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February 2011

Friends at Sea

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It’s easy to have a successful party (in this case a Saturday brunch) when the guests are funny, warm, and smart sailors. (Well, the guy in the back wearing a red cap is a power boater – but we’re not a prejudiced group.) EW and I invited the captains, first mates and guests from the vessels Amandla, Crow’s Nest, Mairead, and Zephia. In the ebb and flow that is cruising life we had met Crow’s Nest in Nassau and they introduced us to Zephia. We met Amandla in Black Point and they introduced us to Mairead. today we brought them all together to consume two  frittatas,  toasted home-made bread, fruit salad, and mimosas. Our guests brought southern sausage gravy (Crow’s Nest) on home made biscuits (Zephia) , and a coconut tart for dessert (Mairead). Amandla contributed fresh grown basil for the frittatas. (I have to start an herb garden.)

We ate very well and we talked, laughed and shared stories and cruising information. We’re from Massachusetts, England, New York City via Italy, Colorado (or Wyoming, depending on who you ask), Connecticut, and Maine. There is a 20 year age difference from oldest to youngest, our careers are diverse and each story unique. The photo shows a rare moment as all listened to EW describe one of our favorite Maine ports, but most of the time the boat was abuzz many conversations at once. It was a lovely day. (Or brilliant, as they say in England.)

Meeting new people is my favorite part of this cruising life. It’s fascinating to observe the ebb and flow of the cruising community. We’ll make new friends and head off in different directions, or in the same direction on a different timeline, and then be delighted when they sail in to anchor near us; or we might run into them on shore here in Georgetown or at one of the many cruising events. We’ve often met new cruising friends and quickly discovered that they knew folks we had met just a few days ago. As we found while living aboard in Maine, the boating lifestyle allows you to make friends quickly and introduces you to folks who are generous with their smiles, knowledge and spare parts.

Back in Maine, we were frequently given boat cards presented by more experienced cruisers. We collect them and keep them in a safe place because if you’ve forgotten the name of their boat, there is no way to reach your friends on the radio. We finally created cards to hand out so our friends can contact and refer us and invite us for things such as yoga on the beach and drinks on their boat, or call us for assistance.

Meeting and getting to know these other travelers is wonderful, saying good-by is not. All of the folks we’ve played with these last weeks will head back to the states when the season is over, while we’ll head south to the Caribbean. Since leaving Maine in October our lives have been one long good-by. There are couples we would like to spend more time with, but it’s just not possible. Some we may never see again. All have enriched our lives and all have taught me something about this lifestyle. I’m very grateful.

The Recipes

Two of my favorite cookbooks are Cruising Cuisine, Fresh Food From the Galley by Kay Pastorius and the Little Italy Cookbook by David Ruggerio, so the main course for breakfast came from those two books: Kay’s No Knead Yeast Bread and David’s Frittata Contadina. Here are the recipes:

No-Knead Yeast Bread

1 envelope (1 1/2 tablespoons) yeast

2 cups tepid water

1 tablespoon sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

4 cups unbleached white flour

Proof the yeast in a small amount of the water with a pinch of sugar. When it begins to foam, combine it in a blow with the remaining water, sugar, and salt. Stir in the flour. The mixture will be runny.

Cover the bowl and allow the dough to rise in a warm place until it’s doubled in size. Punch it down and allow to rise again. Shape into tow loaves and allow to rise once again. (This process takes three or four hours.)

Bake at 350 F until done – about 45 minutes.

NOTE: You can turn one or both of these loaves into great thick crust pizza dough by kneading in a couple of tablespoons of olive oil after the first or second rise. Simple spread it into a pizza pan or cookie sheet, top, and bake.

 

Frittata Contadina a Farm-Style Omelet

Serves 4 (usually with some left over)

1/4 cup olive oil

1 small onion, thinly sliced

8 eggs

1/4 pound mozzarella cheese, finely shredded

1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil

salt to taste

Heat the olive oil in a skillet. (I use my iron one) over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until translucent about 3 minutes. While the onion is cooking, place the eggs in a bowl and beat with a fork. Add the salt and mix in the cheese and basil. Pour the mixture onto the onions in the pan.

Cook for about 1 minute then place in the oven for 5 to 10 minutes or until firm in the center. Carefully flip onto a plate and serve. Leftovers may be stored for a couple of days in the fridge.

NOTE: Since we served 11 folks aboard La Luna, I tripled the recipe (except for the oil) then cooked the ingredients in two pans. Both frittatas came out great.


Setting Sail for Luperon, Dominican Republic

We had planed to leave Georgetown on Sunday, and head for Conception Cay where we hope to be able to spend a few hours snorkeling before we head south and east. Our goal is to get to Luperon as quickly as possible, provision, and make our way east to St. Thomas. This morning, EW went on the Georgetown Net and asked for help regarding the SSB. Over six other boaters responded so today we are going to get some help to see whether we can get this thing working. If so, I will post a blog and let you know that it came in via Sailmail.

NOTE: Our boat cards have a typo. It seems I automatically type "snailmail" instead of Sailmail. How foolish. Blond moment.

We’ve been looking at charts and reading “Passages South The Thornless Path to Windward” by Bruce Van Sant. There’s a lot of information in this book, but I have to read it in small doses as the author’s style is a tad grating to me. (I call him the curmudgeon.) He may be one, but he’s smart and very experienced in sailing the Bahamas and the Caribbean. We’d be fools not to heed him. (And he does indead have that opinion.)

Depending on the prevailing winds, this trip will take 5 days to 2 or 3 weeks. I’m hoping for 5 days, but that would be a “once in a lifetime” event. It’s more likely that we will do one and two day hops, some overnight, in order to make our way down the islands into the prevailing wind and current. In that case, we’ll be able to get onto wifi in some harbors, as we may have to wait for weather windows every few days.

We will not be foolish. We’ll be careful, and we’ll stay safe. We promise.

In the meantime, our instructor for the Total Immersion Swim Class just emailed two photos – one from the day long class and one from our optional practice session the next day. Great class. Beautiful location. What’s not to like?

Feb. 17, 2011 T TI 2nd day


When to Say "Thank-you"

In this new lifestyle, EW and I are together almost 24/7/365, often with no one else around.  We love each other and we like each other, but that much togetherness is bound to create some stress. We started getting short with each other more often than was necessary. (I’m not sure how much is necessary, but that’s another post.)

We have a friend who meets a lot of very different people in his career and never wants to appear judgmental. His favorite word is “Amazing.” When Lee says “Amazing,” it could mean “wonderful” or “you’re full of it”, but that isn’t important.

A couple of weeks ago, I realized that I was overusing one phrase that could not be perceived as non-judgmental, “I know!”  Depending on the circumstance, that could mean, “Leave me alone,” “I was just going to do that,” or “I’ve done this every day for two years and know what’s needed,” or “We talked about this yesterday and I know what we are doing.”  “I know!” really mean’s “Shut up”, and we don’t ever say that to each other. 

So, I decided to work to banish “I know!” from my vocabulary and sought a replacement that works as effectively as Lee’s  use of “amazing”. Instead of “I know!” I answer with a soft and pleasant “Thank you.”


Spring Bath

I know that after you read about digging out the Hobie, you wondered about the spring bath. Since I endeavor never to disappoint – it was wonderful.

Up a short trail off the small beach at Shroud Cay, is a well with a bucket. P2030071 P2030070

 

You haul water up, take the bucket away from the well, and get drenched. It helps to have a partner who will find great joy in drenching you with cold water. Soap liberally, and get drenched again. It's invigorating and it saves boat water. 

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Is he wearing swim trunks? I’ll never tell.

 

La Luna from the spring hill top.

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Knowledge May Not be Power -- But it Helps

Here's the Change Post for Tuesday 2/22/11

I’ve been talking with other boating women – all First Mates. First Mates as defined by this blog are those people (male or female)  who were not raised as boaters, who are not licensed captains, and who came to this dream by way of their partner. Of course the majority of First Mates are women, but I’ve read articles by and about women who dreamed of this lifestyle and who have the skills to travel at sea alone or with a less experienced sailor/boater. I know women captains who are as skilled at boat repair as EW, who are excellent captains, cruisers and racers. I are not one.

I do have control issues, and have found that the more I know, the more comfortable I am. Not all First Mates feel the same way. Based on very informal conversations with other sailors, the First Mates who know less – who aren’t comfortable handling a watch, anchoring the boat, navigating, or even driving the dinghy – are less comfortable overall with the cruising lifestyle.

Yesterday – when a Change/Relationship post was supposed to run, EW and I took advantage of light winds and motored 11 miles to the Marina at Emerald Bay, where diesel is available. This allowed us to recharge the batteries fully (something we need to do twice a week, at least) and to fill the water and fuel tanks in preparation for a weather window to Puerto Rico. Emerald Bay is a nearly perfect marina that would be perfect if they had diesel nozzles that fit our deck fills. EW used a funnel we had aboard that also didn’t fit our deck fills and that leaked. It was a slow process, requiring me to help hold the funnel and to sop up dripped diesel with paper towels. Marvin, the outstanding dock person at the Marina at Emerald Bay finally took pity on us and offered to fill our tanks. Marvin has run into this problem before and knows how to hold the nozzle slightly canted, and press the handle just enough to allow the tank to fill mostly cleanly. Since Marvin was busy with other boaters, EW took over again and filled the tanks Marvin’s way. It was still slow, and somewhat messy and EW couldn’t hold the nozzle and check the vent so I remained on my knees with oil absorbent pads provided by Marvin, caught diesel and monitored the vent.

At one point, Marvin came back to watch the progress and said, “You are a good team”. I thanked him, and a minute or so later I realized what he meant. “You mean you don’t see a other wives get up close and personal with their diesel fill tanks?” He laughed and said, “No Ma’am, I do not.” I was surprised at that. Other boats must have deck fills like those on La Luna, who helps the captain when he’s filling the tanks? I’m a jump in where needed kind of woman. (Unless it’s gooky. I hate gooky.) This trip down the coast and into the Bahamas has become a training ground for me. We plan to sail for many years and we’ll be safer, healthier, and happier if we both have the ability to do most of what is needed.

Before my dad let me try for my driver’s license, I had to pass his test: check and add oil, pump gas, change a tire, and drive on ice and snow to his satisfaction. The more confidence my folks had in my skills as a driver, the more I was allowed to have the car – so there was a big pay-off for me. (Plus, twice in the past xx years I’ve helped women stuck beside the road with a flat.) Similarly, the more I know about running and maintaining the boat, the better I am with the dinghy, the more freedom we both have. The same goes for those who have the RV lifestyle, I have family members and friends who have learned to drive 5th wheels, RV’s and tow trailers through city streets and mountain roads, and to park in tiny campsites. If EW and I were to take up that lifestyle I suspect he would do most of the driving and I would do most of the navigating because that works for us – but I’d still learn to drive the rig. It’s about safety, control and freedom. Knowledge is power.


A Tale of Two Treks

The islands in the Bahamas are beautiful. We have explored them by dinghy and snorkel; we’ve walked beaches, roads, and trails. This is a tale of two trails, one at Black Point on Great Guana Cay, the other was on Stocking Island in Elizabeth Harbor.

Regarding the Trail from Black Point, The Explorer Chart Book says:

For some real exercise, don’t miss the hike out to the bluff overlooking the majestic Dotham Cut and the gorgeous ocean beaches; it’s well worth the effort. (On a cool day with your trusty water bottle.)

Doesn’t that sound inviting? We had mentioned our intention to one lovely local woman who said it was a good hike, but the trail, “is a bit overgrown. We’ve asked them to work on it. Ladies in TOPS like to walk it for exercise.” That doesn’t sound too bad, does it?” Later on she did suggest we stick to the trail because, “One elderly couple when through the bushes and got lost and came back all scratched up.” Since our source is in her early thirties I assume the “elderly couple” is EW’s age (sixty-something) so the comment smarted a bit.

The next morning, we left La Luna shortly after 8 armed with sun screen, hats, water bottles, and the camera. We did not take the machete, though we do have one aboard. We did hear afterward that others took a machete and used it. (Now, they tell us!) The trail begins as a wide gravel trail, narrows, and is less trail-like as one P2110119 progresses. We passed two lovely beaches facing the open Atlantic Ocean, double-backed, took turns scouting ahead, and finally came to a narrow cove. All the while, the rock cairn high at Dotham Point gave us direction and a goal. We crossed the cove via a rock bridge walked a narrow beach to find … nothing.

 

 

 

 

 

No trail, no broken branches, no footsteps, nothing but bushes and trees. We broke our way through the scrub P2110121 to a more open area with several pine trees, where EW spread his arms and shouted “THE BIG W!” (All you other elderly folk with catch that reference to It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad World, where a cast of characters sought a treasure under THE BIG W – a group of palm trees. That’s the kind of guy I married. He married the kind of woman who got the reference immediately. Do you find that scary? I do.)

So we took that as a sign and continued up the hill, through the brush until we found ourselves above the tree line (OK, not really, but it felt like it) with a majestic view. Our source on the island had mentioned that the road past her house, heads toward Dotham Point, and we could see that road from high ground.

Here we are at Dotham Point. P2110123 P2110126

And here’s the view back to Black Point and civilization.

P2110127 Since we particularly enjoy the trek out, we thought we’d try a different route home. (Probably like that other elderly couple.) We made it back to THE BIG W and continued West instead of turning South to head back across the small cove. We backtracked, and pushed through brambles, and (I anyway) worried about poisonwood, and “got all scratched up”. Then we came to an area we referred to as “The Great Salt Flats”. Now  I know that Dotham Point is actually an island, surrounded by water or sand flats at low tide. The road dead ends because the larger cove (the one that doesn’t drain completely) is between Dotham Point and the road. The nice, wide, bramble free dirt road.

I’d scoped the road out when on the hill and I am the navigator, but EW doesn’t like to get his shoes wet. He was wearing sneakers and i was wearing sport sandals. (Secret Fact about EW: He hates wet shoes/sneakers/socks like I hate gooky. He complains if he has to walk through dewy grass. When he took one of our dogs on morning walks the complaints were frequent.) In short, EW was not going to get his feet wet in the shallows. P2110140 So we spent about 45 minutes looking for a passable trail off the sand flats. We saw some interesting wells or blue holes, many footprints of folk who had gone before, but no sigh of how they had left. I knew we had to head north and wade around the mangroves to get to the road, but first we had to try every other possibility. I suspect this is where that other elderly couple got lost and really scratched up. The road is probably only 25 or 50 yards from the flats, but they are a hard 50 yards that include cactus plants. I was not going overland.

 

 

 

The great salt flats of Dotham Point.

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Ultimately, I gave EW the camera and told him I’d check out my route while he stayed dry. The sand was mud-like, a bit on the gooky side, but I prevailed. The water reached just above my knees and I successfully waded around the mangroves to the road/boat ramp. EW followed, and his sneakers squelched all the way back to town. He took it like a man. This “real exercise” of a hike took 3 hours.

The road. I like roads.

 

 

 

 

 

For the past week, we’ve been anchored Monument Beach at Stocking Cay, gazing each day at a hill with a monument on top. We’d been told there was a trail, in fact a number of them, up the hill and down the other side to beautiful beaches. Somehow I convinced EW to have another go.

 

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Now this is a trail. There are signs, resting benches, picnic tables, and a rope handhold to help one over a steep section.

There’s a charming coral wall similar to the rock walls we find in Maine.

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The trail was beautiful and the view of the island and anchorages spectacular.

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It’s beautiful, but it doesn’t make much of a story.

 P2210027 Until we noticed this small plaque. I couldn’t read it as I hadn’t brought my reading glasses, but EW wiped it off and read, “In Loving Memory of Barbara Hart.” I laughed and said, “Very funny. What’s it really say?” “He said, “In Memory of Barbara L. Hart.” No kidding. I’m going to assume that she sailed here for years and died in her 90’s and that the names of her loved ones on the plaque are grand-children. That works for me. By the way, I'm Barbara J. Hart


The Cyber Cafe at Georgetown

As faithful readers know, getting Internet in the Bahamas has been a challenge – made even more difficult by problems with my laptop’s faulty USB port. In Georgetown, we heard about J & K Production, The Computer Experts. Julius and Krystal, husband and wife and parents of three, have set up their business in a brightly painted cement shack.

For $5.00 a day or $15.00 a week, cruisers can sit in lawn chairs at a simple plywood bench and plug into a P2170164 surge protection/power source, and get on-line. Tall folk, including me, should duck when entering. Candy, sod, and juice are available in the fridge and Julius sells some computer devices and is able to do some repairs. Here’s Sarah – a cruiser from Maryland, who lived for a time in Fort Kent Maine!

Frankly, it’s a hoot. Most fun I’ve had getting on-line since we arrived in the Bahamas. One day next week, I’ll spend time getting real work done on the laptop. I’ve had the opportunity to email back and forth with friends and family, met cruisers and locals who are J & K customers – the locals always call out a general “Good Afternoon” or “Good Morning” when they enter.

Julius has reasonable prices and will send you to the competition for parts he doesn’t have. They have plans to grow the business. Julius said he spent a couple of years in Nassau learning his trade. He and his wife have a good business going here and I’m thankful to have found it. P2170166

Julius at work on my boat cards. I gave him a thumb drive and had him print out a new batch. He didn’t like my margins and fixed it.


Things EW Has to Put Up With

I purchased swim goggles to take the Total Immersion Swimming Class. I washed them, fitted the nose piece and enjoyed two lessons. After the second lesson I washed them and left them on the counter to dry, then went off in the dinghy to Georgetown.

Upon my return EW listened to me spout stories of meeting folks from Bryant Pond, rescuing a dinghy, and choosing vegetables. I live an exciting life – at least in my own mind. When I finally wound down, he said, “Put your glasses on. I have something exciting to show you.”

So I did, and he handed me my swim goggles.

 

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If you can’t read it – the words say: Protective Film. Remove Before Using.

Hmmmm.

EW had a good laugh.


Changing Our Lives – What Attracts Us, Also Exasperates Us

In 26 years of married life, EW and I have only taken one real “road trip” vacation. We spent 9 days driving from Maine to North Carolina and back, visiting friends and family along the way. For the most part, he drove and I navigated. EW loves an adventure and is open to stopping at any interesting turn-out, vista, tourist trap, or museum. It was a delightful trip. I only had to say, “this looks interesting”, or in the case of the Chesapeake Bridge Tunnel -- “Stop! Turn right here!” and he would pull over and spend time sight-seeing. This is in such direct contrast from the men in my family who operate on “Huff Time” and “Getting There”, that I was charmed and delighted. Ten or so years into our married life I discovered how fun EW’s sense of adventure  can be and how it provides us with offbeat adventures and stories to tell.

As much as I appreciate his willingness to stop to see the sights, I often get exasperated when he takes detours, or changes his focus when we are moving forward in one direction.  I grew up on “Huff Time”, hate to be late, hate to feel as though I'm missing anything that others may be doing. and create arbitrary time constraints on our trips and adventures. It’s hard to have an adventure when you’re thinking about how long it’s going to take to bake the gingerbread for tonight’s dinner with friends --or it is for me, anyway. In proper perspective, my focus on time can be a good thing, but when that focus is on arbitrary shoulds and what ifs and what’s next instead of what is here and now I can be a pain in the butt.

On Shroud Cay we had an “adventure” instigated by EW that tried my patience and caused me to worry that we would be arrested by the park rangers. We’d gone ashore to a little beach from which we could take a path to the spring. Crews from four boats were ashore to visit the spring and take spring water bucket baths.  While most of us were chatting on the beach, EW began to explore, and saw an interesting (to him) plastic something protruding from the sand. He dug down a bit with his hands and determined the something was a pontoon. So EW, open to new adventures and curious as hell, took one of the oars off the dinghy and began to dig. And dig. I was oblivious for some time, chatting with the ladies and playing with the dogs. The other men were mildly interested in his quest but would never have undertaken his self-appointed task: to discover what type of boat this was and to dig it out.

When I finally realized what was going on, I was not very interested and only mildly amused. When he continued to dig as others took turns at the spring, I was mildly annoyed. He reminded me that, “This is all part of the adventure.” But I really wasn’t having any of that. He continued to dig. And dig. He discovered the other pontoon and a “Hobie” label and dug with more gusto. Evening was coming and I realized that if I wanted to get to the spring for a bath, I’d better participate, as we were not leaving the beach while there was daylight.  I was annoyed (and afraid of being arrested) but took a deep breath and reminded myself to be open to all potential new adventures. He said, that if the park rangers discovered us, he would say that we were voluntarily cleaning plastic off the beach. And he charmingly asserted that,  “This is all for you, Bubsie, you wanted a little boat.”

That did now sway me as I knew that if this boat was indeed viable, he wouldn’t let me keep it as it was too big P2040074 to stow on deck. But I grabbed the other oar and I dug. And dug. As the other couples came back from the spring, there was discussion of pulleys and ways to raise the boat up from the sand. Before it got dark, EW agreed to take a break until the next morning and we finally scrambled up the hill for our spring baths. I adopted the “if you can’t beat them join them” philosophy and finally truly got into the prospecting spirit, so the next morning, armed with our paddles and two block and tackle systems, we returned to shore and dug some more. Unfortunately, the morning tide was a higher high that week, and we soon found ourselves at the losing end of a race against the sea. When the two stern pontoons that had taken me an hour to uncover were totally buried by two waves, we knew  it was time to quit. This effort would required at least 4 people with real shovels during one session of afternoon low tide. EW realized the futility and gracefully gave up. We spent the next hour helping the tide return the beach to the state it had been before our efforts.

You know what? Once I accepted that my husband often chooses the path less taken, I had fun. We provided the other boaters with a story to tell, and made new boating friends. If I were more P2040075 evolved, I’d have come to that conclusion much sooner and entered into the effort with better grace. There is a lesson here. I will work on remembering this during EW’s next spur of the moment adventure. After all, that’s what this trip is all about, our own personal adventure – not some arbitrary time table or “normal” experiences. I’m ready.


Exercise At Sea

I like to walk and am my best when I walk 15 to 20 miles a week.  In South Portland I walked with my dog, and with a boating neighbor. The dog was silent. The neighbor and I would walk and talk and keep up a fast pace. It was exercise.

While EW and I did a lot of walking in Nassau, many of the islands we visited in the Exumas did not have roads or paths that allowed 3 or 4 mile walks.  My need to find alternative ways to get in shape has provided me with a few adventures, and opportunities for growth.  I’ve done yoga on my own with a book twice so far, once on a dock ashore and once on the deck of La Luna during 15-20 knots of wind. Many balance poses weren’t possible aboard the boat, but that was OK because non-P2020053 balance poses became balance poses on deck. It was a good work out.  On Norman’s Cay, a empty dock provided a wonderful yoga space. Here’s the view from my mat. Note the deck had been repaired with plywood, just the right size for a yoga spot. Sweet!

EW and I also went for a walk along the road at Norman’s Cay. We checked out the airport, and walked part way around the bay. A couple of weeks later we went on a trek at Black Point. This became a three hour hike through brush and mangrove swamp and was a great work-out. It’s also a story to be told in a subsequent post. Tune in later.

Of course we’ve gone snorkeling at many of the islands. At Shroud Cay, we circled a rocky point, moving lazily through the water for over an hour. It wasn’t aerobic.  At Staniel Cay we tied the dinghy to the dinghy buoy and swam into Thunderball Grotto. Lovely. Magical, Amazing fish. We were moving, but the only real exercise is getting back into the dinghy from the water. That required a lot of thrashing and splashing. It was not pretty.

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Here is EW standing in the grotto. There are holes that allow light inside – and one over a deep spot allows brave and foolish types to jump in from the top. No thank you very much. 

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Here are the three islets at Staniel Cay. The middle one is Thunderball Grotto. Like Tom Cruise and many other actors, it appears bigger in the movies. P2090107 We anchored straight out from Thunderball – left of the view here.

We need a second “vehicle” in that it would be handy to have another method of transportation so that when one of us has the dinghy, the other can go visiting or to the beach. One option would be a sit-on-top kayak. Our friends on Bear have one and we tried it out when we visited them in Panama. That was a two person kayak, but one person can certainly handle it.  Two can fish from it; you can take things to shore for a cookout; and you can paddle around the anchorage and give your upper body a work out.

We’re thinking about getting a sit-on-top two-person kayak – but don’t know where on deck we would store it.

In Fort Lauderdale we saw a number of younger folk paddling down the river on a paddle board. That looked interesting, so when Dave from S/V Crow’s Nest paddled by us at Staniel, I asked him whether I could try out his board. Dave is younger and in much better shape. Some of his friends (and I think he ) have paddled white water rivers on a paddle board instead of a canoe. I can’t imagine that.

I could imagine myself on the paddle board, but it isn’t as easy as it looks. Here I am starting out. P2080106 If this were a video, you’d see that I wobbled. A lot. Note that I had my head down looking at the board and the water and the sand and fish below. I also had a hard time figuring out how to turn. (J-Stroke, like a canoe – duh.)

In case you think I’m exaggerating my ineptness, as I went farther from Crow’s Nest a neighbor on S/V Wings called out, “Don’t worry. If you fall we’ll rescue you!”  That was much appreciated as I’d already scoped out that their swim ladder was down and decided that if I fell, I was towing the board to their boat. I didn’t fall. It was a miracle.

After about 15 minutes, my yoga training kicked in. (Get me – two classes and I’m an expert!) It finally occurred to me that my balance would be better if I focused outward. (How Zen.)

Once I started looking up and out, it became much easier, and I could actually turn, paddle and smile, all at once. Smiling and Paddling 2-8-2011 4-58-18 PM

This is an inflatable board, but it felt substantial and sturdy underfoot. It provides great balance and core exercise and I’d love to have one – though a kayak may be more practical. Dave said that the board and paddle cost around $1400.00. When I checked on line I found the Sea Eagle Delux – a Paddle Board with a Seat  and this Boardworks Shabu. Both are just under $1000.00 so I wonder if any of the $300 - $500 inflatable boards would work.

The first morning on anchor near Hamburger Beach in Georgetown, I went for a half-hour row in our inflatable dinghy. That provided excellent exercise and a lot of comments from other boaters. The women all asked, “Are you rowing for the exercise?” The men all asked if our motor had been stolen or was broken. Really. I’ve offered to host a morning dinghy row but no one has taken me up on it.

Most of you have realized that one excellent opportunity for exercise is missing in this discussion. Here I am in the land of 75 degree water and 80 degree and sunny days. Why aren’t I swimming for exercise? Well, I can’t swim that well. I can swim, but have never mastered the crawl and have never swum any distance in the ocean. So, this morning, I had my first Total Immersion swimming class. Now that is a workout – and I have a lot to learn.  The instructor provided a DVD to remind me of the ideal style, and EW has agreed to be my coach.  I’m going to practice this. It’s good exercise, and doesn’t cost a thing – but I’d still like a paddle board or a kayak.