Saturday, February 28, 2009
Those of you that are sailors probably know the song...."What do you do with a drunkin sailor?" Well in this case, our version is "What do you do with bored winter sailors". It's winter, it's cold and we can't be at the lake sailing. Sure we can take sailing trips to the islands but that is only good for a week or ten days and then what? Everyone knows there is no more cantankerous human than a sailor stuck on land.
Well our little group of sailors has found some diversions that help with this situation. One of which is to take and arts and craft class of some sort each winter. We are now into our third winter using this tactic. Previous classes were making a fabric- plastic coated purse. Yeah, yeah...sounds weird but there is no other way to describe it. Ours of course were all sailing themed. Last year we learned to silk screen. Very kewl but more of a process than my sailing brain wanted. Of course each year we all think "great, now we know how to make_____ and we can make tons." Yeah right! Along comes sailing season and we never make _____again. But it's still great fun. Although, I should say that sailing sista Sammie is very talented in all things crafty and usually goes on to make spectacular stuff. The rest of us are more crappy than crafty.
We schedule our annual class as a private class on a Sunday afternoon. Quite frankly, after past years, I would think the shop we take the class from would insist on segmenting us off separately...sort of segment the demented - insurance purposes and all. So this year 5 of us learned to make a Tattered Fabric Bead Link Necklace. Seriously! It's on the direction sheet. Interestingly enough, our class was taught by rocker chick - Liz Phair. Not really but she totally looked like Liz Phair. I asked her after the class if anyone had every told her she looked like Liz and she said yes.
As we learned our new skill, we talked sailing, gossiped about the lake powerboaters and devised various money making schemes (breakfast delivery to C Dock- the houseboat dock, bake sale on the water in party cove...hhhm brownies, make tattered fabric bead link necklaces to sell to powerboat chicks as belly chains, etc...) all so we can charter a boat and see Jimmy Buffet in St Barts.
As usual, it was great fun and took our minds off winter.
And NO, I have not made any more tattered fabric bead link necklaces.
The trip home from Roatan Honduras involved a three day detour in Houston to see relatives. Our nephew Graham is freshman at Rice University. We wanted to check out the whole college scene. Unfortunately, Graham and his suitemates are just too devoted to their studies to take any breaks. When they are not in class, they are studying. They even grab their food and take it back to their suite so they can continue studying. The only break from studying is when they go to bible study or call home daily to thank their parents for being such wonderful parents and allowing them the tremendous opportunity to go to Rice U!
NAH! Turns out college life hasn't changed much. They are typical college kids having the time of their lives. They sleep as late as their class schedule will allow. They socialize on a monumentous level. They pull crazy pranks, torture the lesser colleges (dorms), stay up up super late and parting like Rock Stars. Very Kewl! They are all great guys and we sleep better now knowing they will be in charge in the coming years!
We also had the chance to get caught up with two different cousins. Cousin Shawn, Julee & Bre moved there last fall. Cousin Ellis has been Houston for ages. We met him at a really terrific little joint that had fabulous food. A fusion of Central & South American food. Yum-O as Rachel would say!
And by the way....if you live in the Houston area...pay your damn taxes so you can expand the light rail or at the very least get some additional street signs. Traffic SUCKS in Houston. OMG! Seriously people, you need to do something!
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
Sailor J...aka...Cap10 Tom...aka...Tom had a birthday Feb 21st. This happened to coincide with the next free Womens Sailing Seminar that I am taking from Kansas City Sailing. Kewl! Party after. The guys all met us sailor girls after the seminar at Slow Ride Saloon, a biker bar and grill in KU Land.
Tom knew we would be celebrating his bday but he didn't expect cards, gifts and a kick ass cake. But hey, if you are a kewl sailing guy with kewl sailng friends, you have to celebrate with a really kewl sailor cake. I designed a Sailor J themed cake with the help of the internet and Price Chopper bakery brought it to life on sugar paper. And I don't want any feedback on here about copy right. We were eating it people, not selling it for profit. Besides...it was a very nice artistic interpretation of someone's work.
It was good to see everyone from the lake and we even have some new friends from Lake Perry Yacht Club that came after the seminar. Kevin and his nephew showed up to surprise Cap10 Tom as well. Once it was down to a core few, we decided to wander on to downtown KU Land to a new joint - Anglers that has become a regular with Compy Comp and Special K. Anglers didn't disappoint. We found room at the bar and quickly introduced ourselves to the bar tender and manager. We pointed out the birthday sailor boy and let the bar tender work his magic. All in all a pretty good time.
We left KC at 7am and were wheels down in Roatan Honduras by 1:15pm. Short flight time, English speaking, not overly touristy & no Marriott, Hilton or Weston in sight and The Bay of Islands might be our new favorite spot. Immigration and customs were a breeze except for one minor issue. Wanting to be helpful to the customs officer searching our bags, I nicely cautioned him that the bag he was reaching for was "about to explode". Tom saw the alarmed look on the officers face and quickly pointed out my poor choice of words. I immediately began to explain that the bag was about to tear apart at the seams not explode. Understanding English very well, he gave a slight smile and chuckle at the silly American blond with the goofy slang. Whew!
Patrick was waiting on the other side of the glass. We caught a cab to French Harbor where Nancy was waiting aboard s/v Stolen Child - their Tayana 42. And she is wonderful & Nancy is nice too. We got our gear stored and immediately began chill mode. We took quite a few items down to Patrick and Nancy including their mail. I thought for sure they would want to sort through it. Nope. In fact they didn't look at it the whole time we were there. Now that is retired!
Dinner was ashore at a funky little place called Cool Runnings. Fried chicken, good coleslaw (I should know, I don't like coleslaw & I liked this stuff)and fried plantains all washed down with local beer. Yum! We stopped at a local produce stand on the walk back. All the fruits and veggies looked really good. We bought what was the largest papaya any of us had seen. It was immediately dubbed LFO -Large Fruit Object. A stop at Eldon's grocery rounded out the provisions and we headed back to the boat.
Jay and Barb on s/v Jupiter's Smile, their Island Packet 370 invited us over to visit that evening. After 15 mins we discovered that they became good friends with Roger and Adel while in the Bahamas. Roger and Adel used to sail on Lake Perry and we bought our Catalina 30 s/v Distant Drum from them! What a small world it truly is. Or as I tell my friend Gail repeatedly, it's Sailing Pheromones!
Monday morning was overcast with light drizzle. We drank coffee and listened to the 8am Northwestern Caribbean Cruisers Net - a good old fashion party line for cruisers on the SSB (shortwave radio). Very comforting to know so many are looking out for one and other. Nancy made delicious breakfast burritos and the LFO -Large Fruit Object was sacrificed. It was so big that Patrick put out a call on the VHF radio to see if anyone in the anchorage wanted the other half. It was quickly snapped up by s/v Pearle S Buck. We continued to enjoy the remaining half each morning while we were there.
With the breakfast dishes clean, we hauled anchor and took off for West End. Unfortunately there wasn't any wind so we motor sailed. Patrick easily guided Stolen Child through the cut in the reef and we were able to grab the primo mooring of the anchorage. This spot allowed us to easily swim from the boat to the reef to explore and we did several times during our stay. The reef was the best we've ever snorkeled. Cruiser Ben of s/v Watch & Sea come over in his bright red dinghy to say hello. They had communicated via radio for 2 months but never met in person. He stayed for a wonderful spaghetti dinner. As a US Air pilot, Ben was sailing home to Norfolk the next day to replenish his cruising kitty. It rained thru the night as we slept.
The Monday morning partyline net...I mean cruisers net was followed by the weekly tech talk - this week was how to repair your sails onboard. Two cruising chicks facilitated. Each had worked in a sail loft. It was very interesting. Patrick stayed busy during the tech talk making yummy pancakes. Mid-morning it finally cleared off so that afternoon we headed to town.
West End is wonderful. In fact, all four of us are digging Roatan. It's a kewl little hidden gem. Patrick checked with a few of the dozen or so dive shops inquiring about instructor certification. The rest of us cruised a few of the kewl little shops along the main street - if you can call it that. The pavement has long worn away. Huge pot holes filled with rainwater made the idea of renting a scooter or bike for exploration less appealing.
We had a few beers and a late lunch at The Light House. I had two gigantic fish tacos. Tom went with the gigantic chicken tacos. Patrick enjoyed a huge chicken quesadilla and Nancy had fish and chips. From the restaurant we watched Ben set out for home.
We headed back to the boat and immediately snorkeled the reef. Very kewl! After drying in the cockpit, Patrick set up celestial class for Tom. This one was using the sextant and taking sights of the stars and planets. He even revealed ancient secrets passed down from mariner to mariner. Not really! Just some hints and tips. Nancy marked the time and coordinates. I simply watched a big, spectacular, full moon rise while keeping everyone's drink fresh. We stayed up late discussing cruising, religion, politics, and life...never fear, we solved all the worlds problems.
Tuesday morning was wonderfully clear. We listened to the cruisers net as usual. Ben checked in while in route home - somewhere around Cuba. Nancy made breakfast burritos...along with more of the LFO, while the guys put the sail cover on the main. Something that was strongly recommended from Monday's tech talk on sail repair...protect them. Whew! After all that work, it was time for some fun.
Tom assisted Patrick in rigging up a super-duper rope swing with the spinnaker pole and a bunch of line. A plank was lashed to the bow pulpit so we truly had to 'walk the plank" to use the swing. Personally I think Patrick was just dying to rig up something that made us freeloaders....er...guests "walk the plank." It worked pretty well but took practice and strength. Sabrina made only one attempt, not so much swinging into the water but rather falling just a little ways back of the port bow side while holding on to the rope. Sad showing to say the least. Nancy gave moral support and established the olympic scoring system that would be used going forward.
We then cleaned up and headed into West End again. Patrick checked into the Marine Reef Office. They gave him the rules of the reef and he made a $10 donation to help protect the reef. We walked all the way down Half Moon Bay and then had a late lunch/early dinner at the Argentinian Grill. Tom had the beef burrito, Patrick the chicken, Nancy the lobster and I had the shrimp. Nancy and I swapped one for one so we could try the other one. De-lish!
We took our time returning to the boat. A cloud bank popped up over head so no celestial class this evening but the far west horizon was clear, just enough so to potentially see the elusive "green flash." For those who aren't familiar, the green flash has been reported by sailors (and maybe others but for this story - sailors only) to be a bright green flash of light that happens the second the sun drops into the sea. The conditions must be just so which of course adds to the the rarity of the event. Along with the fact that most of the time sailors gather on a perfect night to observe the green flash in a group with their beverage of choice. This of course leads to sailing tales and other distractions and thus the mystique of it. You gotta be looking at the sun as it goes down not reaching in the cooler for a coolie stupid! We ended the evening listening to music. Patrick shared the theme song for Stolen Child. It was by the Waterboys and puts to music the Yates poem (I think) from wince Stolen Child was named.
Come away, O human child!
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand
For the world's more full of weeping
than you can understand.
Wednesday we awoke to another beautiful day in paradise. And Patrick and Nancy do this every morning! Where do we sign up? Patrick was having granola when I got up. Nancy had already had honey nut Cherrios. I opted for the same and of course more LFO. Tom slept in as he was getting a cold. Nurse Nancy promptly made him a hot toddy for breakfast. Gotta love cruising life medical cures. We listend to the morning cruisers net and then chilled in the cockpit. A local fisherman anchored close by and proceeded to catch 5 decent size fish in five minutes flat. Patrick and Nancy declined to discuss their fishing results to date. hhhmmm?
Soon after the fisherman pulled anchor and motored away, we watched as s/v Beau Soleil turned their boat around on the anchor - how strange. Why would anyone anchor stern to the wind? Then it became clear as they set up a spinnaker chute ride. They used a fender tied on both ends & then tied to each clew of the spinnaker. An additional line from one clew ran back to the bow of the boat as a leash. It was awesome. Almost but not quite as awesome as the Super-Duper spinnaker rope swing on Stolen Child and we told Patrick and Nancy that...we know when we are freeloaders just taking up space! Patrick buzzed over in the dinghy to tell them they could come play on the super-duper spinnaker rope swing he made up.
Falcon swam over soon after and gave it several tries. Yes, his name is really Falcon. He was born in Malta (thus the name Falcon) and raised on Beau Soleil until he was 15 and they moved ashore so he could attend high school. He is 20 and just visiting his parents on the boat for 5 days. He works on a megayacht (motor) in St Martin. In April, the boat will move to the Med for the season there. How kewl is his job!! Patrick continued to perfect his swing technique. Tom and I went for a long snorkel on the reef. We found what we thought was a passage through the reef to the outside. Instead it turned out the reef is really wide and we were able to snorkel on top of it and thru it. So Kewl! Tons and tons of coral in all shapes, sizes and colors. And the fish! Kewl! On the way back to Stolen Child we spotted a couple of rays settled in the sand with only their eyes and and tails sticking. Again, Kewl! We dried off and had snacks in the cockpit for lunch.
Dan & Trisha on s/v Eventyr, an Island Packet 40 heard we were guest aboard Stolen Child and invited us over to see their boat. Tom and I dinghy'd over. They were around our age...ok they are a bit younger, and have been out cruising on and off since 2004. They proudly showed us their baby and all the improvements they have made, although it didn't seem they needed to make any, the boat was immaculate. In fact, Tom commented later "do they even live on that boat? It was spotless."
Unfortunately we couldn't stay long as s/v Daydream with was entering the anchorage from Utila, another island that makes up The Bay Islands. Captain Ralph, Wench Tiffany and pain-in-the ass-time-sucking-one Max were aboard. Daydream and Stolen Child spent much time together previously. Ralph was determined to come meet the "freeloaders" as he called us in conversations with Patrick on the VHF radio. Also we brought their mail from the US. (Sadily, there was no cash in their mail for us "borrow" so we just gave it to them!) So we buzzed back to Stolen Child and Patrick immediately hopped in the dinghy and helped Daydream set her anchor. Once they got settled, all three came over for a visit and a cold one. Max is quite a handful at 15 months but a good kid.
Karen from s/v Beau Soleil stopped by as well. She had home grown limes and guava fruit from an island friend. We had never smelled or tasted guava before. All I can say is "strip me naked and roll me in guava!" I don't care if I get eaten alive by ants or such. It would be worth it. I have never tasted or smelled anything so wonderful. Actually I think Karen was beginning to get a bit scared because I just kept inhaling the guava fruit that was in a Wonder Bread bag - like a huffer...a guava huffer! Anywho... her husband Mike writes books that they publish themselves to help support their cruising life and she had a set for sale. Tom and I promptly shoved the cash at her and snapped them up. More cruising stories - nice!
Karen departed and Tiffany & Ralph took Max back to Daydream to feed her dinner. As they parted, in true Aussie style, Ralph invited Tom and I over to see their boat or as he put it "a real beauty." Soon we dinghy'd over and got the grand tour. Seems Ralph the Aussie, and Tiffany the Canadian, lived in NYC - Harlem to be specific for a period of time during which they purchased Daydream for approx $2000 and completely stripped her down to the hull and rebuilt her. Ralph made the fiberglass hard dodger inside their brownstone in Harlem. In Aussie speak, Ralph described in vivid detail the day they wedged it out of the brownstone for transportation to the yard and Daydream. No less vivid was his story of his Bacon factor of one with Lewis Faracon in Harlem. Those Aussies can tell a tell!
Soon enough it was time for little Max...aka demonic-noise-maker to go to bed. Tom and I dinghy'd back to Stolen Child for dinner. Ralph was given a galley pass for the evening and joined us for after dinner drinks and discussion in the cockpit. Patrick had loaned Ralph a book on how to tie a Turks Head knot...one of the hardest knots to tie in sailing. Ralph decided that he needed to teach Tom to tie the Turks Head in the dark of the cockpit. His teaching method was a combination of speed and humor combined with little to no light, so you can imagine how quickly poor Tom picked up on it. (www.animatedknots.com by the way!) I was the first to give up and go to bed. According to Tom, Nancy was next and then Tom. I awoke at some point during the night to hear Ralph and Patrick still "discussing" life. I heard it was 2:30 am before Ralph dinghy'd back to his boat - of course having solved all the world problems Aussie style. Patrick is probably still untying all the partial Turks Heads tied on his various lines around the boat.
Morning came and with it the realization that it was Thursday...(cruisers easily lose track of what day it is...something about "everyday is paradise so what difference does it make the real day!" Whatever - freaks living off the grid says the jealous, angry, worker bee!) and time for us to leave Stolen Child and go home. Why, oh why didn't we plan to stay longer?! Where, oh where do we sign up for the cruising life?! Patrick and Nancy were wonderful hosts. We had a great time, met friendly- quirky cruisers and even learned some things.