Boatyards and Marinas 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,



Zach from St. Augustine,



and these three boats,




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



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.”

Women Who Cruise

IMG_0415We have met women who are solo sailors. We’ve met women couples who cruise. And we’ve been very lucky to meet Maria and Cathy, an intrepid couple of thirty-something sailing women who decided not to wait for the “right” man, but to buy a boat together and go cruising. I have such respect for all of those women (and am delighted to call many of them friends).

It is no secret that I sail because EW is a sailor, and that I cruise because I adopted and fully embraced his dream, and this is true of biggest majority of cruising couples we meet.  In some cases they learned to sail together, and in some cases they formed the dream together, but most we meet who are our age are cruising because the guy wanted to cruise.

P8100785So women adapt. Some keep their home or a cottage to call home. Others opt to leave the boat during the summer to visit friends and family (especially grandchildren), and others like me are “all-In”. Our home is the boat and we stick with it for most, if not all, of the year.

IMG_3456Some folks chug their way down the inland waterway. Others sail outside, hopping from port to port and waiting for the best weather to sail to the Bahamas. Intrepid sailors head straight from New England or Virginia to the Virgin Islands, while others opt to put their boat on a ship and send her down alone.

We all make it work, and we all sail until it doesn’t work for us.

P8100730I still love this life. Sure, we’ve made mistakes, we’ve been caught in bad weather, and boat parts have failed, and we need to make some money to fill the cruising kitty and to fix the boat. But I love this life. So far, I’ve loved living in St. Augustine on the boat, where I’ve gotten to meet many women who sail: Women from Alaska and Santa Cruz, and Maine, and nearly every state down the Eastern seaboard; women from Australia, Germany, and Belgium; women who are retired, women who have taken a sabbatical, or women who are still working as they cruise. In short, I’ve met women from all walks of life who may have nothing else in common but the dream to travel aboard a small sail or power vessel..







We never run out of things to say to each other. We can never do enough to help each other. We never run out of questions to ask each other. And if we are lucky, we form strong friendships, nurtured via email and Facebook and the occasional phone call—and the dream of meeting up once again in another port.

This was not why I embraced cruising. This is my bonus.



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.

Shin pond

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.


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.


  • 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 in 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.


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.)





We talked.


We took photos.




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

Well, this is where he used to be:










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:


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
















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


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…..


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

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.