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May 2015

E-Words and M-Words

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Some people, as I do, forget a word, but remember the first letter and make up the rest. (Some of you do this, right? Please tell me I’m not alone in this.) This is not age, as it’s been a “challenge” for a long time, and probably is a result of doing too many things at once, having a conversation and thinking of something else, or of making intuitive leaps and landing on the wrong lily pad. In any case, confusion can result.

EW was made aware of this very early in our relationship when he asked me to pick up a six pack of Molson, and I returned with Michelob. There’s a big difference between Molson and Michelob, but when questioned I still replied, “Well, it’s an ‘M’ beer.” EW was not amused, yet we (well I) have had “M-word” challenges for the past 30 years.

Recently, someone posted an article on Facebook with this title:

Proven Study Shows Men Are Wrong 85%

Of The Time When Arguing And Won’t Admit It

I don’t agree with the article, but loved the headline anyway. It rates right up there with my argument stopping comment, “I wish you wouldn’t be so insistent when I know I’m right.” 

And yes, this is all going to tie together.

IMG_0939 - CopyYesterday, we were excited to head up into the hills for yet another Saturday Pot-luck Jam. This one was hostedIMG_0965 by Richard and Sharon, friends of Coach and Diane. Richard and Sharon have spent the last year taking care of a lovely home on St. Thomas. Silk Cotton Villa is available for rent when the owners aren’t on the island. There are four lovely en suite guest rooms, the owners’ apartment, and a kitchen/dining/living area completely open to the pool and view. Jerry, EW and I were to ride up with our friend Bethany who would pick us up at Crown Bay, after assuring me she had plenty of room in her car for three people, two guitars, and accouterments. Just as we gathered to wait for her, Bethany called to let us know she was 20 minutes late. No worries, let’s grab a beer at Tickles while we wait.IMG_0966

EW suggested that I call Bethany to ask about her car; I did and told the men that she would be in a black Escalade. I was kind of surprised that she had a car that big, but she has been a diving instructor and has a largish dog, so didn’t question it. I was thinking of other things. (You know where this is going, right?)

So we relaxed in an outside booth at Tickles where we could watch the traffic. Time and time again, EW would say, “Is that her?” and Jerry would reply, “No. That’s not an Escalade. Those are huge. That’s not a huge car.” Yes, Bethany was on her second pass when we decided to wander to the parking lot, to find her smiling from her black Ford Escape.

EW rolled his eyes and said, “Of course. It’s an E-car.”

Well, d’uh.

We had a great afternoon. How could we not --- look at this place?IMG_0955

That evening on La Luna EW and I were talking about our day and of course he brought up the “E-word”. “How could you have gotten it wrong? he asked, “ You told us it was an Escalade right after you got off the phone with her!”

He’s right, but I find it fun to blame him when I’m wrong, so I said, “You should have known. You know what I’m like. Remember the Molson?” He looked at me. “That won’t work. You waver. Sometimes you’re spot on and sometimes you go all M-word. What am I supposed to do? How do I know which way you are wavering — I can’t second guess you all the time. You’re … you’re wavery!”

We both have a point. But sheesh, he has over 30 years of experience with me. He should know when I say Escalade, I could mean Eclipse. Or vice versa.

But he does have a point. I am all wavery. Or I would be if that were a word. And I’m right about that and most other things. If EW disagrees, he can get his own blog.

As for the Saturday jam at the Silk Cotton Villa, we can both agree it was an E-word—Excellent!

Tour the Villa

The above photo was taken from the Silk Cotton Villa Website. Check it out!


Wednesday Nights

IMG_9935How to describe Open Mic Night at Tickles? On Wednesday nights the Tim West Band (Tim West lead vocal and guitar, Tommy “Bronx” on drums, and whoever joins in on bass, lead guitar, harmonica, or whatever.) Tim and Tommy have day jobs and numerous gigs around the island. On Wednesdays, they run the Open Mic Night with skill, humor, and an eye on the clock. (Since Tickles is a typical Caribbean establishment, open on two sides, and located only steps from boats in Crown Bay Marina, the performances have a 10:00 PM curfew.)

IMG_9893Those out for dinner, perhaps without even knowing about Open Mic Night, arrive after work, or a day doing boat projects, or basking on the beach, looking for a convivial bar, dinner, and drinks — not necessarily in that order. The rest of us: professional musicians, and musician/sailors/professors/dive instructors/attorneys/contractors/waitresses/students, some accompanied by “band-aids”, begin to gather at 6. Some sit at tables and order dinner, others opt to sit at the bar or a high table in the corner near the water. The guitars, mandolins, and saxophones pile up in the front corner. It takes Danny three trips to the car (two with help) to schlep his keyboard, stand, and stool.

The bus boys have already moved tables from the “stage” area, and now bring the drum set out from the storeroom. Tim and Tommy set up microphones, test the sound system, and greet the “guest” musicians. “Hey, Stew! You going to play tonight?” “Hi there Peter, you’ll play after Kevin.” Tim and Tommy walk through the crowd, noting strangers with instruments and inviting them to perform later, keeping a list, and estimating how long it may take to give everyone a chance to perform. On a slow night, they are allowed to do three songs, on a busy night they may only get two.

We eat, we drink, we greet friends. During the high season, (and during our best years here) the cruisers would commandeer two or three adjacent tables, Peter, Ross, Kurt, EW, Tony, Mike, and others usually with significant crew (aka band-aids), would laugh and share stories as if most of us hadn’t been together in days. In reality, we probably spent time on one boat or another for at least two music nights during the week. P2132579Those who live on the island may have shown up without knowing it was Open Mic Night, others come every week for the show. One senior couple show up early, sit in the corner surrounded by instruments and wait for the one of two songs with the tempo that will allow them to dance a low-key jitterbug.

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It’s a lively night. Everyone is our friend. We all share the language of music.The wait staff is alert and good natured as we frequently jump up to greet someone, slide over to a different table for a conversation, or steal a bar seat close to the stage in order to take photos.

One night, the attorney/singer/songwriter offered his version of Open Mic Rules among them:

  • Don’t play over someone’s solo
  • The person who is singing is in charge. He or she gets to pick the song, style, and who will perform with him or her.
  • Don’t play a song you know is another player’s key number.
  • Remember to thank Tim and Tommy, and those who played with you.
  • Never stick your hand in the tip jar.

Newbies are encouraged to perform, and Tim and Tommy are there to catch them when they fall—or don’t know how instruct the band to end a song. After every performance, Tim or Tommy will step up to the mic and say, “Let’s hear if for Stew!” (Or whomever.) Some of those who came with instruments don’t lead sets, but want to sit in with the band, providing sax, harmonica, washboard, mandolin, bass, and lead guitar creating great walls of sound, and a bit of bedlam, and music magic.

IMG_9933They will play blues, rock, country, pop, hard rock, and ballads; generally ranging from the 50’s to current hits. They will play old standards, new arrangements, and original music. Professionals may try out new pieces; for some St. Thomas is their starting point before heading to Nashville or New York. Others drop by while on the island for professional gigs in larger venues. One memorable night a group of middle-agers from New Jersey arrived from the Marriot by taxi. Turns out one of them is a crooner in the best New Jersey tradition, and he quickly cooked up a couple of numbers with the “house band du jour” and wowed us. If the older dancing couple is in attendance, EW always plays “Teen Age Wedding” because they always want to dance to his rendition of that song.

Under all this music you can hear laughter, attempts at serious discussion, folks meeting other folks and invariably finding some connection. “You’re from Auburn Maine? The principal at your high school was Larry L. He’s my cousin.” You’re from Texas? Meet Coach.” Turns out they grew up within 15 miles of each other. St. Thomas is like that. Everyone who performs gets a chip for a drink, and the occasional audience member will congratulate the attorney, or sailor for a great set and offer to stand them a drink.

IMG_0930We know the wait staff, the manager, the bar tender who lives on Water Island, almost all the sailors, and more and more of the locals. We know the drummer’s lady, and his son. We’ve met her mom, dad, and brother from Utah. It’s a social evening that breeds both lively discussions among strangers who will never meet again, and life-long friendships among cruisers and musicians who will keep in touch via Facebook and email—and who hope to meet in other harbors.

Our rule for Open Mic at Tickles is just go. You never know when music magic will happen.

Last night, we said “fair well” to Jerry Lee, who is leaving St. Thomas to promote his music. We enjoyed one more performance of his distinctive “Messing With the Kid” and “ Unchain My Heart”. Good luck, Jerry Lee. “Hey!”

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St. Thomas With Friends

IMG_0881It’s been a busy week in St. Thomas. Most importantly, we were excited to have boat guests on Tuesday when cruising friends Steve and Lynn stayed with us on their way to the BVI. They are crewing on a boat heading up to Annapolis in the Salty Dawg Rally. Those who know Steve and Lynn know that they are outstanding sailors who have sold their boat and are renovating a home. But they’ve not given up the sailing life and we hope to entice them aboard for a longer visit.

In the meantime, they flew in to St. Thomas late Tuesday afternoon, and we were ready for them. Yes, I had to clean the boat and make room in the forward cabin. Steve is the guy who kept his engine compartment so clean and well maintained that the Coast Guard (or Coast Guard Auxiliary) asked his permission to tour it with other boaters. Lynn is equally neat. This is a Facebook post from when she was getting ready to sell their boat.  Lynn's MessIMG_0057To contrast, this is a photo of La Luna when we were getting ready to cross to the Azores from St. Martin. Lynn, this is a mess.

I didn’t try to get to get La Luna to Celebration standards, but I did spend a few hours organizing and cleaning, and that’s not a bad thing. (Plus I’m done for a week. Woot.) Once again, I made my new favorite meal: barbecue chicken cooked in the pressure cooker. EW finished it off on the grill. Everything was nearly ready when they arrived, so we had a lot of time to catch up. And we had a lot to talk about: our crossings, the Azores, selling their boat, buying a home, renovating a home, neighbors, other boat friends, kids, and more. We talked long after they should have been asleep. It was so great to see them and hard to let go.

They wanted to take the noon ferry to Tortola, and EW and I had reconnaissance to do for friends on Kookaburra  who need a new generator, so I suggested that it “wouldn’t be awful” if we all went in the dinghy into Charlotte Amalie. It was pretty windy, but I knew that even if we went to the closer dinghy dock at Crown Bay that we’d all get wet in the “rinse cycle”. How is a wet dinghy ride like being pregnant? Just as you can’t be a “little bit pregnant", on days like Wednesday you don’t get a “little bit wet”.

Still, I should have brought the poncho I have used to protect myself from the salt spray. (Especially knowing that when Lynn cruised she had made a Sunbrella wrap just for wearing on wet dinghy rides.) She and I took many waves over the bow. They guys didn’t fare much better. We were four drenched cruisers when we got ashore.   11200932_10153307024247863_2533914882955929804_o

Our hair was wet and sticky with salt; my straight hair clung tight to my scalp in wet strands, making me look older, and unclean. Lynn’s wavy hair, was standing above her scalp in large curls. It may not be a look she would cultivate, but it wasn’t unattractive. She ran her fingers through it and laughed, saying, “People pay for this.”

“They pay for what?” I asked, thinking first of those who charter sailboats, paying for the “adventure” that is our daily life. But no.

“They pay for salt spray to style their hair.”

“They do not!”

Oh yes. It’s a thing.”

Salt Spray for HairResearch has shown me that yes, it is a “thing”. One for which you can purchase a spray bottle of salt water for $25.00; or for which there are many recipes for salt water styling sprays. And this would be different from the cheap “White Net” styling spray my mom used 40 years ago, how?

 

 

 

Evidently this is how: Salt Spray for Hair Sell Sheet 2

 

 

Who knew we cruising women had been setting a trend? Hey, EW! I have a “salty, sexy, sun-dried, wind-styled” mane! It would be a shame to wash that out.

I’m glad we’re cruising. Sometimes current culture back home is too much to contemplate.

We dropped them off at the wall, just past the Customs fence near the ferry terminal. There is no dinghy dock; just tires tied to a wall. The dinghy was bouncing in the breaking waves. (Did I already take responsibility for this trip? It was my idea. EW, Steve, and Lynn were good sports. Good sports who wore wet, salty clothing for the next few hours.) Back to that wall and the dinghy: We had to get Steve, Lynn, two small cunnin’ backpacks, a 50 pound L.L. Bean duffle, and a 6-foot long box up onto the quay. Fortunately, a young man waiting at a job site jumped from his truck and offered to help. Steve scrambled up onto the quay, and EW and I handed the bag up Mamito the two men while Lynn held the dinghy.

Then, the young man reached down and offered Lynn his hand, saying, “I’ve got you Mommy,” with a Spanish accent. He later called me “Mommy” as well. It kind of made us feel old. But I’ve decided that he was actually saying “Mami” and that it still has the definition found on Urban Dictionary. If I’m wrong, I prefer ignorance, thank you very much. If I’m right, must have been all that “salty, sexy, sun-dried, wind-styled” hair.

And, in the category of “you can’t make this s#%t up, We arrived to find that the noon ferry was canceled, and they wouldn’t be able to leave until 2:00. Steve suggested it was time for a “painkiller” and who were we to argue. Evidently the Big Kahuna has no qualms about serving drenched salty customers. (EW not only knew how to spell “Kahuna” but insisted on telling me that it’s the “surfer’s god”. Thank you, EW.) So, we got to spend another hour or so, visiting with Lynn and Steve in St. Thomas. I’d call that a win.

That evening, EW and I enjoyed a dry dinghy ride to Tickles in Crown Bay for Open Mic night. He didn’t play, so we sat at the bar with friends Ryan and Jenn and their entourage, and a number of musicians. It appears that Harvey has moved to St. Thomas. He’s right behind me isn’t he?

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NOTE: The bit about Harvey being behind me was stolen from my Maine Friend Candace K., who delights me with her creative posts from Maine and her travels.

 

 

 

 Finally, EW got into the act today, snapping this photo of me writing this post. I like it. (Don’t get excited. The cushions haven’t been covered and we aren’t using this peach color. It’s just a throw over the foam.) I love the new laptop nest.

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Mother's Day with the Tree Top Band

IMG_0691Mother’s Days with EW have been “interesting”. Only a couple of months after we met, EW agreed to accompany me to Waterville, Maine for a Mother’s Day lunch that included meeting my parents for the first time. (No pressure there.) Actually, Mom loved EW from the first, saying that he was “the best thing that ever happened to me”. Once we married, EW knew that if we broke up, he could go “home” to my mother for shelter, hugs, and sympathy. You may find that humorous, but it was no joke.

The next memorable Mother’s Day occurred less than two years after we married. We purchased a home one year and a 26-foot sailboat the following autumn. When Mother’s Day rolled around, we were working on a list of boat projects, but EW had joined the local volunteer fire department which had scheduled a training on Mother’s Day weekend. (You can bet I was all fired up about that.) Still, my folks drove down to Yarmouth where the three of us shared a picnic lunch. Daddy painted the boot stripe on the boat, and Mom played with our pup, Coffee. They didn’t get to see EW that day, but still sang his praises. (“Yeah, yeah. I’m proud he’s a firefighter, Mom.”)

Mom and Mo Walking Down the AisleAs I was fortunate to become more involved in Favorite’s life my Mother’s Days became a bit more special. (Mom adored him, too. Here Favorite ushers Mom down the aisle at our wedding.)  Of course when Mom was still alive, we visited with her and Daddy. Later, EW would find something fun and special to do. Once a special Mother’s Day Brunch in a Portland hotel with his mom and sister; at other times as simple as a picnic – with or without boat projects. Mostly with. It was that time of year in Maine.

Once we started cruising, Mother’s Day began to revolve around a breakfast or brunch prepared by EW, and (if we were in the right location) my wonderful Mother’s Day call from Favorite – who never forgets. We aren’t much for presents, but this year EW purchased a quart of maple syrup because we were tragically out of it, so I knew I could expect home-made pancakes and bacon on Mother’s day. On Saturday, EW received a phone call from our musician friend, Jerry. I knew what was going on, and could tell EW wasn’t sure if it would fly. He concluded the call by thanking Jerry and telling him he’d ,“let him know".

IMG_0669Recently, Jerry has been organizing “Pot Luck” music jams. We missed the first one because he didn’t have our number and the second one because it was on a beach and there had been rain showers. Sand fleas are worse on a beach after a rainfall, and EW wisely decided not to brave the poisonous (to him) pests. On the first Sunday in May we took a taxi way up to the top of Dorthea to a home overlooking Hull Bay, where “Coach”, Diane, and their two friendly mutts, Waggley and Tramp live. It was a great day, Diane is a calm and gracious woman, and the view was to die for. The music was good, too. (That’s Mick on bass, Jerry on lead guitar, and EW during our first Tree Top Jam.)

Back to that phone call from Jerry. From EW’s side of the conversation, I could infer that Jerry had called to say that Diane (mother of four) and Coach had invited us all back on Mother’s Day. EW wasn’t sure if that is how I wanted to spend “my day”. Well if I could have done anything I’d have been back in Maine for the lobster feed at my niece Jean’s home, but life isn’t perfect, and music in the tree tops is pretty special, and really, how bitchy would I have to be to deny EW this opportunity? Way more bitchy than I am, that’s for sure. Coach kindly offered to taxi us up and back and the day was on.

It was a great afternoon. By the time we got there, Diane’s three grown daughters had called to wish her a Happy Mother’s day, so we were both waiting for our sons to call, and neither of us roamed without our phones until our day was complete. (Both “boys” called by 3:00 PM well within the “I haven’t forgotten Mother’s Day” time frame.

I learned why most musicians aren’t overweight. Playing music trumps eating. (It does not trump drinking beer, but one can do that easily between songs.) The pot luck offerings included crab salad, fried chicken, potato salad, two home-made pizzas (moi’s contribution), Texas beans, and an amazing chili, cheese, chicken dip. EW ate the last two small pieces of pizza as we were in the car on our way back to the boat. That was all he ate for the entire day. He played music for six hours and drank beer. He had a really, really good Mother’s Day.

So did I.

IMG_0753After breakfast I did laundry, made two pizzas, and was then transported to the tree tops, where I could listen to great music, chat with smart women, eat good food and play with two cute dogs. I’d call that a Mother’s Day win.

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NOTE: During our first Tree Top Jam, I chatted with Diane (remember, she’s from Texas) and mentioned we were out of Maple syrup. We are both charming women and we are both strong women.

Diane (with a Texas accent): Yew know you can make Maple Syrup?

Me: Yep, with a number of Maple trees, flowing sap, and a good fire.

Diane (Smiles then goes all serious again.): No really. You just need some maple flavoring and a little syrup. (I assume she meant Karo or some such thing.)

Me (Struggling to be polite.): Yeah. No. That …..

Diane: My kids just loved it!

Me: I really like you, and I’m sure your kids were fine with it, but that just won’t work for me.

Diane: Really?

Me. Really.

She was tickled when I told her that I had gotten Real Maple Syrup for Mother’s Day. For those of you keeping score, while EW’s New York syrup is delicious, I have (of course) always favored Maine syrup. The only one available here at Cost U Less is from Vermont, so we compromised. 

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Here’s EW, Morgan, Jerry, and Mick on Mother’s Day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

IMG_0858Jerry and Diane and Coach all invited a few friends to listen and enjoy the day. Brian wins the Best Use of Smart Phone award when he quickly found the lyrics for one song.

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Yep. This does not suck.


Tips and Anti-Tips from Facebook

Or “Rising to the Occasion”

Facebook has become a vital communication component for cruisers. There are Facebook groups for Grenada, Trinidad, the USVI; there are groups for those who live-aboard, those who sew on boats, those who cook on boats; and of course each of us has groups of friends and family back home.

As we’ve been stuck  um blessed to be in St. Thomas until the new sail arrives, both EW and I have become addicted to Facebook. We pay a monthly fee for Wifi, and we are making sure we get our money’s worth. Once I learned to differentiate between ads, ads re-sent by friends and family, and actual messages by friends and family I discovered that I can learn a lot from Facebook.

Some of the things I’ve learned have worked for me (us). Others have not.

So, let’s start with a win. Back in 2010 in Hampton, Virginia,  we purchased a dinghy step — the kind that helps you step from dinghy to deck. Until we moved permanently off the dock, we had used the swim ladder in the stern to get from dinghy to deck. Once we began living aboard on a mooring and at anchor, we realized side entry with a step would be better. This spring, the old step broke. (Of course.)

There are no steps in the marine stores on the island, and it appears that the one we purchased is no longer available anywhere. (Of course.) Furthermore (What would these stories be without “furthermores”?) the two steps that would be available had we not been in St. Thomas cost 60-something, or 200-something, respectively. I refused to spend that right now.IMG_0780

So, I went online to two Facebook groups and put out the message asking if anyone had a cheaper alternative. This lovely sailing woman whom I've never met, told us about a PVC step her “DH” had made (that’s Dear Husband to the social media impaired). I and another lady asked for photos, and she promised to get back to us as soon as possible. She also said that they weren’t on or near the boat, so she’d see what she could do. Within a couple of hours she had sent a photograph of a drawing detailing how to make the step. EW looked at it, we made a parts list, and he trundled off to ACE where he purchased everything we needed for $11.00 (or 10-something to keep all the figures in the same vernacular). We could use the hooks from the broken step, but he used new line.

Ta-Da!IMG_0793

Now lets move on to a fail—or two.

I had posted on the cooking on boats FB page that I was astonished that a small jar of Fleischmann’s yeast cost $12.06. (Or 12-something. That’s more than a step!) I didn't even want to purchase small jars of yeast. On other Caribbean islands I’ve found vacuum foil bricks of yeast, that I store in a ClickClack container in the fridge. It stays fresh for months. When I posted that I couldn’t find those packs here, two folks suggested that I make my own yeast.

You can make yeast? Well, that makes sense because someone makes it. I was game to try. Now please note, I understand about sourdough starter. It requires care and feeding. EW takes care of himself and I still occasionally feed him popcorn for supper. Does this sound like a woman who will take care and feed a mushy pile of dough? It does not. So I skipped those recipes and went right to yeast.

First of all. Do you know who is concerned about making yeast? Mostly people who are gearing up to survive something. Something bad. Something bad for which they will need guns. Something bad for which they will need guns and for which they are storing hundreds of pounds of flour, for which they will need yeast.

You can actually make yeast out of nearly any fruit as long as it hasn’t been washed or waxed first. (Of course after the big something from which they are surviving no one will have to worry about waxed fruit, so that’s good.) Fruit, however, will add flavor to your bread, and that may not be to your liking, so most recipes discuss making yeast using potatoes. One recipe said that you simply save the water after you’ve boiled potatoes, add sugar and flour and let it sit in a warm place overnight. If it’s fermenting and bubbly, you have yeast. If it’s just a lump, toss it and try again. (They actually said that. Didn’t sound very promising to me. Made me wonder if they would eat a lot of leavened bread after the big something happens.)

IMG_0763My potato yeast did not rise to the occasion and I ended up with a lump. Much to EW’s delight I was willing to try again, until we took a quick trip to Cost U Less where we found—Ta-Da!—a brick of yeast. Two whole pounds of yeast for six-something. (That’s just over half of a dinghy step.) For the win.IMG_0791

 

 

 

 

 

 

For the second, final, and most spectacular fail of the week, let’s discuss getting into the dinghy from water that is over your head. Our cruising/musician friend Gavin, posted what he called is an easy way to enter your dinghy from the water. It actually looks elegant.

NOTE: You probably won’t be able to see Gavin’s video as it is on Facebook. He hangs with his back to the dinghy, holding on to the carry straps, tells us to curl our legs up into our bodies, throw our head backwards into the water and “Bob’s your uncle!” Gavin ended up kneeled in his dinghy. It was awesome. It looked easy and elegant.

I pretty much do not look elegant when I go from water to dinghy. EW can kick and thrust himself up and then pull himself aboard with his arms. I cannot . I use a method that works for slightly out of shape 50-something (age nor financial worth) women. I watched Gavin’s video a few times and thought, “That looks easy. I bet I can do that.”

Yeah. No. I did not rise to the occasion.  Here is a video of my attempts. Feel free to laugh.

 

When we were in Guadeloupe and were swimming and snorkeling a lot, I devised a way for me to get back into the dinghy. We always have one five foot rope tied to a ring on the transom in case we need to secure the dinghy fore and aft. I take that line and put it through the large hand hold, leading it to the opposite side of the boat. I take another small line and tie that to the large opposite large hand hold, put a big loop in the other end using a bowline, and toss it over the side. Then I grab onto the thicker line, put my foot in the loop, and haul myself aboard. Is it elegant? No. But I can take care of myself, and both lines are kept in a way that they can be reached and rigged from the water. I’d call that a win.

 

 Ta-Da.

 But no one would call that elegant.


When is Sargassum Not a Good Thing?

IMG_20150427_114530When it invades the beaches and harbors of the Caribbean.

Evidently this has been a challenge for months, as this article from October of 2014 indicates. And the article is correct; the Sargassum is smelly and a nuisance to humans — more disturbing is that it can prevent baby turtles from making their way to the ocean. Ironically, if one chooses (after talking with the ranger in charge) to rescue those turtles, the best place to restore them to the ocean is under a big clump of Sargassum.

Concerning the baby turtles, if they can be rescued from the beached Sargassum, the best place to turn them loose is likely to be in a mass of Sargassum that is in the open sea. In open water, they are vulnerable to consumption by numerous animals, but within the floating Sargassum, they have food and shelter. Young turtles, tunas, jacks, and numerous others rely on those grand floating islands of life.

IMG_20150502_125645Interestingly enough, DPNR supposedly prevented Crown Bay Marina from removing the weed for a week or so because of the wildlife harbored there. (One of our friends swears he saw a “baby shark” in the Sargassum.) During that same week, the safari bus I was riding was stopped in traffic along with hundreds of other vehicles while two front end loaders crossed the road to a dump truck. A crew with pitch forks was raking the Sargassum from the shore across from Carnival Park. Guess Carnival trumps baby turtles.

Go figure. This may fall into the category of our favorite St. Thomas bumper sticker: “Welcome to St. Thomas. You can’t make this shit up!”

In the meantime, EW and I became adept at stopping the engine, raising the prop, and cleaning off the weeds. For days, I avoided going into Crown Bay, and when I did, I would paddle through the mulch. It was slow going and a great workout.

Until I undertook this bit of research, I had no idea that the brown seaweed making entry and exit to Crown Bay so difficult is the exact same stuff I would have been delighted to see had we sailed through the Sargasso Sea.  Look at that. We did sail through the Sargasso Sea, or should have. Neither EW nor I saw the sea last year.

Must be a timing thing, as according to this article, that sea should have been within sight.

Oh no! Maybe we’re to blame. Maybe the Sargassum has followed us to the Caribbean. (Cue creepy oceany music.) Sargassum is taking over! Run for your lives!

Yeah. Just kidding.

I wish all baby turtles safe passage. (Many of them go to the Azores, you know. Smart turtles.) And I have nothing against the baby sharks. (Wink, wink.) However, I was delighted that Crown Bay received permission to evict the Sargassum and send it back to sea. Bet those who work and live on the dock at Crown Bay were even more delighted.

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And, under the category of “Keep Your Sunny Side Up!” here’s a photo of my breakfast on Sunday. Those aren’t potato wedges; they’re apple wedges, sautéed in bacon grease and sprinkled lightly with cinnamon. Captain EW is THE BEST! (Note that he didn’t fill my coffee cup though.)

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Hosting isn’t Chartering

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We cruisers frequently invite others to the boat – both cruisers and able dirt dwellers. I am usually the inviter/instigator and I love to have folks over. A week ago, we hosted on Friday night.We had invited a couple of former cruisers who are now Captain and Crew on a charter cat. They had the week off and I was delighted to offer them a relaxing evening of pizza while we all caught up beyond the past year of FaceBook posts. Shortly after the time they were expected to arrive, she contacted me via FaceBook to say that they had unexpected guests: a fellow cruising/chartering couple, their daughter, and her 15 month old son. I wish I could say that I didn’t pause before inviting everyone along, but there was a pause, and then some manic re-thinking, and then I invited everyone over, saying I easily had enough food for all. No worries.

So they came. And we had a wonderful time. They talked about the pros and cons of running charter boats. And I was once again reminded of why EW and I and don’t go that route. If you had told me that with our small marine oven, I could actually prepare pizza for six adults and one baby and have everyone served nearly at the same time – I would have denied it. (The seventh adult is gluten free and cheerfully accepted my new invention: Pizza Salad – lettuce, bunches of cut raw veggies, pepperoni, mozzarella cheese, and Italian dressing. For. The. Win.)

First, I made a huge batch of popcorn, salting some with our new maple/spice salt from the Canary Islands. What that does for popcorn is sinful. The baby loved it; he leaned up against his mom, facing EW, and scooping up popcorn with both hands. He also loved his pizza. He’s a great boat guest and a very good eater.IMG_0594

But I’m ahead of myself. Just as one of our guests teased me about not having them fill out a preference sheet, I presented—“Ta-Da” —preference pizza sheets. I had three large pizza pans, suitable for two hungry people each, and two cake tins for my own version of “personal pan pizza”. The preference sheets made everything easy. One large pizza with no olives for Mike and Rebecca, One large pizza with no peppers for EW and me, One large pizza made to Sherry’s specifications (with planned left-overs) and a personal pan for Jim and for the baby. As I made the salad, I rotated the pizzas from top shelf, bottom shelf, and bottom of the oven, making sure they didn’t burn on the bottom.

For. The. Win. Again.

Plenty of wine and beer, great conversation, easy guests, and one of the world’s perfect babies. I had it much easier than those who charter.

I’m also messier. We’ve been fortunate to be hosted by charter couples, usually when they want to practice new recipes. (Pick me! Pick me!) Invariably, they somehow make cooking and hosting and cleaning as one goes look easy and seamless. I didn’t even try. This is what my galley looked like at the end of the evening. Thankfully, EW always cheerfully and expertly assists with the clean-up. (Note that I made too much pizza.)

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Two final notes:

  1. This isn’t the first time I’ve served pizza to a 15 month old. Thirty plus years ago, I watched my forever friend, Kathy’s baby for the day. Marc and I had a wonderful time, as did his parents who were a couple of hours late getting home. In the meantime, I (who barely cooked) had to feed Marc supper. Kathy had a French bread frozen pizza in the freezer, and I figured it was time Marc tried the finer things in life. (My excuse was that he had plenty of teeth.) He loved it. Kathy was slightly appalled but tried to hide it. Pizza became Marc’s favorite food through to adult-hood and it’s still one of his top picks. Just this past month I was delighted to see a FaceBook posting of Marc out for pizza with his two-year-old daughter. My work there is done.
  2. EW and I are serious about not chartering. How serious are we? The Magazine ‘All at Sea” published my article, titled: “When Cruisers Charter.” Also, you can find a list of all of my published articles in the column on the right.