Humor Feed

Have You Seen My Funny Keyboard? I Seemed to Have Lost it Somewhere.

I think funny.

I often talk funny and tell funny stories in a funny way, including things that have happened recently.

I dream funny dreams.

I Facebook funny. In fact, I crack me up on Facebook almost every day.

Writing lately, not so funny.

This live-aboard boater has misplaced her writing mojo and she wants it back. She wants it back RIGHT NOW!

I take notes for future blog posts. The notes are funny.

The posts, not so much.

I practice by telling a story to a friend during a long phone conversation. She roars.

I write it. Meh.

Or worse, I sit down to write one of those informative yet humorous posts and something else appears on the screen apparently typed by my own fingers. Something a tad melancholy.

From whence did that come?

I am not often without speech. (OK, I am NEVER without speech.) (Rim shot, but low hanging fruit)

I am definitely not a doom and gloom person.

I am, however, a cruiser who is not cruising and that has been a problem for me.

We are liveaboards. We are not currently cruisers. We may even (Gasp!) take our sails down and store them for a few months. Why let the big old sun shine down on them if we aren’t going to use them?

We are cruisers who are living aboard. I haven’t been thrilled with all things St. Augustine or many things Florida. (I saw TWO snakes here, which is two more than I’ve seen in the past five years. What kind of a state is this?)

Yes, we are cruisers living aboard and we like living aboard. We have no desire for a house. Life isn’t bad.

In fact, it’s good. Since we left Maine in 2010 things have gone very well. Let me count the ways:IMG_0966

1-100.   All the places we visited from October 2010 until December 2015. (That’s a rough estimate and includes multiple visits to various islands. OK. Really, it’s a guess. It’s a literary license kind of thing. Going back to counting now.) Sure we liked some places more than others. And sure, there may be one or two we will bypass the next time, but overall, this was a blast and I wouldn’t have missed any part of it. (Except for EW’s bout with shingles. That can go to Hades.)

101-972  (Also a guess) All the people we we met along the way. It doesn’t matter that I pull up IMG_4665some boat cards and have no idea who those people are. Neither does it matter that we can tell a wonderful story about world cruisers we met in Nassau in 2010. We can provide you with very detailed accounts of a number of their experiences, the washing machine they called, “The Guest”, what she was wearing when we were invited aboard for cocktails, and what they served for snacks. Yet we have no idea what their names are. It doesn’t matter. Everyone enriched us. Also every local person—from the angry guy on the dock in Atlantic Island New Jersey, to Dingis Gennel, and Carmel in Grenada, to the interesting, helpful, non-English speaking alternator repair guy in Colon Panama—left an impression on us. If not a great impression, one that salted our stories with reality. Every cruiser— from the Canadian in New Jersey who gave us the keys to his car so we could get to West Marine to the newbies and the circumnavigators we’ve met in St. Augustine—have all enriched our lives and encouraged our dreams. Many of them have shared their wonderful stories and more than a few have helped us create wonderful stories together.

973-1,963 (A low estimate) Stands for all the big and little things that went wrong, broke, wereIMG_9977 lost overboard, or purchased in error. We fixed most of them, went without others, and are creating joy by tossing others (figuratively) from the boat. It wasn’t always pretty, but when La Luna’s parts had issues, we took care of her, and she brought us safely back to the States.

1,964-2,252 Are all (approximately) the family, friends, and acquaintances who waved good-bye, accepted that we were going to be gone a long time, and helped us in both tangible and intangible ways. A surprising number of them have been faithful readers of this blog.

2,253. EW. He’s not first on this list, but he’s first in my heart. He infected me with his dream and I IMG_9937have no regrets. None. Even the endurance crossing. (Though I do regret not getting the propane tank filled in the Canaries. My bad.) What a ride we’re having.

2,254 & 2,255. The two years we will be here, enjoying all St. Augustine has to offer, working, and providing La Luna with required TLC.

2,256. The next cruise, encompassing the Yucatan, Cuba, Eastern Caribbean, the Azores, and (fingers crossed) mainland Portugal, with side trips in Europe.

2,257. The United States of America. Even during a nasty, crazy election, I am delighted to be here and proud of my homeland, my heritage, and my country. (Some of the people, not so much…but that also goes for cruisers and local folks we met every where. People is people.)

Things weren’t perfect on the first cruise, they won’t be perfect on the second, and they aren’t perfect here in the US, or here in St. Augustine. But I am happy, incredibly fortunate often funny, and usually grammatically correct.

Now if I can just find that mojo.


The Quieter You Become the More You Can Hear

 

I talk too much.

I talk too much most, if not all, of the time. Surprisingly, I am married to an extrovert. (How did that happen?) So, after we’ve spent time alone together at sea, neither of us can stop talking when we finally meet up with folks IRL. Just ask all those lovely English speaking folks we met during out second and third weeks in Guadeloupe in 2015. After completing the “Endurance Crossing”, and barely staying married during the process (there are not lawyers at sea) we couldn’t keep our mouths shut in Guadeloupe.

I also talk too much when I’m stressed. And frankly, as some of you have surmised, I’ve been a bit stressed with this move to a (for now) permanent mooring, the search for a job, and this re-entry into the US thing. In November, dear cruising friends, Sandy and Jeff on S/V Magic Inspiration left St. Augustine after staying here two years for the same boat/cruising kitty reasons. We didn’t’ arrive here before they had once again headed for the Caribbean, but she offered to guide me through the transition via phone and emails.

I thanked her and didn’t listen to the underlying meaning: You will be uncomfortable. Let me tell you the ways.

Not my brightest moment.

So, I’ve been talking a lot and complaining more than I should. Sometimes after meeting people I think, “Did all of that come out of my mouth? What is wrong with me?”

Yesterday, I experienced exactly one of those moments, when I met up with Marcie and David from S/V Nine of Cups. We had first met in the laundry room just after they had arrived and I gave them a quick rundown of stores and services. EW had also met them for a bit, but none of us had boat cards at the time, so I was delighted to see them again when we bumped into each other on the ramp. We conversed. (OK, I conversed, they listened.)

They are lovely people and I hope they will contact us and come over for sundowners when they head south after a summer in the Northeast. Know what I found out during the last few minutes of a long “conversation”?

Not only have they been around the world, but they went south of Australia because they wanted to see Tasmania. They have ventured where few other American sailors have sailed and talked about being the only foreign vessel in most of the south Australian ports. They have stories and I almost missed it.

Because I talked too much.

For now, I am reduced to perusing their blog: http://justalittlefurther.com/

 

When he reads this, EW will roll his eyes and agree and at least think (if not exclaim) “No S#it!” when he reads this. I’m OK with that and I may even live it down someday.

In case you think I’ve overstated this, here is the chart of their passages:

passages to date

 

I think they went around the Horn TWICE! Holy Crap!

I have GOT to listen more and talk less. A whole lot less. I won’t undergo a personality change. I’m extroverted and just a tad domineering. (Cue EW eye roll.)

But I will stop whinging and start listening.

I love the term “whinging”. I learned it from some Brits we met in Guadeloupe. Hey, I didn’t talk all  the time!

whinge

(h)winj/

BRITISHinformal

verb

gerund or present participle: whinging

  1. complain persistently and in a peevish or irritating way.

    "stop whinging and get on with it!

That last line will be my new motto. “Stop whinging and get on with it!”


Button, Button, Where is the Button?

Plastic Buttons

Yes, I know the actual (very ancient) game is “Button,  Button, Who Has the Button?” but bear with me.

There are two kinds of people in this world: People who lose things and people who find them.

That may be a bit harsh. I lose my reading glasses regularly. I also find them. EW rarely finds anything I’ve lost. EW rarely or never finds anything he has lost. Heck, EW can’t find the jar of pickles in our tiny boat fridge. Witness a conversation on the night in question:

EW, as he paws in the fridge: What are the pickles in?

Me, from the master stateroom: The clear glass canning jar.

EW, only slightly sheepish: Oh. There they are.

Did I say our fridge was tiny? It’s a boat fridge. There is a top door in the counter and a bottom door for the lower section. EW was correctly looking in the top section. It’s probably 2X2X1.5 – if that deep. We aren’t talking a lot of space here. Yet, he couldn’t find the pickles.

But this isn’t about pickles. This is about our strengths and weaknesses, and about belief. I believe that I can find anything EW has lost. He believes that something he can’t find, is lost forever. This is not new. I have been finding things for EW for over 30 years. You think he’d believe in my abilities by now. But no, if he can’t find it, it can’t be found.

I was out of sorts on the evening in question. I’d hadn’t accomplished much on my “To-Do” list and was feeling uninspired. Technology had foiled me again and again. I was a bit grumpy, a little chilled, and had a stuffy nose due to spring pollen on this cold February in Florida. EW has a thumb drive (do we still call them that?) that includes guitar picking lessons he has been anxious to try. Due to some of the technology issues, he can only view that drive on the Dell—the same Dell upon which I write. Since I was pissy and not writing, he opted to practice Lesson One.

IMG_3888

 

Afterward, he put away the guitar, his massive notebook with pockets, his tuner, and his capo…and lost the all important thumb drive. I heard him huffing and puffing and exclaiming under his breath. I let it go for a while, but couldn’t ignore it as there is no peace on a boat when one of those aboard is huffing and puffing. (Or sneezing, or snoring for that matter). “What’s wrong?” I asked from my comfy nest. “I just put everything away and I can’t find the thumb drive!” I was not in the mood. “You’ll find it. If not, I’ll find it tomorrow.”

A couple of hours later I was more sociable and enjoying a glass of wine with EW in the main salon, and he started up again, looking in improbable spots for the drive. This is what always gets me. When he looks for something he looks in the places in which it is less likely to be. It’s painful to watch. Or he looks exactly where it should be, as in the pickles in the tiny fridge, and can’t see it because he isn’t looking for a clear glass jar with pickles in it. (To be fair, these are refrigerator pickles that I made and first put in a LockLock. But we had an actual conversation about my moving them to the clear glass jar through which one can SEE THE PICKLES!)

OK, maybe that doesn’t sound as fair as I intended. EW wants me to inform you that the top wasn’t clear. Whatever. He can get his own blog.

Moving on. There I was, curled up under a fleece blankie, sipping wine and reading and he starts searching in all the wrong places for his thumb drive. “Stop,” I said flatly. “Just stop. I’ll find it.” And I flung the fleece from my body and flew off the settee. (That may be my all-time favorite sentence.)

“Don’t trouble yourself,” EW said with not a little exasperation. “Really.” I said, nearly as exasperated. “ I’ll find it in less than five minutes and we can move on with our evening.”

I started the search first with EW’s awesome music notebook that has pockets and a couple of thumb drive holders. He hovered and huffed. “I’ve already looked  there!”

This is a common theme to our (my) search missions. EW has a searching disability. It’s not his fault. If something is not exactly where and how he expects it to be, he doesn’t see it. (Remember the pickles in the clear glass jar?) This is not a male/female thing, or a Hart/Huff thing (like being on time), or an age thing. As long as I’ve known him, he hasn’t been able to find things. Fortunately he married a woman who is really great at finding things.

Back to the search when EW was hovering.

“Don’t hover,” I said. “It doesn’t help. You know I search by starting where you’ve looked. Go away.” (Remember, I wasn’t feeling up to par and perky.)

So he went away, and I searched. He was right, it wasn’t in the red notebook. I moved to the forward cabin and his guitar case, where I was surprised not to find the capo and tuner in the little cubby under the guitar neck. Those were perched atop some of his music books in his blue music book tote. Aha! A clue!

I pulled the tote into the light of the main salon, and dug into spaces around the bottom of the books, pulling out the tragically lost thumb drive. “Here you go.” I didn’t expect much of a response beyond  the normal, “Where was it?” followed by his sincere thanks. I got both, but first he said, and I quote, “I need to stop the timer.”

Yep. Once I had grouchily stated that I would find the damn thing in five minutes, he stalked three paces to the galley and set the kitchen timer. This is a noisy, beeping, process that I missed while I was digging in the red notebook.

“You timed me?!” I may have screeched.

‘Well yeah. You said you could find it in less than five minutes” He grinned, winningly. ”You did. You had one minute and forty-seven seconds left.”

After thirty years, he may not be able to find anything but he can still surprise me and make me laugh so hard I have to cross my legs.

I love EW.


Your Moment of Zen

We miss the Daily Show with Jon Stewart. To be fair, we’ve yet to see an episode with the new host, but we miss Jon Stewart. We like to laugh. We like to laugh at smart stuff and at dumb jokes. We laugh at ourselves and, more often than is probably kind, we laugh at each other.

The other day, EW and I walked out to Winn Dixie on Route One for a few groceries. He went one way, and I went another. As began to pass an aisle two middle-aged men, each pushing a cart, bumped and jostled each other in fun. As soon as they saw me, an older (dang it!) middle-aged woman, they stopped and looked sheepish. I laughed. I also shook my head in that “men will be boys” manner we women have, and laughed some more as they parted the carts to make way for me. A third man, obviously their friend delighted in their embarrassment and laughed as much as I did.

Ten or fifteen minutes later I headed to the snack isle for popcorn to see their friend and one of the “perpetrators”. “Here she comes again!” the innocent man said. I laughed a bit and wished them a good morning, and he came up to me. “It’s so nice to see someone laugh,” he said. “So many people walk around with sour faces.” I agreed and said, “We laugh a lot. Maybe because we live an unconventional life.”

“Oh,” he said, waiving his hand toward his friend. “We live on boats.”

That explained it. One was on a sailboat and the other was a power boater. Evidently all three lived in the small marina behind Theo’s Greek Restaurant. We all agreed that sailors and power boaters could be friends. We shook hands, exchanged boat names, and moved on smiling.

Last night, EW and I played our new favorite board game, Tock. (Thank you Travis and Quincy from S/V Party of Five.) It’s a game for four, but Travis taught us that two people can play two colors and we’ve been having matches almost daily. I started to notice how often we laughed during the game—usually when “killing” or moving our rival’s marker. At one point we were laughing so hard I couldn’t count my move. That’s pretty cool for a couple married over 30 years.

So, for the first post of 2016, your moment of Zen, an oldie but a goodie. My attempt to enter the dingy via the “Gavin Method.”  

Enjoy.

Helping you laugh more in 2016. It’s good for you.

 


A Silly Little Millimeter Longer

IMG_2068
 
People are wonderful. People are funny. Cruisers are wonderful in funny ways. We like to think —because we are doing something so incredibly special and rare—that the cruisers we meet are also special and rare. Well, we are, and they are, but only because people are special and rare. This is a tale of people.

When we finally got back to the Guna Yala  in September (remember, those in the know spell it “Guna” but pronounce it “Kuna”) we anchored in the area known as “The Swimming Pool” to be near Jaime and IMG_2123Keith. They have since sailed east, but we remained, surrounded by pretty islands, great snorkeling, and new friends. Tate and Dani on S/V Sundowner are two of those friends. For similarities we can list: the cruising life, being social, love of food, love of music and card games, love of spousal unit, and a sense of humor. That’s it. We are far apart in age (20+ to 30+ years), education, and careers (they are scary smart, and I suspect Tate has a nearly photographic memory); and our Popular Culture meshes in strange ways.

As wonderful and funny cruisers, we are all willing to assist others, though EW and I are still far behind on the debits and credits list with S/V Sundowner. They loaned us their dongle so I could get online, Tate has given us many fillets from fish he has harvested, and Dani provided Tea Tree Oil that has been instrumental in helping heal EW’s shingles.

Also, Dani’s mom worked as a canvas maker for boats for a number of years, and helped Dani re-do all of the cushions and canvas on Sundowner. While EW was recuperating I began the interior cushion project, and Dani offered to help. I am not a fool and accepted with alacrity. We knew going into the project that the so-called professional’s patterning had been shoddy and that some of the cushions were not shaped correctly. I was determined to create new patterns and check them against the imperfect cushions. It’s a slow process, requiring patience, which is not one of my strengths. Enter Dani.

I had patterned the chart table seat, and the settee along the port side. (My “bible” for the project is Julie Gifford’s Canvas for Cruisers, the Complete Guide. I love this book and highly recommend it.) I made each pattern in the shape and size of the ideal finished cushion, and marked 1/2 inch around it for the cut line, just as Julie said to do. She also said that the edge pieces should be 1/2 inch wider than the depth of the cushion, and that the edge side with the zipper should be cut 1 1/2 inches wider than the cushion’s depth. Here we ran into….challenges.

The cushions were manufactured in Europe and are 8 and 10 centimeters in depth, not 3 and 4 inches. The wise cushion maker cuts the fabric the same size as the raw foam, with a 1/2 inch seam allowance on each side, creating a cushion exactly to fit the space and, packed into the fabric for a nice tight seat or back. While I have been uncharacteristically precise on this project, I was more characteristically  unconcerned about cutting the side panels and planned on “pretending” the foam was 3 and 4 inches, adding my half inch for the seam allowance to that.

Dani has an economics degree. Dani’s most recent position was as Budget Manager for the engineering firm that managed the construction on New Orleans's newest hospital. Can you say “Big Project”? Can you say “Detail Oriented?” Can you say “Number Cruncher?”

No kidding we had a 45 minute conversation about the silly little millimeters between 10 centimeters and 4 inches. We used conversion charts, one standard tape measure, and one metric tape measure. Dani computed and talked it through, “My mom said there’s always shrinkage in sewing, so if we go too small that could be a problem.” And later, “You know, if there’s too much fabric, the foam won’t compress to the right shape.”

It’s a puzzlement. (She probably has no idea where that quote’s from.)

IMG_2091In my new, patient, detail-oriented (“If I’m going to make the dang cushions myself, I am going to do it right”) persona I hung in there, assisted Dani in taking new measurements and cheerfully discussed the issues and millimeters involved. I was with her every step of the way. She was providing great insight and has become a friend; she’s helping me and I am grateful. I. Exuded. Patience. I was with her right up until she told me I’d have to cut the fabric at the 16th’s or 32nds. It just seemed to me that marking 3 and 9/16 is much more challenging that marking things 3 1/2. The lines on the tape are bigger at the 1/2 points. Furthermore, as the discussion continued, Dani showed me that she had computed we were talking about  0.07 and 0.055 inches in difference. This is not a chasm. This is a toothpick, admittedly the really good round toothpicks made in Maine, but still, we are talking the width of a toothpick, people.

We ended up agreeing that (1) I would cut the fabric for just a few cushions to start, and (2) I’d cut them on the half inch, and (3) if they were too loose I’d take that silly millimeter off, re-stitch that cushion and cut all others on the 16th of an inch.

Later that IMG_2113evening as all four of us got together in the cockpit, it came as no surprise to either of our spousal units that Dani is very numbers and detail oriented and that I am not. We are OK with that. Further discussions, ranging over a few days, reminded us that we are of different generations. My guess is that they won’t recognized the “Silly Millimeter Longer” phrase, either. We were surprised that they knew “Coneheads”. Tate reeled off at least six Conehead phrases, including “parental units”, “spousal units”, and “charred consumables”. We were stunned. Clearly they are too young to have stayed up for Saturday Night Live.  “The Coneheads were big in the 90’s,” said Tate. “No,” we wise older folk replied, “the Coneheads were definitely from the 70’s.

After some back and forth we learned that they had watched the Coneheadsmovie which came out in 1993, and they are too young to have seen the original sketches which aired from ‘77-‘79. 

The photo above is a perfectly “charred consumable” harvested and cooked by Tate. A couple of weeks prior Tate had made up a batch of Louisiana Red Beans and Rice, his version of Chicken Soup, for the ailing EW. I’m sure that helped his shingles heal more quickly. (See what I mean about the debits and credits? We cannot keep up with these people.)

Dani came over three times to help me pattern the cushions. On her last visit, we got brave and actually cut the foam to the correct size. She also, bless her darling heart, contacted her mom about sewing a curve into the back of the dinette cushions and her mom sent an email with detailed instructions.

We will sail back to Florida for a while, and Dani and Tate will go through the canal next spring to continue their circumnavigation. Like many other cruisers we’ve been privileged to meet, they are special and rare and wonderful and funny and we will miss them and look forward to seeing them again somewhere along the way.

Postscript. I almost forgot. When Dani worked with her mom, she used a software created for making flow charts in order to help her lay out the fabric. OK. First of all, the have a program just for making flow charts? Evidently they have more than one. While anchored in the San Blas, Dani found a free one on-line, downloaded it to a thumb drive and taught me to use it. It’s fun, and beats the heck out of using graph paper. Every cushion has a unique color so I can make sure that I have four pieces—top, bottom, and two side panels—for each cushion. I’m not going to finish this project until we get back to Florida, but I know I have at least 4 extra yards of fabric. Thanks to Dani and DIA Portable. (I have no idea how to make a flow chart, but I rock at creating colors.)

layout program one


Tips and Anti-Tips from Facebook

Or “Rising to the Occasion”

Facebook has become a vital communication component for cruisers. There are Facebook groups for Grenada, Trinidad, the USVI; there are groups for those who live-aboard, those who sew on boats, those who cook on boats; and of course each of us has groups of friends and family back home.

As we’ve been stuck  um blessed to be in St. Thomas until the new sail arrives, both EW and I have become addicted to Facebook. We pay a monthly fee for Wifi, and we are making sure we get our money’s worth. Once I learned to differentiate between ads, ads re-sent by friends and family, and actual messages by friends and family I discovered that I can learn a lot from Facebook.

Some of the things I’ve learned have worked for me (us). Others have not.

So, let’s start with a win. Back in 2010 in Hampton, Virginia,  we purchased a dinghy step — the kind that helps you step from dinghy to deck. Until we moved permanently off the dock, we had used the swim ladder in the stern to get from dinghy to deck. Once we began living aboard on a mooring and at anchor, we realized side entry with a step would be better. This spring, the old step broke. (Of course.)

There are no steps in the marine stores on the island, and it appears that the one we purchased is no longer available anywhere. (Of course.) Furthermore (What would these stories be without “furthermores”?) the two steps that would be available had we not been in St. Thomas cost 60-something, or 200-something, respectively. I refused to spend that right now.IMG_0780

So, I went online to two Facebook groups and put out the message asking if anyone had a cheaper alternative. This lovely sailing woman whom I've never met, told us about a PVC step her “DH” had made (that’s Dear Husband to the social media impaired). I and another lady asked for photos, and she promised to get back to us as soon as possible. She also said that they weren’t on or near the boat, so she’d see what she could do. Within a couple of hours she had sent a photograph of a drawing detailing how to make the step. EW looked at it, we made a parts list, and he trundled off to ACE where he purchased everything we needed for $11.00 (or 10-something to keep all the figures in the same vernacular). We could use the hooks from the broken step, but he used new line.

Ta-Da!IMG_0793

Now lets move on to a fail—or two.

I had posted on the cooking on boats FB page that I was astonished that a small jar of Fleischmann’s yeast cost $12.06. (Or 12-something. That’s more than a step!) I didn't even want to purchase small jars of yeast. On other Caribbean islands I’ve found vacuum foil bricks of yeast, that I store in a ClickClack container in the fridge. It stays fresh for months. When I posted that I couldn’t find those packs here, two folks suggested that I make my own yeast.

You can make yeast? Well, that makes sense because someone makes it. I was game to try. Now please note, I understand about sourdough starter. It requires care and feeding. EW takes care of himself and I still occasionally feed him popcorn for supper. Does this sound like a woman who will take care and feed a mushy pile of dough? It does not. So I skipped those recipes and went right to yeast.

First of all. Do you know who is concerned about making yeast? Mostly people who are gearing up to survive something. Something bad. Something bad for which they will need guns. Something bad for which they will need guns and for which they are storing hundreds of pounds of flour, for which they will need yeast.

You can actually make yeast out of nearly any fruit as long as it hasn’t been washed or waxed first. (Of course after the big something from which they are surviving no one will have to worry about waxed fruit, so that’s good.) Fruit, however, will add flavor to your bread, and that may not be to your liking, so most recipes discuss making yeast using potatoes. One recipe said that you simply save the water after you’ve boiled potatoes, add sugar and flour and let it sit in a warm place overnight. If it’s fermenting and bubbly, you have yeast. If it’s just a lump, toss it and try again. (They actually said that. Didn’t sound very promising to me. Made me wonder if they would eat a lot of leavened bread after the big something happens.)

IMG_0763My potato yeast did not rise to the occasion and I ended up with a lump. Much to EW’s delight I was willing to try again, until we took a quick trip to Cost U Less where we found—Ta-Da!—a brick of yeast. Two whole pounds of yeast for six-something. (That’s just over half of a dinghy step.) For the win.IMG_0791

 

 

 

 

 

 

For the second, final, and most spectacular fail of the week, let’s discuss getting into the dinghy from water that is over your head. Our cruising/musician friend Gavin, posted what he called is an easy way to enter your dinghy from the water. It actually looks elegant.

NOTE: You probably won’t be able to see Gavin’s video as it is on Facebook. He hangs with his back to the dinghy, holding on to the carry straps, tells us to curl our legs up into our bodies, throw our head backwards into the water and “Bob’s your uncle!” Gavin ended up kneeled in his dinghy. It was awesome. It looked easy and elegant.

I pretty much do not look elegant when I go from water to dinghy. EW can kick and thrust himself up and then pull himself aboard with his arms. I cannot . I use a method that works for slightly out of shape 50-something (age nor financial worth) women. I watched Gavin’s video a few times and thought, “That looks easy. I bet I can do that.”

Yeah. No. I did not rise to the occasion.  Here is a video of my attempts. Feel free to laugh.

 

When we were in Guadeloupe and were swimming and snorkeling a lot, I devised a way for me to get back into the dinghy. We always have one five foot rope tied to a ring on the transom in case we need to secure the dinghy fore and aft. I take that line and put it through the large hand hold, leading it to the opposite side of the boat. I take another small line and tie that to the large opposite large hand hold, put a big loop in the other end using a bowline, and toss it over the side. Then I grab onto the thicker line, put my foot in the loop, and haul myself aboard. Is it elegant? No. But I can take care of myself, and both lines are kept in a way that they can be reached and rigged from the water. I’d call that a win.

 

 Ta-Da.

 But no one would call that elegant.


Viva La French Sailors

We are in France,and since I’ve already  acted the Ugly American when re: conversing in AmeriFrench, I thought I’d jump in with both feet and discuss French Sailors and Anchoring.

We who cruise internationally make light of French sailors and their proclivity of  anchoring very close to other boats. If  there is a large anchorage with a few boats and lots of prime open space, odds are that the French sailor will anchor well within another boat’s safe zone. An international group of sailors who befriended us in the Canaries mentioned that all through the Med, Turkey, and Croatia, they prepared to defend their small circle of territory  when ever any French boat entered the harbor. This is even acknowledged when self-aware French sailors discuss anchoring. In a recent conversation, one Canadian cruiser said that she had to repress a laugh when a friend from France complained about someone anchoring too close to her boat. The French woman caught the Canadian’s eye and had the grace to laugh first. The implication is that if a French sailor thinks you are too close –—you are most certainly to darn close!

We had a prime spot at the entrance to Marina Bas Du Fort, where we had a short and relatively chop-free dinghy ride to the marina and were often able get the marina’s Wi-Fi. Of course, this means that many  other boats try to anchor  in the same location. Some succeed where they shouldn’t.

One such boat was a nearly new catamaran with (of all things) a British flag and pink lettering. We returned from a trip ashore last week to find them anchored well inside La Luna’s zone of safety. As both boats were pointing in the same direction and there was no immediate danger, we wimped out and didn’t address the issue. The next morning, I popped up on deck to lower the dinghy and found the butt end of this cheeky catamaran, very close off La Luna’s stern. How close were they? I don’t think I could have swung the stern ladder down, but if I had, I could have used it to easily clamber aboard their pontoon.  IMG_8728Catamarans swing differently than keeled mono-hulls and it’s the wise boat owner who takes that into consideration. I believe my exclamation roused our neighbor who arrived on deck about the same time EW did. At that point, the cat had finally started to swing and we no longer could have shown up for breakfast sans dinghy. They left shortly afterward, and we assumed/hoped they’d left the island

Also last week, a small sloop anchored well off our bow. The (also compact) young couple appeared to be that breed of practical French sailors who cheerfully and adroitly make their way on a small boat with few amenities. While I was off one morning rowing the dingy for exercise, EW had reason to go on deck and could not help but notice that sailing with few amenities requires one to sleep in the nude, and to hang over the stern for one’s morning business. EW was adamant about how much of the young woman he’d seen, but I was a tad skeptical.

Way back when we were dating, after the “I sail and all of my friends sail,” conversation, EW convinced me to take a Power Squadron safety and chart-plotting course. I was a naïve, twenty-something, and two slightly older young professional males also taking the course delighted in teasing me about 1) taking a course at the behest of my boyfriend, and 2) all of the things I would have to endure at sea. One of those things, they assured me, was hanging over the rail bottom-out in order to relieve myself. I was appalled and promptly called EW,  after class to let him know that was not an option.

Frankly, I didn’t really think it was an option for anyone, but those same Canadian cruisers mentioned above were well aware of this practice among French sailors. Sure enough, a few days later, I happened on deck to observe a tight compact behind, perched just so on the stern rail, as the lady on board did her morning thing. EUWWW!

So, the scene has been set. The small French boat left for a few days and returned to anchor closer to La Luna’s port side. EW watched them anchor, realized they were astute sailors who understood their boat, and decided that while they had unnecessarily positioned their boat within easy hailing distance, they weren’t close enough to cause problems. A few hours later, a large, new catamaran with pink lettering steamed into the anchorage. The cheeky Brits were back. Knowing their modus operandi, EW and I both sat on deck and stared at them while they tried to find a good spot, ignoring the wide open spaces just a few boats beyond.

The Brits wisely chose to avoid the La Luna zone, and instead anchored just ahead of the little French boat. That couple were on board doing boat projects in the hot Caribbean sun. The young gentleman was in cropped pants, a pink long-sleeved shirt, and a floppy hat. He had been concentrating on repairing his steering vane, and hadn’t seen the Brits anchor. They had scooted below to change into fetching shore outfits and had just lowered their dinghy for a trek to the marina when our petite French captain walked up to the bow and asked them to move.

The burly Brit was reluctant to do so, and a discussion ensued. We couldn’t hear it, but all conversation stopped as the French captain planted both feet on his bow pulpit, leaned back against the forestay, crossed his arms, and simply stared at the Brits. Mrs. Britannica looked around the anchorage and suggested to Mr. B. that they move off to port a bit. He clearly wasn’t ready to declare this his own personal anchoring Waterloo, but abandoned the field of conflict and moved his boat.

We were  disappointed. We had been looking forward to the following morning when we imagined the Brits enjoying their tea and scones as a nubile young French female sat on her stern and took a dump, barely a meter aft  of the Brit’s raised dinghy.

Dang! That would have been so great! Ah well. In addition to how one says “You are welcome” in French (which get’s huge smiles here), this week I learned the following: 1) The French are different; 2) French sailors do have an anchoring zone of safety, it’s just smaller than ours; and 3) Those guys back in Maine 30 years ago were right. It is possible for a woman to “go” over the rail.

I am, of course, more likely speak French fluently than I am to bare my non-compact Anglo-Saxon butt in that fashion.


Beware of Portuguese Water

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Summer is the dry season in the Azores, but our week in Sao Jorge was mostly cloudy with showers. On our first day ashore, EW and I wandered the town, which slopes up from the sea on a grade that increases every couple of blocks. The village square of Velas (pronounced Vay-lish) honors both Sao Jorge, who slayed the dragon, and the Barefoot Boy who emigrated to America to return years later, no longer barefoot,  to donate needed funds to worthy causes. (I didn’t take a photo of the Barefoot Boy’s statue. Sorry.)

The long narrow island of Sao Jorge, with its ridge of mountains and hills, has been compared to a dragon when viewed from the sea, So St. George is a fitting name and patron saint. As we were to discover, it is also fitting to honor those who emigrated to the US and made good; their numbers are legion and they greatly help the local economy.

After a few hours walking up one street, down another, and talking with ladies in the tourist offices, we were a bit parched, so EW suggested we duck into a corner bar for refreshment. There we met Vasco (pronounced Vash-co), a middle-aged gentleman from mainland Portugal who had moved to the island and opened a bar. (Sounds a bit like St. Thomas, doesn’t it?) Vasco’s English was better than our Portuguese and we easily ordered a beer for EW and a white wine for me. We had a second round when Vasco, who does not sell food in his bar, offered us a sampling of the 7 month aged Sao Jorge cheese. Sharp, yet slightly creamy. Delicious. We sipped and ate, talked a bit with Vasco and watched when, at the request of local customers, he twice pulled a small empty green bottle from beneath the counter and filled it with a clear liquid from a larger bottle that was also kept out of sight. EW immediately said to me, “That’s moonshine.”

When the second customer had left with little green bottle in hand, we asked Vasco what they’d purchased. “Aguardente.” This is a drink local to the Azores which is made by some for licensed distribution. Others make their own for friends and family, which is what Vasco had under the counter, and he kindly offered each of us a shot.

IMG_1505Oh my. It was moonshine, but palatable moonshine - and that’s a problem. We talked about how it was made (a number of different kinds of fruits can be used, depending on the chef or vintner), its taste, and its potency. The name, of course, means “Water with a bite”. That gives you an idea of the potency. Oh My.

IMG_1507Of course the commercial aguardente was discussed, a labeled bottle was produced and two more shot glasses filled. It would have been impolite not to imbibe, but we both liked the home brewed stuff better. When we left, we bought a bottle.  (When in Rome, right? If you were Portuguese, here’s where you would say, “Pois. Pois,” which means “ Of course. Of course,” and is pronounced “Pu-ish.Pu-ish.”)

We tootled out to the anchorage with happy minds and hearts already in love with Sao Jorge. EW went below to open up the boat while I locked the dinghy just as our Belgian neighbors were returning from their drizzly day touring the island. I enthusiastically waved them alongside and invited them for drinks and snacks. They accepted with pleasure, going first to their boat for dry clothes.

IMG_1531I made snacks, EW got out the glasses, and we prepared for the first guests we’d had at anchor in over a month. Patrick and Patricia were returning home after two years of cruising in the Caribbean (somehow we’d missed them there) and Patrick's son Loic was visiting for part of their cruise in the Azores. As Loic said, “I only join them on the easy parts.” They were delightful: we laughed, Loic and EW played guitar, we made bad jokes about a few suggestive clouds, drank a little of wine and beer, ate, and told each other about our day and our cruise.IMG_3561

EW eventually brought out our little green bottle of Aguardente and all had a shot. Pois, pois. If you’re counting, you will realize this makes three shots of water with a bite for EW and me. The next day was also overcast, so EW and I used that as an excuse to have had a quiet day on the boat. That evening Patricia invited us to have drinks and a tour of Rih Malti. I drank water. The kind that doesn’t have a bite.IMG_1515

 

 

 

 

This is a cloud covering all but the tip of Mt. Pico on the island of Pico about 25 miles from Sao Jorge. We all thought it looked like ice cream. Really.


Jailhouse Rock

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We hauled the boat  the day after we reached Sint Maarten

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

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

Good thing.

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

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

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

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

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

Really.

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

Really.

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

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

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

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

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

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

No! Not really.

<Wink>


How I Broke a Nail

 

We’ve been fortunate that EW and I have both been able to have at least one day off a week together. That way, I can ferry 60 gallons of water to the boat and he can heft them aboard. I make two runs with six five-gallon containers. It takes me a half hour to unload the six containers into the tanks, using our nifty siphon hose. While I was on deck, our neighbors Tim and Julie  aboard M/V MacGregor II a cabin cruiser, returned from a charter and started to pick up their mooring.

I didn’t see what happened but looked up to realize that they had a problem: they weren’t hooked, Julie had run back to the stern to move the dinghy, and both kept looking over the side for something. That’s never good. I imagined that a line or the boat hook was under the boat, which would mean they couldn’t put her into gear.

I yelled down to EW, “They have a problem with the mooring on MacGregor. I’m going to help.” “Do you want me?” EW asked. “No. I’m good”.

I was rushing, but and thinking about the best way to get there in a hurry, and conscientiously decided to untie Lunah Landah prior to starting the engines. This is against protocol, but I knew she’d start – especially as I planed to start her with the throttle up higher than normal. There’s a good reason for that because if she doesn’t start on the first pull, she can get a bit stubborn and since I was on a “rescue mission” I didn’t have time for stubborn.

P1182234So, I untied the dinghy, securing the painter inside, started her up with power and then somehow did a stupid thing. I tried to loop the safety switch around my wrist at the same time I went to throttle down in order to put her into gear, but the safety cord was evidently around the gear lever. I managed to put her into forward, at nearly full throttle, without getting the safety cord on. Luna Landah  immediately pushed into the mother ship, listed to starboard and dumped me backwards into the water.

This was not a good thing. The dinghy is running, I’m in the water next to her, and I have no way to stop the motor.

My mind moved at lightening speed in many directions at once. None of them helpful.

“Wow. That’s how Lloyd Bridges always got into the water with his tanks on.”

“Hey, my sunglasses are still on.”

“Keep my legs curled up.” That was actually very helpful and instinctual. I came up at the aft starboard side of the boat with my legs curled tight to my body. At no time did any part of my body touch the spinning blades. I grabbed onto the handles and yelled for EW.

He’s a wonderful man. It seemed like he appeared on deck immediately and just as quickly assumed a look of horror. There was his bride, hanging on to the dinghy which was turning in counter-clockwise circles at warp speed. The important parts of the motor head were turned away from me, so I couldn’t reach the safety cord. I tried, until EW told me to work my way to the bow of the boat. P1182242

In those situations, I always do as EW says, and used the handles along the side to move farther away from the motor. That was a good idea. In the meantime, he grabbed a boat hook and planned to hook onto the boat during a revolution, pull it toward La Luna, and jump in. He looked pretty desperate while my mind started singing “Ring around the Rosie.”  I think I was getting dizzy.

“Stephanie’s coming!” EW shouted with relief, as our neighbor from SV Eagle blasted over in her dinghy with the same look of desperate horror on her face.

“I’m fine!” I said

“Stop the motor!” EW said.

“Don’t get hurt!” I said, to Stephanie as she clutched onto our dinghy and leaned across the two tubes to reach our motor. Now, both boats were turning in circles.

Stephanie put ours in neutral, then pulled the safety cord to stop the engine. “Are you OK?”

“Really, I’m fine. I’m not even as scared as you two are.”

“I never want to see that again,” said Stephanie. “Neither do I,” said EW.

EW, snagged our dinghy with the boat hook as Stephanie hovered next to me while I swam to the stern of La Luna. “Do you want to get in my dinghy?” she asks. “No thanks, he’ll put the ladder down for me once he ties up the dinghy. I’m really fine. Can you check on MacGregor, though?  This started because I was going to help them with their mooring.” She tootled over to our neighbors on the starboard side, while EW lowered the ladder.

By the time I got back aboard, Tim and Julie had fixed their own problems and Tim was in the water with snorkel gear diving on their mooring. Stephanie told them about our saga and both called over with their thanks to me for my good intentions and concern for my well-being.

Really, I’m fine. Well, I did break a nail and my arms are tired from the dinghy dance. Luna Landah sure knows how to twirl a girl.

            Here I am after my dinghy dance:

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