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November 2012
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January 2013

December 2012

The Twelve Ways of Christmas

For our First Way of Christmas, my True Love and I  … viewed a IC 24 Sailboat Regatta.

Not really a Christmas event, but always held in December, Charlotte Amalie hosted the Carlos Aguilar Match Race for these modified J-24s. EW and I had notice the race on Friday as we were riding the safari bus to run errands and agreed to take a break from boat chores to view the race the next day. That makes it a Christmas Moment. Among the competitors was a young man from Maine, Chris Poole. EW and I had never seen match racing like this, and were delighted that the organizers had erected stadium seating and provided commentary. The boats raced in pairs, first crossing the line in the wrong direction to begin the pre-start, maneuvering for the best starting position by chasing each other in the “playground”, the large area in the bay behind the starting line. They performed 360s, held each other against the wall, and, sailed backwards –  all in an attempt to have the better start. The course was confined to Charlotte Amalie Harbor – outside of the anchorage area, but inside the sea plane landing and take-off zone. Oh my.

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 Above: Luffing, to actually go backwards on purpose. The rules state that they may not hit each other and they may not hit the committee boat. It’s a test of wills and boat handling.

PC080596That sea plane behind these two competitors took off a few minutes later. These two had hugged the wall as far as they could. The lighter boat had the dark one pinned. Legal and good tactics.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Best view from shore that I’ve ever had for a sailboat race. There were up to three pairs racing on the same course. Don’t hit anyone, and beat your one opponent. Judges for each racing pair followed closely in inflatables.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For our Second Way of Christmas, my True Love and I  …  enjoyed the lighted boat parade.

We had attended last year as well. This year, we were anchored off of Water Island, so took the dinghy to Crown Bay and the safari bus to town and back. We met up with fellow cruisers, particularly Jeff and Sandy from S/V Magic Inspiration. We had cocktails followed by ice cream cones,  and then sat on the wall, and watched the boats circle a few times. Afterward, we walked up to the “Miracle on Main Street”, a night when the shops are open late, no cars are allowed, and various bands perform.

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 We returned to Tickles at Crown Bay to hear the announcement of the winners for the parade. First place when to the Pump Out Boat with the giant Santa. There’s a joke there somewhere, but I don’t want to come up with it.

Second place went to this pirate ship—in addition to all the lights – they had a scantily clad crew in the rigging. Of course -- Christmas wenches.

In town on Main Street – we enjoyed the music and certain dancers. This lady pictured below right requested a Latin favorite from a popular blues band. She enjoyed it, and had a lot of interesting moves. Her partner was a good sport.

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The couple above stunned us. First, they were dressed like 1970 hippies; secondly, they were superb dancers; thirdly, he never looked at her when they were apart, but looked down and off to the side; and finally, when they were together, he hugged her very tightly, with one arm around her neck and his hand in her armpit. He always kissed her forehead when we pulled her close in this tight embrace. I could have watched them all night, but after one song, they joined their friends and disappeared into the crowd.

No celebration in the Caribbean is complete without a steel drum band.

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For our Third Way of Christmas, my True Love and I … visited with cruising friends.

This has been a wonderfully social season for us as we’ve met up again with Carl and Carrie, formerly from S/V Sanctuary, now from La Creole, and with Jamie and Keith on S/V Kookaburra. Diana, from S/V One White Tree and I spent an afternoon shopping for stocking stuffers, laughing, and meeting folks along the way. Diana says I can start a conversation with anyone. Doesn’t everyone?. Later that week, along with the crew from S/V Ainulindalë, we had happy hour aboard S/V One White Tree meeting their guests, as well as Kirk and Donna’s daughter and son-in-law. Also during December we had dinner with Lynn and Eric from S/V Amarula, with Phil and and Karel from S/V Tahani Li, and with Peter and LeeAnn from S/V Two Much Fun. And so on and so on!

For our Fourth Way of Christmas, my True Love and I  … – well really just I – Cleaned and Decorated the Boat.

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I don’t know what I was thinking when I decided to host two events just about 12 hours apart, but it was great fun. First, I cleaned, and then I decorated La Luna. We have a tree on the mast, stockings hung on port lights, and a tree top angel sitting in the corner perched on a conch shell. EW says I can have any Christmas decorations I want, as long as they fit in one plastic shoe box. That works. I even have room for the holiday fabric we use for wrapping the presents. More about that later.

For our Fifth Way of Christmas, my True Love and I … hosted Peter, LeeAnn, and our Maine friend Calvin for Christmas Eve.

EW had wanted me to make Chicken Scaparello for Peter and LeeAnn. No pressure for a wasp from Maine to make an Italian meal for an Italian. No pressure at all. LeeAnn made a beautiful chocolate pie, EW made rum drinks, and the evening and meal were each a success. During happy hour, LeeAnn perused one of EW’s favorite cookbooks, Little Italy, by David Ruggerio. The recipe is on page 51.

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For our Sixth Way of Christmas, my True Love and I … arose at 5:15 on Christmas morning to dinghy in to the Challenge of the Carols.

We had thoroughly enjoyed the event in 2011, although to gain his participation, I had to bribe EW with the promise of bacon. You can read about it in my All at Sea article, published in December of this year. Thanks to the article, we had more cruisers interested in attending and I offered brunch – with bacon –  to those who joined us. Lynn and Eric, Karel and Phil, and Calvin, all rallied in dinghies at quarter to six for the ride into Elephant Bay. Peter and LeeAnn met us a bit later in the morning. It was a much more festive, and well-attended event this year. Locals in the know wore red, but in our group, only Eric and Lynn were appropriately dressed.

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 Calvin seemed to enjoy the morning, but he didn’t like saltfish. He earned his bacon.

 

 

 

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 Here’s our crew, Lynn, Philip, EW, Peter, Karel and Calvin sitting on the right. Eric and LeeAnn were both watching their respective dogs, keeping them off to the side – away from loud speakers and the squealing pig.

 

 

 

 Here are some of the many ways to wear red at the Challenge of the Carols:

Regally.                                                                        

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With Panache. 

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 Too Cute for Words

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Comfortably.  Eric and Lynn with Chui and Scrumpy.            Walk of Shame Pirate Wench

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The music was OK, the crowd was fun to watch and welcoming, and the final performers – the Hapless, Hopeless Carolers were hilarious. This group is known for performing a skit/song, featuring well-know locals who get “roped in”. This year, they acted out a Caribbean folk or urban tale about a policeman stealing a hog. This was performed to Feliz Navidad, with the refrain of, “De police teef me hog.” I’ll never hear the original the same way again.

Incidentally, the two “policemen” had real guns in their holsters, one was a drill and one a staple gun.

 

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For our Seventh Way of Christmas, my True Love and I … hosted brunch with bacon on Christmas morning.

PC251702Peter and LeeAnn had plans for Christmas a deux, but the rest of our morning gang returned to La Luna for brunch, mimosas, screwdrivers, and tequila sunrises. Oh my. We had a ball. We ate very well with the addition of truly good fruit cake from Lynn and Eric, and an excellent fruit platter from Karel and Phil. We were having so much fun, that I had to kick them off the boat at one so we could get ready for Christmas Dinner with Jeff and Barb.

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  For our Eighth Way of Christmas, my True Love and I … took a nap/ran the generator.

As we were saying our last “Merry Christmas” to the morning gang, Jeff called to let us know he’d pick us up at three. We had plenty of time to get ready, so EW started Jenny, the Honda Generator, took a shower, and then took a nap. I cleaned up a bit, took a shower and proceeded to get beautiful. This included wearing my lovely cotton night dress over my bra and panties, and sporting four large blue Velcro curlers in my hair. TMI, I know, but it sets you up for what comes next. EW was snoring lightly in the aft cabin when Jenny ran out of gas. I can take care of that, started up the companionway, and popped back down into the cabin as I remembered my get-beautiful outfit. I looked in on EW who, though he was sleeping right under the generator, didn’t realize it had stopped. Knowing he was tired, I didn’t want to wake him, so I decided to go for it and popped back up on deck. I immediately to realized that the Kon Tiki, the second ugliest day party boat in St. Thomas, was a few boat lengths to our stern, with a full compliment of tourists on board. I popped back down to see if EW had awakened. No dice. Oh, what the heck! There are probably folks in the Midwest, showing their Caribbean Christmas photos, and laughing at the blond on the deck of her sailboat in night gown and curlers on Christmas afternoon. All I can say to you people, is “I get to live here!” So there.

For our Ninth Way of Christmas, my True Love and I … dined, wined, and holidayed at the very well-decorated Chez Hart.

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We ate, we drank, we exchanged presents and sea stories with Jeff, Barb Hart the First, and their island friends. Plus we loved on Hunter, sweetest dog on the island. It was a marvelous evening.

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Chef Jeff roasted a turkey, barbequed a beef roast, made gravy, stuffing, four pies, mashed potatoes, and other fixings. We ate like kings and queens.

 

 

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 For our Tenth Way of Christmas, my True Love and I … spoke with family and friends back home.

It brought tears to my eyes. I also received a personal video of CC, Marc and Jenn’s baby daughter,smiling and cooing, and being brilliant. We enjoyed many Facebook greetings and photos from family and friends back home, and from cruising friends anchored in other ports. We felt very loved.

For our Eleventh Way of Christmas, my True Love and I … opened our stockings on Boxing Day.

Christmas Eve and Christmas Day were just too busy. On the 26th, we slept until we were done, cleaned up the boat, had breakfast, and spent time leisurely opening our presents. We don’t buy big gifts, just fill a stocking for each other, wrapping each gift individually – in reusable fabric. A few days before Christmas, EW was locked in the master stateroom, wrapping my presents, when he asked, “Where’s the scotch tape?” I replied that we don’t use tape with fabric wrap. He indignantly informed me that  a lot of the fabric had “globs” of tape on it from last year. “Yes,” I said. “Those are the presents you wrapped.” He did a good job this year. A few presents had one piece of tape to hold the fabric while he tied the knots. He also used all of the red cord we had in the box. My favorite technique is truly unique to EW. One of my presents was a package of color coded Velcro wraps, and he used two of them as ribbons to hold two of my presents together. Smart, cute, and useful – that’s my EW.

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For our Twelfth Way of Christmas, my True Love and I … walked up the hill to a light and music show.

Water Island residents have a lot of get-together events, including a pot luck on the beach for both Thanksgiving and Christmas. While on a walk on the 27th, I perused the notices on the bulletin board and found out that one family offered a light and music show every evening from the 21st through to the night of Three Kings. EW had worked with Jeff all day, so when I picked him up I told him we were going to join Ross and Diana on Water Island for a short, uphill walk to the show. He was tired, but a swim and dinner revived him and he’s a good sport. The twenty minute production was well worth it, and a fitting end to our holiday celebrations in 2012.

 

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 EW particularly liked the photo at left. He said it reminded him of Disney and magic.

It wasn’t planned – I was just playing with the camera trying to get a photo of the lights. Sometimes that’s when things work out the best.

We planned to go cruising and we are. We couldn’t begin to imagine all of the magical moments we’ve experienced over the past two-plus years.

We wish you and your loved ones wonderful, magical moments in 2013.

 

 

 Happy New Year from the  Harts at Sea!


Ranting Here. If you Love Toshiba, Skip this Post

To paraphrase Steven Colbert, Toshiba is dead to me. Not simply because they manufacture and sell laptops with wonky mother board/USB port components. Not even because they won’t stand behind those components. Toshiba is dead to me because they put up a wall of implacable, polite, unempowered human automatons who will not escalate a complaint. They allow no email contact. Their on-line forum is a joke. They sell laptops at Radio Shack in the USVI, but treat the area as a foreign country if the laptop is still under warranty. They replace the badly functioning part with one that has not been improved, and begins to fail within six months, and when a normal person politely and insistently complains, they just say, “There is no escalation in this matter. The laptop is out of warranty.”

I finally resorted to filing a complaint with the Better Business Bureau. They got back to me with an email indicating I needed to provide a response to Toshiba’s response to my claim. Their response was, “This customer talked with our TAIS team on 11/16/12 and was told the laptop was out of warranty.” I had the opportunity to indicate whether or not I accepted this as the final answer, and immediately let the BBB know that I most assuredly did not accept this response, saying: “If you will re-read my original statement above, you will note that I told you that had been their response. I am aware the laptop is out of warranty. While under warranty, Toshiba replaced the offending part – having identified the issue after only one phone call – though I had to pay to send the laptop from the USVI and back again, as this isn’t really the US. The offending part began to fail within six months of being replaced and I have had the same problems with the laptop that I had prior to the warranty service. I do not accept that they may continue to sell and install a part that fails within six months.”

If something else had failed on the laptop, I would recognize that “it is out of warranty”. I still wouldn’t be happy, but I’d be resigned. That isn’t what has happened. I do not accept that a crucial component of this laptop will work well for only six months. That part is a lemon and they know it. That’s fraud.

Toshiba sells bad laptops. Their customer service is abysmal, their response to complaints is infuriating, and their on-line forum is a joke. After posting my concern on the forum and answering others who had problems with the USB ports. I had been thrilled to get an email from Toshiba Forums telling me I had a private message on their site. I eagerly opened the forum and signed in, to find that they had enhanced my membership because I was such an involved member. Really.

The medium IS the message, and the medium has its hands over its ears and is singing “La-La-La” in a loud voice so no one actually has to listen.

That is why Toshiba is dead to me.

And I’m not too happy with Radio Shack right now, either.


My Writing is Improving ... Understanding Photos, Not so Much

I’m delighted that the last three articles I’ve submitted to the Caribbean edition of  All at Sea magazine have been accepted. Gary Brown, the editor, has been encouraging and patient. I listened to well-known and accomplished author Fatty Goodlander when he told me to be a low-maintenance author: get my articles in ahead of time, edit when asked, and provide whatever the editor needs before he or she needs it. The minor problem has been the photos.

The most recent article accepted was about rowing the dinghy for exercise in St. Thomas. I had written a blog post on the subject earlier this year, but felt an entirely new article would be of interest in the magazine. The whole thing was prompted because friends Kirk and Donna had been anchored near us off Water Island and Donna had emailed photos of my rowing experience. I sent the article with the photos and found out that Donna’s photos didn’t have enough pixels.

Of course that meant EW was drafted as photographer. I assured Gary that there was a cruise ship slated to arrive in Crown Bay on Tuesday morning and EW and I sat on watch for her arrival. I readied Lunah Landah, while EW moved to the bow of La Luna. First, I rowed against wind and current to the bell buoy that I had mentioned in the article. EW took photos. I returned to the boat and reviewed them, offered suggestions, made a change in the camera settings, and took off again as the cruise ship turned into the channel. EW took more photos. After the shoot, I immediately chose the best, edited them, and sent them off to Gary.

Gary very patiently replied,

Hi Barbara,

Just one of these is usable PC181063. When we pull them up to full size, they are blurred/fuzzy. Not sure what kind of camera you are using? Camera/phone?  Also, they are on the edge of being too small.

Best regards,

Gary

Oops. I apologized to Gary and promised to get good photos to him ASAP. The deadline for each month is the about 40 days from publication – on the 20th of the month. Gary hasn’t told me whether the article would be published in February or March, but I wanted him to have the option for February so getting good photos to him was a priority.  Even so, we had a busy day yesterday, and I didn’t take the time to find out whether a cruise ship was scheduled for this morning. No problem. EW picked me up last night after a shopping trip, and we stopped by Tickles to grab a pizza to go. Outstanding Bartender, Lindy graciously looked up the cruise ship schedule and assured me one was going to arrive this morning. Sure enough, I got up to see a cruise ship just making the turn into the channel.

Whoa. This was an early ship, and we hadn’t yet engaged an accomplice to drive the photographer. Who was up? Well, EW, the photographer, wasn’t. The first order of business was to get him up and going. No morning ablutions, we had to move it. Into the dinghy, camera ready, oars in the oar locks, EW motored past boats in the anchorage to see who was on deck before 7. There’s one!  Nick from a lovely Hughes yawl, said he’d be happy to help, and asked, “When?” “Well, right now actually. We need to get in place for that ship,” said EW pointing to the Celebrity. Nick got a shirt on while EW transferred to his dinghy. I used the motor to get Luna Landah into position, then raised it and began rowing.

Nick and EW arrived within minutes and EW took photos of me and the cruise ship and of me going around the buoy. Then, EW and the camera transferred to our dinghy, and Nick went back to his morning coffee. I’m going to make him some cookies. The photos were in Gary’s inbox by 8 AM. He’s happy, and thanked me for “Going the extra mile.” I’m happy. EW and Nick will be happy when I give them ginger cookies.

It’s all good.

You can’t see that article yet – but here’s my article in December’s All at Sea. There’s bacon in it.

Merry Christmas!

Here’s my favorite rejected photo. Both EW and I love the ‘TUG’ notice next to me. As if. PC181117

By the way, the gist of the article is that whenever I row the dinghy from this bay, I am inundated with offers of a tow. This never happened in Grenada or St. Maartin. It happens with much less frequency in Long Bay here in St. Thomas. So, while we were taking the rejected photos on Tuesday morning, three boats stopped by to offer a tow. One was this very large inflatable from the neighboring power yacht. NOTE: I did not try to send this photo to Gary. EW said that I didn’t allow the “rescuers” close enough for a good shot.

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Read about our first year at sea: Harts at Sea- Sailing to Windward is avaialble for Kindle for only $2.99.


Tonight’s Headliner .. Stew–aka EW–Hart. LIVE at Tickles!

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Well, not really a headliner, but he’s my MIE - Most Important Entertainer.

Those following our posts for the past two years know that EW didn’t just want to go cruising, he “wanted to go cruising and play music with other people along the way.” That world opened to him in Grenada in 2011. He joined every jam session at Whisper Cove Marina, and played with musicians from all over the world. Many of them had more experience than he did, and kindly shared their expertise with him. Peter Bonta, from Two Much Fun, invited EW to jam on their boat, and while we were anchored in Prickly Bay, EW often took the bus and walked for the 45 minute trip to play music with Peter.

EW’s music improved. He practiced alone and with others. He listened. He gradually developed his own voice and his “fierce rock star face”. He perfected “his” songs, and learned to accompany others on their favorite numbers. Last year in St. Thomas, Peter encouraged EW to join him at an open mic night at Tickles. They practiced and performed three songs, EW led one and Peter led two of them.  In Grenada this past season, EW again played with Peter Bonta, and another Peter – a professional musician from Australia, sailing on Jabaroo. We anchored in Clark’s Court Bay to be near the musicians and Whisper Cove Marina. Many Sunday nights EW and one or two others closed the place, to the enjoyment of Giles and Mary and their guests. In addition to jamming with the professionals and more experienced musicians, EW jammed with those who wanted his input and he was able to teach them a few things.

Living aboard, we have learned to work around each other and tend to state our desired projects/tasks/plans for the day. That way, if I must clean, he knows not to be in the main salon for a while. If he must change the oil, I’m banished from the Galley, where EW accesses the engine for that project. On Wednesday, I told EW that I “had to write today”, and he said that he wanted to practice for three hours this morning, asking, “Will that bother you?” I could truthfully reply that, “Your playing never bothers me.” He smiled. He wanted to read and have another cup of coffee and I wanted to sweep and straighten up the boat. After that, we both got down to our desired tasks, and I’ve been writing blog posts while he has been playing and practicing up for tonight’s open mic at Tickles.

PC050398It’s been a couple of weeks from his 2012 debut, and he’s a bit nervous about following up that successful night. It was magic.

 

 

 

 

 

 

PC050400It was the first time EW had ever played with a whole band backing him up. Peter from Two Much Fun, played lead guitar, and musicians from the Tim West Band joined in. EW had drums, bongos, slide guitar, and bass backing him up along with Peter. Here he is checking his amped guitar.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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He sang three numbers, Front Door Blues, Stand by Me, and Teen Age Wedding. Folks danced to Stand by Me.

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He did great!  PC050447He hasn’t yet learned to “swallow” the mic, so we couldn’t always hear his words, but that’s improved. He had a ball. He performed very well, and he looked great up there, dancing around in his boat shoes, making his fierce rock star face, and passing on the solos to Peter or Mick on slide guitar and mandolin.

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He was high for a week, and he deserved to be. It was his dream, and he has achieved it.

Thanks to LeeAnn from Two Much Fun for the first and last photos. Make sure you clink on their link. Two Much Fun offers charters for two, music included! 

Read more about our adventures at sea and on shore in Harts at Sea - Sailing to Windward. The ebook is available for Kindle for only $2.99.

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The Mystery Pod

1-PA270685Some Facebook friends have chastised me as I never followed up on the mystery pod I had posted. Sorry about that. I waited for mother nature to allow me to complete the photos – and dropped the ball. So let’s start at the beginning.

When in Trini, I took the cruisers’ bus to the market early one Saturday morning. That trip allows for one hour at this incredible market, and then a half hour at a large, modern grocery store. Not enough time. I asked EW to accompany me the next week, and we planed to go in alone to the market on the local bus. Trini is a great country. We had no problems there, but there are sections of town that are unsafe. Jennifer, one of the guards at the gate at Peake said that she would go with us. It wasn’t necessary for our safety, but it was a wonderful day and she deserves and will get her own post.

There are two large buildings, one for fish and meat, and one for produce and sundries – clothing, shoes, sauces, and all sorts of stuff. First, we walked the parameter of that building, buying produce from the stands outside. On the back side, three young men had a small pick-up filled with oranges, grapefruit, and a mysterious pod. Immediately intrigued, EW and I asked them what it was. We were very surprised at the answer, and purchased one of the pods for $15 TT. TT is what they call the Trinidad and Tobago dollar, which has about $6.00 to one ratio to the US dollar. Good deal.

1-PA280712We took the pod home and waited.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1-PA290005I snapped photos every day as if I were a new parent.

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“See how she’s changed this morning?” One day, EW said, “She’s ready!”

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PA310272Ta-da! This is how brazil nuts grow.

Really.

In the wild, the hard woody pod grows narrow side up. We could see a grooved circle in the large end, and watched over a few days as it gradually opened up, revealing a plethora of brazil nuts, snugly nestled, one on top of the other. They are anchored with a white plant substance, that we were told is edible and is, in fact, used to make a punch. We were also told that we should remove it, to eat, use it or throw away, as it will turn rancid.

The shells of each nut were quite soft at first and we could easily crack them with out teeth. We allowed the nuts to dry in the pod in the cockpit, with the shells getting progressively harder each day. The nuts didn’t last long enough for the shells to harden completely. They were delicious – and good for you.

Check this out to see more photos of the nuts, pods, and tree.

We still have the pod. I’m thinking about varnishing the inside and using it to hold crackers when we entertain.

Or something.

Now you know.


Stop the Presses! Mr. Romance IS a Hunter Gatherer

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Finally, the post that EW truly deserves. He’s been taking a lot of ribbing about not catching any fish during our first year at sea. In Grenada, he went out twice with Ross on s/v One White Tree – both times with fishing experts – and caught fish.

That’s good. He was praised, but he still hadn’t caught fish aboard La Luna.  That was my goal. We have plans for more long distance sailing and I have hope for fresh seafood along the way. So finally, as reported on the post via Sailmail, EW caught, landed, and successfully prepared a 27 inch long mahi-mahi, or dolphin fish during the sail from Trinidad to St. Thomas.

It was a beautiful fish. At EW’s request I packaged and froze it and we shared it with Jeff and Barb on our first visit with them. Delicious!  Mr. Romance is a hunter gatherer and he’s mine.

I bow to you, my Sweetie. You did good.

To read more about our first year at sea -- including the origional Mr. Romance post, you can read old posts of this blog -- or purchase the book on Kindle. Hart's at Sea - Sailing to Windward


One Month in St. Thomas: Medical Checks, New iPad, Fatty Goodlander, and More

La Luna at anchor off the beach at Water Island. St. Thomas, USVI.

 

PB170321Where does the time go? We have things to do. Money to make. Cruises to Plan. Water catchers to sew. We have every intention of getting all this and more done, and we’ve been busy, but I haven’t crossed much off the list.

I am successfully enjoying new eating habits.

We are exercising. If we don’t walk, I do yoga, swim, or row the dinghy.

EW is in the midst of a round of medical appointments that must be completed in order for him to renew his Captain’s license. This is both annoying and interesting. He has this heart murmur thing and has had it all of his life. Over the past twenty years, doctors hummed and hawed and suggested a full cardio work-up and stress test. The results are invariably that EW’s heart is perfect in its own way – he’s special. One cardiologist thanked our primary care physician for referring “this unusual specimen.” We got a kick out of that.

The Coast Guard didn’t get a kick out of it and has required the full heart work-up yet again. Fortunately there is an excellent cardiac practice in St. Thomas and even more fortunately, they take EW’s insurance. It’s costing little more than a bit of time.

He had a physical last week and came home with the written report. He’s just fine but the doc made a note that he might want “age related counseling”. I’m not sure what that is but you can bet I’m having fun with it. There are just so many possibilities. It boggles the mind. On Monday, NPR announced that it was Ozzy Osborne’s 63rd birthday. EW stuck his half shaved face out of the forward head compartment and asked, “Who’s birthday?” I replied, “Ozzy Osborne is 63 today. You are older than Ozzy Osborne. Do you want age related counseling for that?” He is finding me less humorous as time passes.

I’ve spent time cleaning the rest of the haul out dust from the boat, organizing stuff, losing a battle with Toshiba and escalating it to the Better Business Bureau. I was evilly thrilled to find an email from Toshiba asking me to take “a minute or so” to provide feedback on my customer service calls. Believe me, they got an earful.

We purchased an iPad. EW is learning to use it and delighted so far. Figures that the first ap he downloaded is “Garage Band”.  We’ve also downloaded Navionics for charting, Find a Friend, SKYPE, Kindle, and a few others. This will be EW’s project, though I’ll learn to use the navigation part of it and we’ll get a waterproof case so it’s safe in the cockpit when we need back-up for our primary navigation system.

We finally met Chris and Ann from s/v Mr. Mac. Chris writes fantasy novels, for which he has won numerous awards. Friends aboard Sanctuary and Celebration recommended his books. I’ve now purchased all four in the Scimitar Sails series – how can you go wrong with fantasy and sailing combined? Start with Scimitar Moon and go from there.   Chris and Ann are just as nice as we had been told they were.

We also were delighted to be invited for sundowners aboard s/v Ganesh with Fatty and Carolyn Goodlander. We had met very briefly in St. Martin and spent a bit more time with Carolyn in Grenada when she joined us for the Friday Music night at the Museum when Fatty was under the weather. Both are great people. Carolyn is just one of those women I instantly like – it’s incredible how often that happens out here. Fatty is also a delight, and funny – but more than that, he’s wonderfully encouraging about my writing. Each time we’ve chatted he’s offered a caveat or advice or bit of wisdom and I greatly appreciate it. I don’t intend to take advantage, but I do intend to soak up every bit of knowledge I can. I have read Fatty’s articles for years, but never purchased one of his books. He’s published books since the eighties so shame on me. After I purchased Chasing the Horizon – he told me that was one of his favorite of his books. Can’t wait to read it.

So, now that the eating, exercise, and cleaning are on track I have three priorities.

1. Keep up the new eating, exercise, and boat maintenance programs.

2. Write four hours a day and promote Harts at Sea – Sailing to Windward.

3. Sew the awning/rain catcher. We’ve missed out on a bunch of free water so far as we’ve had some major rain storms during a number of nights – and a few showers during the day. Gotta get that done. This past weekend, I successfully completed the forward panel – the most difficult one.

I'm also determined to remember to enjoy the experience for all of you in the “north”. My nephew Brian – a Master Chief in the U.S. Coast Guard – is stationed in Hawaii. Poor baby had to bike to work in sixty degree weather last week, and Maine had snow over the weekend. It’s eighty-two here. I swim often after walking and before my shower. Just sayin’.

Tough life, but someone’s got to live it.

Speaking of books -- if you haven't checked out mine, it's about our first year at sea. We learn a lot. You can purchase Harts at Sea - Sailing to Windward for Kindle for less than three bucks. Makes a great gift.