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July 2013

Cactus Blossom

Photo borrowed from the following website: http://decorationplants.wordpress.com/2011/08/13/quick-ways-to-maintain-cactus-flower/

Meeting new people and making new friends is one of the best things about this cruising life. Frequently, they are folks whose interests outside of boating would mean that we may not have met when living on shore life. We learn from these new friends: how to play dominoes, how to protect our boat, how to fix the SSB, how to catch fish. We've met smart people out here.

Jaime and Keith on s/v Kookaburra are a case in point. Jaime is a certified refrigeration specialist working full time here in St. Thomas. Keith used to have EW’s job, but left it to work in his field of civil engineering. B.C. (Before Cruising), they both were avid skiers and worked in the ski patrol, living for a number of years in Colorado. In addition to all that, Jaime is a master gardener, worked at a number of plant nurseries, and owned her own nursery before they went sailing.

When we met in Grenada two years ago, Jaime told me that whenever she walked or toured the island she felt like a kid in a candy store, and marveling at myriad of blossoms in every yard. Here in St. Thomas, Jaime and I are walking for exercise a number of mornings a week, when I’ve been known to ask her about particular plants along the way.

It was a lovely morning on July 17 when we both noted a ginormous yellow and white blossom on a roadside cactus. Jaime immediately imparted that, “We aren’t going to have rain for a while.” “Really?” “Yep. Those guys bloom when they know it’s not going to rain so that the species doesn’t die off.” I was impressed with her knowledge – for about four hours. I told EW of Jaime's weather prediciton, but we still closed the hatches when we left for work.

While I was tending the rum cart, it rained. I texted Jaime: P5260095-001

If Water Island had the same rain I just experienced, your cactus lied.

No response, but more rain.

Ahem.

She never did respond to those texts.

When EW got home from the ferry, he made a comment about our neighbor, "Cactus Blossom" and took to calling her that at our next pizza gathering. Don't mess with EW about weather.

And we continued to have rain every few days.

It poured on July 22 – while I was once again on the rum cart -- and I got this message from Jaime:

Stupid cactus. What do they know?

I replied

They are dead to me.

She clarified.

They really are stupid cactus because we know that I could not possibly be mistaken….

I replied.

Then that’s our story. But be prepared for a blog on Cactus Blossom.

On Sunday the 27th we had 2.18 inches of rain, according to the National Weather Service. That’s a lot of rain. The previous record for that day is .49 inches.

We love Cactus Blossom and will continue to consider her the oracle of refrigeration systems, and flower names. Weather prediction? Not so much.

Rain showers are predicted through Thursday.

Stupid Cactus.


Dorian and Steak Pie

Dorian (name)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Dorian /ˈdɔəriən/ is a name of Greek origin meaning "from Doris", or alternatively from the Gaelic name Doireann meaning "tempestuous weather".[1] It was probably created by Oscar Wilde for the main character in his The Picture of Dorian Gray, after whom the syndrome Dorian Gray syndrome.[2] It is used mainly for men, but is also used occasionally for women. It is the name of a long-running female soap opera character, Dorian Cramer, on the ABC soap opera One Life to Live.

Hmmm. So we have tempestuous weather, Oscar Wilde, and soap operas. Kind of appropriate since Dorian was tempestuous only for a short while and simply disappeared.

No biggie.

Here’s what I like about early hurricane season in St. Thomas:

These storms give us a chance to learn the area, sample various weather forecast options, and discuss our storm plans.  We follow a lot of weather sources, but tend to focus on Chris Parker’s 7AM SSB broadcast and Weather Underground. On the 25th, Weather Underground showed the historical tracks of storms that were born in June and July in the same area in which Dorian formed. As you can see, historically we didn’t have much to worry about.

 

7.25 historical

Still, we kept watch – two to three times daily – and listened to Chris Parker every morning. If Dorian hadn’t died out, an option that was mentioned often, he would go north of us, impacting us with some wind and potentially rough seas. We made plans to move into Charlotte Amalie Harbor because when a storm goes to the north, this anchorage can have a very uncomfortable roll. At 5AM on Saturday, they were talking about Dorian weakening. If he remained alive, he was definitely passing close enough to our north to have a bit of impact.Dorian 7.27.13 5A Tracking

Since EW was scheduled to work on Sunday, we would move on Saturday night after he got out of work. I was aboard La Luna all day and had planned to pull some beef out of the freezer and make an Asian – and fairly healthy  -- sauté. However, it was cooler than normal that morning, and I thought it might be blustery and raining by the time we moved, and the originally planned meal could not be cooked until after we anchored, meaning we wouldn’t eat until late.

I’ve been reading some British mysteries lately and the Scotland Yard types keep stopping into pubs for lunch where steak pie is often the meal of choice. I looked up a few recipes, altered them, combined them, and vowed not to use the gas for the 3-4 hours of total cooking time. Why would anyone need to bake a pie for 2 hours – particularly after browning the ingredients and stewing everything on the stove top for over an hour?

I figured I could start cooking at 5, have the pie in the oven by 6 when EW arrived home, and it would be ready to eat once we had anchored.

In the meantime, Dorian began to die like daytime soaps. By the time EW arrived home, we had both decided that it made no sense to move.P7270578

Still, EW was so delighted with the steak pie, that I actually sat down at the laptop and wrote out my recipe. Before we take off next year, I’ll made a batch of this and freeze it, making the crust and baking it as we cross the Atlantic. P7270581

Thanks, Dorian – for being my gourmet muse this week, and for dying out at sea. We’ll remember you fondly.

La Luna Steak Pie for four

1 lb steak

1 large onion

2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley

1 tsp dried thyme

Salt and black pepper

1 cup beef stock - a bit more if you like a moister steak pie.

1 pastry crust

1 egg beaten

Olive oil

1 can of beer

1. cube steak, pour half can of beer on it, add salt and pepper and marinate for a bit

1.a. Sip the rest of the beer while cooking.

2. Slice the onion and sauté in a bit of hot oil until gold and brown. Take the time to cook it well. Stir often and stop only when brown bits start clinging to the pan.

3. Remove onion, add a bit of oil to the pan and reheat. Drain the beef, reserving the liquid. Wipe the cubes to dry them, dust with seasoned flour and brown in pan.

4. Add onions, parsley, thyme, salt and pepper to the browned beef. Mix reserved beer into broth and add to pan. Cook on top of stove for about 15 minutes.

5. Make pie crust. I used 1 cup flour, 1 tsp. salt, 1/3 cup shortening, and water to make a dough. Do all the normal cutting in of the shortening, rolling, etc., reserving a bit of dough to edge the pan.

6. Pour beef mixture into pie pan or small iron skillet. Edge pan/skillet with small bit of dough, place dough topping on top of the dough edge and pinch the edges together. Brush entire top of dough with beaten egg. Make a slit to let steam escape.

7. Place in 350 oven and bake until pie crust is done.

8. Serve with lightly buttered el dente carrot discs and beer.


Dope

I am dope.

This is not my opinion. Oh no. A tall, handsome young man declared that I was “dope” and took my photo.

This is not my photo.

I’ve been working at the Rum Cart located at the Havensight Mall in St. Thomas. This job is dope and I’ll tell you more about it in a subsequent post.

I only work when there’s a cruise ship at the dock, and 99 percent of my “customers” are passengers. This young man was on vacation with his family, and roaming around the mall with a buddy or cousin. They were over 18, so they stopped at the rum cart where I hand out free samples of Cruzan® Rum.

As I handed him his first little sample, I peered at his sunglasses and asked, “Are those spikes on your sunglasses?”

He smiled as if I had complimented his first born – “Yeah. Aren’t they dope?”

“Oh yes!” I said, assuming that dope meant cool.

And with that, he whipped his sunglasses off and urged me to try them on. So I did.

And he laughed, and declared that I was “dope”.

When he asked if he could take a photo, I said, “Of course.”

He got out his iPad and padded a couple of pics, then kindly took my phone and took one for me.

Pic-07222013-001

You really can’t see the spikes, so I tried a super close-up.

Pic-07222013-002

 

Then I went to the web, Googled “sunglasses with spikes” and found a plethora of images. The ones below are more like the ones I wore. Except “mine” had spikes actually on the lenses in the lower outside corners.

 

I also Googled “dope”. According to Urban Dictionary, it does mean cool:

dope

1. adj. cool, nice, awesome
2. noun a drug

1. Yo foo that new stereo system is dope!
2. Yo man you got some dope?

 

Whew.  It’s nice to be cool.


Klutz

I’m am the first definition of klutz: 

klutz (klʌts)
n. Slang.

1. a clumsy, awkward person.

2. a stupid or inept person; blockhead.

[1965–70, Amer.; < Yiddish klots literally, wooden beam < Middle High German kloc]

My mom used to say (frequently), “Barbara, you can hit all four sides of a door when you’re going through.” She was right. This was not some version of child abuse and didn’t hurt my ego; it was just the truth. I’ve always had random bruises, and usually can’t remember receiving them. (Fran, one of my cousins, is also afflicted. As is my sister, Pat. Her husband was her boss when they met. Jerry said he married her so that she would have to change departments and stop breaking things in his.)

Back in high school, I had applied to work as a cashier at Bud’s Shop ‘n Save in Newport, Maine. Danny, the manager at the time, saw me in the store one day and said, “Here! Catch!” tossing me a raw egg. To my and my parents’ amazement, I caught it without breaking it. Danny thought that qualified as a test to see if I was coordinated and hired me. I worked for them part-time through the rest of high school and my first year of college. It was a great job and they liked my work. However, I broke many bottles of soda, banged my fingers a lot, and generally exhibited my usual klutziness. Danny swore that “You lied in your interview.”

Most boaters get bangs and bumps, and other women boaters in particular have mentioned their myriad of bruises. It doesn’t help that I’m a blue-eyed blond and bruise easily. My boating bruises appeared more frequently earlier in our marriage when we had a smaller sailboat, and there was that one time on our honeymoon when EW was accused of spousal abuse, but for the most part, it’s the boat that suffers when my klutz happens.

  • There’s an ammonia burn on the teak sole of the aft head. I did that.
  • There’s a nail polish remover scar on the salon table. I did that – and no longer polish my nails as a penance.
  • When EW reads this, he’ll come up with a list of things he’s had to fix because I broke them. Just like with my bruises, I don’t have good retention of  the many boat booboos that I created.

This week, as I was getting ready for work, I somehow stumbled on the way into the aft head. Now there is a lip one has to step over, but I’ve lived aboard this boat since 2002, so one would think that walking around would be automatic. It usually is.

Anyway, I stubbed three toes, and made an arm-wind-milling hard landing on the toilet seat, causing it to break off the head.  I left the lid there, askew, and went off to work, forgetting all about it even when my toes hurt a bit later in the day.

Until EW and I returned home and he went into the aft head.

“Dammit!”

I wondered, just for the barest of moments, what had upset EW, and then remembered and said, “Oh. I meant to tell you, I fell into the head this morning and broke the seat.”

“I can see that.”

“You can fix it, though, right?”

“Yes, but it will take some time and tools I’m not doing it until my day off.”P7250572

“OK. I’m fine by the way. Bruised my toes though.”

“Humph.'”

That’s why EW has the toilet lid on his side of the bed. (I disinfected it as soon as I saw it there. Ugh. Men!)

This morning, I found  an article on the web about a TODAY Show report by Savannah Guthrie, who is also a klutz. We are not alone, and it’s not our fault:

Guthrie reported on the science of clumsiness this morning, citing a 2007 Dutch report that essentially found that natural-born walking disasters really do exist – one out of every 29 people is 50 percent more likely to do something clumsy than regular, non-accident-prone people.

Today, Dr. Buz Swanik and his team of engineers at the University of Delaware are investigating what’s happening in the brains of clumsy people.

“They can’t create a plan for what’s going to happen next, and it could be within one-tenth or two-tenths of a second, and you’re exposed, to whatever is around you that could hurt you,” Swanik told TODAY.

And that fraction of a second is enough time to drop something, crash into something, fall into something – you get it.

TODAY host Savannah Guthrie and I? We are like this:  P7250576


Captain Stew*

*Some of you may be shocked to realized that IRL (In Real Life) my husband and captain goes by “Stew”, not “EW”  -- though he answers to both. On the job, he’s definitely Captain Stew. P7200540

He found out about the job through cruising friends as the cruisers’ grapevine in St. Thomas is an active source of information. There are many jobs for captains down here. Most of them are larger vessels with crew: catamarans, pirate ships, or large mono-hulls, that take  40-80 folks out for snorkeling day trips, sunset cruises, or weddings. EW had the choice of skippering a 60-foot sail boat out of Redhook, skippering a powered dive charter boat, or skippering the M/V Morning Star for The Adventure Center that operates out of the Marriott in Charlotte Amalie Harbor.

P7200518The Morning Star and her partner, the Evening Star, are covered launches, that make the run from the Marriot Hotel to downtown Charlotte Amalie every half hour from 8:30 AM to 5:30 PM. These cute little boats (EW will not like the phrase “cute little boat”) carry up to 22 passengers on a 20-minute slow chug to and from town. Along the way Captain Stew regales his customers with stories about the islands, architecture, and shops; lets kids and kids-at-heart take the wheel; and occasionally mentions our lifestyle and cruising status.

P7200549

He loves it.

You who don’t know me have probably surmised that I’m fairly extroverted and may assume I married my opposite. Not so. EW enjoys telling stories almost as much as I do. (Fortunately we also enjoy listening to each other.) He played tourist for a day or two before taking the job, learned from Keith, his predecessor, and picked up a few things on his own in order to make the trip interesting to his passengers. The boat putts along at 5 knots (Lunah Landah, with a 9.8 horsepower outboard beats the Morning Star any day of the week.) giving EW plenty of time to interact with his passengers. P7200533

P7200555He loves meeting folks from all over, making them laugh, and helping them enjoy their vacations. Late one day, four guests wanted photos with Captain Stew, and a gentleman who was going on the run to town had to wait on the dock for a moment. Once the four were on their way, EW apologized to the gentleman, who brushed that aside. Turns out he was the interim manager for Marriott, a retired hotel executive who took over various locations for a few months until a new manager is hired and gets up to speed. He said to EW.”Do you have any idea how rare – and what a compliment it is that those guys wanted your photo after knowing you for 20 minutes? I’ve been around this business for a while, and you clearly made a great impression on a short trip. I’ll make sure to tell Scott and Mark at the Adventure Center.” EW is still beaming at that compliment.

P7200509He’s paid an hourly wage, and receives tips from his passengers – most of the time. This working for tips is a humbling thing to do when you are sixty-something. EW has developed a “Tip Zen”, being grateful for those he receives and not worrying about those who don’t tip.

Mostly.

The drunk young man who got seasick on the short trip, and had to “use the bucket” left a quarter - we don’t like him.  Nor are we impressed with the moneyed young things with kids in carriages who entrust EW to carry their precious cargo on and off the boat and barely offer a “thank you”. On the other hand, it is the practice of EW’s company that the day crew in the office or on some of the other vessels can take a ride to work on the ferry for free. They nearly always offer a tip. They know what it’s like.

I have to confess, that while I inevitably tip 20% at a restaurant, I never knew how/what to tip in these situations. The captains are thrilled if they receive a dollar per passenger. That’s not much, but it adds up to a good day on the water and EW and I will remember that when we are once again real cruisers.

P7200525In the meantime, five days a week, EW dons his green shirt and name badge and heads over to the Marriott to power up Morning Star and get her into the dock for the first run. It’s a full day of constant motion and constant customer interaction. He loves it.

But he’s still really looking forward to being “just a cruiser” once again.

P7200528

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

P7200502

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P7200551

 

 

Above, EW docking at town. Above right, the Marriott Hotel. At right, The time shares at The Cove. EW picks up and drops off at both locations.


This New Lifestyle with Wake-up Alarms ...

… and make-up (for me, not EW) …P7170478

… and packing lunches. (At left, Lock ‘n Locks ready for the day.)

We used the wake-up alarm in Grenada whenever we planned a long hike, and we packed lunches then, too. But the make-up and daily routines for two working people are totally new and take some getting used to.

On days when EW works, he sets the alarm for 6:00 AM.

Somehow, an alarm every morning at six so EW can get to work doesn’t have the same panache as a when EW wakes me at six so I can take the next watch. How did this happen?

Deep breath.

Now that we both are working (I promise posts and photos about each job) I have to plan shopping, laundry, cleaning, and boat projects on my days off, taking EW to work so I can have the dinghy.

If I’m able to keep this job over the winter season, I’ll have to get used to working 4 or 5 days a week – and still complete all normal chores, write, and do boat projects to prepare for the trip.  I’m practicing a new routine this week in which I do one of five weekly normal cleaning tasks each morning. That way I won’t have to take two or more hours out of my “week-ends” to clean. So far, so good.

I also need to plan nutritious meals that can be prepared in half an hour. The reality is that  cleaning this way and being more conscious of menus and meal planning are all habits I should have developed when we left Maine. They are certainly habits I can continue when we become real cruisers again. So meal planning is good --- but the week-day cruiser cocktail parties are a distant memory. 

Darn it!

IMG00014As Lynnelle pointed out, we can do anything for 10 months. Heck we lived aboard year-round in Maine for eight years and both worked 50-60 hours a week. Going uphill both ways in winter to get on and off the docks. In snow and ice. We had to wear cleats on our boots to stay safe.

Compared to that, this working in the tropics is nothing.

But we still have to get up at six. Sometimes six days a week.

And our schedules don’t mesh.

I work whenever there is a cruise ship at the WICO port. During this season, generally Monday – Wednesday, but this week I work Sunday – Thursday. That’s cool. I like what I do. But EW has Monday and Tuesday’s  or Sunday’s and Monday’s off, so we haven’t had a day off together – except for the non-hurricane day in weeks.

I’ve grown accustom to playing and working with EW.

But we can handle anything for 10 months.

And  we'll be stronger because of it.

 

And more appreciative of our real cruising life – when we have time for things like this:

 

Whisper Cove Hike in Grenada

1-P81521061-P81521118.15 Whisper Cove Hike

A lovely morning hike organized by Lynn Kaak

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1-EW and Me Liking it 6-25-2012 12-22-59 PM

Death March II with the Kleins.  Also in Grenada

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

P3140146

Cocktail hour on La Creole


Gazpacho Mash-up

P7150463One of the good things I did when we moved aboard the boat was to consolidate my many recipes into three notebooks: Cold Weather Foods, Warm Weather Foods, and Desserts.   I used plastic sleeves for three ring binders – both full page and half page – and inserted my favorite old recipe cards, magazine pages, and recipes printed from the web.

It recently occurred to me that I haven’t been perusing those recipes enough to find old favorites or new ideas.

Until yesterday.

Jaime and Keith on Kookaburra invited us for fajitas and since I was working anything I took had to be prepared in the morning. Instead of going for my old recipes I pulled out one of my favorite cruising cookbooks, Cruising Cuisine by Kay Pastorius. Kay and her late husband cruised in Baja and the Caribbean and her cookbook is full of provisioning ideas and recipes for local foods. I was delighted to find that we had everything needed to make Kay’s Gazpacho. Kay’s tips are useful, too.

In a small-capacity boat refrigerator, gazpacho is an ideal way to store fresh vegetables. Once they are pureed they take up less space and are not subject to bruising or dehydration. If you add a couple of tablespoons of vinegar to gazpacho, it will keep in the refrigerator for about three weeks. <Who knew?> When I am short on space, I puree the vegetables and add everything but the tomato juice. Just before serving I open a can of chilled juice and add it to the vegetables.

Kay’s Recipe:

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

3 pounds of tomatoes, peeled and cut in chunks

1 small onion, peeled and quartered

1/2 bell pepper

1 cucumber, peeled, cut in half length-wise, seeded, and cut in chunks

1/2 teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon salt or to taste

freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup olive oil

1/2 cup white wine vinegar

2 cups of tomato or V-8 juice

Puree or finely shop all vegetables, Add the ingredients and pass the garnishes.

Garnishes

1/2 cup finely chopped green onion

1/2 cup finely chopped bell pepper

1/2 cup finely chopped cucumber

Garlic croutons – made from crustless white bread cubes sautéed in garlic and olive oil until golden.

 

P7150474I had made gazpacho on a weekly basis back when we had a house. I used a different recipe, and loaded it with more veggies and Frank’s Louisiana Hot Sauce.  I think my recipe came from Mom’s Betty Crocker Cookbook. I know I’ve had it for years, because the recipe card is written in my much more legible younger hand and has my family name on the “from” page. As if I had given it to myself. du’h. (I showed EW the card and said, “This is what my penmanship used to look like.” He replied, stunned, “What happened?” “Computers happened.” this is true. I can’t write legibly as fast as I can keyboard, and god forbid I were to slow down and actually be able to read my writing.)

 

 

1 Can beef broth

2 1/2 cups tomato juice

4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1/3 cup chopped onion

1 clove garlic split and tooth picked

1/4 tsp. hot pepper sauce

1/4 tsp. salt

dash freshly ground black pepper

1 cup each finely chopped green pepper, cucumber, tomato

1/4 cup chopped parsley

1/2 cup chopped zucchini

1/2 cup diced celery

Combine first eight ingredients and shake or stir well. Place in a container and chill for four hours.

Remove garlic (that’s why you toothpick it.)

Add remaining ingredients, stir or shake and chill for another hour. This stuff fits into a 2 quart container.

I love gazpacho. Still, I’ve never made it since we left Maine. I think the thought of two quart upright container in our small boat refrigerator was one of the stumbling blocks. Still, I’d made it so often that I remembered most of the ingredients and the methods I’d used. So, when I made my gazpacho for our dinner on Kookaburra I did it “my way”.

Here you go:

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

Dice the following:

3 medium tomatoes, cut in chunks. It’s all the fresh tomatoes I had. I did NOT peel them.

1 small onion

1 green bell pepper

1 red bell pepper

1 cucumber, peeled and seeded

1/2 teaspoon cumin

juice of one lime

1 teaspoon salt or to taste

freshly ground black pepper

2 12 ounce cans of V-8 juice

Many dashes of Franks Louisiana Hot Sauce

I would have added fresh parsley if I’d had it..

Garnishes

1/2 cup finely chopped green onion

Crumbled corn chips

P7150453

It was delicious. It fits in one of my horizontal Lock ‘n Locks and goes easily into the fridge next to the egg Lock ‘n Lock.

I’m glad to have gazpacho back in my repertoire and told EW that he’d be presented with it often.


Chantal

Chantal \ch(an)-tal\ as a girl's name is pronounced shahn-TAL. It is of Old French origin, and the meaning of Chantal is "stone". From "cantal". It was originally given in honour of Saint Jeanne-Françoise de Chantal (17th-century), a woman of great piety who adopted a strict religious life and founded an order of nuns, the Vistandines, devoted at first to charity and later to teaching and devotion to Jesus. The name has come to be associated with French "chant" meaning "song".
Read more at:
http://www.thinkbabynames.com/meaning/0/Chantal#Ei4BtY7wwGrM0Kwp.99

So we have “stone” as in “sinking like a”; and “great piety” as in “pray for deliverance”; and “song” as in “And Windy has stormy eyes”.

Chantal as of 5:00 AM Monday, July 8. Chantal is far right, everything else is conjecture.

Chantal Monday July 8

 

Chantal sashayed across the Atlantic creating all sorts of on-line bruhaha, the best and most helpful being Dr. Jeff Masters’ Wonderblog:

Forecast for 95L Posted by: Dr. Jeff Masters, 4:39 PM GMT on July 07, 2013
The 8 am EDT Sunday forecast from the SHIPS model predicted that 95L would experience low to moderate shear through Tuesday morning as it headed west to west-northwest at 20 - 25 mph. The disturbance should arrive in the Lesser Antilles Islands on Tuesday, and affect the Dominican Republic by Wednesday night. A band a strong upper-level winds … blah blah blah “weather speak” … In their 8 am EDT July 7 Tropical Weather Outlook, NHC gave the disturbance a 40% chance of developing into a tropical depression or tropical storm by Tuesday. I put these odds higher, at 70%. Climatology argues against 95L becoming a tropical depression east of the Lesser Antilles Islands; there have been only 20 July tropical depressions that have formed east of the Lesser Antilles since 1851, an average of one tropical cyclone every eight years.

Dr. Jeff was right, and Chantal did form and was named. In subsequent posts he made us nervous by stating that early onset tropical storms – those that form in July – indicate an active season.

Oh joy.Chantal 7.9.13 One PM

Chantal 7.9.13 2000

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Above left, Chantal at 11 AM on Tuesday. At right, Chantal at 8 PM Tuesday. She went more west than north.

EW and I watched websites, made plans, and had one of those married couple discussions about what we had been told prior to the season by our friends Carl and Carrie on S/V La Creole and Jaime and Keith on S/V Kookaburra. One of us was right. It rapidly became apparent that Chantal was going to come to our south and that St. Thomas would not take a direct hit.

Here are some of the more important things we learned from those friends who have been here for a couple of hurricane seasons:

  • We will have more storms pass to the north or south of us than we will have come directly to St. Thomas.
  • We will still have to prepare for those storms, but won’t have to leave the island.
  • If a storm passes by south of St. Thomas, we stay on our mooring, because this bay is protected from the south, while Long Bay is open to nasty swells.
  • If it passes to the north we will move to Long Bay and put two anchors out, because Long Bay is protected from the north, while Elephant Bay, where we are moored, is open to nasty swells.
  • In either case, we make sure we have food, batteries, and water aboard; clear the decks; prepare extra lines; and get the floodlight and other gear where it can be quickly grabbed.

Here are things we learned:

  • Some guy in San Juan, probably a Coast Guard guy, will X-something the port of Charlotte Amalie. That means the port is still open, but only to ships who can get under way in an hour if necessary. Cruise ships cannot do that because it’s against their code to leave thousands of passengers stranded, so they will not enter a port that has been X’d out. I didn’t know that Monday morning and took the safari bus to work to find no ship at WICO. Ran errands and came home.
  • Many boats on moorings or at anchor in Long Bay leave that bay when storms pass to the south. That makes sense – see that third bullet in the list above. A lot of them go into Crown Bay Marina. Early on Monday, EW was surprised to see many of the tourist boats, such as the three pirate ships, queuing up to enter Crown Bay. They were going in to tie up for the storm.
  • Living aboard in Maine and dealing with northeasters has aptly prepared us to enter “storm mode” here in St. Thomas. We did just fine.

Here’s something that is very different than what we dealt with in Maine: A direct hit from a hurricane is inherently more dangerous than our time on the dock in the winter, and we have more friends to worry about down here and more time to worry about them.

In Maine, northeasters come with less warning, and we don’t feel guilty or anxious if it by-passes the coast and hits inland towns. If you live in Maine, you will get northeasters. Deal with it. It’s easier to deal with in a home than on a boat, I had no problem wishing a storm would move away from us and therefore toward friends and family elsewhere in Maine. They knew how to handle it and their abodes weren’t floating.

In the Caribbean, Facebook was rife with comments by sailors from Grenada to Bequia, from St. Lucia to the USVI. None of us wanted a direct hit, but all of us worried about our sailing buddies and friends on shore in the other islands. If it turns north to miss Grenada that’s good. If it devastates Guadeloupe and Martinique that’s bad. I didn’t want to meet hurricane Chantal here in St. Thomas, but didn’t want Brittany, Peter, Lynn, Debbie, Dingis, or other friends to meet her at full force either.

In the end, Jeff Masters was right. Chantal was marching along too fast to form into a hurricane. As I said Wednesday morning on Facebook:


Barbara Hart

2 hours ago near Charlotte Amalie, United States Virgin Islands ·

 

  •  
    • Chantal power walked her way through the the Eastern Caribbean, expending most of her energy in moving forward, and she forgot to turn north soon enough to affect us. We prepared the boat for sustained winds of 35 mph and gusts of 45. I don't think the winds got to 30. Good deal.

P7090440We readied La Luna, then met Chris and Frank, EW’s co-workers, and helped them tie up the two Marriott ferries at Crown Bay. And then, we joined Chris for dinner at Tickles. Afterward. we slept through the night, and didn’t even get the massive rain they warned us about. EW has gone to work. I don’t have to because the X’d out port resulted in a second cruise ship cancellation. So I will write this post, sew, and restore stuff to the deck with the wind dies down.

We have no regrets about doing more than turned out to be necessary. That is the price we agreed to pay when we decided to stay here this season. I have asked to be included in an email list that will let us know when the port has been X’d out. I’ll continue to scour various Internet weather sites when a storm is brewing and we’ll continue to make sure La Luna and we are safe.

I will, however leave MSNBC.com off my resource list after this ridiculous “news” post yesterday afternoon.

This is a stupid headline. The article has no news and, when posted, Chantal hadn't made landfall in the Caribbean. Hard to "wreak havoc" before you arrive.

Not yet a hurricane, but Chantal still wreaks havoc in Caribbean

Ho / AFP - Getty Images

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration satellite image from Monday shows Tropical Storm Chantal off the coast of Brazil.

By Gillian Spear, NBC News

Fast-moving Tropical Storm Chantal raced toward the small islands of the Lesser Antilles on Tuesday, with residents of St. Lucia shuttering schools and preparing to close the island's two airports as it neared.

The storm was centered about 45 miles north-northwest of Barbados around 8 a.m. EDT Tuesday, the U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami said. The storm had maximum sustained winds near 50 mph, and was moving west-northwest at 26 mph.

Tropical storm warnings are now also in effect for Puerto Rico, where the storm is predicted to hit late Tuesday night.

The storm may grow to hurricane strength when it reaches the island of Hispaniola, consisting of the Dominican Republic and Haiti, on Wednesday, according to the Hurricane Center.

Residents of the southeastern United States will have to pay attention to the storm, too, as current forecasts predict the storm moving north towards the Florida coast early next week.

However, current weather conditions in addition to the storm's predicted contact with land in the Caribbean, could slow Chantal before it hits the U.S. coast, the Weather Channel reports.

Chantal is the first storm of what is expected to be a busy hurricane season, which begins June 1st and lasts through the end of November.

I sincerely hope that Chantal wreaks no havoc in Hispaniola, Cuba, or Florida, either. Keep moving forward, girl. Walk that mad off!


A Lesson on Living Your Dream

Cruising is our dream. It started out as EW’s dream, but I jumped on board fairly quickly. Sometimes I’m not sure what that says about me:

Am I adventurous?

            or

Am I just another Good Wife following her husband?

I didn’t have a firm dream before I met EW, but I remember remarking during my senior year of college that, “I can’t see myself in the burbs with a station wagon and a couple of kids. I want to travel a bit.” However, I didn’t actively seek out travel, in fact my first job was at the Maine Public Broadcasting Network on that same college campus.A few years later I met EW, who had dreams big enough for the two of us.

I am, therefore, so impressed by young people, especially young women, who grab on to a dream in their twenties and work for it. Our son, Favorite did that. At nineteen he quit school where, “I’m really only here for the sailing team,” and began an Olympic campaign as a Finn sailor. He campaigned for two quadrenniums and traveled all over the world. It was an incredible experience and he has become an incredible and accomplished man.

My cousins’ daughter, Lynelle, was a much-loved teacher in a small Maine coastal town when she decided to see the world by teaching in American schools abroad. She lived and taught in Argentina and Italy before meeting her world traveling husband and moving with him to Zurich, Switzerland where he worked for FIFA. Now they are moving back to the states for their next adventure.

Our sailing friends, Paul and Sheila, share Paul’s daughter, Jessie, who also taught at a small Maine school. In Jessie’s case it’s a very small, one room school on Mohegan Island. Sheila and Paul sail on S/V Que Rico, have sailed to the Caribbean and back to Maine, and certainly have shown Jessie something about living one’s dream. Jessie is currently through hiking the Appalachian Trail, alone, and writing about it on her blog: An Extraordinary Hike.

Photo above of Jessie and her pup in Maine. From her website.

Her blog is an excellent, sometimes funny, sometimes painfully honest account of one young woman pushing herself to her physical and psychological limits, having fun, enduring pain, missing family, making new friends, and living her dream. Every day. Day in, day out. For months.

I am struck by how many similarities exist between her experiences those of cruisers like us:

  • She had to leave her golden retriever behind, and she misses that sweet dog every day. Like us, she seeks for what I call a “fur fix”, the chance to hug and play with a friendly dog. 
  • We often comment on how friendly and helpful cruises are, as if our little island hopping “community” was unique in that way. Jessie has met incredibly friendly and helpful through hikers and segment hikers. Like us, sometimes she walks and camps with them for a few days. At other times, due to schedules, equipment, or physical concerns, she hikes on alone, or stays somewhere to rest while her new friends move forward. That’s exactly how we sailed the Bahamas and up and down the Caribbean islands – sometimes alone and sometimes buddy boating.
  • Just like us, she has to find Wi-Fi. She actually has that a lot easier than we usually do, but she may have hike out of the trail a mile or more in order to find a place to charge her devices. At least we can do that on the boat. 
  • She has been lonely, and misses family – celebrating the Fourth at the lake, and hanging out with friends. Just like we do. 
  • Weather is her friend – and her enemy. Rain, wind, sun, heat, cold – just like us cruisers, often the weather is the sole “decider” regarding a good day on the trail or on a passage, or a bad one. 
  • Like many of us, she has met wonderful “locals” who’ve helped and befriended her along the way. Did you know there are “Trail Angels”? These people spend a bit of money and time stopping by the trail with cold drinks, hot food, sandwiches, and sweets. Someday I want to be a Trail Angel along the Appalachian Trail. Paul and Sheila were excellent Trail Angels when they visited Jessie on Paul’s birthday.
  • IMG_1165
  • IMG_1170

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sheila from S.V Que Rico who along with Paul  – hat at lower right – and their two dogs created Trail Magic along the AT. Photos by Jessie from her blog.

  • There are days she loves the experience and days she hates it. Most recently she has had to ask herself whether or not she wants to continue. She knows folks who have quit the trail more than half way through their hike. We’ve known folks who’ve swallowed the anchor years before they had planned to. Jessie has recognized that there is no shame in that, just as we have recognized that each cruiser must chart his or her own course. I would never through-hike the AT, and we’ll probably never sail around the world. But we’ll “segment sail”, creating our own path across oceans and following our dream. 
Jessie is an excellent teacher.

Why This Works for Us

During a delicious dinner and a lovely evening aboard Kookaburra, Jamie and I realized that both couples had twenty-something wedding anniversaries coming up. How nice. I love every year added to those we’ve shared together and I love hearing about others celebrating wedding anniversaries. (As I write this, Rebecca and Mike from Zero to Cruising are celebrating their 10th. Congrats!)

Jamie brought up something else that she and Keith had noted on their recent trip back to Massachusetts, most of their long-time friends have marriages that have lasted. I think she said that there is a group of six from college days, who are all still happily married.

That helps.

My two closest friends from college, my two most long-standing forever friends, Cathy and Kathy have also remained happily married for over 20 and over 30 years, respectively.  In fact, when I was reminded of Kathy’s 30th – four years ago – I was aghast. “That can’t be,” I said. “You got married the year we graduated college.” Kathy knows me well, smiled, and patiently broke the news, “Barb, our 30th year reunion is this year.”  I got over it. We were 10 when we graduated.

001_1The day this posts, EW and I will celebrate our 28th wedding anniversary. One of the reasons our marriage works is because most of our friends and family – including our sailing friends – have also been able to keep their marriages, strong and predominately happy for many years. Positive reinforcement, encouragement, and establishing expectations 003_3help us through the less fun times. And that positive reinforcement has been provided by our divorced love ones as well. Heck, I married a divorced guy. That’s how I got Favorite, the bonus son.

But I digress. In addition to the modeling and support noted above, there are at least three other main reasons our marriage and this lifestyle work for us.

So, here they are – in reverse order of importance:

 

Number Three

We both like this lifestyle, and have fully embraced it. But you know what? We fully embraced the “Fixer Upper” lifestyle as well. Once we decide on something as a team, we pull together as a team. Come hell, high water, Cape Fear, or mudding sheetrock.

Number Two

We each have our own creative outlet. EW has his music, and I write. We make sure to plan some time for each activity every week, we listen to and encourage each other, and we absolutely enjoy and celebrate the other’s progress and successes.

And the number one reason --- drumroll please --

Number One

We both have an extremely developed sense of humor and share it often. When I was talking with Jamie, I told her about the deal EW and I have. When we first met, he was never getting married again, so we moved in together. I told him I’d only live with him for two years without a marriage proposal and then I was gone. He proposed after one year, but qualified it. “I’m not sure I can be married for life,” he said, with brown eyes twinkling. I glibly replied, “that’s no problem, but I want a 50th anniversary. When I was young, a number of my aunts and uncles celebrated Golden Wedding Anniversaries and I want one.” “OK,” he said, “but then I may be out of here.”

Ever since, on our anniversary, EW has always mentioned, “One down, forty-nine to go.” or “Twelve down, thirty-eight to go.” Somewhere in there, I let him know I wanted first refusal on his next fifty years. We call that “the option”.

Come this anniversary, I fully expected to hear, “Twenty-eight down, only twenty-two to go.”

The day before this anniversary, EW gave me a passionate kiss before leaving for his captain’s job, leaned back, looked deep into my eyes and said, “I’m thinking of taking you up on that option.”

I Red heart EW.

Twenty-eight down,  infinity to go.