It's the Places We Go Feed

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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