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September 2012

August 2012

Summer Colds

I want my mommy.

A cold virus is running rampant among the cruisers in Grenada. One cheery person not affected (yet, anyway) said that she’d heard folks often got sick about 2 weeks after Carnival. Must be something about running around in crowds. Or getting no sleep. Or something.

It’s interesting to listen to the progression of this virus on the VHF. First one boater, then another, will answer a radio call sounding uncharacteristically hoarse, or we’ll hear the spouse of a well cruiser coughing in the background during a transmission.

I have a sore throat and I cough a lot.

I don’t feel well – and I have a lot to do.

Today, EW and I were going to take salsa lessons. (The dance kind, not the cooking kind.)

Tonight is a happy hour/meeting with boaters and representatives from the local marine organization.

Tomorrow fellow members of the SSCA (Seven Seas Cruising Association) are hosting a “Blue Water Round Table” where folks who’ve crossed oceans will talk with others who want to.

Also tomorrow, we and another cruising boat are hosting a dinner party for a local family. I’ve already made the lasagna, so the party can go on without me. Darn it.

On Thursday, a local marina will present a dinghy concert. They bring a barge around to Clark’s Court Bay, and an excellent local band will perform until dark. At least if I can’t go, we are anchored where I’ll be able to hear the music.

On Friday, we’re supposed to play cricket again.

I want to talk with a bunch of friends and family back home – Pat, Cathy, Kathy, Dora, Lynnelle, Rhoda, Mo, – but the WiFi has been wonky until I got a cold. Now, it’s great – but I can’t talk.

I can’t be sick. I have too much to do.

But I don’t feel well, and I need tea with honey and lemon.

EW makes it for me.

Because I don’t feel well, and because my throat hurts, EW gets blessed with more silence than usual. He has been gracious enough not to show pleasure in that.

This virus seems to come on suddenly with a bang – and it seems to last only a few days. I hope I stop coughing by Friday so that I can do the net. But I hope my husky Brenda Vaccaro voice stays around until then. I kind of like that voice.

I’m drinking lots of liquids, and eating as little as possible. (I’m on the “starve a cold” side of that debate.)

I’m reading, napping, and getting some writing done.

And I’m enjoying the warm breezes, salt  air, and gentle motion of the boat.

I may have a cold – but I’m still in the Caribbean.

Life is good.

 

La Luna is anchored in the cove to the right.

1-P8152124-001


Don't Look. Our Dinghy is Following Us

1-Old Lunah Landah

Years ago, EW drove a blue Plymouth Colt Vista. I drove a nifty Mazda 626. We took my car when we went out  as his was kinda ugly and usually full of marine stuff. It seemed that most of the Vistas sold in Maine were blue and invariably, we see one turning a corner ahead of us. “My car followed us, again,” EW would say. The Vista didn’t want to stay home, because it or its twin would appear on nearly every outing, something that didn’t happen when we were driving the Vista. Remember, we’re from Maine. Can you say Stephen King?

OK, we both have a strange sense of humor and probably none of you would have chuckled at our little joke back then. But this time we are serious. The late (we thought) not-so-great, old Lunah Landah has followed us to Grenada. EW walked over to Budget Marine in Prickly Bay the other day and was bursting with news when he returned. “You’ll never guess what I saw on the dinghy dock at De Big Fish!”

“You’re right,” I replied, thinking that he recognized a dinghy that belonged to boating friends just arrived in Grenada. “Who’s here?”

“I don’t know who,” he said, “but our old dinghy is on the dock. Someone wrote on it, ‘Free to Take’.”

I was shocked. And a bit suspicious. “How do you know it’s our dinghy?”

“It still has our Maine registration numbers painted on it.”

Of course EW didn’t have a camera, but that wasn’t a problem. I got on the VHF to our friend Jack on Mekia and asked him to take a photo and email it to me. He graciously did so that afternoon.

This dinghy is an inflatable floor Baltik purchased new on eBay a number of years ago. It’s designed to be used in more temperate climates and rolled up into it’s bag for the winter. (It took me HOURS to get it into the bag the first time.)1-Dinghy in the rigging It’s the dinghy that stood in the rigging when we endured a storm off Cape Fear. It’s the dinghy EW repaired and repaired again through the Caribbean.  1-P1030130We began patching the inflatable floor in the Bahamas and continued to “fix” it through the summer in Grenada. When the transom separated from the hull, EW devised a bolt-nut-5200 fix that held.

 

In December we sailed to Puerto Rico and happily took possession of our West Marine hard bottomed inflatable, and for a short while we were a two dinghy family.

 

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1-PC0100141-PC010013

Our friends Carl and Carrie on Sancturary, and  Keith and Jaime on Kookaburra were living aboard and working in St. Thomas. Both boats needed an extra dinghy for a time – while repairing theirs or for commuting purposes. We happily gave them the former Lunah Landah with our blessings. We figured they’d take her to the landfill when done. Both boats are still in St. Thomas – but one of them must have somehow convinced some poor boater that this raggedy old dinghy still had some life in her.

Now, she’s back in Prickly Bay, where she spent most of the summer of 2011. That’s downright scary. Anyone seen Stephen King in Grenada?

 

1-Old Lunah Landah 2


Donnell Best and Our Best Intentions

UPDATE. Since this post was written, Donnell wait-listed for a year, spent the winter in Boston and Philidelphia -- so we know he can hack the cold and snow -- and recieved a scholarship for tuition from the country of Grenada. Still needs a place to stay for the school year as Berklee doesn't offer scholarships to first year students. He has a place to land for a few weeks with cruisers who are currently tied to a dock in Boston, but their boat doesn't have a second stateroom and will get tight when the weather turns cold. This does give Donnell some breathing room and provides him with the opportunity to meet with people who may be able to offer him a room. Please use my email to contact Donnell -- barbatsea@gmail.com. Thank you for your help.

 

Cruisers know what it means to work toward a dream, and many of us know the joy and struggle of helping our children achieve their own dreams. The cruisers in Grenada have had the opportunity to meet a young man with big dreams and the ability and opportunity to achieve them. Donnell Best is a young singer and violinist who has been accepted to attend the Berklee College of Music in Boston. He’s going to need some help to make that happen. 1-Anniversary Violinist 7-6-2012 7-46-35 PM

Early in the summer, Donnell had a fundraising concert at the Spice Basket in St. Georges, and a number of cruisers attended. They were taken with Donnell’s talents, and began to introduce him to the rest of us.

Donnell sat in with the Algy and the group for the First Friday Jazz and Poetry Jam at the Museum. He stood on stage and requested back-up from the drummer and bassist. “What do you want us to play?” they asked. “I’ll follow you,” he said. “So how about something in ‘G’?” the bass player replied as he started in. Donnell nodded and proceeded to blow us away.

Donnell also sat in with the cruisers at a jam session at Whisper Cove, ably joining in with songs he’d never heard before.  As  you can see in this video of Brown Eyed Girl, led by Chris from Troubadour, Donnell quickly got the hang of it.

1-Donnell and Lynn 7-15-2012 4-45-13 PM

dA week later, Donnell pulled together a special concert at Secret Harbor Marina, where he was joined by his brothers and other young musicians who formed a band, perfected numbers, and entertained us for an evening.

 

 

 

 

 

1-Donnell Singing  7-20-2012 9-44-04 PMThere was a lot of buzz after that night. Cruisers recognized a dream, and talent and wanted to help Donnell – but there were also many rumors, and a concern that cruisers can’t provide the kind of funds he needs. We wanted to help – but we weren’t sure how. I decided to go to the source, Donnell’s violin teacher, Beth Wolfe, who graciously gave me a couple of hours of her time and told me a bit of her story and her dreams, and more about Donnell.

Donnell parents are farmers here in Grenada. They raised smart, ambitious, children and shared a love of music with them. Donnell embraced music and sought more. At the age of 14, he and two friends walked into Beth’s music school, Island Violin and asked her to teach them how to play. She laughingly calls them the “Three Musketeers”.  Donnell excelled from the beginning. Now, six years later, he works with Beth and teaches and mentors the younger students. He also has a vocal teacher on the island. Along the way, he earned an Associates’ degree in science at the local college. Donnell’s parents wanted him to go on to attend the medical school here in Grenada, and he could have done so, but his dream is make a living with his music, and then to give back to Grenada.

1-P7200353When a student applies for a performance curriculum, he or she must participate in the normal college application process and must also audition in his or her talents. Donnell applied late in the year and auditioned in Philadelphia in January, and was accepted to study both vocal and violin. His married sister lives in Philadelphia, making it easier and cheaper for him to meet with representatives from Berklee when they traveled to that city. Unfortunately, the late audition meant that he was not eligible for scholarships for the fall semester of 2012. On the plus side, enough credits (24) from Donnell’s two year degree will be accepted by Berklee to allow Donnell to graduate in only three years.

Tuition at Berklee is $30,000 a year. The U.S. Government estimates1-Donnell and band 7-20-2012 9-43-58 PM that his living expenses will be $33,000 in addition to the tuition. ($30,000 for expenses and $3000 for the mandatory laptop he must purchase through the school prior to attending.) That’s important because US immigration policy requires foreign students to have the funds for the full year before they start school. The cruisers’ grapevine at first thought that Donnell needed $90,000, expenses plus $30,000. That’s wrong. He needs $63,000 – for the first year and that can include in- kind contributions, such as room and board. His sister and her husband have pledged to pay for Donnell’s food during his three years at Berklee.

1-Donnell smiling violin 7-20-2012 9-29-46 PMBeth and others are talking with ministers from the government of Grenada, asking them for help with his expenses. Donnell has decided to defer his acceptance until the spring term, giving him more time to raise the funds, and will most likely audition a second time in Boston in order to seek scholarships from the school. He can also take two courses on-line and will complete them over the next few months. Many of the funds raised so far have gone to application fees, fees to defer until the spring, fees for the two classes, and travel costs. There is a major-fund raising concert planned for early autumn.

 

 

 

But more needs to be done. So, what can the cruisers do?

1-Donnell and audience 7-15-2012 5-40-20 PM

  1. Help him find a place to live, close to Berklee. Those of us who have met Donnell have been tremendously impressed with his sense of humor, work ethic, personality, and drive. I urge anyone who knows a family in Boston who has room and who would enjoy hosting this unique exchange student to get to know Donnell and to contact that family in Boston. Donnell will visit the area later this year and can meet with prospective hosts. His sister and brother-in-law will contribute for his food. We who’ve met him would like to see him welcomed in a home that can assist him in learning how to negotiate a large city in the U.S. This is going to be quite a change. He’s independent and strong  and determined, but he’s also a young man grounded by his family. He doesn’t need new parents, but would, I think, welcome and respect new mentors.
  2. Fundraise – with flair and power. Face it, most of us don’t have large disposable incomes. We’ve sold our homes to enjoy this lifestyle. Heck, most of us are spending our children’s inheritance. So, who do you know? Who can you think of who might want to contribute to Donnell’s education fund. Better yet? Do you know anyone who might want to start a scholarship fund for outstanding students in Grenada or the Caribbean? It occurred to me that there are a number of successful entertainers from this region. I’d love to convince them to start a scholarship to help others succeed. I even went so far as to trade one jar of EW’s super chunky peanut butter for research regarding entertainers from the Caribbean. Josh, one of two brothers sailing with their parents aboard s/v Liberty, did a great job. After hearing Donnell’s concert at Secret Harbor Josh expanded the search to include those who play electric violin. He immediately dinghied to the boat to deliver the list and to acquire the jar of peanut butter.  I’ve included the list at the end of this post.
  3. Spread the word. This is going out on my blog – with a push on the various cruisers’ Facebook pages. Feel free to copy/paraphrase/link this to your blog and Facebook pages. Plagiarize me. Help us get the word out about Donnell, who one person called “Granada’s Kirani James of the arts”. (Kirani earned Grenada's first Olympic Gold Medal when we won the 400 meter run at the 2012 Olympics.)
  4. Use your contacts. One lady who attended the Secret Harbor concert has a relative who works in a private school helping students through their college application process. She’s offered to contact him to help Beth and Donnell reach the right people and take the right steps in seeking a scholarship at Berklee. Who do you know who can help?
  5. Use your networking/creative thinking skills. It occurred to Beth and me, that there are many more wealthy people who vacation in Grenada in the winter. (Go figure.) That’s when big yachts, cruise ships, and winter only sailors show up at Port Louis, stay in the resorts, or arrive on cruise ships. Heck, someone said that Mick Jagger once rented the entire La Luna resort. How can we tap into that for Donnell? Also – for those of you not cruising who are reading this post. Who do you know? Do you know someone on the list below? Do you know someone who has an interest in music and the Caribbean?

Why?  Why are we doing this? Why would you want to help? Why are many of us determined to see Donnell attend Berklee in January of 2013?

First of all, EW and I were blown away by his talent and by his manner. He’s simply a lovely young man. (One who would hate being called “lovely”.)

It’s also one way of giving back to this marvelous country. We didn’t volunteer with the reading program last year. (I’m just not that patient.) Nor have we volunteered at the local animal shelter. (I’d hate to leave the puppies there.)  I believe that helping an outstanding, hard-working student will help others set goals and can perhaps be a springboard to establishing scholarships for other students in the future. Like many Caribbean countries, this one is struggling. Young men, in particular, are not excelling in school. Recent newspaper articles expressed concern that there are few career jobs for the 800 recent graduates from the local college. Here’s a young man who has beaten the odds, who has nurtured and expanded his talents, who soaks up knowledge like a sponge,  and who has continued to uphold his family’s values

We’d like to see him achieve his dreams. How can you help? Who do you know with a home in Boston? Do you know someone who knows someone on Josh’s List?

Josh’s List (It’s a good one. Definitely worth the jar of peanut butter.)

Modern Popular Artists from the Caribbean 

Rihanna ---Barbados

Shontelle, Barbados

Sean Kingston, Jamaica

Pitbull, Cuba

Wyclef Jean, Haiti

Nicki Manaj, Trinidad

Shakira, Columbia

Ricky Martin, Puerto Rico

Others Who Might Be Able to Support Donnell (Josh said that most of these play electric violins.)

Soozie Tyrell, Violinist for Bruce Springsteen

Mark Wood, Violinist (Heavy Metal, Julliard trained)

David Garret, Violinist (Australian, played on “Dancing with the Stars”)

Linzie Stoppard and Benn Lee, Violinists with the band Fuse

Natalie Stovall, Violinst (Grad of Berklee, plays rock ‘n roll)

You can see why I needed help with this list. "Modern" evidently means folks I don't know. I had heard of Nicky Minaj, but totally messed up her last name when I was talking Josh into this assignment. He laughed at me. Nick, another cruiser who is my age, surprised me by informing me that Nicki's name is pronounced just like "menage a trois". I'll never get it wrong again.


Opinion, Instruction, or Condescension?

Man, oh man – we cruisers are an opinionated group. Whether we are circling the world, “simply” cruising in the Caribbean, or something in between it stands to reason that at least one person per boat will have a strong personality and firm opinions. After all, we have chosen a lifestyle that is not for the faint of heart. So it goes without saying that we are more than willing to offer our opinion --- whether anyone wants to hear it or not.

For the past few days most of us here in Grenada have been following Invest 99L/Tropical Depression5/potentially Hurricane Ernesto. As I’m writing this, it’s still a Tropical Depression, and is far enough north to nearly make us totally relax, but when we started watching Invest 99L, it was at  10 degrees north and 44 degrees west, and any potential tropical storm forming at 10 degrees north worries us. As was proven during Ivan and Tomas, Grenada is not out of the hurricane zone, but few hurricanes make landfall here. Last year we learned to pay attention to where a storm starts forming as it begins to cross the Atlantic. If it starts at a latitude of 12 degrees north or higher, then we don’t have to worry about it. All/nearly all/most hurricanes travel in a bit of a northerly direction at some point and since we are at 12 degrees here in Grenada, we ignore storms that will definitely pass to the north of us. (By that I mean we don’t make any preparations to avoid or hunker down. We do watch them closely with concern for friends, loved ones, and fellow cruisers in other ports from here to Nova Scotia.) Invest 99L started out at 10 degrees, giving him (since he may be called Ernesto) plenty of time to head west toward Grenada. (We are anchored at 12 degrees North and 61 degrees west.)

So we checked NOAA, Crown Weather, and Weather Underground on the Internet, listened to Chris Parker, and discussed contingencies. Aboard La Luna, we both subscribe to the “Better Safe Than Sorry” storm management policy. Ignoring the potential of this storm was not an option. Do we sail to Trinidad or hunker down in Grenada? We opted to move the boat yesterday morning to a slightly more protected spot, with more swinging room. We also agreed to watch the forecast and to track Invest 99L. If it continued to head west, we were going to check out of Grenada and sail to Trinidad. The timing was important as it is best to leave for Trini in the evening, and Thursday night would be too late. If we were going, we were going on Wednesday. In the chart below, the gold star on the far right shows where Invest 99L was when we started watching him closely.  The purple star on the far left – the one right before Grenada – is where he was projected to be on August 3rd. Yikers!

1400 8.2.12

And yes, that black boat-shaped thing on the far left – is where La Luna is anchored. Did I say “Yikers!”?

But, as you can see by following the yellow brick stars (or whatever) what is now Tropical Depression # 5 is indeed heading more west than north, but has gone far enough north to avoid Grenada. (Thank you very much.)NOAA Track 8.2.12 11 AMAs you can see, he headed west until early this morning, though the last position we took last night showed a bit of a northerly track. He went north overnight and is again heading west.

At right are the track projections as of 11:00 AM on August 2nd. Grenada is that tiny green dot below the line of yellow dots.

We’ll probably see some weather as a result, but we’re still not sure whether there will be 25 knots of wind with gusts at 35 (not a really big deal), or 35 knots sustained with higher gusts (not a hurricane, but potentially a challenge). Now, when I say “we” here, I mean any of the boats in Grenada – and that’s where the opinions come in. There are a few rules for sailors. One is that you are responsible for your own boat. Another is that you need to aid another in trouble if you can do so without loss of life or limb or whatever. So, while we all must make our own decisions about storm preparation, we also all have a bit of investment in what our neighbors choose to do – or choose not to do.

A boat not anchored properly will break free in a blow, or will swing into neighboring boats. Unsecured things on deck can foul other boats or cause injury. Furling sails may be unfurled by high winds, causing all sorts of damage and causing that boat to “sail” on anchor. None of this is fun for any of us. EW and I chose to prepare for 40 knots. P8020534

  • We anchored well with our two anchor system and 10 to 1 rode – well away from other boats. (Though some late comers may anchor closer to us.

1-P8020552

  • We removed the jib and most of the stuff from the deck.
  • We furled our bimini and put it in the nifty cover that Bayview Rigging and Sails made for us. 1-P8020539
  • EW rigged our spare anchor for worst case scenario, and tied two floats to the foredeck in case we have to release our anchors to move quickly.1-EW with spare anchor 8-2-2012 12-41-17 PM
  • He secured our halyards to the foredeck so they don’t bang on the mast or rigging
  • We removed the rain catcher. (Darn it.)
  • I dug the deck cleaning detergent and brush out of the lazarette. If we get rain and not huge amounts of wind, I’m going to clean the deck.

All of this took about 5 or 6 hours. It was a good exercise. If we have a real blow, we’ve done more than we think we’ve needed to do to keep us and La Luna safe. She deserves that kind of attention to detail.

Here’s what we have not done:

  • We didn’t remove the dodger. We just don’t think we need to in the projected conditions.
  • While we did once go on the VHF radio to let folks know of the most recent update (not everyone has Wi-Fi on board), we have not suggested that the new track was cause to stop all preparations. That’s not our call to make.
  • We have not gone on the VHF radio speaking in a very condescending way, taking issue with those who have not removed their furling sails.
  • We have not gone on the VHF radio accusing a neighbor of not being an experienced sailor, and therefore getting too excited about the potential for the storm.

Sheesh! 

Sometimes I just want to say, “Get over yourselves!” Probably half the people in our bay have not removed sails. I hope they have no problems. I hope that what EW and I have done will be filed under the category of  a “good exercise” or “trial run”. I know I’ll sleep well tonight – at least until the storm hits. If it does. I guess what’s important to me is that EW and I have taken the preparations that make us comfortable – and we haven’t been too snarky with our fellow cruisers – except in this post.

As I said, we are all very opinionated.

 

NOTE: So, I may have mentioned a few times that I feel asleep during the on-line SSCA weather course before we left the states. I’m learning by doing. If you want to learn new terms – here are a few relevant ones from NOAA.

Invest:
A weather system for which a tropical cyclone forecast center (NHC, CPHC, or JTWC) is interested in collecting specialized data sets (e.g., microwave imagery) and/or running model guidance. Once a system has been designated as an invest, data collection and processing is initiated on a number of government and academic web sites, including the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) and the University of Wisconsin Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies (UW-CIMSS). The designation of a system as an invest does not correspond to any particular likelihood of development of the system into a tropical cyclone; operational products such as the Tropical Weather Outlook or the JTWC/TCFA should be consulted for this purpose.
 

Hurricane / Typhoon:
A tropical cyclone in which the maximum sustained surface wind (using the U.S. 1-minute average) is 64 kt (74 mph or 119 km/hr) or more. The term hurricane is used for Northern Hemisphere tropical cyclones east of the International Dateline to the Greenwich Meridian. The term typhoon is used for Pacific tropical cyclones north of the Equator west of the International Dateline.

Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale:
The Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale is a 1 to 5 categorization based on the hurricane's intensity at the indicated time. The scale provides examples of the type of damage and impacts in the United States associated with winds of the indicated intensity. The following table shows the scale broken down by winds:

Category    Wind Speed (mph)    Damage
1    74 - 95    Very dangerous winds will produce some damage
2    96 - 110    Extremely dangerous winds will cause extensive damage
3    111 - 129    Devastating damage will occur
4    130 - 156    Catastrophic damage will occur
5    > 156    Catastrophic damage will occur

A detailed description of the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale is available at http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/aboutsshws.php

Major Hurricane:

A hurricane that is classified as Category 3 or higher.

Tropical Depression:
A tropical cyclone in which the maximum sustained surface wind speed (using the U.S. 1-minute average) is 33 kt (38 mph or 62 km/hr) or less.

 

Tropical Storm:
A tropical cyclone in which the maximum sustained surface wind speed (using the U.S. 1-minute average) ranges from 34 kt (39 mph or 63 km/hr) to 63 kt (73 mph or 118 km/hr).