffee, spices and spicy cooked food wavering through the air. Out of the corner of our eye we see the hindquarters of various animals hanging behind a chicken wire fenced-in area. We follow that glimpse only to meet a wall—no door—so we turn and try to follow the wall by zig zagging through the smiling vendors and again hit a wall but no door. On our third attempt there is the door. Inside this cage are more than 12 smiling butchers, each with their own cutting block of a tree trunk, displaying their meat. The choice was beef, pork, and goat—some had only one kind. We found what we wanted and decided we would come back later now that we knew where the elusive entrance was to be found. More smiling vendors offered us their wares and ended each encounter with a smile, solid eye contact and the words, “Remember me”. Many of the vendors are elderly, some are sitting and humming to the tunes, but all are ready to give you their full attention and talk you out of your money. Eventually we see an exit and are now in the outside market where the fruits and vegetable stands line a narrow alley and are shoulder to shoulder. Most are 3-4 feet, some are 8 feet long. Everyone grows the same things and green beans are in season. Ackee is new to us and is one of the traditional foods used with saltfish. We are then stopped by a “hustler” who tells a story of woe and then asks for a dollar. We say we haven’t been to a bank yet and he points to where money can be exchange. We leave with the words, “We’ll be back, later” and walk off. As we pass the money exchange office, he loudly yells, “There, stop there and get the money, mon”. But we have nothing to exchange…
Our walking takes us pass school children out for lunch break, locals out looking for parts and things, and we just mingle into the mix of things as well as two pale while people can. As we pass we greet everyone with a simple greeting and are answered with a smile, eye contact, and an inquiry on how we like Pt. Antonio. Our wandering takes us pass many more open stalls, shops with glass windows and door, and chicken wire enclosure of their stock if it is a hardware store, or parts store. As we cross a bridge the air is smelled with delicious spicy food…but its source is unclear. We walk further and see a bar with many cars parked in front. There we see people eating, people carrying away boxes and bags of food. So we follow the new smells and find a chalkboard with checks by the items being cooked today. Dave tries the curry goat and I get the jerk chicken. It’s is full of flavor and you can’t beat the hole in the wall ambiance. There is one table and it has dominoes on it. We sit there and are joined by one of the locals that offers to tour the island with us using his car—we turn down the unlicensed taxi man with dilated eyes and just enjoy his company and insights on the island. He buys his own drink and continues to talk to us as we eat. Little do we realize we are preventing some afternoon games of dominoes—a serious pastime on the islands.
Now well fed we head back to the market, get the fresh cut meat—you buy the 5 cent plastic bag from a bag vendor after it is cut, pick out some new to us fruits and veggies, buy a loaf of fresh bread, and head back to the boat. So far we haven’t entered a rum bar. We’ll save that for another day, another adventure.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

February 15, 2011

Montego Bay to Pt. Antonio, Jamaica

Our arrival to Jamaica was as exciting as most of our passages over the past year.
We arrived at night with a finish line in our path--the Pinapple Cup, a race from Ft. Lauderdale, Florida to Montego Bay, Jamaica was in the middle of receiving its entries in the harbor. Using our limited night vision abilities we avoided crossing their finish line and confusing the officials. Next to the finish line we dropped our anchor and slept soundly for the first time in 4 nights.

The next morning the sun rose and I had turned 60 years old. What a place to celebrate. In this country I became a "senior" with rights to go to the senior lines in the banks. Checking into customs, immigration, health, and the marina took about 2 1/2 hours and NO MONEY exchanged hands. One of the officials called a cab driver for us and we were whisked off to see the area of Montego and to lunch at a beach front restaurant called Memorbillia. The chef described his specialities and we had three different dishes--all yummy, spicy and Jamaican. We returned to the Montego Bay Yacht Club and had a toast to the sunset and returned to the boat for another restful night sleep. Saturday night was the awards dinner for the Pinapple Cup and we bought ticket to attend the event. There were free rum drinks, awards handed out, a buffet of local dishes and desserts, and dancing to steel drum music--a great time and fun to see the yachters' side of life in the fast lane. Local music on shore floats out to us as does the cruise ship's disco music. Almost every day a ship or two are here letting their passengers taste the Jamaican town and tourist spots.

Jamaica is a friendly place with beautiful people of all blends. You never pass by someone without a hello and a comment on the day. The temperatures are warm but not hot with a breeze all day long. Being further north than our past places, there are different flora and fauna to admire. Many we can't identify but they are in bloom or sporting fruits and pods in abundant quanities.

We went to the Megamart grocery store, a five mile round trip walk, to find Jamaican spices and rubs. What a rich supply they have here of spices and herbs! We bought many differrent kinds to try out later. Before heading back we tried a drive-in/walk-in local chain for jerk--it was Ok but it couln't compete with the meal at Memorbillia.

Yesterday we went to the local farmers' market and enjoyed seeing the small outdoor operations of selling what they must grow in their yards spread out on towels, paper, table cloths, carboard, or in carts, back of vans, etc. Both sides of a busy street were filled shoulder to shoulder with vendors and it extended to vacant buildings and alley ways. In the market there are some new to us fruits that we are enjoying. One is shaped like a small dried up promogrante and when you open it up there are black seeds surrounded by a custard like substance--so sweet and good. There are also mangos and papaya right now. We also noticed cute minature 6-8 inch tall pinapples.

The weather has turned again so we will skip the trip to Negril and head out later today for Pt. Antonio, Errol Flynn's old stomping grounds. A strong storm is due next Monday down here and following that we will be looking to cross to the east towards Dominican Republic and on to Puerto Rico--our longest trip to date.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Eastward Bound, February 6, 2011

February 6, 2011
Woke up, packed away the eggs and stuff, cleared the lines of obstructions, and we were ready to lift the anchor to head out to sea from Providencia, Columbia. Dave turned on the engine and...#%%%!!### No forward, no reverse, and no speed...the throttle cable block had broken--again. Dave quickly assessed the problem, dug out tools, we found a piece of 3/8 inch thick metal bar, and he went to work fabricating a new and improved replacement block. We are now out pass the channel and on the open sea. The edge of a squall just passed and Dave shorten sails just in case--good thing as we had 100% up and the gusts clocked in at over 35. Our target is to get to Jamaica by the 9th. Seas are fairly gently and the boat is at an angle I can deal with. All the meals are pre cooked, a Key lime pie is chilling, and we will enjoy it with our anchor watch drink upon our arrival to Jamaica in three days. Life is good and we can hardly wait to be in the EASTERN CARIBBEAN.

Three hours later...
A school (or do you call it a pod) of dolphins found us and darted in, out, below and around our sailboat for over an hour. We were the new amusement ride for them. Quite a few were youngsters and they frolicked as youth usually do--showing off and attempting daring feats for their peers.

Two mornings later (February 8th)... Well we more than half way to Jamaica and the conditions are light. We had about half a day of really nasty waves and wind. The boat did well even though the bow was buried a few times during one of those wave crashing events we lost the kayak. The waves actually ripped it off its mounting brackets and bent the lifeline stanchions flush with the deck. No idea when it happened. We were reading and the and the combined noise of the wind and bashing waves was so loud we didn't hear a thing. Oh well, it would not have been a normal trip if all went totally as planned. We were able to have a good sail most of the day but now the wind and seas have died. We will send another post when we get there or we have another note worthy event.

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Wednesday, February 2, 2011

February 2, 2011 Providencia, Columbia

We haven't had internet since we left Panama in January but we are able to post a blog entry from our sailmail site. A rather smooth and uneventful two day and two night passage brought us to this island, off the coast of Nicaragua, that belongs to Columbia. There are two islands and we are on Providencia--the non commerical, laid back, and casual island. It has the flavor, the rhythm, the taste, the colors, and the sounds of a Eastern Caribbean island. When we first arrived we were able to rent motor scooters and tour the island--it takes all of 12 minutes if you do not stop and enjoy the views. There is only one road so no one gets lost here. Families of 4 and 5 ride on one scooter carrying groceries, propane tanks, etc. It is quite the sight to see a 10 month old baby first behind the handle bars and 4 more faces crunched behind on a two seater bike...
The beaches are smooth and sandy, the fishermen pull up to the beach, and you buy your dinner fresh off the boat (but the fish are scarce this year). Fresh vegetables and other items arrive by boat from mainland Columbia once or twice a week. There are trails to hike, peaks to climb, and paths to walk. Captain Morgan had a hide out here and some of the geographic forms bear his name--Morgan's Head and Morgan's Crack. We will send photos later when we have internet. Everyone is friendly, they speak English with Creole/Caribbean inflections. Our second week here they had a night of music and dancing provided by the Minister of Culture for the cruising community. It was along side the main road and an ice cream shop so the musicians could plug in their two electric instruments, The man playing the cow jaw, the man playing the steel blocks, and the man playing the inverted wash tub sting instrument didn't require anything fancy. Thirty cruisers enjoyed the glimpse of island culture and danced with the locals as the bugs enjoyed a meal on us. Since then we have been reading, swimming and sunning, and reading and we MAY attempt to do something constructive like rust removal from a few areas unless we decide to read a book and work on our tans. The temperatures are in the 70's and 80's, the water is clear and in the low 80's, perfect for us.

Our plan is to head for Jamaica at the first opportunity. We have been told that might be as soon as March or April...not quite what we had hoped, however. All we need is 3 days and nights of less wind, flatter seas, longer periods between waves, and a change of wind direction. Last week had a weather window of one day, the end of this week HAD a weather window that has disappeared, and next week there may be hope. Kelsey is trying to meet us in Jamaica in March but we cannot set a date till we make the crossing from here to there.

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