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April 2011

Dinghy Docks

 Crown Bay Dinghy Dock 4-18-2011 10-18-39 AM On my knees in the dinghy, pushing other inflatable vehicles to port and starboard, inch by inch, I moved the dinghy forward into free space on the dock. Since we were going to leave the dinghy for a few hours – well most of the day --- I wanted to tie her up where she would be less likely to impede other cruisers. Using the motor would have allowed me to be the only active participant in an exciting game of bumper boats, by using my hands and limited knowledge of physics i could more accurately work my way to the far corner of the U-shaped space. We were in St. Thomas, visiting EW’s cousins and spent most days with them or touring in town. When Jeff chauffeured us, we left the dinghy at the marina for five, six, or more hours, in violation of the rules. P4180108

Cruising Sailors- particularly we who are full time – are notoriously cheap. We are not welcomed visitors in some marinas and provide no income to high-end tourist shops.  We are do-it your-selfers who don’t want to purchase things that clutter the boat, and we anchor out nearly all the time. Cheap, cheap, cheap, cheap, cheap. (We also eat a lot of chicken – particularly those of us who don’t catch a lot of fish.)

We anchor out, but we want to go ashore in various harbors, and that means we need to use a dinghy dock to secure the dinghy.  Savvy communities have town docks to allow sailors to go ashore and use the local shops and services. Restaurants often have dingy docks for use while boaters dine and some of them allow us to stay on the docks while we visit the community and shop and do laundry. In Nassau, we used the one at the Green Parrot and gave them most of our eating out budget when we were in town. In Luperon, the town has an aged, crumbling dock for boaters to use. While we were there we heard that the mayor has offered to provide materials for a new dock and it looks like the cruisers will provide the labor. In Fort Lauderdale, where the town would love to severely limit anchoring, we could tie our dinghy to the dock at the South Port Raw Bar for $10.00. We could use the receipt for $10.00 of food and drink in the restaurant, and they didn’t limit our time on the dock. In Hampton, Virginia we could tie the dinghy up at the town dock at one end of the harbor or at South Port Marine on the other end, depending on where we wanted to go once ashore.  We gave our fuel business to South Port Marine to thank them for the service.

P4220014 Since we left Luperon, we have tied at the dinghy docks provided by marinas where we spend money only for diesel and water. This is a privilege, not a right and we are thankful they have set aside space for us. Evidently not everyone feels the same way. While I was maneuvering the dinghy that morning in St. Thomas, the dock master stopped by and helped move a large dinghy that was blocking access to the inner dock. I thanked her and she thanked me for working to get the dinghy into open space away from the entrance, particularly as we had “been leaving the dinghy all day”. So someone had noticed our rules violation, but I knew we weren’t the only ones. I thanked her for providing the space and she mentioned that not all felt the same way. It seems that there are cruisers – cheap ones like we are – who find fault with free, secure dinghy docks. Really? There are people who are living their dreams, cruising in warm waters, spending as little as possible, and complaining that the free dinghy dock is full or that they have to work to push aside other boats to enter and exit?  “I deal with that nearly every day”, she said.

I think it’s time for a reality check. Nothing is perfect, this is an adventure, not a guided tour. If you want everythingCrown Bay Marina Dinghy Dock 4-18-2011 10-17-46 AM handled for you, “sail” on a cruise ship or crewed charter. I am grateful every day, for EW, La Luna, friends and family, this lifestyle we are living, and the little things like dinghy docks that make it possible. You won’t hear me complaining to the dock master – I’m more likely to bake her a loaf of bread.

PHOTOS, TOP TO BOTTOM

Dinghy Dock at Crown Bay Marina. La Luna’s tender (Lunah Landah) is to the lower right, partially under the dock. You can see her white paddle. The narrow opening to the space is in the upper right.

Rules at Crown Bay Dinghy Dock

Dinghy Landing at Jolly Harbor in Antigua

Crown Bay, again. The entrance is to the left. You can see all the large dinghies that parked in the middle despite the room at the far end.


Up the Mast Again, Just Can’t Wait to Get Up the Mast Again (With Apologies to Willy Nelson)

I goofed up big time the other day. Huge. We have a guest on board (yea!) in Antigua and are having a wonderful time, enjoying turquoise waters and sand beaches. The beaches have been sand but the anchorages have been in mud, which is unfortunate because sometime between here and St. Thomas the deck wash down pump kicked the bucket.  This means that one of us has to use said bucket and brush to wash the anchor chain as it is brought aboard. Since we have been using our wonderful fail-safe-two-anchors-in-tandem method that means that EW has to man the bucket and the foredeck. (I cannot lift the second anchor.)

We had left a beautiful anchorage in Five Islands and were planning on sailing to English Harbor on Easter Monday (a holiday here in Antigua). EW and our guest worked for over 40 minutes cleaning the anchor chain while I manned the helm and kept La Luna pointing in the right direction, and away from our neighboring boats. EW got quite a work-out so I offered to haul out the main sail, something I’ve only done rarely and not once in the past year or two. He readily agreed.

We have a furling main that rolls up inside the mast. Folks often ask whether we have had problems with it and EW says, “Never. Works great.” He has been meticulous about maintaining the two winches, making sure any rigging work is executed appropriately, and about how he furls and unfurls the sail. One person holds the boat into the wind, with the main sheet running free, and the other sits or crouches in the cockpit and works two winches; one to pull the sail out of the mast and the other to tighten the slack and keep her taut. I knew that. Really, I did. But if “to know and not to do is not to know”, then I didn’t know.

While EW was distracted, I worked the port side winch more than I worked the starboard one, in exact opposite of the proper method. The result, a sail that had been loosened around the roller with no where to go. Consequently, it got jammed up in the mast. Big time. Jammed Mainsail, Pretty spot

Jammed Mainsail 4-25-2011 12-45-16 PM

This is wrong. Very, very wrong.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So we decided to anchor back in Jolly Harbor for the night and take time to fix the sail. First we lunched, then we napped, then EW felt ready to tackle the problem. Our guest and EW determined that we had to push the excess back into the mast so the sail had room to move. EW thought long and hard to find the appropriate tool for this job and decided that one of my galley scrapers would be best, so I sacrificed her to the cause. Our guest worked first on the lower part of the sail. EW would haul it out a until it snagged, release some of the tension and A. would push the fold back into the mast. As the mess at the lower end began to clear, we used the boat hook to shove the folds into the mast. We gained by inches, hauling out a bit, squishing in the fold, furling to tighten the roll, and starting again. At first it seemed like we weren’t making any progress, but gradually the messy folds appeared higher up the mast and with the sail unfurled incrementally more.

We reached higher and higher. First EW, than I climbed onto the boom and held on with one hand while pushing fabric in with the other. When the problem folds appeared higher up the mast it was clear that one of us “had to go up”. That would be me. P4250056 We dug the Bo 'sun's chair out of the locker, strapped me in, and up I went. I’m getting better at this. This time I actually held on to the stays and braced my feet against the mast, taking some of my weight off of the halyard and helping EW lift me higher and higher. (“He keeps lifting me! Keeps on lifting me higher and higher!”) In fact, as I reported to those on deck, at no time did I lose the ability to spit and my mouth didn’t get dry at all until I approached the first spreader. (For those of you new to this blog, I learned what “scared spitless” met when I went up the mast for the first time. At no time have I ever actually spit from the Bo 'sun's chair.)  P4250059

I’d wrap my right hand or elbow around a stay and use my left to work the fabric. A. worked the boat hook to keep the lower area clear, and EW, the man I tried to save from more hard labor, pulled the sail out, tightened it, loosened it and hauled it back in – over and over and over again. Some labor saving device I turned out to be. The three of us were cheerful, made jokes, worked as a team and hooted and hollered when we completed the task. We showed A. that cruising sailors do have the opportunity to fix their boats in exotic and beautiful harbors. She is smart woman and a great sport – the perfect boat guest.

We successfully executed our task before Oh Beer Thirty and toasted ourselves on deck. Another good day in paradise.


Family Time for the Harts at Sea at St. Thomas, Part Two

During Dale’s visit to St. Thomas, EW, Dale and I took the ferry to St. John for shopping and snorkeling. The  shopping pace is very different there, the beach and snorkeling were as advertised, and the people are delightful. Dale in St. Thomas 4-15-2011 8-42-07 AM

P4150064

Trunk Bay has a snorkeling “trail” with underwater signs describing some of the fish and coral. 

 

 

The islands have had a drought this winter, broken during our visit. Dale’s plane was over an hour late landing due to a heavy rainstorm. We had another, shorter storm while on St. John. We’d just left the beach for the showers when it hit. Here’s EW waiting out the rain while Dale and I rinse off the gear. EW in the Rain 2 St. John 4-15-2011 12-59-16 PM

 

We’d had excellent bagels at an outdoor cafe when we arrived, and returned to the same cafe in the afternoon for their advertised special drink: root beer and rum. Delicious! Both times we enjoyed watching a mother hen and her two chicks clean up crumbs under the nearby tables. You know you’re not in Maine anymore when ….Chicks in St. John 4-15-2011 2-23-23 PM

 

 Barb in St. John 4-15-2011 2-15-26 PM

 

We did some shopping in St. John, Yacht Haven, and Haven Center. Three areas that do not have shills. Dale found a sun hat and we both picked up a couple of sun dresses. After all, we’re in the islands!  P4150073

 

Most of all, we relaxed in the home of the St. Thomas Harts and enjoyed some much needed family time. What a treat.  Here’s the Officiant Bag at the home of the St. Thomas Harts. Nice deck. P4100015 Nice flowers. Barb Hart the First has two green thumbs.


Family Time for the Harts at Sea at St. Thomas USVI – Part One

We landed in St. Thomas on Sunday the 10th and left on Monday the 18th, after a wonderful week visiting with EW’s cousinThe Harts in St. Thomas 4-16-2011 7-09-59 PM Jeff and his wife, Barbara Hart the First, and EW’s sister who flew down to see all of us. Here we are, dining in an excellent sushi restaurant.

In addition to marrying the right man, I married into a super family. EW’s cousin Jeff, was the Best Man at our wedding 26 years ago. We’ve traveled with Jeff and Barb Hart the First and love spending time with them. EW’s sister, Dale,  lived less than an hour from us in Maine and has cheerfully hosted family events since we sold the house. She’s smart, funny and a good sport as she bravely joined us on the boat for our first Thanksgiving afloat. Come to think of it, that first (and only) Thanksgiving afloat may be why she  so cheerful hosted all subsequent holiday dinners in Maine. She’s not a fool. We’ve missed her and were delighted to see her.

We laughed and shared stories, hugged a lot, ate way too much for dinner with ice cream for dessert, and played tourist. The cousins had to work during much of our visit and I’m afraid Jeff will be woefully behind this week when he finally gets rid of us, but he cheerfully and lovingly played taxi driver, chef, host, and tour guide. Barb and Jeff are excellent cooks, and experienced on the water – between them they can pretty much do anything – plus they have three excellent pets so we got a fur fix every day. We look forward to the day we get to host them aboard La Luna.

St.Thomas is interesting. They drive on the left here, in cars manufactured in the states for driving on the right. Linda Bean 4-13-2011 9-32-11 AM After a week I still tensed up at intersections. The cousins live in a lovely home on the mountain, up a steep, narrow road where we frequently would have to stop on the shoulder to let another car pass. Although they sincerely offered the use of their car, we firmly declined each time. Taxis are cheap and the bus costs a dollar – plus we could use the dinghy to get from our anchorage to downtown and Yacht Haven.

St. Thomas is a duty-free, cruise ship town, with docks and facilities for them at both ends of the harbor and  many, many, many jewelry stores and other shops at either end and in between. EW and I were stunned to see that Linda Bean had a lobster roll shop here. We miss Maine, but did not come to St. Thomas to have a Maine lobster roll.

Walking downtown to see the historic sites, one is accosted constantly by shills hired to get you into their store. I think we could make money selling T-Shirts that say, “SAILOR. Not Buying Jewelry.” One smiling man, originally from New York according to his accent, looked at my old Columbia sailing sandals that have been glued back together with 5200 and said, “Nice shoes, I saw a photo of them on the web and thought that they’d go great with some of the jewelry we have in here.” Really. Interesting approach. I still didn’t buy jewelry.

Since we were in St. Thomas to visit with family, and since we have an appointment in Antigua, we didn’t take EW and me in St. Thomas 4-13-2011 10-40-06 AM the time to sail around the Virgin Islands. We’ll definitely go back next year for a longer and more cruiser-like visit, but we still had fun. I had two days walking downtown and at Yacht Haven checking out the shops and that was about a day and a half too much – though I appreciated the time with EW and then with Dale. Downtown, two people cannot walk down the street and have a conversation because the shills interrupt you at every other store entrance. They do not take “no” for an answer. EW turned the tables on one cigar store owner by going in a pricing out Cuban cigars. The gentleman didn’t have the particular ones in stock, but told him they would cost at least $200.00 for a box of 25. EW had purchased a box in the D.R. for $15.00. He’s still grinning.


Back on Line in Antigua

After a week in St. Thomas with family and a motor to Antigua, I have stories and photos to share -- but first, an apology for my recent silence. For the most part it can be attributed to having too much fun with family in Antigua -- the first Hart family members we've seen since Florida. EW's sister flew down and stayed with their cousins who have a home in St. Thomas. We toured, we snorkeled, we ate way too much as both Jeff and Barb (Barb Hart the First) are great cooks. We had some trouble getting Internet access and I ceded the little time we had on-line to EW who was listing and "showing" boats. Excuses esc uses.

It looks like Internet access will be better in Antigua, and though we will have a guest on board I pledge to post early and often this week. This post is going up on the SSB, so no photos now. Stay tuned.

We are at N 17 04.521' and W 61 53.811 - the farthest East I've been in my life. (We had flown to St. Thomas a number of years ago.) On the way from St. Thomas, we had a leisurely view of Saba, which has been moved up on my sailing bucket list, and as we sit here on anchor we can watch the smoke rise from the active volcano on Montserrat. We are cruising. With friend Amy flying in on Friday, we are planning a week of sailing and touring and hope to get to Barbuda an island just north of Antigua. We will also travel around Antigua by boat, snorkel, hike, and eat good food.

For those of you glued to the weather channel and this early tropical depression, It is already north of us and should cause no problems for us at all. We will not experience a hurricane this week. I repeat, we will not experience a hurricane this week. I hope this alleviates your fears.

One sad note (particularly for me) The iPhone was once again toggled to "Airplane" mode when we left St. Thomas. I Tweeted into the night during my nine to midnight watch before sadly switching it off. It was wonderful to be able to talk with loved ones (and wish my sister a "Happy Birthday") while we had the phone from Puerto Rico through St. Thomas. Now, back to SSB, Wifi, and VHF for local conversations. If I were a rich woman, I'd have unlimited AT&T all over the world, but as this is really my only complaint, I know that EW and I are very, very fortunate to be in Antigua on La Luna. Happy here, very happy here.

Family Time

We have had a wonderful week with family in St. Thomas. EW's cousin
and his wife live here and EW's sister flew down to see us. What a
treat! But it didn't leave time for blogging. I have to work on that.

We just left the anchorage at 6:15 pm and are motoring to Antigua,
where we pick up a guest on Friday. We should arrive on Wednesday
morning giving me time to clean and post stories and photos.

Once we leave the wonderful ATT coverage in the USVI we'll be back to
no cell phone. Very sad. My Twitter traffic will suffer and I'll miss
the chats with friends and family. Ah well -- the sailing life for me.

Reaching St. Thomas and When Your Dream is Living on a Sailboat, Anchoring Happens

Yesterday morning we anchored in St. Thomas in the USVI after a twenty-four hour motor to windward. Fortunately we had waited until the winds and seas had abated and it was not an onerous passage. We anchored in Crown Bay amidst many other moored and anchored boats in 25 feet of water with a sand bottom. The sand bottom meant I had to drive La Luna around while EW re-installed our Fortress anchor to use in tandem with the CQR. Once that was done we anchored easily and with little fanfare so we did not provide those having breakfast on deck with any stories to tell – as we had done in Salinas.

What happened in Salinas, you might ask? Well two things. First of all, a perception/communication issue was resolved  -- sort of. Since I had begun taking an active role in anchoring (Bahamas) I’ve been more vocal about where we lay the anchor and how close we are to other boats. As I described, we had motored through the anchorage for a while in Georgetown until we found a spot on which we both could agree. I thought we were cooperating, compromising and learning. EW found it disruptive and embarrassing. Who knew?

Not I until we motored into Salinas and EW said, “Look, one of us is going to pick the spot because I don’t like all the discussion we’ve been having when we anchor. and I don’t want to drive around and around while we have that discussion” Oh. Hmmm. Ultimately he picked as it turned out I was very busy. We were anchoring in mud so only needed the CQR and since the winds were gusting in the 20’s, EW drove the boat and I handled the anchor – something we’ve done for 8 years. Except the anchor would not come out of the locker to the windlass. All of the tacking and beating through waves during the four days from the Dominican Republic to Salinas had resulted in the anchor chain falling all over itself in the locker. There weren’t knots, exactly, but heavy chain was piled on top of the heavy chain that was supposed to be released with the anchor.

It’s happened before in Maine – and I know what to do – scurry down below to the forward cabin, move cushions and the guitar, open the anchor locker and sort chain. Usually it doesn’t take that long, but until now we haven’t been beating in 6 foot seas for four days. I needed to get 75 feet of chain free. I’d rest my forearms on the bulkhead, and use my hands to chase chain and move it around, trying not to get the freed chain covered with newly freed chain. It was a chore and I didn’t get it the first time, or the second, or the third. While other cruisers watched, I made six trips down below to work on chain, returning to the deck each time to find that not enough was freed yet. I didn’t count the trips below, but found that out from a nearby boater days later, as we were having a beer on shore. “You are a strong woman,” said Mike, as he sipped a beer. (This is in a heavy Texas accent. Lovely man with a wonderful wife.) “You made six trips down below.” “Really?” I said. “Yep. I was counting.”

To be fair, EW repeatedly offered to switch roles, but 1) I didn’t want to anchor where he was and 2) I didn’t want to try to hold the boat there – fairly close to other boats (too close for me) in 20 plus knots of wind. He did provide a set of gloves to protect my lily white and tender hands (yeah, right) but my manicure was still ruined and my forearms were bruised for days. Two boaters came by in dinghies offering to help but there was really nothing anyone could do, it was a two person job and we were handling it.  Later that week we removed all the chain from the locker, cleaned the locker and reset the chain with hopes of easier anchoring in the future. I still had to go down below once in St. Thomas to free up a section. If anyone knows how to fix this, please let me know. It’s getting old. Oh, and for those of you who are keeping track of such things, EW chose a fine place to anchor. We weren’t too close to other boats. I was wrong.

In St. Thomas, we first tried to anchor with just the CQR, discovering the sand bottom, so I had already freed upAnchoring Spaghetti 4-10-2011 8-28-20 AM   the chain for his use. Since I don’t have the strength to handle both anchors when we use the Fortress with the CQR, I drive the boat and EW is on the foredeck. I drove, we agreed on a spot (chosen by moi) and we set her calmly, efficiently, and securely. I love it when that happens. We had motored through the anchorage looking for a spot, and tried to anchor once, then I drove the boat around while he connected the Fortress, and then we tried again with me driving the boat and agreed the spot wasn’t going to work, and had to find another spot – so though this wasn’t upsetting or embarrassing to EW, the result was the “red spaghetti” route you see here. The red line is our tracking, where we actually went – you can see we experienced quite a bit of Crown Bay prior to actually dropping the hook.

Punkin in St. Thomas 4-10-2011 5-07-26 PM

 

 

We were tired after our overnight sail, so after a bowl of cereal we “napped” until 1:00 PM. I woke up refreshed and excited. We had dinner with the cousins (EW’s cousin and his wife live here) – and enjoyed a great meal in their beautiful home with two cats and 1.5 dogs. (The neighbor’s pup is a frequent visitor. Here’s Pumpkin on the deck.

 

 

 

 

 

15 years ago, EW and I had flown to St. Thomas to visit his cousin and his wife, and I had dreamed of sailing Crown Harbor Anchorage and Mooring Field 4-11-2011 10-57-34 AMinto this harbor in our own boat, so yesterday morning we achieved one of our dreams. I glowed all day. We had done it, we had brought our boat to St. Thomas.  We’ve had challenges (anchoring happens, sand happens, running aground evidently happens) and we’ve had truly wonderful experiences. We will continue from here and achieve more of our dream, and have more challenges and more wonderful experiences. In the meantime, I’m going to enjoy this week in St. Thomas. I’m living my dream. 

 

This is the anchorage facing the end of Crown Bay in St. Thomas.


Luperon Spam

A Spam 3 2-27-2011 11-09-54 AM

 

For the final Spam article in this series, I bring you scenes and events from Luperon. Ahhh Luperon, you either love it or hate it – we love it, but not unconditionally.

 

A Fishing Boats at Luperon 3-23-2011 12-21-59 PM

Here are fishing boats, waiting to go to sea. These are old wooden boats, repaired with fiberglass and painted in glorious colors. They rarely have motors. When they do, on calm days, they travel miles out to sea.  Here’s a similar boat, with a fresh catch.  We saw them on our trip to Puerto Rico and they were over 20 miles off shore. That’s a mahi-mahi or dolphin fish.

A Happy Fishermen 3-25-2011 7-14-59 AM

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Wiring in Luperon 3-20-2011 9-10-50 AM

 

 

EW was frequently concerned about safety and the lack of regulations in the D.R. Here is an electrical panel in the bushes. What isn’t easy  to see are the numerous wires funning from the box to the homes and businesses in the area. He cringed each time we passed this and wanted a photo.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A El Pichichi and Wendy's Luperon 3-23-2011 12-26-08 PM

This bar is located near the entry to the town from the docks. There are two businesses welcoming cruisers, the outdoor bar is frequented by mainly locals and some cruisers while Wendy’s,will have more cruisers than locals inside. We joined Tony and his friends here one afternoon. Imagine the sun moving across the sky from left to right so that the roof no longer shades the bar. In Luperon, we simply move with the shade, placing our chairs off the concrete pad and into the road on the left. By late afternoon, the chairs are two to three deep in the road and no one is sitting in the actual bar. I love that.

A Moving with the sun Luperon 3-19-2011 3-34-30 PM

 

 

 

Just a few folks left sitting in the bar. The afternoon has begun at EL Pichichi.

 

 

 

A Tom playing on board 3-14-2011 5-36-05 PM

Tom is another Mainah, a solo sailor who was anchored in Luperon for a while on his way to the San Blas islands.  He’s most recently from Belfast and worked in a number of boatyards in Maine so he and EW could share stories and drop names for hours. He’s also an accomplished concertina player and a very good singer who favors Gordon Bok and other folk singers.

Tom is a true Mainah who has had a number of careers, including teacher. While in Luperon he was teaching English to some of the better students in the private high school.

One evening, I cooked and Tom and EW entertained me with stories and music. That’s a fair trade, for sure.

Later that week, Tom’s new engine arrived and he went to the marina to have it installed. He went back to the anchor once the engine was in place, but before she was actually working.  That became a problem on our last day in Luperon.

For us, it began with a radio call from one cruiser to another. “Hey, you see what’s happening off your stern? A Tom's Boat and the Fishing Boat 3-24-2011 7-23-16 AM Typical Dominican boating.” This was not said in tone of high praise. EW and I went on deck to check things out and saw this huge fishing boat – loaded with a catch, a large crew, and a lot of fishing dories, heading out of control toward Tom’s boat – the smaller one at the left with the dinghy off the stern.

I would like to think that neither of the cruisers on the radio understood as we did that Tom did not have a working engine. Alone on board, he could do nothing to get out of the way as this fishing boat lost their engine and began to drift down on him.

 

EW and I bolted for the dinghy and sped over to Tom’s boat. We spent a half hour, pulling or tugging her around the scope of her anchor, keeping her out of harm’s way. The Dominican's were calmly doing all they could to move their boat in the right direction. In addition to whatever was going on with their engine, when they got her started, they ran aground – twice. They’d get her off, and the engine would die and she’d drift back toward Tom. One of the things they did to lighten their load was to launch their fishing boats. It was fascinating to see these sturdy wooden boats come flying off the deck, one after the other. Only one had a motor, the person driving that one, had diverted to help Tom, but when he saw us, he rounded up the other boats and towed them safely ashore. The Captain of the fishing boat thanked us repeatedly for assisting Tom. A Fishing Boat near Tom's Boat 3-24-2011 7-25-34 AM

 

Here, EW and I are in our dinghy, towing Tom’s boat out of the way. You can see Tom’s bow pulpit in the foreground. I’d call that close enough.

 

 

 

 

The Colors of Luperon 3-19-2011 10-34-07 AM

 

 

 

The Dominican Republic is an excellent agricultural area. There are gardens and fruit trees along the main streets and at most homes, and commercial farms outside of town. The produce market had excellent broccoli, carrots, cilantro, onions and more. In addition, like most of the islands we’ve visited – the D.R. has beautiful flowering bushes to brighten our day. 

Yep, put us down as the kind of folks who love Luperon.


Adventure Travel for Two

We’re having an adventure. I knew that, but have thought of this as such a change of our lives that the “adventure for two” aspect of this lifestyle hadn’t really occurred to me until recently. As with many new insights, this one came with a a couple of figurative slaps upside the head. A number of loving souls responded to Tuesday’s post with reminders that our purpose we may be to share our adventures with others. That’s a good purpose and I’m proud they believe it’s a worthy one. Then, we spent time with a couple from Maine  here in Puerto Rico, who also used the word “adventure”.

I must digress here. Maine is a tiny state. How tiny is it? When we lived on the dock in South Magus  4-8-2011 10-11-26 AM Portland one of our neighbors was a young couple, and we quickly figured out that EW had known Travis’ late father and Sophie’s mom and I were Twitter friends. Last week, Travis sent an email telling us that Sophie’s parents were on their way from the Virgin Islands back to their home port in Salinas.  We told him we’d keep an eye out and  two days later, Jenny and Albert picked up their mooring – just a few hundred yards west of where we had anchored. 

So, while in Salinas we had dinner and wine with Jenny and Albert from Maine.  Jenny asked how long we had been married (nearly 26 years) and said, “You are having such an adventure. Don’t you think it’s important for married couples to share an adventure?” Well, yes it is. We are having an adventure and it is making all the difference.

Barb in first grade I am not an adventurous person. When young (and sometimes now) I worried about “getting caught” and was frankly a “goody-two-shoes”. (This is my mom’s phrase and I know what it means but I’m way too young to know where it came from.) Seriously, my prior adventures including climbing Mt. Katahdin – something 10 year olds can do – and sneaking into Fort Knox in Belfast Maine at night while in college. (I thought that was a rush – really – I was so proud of that.  I can be very boring.) 

 

 

 

EW, on the other hand, snuck into Fort Niagara, climbing hand over hand up a stone wall. That may actually be one of his lesser adventures, most of which I can’t talk about on this blog.  I can’t even tell the rest of the Fort Niagara story, here. Let’s just say we probably wouldn’t have dated in high school.  Luckily, by the time we met, I was mature enough to recognize my soul mate – even if I was still getting my hair permed.

 

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Now, we’re having an adventure that I can share it with anyone who reads this blog. In the process, I’m discovering more about myself and about the man I married, we’ve become stronger as a couple, fight less, relax more, and are good Euchre partners. Some of those who read this blog will simply enjoy our stories, others may decide to seek their own adventure, still others may already be on an adventure and use this blog to get ideas and tips. We like to tell our stories and love to listen to other sailors and travelers share their stories. Sharing your adventure is a service to others, so whether you’re on a boat, in an RV or traveling the world, please share your adventure, particularly if you’re adventures as a couple.  Let us know where you are and please provide a link to your blog, if you have one. Consider it part of your purpose. That works for me. 


Bahamas Spam, Georgetown and Beyond

A Spam 2 2-27-2011 11-09-46 AM

By the time we got to Georgetown, we were slightly less freaked out about the potential for running aground, we better understood and enjoyed the concept of Buddy Boating, and we could actually provide advice and help to other cruisers. We were still newbies to this lifestyle, but were not quite as green as we had been in the Berry Islands and Northern Exumas

 

 

 

 

Thanks to our new  friends (and hopefully friends for life) Eleanor and Fabio aboard Amandla, we also acquired   photos of ourselves and La Luna. Here is a shot of EW and me A EW and Me at the Brunch 2 2-26-2011 6-55-37 PMthat Eleanor took when we hosted a brunch in Georgetown. 

(Obviously pre-haircuts.)

 

A EW climbing the cliff at Conception EM photo 3-3-2011 5-38-01 PM

 

Here’s Eleanor’s photo of EW climbing a small cliff on Conception Cay. This island is a national park, but there are no rangers stationed there. We aren’t sure whether cruisers or local officials mark the trails and provide lines like these up the steep parts, but we are grateful. DSC_0028

 

Eleanor also took this shot of a trail marker. The trail was labeled “Holly’s Trail” in at least two places. At the first marker, we took an unlabeled trail closer to shore in one location and had to scramble over sharp coral. We stuck with Holly after that.

 

 

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Here’s EW taking the Non Holly’s Trail. Eleanor and Fabio have gone on ahead and I’m getting ready to pick my way down over the coral.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

P2040084Trash is an issue throughout the Bahamas – and indeed the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico and the rest of the Caribbean Islands. In addition to the refuse created by folks living their lives, we continually find plastic on the beaches. A lot of plastic. Cruisers will often pick it up and place it in one or two piles with the hope that some official will send a crew to remove it. Here’s a pile from a beach on the Atlantic side of Shroud Cay.

 

 

 

I’m not sure how we (the global we) fix this. I’m more certain that changes must occur. Every beach has tubs, flip-flops, nets, tanks, buckets, and crates. Every beach.

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On the beach at Conception Cay a special shipment had washed ashore.  Somewhere there are construction workers who don’t have their hard hats. This photo is by Eleanor Marriot from S/V Amandla

 

 

 

 

A Shark at Highbourne Cay 1-30-2011 3-02-40 PM

 

Have we seen sharks? I’m glad you asked. Back in Highbourne Cay there is a small and lush marina that caters mainly to power yachts. They have a dock that juts high off the water at the entrance to the marina, and have installed a fish cleaning station at the end of the dock. The result is that you navigate your inflatable dinghy in over nine or ten of these:

 

Aimee from S/V Crow’s Nest and Pam from S/V Zephia were the first to tell us about the rather large nurse sharks at Highbourne. Aimee is fascinated by sharks, and we had a few discussions about them. EW had a laid-back attitude about the sharks and found an article about shark attacks in the Bahamas. He told us, “You only really have to worry if you get between a shark and food. These guys were bit when they had a bloody fish on a spear gun. We have nothing to worry about.” Remember this remark. I’ve snorkeled with a curious barracuda and ignored  him quite successfully. I’m not sure how I’d feel swimming near a real shark and prefer not to.

A Standing in the dinghy 2-28-2011 1-14-37 PM In Georgetown, most boats anchor across the bay and dinghy over a mile to shore for wifi, groceries and supplies, and the library. This is a choppy bay and the ride can be wet. Folks who return to Georgetown year after year purchase a 14-16 foot boat for frequent trips. Folks like us with soft bottom inflatables get wet bottoms. Those with hard bottom inflatables stand up under way. While I’ve seen a few Maine fishermen stand up in their dories, I’ve never seen this many yachters stand up in a dinghy.

Here is the standard position for two people. Note that they both have a rope to hold on to.

 

Here they are, heading out under the bridge from the dinghy dock in Georgetown to the anchorage. A Standing in Dinghy 2 2-28-2011 1-14-58 PM

 

Note that this is a very narrow opening. The rule is that boats coming in have the right of way because they are often in heavy chop and have a current driving them into the lake area. I’ve seen one boat hold up five that are inside. In fact I’ve been that one boat.

 

 

 

We left Georgetown with S/V Amandla, heading to Conception Cay where we spent a number of days (whose counting?) enjoying their company and their cooking. Eleanor and I shared recipes, but she and Fabio are truly chefs, I’m just someone who can follow directions – usually.

A EW Diving on the Prop 3-2-2011 8-41-52 AM We had a bit of a problem when we anchored as EW had hauled the dinghy close to the boat in order to fish, but A EW under water 3-2-2011 8-45-33 AM had not secured the dinghy rode as we usually do when we are anchoring and expect to go into reverse. You boaters already know what happened, we wound the extra dinghy line tightly around La Luna’s prop. This is not a good thing. Instead of getting out the rum and tapas as we had intended, EW put on his trunks for a dip over the side with a knife. While my job was to sit in the dinghy, assist EW, and hold the dinghy where he could grab onto it and rest, of course my personal  goal was to target this adventure.

I was sitting in the dinghy, watching EW and taking photos, when he burst out of the water and struggled to get into the dinghy, gasping, “Shark!” when he got the snorkel out of his mouth. I’m only a little ashamed to say that I laughed. His armchair attitude about sharks certainly changed when a 5 foot nurse shark joined him under the boat.

I stopped laughing when he told me he was going back in and that my job was to watch for the shark. That made both of us too nervous, so after two more attempts, EW decided to leave the warp around the prop for the night. The next morning he and Fabio cut it away with no help from the locals. That shark showed up under the boat around cocktail hour every night of our visit.

Sailing is fun.

Finally, a taste of home. When our former neighbor, Laurel, and her adventurous niece dropped by our good byeA Laurel's Apple Butter MMMM 3-5-2011 7-52-22 AM gathering in South Portland, Laurel brought a bag of goodies: home made relish, salsa, and apple butter. Oh my goodness. They have permanent mention in our provisioning list, except all but the green relish is marked with a zero. They were delicious. I felt the apple butter was definitely worthy of a photo on the blog. Here is the jar, with my homemade bread, toasted, and cheddar cheese, a Maine breakfast of champions. Thank you Laurel!  Hugs to you.