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March 2012

You Want to Sail Where?

Last week, I left EW for two days when I went off each morning to help Jan Robinson and her crew sell shirts and towels and other memorabilia during the St. Thomas Yacht Club Rolex Regatta. P3230546It was fun, sort of like my trade booth experience at boat shows and chamber shows. We sold a lot of shirts. I met some interesting and nice women, and got a change of scenery.

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EW stayed on the boat, for the most part. This has proven to be dangerous. Usually I’m the one who spends time thinking and planning and coming up with new ideas for projects that EW has to undertake. But this time, I left EW to his own devices during a week when we were both anxious to sail. In fact, when talking with one of the women at the show, she asked, “Do you write about the sailing? Is that your topic?”

“Oh not so much,” I said. “You’d be surprised how little sailing one does in this cruising life.” Evidently EW has been feeling the same thing and he decided to do something about it.

On Friday evening, we planned pizza and movies on board, but EW had something he wanted to discuss first.

“Remember how we thought we had to go to Europe to get to Buenos Aires?” he asked.

“Yeah?” I replied drawing that one word out to mean “What have you been thinking?”

He grinned and grabbed World Cruising Routes by Jimmy Cornell. “Well, I was reading this and we can sail down there between November and March if we stick fairly close to shore. There is a favorable current. We can do long tacks.”

He looked so happy. His brown eyes were flashing as he hefted the thick book to show me the article.

EW had talked about sailing to Buenos Aires before we left Maine. When we visited our physician prior to leaving, he had us point out all of the countries we were likely to visit within our first five years at sea, and we got all the shots necessary. After getting down here, that trip to Argentina seemed insurmountable to me and EW seemed to let it go.

Not so. Barb Hart the First subscribes to the Smithsonian Magazine and gave a recent edition to EW. It included an article about Buenos Aries and all of EW’s prior longings rose to the top. From that moment on, I was played.

First, he made it sound easy. “It’s no farther south than North Carolina is to the north.”

Well, that didn’t sound bad. I checked the distance to North Carolina (less than 2000 miles)  and decided I could handle it. I agreed to the trip, and we made pizza.

A day or so later I did my own research.

“How long did you say it was to Buenos Aires?”

“Well, it’s probably about three thousand miles.”

Here’s what he neglected to mention the first time. We would go as far south as North Carolina is north from the equator. We haven’t yet made it to the equator. That’s the extra thousand miles.

Still, I was cautiously on board. But I did some more research.

In fact, I plotted the course on our MaxSea chart plotter. The trip from Trinidad would be 4200 miles and some change. (But who’s counting? Certainly not EW!)

Chart N Carolina to Argentina

We’re going to do more research, but the reality is that we are seeking adventure and this would certainly be one. Plus, EW’s promised to take tango lessons in Argentina.

If we go, we’d leave Trinidad early in November and sail in 500-1000 mile hops down the coast of South America, planning to arrive in Buenos Aries in February. We’d enjoy that country for four or five months, then head back north in July or August stopping on other ports of call along the way.

Here’s a screen capture of La Luna (red boat) anchored in Tortolla. The dotted line to the north is the direct route to North Carolina. The red line to the south is our route from Trinidad to Buenos Aries.

Oh my.

What was I thinking?

I’ve started a list of projects for both of us. At the top of my list is selling my book Harts at Sea Sailing to Windward.

I’ll also need a new title for the book about this journey. There is a lot of sailing to windward in our future.

He better be good at the tango!


Buh-Bye, St. Thomas. It Was Fun. And Filling.

On Monday, the 26th, we left St. Thomas, after four months at anchor in Elephant Bay, Long Bay, and off of Honeymoon Beach (my favorite). By 10:30 Am we had raised the anchor and headed to the British Virgin Islands.

We never expected to spend four months in St. Thomas., It was a Buh Bye Anchored 2-26-2012 9-32-19 AMgood four months, but both EW and I had gotten antsy. The cruising life in St. Thomas is different than our experience at other islands. Most of the long-term cruisers who visit here fall into two categories: 1. Those who stay only a short while; or 2. Those who come here in the winter to work and replenish their cruising kitty.

In short, we frequently had no one to play with.

I was getting a bit testy and defensive about it until I met some non-cruising women from New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Massachusetts. They all have small condos here and cheerfully identify themselves as “snowbirds”.

(At left, La Luna is anchored near S/V Katahdin and a large yacht, off of Honeymoon Beach.  Katahdin is Cathy and Larry Clough’s boat.)

We may not have been good cruisers these last few months, but we were great snow birds.

Below left, Carrie waiting for the Monday Movie at Honeymoon. Below right, Favorite, Barb and Jeff.  We will miss them all.)Buh-Bye-Mo-Barb-and-Jeff-1-27-2012-6[2]

Buh-Bye-Carrie-1-9-2012-6-08-27-PM_t[2]

We had to leave St. Thomas to gain perspective. Except for a brief visit to Puerto Rico after Christmas, we had been anchored off of the island of St. Thomas since before Thanksgiving. The length of our stay was partly on purpose and partly due to computer repairs, work on the book, and Favorite’s visit. We also thoroughly enjoyed our time with EW’s cousin Jeff, and his wife, Barb Hart the First. It was great to spend time with them (not just because they are both excellent cooks), and Barb and I finally had the time to become real friends and not just loving, yet distant family members. That has made all the difference.

Jeff makes Sunday dinner at the Hart Home in St. Thomas. For our last Sunday dinner, he made my favorite, “Jeff’s roasted veggies” and EW’s favorite grilled ribs. Oh my. USVI good by 3-25-2012 6-59-36 PM Yes, I have gained weight in St. Thomas. No, it is not Jeff’s fault. I could have had one small helping and no pistachio ice cream. But I didn’t.

We will return to the USVI, sailing to St. John later in the week and spending a week cruising, snorkeling and hiking that beautiful island. We actually plan to visit St. Thomas again, via the ferry from St. John to Redhook. We’ll see Jeff and Barb one last time, provision at Cost U Less, and hopefully visit with a few of other St. Thomas and cruising friends, before heading to Antigua for the Classic Boat Regatta. 

After that, we’ll head to St. Martin, then work our way back down the Leeward and Windward Islands to Grenada and Trinidad.

After that.. well, more on that in a later post.

For your viewing pleasure, here are a few of the many photos of St. Thomas.

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A restaurant in Redhook fed lettuce to the iguanas.               One of the music sessions aboard La Luna.

 

We loved this sign.     The gentleman on the right offered to hold the Officiant Bag while I took photos.

Buh-Bye-Sign-3-5-2012-9-29-51-AM_thu[1]

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Finally. I just learned to use the MS “Snipping Tool” to capture a bit of our chart and show you where we are.

Here are the Virgin’s. The stars denote anchorages we’ve used, or plan to use. On March 28th we are in Tortola.  The largish island in the middle at the bottom is St. John, USVI. Jost Van Dyke and Tortola are part of the British Virgin Islands.

 

Capture Virgin Islands


Maine Represented at Tickles in St. Thomas

EW’s Open-Mic debut finally arrived on March 7th, during five days of very strong Northeast winds. We had endured a couple of wet dinghy rides that week and, while EW is sanguine about drenching me with salt water, he doesn’t feel the same about his Martin guitar.

P3070321We took the Water Island ferry to Crown Bay and everyone stayed dry. On the way in, we were engaged by four professional performers from the Allure of the Seas. They had taken the ferry to Water Island to enjoy the beach on their day off. One of them asked to see the guitar and created a free verse song on the way back to St. Thomas. I’m sorry that we didn’t write down his name – he’s from Portland, Maine! They had to hurry back to the boat to get ready to perform in Chicago, one of the many entertainment options aboard the world’s largest cruise ship.

At Tickles, we joined LeeAnn from Two Much Fun who had been ashore getting errands done and we three ordered drinks while we waited for Peter to ride in with Bob and Debbie from Fidelity – in their new, large, fast and relatively dry dinghy. Peter from Two Much Fun is EW’s musical mentor in the Caribbean. He’s been incredibly generous with his time and talent and advice, and he was going to perform with EW and with Bob at Open Mic Night.  Bob also performed professionally at one point, plays the guitar and has an excellent singing voice.

On the Boat LaLuna Jam 3-2-2012 6-12-40 PMAlso joining us, but not performing, were Ben and Pam from Cricket. They had participated in two evening music sessions on La Luna and Two Much Fun and also have outstanding singing voices. On Too Much Fun Jam 3-3-2012 7-27-08 PMBen plays guitar and Pam is learning mandolin. They have since left St. Thomas to begin a leisurely cruise back home. We will miss them. As the dinner hour progressed, EW’s groupies straggled in: Jeff and Barb the St. Thomas Harts, and Jenn and Ryan from Sandy Dreams. We were a strong group.

Open Mic EW's biggest fan 3-7-2012 7-27-07 PM

 

 

Open Mic Barb Hart I 3-7-2012 7-05-57 PMEW and I were delighted to see Kevin Boothby tuning his guitar before the show. Kevin single hands his small cutter, Ruth Avery, sailing her each year from Maine to St. Thomas and back again. We knew he participated in musical evenings, but had missed his performances in Maine. Open Mic Kevin from right 3-7-2012 7-51-13 PMOn this evening, he played bass for the house band, and then did a solo set, singing and accompanying himself on the guitar.  I. of course, took a lot of photos. How many, you may ask? Well, I took so many photos of Kevin and then of Peter and Bob, that one couple in the audience asked me whether I was the official photographer.

Not likely. We chatted and I met B.J. Glanville and Tom Brown, who live in Kittery, Maine!

So, Kevin gave an excellent performance.Open Mic Kevin picking 3-7-2012 7-46-18 PM

 

 

 

 

 

Then, Bob and Peter sang and picked like the professionals they are.Open Mic Peter and Bob 3-7-2012 8-01-55 PM

 

 

 

 

 

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Then, EW stood up and joined Peter on “stage” as Bob returned to the audience.

Open Mic EW and Peter Pickin and Playin 3-7-2012 8-25-20 PM

Open Mic Peter Pickin 3-7-2012 8-17-34 PM

He wasn’t nervous, but it was the first time he’d played in public standing up and the first time he had sung with a microphone. At the last minute, Peter told EW to “eat the mic”, but that’s a difficult thing to remember your first time on stage.

EW did just fine. Unfortunately, the venue didn’t have the amplification mix right, so it was difficult for most of the audience to hear them, and the instruments sounded a bit tinny. Open Mic EW Singing 3-7-2012 8-22-59 PMI was so proud of EW. More than anyone  I know, he is always eager to learn new things and try new adventures. He was great. I love that man.

I know inquiring minds will want to know what they played. They started with “Norwegian Wood”, with Peter singing the lead and playing the lead on the mandolin. EW backed him up on the guitar. Then EW sang “Louise” and Peter played lead on the mandolin. They finished their set with “Tico Tico No Fuba”, an instrumental that they both love and that EW has been working on since Grenada. Outstanding. (Follow the link to hear Paco de Lucia play that number.)

P3070379While their extensive fan club was hooting and clapping and congratulating them, the emcee introduced the next act – Tom Brown from Kittery. He performed classic rock numbers and also did Maine proud. Open Mic Kittery 3-7-2012 8-31-40 PM 

So there were three musicians, thousands of miles across the sea from Maine, performing on the same night at Tickles in St. Thomas. At the same time, the Allure of the Seas was cruising to their next stop, and many of the passengers were enjoying a performance of Chicago with a young man from Maine singing in one of the roles.

Mainahs travel well. Ayuh.

NOTE: I’m such a Mainah that for months I thought EW’s favorite instrumental was Tico Tico No Fubar.  In Maine, a word pronounced as fuba, would be spelled fubar. EW set me straight. He has to do that a lot.

Finally, as we were leaving to catch the 9:00 ferry, we saw someone at the bar wearing this shirt. Maine rocks!

Open Mic shirt 3-7-2012 8-35-45 PM

 

Have you heard? I’ve written a book, currently available on Amazon as a Kindle ebook, for only $2.99. 

In Harts at Sea Sailing to Windward I tell the story of our first year as cruisers. I've been told that it hits all the right notes. 

STOP THE PRESSES! On Friday and Saturday, March 16 and 17, Harts at Sea Sailing to Windward will be availble on Amazon for FREE! Happy St. Patrick's Day. 

 


Jaime Likes Chocolate Cake. Good Thing.

One of our cruising friends celebrated her birthday last night.

A few days prior, her husband had dinghied over to a number of boats and invited us to a birthday cocktail party aboard their catamaran, Kookaburra. Inevitably, each invitee asked, “What can we bring?”  It’s a given that we’ll take our own drinks and an app to share. (In the cruising world, “app” is short for appetizer, not application.)

“Do you want me to make a cake?” I asked.

“No thanks,” he said. “Carrie has offered to make the cake.”

Secretly, I heaved a sigh of relief. Birthday cakes aren’t my best thing. I can make an excellent carrot cake, and fortunately that is EW’s absolute favorite. I also can follow Fabio’s instructions for his amazing white cake with fruit. But as for birthday cakes, ask Favorite sometime about the soccer ball cake I tried to make my first year as a stepmom. He was a gracious and kind child.

A day before the birthday, Keith laughingly told us that everyone had offered to make a cake and he almost took them up on it. “Jaime’s favorite breakfast is chocolate cake and Mountain Dew. I bet she’d love having a bunch of chocolate birthday cakes!”

Be careful what you wish for.

On Friday, I called Carrie about something and got her husband Carl on the phone instead. “Are you near Carrie?” I asked. Most of us here in St. Thomas only have one cell phone per couple. You never know who will answer and whether your intended party will be available near the phone. Sort of an “Is this the party to whom I am speaking? <snort>” scenario. (If you don’t get that reference, find someone old enough to have watched Laugh In. Lily Tomlin is a comic genius.)

Back to our story. Carrie was not near Carl. In fact, Carrie was at work. “It’s her day off.” I said. “Usually,” said Carl, “but her schedule got messed up, so she’s working on Friday and Saturday this week.” Hmm. So, being the nice person I am, when we went ashore I intended to ask Carrie whether she wanted me to make Jaime’s birthday cake. I saw Carl first and broached the subject with him. “Bless you!” he said, before I had actually finished making the offer. “I was supposed to make the cake. I hate that.” No worries. I was delighted to help. Carl offered to get me the mix and frosting to me but I said we were going shopping and would pick it up. Chocolate cake, and canned chocolate frosting. Who could mess that up?

Evidently Carl could, before he started. After talking with Carl, I visited for a minute with Carrie at work. When I told her I had offered to make the cake, she tilted her head and said, “Are you sure?” just as I knew she’d do. but she was delighted that I was making the cake. “Bless you.” she said. (Carrie is from the south.) She knew Carl hadn’t made many (any?) cakes and did want a nice one for Jaime’s birthday. She paused, then asked,  “Did Carl tell you what he did?” her Florida accent, making di-id into two indignant syllables.

“No.”

“He ate the frosting!”

I laughed and later that evening when I saw Carl, I asked him how he had planned to provide me with mix and frosting after his crime spree. “I already replaced it,” he said a bit sheepishly. Carl had just finished a week in which he had messed up regarding a dinghy key and had arrived home one night with chocolate candy and an apology for Carrie. It’s not been his week.

So, on Saturday, I baked a cake. I thought long and hard and decided to bravely make it a layered cake, even though it’s hot here and we had to transport it by dinghy. We’d be careful and round layer cakes have such a homey feel, doesn’t don’t they? Sheet cakes are for crowds and boaters. Layer cakes just say “home made” to me – even if they’re from a mix.  I got out my 8” pans, prepared them, mixed up the cake, baked it, cooled the layers, frosted the bottom layer, and broke the top layer in half. Bet you didn’t see that coming. Neither did I.

Damn it!

For some reason (I think EW bought them) we have little tiny wooden skewers, so I tried to use them to hold the top layer together.

No dice.

Then, I tried frosting the whole thing and putting a huge amount of frosting into the crack. Warm frosting, which had actually been sitting in the sun on deck. (Don’t ask.) After that, I watched as the broken half started to slide slowly but inexorably off of the cake. This was not celebration material. Three deep breaths and  I called Carl. “Do you still have that mix and frosting?” He said he did, and without asking for details (smart man) offered to meet me in his dinghy for the hand-off. I made a sheet cake as I should have done the first time. Sheet cakes stay in the pan in which they are baked. No sliding around. It’s a great invention for boaters.

In the meantime, I had this two layer of frosted chocolate mess, so I dumped it into a wooden salad bowl. Figured I take it to Jaime for her post birthday breakfast cake. EW saw it and wanted chocolate. “Go ahead, I said, “spoon up a bowl of it. Just don’t mess it up; I want to give the rest to Jaime.”

Cake Bowl of 3-10-2012 2-30-25 PM

He looked at the cake. He looked at me. “How could I mess this up?”

Good point.

So eight of us had cake and ice cream -- some of us had two helpings of cake and ice cream -- and Jaime sent cake home with all who would accept it. She kept the bowl of cake for breakfast this week.

Good thing Jaime really likes chocolate cake. 

 

Cake No Chocolate is wasted on Kookaburra 3-10-2012 7-17-16 PM

Cake Jaime licking the pan 3-10-2012 7-41-50 PM

Here she is at left, licking the candles.

 

At right, she is cleaning out the pan after Keith parceled out left-over cake to the guests.

 

Jaime is my kind of woman.

 

 

 

 

 

Happy Birthday, Jaime! 

Cake Jaime and Keith 3-10-2012 7-18-09 PM

 

Have you heard? I’ve written a book, currently available on Amazon as a Kindle ebook, for only $2.99.

In Harts at Sea Sailing to Windward I tell the story of our first year as cruisers. It wasn’t all cake, but it’s still a great lifestyle.


The Dance Classes in My Youth Have Not Paid Off

Step. Together. Slide. Step. Step. Together. Slide. Step.

Miss Marilyn would not be proud.

Neither would my mother. “It’s just a cha-cha rhythm, Barb. Surely, you can do that.”

“Friends don’t let friends clap on One and Three,” Peter Bonta has told me. It seems that I Zumba on One and Three, while everyone else kicks and shakes, and slides and shimmies on Two and Four. I Zumba. Therefore I sweat. Since exercise is the point, then I guess my Saturday mornings have been successful. Wish I didn’t feel like such a dork, though.

Zumba group 3-3-2012 9-34-35 AM
Evidently Zumba is big in St. Thomas. We learned from a fellow cruiser that most gyms offer classes, and she attends a class on Tuesdays and Thursdays held in the air-conditioned gym at the University of the Virgin Islands. She also joined me and at least 40 others at the free outdoor class held on Saturdays at Yacht Haven Grand.

Zumba shimmy 3-3-2012 9-37-00 AMIt’s a work out in the sun, and in public. Folks walking to work, to shop, or to have coffee, pause and watch this massive group of women (and one man who aborted his jog to join us part way through the class) moving to a Latin or Latin-ish beat. Today, two instructors took turns leading the routines. My favorite song had a western feel – that’s the Wild West – complete with lasso twirling hand motions. I could do that. Back in my youth, square dancing was an option for physical education. Really. But our dances were never led by a slender woman, with bare midriff and jangles tied around her hips (the better to encourage us to shake our boo-tay. Both instructors wore the jangly scarves, the second instructor is to my left in this photo. 

Unlike my dance class days with Miss Marilyn in Dexter Maine – over 40 years ago – Zumba instructors Zumba the other left don’t call out steps. They dance and we follow. I can shimmy (a bit), I can Slide. Together. Slide Step – with a little Latin flavor (some), and I can move my arms up, down and to the side. What I can’t do, is put it all together. I looked like a dork. I went left when the rest of the class went right. I got off on the wrong foot. A lot.

But I had a great workout, and a lot of fun. I zumbad. (What is the past tense of zumba?) And I kept hearing all of these voices in my mind:

  • Miss Marilyn. “Slide. Together. Slide. Step.” and “Step ball change.”
  • My mom – who was a great dancer. She sent me to dance class to help me be more coordinated. It didn’t work. After a couple of years, I switched to the flute. I was able to march in the band and play flute at the same time. Left. Right. Left. Right.
  • My band director – "No, Barb, the other left." Oh. That.

(In case you missed it, in the photo above right, I am one of two people facing right. Seriously. The other left!)

At least I was better at zumba than I was in that interpretive dance class in college. “Float across the floor like a leaf. Be the leaf.” Yeah. Right. Evidently leaves don’t giggle. Who knew? Forever Friend Kathy took that class with me, and we can still crack each other up with, “Float across the floor like a leaf”, followed by an eye roll. I wonder if she’s tried zumba. I am sure we shouldn’t be allowed in the same class, as it would be really embarrassing to be separated by the teacher at our age.

I don’t plan to attend Zumba three times a week, but I’ll go to the Saturday classes while we’re here as a way to add some spice and a lot of sweat to my daily exercise. It was fun. Really. Don’t I look as if I were having a good time?

Zumba slide togetherThanks to Ben from s/v Cricket, who took these photos, and to his wife Pam, who knew she’d end up in the shots and danced next to me anyway. Cruisers are like that.