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August 2013

Playing Indulgent Tourist with Lynnelle and Kurt

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OMG! Being a tourist is exhausting!

Fun, though.

Our dear friend Lynnelle and her boyfriend, Kurt arrived in St. Thomas on Wednesday evening. After a flurry of text messages about the cost of two people with two enormous suitcases taking a taxi from the Airport to the Marriott, EW and I went to bed aboard La Luna while Lynnelle and Kurt evidently closed the pool bar.

I’m sure it was only jet lag that caused them to be a bit slow to get going the next day. Lynnelle and I texted, talked, and Facebooked, making plans for drinks and dinner once EW’s work day ended. These real tourists took EW’s ferry ride to town where EW and I joined them at 6:00.

Since Lynnelle moved to Dallas and went back to her banking career, she has not be as active in social media as she was in Maine. Case in point: she came to St. Thomas with only an iPhone, no iPad or laptop, I was stunned. Therefore, unlike EW, Kurt is not used to being a social media topic. But, like EW, he’s a good sport and is adapting nicely.

We spent the evening talking, laughing, drinking various rum concoctions, and getting to know Kurt, whose an Italian retired Dallas Cop, with one of those Scandinavian last names that has a “j” in the middle. I’m sure there’s a punch line somewhere.

A few days before they had arrived, EW had come home from work and announced, “I have a present for you!” He was incredibly excited and couldn’t wait for me to open a $150.00 gift certificate to the Lazule Spa at the Marriott. “I thought you and Lynnelle could use a little Splurge Time together.”

How sweet is that? EW is generous and thoughtful – but not usually in quite this way. It was the perfect gift. Once he heard about it, Kurt also chipped in a gift at the spa and Lynnelle and I began to read the menu and choose our spa moment. We elected to have our day on Friday, while EW was working. Kurt assured us he’d be fine without us to entertain him for a few hours/most of the day.

Lynnelle chose a massage and loved it. Above, she is modeling their one-size-fits-all robes. Ordinarily, a massage would have been my default, but I decided my hands and feet deserved to be pampered. As a cruiser, “well-groomed” tends to mean (mostly) clean nails and occasional moisturizing; and “living the cruising life” tends to mean cleaning inside and outside of boat without gloves and walking everywhere in sports sandals. I chose to try the Island Guava Spa Manicure and Pedicure.

Our Island guava manicure and pedicure is a dreamy escape from familiar entanglements to a divine self indulging island of utter perfection. Escape with a relaxing soak in aromatic guava, skin softening coconut oil scrub, and a relaxing warm stone massage. your nails are then groomed, shaped, and perfectly polished.

This is insanely expensive and not something I would ever do without a gift certificate and the directive to indulge myself.

It was … wonderful. And the best part? Kelly, the lady who provided all of this self indulgence, listened to my description of our lifestyle and told me how I could duplicate much of this indulgence on the boat – for pennies. I will soon offer EW a sugar/coconut oil scrub massage on hands and feet, and will give my overworked and boat-abused appendages the same treatment every month or so.

We both deserve it.

After our respective spa moments, Lynnelle and I met at the spa’s pool where we enjoyed lunch and girl talk. She texted Kurt that we’d join him in the commoners’ pool at two. At two, he texted her to “look up”, as he was on their balcony, checking out the two babes at the spa.

The rest of the day involved infinity pools, rum drinks, tapas with EW, and a night time kayak adventure, followed by dark chocolate peanut M&M’s.

Take-aways:

  1. Being an occasional tourist rocks!
  2. EW is the best husband in the whole wide world.

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Cruiser’s ubiquitous back-pack in posh salon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Post, sugar/oil scrub/massage my left arm and hand get the warm rocks treatment. Words cannot describe this.

 

 

 

 

 

 

P8301038Left leg gets the rocks treatment. Note the scratches on my leg. Cruiser. Not tourist.

Toes done.

 

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View from the spa pool.

SPECIAL NOTE TO CRUISERS: There are a few spa treatments that would fit most cruisers’ budgets for a mini-splurge. And here’s the best part for cruisers: Once you have had your treatment, you are allowed to use the spa facility – pool, steam room, and shower – for the rest of the day at no charge.

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My right toes do a better yoga spread than than do the toes of my left foot.

 

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Must be 2:00. Time for the commoners’ pool.

The commoners’ pool is not hard to take.

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The exact moment when Kurt understood what it means to be a “topic”. EW can empathize.

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Is that his “cop face”? I think he’s smiling.

Kind of.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At the Pool Bar – as opposed to the Swim-up-pool-bar, we get real glasses and opted for special drinks. Lynnelle and I both immediately wanted to photograph this lovely display.

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Here’s a shot of Lynnelle taking a photo of the drinks from a different angle.

 

At this point, Kurt says, “I don’t know if I’m getting in the way of your photo, but I do know that you are getting in the way of my drinking.”

EW can really, really empathize.

 

 

 

 

Once EW got off work, he joined us and led us to the Sand Bar at Morning Star. We will definitely go back there. Had more excellent drinks and three incredible tapas. On the beach.

Oh yeah. What’s not to like?

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Being a tourist is fun.


Life in the Hurricane Zone

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And yes, I am obsessing over this. We are smack dab in the middle of the Hurricane Zone. I can obsess if I want to.  

First, a positive note: The flamboyant trees are still blooming. I love the Flamboyant Trees.

Here’s what I’ve learned about staying in St. Thomas over the summer, AKA Hurricane Season.

1. The boating community clears out. Except for boats owned by locals who live ashore and a few cruisers and charter boats, most are here because captain and crew are working ashore. I have no idea why those others cruisers have stayed. I wouldn’t. Now, in addition to checking Facebook to find out what fun things friends and family back home are doing, we also check in to find out about the music jams in Grenada and Trinidad, how difficult the last hash was, or in which new exotic locales our friends are making boat repairs. Sigh.

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Two shots of the mooring field behind us: more empty moorings than there are boats, and more uninhabited boats than there are those living aboard.

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2. Though we’ve been watching the weather since June 1st and have had two storms with some potential, we are just now entering St. Thomas’s “real” hurricane season.  Here is a screen shot from www.huricanecity.com:

Hurricanes Past

Now comes the time when we have to be ready to move: late August/Early September through the middle of October. EW’s cousin said that there are really six weeks to worry about – and it looks like he speaks from experience. They lived here during Klaus, Hugo, Marilyn, Bertha, Georges, Jose, and Debby.

3.   I talked with one of the sales people at Havensight Mall yesterday, who said. “It’s hot. Very hot.,”  in a voice of doom and as she searched the skies. It took me few moments to understand that she wasn’t simply announcing the obvious. “Storms don’t have to start in Africa. They start in the Caribbean, too. When it’s hot.”

Great. Hurricanes with no warning.

Still, we’re prepared.

We’ll get even more prepared.

And we’ll check the weather multiple times every in in many ways. Every day.

All the while, we’re hoping like H.E. double hockey sticks that nothing comes close.

Have a safe hurricane season, everyone.

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This art project on Water Island was completed over a few days by a USVI student on break. It’s a lovely gift to those who enjoy the island.

 

 

 

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Roadside Help

I grew up in a small town in Maine, and my parents both came from even smaller towns in Maine. The heck with Kevin Bacon, before I went to college, I could have connected nearly everyone I met to Daddy or to Mom in only three or four moves. That, of course led to 1. not being able to get away with much; and 2. feeling that I was pretty safe in all situations.

A case in point:

One year I was home from U-Maine Orono on Christmas break and wanted to take the car into Bangor to spend time with a girlfriend on the day of Christmas Eve. The car, Betsy, a usually reliable 1970 Dodge Coronet, broke down on 95 right in the middle of nowhere – that stretch along the highway where there are no exits for 5 miles and no homes within sight of the road. This was B.C. – before cell phones – and a very cold day, so I knew I had to be aggressive about getting help.

NOTE: this is not my car. Betsy was all brown and no longer shiny. But she was a great car. Thanks to www.kootation.com for the free download of this photo.

I watched behind me until I saw a tank truck with a local logo, and I flagged him down – certainly something I would never suggest to my nieces today. He pulled over, and offered me a ride to the first ‘safe’ house and the next exit, saying that it was against regulations for him to pick me up. I climbed into the cab and promised to keep his name out of it.

P5070190We chatted. Well – you know me – I chatted. And we immediately discovered that his brother worked in the same industry as Daddy and that they had just returned from the same conference in Vermont. I believe that’s three steps to connect. We pulled off at the next exit and he drove to the first nice looking “set of buildings” – a typical Maine big house-little house-backhouse-barn construction with a newly painted red barn. He drove into the driveway and waited in the truck while I knocked on the door to see if they would let me call my dad from there.

NOTE: Above is a big house … barn Connected Farm I saw on my trip back to Maine in May.

The couple were friendly and welcoming, and I thanked the truck driver and wished him a “Merry Christmas”. Then, I called home. When Daddy asked where I was and I began to describe the exit and the location of the house, he interrupted me. “For chrissakes! Ask them if they’re the Christies.” I did.

I had been delivered to the home of our neighbor’s brother-in-law – two steps - and enjoyed a cup of coffee with them while Daddy gathered what he needed and yet another neighbor to help us tow Betsy back home.

Years later EW and I stopped to help someone along the highway north of Portland, and found out he was from Skowhegan and knew my eldest brother. Maine is like that.

When cruising, our dinghies are our vehicles, and they break down, too. Only we can’t park them beside the road, so they are likely to drift toward rocky shores or out to sea.

The other day, a fellow boater’s outboard engine failed just as he was leaving Crown Bay Marina, and I cheerfully towed him to the dinghy dock in Water Island. More recently, a crew from one of the Pirate ships was heading to work with provisions aboard when their motor failed in the cut between Hassel Island and Frenchtown. There they sat, engine cover off, dinghy drifting toward the ledge, when one of the BVI ferries steamed past, throwing up a wake. I sped over, bumped their boat away from the rocks and began to prepare a tow. Fortunately, the skipper got their engine started, so I followed for just a bit to make sure it would keep running.

When they shouted they were fine and thanked me, one of the crew asked what boat I was from. “La Luna.

I don’t know their names, and  they don’t know my folks, but I’ve seen them around and we’re all family out here. And we all offer “roadside help” at sea.

Paying it forward in St. Thomas, just as I learned in Maine.

NOTE: Do follow the link to Schooner Fare -- one of our favorite Maine groups -- as they sing "Big House Little House ... " I was connected to a number of those places.  Hugs to all my cousins! 


An Adventure in St. Thomas, During Which I Meet Mikey

Still working on The Awing Project. It’s kind of a stop and go thing. Last week I thought I had neared the end and was ready for the grommets that would be used to tie the massive tarp to the lifelines.

I had installed grommets on the forward panel many months ago. Actually, we had opted to have Custom Sails and Canvas install spurred grommets for extra hold. Now that it was time to install the rest of the grommets, I had to cart the large awing to the east end of the island on yet another “day off”. Here’s the plan:

  1. Take EW to work.
  2. Clean the boat and write a grocery list.
  3. Dinghy to Crown Bay
  4. Walk to bus stop, carrying large awning and nearly empty backpack.
  5. Ride safari bus to east end for $2.00.
  6. Drop awning off with Evelyn to be picked up on my next “day off”.
  7. Shop at Budget Marine and the nearby grocery store.
  8. Take groceries back home on the bus.

Below, a rough approximation of bus route from red star to purple star.

Capture

Here’s what actually happened:

1.  1-5 above exactly as planned.

2.  After I introduce myself as, “Hi. I’m the other Barbara Hart”, Evelyn, the owner of Custom Canvas remembered me and my canvas. She suggests that I simply install my own grommets right then.

3. I had imagined a fancy-dancy industrial grommet installing, finger eating machine. Nope. Big-a$$, spurred grommets are installed by professionals while sitting on a low stool using a large tree stump as a work bench. Yes. A tree stump. There is a special, large, heavy mallet which one uses to first, punch the holes, and second, to install the grommets. I’ve installed much smaller grommets on board, with smaller tools and no tree stump, so I was familiar with the drill. I installed 23 perfect grommets, paid for the parts and was delighted.

4. Logistics.  There was no way I’d be able to take the awning and groceries back on the bus, and I hated to waste a “day off”, so I decided to use some of the money I saved by doing it myself to pay for a taxi back to Crown Bay. I left the awing with Evelyn while I walked to Budget and back, then toted the awning across the street to the grocery store.

5. Groceries.  Groceries purchased and stored in my backpack and in large cold carry bag, I asked the customer service manager to please call a taxi for me.

“Where do you need to go?” she asked as she dialed.

“Crown Bay.”

“Oh girl! That’s going to cost you!” 

“I know, but it would be rude to try to take all of this stuff onto a safari.” She was impressed that I knew that. Cruisers often break the unspoken bus rules in the Caribbean. These are private vehicles and the more people they can take and the faster then can get them boarded and off boarded, the more they can earn. If we take so much stuff that we take up more than a seat, or if it takes two other passengers to get us on or off the bus with our stuff, that’s just not fair or right. But, I’ve done it. We’ve all done it.

When she reached the taxi service, she asked what the cost would be for one woman and a “few packages” and found out it would only be $11.00. Both of us were pleasantly surprised.

I waited for a taxi. Soon, a battered van pulled in and parked and an eager young man walked briskly into the store. Immediately after that, a larger, newer van with a taxi sign on top pulled in next to me. A tall, slender, distinguished man stepped out and I walked up to him, just as the young man came up to me and said, “I think he’s going to turn you over to me.” I was nonplussed and continued making my way to the taxi, when indeed, the driver of the real taxi introduced me to Mikey, who would take me to Crown Bay Marina.

I get that. Mikey is a full-time gypsy taxi driver, and the real guy wants to wait and get a party of people who will pay him $11.00 per person to go to town. The taxi driver also know that I would probably never have gotten into Mikey’s taxi without an introduction from a legitimate driver. So OK. Mikey put my stuff in the back seat, I got in the front, buckled up and off we went.

6. The “adventure”. Mikey is a talker. Mikey left me speechless. (I know. I know! Many of you now want to meet Mikey.) Here are a few of the things I learned about Mikey. These are only the things I can remember as I thought it would be rude to take notes and I don’t have a smart phone to use to record the “conversation.” We started off with Mikey’s girlfriend calling him for a ride to work.

First, Mikey lied to her about where he was. We were still on the east end and he said he was downtown. Then he told me about her.

They’ve only been going out for a few months. She made him get tested. She got tested. He’s exclusively seeing her. She’s seeing other guys but not “doing it” with them – she says. He’s not sure. He doesn’t think she should always expect a ride to work. This is his job. He needs to work and pay his bills.

Having given me way to much information and a less than wonderful impression of his girlfriend, he asked whether I was “in a rush”. I didn’t actually tell him that it was a problem for me if he decided to take her to work. So he did. We had gotten as far as the mall when we headed back to the east end, over roads I’d never before traveled in St. Thomas. He didn’t call her to give her warning, just pulled into her driveway and told her to hurry up. Nice. She was fixing her hair. Five to ten minutes later she arrived at the van and was a bit surprised to see me in the front seat. Mikey made room for her in the back and we went back to Red Hook while I tried to make conversation with her, and Mikey pointed out a few landmarks to me.

Then, Mikey decided to take me back to Crown Bay the long way, past the golf course and Magen’s Bay. It was a nice tour, and my afternoon schedule had been shot when I stayed to grommet, so I was relaxed about it. Here are more things I learned about Mikey.

He has four kids. He doesn’t understand why people from the states who are on vacation aren’t happy. If we were on vacation he’d be happy. “This is the islands! You are on vacation! Enjoy it! Why don’t they enjoy it?” It’s expensive to live in St. Thomas. “Milk costs $20.00 a gallon here!” ( It doesn’t. It was on sale that week for $5.99) But yes, it is expensive to live in St. Thomas. He likes driving the taxi and being his own boss. He has very many brothers and sisters and half brothers and sisters. Dad evidently isn’t too faithful and Mom is happy to be in St. Lucia. Still, for eight years he’s been trying to get his folks back together. I can’t imagine why. He only pays $1000.00 a month in child support for four kids (two different mothers). He thinks marriage is for life – but hasn’t gotten married. He thinks everyone “from all fifty states” should all get along. This was a big topic for “discussion”. He expounded on the unhappiness of the Americans who live "in all the fifty states". I declined to express an opinion, even when he asked me. It didn’t matter, he was willing to fill in with more information and opinions. I remained nearly speechless.

The ride to Custom Canvas by safari bus took about a half hour – with stops for other passengers. The ride in a taxi home should have taken twenty minutes tops, but took about an hour and a half, cost Mikey a lot extra in gas and time lost in finding a new fare.

Still, I enjoyed it. I had already prepared $15.00 for the fare and a tip, and I didn’t give MIkey the chance to suggest a fee at the end of the ride. We both knew he’d been told $11.00 and I mentioned that just as he stared to say whatever it was he was going to say to justify asking for more.

I got an adventure and I completed my to-do list. For me, it was a good day.

I wish Mikey well, but he is no businessman.

Here’s a approximation of the most used taxi route to and from downtown and the east end:

Suggested Route back

 

Here’s an approximation of Mikey’s route:

Mikeys Route

Like I said, Mikey is no businessman. But I have his number if you are in St. Thomas, want an interesting taxi ride, and don't feel like talking much.


The Texas Chili Society of the Virgin Islands ...

…where you don’t have to be Texan to belong to the Society.

On Sunday, EW and I actually had a day off together and used it to do something fun! First, we had to wait out hours of heavy rain, then we did laundry and got water, and then we hopped on a safari bus and headed to Brewer’s Beach to join Keith and Jaime at the VI Texas Chili Society Cook-Off.

This annual fundraiser is held rain or shine, and I commend the chefs for getting their chili made and their tents decorated during the same downpour that kept us aboard La Luna for most of the morning. This event is a fundraiser with proceeds going to a number of local charities. Those vying for chili honors pay to participate and all who make meat chili are gifted with ten pounds of beef.

It’s held at a local beach, easily accessible by dinghy, sail or powerboat, automobile, and the safari bus. There is no fee to attend, folks can enjoy the beach, listen to live music, and ignore the event, or they can choose to participate fully in the Chili-Off. We opted for participation, buying red tickets for chili and blue ones for drinks. We meandered from booth to booth sampling chili with ground beef and beans, meatless chili, chili with beef chunks and no beans, and all combinations. In addition to live music, there was a tug of war contest.

Like many events we’ve attended in the VI, you have to be ‘in the know” to fully appreciate the event. We weren’t. The announcement of the winners is a case in point, none were listed by the booth sponsor, so if you don’t know the name of the chef, you don’t know if your favorite chili won. This island is like that.

But our lack of knowledge just meant that we simply observed, ate, drank and enjoyed. It was a fun day.

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Here is Jaime at the booth we knew of as “Wolf’s”, with Wolf. This was her second stop there. We four liked his chili best. Nice decorations, too. 

EW and I purchased water at our first stop at the drink booth. Jaime and Keith vetoed that and sent us right back for a bucket of rum punch. Oh darn.

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 Rum punch is tasty, cooling to the palate, and easily “handled” for those eating chili.

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In fact, this is much easier than juggling appetizers  and a wine glass at various networking functions. I think Chambers of Commerce should offer drink buckets with handles.

 

Yeah .. probably not.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One group worked on an elaborate sand castle.

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Completed, it appeared to have a number of “in” jokes or comments.

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We totally understood the MoJo booth. This popular island bar is currently surrounded by construction. Their radio ads encourage folks to brave the moat and join them.

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The sign says: “Havensight Construction  I <heart> WAPA.

WAPA is the power authority here. No one loves them.

This lady purchased sunglasses just for the event. Do they wear these in Texas? Really?

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Dr. Livingstone’s booth offered Greek yogurt as a topping – served in a medically correct way. Great chili, too.

The nurses also offered shots – from IV bags filled with rum or tequila. Most people opted to receive their meds in a shot glass. This gentleman went straight to the source.

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This booth won 2nd in the themed category for booths with 10 people or more. I didn’t see the rest of them, but this guy gets the prize for wearing full biker chaps, black jeans, and black boots all day at a hot beach.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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EW and I dressed for the weather.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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It was one of those hot, overcast days. Both couples brought umbrellas, but Jaime didn’t take her sunglasses. EW offered his. Look were she clipped them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cowboy hats and Texan T-Shirts abounded at the beach.

 

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As did many body parts and ornate tats. Lots of tats on lots of body parts.

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Bless their hearts.

Once we’d eaten our fill, EW wandered off to listen to the music while Keith, Jaime, and I watched the tug of war.

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Here’s Keith with the Pro Solar Team. They made a valiant effort, but were beaten by the  --no kidding – “Sit on my Face Book” team.

Now that’s embarrassing.

So’s this --- un-named anchor on a team I’ll call “Anonymous”.

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Not only did I not resist taking that photo – I actually took many of them as the shorts wert lower and lower.

Yes, I can be like that.

Back near the stage, this couple was actually able to dance in the soft sand. I was impressed.

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The last performance was by the Becca Darling Band. Becca has been perfecting her stage presence and singing during the past few years in St. Thomas. This was her last appearance as a local performer as she is moving back to The States to pursue her career. She and the band were outstanding at the Chili- Off.

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EW and I enjoyed the day. Here he is, groovin’ to the Becca Darling Band. Love the umbrella. He’s so cool he can carry it off.


A Day Off

In Cruising Mode, a day off may mean a day off from hiking, music jams, domino games, and cockpit parties. It is a day of rest, a reminder to slow down and relax.

In Working Mode, a day off means it’s time to get things done.

Maybe this is why we didn’t go hiking in Maine. We worked 50-60 hours a week, worked on the boat, did “boat-hold” chores such as laundry, grocery shopping, and cleaning, and sailed as much as possible. We’re back to that life now, except in the Caribbean where it’s warmer; and we’re on the hook.

I had Saturday and Sunday off, while EW worked both days and only had Monday off this week. I decided to handle all off-boat chores on Saturday so I could sew on Sunday and wouldn’t have to take EW to work two days in a row.

On Saturday, after playing with Facebook, writing a bit, filing an invoice for my J O B, and doing a soupcon of research, I got right to it. First, a bit of boat cleaning, then garbage, laundry, gas, and water. This would be my first attempt at getting water by myself – a process that works best when two of us are available. (Below, a photo of the two person process in which EW grabs the jugs.)P6250434

Last week EW loaded 80 gallons of water on board alone. My hero. He filled the tanks, and had 10 gallons left over for me to start with, so I knew I could nearly fill the tanks on two runs of twenty gallons each.

I’m not sure what you do when you can’t sleep  but I generally lie there and think of things. Often I think of new projects for EW, or how to solve a problem I have in a current project, or how to do something I never done before, or other new projects for EW.  A few nights ago, I pondered on whether I could get water on my own, and wondered, “Just how much does water weigh?”

Did you know that 5 gallons of water weighs 41.725 pounds? Five gallons of gas weights only 30.35 pounds. I can lift 5 gallons of gas from dinghy to deck, but can heft five gallons of water only six to twelve inches so EW can grab it from me.

After emptying EW’s stockpiled ten gallons of water,  I gathered the laundry, garbage, gas jugs, water jugs, and an unused dock line and jumped into the dinghy for shore. Since it’s not nice to leave laundry unattended in the washers and driers on a busy Saturday, time management was paramount.

1. Tie up dingy at dinghy dock, get a cart, and trundle laundry and garbage to appropriate areas.

2. Start two washers with laundry.

3. Take dinghy around to fuel/water dock and fill four water jugs, two gas jugs, and the dinghy gas tank.

4. Take dinghy back to dinghy dock and arrive back at the washers just as one load has finished and while the second is still in its final spin dry. How’s that for timing?

5. Transfer laundry to dryers, head back to dinghy and scoot out to the boat with the water and fuel. Place fuel jugs on deck.

P10000076. Tie the dock line around the handles of two jugs, leaving a big loop. Exit the dingy at the step and haul it forward, cleating it so that it’s next to the spinnaker halyard. Use a boat hook to grab the rope, secure the halyard to the rope, and haul away with one hand while controlling the jugs – sort of – with the boat hook.

It worked! Quite well, actually.

P1000008I emptied the jugs and scooted back to the marina, where I immediately refilled them with water, and then went back to the dinghy dock.

7. Fold clean dry laundry, and head back to the boat with jugs and clothes, repeating my jug raising technique.

In the meantime, Jaime and Keith on Kookaburra were back from their Saturday morning of work. I understand the conversation went something like this:

“What’s Barb doing with the dinghy?”

“Looks like she’s going to raise it.”

“Why would she do that in the middle of the day?”

“Maybe she has to fix something.”  That’s a generous assumption. Unlike Jaime, I fix very few things. EW fixes. I break things and/or request projects.

P1000013“No. She’s getting water! That’s brilliant!”

S/V Kookaburra is a catamaran. With two scoop hulls for easy access from dinghy to deck. Jaime, AKA Cactus Blossom brilliant in all things except weather prediction, hasn’t had to learn to deal with living on a monohull with a five foot freeboard.

While lifting my last two-jug load, I heard a dinghy and “That’s brilliant! I’m so impressed!” as Jaime sped over to take photos of my jug raising technique.

Thank you Jaime.

After that, getting groceries was a piece of cake, involving dinghy ride, safari bus ride, and transporting over 40 pounds of groceries back on the safari.

And that’s how I spent my Day “Off”.

We need to go cruising.


Focus! Focus on the Dream; Focus on the Means

Atlantic EightWhile we’re once again working stiffs it’s easy to get caught up in the here and now instead of focusing on the why and how. Staying here in St. Thomas to work gives us a chance to get a bit ahead, do some boat projects, and prepare for our Atlantic Circle Figure Eight. (Full disclosure: EW is thinking circle – though it’s a lumpy one. I’m thinking figure 8, with a side trek to St. Helena after Argentina. What’s 1500 miles among lovers?)

P7200537The problem is, we get caught up in the day to day: arising at 6 AM, showering every morning, looking good in clean clothes that aren’t t-shirts or swimsuits, wearing make-up for god’s sake. (That last one is for me, not EW.) It can be easy to forget why we’re here and that we have some pretty fabulous plans for 2014-2015. We’re going to sail across the Atlantic to the Azores, visit Portugal, Spain, the Atlantic Islands, and then cross back to Brazil, sailing South to Argentina. In addition to making money now, we both have a list of must-do boat projects, and I have to develop more as a writer, submit more articles to more publications, and make the contacts that will allow me to add to the cruising kitty while we are underway. All that and work, too.

This is doable, but we have to focus. This morning, as I was cutting up fruit for our breakfast, I asked “Here’s a question: Where will we be on August 5th 2014?” EW was quick with his answer as his brown eyes sparkled, “Lisbon.”

Oh yeah.

This driving a ferry and pouring rum are all part of the adventure, P7310589but they are not where we want to be one or two years from now. We’ll be cruising in a boat that has a new bilge pump, sun awning/rain catcher, and a working Lo-po light. I will write about our adventures for this blog, and will be paid to provide other stories about our trip for a number of different magazines and blogs. We have a plan.

It’s a plan that will work if we stay focused.

Today, EW called to tell me that All at Sea had published an article I had sent in a couple of months ago. “And it gets better!” he gushed. “You’re a subject in Gary’s editorial – and your article is mentioned on the cover!” Wow. After work I sat down to look at one of the three copies EW had picked up, and was a bit P8050626disappointed not to find my article in the Table of Contents. “Look again,” said EW, my reading scout and best cheerleader.

Oh.

Boats in Paradise was the feature article and was the first one in the Table of Contents.

Actually it’s a short story and I almost hadn’t submitted it to Gary, because All at Sea has never printed fiction. He immediately accepted it, but said he couldn’t run it for a few months until he had room. I was OK with that.

You can pick up copies of All at Sea at many locations in the Caribbean. If you aren’t here right now, you can download the entire magazine on-line. In a day or so you may be able to pull up this article individually. A of boat names were mentioned in the piece, so If your boat was in the Bahamas or Caribbean in 2011-2013, you may find it.

Now, I recognize that this entire post is self-congratulatory and narcissistic. My mom would have been thrilled for me but would also have asked whether I’d broken my arm patting myself on the back. My apologies. But this has been a tremendous boost to my ego, and it has helped me to focus once again on what’s important:  writing and submitting more articles to All at Sea and other magazines. After all, we have another dream to fulfill.

Ready. Set. Write!

Ready. Set. Sail!


RrrRum, Me Bucko!

P7310585

That’s a phrase EW has been known to exclaim every so often.P7310591

I’ve no idea why.

Now, it’s appropriate as I am running the Havensight Rum Cart.

As you can see, visitors to Havensight love me – just as they have loved all of my predecessors.

P7310583Premier Wines and Spirits distribute Cruzan® Rum – the official rum of the Virgin Islands – and they have a booth at the airport where incoming passengers are offered a sample of one or two their flavored rums. At Havensight, we have a heavy, rolling, colorful cart and offer 11 varieties for sampling. We’d offer more, but I can only fit 11 bottles in the blue cooler.

Legend has it that a crusty cruising sailor knew someone both at Premier and at Havensight and talked himself into a job handing out rum. Havensight Mall built the cart, Premier supplies the rum and pays the server, who has three jobs:

1.  Welcome cruise ship passengers and other tourists to St. Thomas

2.  Offer all 18 and older samples of Cruzan® Rum.

3.  Tell them where they can purchase said rum.

Tough job.

The first crusty sailor “retired” and passed the job along to a buddy. When he “retired” a lovely cruising lady took the job. When she passed away, her husband handed out rum until he got a captain’s job. Now, Pat from S/V Lone Star holds the position, but she’s been off island and otherwise tied up this summer so I have it. We hope to be able to share it over the busy season if I can find something else to help fund the cruising kitty. We work only on days when there is at least one cruise shop docked at the WICO dock in Havensight. That's about 16 days a month this time of year, and 25-30 during the busy season.

This is a great job for an extrovert. P7310595

P7310602

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I am an extrovert.

I’ve met folks from Mexico, Canada, the UK, Denmark, all over the US, and from a surprising number of Caribbean islands. Evidently the Islanders' version of a “stay-cation” is to take a Caribbean cruise. Who knew?

Generally, I start by saying, “Welcome to St. Thomas, would you like to try free samples of Cruzan® Rum?  Some stop with a “Sure!” or “Hell, yes!” The first in a couple or group may say “No thank you,” and walk on, while the trailing wife, husband, friend, or sibling gives a look of disbelief and stops in his/her tracks. My favorite are the folks who say “No thank you,” but who’s eyes and body language exclaim “Hell, yes!”. For those I’ll say, “The two operative words in that sentence are FREE. RUM.” Usually they’ll laugh and stop to try some.

I’ve learned not to pour full shots. Those who want full shots are not trying the rum, they are getting a cheap buzz. Most folks ask for “a small amount” but often at the outset I’ll say, “I’m just going to give you a little bit so you can try as many flavors as you want.”

If folks – generally women – are agonizing over which rum flavor to try, I say, “You can try more than one. How else will you find your favorite flavor?” They are delighted. Some have tried little bits of all of the day’s eleven varieties.

Often I serve just one or two people, or four who are traveling together. It’s a really fun job when a crowd builds. Instead of immediately asking each person’s choice, I’ll say, “I’m now pouring Mango! Anyone want to try Mango?” Even if someone was thinking “Banana”, they usually will go for a sip of Mango. After which, I’ll pour Banana. Everyone gets to try their choice and folks who play along with us get to try new flavors they might have missed.

One day I had people three and four deep at the cart, of about three different groups and one honeymoon couple. I poured 14-16 of each flavor and folks had to pass it back to friends and strangers, so they got to know each other: black, white, American, Canadian, British. Someone found out about the newlyweds and wanted to have a toast. Eighteen pours of Banana and two of Pineapple and we all raised our sips to the bride and groom.

As I said, it’s a tough job.

Havensight provides warehouse space for the cart and my stock of rum and cups. I spend a half hour before and after my shift setting up/tearing down and cleaning and stocking the cart. It’s an over-built, heavy cart, and provides me with exercise pushing it to and from the spot.

I pretty much love this job. We’ve already learned that I’m dope, and now we know I’m good at running the rum cart.

Want some rrrrrRum, me bucko?

For the record the flavored varieties of Cruzan® Rum are:

  • Banana
  • Black Cherry
  • Citrus
  • Coconut
  • Guava
  • Key Lime
  • Mango
  • Orange
  • Passion Fruit
  • Pineapple
  • Raspberry
  • Strawberry
  • Vanilla

My favorites are Coconut, Guava, and Vanilla.

Yep, tough job, but evidently someone’s got to do it. Oh darn.

P.S. The first photo was taken by the gentleman’s wife. The rest of me were taken by a 16 year old girl who’s parents tried the rum. She did a great job.