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March 2015

Getting to Vroom

Poor EW. Our dinghy motor caused problems during our Atlantic Circle.

In the Azores:

  • We didn’t need it in Fayal because we had to dock.
  • It died in St. George while we were at anchor, and we rowed for a couple of days until south winds occurred and we had to go onto the dock.
  • Cruisers and the marina manager, Jose (in Portugal, you pronounce the “J”) suggested we have one gentleman repair it when we went to Terceira. So we bypassed Pico for a later visit and sailed to Angra, where we anchored, and rowed to and from the anchorage. The marina managers in Angra also recommended the same gentleman. I’m not using his name because he has an apparently well-deserved excellent reputation. Unfortunately, our visit to Angra coincided with his vacation. The motor was returned, it didn’t work after a few days, until a different person from the same company fixed it. We thought.
  • It died again in Graciosa  and we had to get towed back to the boat in strong winds. This dinghy rows well with one, but not so well with two and a motor.
  • By this time, EW learned how to get it going again, and took tools and cleaned spark plugs on every trip.
  • That worked in Pico, but we didn’t have to go far from anchorage to dock.
  • In San Miguel and Santa Maria we had to tie up at the marinas

In the Canaries (Note, we visited two islands called “Graciosa” on our trip, one in the Azores and one in the Canaries.)

  • EW kept babying it along the first time we anchored in Graciosa.
  • When we went into the dock at Lanzarotte and stayed to get solar panels, he found someone who could repair it.
  • We went back to Graciosa and it worked for a while, until EW took the dinghy all the way to the marina prior to a ferry trip to Lanzarote to pick of a part that had been delivered. Then it wouldn’t start on the dock and he had stopped taking the tools and spare plugs, so he had to row all the way back home. Into the wind and chop. It took 3 hours. If he had been a blond woman, he says boats would have stopped to help, but my grey-haired all-male sweetie had to fend for himself.
  • So he did. He took the motor apart and cleaned the carburetor and found one tiny little hose that everyone else had missed. One tiny little cylinder that was filled with gunk. He de-gunked it. My hero.

Now in the meantime, EW had come up with ways to help the motor work for a bit longer than 20 minutes. And, because he’s sick of dealing with this motor, he has instituted new protocols that we are to uphold forever and ever.

  1. If you are going to leave the dinghy “for a while” always detach the gas hose from the motor. How do you define “for a while”? I was thinking 30 minutes or more and got chastised for leaving the hose plugged in while I spent 10 minutes gathering a few things before going back to shore. Turns out “for a while” is anything over 2 minutes.
  2. Of course, if you pull the hose, you must cover the nozzles with the little cover included with the engine.
  3. In addition, if you are leaving the motor for 2 minutes, tighten the air vent on the gas tank.
  4. Also, if you are not on a dinghy dock, where it is just rude and stupid to do so, raise the motor and tilt it on it’s left side. Only on it’s left side.
  5. Touch your nose and turn around 3 times.

P1010014P1010018OK. That last one isn’t real. But for the impatient person on board who likes to jump and go, this is a bit laborious. Get in the dinghy, put the safety key in, remove the cover to the gas nozzle, install the gas hose, loosen the vent on the tank, start the motor and untie the boat. If you have forgotten to unlock the boat, turn the motor off, remove the safety key, and use the attached padlock key to unlock the boat. Do this within 2 minutes or you’ll have to remove the hose and …. well you know.

So this worked great the first three weeks we were in Guadeloupe. We were recovering, the boat was recovering, and I mostly remembered all the steps. At times I (and once EW) would forget to attach the fuel hose to the motor. We learned just how far we could go on the residual fuel in the motor before pfffft. (This still happens to me – or more appropriately, I still cause this to happen to me.)

P1000975We had moved La Luna to the beautiful Islet du Gosier, where one day the motor stopped pushing the dinghy with any power. Just like that. Fortunately for our marriage, EW was driving the boat at the time. (Big huge sigh of relief.) He (and I) assumed that it was more of the same old same old, but when he mentioned it one night aboard the S/V Triumph Bill suggested that the issue was the propeller.

“But of course!” said EW his best Inspector Clouseau voice. (Living on a French Island brings out the Pink Panther in EW.)

He ordered a new propeller. When it came it, we rowed to the Islet, hauled the dinghy up on the beach, and EW installed the new propeller. Still , we continue with the new protocol when we are leaving the dinghy “for a while”. I’d complain, but she hasn’t stopped working and really, the person who doesn’t fix things doesn’t have a leg to stand on if the dinghy keeps working.

Patience is a virtue.

It’s just not my virtue.

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Tourists enjoy the beach.

 

Cruisers fix things on the beach.

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Yet Another Dinghy Key Issue

IMG_9203Oh man. Did I ever get in trouble after the parade in Guadeloupe!  We opted not to take a backpack because we just didn’t want to carry a lot of stuff. I had a dry bag on a shoulder strap, with the camera, hand cleanser, sun screen, and bug spray – and the dinghy key.

You know about dinghy keys, right? It’s that little plastic u-shaped thing that allows you to start your engine, and (if you attach it to your person while driving) will pull out and turn the engine off if you fall over-board. In Maine, the dinghy key was always in the dinghy attached to the engine. Once we started cruising, we removed the key to help prevent theft. I pretty much always forgot to use the key and would have problems starting the motor since it won’t start unless something such as the little u-shaped thing holds the button out to allow spark to happen. (I’m guessing about spark. I know that button in, no vroom; button pulled out from the motor, vroom.

(See previous posts about the dinghy key, here, and here,  If this continues I’ll have to create a separate category.)

So, you know what happened, right? Evidently, when I took the camera out of the dry bag, the key came too, and I lost it somewhere along the parade route. Of course, I didn’t realize it until we were in the bus on the way back to Gosier. To say EW wasn’t happy would be an understatement. We weren’t totally recovered from the Endurance Crossing and it was a toss-up as to which one of us could find our sense of humor on any given day. When I announced I’d lost the key, EW lost his sense of humor.

Unfortunately, (or fortunately) depending on how you feel about things, while I was much chagrinned, my sense of humor – and my unwavering faith that things would be just fine --- prevailed. EW was not happy, but I was chipper. Actually, EW was less happy because was chipper. “It’ll be OK,” I opined as my mind leapt from one possibility to another. “How will it be OK?” Mr. Grumpy asked. “The dinghy is locked with a padlock and we don’t have that key, and if we could get it unlocked we can’t start the engine! None of our friends are with us, we don’t have a marine radio and we didn’t bring the phone. Exactly how will this be OK?”

Well, when you put it like that.

P1010017Yes, the dinghy was padlocked to the dock, and yes, that meant we had no way home. In the past I’ve actually found myself without the plastic u-shape safety thingy and I know you don’t need that to run the motor. A small line, or the shoulder strap of one of my purses works just fine. Somehow EW didn’t seem to happy that I knew that. Plus, we had that steel cable/padlock issue to resolve. Since the last dinghy key issue (see first “here” above) both the safety key and the padlock keys were attached to the float and cord.

(At left, the new cord/safety key. The faded red button is held out by the u-shaped safety key. Which of course is different for each brand of motor, because why?)

I figured we’d first see if one of our friends was still in town, if not, we’d have to go to the police to find someone with bolt cutters to release us from the dock. We’d get home, but EW would still not be happy. I was truly repentant, but refused to be discouraged. I knew things would work out.

We got off the bus, and saw that ours was the only dinghy on the dock, therefore we were the only cruisers still on shore. Oh. Plan B? Before we trotted (or stomped) to the police station, we discovered Plan C. (Gosier is this lovely town with friendly people and this dock was used by the little ferries who take folks from the town to the Islet Du Gosier for the day. The last ferry was on the dock when we arrived, and the crew person was one I had chatted with often as he is one of few who speaks English. So we conveyed our issue, and jumped aboard. They took us to La Luna and waited while EW grabbed the bolt cutters and I grabbed the box of spare keys and two flashlights. We traveled to the islet for the last pick up of the day and back on the dock EW paid our 6 Euro plus nice tip for the round trip ride.

IMG_9824I found a key that fit the padlock on the second try and EW learned which of the two small lines in the boat work best for safety keys. He still wasn’t thrilled with me, but he couldn’t deny that things had worked out very, very well. (Truthfully, my chipperness had been  hiding some anxiety and  I was stunned by how well things had turned out.) I had really screwed up and definitely was extremely fortunate to get bailed out so easily. EW relaxed a bit, and forgave me totally. Though I better not do anything similar for quite some time. I’ve used up his patience when it comes to this damn dinghy key thing.

 

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That’s La Luna on the top right, anchored in Islet du Gosier or at the little island off the town of Gosier. Gosier means Pelican. See the pelican in the tree at the bottom?

Voila! The perfect photo!

(And for you non-French speakers, Voila also disappointed us. Having heard the term expressed by real and literary magicians we thought it would translate into something more exciting than, “There you are.”

The French language is so disappointing.


Carnival in Pointe-a-Pitre

IMG_9394Let’s travel back in time. Now that I have the new laptop up and running and can once again edit and upload photos, you deserve a bit about Carnival in Guadeloupe.

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We had been told that the parade in Pointe-a-Pitre would be one of the longest in the Caribbean with over 70 different groups marching. Some boaters opted to anchor near the city, but we like Islet du Gosier and didn’t want to move, so early that week EW and I visited the office of tourism there. Unlike the larger tourism office in Pointe-a-Pitre, the one is Gosier was welcoming, and staffed by people who spoke English. In fact, on our mission to find out about Carnival, the young man spoke the Queens English with a delightfully posh accent. (Go ahead, say “Delightfully posh accent” in one. You know you want to.)

IMG_8999Our first question was whether the normal buses operated on Sunday. He regretfully told us that they did not. “Oh, we wanted to go to Carnival.” He brightened. “Ah. The buses don’t operate on Sundays, but they do have special runs for Carnival.” And he whipped out a schedule and list of stops for the holiday. These special bus for carnival caters to both  tourists and locals and included trips down to the resorts, normally off the bus route. Brilliant.

We spread the word among our cruising friends in the anchorage and were joined by 3 other couples, all heading to town early in order to choose a good spot. None of us brought chairs, but we found a good section of curbing and later in the day I found decent port-a-potties in Point-a-Pitre.

IMG_9173None of us lasted for the entire parade, though EW and I stayed the longest. Of course, it started late (Island time, man) and moved slowly as each group stopped periodically to perform their routine. We understand from other cruisers who watched from downtown that the parade went for miles to a red carpeted area where there were judges and multiple television cameras. These crews had a long day. Each one was followed by helpers who towed coolers of chilled water, and toted various items to repair costumes and shoes.

We enjoyed this parade more than any other we’ve seen because this oneIMG_9309 rarely featured recorded soca music. Most of the crews had percussion bands, some had brass instruments as well, and still others had a number of folks on conch shells. They also had crews that promoted social causes, and a number of groups in full masks, mostly gorilla masks. Many of those had whips they would wield with a very loud snap! Frankly, this was a bit disconcerting to us cruisers, but the locals took it in stride and a number of young children had their own whips. We never did learn much about the costumes, though one of our Franco-Canadian friends asked one of the local folk about it. The person wasn’t sure, but thought that masks were worn years ago to hide the identity of slaves who might be punished for participating. We aren’t sure if that is true, or why gorilla masks were chosen.

IMG_9119Like all Caribbean carnival parades, the costumes were remarkable, and the participants varied in age, body type, and skin color. There were girls on lead drums, lithe young men leading the dancing, and grandmothers shaking their booty (and pretty much everything else). One group celebrated the booty with exaggerated stuffed gluteus maximi, to the enjoyment of all.

Once EW and I realized we weren’t going to make it to the end, we opted to walk backwards along the parade route so we could see more groups. The talk in the harbor the next day included a discussion of how long one had stayed, determined by how many groups we’d seen. We saw over 40 before leaving, over three hours after it started. I applaud anyone who lasted for the entire event, and would recommend that you visit Guadeloupe during carnival and attend this parade and BYO chairs.

 

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Sunday in St. Thomas

The laptop is (mostly) fully loaded and ready to go. In preparation for starting to post regularly (again), this morning I read Facebook for a while, read part of a novel, commented on Facebook some more, downloaded photos from camera to laptop (finally), and went on-line to read my blog from the beginning of the Endurance Crossing to now. There was a pause in the middle of all of that while I helped EW with the manual bilge pump. As my last act before beginning to write, I finally read all the comments made on the blog while we were at sea. Thank you. Thank you all for the laughs, encouragement, and condolences. I can't tell you how much all the comments have meant. Thank you. So here we sit in the sunny Caribbean during the dry season, where it is raining again. As EW says, "This is the wettest dry season I've ever experienced." It's a "jump up" kind of day as we "jump up" to open the hatches when it's hot and "jump up" to close them when it rains. This phrase was appropriated by Bob on S/V Foxy back when we were all in Grenada during the rainy season. EW's right, this is the wettest dry season we've every experienced. I was pleasantly surprised (for the most part) at the blog posts I managed to write during and after the Endurance Crossing. As some friends realized, we weren't the happiest people when we arrived in Guadeloupe, and I think we sounded more mentally fit than we actually were. Whew. I'd hate to subject "my" public to all that was going on at the time. EW and I had a good laugh today when I read out loud from my post on December 28, The Endurance Crossing Continues. It's a good thing he didn't fall overboard right then. I love him, but turning back would have required a whole lot of thought. image from http://s3.amazonaws.com/hires.aviary.com/k/mr6i2hifk4wxt1dp/15032220/b19ceb9b-341c-4c7f-a03d-06a36a111e50.pngHere's a photo of me "baking" the hoecake that largely served as our breakfasts once we ran out of fuel for the real stove. I had to place the one burner camping stove on top of the gimbaled stove, and hold onto the pan to keep it from sliding off the burner in the waves and heel. When EW saw this photo, he said I had an "Impressed smile." I knew that he didn't mean "imressive, but that I looked as though I had been forced onto this boat, much like sailors who had been impressed by foreign ships, as in this definition found online:

3. impress verb im·press \im-ˈpres\ Definition of IMPRESS transitive verb 1 : to levy or take by force for public service; especially : to force into naval service 2 a : to procure or enlist by forcible persuasion

But I'm not impressed, I'm actually here by choice and I have power. That is often a good thing. Back when we first got La Luna, we had to repair the manual bilge pump. Access to the pump was through a tiny door in the small standing are by the pilot berth. The access door was smaller than the circumference of the pump. My job was to get a wrench onto the 10 bolts that held the pump and its cover in place while EW used a screwdriver to remove the bolts and then to replace them once the repair was complete.

My job sucked. It was actually impossible to get my arm in the tiny door and around the pump parts. In order to hold some of the nuts I had to stand on a tool box, with my back to the door, and my arm with the wrench behind me. It would have worked much better if I'd had two elbows on my right arm but I didn't bend that way. The second time EW had to repair the pump I informed him that I would never do it again. Ever. My arms were bruised my shoulders ached, and I was pissed. He believed me and hired the yard to make a larger access door. It's still impossible to see some of the nuts when working on them, but at least I'm able to wield a wrench in the right direction until I stumble upon the bolts. The manual bilge pump as been repaired. The photo above was taken today. Imagine this opening just slightly larger than the roundish black thing (aka the bilge pump). Now try to get a wrench in there.

It's nice to have a bilge pump when the dry season looks like this:


Posting At Sea

Lately, I’ve had a few phone, on-line, and Facebook conversations about posting blogs while cruising. Since I am still organizing the new laptop and haven’t tackled photos yet, this is a good time to post one final essay that doesn’t require pretty photos of Caribbean harbors and sights.  And honestly, if you aren’t planning to cruise on a boat, you really don’t need to read this post. It’s all about boat stuff and isn’t funny.

While back in Maine, with help from our dear friend Lynnelle, I opted to move my cruising blog from Blogger to  the Typepad platform. I wanted more control over it and thought that I wanted the option to make money on the blog in the future. Typepad seemed easier than Wordpress, and I was very pleased with an on-line course they offered. At the time, we were living on the boat in a slip with Time Warner cable wired in, so I had excellent Internet access.

I would write a post and post it.

I would write a post on-line, send up photos one by one, and post it.

Those were the days.

Once we started cruising in 2010, I learned that all Internet access isn’t equal and that it’s difficult to get on-line when one wants to. Connectivity was a challenge as we sailed down the eastern seaboard. I rarely had Wi-Fi on the boat, but usually found bars, laundry mats, and other places where I could gain access to the Internet. Still, writing posts on-line in real time was no longer feasible.

Somewhere along the way I was introduced to Windows Live Writer. It is my favorite Windows program and it’s free. When we first met, Windows Live Writer was a stand-alone program. Now, it’s bundled with Windows Live Esssentials, but you an opt to download only this one portion of the bundle. Windows Live Writer allows me (and you) to write posts, complete with formatting and photos, while off line. In Grenada I would write three or four posts a week, usually on Sunday morning, and post them from the bar on Sunday afternoon during the music jam. Windows Live lets me post them to the blog as drafts, and then I open each draft, check for formatting, add keywords and categories, and post  it. Typepad lets me post immediately or schedule it for later. When I’m doing things right (writing three or four wildly inventive posts with photos, sending them up all at once as drafts, and scheduling them) I can have a week’s worth of posts up with less than an hour of actually time on-line. Windows Live Writer works with Wordpress, Typepad, and other blogging platforms. Seriously. Don’t leave home without it.

But none of that works when we are truly At Sea. For that, I use the SSB, a Pactor Modem, and Sailmail.

The SSB radio was one of the items that was “in the box” when we left Maine. As in, folks would ask, “Do you have a wind generator?” We would reply, “Yes, it’s in the box.” Same thing for the SSB, the Pactor Modem, and a myriad of other important boat items EW honestly didn’t have time to install before we left. The Wind Generator, AKA Gramps, became one with La Luna while we were in Hampton, Virginia. The SSB/Pactor Modem did not truly become a part of our life until EW got help with the final part of the installation in Georgetown, the Bahamas.

Prior to that, we were largely unconnected in the Bahamas, a problem that caused me to panic a bit while in Berry Islands in the Bahamas.

While we used the SSB/Pactor/SailMail combination for weather, emailing, and the occasional blog post prior to our Atlantic Crossing, the system truly became the heart of La Luna while we were really at sea and at anchor across the Atlantic.

The SSB and Pactor Modem are units one (such as EW) purchases, installs, and connects on the boat.

Sailmail is our chosen hub, because we don’t have HAM licenses and we sometimes must email for business.  Many folks who have their license and don’t need to email editors opt for Winlink.

In either case, post no photos, keep the emails short, and try to teach friends and family to forget that there is a “reply” button on their email page. Typepad provided my blog with an email address for posting, so I simply have that address in my contacts list on the installed Sailmail software and write posts while at sea. The subject line becomes the title of the post. Easy-peasy. Family and friends are given our Sailmail address so we can receive email – something that is very important to me – and we can order daily weather reports and Grib files.

If we had installed the SSB/Pactor combination prior to getting stuck in the Berry Islands, I might not have panicked.

I like being connected.

Next on my list here in St. Thomas: 1. Making photos happen on the new laptop.  2. Editing posts from the crossing. 3. Editing posts when I was without laptop.

Staying connected takes work.


The Blame Game

Here’s the thing about EW and me: He keeps, I throw. It all began when I first moved in with him over 30 years ago. The master bedroom closet was tiny and some of his stuff had to go. He had a huge “collection” of ugly ties, most with a paisley motif, which I convinced him were very out of date. When paisley returned to prominence years later he bemoaned the loss of his ties, something I’m still hearing about. On the boat. Where he wears a tie less than once a year and has at least five on board. Turned out the ties were a red herring. When we moved out of that apartment to our first (and only, so far) land home, I was stunned and appalled at the amount of stuff EW had “hidden” in the landlord’s barn attic, the basement, and other places. We moved it all to the home and tossed much of it when we moved aboard the boat fifteen years later.

Now that the groundwork has been laid, here is a report on a recent conversation aboard

We are each coming up with our own personal To-Do list for boat projects, and since we expect to undertake many of these projects while we are in the Western Caribbean, we are making purchases of parts and supplies here. One of my projects is to touch up the white paint in each of the cabins. I had done the forward cabin over year ago in preparation for guests and knew that the bit of Petit paint left would not be enough for the rest of the boat.

Me: Honey, do we have more of that white paint for the inside? Where is it? (This is a fair question. Just like our former land homes, EW has parts and boat stuff stored (hidden) in various nooks and crannies. Now that I’ve experienced living aboard at sea, on remote islands, and where familiar parts aren’t available, I’m good with that. Extra parts are a good thing.)

EW: Except for what’s left in that one quart can, we don’t have any more.

Me: Really? I thought we had more.

EW: We did have more. We had at least four or five cans. You made me give them away.

Me: I have no recollection of that.

EW: (With tone) Well, you did, (He was not pleased with me.) You said we didn’t have room for it.

Me: Well, clearly I was wrong. You should have overridden me and saved a couple of quarts.

EW: (More tone.) You’re kidding right? It’s my fault you don’t have the paint you told me to get rid of?

Me: (Carefully toneless and therefore innocent.) Of course. You knew we would need it. Why would you get rid of all of it?

EW: (I really can’t describe the sound he made.)Really? (Now he really wasn’t happy.)

Me. (Laughing) Well, yeah. When did this happen? I don’t even remember it?

He walked away, which is hard to do when one is on a boat on a mooring.

Later, I did remember it and EW is right in that I did insist the paint had to go. In all fairness to me, this occurred during the final two months prior to leaving Maine, when I discovered that EW had appropriated not one, not two, not three, but four…count them…four storage lockers at the boatyard and they were all full of stuff. While I had been cleaning out our major storage locker and hosting yard sales, he had … done other things. By the time I found the paint I was in a tossing frenzy.

Still, EW should have known better. This comes under the heading of “I wish you wouldn’t be so insistent when I know I’m right.” He was right. I was insistent. We both lose. This week EW found and purchased one quart of the exact right paint at Budget Marine in St. Thomas. One quart will hold us for a few years.

And yes, I know it’s not really his fault. It’s not his fault at all. But let’s not tell him I said that until he finds this post on his own.


We Are Coming to America

We were truly excited to leave Guadeloupe for many different reasons, but we were delighted to sail into Elephant Bay in St. Thomas for just one…we knew we were home. Neil Diamond’s song reverberated in my head:

Far,

We’ve been traveling far

Without a home

But not without a star …

On the boats and on the planes

They’re (We’re) coming to America

Never to look back again

They’re (We’re) coming to America

EW and I  look back, and we’ll definitely visit foreign shores and islands again. But America is home, and we are proud to be American.

However,  just as I have done things of which I am not proud, I am not proud to be associated with every individual American all the time. (Don't get me started about the typical "ugly American" travelers I've seen during our travels. That's another topic.)

During our travels in the Azores, Canaries, and Guadeloupe, I often tried to keep up with news from home, but more often failed. All broadcasts were in Portuguese, Spanish, or French, and our time with Wi-Fi was limited. For this reason, many of the European sailors we met were more up-to-date on the news from the US than we were. Some of them were brave enough to ask gentle questions of us, trying to determine why we (as in Americans) “hated President Obama”, as more than one person phrased it.

Now, through the generosity of friends we are on a mooring in St. Thomas with a Choice internet box; and by virtue of being in St. Thomas, have access to news on the radio. That is 90% great, but within a few days of arriving:

  • I got to read of incredibly racist statements made by  Maine state legislator, and found it almost impossible to believe that someone from my little northern state could be so publically hateful.
  • Conversely, I was able to feel great pride in knowing that our US Senator, Susan Collins (also from Aroostook County in Maine) was one of the few republican senators to refuse to sign the infamous letter to the President of Iran.
  • Finally, eager to find out what is going on with friends and family, I spent time on Facebook, where I was surprised to find both friends from home and boating buddies posting or re-posting horribly racist and insensitive comments.

Since we now “reside” in Florida, I no longer have the option to vote for Senator Collins, and have no influence on the first two bullet points.

But what is my responsibility on the final one? One of our boating friends reposted this:

Facebook

I was appalled. My first thought was to “unfriend” her, but I like her. We disagree on politics, but that doesn’t mean we disagree on everything, or that I haven’t learned something valuable from her posts or those of other strong conservatives.  My second thought was to comment, but I have seen those s#$t storms on Facebook and Twitter and did not want to start one. (NOTICE: Comments on this post will be welcomed from all parties,  but please remain respectful.) In the end, I simply “told” Facebook I didn’t want to see any posts from the person who was my friend’s source. However, I will share my intended comment here:   “I disparage hotdogs, have never worn a bikini, and my relationship with Jesus is not your business. I would say that Muslims come to America for the same freedom of speech and opportunities that enticed my ancestors and yours.”

My silence bothered me. There are many quotes by smart people--- including Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Ginetta Sagan --- who all expressed that there is a time when it is not right to keep silent. Of the quotes I found, I think MLK’s is most appropriate for these times:  “We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the vitriolic words and actions of the bad people, but for the appalling silence of the good people.”

My friends are not bad people. (Even if I think the person who wrote the original FB post may be a bad person – and I’m pretty sure I have no use for person who commented.) My friends have opinions they wish to share and have perhaps taken the easy way out by re-posting something that is bad. I’m not without blame. I have been vitriolic and spoken rashly and I have re-posted things better left unsaid. I hope someone holds  me accountable for it. (I know that Eleanor, one of my friends, business colleagues, and office mates years ago did a great job during our conversations. We certainly rarely agreed about politics, but we were always truly friends.)

I have been scornful of those elected officials and so-called journalists who cannot listen and learn and engage in conversations about various issues. I love listening to reasoned and learned “foes” who disagree.  But we need to remember, we aren’t “foes”. We are supposed to be on the same side. America’s side.  This morning, as all of this was spinning around in my caffeine fueled brain, I listened to a conversation on NPR in which they were discussing that letter signed by 47 Republican Senators.

Two statements, made by two different participants resonated with me. (These quotes are not exactly accurate as I didn’t have a pen in time)

The first:  “We are falling down a slippery slope of name-calling and backbiting that makes it impossible to get things done.” 

And later:  “If your first reaction on discussing the partisanship is to blame the other party, then you are not helping.”

I am proud to be an American. I will always be proud to be an American, even if I am not always proud of our leaders. I will not always remain silent. Friends in my timeline have posted ugly, nasty, hurtful things about individuals and groups. If you express those comments to me face-to-face, I will object – respectfully. Since I still don’t believe Facebook is the place for debate, I will not always respond openly on social media sites. But I will not remain silent. We are friends. We can disagree.  I will read your jokes, rejoice at your triumphs, cry when you are hurt, and learn from our differences of opinion whether they be about politics, economics, anchorages, food, or fashion. (Or the  Oxford Comma; of which, as you will note, I’m a fan.)

We are friends. We won’t always agree, and I will not always remain silent. In real life I will object to hateful comments, and vote with my ballot and my pocketbook. In social media, I will respectfully reject and object to hate,  and --- if provoked ---will vote with  the unfriend button.  In return, if I post or re-post hurtful, racist, or hateful comments, please call me out on it. This is not the time for silence. It is the time for conversation. It is time to remember that we purposefully friended each other and that every one of us is also proud to be an American.

It’s a great song: America


Ilet Du Gosier

Ilet Du Gosier
This post brought to you by procrastination and the continuing lack of a laptop. We are currently in St Thomas enjoying time with The Cousins and cruising friends, and having a US cell phone. Life is good. It was also good when we were anchored in Ilet Du Gosier.

The other morning I sat on deck with my notebook. You remember those ancient tools for writing: pen, ink, and paper? Yep. I'm back to that as I attempted to record the magic that is the anchorage of Islet Du Gosier.

It was just after 0800 on a Saturday morning. The prior evening, Lynn had introduced me to the Marche, or Market, held in the town every Friday from 1600 to 1900 (4 to 7 PM). I will save that experience for another post, but do understand that I had already been charmed by this community prior to Saturday morning. In many anchorages in the Caribbean and Bahamas it often feels as though the local population doesn't have or take the time to enjoy their island. Here, while cruisers and tourists are welcomed at this anchorage and in this community, the locals "own" the beaches and waterfront like no other area we've visited. They can certainly teach us a thing or two.

First, at the little beach on the quay, there is a four lane swimming "pool" constructed of floating deck, with ladders and safety railing. While tourists and others enjoy the beach, kids and adults take swimming lessons in the "pool" in the ocean. Kayakers and young dinghy sailors practice next to the pool before heading off to sail and paddle along the shore and in the anchorage.

But the most surprising group are the teens and adults who swim for pleasure and exercise on a nearly daily basis, jogging along the larger beach to warm up before heading out for a swim around the anchorage, often towing colorful safety bouys so they are visible to those on sailboats, people ferries, dinghies, kayaks, and the jet skis from the resorts. This happens every weekday morning, but Saturday is special.

On our first Saturday here I watched one group of 25 strong male swimmers, accompanied by a coach in a kayak, swim the largest circular course from shore to ilet and back to shore. Another, smaller group, made up of both men and women of different ages, were encouraged and coached by a swimmer who kept back with the slower members. My favorite group took only a slightly shorter route, but did it much more slowly. These women of indeterminate age (OK, my age) used flutter boards, kept their heads above water, and chatted and laughed the whole way around.

I saw kayakers, the youth sailors, fishermen in small local motor craft heading out to the bay, and two others wading along the reef and tossing their lines in the morning sun.

Depending on who was passing the boat, I heard sharp directions given to the small sailors, and wicked laughter from those ladies with their flutter board. I just knew that someone in the group had made fun of her husband. It was that kind of laughter.

Those ladies, and some of the others gathered on the sandy end of the tiny ilet for a social half hour before returning to the mainland. I hope some of them took time to share a pastry and cafe au lait before getting to their Saturday obligations. I enjoyed my coffee and baguette while watching over two hundred townies fully enjoy their lovely spot in the Caribbean.

I was reminded of how fortunate we are to be here--and that we are truly fools at sea if we don't remember to jump over the side and relax or exercise in this clear water and on these sandy beaches.

Fortunately, I'm in my swimsuit right now, so I'll just save this and take a leap off the back deck. After all ...when in Gosier.....

Sent from my iPad