Cruising Feed

Think Like a Cruiser

IMG_7130[1]We’ve been stuck fortunate to have been living aboard in St. Augustine for nearly two years. And we still have about five months to go. I will tell you that there have been days when I’ve despaired of ever getting back out to the cruising life and I greatly miss it. We are in limbo, neither having moved ashore nor able to set sail and go where the wind takes us.

We are merely liveaboards just as we were in Maine for eight years. But now, we are liveaboards who have cruised and even if we currently don’t feel the deep peace and satisfaction we get when living the full cruising life—we still feel like cruisers from the tops of our heads to the tips of our toes. Accordingly, while we may act like dirt dwellers in polite company, we have the hearts, souls, and minds of cruisers.

So for you newbies and plan-to-bes, here are a few examples of how to think like a cruiser.

Think Like A Cruiser: Know the Difference Between a Vacation and an Adventure

va·ca·tion noun 1. an extended period of recreation, especially one spent away from home or in traveling.

ad·ven·ture noun 1. an unusual and exciting, typically hazardous, experience or activity.

When you’re on a one- or two-week camping vacation and it rains for three days straight, and you’re cold and wet and are not having any fun, it’s perfectly normal and healthy and possible for you to pack it up and head to a motel or home. You are also allowed to complain to friends and family about how miserable you were.

When you have embarked on a months- or years-long cruise on your sailboat and encounter a storm with 30-knot gusts, 10-foot seas, rain, and the threat of waterspouts—causing you to sail for over 24 hours in the slightly wrong direction to avoid shoals or crossing the Gulf Stream—you cannot quit or complain. You must maintain your watch schedule and you must present a positive attitude (feeling some fear is OK—that means you’re paying attention).  You are on an adventure. Any adventure of long duration or in a difficult location will include rough weather, broken down parts, and boring dead calms. Adventure Happens. Get over it. Afterward, you are allowed to complain to fellow cruisers about how miserable you were as long as you also relate one funny story. (The Dinghy at Cape Fear in 2010.)

Think Like a Cruiser: Simplify and Be Proud

Back home, I enjoyed decorating for the holidays, hosting parties, and “doing it up right”. As cruisers, my (never magazine worthy) standards are considerably lower. This year, EW’s birthday  “card” was made from two napkins and a Guadeloupe dish towel knotted together to form a banner with “Happy”, “Birthday”, and “Stew” taped to the three triangles.

While cruising, our holiday celebrations have ranged from a high of the sunrise Christmas carols and tomfoolery in Emancipation Park in St. Thomas to the low of a sad little Christmas feast of packaged Stolen and a small shot of Schnapps on our “Endurance Crossing” in 2014. We do have one plastic shoe box of Christmas ornaments on board, but no decorations for any other holiday. And while we recognize that some cruisers do carry more crafts or special decorations on board, I’ve never been made to feel inadequate for not doing so.

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One of my friends has, though. One year she attended one of the well-known cruisers’ Thanksgiving celebrations along the U.S. Southern Coast and learned that they were expected to “decorate” their white-paper-covered table. Being more like me than a sailing Martha Stewart, her party took magic markers and traced their hands to create large-size kindergarten turkeys and colored them. “Awesome!” I thought as she related the story. Until she said that one cruiser took one look at their table and called it “Tacky”.

That my friend was judged is not acceptable. We have simplified our life and cruised off into the sunset or sunrise to a place where we don’t have to comply with keeping up with the Joneses anchored next to us. Do not judge us as we will not judge you for filling your boat with Halloween Costumes, plastic eggs, and accordion tissue turkeys. (Well, maybe we will a little but we won’t do so in public.)

Think Like a Cruiser: Walk it Off

IMG_7143[1]EW and I have chosen not to purchase a car while we are here in St. Augustine—both a financial decision and a philosophical one. Since 2010 we have lived a life that didn’t require the use of a full-time vehicle (or often any vehicle) and didn't drive at all for two years while in the Caribbean. We walk, we ride two third-hand bikes, or we take the bus; every so often we rent a car and a bit more frequently we have relied on the kindness of dirt-dwelling friends for the occasional ride. The point is, that our default is to walk or take the bike. I’m on the edge of the planning committee for the St. Augustine Cruisers’ Thanksgiving, which needs to be held 3/4 of a mile from the Municipal Marina this year. There was a discussion about “transportation” and how many people the three or four car owners can take to and from.

“Um…Ninety percent of us walk farther than that to go have a beer every dang week!” “Of course!” “The only difference is that we’ll need to carry a bunch of stuff – drinks, our own plates and service, and a hot or cold dish. We need one or two cars to take the two to six folks with mobility issues and all the stuff. One trip and we’re done.”

We are cruisers. We walk, we take our dinghies, we help each other. Sometimes we are tacky and it’s not always fun but all of it—every single good and bad thing about this lifestyle—is all part of the adventure.

And that boys and girls, is why we cruise.


The Hermione Project and Other Crossing Groups

IMG_8013The Canary Islands, and to a lesser extent, the Cape Verdes islands are gathering points for folks crossing the Atlantic. This is a busy time in the marinas, and Marina Lanzarote was filling up as we left to return to Graciosa. Two weeks prior, the marina had allowed us to move to a dock where we could use the Honda generator, and where our neighbors were one workboat and ten or twelve local racing boats. After the sailboats left for a race back to the nearby island ofIMG_7954 Fuerteventura, we shared the dock with Pablo, Marco and their crew as they worked on their new, second or third hand workboat. They’d purchased her from an Englishman. Pablo speaks fairly good English and is a delight – a diver, business owner, and racing sailor. He reminded me of Favorite, so after we became friends I did gently ask him whether he knew “about his boat’s name”.

He looked chagrined and said that he did. They will change her name to Tandem Alpha, to signify that two strong men own her. He and his crew didn’t mind the generator – and in fact they made more noise than we did, and we didn’t mind that. IMG_7936

As the days progressed and the marina began to fill, more and more cruising boats joined us. One French gentleman asked why we ran the generator, but he was out near the end of the pier and assured us the two hours she ran in mid-day didn’t bother them at all. Over the next few days, more and more French boats were placed near us, one docking stern-to right across from us.

The first day they arrived, I went over and apologized for running the generator, explaining that our transformer had died and we had no choice but to run Jenny while we installed the solar panels. They were very forgiving, only asking whether we ran it at night. Upon assurance that Jenny would only be operated up to three hours a day between ten and four, we were forgiven. (It had been our experience in the Azores that the French were more disturbed by the use of the generator than any other nationality.)

Now that we were good neighbors, they told us that they were crossing the Atlantic in order to head up to Virginia for the Hermione Project. At least 20 boats from France  will join this replica of Lafayette’s ship and follow in her wake from Virginia to Lunenberg, Nova Scotia, stopping in New York, Boston, and Castine along the way. It sounds like a great thing to do, and certainly patriotic, but they won’t see much of Maine as their schedule is a little tight.

In addition to what EW and I called the “French Contingent”, other sailors from other Atlantic rallies filled the docks. There were folks participating in this year’s ARC, most of whom will leave directly from Lanzarote, while others will first stop in the Cape Verdes; and folks from Jimmy Cornell’s Odyssey – some just doing the Atlantic crossing, and others planning on joining his around the world odyssey.

IMG_8010EW and I have no plans to join a formal rally, but were delighted to be asked to join the “Atlantic Crossing Group”. This Google Group of sailors was formed in 2013 by a couple sailing to the Caribbean who wanted to stay in touch and share ideas with others who were crossing. The folks we partied with three weeks ago in Graciosa all belong to this group. We were welcomed with open arms and made new friends from the US, Great Britain, New Zealand, Australia, Germany, Ireland, and Turkey. A number of them were very helpful during our double quest for solar power and butane. There are musicians in the group, and we took over one of the docks one evening for an impromptu jam session. This was our kind of group.

When I signed on, I noticed that the description calls us “over the hill” sailors. I both resembled and resented that remark and said so in a group posting. Now I have to come up with a new description. It’s that kind of group – do-it-yourselfers and delegators – our kind of people. While we truly enjoyed all the people we’ve met, my favorite new sailing friends are Lucy and Ben. I’m appalled that I have no photos of them. They are from Great Britain, and are good sailors, except they can be known to shed quite a bit. One of the boats from Great Britain have not one, but two Labrador Retrievers on board. Big, gentle, loving, tail-wagging labs. I fell in love. Their people,Jack and Fizzy,  are neat, too.

IMG_7997As always, EW and I will set our own course, point of departure, and destination – but we’ll keep in touch with our new friends via sailmail and SSB. Life is good at sea.

At left and above, a gathering of the members of our group who were at the marina. Other members were en route from Gibraltar or Morocco, anchored in Graciosa, or sailing in the Canaries or Cape Verdes. It’s an independent kind of group.

At the top of the post, looking from our “meeting” to boats on the dock at Marina Lanzarote.


On Our First Day in Sao Miguel

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EW and I were tired when we arrived in Sao Miguel on Saturday afternoon. It had been a good 30 hour sail, but neither of us has slept well when we were off watch and I hadn’t slept the night before we left. Madalena in Pico is a very small anchorage with ugly volcanic rocks and breaking waves on the south end. We had strong winds from the north and the sound of waves crashing against the rocks was not soothing. So – when we arrived in Sao Miguel we were punchy tired. We also didn’t have a key card for the docks and wouldn’t be able to get one until we checked in on Monday. I envisioned Sunday as a day on the boat and decided to scoot to the store while folks were around on Saturday so I could sneak back to the boat with help from kind strangers. (That was actually easier than I expected.)

Just an hour after we tied up to the dock we stinky, punchy duo were visited by Rodrigo, a handsome young man from Brazil. It turns out Rodrigo was delighted to see an American-flagged vessel as he needed a bit of assistance. Fortunately, he found the right boat.  Hold that thought.

IMG_4868Last week I discovered a book on my Kindle – “When You Catch an Adjective, Kill it” by Ben Yagoda. I’d tell you how much I love it but I’d have to use a adjectives. To give you an idea, know that I read passages of this book to EW – and that he enjoyed it. (Seriously, I can think of maybe four people who would welcome someone reading from a book about grammar.) One of the points my new best friend, Ben, made is that our irregular verbs and our adjectives make it difficult for those learning English as a second language. Rodrigo speaks four languages; he earned his bachelor’s degree in France, and his masters in Germany, and is currently preparing to earn his PhD at an international university with English as the primary language.  His proposal and grant request must be written in English and he had been looking for a native speaker to read and edit four documents for him.

IMG_4878Cue La Luna’s arrival onto the docks. Of course I agreed to help, but suggested we wait until Sunday when my brain would be operating at full capacity. That worked. Three of the documents had only a few problems, the grant letter needed more work, and  just as Ben predicted, most of the problems were with adjectives. For example, while a child or a dog or a girlfriend may be “precious”, the study of education and inequality is not --though it certainly may be important. “Especial” is a word in English, but it is not one used often and “special” worked just fine. (“Especial” is very common in Portuguese.) I told him make the open quotes up, instead of at the bottom of the letters, but let him keep the comma for decimals. The documents were excellent, though in that higher education style that uses words like “incentivize”. I commented on that but advised him to keep the pedantic tone as it was (unfortunately) appropriate for the venue.

IMG_4875Rodrigo was effusive with his delight and has invited us for cocktails later this week. He had given me my true reward (not that I needed one) just after we met on Saturday, when he returned to La Luna with his key card for the gate, saying that he and the captain could share a card. How nice was that?

So EW and I wandered the town just a bit on Sunday, being surprised and delighted that the tourism office and some shops were open. We got maps for hikes and began to plan our week. A crew was setting up a sound system on the street overlooking the docks and we found out that there would be a music performance beginning at 9:30 that night. (Everything starts later in Europe.) Sure enough, dinner and the dishes were done and we were both on-line when I heard drums. “That sounds like a parade!”. We grabbed camera, shoes, and the key card and scooted to town. (A short scoot. We could see the back of the stage from the boat.)

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Performing in the street:  a 20 person (mostly young women) drum team! I love the Azores. They marched away, and a mandolin and guitar player  and singer were introduced;. They were followed by a jazz band complete with torch singer who nailed “Summertime”, and they IMG_4956were followed by a choral group accompanied by strings and woodwinds. This was free, on the street on a Sunday night – and we were able to enjoy it because Rodrigo had given up his key card.

Is it any wonder that we love the Azores?

 

 

 

 

NOTE: I have a video of one song by the guitar and mandolin duo – just don’t think I should upload without permission. Trust me, it was wonderful.

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You know you are on an island that has a cruise ship terminal when you see a Burger King on the dock. (And that is one reason why I have little respect for most cruise ship passengers – they would actually want to visit a Burger King.) (Yes, I know that’s snarky but this is my blog and I allow some snark.)  (Yes, some of my best friends have been cruise ship passengers. I sincerely hope they didn’t look for a Burger King when they got off the ship.) (Finally – I am sure all you grammar geeks/nerds who may have loved the first part of this post are trembling at my use of successive parenthetical phrases. Think of it as art.)

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At least it was a small cruise ship. It certainly was close!


Pizza

EW loves pizza. He has a prefrence for the kind of pizza he got in Niagara Falls, and he likes my home-made pizza, too. Of course there are some pretty good pizza parlors in St. Thomas, as well as a number of chain joints. It continues to surprise me that many American fast food chains have made it to all – or nearly all – of the Caribbean islands. We’ve seen Subway and Quiznos, and tons of KFC places all up and down the chain. And pizza parlors.

On the bus ride back to our home on the hard the other day, we evidently passed a few Pizza Joints and Dominoes shops. I didn’t notice them, but EW had pizza on his mind. Once we got back into town, he asked if I had seen a Dominoes or Pizza Joint in my travels.

I’ve been on a “No Chain Restaurant” kick for a while now, and the thought of junk pizza for dinner didn’t float my boat. (Nothing was floating my boat now. We were on the hard in a very dusty yard where I had to get broken out of jail after hours in order to use the bathroom. I was not at my best.) Still, I agreed to junk chain pizza, but honestly didn’t know of one close by. We decided to take a new road back to the boatyard and passed three little local bars/restaurants: a roti shack, a Chinese restaurant, and this place:

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Pizza and Shwarma? One is Italian by way of America and one is Arabic.

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How can one place offer a menu of Pizza and Shwarma? And what kind of chef does both well?

This particular chef is a cute young woman from St. Martin. I’m not sure where she learned to cook, but she made a great pizza – eventually.

EW totally distrusted a place that offered both pizza and shwarma. I trusted it more than I did Dominoes and Pizza Joint, so I engaged the bartender and ordered two beers. Suzanne is from Holland and is a school librarian here in Sint Maarten. She knows the owner (Bobbieloo?) and took a job bartending on Saturday nights to help out. Most importantly from EW’s viewpoint: Suzanne drives a Harley.

We drank our beers and asked about the pizza. The response was, “We can cook it as soon as our friend returns with a wrench.”

Really?

They needed to change the propane tank.

“He’s on his way. He’ll be right back.”

Again, EW was ready to move on after a beer, but I was hooked, and before we’d finished our first beers, the friend, an 80 year old gentleman arrived with a wrench.

Unfortunately, neither the chef nor the bartender could change the tank fitting. (I had seen this coming a mile away.) Of course, EW could change the fitting. First he and the chef went into the tiny alley where EW  moved the large empty tank to make room for the large full tank. As we waited, the chef came back to the bar to ask Suzanne for a flashlight, but the only light available was the small light attached to a  zapping fly-swatter. This, I had to see. The flash on my camera flash was more helpful than the fly swatter light.P1000194

Afterward, we chatted with Suzanne and their elderly friend while our pepperoni and mushroom pizza was crafted and baked.

It was delicious. And EW’s first beer was free.

Now he wants to drive Suzanne’s Harley. Yeah. That ain’t happening.

We’ve got boat projects to do.

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Jailhouse Rock

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We hauled the boat  the day after we reached Sint Maarten

It’s been a very good experience. This is a well-known marina, we are pleased with the crew; the office manager is brilliant, and the new supervisor seems to be an excellent manager.

Having said all of that, we quickly learned that they are in transition, so we have to make some allowances. Since EW and I normally have good attitudes, and since we understand how boatyards work, this hasn’t been a huge problem for us, but it’s made for a few interesting boatyard moments. As long as the work is done in a timely fashion and correctly, we can live with that.

Good thing.

P1000140For all you non-boaters or non-live-aboards, here’s the thing about hauling out: You can use no on-board drains of any kind. That means that you can’t use any sink or head. (Unless you have a composting head, which is reason number 5 for getting one. But I digress.)  If you can’t use a sink, you have to go off the boat to brush your teeth, dump used dish water into a bucket for burial in the bushes, and walk to a shore facility to do your business.

The first time we hauled La Luna after moving aboard, EW chose a commercial marina near our boatyard in Maine, with no input from me. That was the last time he made that mistake. There were no facilities there. None. The one head was in the office and locked from 5 PM to 8 AM. We had to use the rest room in the gas station/convenience store across the street. We had to drive back to our home marina for our morning showers. This lasted two weeks and I was not pleased.

After that, I have always confirmed that any boatyard has a working head and showers available 24/7. In every instance until this particular moment in haul-out time, those facilities have been in the boatyard. In St. Lucia, the buildings were hurricane damaged, had spongy floors, and no privacy in the ladies’ shower. But they were cleaned at least twice a day. As we have found on most Caribbean islands, the boat yard was surrounded by a tall fence and security guards were posted at all entry points 24/7. I felt quite safe making my way down the ladder, through the stored boats, and to the brightly lit “Woman Room” any time, day or night.

In Trinidad, there was barbed wire atop the fence, the usual security guards at the gates, and others roaming about the property. We were farther from the heads and showers, but quickly learned that the guards were watching out for us. As I began my late night walk, one guard or another would emerge from the shadows and wave to me, so I didn’t get spooked by their presence. That yard had a long line of unisex water closets. Most of them contained a toilet and a sink with a mirror. The last four simply held a shower, hooks, and a small changing area. This was the most efficient system I’ve seen.Again, they were cleaned twice a day.

Here, we are again in a locked yard surrounded by a tall fence. The difference is, we are locked in.

Really.

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The security guards, stay on the outside of the only gate. They are responsible for the boatyard, the docks, and the parking lot. When the boatyard is open for business – from 8 to 5  on weekdays – we can pass through the office. The rest of the time, we must get a guard to unlock the gate. Imagine this. I climb down the ladder to use the facilities and I go to the corner of the fence nearest the parking lot so that I can call to B, or M, or Mr. D. in order for one of them to meet me at the gate and unlock the chain.

Really.

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Like I imagine one finds in jail, It’s easier to get in than out, because when we are “on the outside” we can simply track down a guard and ask to be returned to the pen. When we are on the inside we are at their mercy. They are efficient, friendly, and quick – in the Caribbean fashion of quick.

OH! And the facilities are uni-sex and we must use quarters to get into the toilets or the shower rooms. The showers require .50 for one minute of cool water.

I’m actually OK with the whole quarter thing, and that outstanding office manager had been clear about it prior to our arrival. I get a kick out of this sign though. P1000204Remember, we are in Sint Maarten, the Dutch side of this lovely island. The other side is French. We are no longer in the U.S. Still, this is the sign in the head.

So the quarter thing is mildly annoying but expected, but the whole locked in jail thing was definitely  a surprise. One morning, EW and I were standing at the gate trying to get someone’s attention. He wanted to find a tin cup to run along the rails; I wanted to take the ladder from the boat,  and “go over the roof” and “break out of this joint”.  We could have made it. There’s a utility  hut on the other side which would make it easy  to reach the ground.

The hull has been polished. The bottom has been sanded and primed. We will ultimately escape via the water, much more comfortably than those folks who tried to escape from Alcatraz.  In the meantime, anyone have a tin cup we can borrow?

P.S.  On Sunday,  one of our guards evidently had to use the facilities about the same time as we did. I had just left the building and EW was washing his hands when we heard, “Mister. Mister.” The security guard opened his stall door far enough to hand EW the key.

No! Not really.

<Wink>


Safe Here, You?

Our friends and family don’t seem to worry quite so much about us as they used to. After all, we’ve been out here for two years and things have been boringly unexciting in terms of wind, waves, and weather and other dangers—particularly this year. But this morning, I received a Facebook message from a dear former neighbor who wondered where we are and if the hurricane had threatened us. We’re fine. No wind, no rain. In fact, it’s unseasonably hot in Trinidad – we know this because all of the locals are complaining about the heat. You know it’s hot in Trini when ….. well, you get the idea.

Lately, we’ve had more reason to worry about the weather for the folks back home. From that b—ch, Sandy to the earthquake/tsunami, we have friends and former sailors, and nieces and nephews in the path of potentially dangerous events.

We don’t like it.

EW and I are fortunate to have wifi on the boat. It isn’t often strong enough for SKYPE, but we can get online. Others in the harbor have to go ashore to hook up, so when someone announced on the cruisers’ net that there had been an earthquake in Vancouver and a tsunami threat in Hawaii, I dove for the laptop. Both EW and I have nephews in Hawaii, and I also wanted to find out where Sandy was in terms of the Carolinas, Chesapeake, New Jersey, and Boston – where cruiser friends and family are located.

Of course, then I find out that the bi—h Sandy is now expected to head north to the Buffalo area – where EW’s from. So more family to worry and wonder about.

Seriously, people. Maybe you all better take up cruising. It just isn’t safe back home.

So – here are a few photos from the “Fun in Trini” file. NOTE: EW is killing the work projects. Just crossing things off his list left and right. I love EW.

EW participated in a music jam with two families, one from Wales and one from France, and a few other cruisers. Singing, guitars, and recorders. Lovely.

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At the first opportunity, we had Doubles for lunch when in Port of Spain.

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At my first opportunity, I played dominoes in the Sunday game. One of the group brought a tub of ice cream. Linda got the last of the seconds.

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We’ve been to a pig roast at the local yacht club and two potlucks at the next boatyard. Someone brought a bag of marshmallows and Blake and Sofia enjoyed cooking them to order, while we all talked and relaxed.

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Last night, we met up with friends Chris and Jackie from s/v Higheeled. They’re from Canada, and they play euchre. We get together whenever we’re in the same port. Last night the ladies won. Big time. Victory dance and fist bumps were obligatory.

Thank you for your concerns. We’re fine. And we’re getting work done – really.

 

P.S. – for you euchre players – I ordered up trump when our opponents picked up the right bower and won the hand. TWICE!  More fist bumps. My mother-in-law would be so proud. EW wants me to note that we won two out of three. He doesn’t consider that “big time”.  Tough. He’ can get his own blog. Since I lost for years before we went cruising, if I’m on the winning side, it’s “big time”.


Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta–The Maine Event

What’s a year among friends? We were supposed to have arrived in Antigua for the 2011 Classic Yacht Regatta, but someone had the date wrong and we missed it. This year, we were determined to show up. After all, we had been invited to help host a party – the “Sail Maine Party” presented by Portland Yacht Services and several other Maine boatyards and marine companies.

Phin in dinghy at sea 4-20-2012 1-47-14 PMPhin and Joanna Sprague, owners of Portland Yacht Services have known EW a bit longer than I have. They are also experienced cruisers and sailors, having spent their first years together sailing around the world in a 72ft 1931 Alden Staysail Schooner with a revolving crew of five to seven people. They cruised before water-makers, GPS, Sat phones, cell phones, and many of the other boat accouterments that I take for granted. Phin is also the instigator and primary host of the “Sail Maine Party”, held on Sunday night at the Classic Yacht Regatta. The Sail Maine party was conceived to support the Regatta and as an opportunity to showcase some of Maine’s best boatyards. Also Joanna watching the race on Friday 4-20-2012 1-47-22 PMsponsoring the party were Robinhood Marine Center, Boothbay Harbor Shipyard, Hodgdon Yachts, Port Clyde Lobster, Lyman Morse, Rockport MarineWayfarer Marine, Brooklin Boatyard, and Hinckley Yacht Services. We had been requested to help. I wasn’t sure what that meant but knew that we’d see some Maine folk, eat lobster, and have fun. Essentially, I got to help throw a wicked neat party without having to plan it or pay for it.

The fun started on Friday morning when Joanna and Phin picked us up in their dinghy. Though they had arrived in Antigua via air, they currently store the dinghy to s/v Lion’s Whelp in Antigua. That’s handy. We watched some of the starts on Friday, up close and personal, and low to the water. Future Plates 2 4-20-2012 11-48-16 AMAfterward, we began our hosting duties by helping to collect 600 sea grape leaves. Really. It seems that they make excellent serving plates for small amounts of food, they are free, and they are definitely organic. Joanna knew which bay provided both an abundance of grape leaves and excellent Joanna picking leaves 1 4-20-2012 11-40-44 AMsnorkeling. I like how she works. The bay is well protected by a reef and coral heads, but Phin and Joanna had clearly been there often. We waded ashore while EW helped Phin anchor and tie the dinghy.  After a swim and snorkel, we loaded ourselves and two huge bags of leaves into the dinghy for lunch with a view of the finish line. I provided lunch. We were a good team.

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On Saturday afternoon Joanna and I walked up to a nearby home which was headquarters for food prep for the party. Two professional caterers, some paid staff, and many volunteers worked for two days to provide a large variety of food for the 600 expected guests. In the meantime, Phin and EW spent two afternoons inviting everyone in English and Falmouth Harbors to the party – creating some anxiety that we wouldn’t have enough food.

On that first day, Joanna and I had to wash 600 sea grape leaves. Do you have any idea how long that takes? Hours. I also had to squeeze a crate of oranges. A whole crate of oranges only yields a bit over a gallon of juice. I must admit that I grumbled a bit because I knew that much more juice would be needed for the rum punch for 600 people. “I think buying the juice would be more cost-effective,” I stated at least 10 times to various parties that day. Maybe, but it wouldn’t have resulted in true Caribbean rum punch. Turns out “my” oranges were sour ones and that bit of sour juice is needed for the authentic recipe. Now you know.

I will say, that squeezing a crate of oranges and washing grape leaves gives two women ample time to chat, laugh, and get to know each other. I’ve known Joanna for over 20 years. In Antigua, we had the opportunity to become friends. That’s a special gift.

EW watching the races 4-22-2012 10-27-42 AMOn Sunday, EW and I opted to hike up one of the hills between Falmouth and English Harbors for a bird’s eye view of the mornings starts. Oh, my. It was an excellent vantage point, and we had it all to ourselves. And the goats. We had taken our hand-held VHF radio and could hear the Committee Boat broadcast the start of each class, and see the puff of smoke as the gun went off to mark the ten-minute, one-minute, and start of each race.Gun for last race on Sunday 4-22-2012 11-33-25 AM

 

 

See the puff of smoke aft of the power yacht? That’s from the starting gun.

These are beautiful boats. More on that in the next post.

Afterward, we walked back to Falmouth, meeting up with other cruisers who had volunteered to help with the party. Alan and Kate from s/v Mendocino Queen and Dave and Lori from s/v Persephone had also watched the starts from one of the hills. The men then went off to set up tables and tents and the women joined Joanna, other volunteers, and me at the house on the hill. Our first task was to break up huge amounts of Maine lobster. We refrained (mostly) from eating as we worked and were helped by the presence ofMaking roll-ups 4-22-2012 1-39-12 PM Laura from British Columbia and her three (triplet) daughters, Victoria, Elizabeth, and Alexandra. The girls are young teens who are enjoying a year afloat with their parents and younger brother. They weren’t allowed to eat while working and had to go wash their hands again if fingers touched lips. It was a good rule and we all followed it. They were shadowed by Lexi, whose dad and grandmom were cooking for the party, and one of the girls helped Lexi with her homework. Homework while cooking 4-22-2012 1-38-53 PM

We made hundreds of roll-up sandwiches, a huge vat of salsa, and chopped, sliced, or diced herbs, vegetables, and bread. The real cooks made polenta, Caribbean lobster stew, fillings for sandwiches, lobster salad, barbequed chicken, bean soup, and a whole barbecued 30-pound kingfish. This effort used two stoves, a large outdoor pit grill, and a propane cooker for one of the three giant pots of stew. It was organized chaos but seemed to go quite smoothly. Grilling Chicken 4-22-2012 1-36-20 PM

Here is the grill crew. And here’s the fish grilled in the yard. It’s on a piece of plywood covered with foil because it’s as big as a coffee table. Fish for dinner 4-22-2012 1-35-29 PM

 

 

 

 

 

Lobster Stew  4-22-2012 3-41-15 PM

One batch of lobster stew, Caribbean style and oh, so good!

 

Nice Shirt 4-22-2012 7-11-48 PM

 

We worked until after 4, then left to get ready for the party, meeting up on the lawn of the Antigua Yacht Club at 5:00.

 

Nice shirt!

 

Serving Punch 4-22-2012 7-23-52 PM

The party was a huge success. There was enough food for all and it was fantastic. The rum punches were just tangy enough. Here, they are being served by the crew from Wayfarer Marine.

Serving fish 4-22-2012 7-13-04 PM 

These two volunteers served fish for three hours. I don’t think either of them has been to Maine. Neither was a rum punch kind of woman, so I badgered various Maine boatyard reps to buy them their drinks of choice. Keep the volunteers happy! It’s what I do.

Fish servers 4-22-2012 8-32-05 PM

Dave and Lori from Persephanie  4-22-2012 7-26-57 PM

 

Dave and Lori, fellow cruisers, helped all afternoon and enjoyed the party that night, as did Kate and Alan, who are actually going to cruise in Maine this coming summer. Kate and Alan 4-22-2012 7-42-27 PM If you see s/v Mendocino Queen in your harbor, make sure to say hello. Kate and Alan are 3/4 of the way through a round the world cruise, are excellent sailors, and incredibly nice people. There was some sort of “issue” with the tents – ably resolved by Dave and Alan. Leave it to a cruiser to find a solution.

Happy party goers 4-22-2012 7-29-38 PM 

Music and Maine in the Caribbean 4-22-2012 7-25-36 PM

 

 

  At left, dancing and Maine boats and harbors. The slideshow provided by Maine Boats Homes and Harbors Magazine.

 

 

Linsey and Maurice

Phil and MOnica and Stuart 4-22-2012 7-42-15 PM

 

 

 

      Serving punch and a smile from Hinckley Yacht Services

Serving 4-22-2012 7-25-08 PM

 

 

 

Philip, Monica, and Stuart

 

Talking about Maine 4-22-2012 7-23-17 PM

Talking about Maine. EW’s talking about some of our favorite anchorages.

 

Maine …the way life should be … in Antigua. It doesn’t get any better than this.

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