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January 2012

"Favorite" Visits!

EW’s favorite son and my favorite step-son, or marriage bonus, recently visited for 6 days.

It was wonderful.

Mo Visit EW and Favorite at Sea 1-24-2012 1-26-06 PMFavorite has traveled the world as a racing sailor but had never been to the Virgin Islands and so had never seen his Uncle Jeff’s and Aunt Barbara’s home. We were all thrilled.

He arrived on Sunday, and we were all graciously hosted by Barb and Jeff and the NFL – though Favorite, tired from Key West racing and partying, slept through much of the evening. He also slept until 11:00 AM on Monday, which was strangely reminiscent of his teen years with us in South Portland.

We visited Jeff’s shop in Red Hook, went to movie night on Honeymoon Beach, and set off on Tuesday for three quiet days on St. John. We sailed, and Mo handled the sheets. He was politely adamant about doing all the heavy lifting. At one point I looked at EW and said, “Wow. It’s really great to have our own deck ape!”Mo Visit Mo on Starboard Winch

EW laughed and later said that was one of his favorite lines from the week.

NOTE: In racing, we have always called the strong sheet handlers “deck apes” and those who merely sit “rail meat”. Back in Maine we once invited our dear friend Lynnelle on La Luna’s only race and told her she’d be rail meat. When she told her mom she was racing a sailboat, her mom expressed concern that Lynnelle didn’t know what she was supposed to do. “Don’t worry, Mom. I’m just rail meat,” Lynnelle explained. “Lynnelle Lynn! That just sounds nasty!” her mother scolded in her Dallas accent. Since then, “That just sounds nasty!” is one of our favorite phrases.

But I digress.

Favorite was happily appalled by EW’s hair cut, and made numerous comments, including: “You know, the photo on Facebook didn’t do it justice. None of your followers know how bad this haircut is.”

Thanks, kid. He also offered to “fix” it and suggested that his dad keep a hat on. For weeks.

After a brisk sail up wind, on Tuesday, we took a National Park mooring in Great Lameshur Bay on St. John and relaxed. I made cookies. We taught Favorite to play Mexican Train Dominoes, Trini Version. He beat us so badly the first night that he believed his programming mind “It’s all ones and zeros, Bubsie,” was the reason for his success.

We got our revenge on subsequent nights. Ones and zeros my sitbone.

Mo Visit EW and Mo on Hike View Point 1-25-2012 11-45-58 AMWe didn’t do much snorkeling. EW had bounced his head off of the boom (while we were on the mooring – a d’uh moment) and had cut his cheek with his glasses right where his mask would sit. Favorite had cut his foot in Key West and found the fins aggravated him, even with socks. I snorkeled a bit on my own, happy to be in the water. Mo Visit  Three Harts on the Trail 1-25-2012 12-05-00 PMOn Wednesday we hiked six miles out and back along a wonderfully groomed trail to see the petroglyphs and ruins of a sugar mill. The next day, EW and I were delighted to hear boating friends from Grenada on the VHF. These three boats are slowly making their way from Grenada back to the states. That evening we were invited aboard m/v Finally Fun for cocktail hour with them, and the crews from s/v Soulmate and s/v Sabbaticus – and I was delighted to have Favorite meet some of our Grenada friends and to see that part of our cruising life.

He enjoyed it all.

At one point, we were discussing family history. When Favorite was in high school I had a Mazda 626, four door, five speed. It was a nice car, and we had known back then that he and his friends thought of it as a sports car. That issue had been discussed, I assure you. Even so, Mo laughed as he told us that the car had a “governor”  on it. I naively asked how he had discovered it and he replied, “Because I couldn’t get it above a hundred and four.”

Oh.  I let him drive that car quite a bit.

We laughed. We hugged. We played spirited and cut throat games of dominoes. We ate. We all shared stories new and old.

Mo Visit Ancient Art 1-25-2012 12-21-53 PM

Mo Visit Mainsheet 1-24-2012 11-05-10 AMOn Friday, we left St. John for a downwind sail back to St. Thomas. EW had realized that the furling system for our main was binding up, and Favorite thought it needed attention. So they lowered the main upon our return to St. Thomas, and removed the boom and system once we were on anchor. All of those tasks were made much easier because Favorite provided able and knowledgeable help. (Back to loving having a deck ape.)

  Mo Visit Mo and Jeff 1-27-2012 7-43-11 PM

EW and I had invited Jeff and Barb to join us (and drive us) for dinner at Island View. We laughed and told more stories – including the time Favorite was tortured by his dad and Jeff. It involves a long trip in the back seat of a Z –210. He hasn’t been able to let that go. It’s a sad tale. EW and Jeff showed no remorse. Poor Favorite. Despite this episode of child abuse, Favorite did an end run around his father and treated the five of us to dinner.

P1270187

Life is good. We are blessed.

ONE MORE THING:  Shortly after Favorite arrived, I was taking yet another photo, and he asked, “Do you take photos all the time?” EW rolled his eyes. Favorite answered himself, “Oh yeah. I get it,” and gave his father the look. That look can mean many things, but it often does, and did, mean: poor Dad.

Right.

I told Favorite I’d be writing about his visit and that he could veto anything he found too revealing or objectionable. But I didn’t write while he was here. Too bad.

One hundred and four miles per hour!


Harts at Sea, Barb at Sea, and The eBook

 

New Haircut

Current location:

 18.19.017 North  45.57.628 West

Honeymoon Beach, Water Island, St. Thomas

Looking for my newest post?:

Hair Cuts and Scalp Jobs


Cover Final 1



My book:

Harts At Sea Sailing to Windward

A tale of two baby boomers during their first year as cruisers, sailing, touring, loving, learning, and fixing the boat – not necessarily in that order.

This ebook is available for just $2.99.

Purchase Now:       Amazon        http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0070W2VO4

Don’t have a Kindle, or iPad?  You can download Kindle for PC and read the book, that way.

Please Share. Write write an honest review of the book after you’ve read it and post it where you bought the book.

Please Spread the Word. Let your friends and family know about Harts at Sea Sailing to Windward.

 

Follow me:     

            Twitter:  http://www.twitter.com/barbatsea

            Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/BarbAtSea

 


Haircuts and Scalp Jobs

Early Stew

Oh dear. I blame EW – which isn’t fair, because he isn’t blaming me. “I’m not all that vain, you know.” he said when he first saw the cut.

Back in Fajardo on the big shopping trip, EW roamed the aisles of Bloomington Coat Factory while I tried on swimsuits, shorts, tops, bras, and capris. I was having a wonderful time – so was EW.  Every so often, he’d find me back by the changing rooms and say, “Look what I’ve got!” waving his latest bargain find. Some of those items weren’t needed, but he was sure that the electric hair trimmer would be just the thing to help me cut his hair. Having cut his hair with hair-cutting scissors back in the Bahamas last spring, I wasn’t sure I wanted another go at it.

 

At Left, EW circa 1975 or thereabouts.

 

 

Below, right: EW and me at the wonderful Malon/Klein hosted Anniversary/Bon Voyage party.

AnniversaryEW has beautiful hair. I love running my fingers through it. It’s thick and has a wave, and when he had it cut by Rey, back in Portland, it just looked wonderful. When we first went to sea, he planned to grow it out and have a pony tail. I heartedly approved, imagining a silver mane on my sliver fox (how’s that for mixing metaphors?). By the Bahamas, neither of us liked his long hair. It never made it to pony-tail length, was straighter the longer it got and the length bothered him. We went to shore and I gave him a haircut.

For the rest of the year, he would let it grow to unruly and find a barber, and he grew a beard instead of hair. He had been getting his beard trimmed by the barbers, as well, but had also bought a beard trimmer in Fajardo,. Once he found the hair trimmer, he decided he wouldn’t have to go to a barber again.

I’m not so sure.

Two days ago, we gathered the implements and directions and moved to the back deck. I set the hair trimmer to the longest setting possible and began in the back. Mmmm. Looked good. Short though. So I decided to use the scissors for the top and try to incorporate a longer top into the short back. Mmmmm. (We did not have a mirror on the back deck. Poor EW.)

I trimmed. And I trimmed.

At one point he caught my look, “Was that a grimace?” he asked, clearly hoping I had a piece of hair in my eye. “Um, yes.” This isn’t going real well,” I said. I kept at it, but finally he said, “Just use the trimmer on the whole head. I don’t care.”

P1220010Well I did. I want hair on my husband’s head. Did you know he has a whole bunch of weird cowlicks? I found and activated all of them. I used the trimmer and grimaced again. Then we gathered the tools and he went down to check out the results and forgave me instantly.

I love EW.

He isn’t vain, and he doesn’t have to look at himself, but I sit across from him at every meal. Yesterday, I was looking at him and trying to figure out how I could learn to cut his hair. The top is too long to go with the sides – but I don’t want them shorter. Perhaps I could learn how it grows and how best to cut it if I “monitored” the situation over the next month or two.  I thought about it and said, “You know, maybe I’ll just trim your hair every two weeks for a while.”

I cannot describe the look of horror on his face.

After we stopped laughing, I explained my theory and he agreed.

EW is certainly a good sport.

 

DSCF0654NOTE: As I write this, we are keeping ourselves busy until Favorite’s plane lands this afternoon. Our favorite (and only) son is coming for a visit. He inherited his mother’s gorgeous dark curly hair – but frequently opts for buzz cuts to avoid “hat head”.

I wonder what he’ll think of his dad’s hair cut.


Balance Ain't Happening this Week

Cruise Ship Water Island 1-9-2012 6-14-12 PM

 

How are your resolutions working out? I chose to work on one thing this year, and blew it in week two of the 2012.

Balance.

I will get focused on a task, project, book, or event and let everything else go. This past summer, when I was writing my (soon to be released) eBook, I would get up, have breakfast and sit down to the computer, avoiding dishes, exercise, and getting dressed until well after lunch. That is not a balanced life.

On other weeks, I’d decided to participate in a number of classes or excursions, and not write one word as I enjoyed an active social life in Grenada. That wasn’t balanced, either.

This year, I’m working to create a balanced blend of the cruising life, project work, house work, writing, and time for exercise into each week—much as those who are living more normal lives do. After all, I don’t have to “go to work” every day, don’t have kids to transport to school or activities, am no longer sitting on any committees or boards. My time is my own (and EW’s). Can’t I provide some structure to my week that would allow me to be more productive and healthier?

Well, apparently not without a lot of trial and error.

Seven days ago, I had congratulated myself on exercising daily, writing daily, and cleaning (a bit) daily. EW and I had social time with other cruisers, I spent a terrific afternoon with our cousin, Barb Hart the First, and got my hair cut. My project right now, is a writing project, as I am getting the eBook ready for publishing. I also worked on that four days last week. Then I blew it. Between spending time with friends, working on the dinghy, and spending much of a day working on the boat with EW, I didn’t exercise, write, or work on the eBook for four days.

That (typically for me) creates a panic. I want this book out – and Favorite is coming to visit on the 22nd – so I want all or most of the work done before that. So, my lack of balance has continued this week. We are anchored off a beach at Water Island, I could easily go in for a walk or a swim—but I haven’t. I have spent hours every day working on the eBook. On the other hand, I have picked up the boat, washed the dishes after every meal, and gotten dressed every morning. That’s an improvement. This morning, I’ll finish formatting the book for Kindle and Smashwords. It’s taken much longer than it should have because I made some errors along the way.

So, I’ve learned some good lessons in this third week of my Year of Balance.

1. If I write another book (and I’d like to) I will type every word in a format that will more easily convert for ePublishing. I will not copy and paste from Typepad, Live Writer, or Windows 7.

2. While I’m not happy with my lack of balance overall so far this year, I have done better. There’s a definite improvement when I don’t have to dash for real clothes when folks stop by unexpectedly. EW and I have only had popcorn for dinner once in the past two weeks – and that’s an improvement as well.

3. “Balance” is the right focus for me this year. I can add it to the focus on “Softening” which is an on-going challenge, and know that I’m actually working on things that are important and that I can change.

4. Exercise seems to be the priority that is most often ignored when I’m having an unbalanced week. This is an on-going problem with me, as I find I’ve been writing about it since March in Luperon, at least. I can either change, or just stop whining. Hmmmm.

 

But we’ve also had fun this week. We continue to attend the free movies on Honeymoon Beach. Last week I took time before the cartoons to take a few photos. At the top, one of the cruise ships, leaving Crown Bay, glides past Water Island.

Water Island Moving Night 1-9-2012 6-17-23 PM

 

The folks at Water Island, set up the screen, speakers, and projector. Owners of the food concession set up the chairs. Locals and cruisers attend each week. It’s a blast.

 

 

Three Cruisers Ready for a Movie 1-9-2012 6-27-08 PM

Water Island also has a book swap at their mail drop and ferry terminal. EW and I dropped off three tote bags of books and only brought a partially filled bag back with us. That’s a win.

Water Island Book Swap 1-18-2012 4-15-38 PM


Dinghy Tag - You're It!

PC280129We've moved! Just a bit. We're now anchored off of Honeymoon Beach on Water Island in St. Thomas.

North 18.19.014

West 64.57.629

 

I love the cruising life, and our cruising friends--but you already know that.

Our dingies are crucial to our happiness. We need the dinghy for pretty much everything – going ashore, going to visit on another boat, going to the beach. Once we get into a port and on the hook, the dinghy becomes our only vehicle. When a dinghy has to be repaired, while there may be “service stations” or repair shops, there are no “loaners”, and that can be a problem.

For a couple of weeks, we had two Lunah Landahs. The Old Gray Mare, the incredibly disintegrating dinghy, the former Lunah Landah still works, but not well. She has an inflatable floor that doesn’t, so it’s a really squishy step from boat or dock to dinghy. Nevertheless, our friends on s/v Sanctuary asked us if we would please bring her back from Puerto Rico so they could borrow her while they repaired their dinghy.

“No problem,’ said EW. “We’ll have to use her while we paint and put Keel Guard on the new La Luna, anyway. You can have her first, and then we’ll take her back for that.”

Then our friends from s/v Kookaburra went back to Florida for a 90th birthday party, so Sanctuary used Kookaburra's dinghy while they repaired their own dinghy. Again, no problem for us, we’ll just get started on our own project – as soon as we find someplace we can safely leave Lunah Landah for two or three days.

In the meantime, EW heard that Sandy Dreams had a new, used hard fiberglass dinghy that they were excited about fixing up. They both have jobs here and wanted to be a “two dinghy” family. Well, actually, they are now a three-dinghy family with their aluminum dinghy, the new/old fiberglass one, and a very large, flat-bottomed inflatable which leaks. Their plan is to get rid of the inflatable, so they have space underway for the two more reasonably sized hard dinghies on their massive deck. (You see where this is going, yet?)

Sandy Dreams stopped by one day to see our new dinghy and offered use of their leaky inflatable and their massive back deck to work on Lunah Landah.  Well, that works. Then, Kookaburra stopped by to ask if they could use/have our The Old Gray Mare, because they were going to be a two career family for a while and needed a second boat. We listed all of that dinghy’s problems, he said, “No worries,” and EW dumped the dinghy and it’s pump onto their hard fiberglass tender.

Have I lost you, yet? Everyone who needs a dinghy has a dinghy, and we had space to fix Lunah Landah. How big is Sandy Dreams massive deck? I’ve said that three people could easily do yoga on it. See? P1160018 

Even better, that space came with a sweet resident dog, P1160009Sissy, who greets each guest – with kisses—as they come aboard.Sissy Ready for Greeting 1-16-2012 8-52-11 AM EW and I worked on the dinghy for two days (well, OK, I only worked for one day) and Sissy helped. She also, stayed out of the paint. Good dog.

Now that we’re done, Sandy Dreams will take back their dinghy (which we have named The Barge, because it turns like one) and will haul up their new/old fiberglass dingy and repair that. Afterwards, they’ll sell The Barge. One of us will take The Old Gray Mare to the dump when Kookaburra and Sanctuary (who has more repairs to do on their dinghy) are done with it.

And…*drum roll* …on Monday morning we dropped off The Barge, and retrieved Lunah Landah  in her new finery. Isn’t she beautiful? P1160012As Jenn from Sandy Dreams said, “This dinghy says  ‘I AM TAKEN’.” She’d be hard to steal. That’s the idea. Hopefully, she’s protected from sun as well.

Many thanks to Jenn, Ryan, and Sissy from Sandy Dreams for the use of their dinghy and deck. I love the cruising life.

P1160019


What Are We Doing? We Painted the New Lunah Landah

New Dinghy Painting 1-14-2012 12-45-17 PMYep. We painted our new rubber dinghy. We may be crazy, and it may be a huge mistake – but we won’t know about the mistake part for a few months or years. You’ll have to decide whether or not we’re crazy.

Weeks before we went to Farjardo for the Big Shopping Trip, EW worked to put our order together for West Marine, and I measured and planned sewing projects for the shopping stop at Almacenes Fabrics, an excellent fabric store in Fajardo. They sell Sunbrella at great prices. They are my new favorite fabric store.

Back in Grenada, when we were dreaming and scheming on a new dinghy, EW was dreaming and scheming on “chaps”, a custom canvas and vinyl cover that would protect our future dinghy from the relentless sun in the islands. I took photos of chaps, and talked with cruisers who had made or purchased chaps. EW really liked the ones that had an extra layer of contrasting vinyl fabric over the canvas at strategic locations. PB010079

Years ago, I made a dodger for La Luna. It was not a good experience. If fact, that project turned on my salty language button and I’ve still not successfully turned off that button. I was not looking forward to making chaps. One of the best set of chaps we saw in Grenada had been made by a fellow cruiser who planned to supplement his cruising kitty by making custom chaps for others – for $3000.00.  That’s more than our new dinghy cost. If we were going to have chaps, I was going to make them. I saw two to three weeks of constant cutting, measuring and sewing and a messy boat in my future. Here’s a nearly perfect set of chaps. H. E. Double Hockey Sticks. This does not look easy.

A cruising friend said, “Why don’t you just paint it?

“Paint what?”

“The new dinghy.”

“You can’t be serious!”

“Sure. We did that,” she said.

Hmmmm. “Tell me about it.”

“Well, they have paint for Hypalon dinghies. People usually use it to paint an older dinghy. The paint will seal small holes and protect the boat from further sun damage. It costs a lot less than buying fabric and takes just a day to apply.”

I visualized the two tasks and decided to try to convince EW to paint his (our) brand new dinghy.

This didn’t take as long as I thought it would. (I admit, I did remind him of the dodger experience, and that helped.) We talked with some folks, thought it over, coming to the following conclusions:

  1. This wouldn’t harm the dinghy, and it would provide UV protection on the most vulnerable areas
  2. The up side was huge in terms of saving time and money
  3. The worst that could happen is that the paint would crack and look ugly after a few months or years and I’d have to make a set of chaps, then.

We ordered the paint. In red.

Why red? Well – it matches La Luna’s boot stripe and bottom paint, and it presents a unique “This is MY dinghy” message to the boating community. Dinghies are stolen by one of two groups, dishonest locals who want a motor (usually a 15 horsepower one), or dishonest cruisers (yes, they exist) who need a new dinghy.  If some steals the dinghy to take the motor, they frequently leave the dinghy ashore someplace. Since there’s an active cruising net on the SSB and on Facebook, it helps to let people know you’ve lost your dinghy, but if you’re dinghy is stolen and it’s just another ten foot West Marine dinghy, it’s hard to spot and identify. I assure you, Lunah Landah is now unique.

New Dinghy Keel Guard Applied 1-14-2012 9-06-37 AMEW also wanted to apply Keel Guard to the vee bottom to prevent it from getting dinged when we have to haul Luna Landah up on a beach or boat ramp.

New Dinghy Keel Guard 1-14-2012 9-10-51 AMEW spent part of Friday hauling Luna Landah and applying the keel guard. We both spent Saturday “painting” the dinghy. Those of you who’ve done an painting or varnishing know that we spent most of Saturday preparing to paint, as that’s the most important part. As per the instructions on the can:

  1. we first scrubbed the areas to be painted with laundry detergent
  2. then we sanded those areas
  3. then we wiped it down with acetone – making sure we pressed hard and thoroughly cleaned the boat
  4. then we spent hours taping the areas
  5. finally we painted, waited three hours and then applied a second coat.

Taped Dinghy 1-14-2012 12-45-06 PMStep #5 took less than four hours, including the three hour wait. The painting project, including the three hour wait, removing the tape, and cleaning up took eight hours for two people – 16 man-hours. Costs were for Keel Guard, paint and tape. We already had brushes, acetone, laundry detergent, and rags. Total time including hauling the dingy and applying the Keel Guard and breaks waiting out rain squalls was 5 hours.

Total hours on the project over two days, with two people: 21

Costs: West Marine Inflatable Boat Top Coating    $43.99

Keel Guard, 8 Foot Roll:                                             $167.99

Two rolls 1” tape  (we didn’t use all of the rolls)         11.98

                                                                                        TOTAL Cost:                                                  $223.96

NOTE: The bulk of that cost was for the Keel Guard. Sunbrella. It cost less than $60.00 to paint the boat.

How’s it look? Tune in next time for those photos and to find out where we found a “dinghy work deck”. That will be a tale of cruising friends and dinghy swaps.


Neighbors and Friends

Still in St. Thomas:  18.20.257 North and 64.55.817 West

New Year’s Day, we were on the hook in Fajardo, and still had things to store from the three days of shopping and provisioning. We also spent a lot of time calling folks back home. Our first call set the tone for the day when we discovered that our former neighbor had passed away that morning. We’d been informed that he was terminally ill and had called to chat with him and his wife. My call was answered by their eldest son who seemed stunned that I called and immediately gave the phone to his mom, who broke the news that “The Boss” had died just a few hours before. We all cried.

IMG01822During the second year of our married life, EW and I purchased a real “fixer upper” in South Portland. We shared our back border with these neighbors. A chain link fence, with a chain and padlock on the gate, separated our yards. After meeting us, Billy, our next door neighbor told us that he’d grown up playing with the kids who grew up behind us and that their parents still lived in that home. Billy said that the people who had owned our house had put the chain on the gate to keep Billy and our neighbor’s sister and her family from cutting through the yard. EW immediately unpacked the bolt cutters and cut the chain.

It was the best use of bolt cutters I’ve seen. We were welcomed to the neighborhood by those who had lived there for twenty, forty, and sixty years. Our back neighbor’s wife taught me how to be a “Neighbor Lady”, and her husband, The Boss,a retired arborist, taught EW how to fell a limb without getting killed. He was something. For a year or so after we had moved in, EW thought that The Boss didn’t like him. He liked to tweak a person, and was more quick to tease than to praise. He was a worker, with a good sense of humor, who loved dogs, horses, gardening, and his family. He was a good neighbor.

If we needed something, we could ask The Boss. If he thought we needed to know something, The Boss would tell us before we asked. I was painting our new shed one day while EW was upstairs installing new electrical outlets. (I told you this was a fixer upper.) The Boss came by as I was happily putting the paint away. He noted that I had painted only the outside of the shed double doors but he didn’t say a word to me about it. Instead, he walked into the house, calling for EW. Once he found him, he said, “So, Barbara’s done painting the shed.” “That’s good,” said EW. Then The Boss tattled and said, “She only painted the outside of the doors, you know.” IMG01824EW said, “Well that isn’t good. They’ll warp.”

“Yep,” said The Boss.

So EW left his job and walked with The Boss down the stairs to the yard, where EW informed me that I had to paint the interior of the doors, while The Boss laughed. I laughed, too.

One spring I had bought a gardening book and read an article about how to kill grass when you want to create a flower garden in place of a section of lawn. The article talked about using a sheet of plastic, cut in the shape of the new garden, weighting it down with stones, and leaving it for “a couple of weeks”. The grass will die and something good called nematodes will grow/appear/be created. Since this was a home in Maine, I had a blue poly tarp not being used, so I cut that into the desired shape and held it down with bricks. EW had to mow around it. For weeks. The grass wouldn’t die. Finally, The Boss came over and called me out to the front yard. “What in hell do you think you’re doing here?’ I told him. “You dammed fool! You have to use clear plastic so the sun burns the grass and the grass can’t breathe! This tarp has air holes and you have created a grass greenhouse.” He was right. Under the blue poly tarp, that section of lawn had a thick, green carpet of eight-inch tall grass. EW was not happy. That area was mowed and remained lawn.

The Boss loved both of our dogs, and his dog, Nan, was always welcome on our side of the fence. His wife and I both are snake phobic, so when she was home alone and discovered a snake in the basement, EW disposed of it. When EW was gone and I had a snake in the way of the lawnmower, I called The Boss. He took care of it. We had a row of tall pines between the two houses. The Boss and I hated them, but for years, both his wife and EW didn’t want to cut them down. Finally, one Friday afternoon we all came to agreement: EW would attach the  board to our shed to hold the end of their clothes line, which was currently on one of the trees. And then,the trees could come down. The Boss put the call out, and on Saturday morning, he arrived with three of his sons, who all had climbing gear and chain saws. By evening eight thirty-foot pine trees were down. His sons and daughters are workers, too.

We attended their birthday parties, and they came to our Christmas Eve parties. We shared recipes, stories, horse radish, sour dough starter, sugar, plant cuttings, tomatoes, dog toys, mulch, and work. We laughed a lot. We cried when their nephew died and made baked beans for the wake. They hugged me when my folks died, met EW’s mom, and kept an eye on Favorite when he was home alone.

They were the best of neighbors. In 2002, we sold the house and bought a boat and they sold their house and had one built in the country where The Boss could have some animals. When we visited, we met the chickens and walked the horse pasture, admiring his “stock”.

The Boss was the finest kind of Maine man, quiet, sometimes caustic, who showed his caring by his deeds, not by his words. EW’s favorite story happened a year or so after we had moved into the neighborhood, when EW still thought The Boss didn’t like him. A freak wind storm had broken a huge branch that had fallen onto our kitchen roof. EW was going to stay home from work to dispose of the branch; I was sure he’d be injured in the process. We were standing in the yard, discussing the project, when The Boss strode through the gate. “What in hell are you going to do about that?” he said to EW. “I’m just trying to figure it out now,” EW replied. “Well, I can’t climb anymore, but I’ve got the stuff and I know how to use the ropes. I’ll tell you how to do it,” The Boss stated. And he did. He worked with EW all day, until both tree and EW were safely on the ground. He directed EW every step of the way, and EW began to call him “The Boss.”

On New Year’s Day, we cried, then called Billy to talk with him and to catch up on his life. Then we called other friends and family, because it was that kind of day.

Good-by, Neighbor.


Happy Three Kings! (And a Christmas Recap)

(A Day Late. We lost Wi-Fi on Three Kings Day in Culebra, so this didn’t go up as planned. On the Thirteenth Day of Christmas….)

This morning, January 6, I took the new and improved Luna Landah to a nearby dock and walked into town, hoping to find a veggie truck. I’d been told that the prospect was dimmed due to the holiday – Three Kings Day. As is our custom, I cheerfully greeted everyone with a “Buenos Dias”, until I heard them saying “Happy Three Kings!” That is the appropriate greeting for this day – so I corrected my Buenos Dias and kept on my walk.

SIDE NOTE. I come from Maine, where the letter “r” is often silent. Family members call me “Bahb”, sounding much like the way those in Maryland say “Bob”. Here in Puerto Rico the “s” in Buenos Dias is silent. “Bueno Dia” is the standard greeting. I’ve decided to continue with Buenos Dias as I don’t want to sound like a Texan trying to speak like a Mainah. That’s never pretty.

So anyway, what with traveling to Puerto Rico and shopping and stowing and snorkeling (tough life, I know) I have not answered some of your questions about Christmas or updated you about the holiday. Hope you’re not all Christmased out.

Question from Twitter Friend: “Do they decorate in the islands like they do up here?”

Pretty much, yes. (Unfortunately). I hate those inflatable snowmen and santas and yes they have them here. The US Coast Guard base had two set up near a large anchor, but they were always partially inflated (like our old dinghy) and were finally removed. I find it incongruous to see so many decorations that relate to cold and snow-certainly the first Christmas had no snow, but that motif has taken over the season, even in Grenada, St. Thomas, and Puerto Rico. Yes, that is something else that has unfortunately reached the islands, even though we left Grenada a week before Thanksgiving, some stores had already decorated for the holidays, with fake green garland and snowflakes.

Here are photos from St. Thomas and Puerto Rico:

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Three Trees at Yacht Haven Grand, with yachts and a cruise ship in the background.

 

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One of my favorite displays, ornaments on a palm tree.

 

 

 

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In Emancipation Park in St. Thomas, school classes decorate a tree. I loved that. The children also wear special outfits on Christmas morning. This little girl played with her shoes more than she wore them. Her cousin was hungry.

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A couple of weeks before Christmas, the Havensight Shopping District had a Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony to light this tree. The very large basket is planted with poinsettas for the holiday.

EW, Barb H. the First, and I attended the festivities, which included live music at various locations, steel bands, and a parade with both high school bands performing. It was great fun, and very well attended by local folk. We saw no other cruisers at the parade and aren’t sure how many attended the other events that day. It was definitely a highlight of our Christmas in St. Thomas.

 

While I appreciate the holiday splendor, it’s like gilding the lily down here, where you can see flowers like this along every walk. PC030159 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Question from our friends: “Did you decorate the boat this year?”

Absolutely.  Last year, we crossed the Gulf Stream to Bimini on Christmas Day and ran aground. It was not a Merry day and I didn’t get out the stuff. P1010291This year, the box came out, the stockings were hung, and EW was instructed that they would be filled. I have a largish plastic shoe box, and can take as many holiday decorations as will fit in the box. It also holds the fabric we use to wrap our gifts, and two strings of lights that we haven’t used yet. Our former tree top angel now perches on a conch shell.

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Question from family: “Will you have Christmas with Barb and Jeff?”

Absolutely, and that woman knows how to decorate for the holidays!  Here are a few photos from their lovely home – all duded up for Christmas.   PC240009

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Note that Barb’s from Ontario, so she has the snowman/garland motif down.

 

 

 

 

 

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Barb and Jeff got all duded up too…

 

 

..as did EW.

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We had a lovely time with their friends on Christmas evening, and ate way too much.

 

Here’s something no-one asked us? “Will you get up at 5:30 on Christmas morning?”

Proving once again that he is a good sport, EW agreed to go with me to Emancipation Park for the 35th  Challenge of Carols. It began promptly at 6:00 (a miracle in the islands) and lasted until 8:30. Fourteen groups performed, most without accompaniment. They each sang two or three carols, free breakfast was served, and we were both enthralled. It was a magical way to start the day. (I admit, I did bribe EW with the promise of brunch with bacon when we got back to the boat. He actually was delighted with the morning, but I still fed him bacon.)

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Again, we think we were the only cruisers to attend, but locals and folks who’ve moved here make this a yearly event.

 

 

 

 

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The kids on the right are from the New Music School. I was going for a candid photo while they waited their turn, but one young lady caught me, told the others, and struck a pose. So cute!

 

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Here they are performing.

 

 

 

 

 

Finally, a few photos of the decorations on Culebra. Evidently someone here has talent with a jig saw. Most decorations were flat plywood cut outs, painted very well. I’m not sure about the smurf motif though.

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The Post-Christmas Buying Expedition-West Marine Day

 

We’ve had a busy week – oh jeeze—it’s been nearly two weeks, hasn’t it? Let’s see. We had Christmas (more to come in later posts), then on the 26th we sailed to Culebra to check into Puerto Rico. On the 27th we headed to Fajardo, anchoring off of Isleta Marina as suggested by a bunch of cruisers. “If you are shopping in Fajardo and San Juan,” they all said, “anchor at Isleta Marina and take the ferry to shore.”  We were definitely shopping in Fajardo and San Juan, and planned three days for this chance to shop US stores at US prices. This wasn’t a fun little shopping trip. We had three days to find and purchase items we needed—highest on the list was a new dinghy, followed by clothes for me.

IM Ferry and Shore Day One 12-29-2011 9-28-36 AMThe 28th was West Marine Day, and  we dinghied to Isleta Marina, and met Polito, who has a sailing/racing/charter boat in the marina. This compact and lively seventy-something gentleman speaks accented English in a raspy voice, and is charming. He told us where we could tie the dinghy and complemented us on La Luna. He also had the ferry wait for us while we secured the old grey mare. The ferry is owned by the marina/condo complex, and I assume that condo owners and slip holders take the ferry for free. IM Nevo Greeting us First Day 12-29-2011 9-34-19 AMNevo, the marina dock master, makes the first ferry run from Isleta Marina each day, then stays at the shore dock, taking $5.00 per passenger for the two-way trip. That’s a bargain.

After eating a ton of food over the Christmas holiday, and then not getting off the boat for two days, I convinced EW that we could easily walk to the West Marine store. He participated in this decision, by pulling up a map on the iPhone and showing me that it was only 2.7 KM from the shore. Once we had arrived on the mainland, he said, “Oh, that wasn’t right. I couldn’t get the map to work properly.” Oh. So, EW asked Nevo for directions, explaining we wanted to get some exercise. Nevo told us when to turn left and right, then raised his eyebrows, and said, “You’ll get a walk, all right.” Any other cruising couple would have considered that a clue, but we still remember the many times we were discouraged from walking a mile in the Bahamas.

The actual distance was over four miles, part of which included a mile or so on a limited access road (PR #3) with thankfully a wide breakdown lane. No photos were taken that day because I had the Officiant Bag full of documents and other things. I should have carried the camera and let EW carry the Officiant Bag. Ah well. As EW said, “You wanted a walk. I give you a walk.”  We were a bit nervous about the limited access part, and asked another gentleman for directions. He was very specific, “Take Route 3, and go straight through 6 traffic lights. WM Day Walk 12-29-2011 10-01-23 AM 12-29-2011 10-01-23 AMYou’ll see McDonald’s. West Marine is behind McDonald’s. Six traffic lights didn’t sound too bad. The problem was it was about a mile and a half before the first one. It was an adventure. Here’s a photo taken from the rental the next day. Yep, we walked this.

We made it to West Marine and sought Estella, the Operations Manager for that store. We had shopped at this store in March on our way to the Eastern Caribbean and found the staff to be helpful, but they did not stock a lot of items for larger sailboats. EW had planned wisely for this trip. A month ago, he emailed West Marine a list of items we needed to buy, from a 10-foot hard bottomed inflatable, to a new sailing hat for EW. Estella greeted us with, “Good morning. The last four items arrived today!” Everything was sorted and in a cart, except of course for the dinghy which was in an enormous box.

EW asked whether Estella knew of anyone who could deliver the dinghy for us. She did, and placed a call while we shopped a bit, then suggested that we go have lunch while we wait for the truck. We opted for a quick lunch, planning on dining at the café/bar at Isleta Marina that evening. When we returned to West Marine, a large white pick up, and Lorenz awaited us. EW checked the items off of his list, paid, and helped Lorenz load the dinghy and stuff into the truck. We were joined by a young man from West Marine who came along to help. Lorenz spoke no English and the young man spoke only a bit. First, they took us to the wrong marina, but we figured it out, and Lornez told us, “Don’t worry, be happy!” (That and one other phrase were the only English words we heard him utter.) We relaxed and they found the ferry terminal.

Estella had agreed that the cardboard box for the dinghy could be returned to the store, so our two helpers cut the box apart and we slid the dinghy onto the boat ramp. They took over pumping the dinghy, showing us how to use the foot pump. Since I wasn’t needed, I hopped on the ferry to pick up the old grey mare, the rapidly disintegrating dinghy. When I returned, EW was standing next to a new dinghy, which was loaded with West Marine bags. We launched her, trying desperately not to scratch her pristine bottom, and I towed all back to La Luna, where we opened all our new gear, and got the new Lunah Landah up and running.

We hadn’t rushed that morning, arriving at the ferry around 10 AM. We walked to West Marine, had a quick lunch, purchased thousands of dollars worth of stuff, and were back on board with a fully operational dinghy by 2:30. I call that a good day. WM Day EW and Loot toilet Seat 12-28-2011 2-58-31 PMWe stowed stuff, moved the motor from the old grey mare to the new Lunah Landah, and went to Isleta Marina to celebrate, and to buy Polito a beer. Two beers all around, we met Israel the owner, and Will – who had gone to high school in Maine! So much fun was had that Israel offered us free shots of a traditional holiday rum drink. It includes cream and cinnamon and goes down very smoothly. Since tomorrow was another day of the buying expedition, we wisely stopped at two shots, paid the bill, and took the new Lunah Landah back to the boat, where we raised her with her new lifting harness. (More about that later.)WM Day Dinghy in Bed 12-28-2011 7-10-34 PM

West Marine has no idea that I write this blog (though perhaps they should) and I’ve not received any special pricing or compensation for this post. This was an excellent experience. The customer service crew in the states, and Estella and her team were all helpful, responded to all emails, and made sure we had everything on our list. It was a great experience. I have praised EW repeatedly for doing the work to make that happen. He gets a huge Attaboy for this one.

Day One was complete with all items checked off the list. Including, you will see above left, a toilet seat. Two days left to go.

Here’s EW in his new hat. WM Day EW and Hat 2 12-28-2011 3-05-45 PM