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June 2015

Ravishing Is In the Eye of the Beholder

When two people put to sea for more than a few days, there's not a lot of time for sprucing up. If you've followed us for a while, some of this will be old, but I can't link to prior posts out here so you'll have to suffer while I bring the new folks up to speed.

First, let's lay some groundwork about me and EW. When we were dating, I began to suspect that he liked how I looked, regardless of how I actually looked that day. Suspicions were confirmed once we moved in together and prepared for a night out. When I met him in the living-room he smiled and said, with all sincerity , "You look wonderful!" I thanked him but couldn't leave it alone. "How do you know I look wonderful?" "You must, you took a long time to get ready." I decided to walk away from that conversation believing that EW loves my inner beauty and that it shines for him always. I can live with that.

The second story from our past occurred a few years later when we had a home we were remodeling and a small sailboat. It was autumn, we were dividing our time between laying S/V Sirius up for the season, and starting that winter's house projects. I had made an appointment with a salesperson from an area flooring store, who showed up as I was cleaning the boat and boxing up the left-over foodstuff. Let's just say I was dressed down. Way down. We discussed carpeting for the upstairs, and she promised to have an estimate ready later that week. On the appointed day I stopped by the store, hair blown dry, make-up on, and dressed in an 80's power suit. She didn't recognize me. She looked at me with blank eyes; nothing connected. When I finally convinced her that we'd met a few days ago, she exclaimed, "Boy! You sure clean up good!"

I do. There are women who sail, who are just naturally good looking. We will be seeing one of those soon; Jaime is lovely, and always looks good. (She's one of those calm, cool, and collected people, too. Still, I like her.) I bet when they crossed the Caribbean Sea that Jaime looked much as she does every day. I do not. Or at least I hope the hell I don't. We hot bunk it, sleeping in the main salon when off watch. We shower every third day, I usually just stick a barrette in my hair and go on watch. The only toiletries I use daily are hand soap, toothpaste, and sun screen. I am not at my best. To add insult to injury, as discussed yesterday it's flipping hot down below. I wake up dripping on damp pillows.

This morning I went off watch at 0600 exhausted as one can be on the second day, only to have EW wake me because something wasn't working on the laptop charting system. He didn't need it. I hadn't used it for the last two hours of my watch after I'd stowed everything in the oven because of a threat of a lightening storm. He could get the same information from the GPS and the VHF. The only thing he was missing was the cute little graphic of our boat in red, crossing the Caribbean Sea. He didn't need the damn graphic. I was not thrilled, groggy and stupid with it. When I couldn't get the thing to work after 10 minutes, I told him he didn't need it and went back to bed. And slept.

I woke up two hours later, hot, sweaty, and rested. I had bed head, wet pillow case imprint on my right upper cheek, and fuzzy teeth. Still, when I looked up at him from the companion way steps, he smiled brightly and said, "Good morning! You look ravishing today!"

Here's a tip -- one you'd think EW would have learned in 30 years of marriage -- do not tell any woman (especially me) that she looks ravishing when she clearly looks like hell. It makes all sincere compliments suspect. It also pisses her (me) off. After I expressed these thoughts, we both had a good laugh and EW said, "This is going in the blog, isn't it?"

Yep. As I write this, it's just after 1400. I'm off watch until 1800, will prepare a cold lupper, shower, and post this before taking the evening shift. As for the sailing. This is a glorious day. If this day were a woman, you could in all honesty call her "ravishing". We are sailing toward our goal at 5.4 knots in gentle seas, 12-18 knots of wind. EW said that this is the wind he promised me for the crossing from the Canaries. Six months late, but I'll take it. (All you new readers may want to check out last year's crossings in June to the Azores, in October to the Canaries, and in December to Guadeloupe. Most of it was good. The bad was ugly.) I know to take ravishing when I can get it.

It's 1610 and our location is 15.58.82 North and 68.1823 West. I have showered, smell marvelous, and feel ravishing -- well what passes for ravishing when one is making a sea crossing. It's all relative.

48 Hours

We've been sailing for just over 24 hours, and things are going well. It's a beautiful day. The winds are generally 12-15 with gusts to 2. We have the main and jib reefed a bit, and the seas are uncomfortably from the south, so we are lurching to port and starboard a bit. More than a bit when the occasional larger wave hits us broadside. Still no worries. It's a lovely sunny day and the solar panels are doing their charging thing. EW wanted to set the staysail as he likes to set the staysail and said it would even out the lurching. I asked him to wait until tomorrow as we are tired.

It always takes us a few days to get with the routine at sea. We don't sleep well for the first 24 hours. Our crossings last year weren't made as far south during the summer, so this time we can add heat into the mix. To prevent sea water from washing down below in storms, EW has made it a practice to remove the wind dorades forward of those in the Master Stateroom. Since we spend most of our waking and sleeping moments below in the Main Salon, it can get a tad hot. I had a hissy fit just before the 1400 change of watch today resulting in EW putting one of the four vents back in. It's made a difference and I will continue to feed him on this journey.

Since it is just we two, I've again implemented the two-meal plan. I will suggest or prepare breakfast and prepare lupper between 2 and 4. Other than that, we are each on our own for snacks, left-overs, and treats. Today I prepared a salad meal as I was sweating gumdrops (as my mom used to say) and not in the mood to cook. Also, I had planned a number of non-stove meals because I knew it would be hot. (I was born at night but not last night.) In honor of our "Cheers" in St. Thomas, the Tickles Bar and Restaurant in Crown Bay, I made their lovely beet salad. That has been my go-to meal there for the past few months: Lettuce, beets, cranberries, feta cheese, candied walnuts, and a lovely balsamic dressing. For the on-board version, I toast the walnuts in the iron skillet and added a dab of honey to sweeten them. The meal was a success. There was more air moving below when I undertook the easy clean-up, and thus ended our first 24 hours at sea.

As the seagull flies, we only covered 110 miles toward our goal. Right now we are tracking directly to the check-in point at Guna Yala, but are a bit south of the rhumb line. At some point we may jibe to the north a bit as I don't want to go too close to the South American coast. As for the "48" hours in the title. We have watched other cruising friends prepare for a passage, and I'm always amazed at how calm they appear. How unflappable. We are flappable. We flap. We get things done but we (particularly me) are not always calm, cool, and collected. (Another term my mom used a lot. Usually in despair when discussing my inability to remain calm, cool, and collected.)

Frankly, I was amazed we completed everything, much more easily than I had expected 72 hours ago, and that we actually left on Wednesday. One of the things that helped is that we each created lists for crossings. We are organized, you just can't always tell. Still, despite two trips to shore -- toting garbage both times -- when our neighbors stopped by to say "Bon Voyage" we handed them a small bag of plastic garbage I'd failed to get rid of. They were unflappable with that request. They also gave us a gift, Navaho Ghost Beads to ward off evil spirits. We've hung them around our totem, D'Irv and are hoping for a double whammy of evil sprit warding off.

It is 1721 on Thursday June 11. We are currently located at 17.01.67 North and 066.27.364 West, heading 245 at 4.7-5.4 knots. That 245 is lovely. If that keeps up we won't have to jibe. Life is good on La Luna.

La Luna Has Left the Mooring

Shortly after 1500 on June 10, La Luna was freed from her borrowed mooring with help from neighbor, Skunky Ron. We had used two lines for safety and one had tangled around the other, around the two pick-up bouys. (Who uses two pick-up bouys, MB?)It was a mess discovered after the dingy had been raised and all things stowed for travel. Either I was jumping into the water, or we needed help. We got help.

Yesterday, I went into Crown Bay Marina for the next to last load of fresh water, and told Steve at the fuel dock that I would be back for a bit of water and fuel before leaving today. "Where are you going?" "To Panama." "You hauling the boat first?" I stared at him, and smiled. "No, Steve. We are sailing to Panama. That's what we do. We sail."

We both had a good laugh. Steve wished us a Blessed Journey and hopes we are "all in one piece" when he sees us again.

I have more impressions of getting ready, saying a new round of "Good-byes" and setting off on this new adventure. They will have to wait. All systems are go, I'm due on watch in a few, and I need to try to get this message out and get some Grib Files in.

As of 1754 on June 10, 2015, La Luna was at 18.13.89 North and 065.61.69 West. We have 12-18 knots of wind from the southeast, and are sailing 213 True at 5.8 knots.

More tomorrow!

Head ‘em Up and Move ‘em Out


We don’t actually “Head ‘em Up” because a sail boat can’t go anywhere when it’s head up into the wind. (Although we do head her up into the wind to set the mainsail, and then we turn away from the wind in order to move the boat. So it’s kind of the same thing.)

We will (finally) be moving her out. All sent-for parts and mail have arrived on the island of St. Thomas and should be delivered to Cousin Jeff today. The weather looks good for a Wednesday morning departure after we make one last run to Crown Bay for water and gas and fresh fruit before hauling the dinghy and dropping the mooring. We are finally going west – only 9 days later than our June 1st projection. In the general scheme of things, that’s not bad.

Having said farewell and giving everyone hugs at Tickles open mic last week, we need to get gone before anyone starts singing the Dan Hicks Song, “How Can I Miss You When You Won’t Go Away?” We love that song. We love Dan Hicks. But I digress.

So we are provisioned up (except for fresh fruits and veggies and a very few other things), our Choice Wi-Fi will conveniently take us into tomorrow, EW’s cell phone still has $9.00 on it, and things are winding down. Emotionally, I’m ready to go. It’s past time, and we are looking forward to the next adventure.

While I haven’t been as prolific on the blog, my writing has been forefront in my mind. I even dream about it. I’ll be working on magazine articles and a book or two over the next few months, in addition to boat projects. (One of the planned books is about one of the planned major projects. It’s how we roll.) We’re looking forward to exploring new areas, and to seeing how we do in a place as remote as the San Blas.

I will blog nearly every day at sea and will test the system tonight or tomorrow to make sure that Sailmail and this new laptop communicate. No photos or fun images, but hopefully interesting, pithy, descriptive, and mildly funny commentary about our crossing of the Caribbean Sea. It should take about 8-10 days. Along the way I’ll finish sewing the Panamanian courtesy flag and we will make sure that we’ve imported all the waypoints regarding rocks and reefs into three different navigation devices.

I know our non-sailing friends and family have a number of questions, so here goes:

  1. 8-12 days.
  2. No hurricanes are predicted for the next few days. We will get weather every day on our trip and keep watch. All we have to do to avoid any is to head south for a couple of days.
  3. Yes, we will have time to do that.
  4. We are sailing to a point south of the hurricane zone. That is one reason we are going there.
  5. No, we  aren’t worried about “pirates”.
  6. Dangers? Well, EW says we’ll have to be vigilant about checking the radar at night so we don’t hit any oil platforms. Also, we have to watch for rocks and reefs as we the near the islands.
  7. No, I’m not worried. But we know things can happen and we’ll keep watch, and we won’t enter the shallow areas at the end of our journey until morning. We are very good at sailing back and forth while we wait for the right time to enter a new harbor. Patience is a virtue I can pretend to have when it’s necessary.

Most close friends and family already have the Sailmail email address. If you don’t and want it, email my Gmail account. Remember, keep them relatively short, do not hit reply—start a new email instead, and don’t send photos or jokes.

Also remember, it’s a little lonely out there. I can count the number of emails we received on each Atlantic crossing on two hands. You may realize we are a little more social than that. Just sayin’.

On Wednesday, we’ll be heading up and moving out. Going west. Roll On! (Here’s the Wagon Train “more modern” theme song. Scary.)

And according to Wikipedia, one of my favorite movies mentioned Wagon Train.

Pop Culture[edit]

In the 1986 film Stand by Me, Gordie (Wil Wheaton) quips while the boys are camping (in their quest to find the dead body of Ray Brower), "Wagon Train is a cool show, but you ever notice they never get anywhere? They just keep on wagon training."

And we just keep on sailing.


Go West, Not-So-Young Man (And Woman)

IMG_0598It seems everyone wants to know about our plans for hurricane season. We certainly have been sitting here too long, and we are both anxious to move on, so … see that big ship?

Just kidding. Unlike many other boats leaving St. Thomas this year, we will be powered by our sails. In the meantime, we have watched over eight transport ships load boats destined for Europe or the US. It must be an amazing feeling to watch your “baby” and your home be hauled out of the water and strapped onto a ship.

We aren’t heading back to the states or Europe yet, and will instead sail to the Western Caribbean. We’d decided our destination when we changed our plans last year, opting to sail back to the Caribbean instead of heading to Brazil and Argentina. We still wanted to sail and explore new places and there are reasons the Western Caribbean appeals to us:

  1. Friends: Keith and Jaime from S/V Kookaburra are there and we would love to spend more time with them. They are waiting for us in the San Blas and we plan to cruise those islands together through hurricane season and venture to other cruising grounds after the season.
  2. It’s on “the list”. Please understand “the list” is rather fluid. (So fluid that it isn’t capitalized; it’s “the list”, not “The List”.) There are a lot of places we’d like to see, but neither of us wants to circumnavigate, so we’re looking at places on “the list” in or near our comfort zone: EW wants to visit pyramids in Mexico; we’d both love to help someone else traverse the Panama Canal again, and there are other things on “the list” in and near the Western Caribbean.
  3. More friends. Alice and Steve, Vicky and Bob, Gretchen and Michael, and Bill and JoAnne are all currently in the Western Caribbean – or their boats are and they’ll return after the season. We plan to be in touch via Facebook and sail to an anchorage near each of them at some point in time.

So are we ready?

Well, not yet. We’re waiting for one Sailrite order and for new credit cards which were sent to the old address. As soon as those cards arrive at our Green Cove Springs mail drop, we will have everything waiting there packed up and sent here.

In the meantime, we need to provision. The sail over to the San Blas should only take 8-10 days, and we’re going straight there, so it would be easy provisioning--- if things were available in those islands. Jaime’s message listed fewer than 20 products sold in the only store. At the end of the list, she said, “Notice there is no etc.” She did say they sell fresh fruits and vegetables delivered via small boats. We’ll purchase and stow enough provisions to last at least six weeks by which point Jaime and Keith will teach us, guide us, and show us the way to Panama City for the next round of provisioning.

In the meantime, we are picking up some things they need—items as diverse as fake ice tea and a new generator; stowing things we need; and getting stuff done online while we have the Choice program. Once I can figure out the technology, our cell phone will provide Wi-Fi while we’re in Panama.

Summer has arrived in St. Thomas. The days are hotter, there is less wind, and more humidity. We aren’t used to it, complain to each other daily, and remind each other, “It’ll be worse in Panama”. How’s that for positive thinking? We will be much closer to the equator. I plan to write in the morning, jump overboard for an exercise swim/snorkel, and then tackle boat projects in the afternoon. We’ll eat lighter meals, consisting of fresh fish caught by EW (no pressure there), and the fruits and veggies Jaime assures me are available weekly from the Guna (formerly known as the Kuna Indians).

EW has a bunch of boat projects of his own and has armed himself with various guitar instructional books and videos. By November we two and La Luna will be in better shape, more published, and more musically adept. (Well, EW will be more musically adept.)

(Jaime and Keith, if you are reading this, please be assured we will take time to sail to other islands and to explore with you. All work and no play make for exceedingly dull blog posts and articles.)

Now you know the plan. Remember it’s fluid, like the list.

For now, I have to complete the tasks which should have been finished weeks ago, and EW has to push me out of my hunkered down mode. For some reason, leaving any spot (except Georgetown in the Bahamas) is difficult for me. That first step is hard. Once we are off and on our way, I’m good.

NOTE: Did you catch “Guna” instead of “Kuna”? According to Jaime, there is no “K” in the Guna language so they changed the way their name appears other languages. When I went to check on that, I learned we won’t actually be in the San Blas, either. According to Wikipedia, we are going to visit Guna Yala:

Guna Yala, formerly known as San Blas, is an indigenous province in northeast Panama (Official Gazette of Panama). Guna Yala is home to the indigenous group known as the Gunas. Its capital is El Porvenir. It is bounded on the north by the Caribbean Sea, on the south by the Darién Province and Embera-Wounaan, on the east by Colombia and on the west by the province of Colón.


The Guna Yala is in red on this map. My funky blue arrows show both ends of the Panama Canal.