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May 2011

Oh! The Places You'll Go and the Boats You'll See

Maltese Falcon 5-5-2011 10-03-36 AMMaltese Falcon and Neighbors 5-5-2011 10-07-38 AM


When EW first visited Antigua, he helped friends sail across the Atlantic from the Canary Islands, and as they neared English Harbor he saw a strange boat in the distance. “We were sailing into English Harbor and she was sailing out. We watched them tack, there was some kind of race starting. It is very nimble for a boat this size -- she tacked as quickly and easily as a dinghy.”

When he returned to Maine, he learned more about the boat. According to Wikipedia, EW’s right about the easeMaltese Falcon Masts from Stern 5-5-2011 11-10-58 AM of the rig: “It was built after the dynaship concept, a 1960s invention of the German hydraulics engineer Wilhelm Prölss, which was intended to operate commercial freight sailing ships with as few crew as possible. The ship has fifteen square sails (five per mast), stored inside the mast; they can fully unfurl into tracks along the yards in six minutes.”

As we sailed into English Harbor, EW spotted the masts of the Maltese Falcon looming over the entry of Falmouth Harbor and was delighted to able to show me the boat (from a distance, of course). We hiked over to Falmouth Harbor and were able to get onto the dock for a closer view. EW wanted me to act cool – as if we belonged there – and at first told me not to take any photos, but The Maltese Falcon was docked right across from Vesper, a boat that heads to Portland Yacht Services in Maine soon and we had a reason to be on the dock after all. Out came the camera and I took a couple of shots – from the dock: masts and her stern.


Maltese Falcon Stern 5-5-2011 11-07-37 AM



An article on Yacht Pals has views of the boat that I’ll never see.

Fun facts from that article:

    • This 289 foot yacht with a 42 foot beam only carries 12 passengers – and 16 crew.
    • It has two tenders and a submarine. Really.
    • As of 2009 it was owned by a woman. Now that’s cool.



We were sorry to miss the Classic Boat Regatta, but were delighted to dinghy around the harbor when we first arrived to view the boats still moored here. One was Elena of London.  I do not have the words to describe this boat.

Elena Raising the dinghy as they head out 5-5-2011 5-49-06 PM As we were settling into the cockpit with sundowners the other night, we heard one long blast of a ship’s horn followed by many shorter blasts from other horns, then the boom of a cannon. Elena of London had hauled in her lines and was leaving English Harbor. I ran for our camera and EW grabbed our safety horns. First, he tooted on the manual one – an anemic sounding effort. As Elena motored past, her crew was raising the dingy just off our stern when EW found his voice with the air horn, 15 feet behind me. I’m thankful that I didn’t fall into the water, nor did I utter an expletive, but I did jump about a foot off deck and exclaim, “Jeesum Crow!”  The young crew members on Elena laughed long and hard as I took a bow. That’s a pretty good send off, isn’t it?


Elena of London Stern Quarter 5-5-2011 5-50-20 PM Elena of London English Harbor 5-5-2011 5-49-36 PM

Mangos, Cactus, and Feet


Once we had purchased our fish, we left it stored on ice while we enjoyed the rest of the market in St. John’s. I wanted to purchase as much local produce as possible, EW wanted oranges (not a local produce) and Amy was thoroughly enjoying her first day in the sun. My favorite vendors were along the street, charming women with covered tables and the willingness to share their knowledge and their smiles.

Produce Lady with Scale, St. Johns Antigua 4-23-2011 8-49-53 AM We purchased acorn squash, peppers and “tea” from this lady. Note the old scale she uses to weigh the produce.

The “tea” was a beautiful bouquet of greens tied with a lemon grass bow. I thought it was a green bouquet for the table, but another customer, a charming senior lady shopping for Easter told me, “That’s for the tea.”

Amy and I perked up at that. “Yes,” she said, “you crush the leaves and make tea.” There were at least 5 different plants in the bouquet and lemon grass is the only one I recognized. “It’s good for you,” she said. The owner of the stand agreed.

We conferred. EW wanted no part of it. “It seems like a lot – I’m afraid it won’t keep,” I said.

“You dry it.” I was told. “Take the leaves from the bottom of the stems, up. Crush them and steep in boiled water. It’s good for you.” I did wonder what she thought ailed me, but she was so nice and we were taking up space at the stand – I bought the bouquet.  For a week it lived in the cockpit near the furling winches. EW wasn’t thrilled, but I couldn’t wash the bouquet and didn’t want local bugs down below. Lying in the sun under the dodger, the bouquet dried beautifully within a week. During that time, neither Amy nor I made tea. We both wanted black tea for breakfast and rum later in the day, and didn’t worry about what was good for us.

Tea 5-4-2011 7-52-50 AM This week, I decided to make sun tea with my bouquet. I chose a number of the various leaves and a few blades of lemon grass, crushed them by hand and placed them in a large peanut better jar filled with water. Hours later, I strained the tea and placed the jar in the fridge. It’s delicious. And it’s good for me. I drink some every day.

Now that the bouquet is dried I’ve put it in the veggie hammock in the galley. I’m planning on digging up another large peanut butter jar so that I can have one jar for steeping while the other is cooling. Produce Market Sun Tea is a new favorite drink for me  -- and it’s good for me.


Papaya from St Johns Antigua 4-26-2011 11-19-07 AM 

You’re wondering about the cactus and feet aren’t you? First I’ll tease you with a photo Amy took at the market. While I focused on the vendors and their produce, Amy enjoyed the colors and people. I had noticed and one lady’s sandals and found out later that  Amy had captured them. IMG_0085

Aren’t they great? I’m not a shoe person, really – and not one at all at sea – but these sandals delighted me. I’d love a pair in teal!

Inside the pavilion are larger stands that carry imported and local produce. As EW walked in, a young woman offered to help him. He didn’t realize that she worked for the stall on the right side of the door. He’d talk with her, and then look at produce on the left side. “You look over here,” she said. “I have that here.” Once he was no longer looking to the dark side, she helped him find a nice big white grapefruit – not an orange, but it cured his craving.

EW and his Grapefruit 4-23-2011 9-58-41 AM



She also had  cut water melon for sale and Amy and I were ready for a treat. At our request the vendor found just the right cut quarter of a water melon and she sliced it into three easy to consume pieces for us. We ate them in the shade at the bus depot, watching some gentlemen play dominoes as we relaxed.

Our final mission was tomatoes. EW and I love fresh tomatoes and have enjoyed them all winter as we’ve traveled. One lady had three kinds of tomatoes on display on the steps of the pavilion and I opted to purchase from her. She carefully selected perfect tomatoes that I was able to use for meals and lunches for the next few days.


Next to the tomato lady, was a table filled with green mangoes, papaya, and paddle cactus. Mangoes, Cactus, Papayas St. John Antigua 4-23-2011 9-55-43 AM


I love this photo: Mangos, Cactus and Feet.


They were removing the spines from the cactus, cutting it up and putting it in plastic bags for sale. We stopped to buy mangos and tomatoes and to chat about cactus. I have a wonderful cook book: Mexico the Vegetarian Table by Victoria Wise. EW and I’ve enjoyed the food I’ve prepared from the book and the descriptions and photos encourage me to try new things. Victoria offers a Cactus Paddle Salad.  Here is part of her introduction:

“… The vendor sat on a portable stool with a portable table propped in front of him. His knife almost purred as he deftly set about cleaning and cutting nopales cactus paddles.”

Preparing the Cactus St. Johns Antigua 4-23-2011 9-52-59 AM



Here, the lady on the left is removing the spines, then the lady on the right slices the paddles into 1/4 inch strips and packs them into a bag. Since EW will try anything, I purchased a 1/2 bag of cactus paddles for cactus paddle salad to go with our red snapper.

EW and I enjoyed it very much and I am allowed to make it again. There is a lot of rinsing with Cactus Paddle Salad, first you drop the cactus strips into boiling water and simmer until tender. Then you, “drain the strips, rinse with cool water to wash away the sticky juices, and shake to dry slightly. I got hung up on the rinsing thing. To do it correctly, you need to use a lot of water. I rinsed a while and stopped and, well, the resulting cactus salad tasted fine, but was a bit … snotty. There’s no other way to describe it. The syrup dripped from serving spoon and fork and the oozed over the plate onto the rest of the meal. I’d make it again – but only if I knew that we had plenty of water and were able to fill the tanks soon. Cactus Paddle Salad may have to wait until we have a water maker.

Back aboard La Luna, we raised the anchor and sailed to Five Islands, a lovely harbor with numerous anchorages. Amy manned the helm. She also cooked the fish. She’s an excellent guest and is welcome anytime.

It was a great day at sea and ashore. We love Antigua.

Amy at the Wheel 4-23-2011 11-55-37 AM

Cruise Mode in Antigua or, We Be Cruisin'


IMG_0142 We landed in Antigua on April 20th and can legally stay for 30 days without checking in with Immigration again. Thirty days is not long enough for Antigua, but we’ll be back for the Classic Boat Regatta next year so I’m OK with moving on when the time comes. In the meantime, I’m lovin’ Antigua. A Active Volcano Monserrat 4-21-2011 11-58-18 AM

Early in the week we had a great view of Monserrat and her active volcano. We plan to visit there, as well.

This is cruising at it’s finest: we aren’t in a hurry to move on, it’s easy to sail from harbor to harbor and there's much to see on shore. Amy, our first cruising guest since we left Maine, arrived here on the 22nd. EW and I had checked into the country at Jolly Harbor on Antigua’s western coast, and had a delightful day sail to St. John’s on the day Amy arrived.

Jolly Harbor is a marine/resort town created twenty-some years ago. They cater to sail and power cruising yachts, have a Budget Marine store, a shopping and restaurant plaza, supermarket, an apparently dead casino, and a lot of real estate offices selling condos and homes on lots in the immediate area. It’s not our ideal harbor, but it’s convenient, clean, and welcoming. They have two excellent dinghy docks. 

According to Wikipedia:

St. John's is one of the most developed and cosmopolitan municipalities in the Lesser Antilles. The city is famous for its various shopping malls as well as boutiques throughout the city, selling designer jewelry and haute-couture clothing. There are also many independent, locally-run establishments, selling a variety of fashions.

St. John's attracts tourists from the many exclusive resorts on the island and from the cruise ships which dock in its harbor at Heritage Quay and Redcliffe Quay several times a week.

The investment banking industry has a strong presence in the city. Many major world financial institutions have offices in St. John's.

There is a fresh produce, meat and fish market on the southwestern edge of the city where fresh produce, meats and fresh fish are sold daily.

We didn’t check out the shopping malls or boutiques of St. John’s. The industrial working harbor is welcoming to cruise ships, but is not heavily frequented by or convenient for cruising sailors. The assigned dinghy dock in St. John’s was so high off the water that Amy and I used the transom of the old fishing boat  as a step. St John’s was a convenient harbor for the airport and I’d heard about the Saturday market, so the three of us headed back to the dinghy dock Saturday morning just after a cruise ship had arrived.

 Doors in St. John Antigua 4-23-2011 9-40-56 AM

We wanted produce for a few days, fish for supper and the West Indian market experience – and we achieved all goals. The market starts next to a rather strange statue of Vere Cornwall Bird, Father of Antigua. IMG_0076 This statue was erected by people who like this guy. With friends like those … 

Back to the market, individuals have stalls of mostly produce, IMG_0079and some crafts and odds and ends, stretching for blocks down both sides of the street. The bus terminal and two large buildings, one for meat and one for fish, dominate one side of the street, while a covered craft and produce market sits on the other side. Locals shop here, folks who rent villas or condos shop here, the few cruisers in St. John’s shop here. Folks on cruise ships stay near the duty free shops. “You want to buy jewelry?” 

Our first stop was the fish market, though we didn’t want to  actually purchase the fish until later. We entered a big open room, with a large office behind a window on one side and a smaller space similar to a ticket office  on the other. No fish. The large “office” sold fishing gear, the smaller office took your money for gear or fish. Fish Shop St Johns Antigua 4-23-2011 9-13-06 AM Fish was located down the hall and around the corner. Since this was the Saturday before Easter and both Sunday and Easter Monday are holidays in Antigua, a lot of locals were shopping before preparing holiday meals. When we told the lady at the fish counter we had more shopping to do prior to actually buying fish, she suggested we choose it and pay for it while they had some in stock. So Amy picked two red snapper and the adventure began.


Here’s how you buy fish and fishing gear at the market in St. John.

Fish Shop 2 St. Johns Antigua 4-23-2011 9-16-48 AM

1. Choose your fish. They weigh it for you and set it aside. The lady tears off a tiny little piece of paper, a ragged tear resulting in an irregular circle of paper about the size of an Antiguan dollar coin. (The size of a US half dollar.) EW took the tiny little piece of paper and was told to “Pay out there, around that way.”

Side Note: This is how Antiguans give directions. Make sure you are looking at them as “that way” is punctuated by a vague arm wave to the left or right. That’s all you get.

2. Back in the big entry room, EW remembered that he needed heavier sinkers and hooks as I’m going to make new lures for him. (We may purchase fish occasionally but we have not given up on the dream of catching our own.) He went up to the lady in the “store” behind the glass wall and pointed to the various items just as we used to point at candy in glass jars when we were kids. She in turn, took the tiny little piece of paper from him and added the amount for the gear to it.

3. Tiny little piece of paper in hand, EW stood in line at the ticket office near the door behind 5 or 6 local folk, men buying gear and women purchasing fish for Easter Sunday and Monday. All were clutching tiny little pieces of paper; the line moved slowly. When EW arrived at the window, he handed his tiny little piece of paper to that lady, who made two receipts, one for the gear and one for the fish. This all took some time, as first she carefully entered the purchases into the appropriate computer program – one for fish and one for gear, then just as carefully hand wrote the two receipts. As EW said when he described this to us later, “She had a little receipt book that was in triplicate I think. Not sure why she didn’t print anything from the computer.”

4. Armed with the two receipts, (and giggling) we returned to the gear counter and got the small paper packet of sinkers and hooks.

5. Then we went back to the fish market to have our name put on the fish we would pick up on the way back to the boat.

We fell in love with Antigua and we still hadn’t gotten any produce! Tune in next time for Mangos. Cactus and Feet.


Funny You Should Ask - A Tuesday Relationship Post from BarbAtSea



Here’s LaLuna, anchored in Five Islands, Antigua last week. Yesterday we sailed to English Harbor and plan to stay here on anchor for at least a week.

P4240039It’s a charming, well-protected harbor with a short ride to the dinghy dock and excellent wifi in the anchorage. These things make me very happy. The wifi isn’t free – but it’s fairly priced and it’s fast.

I went ashore this morning to pay the environmental and port fees and met three lovely ladies from England. They flew here with their husbands who are participating in a “Shooting Match”. Somewhere on the island teams from England and many of the West Indian Islands (as the Brits say) are firing rifles at targets. Their wives – or these three, anyway – are touring and shopping and “We don’t tell them how much we spend, dear.”

When I told them we were here on a boat and had sailed down from Maine, they asked me some of the usual questions, and then one said, “You must get along well. What happens when you argue on board?” “Funny you should ask,” I said with a laugh. “We had a moment yesterday afternoon.” They all laughed. We did have a moment and I must admit it still rankled a bit until this morning, and it certainly felt last night as if the boat wasn’t big enough for the both of us. But right after the moment (or in the midst of the aftermath), we knew that we had a boat issue and we had to work together to fix it.

The topping lift – a line that extends from the end of the boom to the top of the mast – had somehow gotten tangled around a spreader when we furled the main yesterday. Someone had to go up the mast to the second spreader and that someone was me. So while each was justifiably angry with the other (joint fault here – I was not a wronged party), for the second time in a week I had to strap into the boatswain’s chair so EW could lift me up the mast – higher than I’ve ever been before.

We calmly got to work, both pleasant to each other, though I was certainly quieter than normal. He made perfectly sure I would be safe, gave me careful instructions and used the anchor windlass to lift me so high that I had to work my way around the radar dome and a Firdell Blipper. (The Firdell Blipper is a second radar reflector; EW says that we have two because he wants to make sure we are seen. I can get behind that.) Once at the level of the second spreader, I was able to reach out to the end of it and flick the topping lift off. Then EW lowered me slowly back to the deck and made us G & T's.

We still had some things to talk through, but really – how can you stay mad at someone while working together in these conditions? So, yep, we have challenges like any married couple. So far we appear to be resolving them just fine – with La Luna’s help. I may try to convey to her that next time she could choose an issue that doesn’t require I end up 40 feet above the deck.

Oh! Here’s progress for you – I wasn't scared spitless at this new height. I’m definitely getting better at it.  Next time I may look down or take in the view. 


John up La Luna's Mast



Yesterday was not a photo op so here is John from Great Island Boatyard, working on our mast before we left. Immediately above John is the radar dome and the white blob above that is the Firdell Blipper. (Love that name. I didn’t know I had a Firdell Blipper. Now I want to use it in conversation.)

John is at the first (lower) set of spreaders. I went higher this time.