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October 2011

Brownies Buses and Babies

P8190003When EW led us on a hike to Upper Concord Falls recently, we were a party of ten cruisers who met at the bus terminal to take the Number Five bus to the Concord Falls road.  In Grenada, the bus system has licensed vans, seating 13-18 adult passengers. The vans try not to leave the terminal without a full load, and one driver had claimed our party as soon as a few folks had gathered at the terminal. Just as we were getting ready to load up, one of our group had to stop at a kiosk to pick up a snack for the trip, and we suggested that the bus driver might want to move on without us as he had 6 passengers on board waiting to go. He was adamant that our ten fares where his, so everyone waited.

P8190004I abhor making anyone wait for me; I have a physical reaction to it. But that morning, I was working on becoming a softer, gentler Barb,  I did pretty good at staying calm, cool, and collected – my mother’s phrase. One of our party, a person newer to the bus system in Grenada, suggested that this bus would be too crowded with 16 people and that we should wait for a less full bus. I laughed, and told him that they don’t leave the terminal until they’re full. “Prepare yourself for a crowded bus.” While we waited on the curb, a local taxi driver kept trying to get us to jump ship and I found his persistence annoying. I finally put up both hands in the “stop” position, smiled, and told him that we were not budging, and then I suggested we all wait in the bus to show our allegiance to the driver who had claimed us. I got in the front seat, next to the driver and EW sat on my left. (Traffic and vehicles are backwards to our norm in the US.) As I have learned to do, I turned and wished everyone aboard a good morning and also apologized for keeping them waiting. One young mother with a three year old sitting next to her nodded coolly to me. She wasn’t feeling her soft., but she had every right to be displeased that we cruisers were holding her up.

Our straggler arrived, and just as we were closing the door, another local gentleman clambered aboard, requiring the three- year-old to give up his big boy seat, causing him to cry. I turned and look sympathetically at mom and mouthed, “Can I give him a sweet?” She softened, and nodded. I opened my pack and removed one of the macaroon brownies I had made for the hike. Happy child, happy mom, the whole van softened.

I could be getting good at this softening thing.

Now, do you want to know how to make special brownies?

Just use any brownie mix – I purchase the ones that come in bags, not boxes, so I don’t have to re-package them when we get to the boat. Mix as directed, and spread about 2/3 of the mix in the bottom of the pan. Make a coconut macaroon mixture (see below) and dot the brownies with that, spreading lightly. Top with the remaining brownie mix (it probably won’t completely cover the macaroon mix) and bake as directed. Don’t overcook.

Macaroon Mixture:

2 egg whites

1/3 cup sugar

2 tablespoons flour

1 3/4 cups packaged flaked coconut

Beat egg whites until foamy. Gradually add sugar and beat until shiny, stiff peaks are formed.  Blend in flour and coconut.

The extra dishes you have to wash are worth it. Trust me. Oh! You can use a hand egg beater and achieve stiff peaks.


Boat Projects A Year of Cruising and Repairs

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Living on a cruising sailboat allows sailors to repair their boats in the most beautiful ports of the world.

In our second year of cruising, I’ve decided to document all boat “Projects” and “Another Projects”: those big and small projects; the cosmetic ones and the structural ones; the ones we plan and the ones we didn’t anticipate; the free ones, low-cost ones, and the budget busters. “We fix,” EW says, “It’s what we do.”

In 2010, we’d planned to leave Maine early in September, but due to unanticipated projects, we didn’t leave until October 18. Since many of our new items were still in boxes, from Maine to Nassau in the Bahamas we installed parts, waited for weather and delivered the boat. From Nassau to Grenada, we sailed, cruised, repaired, and sought parts. Although the second official year at sea starts on October 18, this account begins on October 1, 2011.

Year Two of The Harts At Sea, We Fix!

October 1

Dinghy Floor. The last two weeks have been dinghy focused. We have a dinghy for Maine sailors, it’s PVC, has an inflatable floor, and wooden transom, and is designed to be used a few months a year and bagged and stored over the winter. We’ve abused her by taking her to the Caribbean, and running her hard for the past year. Two weeks ago the transom started to separate from the hull on the starboard side. We quickly removed the motor and hoisted the dinghy to the deck and relied on the kindness of our neighbors and friends while EW worked up a repair. This will not be part of the official 2011 repair list, but I must share EW’s ingenuity. He purchased long bolts, big fender washers, nuts and 5200. He cleaned the dinghy, drilled holes through the transom and the rubber material that attaches the transom to the pontoon. Then he sealed it with 5200 and inserted the bolts with fender washers on both sides of the transom. Look Ma, No leaks! The whole process took less than 24 hours.

oct 1 Dinghy Patch EW Prep 9-30-2011 9-17-41 PMThat brings us to the first project of the 2011 Cruising Season. On the first of October the dinghy floor sprang a fast leak. How fast was it? We had to pump the floor before starting the engine, or every fifteen minutes if we were on a jaunt. So, we hoisted the motor, and EW set the dinghy floor on the aft deck and got out his repair kit. It was a windy day. He still has a basket of heavy windlass parts so he used that to hold the floor down and to press down on the patch once it was completed. First, I sprayed water on the floor and added a little soap, and the leak bubbled like a miniature fountain. EW cleaned an area around the hole to prepare for the patch. This is only the second hole in the floor, but the fourth time we’ve patched it. I patched the first hole twice with the glue provided by the manufacturer. EW patched it Oct 1 Dinghy Patch Glue 9-30-2011 9-19-57 PMthe third time using ADECO’s Adegrip for PVC. It’s a two part glue, must be mixed in a cup, and is supposed to have 72 hours to cure. We’ll give it 48 hours and it’ll have to be happy with that. We have places to go. Actually, in this heat, 48 hours seems to work. Oct 1 Dinghy Patch Retrieval 9-30-2011 9-31-27 PM

Type of Project: Another Project. Not anticipated.

Active Time: 1 hour total, including getting the tools together, putting them back, and the time I spent getting in the kayak to retrieve the patch kit tube after EW lost it overboard.

Cost:  $0.00  Used product we had on board.

Opportunity Cost: Couldn’t use the dinghy Saturday and Sunday. Stayed on the boat Saturday, and found a ride to the jam session on Sunday. Went without chocolate during craving on Saturday. That’s just as well.

 

 

Year to Date October 1, 2011

Projects

Another Projects

Total Time

Ownership

Items lost overboard

Total Cost

 

1

1 hour

EW

Patch kit tube (recovered)

$0.00

NOTE: In Harts At Sea, Projects are those we plan to do, Another Projects are unanticipated.


Softening in Grenada

064I’ve been attending an amazing yoga class on the lawn here in Grenada. Gabi, the instructor plans to open her own yoga center when she returns home to New Zealand, and right now we cruisers are able to take advantage of her skills and have an incredible yoga experience. Throughout the sessions, she gently reminds us to “Soften your shoulders”, and other body parts. It took me a couple of weeks to understand “soften”, now I’m trying to embrace it throughout my day.

I’ve always hated to be told to “Relax,” but I accept that I need to soften my edges, my responses, my automatic reactions. During a recent yoga practice, Gabi had us think of something about ourselves we wanted to change and to repeat it, in a positive manner, three times to ourselves. “I am softening. I am softening. I am softening.”  Later that day,  I had the opportunity to work on softening my inner voice, and my presentation to the world.

EW had arranged a hike to Concord Falls – the easy way. We first visited this beautiful waterfall and pool on the six hour hike over the mountains a few weeks ago. On that first trip to the falls, we hiked out a shorter trail that ended at the more accessible Lower Concord Falls, right near a road with tourist shops and a bar. After a number of well deserved beers, we arranged for a taxi to take us back to the Port Louis Marina. For our more recent visit, we took a bus from the terminal in St. George’s and walked up the road to the first falls before setting out on the 45 minute hike along the trail.

Now there are steep roads in Maine, but they’re nothing compared to the steep mountain roads and driveways in the Caribbean. After all, here they don’t have to worry about ice and snow, just good brakes, a working clutch, and a loud horn. (We trudged, spreading out in groups of two and three with EW striking on ahead. EW likes going up and when he goes, he keeps going. We found him waiting for us in the shade by a bridge, where we all regrouped, rested, and went on again, grouping together in twos and threes.  Shortly afterward we realized that the group had grown by one. W,id pronounced Wade), a local young man, wanted to accompany us as our guide. EW and I didn’t want a guide because we knew where we were going, and didn’t want to pay anyone we didn’t need. W’id smiled and stuck with the group.

Cruisers are independent types, or we wouldn’t be cruisers, and that is more evident when we run in packs, as keeping cruisers moving in the same direction – figuratively and literally --  is like herding cats. Some of us were adamant that we didn’t want a guide tagging along. Others of us asked W’id a lot of questions about the area, the falls, the farms, and the produce. I realized we would have a problem ditching W’id when I saw that some in our party were chewing on sugar cane he’d cut for them, and that EW was carrying a cocoa pod, and offering the seeds to all of us. Even so, more than one of us told W’id we weren’t going to pay him because we wanted to be fair in case he could get another group to lead that day. However, we were the only group walking to the upper falls, W’id stayed, and I lost my soft. Frankly, I’m often at a loss understanding how to politely refuse help or how to pay/tip when I want assistance here. We are guests in their country and, like much of the world, they are in a recession and have high unemployment. Additionally, they haven’t fully recovered from Hurricane Ivan. While there are educated professionals, entrepreneurs, and well-employed service providers in this country, there are others who live from week to week.  This man was not begging, he was offering a service. Like the persistent bus drivers, he didn’t listen to our first, second, or third polite rejections. It’s a free country and we couldn’t prevent him from walking with us, and some of our party had implied acceptance by engaging him along the trail. W’id stayed and my soft disappeared. We finally reached the top of the road at the lower falls, where one can find gift shops, juice, beer, and an impressive falls and pool. To us, that’s the falls for cruise ship passengers and resort tourists. It is the easy falls, and beneath our notice. We are cruising sailors and we were heading to the upper falls, with W’id.

Butl-FarmerEW and I stewed. (That’s an intentional pun.) EW was less pleased than I was that a guide had joined us, and I picked up on his displeasure, which fed my displeasure. Soft just wasn’t happening. In the meantime, one of our party was feeling uncomfortable that all of the local men we met were carrying machetes. “I just feel under-armed,” he said. “Doesn’t it bother you that everyone has a weapon but us?” That didn’t bother me at all. There were tilled fields here. The men with machetes were carrying large feed bags filled with produce and nuts. “Those aren’t weapons,” I said. “There tools. Just imagine they are carrying hoes. It’ll make you feel better.” I had little effect, and he lost a bit of his “soft”, too. Though later, he realized that these farmers presented no threat and all of them offered us a pleasant good morning. Butl-FarmPlot

So here we were, leading a group of cruisers through a beautiful section of Grenada, past trees with papaya, nutmeg, and avocados, around fields of carrots and thyme; and over sweet brooks populated with small fish – and there were a few of us who just weren’t in the moment. I stewed, and then, I heard myself chanting at yoga that morning, “I am softening. I am softening.”  I took a deep,cleansing breath, I softened my shoulders, I looked around at that beautiful day, and I smiled at W’id, and welcomed him. Dora was standing nearby and later said that she saw the moment that I got it. The day had been perfect, now I recognized its perfection and fully embraced the experience. W’id helped some of us over rocks, and pointed out easier ways across the streams. Once we had reached the first brook, he removed his high top sneakers, hid them in the tall grass, and continued the rest of the way barefooted. (One of our party, from Australia, was barefoot the whole day. How do they do that?)

W’id lived along the road we had hiked to get to the lower falls. He was a guide and a farmer and he told us that the overgrown road at the start of the trail had been a donkey cart track, used to cart nutmegs to the main road, before Hurricane Ivan wiped out 90% of the nutmeg trees. Hundreds of jobs were lost and it’ll take the industry over 20 years to recover. Butl-PoolAt the pool, W’id jumped in with us and enjoyed the refreshing water. He helped some of us beat the current and get closer to the falls, and we shared our lunch with him. None of us suffered from hunger. It was a wonderful day with old and Butl-Arrived (1)new friends, cool water, and a stunning falls surrounded by tropical foliage. When we were ready to head back to civilization, W’id led the way for the stragglers and when one of us slipped on a boulder and fell between two stones in the water, he was the first at the rescue. He pulled her quickly, and efficiently straight back so that her foot was not caught between the rocks. She was bruised, but fine – thanks to W’id.

Butl-HillsideBack at the tourist falls, we enjoyed a cold drink from the vendors, and someone purchased one for W’id. Most of us tipped him. Still he continued down the road with us, picking a bouquet of healing herbs and lemon grass which he gifted to the woman who fell, and hailing a bus to take us back to the terminal. I was delighted to have met W’id. I wish him well and I hope some of those cruise ship passengers hire him to guide them to the real falls – after we’ve left the area. Right now, we enjoy thinking of the Upper Concord Falls as the sailors’ falls, and W’id as the sailors’ guide.

As for me, I am softening. I am softening.

 

NOTE: Special thanks to Carl from S/V Sanctuary, who provided these beautiful photos from our hike. Gabi provided the yoga shot of us in the Tree Pose under a banyan tree. Also many thanks to Alice from S/V Ocean Star who gifted us their old Olympus camera. I’ll be able to take photos, and am researching our next camera – to be purchased in St. Thomas or Puerto Rico this winter.