Monday, February 23, 2009


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.



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

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

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


Sunday, February 22, 2009

Progress quickly by taking more chances

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

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


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
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.


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.


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.


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

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

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

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


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

I have my fingers crossed.


Sunday, February 8, 2009


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.


Wednesday, February 4, 2009


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.


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.


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.


"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.