Hola Muchachos,

Our crossing of the dreaded Mona Passage couldn’t have been more benign.  The wind and seas cooperated fully.  At times, the surface of the ocean looked like mercury, with nary a ripple to mar its’ glassy surface.  This particular piece of the ocean has a nasty reputation.  In the slot between Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico, water boils up out of the miles deep Puerto Rican Trench, and is pinched between the islands, the 400-foot depth of Horseshoe Shoal acting like a sandbar off a beach, causing waves to stack up in a rather singular fashion.  Couple this with the prevailing Trade Winds, and thunderstorms marching west off the coast of Puerto Rico nearly every night, and you’ve got the perfect recipe for a lot of sea stories.  Sorry, no story.  We love PLEASURE boating (And, it’s oftimes better to be lucky than good).

With “la Isla del Encanto” in sight, I gave Jose, the owner of Marina Pescaderia a call.  He had expected us to be there the following morning, but our pushing through without an overnight stop at Sand Cay, as originally planned, had put us in early.  He told us that he wasn’t at the marina, but would call his “guy” to help us in.  At 16h45, we were tied up, and ready for a cold one, some 56 hours after leaving Providenciales.  The marina was immaculate, although many of the boats berthed there were far from it.  It looked like we might have been the only transients in what appeared to be a 200 (or so) slip facility.  The electric supply was strong, and the freshwater pressure great.  The fixed concrete docks were pretty new and in very good condition.  The fee structure here also fit our thrifty profile.  $1.20/ft., $.24/kwh, and $2.50/day for water.  That night, we slept in air conditioned comfort-livin’ large! 

Probably don’t need to tell you how we occupied the next morning, arising to the roosters sounding off around the bay, you know that you’re in the islands.  After the Girl was desalted, we headed in to explore the little fishing village of Puerto Real.  There wasn’t a whole lot to see.  The town looked pretty depressed, without much in the way of commerce.  The fish market, a couple of scuba shops, and a marine supply/service operation were the only visible places of business.  Also of note was the relative absence of young people (a sure sign of a dormant economy).  We had lunch at the Mercado Bakery on the outskirts of town, and had a good time people watching (and being watched) as the locals streamed in and out at lunchtime.  No ingles spoken here, we were going down fast when a bilingual teenager from the continental U.S. came in and helped us with our order.  Turned out that she was studying premed at a university on the island, and was from Springfield, MA.

Having seen the sights, the next day was consumed with living.  While Suz took care of office/computer stuff, I re-bedded some deck hardware and repaired a broken hatch.  Late in the afternoon, we finally met Jose, the owner, who had been AWOL since before our arrival.  Over sips of “Don Q” rum, we got the Chamber of Commerce spiel, after which, we coaxed his life story from him.  Jose gave us a several page handout, detailing anchorages, attractions, and his favorite restaurants and hangouts along the south coast where we were headed.  He told us that he knew lots of people along our route, so if we needed any help along the way, that we should call him.  Okay……so here’s the abbreviated life story.  Born here, Jose went off to Georgia Tech to get his degree in engineering.  Returning home, he settled into the family business, servicing the landline telephone system all over the island.  Well, in comes Carlos Slim (see Mexican multi-billionaire) and buys the Puerto Rican telephone system.  Five contracts have since dwindled to one, as Mexican companies (owned by Senor Slim) took over the maintenance operations.  Jose also started a Redi-Mix concrete company, but with the collapse of the Puerto Rican economy (PR is in federal receivership), new building isn’t happening.  They’re now doing custom structural and decorative concrete.  Okay, so where does this marina come in?  As Jose tells it, “My Dad was in town with a few of his buddies, got really drunk, and bought a marina.” His family has no interest in boating or water sports, so the already decrepit marina and its’ wooden docks continued their downward spiral, until finally, as he tells it, a decision needed to be made.  “I told my Dad that he either needed to sell the land or rebuild the marina.” I guess the rest is history.  They started the permitting process in 2008, as the economy was tanking, and completed construction in 2011.  Jose, who loves the water, and has had a boat of some type since his first Boston Whaler as a 10-year-old, runs the operation in his spare time.  He told us that the bank was paid, and the marina is breaking even financially.  Of course, he is looking to build the business so that he can “sit at the marina bar and drink Don Q.” I have no doubt that he will, with the level of service that he provides.  I love stories about people who work hard and succeed, but I digress.

We fueled up the Girl on relatively inexpensive (compared to the rest of the Caribbean) Puerto Rican diesel, and were off the dock at Puerto Real by 07h00 this morning, the 7th.  Taking advantage of the remainder of the Night Lee, we cruised in light winds, and were anchored inside the reef behind Cayo Caracoles by 10h30.  Here, we spent the day just playing in the sun, enjoying dinghy rides and the warm Caribbean water.  We debated staying here for another day, but think we’ll move up the coast tomorrow, and stay a few days at “Gilligan’s Isle”.

No internet, just cell, so no pictures.

-Hasta Luego

Gooood Morning!

It’s 01h00 on……..”let’s see….ahh yes, Sunday morning, and I just came on watch after 7 hours of killer sleep”.  Ever since I became voluntarily unemployed, the time/space continuum has been disturbed-on a passage, even more so.  It’s one of the reasons for the $19 Timex on my wrist (the day/date function), the other being the LARGE readablewithoutglassesnumbers.  Sleep yesterday night was sketchy at best.  Even though the seas were 4’ and less, they were hitting us just off the port bow, giving the Girl some lively movement in all three axis (axes,axises, axees?) whatever, she was pitching, rolling and yawing in rapid succession.  The frequent rain showers didn’t help, as the closed portholes made for a rather stuffy boat belowdecks.   This morning, we had more of the same.  Cloudy skies, and frequent pouring rain were the order of the day.  We’d no sooner get the portholes and hatches open, then the rain would come pouring down (and sideways).  In midafternoon, we got some lines in the water.  Since I was planning on napping to make up for lost time the night before, the fishing effort was halfhearted at best.  No baits, just artificial lures.  True to form, I was just getting off to sleep when one of the reels went zinging out.  Winding in, we could see that it was a little Mahi.  As I was thinking “Should we keep him, or let ‘em go?”, he shook the hook.  Problem solved.  Back to the couch.  Not fifteen minutes later, repeat the process.  I’m not yet quite with it (still sleeping) as I’m letting line out to reset.  All of a sudden, I see a six inch tidal wave rocketing perpendicular to our wake and hit the lure that I’m just letting out.  Three hundred yards of line roll off the spool in a heartbeat.  I’m trying to get some drag on the reel, but to no avail.  I’ve got the biggest fish I’ve ever hooked up, and my reel’s malfunctioning!!  Meanwhile, he’s taken 400 yards, I’m thinking “to heck with it, I’ll just hand line him in”. (and throw away the pile of line that’ll end up on the deck away.)  He saved me the humiliation.  One shake of his head, and he was gone.  Sheepishly, I looked a little closer at the “broken” reel, and realized that I had never set the clutch-one of the hazards of fishing in your sleep.  The third time was a charm.  This time, after a 30 minute nap, when that reel started screaming, I was in battle mode immediately.  Man, it was something big.  Four hundred and fifty yards were off the spool before I could reel in a single inch of line.  I looked at my reel, and saw line that had never been off it (you can tell by the way it’s wound).  For the next twenty minutes, I reeled in twenty yards, he took back twenty-five.  Exhausted, I put the rod back in the holder, and took a rest.  Suzanne spelled me a couple of times, reeling with both hands.  When we finally got him to the boat, this “monster” was no more than a 49” Mahi, no bigger than the guys that we boated in the Bahamas last year.  That was a long story just to explain why I got a good sleep tonight.

After our pal was butchered, yielding about 10 pounds of gorgeous filets, Suz informed that we were done fishing.  “What?”  Seems that the freezers are full-no room for more food.  Remember, we’re headed to the islands, where beef will be somewhat less than plentiful.  The rain showers finally abated, the clouds cleared, and we had a breezy, sunny evening, with the sun setting over calm seas.

I got ahead of myself, so let me go back and fill in the blanks.  After we left Southside late Friday morning, we spent the next nine hours cruising over the shallow Caicos Bank.  The sun was full-on.  The temperature was in the eighties, with humidity right up there to match it.  Wind and waves were on our nose, starting at a manageable 2’, and increasing to 4’ by the end of the day when we exited the Bank at Fish Cays.  Two hours across the Turks Island Passage brought us onto the shoals around Big Sand Cay, where in the pitch black, under a wafer-thin crescent moon, we threaded through, between the island to the north, and the coral rock shoals to the south.  (radar, accurate electronic charts, and GPS are good things-we never saw nuttin’ out the windows).  From there, we expected deep water the rest of the way, and since there was virtually no boat traffic, we flipped on the television for some binge-watching.  Some friends back on dirt had told us about the series “Scandal”, so we downloaded a couple of seasons before we left.  As of last night, we’re on the second episode of Season 3.  As I mentioned before, sleep came with some effort Friday night.  I got my best in the last hour before I relieved the Admiral at 02h00, when the waves started to moderate.

I guess that gets us caught up.  It’s 01h45 on Sunday morning, the seas are less than 2’, and the wind, in the night lee created by Dominican Republic, some 30 miles off our starboard, is less than 10kn.  Before Suz went to bed, we discussed the latest weather report, downloaded from our Delorme satellite tracker.  Conditions look favorable for us to push on to Puerto Rico, so we’ll bypass Samana, D.R. to take advantage of this unusually (for this time of year) nice weather.  I think that I’ll listen to a few of our prerecorded podcasts, drink a Coke, and settle in for the night.

PS:  You mighta guessed no cell or data coverage.  We’ll shoot these last few into space ASAP.

-Later

Ohhh, Yeah……

After we paid de money to da men, we were done with Customs and Immigration (until it was time to get our clearance to leave).  We got the bikes down for some much needed exercise.  We quickly found out that “improved road” didn’t mean paved.  As we toodled out of the drive and onto the “road”, it became evident that we were in for a bumpy ride.  The surface reminded me of those first photos sent back from the Mars rover.  There wasn’t any loose gravel, just sharp, jagged rocks sticking up out of the surface.  Everywhere that there was a slight incline, eroded ruts from 4”-8” deep scarred the crust.  The benefit accrued from this condition was that there weren’t any quiet cars on the island, you could hear them rattling and bumping up behind you long before there was ever any danger.  (Not that we saw many cars on this back road).  Six miles out, near the end of Juba Point, we came upon a man-made basin surrounded by lots suitable for building.  Two homes, built on the prominence between the basin and the sea, created an imposing presence.  We guessed that they were over 20,000 square feet each.  One was rumored (and confirmed) to belong to Prince.  Impressive.  We doubled back past the marina, and headed north to explore Turtle Bay, a marina on the north side of the island.  Crossing Leeward Highway, the paved four-lane which runs east-west down the length of the island was a real trip.  The locals make up for the speed that they CAN’T drive on the improved roads when they’re rocketing down the Leeward.  It took us 10 minutes to get across the roundabout, which was nothing more than slightly controlled mayhem.  Suz and I quickly determined that our bike riding would be limited to back roads.  Over the spine of the island, we worked our way down the windward side to Turtle Bay, riding through platted, but as yet unbuilt developments.  There, we scoped out the marina and grabbed an iced tea and some Tuna carpaccio rolls at “Mango” restaurant.  (Their dinner menu looked great).  We rode the beach road up and down past some beautiful homes, and used the beach access to check out the shore.  It was really windy with a lot of surf, but with many coral heads scattered along a sandy bottom, it looked like a good place to snorkel from the beach in calmer weather.  With the sun dipping low, we pedaled on back to Southside, where our odometer revealed that we had covered over 15 miles, most on bumpy, rutted roads.  Our butts felt it.

Okay, I don’t wanna give you T.M.I., but I’ve gotta say a word about the showers at Southside.  The restrooms are carved out of the side of a limestone cliff.  The women’s shower is open to the sky, and has two great shower heads, replete with hot water.  Since there were no other boaters there, I had the pleasure of using it instead of the more traditional mens side.  (it doesn’t take much to make me happy).  After showers began what was to become our nightly ritual here at Southside.  Bob’s Bar is an open-air affair attached to his house, high on the cliff overlooking the marina.  Since we were the only transients, we were treated by the company of the local “regulars”, mostly comprised of expats from various European and North American countries.  Let’s just say that the conversation was lively.  The cruising guides had warned that Bob was a Bocce aficionado who seldom lost a game.  From our slip, we were hard-pressed to figure out how he had grown grass for lawn bowling.  Well, we got our education up at the bar.  “REAL Bocce courts were made of crushed limestone, 60’-80’ long………..& etc.”.  The Admiral got some lessons in the finer points of the game from the Master.  One night, we thought that we might be the witnesses to local history.  One of the patrons had Bob down by a score of 5 to 1 (game is over at 6.) Bob proceeded to win, 8 to 5.  Bam!  Navarde, the bartender, introduced Suz to Bambarra (a local rum), while I enjoyed Turkshead, the local Brew, as we watched the sun set from the terrace every evening.

Our rental car was delivered the following morning, and we took an all-day field trip, cruising the island from tip to tip.  Of course, we did the marina tour.  Blue Haven, our initial destination, is a very upscale facility, associated with a couple of high end hotels.  Included with your berth is the use of the amenities, including spa treatments, the pool, gym and several restaurants.  Very nice.  Most of the vessels in the near-empty marina were small mega-yachts.  From all appearances, the season was yet to begin.  On the other end of the scale, Caicos Shipyard was mostly a working marina, situated, like Southside, on the Caicos Bank.  It looked like if you needed any maintenance, this would be the place to go, with several large Travelifts and workshops.  We decided that our funky little marina, not too fancy, not too stark, was just about right for us.

Being the good tourists, we hit several of the popular beach bars, including Bougaloo’s, Da Conch Shack,  (where we bought a half dozen fresh Mangoes out of a guys’ trunk), and Kalooki’s.  Each had its own charm.

The Conch Farm, developed in the late 80’s by an American marine biologist for the commercial production of conch, was a must-see for my marine biologist spouse.  Danver led our private tour, which was very informative.  I just couldn’t figure out how this was a money-making proposition.  He told us of the grandiose deep-water fish farming project that was in the works, scheduled to come online the next year.  Even though we were “in between seasons” for the Conch, I couldn’t help but think that things were too quiet.  Danver was adept at answering my pointed questions, and I was careful not to get out-of-bounds.  Suzanne, in her later research, found that the Conch Farm had been closed as a viable aquacultural project in 2008, and only made money through their guided tours.  Just enough of the facility was kept functional so as to provide exhibits to the tourists.  Two vans full of patrons rolled in just as we were leaving, a testimony to the power of advertising.  That said, we’d go again, as we learned a lot of cool but not useful information.

On the way home, we figured that we’d stop at Turkshead Brewery (designated on the Visitor’s map) for a cold one.  When Google Maps just couldn’t get us there, winding our way through the warehouses near the airport, we went “old school.” We stopped at one of the open garage bays, and Suz walked in to inquire about the brewery.  “Oh, they just brew it there-no tasting room.”  With thirsts unslaked, we motored back to the ranch, stopping first at the IGA for fresh veggies and fruit.  In our perch above the marina, we enjoyed a couple of cold ones, served up by our favorite bartendresse, Nevarde.

It looked like the weather would cooperate, and the still-raging winds calm down on Friday.  That was a good thing, as we were finished touring here, and wanted to get down the road.  (Also, staying another day would require us to buy a cruising permit for $300, an instant-replay of the scenario in the Bahamas).  We spent Thursday doing boatchores.  Suz cooked meals for what (if the weather cooperated) could turn out to be a two-and-a-half day passage straight to Puerto Rico.  I attended to more mundane pursuits, mainly polishing all of the stainless steel rails and trying to stay ahead of the ever-looming rust spots.

This morning, Friday the 2nd, the winds were down to about 13kn, the sun high, and the humidity through the roof.  De Customs( $50 enter & exit), and de Immigration($30/p entry & $15/p exit) men came for their exit donations, and we were off on the 11h00 high tide.  (Yeah, we checked out the depth of the “channel” on the dinghy the other day-it was three feet in some spots).  Right now, we’re cruising southeast across the Bank.  The winds are steady at around 14kn from ENE, and the wind waves are 1’-3’.  If we get cell coverage as we pass Great Sand Cay early this evening, I’ll try to bounce this off into space, otherwise,

-Later

Hiya,

Saturday morning, another cloudy day.  Wind still blowing at around 19kn.  Chris Parker (our weather router) did another forecast for us last night.  Instead of reinforcing our decision to go, the new forecast is throwing doubt on the proposition.  As I sit staring at my computer, I’m feeding this growing pit in my stomach.  Am I trying to put a spin on what I’m reading because we are on a (gasp!) schedule, or is the passage doable?  Finally, I decide that it’s probably the plane tickets in Puerto Rico talking, and by 06h00, I’m crawling back in bed, knowing that we won’t have another window for at least a week.  Suz asks me what’s going on-I read her the forecast.  C.P. says that the weather and seas will be rough for the first three hours of the trip, as we beat up to the northern tip of Long Island, then should moderate throughout the day.  After that, the prediction gets a little murky.  If a Low forms along the TROF currently preceding the Cold Front moving our way, it will probably bring with it Squally conditions, with winds of 40+kn, and seas to 7’.  IF we can thread the needle between the Low and the Front, we should have tolerable conditions.  Okay, here comes the disclaimer.  He says “If my forecast is wrong, you could have considerably worse conditions.  If you run into the backside of the Low, you’ll run into the squalls.  On the other hand, if the Cold Front catches you, you will lose the suppressing effect that it is having on the winds.”  At any rate, he says that we MUST be in to the Turks and Caicos by Monday morning, as the winds will be significant for the rest of the week.  His last shot was to the effect of “Fortunately, you’re in a well-found, stabilized boat.”  Suz added “At Home On Any Sea”, Kadey Krogen's corporate slogan.

This is the part where it’s good to be part of a team.  The Admiral breaks it down:  Let’s stick our nose out.  If it’s too bad, we’ll turn around and come back; When we turn the corner at the North end of Long Island, if the beam seas and wind have not moderated, we’ll come back down the lee side to Salt Pond (a 3 hour backtrack); If conditions head south later in the day, we can head in to Clarence Town on the South end of Long Island (at night); After that, we’ll be on our own until mid-morning on Sunday when we could duck into the Bight at Mayaguana Island.  It all still sounded pretty “iffy,” but it was a plan.  By 06h32, the anchor was up, and we were on our way.

During the first leg up to the end of Long Island, we beat into 17kn winds and 2’-4’ seas on 5 second intervals-nothing that we hadn’t rocking-horsed through on the Great Lakes.  As we changed course from NE to SE, we began to have a beam sea, and the waves moderated to 1’-3’ on around 7 second intervals-NICE!  Of course, all day we were waiting for the other shoe to drop.  Toward the end of the day, the seas went to around 2’-4’ on about 8 seconds, with very little wind chop.  When I came on watch at 00h30 on Sunday morning, the conditions were about the same, and stayed that way throughout the night, with the exception being the seas near the Plana Cays.  I had plotted our course a little too close to the islands, and as the depth changed from thousands of feet to one hundred, the waves stacked up accordingly.  As The Girl changed course for deeper water, the steep waves abated.  Rounding Mayaguana Island, Suz woke up, and we decided to continue on under lowering skies, the wind picking up slightly, and the radar showing rain all around us.  With the windometer creeping up, we decided against our original plan of heading to Blue Haven on the north side of Providenciales, opting instead for the South Side marina, and the relative safety of the Caicos Bank on the south (and lee) side of the island.  We figured our ETA would put us through the reef, and on the Bank well before dark, and possibly, even to the marina before all light was gone.  Well……….” The best laid plans.” For the next three hours, the wind and seas crept higher.  We were still seeing rain on the radar, but the cells all dissipated before we hit them.  We now had steady winds in the upper teens, with gusts into the twenties.  The seas were up to 4’-6’, but not uncomfortable.  Then the squalls hit us.  As we passed through each, the winds would rise into the 30’s, with the tops blowing off the now 6-8 footers.  In between squalls, the wind would drop back into the 20’s.  Never scary, but a bit uncomfortable.  We could only imagine what was going on behind the Velcro tie-wrapped doors of the cupboards as we listened to the crashes emitting through their louvers.

A couple of nervous “Hee, Hee, Hee’s,” as we entered the unmarked break in the reef and rode up onto the relatively calm Caicos Bank three hours later.  Our ETA now shot to heck, we arrived at the turn which would take us a mile-and-a-half over very shallow water into the marina in near darkness.  This was a story in itself, but suffice it to say that Bob, the owner of South Side Marina, talked us in over the cellphone (another story), and we never saw less than 6’ 3” of depth.  By 19h30, we were safely tied at the dock, and by 20h30 we were dead asleep.

This morning we had visits from Customs and Immigration.  Both were smooth, although a little late.  That was okay with us, as it gave us time to wash the salty Girl.  We chatted with Bob, an expat who has lived in the Islands for some 40+ years.  He chuckled when he said that it was almost a good thing that we came in at night, ‘cause we couldn’t see how bad it was.  (Both of us had sensed the tension in his voice when he had talked us in last night).  We’ll get the bikes down, and do some exploring this afternoon.

-Later

Good Afternoon,

Day broke as we ran due east over the Bahama Bank, just south of Highbourne Cay.  As we passed familiar anchorages heading south in the Family Islands which comprise the Exumas chain, memories from last year flooded back.  We exited the Bank into Exuma Sound around mid-afternoon, and immediately got the lines in the water.  The only rewards that we got for our efforts were a small Barracuda, and a little Skipjack.  As darkness fell, we began to question the wisdom of pushing on, having to enter the reef to our Stocking Island anchorage at night.  And night it was.  With the moon not scheduled to rise until around 00h00, it was dark as a pocket as we threaded through the reef at 20h00.  Of course, (it’s the Bahamas) the sole lighted buoy on the way in was extinguished.  Always a little unnerving to hear waves breaking on both sides of you when there’s 4 feet of water under the boat.  We breathed a sigh of relief as the breaking waves receded behind us.  Approaching our old familiar anchorage in Monument Bay, we discovered that the boat wouldn’t come out of gear as we headed towards shore.  We did a one-eighty, weaving through other boats anchored in the pitch-dark bay, and got the Girl back into deeper water, Suzanne driving while I scrambled around, looking for a reason for our troubles.  Everything looked good under the helm and at the transmission.  Fortunately, the controls at the upper helm responded, and we got the anchor down safely.  (The next day, I bled the hydraulic lines to the shifter, thinking that maybe small bubbles in the lines had coalesced and caused a blockage, subsequent to some work that we had done in Solomon’s).  At any rate, the controls now work, so we’ll see.  By the next morning, the Cold Front that had been chasing us caught up, and the wind was howling, and did so throughout the week.  Morning light revealed that the trawler lying next to us was “Privateer”, a Krogen 52 belonging to Greg and Lisa Smith, delivered just the month previously.  We had met Greg and Lisa two years ago at the Krogen Rendezvous, when they were still Krogen wannabees on a fifty-four-foot sailboat, “Chasseur”.  We enjoyed their company during this past windy week, and shared Thanksgiving dinner with them aboard “Alizann”.

I won’t bore you with the details of our stay in George Town.  You were here with us last year.  Let’s just say that it’s one year and one hurricane older-nothing much has changed.  (Except, our old beer-and-a burger, freewifihangout “Red Boone” burned to the ground last week under suspicious circumstances.)

It’s Friday afternoon.  The wind is still cookin’, but it is supposed to moderate for 48 hours, starting in the morning.  Seas are projected to drop to 4’-6’ at 8 second intervals before the next Cold Front arrives on Monday morning, whipping up the wind and waves again.  It’s about a 35 hour ride to Providenciales, in the Turks and Caicos, so we’ll make a run for it starting early tomorrow.  The wind and seas will still be up then, but by the time that we reach the north end of Long Island and head out into the Atlantic in late morning, they should be diminishing somewhat.  (At least that’s my story, and I’m sticking with it.)  We should be to Mayaguana Island by midmorning on Sunday.  If it’s really dogmeat, we can duck inside the reef there to wait out the weather-probably until late next week.  If not, we’ll continue on to the Blue Haven Marina in the T & C.

-Until next time

Wow! We’re finally off.  Anticipating our Thursday departure, our Krogen pals, Lisa and Mark threw a “Bon Voyage” party for us at the Sunset Bay Marina.  Being the partiers that they are, around thirty fellow Krogenites showed up for heavy apps and sips.  We were touched by the gesture, realizing that we probably wouldn’t see this gang for a few years.  Ever the sentimentalist, Randy quickly brought me back to Earth with the comment that having a party was the only way that they could get our “*sses off the dock”.  True to form, we DIDN’T get off the dock on Thursday.  Angel and his guys weren’t quite finished with the varnish (yes, we broke down and hired it out this year).  It was a good thing, too.  We discovered that one of our heads was leaking, which required breaking in to the inventory for some spare seals.  That crappy job accomplished, I was under the galley sink looking for disinfectant, only to discover that the trap was dripping through a rusted-through elbow.  A quick bike ride to Ace Hardware, and a few minutes of work had that problem cured.  I have to admit that I was a bit shocked by a plumbing job that actually went smoothly.  Somewhere during the course of the day, I got a text from Scottie, our ace mechanic, techie, friend, moral supporter asking if the parts had arrived.  Parts?  Oh yeah, those parts (spare alternator and starter for the generator that I had ordered a few weeks earlier and completely forgotten about (they didn’t make it on to my checklist, which was now empty)).  We weren’t too overly concerned about not getting out quickly, as the weather looked very UNfavorable for a crossing to the Bahamas until the middle of the following week.  Long story short, within a few hours UPS tracking said the parts would be here Friday by 10h30, we went out to dinner with our pals Larry and Deb, and the weather forecast changed.  Surprise! It looked like we would have a very short window to cross the Gulf Stream on Saturday.  So, this is boating, right?  The goods were delivered, and we were off the dock by Noon, headed down the Intracoastal Waterway, planning to exit the Lake Worth Inlet off West Palm Beach.

Since we would be heading into unfamiliar territory this year, and aren’t real familiar with the weather patterns there, we decided to contract with a weather router for personalized reports.  We made our first contact with Chris Parker, weather guru of the Caribbean, for his advice.  He concurred, saying that a midnight departure should provide us with a good ride ahead of an approaching front, which would bring heavy winds with it.  In fact, if we ran non-stop, we might even make it to Georgetown before it caught up with us two days hence.  Sounded good to us.  We pulled in to the anchorage near the turning basin in Lake Worth(Palm Beach) right at dusk, got the hook down, and were treated to the spectacle of a cruiseliner departing through the inlet.  We hit the sack at 19h30, anticipating an 00h00 departure.  Problem was, at 21h22, (but who’s counting?) up on the roof, there arose quite a clatter.  No-it wasn’t Santa and his reindeer.  Suzanne elbowed me awake, exclaiming that there was a boat next to us.  I was in the total fog that envelopes us in the second hour after sleep, but I could totally look up out of our porthole, and see a boat with floodlights ablaze, looming above us.  I pulled on my boxers and scrambled out on deck for a look.  The guy on the boat 3 feet away from us is screaming at me that we were dragging anchor, and that I needed to “get the Hell away from his boat!”  I wasn’t quite sure how we had dragged anchor, then drifted upwind in a 17 knot breeze, against a 3 knot incoming tide to hit him in the stern, but it was no time for debate.  By this time, Suz had the main started, and I was hauling in the anchor, which was well-embedded in the bottom on a 5:1 scope.  We moved about a quarter mile away from the anchoring expert on the 65 foot motoryacht with the rope rode and shiny (and probably seldom-used anchor).  Yes, that was sarcasm.  Two hours later, we woke up and motored out of the anchorage, past the aforementioned yacht, their deck lights fully lit, and someone on the foredeck fooling with the anchor.  No harm, no foul.  Coulda been worse.

The seas had laid down to 1’-3’, on 4 seconds, and it was a gorgeous, moonlit night.  I took the first watch, because, as usual, I was too excited to sleep.  As the night wore on, the seas continued to moderate, and by 09h00, when Suz got up, we had about a 1’ chop, with winds down to 10 knots.  I got my beauty rest in, and we are on the Bahama Bank, cruising under fluffy cumulus clouds, temperature 73F.  I anticipate that we’ll pass by the west end of New Providence Island (where Nassau is located) at around 01h00 Sunday morning, continuing southeast to the Family Islands of the Exuma chain.

-Later

Well……..  The weather and seas were about what we expected on our fifty-one hour passage from Morehead City, NC to the St. Johns River inlet near Mayport.  It was just wavey enough to keep us from doing a lot of reading or writing, but not enough to be uncomfortable.  The wind was predicted to pick up, precluding our heading further south, so we ducked in to the ICW at the St. John’s River.     Our old pal, the Zumwalt (U.S. Navy’s first 1000 Class destroyer, and the vessel that we saw being built in the yard in Bath, Maine 2 years earlier) hailed us on the VHF, asking us to wait for her to pass before entering the inlet.  I suspect that we’re in her database, since we’ve talked to her 3 times, once in Maine, once as she was leaving her berth in Norfolk, and now, here outside Mayport.  They must think that we’re “groupies”.  Anyway, three hours later, we were at Palm Cove Marina, where we spent the rest of the day desalting the Girl.  While we were washing, we spotted “Alba”, a new Krogen 48, toodle down the waterway past us.  The next morning, we headed out around first light, hoping to get past St. Augustine, and in to one of our favorite stops at Marineland.  During the course of the day, the havoc wreaked by Matthew became more visible.  Where docks had once been, there were now only twisted pilings remaining.  We saw literally scores of boats, many of them beautiful yachts, completely on land.  In the early afternoon, we pulled in to the familiar haunts of Marineland Marina, where a large dredge was hard at work.  Finally, the dream that Eric, the harbormaster, had told us of three years previously was coming to fruition.  He told us that the dredging would be done, and the new floating docks should be installed by the Spring of 2017.  Suz and I love the feel of this place, and hope that all of the new improvements don’t change its’ character.  A four-mile bike ride to “Captain’s ,”(we were craving barbeque) revealed more Matthew devastation.  The first-floor contents of most houses were piled at the roadside, awaiting pickup.  Many in low-lying areas were still actively pumping storm water out.  D.O.T. and utility company crews were scattered along the roadside, clearing splintered and uprooted trees.  The dunes that comprised the spine of the north end of the island were now completely gone.  All that remained was the roadbed, with the sea on one side, and the ICW on the other.

We love this stop, but it was time to keep moving.  We were up early, motoring from “Cain’t see to Cain’t see”, making it to the NASA Causeway bridge, where we anchored after dark for the night.  We were up before dawn, motoring to the Vero Beach Municipal mooring field.  There, we planned to stay a couple of nights to catch our breaths, eat some fantastic tuna nachos at the Riverside Café, breakfast on the beach at JC’s Seaside Café, hit the farmers market, and visit Krogen friends, Bruce and Sue, who have a condo north of town.  We did it all.  It sure felt good to hop on the bikes and pedal around one of our very favorite little towns.  (they don’t call it Velcro Beach for nuthin’).  Bruce drove over and picked us up, taking us out to Sue and his fabulous home (there’s nothing “condo” about it), where we enjoyed good food, great company, and a little college football.  Joining us were Brian and Judy, who had arrived on “Alba” that day.  Many bottles of wine later, we called it a night.  Sunday morning, we began the leg which would bring us to Sunset Bay Marina, in Stuart.  There, we would pick up our mail, do our provisioning, and boat maintenance in our last U.S. port.

-Soon

 

 

 

Hola!

After three days in Deltaville, VA, our heads were about to burst.  The first day’s seminar was presented by ABT, the designer and manufacturer of our boats’ hydraulic system.  You probably remember that we built an “all hydraulic” boat (bow thruster, anchor windlass, and stabilizers), as we didn’t think that electrical motors and saltwater were a good mix.  But……. that’s a debate for another day.  The seminar was a slimmed-down version of one that we flew to California for several years ago, but it was a great refresher for our ever diminishing memory banks.  Days two and three covered all things trawler-from electrical troubleshooting, engine room 101, bottom paints, weather, anchoring, and an olio of tips ‘n tricks, all presented by Steve D’Antonio, a nationally renowned authority.

At first light on the 17th, we felt like we were finally on our way.  This time, we were headed in the right direction (south).  We made the 17h00 opening at Great Bridge, and wedged in to the gas dock at our old haunt, Atlantic Boat Yard, as there was “no room at the inn”.  The bridge had been damaged by Hurricane Matthew, and had just recently opened, leaving a clot of boats stranded above it.  Coupled with the gang headed south after the Snowbird Rendezvous in Hampton Roads, the closure created quite a traffic jam.  I think that The Girl was a little worried that we were going to leave her at AYB for another three months, so when we toodled off the dock at 05h00, I’m sure she was relieved.  Running down the ICW, which was strewn with storm trash was a trip, but the full moon helped the Admiral as she kept watch on the bow in the 58-degree morning chill.  A few thumps and bumps were the only indignities that we suffered.  By the time the sun came up, we were at the start of the twisty-turnies, and the turnpike bridge behind us was closed for the rush hour.  Bonus!  That effectively made us the only boat on the ICW for just about the whole day (we only saw three other boats and a barge).  Running past Coinjock marina in Virginia, we impulsively made a left turn, heading out to Roanoke Island, in the Pamlico Sound, rather than to our intended anchorage at Deep Point.  We had planned to visit last May, when weather stopped us at Okracoke Island.  Over the VHF, Mr. Carl Jordan, the dockmaster at Manteo, guided us to the harbor through the shoaled-in channel (the Admiral had already pulled up a video on You Tube demonstrating the proper course in).  Safely secured, we were greeted by our old pals, Steve and Julia, from “Erben Renewal” (see Bahamas & Nova Scotia).  “Lost Colony Brewery” across the street from the marina, gave us the perfect venue for reconnecting with our good friends.  Next day, we hauled our trusty, rusty bikes down from the boat deck for some exploration.  Our departure was delayed.  Even though the machines had been in their bag for the past months, their chains were frozen solid with rust.  Armed with oil and a couple pairs of vice grips, each individual link was resurrected to flexibility.  Riding the paved bike trail out to the north end of the island knocked some rust off our joints as well.  On the way home, we stopped at the National Park on the site of the “Lost Colony”, whose 117 settlers disappeared without a trace in between 1585-1590, while awaiting the arrival of reinforcements and supplies from England.  To this day, their fate remains a mystery.  After stops at the Verizon store, post office, and Piggly Wiggly (groceries), we tossed the bikes back up to their perch, vowing to keep their goodies oiled in the future.  Mark and Mary, aboard “The Good Life”, had just returned from visiting some local relatives, so the 6 of us convened on “Alizann” for some cocktails and conversation.  Even though Steve, Julia, Mark and Mary had been at our Rendezvous, we really hadn’t had a free minute to get with them, so it was nice to have some one-on-one.

At 0700 on the 20th, we were off the dock at Manteo, headed for Ocracoke, with “Erben Renewal” and “The Good Life” in hot pursuit.  Pamlico Sound was placid, and we had a beautiful, sunny day for the eight-hour cruise.  At Ocracoke, we tied up at the National Park Service dock (around $16/night), and headed out to “Smacnally’s” for a brew.  What? Closed.  The kid at the golf cart rental next door said that they had a power outage that morning, so probably decided not to open.  Not to worry.  Down the road to “Jolly Roger.”  Closed.  Next.  “Ocracoke Bar and Grill.”  Closed.  Okay, what was the name of the place that we ate at in the Spring (when we had bikes under us)?  “Ocracoke Oyster Company”.  By now, the 200-yard walk had become a mile-and-a-half mission.  Success!  A couple dozen raw oysters, a few baskets of steamed shrimp, and (whose countin’ anyway) Carolina Blonde lagers assuaged our disappointment, sated our appetites, and quenched our thirst.  Oh, Man!  Forgot we told S & J that we were headed out for a brew.  Fortunately, we caught them in time to suggest bikes, and a good time was had by all.

So……you’re probably wondering why we’re dinkin’ around in the Pamlico when we should be heading South (STAT).  The weather offshore had been dogmeat, and was going to be, for the next few days.  Better to spend time with our buds on these beautiful islands than sit in the marina at Morehead City waiting for a weather window.  On the 21st, it looked like the weather would be favorable for an offshore run on or about the 23rd.  Given that we were having our mail sent to the Morehead City Yacht Basin, we said goodbye to our friends, and headed to Morehead City.  There, we pre-cooked some meals, cleaned up and battened down the Girl, making preparations for a 2-day offshore south.  It wasn’t all work and no play.  We caught up with some other Krogen friends who were berthed there, and watched my Wolverines dismantle Illinois on the Big Ten Network.

I haven’t really said much about the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew.  Up north, where we had travelled thus far, the damage was limited mainly to the effects of high water, with only moderate wind damage.  As we passed down the ICW, the water was still very high, and the channel was strewn with floating debris.  Reports were filtering in from South Carolina and Georgia, relating the news that whole marinas had been destroyed, and that the ICW (always dicey in many spots through here) had new shoals and hazards, with many buoys off-station.  These reports reinforced our preference for biting off big chunks for our travels south.

The morning of the 23rd dawned clear, with the temperature at forty-eight degrees, wind at 19 knots out of the northwest, and the barometer high (1029mb).  Since the forecast had been consistent for the previous 3 days, and the conditions were as predicted, our plan was a “go.” Planning landfall at the mouth of the St. John’s River in around 50 hours’ time, we had possible bailout ports at Bald head Island, Charleston, Beaufort, SC, and Fernandina Beach on the table.  At the sea buoy off Beaufort Inlet (Morehead City), we were surprised to see “Ida Rose”, “Bulldog Sally”, and Klassy Kadey, 3 other Krogens, on our AIS, following us out.  There was a bit of a beam sea, but we expected that to subside in around 3 hours or so, so we fired up the satellite dish, and settled in for a day with the NFL.

-Later

 

Hola!

After three days in Deltaville, VA, our heads were about to burst.  The first day’s seminar was presented by ABT, the designer and manufacturer of our boats’ hydraulic system.  You probably remember that we built an “all hydraulic” boat (bow thruster, anchor windlass, and stabilizers), as we didn’t think that electrical motors and saltwater were a good mix.  But……. that’s a debate for another day.  The seminar was a slimmed-down version of one that we flew to California for several years ago, but it was a great refresher for our ever diminishing memory banks.  Days two and three covered all things trawler-from electrical troubleshooting, engine room 101, bottom paints, weather, anchoring, and an olio of tips ‘n tricks, all presented by Steve D’Antonio, a nationally renowned authority.

At first light on the 17th, we felt like we were finally on our way.  This time, we were headed in the right direction (south).  We made the 17h00 opening at Great Bridge, and wedged in to the gas dock at our old haunt, Atlantic Boat Yard, as there was “no room at the inn”.  The bridge had been damaged by Hurricane Matthew, and had just recently opened, leaving a clot of boats stranded above it.  Coupled with the gang headed south after the Snowbird Rendezvous in Hampton Roads, the closure created quite a traffic jam.  I think that The Girl was a little worried that we were going to leave her at AYB for another three months, so when we toodled off the dock at 05h00, I’m sure she was relieved.  Running down the ICW, which was strewn with storm trash was a trip, but the full moon helped the Admiral as she kept watch on the bow in the 58-degree morning chill.  A few thumps and bumps were the only indignities that we suffered.  By the time the sun came up, we were at the start of the twisty-turnies, and the turnpike bridge behind us was closed for the rush hour.  Bonus!  That effectively made us the only boat on the ICW for just about the whole day (we only saw three other boats and a barge).  Running past Coinjock marina in Virginia, we impulsively made a left turn, heading out to Roanoke Island, in the Pamlico Sound, rather than to our intended anchorage at Deep Point.  We had planned to visit last May, when weather stopped us at Okracoke Island.  Over the VHF, Mr. Carl Jordan, the dockmaster at Manteo, guided us to the harbor through the shoaled-in channel (the Admiral had already pulled up a video on You Tube demonstrating the proper course in).  Safely secured, we were greeted by our old pals, Steve and Julia, from “Erben Renewal” (see Bahamas & Nova Scotia).  “Lost Colony Brewery” across the street from the marina, gave us the perfect venue for reconnecting with our good friends.  Next day, we hauled our trusty, rusty bikes down from the boat deck for some exploration.  Our departure was delayed.  Even though the machines had been in their bag for the past months, their chains were frozen solid with rust.  Armed with oil and a couple pairs of vice grips, each individual link was resurrected to flexibility.  Riding the paved bike trail out to the north end of the island knocked some rust off our joints as well.  On the way home, we stopped at the National Park on the site of the “Lost Colony”, whose 117 settlers disappeared without a trace inbetween 1585-1590, while awaiting the arrival of reinforcements and supplies from England.  To this day, their fate remains a mystery.  After stops at the Verizon store, post office, and Piggly Wiggly (groceries), we tossed the bikes back up to their perch, vowing to keep their goodies oiled in the future.  Mark and Mary, aboard “The Good Life”, had just returned from visiting some local relatives, so the 6 of us convened on “Alizann” for some cocktails and conversation.  Even though Steve, Julia, Mark and Mary had been at our Rendezvous, we really hadn’t had a free minute to get with them, so it was nice to have some one-on-one.

At 0700 on the 20th, we were off the dock at Manteo, headed for Ocracoke, with “Erben Renewal” and “The Good Life” in hot pursuit.  Pamlico Sound was placid, and we had a beautiful, sunny day for the eight-hour cruise.  At Ocracoke, we tied up at the National Park Service dock (around $16/night), and headed out to “Smacnally’s” for a brew.  What? Closed.  The kid at the golf cart rental next door said that they had a power outage that morning, so probably decided not to open.  Not to worry.  Down the road to “Jolly Roger.”  Closed.  Next.  “Ocracoke Bar and Grill.”  Closed.  Okay, what was the name of the place that we ate at in the Spring (when we had bikes under us)?  “Ocracoke Oyster Company”.  By now, the 200-yard walk had become a mile-and-a-half mission.  Success!  A couple dozen raw oysters, a few baskets of steamed shrimp, and (whose countin’ anyway) Carolina Blonde lagers assuaged our disappointment, sated our appetites, and quenched our thirst.  Oh, Man!  Forgot we told S & J that we were headed out for a brew.  Fortunately, we caught them in time to suggest bikes, and a good time was had by all.

So……you’re probably wondering why we’re dinkin’ around in the Pamlico when we should be heading South (STAT).  The weather offshore had been dogmeat, and was going to be, for the next few days.  Better to spend time with our buds on these beautiful islands than sit in the marina at Morehead City waiting for a weather window.  On the 21st, it looked like the weather would be favorable for an offshore run on or about the 23rd.  Given that we were having our mail sent to the Morehead City Yacht Basin, we said goodbye to our friends, and headed to Morehead City.  There, we pre-cooked some meals, cleaned up and battened down the Girl, making preparations for a 2-day offshore south.  It wasn’t all work and no play.  We caught up with some other Krogen friends who were berthed there, and watched my Wolverines dismantle Illinois on the Big Ten Network.

I haven’t really said much about the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew.  Up north, where we had travelled thus far, the damage was limited mainly to the effects of high water, with only moderate wind damage.  As we passed down the ICW, the water was still very high, and the channel was strewn with floating debris.  Reports were filtering in from South Carolina and Georgia, relating the news that whole marinas had been destroyed, and that the ICW (always dicey in many spots through here) had new shoals and hazards, with many buoys off-station.  These reports reinforced our preference for biting off big chunks for our travels south.

The morning of the 23rd dawned clear, with the temperature at forty-eight degrees, wind at 19 knots out of the northwest, and the barometer high (1029mb).  Since the forecast had been consistent for the previous 3 days, and the conditions were as predicted, our plan was a “go.” Planning landfall at the mouth of the St. John’s River in around 50 hours’ time, we had possible bailout ports at Bald head Island, Charleston, Beaufort, SC, and Fernandina Beach on the table.  At the sea buoy off Beaufort Inlet (Morehead City), we were surprised to see “Ida Rose”, “Bulldog Sally”, and Klassy Kadey, 3 other Krogens, on our AIS, following us out.  There was a bit of a beam sea, but we expected that to subside in around 3 hours or so, so we fired up the satellite dish, and settled in for a day with the NFL.

-Later

HooooWeeee!!

That was a quick 4 months.  With our teeny weeny SUV packed to the roof, and the cooler loaded with dry ice, we headed on back to Michigan, with stops in Greensboro, NC, and Ann Arbor, MI.  The Admiral’s family gathered in NC to celebrate her Aunt’s 95th.  Then it was off to the home of the Maize and Blue to visit our daughter and son-in-law at their new digs.  After a quick stop at our home in northern Michigan, it was off to Europe for a cruise down the Danube (can’t get enough of boats) with Suz’s sibs ‘n spouses to celebrate her Mom’s 90th.

Back at the ranch, we started working through the list of dirtchores, of which there was no shortage.  We didn’t fret about the work, as it was interspersed by reconnections with our landfriends and family.  We took a timeout in mid-summer for a road trip and week at the beach in Charleston.  Before we knew it, it was time to haul and winterize the mini-fleet and move on down the road to rejoin The Girl in Chesapeake, VA.  Leaving Michigan was bittersweet, as we realized just how many great friends we have there.  On the way out, we got a chance to go to a game in The Big House to watch my beloved Wolverines do their thing.  Living in Ann Arbor, our daughter is the beneficiary of our 48-yard line tickets, so we all enjoyed the game together, celebrating Ben and her anniversary at the same time.

After getting Alizann cleaned up, we kicked the tires and lit the fires, heading up to Solomon’s, MD ahead of then-forming Hurricane Matthew.  Not sure if I had mentioned it before, but in a weak (and possibly ethanol-soaked) moment a few years back, we volunteered to chair our annual Kadey Krogen owners rendezvous in 2016.  After a years’ work in planning this 4-day event, which included educational seminars, catered meals, and social gatherings, culminating in a party with live music, we had to consider the possibility of cancelling everything as Matthew roared through the Bahamas, heading our way.  Besides the monetary loss, we had to weigh the safety of the crews of the 51 vessels and 139 people attending the event.  From day to day, we all were on pins and needles, monitoring the National Hurricane Centers’ website on an hourly basis, and getting haul outs scheduled for 24 boats locally, and others’ elsewhere.   At literally the eleventh hour, Matthew turned East and headed out to sea after battering the Southeast.  Party On!  The wave of relief spreading through our group was palpable.  Haul outs were cancelled, crews that had bagged out earlier called to tell us that they were coming, and the good times rolled.  When the party was over on Saturday night, the weather hemmed us in for another two days.  Finally breaking up on Monday, I’m pretty sure that many of us realized that we weren’t the partiers that we used to be (but we all did our very best).

Suz and I stayed until Tuesday to recoup and regroup, getting ready to head over to Deltaville, VA for a one-day course in hydraulics, followed by a two-day seminar in trawler maintenance.

-Soon

 

Pages

Captain's Log

Au Revoir, Martinique.  Hello St. Lucia.

Time to giddyup.  The weather window popped open, so we were off to St. Lucia.  Had reservations for a slip beginning on the 15th, but figured that 2 days early was no big deal.  Emails to the office went unanswered, and our phones were acting up by not acting at all.  Arriving at Rodney Bay Marina in St. Lucia, we found that there was “no room at the inn.”  Oops.  Elton, the Dockmaster worked his magic and put us at the “Big Boy” dock, where Alizann nestled in among the 100 and 200 footers.  He even got us a U.S.A. power supply.  Livin’ large in the expensive seats (at the cheap seat price).  He said that we’d probably have to move over to the “poor side of town” as soon as a spot opened up on the other dock.  So, I’m doing the post passage engine room check, and there’s some dried salt on the floor of the generator compartment right under the raw water cooling pump.  Sheesh!  My handy dental mirror and flashlight reveal that there’s also a trickle on the underside of the pump.  I knew that it was going to be there, but I like to delude myself now and then, preferring to think that everything’s O.K. when it’s not.  I know the drill.  There’s a spare pump on board.  We’ll get another spare when we’re home at Christmas-Ka-ch$ng!  Continuing the inspection, there’s a puddle of dried rust on the sole where the generator exhaust passes through the engine room bulkhead.  Hmmmh.  It’s directly under a stainless-steel elbow which is bright and shiny.  Mirror and flashlight reveal a different story underneath.  Clean rust trail off with emery cloth-shiny, no worries.  Tighten hose clamp, repeat delusional thought process.  Run generator for 10 minutes-no leaks.  Finish engine room inspection-all good.

Over the next few days, we get The Girl dressed up for Christmas with outdoor lights, etc.  In the meantime, we meet up with Kim and Zim (s/v Someday-St. John’s and Grenada), who are here for the start of the ARC Around the World Rally.  Theresa, Randy and the boys from Pilot’s Discretion are here too.  After being on the megayacht dock for a few days, we figure that they’re not moving us.  Meticulously get all the chafing gear on the lines, double-tie, get down extra fenders so that we can leave the Girl over Christmas.  Kiss of death.  Next morning, Sean, the marina manager comes by to tell us that we need to move.  Grrrhh.  Meanwhile, the elbow is nagging me.  Pull hose on other side of bulkhead to check inside of elbow.  Looks good, but the elbow is made from SS tubing, not pipe which is thicker.  Google, Google, Google.  Okay, the experts say that the fittings should be SS pipe or fiberglass/polyester.  We better have a spare.  Call Krogen-Gregg says that he has a new Stainless elbow that he can ship.  Thinking, thinking.  Hmmh, if it does start leaking, and I have to replace it, why not use fiberglass, which will never corrode.  Kill a half day online.  Order fiber elbow to be delivered over Christmas.  Sheila, just add it to the pile of boatstuff that’s accumulating in your guest bedroom.

“Oh, you’re leaving your boat in the marina for ten days with no one onboard?  You need a Temporary Importation Permit.”  Are you kidding?  The Customs cha-cha all over again.  (Why can’t I just keep my mouth shut?)  Customs needs a boat inventory before the officer can come to do a boat inspection before we can get our permit to leave.  Ka-ch$ng!  Okay, most of our stuff (spares, tools) is enumerated on spreadsheets, but it’s not a bad idea to have a list of all our goodies for insurance purposes.  We ended up with 5 sheets, single-spaced, 2 columns for our boat inventory.  When we gave it to the Customs officer, his eyes nearly popped out.  We made it about halfway through the first page, when he said he’d take our word for it.  He had an icy drink, signed our papers in triplicate, and was on his way.  (They DO love their paperwork down here in the islands.  Suz and I believe that they comprise 90% of the world market for carbon paper.)

Kurt picked us up at Noon on the 18th, for our hour-and-a-half drive to the airport.  Fourteen hours later, Suzanne’s sister, Sheila, picked us up in Asheville, North Carolina.

-Later

Bonjour,

Ah Martinique.  Great food, wonderful grocery stores, cheap French wines, great food, good roads, lots of hiking trails, great food, many sights to see.

Soo…..  Our plan was to anchor out in Martinique.  Then, we thought we’d get a mooring ball so that we could be close to the marina.  Then, maybe we should rent a car (John and Paulette had one).  Well, let’s see if they have a berth at the dock so we could have easy access to the car.  Long story short, we rented a car for 2 weeks, and Le Marin found a spot on the dock for us, on the condition that we left in a week.  The marina holds around a thousand boats, but was jammed full.  We figured that things would work themselves out as long as we just hung loose.  Okeey Dokey.  Time to Med-moor between our neighbors who were about 19 feet apart (our beam is 17.5).  I’m backing the Girl in from the pilothouse, totally blind.  The monkey working the controls while the Admiral is in the stern whispering commands into my headset.  (We prefer this routine to my driving from up top, as I can step out of the pilothouse to the bow easily).  The dock guy is in his tender, holding the bow mooring ball sorta out of the way, as I’m backing between the our neighbor’s stern  and the ball.  All’s going well until we’re sideways without a lot of room to maneuver.  “Oops, I meant stern to starboard, not port”.  It was gettin’ on towards dusk, and cloudy, but I could see the dock guy’s eyes, as big as pies as the Girl slid past his tender before he disappeared below my line of sight.  No crunch, no foul.  We got ‘er straightened out without a go-around, Suz got stern lines on with the help of the young lady next door, and our Dude, now visibly more relaxed, got the bow attached to the ball.  We jammed some fenders between the boats, and we were home.  Our neighbor lady, Elodie, had just single-handed from France in the Mini Transat, a race which had ended for her the day previously.  (The Mini Transat is a race for 6.5 meter-that’s 21 feet, folks- boats that starts in France, and ends in Martinique around 17 days later.)  We didn’t see much of her for the first few days as she was laying in the cockpit of her Uncle’s boat next to us, catching up on her sleep.  Our neighbors on the other side?   Let’s just say that we locked up tight whenever we left, even for a minute.  Not judgin’-just sayin’.  The always colorful life on a boat!  We solved the European shore power problem (partially) by wiring up an adapter to allow us to bring 220V, 50Hz into the Girl.  We charged our batteries with one of our chargers which would accept 50Hz, while running the boats’ AC appliances off of a different inverter.  The only appliances that we lacked were air conditioning and the washing machine, as our inverter doesn’t put out enough voltage to run these guys, and they don’t like 50Hz frequencies.  (Okay, tech geeks, I tried to keep the explanation simple)

The hikes on Martinique are plentiful.  There are kilometers and kilometers of reasonably marked trails covering much of the island.  Suz and I knocked off the south end of the windward coast in several day-sized pieces, as well as a few in the interior.  There’re still plenty for our next visit.

There are plenty of other attractions to visit:

The banana plantation, Habitation Balfort, where we toured the fields aboard a little train.  We were taught us everything that we needed to know about the cultivation of bananas.  All of the fruit exported from Martinique goes directly to France. 

The Habitation Clement, a restored sugar plantation, gave us a taste of what life was like on a 19th century sugar plantation.  (It was also the location where George H.W. Bush and Frances’ Francoise Mitterrand met following the First Gulf War).  Several buildings and an old rum distillery were available for a walk-thru.  At the end of our tour, we had a real bonus!  Rum tasting-with samples of all of Clement’s current products.  The pourers weren’t in any rush to chase us out.  I had the feeling that we could have tasted all afternoon, but we had to drive home in the now torrential rain.  It was raining so hard that there was a guard at the bridge over the raging creek to show us the way to drive over the now-submerged, railingless(?) plank bridge. 

We were a bit disappointed after driving all the way north to the sugar refinery, only to find that they were closed until a few months into the dry season when cane would again be harvested.

The ruins of the Chateau Dubuc  on the Caravelle peninsula were extensive, and the setting was stunning, overlooking the Atlantic Ocean on the windward side.  Another rainy day, but as we walked along on our self-guided tour, we stopped to seek shelter for our brown bag lunch (baguette, French cheese and meats, of course!).  We had planned on hiking another segment of the shore trail after our tour, but were foiled by the pouring rain.

Another day took us to Jardin Balata (Balata Gardens).  Even though exotic species of plants from all over the world were displayed, Balata wasn’t your typical botanical garden.  Instead of groupings by species, the garden was designed to be a work of art, blending different colors and textures of plants to create scenes pleasing to the eye.  Every time that you rounded a turn in the serpentine path coursing through the property, you were confronted with another Kodak moment.  Very cool.

The Anse Cafard memorial was very moving.  Erected on a prominence overlooking a bay where a slave ship grounded on a stormy night in 1830, killing most on board, it features fifteen modern art stone sculptures.  Depicting slaves, the figures are oriented so that they face the African’s homeland of Ghana, thousands of miles across the Atlantic Ocean.

The childhood homesite of Josephine (Napolean’s wife) is worth a stop, if for no other reason than to say that you were there…Nowadays, only the foundation of the main house and the ruins of the sugar mill are visible.  A small museum is also on the grounds.  (You may know that both Martinique and St. Lucia claim to be her birthplace)

La Savanes des Esclaves is a reproduction of a typical slave “village” that would be found on plantations during the 18th and 19th centuries.  Although the guided tours are in French, a self-guide brochure, printed in English, allows you to fill in the blanks if your French is “iffy”.  Very easy to spend a couple of hours there.

Martinique is a country where daily life revolves around lunch, much like France.  Businesses close between Noon and Two P.M., and there are no two ways about it.  We fell easily into the habit of taking our main meal at lunch time, and our days of exploration were punctuated by lunch at some great little restaurant that someone had recommended.  I could name names, but the places will probably be different by the time you get here.  Don’t be long!..........tick,tick,tick.

Do the French like their wine?  As my pal Dick would say “Does a chicken have lips?”  I’ve never quite figured the simile, but it rolls off the tongue well.  Yeah, French wine is inexpensive here, but mores so when you shop at Pomal wholesale distributor (Thank you, John and Paulette).  This is where the retailers shop, and we felt fortunate to escape with only 6 cases of red and white pop.

All in all, the two weeks flew by.  Yes, on day 7 we were awarded a reprieve of 3 more days.  On day 10, the Dockmaster appeared at our stern and informed us that we “must leave right now”, as a boat was coming in to this, their reserved slip.  No worries.  He moved us to the “Big Boy” dock for the remainder of our stay.  John and Paulette’s 58-footer looked like a dinghy compared to the other yachts berthed there, so you can imagine how lost Alizann looked.

It would be really easy to get sucked in to life here at Le Marin.  The dockage is inexpensive, and there are modern conveniences here on Martinique (In absolute contrast to Dominica and St. Lucia, around 30 miles or so to the north and south, respectively).  Fresh baguettes every morning, loads of great little restaurants, good roads, nice beaches, a real shopping mall………….

We may be back.

-Later

Hellooo….

So, let me say a few words about Marigot Bay.  This is an extremely sheltered, nearly round bay surrounded by tall headlands rising to nearly 600’.  The narrow channel leads out to an anchorage which has a few mooring balls, and room to anchor.  The inner harbor has many mooring balls and a dock running along the shore with room for about 25 boats to Med-moor (stern-to, bow tied to a lead line away from shore).  Both the moorings and the dock are owned by Capella Resort, which is adjacent to the bay.  The good news is that as a marina customer, you have access to their two swimming pools and spa.  Dockside power is European (240V, 50Hz), but they had a small converter which allowed limited power for 2 or 3 North American boats (220V, 60Hz).  This allowed us to keep our batteries charged, and run the A/C in our stateroom at night.

Day two dawned bright and sunny.  The Admiral went for a ninety-minute massage while I chilled at the boat, taking care of some odds ‘n ends.  John’s brother and sister-in-law flew in from England for a 3 week visit on board Seamantha.  The afternoon had me peelin’, slicin’, and dicin’, while the Admiral handled the skilled job of prepping food for our Thanksgiving celebration the following day.  Aboard Seamantha, Paulette was continuing her preparations, which had already been in process for a few days.  Later in the day, the rest of the U.S. Thanksgiving gang cruised in.  Randy and Theresa, along with their two boys Ryan (12 years old) and Ronan (10 years old) docked their 54’ SeaRay, “Pilot’s Discretion” down the way.  John and Paulette had met them a couple of years before when docked in Grenada for the Summer.  Randy is retired from American Airlines after serving stints as Bob Hope’s, then Clint Eastwood’s private pilot subsequent to a stint in the U.S. Coast Guard.  Theresa is an attorney on sabbatical, as they have been cruising for 3 years.

It wasn’t Thanksgiving with the family and Detroit Lions football on the tube, but it sure weren’t bad.  Appetizers and sips started at Noon, and we pushed away around 16h00.  John started us out with some French white pop.  Smoked salmon (brought by John’s family from Scotland), Paulette’s homemade Spanakopita, and steamed shrimp got the party started.  Then the real fun began.  I’ll just give you the list:  Roast beef; Turkey; mashed potatoes (of course!); roasted vegetables; roasted Brussel Sprouts; roasted Sweet Potatoes; Onion casserole; Cranberry and Orange sauce; gravy and stuffing, all washed down with a red(?) Sancerre.  Dessert put us over the top:  Pecan pie, Chocolate cheese cake; ice cream; and stewed fruit with whipped cream were all on the menu.

We didn’t waste a minute during our weeklong stay at Marigot.  The day after Thanksgiving, John and Paulette arranged for Curt Joseph (a.k.a. Island Man) to take us on a tour of St. Lucia.  He picked up John, Paulette, Michael, Wendy, Suzanne and I at 09h00, and we didn’t return until after dark. We visited Tet Paul Nature trail first.  There, our guide took us along an easy trail, identifying local plants and trees along the way, culminating in a spectacular lookout which overlooked The Pitons (Gros and Petit), two extinct volcanic cones, which are St. Lucian geologic icons.  Next stop was the Diamond Botanical Gardens, where we spent a couple hours strolling the paths.  Our guide did a superb job of identifying and describing the uses of the myriad of plants there.  We took a late lunch at “Fedo’s” restaurant, located on one of the back alleys of Soufriere.  We never would have found it on our own, but Curt said that he wouldn’t eat anywhere else.  After lunch, we could see why.  Then, it was off to the Soufriere volcano.  We were the only tourists there, as it was late in the day, so we had our own personal guide.  We walked the boardwalks over pits of boiling mud through tendrils of sulfur-laden steam which had bubbled up through the Earth’s crust.  Cool.  Afterwards, we visited the “Volcano Museum”, which provided some rudimentary facts.  At sunset, we walked the beach outside the town of Soufriere, viewing Gros Piton one last time, from a different angle.  It was a long, sleepy ride home.  We all agreed that Curt was the man.  He picked us up early enough that we were ahead of the busses filled with cruise ship passengers, timing lunch so that they could pass ahead of us, and finished our tour after they were on their way back to their ships-perfect!  The next morning Theresa and the boys led Suz and I on a hike that almost literally went straight up through the forest to a 630’ peak overlooking Marigot.  As we were scrambling up the path, at times aided by ropes strung along the side, and starting mini slides of loose stones, I have to admit I was worrying about how we’d get back down.  The view from the top was well worth the climb, and a different path, this one winding down another face of the peak took us back down.  We enjoyed pizza and a few sodas while the boys played pool at “Doolittles” before taking the little ferry boat back to our side of the harbor.  That evening, Suz and I had dinner at “Masala Bay,” an exceptional Indian restaurant located right at the marina (the Seamantha and Alizann crews managed to wedge in 2 lunches there during the week too).

It’s funny how inertia can grab ahold of you.  When Suz and I are on the move, we can’t wait to see the next anchorage.  When we pull into a marina and stay for a while, it gets tough to move along.  I guess that we just get used to the routine……… Anyway, it was time to get on up island.  On Tuesday morning, the crews of Alizann and Seamantha pushed off for the 5 hour hop to Martinique.

-Later

Bon jour

Reluctantly, we upped the anchor in Chatham Bay, Union Island at 09h00 on the 15th of November.  An hour later, we entered the anchorage at Salt Whistle Bay on the north end of tiny Mayreau (population 250), another island of the Saint Vincent and the Grenadines archipelago.  It’s a very popular, but small anchorage on the northwest corner of the island.  If it was full, we planned to head a few miles south, and toss down the hook in Saline Bay, at the south end of Mayreau.  That wasn’t our first choice, as the ferries and small cruise ships use the commercial port there.  As luck would have it, a boat was just dropping a mooring ball as we entered the harbor (it also happened to be the one that we would have chosen if the whole mooring field had been empty.  Our “Boat Boy” du jour, “Fifty Cent” guided us in and took our lines, helping us to secure the Girl to the mooring.  (Of course, we could have very easily secured ourselves, but the Boat Boys plying the anchorages in their little pangas really need the work on these islands where there’s very little opportunity for employment.  They really hustle-good for them!)  The bay was separated from the Atlantic by a low, sandy spit covered by palm trees.  We had a nice breeze, but virtually no waves.  We brought the dinghy to the sandy shore and anchored it in 3’ of water.  Crossing the spit, we had a nice mile-and-a-half walk down the deserted sand beach on the windward side.  The remaining few hours of the afternoon afforded me the perfect opportunity to give the Girl a good bottom cleaning.  Two hours, and one broken putty knife later, her backside was smooth as a babies…  The next day, it was time to stretch our legs.  We walked the island loop, which took us over the top and down into Saline Bay.  High above Saline Bay, we stopped at the Catholic church.  On the walkway looping behind the church, we were treated to a beautiful view of the Tobago Cays, some seven miles distant.  The first part of our walk was on pavement (although we never saw a vehicle).  The way home took us past the island dump to the windward (and uninhabited) side of the island.  The trail wound along the coastline, meandering through grassy highlands, rocky shoreline and mangrove groves.  Not a well-travelled path, we backtracked several times to find our way, and bushwhacked through deep growth, finally ending up at the end of the beach that we had tramped the day before.  After 5 miles in the hot sun, we lolled in the knee-deep water off our anchorage’s sandy beach in bathtub calm, 85-degree water.

After two days at Mayreau, we were off to our old stompin’ grounds in Port Elizabeth, Bequia (another island in SVG).  We were looking forward to meeting up with our friend, Donnaka (See hiking in Bequia from April or May 2017).  We also had a load of swim suits and goggles for the Bequia swim team which we’d hand off to their coach, and our friend, Tyrell Olivierre.  Well…..the four days in Bequia went quickly.  We met up with Donnaka, who regaled us with stories from his recent two-month walkabout in South America.  It just fanned our already simmering fires to spend some time there next year.  Our friend Ken (“In Dreams”-from Grenada) arrived, so we spent some time bangin’ around with him.  We did a couple of dives with “Dive Bequia,” enjoying a couple of surprisingly nice sites, accompanied by James, our boat driver, and Max, Divemaster.  The morning dive, it was just Suzanne and I, in the later dive, just another guy and his daughter.  Max and I speared a dozen-and-a-half Lionfish, giving us enough for a nice dinner, leaving a dozen for Max.  I say that the dives were “surprisingly nice” because I had read a review online that said that the reefs here were disappointing.  Not so.  The corals appeared to be as vibrant and healthy as any that we’ve seen here in the Windwards.  The number of lobster that we saw was off the charts.  We met up with Ty and the swim team and they were delighted with their new goodies.  Ty confided that the girls especially were embarrassed at their competitions, as they didn’t have (couldn’t afford) proper racing suits.  Well, they’re gonna be stylin’ now.  Suzanne picked out the most colorfully patterned Speedos that she could find, in a variety of sizes (Ty sent us size requirements in an email during the Summer).  Four days went too quickly, but it was time to get on up to St. Lucia to join Paulette and John (aboard Seamantha) for Thanksgiving.  We had the turkey in our freezer, so our absence would’ve been noticed.  Before we left, I got out the pressure gauge, and handheld tachometer, and got our recalcitrant hydraulic oil cooler into spec.  (It wasn’t).  I figured that the next leg would be a good test.

The anchor was shipped by 05h35 for our anticipated 8-hour trip to Marigot Bay on St. Lucia.  On the way, the Girl got a nice salty coating from short period, 2’-4’ seas on the starboard bow.  We caught a little (24”) Blackfin Tuna along the way.  More importantly, we had NO hydraulic system overheats.  Maybe we’ve got it licked (knock wood).  At 14h15, we backed into our Med-moor slip between Seamantha and another vessel, under Paulette and John’s watchful eyes.  After a quick washdown of boat and crew, we joined our pals for sips and stories, as it had been nearly 7 months since we had seen each other.

On to Thanksgiving……….

-Later

Time Flies.

We glided into Clifton Harbor at 13h25 on the 7th of November.  Within minutes, we were at “our spot” in the northeast corner of the anchorage near “Kiteboard Beach.”  Well…. not exactly “our spot,” as there was a rather ratty-looking catamaran parked right over our old GPS fix from the previous Spring.  As usual, Suz was driving, I was handling the ground tackle on the bow.  I came inside to confer with the Admiral on the next best spot to drop the hook, when Suz said “Did you see that?”  “Yeah, those guys are right in “our sp……”.  Really?  None of the four guys sunbathing on the deck had a stitch on.  After a quick conference, we decided to drop our anchor at their midships so that The Girl would lay well off the German Nature Boys’ stern (their boat).  We tidied up the boat and got the dinghy deployed about the time that the Canadian couple on the sailboat behind us returned from shore on their tender.  After an animated discussion between the two of them, he came out to his bow, pacing in an obviously agitated manner.  Uh Oh.  I went over for a chat, and was informed that I was anchored on top of his chain.  When I asked him how much chain he had out, he growled “40 meters”.  One hundred twenty-five feet in ten feet of water?  Seemed rather excessive to me.  We had fifty feet out, anchored in a sandy bottom, behind a sheltering reef.  I told him that I really didn’t think that we had a problem, but that I’d be happy to swim his anchor, then mine to make sure.  As he glowered from his foredeck, I did just that.  Our hooks were around fifty feet apart, neither upwind of the other.  Somewhat mollified, he semi-stomped back to his cockpit.  Time to clear Customs, so we stopped at their boat to introduce ourselves and ask them if they needed anything from shore.  Curt “No thanks,” no names.  Sometimes it’s just that way, even here in paradise.

Over the next five days, we resumed our kiteboard lessons, graduating from the shallow waters off Kiteboard Beach to the deep water off Frigate Island.  The first and second days, we progressed nicely.  Suz took the third day off to rest.  I thought that I had some catching up to do, as she was learning quicker than me.  BIG MISTAKE!  I was tired too, but didn’t realize it.  I backslid bigtime.  By the end of the session, I was totally ready to quit.  (I’m not sure that I’ve ever quit at anything).  Next day, Suz had a morning lesson.  She had the deep water starts perfected, and was going well in one direction, pretty good in the other.  I was happy that she was progressing so well, but had to tell her that I was more than a little bit jealous, and pretty upset by the difference in our progression.  We had lunch on the shore with a bunch of younger boarders, as well as the owner of the school, Jeremie.  They all praised Suz for her accomplishments, and offered me some “buck up” anecdotes (they had all been watching our lessons for the past few days).  I had determined that I was done with the boarding thing, but hadn’t told anyone yet, when Jeremie (the JT Pro Kiteboarding owner) took me aside.  He shared that it took him a long time to get going at first (probably a lie).  More importantly, he told me to just relax.  He related that men had a tendency to use too much muscle and try to overpower the kite and board, but that women learned much faster because they just “went with the flow”.  Okay, I could see that.  I’d seen that learning how to snow ski at age 32.  I was still in a funk, and was going to quit anyway, when a French guy who was doing aerials, and all kinds of tricks earlier gave me the talk too.  He said that his wife was up and boarding in three lessons, whereas after his eighth, he was just starting to get up on the board.  Well, with all those folks in my corner, I couldn’t just walk away.  Zen kiteboarding won the day.  Everything suddenly got easier, and we ended the afternoon in smiles.  I don’t look pretty (but then again, I never have), but I’m driving the board in both directions, and we’ll be back.  Suzanne and I think that our instructor, Butter, and our boat driver, Marlin, are the best.  Jeremie, we’ll be back.

It wasn’t all work and no play in Clifton.  Onshore, we went back to “Yummy’s Bakery” for Rose’s Roti, and Zoey’s (Jeremie’s wife) “Snack Shack” for a wonderful lunch.  The open-air market supplied us with fresh fruit and veggies.  Cocktails happened a couple of evenings at the “Anchorage Yacht Club”, and “Bougainvilla”.

On the 15th, we moved up the west side of Union Island to Chatham Bay.  What an idyllic anchorage.  A crescent-shaped beach rings the bay, and there is good holding for the anchor throughout.  We dropped the hook away from all other boats (there were 8 in an anchorage large enough for 70, easily).  Soon enough, we were approached by a guy in a panga hawking his restaurant on shore.  He also told us that we’d be getting some swell during the night if we remained anchored here.  He motored on, and after a bit of discussion, the Admiral and I hauled anchor.  Seckie reappeared, and led us up to a spot in the northeast corner of the bay, and indicated a good spot to drop the hook.  Uncharacteristically, he didn’t hang around for a tip, just motored back to shore.  Long story short, we radio’d him on the VHF, ordered two grilled Red Snapper dinners, and headed in to the beach an hour later.  We met Seckie’s girlfriend, Vanessa.  In her small kitchen(?), she cooked the sides, while Seckie grilled the fish over an open hearth.  Their power was supplied by a generator, as there were no power lines down to this isolated bay.  The food was delicious.  As it turned out, Vanessa was a jewelry artist, creating necklaces and bracelets from beach glass and sterling silver.  Suz picked out several (it’s almost Christmas), and asked Vanessa to hold them until we could come back tomorrow with more $$$.  Nope.  She said take them and come back tomorrow when we get here.  Next day was a hike day.  We got to shore and hit the trail after a false start which took us down a rutted, muddy road.  Elton, a local fisherman, called out to us, and directed us to a path through the bush that would take us out of the wet lowlands and up a steep trail through the bush to the peak of the mountain.  He did want a tip, and wasn’t shy about asking for one.  We scrambled up a mile-long trail that rose some 600 feet.  On the way up, we met “Shark Attack”, who was walking down to his shack on the shore of the bay.  For the next twenty minutes, standing on the steep trail in the middle of the rain forest, we had a spirited discussion on the politics of SVG (I guess I should say that we mostly listened while he talked).  As we broke out of the bush onto the paved road, we continued on our 5-mile jaunt, which took us up to the Digicel tower, the village of Ashton, and out to the point overlooking our bay, (where we met “Bushman”, another local figure along with “Shark Attack”, about whom we had read in the cruising guides), eventually ending up back on the beach, where our dinghy was tied to Seckie’s dock.  As I crab-walked down the steep, gravel-strewn trail form the tower, I rubbed my hand against a piece of plant lying on the rocks-oooh!, that kinda burned.  When we got to the bottom, Suz reported that she had brushed her leg against some brush with the same result-thought that she’d been bitten by a bug.  After a half hour or forty-five minutes, the burning subsided.  Even though we were on a paved road, we never saw a motorized vehicle.  Another trail took us on a circuitous path back down to the bay.  We walked the beach to Chatham resort at the south end of the anchorage.  It’s a secluded, exclusive resort, with a total of 3 little guest villas, all made of stone.  With a small swimming pool and the beautiful beach, the resort would be the perfect “get away from it all.”  We had ulterior motives.  After 2 Cokes, we had secured the WiFi password, giving us coverage on the boat.  Alas, we were too far away to connect, even though we could “see” the network.  The $10 glasses of Coke tasted good all the same.  Walking the beach back north, we passed the dinghy, heading to Shark Attack’s shack to inspect his collection of wood carvings that he was selling.  He is really quite talented, but the boat will only hold so many knickknacks.  More political commentary ensued, and we learned that the 15 or so people living on the beach were all squatters, and that sooner or later, the government would probably sell this gorgeous waterfront land, and give them the boot.  BTW, we showed Shark Attack a picture of the nasty plant that we had encountered.  He identified it as “Burn Bush”, as he had ministered to many crying young victims over the years.

Lotsa talkin’

-Later

Pages