It's the People we Meet Feed

That Standing on a Stage Dream.

I’ve been having vivid dreams lately. A few nights ago I dreamt that I had to sing a particular song on stage. I knew it was a dream for two reasons: first, those in charge gave me a new outfit that magically made me 20 pounds lighter and twenty years younger; and secondly, I was sure I’d nail the song and wasn’t at all worried about singing alone on stage.

A dream like that will stick with you in strange ways—I need to find a store that sells that outfit, but I have no desire to sing on stage—and I’m stuck with an earworm. In case, like EW, you are unfamiliar with that term, it’s a song that keeps playing in your head, over and over and over again. A well-known and very annoying earworm is “It’s a Small World After All”. Got it? Sorry about that.

That is not my song, and I can absolutely understand why I’m singing my new song. First of all, we are moored in the Matanzas River. (This can mean “Bloody” River, “Slaughter” River, or “Massacre” River, depending upon to whom you speak.) But history has nothing to do with my dream or song. We can blame it on the neighborhood.

To wit: Nola and Jerry from Alaska,

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Zach from St. Augustine,

 

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and these three boats,

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and finally, let’s not forget our own floating castle (from a photo taken on the hard in Maine.*

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So, what was I singing? Not :”It’s a Marvelous Night for a Moondance”, though EW has been known to hum a verse or two as we pass her by. Nope. I stood on that stage and proudly crooned, “Moon River”.

“Old dream maker, you heartbreaker. Wherever you’re going, I’m going your way.”

I’m as young as I’ll ever be, and I’ll never be a singer, but I keep thinking about losing 20 pounds and EW and I often dream of our next sailing adventures.

*For those of your wondering about why I didn’t take a photo of La Luna moored in the river—I did. But EW didn’t want me to use it because he hadn’t cleaned the transom. Men.IMG_3980

IMG_3971A final note about the theme. The other names from the cosmos in the neighborhood include Juno (wife of Jupiter), Night Music, and Star Gazer. It’s that kind of crowd.

 

 

In the meantime, “Two drifters, off to see the world. There’s such a lot of world to see. We’re after the same, rainbow’s end; my huckleberry friend, Moon River (and EW) and meeeee.”


Shin Pond Meets South Carolina

While there have been a couple of cruisers’ gatherings, most of the folks are passing through  for just a few days, so if we meet them at all, it’s by chance on the shopping bus, in the laundry room/lounge, or on the dock. On Thursday, we took La Luna to the fuel dock for water and diesel and EW met Lily and Elias, a young couple with ties to Maine. Elias knows enough about Mainahs to clearly state that he isn’t one, but his Grandfather was. The family still has a cottage on the coast up there and Maine is in his heart. Maine does that to people.

Right after that I was scurrying up the dock to dump the garbage and met a couple coming down the ramp. I said “Good Morning,” and they replied with strong southern accents, so I performed a classic double-take when I caught a glimpse of the lady’s bright yellow sweatshirt, emblazoned: “Shin Pond Established 1982”.

“Is that Shin Pond in Maine?”

She smiled, equally surprised, “You know Shi-in Po-ond?” (Imagine strong southern accent for this conversation.) Of course I know Shin Pond. It’s northwest of Island Falls, and and Daddy used to go fishing there with a couple of buddies. They played cribbage, cooked and ate camp meals and maybe caught a few fish. He loved those trips, hauling his small aluminum outboard up on a trailer with his friends along for the ride.

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Fishergirl_0001For  most of the first quarter of my life, I lived in Central Maine. (We won’t mention those  6 months when I was 5 and we lived in Salem, New York; but we can talk eagerly of the next three years in The County, in Island Falls, Maine.) My folks were from Maine, and my dad liked to camp and fish. Moreover, my first career job with Maine Public Broadcasting Network took me all over the state so I know Maine. When I moved to Portland in the 80’s I quickly discovered that most people my age raised south of Brunswick knew little about central and northern Maine,and the few central or northern Mainahs living in Portland never expected anyone to know where their small home town was.

In short, I suspect I’m one of the few Maine cruisers who know Shin Pond, and I’m 99% certain that Martha, Mitch and I were the only folks in the marina who’ve been there. So, how did this woman know Shin Pond? Remember—you have to imagine a strong southern accent and an excited happy voice.

“We-ell,” she replied. We have a home in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina and a few years ago we swapped houses with these people from Shin Pond. They stayed in our home and we stayed in theirs for January and February.”

(Now who would you think got the better end of that trade?)

“Seriously? Did you have a good time?”

“It was the best vacation we ea-vah ha-ad!”

“Did it snow a lot?”

“Oh my yes!” She beamed. “It snowed nearly every day!” Her husband interjected, “We wanted snow. It was a bad day if we could see Katahdin and it wasn’t pouring down snow.” (We Mainahs know that snow doesn’t pour, but I ignored that.)

  • She continued, “I made a snow fort! And I made a snowman every day! These people who own the store in town? Well it’s a store and gas station and little restaurant? They do everything! Anyway they insisted on loaning us their snowmobiles! They didn’t want any money or anything. We had the best time!”

These adventurers are cruisers now, waiting out the rain to head south. Her husband confided that when they sell the boat, he’d buy a home in Shin Pond in a heartbeat.

This is why we cruise. To meet people like this, with a sense of adventure and stories tell. Long after they’ve sailed south, I will forget their names, and what kind of boat they were on. But I will remember the joy they found in retirement, building snowmen at Shin Pond.

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At left, Martha aboard M&M Journey, wearing her sweat shirt. The next morning they headed south on the ICW to a location where the sweat shirt won’t be necessary.

She’s a gracious woman, and a great sport. I hope they visit us on their way north.

 

  • PHOTOS:
  • Shin Pond Map
  • Photo from the town’s slide show
  • Me with Daddy’s boat

Walks and Dogs

IMG_3458Dear friend Jaime, of S/V Kookaburra has “tagged” me on Facebook, letting me know how much she misses me. Her posts mainly center around two things: Walking and Dogs. (I much appreciated the post that connected walking and red wine. We’ve not combined the two yet but may have to try it when she visits St. Augustine later this year—in the spring, when it’s warm.) I miss her, too.

 

IMG_3464The other day, Kirsten of S/V Night Music invited me to go for a long walk. In addition to sailing, and playing the guitar, Kirsten is a dog lover, so she shares my need for “fur fixes”. Fortunately, St. Augustine offers plenty of opportunity for beautiful walks and fur fixes from friendly canines.

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Kirsten’s first choice would have been a 9 mile round trip jaunt, something I didn’t think my legs and feet would yet appreciate, so we shortened it to 5 miles, north along the water, through a beautiful neighborhood, past the Fountain of Youth, and one third of the way across the Usina Bridge to Vilano Beach. (And yes, now I have a goal of making it all the way to the beach and back, preferably on a morning when the temperature is above 60.)

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We talked.

 

We took photos.

 

 

 

And near the marina, I introduced to ….. this little guy:

Well, this is where he used to be:

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And here’s a slightly out of focus shot of me rubbing his chin. MMMMM.

And here’s a blurry shot of an excited pup:

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And here’s a shot of Kirsten getting him to be still as she got a fur fix:

 

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And finally, a happy and handsome dog, posing for the camera:

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He’s a young adult toy poodle who acts like a well behaved Labrador puppy—a trait designed to melt the hearts of Jaime, Kirsten, and me. His people, Karen and Kerry, always allow me a bit of play time.

He’s a big happy dog in a portable little dog’s body. I loved him at our first meeting.

Now here’s the thing, when he was a pup, the gray areas were a bit more white, so they named this tiny little boat dog…

Wait for it…

Wait for it…..

Orca.

How cool is that?

 

Non-dog photos:

  • Sunrise from the deck.
  • View of the Usina Bridge from the Catholic park.
  • Kirsten and me
  • View north of the Usina Bridge.
  • Christmas decorations with color (finally!). These people will probably be run out of the town of white lights before next year.
  • Posing bird.
  • Wild Orca by San Juan Islands Whale Watching

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.


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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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!

 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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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