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July 2011

Thugs Aren’t Pirates

Inevitably, when we talk with those who aren’t cruising under sail, someone will ask about pirates. One of our Buddy Boaters said that her mother will ask, “Have you seen any pirates, yet?” just as if we expect to see a schooner under sail, flying the Jolly Roger.

Well, actually, we have seen “pirate ships” but those usually have seating for fifty or more invited (paying) “crew”, songs, grog (with and without alcohol) and at least one Johnny Depp look-a-like. We do not see, nor do we expect to be attacked by, pirates in the Caribbean.

However, we were very distressed to learn that folks we'd met recently were attacked on their boat at anchor in the Tobago Cays. Kate and Allen have lived the cruising life for the past 20 years, and are outstanding people and excellent sailors. We had heard about the attack on them from a number of cruising radio nets and from other cruisers. Now, they've taken the time to write a detailed account of what happened, what they could have done differently, and what they (and others) did correctly. This has been posted on Noonsite, The Global Site of Cruising Sailors.

It’s a lengthy report, one that I think should be read by every cruising sailor or prospective cruising sailor. I admire Kate and Allen for what they've accomplished as sailors and because they are genuinely nice people, and EW and I agree with their conclusions. While we all know that there is truly a concern about piracy in some areas of the world, most cruising sailors need to focus more about taking precautions against bad guys breaking into their boat or robbing them on the street. I often remind our friends and family that there are bad guys everywhere – from my hometown of Newport, Maine, to Portland, to New York and San Francisco. Don’t romanticize the ones I could meet in the Caribbean by calling them pirates. They are thugs, just like the bad guys who are detailed in the crime pages back home.

If you don’t choose to read the entire article by Kate and Allen, let me duplicate their final thoughts here as their words describe how EW and I feel.

The people of this planet are extraordinarily kind and generous and they invite us into their lives and share their meals and their world. From a little Masai Village in the Serengeti to an Engineers Elegant home in Borneo we have been welcomed. This is the life we choose.

We have always liked the following prose:

“I see before me fathomless depths
And far flung distances; vastness beyond vast
I see names of places, transcendental spaces, strange faces
I see routes across the earth
Well-tracked routes of famous people
They say “Come, I have been here, the way is not safe,
But death stalks surely where you now reside
And boredom, deaths brother.”

…Unknown

 EW and I don’t know how much of the world we will see during the years we sail, but we have met wonderful people from Tony and his cousin Anna and her family in Luperon, to Debra and Vanessa and Elvis in Rodney Bay, to Cheryl and Winfield in Bequia. The islands are lovely, the sailing is fun and the people are wonderful. This is the life we choose as well.

Anniversary 5 St. Lucia 2011 7-6-2011 1-19-10 PM

Anniversary 2011

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St. Lucia 2011

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Underway in the North Atlantic, 2010

Christmas Morning at Sea II

Christmas Morning, 2010 heading toward Bimini

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Blue Hole, Bahamas 2011

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Church Parade Bahamas, 2011

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Brunch on Board, Bahamas 2011


Raising the Waterline–A Lesson Learned

P5300002As we sailed south from Maine EW would look at the growth on our waterline with a critical eye and a dark exclamation, and more than once he dropped over the side with brush and snorkel to clean the grass off of La Luna’s hull. '”We need to raise the waterline,” was a phrase heard for months. What he really meant was “You need to raise the waterline.”

Oh.

I had learned the proper technique of painting the boot stripe, white reveal and bottom paint during our last haul out in Maine. I wouldn’t say I’m adept at it, but I know what should be done – and even wrote about it. Just after we hauled out in Rodney Bay, we had dinner aboard S/V Sanctuary and EW said he had lost sleep the previous night trying to figure out how to raise the waterline the way he wanted to. “No problem,” I said. I think I can figure it out.

Right.

EW wanted to raise the waterline two and a half inches for only the stern and half way forward. He wanted to keep the old waterline at the bow. Still, I thought, “How hard could this be?" and the next morning I dove in with tape, write-on/wipe-off markers and a measuring tape -- and a bucket. I had neglected to get paper and pen off the boat and we had a broken bucket under the keel, so I used that for the math. Let’s see. If I have 20 feet to angle from 2.5 inches to 0, that’s 1.25 inches at 10 feet and .75 inches at 5 feet and 2 inches at 15 feet.

Makes sense, but drawing or taping a straight line on a boat is, shall we say challenging. Ever game, I tried it for the better part of a day, with the boat yard crew – particularly Elvis – asking a few questions about my intentions. The next morning I again tackled the job grew very, very frustrated, and stomped (if one can stomp up a 15 foot ladder) up to the cabin and the laptop. I Googled “How to raise the waterline sailboat” and learned these steps.

  1. Take a roll of 2” blue tape and tape it along the top edge of the bottom paint.
  2. Take a roll of 1” Fine Line Tape and tape it along the top edge of the blue tape.
  3. Remove the blue tape. Voila! New waterline.
  4. Paint the bottom.

Well d’uh. There is no math involved in this process.

I stomped back down the ladder and walked up to EW and said, “If I raise the waterline two inches all around the boat, can you live with that?” He readily agreed, probably because my tone of voice may have implied that if he couldn’t live with it, we were going to have issues.

Since we have the red boot stripe with a one inch stripe of white between that and the bottom paint, I had to raise two lines, two inches each. I channeled the guys from Great Island Boatyard in Maine, Tom and Kevin, who had given me good (though unsolicited) advice about painting the stripes and the bottom during the last haul-out. So my method is as follows:

For peak efficiency, you need:

  • two rolls of 2” blue tape (I only had one roll of 2” blue tape so had to go around the boat once, applying that to the top of the bottom paint.)
  • 2 rolls of 1” Fine Line Tape
  • 1 light weight step ladder (provided by IGY Marina, thank you very much)

Kevin had told me that you could work with two rolls of tape at once, so I figured that if two is good, four is better, and three worked just fine.

  1. Lightly sand, the current white reveal and boot stripe, and two inches above that. (I eyeballed this as EW said he’d polish out any scratches that were above the new stripe.
  2. Remove the dust with mineral spirits on a rag.
  3. Apply the blue tape to the top of the waterline for the length of your reach (safely) Raising the waterline tape 2 6-19-2011 9-36-16 AM
  4. Apply the Fine Line tape along the top edge of the blue
  5. Apply the second roll of blue tape along the top edge of the boot stripe
  6. Apply the fine line tape along the top edge of that line of blue tape.
  7. Tom had told me to make sure I run my fingernail along the edge of the Fine Line tape to make sure there was good contact. I like my short (but feminine) nails so I used a putty knife (carefully). that worked.
  8. Remove all of the blue tape. Voila! The new waterline is marked for the bottom and the red boot stripe is isolated in it’s new location – 2 inches Rasising the waterline stern before paint 6-19-2011 2-43-59 PMabove where the boot stripe used to be.
  9. Paint the bottom. (This was EW’s job and he did it well. More about that later.)
  10. Paint the red boot stripe, which I was able to do Raising the waterline painting stripe 3 6-19-2011 2-43-11 PMwhile EW painted the bottom. I had to put two coats of red on the boot stripe since it was a new stripe. (Yes, Tom and Kevin, I did sand between coats.) And yes, even though we were in a warmer climate, I still had to wait at least eight hours between coats and never did get up early enough (or work late into cocktail hour) to get two coats on in one day.
  11. After the second coat had been applied to the boot stripe and allowed to set up, I removed all of the Fine Line tape. The paint lines were clearly visible, so I once again circled the boat with two rolls of Fine Line, isolating the white reveal. raising the waterline taping white 6-22-2011 11-27-55 AM
  12. I painted that line twice, sanding between coats because I was painting white over the old red boot stripe. raising the waterline painting white stripe 6-22-2011 1-30-40 PM
  13. Remove the tape. Ta-Da!

igy haul out EW painting stern 6-24-2011 11-19-21 AMEach blue and red block of words indicates another circuit with the step ladder around our 47 foot boat – 13 times – and that doesn’t count the day I tried to raise the waterline 2.5 inches – partially. I got some isometric exercise that week.

 

Raising the Waterline pizza 2 6-22-2011 1-42-55 PMThroughout the week of the haul-out one or the other of us would have to walk to the shops for various parts or supplies. EW had been gone for a couple of hours one afternoon while I finished painting the boot stripe. I glanced up when he walked back into view, and saw that he was carrying a number of parcels. I turned back to the task at hand and then whipped my head back to look at EW. “Is that pizza?” “Yep, and it looks like a good one, too. The security guard gave me directions to this Italian place up the road.” “You are my hero.”

Just like back home, we had pizza and beer as a reward for a job well done.

As we were sitting on deck, I looked at the boat next to us. They were having a major job done and had sanded the whole hull, so no bottom line or stripes showed. “I can’t imagine how they make the lines on that boat,” I said. There’s nothing to go by. How can the possibly get a straight line?”

“Oh,” said EW, “they get a laser level thing and draw the line on. That’s what we should have done if we stuck with raising it 2.5 inches only part way around the boat.” 

Now he tells me. 

Once the keel was repaired, EW finished the bottom paint and we re-launched La Luna. As you can imagine, there were many comments about the two-toned bottom. Here’s how that came about.

igy haul out lifted and done 6-24-2011 12-06-50 PMWhen we purchased La Luna, her bottom was that ubiquitous blue color you see on a lot of boats. I didn’t like it – particularly as her topsides are white, red, and gold. EW finally consented to paint the bottom red and we both loved it.

He purchased the bottom paint at West Marine in Puerto Rico and they didn’t have the paint he’s used in the past, Interlux Micron Extra with Biolux. Nor did they have any red bottom paint.  He decided to purchase West Marine’s PCA Gold Anti-Fouling Paint, about which we’ve heard good reports from others who sail these waters. Given the options of black and green, I sucked it up and agreed to a black bottom and he expected to get more black bottom paint when we hauled out. EW had a brainstorm in Rodney Bay, since we had to get more paint, why not get red paint and paint the top of the bottom red? That sounded good to me. EW purchased Interlux Micron 66 which is a slightly different red color than what we’digy haul out EW painting stern 6-24-2011 11-19-21 AM used in the past.  It isn’t our preferred color of red, but it works. EW was brilliant in that he painted the entire rudder red as a two-toned rudder would have look ridiculous. It looks fine. I’m happy. And if I’m happy, EW’s happy. Plus, he gets to conduct his own experiment – which paint will work better in these waters. We’ll let you know.

 

 

NOTE: Neither Interlux nor West Marine were apprised of this post and neither gave us a discount for publishing this. At some point, this site will accept advertising, but does not at the this time, July, 2011.


St. Lucia, Beautiful St. Lucia

The first week and a half we spent in St. Lucia was focused on boat work, particularly the haul out. Fortunately, we stayed in St. Lucia for nearly two weeks after the haul-out, enjoying Rodney Bay, a bus-ride to the market in Castries, and four days in the small harbor at  Marigot Bay. Here is a photo essay (with pithy captions) of our visit in St. Lucia.

Dinner on Pigeon Island 6-13-2011 3-21-51 PM

 

We ate (drank) at the restaurant on Pigeon Island a number of times during our stay, beginning the first night we checked in. This is a mango/rum drink and that is La Luna in the background. Lovely spot, good food, good prices and great jazz on Sunday nights. La Luna off Pigeon Island 6-13-2011 3-23-19 PM

 

To the right is La Luna from a better vantage point. We love this boat.

 

 

 

 

 

Pigeon Island 6-13-2011 9-28-25 AM

Here’s a shot of Pigeon Island from La Luna. If you look closely you can see the red Flamboyant blossoms. The season just started when we arrived mid-June.

After we went back in the water, we scheduled a day to hike the two pitons at Pigeon Point. The one pictured at left is the taller of the two. Vicky and Bob from S/V FoxSea are always interested in/arranging fun excursions and we enjoy spending time with them, so we picked a slightly cloudy (cooler) day for the hike. By this time, the flamboyant trees were – well – flamboyant.

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st. Lucia flamboyant tree close 6-28-2011 12-18-52 PM

st.Lucia flamboyant tree wide 6-28-2011 12-20-14 PM

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

St. Lucia view from walk 6-28-2011 12-21-38 PM 

Here’s the view from the top. And here’s EW and the Officiant Bag at the top. Officient Bag and EW Pigeon Island 6-28-2011 12-53-20 PM(More about those shorts/swim trunks later.

 

 

 

 

 

Stl Lucia path 6-28-2011 12-15-57 PM

I just love this path – the walk up the larger hill was not like this, but it wasn’t horrible, either.

 

 

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At right, are Bob, Vicky, me and EW on the top of Pigeon Island’s highest peak. Our boats are somewhere behind us.

 

 

 

St. Lucia with EW and Cannon 6-28-2011 1-54-04 PM

 

Since we had conquered the highest peak, we certainly had to climb the short one with the fort.

 

Remember the flamboyant trees? Here’s a reminder:

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And here it is …

Flamboyant trees and flamboyant EW.  St. Lucia Flamboyant shorts 6-28-2011 2-01-53 PM

We all wore swim suits because the day included a swim and snorkel after the hike. EW chose trunks to match the environment. Well played, EW.

 

One Saturday, EW and I took the bus to Castries for the market. While in town we ate at the Caribbean Pirate Restaurant where Robbie Skeet makes great rotis. He’s also a nice guy. P7020007

Be careful of the hot sauce, though. It comes out fast and it’s really, really hot.

St. Lucia Robby the chef 7-2-2011 1-15-29 PM

                                                     So’s Robbie.

St. Lucia. things you don't see in Maine bank 6-25-2011 10-06-39 AM

John and Dora finally caught up with us in Rodney Bay and we enjoyed showing them around. All of us were tickled by this sign - - which means exactly what it says. You don’t see that in Maine.

 

St. Lucia fishing boats on shore 7-2-2011 2-54-56 PM

 

 

Here are fishing boats on shore in Rodney Bay.

 

 

 

 

P7060031Once John and Dora had explored Rodney Bay, we sailed to Marigot for a few days, where we took moorings. Here’s the view off of our stern. Now that’s Caribbean!

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Dora and I walked (nearly straight up) one hot day. Here’s the view of Marigot Bay and our boats.

 

One of my favorite St. Lucia photos, seen on the walk with Dora. P7070028

 

 

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And finally, this is simply a crack in the road. Fitting as I took this the day after our 26th wedding anniversary. The Harts thank you St. Lucia.  We’ll be back!


A Tale of a Great Haul-Out at IGY Marina in Rodney Bay

Haul Out  6-15-2011 1-41-04 PMChatting with fellow cruisers recently, the discussion turned to Hauling Out. We three women had gone ashore for exercise, leaving our men aboard working on projects. One of them was scheduling a haul out in Trinidad, to coincide with a trip back home to Australia. They still hadn’t decided whether to have the bottom painted during the rainy season in Trinidad or to haul out again later for that purpose. The other first mate said they hadn’t decided whether to haul out over the summer in Grenada or wait until they returned to St. Martin. I said, “I’m glad that’s behind us this year. We hauled out in Rodney Bay and had a great experience there.”

Back in Maine, normal boaters haul out only at the end of the season, when they store their boats. As live-aboards, we generally hauled out every 18 months, and had a diver check the zincs at least twice between haul-outs.  Hauling out is expensive, and if you live aboard, you’ll either have to find a place to stay or adapt to living “on the hard”. Generally I hate living “on the hard”. You can’t use the head or any sink drains. you have to carry any gear/provisions up the ladder and any trash or supplies for the projects down the ladder. The boat may not be faced into the wind so you get no breeze below, the list goes on. I resolved to be cheerful about this haul-out and in fact found it to be not only tolerable, but good. It was a good experience.

We had been referred to IGY at Rodney Bay by two gentlemen we met on a dock in Falmouth Harbor, Antigua. They work on the fine yachts that visit Antigua and then they travel to New England in the summer to work on those fine yachts in their home ports. They were adamant that Rodney Bay was the best place to haul out and get work done south of Antigua. While we were in Guadeloupe, EW sent an email to Edwin Chavez, Assistant Manager at Rodney Bay, and Edwin answered his questions promptly – always a good sign. They had room for us, we could do as much of our own work as we wished, and they had an experienced crew who could fix the keel and rudder and perform any other repairs or improvements we needed. All we had to do is contact Edwin when we arrived in Rodney Bay and book a day and time to haul out.

At fourteen hundred on Wednesday, June 15th, we approached the lift and met Ricky, Dwayne, Jermaine, and Kendall. Ricky is the Yard Manager and the haul out crew chief/guru; his team also includes Gerard who assisted with splashing La Luna, and this is an excellent team.  We had trouble backing against a contrary wind and current and I had trouble tossing a line correctly. They remained unruffled and friendly. After some delay as they worked with EW to determine our aft lift point, they hauled La Luna and hosed her down, leaving her in the lift overnight as the keel dried. (They also set up jack stands to reduce the potential for swaying in the lift – something I’m sure would have been disconcerting.)  Over the next 9 days, we were moved once, and lifted once so that the fiberglass experts could repair the keel. Ricky and his crew always gave us a time for the move, and they were always on time. Ricky, the Yard Manager, is an excellent manager and he knows a lot about boats – not just lifting and hauling them. EW was impressed and I was relaxed with the professional expertise and friendly manner of the whole lift crew. (In Maine, our first sailboat, a Seafarer 26, was placed incorrectly on her jack stands and fell over. I’ve been leery of the whole process ever since, and usually don’t watch.)  In Rodney Bay, La Luna was in good hands.

As for living on the hard, well they supplied a sturdy ladder that they tied to our stern ladder, so there were plenty of hand holds for getting up and down. Edwin was available whenever we had a question, and the rest of the team – from security to billing – were excellent. The marina has heads and showers labeled “male” and “female” (Edwin apologized for the poor grammar before I had seen the signs) and the cleaning lady is frankly unbelievable. The shower building had been damaged in the last hurricane, so tiles were missing, but you  couldn’t ask for a clearer facility. I was happy, but hauling out isn’t about having clean showers to use, hauling out is about getting work done on the boat. That went well, too.

IGY purchased Rodney Bay  Boat Yard and Marina some (one person said 10) years ago. and essentially fired most of the experienced yard workers. Instead those same workers (or the best of them) have trailer offices around the perimeter of the property and are independent contractors. We didn’t understand this but the system works thusly:

  1. You can come ashore and go see Elvis, Fiber, Chinaman, or other experts and contract them for work.
  2. You can meet with Edwin, the Manager, and go over your needs with him and he will assign the contractors to your project.
  3. You can meet with someone at the Marina who will project manage your work, reputedly for no extra fee. Evidently he is paid by the boatyard or contractors, similar to working with a Travel Agent.

 

We didn’t really understand this system, and opted for option number 2 as that is the system we know. There were a few minor glitches during the first days, but once EW understood the system and told Edwin that we wanted him to assign the crHaul Out Keel Before 6-16-2011 7-30-52 AMew,  things moved along Haul Out Rudder Before 6-16-2011 7-31-02 AMsmoothly. We had the boatyard do the following:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. Repair the keel and rudder from the bad grounding in the Berry Islands, Bahamas
  2. Replace the cutlass bearing
  3. Clean, wax and polish the hull
  4. Polish the stainless steel
  5. Provide customs brokerage for parts we’d had shipped to St. Lucia

Steve started grinding the aft end of the keel as soon as they had moved La Luna to her spot on Thursday. Steve worked on the keel and on the cutlass bearing through the end of the week. He didn’t work the following week, so Elvis finished the keel repair, essentially rebuilding the aft corner of the keel, and grinding and repairing the bottom of the keel and the rudder. Both men are very skilled, and both were fun to work with (or around). EW and I each had our own assigned tasks, but had to make sure that we didn’t impede Steve or Elvis. Knowing that your boat is being repaired properly is wonderful, enjoying working with the crew is priceless.

Elvis worked part of the weekend, as did EW and I. EW and I also played a bit by attending Fish Friday with Carl and Carrie from S/V Sanctuary. In fact, as has been mentioned in the previous post about the haul-out, this was the most social haul-out experience I’ve had. We visited with, were hosted by, or ate out with cruisers at least eight times over eleven days. It was a good haul-out. We enjoyed getting to know Elvis and some of the other crew and they were open to sharing advice about the boat as well as where to get the best Caribbean Stewed Chicken. Captain Mikes is a small restaurant/bar right off the fuel dock and it has just come under new ownership. The food was excellent and since they were targeting the locals as well as the cruisers, the prices were very good. We ate there a number of times.

This was a no trauma haul-out – including when it came time to pay. I mentally added up the work we had done and was cringing at what I was afraid the bill would be, while EW had a much more realistic estimate. He was right. We had all that work done, including the cost for the new cutlass bearing, for $2100.00 US. Nice.  We did have just a tad bit of trauma as we were going back into the water. My fault. I had rigged the dock lines and fenders, and handed them up to the lift crew as Ricky lowered La Luna back into the bay. The wind was pushing the bow toward the concrete pier, but I wasn’t worried as I had given Dwayne the bow line. Well, I wasn’t worried until Dwayne exclaimed, “It’s not cleated!” My bad. I ran to the bow and cleated the line and Dwayne hauled with great effort. No worries, mon, though Dwayne, Ricky and the crew gave me a bit of well-deserved grief.

In short. It was a great haul-out experience and we would definitely recommend IGY Marina and Boatyard at Rodney Bay, St. Lucia. And I’m really glad we don’t have to worry again about this for another 12 to 18 months.

 

igy haul out in lift 2 6-15-2011 1-53-49 PM

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EW and some of the IGY crew during the haul-out .                            Moving La Luna into her space for the week./

igy haul out Ricky from deck 6-16-2011 9-21-50 AM

igy haul out keel repair 2 6-21-2011 10-26-21 AM

Keel under repair.                                                                                           La Luna, lifted for keel bottom repair.

igy haul out keel repair lifted 6-24-2011 11-21-40 AM

igy haul out repaired bottom 6-24-2011 12-20-12 PM

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One of Elvis’ crew working on the lifted keel.                                                Beautifully repaired bottom of our keel.

(Looking up from under La Luna.)

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Repaired Keel. It’s a beautiful thing.

igy haul out keel done 6-24-2011 11-16-10 AM

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you look closely, you will see we have a two-toned bottom -- red and black. More on that in a post about raising the waterline and painting the bottom. 

Below, the Officiant Bag on the ladder.

igy haul out officient bag 6-24-2011 11-15-25 AM

NOTE: As of this date, July 15, 2011, Harts At Sea does not accept advertising. I was not paid for this post and we did not ask for or receive a discount from IGY Marina. Just sayin’. The crew knew I wrote a blog and did agree to have their photos published and to have me mention their first names.


There are Projects .. and There are “Another Project” Projects

When John and Dora sailed back into our lives (literally) we immediately got together to share stories. At one point John mentioned something that needed fixing and said, “Another project.” To understand the inflection, channel your inner Eeyore:

 

"Good morning, Pooh Bear," said Eeyore gloomily. "If it is a good morning," he said. "Which I doubt," said he.
"Why, what's the matter?"
"Nothing, Pooh Bear, nothing. We can't all, and some of us don't. That's all there is to it."
"Can't all what?" said Pooh, rubbing his nose.
"Gaiety. Song-and-dance. Here we go round the mulberry bush."

 

That kind of voice. “Another Project” is a boating phrase most often used by the Captain/Chief Engineer, and always refers to an unexpected and unwelcome project. John said the phrase  “Another Project” exactly  the same way that EW says “Another Project”. Do they both channel an inner Eeyore, or did John learn this from EW? I do believe I’ve heard other captains say the same thing .. the exact same way. Hmmm.

Here is an example of recent “Another Project” aboard La Luna. While still in Rodney Bay, I opened the freezer and was moving things around when I lost my grip on a bottle of beer. (We keep beer, soda, and water in the top of the freezer.) Said bottle of beer hit the fan that moves very cold air from freezer to fridge and broke it. Irreparably. “Honey,” I called, “I just did a bad thing.” When I told him what I’d done, he closed his eyes briefly and said, “Another Project”.

Ultimately, he had to go into town search for the right fan, return and install it. It didn’t take all that long, but he lost the time he was going to use on a  Project. A Project is one the captain has planned and looks forward to completing. For example, here in Marigot Bay yesterday, EW made a new anchor snubber and an anchor line for our storm anchor. Projects Rope 7-7-2011 10-59-33 AM

This is a happy EW, finishing the eye splice for the anchor line. I didn’t even know we needed these. He spent a few hours making them yesterday and today he is reorganizing the stern lazarette, getting rid of old rope and stowing new. He’s happy, happy, happy,completing projects and crossing them off his list.

Unlike the other day, back in Rodney Bay during the freezer fan incident, when the dinghy motor wouldn’t start.

The fan project and the dinghy motor project actually are related in a weird way. The fan broke I broke the fan on Sunday and the stores were closed, so I went around the anchorage in our dinghy asking whether any neighbors had a spare fan. None did, but the captain of Caribbean Reach was in his dinghy, working on his own “Another Project”. “How’s it going"?” I asked.

"Not good. Do you know where I can get one of these repaired tomorrow?”

“No,” I said, “but I’m going in for Yoga at 9:00 if you want a tow.” 

“Thanks, I may take you up on that.”

On Monday morning, John and I were going in for Yoga, Dora wanted to get their laundry done, and EW had to go to the stores and search for a fan for our “Another Project”. We decided that Dora would drop off John and me, and EW would tow the folks from Caribbean Reach. EW helped Dora with the laundry, then they both headed to the shops to search for a fan. (Good news: they found the right fan at a good price. EW bought two and Dora bought one for John because she knew he’d want it. He did. I never would have thought to do that. Go figure.) 

John and I mellowed out and got some exercise and waited for Dora to return for us. And waited. Then she called on their portable radios. “We’re at the marina dinghy dock and will be with you shortly. There’s a problem with one of the motors,” she said, adding sotto voice, “not ours”. “Oh,” I thought, “this isn’t good”. Sure enough,  we soon saw two dinghies tied together, heading our way. EW  was driving their dinghy, towing Dora in our dinghy. He looks at me and says .. wait for it ..  “Another Project.” (Have you got the inflection down? There is no exclamation point here, just a dejected Eeyore tone.)

projects st. lucia dinghy motor 7-4-2011 12-55-44 PM

Back aboard La Luna EW quickly replaced the freezer fan and then moved on to the dinghy motor. A bit later, the crew from Caribbean Reach roared by, their dinghy motor repaired, and soon after that, the captain motored back to offer EW some help.

The motor wouldn’t start, so Tom gave EW the name and number of the small engine repair guy in Rodney Bay, I called him and made an appointment for 4:00 PM and Tom agreed to tow EW back to the marina at 4:00. 

Cruising is like that. projects st. lucia dinghy tow 7-4-2011 2-45-51 PM We help a boater with a project or “Another Project” and that boater or a different one help us. It all evens out in the end. This time. Tom provided the same service we had, on the same day. “Another Projects” are like that. Creepy.

We weren’t able to get the necessary part, but the Tohatsu will work. We just have to take the lid off, wrap the cord, and pull to start, then carefully clamp the lid back on. Here in tiny Marigot Bay we are rowing, and the Tohatsu has gone from “Another Project” to Project, as it is now something he can plan to fix when he finds the part.

Every cruiser knows that this lifestyle allows you to repair your boat in the beautiful ports of the world. It’s just a bit more fun/easier to do/less disruptive with we work on Projects and not unpleasantly surprised by “Another Projects”.

EW was gracious about the fan I broke and he hasn’t blamed me for the motor even though I was the last to drive it. Even so, I’m going to work very hard to make sure I don’t create another “Another Project” any time soon.

NOTE: I had Stew read this and learned the following:

  1. He didn’t know who Eeyore was.
  2. He doesn’t think I bear any responsibility for the motor.
  3. He has heard at least one other boater say “Another Project” in the exact same tone of voice.

Friends -- Mainahs and Others in Paradise

John and Dora in dinghy 7-3-2011 1-01-41 PMWhile many all of the boating friends we’ve met since Antigua have moved South, we hung in Rodney bay for a few extra days to wait for S/V Windrifter and crew, John, Dora, and Romeo the cat. They are friends and neighbors from Maine! (Well, technically they are mostly from Massachusetts, but they lived aboard in Maine right next to us, two full years, so they get extra Maine points.)

  • We left Maine in October, 2010
  • They left in November.
  • We went outside.
  • They spent time in the Inland Waterway.
  • We left No Name Harbor in Miami, Florida for the Bahamas on Christmas Day.
  • They left Jensen Beach Florida for the Bahamas in March.
  • We started in Bimini.
  • They started in the Abacos.

john and dora neighbors again 7-6-2011 1-20-03 PMThrough it all, we’ve kept in touch via email and blogs (S/V Windrifter) when we have Internet access, and EW and I were delighted to hear they were in Martinque waiting for a weather window to head to Rodney Bay, St. Lucia. It was an easy decision to wait a few extra days for them and buddy boat with long time Buddies.

We’ve broken bread together.

I’ve greeted Romeo with a respectful chin rub.john and dora romeo 7-4-2011 5-31-20 PM

We’ve played euchre (Back in Maine, John and Dora had learned for EW.Here in Marigot Bay, St. Lucia the women won the first night and the men the second.)Marigot Bay from Hill 7-7-2011 8-52-23 AM

Dora and I have taken a walk – not quite the same as morning three mile exercise hikes in Maine, but definitely warmer. And steeper. We walked up for this view, came back down a different road to a dead end around the cove, so we walked back up to the view and back to the left side of the harbor. Four taxi drivers wanted stopped for us. We didn’t walk today.

It’s amazing to spend time with a sailing couple that we know. We have shared experiences from Maine – including our last big Northeaster on the docks in Maine in February of 2010. We’ve shrunk wrapped boats together, helped other live-aboards on the dock and learned from each other. We have a history.

It had been eight months since we’ve sat and talked and we fit back together like old friends.

Cruising gives us the opportunity to meet so many new people – and to enjoy learning about them,  from them, and with them. Being with John and Dora reminds us that both EW and I value all of our friends, and that staying in touch is important to us.  Over these next few months, we’ll explore with John and Dora, with cruisers we met on the way down, and with cruisers we’ll meet in Grenada.  In the future, I can envision a time when we are delighted to again meet  up with John and Dora and the friends we don’t yet know. This cruising life is like that, and that is one of the reasons I like this cruising life. 


Three Things I’ve Learned About Staying Happily Married

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Twenty-six years ago today, EW and I were wed at Holy Cross Church in Portland Maine. I became a wife and a 003_3step-mother, and had a lot to learn about filling both roles. We all had a lot to learn – and EW and I still work at it. Having been married and divorced when we met, EW at first flatly refused to discuss marriage, saying he was never getting married again. When he proposed, I was so surprised that I asked him if he were serious and threatened bodily harm if he “took it back”. Not the most romantic response, I know.

We both very quickly got used to the idea – in fact I picked out my dress the very next day! EW began to set limits, “I’m not sure that I can be married for life,” he said with a sly grin. “That’s fine”, I said, “but I want a 50th wedding anniversary. Can you handle 50 years?” He said that sounded OK; this morning he (predictably) mentioned that he only had “Twenty-four to go.”

We’ve had our ups and downs – still do, even on the boat – or perhaps especially on the boat – but we’re committed to being married for 50 years and I’ve taken an option on the next 50. Priorities and lessons change with each year, month or day; today I am sure of three things that will help us reach that Golden Anniversary: first, a sense of humor is vital (see above) second, we don’t have to agree, but we do have to forgive; third, sharing a dream and working to make it come true adds spice, excitement, and a reason to make things work.

Many years ago we both attended a course led by Ivan Brunell founder of International Personal Development. We learned a number of techniques that we try to put into practice, though both of us have had times when you’d never know it. Ivan said that if you still get angry about something that happened in the past, you haven’t forgiven the other party, no matter what you tell yourself and others. And you know something? Two smart, creative, strong people will never, ever agree about everything. Relationships create conflict and it’s how you manage that conflict that determines whether you move forward fully or not. That was brought home to me recently as EW and I “discussed” an old issue that was creating new conflict because I couldn’t let go, accept what is, and move on. I’m working on that. It’s my belief that the inability to truly “agree to disagree” and let it go destroys many marriages. I’ll not let it destroy ours.

We are living our dream and that is a wonderful thing to share. Though having a boat and sailing to distant ports was a dream EW brought to the relationship, he made it abundantly clear that he would be happier at sea if he could share that dream with me. Through the years this became our dream and we worked, plotted, read, asked questions, attended boat shows, and visualized our shared adventure at sea.

Last year, late in June, I was stunned when he expressed concern that he hadn’t thought of something exciting to do for our Twenty-fifth anniversary. I told him that he was taking me to sea in a few months – that was excitement enough! Now, one year later we’ve weathered squalls off Cape Fear, fixed the boat in beautiful harbors, met others who were living their dreams at sea, and traveled from Maine to St. Lucia. No life is perfect, no relationship sunny every day, but as I write this with rain beating down on the deck, I know that I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else, with anyone else.

Anniversary 5 St. Lucia 2011 7-6-2011 1-19-10 PMFor me, this is perfection. I love you, EW. Thank you, for giving me at least 50 years of your life, all of your love, and making our dreams come true. P7060031

The view off our stern at Marigot Bay, St. Lucia. Not a bad place to spend a wedding anniversary.


Five Ways Radio Communication Differs from Talking on Phones

 

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The other morning – at 5:00 AM, actually – I was awakened by the sound of a diesel engine very close to La Luna. I scrambled out of bed and popped up on deck to see a bare-boat charter anchoring about 30 feet to port of us. That is too close. It was a dark and stormy morning and as the wind blew them even closer to La Luna,  called EW out of bed to stand by with me. We don’t know whether they had been anchored elsewhere in the bay and dragged or whether they had just come in from what would have been a stormy night passage, but we did know two things: 1) they weren’t great at anchoring and 2) they were too damn close. We didn’t call out to them, but stood on silent watch in the cockpit as they decided to pull their anchor. How close were they? Somehow their anchor had set just a bit out from our bow, and their dinghy brushed against La Luna as they hauled the anchor up Definitely too damn close!  We watched as they moved well off and tried to anchor again, facing away from the wind. That is definitely not a good anchoring technique. They later left that spot as well and we aren’t sure where they ended up in the bay. I never got back to sleep, so was a tad grumpy, but realized that I would not be able to call a friend and vent because anything we say on the radio can be heard by other boaters. There was no reason to embarrass those boaters by telling their tale over the radio for the whole anchorage to hear. Since we have no cell phone active in St. Lucia, the VHF and SSB are my only voice options and this got me thinking about the differences between marine radios and cell phones.

 

Below, is our VHF Radio. Here it is monitoring 68 and 16. (You can’t see the little 16 in the corner.

 

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  1. The VHF and USB channels are public conversations.  In some ways it reminds me of the party-line phone we had in Island Falls, Maine many years ago. On the radio, listening to other cruisers is expected, if not encouraged. Some folks call it “lurking”. We tend to eavesdrop only on other friends’ conversations. A boater we enjoyed cruising with in the Bahamas listened at will to any conversation of interest to her. (She also kept binoculars in the cockpit and made liberal use of them, as well. I learned a lot from her.) Remember the Golden Rule and reverse it. If you lurk or listen, you should certainly expect others to listen to your conversations, so snark is not advisable. I can be the “Queen of Snark”, but curb myself on the nets.
  2. If you think ring tones are annoying, you should hear the Martinique and Guadeloupe Coast Guard Announcements. To reach someone on the radio you click on a hailing channel, call their boat name three times, and give your boat name, “FoxSea, Foxsea, FoxSea this is La Luna”.  In order to hear folks calling, you have to keep the radio on and the hailing frequency open, so we hear boats hailing boats, boats hailing ports and marinas, boats hailing coast guards, and the automated Coast Guard announcements from the French Islands, twenty times a day.
  3. Marine Radios don’t have answering machines. After Luperon, we got out of the habit of having the radio on when we weren’t under way. New friends in De Shaies, Guadeloupe chastised us as they would have to get in the dinghy and motor over in order to invite us for drinks. That is just wrong – and we could miss an opportunity – so we began leaving the radio on when we’re on board and awake. In Rodney Bay, we listen to two hailing channels, 16 and 68. I don’t want to miss anything and 68 is where many of the anchored boats hail each other. Here in Rodney Bay, one of our boating buddies called us and were surprised when we answered. “Well! You’re finally listening to the radio. Good!”  We can learn new things.
  4. Good etiquette is required and there are laws about how we can use both radios. On your cell phone, pretty much anything goes, but we are expected to maintain proper radio practices. In the States, the U.S.Coast Guard will go on the radio and chastise boaters who chatter on hailing frequencies. Down here, other boaters have been known to break in and ask folks to pick a channel and move to a different frequency for conversation. That’s where lurking comes in. If you want to know what those other boaters are talking about, just switch channels with them and listen in. If you have something to add to the conversation, it is acceptable (at times) to wait for a pause and say, “Break, Break” and, when recognized, add your comment or suggestion. The SSB radio is really a HAM radio and some channels require us to have a HAM license. Until then, we can legally only broadcast on those channels in an emergency. Getting licensed is high on our To-Do list.
  5. While we can send emails over the SSB, I cannot up-load of photos to Facebook and Twitter, or sendP7030003 a quick email to friends.  I miss the iPhone. I miss the iPhone a lot, but it’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make in order to live our dream. It’s a tough life, but somebody’s got to do it.

At right is our SSB. We are listening to the Coconut Net this morning to find out where other cruisers are and what they’re up to. 4060 at 8:00 AM.

For now, I have to go. The marina has offered a free breakfast to cruisers. We heard about it on the radio. Happy 4th all!