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December 2013

A Ship's Horn to Beat All Ship's Horns

The Queen Mary 2 visited St. Thomas on the day after Christmas.

EW has no desire to ever go on a cruise ship, but I’d go on the QM 2 in a heartbeat.  She docked not far from us at the Crown Bay Cruise Ship Port – and she was beautiful.

“It’s probably just like any other cruise ship aboard.” Scoffed EW.

“I don’t think so! Look at her. She looks nothing like those giant shoe boxes with propellers.” As you can see, for someone who earns money because of cruse ship passengers, I have very little respect for the boats overall.

Later that day, EW had two passengers on Morning Star/Rudolf who had taken two cruises aboard the Queen Mary 2, one of which was a trans-Atlantic crossing. He learned that unlike the shoe-box cruise ships, the QM2 is a trans ocean liner, has much stronger construction, and the experience aboard is unlike that of the cruise ships we see more often.

I’ll tell you what’s different: The QM2 has a real ship’s horn and she knows how to use it. This is not the “If  You Wish Upon a Star”  tune played by  the Disney  ships. I was back on board when the Nieuw Amsterdam left the slip a half hour before the Queen Mary 2did. Once the Nieuw Amsterdam had backed into the channel, the QM2 offered a farewell salute that made our dishes rattle. You can here it on this video at about 17 seconds:


Now THAT’s a horn. While I watched with hands on ears, the QM2 gave the Nieuw Amsterdam three long blasts, which were returned by the departing vessel, whose own horn was no slouch.  They did this three times. I imagine the men or women at the horns had a good time.



Two ships passing in a port.

I had to transport EW from the ferry back home that evening, and told him all about the horns. He didn’t really believe the QM2 was that loud until he heard it. Like any good ship, she offered three shorter but equally as loud toots prior to exiting the slip.

She’s a big boat, and I imagine that the next time she visits the folks on a nearby trimaran may opt to move.


How close did she come to our friend’s trimaran?

That close:


The small boat on the left directed the pilot. From this position, the pilot ooched her stern around, and they steamed out of the harbor. No harm no foul.

Christmas Away Across the Sea


EW Aboard “Rudolf” on Christmas Morning.

Both EW and I had to work on Christmas, but we weren’t alone. With six cruise ships in town for the day, nearly everyone in the tourist industry worked. Christmas dinner at the Hart Abode was prepared by Master Chef Jeff, with excellent contributions from some of the others who had the day off.

EW and I got ready for work early, and while I read, EW decided to sing a song he’d been practicing … one of our favorite songs of the season: “How’d You Like to Spend Christmas on Christmas Island?”

Here’s a version I was able to record that morning. 

 EW Singing on Christmas Morning

Here are photos of the decorations aboard La Luna, to go with the video.


Stockings hug in the Main Salon – not on a coconut tree.










Photos of our “Mast Tree”, the decorations, and our angel.  She’s a tree-top angel sitting on a conch shell.

How appropriate.










As I took EW to work, I began to sing, “I saw three ships come sailing in on Christmas day in the morning.”


These three were joined by another at noon, and two more tied off at Crown Bay. The one on the right is anchored out; they use the life rafts as launches.


Here I am on the rum cart on Christmas.




This bit of Christmas whimsy is brought to you by our very talented cousin, Barb.

Christmas 2013 in St. Thomas




We are live-aboard sailors – no longer cruisers. We still live aboard La Luna, and we still love her, each other, and our life together. That’s the important stuff. 

We still don’t have to shovel snow, nor do we worry about power outages and ice storms for our sake – but we do send best wishes or warmth and safety back to our loved ones in the Northeast.

 As working live-aboard sailors, we no longer have the luxury of time …

  • Time to kick back in the cockpit to fully experience the sunset. Heck, we often aren’t home before sunset.
  • Time to plan projects and work on them one day after another until completion. Now, we tackle this part or that small project on our days off.
  • Time together. Remember when I was getting used to being with EW 24/7/365? I want that back. I miss him. We’re at the “How was your day, dear?” stage of existence.

Speaking of which – I was thinking this morning that we’re like the stereotypical 60’s urban couple. The kind where the wife takes the husband to catch the train to the city. She’s driving her station wagon and wearing her pajamas covered by her trench coat. Since we have one dinghy and EW needs to be at work around 8, two hours before I do, I take him to work. This morning I was freshly showered, but wearing a boater’s equivalent of a house dress, covered by a long-sleeved T-shirt and – let’s just say that if I had gotten into an accident, I wouldn’t have to worry whether I was wearing clean underwear.

My mother would kill me now.

But I digress.

  • Time to enjoy multiple cockpit and cruisers’ parties each week. Our social life will suffer a great deal, as cruising friends arrive in St. Thomas, we want to see everyone, but will arrive at most gatherings an hour later than others and our “live-aboard midnight” is much more strict than the proverbial “cruisers’ midnight. We set an alarm every night. It goes off at 6. AM.  Cruisers only wake up that early to start passages or go on fishing trips. This is just wrong.
  • Time to write and to play music. We are working on that. I’m planning easier meals, and after clean-up EW plays guitar while I write. Or that’s the plan. We are working on that.

Still, this live-aboard life certainly isn’t all bad. Did I mention that we don’t have to shovel snow and that in terms of ice we simply worry whether there are any cubes in the freezer?  Life is good in paradise.

Plus, there are perks of working and living aboard, and some of them we can share with our cruising friends.PC132056

St Thomas held their lighted boat parade over a week ago, and EW’s company made a last minute decision to join the festivities. EW had a hand in that, as the company had decided to put antlers and reindeer noses on the ferries, making one nose red for Rudolf. Heck, if they were going that far, why not add lights and join the parade?








 The company agreed, and said we could invite friends to join us. As you can imagine, EW and I are very good at that.  In the meantime, the company invited other employees and decided to send The Cat along and offer it as a paid trip. Suddenly, space became precious. We had invited 16 cruisers, friends, and family and all of them had accepted with glee, agreeing to bring their own libation, and an appetizer to share. A moving cruisers’ party! EW rapidly texted his manager, asking if we could take all of our 16, and he graciously agreed that we could fill “Rudolph” with only our friends. We had a great time.


Having participated in the lighted boat parade in Maine in years past – when it has been incredibly cold and windy – hosting one in 75 degree weather is a treat. Our crew came dressed for the holidays and good naturedly sang many, many, MANY choruses of “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer” all along the three full passes we made of the waterfront.

It was a great night. PC132022

Given my druthers, sure, I’d rather we didn’t have to stop cruising and work a bit – but that’s not just a First World problem, but a privileged, Caribbean Cruiser’s First World Problem.  We’ll be cruising again by May, and I have nothing to complain about.



Merry Christmas to you and yours.

May your New Year be filled with family, friends, fun, love, adventure, and prosperity …

and just enough First World problems to keep you grounded.







Barb Hart, One --  in her Leopard skin pill-box, Santa Hat. How cool is that?




About a Landlubbers Advice re: Galley Cooking.

Oh gee. Sometimes on-line media gets it wrong. Who knew?

Here’s the opening paragraph from a lengthy how-to article on All that was brought to our attention by one of the members of the Women Who Sail Facebook group.

The Galley Kitchen: Boat

Cooking while at sea is part of the adventure.

Prepare for your voyage as if you were camping in the woods: space is limited, as are fuel and refrigeration, so planning ahead is critical. In a galley kitchen, you will be lucky to get two burners on the stove, let alone an oven or a microwave. A tiny sink will give you barely enough room to wash a cup--large pots and pans will act as washbasins by themselves--so plan your menus accordingly.


Oh dear.

We were amused, but not impressed, and whoever wrote the article is spreading that ubiquitous urban legend that living aboard is like camping.

Now, to be fair, most of us have assumed that 1. He/She is not a sailor, but is married to one; 2. They have a small boat, with a challenging galley; 3. He/She is not a candidate for living aboard or long distance cruising.

However, the photo that accompanies the article shows a lovely galley, three burner stove, oven, counter space and what looks like a double sink. This is not camping.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. We are not camping in the woods. We are living on a sailboat – a rather spacious one.

The author did have some useful ideas – but the errors gave us pause, made us laugh, or just ticked us off.

    • Bring only the minimum of cooking equipment: 1 skillet, 1 pot or saucepan, cups, plates, bowls and silverware.

Yeah, right. I did purchase nesting pots at a boat show and never regretted giving up most of my beloved pots from home. I do regret not bringing more serving pieces for parties. I have three skillets, four pots, one Dutch oven, a pressure cooker, a lobster steamer, and a crockery bean pot.

Hey, I’m from Maine, I wouldn’t leave home without the lobster steamer and bean pot .

    • Only cook when the boat is docked or anchored--this includes grilling. There will still be some movement, but it should be more predictable.

Well, we cruisers do cook off shore. EW likes to eat every day. I like to keep EW happy. Now, in our small coastal 26-footer, we had a two burner kerosene stove, one small sink and an icebox. I rarely cooked underway, but managed to turn out meals aboard. Again, the main problem with the article is that the author assumes that all boating experiences are the same.

    • Knives are necessary for food prep, but can be a hazard if you leave them on the counter. Hang a magnetized strip for storing knives and put them away after each use.

EW and I believe that knives on vessels underway must be stored much more securely. However, comments on Facebook indicate that other live-aboards with many  passages and crossings under their keels have successfully used magnetic knife holders with no lost knives, fingers, or lives. Good to know. I’ll give the author this one.

    • Make a list with one dinner for each night you will be out. Choose simple one-dish meals if possible.
    • Plan to have sandwiches for lunch and hand-held items for breakfast: muffins, granola bars, or energy bars. Bring some eggs to scramble and serve in tortillas for breakfast, lunch or dinner.

OK, this is good advice for people underway. When preparing for a passage, I make three or four meals, package them in single serving vacuum bags, and freeze them. They are re-heated in boiling water; easy and delicious. At anchor, I have a list of easy meals and make sure that I have all the ingredients for three of them at any given time, but I also may make multi-pot, multi-course “normal” meals each week. This is my  home. Say it with me: We are NOT camping.

    • Don't rely on catching fish to eat. Consider fish a bonus meal or just replace one of your non-perishable meals.

TRUTH! Absolute truth. See Mr. Romance is Not a Hunter Gatherer. To be fair, EW has worked at his fishing skills and has caught some beautiful and tasty  fish since our first year at sea. So I still keep wasabi aboard, just in case, but I don’t plan fish meals underway, because he will  insist on eating every day whether or not he’s caught dinner.

There is a sidebar to the article with “Boating Menus”. Again, these are great menus for people living onshore and venturing out to sea only on the weekends. The day  I waste propane and steam the boat by boiling pork roast for an hour is the day I move to a condo. Think a cold day in H.E. double hockey sticks. However, the recipes look good and could be adapted for  those who actually live on a boat, or for knowledgeable coastal cruisers.

For helpful information about cooking in a galley – whether you are struggling with only a two-burner stove and an ice-box, or whether you have an oven, coffee-maker, blender, and micro-wave – I suggest you check out by  Carolyn Shearlock.

Carolyn has also published a cookbook that’s on my “want” list, appropriately  called The Boat Galley Cookbook.

Finally, my  current favorite galley cookbook was gifted to me by dear friends Ellen and Frank in 2004. “Cruising Cuisine” by Kay Pastorius. We’ve enjoyed many of her recipes and tips over and over again.

This is our galley.


This is our life. This boat is our home. We are not camping. Say it with me: We. Are. Not. Camping.

NOTE:  Thanks to all of you who knocked wood. The 2013 Atlantic hurricane season is over. We were very, very lucky.