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Watermelon, Cupcakes, Radio, and Bikes

It all fits together.

Let’s start with the Bikes. Soon after we arrived in St. Augustine, I imagined EW and me riding around town on lovely old-fashioned bicycles. (There are no hills here.)

It didn’t happen. Our friends Kirsten and Rocky from S/V Nightmusic bought a bike for Kirsten while they were in town last year and left it here under EW’s care. I had trouble riding it and thought that I may be the only person in the world who forgot how to ride a bike.

This year, Malcolm and Laura from S/V Thistle were here for 6 months and purchased two second-hand bikes from a thrift shop. We bought them when they left. “Bluebird” has wide handlebars, big tires, and (at first) a low seat. I considered the ability to plop my feet down the adult version of training wheels and spent a bit of time over two weeks to get comfortable. Yesterday, EW raised the seat and I’m a real bicyclist.

I like it so much that I found myself smiling while biking and this morning I passed my destination because I was enjoying the ride. Image result for Dorothy Wizard of oz on bike(I smile more and my basket is smaller and in the front. Plus I love dogs. Other than that, I feel like this when I’m riding my big girl’s bike.)

That brings us to Radio. One of the reasons I’ve not been prolific on the blog is that there are a whole lot of important things pulling at my time now that I am a “liveaboard” instead of a cruiser—particularly a working liveaboard. I’m working to make money so that we can fix the boat and become cruisers again, socializing with cruisers, spending time with EW, and doing all the normal life things one does—except I live on a boat on a mooring and we have no car.

This morning I had a networking breakfast at 8 and a live interview on a radio station at 11:30. They were only a mile apart so I rode my bike to the first, stayed at Café Bistro and worked, and rode my bike to WSOS, 103.9 for the interview.

20170425_121710EW said I did well. It’s been a long time but evidently, I haven’t forgotten my media voice either. During the half hour interview punctuated with cool oldies music (Allman Brothers and Rolling Stones to name two), Nicole and Kevin mentioned cupcakes. Specifically, Sweet City Cupcakes from St. Augustine. I love cupcakes so I rolled with it.

After the interview, Nicole said, “Wow, I suppose since you’re on a bike, you can’t take the cupcakes.”

“You really have cupcakes?”

“Yes,” she said, as she opened a cupboard and presented me with a box of four beautiful cupcakes. I told her I would find a way to carry the cupcakes, and I did.

However, I had to make a stop at Rype and Readi, one of my new favorite St. Augustine haunts, to pick up fruit for a fruit salad. There was no room in the basket for the fruit, so EW got a call.

“Honey, can you come in and pick me up --- and meet me at Rype and Readi? I have my bag and cupcakes and can’t add the fruit.” Since EW’s bike has no basket (yet), I asked him to wear his backpack. Cupcakes may have motivated him to agree but probably he would have done it anyway, 'cause he’s a nice guy.

So I purchased a half watermelon, a pineapple, and strawberries, and Sebastian gave me three ripe mangoes, and I waited for EW to arrive. I had my purse/laptop case and the cupcakes in my basket and the bag of produce waiting for EW. He rounds the corner and I wonder why his backpack straps are invisible.

He looked at me, “You know,” he said, “On my way over here I remember the backpack and thought, ‘You had 20170425_131856just one job.’”

So, we put the fruit in the basket, put the cupcakes on top, and dangled my heavy bag from the handlebars. It worked.

I have learned, however, that small bike baskets are not the best place to carry cupcakes. I may have to get a large basket in the back like Miss Gulch. (And no, I am not going to get a small black dog to ride back there. He’d only eat the cupcakes.)

For lunch, I put the cupcakes on a plate and reapplied the frosting. They were not pretty but I assure you they were delicious. The chocolate one with peanut butter frosting was our favorite. Evidently, at one point it looked like this


Rip Van Winkle Cruisers’ Syndrome Or Our Cruising Mindset

I love hearing (usually on NPR) the recitation of  the Beloit College Mindset List, designed to remind professors exactly how old they  are and how clueless they may  be about the popular culture as compared to each year’s crop of college freshmen. In preparation for this post, I perused the 40+ items on the 2016 list and present my favorite 10. (The word “favorite” is relative.)

The Mindset List for the Class of 2016  

  1. Their lives have been measured in the fundamental particles of life: bits, bytes, and bauds.
  2. Robert De Niro is thought of as Greg Focker's long-suffering father-in-law, not as Vito Corleone or Jimmy Conway.
  3. There has always been football in Jacksonville but never in Los Angeles.
  4. Benjamin Braddock, having given up both a career in plastics and a relationship with Mrs. Robinson, could be their grandfather. (That hurts.)
  5. Exposed bra straps have always been a fashion statement, not a wardrobe malfunction to be corrected quietly by well-meaning friends. (I haven’t gotten used to this, and still make sure my own straps are tucked away. The safety pin is your friend. Raise your hand if you have sewed little snaps into a top and attached a ribbon with the corresponding snap to corral that bra strap.)
  6. Women have always piloted war planes and space shuttles. (Go us!)
  7. They have had to incessantly remind their parents not to refer to their CDs and DVDs as “tapes.”
  8. There have always been blue M&Ms, but no tan ones.’ (I miss the tan ones –and while we are on that subject, what happened to Dark Chocolate Peanut M&Ms? Such a loss.)
  9. L.L. Bean hunting shoes have always been known as just plain Bean Boots.
  10. History has always had its own channel.

Copyright© 2012 Beloit College
Mindset List
is a registered trademark

Our Mindset is more like that of Rip Van Winkle. We are missing a few years. Five to be exact. While we aren’t totally clueless, we have a decided lack of clue regarding at least three things. (This is in addition to the already much-discussed cell phone/Android/data we had issues with upon setting foot ashore.)

So, in no particular order, here are three things we’ve had trouble understanding:Product Image, click to zoom

1. Lacy shorts for daytime wear. What’s up with that? I don’t mind that they are short. (You should see my hot pants, rompers, and skirt lengths in high school. Think long legs, hot pants, and mini skirts. Actually, that was one of my best eras.) Digressing. But these are lace short shorts made of some light weight material with an overlay of crochet or lace. I first saw these in St. Thomas worn by cruise ship tourists, but since I don’t take anything the average cruise ship tourist wears as actual real world fashion,  I continued to be surprised when I wander the streets of St. Augustine and saw numerous women wearing short lacy shorts. I don’t get it. How do they get through a day without ripping, tearing, or catching the lace? Heck, I couldn’t walk from one end of the boat to the other without catching that lace on something. I’m all for comfort and movement, which is good because I have never mastered fashion—though I’m not sure that lace hot pants paired with cowboy boots can be called “fashion”. And speaking of fashion, these lace shorts are available at Nordstrom's for 158.98—down from $265.00. Are you freaking kidding me?

2. On-line Shopping. Yes, this existed long before we left, but not to the degree it does now. This week,  Walmart bought Jet.com not an airline, apparently, but an on-line shopping company that does better than Walmart on-line. (But nowhere near as well as Amazon.)  Walmart has an on-line shopping experience? Who knew?  In case you think I’m overstating this, let me offer some info: First, here’s a chart to show you how much things have changed since we left in 2010:

NOTE: I found this chart at a post done by a high school economics class. Good going, kids.

You will note that on-line retailing tripled while we were gone. (I’m not saying that I didn’t help a bit, but that’s a whole bunch of packaging.)

Second, I offer Blue Apron, Dollar Shave Club, and Bark Box. This is what got me going. I remember record clubs and book clubs but a CLUB FOR RAZORS !Seriously blows my mind. Do you really have to go online to order some $1.00 razors to be sent to you on a regular basis? Can you really  not remember to pick them up at the grocery store? Speaking of which, do we really need to have food shipped from wherever  it was grown to a warehouse/kitchen for portioning, and then sent from there to your door so you can make three  “fresh” meals without going to the store. After all that shipping, it can’t be all that fresh. As for Bark Box, that’s not about fresh, but about spoiling your pooch with a few of  the new, new things for dogs, delivered in a box . (OK, I’m a dog sap, this sounded kind of cool for a one time gift. The option of once a month for a year, though? That’s crazy.) For the record, I love shopping on-line, for some things. And it was a necessity  in the islands.  When you are in the USVI it can be the only way to find something you need, like your favorite Teva’s. When in Grenada, I had to ship sandals to a friend’s brother who was flying in for a visit. Bless him. I do not mean to shame you for purchasing on-line. I’m just surprised at the speed with which it’s taken over. Dollar Shave Club? Really? (OK, I may be shaming you for the Dollar Shave Club.) (And I am definitely overusing the word “really”.)

3. Apps. Again, something that was around before we left. But in 2010 EW  had a two-year-old iPhone and I had an oldish Blackberry, so our smartphones weren’t all that smart. (And we certainly weren’t.) (And I will swear on a stack of fixed portlights that smartphone was a two-word phrase in 2010.) My  co-worker just bought a new desktop computer and it  has Apps. So, let’s recap: smartphones got apps so that they could work more like computers, and savvy businesses made their on-line sites work better with smartphones and created apps and those Q boxes to help other businesses market to those with smart phones, and now desktop computers have apps to be more like smartphones. Dog chase tail much? (Send it a Bark Box!)

And yes, we have and use apps. We were middle-aged and ignorant, not ancient and Luddites. (Though I’m feeling that “middle-aged” is perhaps pushing it a bit as I might not live to 110.)

Oh lord. We aren’t lost cruisers. We’re just old. Say it ain’t so!

On a (slightly) more serious note. Yes, this is yet another “transition” post, because IMHO there haven’t been enough of these done by cruisers. In other words, after feeding my dream, helping us to choose a boat and many of the extras, giving great advice while we were at sea, on the hard, or in a secluded anchorage, my cruising and blogging gurus did not do so well on the transition ashore. We will be taking off again for Round Two, but I would be remiss if I didn’t include some of this stuff for all of you still “at sea”.

Trust me. You’ll thank me someday.


As Winter Ebbs in St. Augustine (We Hope)

Capture Frost MapIt’s been an interesting winter in St. Augustine. When we arrived before Christmas, we enjoyed 80-degree temperatures. In January, as regular readers know, things went north. EW had to buy blankets, and we both needed more long pants. Getting out of bed in the morning was shocking. Don’t even mention using the head.

Well, it must be mentioned. You know when you have to get  up in the middle of the night and you shuffle to the head, half awake, take care of business and shuffle back to bed to fall immediately asleep? Yeah, well that didn’t happen during our two months of winter. That cold seat would wake the dead if the dead have to use heads. This phenomenon was the topic of discussion. I began to huddle under the warmth of our Jaguars blanket 10 or 15 minutes after EW, who noted my lack of bounding out of bed, by saying one morning, “It’s safe to get up, I’ve warmed the seat up for you.”

Busted.

One cold night, he suggested bringing the seat into bed with us. NOT going to happen.

We ate more, and accomplished less.

We wore knit hats while preparing breakfast.

Our few pairs of wool socks were worn more and washed less as we just couldn’t do laundry often enough to keep up.

And then, there was the day. when our early morning trip to shore gave me the opportunity to see something I haven’t seen in a while….frost. In Northeastern Florida, frost happens. Those of you who haven’t read the early years of this blog, may not know that we lived aboard for 8 years prior to cruising. We lived aboard in Maine. Year round. Of course back then, the furnace worked, we had a fluffy duvet, and boots. Here, at least we could congratulate ourselves for having stored many of our fleece jackets, tops, and vests. I may have worn all of mine at one time the coldest days.

I’ve seen many cruisers wearing Keens with socks, and here it’s acceptable. (Unlike when tourists wear socks with sandals during a Maine summer. That is just wrong.)

We have been assured by natives and those who’ve lived here for a while, that Valentine’s Day marks the end of cold weather. I’ll let you know. We’ll be going to an Oyster Roast in the afternoon and hope the two-day heat wave continues and we have another 70-degree day. (Looks like that's a hope not to be realized.) The map at the top of the page represents the average “last frost” according to a local weather source; and the lovely teal color suggests we could have a frost as late as the 21st.

Looks like this year St. Augustine will be above average, as the upcoming week shows lows in the 40’s and daily highs reaching into the 70’s most days—just not on Valentine's Day.

Capture

It’s springtime in St. Augustine. We’ve survived our two months of winter, and send condolences to those of you in the Northeast US during your current cold wave. Hope you have plenty of wood, gas, or oil at home. I strongly recommend hot chocolate and cuddling. During the worst days we enjoyed hot chocolate with a “nudge” of rum. Sure beats marshmallows! As for the cuddling, EW and I slept each night entwined, moving practically in unison as we spooned first on one side and then on the other, wrapped in each other’s arms all night long.

Winter in St. Augustine isn’t all bad.

By the way, EW has promised me pancakes for Valentine's Day and he found real maple syrup. We have both agreed to accept Vermont syrup, but it was a big discussion in the store. 

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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..

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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.

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Transitions!

IMG_3460Are we still Cruisers, or are we “Live-aboards”?

So far, we are still Cruisers at heart and have been able to share some of our stories with excellent boat guest, Mike, former Grenada Cruiser, Lee, and a number of Cruisers who are passing through on their way south to warmer temperatures and adventure.

While we envy them, we know we are incredibly fortunate to have had five excellent years At Sea.

And while we look forward to cruising in the future, we are happy to be here, closer to friends and family, where EW can work on the boat with the expectation of easily finding parts and help, and where I can earn money to fund our projects and future adventures.

We wish it were warmer. Somehow we missed the memo that stated the winter weather pattern includes temperatures from 37 to 80, in cycles frequently book-ended by rain or heavy winds. I was talking to one of the marina staff who discussed the recent heavy winds from the north and the expect not-quite-so heavy winds from the south.  “The south winds can be easier on the boats,” he said, “but when the winds are north at least the bridge acts as a strainer to keep loose boats from crashing into the docks.”

I immediately imagined a giant strainer, letting water and wind through but preventing boats. It was not a comfortable image, but I appreciated his colorful word choice.

EW has put new chafe guard on the mooring lines, we have two separate lines—not one line used on two sides of the boat, and we check for chafe every day.

We’ve lived on the boat for 13 years and I’ve not yet tired of it. We’ve lived mostly at anchor for the past five, and I’ve not yet tired of that either. So, getting ashore in the dinghy isn’t a problem for me.

For the past five years, we’ve shopped for parts and provisions by walking and riding in a a variety of local buses, so riding the clean, warm, local bus or the Port of Call Cruisers’ Bus is a joy.

We have found an excellent farm stand just a one mile walk away, so I have good quality fruits and veggies at very reasonable (if not Grenada) prices.

The locals are friendly, even if many are nonplussed by our cheerful “Good morning/afternoon/evening!” We were taught well by friends and strangers in the Eastern Caribbean, and still greet nearly everyone with whom we make eye contact. (OK. I admit it. Sometimes I just do it to be different or perverse. It’s kind of fun.)

So, it’s been a month. How is our transition going?

  • We are finding our way around.
  • We are learning (with help from former Grenada cruiser Lee) where the best music venues are.
  • We like the marina and its staff.
  • EW is taking a guitar class on Monday evenings, and has started on the boat projects. that can be accomplished in cold weather.
  • EW also wins the “Attaboy” award for finding two extra blankets at the Animal Shelter consignment store. One is brown fleece, and the other is a Jacksonville Jaguars quilt. (As long as their luck or lack of it doesn’t rub off on us, I’m OK with it. I also cover it during the day with a blue fleece that matches our décor.)
  • I am still looking for a job. If you know a small to medium company who wants remote help in hiring key personnel, let me know. We don’t want to move to Jacksonville, and we don’t really want to get a car, but there are many fewer jobs here than we anticipated. I’m applying for retail work, registering with agencies, and networking my socks off (not really, it’s too cold to go without socks). I have to remind myself that it’s only been a month and that nearly two weeks were during the holidays. Evidently transitions require patience too.

We are good. We are still cruisers, but are currently staying in one location.

I’m OK with that, and I know I will be warm again.

One day.


Wheathah or Not–We Can Handle It

It’s been a cold week in St. Augustine. Not as cold as it was in Maine or Buffalo (or North Tonawanda) but we expected cold when we lived north of the 40th Parallel. This is Florida. This is the state whose residents I mocked in 2010 on our way to the Bahamas. Dear Friend Dora reminded me of my derision during one of our recent phone conversations. “Now, you be careful. You made fun of how they bundled their children when you were in Fort Lauderdale.”

I did. To my defense, it wasn’t nearly as cold in Fort Lauderdale on the occasion of their 2010 Christmas Boat Parade as it was here this past week in St. Augustine, which, by the way, is about 350 miles farther north. As I recall, I had intended to purchase a few bathing costumes and was appalled that the stores had down jackets and no tank-top two-pieces.  “Who would buy these here?” I exclaimed. Often. To EW. At the Christmas Boat Parade we learned that a lot of people purchased cold weather clothing, and many purchased down items, bundling their toddlers nearly like Ralphie’s little brother in “A Christmas Story”.

OK. That may be a bit of an exaggeration. Still, for the past five years I have been continually amazed at the amount of winter clothing offered for sale in the Bahamas, Caribbean, and Panama. You will never make me believe that those who live in St. Thomas over the winter need footed P.J.s.

IMG_3408We needed them this week. Nights dipped into the 40’s and the winds blew in the 20’s with gusts to 40. This was serious people. As one woman (who dingied ashore for her shower in footed pajamas) said, “We don’t fight when it’s this cold. We need to keep each other warm at night.” I assure you that EW and I cooperated and were either spooned or entwined all night for three nights.

When the winds were in the teens to twenties, we went ashore for a bit, bundled in fleece and wearing (gasp!) real socks. Wool socks. Wool socks pulled up to our knees. (One older bagger at Publix yesterday wore brogans, knee socks, and shorts. Be still my beating heart.) On the day of the worst wind, the only people who went ashore were those with jobs. The rest of us stayed with our boats and monitored chafe, and made and ate soup, and baked. Yesterday. EW IMG_3401and I were delighted to find much reduced seas and went ashore for much needed showers and a trip on the Port of Call Cruisers’ Bus. Every person on board talked about soup and cookies. These are my kind of people.

During the siege, we were delighted  to hear from La Luna’s former owner, Peter and his wife Barbara who dropped over to St. Augustine to take us out to lunch and to hear about our cruise. Peter has been keeping up on this blog and wanted the “Rest of the Story” and Barbara is a lovely, gracious woman who had thoughtful questions and lovely stories of her own. Nothing will warm a person up like meeting up with friends.  I love that we seem to be living at a “crossroads” of sorts and will continue to see old and new, cruising and land-lubbing friends while we live and work here.

Today, we have a reasonable breeze and sun. I’m back to going barefoot on the boat but our Dear Friend Jaime would be feeling the chill right now.  It’s no longer 64 on the boat, but isn’t much above 70. This is a shock to our systems after Panama and I’m grateful for that gradual re-entry from there to here. I’m also glad that we had fleece hats, jackets, and vests stored under the master bunk.

We are Mainahs. (Well, one is a Mainah transplanted from Buffalo.) In any case, we can handle the cold.

Above, two of our neighbors in 30 knot winds. By the way, we knew the winds hit 30 when the wind generator stopped. There is a safety on it that causes it to cut off at 30. That happened often one day and night. Unfortunately two vessels anchored north of the bridge, where the current and waves can be rougher chaffed their mooring lines, smashed into the Bridge of Lions, and broke their masts. Here's a link.


Mother's Day with the Tree Top Band

IMG_0691Mother’s Days with EW have been “interesting”. Only a couple of months after we met, EW agreed to accompany me to Waterville, Maine for a Mother’s Day lunch that included meeting my parents for the first time. (No pressure there.) Actually, Mom loved EW from the first, saying that he was “the best thing that ever happened to me”. Once we married, EW knew that if we broke up, he could go “home” to my mother for shelter, hugs, and sympathy. You may find that humorous, but it was no joke.

The next memorable Mother’s Day occurred less than two years after we married. We purchased a home one year and a 26-foot sailboat the following autumn. When Mother’s Day rolled around, we were working on a list of boat projects, but EW had joined the local volunteer fire department which had scheduled a training on Mother’s Day weekend. (You can bet I was all fired up about that.) Still, my folks drove down to Yarmouth where the three of us shared a picnic lunch. Daddy painted the boot stripe on the boat, and Mom played with our pup, Coffee. They didn’t get to see EW that day, but still sang his praises. (“Yeah, yeah. I’m proud he’s a firefighter, Mom.”)

Mom and Mo Walking Down the AisleAs I was fortunate to become more involved in Favorite’s life my Mother’s Days became a bit more special. (Mom adored him, too. Here Favorite ushers Mom down the aisle at our wedding.)  Of course when Mom was still alive, we visited with her and Daddy. Later, EW would find something fun and special to do. Once a special Mother’s Day Brunch in a Portland hotel with his mom and sister; at other times as simple as a picnic – with or without boat projects. Mostly with. It was that time of year in Maine.

Once we started cruising, Mother’s Day began to revolve around a breakfast or brunch prepared by EW, and (if we were in the right location) my wonderful Mother’s Day call from Favorite – who never forgets. We aren’t much for presents, but this year EW purchased a quart of maple syrup because we were tragically out of it, so I knew I could expect home-made pancakes and bacon on Mother’s day. On Saturday, EW received a phone call from our musician friend, Jerry. I knew what was going on, and could tell EW wasn’t sure if it would fly. He concluded the call by thanking Jerry and telling him he’d ,“let him know".

IMG_0669Recently, Jerry has been organizing “Pot Luck” music jams. We missed the first one because he didn’t have our number and the second one because it was on a beach and there had been rain showers. Sand fleas are worse on a beach after a rainfall, and EW wisely decided not to brave the poisonous (to him) pests. On the first Sunday in May we took a taxi way up to the top of Dorthea to a home overlooking Hull Bay, where “Coach”, Diane, and their two friendly mutts, Waggley and Tramp live. It was a great day, Diane is a calm and gracious woman, and the view was to die for. The music was good, too. (That’s Mick on bass, Jerry on lead guitar, and EW during our first Tree Top Jam.)

Back to that phone call from Jerry. From EW’s side of the conversation, I could infer that Jerry had called to say that Diane (mother of four) and Coach had invited us all back on Mother’s Day. EW wasn’t sure if that is how I wanted to spend “my day”. Well if I could have done anything I’d have been back in Maine for the lobster feed at my niece Jean’s home, but life isn’t perfect, and music in the tree tops is pretty special, and really, how bitchy would I have to be to deny EW this opportunity? Way more bitchy than I am, that’s for sure. Coach kindly offered to taxi us up and back and the day was on.

It was a great afternoon. By the time we got there, Diane’s three grown daughters had called to wish her a Happy Mother’s day, so we were both waiting for our sons to call, and neither of us roamed without our phones until our day was complete. (Both “boys” called by 3:00 PM well within the “I haven’t forgotten Mother’s Day” time frame.

I learned why most musicians aren’t overweight. Playing music trumps eating. (It does not trump drinking beer, but one can do that easily between songs.) The pot luck offerings included crab salad, fried chicken, potato salad, two home-made pizzas (moi’s contribution), Texas beans, and an amazing chili, cheese, chicken dip. EW ate the last two small pieces of pizza as we were in the car on our way back to the boat. That was all he ate for the entire day. He played music for six hours and drank beer. He had a really, really good Mother’s Day.

So did I.

IMG_0753After breakfast I did laundry, made two pizzas, and was then transported to the tree tops, where I could listen to great music, chat with smart women, eat good food and play with two cute dogs. I’d call that a Mother’s Day win.

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NOTE: During our first Tree Top Jam, I chatted with Diane (remember, she’s from Texas) and mentioned we were out of Maple syrup. We are both charming women and we are both strong women.

Diane (with a Texas accent): Yew know you can make Maple Syrup?

Me: Yep, with a number of Maple trees, flowing sap, and a good fire.

Diane (Smiles then goes all serious again.): No really. You just need some maple flavoring and a little syrup. (I assume she meant Karo or some such thing.)

Me (Struggling to be polite.): Yeah. No. That …..

Diane: My kids just loved it!

Me: I really like you, and I’m sure your kids were fine with it, but that just won’t work for me.

Diane: Really?

Me. Really.

She was tickled when I told her that I had gotten Real Maple Syrup for Mother’s Day. For those of you keeping score, while EW’s New York syrup is delicious, I have (of course) always favored Maine syrup. The only one available here at Cost U Less is from Vermont, so we compromised. 

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Here’s EW, Morgan, Jerry, and Mick on Mother’s Day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

IMG_0858Jerry and Diane and Coach all invited a few friends to listen and enjoy the day. Brian wins the Best Use of Smart Phone award when he quickly found the lyrics for one song.

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Yep. This does not suck.


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.


Where Did This Week Go?

IMG_0108I used to say that a lot back when we lived in Maine, worked 50-60 hours and had an active life and a boat to live on. I bet many of you dirt dwellers say it a lot. “Oh my god, it’s Friday? Really? Where did this week go?”

We still have an active life and a boat to live on, but we aren’t working 50-60 hours in jobs, nor are we spending 50-60 hours doing boat work. Even so, one of the challenges of staying in one spot for a period of weeks or months is that you lose track of time. Well, you may not, but we certainly do. 

IMG_0056The cruising life: sunny skies, teal green water, sandy beaches … the days just run together in an endless loop of chillin’ and drinking rum. No. In fact, when we are stopped for a while – such as in Grenada during hurricane season, or here in St. Thomas where we are waiting for the new jib --  we get caught up in boat projects, reading, watching movies, and just hanging on the boat. EW plays music, I write, and poof another week has passed.

Sometimes, we are the cruisers who have to remind ourselves to go do something fun. That happened this week. I knuckled down completing the on-line stuff as though I’d lose Wi-Fi on Saturday. I won’t, but do need to move on to other things, write more and sew a bit.  On Wednesday, EW decided at the last minute to go in to Tickles for Open Mike night. I was tired and cranky, and opted out – and of course it was an outstanding night, EW played three songs, and I missed seeing cruisers we had met in the Canaries. (That will teach me.) Frankly until he mentioned Tickles, I thought it was Tuesday, and I’d already psyched myself up for a quiet night on board. What was I thinking? I was thinking, “It’s Wednesday already?”

IMG_9935We’ve been cruising since 2010, that’s five years of lost weeks. Somewhere in our second year, we decided that our commerial log book didn’t work for us, and I designed a custom one. The beauty -- when we use it – is that there are two sections, one for at sea and one for at rest, whether on anchor, mooring, on the dock, or on the hard. No kidding, but earlier this week I was thinking that we hadn’t been writing in the log book and we would forget much of our time here and not know where the days went.

IMG_0113IMG_0128IMG_0427

 

In fact, my fall back “log” are the photos. Thank goodness for them – except they don’t include normal log info, such as weather, when we filled up with water and fuel, when we defrosted the freezer, and when we dined with Rosanne and Dan on s/v Strategy. (And yes, when you meet them they tell you the easy way to remember their names is … wait for it .. “Rosanna Danna”. It works.)

Actually, I do know when we enjoyed our visit with them and Rosanne's Jambalaya followed by pecan pie – it was Sunset Sunday, and my contribution was taken from the stern of their boat.

 

IMG_0377

So, even though I realized that time was moving more quickly than I anticipated, I didn’t get the logbook out until today, when I discovered that it’s Friday, April 24th!  We are nearing the end of April, and while it’s apparently still snowing in the northeast (sorry, people) down here we are staring summer and hurricane season directly in the eye. It will soon be time to move on, and what will we have to show for it?

Evidently a few things:

  • A new jib
  • New salon cushions
  • Fabric to cover them
  • Varnished teak trim in heads
  • Varnished hatch trim
  • Varnished winch boxes in cockpit
  • New laptop up and running with all programs working
  • New articles started
  • New book started
  • Reorganized Galley
  • New blog design
  • Improved cooking skills
  • Weight loss (planned and hard fought)
  • New laptop station
  • Repaired bilge pumps
  • Repaired mid-stay
  • New songs learned
  • EW also is learning something called “shaping”. It’s a guitar thing
  • New audiences have heard him play
  • New friends met
  • Old friends renewed

There are more, but I didn’t write them down in the log.

And yes, we have enjoyed the sunsets, the play of light upon the water, the feel of sand between our toes, and the views from the hills on Water and Hassel Islands. On Saturday, we’ll go to a pot-luck beach party, with food, guitar, and plenty of bug dope in the dinghy. It’s been quite the week. We deserve a break. Next week will be one for the log book.

 

Here’s the At Anchor Log Page.

Capture

 

Photos from the top down:

  • View of Charlotte Amalie from Hassel Island
  • EW and Peter on Peter Bonta’s really last Caribbean performance as a cruiser
  • EW, Peter, the Tim West Band, an others on Open Mike Night on March 4th (what we thought would be Peter’s last Caribbean performance as a cruiser
  • Two more from Hassel Island
  • Somebody’s big baby getting lifted up onto a big ship
  • Sunset

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.