Dear friends Jerry and Nancy from Cape Elizabeth, Maine gently tweaked me about not posting on this blog in a month of Sundays. (Well, according to them a month.) Let’s contrast this with a sailing fan, who isn’t on the Internet every day and said, “Loved that new post of the poem. Very nice.” It’s fans like that who keep me procrastinating.
Remember the movie “Up”? As dog lovers, particularly Labs, we loved the special collar that allowed the dog to express his thoughts, and how frequently he interrupted any conversation by shouting, “Squirrel!” Similarly, I have meant to write a post (or six). I’ve started a post (or six). But I haven’t finished one of them, and I’m blaming it on the squirrels.
Squirrel moments have removed a train of thought from my brain and caused posts to derail. (The previous sentence is an homage to Jerry and Nancy.) This has been a month of squirrel moments—to be honest, all of 2016 has been filled with squirrel moments—and all those squirrels have made it difficult to hold on one topic long enough to finish a blog.
And let’s be honest, for me “Squirrel!” means “People!” It can also mean “Dog!” but “Dog!” moments tend to pass while “People!” usually equals talking, gathering to talk more, and sharing stories and recipes, which is really just talking. Let me tell you about a recent such moment.
I was in minding the Black Raven Pirate Ship’s store when a cruiser walked in to see what we had. It’s a slow month for children’s adventures in St. Augustine, so I had time to chat. (See above.) Greg is an outgoing and funny guy, originally from Texas, now from Virginia, who was temporarily sailing alone while his wife went to visit the grandbabies. (Did you get that?) They are buddy boating with (are you ready?) Dave and Jane from South Portland, Maine. (Big Flipping Squirrel!) Greg, being a wise main, immediately called Jane’s cell and told her to “Get over to the Pirate store right now!” Jane had been in the shower, but for reasons still unclear, actually reached out through the curtain and took the call. She arrived impressively quickly, dressed, with hair only dripping a bit.
Introductions got lost with Greg’s exclamation, “She’s from South Portland, Maine!” meaning both of us. And the “Do you knows” began. When Dave showed up, he simply entered the fray and we discussed moving their moving aboard date, our leaving Maine date, and who we all knew from the marina in South Portland. As I thought we were nearing our shared friends, Jane looked at me and asked….
wait for it…
(you know it’s coming, don’t you?
….. “Do you know Barb and Stew Hart?”
Being quick on the uptake, I said, “We are Barb and Stew Hart.”
Jane squealed and hugged me. Being me, I hugged back. Since her husband knows Jane really, really well he just looked delighted. Jane then stepped back and said, “You are the reason we did this!” And then she turned to Dick and stated, “This is Barbara. I read her blog posts to you!”
Now remember, this was all while I was working on a very quiet morning, but still, I needed to go back to work. As things tend to go in St. Augustine, Jane and her bevy of buddy boaters were leaving the next morning, so she invited us to a cockpit gathering that evening. We had planned to do something with Lynn and Keith from Otter and I told her that they, too, were at sea in part due to reading and laughing at our exploits. Jane promptly invited Lynn and Keith, and this explains how things have been going in St. Augustine.
Jane pulled together a fantastic cockpit party including the temporarily solo sailor, Greg, and Diane and Bob, the third boat in that buddy boating triumvirate. The food was fantastic. Jane gave most of the props to Diane who is an outstanding, inventive chef. It was a great evening, with lots of stories. Some of the funnier ones weren’t ours. I love that. And I love living on a boat.
While there have been a couple of cruisers’ gatherings, most of the folks are passing through for just a few days, so if we meet them at all, it’s by chance on the shopping bus, in the laundry room/lounge, or on the dock. On Thursday, we took La Luna to the fuel dock for water and diesel and EW met Lily and Elias, a young couple with ties to Maine. Elias knows enough about Mainahs to clearly state that he isn’t one, but his Grandfather was. The family still has a cottage on the coast up there and Maine is in his heart. Maine does that to people.
Right after that I was scurrying up the dock to dump the garbage and met a couple coming down the ramp. I said “Good Morning,” and they replied with strong southern accents, so I performed a classic double-take when I caught a glimpse of the lady’s bright yellow sweatshirt, emblazoned: “Shin Pond Established 1982”.
“Is that Shin Pond in Maine?”
She smiled, equally surprised, “You know Shi-in Po-ond?” (Imagine strong southern accent for this conversation.) Of course I know Shin Pond. It’s northwest of Island Falls, and and Daddy used to go fishing there with a couple of buddies. They played cribbage, cooked and ate camp meals and maybe caught a few fish. He loved those trips, hauling his small aluminum outboard up on a trailer with his friends along for the ride.
For most of the first quarter of my life, I lived in Central Maine. (We won’t mention those 6 months when I was 5 and we lived in Salem, New York; but we can talk eagerly of the next three years in The County, in Island Falls, Maine.) My folks were from Maine, and my dad liked to camp and fish. Moreover, my first career job with Maine Public Broadcasting Network took me all over the state so I know Maine. When I moved to Portland in the 80’s I quickly discovered that most people my age raised south of Brunswick knew little about central and northern Maine,and the few central or northern Mainahs living in Portland never expected anyone to know where their small home town was.
In short, I suspect I’m one of the few Maine cruisers who know Shin Pond, and I’m 99% certain that Martha, Mitch and I were the only folks in the marina who’ve been there. So, how did this woman know Shin Pond? Remember—you have to imagine a strong southern accent and an excited happy voice.
“We-ell,” she replied. We have a home in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina and a few years ago we swapped houses with these people from Shin Pond. They stayed in our home and we stayed in theirs for January and February.”
(Now who would you think got the better end of that trade?)
“Seriously? Did you have a good time?”
“It was the best vacation we ea-vah ha-ad!”
“Did it snow a lot?”
“Oh my yes!” She beamed. “It snowed nearly every day!” Her husband interjected, “We wanted snow. It was a bad day if we could see Katahdin and it wasn’t pouring down snow.” (We Mainahs know that snow doesn’t pour, but I ignored that.)
- She continued, “I made a snow fort! And I made a snowman every day! These people who own the store in town? Well it’s a store and gas station and little restaurant? They do everything! Anyway they insisted on loaning us their snowmobiles! They didn’t want any money or anything. We had the best time!”
These adventurers are cruisers now, waiting out the rain to head south. Her husband confided that when they sell the boat, he’d buy a home in Shin Pond in a heartbeat.
This is why we cruise. To meet people like this, with a sense of adventure and stories tell. Long after they’ve sailed south, I will forget their names, and what kind of boat they were on. But I will remember the joy they found in retirement, building snowmen at Shin Pond.
At left, Martha aboard M&M Journey, wearing her sweat shirt. The next morning they headed south on the ICW to a location where the sweat shirt won’t be necessary.
She’s a gracious woman, and a great sport. I hope they visit us on their way north.
- Shin Pond Map
- Photo from the town’s slide show
- Me with Daddy’s boat
It’s nice to know the right people. Friends on shore pointed out a lovely three-masted schooner and asked, “Do you know what boat that is?”
Hell, yes. Tom, Captain of the Schooner Mystic used to keep his own boat at the same marina that was La Luna’s home for eight years. Not being fools, we took advantage of that friendship and showed up one morning while Mystic was at anchor in St. Thomas.
Captain Tom and crew helped us aboard, but neither we nor the captain and crew were as elegant as this photo from their site. (This photo and the one of the interior came from their website. The sailing photos are mine.)
The Schooner Mystic is a new boat, built in 2007, and is beautifully appointed. The crew we met are all knowledgeable, and number at least two women skippers. The kitchen, not open to the public, is a restaurant style kitchen on a boat, and we were told the food is outstanding.
And yes, I know it's a galley. But this galley is a professional kitchen, so I'm calling it a kitchen. So there.
We were delighted with the opportunity to see how The Schooner Mystic was appointed, how much work it took to keep her in Bristol shape, and how much fun it would be to haul those sails. (As long as it wasn’t in our job description.) It was great to talk with Tom. After one or two more charters in the BVI’s they are headed back to New England where she will be available for charters during the summer.
Look for her on the water. She’s a beauty under sail.
We were truly excited to leave Guadeloupe for many different reasons, but we were delighted to sail into Elephant Bay in St. Thomas for just one…we knew we were home. Neil Diamond’s song reverberated in my head:
We’ve been traveling far
Without a home
But not without a star …
On the boats and on the planes
They’re (We’re) coming to America
Never to look back again
They’re (We’re) coming to America
EW and I look back, and we’ll definitely visit foreign shores and islands again. But America is home, and we are proud to be American.
However, just as I have done things of which I am not proud, I am not proud to be associated with every individual American all the time. (Don't get me started about the typical "ugly American" travelers I've seen during our travels. That's another topic.)
During our travels in the Azores, Canaries, and Guadeloupe, I often tried to keep up with news from home, but more often failed. All broadcasts were in Portuguese, Spanish, or French, and our time with Wi-Fi was limited. For this reason, many of the European sailors we met were more up-to-date on the news from the US than we were. Some of them were brave enough to ask gentle questions of us, trying to determine why we (as in Americans) “hated President Obama”, as more than one person phrased it.
Now, through the generosity of friends we are on a mooring in St. Thomas with a Choice internet box; and by virtue of being in St. Thomas, have access to news on the radio. That is 90% great, but within a few days of arriving:
I got to read of incredibly racist statements made by Maine state legislator, and found it almost impossible to believe that someone from my little northern state could be so publically hateful.
Conversely, I was able to feel great pride in knowing that our US Senator, Susan Collins (also from Aroostook County in Maine) was one of the few republican senators to refuse to sign the infamous letter to the President of Iran.
Finally, eager to find out what is going on with friends and family, I spent time on Facebook, where I was surprised to find both friends from home and boating buddies posting or re-posting horribly racist and insensitive comments.
Since we now “reside” in Florida, I no longer have the option to vote for Senator Collins, and have no influence on the first two bullet points.
But what is my responsibility on the final one? One of our boating friends reposted this:
I was appalled. My first thought was to “unfriend” her, but I like her. We disagree on politics, but that doesn’t mean we disagree on everything, or that I haven’t learned something valuable from her posts or those of other strong conservatives. My second thought was to comment, but I have seen those s#$t storms on Facebook and Twitter and did not want to start one. (NOTICE: Comments on this post will be welcomed from all parties, but please remain respectful.) In the end, I simply “told” Facebook I didn’t want to see any posts from the person who was my friend’s source. However, I will share my intended comment here: “I disparage hotdogs, have never worn a bikini, and my relationship with Jesus is not your business. I would say that Muslims come to America for the same freedom of speech and opportunities that enticed my ancestors and yours.”
My silence bothered me. There are many quotes by smart people--- including Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Ginetta Sagan --- who all expressed that there is a time when it is not right to keep silent. Of the quotes I found, I think MLK’s is most appropriate for these times: “We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the vitriolic words and actions of the bad people, but for the appalling silence of the good people.”
My friends are not bad people. (Even if I think the person who wrote the original FB post may be a bad person – and I’m pretty sure I have no use for person who commented.) My friends have opinions they wish to share and have perhaps taken the easy way out by re-posting something that is bad. I’m not without blame. I have been vitriolic and spoken rashly and I have re-posted things better left unsaid. I hope someone holds me accountable for it. (I know that Eleanor, one of my friends, business colleagues, and office mates years ago did a great job during our conversations. We certainly rarely agreed about politics, but we were always truly friends.)
I have been scornful of those elected officials and so-called journalists who cannot listen and learn and engage in conversations about various issues. I love listening to reasoned and learned “foes” who disagree. But we need to remember, we aren’t “foes”. We are supposed to be on the same side. America’s side. This morning, as all of this was spinning around in my caffeine fueled brain, I listened to a conversation on NPR in which they were discussing that letter signed by 47 Republican Senators.
Two statements, made by two different participants resonated with me. (These quotes are not exactly accurate as I didn’t have a pen in time)
The first: “We are falling down a slippery slope of name-calling and backbiting that makes it impossible to get things done.”
And later: “If your first reaction on discussing the partisanship is to blame the other party, then you are not helping.”
I am proud to be an American. I will always be proud to be an American, even if I am not always proud of our leaders. I will not always remain silent. Friends in my timeline have posted ugly, nasty, hurtful things about individuals and groups. If you express those comments to me face-to-face, I will object – respectfully. Since I still don’t believe Facebook is the place for debate, I will not always respond openly on social media sites. But I will not remain silent. We are friends. We can disagree. I will read your jokes, rejoice at your triumphs, cry when you are hurt, and learn from our differences of opinion whether they be about politics, economics, anchorages, food, or fashion. (Or the Oxford Comma; of which, as you will note, I’m a fan.)
We are friends. We won’t always agree, and I will not always remain silent. In real life I will object to hateful comments, and vote with my ballot and my pocketbook. In social media, I will respectfully reject and object to hate, and --- if provoked ---will vote with the unfriend button. In return, if I post or re-post hurtful, racist, or hateful comments, please call me out on it. This is not the time for silence. It is the time for conversation. It is time to remember that we purposefully friended each other and that every one of us is also proud to be an American.
Finally! t was the first morning of my first day of school. I was nearly 7 years old, and we lived in northern Maine in a very small town which didn’t offer kindergarten, so I’d had to wait until first grade. And since my birthday missed the cut-off by three days, I was going to be one of the oldest kids in the class. I had been excited for weeks finding it difficult to think of anything else, and having trouble getting to sleep each night. I was dressed in my new blue plaid skirt and a white shirt, and sat at the table waiting for my breakfast, no doubt talking a mile a minute to my mom. She handed me a glass of juice and a vitamin pill, which I inhaled – literally. As I began to choke, gasping for air, Mom hauled me upside down and slapped me on the back until the pill popped out. (Yes, I predate the Heimlich Maneuver.)
Obviously I survived, and I really, really liked school, but I’ve always found it difficult to turn off my mind when facing major change.
One Morning in February, 2014
Fast forward more than 50 years. It’s nearly midnight and I can’t sleep. Just over a year ago EW and I made a tough choice when we agreed that neither the boat nor the cruising kitty were ready for an Atlantic Crossing. We stayed in St. Thomas and worked, becoming Live-Aboards instead of Cruising Sailors: we purchased a mooring, took jobs, stopped cruising, commuted by dinghy, and became known by store keepers, security guards, and wait staff. (You know a cruising sailor has stayed in port too long when…fill in the blank.)
This week, we both “retire” again, and in May we will cross the Atlantic to the Azores.
(Do you have any idea how difficult it was to craft that sentence? Should it be …. and in May we hope to …? Or … and in May we plan to …? Or … and in May we will …? We will….)
In the meantime I can’t sleep. I’m not worried about the crossing. I’m thinking about everything that must be accomplished prior to the crossing. I’m thinking about writing magazine articles and blog posts. I’m worrying about anything that would be able to stop us this time. So far, I’ve successfully swallowed my daily vitamins, but some nights it’s just too difficult to turn off my brain and fall asleep.
Tonight, curled on EW’s shoulder, his arms around me in sleep, I thought about tomorrow’s To Do list, my strange last day at the Rum Cart, our trip to Florida earlier this month, all the things not yet posted on the blog, and some of the things that could prevent us from making this incredible journey. Since no-one was available to read me story after story until I fell asleep, I tried the method that had worked many nights in 2002 when we sold the house and moved aboard, and again in 2010 during the last weeks before we left Maine: Counting backwards from 11,000.
Counting backwards from 100 is too easy. I can do that and develop whole scenarios of challenges and create a new To-Do list – all at the same time. Counting backwards from 1000 doesn’t work, either. But sometimes, if I breathe slowly,
in and out
and in and out
and make myself concentrate and “say” every numeral in my mind …. I can fall asleep.
Ten thousand nine hundred, ninety-nine
Ten thousand nine hundred, ninety-eight
Ten thousand nine hundred, ninety-seven
Ten thousand nine hundred, ninety-six
Ten thousand nine hundred, ninety-five
Ten thousand nine hundred, ninety-four
Ten thousand nine hundred, ninety-three ……
It’s 12:40 AM. I’m going back to EW’s arms and try this again.
Photo above left: EW and me after purchasing La Luna; above right: a lobster buoy near our Harpswell mooring the summer before we left Maine.
I’ll always make my biscuits with Bakewell Cream, insist on real maple syrup on my pancakes, prefer brown eggs for no reason, drop my “r’s”, and retain reams of useless knowledge of my home state – but I’ll not be a Mainah for much longer. We are “moving” to Florida.
NOTE: The photo at left was tweeted out shortly after Christmas in 2010. We were watching football at an outdoor bar in the Bahamas. I laughed.
I haven’t shoveled snow in three years, and I don’t miss it at all. Sure, I’d like to visit Maine some autumn, view the leaves, eat fresh apples, and take in a country “fay-ah” but I like our lives just fine.
Besides Maine kicked us out and I was some pissed er ticked off.
When we left to go cruising I resisted “moving” from Maine and we continued to file and pay our income taxes with the state, retained our UPS mail box service in South Portland, and flashed our Maine Drivers’ Licenses when we needed a quick photo ID. I had no idea that it was possible for travelers to renew their Drivers’ License from away, and let mine lapse. Shortly before EW’s deadline approached, he called the appropriate Maine department to get some advice. Ultimately, he found out that he couldn’t renew his license because, “You are no longer a resident of Maine.”
And those taxes we paid in 2011 and 2012? I called the Maine Revenue Service and – politely – stated that one Maine department can’t take our taxes while another Maine department says we aren’t residents. I was very nicely told I was correct and that I could file under Maine’s Safe Harbors program and get all our Maine taxes back for the two years we’ve been at sea.
We really don’t live in Maine anymore.
I love Maine.
I am so very proud of being from Maine, and of Maine, and of having generations of hardy, funny, hard-working, dancing, card-playing, hunting, fishing, neighborly, clever, good-humored, and loving Mainahs on both sides of my family tree. I am a Mainah at heart.
But now, I’m a “Mainiac.” Not this Urban Dictionary definition of Mainiac – though I dearly love it:
I'd rather be a Mainiac than a Masshole.
One who is from Maine. Often used when referring to driving techniques of the receiver.
Attempted insult from citizens of Mass. to us in Maine.
Hey, Mainiac! What the hell do you think you are doing?!? Drive better!
Well, I’d certainly rather be from Maine than Massachusetts. Don’t get me started. (My apologies to the many wonderful people I know and love who are from Massachusetts. I’m a Mainah at heart so I have to dis on Massachusetts. It’s in the blood.)
Anyway, my definition of “Mainiac” and one I heard frequently in Maine was:
1. Maniac. Any Maine born person crazy enough to move away the State of Maine.
I am a Maniac.
EW is just a transplant. Come on, you’ve heard that old story about the transplant who was excited that he new-born son would be a “native Mainer” until his neighbor informed him, “Just ‘cause a cat has kittens in the oven, don’t make ‘em biscuits.”
So we have a new address in Florida; we’ll register to vote there; and in December we’ll take a few days and fly to Jacksonville to get our drivers’ licenses. We’ll soon send out notices of our new address to friends, family and all business interests. We are moving have moved to Florida.
Why Florida? Two reasons: 1. They don’t have a state income tax; 2. There is a mail services company, St. Brendan’s Isle, that has served thousands of world sailors for many, many years. They have assured me that we can easily establish residency and get our drivers’ licenses – as long as we can pass the test. (Fingers crossed.)
I may be moving to Florida, buy my Maine roots go deep. This is one of a number of similar direction signs pointing the3 way to real Maine towns.
By the way, EW has learned that the second one down is pronounced “VI-anna”.
Rome has 1.5 syllables.
My dad was born in Athens and never went to Madrid, but frequently visit MAD-rid. In Maine, that is.
I’ll be a Mainiac living living aboard La Luna wherever the wind takes us, and “domiciled” in Florida.
The Harts are still at sea, in the best possible way.
And don’t you fo-ah-get it, de’ahs.
FOLLOW-UP: Thanks to one my Mainiac niece, Karen, I have found a website for us Mainiacs, exiles.com which has this quote:
"Mainiacs away from Maine are truly displaced persons, only half alive, only half aware of their immediate surroundings. Their inner attention is always preoccupied and pre-empted by the tiny pinpoint on the face of the globe called Down East. They try to live not in such a manner that they will eventually be welcomed into Paradise, but only so that someday they can go home to Maine."
-- Louise Dickinson Rich
Now I'm in tears.
We don’t use much diesel, but we are using about 13 gallons of gas each week for “Lunah Landah” and “Jenny”, the Honda generator. EW has been working 7 days a week, so I’ve been much more up close and personal with our gas cans.
For years, EW had complained about the new CARB Compliant gas cans that don’t have vents and have resulted in more spills on La Luna than the old gas cans ever did. Here’s a blog post I found that exactly corresponds with EW’s gas can opinions. I never had the arm strength or coordination – mostly the coordination – to manhandle the old gas cans to fill the lawn mower or dinghy tank without spilling, so no gas cans were my friends and that was not my job.
We currently have two cans; one we call Satan’s Spawn, which is impossible for either of us to pour when full, and an earlier version of this one at Lowe’s. Though it doesnt' have great reviews, I like it because no gas comes out until I want it to come out, and because it has a handle on the side, which becomes the handle on the top when one is pouring into the generator or dinghy tank. That's a handy handle.
Two new gas cans are on the immediate shopping list, and custom covers for those tanks will be on the immediate sewing project list. I hope we can find the kind at left on St. Thomas and don’t have to have them shipped from Amazon.
This morning, I told EW I’d fill the generator and the dinghy tank, and I knew I had to first move gas from Satan’s Spawn into the other can. That had been EW’s job, and until a few months ago it was fraught with spillage and bad words. One day I had an epiphany – a mechanical type epiphany, which is extremely unusual for me.
Our booth at one of the boat shows was next to a salesman/inventor who was pushing a bailer he had created from one-inch tubing and a little metal perpetual motion pump thingy. He put the pump end of the hose into the unwanted water in a tub on his table, shook the end of it until it took a prime and watched the water run into the empty jug on the tent floor.
It was a great demonstration and EW and I succumbed to the pitch. We bought two.
Please note from the description that the unwanted water at the boat show was positioned above the receptacle, which is a requirement for this pump. We have rarely used these on board because most of the unwanted water on the boat is in the bilge and nothing is below the bilge. But, we still had them on board, and it occurred to me that I could use one to move gas from Satan’s Spawn into the other can. Worked great! NOTE: It did not work to move gas from Satan’s Spawn directly into the generator as the gas moved a bit faster than I anticipated and the bailer takes a moment to “shut off”. Lesson learned. Cleaned up. Probably used bad words.
Now it’s another job I can do, too. Dammit, I hate when that happens.
SIDE NOTE FOR MAINAH’S. This morning, when I went back down into the cabin after successful gas moving, I said to EW, “See these hands? These hands smell gas.” He didn’t get it.
Back in my youth, Stacy’s Fuel Mart in Bangor sponsored a late night TV show, Stacy’s Fuel Mart Jamboree, featuring some real musicians, like Dick Curless and Kendall Morse --- and many wannabes. The grammatically incorrect line “See these hands? These hands smell gas,” was featured in one of the many ads Dick Stacy ran on the show. His tagline: “My hands stink so yours don’t have to.” Thanks to Mary Jones Richardson, one of my roommates at UMO, for remembering that tagline.
I couldn’t find that ad – but here’s one for Stacy’s Plaza Motel.
EW, today my hands stink so yours don’t have to.
POST SCRIPT: I started a discussion on Facebook about Stacy's Fuel Mart, and followed up with this post. Then Mary's DH, Gary Allen Richardson posted this tribute to the Jamboree. Yeah, that's what I'm talking about.
Chantal \ch(an)-tal\ as a girl's name is pronounced shahn-TAL. It is of Old French origin, and the meaning of Chantal is "stone". From "cantal". It was originally given in honour of Saint Jeanne-Françoise de Chantal (17th-century), a woman of great piety who adopted a strict religious life and founded an order of nuns, the Vistandines, devoted at first to charity and later to teaching and devotion to Jesus. The name has come to be associated with French "chant" meaning "song".
Read more at: http://www.thinkbabynames.com/meaning/0/Chantal#Ei4BtY7wwGrM0Kwp.99
So we have “stone” as in “sinking like a”; and “great piety” as in “pray for deliverance”; and “song” as in “And Windy has stormy eyes”.
Chantal as of 5:00 AM Monday, July 8. Chantal is far right, everything else is conjecture.
Chantal sashayed across the Atlantic creating all sorts of on-line bruhaha, the best and most helpful being Dr. Jeff Masters’ Wonderblog:
Forecast for 95L Posted by: Dr. Jeff Masters, 4:39 PM GMT on July 07, 2013
The 8 am EDT Sunday forecast from the SHIPS model predicted that 95L would experience low to moderate shear through Tuesday morning as it headed west to west-northwest at 20 - 25 mph. The disturbance should arrive in the Lesser Antilles Islands on Tuesday, and affect the Dominican Republic by Wednesday night. A band a strong upper-level winds … blah blah blah “weather speak” … In their 8 am EDT July 7 Tropical Weather Outlook, NHC gave the disturbance a 40% chance of developing into a tropical depression or tropical storm by Tuesday. I put these odds higher, at 70%. Climatology argues against 95L becoming a tropical depression east of the Lesser Antilles Islands; there have been only 20 July tropical depressions that have formed east of the Lesser Antilles since 1851, an average of one tropical cyclone every eight years.
Dr. Jeff was right, and Chantal did form and was named. In subsequent posts he made us nervous by stating that early onset tropical storms – those that form in July – indicate an active season.
Above left, Chantal at 11 AM on Tuesday. At right, Chantal at 8 PM Tuesday. She went more west than north.
EW and I watched websites, made plans, and had one of those married couple discussions about what we had been told prior to the season by our friends Carl and Carrie on S/V La Creole and Jaime and Keith on S/V Kookaburra. One of us was right. It rapidly became apparent that Chantal was going to come to our south and that St. Thomas would not take a direct hit.
Here are some of the more important things we learned from those friends who have been here for a couple of hurricane seasons:
- We will have more storms pass to the north or south of us than we will have come directly to St. Thomas.
- We will still have to prepare for those storms, but won’t have to leave the island.
- If a storm passes by south of St. Thomas, we stay on our mooring, because this bay is protected from the south, while Long Bay is open to nasty swells.
- If it passes to the north we will move to Long Bay and put two anchors out, because Long Bay is protected from the north, while Elephant Bay, where we are moored, is open to nasty swells.
- In either case, we make sure we have food, batteries, and water aboard; clear the decks; prepare extra lines; and get the floodlight and other gear where it can be quickly grabbed.
Here are things we learned:
- Some guy in San Juan, probably a Coast Guard guy, will X-something the port of Charlotte Amalie. That means the port is still open, but only to ships who can get under way in an hour if necessary. Cruise ships cannot do that because it’s against their code to leave thousands of passengers stranded, so they will not enter a port that has been X’d out. I didn’t know that Monday morning and took the safari bus to work to find no ship at WICO. Ran errands and came home.
- Many boats on moorings or at anchor in Long Bay leave that bay when storms pass to the south. That makes sense – see that third bullet in the list above. A lot of them go into Crown Bay Marina. Early on Monday, EW was surprised to see many of the tourist boats, such as the three pirate ships, queuing up to enter Crown Bay. They were going in to tie up for the storm.
- Living aboard in Maine and dealing with northeasters has aptly prepared us to enter “storm mode” here in St. Thomas. We did just fine.
Here’s something that is very different than what we dealt with in Maine: A direct hit from a hurricane is inherently more dangerous than our time on the dock in the winter, and we have more friends to worry about down here and more time to worry about them.
In Maine, northeasters come with less warning, and we don’t feel guilty or anxious if it by-passes the coast and hits inland towns. If you live in Maine, you will get northeasters. Deal with it. It’s easier to deal with in a home than on a boat, I had no problem wishing a storm would move away from us and therefore toward friends and family elsewhere in Maine. They knew how to handle it and their abodes weren’t floating.
In the Caribbean, Facebook was rife with comments by sailors from Grenada to Bequia, from St. Lucia to the USVI. None of us wanted a direct hit, but all of us worried about our sailing buddies and friends on shore in the other islands. If it turns north to miss Grenada that’s good. If it devastates Guadeloupe and Martinique that’s bad. I didn’t want to meet hurricane Chantal here in St. Thomas, but didn’t want Brittany, Peter, Lynn, Debbie, Dingis, or other friends to meet her at full force either.
In the end, Jeff Masters was right. Chantal was marching along too fast to form into a hurricane. As I said Wednesday morning on Facebook:
- Chantal power walked her way through the the Eastern Caribbean, expending most of her energy in moving forward, and she forgot to turn north soon enough to affect us. We prepared the boat for sustained winds of 35 mph and gusts of 45. I don't think the winds got to 30. Good deal.
We readied La Luna, then met Chris and Frank, EW’s co-workers, and helped them tie up the two Marriott ferries at Crown Bay. And then, we joined Chris for dinner at Tickles. Afterward. we slept through the night, and didn’t even get the massive rain they warned us about. EW has gone to work. I don’t have to because the X’d out port resulted in a second cruise ship cancellation. So I will write this post, sew, and restore stuff to the deck with the wind dies down.
We have no regrets about doing more than turned out to be necessary. That is the price we agreed to pay when we decided to stay here this season. I have asked to be included in an email list that will let us know when the port has been X’d out. I’ll continue to scour various Internet weather sites when a storm is brewing and we’ll continue to make sure La Luna and we are safe.
I will, however leave MSNBC.com off my resource list after this ridiculous “news” post yesterday afternoon.
This is a stupid headline. The article has no news and, when posted, Chantal hadn't made landfall in the Caribbean. Hard to "wreak havoc" before you arrive.
Not yet a hurricane, but Chantal still wreaks havoc in Caribbean
Ho / AFP - Getty Images
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration satellite image from Monday shows Tropical Storm Chantal off the coast of Brazil.
By Gillian Spear, NBC News
Fast-moving Tropical Storm Chantal raced toward the small islands of the Lesser Antilles on Tuesday, with residents of St. Lucia shuttering schools and preparing to close the island's two airports as it neared.
The storm was centered about 45 miles north-northwest of Barbados around 8 a.m. EDT Tuesday, the U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami said. The storm had maximum sustained winds near 50 mph, and was moving west-northwest at 26 mph.
Tropical storm warnings are now also in effect for Puerto Rico, where the storm is predicted to hit late Tuesday night.
The storm may grow to hurricane strength when it reaches the island of Hispaniola, consisting of the Dominican Republic and Haiti, on Wednesday, according to the Hurricane Center.
Residents of the southeastern United States will have to pay attention to the storm, too, as current forecasts predict the storm moving north towards the Florida coast early next week.
However, current weather conditions in addition to the storm's predicted contact with land in the Caribbean, could slow Chantal before it hits the U.S. coast, the Weather Channel reports.
Chantal is the first storm of what is expected to be a busy hurricane season, which begins June 1st and lasts through the end of November.
I sincerely hope that Chantal wreaks no havoc in Hispaniola, Cuba, or Florida, either. Keep moving forward, girl. Walk that mad off!
This is the 600th Blog Post since I started Harts At Sea in February of 2008. I started a blog because emailing friends and family just didn’t do it for me, and because I was learning about social media and dear friend Lynnelle Wilson told me I should blog.
So I did.
My first blog was a succinct introduction:
Living Aboard a Sailboat in Maine – 2/16/2008
In May of 2002, my husband and I -- and our black lab -- moved aboard our 47 foot Cheoy Lee sailboat. We had sold our home in March, after an amazing home and yard sale; moved to a furnished rental that was closer to the boat; and got her ready for habitation. We have lived aboard (year round) in Maine since that time, with the exception of one hard year on the hard while we re-caulked the teak deck and had other repairs done.
As that last sentence implies, living "on the hard" has been the most challenging year so far in our life with La Luna. We truly enjoy the life aboard and have never regretted the move. In this blog I plan to share some of the experiences of the past few years as well as current events aboard. This is my first step into blogging and is done in anticipation of perhaps creating a blog for my business, Hire Well. In the meantime. If you like sailing, dream of taking your boat to distant shores, and live aboard or wonder what it is like to do so -- then I hope to write something here that will be of interest to you.
First, a brief bio: I was born in Maine, graduated from U Maine Orono, and have worked here since. I was raised inland and did not sail on the ocean until I met the man who became my husband. On our third date, Stew looked deep into my eyes and said, "I sail and all of my friends sail". Having already decided that this was the man I wanted to spend my life with, I replied, "I'm sure I can learn." It wasn't easy, and I never intended to sell most of our land possessions and move aboard nearly 20 years later. It has been a wonderful journey and we are currently planning our next journey when La Luna slips her lines and heads across the Atlantic for the beginning of our world cruise.
The photo is S/V La Luna under sail in Quahog Bay in Harpswell, Maine. It was taken by Jack Nordby, a photographer, sailor, and pilot from Maine.
That’s it. Just 360 words, not much in the way of entertainment or humor, and no indication that Stew would “become” the Topic known as EW. However, I made it clear that our goal was not simply living on the dock in Maine. The name of the blog was “The Harts at Sea” for a reason.
In “honor” of reaching 600 posts, here are my favorite posts from the few I wrote during my first year as a blogger:
Winter Dangers When Living Aboard a Sailboat in Maine – 3/1/2008
This week, while getting aboard with two bags of laundry (admittedly not the safest procedure) I fell. It happened quickly -- and the only thing that went through my mind was to "Stay out of the water!"
We have a set of plastic dock stairs, three steps high with a metal railing. Right now I love that metal railing! I climbed the steps and opened the shrink wrap door and one of the bags caught on the door jam, pulling me up short. I tugged to get free and hit my head on the top of the door frame, bounced off and hit the step railing with my back and bounced off that and slid down the steps to the dock. Both bags of laundry and my bruised body all successfully stayed out of the water. The steps are screwed to the dock for safety and while the force of my fall did pull up some screws, others held and kept me from falling backwards into a very cold ocean.
This is only the second time in 5 years that I've had a close call. During a storm in our first winter aboard, Stew and I were getting off the boat to check lines when I fell between the boat and the dock. That of course can be extremely dangerous during any time of year as you don't want to be a bumper between the dock and (in our case) a 19 ton boat. I didn't fall completely into the water, but ended up with my arms on the dock and my legs in the water. I immediately began to seek a purchase for my legs in order to lever myself onto the dock, and I asked Stew to stand back to see whether I could save myself if necessary. He was not amused, shouted at expletive and hauled me onto the dock. I'm sure I would have felt the same way from his vantage point, but I did discover how the docks were constructed and how I may be able to use the bottom crosspiece to get back aboard if need be.
Falling into the water in winter is probably one of our biggest concerns. We wear cleats on icy days, use a buddy system in storms and generally try to be careful and aware of our situation. When we have landlubber guests who stay late into the evening, we walk them back to safety on shore. This week's fall did serve to remind me that our lifestyle does have risks -- even for those of us who are old hands at living aboard.
Good-by to Jake, Sailing Dog
Our beloved dog, Jake, was put to rest one week after our return. He was twelve; he was less active during our trip and it was apparent that this would be his last sailing vacation. The effort to get from dinghy to boat was simply too hard and he no longer easily tolerated the heeling of the boat on brisk sails.
Three vet visits in a week confirmed canine bone cancer -- a death sentence. Stew had to make the final call as I was unable to do so. Knowing that this was the right choice for Jake did not make it an easy choice for us.
September 9 was the end of summer for us. We have wonderful memories of Jake on the boat, in the dinghy, and on many beaches in Maine. He was just over 12 years old and still full of love with an appetite as big as the world. Prior to the final visit to the vet Stew stopped at Reds Dairy Bar and presented Jake with a large dish of soft serve. Then, our long time veterinarian, Linda Bond, and four other vets and techs who knew Jake joined us in saying good-by and in giving him hugs and dog cookies. He went peacefully and with much love.
Jake was our friend and companion, our mascot, and just the best dog. Jake was the trainer’s “teacher’s pet” in obedience school, he was the favorite dog on the FedEx driver’s route, and he was the greatest walking buddy in the world. He loved his family, the vet, the kennel, power boats, kids, babies, belly rubs, going to work, the Great Island Boatyard crew, cookies, and “the big munch” – not necessarily in that order. He took care of his family, welcomed visitors, enjoyed new adventures and respected tradition. He repelled possible borders at sea, kept an eye out for seals and whales, assisted on the foredeck, and “vacuumed” the galley and dining area. He made us smile, gave us comfort when we were sad or ill, and frequently made us laugh out loud. He gave lots of wet kisses, painless nose nibbles, and unconditional love to all. When Jake came into our lives as a young adult dog, he just wanted a loving home. We did our best to provide that. He did his best always. We will miss him.
Stormy Winter Day at the Dock – 12/21/2008
We are having our first major North Easter here in 2008/09 winter. It is 6:07 with high tide expected at 6:46. This will be a higher than normal tide with a surge; the 30 knots of winds mean it's bouncy out there and northeast winds blow the boat away from the dock, stretching the lines. I get nervous getting on and off and we will change the lines a bit during the next few days. We don't have to be this far off the dock. You landlubbers do not want to see the chasm we negotiate from boat to steps.
We planned for today, shopped yesterday, will do laundry on Monday. Stew ventured out for the paper and we have stayed in and kept warm. Our nearest neighbors are monitoring a radio channel with us. If anyone has a problem, we can get some help quickly. We love our new neighbors . John and Dora are newbies at this living aboard thing but they are game, learn quickly, and are great sports. Life is still good on the water. The photo is taken from our door. The lights are the Christmas decorations on Far Horizons. The white specks are blowing snow. You can't see the white caps rolling in from the river.
Exploring Home Before We Sail the World - 1/4/2009
We read a lot of sailing books and subscribe to a number of cruising magazines. While crossing oceans is what motivates Stew, I am eager to explore new areas and meet interesting people. This morning I was reminded that Maine is indeed a delight and that interesting people can be found anywhere.
One of our propane tanks was empty and Stew asked me to go with him to get it refilled, so I would know the drill in the future. He told me about the guy who usually filled the tank. "He attended some training program for doing this safely and is very proud," said Stew. "He always gives me a little lecture on safe transport." Sure enough, we pulled in to the local U-Haul, parked by the fill tank, and in just a few seconds a young Asian man, with very baggy jeans and a slow shambling gait, walked over to our car. He spoke with a slight accent,and while he didn't recognize Stew, he did recognize the tank. (Really, he knew our tank!)
He examined it carefully then quickly and efficiently refilled it. I talked with him a bit and found that this is a weekend job. He has another part time job in the area and he is a full time student at a local college. With all of that going on, this young man was very conscientious as he filled the tank. He had obviously taken his training to heart and was proud of the responsibility that he had been given. When he handed the tank to Stew, he again admonished him to keep it upright and not to smoke while the tank was in the car. For some reason, he touched me. Nice kid, working hard to move ahead. When we finally take off to sail the world, I am sure I will be touched by many people.In the meantime, I want to remember to notice the people here in Maine who help to create this interesting community. Not all discoveries occur thousands of miles from home.
Hmmmm. Guess I knew something back then, after all.