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June 2013

One Bad Battery WILL Spoil the Whole Bunch, De'ah

Bad batteries are contagious. One bad battery will infect the next, which will infect the next one and so on. Until you have five large 4D AGM batteries and very little power. We know this to be true.

EW now suspects the following:

  1. The batteries we purchased new in Maine in 2010 were not the quality of the Lifeline batteries they replaced.
  2. A wiring mishap weakened or “infected” one battery and it went downhill from there.
  3. While 99.9% of our experience at Peake’s Marina in Trinidad was outstanding, when we tied up to their dock for one night, the power post had huge problems, further weakening the batteries.

EW Battery Day TwoBack in Maine, my wise in-house electrician, with help from the real marine electrician at the boatyard, installed 6 batteries, the last – or first – was a starter battery wired separately from the main bank. In fact, the original starter battery was just as big and expensive as the others, but when one battery failed in Grenada, EW pulled it, replaced it with the starter battery, and replaced the starter battery with a smaller, cheaper one. Sometime between Trinidad and April, EW took another bad battery out of the system, leaving us with four infected ones to keep everything running.

At left, EW is removing our original Lifeline batteries and replacing them with a different brand. The Lifelines were 5 years old and he didn’t want to head to the Caribbean with bad batteries. Yeah.

We left Maine in the fall of 2010 and have had battery problems for at least the past year. Finally, they started falling like dominoes and we had to get new ones. 

At this point, EW went into research mode. What batteries should he purchase? What batteries could we afford? How will we get them here? Should we take the boat to St. Maartin and buy batteries there? Or should be go to Puerto Rico? Each month he has three days in a row off and we were actually considering that kind of a “vacation” – leaving here in the evening, sailing overnight to Farjardo, having the batteries delivered to the dock, installing them and sailing back. Oh joy.

I mostly stayed out of it because .. well, because I could. My role was to be sounding board, supportive, and helpful, and to conserve power. During the last few weeks of this saga, we had turned off the Cool Blue refrigeration system and were charging the engine driven system twice a day. The freezer didn't freeze, but it kept milk for a few days. In the end, EW was able to make a case for spending money on five 4D Lifeline AGM batteries. He had decided against the marathon sail/battery installation in Puerto Rico, and the cost of shipping the slightly less regarded batteries from PR to here was nearly three times the cost of shipping the highly coveted Lifeline batteries from Miami to here, justifying the more expensive batteries.

I was OK with the more expensive batteries because I’m a power freak. Seriously, I do conserve as much as possible, I just don’t want to lose batteries when we’re crossing an ocean. I’m that kind of power freak.

EW’s machinations took on the essence of that tired line from "pick any sitcom” about the woman shopping for shoes and justifying them by insisting that she is saving money because they were “on sale”. Buying batteries isn’t about saving money. That is partly what got us here. Since these new batteries are like the first ones we installed on La Luna  and they never caused any problems, and these new ones should actually last 5 – 7 years, then  this all sounds good to me.

Of course choosing the batteries, paying for them and getting them here was the prologue to the Main Event: Installing the Batteries.

With EW working five days a week, we essentially had a day and a half to: 

  1. Move to the dock in Crown Bay.
  2. Get the batteries delivered to the marina
  3. Remove and safely dispose of the old batteries
  4. Install the new ones.
  5. Charge everything up with electricity at the dock.

Yeah, doing all of that in Farjado and then sailing back would have been an excellent adventure. Not.

Tune in for the next installment when we find out how many cruisers it takes to install five heavy batteries. 

Mimi was head supervisor: P5260081


Beware of Part Creep!

If you have a boat – or renovated a home – you are familiar with Project Creep. When we were renovating the home, I called it the “As long as were doing this … let’s also do that” mentality. The biggest project creep for the home went thusly: We needed to have the roof shingled – so we decided to do the siding, too – which led to have all new windows installed. Now that’s expensive Project Creep.

Part Creep is just as inevitable, but more stealthy than Project Creep. Back at the house, I was often unaware of Part Creep because we had a shed, full basement, and attic and EW could hide a lot of stuff. On the boat, not so much.

When we bought her, La Luna had been owned by a sailor who didn’t sail as much as he liked, but who purchased every spare part and doodad he wanted. The boatyard workers were in awe of the boxes of things removed before the sale and had to stack those boxes on a pallet and use a forklift to get them off the landlocked boat. Still, on the day we closed I went aboard with a friend and inventoried the hundreds of spare parts and tools that had been generously left behind.

P7270071I took one look at our galley and its two small cupboards and informed EW that if he wanted to eat I was appropriating the port side of the main salon for food and dish storage. He likes to eat and readily agreed. A few years later, he humbly requested one-third of the under seat storage for his heavy tools. I graciously relinquished that space – taking the aft cupboard behind the dining seat in return -- and he ultimately remade the port lift top to open for each of the three sections, making my life a lot easier.

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More recently, when he finally decided to make the unused AC/DC fridge into a storage compartment I had to remind him that I would need him to give me some storage space for the vacuum bagger and bags that had been stored in the fridge for the past three years. “No problem,” he said, giving me the center cupboard behind the dining seat.

P6250428So imagine my surprise when I delved into that cupboard this week and found – sitting in plain sight – a small stack of paint mixing containers.

“This is not your space,” I exclaimed.

“Since when?” EW asked in a tone of voice that implied, “Is too!”

“Since you gave me this spot to make up for the fridge storage space.”

“Oh…..Hmmmmph.”

I tossed him the containers, which he then stored with all their little friends in the forward head.

I am the Queen of Project Creep, but I will not tolerate Part Creep. Those of you who generate Part Creep may notice that I have not filled this cupboard , and may even suggest that I share it with EW. Not going to happen. When we cross the Atlantic this cupboard will be full to the brim, so in the meantime, I will continue to defend “my” space.

EW, you are on notice!


Shopping is Easy. Getting Stuff to the Boat, Not so Much

Our dinghy is our family car. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always take us all the way to the shops. Some harbors have stores that will deliver your purchases to the dinghy dock. More often, we have had to come up with various creative ways to get important things like frozen meat, cases of beer, bottles of wine, and fresh produce back to the boat.

Mostly, we walk.

This is a lifestyle that pretty much requires walking. We have a cart and I’ve learned how to stack tote bags on top of boxes and tie everything down.

From New Jersey to Grenada, I’ve trucked to stores and laundromats, steering my cart around puddles and over curbs. We tried one of those carts that are basically wheels and a handle on a folding crate and I didn’t like it, the wheels were too small and the crate didn’t allow for oversized items. Instead, we purchased a folding hand cart. Make sure you look for one at Office Max, where they are much cheaper than at <insert marine store here>. It folds up and easily fits in the store’s shopping cart and in Las Luna’s pilot berth storage area.P6230419P6230420

 

 

 

At left, I’m pushing the cart into it’s slot.  And there it is, safely and easily stored.

 

 

 

 

 

Laundry Cart 11-11-2010 3-10-24 PM 

 

This photo is laundry day in Hampton, Virginia in 2010

 

 

 

 

 

P6230421In St. Thomas, we usually walk or take the bus to shop – purchasing only what we can carry on and off the safari style buses. It's important that our packages not take up space that could be used by a paying passenger. It’s not easy to get on and off the bus with two tote bags and a back pack, but it’s possible. We think the taxis are expensive here and use them only if we are out late at night. (We are cruisers and this is St. Thomas, so “late” usually means after nine.)

But here is St. Thomas, I also have another option – Cousin Power. Jeff does the grocery shopping for their household every Sunday – around playing or watching golf. He and Barb Hart-the First live on this end of the island, so when I want to do a major shopping expedition, I just have to coordinate with Jeff.  I can take bunches of tote bags and my freezer packs, and leave my purchases in Jeff’s truck while we shop at the next store.

It’s a heck of a lot easier bringing EW’s case of Genesee home in Jeff’s truck. Thanks Jeff.

 

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For those of you  planning a visit to St. Thomas, here’s a description of the St.. Thomas safari buses from a tourist website.

'Dollar Rides' or 'Dollar Taxis'

There are taxi drivers that run 'dollar rides' in safari buses. A safari is a truck that has been outfitted with bench seating in the back. It is open air but covered. Not all safari buses are ‘dollar rides’, some are regular taxis. The ‘dollar rides’ do not have signs identifying them as such; (NOTE: but they are usually not as tidy and may have signs of rust and prior fender benders.)however they generally run the same route as the public bus and pull in or close to bus stops. If in doubt ask the driver before boarding. Also ask where they are heading to make sure they are going the route you want to go. They are for the most part un-regulated, and operate mostly to assist with the transportation needs of residents. Some 'dollar ride' drivers charge non-residents regular taxi rates. (NOTE: That has NEVER happened to us. If we are unsure whether the safari is a taxi for tourists or a dollar bus, we’ll just ask the driver, “Is this a dollar bus?” No issues.)

Dollar rides are $1 for short trips like: anywhere in town between the University of the Virgin Islands and the Hospital (Schneider Regional Medical Center), traveling to points between the Hospital and Pricesmart (supermarket), traveling from one point in the country to another (country is used to describe the middle and east end of the island). The fare is $2 for longer cross-island trips like: traveling from the Hospital to Pricesmart and beyond and traveling from Pricemart and beyond to anywhere in town. (NOTE: Country seems to be beyond the hospital stop. There’s a relatively long stretch between that stop and the next one at Cost U Less. Cost U Less is in the country and will require $2.)

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Paper Covers Rock, Rock Dulls Scissors, and Sense of Humor Tops All

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This living on a mooring <gasp!> in St. Thomas for a year <gasp!> can be a downer.

Facebook is helping me keep in touch with cruising friends who are in Grenada, Carriacou (which is an island in Grenada), the Las Perlas Archipelago in Panama, Massachusetts, Florida, Trinidad, and points in between. All of those friends left St. Thomas weeks ago while we stayed put.

Thankfully, we have our cousins who  live here, and some other cruising friends who are also staying here and working – and you know us – we're making new friends as we find them.

But I’ve still been bummed.

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It hasn’t helped that I haven’t found a job yet. This week EW took the dinghy to work Tuesday  - Thursday and I stayed on the boat. Searching for positions, writing (a bit), doing house work – oh joy – and eating too much. Oh, and I lost my phone on Monday and haven’t replaced yet, so no fun conversations this week, either.

We all have down hours/days/a week-or-two.
 

I’m over it.

  • I’m living on a boat in the Caribbean.
  • I’m married to EW, the love of my life.
  • I found my sense of humor again.

In the meantime, one of our friends back home has popped up on Facebook lately. Seems he busted his ankle, and is working from home where Facebook isn’t blocked, so he’s been catching up on our adventures.

So, Steve messages me with the question:

I NEED to know - How did Stew morph into EW?
Is it that he really is a Saint and you just dropped the "St"?

I assured Steve that EW’s saintliness had nothing to do with it and referred him to the FAQ page on this blog.

Steve and my niece Dawn both liked the St. EW thing. Then, EW’s brother Howie got involved with this link to a town in Cornwall called St. Ewe.  That’s the Hart’s scary sense of humor working overtime.

To all who suggested that we call him St. EW, I said:

Do NOT tell EW (about this). I'll never live it down. Plus, I'm a Methodist. I don't do saints.

Steve replied:

Aw, c'mon. Even the Grateful Dead did saints - Saint Stephen, in fact!

Of course, as soon as EW arrived home, I told him about St. EW and he laughed.

This morning, I had the final word on the subject on Facebook:

So, Dawn, Howie, and Steve -- I told Stew about our conversation re: St. EW. Now I have to kiss his ring. From saint to pope in 12 hours.

Wherever you are, on land or sea – I hope you have a beautiful day and a few good laughs and at least a couple of hugs. Everything else will work itself out.

 

Bonus: Here’s my Facebook Rant of the week:

Can we all agree to stop misusing "I" and "me".
EW and I are going to the store.
Our neighbor brought bread to EW and me.
Saying "Our neighbor brought bread to EW and I" is just silly.
Our neighbor didn't bring I bread. Our neighbor didn't bring EW and me any bread either.

Now I want bread. This rant is brought to you by carbohydrates.

This generated a lot of comments, and all of them brought a smile to my face. Thank you, my friends.

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And these flowers? All of them are just outside the door to the coin laundry at Crown Bay. How can one be bummed when surrounded by these beautiful flowers and very large, fast, camera phobic hummingbirds?


Looking Back

This is the 600th Blog Post since I started Harts At Sea in February of 2008.  I started a blog because emailing friends and family just didn’t do it for me, and because I was learning about social media and dear friend Lynnelle Wilson told me I should blog.

So I did.

My first blog was a succinct introduction:

Living Aboard a Sailboat in Maine – 2/16/2008


In May of 2002, my husband and I -- and our black lab -- moved aboard our 47 foot Cheoy Lee sailboat. We had sold our home in March, after an amazing home and yard sale; moved to a furnished rental that was closer to the boat; and got her ready for habitation. We have lived aboard (year round) in Maine since that time, with the exception of one hard year on the hard while we re-caulked the teak deck and had other repairs done.

As that last sentence implies, living "on the hard" has been the most challenging year so far in our life with La Luna. We truly enjoy the life aboard and have never regretted the move. In this blog I plan to share some of the experiences of the past few years as well as current events aboard. This is my first step into blogging and is done in anticipation of perhaps creating a blog for my business, Hire Well. In the meantime. If you like sailing, dream of taking your boat to distant shores, and live aboard or wonder what it is like to do so -- then I hope to write something here that will be of interest to you.

First, a brief bio: I was born in Maine, graduated from U Maine Orono, and have worked here since. I was raised inland and did not sail on the ocean until I met the man who became my husband. On our third date, Stew looked deep into my eyes and said, "I sail and all of my friends sail". Having already decided that this was the man I wanted to spend my life with, I replied, "I'm sure I can learn." It wasn't easy, and I never intended to sell most of our land possessions and move aboard nearly 20 years later. It has been a wonderful journey and we are currently planning our next journey when La Luna slips her lines and heads across the Atlantic for the beginning of our world cruise.

The photo is S/V La Luna under sail in Quahog Bay in Harpswell, Maine. It was taken by Jack Nordby, a photographer, sailor, and pilot from Maine.

 

That’s it. Just 360 words, not much in the way of entertainment or humor, and no indication that Stew would “become” the Topic known as EW. However, I made it clear that our goal was not simply living on the dock in Maine. The name of the blog was “The Harts at Sea” for a reason.

In “honor” of reaching 600 posts, here are my favorite posts from the few I wrote during my first year as a blogger:

Winter Dangers When Living Aboard a Sailboat in Maine – 3/1/2008

This week, while getting aboard with two bags of laundry (admittedly not the safest procedure) I fell. It happened quickly -- and the only thing that went through my mind was to "Stay out of the water!"

We have a set of plastic dock stairs, three steps high with a metal railing. Right now I love that metal railing! I climbed the steps and opened the shrink wrap door and one of the bags caught on the door jam, pulling me up short. I tugged to get free and hit my head on the top of the door frame, bounced off and hit the step railing with my back and bounced off that and slid down the steps to the dock. Both bags of laundry and my bruised body all successfully stayed out of the water. The steps are screwed to the dock for safety and while the force of my fall did pull up some screws,  others held and kept me from falling backwards into a very cold ocean.

This is only the second time in 5 years that I've had a close call. During a storm in our first winter aboard, Stew and I were getting off the boat to check lines when I fell between the boat and the dock. That of course can be extremely dangerous during any time of year as you don't want to be a bumper between the dock and (in our case) a 19 ton boat. I didn't fall completely into the water, but ended up with my arms on the dock and my legs in the water. I immediately began to seek a purchase for my legs in order to lever myself onto the dock, and I asked Stew to stand back to see whether I could save myself if necessary. He was not amused, shouted at expletive and hauled me onto the dock. I'm sure I would have felt the same way from his vantage point, but I did discover how the docks were constructed and how I may be able to use the bottom crosspiece to get back aboard if need be.

Falling into the water in winter is probably one of our biggest concerns. We wear cleats on icy days, use a buddy system in storms and generally try to be careful and aware of our situation. When we have landlubber guests who stay late into the evening, we walk them back to safety on shore. This week's fall did serve to remind me that our lifestyle does have risks -- even for those of us who are old hands at living aboard.

 

Good-by to Jake, Sailing Dog

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The week before Labor Day, we had a nice -- now bittersweet -- vacation after which summer ended for us.

Our beloved dog, Jake, was put to rest one week after our return. He was twelve; he was less active during our trip and it was apparent that this would be his last sailing vacation. The effort to get from dinghy to boat was simply too hard and he no longer easily tolerated the heeling of the boat on brisk sails.

Three vet visits in a week confirmed canine bone cancer -- a death sentence. Stew had to make the final call as I was unable to do so. Knowing that this was the right choice for Jake did not make it an easy choice for us.

September 9 was the end of summer for us. We have wonderful memories of Jake on the boat, in the dinghy, and on many beaches in Maine. He was just over 12 years old and still full of love with an appetite as big as the world. Prior to the final visit to the vet Stew stopped at Reds Dairy Bar and presented Jake with a large dish of soft serve. Then, our long time veterinarian, Linda Bond, and four other vets and techs who knew Jake joined us in saying good-by and in giving him hugs and dog cookies. He went peacefully and with much love.

Jake was our friend and companion, our mascot, and just the best dog. Jake was the trainer’s “teacher’s pet” in obedience school, he was the favorite dog on the FedEx driver’s route, and he was the greatest walking buddy in the world. He loved his family, the vet, the kennel, power boats, kids, babies, belly rubs, going to work, the Great Island Boatyard crew, cookies, and “the big munch” – not necessarily in that order. He took care of his family, welcomed visitors, enjoyed new adventures and respected tradition. He repelled possible borders at sea, kept an eye out for seals and whales, assisted on the foredeck, and “vacuumed” the galley and dining area. He made us smile, gave us comfort when we were sad or ill, and frequently made us laugh out loud. He gave lots of wet kisses, painless nose nibbles, and unconditional love to all. When Jake came into our lives as a young adult dog, he just wanted a loving home. We did our best to provide that. He did his best always. We will miss him.

Stormy Winter Day at the Dock – 12/21/2008

We  are having our first major North Easter here in 2008/09 winter. It is 6:07 with high tide expected at 6:46. This will be a higher than normal tide with a surge; the 30 knots of winds mean it's bouncy out there and northeast winds blow the boat away from the dock, stretching the lines.   I get nervous getting on and off and we will change the lines a bit during the next few days. We don't have to be this far off the dock. You landlubbers do not want to see the chasm we negotiate from boat to steps.

We planned for today, shopped yesterday, will do laundry on Monday. Stew ventured out for the paper and we have stayed in and kept warm. Our nearest neighbors are monitoring a radio channel with us. If anyone has a problem, we can get some help quickly.  We love our new neighbors . John and Dora are newbies at this living aboard thing but they are game, learn quickly, and are great sports. Life is still good on the water. The photo is taken from our door. The lights are the Christmas decorations on Far Horizons. The white specks are blowing snow. You can't see the white caps rolling in from the river.

Exploring Home Before We Sail the World -  1/4/2009

We read a lot of sailing books and subscribe to a number of cruising magazines. While crossing oceans is what motivates Stew, I am eager to explore new areas and meet interesting people. This morning I was reminded that Maine is indeed a delight and that interesting people can be found anywhere.

One of our propane tanks was empty and Stew asked me to go with him to get it refilled, so I would know the drill in the future. He told me about the guy who usually filled the tank. "He attended some training program for doing this safely and is very proud," said Stew. "He always gives me a little lecture on safe transport." Sure enough, we pulled in to the local U-Haul, parked by the fill tank, and in just a few seconds a young Asian man, with very baggy jeans and a slow shambling gait, walked over to our car. He spoke with a slight accent,and while he didn't recognize Stew, he did recognize the tank. (Really, he knew our tank!)

He examined it carefully then quickly and efficiently refilled it. I talked with him a bit and found that this is a weekend job. He has another part time job in the area and he is a full time student at a local college. With all of that going on, this young man was very conscientious as he filled the tank. He had obviously taken his training to heart and was proud of the responsibility that he had been given. When he handed the tank to Stew, he again admonished him to keep it upright and not to smoke while the tank was in the car. For some reason, he touched me. Nice kid, working hard to move ahead. When we finally take off to sail the world, I am sure I will be touched by many people.In the meantime, I want to remember to notice the people here in Maine who help to create this interesting community. Not all discoveries occur thousands of miles from home.

Hmmmm. Guess I knew something back then, after all.


Bugs!

P6050196When we left Maine, I vowed to stop our dependence on processed cereals. They are hard to keep fresh and whole, take up a lot of space, and are very welcoming to critters. I do not welcome critters unless they are furry, have four legs, and bark.

In a – mostly successful – attempt to keep cockroaches and flour worms/moths off La Luna we have “never” brought cardboard aboard the boat – well almost never – and “always” store any tasty morsel for bugs in Tupperware, Lock ‘n Lock, screw top plastic jar, or Click Clack container.

The first time I slacked on the rules was in Trinidad when we opted to purchase copious amounts of some of our favorite beverages to take advantage of their prices before we came back to the USVI. The cardboard beer cases were left at the dock, but the boxed wine came aboard boxed. Shortly thereafter, I saw a cockroach.

In theory, if you see just one, you are not “infested”. If you see three, you have thousands on board. I only saw one, but I still made and set out roach cookies to prevent an infestation. Months later, no more roaches. Whew!

Since we’ve been in St. Thomas EW has made a new acquaintance with boxed cereal and I’ve generally kept him stocked in Raisin Bran. The box does not come aboard, since everything we’ve read indicates that bugs just love to lay their eggs in the glue. After the cockroach sighting, I’m even more rabid about the box rule and often remove the bag of cereal and throw away the box in the store’s outside trash bin.

The other morning, EW pulled out his beloved bag of RB, of which he had only had one serving. Gulp. His eyes were immediately drawn to a moth flitting about in the bag. The bag was promptly stuffed into a plastic garbage bag, which was sealed and thrown into the dinghy.

EW had peanut butter and toast for breakfast and I examined and cleaned the cupboards, particularly because we’d gotten lax and the cereal had been closed with a clip, not locked into a plastic container. No other moths. No –ugh- worms, no cobwebby things. I’ve checked everything from cereal to crackers, flour, spaghetti, cookies – no bugs at all. We can only imagine that the one bug was in the bag at the store and didn’t have a chance to infect us. Having read this article about their life cycle,  I’ll be checking weekly in case I missed something.

Here’s what I didn’t know: Those suckers CAN and DO chew through plastic. Still, it’s not their first choice. Since I have no evidence of any infestation, I think these prevention methods have worked quite well so far.

  1. Wash produce in a bowl of water with white vinegar, before said produce goes below. (I’ve also P6050140heard other folks use sea water, bleach, and hydrogen peroxide.) I don’t tend to follow that rule here in the USVI and haven’t yet regretted that. Farther south, we followed that rule faithfully, and I haven’t regretted that either.
  2. Remove all cardboard before it gets near the companionway.  Best case is to remove it on shore where there is a dumpster or garbage can available.
  3. Purchase only flour that comes sealed in a heavy plastic bag. I figure if I were a bug on the flour shelf, I’d opt for the easy access paper bags of flour instead of chomping my way through a plastic bag that may, or may not, contain flour. They can’t read, you know.
  4. Check all potential food sources for stowaways before storing food in sealed plastic containers. Clearly I’ve stopped checking carefully. I have a new mission, now.
  5. Liberally scatter bay leaves in all cupboards in which a bug’s tasty tidbits are stored. Place bay leaves inside all of the containers, too.P6050133
  6. Make sure you check for whole or partial bay leaves before making bread, cooking the rice, or eating the cereal.
  7. Clean up all crumbs after food prep. Clean cupboards more often than I did in Maine. P6160397

 

 

 

 

 

 

  Some of the more scientific articles sniff at the use of bay leaves. I think it helps and I’m going to continue to do it.  I keep all peanut butter jars, rice jars, and other plastic screw top jars to store pantry items. In addition, I love, love, love my Click Clack canisters. I’ve had most of them since we moved aboard in 2002 and only one has broken.

A few days after EW’s moth incident, I went back to Pueblo – not the cleanest of groceries, but the closest – and again purchased a box of raisin bran. While in the store, I opened the box, shook up the contents and checked for moths. Seeing none, I purchased it, tossing the box into the dumpster after checking out.

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The Blog Gods must have wanted the photo-not-taken when EW found a bug, because once I got the groceries into the cockpit, this little beauty was flitting around in the sealed bag. Back to Pueblo where the manager apologized and cheerfully made a refund, saying, “They like the raisins. And it’s warm here so the egg hatched.” EW will not be getting any more processed cereal with raisins.

Ever.

He’s OK with that. Evidently the only thing worse than a bug in an unopened bag of cereal, is one in a bag from which you have eaten.

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Related articles


If EW Had a Blog

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Favorite Son and EW Sailing in USVI in 2012

 

Ever since I started blogging and Tweeting back in Maine, EW has been known to introduce himself as “The Topic”, and he got used to knowing which conversations and incidents were likely to become a tweet or a  post.

This is a truthful blog but not a “tell-all” blog and more of the truth is about EW than it is about me. Some of the things I don’t tell might make me look bad, and EW would never make me look bad. Just as I don’t want to make him look bad – except for the French Fry incident. He deserved all he got for that one.

However, I am far from perfect. In fact after reading my book, one snarky Amazon reviewer had much to say about my imperfections and how horrible it would be if he were stuck on a boat with me. While that man was just nasty, I admit that EW has to put up with more than being the primary topic of an imperfect writer, and I’m thankful that he’s never threatened to jettison me.

So, as a sort of Father’s Day present, here are some things I think EW would mention about me if he had a blog.

  • I lose my glasses. Every day. Many times a day. We live on a boat, so this isn’t a large place in whichP6110377 to lose my glasses. I sigh and mumble soft swears and barge around the boat searching for the pair that I just had in my hands two minutes ago. It’s not pretty.
  • I don’t always often   I sometimes don’t He can pretty much expect me to speak before thinking at least once every few days. Sometimes I do so in a way that embarrasses him. Like the other day when we were having lunch at the counter at Jen’s, a charming restaurant and sandwich shop in St. Thomas. I was chatting with a couple of gentlemen on my right who asked what we were doing on the island. I briefly told them and finished by saying, “Stew’s a little ferry guy.” Meaning Stew is a captain on one of those small ferries in the harbor. But what I said was, “Stew’s a little ferry guy.” It went over very well on my right – not so much on my left, where EW sat. I swear I didn’t mean to say that. It just came out.
  • That whole “lefty loosie/righty tighty” thing? I can’t remember it. Well, I can remember the words, but my body forgets pretty much every time, unless I say the words as I am turning whatever. This results in wasted water and a wet dinghy when filling water jugs at Crown Bay. It’s also a trial for EW when I am his mechanic’s assistant and why I prefer nails to bolts and screws.
  • I can’t don’t haven’t really tried to resist an open bag of potato chips. This was a problem when we P6120381first moved in together over 28 years ago. When EW packs his lunch he likes that “something crunchy” thing from the Girl Scout guide – even if he doesn’t know about the Scouts’ suggestions for, “Something crunchy, something munchy, nothing squishy, nothing squashy”.  EW can keep a bag of potato chips for over a week, pulling out a handful for lunch and carefully closing the bag to lock in freshness. I can eat the whole bag in one sitting. An open bag of chips calls to me, “Barbara .. Barbara .. We’re here. We’re Salty. We’re crunchy. You know you want us.” And I do. Back in the early days of our life together, he hid the chips on me before going to work. He hid them in his underwear drawer!  Here’s the kicker: I looked for them and I looked in that drawer. But I didn’t find them because I didn’t expect him to put them under his t-shirts. The only thing that’s changed since is he hasn’t tried to hide the chips on the boat … probably because his underwear drawer is too small.
  • I have not lost the weight I’ve been talking about for a year. EW is not allowed to discuss this with me, including the impact of my issue with potato chips. He is allowed to listen to what I volunteer whenever I choose to volunteer it.
  • On the other hand, I have acted as though it is my right to discuss any of his faults, also whenever I so choose.
  • I forget things. Not things like the French Fry incident. I’ll remember that forever. I forget important tasks, sometimes when I’m in the middle of doing them. For example, it is not safe for us to have a tea kettle that doesn’t whistle. I also too often forget  to turn off the propane after cooking; to turn on Gramps, the wind generator after turning off the Honda; and to fill the dinghy tank with gas. Furthermore – and this isn’t pretty – I’ve been known more than once – to forget to return and flush the head after getting interrupted by a phone or VHF call, visitor, or whistling tea kettle.
  • I remember things. Things like the French Fry incident. And any time EW has admitted to being wrong. I remember them forever. This is not a good thing.
  • Also, I win the award for uttering the “Best Line During a Fight” Award. The line was uttered with disdain and a certain tilt of the head, “I wish you wouldn’t be so insistent when I know I’m right!” and it resulted in laughter and a cease fire. I have since uttered that line when wrong. More than once. That just speaks volumes about what EW has to put up with.

I have little patience, and a sharp tongue. That speaking without thinking is often not funny at all. Maybe I wouldn’t want to go to sea with me, either.

But there is no place I’d rather be than on a boat with EW, either sailing, or planning and working toward sailing. I love him, and I am very thankful that despite all of the above, he loves me. And I’m incredibly blessed that he has such a good sense of humor.

Thank you, EW. You are a wonderful father and husband and I love you.

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I am EW and I read approved this message.


EW - Born to be Wild

 

 

This wasn’t on EW’s bucket list, but he enjoyed it.

St. Thomas Jet Riders is owned by EW’s employer, and they offered him a free Jet Ride experience so that he can promote Jet Riding to his ferry passengers.

That’s an excellent marketing tool for them, because EW enjoyed the heck out of it and I took a video.

Then, I spent the rest of the day figuring out how to edit, add music, and upload. If that wasn’t on my bucket list, it was on my “To-do” list – so all’s good.

EW picked the music. I think it’s appropriate – don’t you?

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So – in the category of FAQ – Three folks help to make the Jet Rider experience fun and safe: A captain, a lifeguard on a chase jet ski, and the instructor. In our case, Tabatha, Chris, and Landon.  Neat people. Landon is a natural teacher with excellent Jet Rider skills and a very calm way of talking. He controls how high the newbies can “fly” and provides guidance from the pontoon boat via a microphone. The helmet worn by the rider is not necessary for safety, but does have built in headphones. EW had a hard time hearing Landon – but did quite well, anyway. Guess he’s just born to be wild.

Jet Riding is a cool adventure on a hot day in the Caribbean. 


Hurricane Season

Hurricane 2013

 

Ever since we made the decision to stay in St. Thomas and work for a year, I’ve been pretty much obsessing over hurricanes. We are “in the zone” which basically means that our insurance won’t cover us if we have damage from a named storm. The aqua arrow points to our location – the green arrow points to Grenada, where we prefer to wait out hurricane season in the Caribbean, even though Grenada is also in the hurricane zone.

Note that both areas have 50% chance of being hit by a named storm; the difference is that it only takes 12 hours to escape to Trinidad from Grenada and it would take 4 days to make that trip form St. Thomas. Trinidad is that island country in circled in yellow, below and to the left of Grenada.

Still, a surprising number of boats stay in St. Thomas. Some folks have moved here and have full-time, year-round careers, living on the boat just as we did in Maine. Others are cruisers-on-a-break, who are here for one, or in some cases two to three years and have definite plans for sailing on to other ports. The past couple of years have been calm hurricane-wise. That means that those who try to predict hurricanes have declared that St. Thomas is due for a big one by the end of 2014. I’m not wishing that on them, but do hope if he’s right that it doesn’t happen this year. Please.

Our cousins, Jeff and Barb have lived on the island for 30 years and gone through two major hurricanes in their current home. When I was discussing my obsession with Barb, she looked at me blankly, “I figure we’re just a little dot on the ocean,” she said. “No reason to worry about it.”  Oh. Well, that’s an interesting philosophy.

P6070237OK, then. I’m not worrying, but we will make plans. Friends from S/V Kookaburra  loaned us a publication by Cap’n Fatty Goodlander called :

How to Prepare Your Vessel to  Survive a Hurricane

in the U.S. Virgin Islands

You can see by the photo, that I am not exaggerating the name in any way. I like how they chose a cover photo of boats that didn’t  survive, don’t you?

I’ve gone on line and checked out the history of storms in this area and looked at where we could have gone to be safe in those storms. Here are the salient points I’ve learned from cousin Jeff, my own research, friends, and Fatty:

  • While hurricane season is June 1 to November 30, most storms in St. Thomas have occurred between the middle of August through the end of October.
  • Most storms that have hit St. Thomas have started over Africa, headed west between 8 and 12 degrees Latitude North, grew in strength, and then turned slightly northward going over the Lesser Antilles between Guadeloupe and Sint Maarten before “smashing in the Virgin Islands”. (“Smashing” is Fatty’s horrifyingly descriptive word. Charming,)
  • A few storms have started directly south of St. Thomas or Puerto Rico.
  • La Luna has too deep a draft for the closest hurricane hole.
  • We will probably head to one of the Spanish Virgin Islands in the event of a “normal” storm, which would take only 8 hours.
  • If one of those storms from the south arise, we will sail east to Sint Maartin, which would take about 20 hours.

So, we will form our hurricane plan, lay in a bunch of supplies, make sure our fuel and water stay topped up, take our boat to the safest possible place, secure her, and find a shelter on land. Then we’ll cross our fingers, and hope for the best. We’ll make sure that we are fine, and do all we can for the boat. I promise.

But you know what?  Here are maps showing the 2013 predictions for the eastern US.

Hurricane Season 2013 Southern US

 

Um. This doesn’t look good to me, at all.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hurricane Season 2013 Northeast

 

And parts of the Northeast have the same level of probability of a storm that we supposedly do.

 

 

 

 

 

 

So all you folks back home? You take care of yourselves, OK?


Crafts Afloat

There are cruisers who are crafty and artistic. They make and sell jewelry, note cards, carved gourds, and rope items; Vicky on Foxy even makes quilts on board. I’m not at their level, but I’ve created a few things that have been helpful on the boat. Friends and former neighbors, Chuck and Diane, sailed around the world and invited us to visit when they traversed the Panama Canal. While aboard S/V Bear I noticed that she had made a sunglasses holder out of heavy plastic needlepoint canvas, and filed that idea away for the future.

We didn’t need a sunglasses holder, but I’ve since thought of a few ways that needlepoint canvas can work for us. These are not cute, colorful, yarn-covered tchotchkes. A quick search on the Internet shows a surprising number of dubious items one can make and give to unsuspecting friends and relatives. My projects are strictly utilitarian and leave the canvas naked – and washable. Instead of yarn, Diane used gimp to lace the pieces together. Do you remember gimp? EW had “never heard of it,” proving he wasn’t a Girl Scout.

At Camp Natarswi in Millinocket, Maine, I often had to choose between candy or gimp when spending my miniscule daily camp store budget.Gimp was vitally important in creating bracelets, key rings, or other items for friends and family. Candy was just vitally important.

My first and best project:  Drawer Dividers.

La Luna was built in 1985 and is a monohull. Both her age and her style willP6050189 indicate that she may not have the galley storage found in similar-sized newer boats or multi-hulls. In fact, the only drawers I have for the galley are at the other end of the salon, underneath a small book shelf. They are also small – so small that no commercial ready-made dividers would fit.

When we first moved aboard, I spent a lot of money purchasing home and marine storage items. Some proved to be worth their weight in teak, others did not.  The cut-to-fit plastic drawer dividers with sticky pads did not stay stuck for more than a year, but I kept them in use for a while longer with gorilla glue and other products. (EW and I agreed that 5200 would not be a good idea – though I was tempted.)

You can still get gimp at craft shops in the States and Amazon.com, but I haven’t been able to find it down islands at all. As you can see, above, this manufacturer calls it “Rexlace”, but if you Google “gimp” you can find it. At least one store in St. Thomas claims to stock it – sometimes. I’ve also found that most of the craft and sewing stores in the Caribbean don’t offer the stiffest plastic canvas, so if you want to make these items and you’re already in the Caribbean, I’d suggest adding them to your next guest’s shopping list. It won’t take up much room in her duffle.

Here are my two plastic canvas projects. If you have boat craft ideas with plastic canvas or other materials, please share them in comments, or email me about doing a guest post.

P6050157Drawer Dividers

1. Measure your drawer and the items you want to store. As you can see, our table knives and teaspoons dictated how I arranged the drawer. The interior of these drawers is just over 6.5 inches wide, so I decided the holders could be about 2 inches wide,which would allow me a bit of wiggle room. Except for the knives and teaspoons, I simply split the length in half, again, reducing the final lengths to slightly less than half of the length of the drawer to allow for the width of the plastic.

2. Now, add an even amount to each of the four sides. I added two inches for a rise of just less than that. If the dividers are too tall, it would be harder to remove the silverware. Cut rectangles from the plastic canvas in the appropriate width and length. The photo with the sacrificial cardboard shows a one-inch rise.

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3. Mark the fold/cut lines. for my drawers, two inches from each outside edge. Then cut the marked square out of each corner.

P60501724. Here’s the cool part: While the cardboard I’ve used for these photos holds a crease, the plastic canvas does not … until you use fire. Pinch the canvas along the lines and run it along a flame for a few seconds. Hold, and release. Viola! A fold.

5. Now, simply “sew” the gimp along each corner and you have removable, washable, custom drawer dividers. P6060218

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Spaghetti Divider

I discovered Click Clack canisters before we moved aboard,and when my sister Pat came to visit our future abode, she helped me measure the canisters to fit. Somehow, I broke the pasta container last year, but all of the others are still locking in freshness and locking out bugs. I love that! Click Clack canisters are definitely on my “Good Product” list.

P6050143I purchased a new pasta keeper and then looked at the three different pastas I had to keep. I made a quick and easy pasta divider.

I measured the inside of the container at the top and bottom, because it tapers. Then I cut two pieces of plastic to fit the inside diameter of the container.

I cut each of them half way up the middle. and slipped them together creating a cross and four compartments. STOP

Then I did it all over again because I had cut them both up from the bottom. Cut one half way up from the bottom and the other half way down from the top. Also, make sure that the finished height is short enough to clear the cover, which does take up over an inch at the top of the container.

Insert dividers and pasta. NOTE: This isn’t a perfect divide, but it works – mostly. I will have pasta creep, but I live on a boat and don’t have room for multiple pasta containers, so I’ll deal. It’s a small price to pay for living on our boat in the Caribbean. Woot!

NOTE:  For some good ideas – and some strange ones – check out this. I found the hair clip/cord keepers to be particularly useful.

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