Trinidad

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Trini. What a country. Here’s what I know. The heat and humidity are oppressive. I find that I can work for about 2 hours in the morning, from 6 a.m. (or whenever I wake up) until about 8:30 or 9 and then again from about 4:00 when the tiny breeze picks up and the sun begins to sink in the sky until about 5:30 when the sun goes down and you can’t really see. It’s 2:00 in the afternoon, I’m sitting here doing nothing but typing, and sweat is running into my eyes.  Aside from the heat, this island and its people are amazing. They are hard working and dedicated. They start working about 6 a.m. and don’t stop until 5 or 7:00 (except for noon to 1 for lunch – everyone stops for lunch). And so friendly and helpful. They know what you want before you do and offer before you can ask.  We really appreciate their help.

This marina/boat yard is fantastic. Everything a boater needs and anyone you want to hire, they are here. Fiberglass, wood working, trim, engine, mechanicals, riggers, sail maker, plumbing, workers you didn’t even know you needed. There is even a boaters’ workshop where you can work on your projects. Need a tool you don’t have? Ask one of the boaters or workmen around here, someone will have it and be happy to lend it to you.

Then there is Jessie. Jessie runs a taxi/tour service. On Tuesdays he takes people to the grocery store, on Friday to the Costco & a butcher shop, on Saturday to the farmers’ market. And on any give day he has a tour going somewhere fun on the island, like a pan yard or a food tour.

Saturday we joined about 20 other sailors for a trip to the Pan Jam at Starlight Pan Yard. What am I talking about? Pan = steel drum. Yard = just what it sounds like, a big (full city block or more) open area. Pan Jam? A number (5?) of steel drum bands meet up in a pan yard and take turns entertaining. It was loud, energetic, artistic, fantastic fun.

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Monday we took a tour that we have been looking forward to since May – The Taste of Trini. Jessie loaded 9 of us into his van at 9:00 a.m. For the next 11 hours he drove us around Trinidad showing us the island and feeding us. It was insane.

9:15 Plate of salt fish. Eggplant, chicken liver,
9:35 Doubles – usually chic peas and lentils and maybe potatoes in a sauce of cumin and other seasonings served on two bar as (thin fried “pancakes”).

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Billy demonstrating the proper stance for eating doubles.

IMG_8884  Mark and Lynn demonstrating the absolute worst way to eat doubles.

9:40     Pie
9:50   Frankie’s sada roti* with vegetables: carralie, bodi, and plantains. *buss up shut
9:55   Cow Heel Soup Center – cow heel soup (I know – it sounds dreadful but it tastes delicious)
10:20   street corner guy: potato pie
10:40   cheese pastry pie, beef pastry pie
11:00   coconut pie
11:15   The Blue Shed – Kitchorie (split peas and chic peas) and saheena (callalou bush)

Lunch Time!
11:40    BBQ pig tail
11:55    Chicken pelau and stewed pork with dumplings
12:10    Snack of pickled fruit Jessie purchased from a woman’s stand by the road in front of her house: five finger (star fruit) and pommecitee (golden apple)
12:20    Creole lunch: provisions (casava boiled and fried, potatoes), green figs (tiny bananas) and fish

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12:45    UFO fruit (Brazil nuts)

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UFO fruit – look closely and you’ll see Brazil nuts in the center of the pod
1:45    Buss up shut (deconstructed roti) goat, chicken, beef. Curried mango and curried potato. Drink Sorrell and peanut punch.
2:40    Snacks molasses cake, tamarind balls
3:00     Kurma – sweet, hard dough and coconut fudge
3:45 Tea Time                IMG_1985
Ballerina- coconut cake, Pone – cassava cake, and Bread pudding

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4:00  Saheena (for a second time. We really liked this one.)
4:30 Cocktail Hour (at a water park) Beer which we ate with rock cake
4:50 Gulab Jamoon – a small packaged cake
5:00 Cutters (chicken wings)
5:15 fruit cake
5:50 We stoped for Jessie to steal cocoa pod
6:00 suck on the cocoa seeds
fruits: silk fig, soursop, pickled star fruit, golden apple
7:10 Dinner: Macaroni pie, calaloo, grilled fish, jerk pork, stewed lamb, spinach rice, macaroni salad
7:30 🍨 ice cream
8:00 Return to the boat yard, pass out from the food coma

Summer Review

I should have been blogging over the summer, I have no excuse for not. Now there is so much to catch up with.
What a miserable summer for the Caribbean! Puerto Rico, St. Thomas, St. John, St. Martin, Barbuda, and poor Dominica. The news made us cry. As far as we can tell, none of our friends were among those who died, but we do know a family whose boat sunk. But the loss of the trees and natural beauty of Dominica just devastated us.
Personally, Mark and I spent the summer wandering, a lot. First a quick trip to Cincinnati to help Glen celebrate his second birthday (he didn’t really need our help), then to Denver to borrow Ann’s car and kidnap River and Elijah. Next we drove to Michigan so we could spend almost a month in Traverse City (the boys were only with us for about 10 days), enjoying the lake and our TC friends. Then we drove back to Grand Rapids. Mark went back to work at Burke Porter for August and September. I tore him away in October and we drove to Annapolis to visit with sailing friends from both Rockhopper and Serendipitous, as well as other Salty Dawg Rally friends, and to spend money at the sail boat show. Then we visited with Mark’s nephew Kurt Hoenke and his family in Baltimore and my cousin John Palusci and his family in Philadelphia. After that we had more than two weeks to get to Cincinnati for Halloween, so we took the direct route and wandered south along the Blue Ridge Mountains, enjoying the hiking and the people. (We tried the wines in Virginia and in N. Carolina, but we did NOT enjoy them. California has nothing to worry about here!) This took us close enough to Winston Salem that we had a chance to visit with Kristi and Mike Strzyzewski. As long as we were going the most circuitous route possible, we drove to Louisville KY on our way to Cincinnati so that we could spend a day with Naomi Dolinka. After a rousing Halloween and grabbing enough Glen hugs to last for a few months we drove as directly as possible to Denver, spent the night with Richard and Mary Rose, and tried to fly into Miami and on the Trinidad. Delta had other plans. There was a mechanical issue with the plane we were supposed to board and after making promises to us all day long, they finally flew us to Atlanta at 9:00 pm, put us up in a borderline hotel and into Miami the next day, and out two days later, getting us into Trinidad on Thursday night. We cleared immigration and were almost all the way out of customs when the X-ray picked up the blocks of zinc in our luggage. We told the lady that they are boat parts, and that meant that we needed to check in with customs near the boat yard too. An annoying formality. On Friday I discovered that I had managed to leave ALL our documents in the taxi that took us to the boat. By documents I mean passports, boat title, USCG registration, and the clearance papers from the airport. Nothing like being in a foreign tropical island and having all your identification disappear!! The manager of security went through the tapes of cars coming through the gate and deciphered the license plate of the taxi. We made a number of attempts to contact the taxi company but I never got through. Saturday I was just about to get into a taxi to go all the way back to the airport (45 minutes & $55) when the cab that dropped us off showed up with our papers. OH HAPPY DAY!!
Now we have been in Trinidad for a week and we are still not ready to have the boat put back in the water. We had a lot of work done on the boat, and while most of it is mostly done, nothing is completely finished. The deck was sanded down, the moist wood removed and repaired, and then the top reapplied and refinished. It is AMAZING. Now I’m trying to make the teak look as good as the fiberglass. Meanwhile, we had a plumber re-plumb the galley (kitchen) sink so that it will drain properly. It’s wonderful being able to wash dishes without a bucket. He is also working on getting the water maker going for us.
The sails are all inspected and waiting for us and the bearing on the jib furler is ready to be reinstalled. Inside the boat looks pretty good. Unfortunately, we have a bunch of stuff in a storage locker waiting for us to come get it. So much for the lovely empty bunk in the center cabin.
It’s not all work and no play here in Trinidad. We have met some really nice yachties and gone to lots of fun activities here in the yard and nearby. Saturday we are going to a Pan Jam and Monday we are off for A Taste of Trinidad 🇹🇹 – a 6 hour tour tasting local favorites all over the island. Loosen your belt and don’t eat breakfast!

To Be Continued . . . .

When last we checked in with our intrepid heroes, they had taken Roxy out of the Caribbean and put her on dry land in Trinidad. As they readied the boat for some TLC and necessary repairs they readied themselves for a return to the United States.
Will they find happiness in Traverse City?
Will they go wild when they aren’t together 24/7?
Will they miss the boat so much they return in preemptively August?
Will they decide they never want to sail again?

All this and more in this installment of
The Adventures of Mark and Lynn
Mark and I were happy to be able to join Karen and Mark, as well as Mark’s parents Judy and Kurt* for the critical celebration of Glen’s second birthday. We were astounded (well, impressed) with how much he has grown and how smart he is (of course). But more importantly, we had a great time with the kids. We got to spend 5 days with them and enjoyed every minute of it.
Next we moved on to 4 days in Grand Rapids where we were graciously hosted by Adrienne and Chris Wilson. We took the opportunity to make a lot of doctor appointments and even go see some of them. Suddenly I feel old. I was always amazed that my mother-in-law had so many doctors to see all the time. Now it’s us! Dentist, GP, oncologist, cardiologist, mammogram. The list seems to keep going forever. While we were in town, Mark and I stopped into his old office to say hi to all his former co-workers and regale them with tales from the sea. While he was there he suggested to his former boss that he’d be willing to come back “as a consultant” for a couple of months, specifically August and September.
Then we flew to Denver and spent time with the Kaplans. We got to play with Skye and see how big he is getting. Yikes! And he is their baby. Ah, time, she marches on. The “big” kids came back from camp and we were able to spend a whole day with Gigi before we kidnapped Elijah and River (it would have been harder if the boys weren’t packed and ready when we were all set to leave) for a week at The Lake. Ann and Michael have given us the use of their car for the summer (the CRV, not the Porche) so we drove east, first picking up Maya from our friends Meribeth and Geoff, for a terrific time in Traverse City. Karen, Mark & Glen came north for 4th of July week which added to our fun and kept the boys well entertained. They drove Elijah to the airport in Grand Rapids on their way back to Cincinnati, but River opted to spend a few extra days with us and we had a great time with him. He’s such a thoughtful kid! Sadly, we had to drive him to the airport too and now we had only Maya to keep us company.
We still had another three weeks in TC and had a good time with Pat and Dean Gaudreau, Cathy and Mark Baer and Andrew Tarrow, our quasi-adopted son, when they visited. We also had a great time reconnecting with our “lake friends”, Mary and Dave Shuhardt and Ellen and Doug Williams. We even played Mexican Train dominos! When we weren’t playing in the lake or touring the great venues of the northwest corner of “the Mitten” Mark was putting in hard labor fixing and repairing the house. We also arranged for all new appliances in the kitchen and set up the house with a rental manager who will be able to rent out the house and take care of issues that arise much more readily than any of us can from our far-away locations (none of us lives in town). Time well spent, we hope.
After so much fun, Mark decided to follow through on his threat and we moved back to Grand Rapids for two months so he can work at Burke Porter for the rest of the summer. He is having such a good time, it might be difficult to get him out of here. We are staying at an “extended-stay” hotel, which means we have room with a small kitchen, a couch, a TV, and a bed. I have reconnected with my Mah Jongg friends and am playing once or twice a week. We also met up with our Temple’s Pub Crawl group, although there were a lot of people missing this time, and I’m also “doing lunch” whenever I can. I’ve also worked to increase Mark’s and my wardrobes for the coming sailing season (having only 2 pair of shorts that fit was a challenge).
Mark is having a good time riding his bicycle again, although he didn’t enjoy it too much yesterday when a driver ran the red light and took out his back wheel. It could have been a lot worse if Mark hadn’t realized that the guy was headed right for him and sped up to get out of his way. As it is, his bike is in the repair shop and his butt is really sore.
Our next moves will be back to TC to visit with Mark’s brother, Karl for a few days and then, in early October we’ll move on to Annapolis to catch up with Mindy and Reinhardt, Patty and Peter, and any other Salty Dawgs who are there for the Boat Show. From there we’ll wander toward Cincinnati for Halloween and then back to Denver to deliver the car in early November before we fly to Miami to catch up with Kathy & Ted and on to Trinidad.
What will the intrepid duo do next?
Will they sail south to Guyana?
Will they sail west to the ABC Islands?
Will they sail east to Barbados?
Will they sail north for Thanksgiving in Virgin Gorda?

Check back in late November or early December to find out.

*You may remember Kurt from our crossing from Virginia, USA to Virgin Gorda, BVI

South Bound to Trinidad

 

South Bound

What a Beautiful Sail!
Thursday, May 18/Friday, May 19
Most of the south-bound sailing we have done in the Caribbean has been very close to the wind. The wind blows from the east and the island chains run from a little west to a little east. So you hope to to get a north east wind so that the trip south east has enough wind to carry you through. However, Roxy is a big cruising boat. She does not “point to weather” very well, so most of the time we wind up motor-sailing. We are sailing, but we also have the motor on to give us enough forward push that we create apparent wind to sail to our destination. This sail wasn’t like that.
We are headed from Martinique past St. Lucia and St. Vincent to Bequia. It’s 94 miles. We aren’t stopping in St. Lucia or St. Vincent because the locals aren’t friendly to cruisers. They take their dinghies and/or their dingy motors and slash up the dingy, they board the boats, and there have been assaults and even a couple of murders. And that’s really too bad. St. Lucia has some lovely ports and great trails and things to do and St. Vincent looks beautiful and inviting. But we can get that lots of other places where we don’t have to be afraid.
So, 94 miles. At an average of 6 knots per hour, that’s about 15 hours. To avoid coming in to the harbor in the pitch black of night we left at 5:30 Thursday evening. We had a nice dinner as the sun went down and then started taking shifts. The wind was blowing 15 – 20 knots off our port side, just aft of the beam so instead of being close hauled, we were on a broad reach. The waves were traveling with us, so we were “sledding”. Instead of our average 6 knots we were making 8 – 10. The moon was late in coming up so we each had lots of time to enjoy the stars. Once the moon came up it was an orange half moon shrouded in haze and just lovely. About 2:00 we decided that we were going too fast and would arrive at 4:30 a.m. if we didn’t slow down, so we took in the jib and dropped to 6 knots. Now it’s 6:30 a.m. and the sun is up. We are about an hour from Bequia. We are looking forward to this tiny island we have been told that it has great snorkeling and terrific trails, as well as restaurants etc. Unfortunately, I have a feeling that most of this good stuff is going to have to wait for us. Right now, all I want to do is get to Trinidad so that we can fly back to The States. We’ll probably spend a couple of days, but not long enough to do the island justice.

Beautiful Bequia
Beautiful Bequia

Poor Mark
Mark has always been accident prone. He’s always doing something to harm his body in some small way. Last week he had a banner 36 hours. The first disaster came as he slipped in the wet cockpit and, in slow motion, fell head first down the companion way (the ladder/stairs from the cockpit into the cabin below). From this he immediately received a huge goose egg on his forehead which we iced. He complained about his hip which later erupted into 50 shades of black and blue. He probably did something terrible to his shoulder too because now if he moves it just so he gets an excruciating nerve pinch. (He’ll be seeing a doctor about this one.) But this is just the start. The same day he slashed (not too badly) two fingers on his left hand (yes, he’s left handed) on my kitchen knife which he had washed and placed up-right in the dish rack. Blood everywhere. The next morning he had wet feet and slipped in the cockpit again but this time caught one of his toes in the lattice work flooring, wedging it against the wood. Of course, if he’s still barefooted he bumps that toe into everything. He is healing now and wearing shoes on board a lot more now.

Crossing to Trinidad 🇹🇹
(If you are reading this post you know we made it.)
I’m pretty sure, and sincerely hope, that we have gotten ourselves worked up over nothing. The stories of piracy that one hears about crossing from Grenada to Trini are pretty scary. Some say you should only cross in the day, so you can see what is around you. Others say only at night, with no lights on and no AIS*. The people in Trinidad say it’s all blown out of proportion. I’m hoping they are right.
It’s 11:30 p.m. We left 12 1/2 hours ago from Cariacou. We should be in Trinidad about 7:00 a.m. That means we will be able to check in with customs within an hour of arriving, as required. You must check in as soon as you arrive and it costs $50, but if you need to check in “after hours” they charge you overtime, and it’s an extra $265. Don’t want to do that. Right now there are two freighters on our AIS screen and they are crossing each other about 8 miles in front of us. At least we don’t need to worry about them. (It’s just the boats without AIS that we worry about.)
The ride started out sweet, then we hit a current going one way and the wind going another, and the sea was really kicked up. Once we got past that things calmed down and the ride was just rolly, but I was so over heated I became really queasy. About 7:00 I gave Mark some dinner (curried pasta salad that I made a couple of days ago, just for this) and took two bites of mine. Then I took my first nap while Mark took his first watch. Once I woke up things had calmed down and the sun set so it was cooler and now I’m feeling pretty good.
Well, I need to return to my watch now. TTFN

We Made It! We followed another sailboat into the harbor about 8:00 Monday morning and were in the customs office by 9:00. It took an hour and a half to get done with all their forms. The islands of the Caribbean are keeping carbon paper manufacturers going. We will take a slip in the marina tomorrow and be hauled out on Wednesday.

WE MADE IT! Oh, right I already said that.

*AIS is a system that locates vessels and broadcasts their position. All commercial vessels are required to have them. Smaller vessels may choose to have them. The instrument screen shows you other boats with AIS in your vicinity and tells you the projected closest point of approach as well as the vessel’s speed and course. Kind of a handy system.
Wednesday
We are up “on the hard”. Mark got to ride on the boat as it was moved. He could never do that in Michigan.

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I want these stairs!Stairs

Confession time here….. I (we) have scoffed at the people who run their air conditioners and those who told us that Trinidad was incredibly hot. We are Caribbean folk now!! Well, I take it all back. After enduring all day yesterday and last night, I showed remarkable restraint and waited until 8:20 before I wilted into the boat yard office (they open at 8:00) and said “air conditioning, please”.

By 2:00 we had a beautiful unit on our deck blowing cool (not cold)* air into the cabin. We are still waiting for the cool to reach the bedroom, but for now we can sleep port and starboard in the main saloon. This is a new definition of hot. It’s really hot – I’m not sure what the thermometer reads, but I’m guessing low 90’s (the ocean temperature is 92 degrees Fahrenheit!) and the humidity is WAY up there – 95% or so. Any exertion is exhausting and reduces you to a pool of sweat. So much fun. No wonder people work on “island time”!
* the air it blows now (3 days later) is appropriately cold.
I got the stairs! We feel like Rock Stars. And all I had to do was ask. The people at this yard are great. They bend over backwards to keep their customers happy.

Post Martin?

 

Wednesday, May 10
Mark and I left St. Martin on Sunday, heading for Barbuda. Oh, wait, Mark meant Anguilla. The difference is Barbuda is a 10 hour sail and Anguilla was a 15 hour sail. I don’t mind a 15 hour sail. That’s what we’re here for, right? But leaving at 6 a.m. gets you into a harbor you’ve never seen at 10:00 pm, and anchoring in the dark is always a really dangerous idea. You have no idea what’s under you (well, most of the time you’re guessing even in the day) or how close you are to other boats. It’s just a really bad idea. So, I pouted until we changed our destination to St. Kitts, which a lot closer. We anchored about 5:30, just before Doug and Pam on Crew Rest (we met them in St. Martin) anchored near us. Fantastic. Monday morning the four of us headed in to customs & immigration (two different offices, two different buildings) and checked in to the next country. Then, since the immigration office is in the cruise dock, I quickly stopped into Diamonds International and got the next charm for Gigi’s bracelet. Then the guys decided that we wanted to go to “The Fort”. I am so tired of forts. THEY ARE ALL THE SAME. And this one had the huge disadvantage of being up a very high hill that we had to walk.
Have I mentioned that I have a miserable cold, limited breathing, and sinus pressure like I’ve never had in my life? Walking up the hill was enough of an altitude change that the ice pick in my brain moved from just behind my eye to behind my eye and into my ear, meanwhile, there was a vice pressing on my forehead. I think the rest of the group had a nice time. The best part about Basseterre was there was a pharmacy who sold me their last box of sinus pills and four hours later the ice pick and vice had been removed.
Tuesday we woke to heavy rain. As it lessened, Crew Rest and Roxy moved (we didn’t really sail, we motored with our main sail up for 45 minutes) from St. Kitts to Nevis. Two islands, one country. We grabbed a bus into town and walked around.

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Very much like the “big city” in many of the southern islands. Pockets of wealth (from the boat we see large houses, some with tennis courts) amid crowded upper-lower and lower-middle class. We don’t see a lot of real poverty, but maybe we haven’t looked in the “right” places. Then we grabbed another bus back toward the beach where we docked, found a beach bar and then the restaurant. We were really taken with the feather-footed pigeon.

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We had a nice dinner and when Mark declined the opportunity to dance with me to the (pretty good) band, I knew that he was coming down with the cold that I was getting over.
Today we are sitting on the boat drinking lots of water (yes, water) while Doug and Pam bicycle around the island. I told them do do a lap for us. I’m feeling human enough to actually do some cleaning and boat stuff. I even did laundry in buckets on the back of the boat (thinking of Alyssa Titche trying to do laundry in the rivers of Senegal). Meanwhile, Mark is trying to feel better and reading.
Let’s talk about Mark reading. I am still puzzled by this. I’ve know him for 43 years. I’ve offered novels to him in the past and he has resolutely refused. I’ve only seen him read journals and “fact-based” magazines, and then only when he’s going to bed – he’d read the same column in the article three nights in a row because he fell asleep in the middle of it each night. In the last month, Mark had read every paper-back on the boat (except the romance novel). Now he has taken my Nook away from me and is reading everything on it. I’ve had to download the Nook app onto my iPad so that I can read the book I was reading before. WHAT THE HECK HAS HAPPENED HERE?? And he reads a lot. This was a man who never sat still. If you asked him if something had been done and he hadn’t done it yet, he’d get up and go do it, RIGHT NOW, even if it didn’t have to happen for hours. Now? He says he’ll get to it in a little while. He read All the Light We Could Not See, a book that took me a more than a week, in a day and a half. I downloaded a four pack of Gabriel Allon books, he finished #4 before I was done with #2.
Next thing you know he’ll be doing Sudoku and Crosswords.

Wednesday, May 17

Anyway….
We have a really big, really good anchor. Once it’s set, it’s set. Except in Nevis. The first night a squall moved through and we dragged our anchor 75 feet. Not good. That ended our sleep for the night. The next day it was calm and we stayed put. Then on Wednesday another squall came through and we said screw it and moved across the channel back to St Kitts (in the driving rain) and re anchored. There was a catamaran anchored near us and as the rain lessened and night fell, they turned up their music really loud so we invited ourselves aboard. In the morning we realized how clear the water was and lost count of the sea urchins under the boat. (Zoom in to see them.) IMG_2526

We are now in Martinique with Crew Rest. Tomorrow they leave for St. Lucia and we leave for Bequia.

More to follow.

Farewell St Martin

Saturday, April 15
We are still in St. Martin. We have been here for 2 weeks now, waiting for a part we ordered in March. It was promised to be in Cincinnati before Karen & Mark came to visit so they could bring it to us. As it turned out, they didn’t mail it until after the kids left. Then it went to Cincinnati and back to the company. We had them mail it to us at a business here. It took them 3 more weeks to get it in the mail. Now it’s in the mail and I know by the tracking number that it left Miami International Airport this past Tuesday, but I have no idea where it went from there. I checked with the post office here in St. Martin and was told that all mail coming into the French West Indies (FWI) goes into Guadalupe before it goes to the proper island. Well, evidently it hasn’t reached Guadalupe yet. This weekend is Easter weekend, so there is no mail movement on Monday, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed that it gets to us by Friday. Of course, the winds are PERFECT for us to travel south right now, but we are stuck here. Oh well. Once again, our sailing friends have made the difference and we are having a good time.
Today it really rained. For about 2 hours it poured buckets. Mark spent that time collecting water that ran off the solar panels and sun shade that I won’t let him put into our water tanks. So now I have 20 gallons of water in buckets on the deck that I’ll use to do laundry, flush toilets, take showers, and anything that doesn’t result in eating/drinking it. He didn’t do this until we were in Martinique and Stephan on the boat next to us told him that they use their entire deck as a water collection system, feeding the water through a filter and treatment system and into their tanks. Now Mark is like a kid playing in mud puddles. And when a bucket that was perched precariously on a winch tips over, spilling a gallon of water on the deck, he acts like it’s the end of the world, a terrible loss. I refuse to be sucked into the game, and I’m sure Mark feels like I’m not invested in our well-being. A clash of opinions and, of course, I am right.

May 5

Yes, we are still in St. Martin. But not for long now. The part we were waiting for showed up – 20 days after it left Miami – just as the manufacturer was ready to put a new one in the mail for us. Now we are getting ready to head south again. We have really psyched ourselves out about going to Trinidad. Going south in the islands there are couple of islands that cruisers tend to avoid, if possible. These include St. Lucia and St. Vincent, as well as couple of others. But they are easy enough to avoid. The real issue is Venezuela. We aren’t going to Venezuela, but Trinidad is right off the coast and there have been pirates there for years. Now that the government is crumbling, it has gotten pretty bad. So we’ve looked into all sorts of other options instead of going there. We talked to people here about leaving Roxy here and having the work done. The price was okay (the high end of our budget) but there just isn’t a place where we can haul out. We even looked into taking her back to The States and leaving her in Savanah for the summer. We are just too late asking these questions – everyplace is booked for the. So, on to Trinidad we will go. I’m sure we’ll be fine, we just have to do the things that people have told us to do. Lots of people have good things to say about the workmanship and the people. We aren’t nervous about Trini, we’re nervous about getting there. Oh, yikes.
So, what have we done while we have been here? Lots of nothing. For one thing, Mark has learned to read for pleasure. For 42 years the only thing I’ve seen him read is science-based magazines, text books, and research. Once we moved on board he started reading odd books that we have lying around; Bullfinch’s Mythology, Grimm’s Fairytales, Les Miserables. Why do we even OWN these books, let alone have them on board? Anyway, he has gone through all these odd books and was prowling around for the next thing. Just for grins, I handed him a mystery book. He read it. Then he read the next one, and the next. Now he has taken my Nook from me and sits around reading all day. What has happened here?
We have learned to play Mexican Train Dominos. It’s kind of fun – like most games, it’s more about the people and having a good time than it is about the challenge of the game – it’s pretty much all the luck of the draw. We do that on Sundays at a Lebanese restaurant that makes great shawarma so I don’t even have to make dinner that night!
We are hanging out with boat friends. Mindy and Reinhart were here until about a week ago. We did things with them a lot. Kokopelli and Expedition are still here so we meet up with them also. We’ve met the people on some of the other boats anchored near us and had “sundowners” with them (which usually last until the sun is REALLY down). And Wednesdays are “Ladies’ Lunch” days, so I get to go there and have a nice lunch, talk with nice ladies, and have a wonderful shower when it’s all done.
Now I’m working on provisioning for the trip south. We will probably stop in Guadalupe, Dominica, Martinique, then jump to Bequia, Granada, and then Trinidad. It will take us 2 or 3 weeks to make the trip because we aren’t really in a hurry. Oh, did I mention Kick-Em Jenny? Kick-Em Jenny is a volcano under water, just north of Granada. Right now it’s active and spewing foamy gas. The thing about gas is that boats don’t float in gas, they sink. Without warning. So, we have to avoid the 5 kilometer exclusion zone going into Granada.
Hey, anyone up for a cruise to Trinidad?

St Martin

Today I threw some lettuce trimmings over board and a remora came out from under the boat to eat it. Mark pointed out that he had been stuck to the boat bottom. How did he know? The top of the fish was covered in our bottom paint. It was pretty funny, except that it means the stupid fish is messing up our paint job.

I haven’t written much recently. Not any good reason. We have been in St. Martin for a week now, waiting for a package to arrive. I have a feeling we’ll be here for a while more too.

After getting to the BVI a week early we waited in St. John visiting with friends “old” and “new” (new and newer?). Once the correct Sunday arrived we had a great time with Karen and Mark. We think we did a great job being BVI tour guides. After a night in Sopers Hole, Tortola we went over to Virgin Gorda (where we also met up with Rockhopper) for a day and a half, including a stuff-your-face session at Hog Heaven. Then to Cooper Island for some good snorkeling and drinks and dinner at the Cooper Island Beach Club. Next was Norman Island, including snorkeling at The Indians and Treasure Cave and a night on the Willie T – the rusting old boat that has been turned into a floating bar/night club. From there we sailed to Jost Van Dyke – doing the whole island in one day! East End Harbor for a walk to the Bubbly Pool, then Little Harbor for lunch at Sidney’s Peace and Love, and Great Harbor for a quiet night on the boat. We stayed put the next day and had a fun beach day followed by barbecue at Foxy’s.
And then the week was over. So sad 😭.

We are recovering in St. Martin, forcing ourselves to eat French bread, amazing sandwiches, and crepes. I know… tough but someone has to do it. There are a lot of Salty Dawgs here and we are getting together now and again. We also found Mark on Sea Life. Mark is the guy who saved us in the Hudson River when our dingy wouldn’t run. Basically we are having a great never-ending (for the time being) party.

meanwhile, enjoy:

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And North Again

Monday, March, 13         Mark and I left Martinique on Sunday, arriving back in Portsmouth, Dominica just in time to sneak ashore for their Sunday night barbecue. Didn’t know a soul, but met some very fun people and had a good time while contributing to the PAYS guys.
Today we left bright and early and set off for a yet-to-be-determined location. About 30 minutes into our voyage the fishing line started running. Mark “handed me the wheel” (allowed me to have the helm) and went back to the rod. I turned into the wind to slow down the boat. The fish was still pulling out line, unchecked. I brought in the jib. Still pulling. I bring in the main sail, hit the engine and turn the boat around to help keep the fish from taking all the line off the reel. Meanwhile, Mark is at the back of the boat, fighting this thing and trying to get an advantage. Once I have the boat set up so Mark is in a fair fight, I ran below to get the gaff and the fish rum (I’ll explain in a bit). I was on my way up when Mark tells me to put them away. He really bagged a big one this time.     IMG_1816

About the FishRum: After Mark killed the fish in the cockpit, spraying fish blood ALL over the boat, going into Red Hook, St. Thomas, the dock hand told him that the easiest way to kill a fish is to spray a little liquor into its gills. The fish dies immediately, no bleeding, no thrashing, no mess. We sort of discounted this but at this point we’ve been told it so many times by so many people, that we decided to give it a try. We now have a $2 bottle of rum in our liquor locker that even Mark doesn’t want to try, but we are hoping that the fish enjoy it.
Two hours later three dolphins stopped by to play in our bow wave. This time I stayed at the wheel and let Mark play with them.
Our sailing today has been pretty darn perfect. Going north we crossed the Guadalupe Channel in 15 – 20 knot winds, making 9 – 10 knots of boat speed, with 5 foot swells, but they were with us and we had a great rhythm going. Once we had Les Iles de Saints on our starboard the swells were knocked down and it was smooth sailing. Now that we have Guadalupe on our starboard the winds are swirling and challenging. For a while they were down to 2 knots. Then they switched to coming from the northWEST (remember, easterly trade winds, all winter long). Eventually they returned to northeast and have built to 14 – 30 knots. I admit it, I’m uncomfortable with 30 degrees of heel. I don’t even really like 20 degrees. It’s a good thing that Mark is at the helm now.
We are debating how far to sail today. I think we will get to the north end of Guadalupe and stop for the afternoon. Or we will keep going and get to Montserrat about sundown. If we stay here we can go ashore and spend Tuesday here. Either way, we’ll probably sail on to St. Kitts on Tuesday, then St Martin and Virgin Gorda, which makes it easy to be in Tortola on Saturday to get the kids on Sunday!!
Tuesday, March 14.           Happy Birthday to Claire and to Cathy. Sorry I didn’t call you today; we aren’t on land. We left Guadalupe early and sailed past Montserrat’s east shore so we could see the volcano. It last erupted in 2005. What a desolate landscape. The west shore is much more inviting. We had quite a long sail today (11 hours) with strong winds (up to 22 knots) and high seas unless we were behind an island. The start of the day was rather uncomfortable but the day ended with great conditions, all the way to when we were coming in to anchor. When we “dropped” the sails and hit the key to turn on the engine. And the engine didn’t start. So we pulled the small jib back out and sailed into the anchorage and dropped the anchor. It’s a good thing Mark knows what he’s doing. We got a nice set on the first attempt (really, we only get one try without the motor) and now he’s below working on the starter motor. My fingers are crossed, and I have the utmost confidence. When he gets the starter working again I’ll back down on the anchor to make sure it’s set.
We think we’ll spend the day here in St. Kitts tomorrow and walk around town. The island and its beaches look beautiful.IMG_1008

Verdict:        the starter solenoid is toast. To the rescue? Of course we have a spare. Will Mark rebuild the old one? Probably.
Friday, March 17             Well, I was wrong. We didn’t spend the day in St. Kitts. We’ve learned that you can’t even begin to know about an island in one day so, why try. Instead, on Wednesday we sailed on to St. Martin. It was a long sail, but a comfortable one. Fortunately, we learned our lesson last time we were there and went in on the French side. MUCH less money and great food. We spent Thursday in town and restocked the liquor locker (just in time!), while eating good food and enjoying ourselves.
Today we are sailing back to Gorda Sound – where our Caribbean experience began. Mark continues to fish. Today he caught two and lost two more, including a beautiful Mahi-Mahi. I am planning to make carpaccio. Now I need a recipe.
We have made a reservation at Leverick Bay Marina and will tie up to the dock for the first time since January. I hope we remember how to do this! We’re going to have electricity, and wifi, and showers. We will be able to walk to the grocery store and laundry without getting in the dingy. And there is even a little spa there. I just might get a mani-pedi! (I haven’t told Mark about that yet.). We’ll probably stay there until Sunday morning when we go over to Tortola to meet Karen & Mark.
I hope your March, 2017 has been as much fun as ours has.
OMG!! We planned our trip north so well and executed it safely and with fun. Then out of the blue it hit me. WE ARE HERE A WEEK EARLY. I can’t believe I did this. We could have spent 4 days in Guadalupe and 4 days in St. Kitts, and still have gotten here with time to spare. Well, at least we aren’t a week late.

Damn.

Thursday, February 23
Tonight we will anchor in Saint Pierre, Martinique, as will Peter and Patti (Serendipitous). Tomorrow we’ll head farther south to Sainte Anne and meet up with Rick and Brenda (Amara). We plan to stay there for a few days and then turn back north and island-hop our way back to the BVI’s so that we arrive in plenty of time for Karen & Mark’s visit at the end of March.

Speaking of visiting — We do have extra beds, and love having people visit. If you’re interested, please let me know. Timing is a bit touchy, but there are lots of places to catch up with us and we’ll do what we have to do to meet you.

Friday, February 24 Our sail to Ste. Anne was typical – wind right on the nose – so we motor-sailed and tacked our way south. When we anchored in the outer harbor we looked around for Amara but didn’t see her. Then I got clever. I checked on our AIS* and found them in the list of boats, about a mile away. Mark and I checked the charts and found that Amara was in the inner harbor, so up came our anchor and away we went. We found a great place to drop the anchor near them and relaxed for a while before heading into town to immigration and for a brief walk around. After our initial tour we returned to Roxy and found that Brenda, Rick, and his sister Katherine had returned to Amara. We stopped for a chat and a rum punch before returning home for dinner and bed. Another sweet day.
*AIS is a communication program that runs on GPS and alerts you to approaching boats, including how close you are going to come to each other and if a collision is possible (and when!). Ours also serves as an anchor watch, alerting us if our anchor drags, and will identify other boats in the anchorage or immediate vicinity.

Saturday, February 25 Rick and Brenda have rented a car. Today we planned to do an extensive tour of rum distilleries, but it didn’t quite work out that way. We left bright and early (well, 9:00) and headed to the north east corner of Martinique (we are anchored in the south west corner) where there are 2 or 3 distilleries and the ruins of a sugar plantation. We spent about 2 hours exploring the remains of the plantation including the main house, the distillery, the sugar refinery, and the remains of the loading dock. As in other ruins, the slave quarters aren’t still there – they were made of such temporary material (mud & sticks) that nothing remains of them. We finally got to the first distillery and discovered that it was closed. Now was 12:30 and we are getting hungry. So we drive around toward the next distillery and find a place to eat lunch. We finally go to the distillery and, for some reason, tour it before we go to the tasting room (mixed up priorities). I was really unimpressed with the rums but we bought a 3 liter BOX of rum for 30 €. By the time we were done with this distillery, it was almost 4:00 and we had an hour drive back to town, so we didn’t get to the third distillery. 🙁 Oh well, I have rum on the boat.
Sunday, February 26 Today we went for a really nice walk with Rick, Brenda, and Katherine. After about 45 minutes I said that my knee was bothering me and I was done, and I’d be happy to wait at the car while the rest finished their trek. Katherine was really happy to join me, so the two of us walked back and had a lovely time waiting on the beach for the others. Finally we decided that they should be back soon and found a picnic table to claim. No sooner had we done that then they show us and tell us that they’d been sitting at a bar for the last hour. Here we thought they must be exhausted but no, they were drinking. Pooh.
Back at the boat it suddenly occurred to me that Peter & Patti on Serendipitous were coming down to Ste. Anne, so I hailed them on the radio. They were indeed here, but in the outer harbor. We invited them to join us in the safety and calm of the inner harbor but it was getting dark and they had had a few failures on their way south, so they opted to stay put, at least for the night.

Monday, February 27 Met up with Amara and Serendipitous for lunch at a fun restaurant, Zanzibar, which (you might guess) is Moroccan. Good food + fun people = a great time.

Tuesday, February 28 Marci Gras!! Amara is on her way south but Serendipitous is still here, so let the party continue. On our way into town to meet up with Peter and Patti our outboard quit (again). A very nice stranger (I wish we’d gotten his name & his boat’s name) towed us into the dingy dock and Mark “fiddled” with it for a while and got it to where he thought it would work. So meet up we did and after breakfast we checked the sail lofts for some materials and repair, only to discover they were closed for Carnival. So we decided to dingy across the bay to another shop and the grocery store, but we didn’t really trust our motor, so P&P followed us in case we got stuck. We discovered that it worked with the cover off, but not with the cover on.
After our shopping excursion we made it back to Roxy, again with Peter & Patti following us, and Mark ripped apart the outboard. He discovered the problem was with the secondary fuel pump (I’m so proud that I remember that – even if I don’t really understand what it does) and was in the middle of “rebuilding” it with totally foreign materials when he remembered that Dave Shumski had brought us a repair kit. Mark located it and “TA-DA” it has the broken part!
Now we should be safe to go into town for the celebrations, however, we are sticks-in-the-mud. Our anchorage is so well protected because, while we are in 20 feet of water, there are shoals and reefs all around us, so we don’t risk being in town after dark. So we listened to the pulsating music from Roxy and danced on our own.

Saturday, March 4 Well, we had planned to be gone from Martinique by now, heading back north to meet Karen and Mark in the BVI’s at the end of the month, but the wind has been so strong for so long that the waves and swell are so high that the trip would be miserable. How long can the wind blow in one miserable direction at 20 – 30 knots? And all Chris the wind guy will say is “indefinitely”. It’s not that Martinique isn’t wonderful, we are having a great time, but honestly, I’m worried about getting back north. I know we can do it in 2 days, 3 if we stop and rest, so I keep telling myself it will be okay, but STOP ALREADY!
Oh well, as long as we are stuck here, we might as well enjoy, right? So today I’m getting my hair done. This is a true act of faith. The woman doing my hair speaks even less English than I do French. I went through our book French for Cruisers. It has all sorts of help for you if your sails need repair, if your transmission blows, or you want to go out for dinner, but for important things like coiffure? Not a word. And then I realize that mine is the only white face in the whole salon, which is (I think) unusual in Martinique which is a pretty integrated society.
Getting my hair done anywhere on this trip takes trust on all sides. I have no history with any of the salon people and no idea of what they do. I can only trust them (and remind myself that hair grows back). They don’t know me or how I want my hair done, they can only do what they know how to do and hope that I’ll be happy.
We also have ordered fabric to make a replacement for our bimini sunshade. It was supposed to be here yesterday, but didn’t make it on the boat, so now it is due on Monday. Now we are wondering if we can have the guy make the shade for us, instead of me doing it. I bet he’d do a better job.

Saturday, March 11
Today we had a “bread tasting”. The bread here is amazing (after all, Martinique is French territory). How is it that an amazing baguette here costs 1€ but something not as good costs $3.00 in the U.S.? However, if you go into a boulongerie (bread bakery) there are four or five kinds of baguettes and another three or four kinds of “bread”. I have been trying to figure out the difference between the different varieties but, with the exception of the butter bread, have been unable to distinguish them. Today we bought four kinds of baguettes. “Normal”, “le Vain”, “Complet”, and “Campagne” We enlisted the assistance of Patti and Peter, as well as Bill and Lori from Toodle-oo, and had an extensive comparison test. Of course there were condiments; French butter, pate, and cheeses, as well as wine, but our unbiased taste test revealed that the Campagne and Complet were darker (as in whole grain) and the Normal and le Vain were whiter, but other than that, they were all wonderful. Our advice to you is; if you are in a true boulongerie and are faced with the decision as to which kind of bread to buy, follow your whimsy, you can’t go wrong.
Tomorrow we are off for less-southerly-islands. The fabric for the bimini came in and the new bimini is beautiful. The wind is down from 30 knots to 12, and by tomorrow the seas should have settled a bit also. We won’t have time to explore a lot of islands on our way north, but we might get a couple of days on Anguilla.

Dominica, part Deux

Monday, February 20
Mark and I hired one of the PAYS guys to bring us diesel fuel. At 9:00 he told us we were next and it would be soon. Mark and I could have done it in an hour, but we thought this would be easier. We spent the entire day waiting for 30 gallons of fuel. Finally at 3:00 the guys showed up. The bite was that we HAD to get to immigration that day because we had told them that we planned to leave on February 20, and that day had arrived. So as soon as the diesel was taken care of we jumped into the dingy and high-tailed it across the bay and checked out of Immigration, telling them that, because of wind, we thought we’d be leaving on Thursday. Unlike the BVI, immigration here is very nice. They said no problem, and here are your exit papers.

Breath in.  Breath out.  It’s island time.

Tuesday, February 21
We should have left Monday. Over night the wind switched to coming from the west. The wind NEVER comes from the west. The Caribbean weather is dominated by the Trade Winds, so called because in the latitudes just north of the equator they blow consistently from the east, bringing trade to the Americas. The only western winds are in the mid-northern latitudes. Because the wind is never from the west, all the harbors face west. Because the harbors face west, IF there is a west wind, well, let’s just say the harbors become less comfortable. The swells built over the course of the day and by 5:00 p.m. it was dangerous to have your dingy on the dock and if you had dragged it onto the beach (the right thing to do) it was dangerous to get it off the beach.
Mark and I had spent the day on a field trip with Peter from the boat Onapua. We caught a ride to the next village over, thinking that we would have a nice walk in the town and then catch lunch at a highly recommended restaurant before walking back to our stretch of beach. We arrived and discovered that the “town” is about a block long with two bars and a “public convince”. It was way too early for the restaurant, the staff (such as it is) was arriving as we showed up, and the cook didn’t get there for another 20 minutes. However, they had good wifi, so we spent 45 minutes or so reading email, downloading videos, checking FaceBook, and other important things. We did take a walk through the town and found a lovely church on a hill and some great plantings. We returned to the restaurant as the grill was finally hot and ordered a great grilled fish lunch. Next Peter followed through with his threat to make us walk back to the anchorage. The first 1/4 mile was all up – big switchbacks going up the mountain side. I wasn’t sure I’d make it. After that the next hour was the usual kind of up and down with a lot of flat included. We did see beautiful flowers and vistas and had a very nice walk.
We got back just in time for a scheduled jam-session at one of the beach bars so Mark and I and wandered over there but because of the swells & chop in the bay the musicians decided to reschedule for Wednesday. Peter made it back to his boat safely while Mark and I talked with the non-musicians at the bar and watched in amazement as people tried to get their dinghies our of the “surf” by the shore. At one point I was watching a man struggle to get past the breaking swell and said to Mark, “he’s going over” as the waves pushed him back to shore again and again. Eventually I proved to be right, unfortunately. Mark ran over to help the guy and realized that it was Bill, one of our Salty Dawg friends. In the flipping his motor flipped up and the motor mounts were bent now he could not get it lowered again, so his dingy was stuck on the shore. Mark’s wind projection app was telling him that the winds were going to switch enough north to be blocked by the land at 7:00 or so, which would allow the sea to settle down so we could get safely off the beach. Meanwhile, there were three dinghies still tied to the pier. One of them was under the pier and banging into the pier with every wave, damaging both the dingy and the dock. Mark and a bunch of other men pulled it out from under the dock and dragged it ashore. They tried to do the same with the other two but they were locked to the pier so instead they pulled them onto the dock where they were safe.
Anyway, we convinced Bill to join us for another round of drinks and dinner. (It’s not like he had a lot of choices, we were his only way back to his boat.) We had a nice time, although he was drenched to the skin and freezing, and lamenting the destruction of his iPhone in the flipping. Finally around 7:00 the wind diminished a little and about 8:00 it did shift a bit which, at 9:00 allowed us to safely get our dingy off the beach and to deliver Bill safely to his boat and us to ours.
And we all had a very rocky night’s sleep.

Wednesday, February 22
The harbor still has swells, but they aren’t as big or frequent as yesterday. Hooray. We met up with Peter and Patty (of Serendipitous) and walked down the road for lunch at a great roti stand. Roti is a Caribbean curry dish with chic peas, potatoes, and usually chicken, that is served wrapped in a large tortilla-type pancake and is always too messy to actually pick up and eat. Then we walked a bit more and eventually returned to one of the beach bars for an afternoon of wifi. Then back to the boat for a nap (after all, isn’t that why we are here?). Next, back to the shore for the jam session that was supposed to be on Tuesday. Very complicated.

Thursday, February 23
Well, we did pry ourselves away from Dominica. I think 8 boats left the bay today, including 5 Salty Dawgs, some heading south (as we are) and others going north (as we will be). We are on our way to Martinique as I write. Our winds were (as ALWAYS) blowing in front of us, so we started with just the motor. Quickly we changed our direction and put up the mainsail. We were about 45 minutes out of the harbor and Mark noticed dolphin off our starboard (right) bow, coming toward us. We both went up to the bow of the boat (yay, auto pilot) and found a pod of about 8 dolphin which swam along with us for about 20 minutes. IMG_0365

FANTASTIC.

The rest of our sail was pretty wonderful too.     IMG_0970