Friday, December 26, 2008

Christmas; Very busy time

I have not done an update in a while, I am not sure where to start.

It has been very busy, with the Newtons visiting for a few days, and now
Paul, Joanne and Valerie (PJV) are here for 8 days. Dana arrives before PJV
leave, then Jonathan and Katie arrive the very next day.

Had a great time with the Newtons, but it is clear that some of them are
glad to be ashore. One of the highlights for me was when Stephanie was using
my training kite to tow herself downwind in the inflatable tube. She started
to get alarming speed, which when coupled with an inherent lack of course
selection resulted in her heading out into the open harbor and deeper water
without any real control. I was running through knee deep water (read:
slowly) chasing her yelling "CRASH THE KITE, CRASH THE KITE". She heard me
and did so, negating the need for a dinghy rescue.

Christmas on the boat was great, thanks to the thoughtfulness of PJV, who
brought me several presents which were eery in their accuracy and precision.
I spilled red wine on my shirt, and Joanne says, "oh, I will give you one of
your presents early - We bought you a stain remover pen". Spooky. Then I
used some duct tape to secure the broken head door, and it left adhesive on
the wood. "Here is the gum remover we bought for you". Weird. I am so glat
that they did not bring an emergency pump or man overboard equipment. Or a
fire extinguisher, or epi-pen. Phew.

We are off to islands south of here, leaving today. We will head to Antigua,
but depending on the sea state, we may get turned back, or head to St Kitt's
or Statia.


Tuesday, December 23, 2008

I never thought I would utter the words; Kiting Galleon

Today the Newton girls discovered kiting. I set them up with a 1.8 meter
training kite and left them to their own devices. We did nearly bean a local
kid with the kite. Laurie from Cat Tails took the controls thinking it was
just like his two line kite, but it responded differently, so he crashed it
pretty quickly. Poor kid never even saw it coming. It as a lot like the time
my niece Anna crashed it right AROUND her cousin Jonathan. This young fellow
was just minding his own business, making a sand castle, when WHAMMO, an
ICBM takes the castle out, and he was nearly collateral damage.

The Newton girls took to it like flying fish - by the time I came back, they
were body dragging across the lagoon. The prior day we took the surf board
and towed it behind the dinghy, both girls managed to stand up and ride.

Today's nudity report: I was headed back to Madness with Steph and Val who
are 19 and 18 respectively, when a Catamaran pulled up to a mooring that I
was anchored too near. I went over to discuss with the skipper, having seen
a fully clothed woman on deck. The woman was clothed OK, but the man, who
appeared clothed from a distance, was in fact clothed only from the waist
up. By the time we discovered his subterfuge, we were committed to
discussion the anchor situation. This discussion, held primarily in their
weak English and impromptu sign language, went on for some time. When AI
looked at Steph, her expression was priceless. She said that she found many
facets of their boat much more interesting to look at than on other boats.

We later discussed the situation, and decided that it was OK to say: I am an
American and therefore not entirely comfortable with nudity, could you put
on a Speedo?" No there is a string of words that I never thought I would
utter: "would you put on a Speedo?"


Saturday, December 20, 2008

Guests, Guests, and more guests

Ted has come and gone, and now the Newtons are here. As soon as the Newtons
leave, Paul, Joanne and daughter (whose name I cannot recall) arrive. Then
Dana arrives, then Paul, Joanne and daughter depart, then Katie and Jonathan
arrive, then Katie and Jonathan depart, then Dana departs, then maybe Ken
and Leann arrive. Phew!

I am very glad for the company, but the logistics are a challenge. So far,
so good.

Beautiful day today, we may set sail for St Barths, but we will not check
out of St Martin until we establish that everyone is seaworthy. Otherwise we
will do Grand Case and Cul de Sac, maybe Baie de Orient.

The kids enjoyed the nude beach, especially the humorous prospect of having
a nude waiter in the restaurant serving you your scoops of ice cream or your
sausage platter. We decided that it was a good idea for all tables in a nude
restaurant to be bar height.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Full Moon Party

After hearing Sophie and Frederick's tale, we were invited to a full moon
party above shell beach. There is a trail that leads up to one of the
smaller hills. Just bring a few beers and yourself, we were told.

We arrived a little after sunset, and found a small group of people having a
picnic, waiting for the moon to make its appearance. Good food, good wine,
and most of all good music! There was a classical guitar player in the group
(who by day is in the villa rental agency business) who was amazing. YoYo
and Frederick joined in on the spoons, mouth harp and bottles. Frederick
eventually joined in on the ukulele.

The songs were all in French as was much of the conversation, but the event
was not lost on me. I was thankful to be there on that beautiful hillside
experiencing their Joi de Vive. I am at a loss for words...The experience
was so much more than I know how to describe.

BTW - We hosted a small cocktail party on the boat last night, and I found
out two bits of info regarding previous stories - First, Frederick did not
fight to save the boat for two days, he hit the whale in the morning and the
boat was scuttled before sunset. I had been wondering about when YoYo
changed co-pilots on his motorcycle trip from his friend to Edith; It was
after he completed his first world tour and was back in Switzerland. He then
proceeded to do it again with Edith. This time they went through Canada to
Alaska and down the inside passage. There they kept seeing people cruising
in boats, and thought it looked cool, so they sold the motorcycle and
sidecar for a premium price to a collector who was fascinated by its
history, and bought a boat. Off to French Polynesia!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Sophie and Frederick

BTW - I sent you a picture of two women smoking in a café last time; I just
thought they looked so French, that I took their picture and sent it along.

Also BTW - Last night we sat on the deck of THE Villa and watched the
Maltese Falcon set sail and head over to Simpson Bay. It was a fantastic
sight. It looks like it sails like a 50 footer.

I think I told you that when we were looking for YoYo, we stopped by his
boat Cheriveri (this is old french for a sea chanty that mocks the captain)
there was a man on board, who knew YoYo and wuold tell him we had come by.
After hanging out with YoYo in the Villa, we went back to his apartment
where we met that same man again - Frederick, along with his wife Sophie.
Over early afternoon beers, we learned Frederic and Sophie's sad tale. It
had happened just two weeks ago.

The lived on their aluminum boat for 12 or 20 years, I don't remember, and
decided that it was time for an upgrade to a larger catamaran. They brought
their boat to Annapolis and sold it there, and bought a Cat. They pulled the
two boats up next to each other, and transferred all of their wordly
possessions and memorabilia from world cruising on their new boat. Sophie
flew back to St Barth's to attend totheir life here and finish the paperwork
on the boat ownership and insurance, and Frederic and a friend set out for
St Barth's. A few days into the trip they struck a whale. I think he said
"Mal chance".

The whale was mortally wonded, and unfortunatly, it appeared to them that
the Cat may have been too.

The whale suffered a large gash in his back, and swam off streaming a swath
of blood meters wide. Frederick could not tell what kind of whale it was,
nor the extent of the injury, as he had to turn his attention to his boat.
The forward compartment on one of the hulls was compromised which did not
present a great problem. Like most cats, there was a watertight bulkhead
behind this compartment. But the saildrive had been stove in, and in
addition, the rudder had been twisted up into the stern section of the hull.
He had water coming in to the forward, middle and aft sections of the boat
on one of two hulls.

One nice thing about cats is that the don't have any ballast. Madness has
about 8000 lbs of lead in her keel to provide righting moment. Cats rely on
form stability to keep the shiny side up. So Frederick did not have to worry
about the lead dragging the one good hull to the bottom. They had a fighting

I was spellbound listening to Frederick tell the story, sipping on our tall,
thin Heinekens at the table in YoYo's living and dining room. On the wall
above Frederick was the picture of the motorcyle and sidecar, not far away
was the guest bed with it's white mosquito net draped over it. Frederick sat
next to two open windows with no screens to block the view of St Barth's
harbor below and hills above though YoYo's lush tropical plantings. I
realized what a rare privilege it was to be there hearing his story and
experiencing the culture adventurous and fun-loving people. I asked
Frederick and Sophie if I could take their picture, the result is attached.

Frederick and his friend fought to save the boat for 2 days but were losing
ground. The USCG flew over to assess the situation and to see if Frederick
was willing to abandon ship. The julls were sinking lower in the water, and
the good hull was starting to be threatened with flooding. Also, they were
not making much progress toward land.

I don't know what information was available to Frederick and Sophie at that
time, but not all of the paperwork was completed on the boat, and their
insurance was not in force. So I cannot tell you if he knew this when he
told the CG that he was ready to abandon his ship and all he possessed in
order to preserve his life.

The Coast Guard routed a frieghter bound for Puerto Rico to his aid, and
they were delivered there. The reason we met him on YoYo's boat is that they
needed a place to live.

What is remarkable was/is their humor and good spirits. You can see moments
when the magnitude wheighs them down, especially with Frederick...but he
shakes it off and tries to lighten his spirit; I think for himself more than
for his company. He said yesterday in french "time to turn the page and look
to the other shore" In French it rhymes - Paagsh and rivaagsh - so it is
more poetic.

So enough of this sadness, Frederick concluded. Tonight is the full moon
party, do you want to come?


Monday, December 15, 2008


I promised you a glimpse into YoYo's life here in St Barth's so here we

We headed to St Barth's on the promise of a party. Ted knows a Jazz singer
Christine Gordon who performs often in St Barth's.
She promised us a party and a performance, so we had no choice but to set

We sailed into St Barth's a few days ago, and started looking around for
YoYo, his son Gael and their friend Kareem (who I called Guy in a previous
post, because I could not recall his name; sorry). You may recall that Omar
killed Kareem's boat.

As we sailed in to the harbor, we had much to look at. First we sailed
circles around the Maltese Falcon super yacht) (Google it, you will be
amazed). We also swung by Emerson Fittipaldi's yacht "Pilar". Then as we
approached the inner harbor, we admired a house high on a precipice looking
back over the harbor entrance and admired the architecture stonework and
location of this villa, and we waved to the men on the deck who seemed to be
watching us sail in (obviously with envy).

We found a spot to anchor, and went in in search of either Christine or
YoYo. We found Christine right away and met her at Le Select and made plans
for the evening. At Le select, we asked the Bartender about YoYo, and he
pointed to the house on the precipice and told us that YoYo lived there! We
walked up and found that it was YoYo that was waving to us, and he had
recognized Madness.

The villa belongs to the guy who owns Bannister's wharf in Newport, and YoYo
is the live in caretaker. If you want, you can rent the villa (~$100k/week)
He took us up to the main house (there are 2 houses and 2 guest bungalows)
through the courtyard. As we walked across the teak deck, turtles started to
appear out of the hibiscus bushes moving toward us like little reptilian
zombies, moving slowly, but clearly heading toward us, inscrutable intent.

"Ah, these are my turtles, they come to me when they hear my footsteps! Pick
them a Hibiscus, they love to eat them" see pics. YoYo was justifiably proud
of his gardening, his herb garden with Ginger, mints, sage, thyme, etc. and
his naturally balanced fish pond above the infinity pool. No pumps, no
chemicals, just an ecologically balanced system, which I think is very hard
to do. We looked down on his 44' Jeanneau Sun ??? And Madness right below
the cliff.

YoYo showed us around the villa (more pics) and invited us back to his
apartment in the second house for refreshments where we once again met
Frederick and Sophie who lost their new catamaran on the delivery back to St

I can't remember whether I told you about them, I will go back and check. If
not, I will tell you about that tomorrow. I must go eat my croissant now.

BTW - we were invited to tour one of the superyachts today, and YoYo offered
us his car for the day. Nice!


Sunday, December 14, 2008

St Barth

Really, I have nothing against my American heritage, but now I think I may
want to be French.

Last week, I met three men from St Barth's in a 26 foot boat. They were
waving enthusiastically to me as I sat in the dinghy talking to another
cruiser. They wanted a ride to shore, which I was happy to oblige. Once I
deposited them on the concrete wharf, one at a time, timing each with in
incoming swell, they invited me to join them later for drinks.

Drinks turned into drinks and dinner with good conversation and growing
fellowship. Yo-yo and his son Gael (Guy-el) were bringing Gael's boat back
from repairs in St Martin to St Barth. They had Gael's friend Guy (Gi) along
for the ride. Guy's boat As the conversation unfolded, I Learned that Guy's
boat had been destroyed in Hurricane Omar. He was not without humor about it
though, we spent a good deal of our time talking about different ways to
dispose of the wreckage - like C4, spreading rumors that the ballast was
contraband, having a boat de-construction party, where everyone goes home
with a souvenir. As you may have already guessed, no actionable plan was
arrived upon.

Another bit of humor regarding his lost boat. There was a news story in
France that was very much in the public dialogue regarding a women who was
murdered and had apparently scrawled in her own blood "Omar killed me". See: Well, after the winds
subsided, someone went out and scrawled "Omar m'a tuer" on the bottom of his
boat. See the picture.

Yo-Yo told me that he had once traveled the world on a motorcycle with a
sidecar. He went all through North and South America, then took a freighter
to Cape Town, and headed north through the dark continent. They went all the
way up through Europe. Somewhere in those travels, he met his wife, and she
joined the trip in place of his friend. See the picture of Yo Yo and friend
in the dessert. He said that they saw the bones of a camel in the desert and
took the picture to say "F%$& you desert, you killed the camel, but we are
still alive!".

We are in St Barth's now, and have looked looked up Yo Yo. Wait until you
hear about his life on the island...


Thursday, December 11, 2008

More About Zen It

Lavanya asked me to say more about Zen It, so this is what I know:

Zen it is one of two restaurants that are owned or operated (I don't know which) by the very lovely Natalia and her pleasant and unassuming husband Alex. I guess that they are in their 30s, they are expecting, and they are just building their first home on a hillside. They radiate contentment. They are shopping on Ikea online for furniture.

We were drawn to Natalia that first time we saw her. You may remember that we were wandering down the main street in Grand Case when we encountered her. She was walking her dog, literally barefoot and pregnant. She was dressed in a camisole and a island print wrap slung low across her torso, exposing her fecund belly. She just looked so happy, we liked her

The restaurants are both kind of funky cool chillin. Zen it has a few deck chairs out on the small sandy beach separating it from the sea. Hmm. Separating it is an exaggeration; when the swell is from the north, the sea sweeps right up past the big driftwood log and brushes the basement of the structure. When there is less wave action the beach is usually covered with fashionable thirty something French vactioners, and the occasional 40 something American tourist.

Every morning Stan cleans the beach, rights the potted plants upset by the gusty winds coming around the hillside, and shovels the beach sand from the entrance to the basement. There are a few rocks placed around that door, but the attempt to stop the shifting sand is futile.

I really enjoy the music there. There is a fair amount of French Rap, which for some inexplicable reason, I like. (Even if Achilles once told me "French Rap ees Bollscheet"). This is a disturbing development to Dana, and I avoid playing it when she is here. There is also a lot of Amy Whinehouse, Some Arrested Development, and the various Marleys.

The tables and chairs are pressure treated rustic, and the menus are large chalkboards that are brought to your table. The lights are covered with palm fronds that rustle in the wind. Each table has a kerosene lamp. In the mornings I see Stan and Achilles filling them and trimming the wicks getting ready for the evening.

Emily is the bartender and mixmaster, and not infrequently, she and Achilles will break into spontaneous dance and all are invited. Emily's brother works next door at Calmos Café, the other restaurant run by Natalia and Alex.


It began to get uncomfortable

We all have different comfort levels, but I think I have found an outlying

First, let me say that there is an outbreak of Dengue fever in the tropics,
and St Martin, while not affected the most, is not the least affected
either. It has been interesting to see how people react, both those visiting
me and those who live here. Those who live here are barely aware of it, and
if you bring it up, they are dismissive. I don't know if that is under the
direct orders of the Tourism Cabinet, but I think it is just a higher level
of comfort with uncertainty. Plus, you must remember that these are French
people with their Joi de vive and fatalism. They all smoke, what is the
threat of a fever to them?

My American friends are much more concerned, perhaps because it is
unfamiliar. No one has chosen to cancel or postpone their visit, but they
are concerned.

But I think the highest threshold for discomfort came when talking to
Michael, Ursula and Bernard about their cruising history.

Michael is near the very hard core of the cruising world. Michael moved to
Thailand in the early 80s and returned to Germany only to visit family and
to attempt to convince Ursula to join him in his bamboo hut. He was only
able convince her to come when he was able to offer the relative comfort of
the open boat that he bought there. He described it as the kind of boat
"Like on the James Bond movie"; not the mega yacht, but the open boat with
the engine high on the transom and a propeller way back at the end of a long
shaft. It had 10 cm of freeboard (distance from water to gunnel)in the back,
and yet they lived on it and traveled from island to island. Michael did
admit that it had some drawbacks, like the open sores that you would develop
after a long passage exposed to the elements, lack of a galley, head, etc.

But it took more that that to drive him from his boat and his chosen
lifestyle. When the Heroin trade really invaded the area, it became a feudal
society with very rude boys wandering around terrorizing folks with
automatic weapons.

"When they confront you, loose your pride. You just look down at the ground,
give them whatever they ask, and very, very slowly pull up you anchor and
slip away. There is usually one or two really aggressive in their number,
and one or two more moderate. When the moderate one speaks up you can start
to crawl away. After the third time I woke up with a gun to my head, it
began to get uncomfortable".

I don't think he was trying to be funny.


Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Three guys from St Barts

FW: Madness turns to piracy- Now we have three dinghys, and a slave!

From my brother Ray:

-----Original Message-----
From: Ray Piescik []
Sent: Monday, December 08, 2008 4:30 PM
To: 'Walterpiescik'
Subject: RE: Madness turns to piracy- Now we have three dinghys, and a


"It turns out that this kind of deception is not strictly legal, so we had
to let him go..."

Not sure, but I think slavery is also a bit of a grey area nowadays.


Who would wear that?; Dana Walks Through Restaurant in Bikini; Crew of Madness joins Mud People Tribe

Who would wear that? I am sure that you have asked yourself that question from time to time when you receive the Victoria's Secret catalog and there is a breezy satin blouse cut down to the navel, or an impossibly low bikini.

Well, we now know the answer: French women on vacation. That is who would wear that. Possibly French women, on vacation or not.

It is really rather nice to observe, and because it is prevalent, it does not seem overly suggestive or self-conscious.

And it affects your fashion outlook. While she was here, Dana walked through a restaurant in nothing but a bikini. Yep, it's true. No wrap, no self consciousness, just walked right through.

I suppose this was not just the result of the fashions. Three times we walked down the beach following a 50 something year old "naturalist" wearing nothing but a satchel over his privates. Ridiculous. As I have said before the nudity is pervasive, and I decided to give Dana the shock treatment when she got here and take her right to Orient Bay.

When you sail into Orient Bay as Dana and I did, you have to land your dinghy on the extreme south end of the beach. This means that you have to pass through the naturalist beach to get to the semi-clothed beach. There is a sign prohibiting cameras on the beach. As If. I didn't really need to see this in the first place, much less remember it. None the less, it does affect your standards. When we went ashore, I predicted that the shear modesty wrap that Dana carried with her to conceal her bikini would not be needed for long, once she saw French women wearing the same shear wrap with no bathing suit underneath things would seem different. She thought not. SoI have to say that I enjoyed pointing out to her that she had just walked through a restaurant without the wrap, just the bikini. "Hmm, I guess I did..."

After Orient Beach, we went on to Tintamar, an uninhabited island off of the uninhibited coast. Tintamar is known for its fine beach, reef, and mud baths. That's right, just like in the salon, you can smear yourself with fine clay, let it dry on you, and wash it off in the sea. It is what society
people do. Plus, when we asked the owner of the restaurant on Orient Bay about the practice she said: "wey (OUI), you must do eeet, you rub mud on your self unteeel you look like a big sheeet, and then wash it away" I really do not think I misunderstood her. With an description like that, how could you pass it up?

Once on Tintamar, we followed a couple from St Barts along the shore, since we did not know what the clay looked like. They led us to a place beyond the end of the sandy beach, where the fossilized coral that formed the island met the sea abruptly. Climbing just a few meters above the surf on a ledge, we found layers of a very fine, dense hard clay for the taking. Well the
taking was not all that simple, we had to go back to the boat for a hammer and a bucket to make up some mud out of what was essentially yellow brick. We laughed a lot applying the mud (See photos). It really felt like we were victims of a hoax. It was not all that pleasant; kind of sandy. But after it dried, it did feel great coming off. It really felt silky smooth, and your
skin felt clean and smooth even right after getting out of salt water. Emily asked Dana later whether she had used it on her hair (she had not). "ees majeek" We are having a ball. More later. Off to live music now.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Madness turns to piracy- Now we have three dinghys, and a slave!

We were on our way back from Tintamar, when we encountered a mariner in distress in a large dingy. We approached under the guise of being helpful. As we approached I yelled "jew na parlay paw Fransay, parlay vew Anglay?"

"On Pew"

I turned to first officer Dornbusch and said "what?", to which she replied "I don't know, but he did not say yes". She cleverly yelled to him in English "Do you submit to our command and surrender your vessel to us?" while gesticulating in such a way as to make him think we were offering him a tow to shore.


Score! Madness has a great dinghy now (it is called "Method", so that we can claim that there is a method to our Madness). We didn't really need this booty, but his dinghy was very large and
had a 30 HP motor that might simply be out of gas. Plus it had a manservant!
(See picture)

It turns out that this kind of deception is not strictly legal, so we had to let him go; But not before we forced him to scrub the topsides and fetch us water from shore. I am happy to be rid of him since Dana seemed to be overly appreciative of his trim physique, anyway.


Happy Birthday

Happy Birthday Walt. 
Are you taking the day off for your Birthday?  Going anywhere special?

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Emily, Achilles, and Stan; Mele; Gabriel and Matthew

Here are some pictures of my new friends in St Martin. You will see pictures of Stan, Achilles and Emily of Zen It restaurant, as well as a picture of the view from my private table.

Also attached are a cople of snapshots that include Gabriel and Matthew, local (awesome)kiters who are arguably the most attractive men that I haveever met in person. They really are very welcoming, and quick to share their knowledge. One is a dentist and the other is an engineer; both live here full time. I think I get some cool factor by association. I mentioned having met them to Emily who said that they are "too much knowing how good looking they are". It is a small island.

Kiting with them was great, but the wind is dying and not likely to come back until after the weekend. I am carving turns much moree fluidly now, and have been practicing line tension jumps. These result in 3-4 feet of air, not the 20 feet that you may have seen at the beach. I am also getting much better in the breaking surf right at the sand.

I don't have a picture of Mele, who I met on the bus this evening. Born in Morocco, he lived in Paris, Florida, Atlanta and a few other places. He has been in St Martin for about 3 months. He is here trying to forget his old life and ex wife. In the time it took to ride from Marigot to Grand Case, he told me about the nasty separation and his experience with the US legal system. He told me that his wife had a prior hitory of domestic violence and when whe went after him, the system was biased enough that he was the one who had to leave his home and child. He says he is quite content to be here without real estate or car working as a butler in a very fancy villa because he is beyond the reach of his ex wife and the legal system. I imagine that there are plenty of people her running away from something.

Magical place

I am sitting at my usual table at Zen It doing my email, when I look up to see the most perfectly formed rainbow I have ever seen. The colors are in vivid contrast to the blue sky and clouds in the backround, and I think made more intense by the turquoise water below. Both ends are clealy visible, and so close, only about 2 kilometers away (oh, I guess that would be about 1.2
miles to you ;-)

I wish my camera were with me, but it is on the boat, under the rainbow.

It is gone already, but for the memory.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Better now than this morning

Today was a day of transitions. You know - hockey stop, toeside carve, pop

I put in two long sessions and absolutely hammered my legs again. I think
they will recover enough so that I can go out again and progress some more
tomorrow. I came off of the water pumped after the first session knowing
that it was, without a doubt, the best kiting I have done. I almost wanted
another scar to commemorate the event.

I have a scar on my left shin that reminds me of the first day I managed to
return to the spot I left from. When you first start, you tend to get pushed
downwind, and have to do the walk of shame to return to your stuff on the
beach. On this particular day, I got a small gash on my left shin in some
kind of fall, but pressed on because I knew I could make it back. Whenever I
notice it I smile; like a tatoo, a permanent reminder of a temporary

Today I recounted that story to new acquaintences. They are the captain and
crew of a Swan 60-something foot long sailboat, and kiters all. I told the
captian that I was glad for the scar; that if it had been an option on the
customer satisfaction survey after the ride: "Scar/No Scar" I would have
selected "Scar". I am hoping that a relationship develops with this crew, it
would be nice to have some conversations with folks for whom English is

Speaking of getting maimed, I had near misses with two sea turtles today. I
am ripping along with marginal control when up pops the head of a sea
turtle. He/she was about two feet across the back. I don't think this is how
it is supposed to happen. I think the encounter with a sea turtle is
supposed to be peaceful and serene. Well, the turtle chose the "No Scar"
option and dove immediately, so I did not have to try my first intentional

Tomorrow I try my first intentional jump. Not today.


Monday, December 1, 2008

Kiting St Martin

Managed to get in three sessions yesterday at Orient Beach in about 15 kts - which is just enough to kite. Today through Weds is supposed to be 18-20, which for me is ideal. The local kiters are very cool about visitors, even those like me with limited skills. Some of the kiters are awesome jumpers in light air, with great acrobatics. I hope to get some pointers over time.

I just spent most of this morning planning the next few weeks and coordinating with those coming to visit, so I am anxious to get kiting again.

Last night I went to hear live music at Calmos Café and ran into the crew from Krill, the Belgian, German, French boat I first made contact with here. I had a pleasant evening in their company, and got some literature recommendations from Bernard. Micheal and Ursula are pleasant enough to be around, except for their insistence on generalizing averything remotely American. "That is Sooo American". Yeah, I know. I'm American. It is a weird fascination that may expain why the German boats mostly stick to themselves.

I am determined to ignore it.

Bernard is an ex-hippie. No. Bernard is still a hippie minus the hair. He has no fixed address right now, but has a Volkswagen van back in Marseille that he will return to after Christmas. He seems to be very well read, and very passionate about literature and philosophy.

The band was French, and did French renditions of songs like "Sunny side of the Street", "My way" and other Sinatra/swank/Vegas type songs.

Inexplicable but quaint, kind of like the Jerry Lewis thing.


Saturday, November 29, 2008

Nothing much happened today

It was a nice day in the high seventies or low eighties, with about sixty
percent humidity

I spent over three hours in an internet café talking to family over Skype,
ordering some parts I need and getting the satelite phone service restored.
The video Skype is not like being there, but it is a big step closer. People
have asked what I did for Thanksgiving, and the real answer is nothing. I
did take some time to be thankful for being here and having this

I also spent some time planning for Dana's visit next weekend.

Right now, I am going ashore to Zen It, where the staff has been so nice.
There is supposed to be live music tonight.


Friday, November 28, 2008

Bob's education; aka: Brittany Spears visits in Spirit

In order to get time off from school, Bob has to keep a journal of what he saw on the offshore trip. Bob and I both face a challenge in determining how to discreetly describe a very indiscrete act.

It began in the restaurant that was one of five recommended by a very pregnant and very lovely French woman who had the misfortune of walking with us down the main street of Grand Case (pronounced Graan Caas). When we asked her to give a recommendation, she listed about five of them describing each in terms of ambiance, clientele, menu and price. We settled on Zen It only
to later find out that she was the owner! She did not even give her own restaurant top billing, which we thought was very cool.

Martin, Bob and I were sitting at a table by the beach, when we were approached by an attractive young woman in a short short sleek black dress and heels for a light. She had been sitting at the bar for a while, apparently waiting for friends or a date that never showed, and came over to ask for a light for her cigarette (This place is French, so there is a lot of smoking). Martin chatted with her for a while in French, and she returned to her perch.

Later that night, we decided to yield to Bob's interest in exploring the night life, and went down to a club called La Noche, and who did we see? Same woman, and we were the only 4 in the club other than the wait staff. When we bought a round of drinks we included hers on our tab. In retrospect that may have been a lot like feeding Jack Sparrow that first time. It seemed like a good idea when we did it, and for quite a while after. but then issues began to arise.

Our time in the nightclub started out great; She introduced herself as Gwenoleane (this is a guess, based on pronunciation) and as others arrived she would introduce us. We were accepted warmly, even though you would expect a place like this to be unforgiving of those who lacked the right age, looks, cool or money. I am pretty sure that we were short of the mark
on all four, unless you averaged our ages.

The proprietor was as you would expect from the movies, a matronly woman decked out in makeup, an inappropriately young outfit, jewelry and a short smart haircut. The bartender was surfer lean. A gay couple wandered in, soon to be followed by a lesbian couple, Gwen's friend Sophie, and a few more tourists. As the volume of the music started to rise, it was clear that Gwen would start the dancing; she seemed like a horse being led to the starting

How cool was this for two middle aged guys and a 15 year old? To be there and welcomed, and to be in the company of an attractive, feisty 22 year old regular? There was a certain symmetry about it, two guys on one side of the hill, one on the other, all enjoying the company of this woman right at clubbing age apex. There were warnings - she sat pretty close to Martin, touching his arm and stroking her own hair. She gave one of her beach bracelets to Bob. Gwen did indeed start the dancing, and soon everyone mentioned was on the floor. Gwen soon showed herself to be the life of the party dragging us out on the floor (willingly) to dance with her. She tended to dance very close with all three of us. I was not seeing any daylight between Bob and this 22 year old wild one. The big screen high def TV next to the dance floor began to show footage of raves in Ibiza along with all of the skimpy outfits, smoke, lights and foam. Everyone began to dance with everyone, except for the Lesbian couple who only danced with each other. The scene began to evolve into a carnival atmosphere that reminded me of opening scenes from Moulin Rouge; Had clowns on unicycles rolled by it would not seem out of place. For grins, I asked the DJ to play Edith Piaf, which he managed with a strong hip-hop back beat to the great pleasure of the crowd, many were singing along. I danced with the matronly owner. Surreal.

It was about this point that Gwen decided to announce to Martin that she, like Brittany Spears, had decided against wearing underwear this particular evening. When Martin told me this, I said, no, you must have misunderstood, for in that short skirt she had flashed her underwear often (I had even caught Bob catching a glimpse). Well in no time, Martin's fluency in French was once again confirmed - Gwen took to dancing on the tables and the bar and there was no question - she was not wearing any underwear and she was advertizing this fact. When one of patrons said it was his birthday and her present was to lift her skirt and she removed any doubt anyone might have had.

Explain that at school, Bob.

If I were you I would focus on anything you might have learned about STDs during the lecture your father gave on the way back to the boat!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Angulla Beaches; St Martin; Nudity and more Nudity

We took our new friends, Russ and Layla (sp?) sailing around Anguilla. We arranged to take them around to the southern side of Anguilla and drop them off there on the way to St Martin.

There are so many things that could go wrong with this kind of plan that I cannot name them all, but a few include seasickness of the guests, now way to get them ashore, inclement weather, equipment failure, lack of cabs on the beach to get them home, and having to sail back around the island to get them to the starting point. None of these things happened, and we had a
lovely sail to a pristine beach that we shared with only one couple.

Anguilla has a daily fee for anchoring in their waters, so I will not be spending much time there, but I have to admit, Conde Nast may be right when they declared it the finest beach in the world. The sand feels like talcum powder under your feet. It is so fine, it is not all that objectionable when it invariably boards your vessel and takes up residence in your bunk. That
is pretty fine sand.

After goodbyes and exchange of digital pictures, we set off to St Martin, a whopping 40 minute sail. Considering that our previous sail was about 8640 minutes, it went by quickly.

St Martin is a whole different place. A fair number of Mega-yachts, but a lot of cruisers too. We made friends with a German couple and their traveling companion, Ursula and Michael, and Bernard. It happened when Jack lost his grip on the Quarenteen flag and it flew away. You are required to fly the quarenteen flag until you clear customs and immigration, and assure
the island population that your crew does not carry cholera or the plague. (No kidding). We went to the next boat to borrow one, "et voila", new friends to show us the ropes.

The next day we were motoroing past and waved enthusiastically. There may have been a short pause in the waving when we realized that they were buck naked. We quickly regained our composure and went on waving. (We probably overcompensated and waved too long)

Well this note has gone on too long, so I will save the rest of the nudity for later. For now I will only say that Bob got a bit of sex education that was probably not all that informative, but I think pleasurable for him.

They were very helpful and told us how to check in if we found the police de la frontier were absent from their station.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Time at sea

We have made very good speed, doing well over 2 degrees of latitude each
day. The wind has been very favorable staying behind the beam but pretty
strong. Speeds climb up to 11 kts on the faces of waves, then drop back to 6
or less as we climb the back of the next wave.

Nights are long, very long. Not so bad for me, but for the crew. Having 5
people, I have taken myself out of the rotation completely, and I am on call
all the time. I do most of the cooking, but I have to say, the others are
big contributors to that effort as well. The crew has really made this
passage easy for me.

The one problem that we have had to overcome is the hot water heater
failure. It started leaking before we left, and was a threat to the trip. We
decided that we did not need any more hot water than we could heat on the
stove. In order to prevent the leak from threatening our water supply, we
did some creative re-plumbing, and set off.

The other challenge/failure was the loss of one of the hatches. We had a
situation where we were having repeated accidental jibes in light to
moderate wind because of sea state, and the main sheet traveler got wrapped
around the hatch over the head. The next jibe resulted in the removal of the
hatch. Oops. We patched it with duct tape (no kidding) and went on, as there
was no strong weather in the forecast. We had plywood and screws for a
better repair, but I did not see the need given the relatively benign

Benign, or not, with each sunset, a certain anxiety sets in with the crew.
The wind tends to pick up a bit and the waves come at you with no warning.
The nights are very noisy and since you don't get much uninterrupted sleep,
they seem very long. If you are one of those good sleepers, you close your
eyes, and an instant later, you open them and it is morning. Our nights are
close to 12 hours long.

Right after we contact Herb, we do a deck inspection. It involves looking
critically at all of the standing rigging for loose cotter pins, clevis
pins, swages getting ready to fail, lashings coming loose, etc. (We run
tight ship!). Last night that opaid off in a big way. The pin that holds the
boom to the mast was properly fastened, but the hard stainless steel cotter
pin was beginning to chew its way through the soft aluminum of the
gooseneck. Left unattended, this could result in a failed joint, and who
knows what else (torn mainsail?). We dug through the used parts box and
found a 1/2 inch bolt that has replaced the pin.

The amount of noise you hear in the boat is amazing, and yet at the same
time, the shelter it provides form the elements is amazing too. You can come
above to find the wind howling and the boat sluicing through the water with
little indication below. But coffee makers, pots, pans, silverware, fishing
gear etc are all rattling about in their lockers; wires are slapping in the
mast, the engine might be droning. It is a lot of noise.


New crew members - Horror on Madness

Today were joined by another land bird. He is a little smaller than Jack
(the bird, not the human; He is a lot smaller than Jack the human). This one
has a yellow breast and a very fine beak. We wondered whether he was the
ghost of Jack, but we think that Jack survived and is terrorizing tourists
in Bermuda - "Oh look dear, this little fellow landed on my head..." We
tried to feed him, but he turned his nose up at the pumpernickel bread that
we had. Jack (the human) suggested that he really wanted multi-grain whole
wheat. Beggars can apparently be choosers.

We were concerned that like Jack (the bird) Robin would defecate all over
everything, but in our naïve, optimistic way, we adopted him into the crew.

Madness has a lifetime net total passenger return rate of +2. That is a
story for another day. Jack cheated us out of increasing this total to three
by flying to shore prematurely. I was looking forward to getting to three
with Robin.

Shortly thereafter, we had another arrival in the form of a flying fish. We
woke to find our new, albeit dead, passenger on deck. I suppose that he had
taken flight to evade some predator, and landed in the cockpit. Imagine his

This development, while ghoulish, did not qualify as horror. The horror
began when we discovered the true reason why Robin declined the
Pumpernickel. HE IS A CARNIVORE! To our horror, Robin hopped over to the

Martin suggested that we all begin sleeping with one eye open, and we all
agreed that it was a sensible precaution against the avian crew among us. It
was not until some hours later that Bob noted the flaw in the plan. He
suggested that we wear eye patches over the open eye.

Have I mentioned that Jack (the human) has been reading the Illiad? Inspired
as he is by tales of Achilles the fearless warrior, he decided that he
would defendthe crew against this interloper. While ostensibly helping to
repair the base of a grab handle he cleverly concealedg his agression
against the avian preditor as an accident, and poor Rpobin was smote,
crushed under Achilles heel.

Even though we were all relived that our eyesight was safe, we were sad to
see Robin pass. We were ruefull as we watched his little body dissapear out
of sight in our wake. Our total remains at +2.


Sunday, November 23, 2008

Getting ready to leave, focus on weather

I am going to send you a series of emails that describe the trip, as though
they are in real time.

In fact, shortly after leaving, someone who shall remain Martin, dropped the
satellite phone and it ceased functioning. We have a spare, and tried to
transfer service, but it appears that Globalstar was not able to accomplish
the transfer. We will try to get it fixed on shore.

I swear that I am geeting more grey not from the sunlight, but from the
stress of having to decide when to leave.

Monday morning and channels 16 and 27 are abuzz with talk of whether it is
safe to leave Bermuda for points south. I am not listening, because much
like the Internet, you don't know the experience of those voicing their
opinioins, and I seem to have information from the source.

We have been experiencing very strong winds in the harbor, along with some
pretty heavy rainfall. We put out an extra anchor to help us stay in the wet
part of the harbor.

There is a VERY strong front predicted for north of Bermuda, and the
southern end of the hurricane force storm (at its very small center, it is
hurricane force) Bermuda and some 100 miles south of it will be raked by
gale force winds. The good news is that the gale force winds will be blowing
from the NW, so are favorable for progress south. The bad news is that they
are gale force.

The official answer to the crew is that we are not going until after the
second front, but we are preparing as though we are leaving Monday.

After a confab with Peter, who I befriended when I brought him and his crew
Dark and Stormys (Ginger beer and Goslings Bermudan dark rum) on their
arrival. Peter turns out to be a professional charter operator, and has done
many passages. Peter says that he would not do it, but that it is a tough
call. Peter also tells me that I am reading the situation well, and have
sythesized the data correclty: I am balancing discomfort and somewhat higher
risk against schedule.

After thinking long and hard I decide to go. The crew is up for the
discomfort, and knows the first few days will be strong winds and seas and
rainy, but Mike and jack may have to back out if we don't go on Thursday,
and there is no guarentee that we won't have another front predicted then.

And we are off.

Inauspicous start

We left in a bit of a hurry, fastening the dinghy on deck only an lhour
before departure. Not unlike our departure from Padanaram, really, but a
little more self assured.

We had a bit of a scare in customs. It seems that Bruce, Paul and Alan had
to check out of customs at Ordinance Island in addition to the checkout at
the airport. All I had to provide was their flight information and we were
free to go. A few phone calls and we were on our way.

By the time we were clear of government cut, I looked over at Martin, and
understood for the first time why people talk about getting green. I have
never seen that particular swhade of Ghastly pale green before (unless it
was possibly the same shade that was ubiquitous in Catholic grade schools in
the 60s). Martin had taken on a couple of assignments below decks as we
cleared the cut, and by the time we were 500 yards out, it was too late for
him. The sea was pretty rolly, and confused with a swell coming in from the
south from the prior days near-gale, and also from the NE, from today's
wind. One down.

We made pretty good time getting south. As you will recall, we were quite
motivated. A storm system would rake the area in two days, and we need to be
south of 28N by Weds in order to be safe.

I got schooled today by Herb. He did not hear me check in, and when he did
not mention me at roll call, I piped up to tell him that we were in transit.
He scolded me for not checking in. this public SSB transmission business is
a little intimidating, as they have their own lingo and ways. I will try to
do better tomorrow.

Monday, November 17, 2008

RE: Leaving Bermuda

Best of Luck.

Bruce Fortier
Tel: 508-787-7182
Fax: 617-385-1121

-----Original Message-----
[] On Behalf Of Walterpiescik
Sent: Monday, November 17, 2008 11:23
To: 'Blog'; 'Blog'; 'Caribbean Madness google group'
Subject: Leaving Bermuda

Sorry for the re-post if you're getting this twice. We're leaving
in a few minutes and will turn on the transponder momentarily.


You received this message because you are subscribed to the Google
Groups "Caribbean Madness" group.
To post to this group, send email to
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For more options, visit this group at
Visit the blog at

We're leaving Bermuda

At the customs dock clearing out now. We'll turn on transponder in a few
minutes. Martin.

Leaving Bermuda

Sorry for the re-post if you're getting this twice. We're leaving Bermuda
in a few minutes and will turn on the transponder momentarily.


Sunday, November 16, 2008

Fresh Horses; Scoooooore!

The new crew arrived over the last two days (see pictures) and I have done
my best to introduce them to the boat and to Bermuda.

We started with the sailorly arts, doing some sail repair (see picture),
replacing the masthead tricolor that failed, fetching water, emptying the
holding tank, charging batteries, and scrubbing decks.

But the new crew got a small taste of Bermuda last night, in spite of some
uf us being pretty tired. As it happens, last night was the final game of
the 21st World Rugby Classic Bermuda! We estimated that about 5% of the
island population turned out for the game and the subsequent party, which on
prior nights had gone on until 3:00 AM. We didn't stay that long. But it was
fun to uncomprhendingly watch the game, and even more fun to watch the crowd
cheer for the Lions (a collection of British, Irish and Welsh players) and
jeer the Legends (South Africa) and their fans. Jack sized up the situation
for a minute and declared that we should root for the team with the numerous
and big fans. Lions it was.

Later we went on a mission to find the Bermuda Musical Directors Society, a
private bar to which I had been invited. We found it after a fair bit of
walking, but it was quite closed, and had no signes of ever having been
open. I guess they just could not compete with the rugby classic.

I have to go now, and feed Martin before he gets cranky.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

FW: I knew you'd figure it out

I thought you might be interested in this background information on bama, sent to me from Chris Mello one of my cruising mentors.

From: []
Sent: Thursday, November 13, 2008 9:44 AM
Subject: Re: I knew you'd figure it out

good to hear alabama is still kickin. he's been the town halfwhit for some time. used to be an accomplished runner. some say booze simplified him, others say drugs. he was more agile and active in 04. got taken to task for going in unlocked backdoors and raiding neighborhood refrigerators for leftovers i think it was. but overall he's a good example of small town welfare programs at work. just keep greeting him enthusiastically from a distance - sort of like he just won a big road race- and he'll warm up to you. there was also a small old white bearded guy named paul who lived on a 28' blue double ender, but he's probably sailed on to greener pastures by now.

have a good run south. when you get to STM, phillipsburg is an easy sail in and anchor if needed and is cheap as they are not on the euro. marigot is easy too, if a bit rolly, but costly with the exchange rate. in 04 there were no anchoring fees and minimal clearance fees in philipsburg, but not so in the lagoon on the dutch side.

Christopher J. Melo
Naval Architect & Marine Engineer

I knew you'd figure it out

When walking through the small square in St Georges, you will hear
occasional sharp calls- whistles and clucking that you may assume come from
some kind of tropical bird. After a while you begin to realize that they ar
coming from a man who hangs out in one of two spots on the square. He
doesn't look too approachable somehow, so you just accept him as part of the

A few nights back my stereo was competing for my attention with reggae
blasting from a boom box on shore. There were two locals working on a
scooter on shore, a German looking fellow and a black rasta-looking dude. I
turned mine off and listened into the reggae, and decided that I liked their
music better than mine. I later went ashore to tell them so.

We made introductions, and I learned that the rasta-looking dude was Johnny,
and the other fellow had a name that I simply cannot learn. I asked him to
repeat it a few times, but each time it sounded different to me. I wonder if
he was having some fun at my expense.

Since then, I have had a pleasant acquaintance with Johnny, exchanging
greetings whenever I go ashore. He has a politician's handshake, the kind
with the other hand on your shoulder, and good eye contact; but in Johnny's
case the warmth comes off as genuine. He will go out of the way to greet me
ans show me what he is working on or to show me the hogfish he just caught.
I have an uneasy acquaintance with the German looking guy because I still
don't know his name.

Anyway, I was walking the square and saw Johnny parked in one of the two
spots where whistler hangs out. Suddenly I thought "Is Johnny the
whistler?". In retrospect, I should have known, but it was early.

"Hey Johnny, you are not the dude that sits here and wlhistles and clucks,
are you?"

"On no man, no sir, that be 'bama, he, he about 100 years old and has a
cane. He called bama, like Alabama. 'Bama, Alabama"

"Sorry Johnny, no offense man, you don't look to be 100, I just never saw
Bama up close"

So yesterday, I decided that I should get a picture of bama, just to soak in
the local scene that much more, and I approached him. Wen someone seems
unapproachable, trust your instincts. I walked over with my coffee cup in
hand and greeted him by name. He mumbled something incoherent and reached
for the coffee. I told him there was not much left, but he was welcome to
it. He grbbed it and drank it down. Then he reached out with his cane and
hit me lightly on the leg, in a way that was not friendly but not meant to
hurt either; kind of an insult. "how you know my name?...f%&k off". I
explained that Johnny had told me his name, and he responded by tapping me
on the head with his cane, another little insult.

Bama launched into a mumbled tirade of some sort, I couldn't make much out,
but I think he was tring to convey that even at 100 years old he could kick
my ass at will. I bid him good day, and moved on.

When I saw Johnny the next morning, I gave him a little grief.

"Johnny, you didn't tell me that bama is half mad"

Johnny reached out and gave me the two handed handshake, smiled his
toothless smile and said "I knew you would figure it out"

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Nothing much to report today

Just a few boat repairs and an upgrade.

I am going to go after that lobster in a few minutes.

Weather does not look good for a Saturday departure, but it looks
inconvenient, not dangerous.


Tuesday, November 11, 2008


Yesterday we engaged in more traditional tourism with a few of our cruising

Dawn and Laurie (Husband and wife, Laurie is the husband. Not only does he
have a gender bender name, but his sister is named Laurie too. It is better
not to explain) have taken us under their wing. They spent the last two
years cruising up and down island. They went all the way down to Venezuela
and left the boat, then came all the way back the next year. Now they are
taking the boat down south again and leaving it, so they can fly back and
fourth to visit it. They had a hell of a ride to Bermuda, enough to convince
Dawn that she is never doing it again.

We were talking to a gent at the chandlery, and he said we were the first
people he had spoken to this season that had a good ride over. I guess we
just don't know any better.

Anyway, we spent the day in their company seeing Hamilton and the Dockyard,
a post revolutionary war fort that was a mojor base for England to project
their sea power once they lost the colonies. We visited one of the pink sand
beaches, that was really scenic, with big rock outcroppings, reminiscent of
the baths on Virgin Gorda.

Lovely day. I would write more, but it is Dana's last day here, and the
reefs await us.

BTW - I found a hole with three big "bugs" in it(Spiny lobster to you). I am
ging back for one or tow of them later.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Mujan culture

Yesterday was a day of hospitality for us here in Bermuda.

We were planning on a trip to Hamilton when Uptown stopped by and invited us
out on his yacht "MUJAN" for a trip to the other side of the island. No way
we were going to pass on that one. We later learned that the word Mujan is
old Bermudan slang for Bermudan.

It really was a proper little yacht, with classic overhangs, very nice
brightwork, polished stainless, and a proper teak cockpit sole and solid
teak and holly cabin sole. It is 32 feet, made in Sweden, and is Uptown's

Well, it is his home when he is not visiting one of his 6 lady friends (he
is working on number 7). Uptown is divorced, you see, but quite interested
in the ladies. "I was talkin to a girl out in the country for about 6 years,
and talkin to another girl in town for about four years, so it wasn't
entirely my wife's fault that we divorced. It is not easy being me, but
somebody's got to do it." BTW - "talking" is a local euphemism.

There is a lot of drinking to be done here, and the locals get good and
pissed out on the town dock, hooping and hollering quite a lot. It is in
stark contrast to the very groomed and very proper Mr Trott in the customs
office and the professionals waking about in their Bermuda shorts, dress
shirts and ties. But even when they get falling down drunk, the locals are
quite friendly. There was one incident when one of the local drinkers
(drunks sounds so judgmental) took offense to a question from one of the
cruisers and there was some invective, but it seems to have been an isolated

Uptown seems to be able to handle his liquor, and was enjoying "his first
drink of the day" by 10:00. It was what his grandfather called "coffee with
no steam", code for a rum and coke before noon. Later, Uptown asked me to
pour him his "first drink of the day", and when he saw my questioning look,
he told me that he asked his grandfather to explain why he said he was
having his first drink of the day after Uptown had seem him have 8 or 10
drinks already...his Grandfather told him that it was for the benefit of the
police officer who was standing nearby.

We had a great tour and uptown pointed out all of the resorts, Kirk
Douglass' house (Kirk was cool, and would hang out with the locals for a
little rum and a game of pool, but Michael only hangs out with the rich). He
also pointed out the prison, and informed us matter of fact, that he had
spent three years and 6 months there. (He got in a fight that went too far)
It was OK though, because there were three meals a day, air conditioning,
carpeting and cable TV, plus he had a cousin working there so he got a lot
of work programs outside of the walls. He said he used to get wrecked while
out on work program, and his cousin would exhort him to walk straight when
returning to the prison past the other guards so he wouldn't be exposed. "I
had to work real hard to walk straight, then I could just collapse in my

Uptown is a real fine cook, and served us Dorado in a jerk sauce of his own
making. His Grandmother taught him to cook, and I have to say he learned
well. He caught the fish himself the day before. "I caught a fish, and I got
half was a good day."

We couldn't have had a nicer day. We ended the day with sundowners on
another cruiser's boat, eating provisions left by yet another cruiser who
did not have the battery capacity to keep them frozen. Shrimp burritos and
Pork chops on mushroom stuffing. We had to retire early because I was
exhausted, but from our bunk we could hear the other sailors going on for
quite a while. There is a lot of drinking to be done here in Bermuda. I may
have to start another temperance league here.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

FW: Caribbean Madness

Check out Alan's video collage of the trip!

I have not been able to view it all myself because of limited bandwidth, so
I hope there isn't too much inappropriate language or the like. Remember, it
was 4 guys at sea.

It is about 8 minutes long.

We are off on an outing with Uptown and some of his friends, then dinner
with the local cruisers.

-----Original Message-----
From: alan P []
Sent: Friday, November 07, 2008 6:10 PM
To: alexa phillips; beckie; Bruce; Chuck;; Ed Flan; mel;
Mike Dwyer; Paul Lefebvre; Rick Beachner; Ron Mariano; scott mundrick; skip
millor;; tuan vu; vanvalenburg; Walt p; william davis
Subject: Caribbean Madness

My less than creative attempt on UTube
Check it out!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

I want to be a Canadian

My fascination with Canadians and Canadian culture continues unabated.
Canadians have a certain joie du vive that resonates strongly with me.

This trip has re-enforced that fascination. I think that you can arrive in
any cruising destination anywhere in the world and you will find:
1) few Americans on large, well equipped boats working on their systems and
struggling to get parts
2) a French sailor or two on an aluminum or steel boat equipped for Cape
horn, and itching to get back to sea
3) A German couple that keep pretty much to themselves on their Hans
Christian or Bavaria
4) a half dozen Canadians, some of them crossing oceans on spartan 28 ft
boats, partying like mad.

Mind you, I have no basis for this observation other than the cruising logs
of others and one port, but it is an image I enjoy.

So, even though the Bush administration is soon to be over and American
stature abroad has a chance to recover, I think I will go over to the two
boats out of Nova Scotia and ask them for Canadian lessons later this

BTW - Uptown went missing for a few days, but came by last night; He offered
to take us sailing on his classic yacht and I think we will accept. I
attached a picture.

Bruce getting into the island spirit

We had a bit of frayed line onboard, but as cruisers, we try to conserve and
find a use for everything so we made a wig.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Getting ready for the owner

An easy day here in Bermuda. I had to have a little bracket made to support
the GPS, and set out on foot to find a fabricator. The first guy said he
could do it, but it would be about $150 for a piece of sheet stock with one
bend and on hole. I appreciate that a fella has to make a living, but I
don't think so. He was kind enough to direct me to the sheet metal supply
place. They quoted me $96. No.

Then I went next door to the run down marina, stopped in the little diesel
shop and the nice man there said, "look through that pile der... I had to
insist on paying him with a 6 pack for $13. that's more like it.

Later, I met Zena (real name) AKA Queen at the Laundromat. (everybody has a
nickname here - I am going with Cpt Walnut, even though Queen says that
Walnuts hep ya sleep.) I told Queen about my new good friend at the run down
boatyard and she said: "he is my..." and paused to search for the word.
"Friend with benefits? I asked. "yeah, you could call it dat" she said withy
a sheepish smile.

I have to go prep the boat for the owner (Dana), who arrives today. I have
cleaned the decks, fixed a leak that formed during the transit, dried out
what was wet, wiped down all the walls and floor, made the bed, bought
chocolates for the pillow, and need to go get fresh flowers.

The gales have passed, and the weather looks good for Dana's entire visit.

Watching Hurricane Paloma with keen interest.


FW: Some photos from the trip

-----Original Message-----
From: Fortier, Bruce []
Sent: Thursday, November 06, 2008 9:03 AM
To: Walterpiescik; Caribbean Madness google group
Subject: RE: Some photos from the trip

Here are some more pics

Bruce Fortier
Tel: 508-787-7182
Fax: 617-385-1121

-----Original Message-----
[] On Behalf Of Walterpiescik
Sent: Thursday, November 06, 2008 06:45
To: 'Caribbean Madness google group'
Subject: Some photos from the trip

Here are a few photos from the trip:

Img 003 Dana laying in the provisions for the both passages - what a
job she did. She even did an inventory with a location key so we could
things; boats have a lot of hiding places.

Img 004 Walter listening in to southbound herb

Img 008 A typical view out of the window, a lot of water and a little

Img 007 Bruce on watch. Notice that the locker behind him is open and
spread out over him. This picture was probably taken during an "all
hands on
deck" emergency. Note the peaceful expression on his face.

Img 011 Paul, on Bruce's watch (just kidding)

Img 018 Alan in the galley, waiting to raid the fridge unobserved

Img 027 Nice butt! Fixing the radar.

Img 043 Paul getting ready to put an end to Jack. Fortunately for Jack,
is afraid of raw poultry, a fear that extends to sparrows.

Img 048 Shirtsleeve weather

Img 079 The swimming hole

Img 110 The Royal Bermuda Yacht club. The will let anybody into that

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Thursday, November 6, 2008

Instructions for listening in to Southbound 2 weather routing on internet

A number of people have expressed interest in hearing us get our weather
reports from Southbound Herb. We do this over the SSB radio, you can listen
over the internet.

Some clever ham has rigged his SSB receiver to his internet server: If you go to this page
and follow the link to "use the Icom IC R75 receiver", then go to the bottom
of the page and tune the receiver to 12359 khz, Mode: upper side band, then
click "send frequency change" you will begin to receive an audio stream of
our comms with Herb.

This is done at 2000 UTC, which I believe is 3:00 EST. (It used to be 4:00
EST, but then you fell back one hour for daylights savings time).

Some photos from the trip

Here are a few photos from the trip:

Img 003 Dana laying in the provisions for the both passages - what a great
job she did. She even did an inventory with a location key so we could find
things; boats have a lot of hiding places.

Img 004 Walter listening in to southbound herb

Img 008 A typical view out of the window, a lot of water and a little sky

Img 007 Bruce on watch. Notice that the locker behind him is open and tools
spread out over him. This picture was probably taken during an "all hands on
deck" emergency. Note the peaceful expression on his face.

Img 011 Paul, on Bruce's watch (just kidding)

Img 018 Alan in the galley, waiting to raid the fridge unobserved

Img 027 Nice butt! Fixing the radar.

Img 043 Paul getting ready to put an end to Jack. Fortunately for Jack, Paul
is afraid of raw poultry, a fear that extends to sparrows.

Img 048 Shirtsleeve weather

Img 079 The swimming hole

Img 110 The Royal Bermuda Yacht club. They will let anybody into that dump.


The night before last we were tied up to the bulkhead behind ordinance
island in near gale conditions. It was a pretty lumpy night as the wind
never veered to the south as had been promised by the weather soothsayers,
and there was a pretty good fetch into our little cove.

We had set a watch schedule through the night so that our dock lines would
be checked every 3 hours, and settled in for a wary sleep.

My wariness was warranted, but the threat was not from the weather at all.
Little had I known that we were in danger of ambush.

Yes, that is right, ambush. Ambush right here in the civilized island, not
20 meters from the customs office and the impeccably dressed agents there.
Ambush within walking distance to the jewelry stores catering to cruise line
ladies. Brazen, bold ambush.

If you want to get any sleep at all on a small boat at sea, you have to have
a bunk that gives you a feeling of security, otherwise your body
instinctively fights every motion to keep you from falling out of your bunk.
If you get yourself wedged in well, your body can relax, and you can get
some shuteye. In Madness, I have constructed a tight little bunk for myself
(see attached picture). It is by definition hard to get out of.

However, in the wee hours of the of the morning, when a voice yells out
clear and strong "Ambush! We are under attack!" you find yourself able to
extricate yourself with surprising agility. A few days before, you were not
able to shimmy up a mast, but after that warning think I could have climbed
the mast even had it been greased. I was out of my bunk in a flash and out
onto the deck even though in my half dreamstate I had understood the warning
message as "argiush, war unnerwear tach".

I scanned the hellish scene from my vantage point in the cockpit - A great
wind blowing, chop and spray, lines everywhere. Everthing was normal. I
checked the lines, and went below. I had to laugh as I descended the
companionway stairs, because my sleeping bag was draped over the bridgedeck
at the top of the companionway ladder; I had somehow managed to get halfway
on deck before molting it.

I went into the salon, were Paul was awake and Alan sleeping soundly. "WHAT
THE HELL WAS THAT?" I questioned gently. Paul replied: "Alan thinks we are
being ambushed"

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Jack Sparrow arrives in Bermuda

Without so much as a thank you, Jack sparrow is gone.

We were in pretty heavy weather for the last 12 hours or so approaching
Bermuda, and I think Jack smelled land and set out on his own. We did not
see him go, but when the weather moderated and we got ourselves some food,
he was not there looking for a handout. We are pretty sure that he is
sitting at a bird bar impressing chicks (pun intended) with sea stories.

As for us, we spent much of the day recovering and catching up on sleep. I
don't have much to do in terms of fixing the boat, as most of our fixes at
sea are sufficient to be more or less permanent.

We have a space right at the town landing, but will move to a mooring
tonight to weather the gale that is coming through.

Bermuda is beautiful but pricey. We have the advantage of Uptown, a
gentleman in his 50s who took a liking to us and decided to show us around.
He took us to a club that he described as a "black establishment" but
assured us that we would be welcome, and we were. I think we are going back

People here are very much into Obama, except for Uptown. There are a lot of
shirts with Obama and his family on them. They have a more personal, less
political look to them, like you might see the image of Che, or perhaps an
African leader. It is interesting to see a British colony have such an
interest in an American election.

I have some boat stuff to attend to; more later.

RE: Jack Sparrow has taken control of the ship

How many men does it take to kill a sparrow?

-----Original Message-----
[] On Behalf Of Walterpiescik
Sent: Tuesday, November 04, 2008 7:38 AM
To: 'Caribbean Madness google group'
Cc: 'Blog'
Subject: Jack Sparrow has taken control of the ship


He seemed so innocent and vulnerable.

Any yet, he now has four grown men planning their every move based on what
Jack will do.

He started hanging out in the cabin, which was OK, despite the occasional
accident. Until we realized that birds eat, and therefore crap their own
weight every day. Plus, he seems to have perfected a natural form of super

So we started driving him out of the cabin, for our own health and safety.
He won't stay out. We have been driven to put in the insect screens, and yet
he finds his way around the edges, and through the dorades and I don't know

Right now the crew votes one to three to simply kill him and be done with
it. We have to get rid of some old flares...

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Jack Sparrow has taken control of the ship


He seemed so innocent and vulnerable.

Any yet, he now has four grown men planning their every move based on what
Jack will do.

He started hanging out in the cabin, which was OK, despite the occasional
accident. Until we realized that birds eat, and therefore crap their own
weight every day. Plus, he seems to have perfected a natural form of super

So we started driving him out of the cabin, for our own health and safety.
He won't stay out. We have been driven to put in the insect screens, and yet
he finds his way around the edges, and through the dorades and I don't know

Right now the crew votes one to three to simply kill him and be done with
it. We have to get rid of some old flares...

Jack Sparrow must die

Not really, but the vote was two for killing Jack and two for putting up
with him until Bermuda.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Pirates, Flare sighting, Coast guard visit, smooth sailing

14:00 Sat Afternoon

About 24 hours ago, we were boarded and subsequently by no less than Jack
Sparrow. How we merited the honor of having such a notable (or notorious)
character is beyond me, but I suspect it has something to do with our
celebrity status since the creation of this blog. I had not thought that we
would join the ranks of pirates until at least January.

OK, maybe not Jack Sparrow, but we were joined by Jack the Sparrow at least.
We suspect that he was blown offshore by the same winds that blew us
offshore to the tune of 170 miles in 24 hours. Jack looked stunned and
confused when he boarded, and did not have the energy to be wary of
was all he could do to hop a few hops away if we reached for him. He has
since regained much of his vigor, but sensibly chooses to stay with the
boat, rather than try to fly on to St Martin on his own. He asked about the
movie selections, and I think that is what drove his decision.

He is pretty good crew and takes occasional turns at the wheel, but he is
easily overpowered when we are under spinnaker, so he requires some
assistance. Pansy flyboy. He is taking a bath in the galley sink as we
speak. He often alights on our heads which we found amusing at first.

We don't know if we have to declare him when we arrive in Bermuda.

About 0230 this morning, we spotted a bit of pyrotechnics that could have
been a white anti-collision flare but was probably just a shooting star. We
had seen lots of shooting stars, but this one was pretty different, and had
a pyrotechnic feel to it. A mariner in distress would fire a red flare, but
if you are out of red flares, you would use what you have. We got on the VHF
and issued a securite call, mentioned that the sighting was probably a
shooting star, but possibly a white flare and asking whether any station had
knowledge of mariners in distress. No response. Then we did the same on SSB
2182 kHz and did the same. Again, no response. Then we heard Puerto Rico
issuing an unrelated securite call. We listened for a while for reports in
case Search and Rescue authorities would want us to divert to some location.

Right at the end of the first REM sleep of the trip, about 0600, I hear a
voice clear and strong over the until-now-silent VHF radio Sailing Vessel
Madness, Sailing Vessel Madness, this is Coast Guard search and rescue 2005
C130 on postion and searching for mariners in distress. We chatted for a
minute and found out that the message had been relayed by the Canadian CG.
They were clear that it was proablay a shooting star, but scrambled anyway,
and were very thankful that we "did the right thing" and reported it. It was
pretty exciting. I wish that they had tried to reach us on 2182 before
coming out, but they might have come anyway.

We are sailing under spinnaker now, a little northerly of rhumb line to keep
the spinnaker drawing well. Very smooth sailing, and fairly fast. We are
well ahead of our posted distance goals for arriving in Bermuda before the
gale so far.

We have some good tunes on board. Right now I am being introduced to Amanda
Marshal's song "OMG, I woke up with a snake tattoo". Fun.