Boatyards and Marinas Feed

Our Six Weeks In Linton Bay Marina

IMG_1768It’s been so long since I’ve posted regularly that I think we need a date line. I know I do.

June 22. We arrived in Guna Yala, and spent 10 days with Keith and Jaime on Kookabura. (You can read about our trip to Panama in the September edition of All at Sea, Caribbean and read about our week with Jaime and Keith in the October edition. My articles show up on line around the 20th of each month.)

July 1. Kookaburra left for Linton to leave the boat and fly back to New England. We stayed to enjoy the Guna Yala, and work on the boat.

July 24. Left Guna Yala for Linton Bay Marina, where we stayed on the dock for almost three weeks. Working on the boat.

August 6. Moved to the anchorage to finish up boat projects and prepare to leave.

September 20. After one abortive attempt to leave Linton Bay area, finally made it back to Guna Yala on a windless, clear, Sunday. The days blurred together. As EW says, “The projects were all-consuming.”

When we met up with Keith and Jaime on Kookaburra in June we had great hopes of spending time together, sailing, snorkeling, fishing, eating, drinking and playing Euchre before we both headed off in different directions. We did all of those things in Guna Yala and many of them while in Linton. Unfortunately, while in Guna Yala, a lot of their time was spent much like the golfer whose buddy died on the course: hitting the ball and dragging Harry. In their case, lifting anchor and waiting for La Luna.

Just as we arrived to greet them outside of Porvenir in June, our engine overheated. During that first wonderful week of sailing together we had to go very slowly when we motored. Once we anchored,  EW would try yet another fix but when we set off the engine would overheat again. This continued when they went back to the states and while we stayed in Guna Yala working on the boat, and enjoying the region.  The Monday Morning Quarterback in me  now says we should have followed them to Linton in July and worked on the boat during their visit home.

Here is what EW has done since we arrived in Panama (none of which was on the To-Do list):

First, while we were in Guna Yala he:

  • Replaced our fresh water pump with Kook’s salt water pump so we could access our water
  • Replaced the impeller and doing any number of other projects to fix the over-heating issue. None of which worked.

IMG_1816Later, when Keith and Jaime returned we sailed to Linton Bay Marina to meet them, and stayed on the dock for nearly three weeks. Thankfully the marina is under construction, so no amenities, but they only charged $10.00 a night. In July, no amenities meant no ramp to the docks and we could only fill our water tanks after the work crews had left for the day. It was rather surreal to see cruisers going up and down the docks with flashlights moving the hose from one boat to another. (We used to do the same thing during the day in very cold weather as we wintered on the dock in Maine, using one hose to fill everyone’s water tank).

While on the dock in Linton EW:IMG_1934

  • Returned Kook’s water pump  and replaced it with our new one—in a different location, requiring much angst and running new hose. (This should result in a pump that doesn’t need repair every couple of years.)
  • Cleaned and serviced the starboard jib sheet winch and the mainsheet winch.
  • Tore apart the engine, removed the heat exchanger and cleaned it. This was a massive project. So massive that things start to blur in my mind. Somewhere along the way the starting alternator died and he worked on both issues.
  • He found a great Alternator Guy in Colon, but that sentence does not begin to address the alternator issues, the fact that we had other electrical issues that kept frying the diode in the new starting alternator, and the fact that there is no such thing as a quick trip to Colon from Linton Bay Marina. (Of course with electrical issues, we weren’t moving the boat closer to Colon, either.)
  • Ultimately, the large alternator for the house bank died, too, and Isaac our Alternator Guy repaired it. All told, EW made 6 trips to Colon just to see Isaac the Alternator Guy.

In the meantime, Keith and Jaime hung with us on the dock, where the women beat the men at Euchre a few nights. (The men beat the women on a few other nights.) After a while, they decided to visit the Chargres river, a trip EW and I will make later in the year. They returned and anchored near the marina, by which time we had a starting alternator and were pumping big water, so we left the dock and anchored out as well.

But things weren’t all fixed, so finally, Kookaburra left to head back to Guna Yala, where we planned to join them in a few days. We hauled anchor on schedule, discovered the large house bank alternator wasn’t charging the batteries and reset the anchor back in Linton Bay within three hours of leaving.

(There’s really no way to make this funny.)

Now Issac is a great guy and he really likes us, but his English is only a bit better than our Spanish. We asked the Marina Manager, Adam, to translate for us. Adam and Issac went above and beyond, as Adam came out to the boat and Issac spent time on the phone with him and EW walking them through various tests, proving that the alternator was fine, and that it must be a wiring issue.

A thorough examination of the wires proved him right, and scared us to death. The good news is the boat didn’t burn down. Wires were melted in at least three locations. EW turned white, and spent weeks rewiring the engine, alternators, starter—all that jazz.

This of course, required trips to Colon for parts. Remember, there is no such thing as a quick trip to Colon. There will be a post about that. It may be funny.

I kept  trying to get back into writing mode, and to work on the few projects while EW had all access ports to the engine opened, and tools, boat bits, and wires scattered throughout the main salon, pilot berth, cockpit, and (occasionally) the galley. He appropriated  one end of the dining table to use as an electrician's workbench. The aft stateroom and head were untouched; in the forward cabin and head  various parts and boat things were stashed to make room for EW to work. There was not a lot of space left for me.

Heck, I’d have left us for Guna Yala..

We missed celebrating Jaime and Keith’s 30th wedding anniversary, and I was determined to get back to Guna Yala before they head East. EW completed the wiring job, but things still weren’t working correctly. He emailed and called the maker of our external controller.. We tried to find a marine electrician we could pay to come down to the end of the line, to no avail. We sought the wisdom of other cruisers. This was an incredibly stressful few weeks. Part of me kept trying to support and encourage EW who was struggling to work way outside his comfort zone. Part of me kept trying to keep positive: “This too, shall pass. This will be funny someday.” Part of me lost it some days.

It didn’t help that while Digicel is the best cell phone/data option in Guna Yala, it is not the best in Puerto Lindo. Like Florida, Panama is prone to lots of rain and pretty amazing thunderstorms. Evidently Claro’s towers can withstand this, but Digicel’s cannot. We often had two days of no coverage at all, followed by a day or two with only enough for a phone call, but no Facebook, emails, or ability to search the net for assistance.

Now that we’ve been back in Guna Yala for a few days, what can I say about the moral or lesson or atmosphere aboard La Luna?

  • The moral is a reminder that this cruising life is like every other life choice—you have to accept and the good with the bad. It helps if you can accept it with some humor. It helps even more if you have the skills to fix it. The best help of all is if there are two of you working in tandem, boosting each other’s morale, laughing with each other, and hugging at night (if it isn’t too hot to hug).
  • The lesson is that cruising plans are cast in sand. While we continued to miss Keith and Jaime and while I fret over time lost with them, and while this wasn’t  the ideal place to deal with these issues, it was a safe place and most things were available to us—even though they may require all day in Colon with a two hour bus ride on both ends.
  • The atmosphere aboard La Luna was mostly good. We didn’t getting enough exercise, but we gradually got things done, ate well, watched movies to relax, and worked together. We met wonderful people, cruisers, locals, and folks at the new marina, and since Jim and Christine on S/V Ullr were still around EW had someone to play music with a couple of days a week.

All is not lost. All isn’t anywhere near lost.

Fortunately We Are On the Dock in Tenerife

IMG_8366Unfortunately, we may be here longer than anticipated. The past four days have been interesting – mostly in a good way, and when not in exactly a “good” way we can resort to “Thank Goodness it Happened Here!”

Fortunately, we had a great sail for the first 24 hours from Graciosa, and we and our sailing friends (and extra weather support) believed that we had a shot of making our way west and south to beat the nasty front moving in.

Unfortunately, the front came early, and the winds shifted two days sooner than had been predicted by all sources. On Wednesday morning, we found ourselves beating north of Tenerife, which should have been a clue, especially when we had to tack to avoid getting too close to the island. Shortly after noon  I was able to get the day’s GRIB files and realized that we were skunked.

Fortunately, we were only 40 miles from Marina Santa Cruz in Tenerife.

Unfortunately, the wind and waves increased  immediately after we had tacked to our new course, and we found ourselves beating in 20-35 knot winds and 6-8 foot seas.

Fortunately, we main and jib were already reefed.

Unfortunately, Casey, the auto-pilot does not like (is not set up to like) handling a beat in strong seas, so we had to hand steer. EW took the first shift and I worried about being able to handle it when he tired. We had to prepare for 4-5 hours of this.

Fortunately, EW dumped the main (let out the mainsheet so that sail wasn’t pulling – much) and we were still able to sail at 5.5 – 6.5 knots though it was much easier to steer the boat. When my turn came, I held her just fine for over an hour and a half until we had gone far enough past the point of the island for the waves to diminish. At that point we used the autopilot again and tootled along for another hour or more. (It all runs together.) At some point I opened two cans of chili and served it up with butter bread. We felt better.

Unfortunately, we would have to motor the last 12 miles as we had not been able to hug the coast on the way south. We took in the jib and turned to the west in 40 knot gusts. The winds come off the mountains and do strange and amazing things in the Canaries.

Fortunately, we were close enough for cell coverage and I was able to call the marine before they closed at 1900 (7:00 PM) and confirm they had a slip.

Unfortunately, EW realized on our way in that the alternator wasn’t charging the batteries. We are once again on a European dock with no access to local power.

Fortunately, locals told us about Jose, the alternator expert who is amazing.

Unfortunately, he may not be able to find the needed part on the island.

Fortunately, all of our neighbors are OK with us using the generator in the afternoon because ..

Unfortunately, while we are in the midst of a storm and very glad not to be outside, there is no sun and the wind swings from 8 knots to over 30. The wind generator doesn’t charge the boat with fewer than 15 knots and it cuts out when the winds top 30.

Fortunately, all Spanish, French, and German sailors – most of whom hardly hear the generator over the wind – were very forgiving.

Even more fortunately, of the two boats we would bother most, one is not living aboard and we’ve already made friends with and broken bread with the captain and crew of the other boat.IMG_8415

IMG_8421Most fortunately of all … on Thursday morning, I scooted to one of the most wonderful food markets we’ve seen and purchased everything needed to create a Thanksgiving for two: grande pollo, butterflied by the butcher, potatoes, squash, apples, fresh herbs, and white wine. I made a small feast, the first Thanksgiving I’ve commanded since the year we moved aboard. We shared two pieces of pie for Jose to take home to his wife, and invited our new best Irish friends, Kevin and Irene over for pie and wine after dinner. I’m going to keep feeding them because they are closest to the generator.




So on this day after Thanksgiving, I am grateful for many things:

  • The opportunity to seen many parts of this side of the world on our boat with the love of my life.
  • La Luna once again offered up a broken part where we were safe and able to get a repair or replacement – someday.
  • Tenerife is a lovely island, with public art, some greenery, and  if we lived here we would have a dog.
  • In fact, we have a neighbor dog, Canello who is a beautiful, multi-lingual, 9-year-old Golden. He likes to have his ears scratched. I like doing it.IMG_8368
  • We are tied to the dock in a protected marina. (We heard one sail boat battled 30 foot waves off of Lanzarote and called for assistance. They were safely towed into the harbor.)
  • Family and friends who love us from far away, and keep us up to date on what’s going on in Maine, Florida, Buffalo, Boston, California (hint, Favorite), the Caribbean, and the Pacific.
  • Someday … someday … we’ll actually leave the Canaries and sail west to the Caribbean.

IMG_8394In the meantime, we wait to hear about the availability of parts, make new friends, and – once the weather clears – visit a bit of this island. This town has a tram! How cool is that?

POST SCRIPT: Yes, you will note that we have not moved the bed back. We thought it was too much work to remove the dinghy motor from the master stateroom, and move the mattress, and put it back in four days. We take turns. Last night I had the lovely sea bunk and EW had the settee. Tonight we swap. We occasionally meet each morning for a cuddle in the sea bunk. (Once again with the oversharing.)


POST-POST SCRIPT – Finally getting this up on Sunday morning here (0940 my time, 0440 your time). Storm, rain after the storm and spotty Wi-Fi as a result prevented getting on-line at the marina. The alternator is working perfectly. Jose is brilliant! We plan to leave for Guadeloupe on Tuesday, December 2. Today, we are sight-seeing in two cities (One just a tram ride away.). Won’t get to the mountains as they are horribly clouded over still. Next time. If we visit the Azores again as planned, we will head straight for Tenerife after Santa Maria –despite the ridiculous tax.

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


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.)


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.


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.)


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


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:


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


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.”


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.


Jailhouse Rock


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.



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.



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.


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 weather for the folks aback 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 earth quake 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.










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











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.















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









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”.

Living On The Hard*




And it’s a hard, and it’s a hard, it’s a hard, and it’s a hard and it’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall.


So, a lot of my readers, friends, and followers have expressed their sympathy that we are now living on the hard in Trinidad. No worries. we’re making it work – even in the rain last week. Unlike EW, I have not mastered the art of climbing the ladder with an umbrella. Fortunately, we aren’t getting a lot of rain now.

Back in Grenada, EW looked across the table in the salon one morning and said, in all seriousness, “You know we won’t be able to use the sinks and heads when we’re hauled out. You going to be able to handle that?” I wish I had replied with humor instead of indignation. After all, we’ve owned the boat for ten years, have hauled out roughly every eighteen months and – except for the Year From Hell, when we lived in three different rentals – we have always lived on the hard and I’ve always “handled it” pretty damn well, thank you. Sheesh. I found the question insulting and responded accordingly. Wish I’d batted my baby blues, put a finger to my lips and said, with a Marilyn Monroe whisper, “Ohhh. I’ll handle it just fine, big boy.” Or maybe not.

She works hard for the money.

So, here’s how one handles it. It’s sort of like camping with Mom and Daddy back in Lily Bay State Park on Moosehead Lake – only with better bathrooms down the road. We do have water on board, and we can wash our hands in the galley sink because I’ve placed a bowl under the faucet. The stove, fridge and freezer all work and I wash dishes in a large cooking pot, dump galley water into a bucket in the cockpit and EW or I take it down the ladder to dump the galley water behind a bush. We did the same thing at the campground, heating water on the stove just as I do here. (We can heat water on our boat and will do so again once we need warm water for showers. I find I use less water washing dishes if I heat it on the stove than if I run the hot water faucet.)

Of course all groceries/laundry/parts/supplies/beer/soda/trash must be carried up or down the ladder. 1-PA170447

1-PA190519And of course we have to walk to the showers and heads. I counted. It’s 350 of my paces. I have long legs and long, elegant feet. (My dearly loved Uncle Clayton used to call me his “big-footed niece, but let’s not go there.) Let’s say that my stride equals a yard. That means it’s not quite a football field to the heads and showers – unless we forget the key.

We’ve put it on a floating key ring – not that we’re in any danger of dropping it in the water, but it does help to keep track of it. 1-PA190501We opted for only one key, it’s supposed to live in the pocked of our bathroom tote, full of towels, tooth brushes, and facial cleanser. One is not supposed to go off for the day, leaving one’s partner without the key. We’ve been good at that, but have both arrived at the heads to find the key is still aboard the boat – up the ladder. More exercise, yea! No money.

I'm a hard, hard workin’ man.  We aren’t alone in our pain. In fact, this is the most social haul out we’ve had since the year we purchased and launched La Luna, which is the only time we were hauled out with all the summah sailahs. We made new friends, shared chores and ideas, and went out to eat together at Beale Street Barbeque in Bath. Here, we have friends from Grenada on three boats nearby, and on other boats in the neighboring yards, and have met new friends at some of the social events and shopping trips. All of these hauled out folks could sing I'm a hard, hard workin’ man or woman. So far, EW has cleaned the propeller, PA1103001-PA190520replaced the Plexiglas I broke in the hatch over our bed, removed a steering thingy to have new holes drilled for the autopilot, and is currently reinstalling that and servicing the steering system. I’ve kept house – which certainly takes more time here – and have started the sewing projects, completing some of the smaller projects. We’re having the yard raise the waterline and paint the hull, freeing us up for these other tasks. My list is short: sew covers for the side cushions in both staterooms, make an awning/rain catcher for the boat, keep house. write daily.

It’s a Hard Day’s Night. And I’ve been working like a dog. It’s a Hard Day’s Night. I should be sleeping like a log. You’d think with all of this work and play that we’d sleep soundly. Not so much at first. We most assuredly do not want the boat to rock here on land, but we do find it hard to sleep on the hard. We are also parked in the “dirty sanding section”, right next to the road. And it’s hot. On Monday I finally reached Richard of GoKool, 1-PA170450who stopped by the boat that morning and fitted us with an air conditioner, which we’ve rented for the month. He has been doing this for 14 years, and certainly knows how to install these on any boat without causing damage or letting the rain in. We even have a remote for the controls. I love Richard. We’ve gotten used to the lack of wave motion, and sleep with car noise muffled by closed hatches and gently humming air conditioner.

1-PA190509Really, this living on the hard isn’t horrible. The heads are nice – private, and cleaned often. Instead of a men’s and women’s room with multiple toilets and showers, they have a row of small powder rooms with toilets, sinks and mirrors, followed by a number of individual, white tiled showers. The same key opens all the doors.  Yes, EW and I have showered together, if only to allow another cruiser a chance to use one of the showers. It’s the right thing to do. We are nice like that.  Oh Lord, it’s hard to be humble, when you’re perfect in every way.

On Thursday, we joined a group who had arranged a shopping trip for fabric. We were able to find exactly what we needed in the first store – and for an excellent price. Now, I have no excuses to start the awning or to re-do the mess I made of the headliner in the forward cabin – five years ago. EW is a bit disgusted that I hadn’t tackled that project sooner. I somehow kept forgetting to purchase the necessary six yards of material. Since he was with me on Thursday, there were no more excuses. It’s a hard knock life. I’ll have to remove the books, take down the trim, remove the headliner and put up new stuff. Oh joy. Someday in the future, our guests won’t have to see this from their bunks. 1-PA190528Sewing the awning has a higher priority and EW has first dibs on working in the forward cabin chain locker, so I have a bit of a reprieve.

Breaking up is hard to do, and I love him, so I’m not going to give EW more grief about his rather thoughtless question back in Grenada. (Plus he’s spent three days fixing the hatch I broke and he hasn’t really complained about the forward cabin headliner.) While I wouldn’t want to live on the hard for more than a few weeks, I can handle it just fine, thank you. Don’t feel sorry for me – but you can let EW know he’s one lucky fella if you want. I’m one lucky woman, too.

*With apologies and thanks to (in order ): Bob Dylan, Donna Summer, Brooks and Dunn, John Lennon, Mac Davis, Strauss and Charnin (That one’s for you Chrissy and Kathy), and Neil Sedaka.

Two additional items for your pleasure:1-PA190517

A local restaurant offers this tasty sounding appetizer: “Wanton Shrimp”.  And we think the local stainless steel guy works on bow pulpits, but we’re not sure.






And finally -- On the shopping trip we found our street: PA180471


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 boat yards 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 accoutrements 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 boat yards. 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.

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  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.













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 grand mom 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 have been to Maine. Neither was a rum punch kind of woman, so I badgered various Maine boat yard 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 slide show 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.

New to Harts at Sea? I've written a book -- The Harts At Sea Sailing to Windward -- about our first year of cruising, from Maine to Grenada. It's available on Kindle (or Kindle for PC or Kindle for Apple) for only $2.99. 

EW is Good. He's Really Good.


On February 12 and 13, my eBook - "Harts At Sea Sailing to Windward" will be available for free at Amazon. If you haven't purchased it yet, get it for free on one of those days -- and please tell your friends and fellow sailors. Once you've read it, please take the time to post a review on Amazon. Thank you. 

And now, back to our regularly scheduled post.

Location: 18.20.241 North 65.55.745 West

EW thinks about boat projects. I think his mind goes from bow to stern and stern to bow, thinking of what needs work below the waterline and above the waterline. He doesn't always make lists, but he knows what needs to be done. Most of the time, he gets to things before they get annoying. Sometimes he waits until he absolutely has to fix it - whatever "it" is. 

He's always been like this. He fixed my little Toyota before our third date, and told me that my mechanic hadn't changed all the spark plugs. When we lived on shore, he found the car mechanics, and prompted/urged/nagged me to get my vehicle serviced in a timely fashion. When we had a house, he repaired things that I didn't know were broken. I love EW.

Our Tohatsu dinghy motor has run very well so far. We had one issue with the pull cord that we finally got help with in Grenada, and EW frequently makes sure that the water pump is working well. Other than that, we gas 'er up and go. The manual suggests that in a perfect world she get serviced every year, and she did when we lived in Maine. Like all normal sailors, we'd haul the dinghy and store it, and would leave the motor with a shop for service and storage. Now that we are cruisers, she's not that well treated. She also isn't loved by motor repair people in the Leeward and Windward Islands. They haven't yet made the switch to four stroke engines. (In fact, the farther south you travel, four stroke engines are stolen less than two stroke engines. That works for me.)

There is a Tohatsu repair shop here in St. Thomas, and EW has been determined to have a professional do a thousand hour check-up on our 9.8. Of course the challenge was to get the 9.8 to the professional. Actually, getting the motor to the professional was relatively easy. The challenge was getting the motor to the truck. 

We are anchored in Charlotte Amalie Harbor and use the dinghy dock at Yacht Haven Grand. I am thankful every day for that dinghy dock. It's crowded, but it's free. Free is good. Yacht Haven Grand is an IGY owned marina and they largely cater to really big private yachts.

For example, Athena, the worlds largest private sailboat was recently anchored there. Those people don't use the dinghy dock. Those people ride golf carts from their slip to the gate. Really. P2110025
Even so, IGY provides a dinghy dock and lets all of us cheap cruisers use it. Thank you IGY.

EW arranged for Cousin Jeff to meet him and the motor at 6:30 AM. Jeff actually goes to work that early and his shop is right across the street from Gary's Outboards. (How perfect is that?) So it was up to EW and me to get the 88-pound motor up to the parking lot. EW and Jeff would drop it off, Gary promised to get it serviced that day, and EW would go to work with Jeff. I, of course, would row back out to La Luna, getting my exercise for the day. (SIDE NOTE: I am the only person here who rows an inflatable dinghy for fun. We don't have a kayak, so I row. Get over it, people.)

So, EW spent a lot of time working on how to get the motor off of the dinghy - without dropping it in the water. He decided that if we went in really early in the morning (like we had a choice) we would be able to tie up next to one particular piling. He brought a strong rope and a block and tackle. He tied a really, really tight clove hitch --n amazing tight clove hitch --around the slick metal post on the dock, tied the block and tackle to that and used this system to lift the motor from dinghy to dock. Worked like a charm. Unfortunately I had forgotten the camera. 

Gary did, indeed, service the Tohatsu before the end of the day. EW helped Jeff with some errands, and I worked on board the boat. Late in the afternoon, EW emailed me from the iPhone to let me know they were approaching the marina, and I rowed in from La Luna - again eliciting a number of comments. (The new West Marine dinghy actually rows very well -- particularly when there isn't an 88-pound motor on the back.) This time, the dinghy dock was three deep at our morning access point, so EW rigged the block and tackle on the railing of the ramp. We needed one person to help protect the motor blades while EW hauled the motor up and swung her over the dinghy and a father and son from Australia jumped into the action at just the right moment. Ta-da! 

EW had thought about it, planned for it, and brought a tote bag of tackle. Everything worked like a charm. 

I love EW.