Sunday, June 7, 2009

No matter where you go, there you are

Some people have asked "Do you recommend cruising?

As a fun thing to do for weeks or months, YES. No doubt. See my last post.

As a longer term lifestyle it is more complicated. A few years back therewas an attempt at a cult movie named something along the lines of Buckaroo Bonsai. As I recall, no cult formed. But Buckaroo Bonsai was fond of this catch phrase: "No matter where you go, there you are!" and it came to mind several times during the trip. Even though you were sitting there in a paradise, your inclination to find fault in a situation will eventually find its way to the surface in spite of your nearly ideal situation. You can see it in my posts - as the novelty diminished a little over time and the islands began to hold fewer surprises, I got bored from time to time, and said so. So regardless of where you travel, you bring yourself and therefore your baggage with you.

So if you are a person who already finds delight in a perfectly ripened tomato, or finding a good parking space, long term cruising is for you. There are so many of these little delights to be found, and many of the things you take for granted (like good beef, good produce, easy access to
fuel, machines that do your laundry and dishes) become delights when you find them. Of course, if you are that person, you are finding delight in ordinary things every day, and probably have no need to cruise to be delighted.

If you are a malcontent, and wondering if there is a better way out there, long term cruising may not be for you, since you will revert to being discontented after the novelty wears off. Paradoxically you are the person who needs the stimulation and change.

The truth seems to be in between. The change of scenery and exposure to other cultures has been helpful in putting minor irritants into perspective. I know that the experience has helped me appreciate all we have here in the states, and all I enjoy in my overly blessed life. But the new cruiser would be wrong to expect cruising to be a panacea.

Ttyl

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Are you glad you did it?

A number of people have written to remind me that the adventure is never
over, and a few have pointed out that they would/do not expect life lessons
from a trip like this, it is just something fun to do. This is at least
partially true, but when you spend seven months away from your normal mode
of living I think it only natural that some observations about your way of
living will come to light. So, bear with me when I search for deeper
meaning, and remember that I almost always write tongue-in-cheek.


On a lighter note - A couple of people have asked: "Are you glad you did
it?"

Yes, without a doubt. It was a lot of fun, not outrageously expensive
(unless I can't find/tolerate a job because of it), nobody got hurt, and
even the boat survived. There was real challenge in planning and executing.
There was real danger (primarily from mother nature). I made new friends and
strengthened old bonds.

It should be noted that I had a fantastic crews. NO problem people at all;
this is remarkable when you put as many as 5 people in a 42 foot ship
(bottle) and shake vigorously for days. (Oh, here is a bad thought - maybe I
was the problem person!) I expect that character flaws are revealed in that
environment more than most, and without some humility and forgiveness,
things could get raw between shipmates.

It should also be noted that the ship held together remarkably well, with
perhaps the exception of the first two days. I think I might have different
observations had the diesel needed replacement in some remote island. Also,
I am lucky that I have some good sense on jury-rigging and repairs. We had a
few failures that might have been a real problem for others who didn't have
the mechanical ability.

It was enormous fun, and the rhythm of moving from island to island, the
balance of challenge and ease is hard to beat. Another benefit is meeting
so many people living lives that are so far removed from corporate America,
and so full of adventure (remember Michael and Ursula? Yoyo? Ira?) Having
Dana visit instead of quitting her job and putting our stuff in storage was
nearly perfect - We had income, benefits, avoided the trauma of closing our
household, and Dana got to do only the parts she wanted, with no transits.
It would have been better for Dana if it had been shorter, so that she could
have participated in a higher percentage of the trip. The seasons dictated
the length. It is also good to have another dimension (like kiting, surfing,
scuba diving, learning local cooking, volunteer work, etc) to keep your
cocktail hour from encroaching too deeply into your afternoons.

Next: Do you recommend cruising?

ttyl

Monday, June 1, 2009

Epilogue

Well, it is over now, and I am struggling to put a bow on it and call it
finished. My brother told me recently that the blog just sort of trailed
off, and he is right.

I am tempted to sermonize in the manner of those silly, self important
protagonists of popular TV sitcoms. You know the lessons, they come in the
form of a voice-over at the end of the program that neatly knits up the
three subplots into a meaningful half-hour life experience. Perhaps this is
to convince you that you did not actually waste your time watching, that
there was something to learn if you paid attention.

Sorry, but I have bad news for you.

You may have wasted your time reading my blog. I can't think of a single
life lesson that will tie it up into a bundle and make it whole. There are a
few observations though, and I will give in to the temptation to share them.
They are too numerous and lengthy to impose on you poor abused readers, so I
will break them out into individual entries over the next couple of weeks.

Next: "Do you recommend cruising?"


ttyl

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Home again

At 23:30 May 19th, SV Madness slipped by the breakwater of Padanaram's
harbor, and came to rest at her mooring, ending a sail of over 5100 miles.

I will summarize in a few days. Right now I will go take a shower.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Big day in the Big Apple

Well, my repatriation is more or less complete. Martin and I spent yesterday
walking and eating our way through New York. The boat is anchored in a
little cove behind the statue of Liberty. The anchorage is a great find, and
we would never have heard of it except for the good crew of SV Sayonara.

The first night. Martin and I hit a Japanese restaurant that featured a lot
of rules on the menu, like "No fighting, having sex or throwing food in the
main dining room", "The restaurant cannot be held responsible for injury to
patrons due to fighting between other patrons" "Patrons that drink
excessively and vomit in the main dining room will be charged $25 for the
clean up and for the displeasure if the other patrons".

Yesterday, we had a walking and eating tour of the city, from Wall Street to
Broadway up near Lexington and back, favoring as many city parks as
possible. New York is really a pleasant place on a spring morning. We ate
Tex Mex, over the top chocolates from a specialty store, street vendor
candied nuts, and finished the evening by meeting his sister Mimi and her
friend Jackie for drinks and Tapas. We had a great time with those two. I
think that they were greatly amused by the story of the naked St Martin
giant, which I don't think I ever wrote up in the blog because it is just
too odd. Ask me about that one when we are face to face.

I made no bones about being a tourist, because that is exactly what I am. I
stopped in middle of the sidewalk to look up at the skyscrapers, took
pictures of fountains and sculptures and generally made a nuisance of myself
to those hustling to work. The New Yorkers were very friendly in spite of my
behavior. It seems to be a truism that anything you can get anywhere else,
you can get in New York (except a sweep of Baseball, Football and
Basketball champions...you get to go to Boston for that). The pastries here
are just as good as those in St Martin, except that those serving them
aren't speaking French. I am sure that if I look for reggae here, it will be
as good as what we found in the islands. It is a bittersweet realization.
Good in that any major metropolitan area in the US has so much to offer, and
bad that the work has become so small that adventure and discovery are
diminished.

Today I am headed back to the city, then East to Boston in a couple of days;
home by Memorial day with luck.

ttyl

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

No good deed goes unpunished

After a perfectly enjoyable visit in the DC area (highlighted by my friend
Joe finally coming out of the closet; well not overtly, but his effeminate
protestations at not having been mentioned in the blog left little doubt), I
headed off for NYC. (There, Joe, now you have been mentioned;-)

I got no further than 100 yards (100 yards!) from the dock near Ben and
Jen's house before I strayed a couple of feet (a couple of feet!) off of the
fairway and was quickly hard aground (Hard Aground!...OK, I'll stop that
now). This being the Chesapeake, that is no big deal, since the bottom is
almost all sand and mud. This spot was no different. In spite of just barely
being on time to make my appointment with a fair tide in the C&D canal, I
remained uncharacteristically cool, betraying my experience with this
condition. I would get free of the sand bar soon enough, and if not, well...

A big power boat came by and this time I hoped and asked for him to make a
big wake to dislodge me. Normally I am cursing under my breath when they are
throwing big wakes because they slowed down for the no wake area. He
obliged, to no avail. Then he volunteered to pull me off, which I had not
asked for, and was a little worried about since I did not know his level of
seamanship. In not time at all, he was aground as well through a series of
mistakes that I will spare you of. I proceeded to lower the dinghy to pull
the poserboat off, then resume my self rescue. He managed to get free before
I was launched, and went on his way with my thanks.

The dinghy got Madness off the bar in short order, and I was on my way, but
late. I did make the tide, but had to motor most of yesterday.

Today I came down the Delaware, and was spared the awful ride the forecast
promised. I did not get the 25 kt gusts that were forecast, but instead got
no wind at all until after 1400, at which time it came up light from the SE.
This is good for me, as I had made Cape May, and was headed NNE to Atlantic
City.

Martin is on his way to join me there for the run to NYC, and Walter Sidor
is looking into joining me in NYC for the run East to Padanaram.

Right now, Madness is making 6.5 - 7 knots close reaching in light air with
all sails up. The sea is so flat in this new wind that it is relaxing to sit
and read while making better time than she can make under power. Nice. I
think the seas are under 1'.

Ttyl

Monday, May 11, 2009

Annapolis, New York

I have been in Annapolis for over a week, hanging out with friends Ben and
Jen and their daughter Alex on Back Creek.

We made landfall in Solomon's island on the western shore

I was also able to make it to visit with John and Sherry in DC, Tom and
Leigh, Laura Tim and Drew, and made my Niece Katie's graduation in Richmond,
where she graduated from University of Richmond with a BS in accounting and
Business Administration. Yea Katie! Katie and I have more in common now,
because my hair is as blond as hers. She tried to teach me how to get things
done by feigning helplessness, but it does not seem to work very well for
me.

My ever reliable Canadian crew (Paul and Joanne) has headed back to the
thawing north. I will miss their company and Joanne's cooking. Martin is
planning on joining me in Atlantic City, and sailing into NYC for a day in
the city before he returns. From there, it will be just a few days sailing
to Padanaram, where I will return just in time for...vacation! We are headed
to the Cape for a weekend with Fred and Cindy at the lighthouse in Chatham.
The hell here never ends.

ttyl

Friday, May 1, 2009

Comfort at sea, Culinary travels

We are about to set foot on dry land again, the first time since we left
West Palm Beach on Sunday. This time, there was no strong urge to land as
soon as possible and try our land legs. I think when we reached Bermuda
after a similar time at sea, we quite anxious to get ashore. This time, we
could just keep going; I think we have hit our stride. We have been in sight
of land and striking distance of perfectly good harbors since 0300, but not
felt compelled to rush our return.

We are hankering for some exercise, particularly a walk, but not so much as
to do something about it, like leg lifts and pushups, which work fine
underway.

I realized a few minutes ago that we have traveled quite far. This is
evidenced in part by our diet which included: Beurre and condiments from St
Martin; Turks Head beer from the Turks and Caicos; plantains, mutton snapper
and mangoes from the Bahamas; king mackerel from the gulf stream outside of
Palm Beach inlet; and tonight, with any luck, will include Maryland Crab
Bisque.

We are about thirty minutes from Solomon's Island, where we will dock
outside of a local restaurant, enjoy a stationary dinner, then retire to a
(nearly) still boat and return to a schedule that includes no night watches.

Then on to Annapolis tomorrow.

ttyl

Word of the Day

The word of the day is: Whoaq!

Whoaq is a Canadian idiom that Paul enlightened us about last night when
playing Scrabble. It is apparently an expression of surprise and delight.
Used in a sentence: "Whoaq! I just got rid of my "Q" and "W" and went out!"

Chesapeake Bay

We just entered the Chesapeake Bay around 0500 today. The predicted wind was
slow in coming. We motored for almost 24 hours, and as constant and
comforting as the diesel can be, it was beginning to drone a little.

We had the last of the Mutton Snapper we caught on the Great Bahamas Bank
last night, in a Pesto crust, along with Brussels Sprouts, potatoes and the
last of the Turks Head beer from the Turks and Caicos. We played Scrabble
and later saw a beautiful moonset over slowly rolling swells from distant
winds.

We will probably stop at Tangier island, or Tilghman, or Solomon's, then on
to Annapolis were Paul and Joanne will fly home, and I will remain for week
or two before proceeding home.

We might have sailed down wind through a gale to get home as early as this
Sunday, but that sounded a bit uncomfortable, and way too sudden.

Once again we are cold, yet sailing North. It doesn't make any sense...

ttyl

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Heading North with a vengeance (for now)

Sorry it has been so long.

Paul, Joanne and I had a good trip back to Florida. The clearing in was
uneventful, other than being sent back and forth between two offices several
times. There was no mention of the customs sticker that I was supposed to
purchase for the boat, and no visit to the boat.

I was able to make it to my mother's 80th birthday party. I was told some
time ago that Mom had insisted that we not do anything, and that it had
devolved into just a dinner at her favorite restaurant, but it was a party
after all, and my absence would have been conspicuous, even if I was sailing
a once in a lifetime trip.

I spent a couple of days at my mother's house, leaving the boat to Paul and
Joanne. It was nice to have that option, and I am sure that it was nice for
them to have the boat to themselves. (they tried to hide the evidence, but
there was a lot of confetti in the corners, and champagne bottles in the
trash bin onshore near the boat)

I had to cut short visits to the boat from family, as the weather told us to
get underway Sunday night right after the party. You don't argue with the
weather. The first night was a little rough, and very dark. It was made more
unpleasant by the formation of two new leaks, one in the vee berth, and one
in the main salon. It makes it a little harder when you cannot go below and
stay dry, and when you know you will be drying cushions and gear for a long
time. I think we have fixed one, and hope we have fixed the other. We won't
really know until we have rough conditions.

We made over 200 miles that first night with the help of the Gulf Stream. We
made 165 last night. We are presently approaching the outer banks. We have
the opportunity of heading out into a gale that would propel us quickly back
to New England, or finding shelter for a week or two. I think I may seek
that shelter, though it is tempting. The Gale would not be all that bad with
the wind behind the beam, but it would be cold and wet. I am used to wet,
but not cold.

We may duck into the Chesapeake Bay and stop in Annapolis to see Ben and
Jen. (This may be the first Ben and Jen hear of it). Then I would proceed on
up single handed via New York.

ttyl

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Caught more fish

We caught a few more fish underway, the look like oversized snapper with red
tail and fins (one book has a picture of a Bohar snapper that is a spitting
image) big eye like a grouper but with a with red surround. Big scales,
maybe 5/16 diameter.

Anybody know if they are safe for Ciguatera in the Bahamas?

We are looking to cross the Gulf stream very early tomorrow.

ttyl

Chubb Key Bahamas

We are making wake for the Gulf Stream, and hope to cross over to West Palm
Beach in the next day or two.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Freezing here up north

We are about pin high with Key West, and let me tell you, it is FREEZING up
here. Two nights now we have had to wear fleeces (even though people here
barely know what a fleece is).

Also, when we went diving, we were shivering cold (no kidding) coming back
from the snorkeling sights. It was sunny, too! The wind was howling.

I managed a kite session in the afternoon, but the wind was kind of light so
I did not do much. There was no practicing jumps or rolls because I was not
certain that I could get back to windward.

ttyl

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Thunderball, Swimming Pigs

Thunderball Grotto was very cool, both literally and figuratively. We were
kind of cold, the air temps had dipped to 76 or so, water temps at 74, and
it was very windy. I now have a better appreciation of the cold wimpiness of
my Nieces and nephews who visit from warmer climes. It seems I have adjusted
to the warmer temps to a surprising extent.

The current was very strong, but not enough to keep the intrepid explorers
out. You swam toward what looked like a normal island, but as you got within
20 feet, you saw the entrance to a cave. We were there at half tide, so we
could stay on the surface as we swam in, but just barely. The current was
very strong in the entrance, but it was forcing you OUT, which was
comforting. If it was forcing us in, we would not have dared. We scraped our
snorkels along the rock overhead as we swam. The entrance was about 25 feet
long, with a low ceiling all the way, then it opened up to a hemispherical
chamber, about 30 feet in diameter. The thunder dome had a lot of fish that
were not afraid, and would surround you when you offered some bread.
Streaming down from the ceiling, there are 4 columns of light that pierce
the darkness of the cave, providing light, and accentuating the darkness of
the far corners of the cave.

Once inside, all you had do was look for the sand bottom to find out where
the current was not running as strong, and swim to that location for a rest.
Where the current ran strong, the bottom was scrubbed clean down to the
coral bottom.

There were a few other entrances, some of them quite small, and with even
stronger currents running, which were fun to shoot through.

More on the swimming pigs later.

ttyl

Thunderball, swimming pigs

Today we are heading to Thunderball Grotto to (google thunderball and
staniel key, and I am sure there are photos).

This afternoon we move on to Big Major to feed the swimming pigs!

Big weather coming, so we have to be holed up somewhere by Tues, then on
North.

We are now planning to continue North to West Palm Beach, abandoning plans
to backtrack to Georgetown for the races. The weather just says NO.

ttyl

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

sunburn

Very nice kiting day; I got my first sunburn of the trip, if you can believe
that!

I put spf 15 on (I was out of 30, Dana), but I was out from 0700 to 1430, so
I guess it wore off. Plus I forgot to spray it on my scalp.

Good day nonetheless, and good kiting. Having a little trouble with the
backroll, but had fun.

ttyl

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Not bored anymore

Great kiting day, and my crew arrives...NOW.

Gotta run. Hopefully I can get them to the cruiser's bar in time for Texas
hold 'em (poker night, $5 buy in, no additional chips available)

ttyl

Hanging out in Georgetown

I have to confess I am bored. I took the time to clean the boat, scrub the
bottom, do some varnish, but I am ready to go.

Many people spend their whole winter here in Georgetown. There is a lot of
things to do. I have been to a bread baking class, a fishing gam session,
and I go to yoga in the mornings. Last night was Karaoke night at St Francis
(a restaurant and bar).

There has not been much wind here, but it is supposed to be around 19 knots
in the morning, so I should be able to get some kiting in.

Paul and Joanne arrive tomorrow, and may stay with me until my return to
Padanaram. I am looking forward to having them here, they are very upbeat
and a lot of fun. We may stay another day or two to let them check out
Georgetown.

I attached a pair of pictures of our last Mahi Mahi. It is a very strange
thing to watch them loose their color; it happens all at once shortly after
their death throws. The time from the fish being colorful and green to the
ghostly white is the space of about 10 seconds.

ttyl

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Getting back into the US

For some purposely obscure reason (namely, another tax) private boaters
making calls in foreign ports must purchase a decal in order to return.

This decal is not spoken of in the brochure "What you need to know before
you leave" by the cbp, so I did not get one. It is purchased online, and no
inspection is done, just a few forms to fill out... In other words, there is
no value added; but not having it looks like it may prove to be a hassle
when I return.

I guess I just have to keep cruising indefinitely...

The cruisers here in Georgetown are very social. Yesterday I went to Yoga in
the morning, bread baking class in the afternoon, and today we had sunfish
races (I won the individual race). It is a fun little ad hoc community.
Every morning the radio cackles to life with news of the days events,
commercial business offerings, and of course, news of Reggie the rat.

ttyl

Yaargh

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Booby Island in Pirates Bay Mayaguana

Booby Island in Pirates Bay Mayaguana was a big disappointment to the three
wandering sailors...just a bunch of stupid birds.

Sunrise over Crooked Island

I took this a few days ago, when Ted and TJ were here. I thought you might
enjoy it.

Swimming with Flipper

Yesterday we had a pretty great experience. We looked over at another boat
nearby, and saw that there was fin passing near a swimmer.

It was clear that the swimmer knew about the fin, and was not getting out of
the water, so we felt pretty sure that it was not a shark.

We saw pretty quickly that it was a dolphin mother and calf, so I swam in
that direction. I intercepted them (they were moving very slowly) and swam
nearby without any real interaction at first. It was thrilling to be near
them, even if I could not see them when they went underwater. They were
about 25 feet away and I had no mask, so I saw them only when they came up
for air.

I asked the nearest boat if they had a mask I could borrow, and they tossed
me one, so now I could see the forms faintly below water at that distance.
After a while, the calf, who was about four and a half feet long, swam by to
check me out. I think it wanted to play.

I unnerved me to be between the mother and calf a bit, but after a little
while it became clear that the mother was unconcerned. When the calf came
near and put his/her head straight down and did a pirouette, the invitation
to play was clear. I did the same, and this was obviously what the calf
wanted, as it darted off and then back (I think it was wondering why I had
not darted off with it). I repeated the pirouette, and so did the calf in
response, finishing with its mouth open in a sort of grin.

It was interacting with me, without doubt. I wish that we had some sort of
ball to see if it would play with that. I did not attempt to touch it at
all, as I had read recently that it is interpreted as a threat, and can lead
to a bite or head butt, both of which can be nasty.

By this time, Pete, Ray and Anna had come over, as well as swimmers from
another boat, and Pete got in the water as well. I had to share the
attention of our little friend.

The mother, in the mean time, was casually swimming around possibly eating
something from the sea floor. She was keeping a watchful eye, but it was as
though she had taken the calf to the boats to entertain the calf, like a
play date with the cruisers.

We found out later that the dolphin had been coming to Georgetown for years,
and would have a calf about every other year. Someone mentioned the name the
cruisers had given her, but I cannot recall it right now.

Very cool.

ttyl

Where did they go?

I just got out of the Vee berth, somehow the door got stuck, and everyone
was gone...

It was very strange...I woke up with a knot on my head in the vee berth.
There was a party going on outside, but I was not able to get out.

This morning, the party was over and everyone was gone...weird.

We are rid of him for now.

We are rid of him for now.

It was a long time coming, but after two days of servitude under Capt
Walnut, we couldn't take it anymore. He had us doing things like cooking,
washing dishes, hoisting the anchor, dropping the anchor, hoisting the
anchor again, coiling ropes in figure eight patterns, carrying water tanks,
pulling on ropes, mopping the deck, pumping waste, and the list goes on and
on.

The 5 of us decided that the best way to enjoy our visit was to not visit at
all. We have forced Capt Walnut into the forward cabin, and provided him
with a gallon of water and a stale loaf of Bahama bread. We figure that
will provide sustenance for the remainder of our trip. In the mean time, it
is one big party out here in the main cabin. We are eating all the steaks
and fresh vegetables, listening to Reggie music, and just plain leaving a
mess in the galley (and everywhere else for that matter).

Walter is banging on the door, but the thumping goes surprisingly well with
the Reggie music, so it really doesn't bother us. The mutiny party will go
on until we have to leave tomorrow. We are hoping that it won't be too long
after we are gone that Walt figures out there is no lock on the door, but
just incase, we will watch for how long it takes for his next email.

Back to the party,
Ray, Pete, Nat, Kimmie and Anna

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Family arrived

Around 11:30 the VHF crackled with the call from someone hailing Madness.

"Station hailing Madness, please switch and answer channel seven one...seven
one over"

"71"

"Madness, Madness, Madness, this is Cessna niner seven one eight zulu, we
are about 2 miles north east of the rendezvous point, and approaching at 100
kts, please light us up as we fly by"

It was Ray, flying in from south Fla, with Natalie, Kimmie, Anna, and Pete.
They were able to locate me with the help of the flashlight, take some
pictures, then move on to the airport, and clear customs.

We met at the rendezvous point, the bar at the Peace and Plenty hotel home
of Doc Lerman, the best bartender in the Bahamas, were they had taken a room
for the first night. We all enjoyed showers in water that we did not have to
carry, and hung out for a while allowing for the travelers to rest.

Around 16:00 we headed out in Madness for a trip to a nearby reef for a
snorkel, which was surprisingly nice for one so close in the harbor. We
spotted several deadly poisonous lionfish, a stingray, small grouper, and of
course many parrotfish, angelfish, blennys, wrasse, snapper, tangs,
clownfish, etc.

I went back to the boat a little early and started dinner, cooking some of
the meat and vegetables that they smuggled over from the mainland. (While
they were detained briefly by the customs officials, they were able to get
goods through) We had a very nice dinner of pork loins marinated in garlic
and ginger, ate the last of our Mahi Mahi, salad, and potatoes au gratin. We
cooked and enjoyed dinner under sail in 4-5 kt winds, ghosting along at 1.5
kts or so. Barely moving, but moving fast enough to get back by nightfall.

On the cruisers net (Channel 68 at 0800), we heard the woes of another boat
that had the misfortune of having been boarded by a local pirate. The
cruiser had suffered damage to many of his systems but so far has not been
personally harmed. There is hope for him, however. We know this because he
has managed to send a message via Morse code using what remains of his VHF
and damaged electrical systems. He has managed to sequester himself in a
safe part of the boat, and has set booby traps to kill, maime or capture the
pirate known as Reggie the Rat.

ttyl

Monday, April 6, 2009

Things just work out sometimes.

The other night we asked a local where the party was, and he told us that we
should go to Emerald Cove and go to the staff party. He said that everyone
was going, locals and tourists, and the drinks would be free, because it was
a big celebration following the fundraiser for the family regatta.

"Just go a few miles up the road on the left".

We walked about 2 miles before we caught our first ride in the back of a
pick 'em up truck. He took us a few miles before he had gone as far as he
was going, and dropped us off.

We walked another mile or so before we caught our second ride, who said
"that is way up there, maybe another 12 miles, and further than I was going,
but I will take you there"

We rode another 15 minutes or so, wondering how we would get back, and what
the cab fare would be if we could find a cab.

When we arrived, we saw that Emerald cove is a Four Seasons hotel, and as we
walked up the manicured boulevard that led to the lobby, we began to
realize that we had been had...there was not going to be a party here with
free drinks for everyone.

But things worked out great. As we approached the bar out by the water, a
woman demanded "what are you guys smiling about?". She insisted that we all
looked like we were cats that had just swallowed canaries. Before you knew
it, we had joined her, her son, and his friends that were here on a Biotech
conference for the week.

We went off to the fish fry with this well heeled group, who were at first
put off by the rough and tumble nature of the place, but it turned out to be
a great evening.

One of the highlights for me was finding out that we never should have
pulled that first Mahi Mahi into the boat. A local named Dwight who seemed
to own a couple of restaurants, told me that if you leave the first Mahi in
the water on the hook, all of his/her friends will frenzy around the boat,
trying to steal whatever the first is eating. "If there are twelve, you will
catch all twelve". All you have to do is have some other lines ready, and
even if you put bare hooks in the water, they will bite; but he prefers to
put a small piece of rag on the other hooks to tempt them that much more.

Next time, we are getting more than one Mahi...

We got a free ride back to the harbor with the conventioneers, and had a
very enjoyable night.

By the time the evening was over, we forgot that we had been duped.

ttyl

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Ok, so I was posing, but what a fish!

We just saw a Big Mahi Mahi charge our bait, but he passed on it. First I
saw a fish about a foot long jump straight up in the air, so we al started
to look out over the water, then we saw the back of a Mahi Mahi, going at
least 15-20 Kts charging our bait. It looked like an arrow going thought the
water.

As he approached the bait, he dove just below the surface, but we felt no
strike. It was exciting to see, so much so that we were not all that
disappointed that we did not catch him. We were glad just to see him.

Crooked Island

Yesterday was the first day of proper cruising in a while. I have guests
onboard who helped me sail from San Juan, and now I have given them control
over the Itinerary for the remainder of their stay. They like to move every
night, which is not my favorite way. It lets you see more, but you
experience less.

The day before yesterday, we caught another big Mahi Mahi. This one was
about 4 feet, and had a little more fight in him. We gave him a shot of rum
as his last meal (which stuns the fish). It put him to sleep until his death
throws, which are violent, bloody, and thankfully short. Madness is now
decorated with a few blood stains; tattoos from her Caribbean adventure.

Yesterday we hove to for about 5 hours , ate about a quarter of our big fish
for dinner and watched a movie (Pirates of the Caribbean). Heaving to is
setting the sails so that you do not go anywhere, but the motion of the boat
is OK.

Around three AM we set sail for crooked island Bahamas, and arrived around
10:00. We are now within about 100 miles of Georgetown, were my family flies
out to see me.

The people here are very nice. It is a very very small Seventh Day Adventist
community. We first met Woody. When we asked him where we could snorkel, he
said that he could show us a few spots. We were kind of standoffish,
thinking that he was looking for business as a guide, and that it would be
very expensive, but as we got to know the island more I have become
convinced that his offer was for free.

At our request he directed us to the local diner, which turns out to be his
sister Willy's place. There were no menus so she asked us whether we wanted
the chicken or the conch salad, and I asked How much is the conch salad, I
need to make sure we can afford it. She declined to give a price, but said
"you can afford it, I will give you the sailor's special price". Some of
these places can be very expensive, but the way she said it made me know
that it would be a good value, by local standards at least.

She served us a very nice, meaty conch salad, chips and drinks for $7 and
told us to be back for dinner.

We met up with a pilot and took him snorkeling with us. Later we met him and
his passengers for dinner. They were a group of Norwegians who had done very
well in the Cruise line industry. Remember the Big Red Boat? That was his
until he sold it to Disney. They were good company for dinner.

More later.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Financial setback; progress toward Georgetown

Ted, TJ and I had a great day yesterday with one exception.

The day started with clearing out of the Turks and Caicos for Mayaguana
Bahamas. We were planning on a sail over to the west end of Provo to stage
for a sail starting at midnight for Mayaguana. As things happened, we were
invited by the crew of "Looking for Elvis" to some wakeboarding and skurfing
(skiing on a surfboard). We had a nice time of it, and learned a few tricks,
especially how to do a standing start on the surfboard.

By the time the fun was over, we headed out to the West end of the island;
We hauled TJ up the rig for a better view of the water and he spotted the
coral heads for us. He also sighted large starfish on the bottom, some
larger fish, and a good sized shark. When we got to our staging site, we did
some snorkeling on a great reef. We encountered a VERY big lobster who did
not appear to be at all intimidated by us

We also had a very good dinner in calm conditions before we decided to get
underway.

That is when we encountered our setback. When pulling the anchor up, it
fouled on rock. I decided to motor over it to free it. We freed it alright,
by breaking it. There goes a 45 lb stainless CQR, which retails for about
$1000. I hope I can buy just the part that broke, and expect that I can do
better than retail, or buy a lesser anchor, but still, that was a major
bummer.

Right now we are 2 miles off the coast of Mayaguana. It is about 6:00, and
we sailed over night on calm seas. It made for easy sleeping off watch. We
are making only about 5 knots, but we could do it for says without getting
fatigued. I think we may skip Mayaguana since we do not have good light for
spotting coral heads; we may go on to the Plana Cays.

ttyl

Monday, March 30, 2009

Dinghy surfing

Sometimes the wind does not blow.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Turks and Caicos

We are in Provo Turks and Caicos. Great passage here, with average speed of
7.3 kts over 400 miles! In addition to the Dorado, we caught a barracuda
that we filleted and ate.

Dana is here, and she took a room in a resort for a day, so the whole crew
could go over for showers and hanging by the pool for a day. We liked it so
much, we did the same thing the next day, even though we did not have a room
anymore. We decided that the only thing that would make our bad behavior
even more enjoyable would be to bring a complaint or suggestion for
improvement to the management, even though we were not guests. In the end,
we decided to pass on this rum punch fueled idea. We also refrained from
using more than one towel by the pool, as the sign suggested, so we very
model of restraint.

But our restraint only went so far, TJ climbed a coconut tree and pulled
down three coconuts. That was after TJ had his first legal drink at the bar;
the drinking age here is 18. By the end of the evening, he had decided that
he should become a bartender, and took up that duty on Madness.

TJ served rum and cokes last night before we enjoyed surf and turf with the
captain and mate of the sailing vessel "Looking for Elvis". We ate the
steaks that Ted brought and the last of the Dorado (AKA Mahi Mahi) we
caught. Time to go fishing again. Cuban cigars were enjoyed by some and
tolerated by others after dinner.

We rented a seven passenger vehicle to explore the island a little bit, and
it was a very good idea. We could have moved the boat around, but it was 30
miles, and Bruce and Dana's time is limited. Snorkeling was good here in the
T&C, but with a strong current. Luckily, it was running parallel to shore,
so we did drift dives.

I have some boat maintenance to do, my nav lights failed, and an alternator
bracket broke but still does the job, but I don't trust it.

We are out here looking for Elvis...

Ttyl

BTW - I came across a boat named "Fine Line", I immediately set about
looking for a boat named "Genius", so that we could raft up with "Fine Line"
in the middle. I could not find a boat by that name, but I did find
"Brilliant", but I don't think that warranted the effort.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

On rout to Turks and Caicos

TJ and Ted joined us in San Juan just as planned, and with minimum delay, we
set sail for the Turks and Caicos. We were thinking that it would be a 3 to
4 day passage, but we look like we will arrive a lot faster. I think our
average speed will have been over seven knots.

We are about 3 hours from what we hope is a safe anchorage where we will
drop a hook and spend the night, then proceed to meet Dana in Provo.

I think we saw seas in the 12 foot range, but they were steep and sometimes
uncomfortable. We got pretty wet on what is a fairly dry boat.

On the way, we caught a large dorado (I think about 4 feet), TJ reeled him
in, and we filleted him and ate a big chunk of him for supper yesterday, and
froze the rest. He is quite tasty.

We had a flying fish fly onboard and hit the steering wheel and made it ring
like a bell.

We also had the excitement of relaying messages to the coast guard about a
local fishing boat that was burning out of control offshore. The crew was
found on a tender about a mile from the burning vessel; all were accounted
for, and were being returned to their home port by a good Samaritan. Once
again, the SSB as a tool for calling for help was a disappointment, or I
should say, the Coast Guard's monitoring of the emergency frequency was
disappointing. We eventually got satellite coverage, and called them on the
phone.

I hope this anchorage works out, or we may have to heave too offshore and
wait until morning to anchor.

ttyl

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Dinner in Culebra

Culebra is said to be like Tortola was 50 years ago, a pristine and sleepy
little island on the edge of the world. So far it has lived up to that
reputation for us.

I arrived in Culebra this afternoon after a sail that started out kind of
weak, but finished strong. Sayonara and Madness set out for Culebra from
Great Harbor, Jost Van Dyke (home of the famous Fox's beach bar) The winds
were behind us, but too much so. With the wind dead behind us, and the ocean
swell from the quarter, the motion was kind of rolly and uncomfortable for
the first couple of hours of the sail, but the wind clocked around to the
south in the early afternoon, making for a fast and comfortable beam reach
into Culebra.

We took the boats out of the inner harbor to a spot behind a barrier reef,
with nothing but ocean on one side, and the mangrove lined shore of the
island on the other.

We checked in to US customs and immigration (I am coming home!) and headed
out to our boats. I had invited Dave and Kristen to share the Flank Steak
that Dana had brought down to me on her last visit. Dana brings provisions
when she comes, and good beef is particularly hard to find down here.

Dave and Kristen came Madness for dinner and we put on the feed bag in a
major way. We had the flank steak rare off of the grill, Asparagus steamed,
drizzled in olive oil and salted with sea salt, brazed Brussels sprouts,
grilled pork chunks, spring potatoes, roasted red bell peppers, some grilled
portabella mushrooms, a French red wine from St Martin, and Armagnac and
chocolates for desert. All were served under a starlit sky on smooth waters
with the sound of the surf in the background. The hell here never ends.

It would be better if we did not have to come all this way, go through the
expense and effort to get to this place to fully enjoy such a meal. I am
sure that there are those who can fully appreciate it without leaving home.
But I have to admit, for me, it is hard to get myself living so fully in the
moment. This has been the greatest benefit of the trip.

Today I am eating the leftovers, and they are just as good as I remember
from last night. We (Dave and Kristen swung by) spent the morning chatting
with John, a local 25 year livaboard who was trolling for his lunch on his
very cool little sailing dingy with its hand painted sail with a stylized
dolphin jumping before a full moon. We also enjoyed visiting with his
little dog Lucy.

I fixed the outboard today, it needed another pull cord...I keep wearing
them out. This afternoon we will snorkel and fish, and go ashore for some
provisions. On Friday I head to San Juan to pick up Bruce, Ted and TJ for
the trip to the Turks and Caicos and beyond. Dana will join the program
again in the Turks and Caicos. I have already started cleaning and preparing
for a visit from the owner.

ttyl

Monday, March 16, 2009

Thanks for making my stay so fun

A big thank you to Glenn Harman on Valor for his friendship, kiting
companionship, and all of the Bahamas guide books he lent me.

Thanks to Simon and Kathy on Darling for dinner and good times as well as
Barry on Entrepreneurship.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Pictures from St Kitts and Nevis

Another cool kiting photo, taken by Kristen as I accidently sprayed her and Dave

Some more pictures from Antigua; sunset over Saba

=

Some kiting pictures taken a few weeks back; I am better now.

Some pictures from Antigua

Great day

I learned new tricks kiting,

I saw a pink flamingo in the wild.

I was invited and attended dinner on an 85 foot Oyster yacht.

25+ knots forecast for tomorrow.

PS - David and Kristen are ahead.

Dave and Kristen on Sayonara went ahead to Foxy's on Jost Van Dyke. I
decided that there was nothing but trouble for me there, so I stayed on with
the kiting crowd.

I hope to catch up to my buddy boat tomorrow afternoon.

Also, I a happy to report that Bruce Fortier is coming to help me move the
boat from San Juan to the Turks and Caicos, and Ted and his friend Nina's
son may come as well.

Dana plans to meet us in the Turks and Caicos. My sister Nat, her daughters
Kimmie and Anna, my Brother Ray, and possibly my brother Pete and wife
Debbie are planning to meet me in the Bahamas.

Looking good for crew and visitors.

ttyl

More kiting, new tricks

Today was devoted to kiting. Good group of people, great weather ~22kts),
picturesque spot on a private island.

Today I managed two successful back rolls, one to port an one to starboard.
I also managed about 25 each not so successful, where I would complete the
360, settle down in the water and have to re-start. I am making progress.

Tomorrow the winds are supposed to be 25-30.

Boosting Large

Dudes, nuclear winds, and I am boosting large. I was skating the choptop,
sent the kite back hard, carved up and popped off of kicker into zero
gravity. Land it, Bottom turn, toeside, carve and back across the bay, and
all right in front of the Bettys.

I am pretty sure that I saw your house from up there.

Oh...sorry...I think I was channeling Spicolli from fast times for a second
there. But I will go on to say that I am starting to like kiting in the
third dimension. Jumping can be very quiet and smooth when you start to get
it down. I don't really jump that high, but one of the newbies said I was
jumping about 7 feet.

It is a very good group here, and I am heading out to join them on the
beach.

ttyl

Friday, March 13, 2009

Good to meet you.

Good to meet you all this evening, and looking forward to seeing you on the
beach.

Next time I am onboard your boat, I will have to learn more about your wifi
antenna.


Walter

SV Madness

joe@zialater.com; glenh@cruzio.com

Still here

Awesome kiting day, it all came together from the company to the wind, to
the seas, to the place to leave the dinghy.

After kiting all afternoon with a guy named Jean (French) I found out that
he lives no more than 10 miles form me in the Boston area. He even remembers
when I posted an invitation to Boston kiters on the Masskiters forum to come
join me on this trip. He may even be joining us at the house in the outer
banks.

I am off to dinner with my new friends.

ttyl

Monday, March 9, 2009

Heineken Regatta

Well the results are in and the final scores tabulated, and the winner of
the big prize of the Heineken Regatta is: Lost Horizons.

Lost Horizons happens to be the boat that Dave and Kristen from Sayonara
were crewing for, so I got to watch them go up on stage and receive their
trophy. They deserved it, they were battered and bruised like you would not
believe; their boat broached 3 times which means that it essentially turned
on its beam ends {which means that it's mast was parallel to the water}].
They told me today that the boat was broached when the spinnaker blew, and
they were all glad it did since it was dragging them slowly onto a rocky
shore, and now one was able to get to the spin halyard to release it.

Our boat did not fare as well in the standings, but we did not get very beat
up, and we had a good time.

BTW - If things go well, I will crew for Lost Horizons in Culebra.

ttyl

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Limeys

I had a good day of racing on a Corbin? 49, a dedicated race boat that is
normally shipped to and from the tropics and dry sailed ( which means when
the boat is not actually being raced, it is hauled out of the water and
stored in a cradle.

The crew was a lot of fun, they were novices for the most part, and the
common thread was that they were all supporters or coaches of a rugby team
back in merry old England.

Derek, the owner, has three or four big race boats, and seems to be
independently wealthy. Clive was a character that I initially thought looked
like Mr. Faulty from the BBC series "Faulty Towers", but I later realized
that he was the spitting image of Stephen, Penny's husband (I don't recall
the name right now) from the other BBC series "As time goes by".

Rob described the many virtues of Rugby, and related the story of going to
the cricket finals in Australia (Oz). He and a mate wandered into an area
known for its strong support of the Oz team, both wearing union jack shorts,
and England shirts. The crowd was less than cordial, leading his mate to say
to them "I have the greatest fighting style ever, so just bring it on". Rob
was just wondering whether his medical coverage would be extended to him in
Australia, when his mate went on to complete his thought. "I run very, very
fast". The crowd roared with approval and laughter, and invited the cheeky
English bastards to a drink.

I will be meeting my new mates for a social drink or two in a little while.
The night can only go so late, as they are leaving for Antigua in the wee
hours.

ttyl

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Racing tomorrow

I have a ride for the Heineken Regatta tomorrow, some sort of 45 foot custom
race boat. Should be fun.

It will be the third day of racing, and the first two were marked by high
winds and consequent high failure rates. The inner part of Simpson Lagoon
has started to collect a few dismasted boats, and I heard that one trimaran
capsized, though it is just a rumor, and the boat may not have been racing.

Dave and Kristen from Sayonara have been racing on a J122, which has so far
exploded the roller furler swivel, blew up a perfectly good spinnaker, and
snapped one of the jib sheets.

Winds have been in the 20s all day, and gusting into the 30s. Some of the
gusts lasted for many minutes. For the final leg, they chose not to fly the
(replacement) spinnaker at all, as their main competitor had snapped their
main halyard.

I can't imagine why no one volunteered to climb the mast with a grappling
hook, a bunch of fishing poles and a boat hook to run a new one. If Bruce,
Paul, Alan and I were there, things would have been different.

I talked with the crew of another boat that hit the windward mark and had to
do a 360 as a penalty. I guess they were not able to shake it off, because
at the very next downwind mark, one of their crew found himself on the wrong
side of the jibing boom and was propelled over the lifelines some distance
out into the water. Luckily, he was close to the boom as it started over,
and it did not have time to gather momentum before it swept him over. He was
unharmed (I saw him at the yacht club) and was picked up on the second
attempt.

I did laundry.

Ttyl

PS - If you are going to race in over 30 knots, do it on someone else's
boat. (Like Leslie and Ira's)

Thursday, March 5, 2009

In Transit

I am on my way to St Maartin from Antigua. This is my first overnight single
handed trip. It is about 100 miles. Complicating things a little further,
this is the first time I am traveling with the dinghy on the davits.
Everything seems to be going fine so far.

I could not have asked for a better forecast for such a trip, the winds are
very light, the moon is half and will probably light the sky until nearly
pre-dawn light. I started out about 1130. I would have gone sooner but for
the checking out, provisioning, and sweating the dinghy down.

I also had to go shopping. The nice little kitchen timer that Martin got me
gave up the ghost. I must have left it out unprotected in the salt one too
many times. It is a key piece of equipment, since it lets you relax between
scanning the horizon without worrying about loosing track of time. You can
get in ten minute cat naps. I bought two replacements to be sure.

I should get in sometime in the morning. I started out fast with 7 kt speeds
on the genny alone, but the wind has died down, and I have been content to
loaf along at 4-5 kts and do some reading. I have not put up the main sail,
and would rather not when alone. I will motor if the wind dies any more.

From there, I will head into the BVIs and on to Puerto Rico. I am shooting
to be in San Juan By the 13th. I hope to leave there for the Turks And
Caicos around the 23rd or 24th, weather permitting.

ttyl

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Another successful bonfire

For those of you who have sent me email in the last few days, I am not able
to receive for some reason, only send. I expect that this will be remedied
when I next go somewhere with a hot spot.

Dana and I organized a gathering of cruisers on a local beach for a bonfire
last night, and it was a pretty spectacular success, if I do say so myself.
Jerry, Carol, Simon and John from Meri Balette, Mario and Lillian from the
Maltese Falcon (not the big one, but a smaller Maltese falcon), Guy and
Sylvie (Who spoke only French) from a charter boat, Mel and Phil, and Beth
and Evans, (who are quite famous among cruisers) were there. I think there
was at least one other couple there.

There was a lot of cruising experience, including a circumnavigator and a
three transatlantic teams there.

Dana and I went around in the morning, and invited people, and called the
Maltese falcon in the next harbor to have them extend the invitation to
those anchored there.

Around noon we went out to collect firewood from the opposite shore. The
area around the fire pit was, no surprise, picked clean. We had to go pretty
far afield. When we came back with the dinghy loaded to the gills with
driftwood of all description, and the two of us wearing goofy sun hats, I am
sure it was a pretty comical sight. I wish we had taken a photo.

We planned on a little cocktail hour starting at local sunset (six) , with
everyone returning to their boats for their dinners; but there were enough
appetizers that most stayed until at least eight, and some stayed until
about 10. The sky was clear and bright, the breeze was light but steady, and
the temp was perfect. The biting insects honored the treaty I forged with
them, and stayed home this evening.

Wish you could have all joined us.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Jumping

Today was another good kiting day, and I am starting to get the hang of
kiting in the third dimension.

I am doing little 4 foot certical jumps and landing most of them. On the
others I don't crash, but just settle in and have to re-start.

I also discovered that my ribs are hurting after kiting from more than the
strain, my harness its them sometimes. I borrowed a seat harness from Irena
and it is MUCH more confortable. I think I will buy it from them tomorrow.

I am having dinner with a cruising couple tonight that took the plunge. They
are on an open ended trip; they rented their house and put their most
precious belongings into storage. I think they are under a lot of pressure
right now - pressure to be having a good time all of the time. It is not
like that.

That isn't happening for them. I think the boat is getting a little small
for the two of them. I feel good that I have added some needed enthusiasm
and exposure to a different crowd on the kite beach to their mix.

ttly

Correction

Remember the kiter that was doing advanced tricks at within the first few
weeks?

It was his third day.

On the second day the instructors arrived to find the students kiting on
their new boards with 3 miles of downwind bay before the next beach. They
had only progressed to body dragging without boards in their first lessons.
The had learned to go upwind and jump a little by the end of the day

The instructors arrived on at the beach the third day to find the students
way downwind and one had lost their kite (completely) and was swimming about
a mile back to shore. The student said "we knew you would be here
eventually".

By the end of the third day they were jumping a and doing back rolls, until
the one smashed himself hard and put himself on the disabled list.

I think we have found the new standard bearers for dangerous kiting

ttyl

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Progress quickly by taking more chances

Yesterday I mentioned a kiter that was doing advanced tricks after only two
weeks.

Today I mentioned it to Max, who informed me that after I left last night,
that same kiter had taken a hard fall and possibly broken a rib.

As Max said "he could jump high and do several turns, but He could not land.
And that did not deter him?

Progress quickly at your own risk

ttyl

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Great kiting day; No fair

Another great kiting day. I woke up with my ribs feeling better then
yesterday, and as you may recall, I went kiting yesterday and wondered
whether I would be a cripple today.

It was 22kts gusting to 28. I used my 9 meter kite, and could have used more
juice, but it was fine, and I practiced turning the kite under instead of
over. For a brief period I was going to windward toeside on Starboard tack.
I Got much better on port toeside, but never approached going to weather.

I did some jumping today, but was put to shame by a couple of young guys who
were boosting big AND THEY HAVE ONLY BEEN KITING TWO WEEKS. NO FAIR. One of
them did a back roll. Maybe they were lying about the two weeks.

One can only hope.

Tomorrow I move the big boat to an anchrage 30 yards from the kiting beach.

ttyl

Living the dream again; brief scare

I tried to kiteboard yesterday for the first time since the injury, and
today I feel great! Yeah! Not only that, but I have pleasant company, my
wife will soon be here, and the wind is predicted to be 25 plus for just
under a week.

The boat is in a very quiet gunkhole, and I am a short dinghy ride from a
nice kiting spot. It is not perfect, because it can be a long way downwind
before you hit land, but it is good, bacause you cannot be blown out to sea.
I have my dinghy there, so I buddied up with another kiter; we each agreed
that if the other was in apparent trouble, we would go ashore, get the
dinghy and render assistance. It was not needed, but nice to have in your
back pocket.

The local kiting crew is very nice to me. They are a fun and outgoing group
of northern Italians who teach on a lake in italy during the summer, and
here in Antigua during the winter. The other kiters are generally crew from
visiting superyachts.

Yesterday, at the end of a long session, my buddy said that he would be
leaving soon, as he was with a group that was doing a downwinder. I asked
the Italian team if they had anyone to take my dinghy downwind, and they
did. I got to do my first downwinder, with a group of about 5 kiters and two
newbies with instructors. It was a lot of fun.

The only scarey moment came when the Italian girl that was to take my dinghy
down wind got confused about the way my outboard shifted gears. I was in the
water about 15 feet away. I had just started the dinghy for her while I was
flying my kite, and she had drifted that far. As I tried to describe how to
use the gear shift, I was siexed by the logical fear that she might just
chop me up with my own propellor if she suddenly backed up at me. I thought
"I am attached to this kite, how will I get away if she panics?". Then I
realized: "wait a minute, I am attached to this kite and it is blowing over
20; I am spder man! I can launch myself out of this whole area if I need
to...I may not land well, but better that then getting run over".

She kept her cool, and followed my directions to turn the motor off. There
was no problem, and no need for a spiderman escape.

ttyl

Thanks a lot

When kiting on the downwinder, I was able to kite over to the gunkhole where
the boat was and visit Dave and Kristen on Sayonara. Before I got over to
their boat, they were on their way out on their dinghy to greet me; Kristen
had her big camera in hand and was snapping away.

She is a very good photographer, so I started to ham it up a bit, even
though it was the end of the day, and I was physically exhausted. As I
approached their dinghy from upwind, I went toeside and when directly upwind
from them, threw the kite back and carved a nice turn back to heelside.

I judged it pretty well, and came to about 8 feet from their dinghy, which
is what I sought, but once I got there, I thought "this is too close" and
hardened up my turn.

As soon as I did that I sent up a rooster tail of spray, and sprayed them
both...including Kristen and her camera. I am fond of saying that no good
deed goes unpunished.

Sorry about that Dave and Kristen...


They are off to the Caribbean 600 race, where Dave has a tentative ride, and
then the the Heineken Regatta in St Marten. I will join them there, where I
too have a ride on a race participant.

ttyl

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Rasta Man say...

When Ken and Leeann were here, Ken noticed that he was getting the evil eye
every once and a while. I had not noticed this so much, but maybe it was
just that I was so happy to be here that I project goodwill onto everyone I
meet.

There has been a lot of goodwill, like when we made landfall on St Kitts and
I was greeted by the captain of Erie (sp?) Lime, a local booze cruise
catamaran. Antonio, who I now refer to as Ambassador Antonio, agreed to move
his boat forward a little so that we could fit on the dock. He said "That is
what we are here for, to help!" When we pulled in to the dock, he and his
crew took our lines and helped tie up, then the Ambassador came over and
presented us with a six pack of beer, a big bag of ice, and a hug!

But consistent with the history of all of these islands, there is an
undercurrent of resentment that shows through from time to time. When you
consider the history and the present, it is remarkable that it is not
in-your-face. I have been reading a couple of books on the islands, and the
history is not a happy one. I think the warmth and openness must be a result
of all of the churches here, and a conscious effort to protect the tourist
trade. Don't get me wrong, I think most of the expressions of warmth are
absolutely genuine. But I am told by Nevisians that St Kitts and Nevis (an
independent country) have the highest per capita nationwide murder rate in
the world. That is a lot of anger and acting out, but the murders stay
confined to the local population, never the tourists. Our experience there
was good.

Take the Rasta Man for example. Maybe everyone but me knew this, but The
Babylon that must fall is the United States, and according to Michener's
"Caribbean", local police are very wary of them because the Police are
Babylon too, and must fall. I always thought that the Rasta were a very
peaceful group, but apparently they raise quite a lot of trouble, especially
in Jamaica. I knew that they felt Salaise was the second coming, but every
religion has some beliefs that are difficult to explain. Bob Marley was
Rasta; they must have had a laugh about all the records selling in Babylon.
The local rasta could not be nicer to you when you stop to see what they are
selling.

In the finacial heyday of the islands in the 1700s, large fortunes were
being made in England and France issuing from the sugar plantations here.
But the ratio of whites to slaves was about 1 to 10. Slave uprisings were
frequent and quelled in the most violent ways with truly barbaric
punishments. It is a wonder that the locals share their islands at all. If I
were one of the poor here and had to watch the big ego boats like the
Maltese Falcon parade around, I don't think I could supress or mask my
resentment that well. Even the smaller ego boats like ours would be hard to
take.

I met the local kiting instructors and made tentative plans to kite with
them, more on that later. For now the winds are dying until late in the
week, and I have more enforced R&R for the injured ribs

ttyl

Monday, February 9, 2009

Falmouth Harbor Antigua

I moved over to Falmouth Harbor, near Nelson's Dockyard on Antigua. I hope
to move over to Green Island on Nonsuch Harbor (still Antigua) tomorrow and
maybe get in a kiting session there. I ran into Damien and Deborah of
"Ticket to Ride" in the local pub. The harbor looks very clean and nice, a
lot like St Barth's but with somewhat lower prices. The Maltese Falcon is
here, along with many other really outlandishly expensive yachts.

I spent most of this morning trying to plan the return trip; Things seem to
be falling together pretty well. Paul, Bruce and Martin are all available
for some portion of the trip, and one segment lines up with Bob's Spring
break, should he want ot repeat the experience. Also, the timing is good for
cruising with Dave and Kristin for a while, and also for arriving in North
Carolina just in time to meet a bunch of Boston kiters on their outer banks
junket.

I have my fingers crossed.

ttyl

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Antigua

I have been in Jolly Harbor Antigua for a couple of days now, and I am
healing nicely. Yesterday I took a tour of the overcrowded noisy and
industrial areas. Oddly, none of the commercial tour operators offer this
tour, so you have to design it yourself. The plan was to check out one of
the local kiting spots, but you have to go through St John's and transfer to
another bus to get there. Either that, or you have to pay ~$35 each way for
a taxi.

St Johns is the capital and the landing spot for cruise ships. It is
UNBELIEVABLY NOISY. First, our bus driver had chosen a selection of Bob
Marley tunes played at about 100 dB. No problem there, but the Marley
classics were overlaid by a DJ who, I kid you not, just randomly interjected
video game noises, laser noises and sirens. I do mean randomly, as in with
no regard to the beat or mood of the music. Awful. Like listening to Bob
Marley in a war zone.

Overlay on that the noise of street vendors selling music CDs, and the cars
with the megaphones on the roof driving around broadcasting political
speeches (it is election time here) and the horns and you have an actual
cacophony of noise.

The other unfortunate thing about St John's is that it is typical of many of
the cruise ship landings. I know everyone who goes on a cruise ship seems to
like it, but I can't figure out why based on the landings. 13,000 people a
ferried over great distances at considerable expense to be disgorged on a
foreign shore only to be greeted by the very same chain stores that they
left at home. There is a sveral block area with "The Body Shop", "J Crew",
"Nautica", "Borders Book Stores", etc. (I have not seen a Starbucks yet, but
I would bet $100 that there is several on the boat). It makes me wonder if
the cruise lines actually buy up the property and build a mall in an area
before they announce that they will be landing there, so that they can make
money coming and going. It looks like the islanders don't have a chance of
getting a piece of the action. The attraction of the cruise ships has to be
on the ship. If you take a cruise that stops at St John's Antigua, stay on
the ship, or just get off long enough to make you appreciate the ship.

We did make it to the kiting spot, where I found out that the site is not
suitable for anchoring the oat nearby. I did meet some kiters who were crew
on one of the big sailing yachts in English harbor, and they told me that
there was a great kiting spot right next to an anchorage by Green Island
(Antigua). I will head that way today.

My friends Dave and Kristen are heading this way, so I should soon have some
company. I had some of the other cruisers in this anchorage over for a pot
luck on Madness last night and served them the last flank steak from Dana's
provisioning effort in October. The freezer kept it just perfect all this
time; The steak was great and everyone seems healthy this morning.

ttyl

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Oops

I can't recall every having fallen in the water when getting on or off of a
boat. Before yesterday.

I was stepping on to Cat Tales, Dawn and Laurie's boat and just plain
missed. Bam! On my side across the transom of the boat then down into the
water. It hurt. It really, really hurt. Hurt such that when Laurie said "are
you OK?" there was only one answer.

I thought I had broken a rib at first, and was really mad at myself for
putting this complication in the trip. But by this morning, when I could
breathe without much pain, I became convinced that it is just a bruise. I
was afraid that I would not be able to proceed.

Since I last wrote, I sailed to Montserrat and witness the devastation of
the Volcano eruption. It was good timing for me, as I have been reading Bill
Bryson's "A Short History of Nearly Everything", particularly the chapter on
the earth's formation. We were able to view the houses and public buildings
covered in ash up to the second floor. We took some pumice and set it afloat
on the sea.

I saw Montserrat with Dawn and Laurie. Together we shared a tour with Sammy,
who was the first really pushy local I had encountered. He kept breaking
into our VHF conversations to see if we needed a guided tour before we
reached the island. You have to give him credit for the initiative, but when
we were on the tour you realized that ambition was his strong suit, quality
of service was not as good. The tour was worth the time and money anyway,
but the island is currently dominated by all of the construction as the
island rebuilds on the north end what was lost to the lava and ash.

Today I sailed to Antigua. I have to give my back a little time to
convalesce, and I wanted to do it on an island that has a little more to do
on shore. Once I feel better, I am looking forward to kiting Barbuda. I hope
that it is not too desolate for safe kiting.

ttyl

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Challenges single handing

Ken and Leann have left for Vermont after three very nice weeks here on the
boat. I will miss their company. It was very nice to have company for
conversation and exploration, plus coffee in bed each morning courtesy of
Ken, many meals prepared by Leann, and entertainment in the evening as Ken
played his ukulele.

Yesterday I did a single handed passage to Montseratt. It was not wihtout
challenges. The winds were on the nose as I left Nevis so I could only make
3-4 kts motoring. Then I had a front come through while under sail with 25+
kt winds that pretty much knocked me over to ~45 degrees. Then the raw water
pump on the main engine failed, then the sump pump failed. Oy.

But I was able to get here OK without making any compromises in safety. I
was able to get the main engine running again by running water from the
washdown pump through the cooling system. Pretty clever, eh?

It would have been easy to sail onto the anchor anyway, because I have
practiced that in the past.

I know I wasn't completely whipped, because as I approached Montseratt, I
saw some wahoo feeding and turned the boat around to try to catch one under
sail. If I had arrived with a fat fish and a broken moter, I might have
elevated my status in the cruising community.

ttyl

Sunday, February 1, 2009

You may be out of touch with reality when...

You may be out of touch with reality when you call your wife in Boston on
Feb 1st and misinterpret things in the folowing way?

"Hi, where are you?"

"I am at home, how about you?

"I am still in Nevis, but heading to Montserrat tomorrow. I called the home
phone first, why didn't you answer that phone?"

"I was chipping ice"

I looked at my watch and wondered why she was drinking frozen drinks so
early in the day on a Sunday, presumably alone.

"Huh?"

"It is a little warmer today, and I wanted to chip the ice off of the
driveway while the sun is shining"

I think I may be a little out of touch with the realities of winter. I will
be aiming the pointy end of the boat north soon.

ttyl

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Anybody interested in crewing home?

I will need crew for the return trip, is anybody interested in sailing
through the Bahamas or back up to Boston from the Outer Banks of North
Carolina? (Or Bahamas - NC?)

I am targeting April for North Carolina and May for my return to Boston. The
longer leg would be about 3 days offshore. The Bahamas would be typically
day trips.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Walter Joseph, are you missing anytin?

My luck is holding.

We have been a bit more on our guard since a man was killed in a botched
robbery in Antigua a few days ago. This hasn't happened in years until about
6 months ago, and again a few days ago. It has made us a little leery, even
though we are not in Antigua.

Yesterday we had a great bike ride around Nevis, and had the chance to
explore some really interesting ruins of an old sugar cane plantation. It
was completely deserted, and barely marked from the street, but Ken and
Leeann pedaled their rented mountain bikes and I my folding hybrid bike down
to the old intact steam engine, cane press, lime kiln, plantation buildings,
etc. Not a person in sight the whole time, and relatively smooth biking
across large pastures leading down the ocean. Fantastic. In one building we
saw a honey bee hive that was enormous, and another was filled with bats.

We were trying to get a picture of the bats, so I clapped my hands to spook
them while Ken was taking the picture. When a whole bunch of them took
flight, there was a whole lot of nothing where Ken used to be. He didn't
even take time to snap the picture. He claims that he needed to save
batteries on his camera, but I find the timing suspicious.

Later we discovered that kids (of the goat variety) are nearsighted as one
persued Ken with a passion, bleating as it ran full tilt after him. It was
pretty clear that it thought he was his mother and was being left behind.
Once itran him down and got a look at him, it turned and fled in terror. It
happened again a little later, though this one may have been a sheep (De
sheep, de tail go down...the goat de tail go up, remember?).

The ride had a long uphill section, followed by a long downhill. The trip up
was a grind, but good exercise, and the trip down was an exciting, fast
ride. For what must have been 15 minutes I was able to keep pace with the
cars. In my excitement, I cruised right by the botanical gardens that Leeann
wanted to visit, so I suggested we take a bus back up, rather than attempt
the hill again. No one was up for that.

After our bus ride, we were walking that last mile or so to the gardens,
when three local girls approached us and said that a man was looking for the
three of us. Shortly thereafter our bus came driving down the road to the
garden (not on his route) and stopped next to us. The driver looked me right
in the eye and said, "Walter Joseph, have you not been missing anytin now?".
I am sure I had a quizzical look, so he produced my wallet, which had fallen
out of my pocket in his cab.

There are good and bad everywhere, and remember, pirates are just bad guys
with boats.

ttyl

I am a woman!

While on our bike ride, we stopped in a nice little restaurant that featured
nothing but local food. The woman who ran the place introduced herself with
what we noticed was a man's name. She offered to watch our bikes while we
took the bus back up to the botanical gardens.

When we got back I said "Reggie, thanks so much for watching our bikes while
we were gone".

"My name is not Reggie, can't you see that I am a woman? My name is Rodney".

I stand corrected.

ttyl

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Kiting challenge

One thing that has become abundantly clear is that kiting is best on the
windward side of the islands, and sleeping is best accomplished on the
leeward side.

There are locations that allow both, but they are more rare.

We had a nice dinner with Laurie and Dawn from Cat Tails last night. They
have been working their way south slowly. We made arrangements to try to
contact each other each day on the SSB and connected just in time to
rendezvous here. They went through a significant effort to make it here, and
we are grateful that they travelled the extra mile to join us in this
tranquil location.

Yesterday we walked around the southern end of St Kitts a viewed some
spectacularly desolate and beautiful landscape. It was made bittersweet by
the knowledge that it is being developed by the Kiawah group into what they
call Cristophe, which will be a mega yacht harbor with exclusive homes for
about 1400 very rich people. That may be a good thing, but it did not seem
that way to us as we walked the area that will become a golf course. But for
now, it is spectacular.

We sat on a hillside high above the southern end, and watched the ferry
arrive and discharge it's load of cars. We stayed long enough to notice the
people walking the beach below, who you would miss had you just looked over
the scene for a few minutes. On the walk back we saw many feral goats, but
none of the green monkeys that live here. We saw the monkeys along the shore
the next morning, traveling in a group of about 7-8, foraging and squabbling
among themselves.

We will be heading for Nevis soon, maybe today. There is a location that
promises to allow for good sleeping, kiting and hiking/biking.

ttyl

Thursday, January 22, 2009

St Kitts!

We sailed into St Kitts yesterday, and have installed ourselves in a marina
here.

It is a luxury that I do not allow myself very often, but we were in St
Barth's and the anchorage was very rolly with an east wind and a southern
swell. The rolling was such that it was hard to convince yourself that it
was mother ocean lulling you to sleep. Instead it was your irritating
brother shaking you just to be annoying. When stuff on the galley counter
start falling off onto the floor, you know the anchorage is less than fully
acceptable.

So when we arrived in St Kitts well after the sun went down, and found a
marina with reasonable rates, we jumped on the opportunity to have a nice
quiet, motionless night. We invited Cathy and Rob over from Quatico, an
Island Packet 38 that was at sea the same time we were coming down from
Bermuda. They sold their cars, furniture, clothing, everything except their
house, and they rented that out. They are planning to cruise for 4 years.
After that kind of commitment, I don't know how I could stand the sleepless
night, knowing that it was self-inflicted and that I had burned so many
bridges.

I think maybe I have been gone too long, as I am focused on the discomfort
of a rolling anchorage, and not on the lovely weather and the thrill of new
discovery. Also, I saw a Dominoes Pizza place, and thought for a second that
sounded kind of good. But I am getting back into the swing of things; today
I made up for the mental transgression by asking our taxi driver to take us
somewhere that had goat on the menu. He complied. I did not have the goat,
but did have some local fish.

St Martin calls itself the friendly island, but I think St Kitts deserves
the moniker. When we arrived, there was a big commercial catamaran in at the
dock and when I asked them if they could move to make room for me, the
captain said "We are all about brotherhood here, I would be glad to move,
and to help you dock". Then they gave us a big bag of ice and a 6 pack of
beer for having graced their island with our presence. Finally we are
appreciated.

Ken, Leann and I took a tour of the island by taxi, and saw really beautiful
gardens, majestic landscape and a monkey. I was the only one to see a green
monkey in the wild, but it was a really, really big one. I think it could
take Ken in a fight, and maybe Leann. (You won't catch me fighting some
monkey)

I would send pictures, but I only have satellite connectivity now.

Tomorrow we hope to kite a beach south of here, if there is sufficient wind.

ttyl

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Philosophy

This morning we got a late start because we were discussing the distribution
of wealth.

It is hard not to get onto that topic when you are surrounded by
superyachts. We sailed into St Barth's and noticed one superyacht that had a
helipad (No chopper; it may have been out somewhere), a 50 sailboat, and ~ a
45 foot power boat all on deck. It occurred to us that each of the
superyachts has a Queen Bee, and an associated hive of drones working to
maintain them. Not just the crew, but all of the employess of the companies
these people must own. Not that there is anything wrong with that, but it
was an interesting analogy. Of course others are probably owned by the
operators of vast ponzi schemes, and there is something wrong with that.

We ran into YoYo yesterday, he is looking forward to a little cruise on his
boat Cheriveri starting tomorrow. The busy season in St Barth's is starting
to wind down just a little bit.

Not too much else happening. We planned to head south tomorrow, but he winds
are from the southeast at 18 kts, so we may wait a day to head to St Kitts.

The head acted up, making it necessary to discover the True Value hardware
store on the island to purchase a plunger. The anchorages have been pretty
rolly the last few days, making for difficult sleep. I miss having Dana
here. But it is 81 degrees and sunny with 70% humidity, the snorkeling is
good (saw a barracuda feeding today, and a sea turtle yesterday) and most
all is well.

ttyl

Kitemares

My friends Ken and Leann arrived on Tues from Vermont. I think they have the
record for having traveled the most degrees Fahrenheit - The daytime high
expected in their part of Vermont was 0, with a low of 12 below in the
forecast. Here it is 77 at 0700 as I write this. I don't know what the highs
are, we are never on the boat midday.

Yesterday was the day of kitemares. Ken says that mine does not qualify as a
real kitemare since I never saw my life flash before my eyes, but I think it
does.

Ken also does not consider anything less than 10 feet a jump, but since I
never got up that high, I consider anything the board clears the water's
surface a jump. But I digress.

The undisputed real kitemare was a kid with an old school "C" kite, which
has no means of de-powering launch himself into a tree. Without
exaggeration, he took flight on dry land quite by mistake, and was caught by
a tree. He ended up about 8 feet above the ground with other kiters all
grabbing his feet to pull him down. The kite remained powered up doing
loops. They pulled him down far enough that the fall would not hurt him, and
he re-gained his composure enough to release the kite. The kite was still
powered up enough to pull a few 2" limbs off the tree before it flew off out
of sight. The kid was OK enough that he went off in search of his kite.

Mine was much more benign. I crashed the kite while "jumping" (take that
Ken) over the face of a 5' wave in a surf area. I had a momentary brain
failure and the kite was nowhere near where I thought it should be but was
instead crashing straight down into the sea. That was not so bad, as it us
usually easy to re-launch, but my kite immediately began to loose it shape
as though I had burst the air bladder that holds it's form.

The kite them proceeded to "invert", which renders it uncontrollable. It was
a long way to drag to shore, so I ditched my control bar and lines and swam
to the kite working my way down one of the lines to the kite. I straightened
it out and found that the leading edge was still serviceable, but simply
underinflated. I straightened the lines and started to work my way back to
my bar holding the leading edge lines. That was my first mistake. The
leading edge lines allowed the kite to power up and pulled the lines free of
my grasp, but not before giving me some new cuts.

As the kite flew off, I kept one hand on the lines thinking that I could
catch the bar as it went past. That was my second mistake. A powered up kite
generates 200 - 300 lbs of force. The flip side is that a Kite will not stay
powered up long if there is no resistance, so it should crash about the time
the bar got to me. That is exactly how it happened, the kite crashed and I
was able to grab the bar and hook up to my harness.

One aspect of the kites is that you cannot just hang on to the control bar,
you also have to be harnessed in. If you are not connected to the harness,
the kite will be in a fully powered state, and away you go. Fast.

I did manage to get attached to the harness, and could now control my kite
again, albeit with some difficulty as my safety leash got mixed up in the
control lines. But it was enough to drag myself to shore. The board that I
ride was now a distant memory. (Ken brought it to shore for me, I was not
able to recover it myself) so I dragged in.

Now for mistake #3, and it is a whopper. I got to shore, and when trying to
disentangle the leas from the lines so that I could safely land the kite, I
came unhooked for the harness, the kite powered up and started to drag me
over the beach and toward the bushes that lined the beach.

I told Ken that I did not just let go of the control bar, but threw it away.
Goodbye kite, and good riddance. But the kite is not done with me, it landed
on a sea grape bush harmlessly, and was not punctured or otherwise damaged.
It just laid down for a little rest.

Ken in the meantime suffered a much less dramatic and much more
consequential injury. He stepped on something sharp when heading out for a
session, and after two hours of kiting around that gathering sharks,
(kidding) realized that he was bleeding like a stuck pig from a really,
really bad gash in one toe. He refused to let me try out my skin stapler on
it, but we may get use the suture kit they have on one of the other cruising
boats. He can't stay awake forever.

Leann is quite angry with Ken, convinced that he engaged in self mutilation
to avoid the free Salsa lessons they are giving at one of the local clubs
tonight. Ken insists that this is not so, and that it would take much more
than the loss of one toe to further diminish his dancing skills.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Send Lawers Guns and Money part 2

Jonathan and Katie again, recording our trip, starting from the beginning...

At the Airport, unused as we were to the tropical climate both of us
immediately opted to change to a wardrobe more suitable to the conditions.
Also unaccustomed to the local disregard for casual nudity, we chose to
change in the airport bathrooms rather than out in public.

That night we sampled the local culture, hanging around a local New Year's
concert. We then snuck back to the boat for the awesome display of
fireworks, (which we later dinghied out to watch from a closer viewpoint)
and a creation of a compilation of dances for each member of the Dornbusch
family. (You had to be there)

The next morning we woke up to Orient bay, making a brief stop at Anse
Marsalle to learn how to snorkle (In our case, dorkle). We spent the night
at Orient Bay, a beautiful resort beach that was populated with a strange
breed of people who were innately opposed to any sort of clothing. Indeed,
not-far-enough-to-obscure seeing parts (Distance from nudity can be
categorized as "seeing parts" and "we can tell they are nude, but no parts")
away was a Tiko Tiko (aka Naked Party Boat) tour catamaran teeming with
these strange naked old people. The next morning as we came ashore to
acquire breakfast bagettes, we took a walk of shame through a beach full of
people who did not understand our affinity for clothing. Not like we were
tempted, but there were also signs prohibiting picturetaking. Among our
encounters were giddy satchel guy, naked push up dude, and completely
hairless nude parasailer. A strange breed indeed. Later that day we again
took our chances landing on the beach to cross over into a shallow cove
perfect for kiteboarding for Uncle Walt (who we got some mad sweet footage
of) and further dorkling, where we saw a stingray and an unraveled
jellyfish. Enjoying tremendous success in our burgeoning dorkling talents we
then traveled around the anchored Madness, finding numerous conch shells on
the bottom. Then we then set sail for St. Bartholemey, the playground of the
rich and famous. Whatever we ate that morning was lost to Aunt Dana, as she
then spewed it over the side. Trooper that she is, she then washed off the
side of the boat and immediately went forward to raise one of the sails.

We have since noticed that fish follow Madness around asking if Dana is
aboard, hoping for a free lunch.

St. Bart's was an adventure indeed. We met many of the scoundrels that we'd
learned about in Uncle Walt's blog. Also, while we were there, there were
literally dozens of yachts anchored around the island. We even saw
celebrities second-hand (we met people who'd seen them, including Yo-Yo,
who'd housed Richard Gere for a week.) Jonathan ate the fabeled Cheeseburger
in Paradise (Jimmy Buffet was all over this place.) As the night progressed,
we intermissioned our tour of the island with a stop at a local bar where
the featured band was from Boston. People watching has never been so rich!
As we talked to the leader of the band later that night, a severely
inebriated woman came up behind Jonathan, insisting that he make room for
her to pass through. She then proceded to take the guitarist's cigarette and
tell him on numerous occasions that she couldn't hear the words.

The next day was a dorkle-fest. Out of the gate we visited a popular spot
with many fish and coral, a treat that we'd been bereft of on our previous
ventures. The second stop was over a sunken freighter that was creeptastic.
Well, only for Jonathan and Katy, who stayed in the dinghy and Face-Tested
(stuck our heads in from the safety of the side.) As the snorkles severely
impeded our verbal communication, we developed a series of hand signals,
including "dive down," "big scary fish ahead," "I'm peeing," "jellyfish
alert!," and "Let's go blow bubbles under Aunt Dana!" Our third and fourth
locations were a fifteen minute dinghy ride to the tip of the island,
doubtless our best yet. Among the many cool and fun viewings of rocks we saw
a brightly colored sea turtle named Leonardo. That night we again toured the
island, stopping for a sampling of ice cream and beer, then traversing the
town to the famed shell beach. Upon arrival it became immediately apparent
that we were out of place at the rave beach party speckled with drunken
screaming.

The next morning we woke early to sail across the Atlantic Ocean to an
island called Statia, a breeding ground for tankers and ice-burg shaped
objects, to which Katy found great joy in shouting "Iceburg! Straight
ahead!" in a convincingly British accent. Rumor has is that back in the day,
Statia earned its fortune by stamping goods coming through the Carribean
that never actually graced its ports. Anyway, the island was rich in
dorklage, home to several different schools of fish in an assortment of
colors. We practiced our diving techniques, (or in Katy's case, inverting.)

Next item on the agenda: dominating the Quill volcano. Dominating in this
case means climbing. In fact, we hitchhiked to the base in the back of a
pick-up truck owned by the nicest man in Statia. The hike was a doozie at
times, as we had to keep our eyes peeled for the dangers that lurked in the
vegatation. Dangers like pinky-sized newts, wild chickens, and soldier crabs
(very determined hermit crabs.) We still don't know why they were climbing
the mountain. We also saw three snakes. This climb was definitely not for
the weak of heart. We arrived at our destination and Kodaked the scene, a
glorious view of an impossibly steep crater, but was that enough for our
adventuresome souls? NAY! There was more to be climbed. Shedding unnecessary
items along the way, the four travelers grunted their way to a yet higher
point on the crater rim. The view from up there was breathtaking. We could
see neighboring islands as well as the entirety of the island below. Racing
the sun to sea level, we then had to descend quickly and efficiently,
telling tales of arctic adventure. Arriving at the bottom we traversed the
streets of the town, waving to locals and viewing the remains of a mammoth
ancient Mayan waterslide. Dinner was scrumptious BBQ pork sandwiches and a
black bean concoction, courtesy of competent head chef Katy and dashing sous
chef Jonathan. Ratatouille would be proud! That night Katy was sure somebody
was breaking into our boat! Pirates! Probably not. Murderer? Nay! Katy
concluded that whoever was boarding our boat had the implicit intension of
untying our mooring and our dinghy, setting us adrift into the sea. My how
our thinkers work at night.

Aunt Dana's stomach had learned a thing or two about seaworthiness and held
its contents the next morn on our ride to Saba, the unspoiled Queen,
prompting Katy's new nickname, the unspoiled Princess. Then we murdered a
guy. The ride to the island was rough, and the climb to the main village,
The Bottom, was unnerving, even in a car. The road system had been done
completely by hand and engineered by a man who had passed a correspondence
course, to whom a memorial had been erected. The island really was wild,
completely bereft of flat terrain. In fact, most of the land was incredibly
steep, making habitation a wonder. The island itself was unamimously voted
as the most charming we'd graced yet. The building code included a color
segment that made the towns a harmonic green and red. We picked fresh lemons
and other psuedo-fruit from the trees that hung over the roads. A taxi ride
that doubled as a tour took us all around the islands three towns (The
Bottom, Waywardside, and Hell's Gate,) as well as the world's shortest
commercial airstrip where pilots have to be specially liscensed to land.

That night in Saba was like spending the night in a broken Maytag washing
machine with a very limited soak cycle. In the morning we performed a D-Day
landing on the only beach of the island, which was ripe for a rockslide.
Then ascending the 487 steps(we team-counted,) to The Bottom, which was much
higher than its name might suggest. On the way down we fantasized about a
water slide into the ocean, oh how fun! After lunching and munching on PBJs,
we decided to dorkle once more, as Saba is renowned for its wildlife.
Initially put off by a startling sighting that Uncle Walt believes was a
man-eating black-tipped shark, (no joke.) We observed them from the safety
of the dinghy, face-testing over the edge. When we traveled further inland,
the dorkling episode was undoubtedly the best yet. The underwater scene was
storybook, with numerous fish in a smorgasboard of colors, including on
striking green fish that harmonized every color in the rainbow into its
costume. The jellyfish we encountered knew no fear, and we had to team up to
avoid them in several instances. Our fearless tourguide Uncle Walt led us
through a minefield of jellyfish into and through a cave, where we saw
numerous more incredible sights, including a Giant Squid (joke. But
seriously...) From there we set sail back to St. Martin, thus concluding
what friends Dawn and Laurie described as three full days of touring packed
into one. Oh my, we've graduated to power-tourists.

Today is the last of all, as we are flying back to the states. Katy's
learned several sailing terms, even making some of her own. Ask her about it
and you'll get a mishmash of sailing lingo that will literally blow your
mind. All in all it was a decent trip. In fact, if you ignore the impending
murder trials and the pair of pants I lost when fleeing the authorities, it
was damn fine.

This is juliet kilo tango six six six out.