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May 2013

Shamed Into Doing Good

Plastic route

EW has a ten-to-fifteen-minute dinghy ride to and from work each day. Some days I play “suburban wife” and drive him to work so I can have the dinghy. We live at the yellow mark #1964, off the top of water island, and EW works at the green mark across the water from the southern tip of Hassel Island.  If the seas aren’t too lumpy, we take the short cut outside between Water and Hassel Islands, but I more often take the inside passage, going through the cut between Hassel and Frenchtown, which is a more protected, but not necessarily drier route.

On the day in question, shortly before my trip to Maine, I had kissed EW good-by and scooted back around Hassel coming through the cut heading to Crown Bay Marina -- moving right to left along that orange route line -- when I noticed a lot of floating garbage. I’m ashamed to say that I sniffed in distain and powered on through, intent on my own to-do list and mission. A few weeks later, I can’t even remember those all important tasks.

Just as I made the right turn to Crown Bay, I saw another woman in a dinghy, with a lively mid-sized dog on board, picking plastic bottles and bags and Styrofoam lunch containers out of the water. I sped past, then looked around and paused. The area in the bay from the cut at Hassel to the cruise ship dock at Crown Bay was broadly sprinkled with plastic debris, and my rhumb line – that orange route -- ran right through the middle of it. I began my own clean-up campaign.

Now, the thing about starting a project like this is that it’s impossible to stop. Once you tackle a mess and dedicate yourself to cleaning it up, you’ve got to keep going until it’s done. While my unidentified friend and her pup patiently attacked the debris field closer to the source, I committed myself to gathering all of the more broadly spread pieces – those items that had gone past her area.

The next time EW loses his cap from the dinghy, I’m pretty much going to be able to swing around and grab it in one pass. Practice makes perfect and I practiced a lot. I’d choose a small area to attack, count the items in that imaginary circle and scoot around with the dinghy, picking up bottles, yogurt containers, plastic bags, and foam boxes. It was boring, but the weather was nice and I was in the Caribbean. I kept at it until I couldn't see any more debris in my self-designated area and then headed into the dinghy dock at the marina.

At which point, I realized that getting this mess to the garbage container was going to be a challenge. No problem, I’m a boater and boaters help other boaters. Two British gents were enjoying their breakfast on deck. Their boat was tied to the dock and obviously ready for season’s end. Still, one of them knew where the garbage bags were stowed and they passed one down to me, no questions asked.

IMG02174Once Lunah Landah was tied to the dock, I snapped a photo with my trusty old Blackberry, and completely filled a large black garbage bag with plastic items that would be deadly to the marine animals we love to see. I’m still not sure whether my mentor was on her way to take her dog to shore, or on her way back to the boat with a wet, hungry dog. In either case, she definitely had the more arduous task than I, but she never even thought about stopping to clean up the mess. She just did it.

I thank her for the lesson.


This Blog Needs Work

While I consider myself a serious blogger – whatever that is – I haven’t seriously worked on the actual blog in some time. During my trip back to Maine, I had the great good fortune to enjoy a meeting of the Surge Sisters. Lynnelle, Rhoda, and I used to meet every other week back in Maine, go over our respective businesses and lives, ask for and receive advice, and report back to each other on progress or problems.

P5110593In Maine, we stopped by Hannaford to buy food and drink for our approved Surge Sisters menu: chocolate, red wine, black olives, humus, brie, and assorted veggies and things crunchy. We creatively used the coffee service tray and basket provided in our room at the Hampton Inn to display our repast, and then we settled back and got to it. It is not for me to reveal all of our chosen topics for discussion. I will say that during a discussion about the opposite sex, I settled matters by calling EW and asking a question that for him came out of left field. He responded just as I expected, proving my point. Afterward, he asked exactly why I had called. “To get your perspective. You’re our token guy.”  Poor EW.

As a result of our Surge Sisters meeting, I have four tasks during our year on the hook in St. Thomas:

  1. Write for at least 20 hours every week
  2. Submit articles and queries weekly
  3. Update this blog three times a week
  4. Get a real job

I’ve given myself a grace period of a couple of weeks while I seek a real job, and while we get settled into our new routine and get the new batteries installed. Still, I’ve been working on a few writing projects, writing lists, and taking stock.

This blog needs work. As I accrue a little extra cash through writing, I’m going to spend some of it getting help from a professional. I am so not a graphic artist. Visually, I know what I like, but have no idea how to achieve it, and I know that a lot of other sailing blogs look much better than mine does.

There are some things I can do myself, and I’ll get right on that. One of my challenges as a blogger and professional writer is that I cannot submit an article that had previous life as a blog. Consequently, there are good stories that won’t show up here as posts. I’m going to make sure that the blog has links to each and every one of them, especially two that will be published over the next couple of months in All at Sea. I’m proud of the articles that have been published in magazines, and hope you’ll take the time to click over and read them.

This blog needs work and this blog also needs regular posts – ones that are on-topic about our cruising life. Lynnelle and Rhoda pushed and poked along that subject, and had an excellent idea – one that will also provide you with more time to click over to my articles. I’m wordy. I’m sure that comes as a surprise to no-one. I do like to talk, I love to communicate, and I love to share. Some of my blog posts have been rather lengthy. Some of those I just needed to edit, slash, and burn; other posts should have been broken down into two or even three different posts. My ultimate goal would be to post more often with shorter, hopefully humorous and helpful messages, with photos.

I can do that. I can do almost anything with chocolate and red wine and help from my Surge Sisters.

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Life is a Beach

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We cruisers know that all of you imagine us lolling about on the beaches of the Caribbean, sipping rum drinks, and listening to steel pan bands. I’m not saying that doesn’t happen, but EW and I aren’t really “beach people”. We don’t have chaise lounges and I can’t remember when we last (ever?) took towels ashore for a day on the beach. We walk along beaches, we go to the movie on the beach at Water Island, and we have been known to frequent a few beach bars. (Ahem.) When we swim, we usually jump off the boat, or take the dingy to a favorite snorkeling spot.

P5200011On Monday, EW took me to a lovely pebble beach on Hassel Island. Unfortunately, instead of packing beach chairs or a cooler, he loaded Lunah Landah with scrapers, brushes, and cleaning supplies, and we headed ashore to clean her bottom. Since we’d purchased this hard-bottomed dinghy at West Marine in December of 2011, we had been raising her up at night, thereby protecting her from theft and marine growth. But when I started working for Fun Water Tours this winter and had to leave the boat at 7, EW made the decision to leave the dinghy down to make it easier for me on work days. Unfortunately, that led to lazy habits and we stopped raising the dinghy altogether.

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So, we took her ashore and scraped, brushed, and scrubbed with sand. The bottom and transom aren’t now pristine, but all current growth is dead growth and we intend to keep it that way. As we were standing in the water scrubbing the upside down dinghy, EW asked, “What’s easier, cleaning her or raising her at night?” I voted for raising her. Cleaning is gooky and I don’t do gooky. Well I do, but not happily.

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And yes, EW had thoughtfully packed gloves and scrubbing tools for me and I cleaned half of the boat. There are no photos of that, but you can trust me. Really.

After Lunah Landah was as clean as she was going to get we righted her again, put the motor back on, then tied her to shore and went for a swim. It was lovely, and we decided to take some time this summer to scoot over to this island for a swim and snorkel every so often. After all, when one is in the Caribbean, one should enjoy a beach once in a while.

It’s a sacrifice we’ll make for all of you landlubbahs.

 

While EW worked to free the rusted motor lock, I enjoyed the pebble and coral beach.

 

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Finally, Our Plans Revealed

Wanna be

Lately, I’ve been tap dancing around talking about our plans. It’s been an interesting couple of months. In December, we fully expected that we would be sailing across the Atlantic right now. Wouldn’t that be exciting?  Our destination was Mark 1860 – the Azores – the first stop on an 18 month Atlantic Circle that included Portugal, Morocco, Gambia, Brazil and Argentina.

I had contacted sailing and cruising magazines and the Portland Press Herald to offer our Atlantic Circle story, and two publications agreed to pay me for dispatches during our cruise. This was incredibly exciting to me as during the past two-plus years, I’ve found a new passion in writing. Just as EW has practiced his music and worked on his singing style, I’ve practiced on perfecting my writing. The difference is that EW’s music is a cherished and important hobby, while I hope my writing will fund our adventures. That may happen, but my few writing assignments for 2013 did not add up to enough for a comfortable cruising kitty for the Atlantic Circle.

When our third decider, La Luna, made a few issues known, we agreed we weren’t going to be ready to go this year. That led to the question, “If we aren’t going to cross the Atlantic this year, what are we going to do?” Well, we have to work, so we need to be in the US. We had two options: sail back to the States or stay in St. Thomas. We are no longer equipped to winter over in the Northeast, so going back to the States meant randomly picking a state where we had no contacts, no job prospects,and no information. That left St. Thomas.

Within days of making the decision, EW had two job offers and accepted one. I still have to find a job and plan to spend my spare time writing and submitting articles and queries to various publications. We both have a to-do list to prepare the boat and plan to spread those projects out over the next eight months. While we’d rather be sailing in practically any direction, we’re both OK with our decision to stay here for a year. St. Thomas is not our favorite Caribbean island, most of our friends have already sailed north or south or east or west, and we have to W-O-R-K -- still, this living aboard in the Caribbean is a good life. 

EW secured a job as a Captain for one of two small people ferries which take folks to and from the Marriot at Frenchman’s Reef and downtown Charlotte Amalie. The run is made at the blistering speed of 5 knots and the sturdy launch tracks like a train, so EW gets to stand backwards for much of the trip, talking with passengers and telling tales about St. Thomas and living aboard. Every night he claims to have sold another copy of my book, Harts at Sea: Sailing to Windward. It’s an interesting job in that it allows him to work as a Captain – and to work for tips – something he hasn’t done in over 40 years. It also allows him more daily interaction with other people than he’s had since we left Maine. He likes that a lot; EW is not an introvert.

My dream job would be to work as a pirate wench, but I’m not sure they are hiring 50-somethings for that position. I’m also looking at on-line/virtual positions and real jobs in St. Thomas. I’d go back to selling media advertising except I don’t have a car – or a driver’s license – and don’t want to get either one here.

Summer spot

So, here we are at Mark 1964, on a mooring in Elephant Bay, off Water Island in St. Thomas. We’ve ordered new batteries -- La Luna’s most pressing problem -- and will install them this weekend. I’m looking for a kayak so I’m not boat-locked on the days I choose not to drive EW to and from “the office” in our only dinghy. Most of our friends have already left for other ports, but we have a few good boating friends who are also staying – and of course our cousins, Jeff and Barb the First, are here year round. So, we are staying in St. Thomas until May of 2014, when we will then sail across the Atlantic. In the meantime, the only thing we have to worry about are hurricanes.


There Was NO Sobbing in Maine . . .

. . . but I shed a few tears almost every day.  After all, nearly every day I hugged loved ones I hadn’t seen in over two and  a half years, and nearly every day I said good-by to those same loved ones. It’s a wonder I wasn’t a mess.

I wasn’t a mess because I felt just so loved and blessed, and because so many of my friends and family “get it”. No, none of them want to sell their homes and most of their possessions, say good-by to loved ones, and sail away. However, all of them seem to understand the pursuit of a dream, living life to the fullest, going for the gusto – whatever you want to call it. That brought me a great deal of peace. So, mostly I laughed, hugged, ate, talked, listened, asked questions, held those babies whose parents I’d held as babies, and had a wonderful time. There was no sobbing in Maine.

P5130675The real title of this trip is “Driving Miss Barbara”. Since the State of Maine has decided that EW and I are no longer residents and will not renew our driver’s licenses, I had to rely on the kindness of family and friends to make it from Boston to Farmington and back. My rule for the “Driving Miss Barbara” portion of my journey is that I was a grateful, no-back-seat driving, detours-welcome rider. All of my drivers were excellent:

P5040025May 4, Logan to Constitution Marina …. John and Dora from S/V Windrifter, dear friends, former neighbors, and fellow cruisers.  They earn the “Planes, Trains, and Boats” award for picking me up at Logan and getting me back to their boat via bus, subway, and a ferry.

 

 

 

 

May 5, Boston to Augusta …… my niece, Hazel and her S.O., Tim.  They earn the “Distance” award. Also winners of the “Early Bird” award for leaving Portland on Sunday morning and picking me up in Boston at 8:30 AM. Oh my.

May 6-7, Augusta to Fairfield, Fairfield to Augusta to Fairfield .… my sister, Pat and her husband Jerry. They earn the “Back and Forth” award. They also won the “Most Exciting Trip” award when we were stopped by a very long train and I acted like a three-year-old. I hadn’t seen a train in over two years. When someone, who shall remain nameless, was surprised by that I had to remind that person: “Caribbean. Small volcanic islands. Not exactly conducive to building a rail system.”

May 8, Fairfield to Industry …. my cousin Fran. She earns the “GPS” award for traveling to a new location. (Also, see May 10 for Fran’s second award.)

P5080305May 9 , Industry …. my cousin Gil. For hooking up the boat to the truck, launching it, and giving me a ride around Clear Water Lake – the lake I knew in my tender years – Gil wins the “Fresh Water Driver” award.

 

 

 

 

 

May 9, Industry to Turner .… my cousin Willy and her husband Larry. They earn the “Detour” award for taking me through Wilton so I could see Fran and Ken’s new home.

May 10, Turner to Biddeford …. The “Hand-Off” award goes to two people: Larry who drove me to the Gray exit to meet forever friend Kathy, who took me to her home – after our lunch out, of course. Kathy and Fran are tied with the “Driving Miss Barbara While Getting Ready for Guests” award. Fran had a luncheon for 16 senior members of her church the day after I arrived. Kathy hosted the book club and baby-sat her adorable grand-daughter the day I arrived. Both made it seem easy.

P5110579May 11-12, Biddeford to South Portland and Portland, and back to Biddeford …. dear friend Lynnelle, vising from Dallas, picked me up in her rental car, thus getting me to ride to beloved southern Maine locations in a vehicle with outah state plates. She simultaneously earned the “Massachusetts Driver" award and “There’s No Place Like Home" award.

(Lynnelle is a very good driver and is not from Massachusetts. You have to be from Maine to get that one. For good reason, all Maine drivers are suspicious of folks driving cars with Mass Plates. We even have bad names for them.)

 

May 12, Biddeford to Portland and back … Larry. This Larry is Rhoda’s and our friend who picked me up from Biddeford for a special Sunday Dinner with Rhoda and Lynnelle. He gets the “Cheerfully Drafted” award. Especially when he asked, as we were leaving the restaurant, “Oh. You mean you need a ride back, too?” Thank you, Larry.

photo (10)May 13, Biddeford to York …. Kathy and Cathy – for a from the heart gabfest and an amazing breakfast in Ogunquit, followed by tea with EW’s sister, Magdalene. The K(C)athys get the “World’s Greatest Roommates” award as well as “Most Adaptable” for putting up with my coming and going from Biddeford. Also I broke curfew on Sunday but didn’t get grounded.

May 14, York to Portsmouth Bus Depot … Magdalene – Plus a trip around York and Ogunquit on the 13th – Magdalene gets the “Most Relaxed Award” for a lovely quiet visit with her, Norman, and the cats – as well as a stress free trip to the airport.

In between all of these trips I

  • Enjoyed a cook-out in Augusta with almost all of my Maine Huff family.
  • Spent quality time with my sister and got to do some necessary shopping.
  • Hugged and visited with my Farmington cousins, sharing some happy and sad moments, and creating wonderful memories.
  • Met three new babies grand nieces – Kinsey, Gwen, and Cecilia – and got to know Carter as a big boy. (Kinsey was a newborn when we left, so we didn’t get to meet her, then.)
  • Talked – well, not until we were done – but as much as possible with Kathy and Cathy, and with Lynnelle and Rhoda. Laughed, hugged, listened, ate, advised, took advise, cheered, laughed some more, and cried a little, too. 

The family portion of my week was absolutely wonderful – and necessary to my peace of mind. Life goes on and challenges, break-ups, illnesses, and deaths have occurred in the two plus years since we left Maine. Nothing is a substitute for being present, listening, and hugging. Both sides of my family are strong, thoughtful, fun, and loving, and they have wonderful little kids, adult kids, and pets. It was a joy and a blessing to spend time with them. They have much to teach me.

The friend portion of my week was magical. I’ve known Kathy since we were ten and we met Cathy during our freshman year of college. They know everything about me and still love me unconditionally. Cathy flew from Jacksonville to Maine on Friday just so we three could be together again. I developed a lifelong friendship with Rhoda and Lynnelle when we were three self-employed women in the Portland area. We were thrilled to be able to coordinate our spring trips to Maine and spend time together. Along with Dora, these five women have given me the strength to set sail with EW, and the ability to recognize other kindred sprits as I meet women in all the ports we visit.

“Make new friends but keep the old.

One is silver and the other gold.”

Indeed.

Still not sobbing. Just very, very happy.

NOTE: Thus completes this blog post  about my Maine Trip. For family and friend photos and a bit of the rest of the story – feel free to keep reading. I’ll get back to writing about sailing, the Caribbean, and working in St. Thomas with the next post. Promise.

 

BOSTON

 

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If it’s in the 50’s and below, it’s not sailing it’s “frostbiting”. And yes, I did use all four of those blankets.

 

 

 

 

 

AUGUSTA COOKOUT

 

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  Carter my great-grand nephew and his mom, Heather, my grand niece. At right, my niece, Jean, and her granddaughter, Carter’s sister, Kinsey.

 

 

 

 

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Niece Joan, her husband, Tim and their granddaughter, Gwen. That’s Gwen below left with her mom, Lindsey.

My Maine nieces, brother Fred’s four girls – Hazel, Joan, Tammy, and Jean.

 

 

 

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Fred, Pat, and me. Our other brother, Kip, is in Maryland.

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BABIES!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

INDUSTRY – That’s near Farmington. My mom was born there.

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Fran read the post in which I riffed about foods I miss -- so I had rhubarb and ice cream at Industry

 

 

I had a lot of ice cream in Maine.

P5090402The photo at right was of Kathy’s freezer later in the week.

Be careful what you wish for.

I am well and truly loved.

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Connie in the boat. Gil, Wilma, and Larry at camp.

 

AND – They play dominoes in Industry!  Who knew? 

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That’s me with cousins Fran and Wilma. And yes, I did get a kick out of wearing my pirate T-shirt in Maine.

 

 

 

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BIDDEFORD

That’s “Poppy” with his and Kathy’s granddaughter, Cecelia Corinne -- CC. He filled in as baby-sitter of darling CC once the book club started.

Dear friend Cathy arrived on Friday around noon. First stop – lobster rolls for lunch, of course!

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Followed by shopping in the Old Port. During which we discover a pair of kitchen tongs that none of us are qualified to use.

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Followed by family time and girl time back in Biddeford.

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Boys, in the form of dads, grand-dads, and supreme steak grillers were welcomed. Sorry, Marc. I am ashamed to say that I didn’t get a photo of you. Your daughter is so cute that you are in danger of being relegated to simply being, “CC’s Daddy”.

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CC and Mommy.

 

 

 

 

Mally, supreme griller and mix master.

 

 

 

 

 

PORTLAND AND SOUTH PORTLAND WITH RHODA AND LYNNELLE

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Lynnelle in front of the QStreet diner – one of our favorite breakfast spots.

 

With Lynnelle and Rhoda at Willard beach. One of our favorite dog-walking spots.

 

 

 

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Our trip down memory lane was followed by Bloody Marys in Portland. Yes, that’s a shrimp for garnish. We know how to roll.

Dinner was all about being together – wine, chocolate, hummus, veggies, cheese, wine, crackers, chocolate, and friends.

Told you we know how to roll.

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Below, Sunday night with Rhoda, Lynnelle, Larry, and Lynnelle’s friend Kurt. Kurt is a very brave man to fly to Maine to meet us. We treated him kindly. Mostly.

I don’t think he knows I blog.

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BIDDEFORD BONUS  -- My trip coincided with CC’s christening, which she graciously shared with her younger cousin, Fiona. I wish both babies long and happy lives and the same love and joy I have in my friends and family.

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Finally! A photo of CC’s dad, Marc. Thanks to Cathy for this one.

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The aunts liked her a whole bunch!

 

 

 

 

 

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YORK 

P5130681This is Max, Magdalene's cat. He's a love.

This is Holly, Magdalene's other cat. She's beautiful.

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Final Note: I did take the time to email EW during my visit – primarily to tell him that I would be back and that my home is now on La Luna with him. He seemed relieved.


Flying with Dogs

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Meet Rye and Rock, brother and sister who are flying with me to Boston.  They are darling pups and you can see that I’m enjoying them. This photo was snapped after I had been soundly kissed. Not a great photo for identification, but it clearly shows the wonder and joy of this program, Pets with Wings.

The St. Thomas and St. Croix Humane Societies are very active on these islands. Our cousins, Jeff and Barb, are long-time supporters in St. Thomas and have had rescue dogs and cats as their pets for many years. When Barb the First heard I was planning a trip back home she said, “If you fly in to Boston on American Airlines, take a dog with you.” I’m taking three. American Airlines flies the dogs for free to any city with an appropriate humane society and committed volunteers. How cool is that?  All they need are folks flying to the right location who will be responsible for the dogs.

My flight left at 8:50 AM so it was an early morning for me, the dogs, and Rhea and Marc from the St. Thomas Humane Society. Bless them. Rhea works for the society and is determined  to find homes for her charges. Mark, her husband, works for TSA in St. Thomas. Since I was new to the job and had three dogs in two cages, Mark kindly got up at 5:30 on his Saturday off to help me with the TSA inspection, during which the dogs have to be removed from the cages and leashed while each crate is inspected. I leashed Rock and Rye, but when it was Calliope’s turn, I just held her. Since everyone at the airport knew Mark, I had it pretty easy.

P5040003This is Calliope, she’s a basset hound mix and is simply a sweetie. I kind of fell in love with her, so it’s a good thing she already has a home to go to. EW would not be happy if I were to take a dog back to La Luna. 

Let’s back up a bit. Before leaving St. Thomas I had to pack clothing appropriate for Maine in early May, and get some supplies in for EW who doesn’t cook much on the boat. He was not terribly helpful when I asked what he wanted to eat while I was gone, and I know that he’s not going to make full meals for himself, so I relied on Campbell’s, Hormel, Barilla, Lay’s, and lots of fruit. He won’t starve.

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I trust he knows where the pasta is kept – if not he can call me. I also restocked the Heineken and Coke Zero and made a loaf of bread. I love EW.

We had kept long pants, socks, and a lot of fleece tops in vacuum bags stored under our bed. For some reason, we kept so many that  I actually had to made choices about which fleece tops to bring.

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Once we moved aboard La Luna in 2002, most of our vacations  were sailing trips,so I always took everything with me, and I’ve forgotten how to pack light. (EW will tell you I never learned.) In this case, I had no choice as our larger duffle had broker zippers. I think I did quite well, thank you very much, but I did completely fill both of these bags.  P5020345

 

 

 

 

I had to search the boat for our small travel containers and laughed when I found this:P4270340

It’s Lynnelle’s toothbrush. She was a frequent and welcome guest back in Maine when she would regularly join us for Friday pizza/movie night. Sometimes the evening would go well into the early hours; sometimes we consumed more wine than other nights; sometimes she just wanted to stay over. So, we kept a toothbrush for her. We are ready for a visit.

In the meantime, she’s one of the friends I get to spend time with in Maine this trip. Hope she remembered her toothbrush. I’m holding this one hostage.

 

Back to the dogs – I have less than a two hour layover in Miami, so I won’t see them again until we get to Boston. I have a packet of their health information and the phone number of the volunteer who will meet me. He has my name and phone number, and one of the photos of me and the pups taken at the airport in St. Thomas.

All three of these dogs already have homes, but there are many more available, and others who just need a ride to a new life. Check out their website, http://www.hsstt.com/ to find your new dog, or if you are flying out of St. Thomas volunteer to sign up to take one …or three … to their new families. It’s wicked easy, and you get puppy kisses in payment. How cool is that?P5040003


Going Home to Maine

Getting things lined up for my first trip back to Maine has been a bit of a challenge. First of all, while he’s always supportive, EW was surprised that I was adamant about taking this trip. He had understood that I wanted to visit with friends and family prior to taking the planned voyage across the Atlantic, but once we decided to stay here in St. Thomas for a year, he thought my trip home was off.

Fat chance.

We left Maine over two and a half years ago and I am ready for a visit. I had my heart set on seeing our sisters, as many of my Maine family as possible, Kathy, Lynnelle and Rhoda, and Dora and John.  I told him that he could poll any number of our US and Canadian cruising friends and find very few women who hadn’t been home more often than once every 30 months. Then, of course I found one that night. Damn! “Don’t tell my husband!” I said. However further discussion revealed that each time she goes home, she stays for at least two months. Hah! I’m flying out of St. Thomas on May 4th and will be back May 14th. He’s just going to have to deal with it.

Below:  Rhoda (in front), Dora, Kathy, Cathy, Lynnelle, me in July 2010.

Girlfriends 7-10-2010 6-02-11 AMWhen dear friends Lynnelle and Rhoda, who also moved away from Maine in 2010, had heard about my planned visit before the big crossing, they booked flights back to Maine so we could spend time together. That meant I had to be in Maine on the weekend of the 11th and 12th. Then, I  had to backtrack from that to include a second Sunday, so that I could see my brother, Fred’s family. His daughters are my age and have JOBS, so a Sunday was necessary. I also contacted a group of my cousins on my mom’s side, and made plans to see them, and of course, I kept my friend Kathy, first sister of my heart, and EW’s sister Dale apprised to make sure we had time together.

These friends and family are spread out from Farmington to York. When Kathy offered to loan me a car I had to relate the bad news: The State of Maine has decreed that we are not “residents” in that we have no Maine address and are not eligible to renew our driver’s licenses – which had been on my agenda for the trip. I would have to rely on public or friend/family transportation to get me from point A to B to C to D to .. you get the idea. I’m visiting eight Maine towns and Boston in 10 days, and staying overnight for two nights in two of those towns, which mathematically doesn’t  even seem possible. One of my cruising friends laughed and said she could just see me “charging across Maine”.  I’ll be charging, at whatever pace the driver du jour travels. I am very, very grateful.

cornKathy called to ask if there were a food or beverage I craved that I couldn’t get down here in the islands. It was difficult to think of anything. The truth is, we can get most anything we want here, except fresh fruits and vegetables that can only come from Maine – rhubarb in the spring, corn on the cob in August, strawberries at the end of June. Come to think of it, I haven’t had a decent ear of corn on the cob since summer 2010 – and I’ll not get one this trip.  The only available food item I thought of was ice cream .. fresh from the freezer…whenever I desired it. We’ve had some wonderful ice cream down here  -- a dairy in Grenada made a delicious ginger ice cream – but since we moved on the boat we have not been able to just keep a half gallon in the freezer for consumption at will.

Who am I kidding? We were never able to keep a half gallon in the freezer without downing it in three sittings. This lack of a real freezer on board may be a good thing. Kathy  said they don’t usually keep ice cream around for the exact same reason, but promised to have some ice cream on hand for Friday night. I love her.

After her call, I got thinking about things I do miss – and intend to enjoy while in Maine:

CC and MickeyHaving a hot shower and staying under it AS LONG AS I WANT.

Having lunch with Kathy.

Gathering for food and talk and loud laughter with the Huff family.

Talking with my sister.

The peace I feel when I am with my Robbins cousins.

The delight I have when visiting with EW’s sister – yet another sister of my heart.

Driving around Portland and simply enjoying the beauty of that city by the sea.

Laughing and sharing with Lynnelle and Rhoda.

Laughing and talking past midnight with Kathy and Cathy.

Holding babies whose parents I held when they were babies.

Talking about EW.

Hugging everyone. Often.

 

 

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This little sweetie is the daughter of the Whisper Cove bartender. I get to hug babies in the islands.

 

 

 

 

 

 

In Maine, I’m sure I’ll eat too much, and I may drink a bit more than I should on some days. I’ll certainly be busy – I even get to go to a meeting of my former book club!  And – in case you missed it – Cathy, another sister of my heart is flying up to Maine during my visit so all three freshman college roommates will be together. How perfect is that?

I’m going home for a visit and I can’t wait!


Landlubbers and Good Sports

We were excited when EW’s brother Howie told us he wanted to come to St. Thomas for a visit. We were also a bit surprised.  Back in Maine, we had subjected Howie to our most uncomfortable Maine sail. In fact – after more than five hours of slogging to windward with the intent to sail from Portland to Rockland, we made a slight detour to the Sebasco Harbor Resort to let a very seasick Howie off the boat.

SIDENOTES:

  1. Each year we had sailed to the Maine Boats Homes and Harbors Show in Rockland, leaving South Portland early in the morning and picking up our mooring in Rockland before supper.  The year Howie joined us we never made it out of Casco Bay.
  2. When I called Sebasco on the VHF and explained the situation, the launch operator told us to enter the mooring field and that he’d be right out with the launch to take Howie off the boat. A few minutes after Howie touched land, he thoroughly enjoyed a hamburger, French fires, and milk shake at the Sebasco snack shed.
  3. From there, Howie had to engage a cab to Brunswick, a bus to Portland, and a cab to the marina to get his truck. Still – he came down to visit us on the boat in St. Thomas.

Now, Howie had been on board once before, for a quiet sail in Casco Bay, with no ill effects, so perhaps we shouldn’t have been surprised that this ex-Marine was willing to sail once again.  In addition – he brought is girlfriend, Mary Jo.  EW’s and Howie’s sister, Dale, had met Mary Jo and liked her, so EW and I were delighted that we were going to get a chance to meet her, too.

It was a lovely visit. EW met them at the airport and rode with them in the taxi back to the marina. From there, we first loaded all of their stuff into the dinghy and sent Howie and Mary Jo to Tickles for a beer or rum punch. Now I know, all of you sailors are rolling your eyes because they brought so much stuff that we had to take it out separately. We often accuse land-lubbers of over packing. However, this was over packing at it’s finest. Howie has a number of hobbies, but is most passionate about making wine. We adore his wine and had long ago finished off the bottles he’d provided at the start of our cruise. Howie paid nearly $100.00 to bring a foot locker filled mostly with wine to the islands for us. I love Howie.P4030138

Howie also agreed to be my “personal” shopper and had cheerfully accepted an emailed list for things that I can’t find here, such as vacuum food bags. I really love Howie.

P4030131Anyway, despite the order of these photos, EW really did go back to get Howie and Mary Jo prior to checking out the wine. Now, here’s some of the Good Sport part. Mary Jo is essentially terrified of water and she doesn’t swim. This photo in the dinghy is the only time she rode in the dinghy without wearing a life jacket. EW totally forgot – despite being reminded a few hundred times – and Mary Jo was too shy or uncomfortable to insist. She got rid of the shy after that, and we never left the boat without Mary Jo in a life jacket. For some reason, they got into the dinghy facing backwards  -- something none of us do – and that remained their preferred seating method for the trip. It had a little of Driving Miss Daisy about it, but we adapted.P4040153

So, we visited.  We drank wine. We spent one night at Jeff and Barb’s for dinner, and another meeting them for dinner at the Pie Whole.

P4040146We wandered around Crown Bay, shopping with the cruise ship tourists.

 

 

 

P4090202We wandered around Charlotte Amalie and Havensight, again shopping with cruise ship tourists – and roosters.

 

Here’s my photo of Howie taking a photo of one of the resident roosters. While EW and I are totally used to seeing chickens in almost any Caribbean setting, it’s still a new sight for our visitors. They should have seen the goats roaming in Luperon.

 

 

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We sailed to St. John, where Howie and EW snorkeled, and Mary Jo and I enjoyed the shallows at the beach. Mary Jo and I also took a cab to town in St. John and had a girls’ lunch out. It was lovely.

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More importantly, we visited with EW’s only brother, met the lady who is sharing his life, and spent much needed family time. Also enduring the male Hart penchant for horrendous puns.

Below, a glass of wine at the Twisted Cork. Howie picked out a delicious Reisling from Argentina.

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The St. Thomas Harts and Mary Jo at the Pie Whole.

 

 

 

 

 

Of course, we also taught them to play Mexican Train Dominoes. It’s what we do. I have no idea why I didn’t take a photo of at least one of the three games.