Thursday, October 19, 2017

Dominica Hurricane Relief 2017

Second truckload
Oct 7 2017
Remember when I told you about feeling helpless in terms of the hurricanes but I also mentioned that the cruisers quickly mobilized?  Here in Trinidad, that effort was headed up by Jesse James and a few key cruisers. 
Third truckload
Jesse coordinated with several churches who were gathering donations.  The cruising community combed through our bilges to see what we had – used line and sails, torches and headlamps, food and dry goods.  Sarah (sv Cape) sat each morning by the storage area to receive the goods.  Willie (sv Liahona) collected cash donations.  Jackson (mv Shadowfax) and I walked around to the various businesses here in Chaguaramas asking to put up fliers about donations and asking if they had any.  Finally, Jesse, Willie and Jackson went shopping with the cash collected and purchased as many goods as they could.  This was not an easy chore according to Jackson, taking the better part of a day – picking items out, calculating the case price, then applying the wholesale discount and adding it to the current sum to be sure they used every dollar donated.  A small team of cruisers helped unload and store the items. 
Human chain moving the supplies
Solo sailor Patrick sv Foxfire volunteered to take all the gathered items to Dominica.  His destination is actually Panama but he volunteered to take this detour to help out Dominica.  “One hell of a detour” as our cruising friend Bev (sv Aseka) put it! 
Stacking it dockside for loading
The appointed sailing day arrived and thus the gathered donations had to be loaded.  Roughly 20+ cruisers along with the yard manager of Powerboats and a few workers showed up to help move all the gathered goods.  A human chain was formed to transfer the items from the storage unit (upstairs and down) to the Powerboats pickup truck.  Then this was backed down to the dock where sv Foxfire was tied up.  Another human chain formed to then transfer the goods from truck to dock and then onto the boat.  Captain Patrick and a few key people were aboard to help organized the final storage.  Even at 42 ft, some wondered where it would all go.  The goods kept coming.  A second and then a third truckload of relief supplies. 
Bruce checking things out topside
It appeared as we loaded the supplies, that most had really worked hard to keep the donated items to “items needed” – we had canned goods, bottled water, dried goods (rice, sugar, powered milk, paper towels and toilet paper) torches (flashlights), coloring pads and crayons, diapers, feminine hygiene items and such.  I only saw one small bag of previously owned shoes and NO clothes.  Clothing is the worse thing to send.
Bryn and Jesse passing items down to Captain Patrick for storage

We all watched sv Foxfire's waterline as we loaded, expecting it to drop below the water with all the weight, but it didn’t.  She’s a proper, sturdy bluewater sailboat.  Just over an hour after we started, everyone was sweaty and hot but the supplies were all loaded.  Now all Patrick needed was fuel and he would be off.  “Fair winds captain and thank you.”
The loading crew - pic by Willie Haskins
Final note -We received word yesterday 10-9-2017 that Patrick arrived safe and sound into Prince Rupert Bay -Portsmouth.  He was able to connected with the contact person who in turn rallied is people (a church group I think) to help unload sv Foxfire.  They are grateful and will immediately distribute to those in need.  
Sarah (sv Cape) doing her best Bethany pose in her memory

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Happy Indigenous People Day

Oct 9th 2017
Happy Indigenous People Day!  Yes, I am one of those.  I couldn’t be happier that the second Monday of October is now being celebrated as Indigenous People Day.  I have long thought Christopher Columbus was a hack.  Even back in grade school I couldn’t understand how Columbus “discovered” what is now the USA when there were people here.  Huh?  “But Miss Salter, that doesn’t make sense.”  “Be quiet Sabrina.  This is history.”  
Too harsh?

I have since learned (through various books) that while he sailed across the ocean blue but he didn’t not discover ANYTHING.  He had MAPS!  Yep, ole Chris followed maps to the Caribbean and then up to America.  We followed maps when we drove down through the southern states in 2013, does that mean Tom and I “discovered” Dixie?  I think not.

So through the years, while I was glad to have the official day off, I always thought it was ridiculous and actually came to begrudge Columbus Day.  It just seems like a false/fake day.  And how in the hell did it become a national holiday (in 1937 BTW).  It also cracks me up that Italians grabbed on to it and celebrated also, since Columbus sailed under the Spanish flag!  I know, they chose it to celebrate their Italian heritage.  I just find that odd.  Of course it is not celebrated here in the Caribbean – that would be a slap in the face. 

I didn't even remember it Columbus Day today until I saw there was an announcement that Kansas City Missouri City Council declared October 9th 2017 as Indigenous People Day.  I thought, yay, a real news story and traction for this.  I am not sure how far this shift in thinking has gone.  (I hate to call it a movement because people seem to bristle at the term.)  Apparently there are now over 50 major cities that celebrate Indigenous People Day vs Columbus Day.  When I did follow up research, there were several stories.  I don’t know what is taught in school these days.  I hope it is Indigenous People Day, perhaps along with some information about a crazy Italian guy who got a bunch of money from the Queen of Spain (because his own refused to give him $) and went adventuring across the sea, meeting new people and exploring - NOT discovering, new to him lands.  This allows proper celebration and still fosters the imagination of the dreamers and would be adventurers in the classroom. 

*Special Note – While reading this to Tom and discussing I asked “Seriously, how did Columbus Day become a holiday in the USA?”  Tom suggested “We are just as nuts for holidays.  Nearly as much as the Trini’s”  HA!  Trini’s LOVE their holidays and they have a ton of them.  Hee hee.  BTW - This Friday October 13th is "First People's Day" - a one off holiday here.    

**  I understand that Chrissy perhaps did discovered some additional details - coves, anchorages and such.....maybe......although I still think the locals would best know all the ends and out of their island(s)! 

Potential New Friend - Let The Stalking Begin

So here is the story of the day....

I was doing research to get our passports renewed here.  I realized that I did not have the US Embassy - Trinidad info in my phone.  I always have local US Embassy info in my phone.  Along with contact info, I usually put the ambassador info in there too.  Ready for the kicker?.....The current ChargĂ© d'Affaires "ad interim"  for Trinidad is John McIntyre.  Before his foreign service work he got his masters at KU and worked for the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City.  I know, right!  

So of course I immediately think "we should be friends with this guy."  Of course there was no email available.  I thought about sending a fax as that number is posted.  But that seemed....weird/creepy.  I know, I know....I realize the irony but hang in there with me!   More internet research was needed.  Marina internet was rubbish so I cut and ran for the local bar.  Hey, don't judge.  Their internet is fast.  

Back to John.  I quickly found some additional info.  He is on Linkedin.  I hate Linkedin.  I am on it because of my previous life.  Forced thing.  After leaving land life I changed my profile (if you can call the scarce info I have there a profile) to say Sailing Instructor ASA because I got sick of people (headhunters) trying to connect with me via Linkedin.  It has been so long since I logged on, I didn't have record of my password.  I got a new password and logged in.  I soon found the correct John McIntyre.  Dum-dum-dum......

YES -- I sent him a message.  Of course I did.  You all KNEW I did!!  It was short....there are only so many characters allowed.  I told him basic stuff - USA/KS sailors currently in Chag for hurricane season.  I noticed he spent time in KS and that there were many USA sailors in Chag.  I told him he should come visit us out in Chag.  Then I threw in a "Go Chiefs!" just for fun.  We shall see what comes of this.  Maybe I should have invited him to come “lime” with us ex-pats in Chag, you know….use the local lingo.  But then again, maybe not.  His foreign service record says he has been a “few” places so maybe good ol' Merican is what I should have used.     

Oh shit!.....while typing this power has gone out.  Ah in the Caribbean.  Never boring.   Of course internet is gone too.  I guess I am posting this later.    

So anyway, we shall see what comes of my  

Boat Bling - New Galley Faucet

New bling

Oct 2nd 2017
Who doesn’t like new bling?  Who doesn’t like new boat goodies = gear, tools, toys, stuff?  Combine the two and you have a winning combo sure to please. 
Old faucet

Our old galley faucet was pretty rough.  The environment we live in had taken its toll.  The surface was pitted and when we returned at the end of this summer, the head was stiff and didn’t want to swivel.  Part of this was my fault.  I don’t think I will ever get used to the corrosion that takes place in this environment.  It still catches me by surprise.  Turns out many “marine grade” things that are supposedly maintenance free, actually need special care and on-going maintenance despite the manufacturer’s claim.  Additionally, the design of this galley faucet was terrible… is MOST faucets.  It makes NO sense to me that the majority of faucets are designed so that once you are done using the water and reach to turn the handle/handles, the water from your wet hands pools behind the faucet leaving a mess to clean up each and every time.  What genius came up with this stupid design?  Seriously, think about most public bathroom, the sink area is a wet mess because the water shut off knobs allow water to pool on the counter and eventually, (after enough people) run all over the counter.  Even high end, poshy posh faucets do this if they are part of that design group.    The best faucet in my opinion is single lever, leaves no water mess.  Yeah, it is a pet peeve of mine.  I despise that water mess.
Anyway, we have been casually looking for a replacement faucet for some time.  A fellow Caliber 40 owner replaced his last year with a nice, modern, single handle faucet.  Oh…..maybe we should get one.  We never quite got around to locating one.  He sent a message at the end of this season “Don’t bother.  It was rubbish and it has began to corrode.”  Bummer.  We would keep an eye out for one but this was not a MUST do project.

And then we found it, the perfect faucet.  We took an extra day in Ft Lauderdale FL when flying back to sv Honey Ryder in September.  I don’t like the stress of flying straight through, worrying about making an international connection.  It also makes for a really long day.  And we don’t have a schedule, so why do it.  Besides, the extra day gives us a chance to do some last minute boat odds and ends shopping on Marina Mile.  *Yes, it is really called that! 

We went to Sailorman in Ft Lauderdale.  It is a huge warehouse place that sells primarily second hand stuff, closeout items and open box items.  All sorts of stuff in various condition from new in the box to really beat up.  You just never know what you are going to find in there.  We walked the isles slowly looking at all things boatie.  Near the end there was an entire table of galley and head faucets - HIGH END  faucets.  I mean really good stuff, top quality with a simple yet sophisticated design.  The perfect design – one handle, no mess!  This stuff looked like it belonged on a mega yacht.  NICE stuff.  I looked at the price.  WHOA!  Yep, mega yacht stuff.  Tom walked up next to me.  His eyes light up and he looked at me.  “I know!  But this is NOT in our budget, trust me!”  His smile faded.  The Sailorman sales girl (that is a mouthful to say) said “The manager Rob over there just sold something off this table at a big discount.  Make him an offer.”  I turned to look at Rob thinking even if……..there was still no discount that he would approve that we could afford.  Before I could say anything, she said “Hey Rob.  She wants this one.  How much will you sell it for?”   Oh boy, here we go.  Rob came over, looked at the shiny, beautifully designed galley faucet and said “Hum…..$50 bucks.”  Wide eyed with mouth dropped open as well, I looked at Tom.  He quickly said “SOLD.”    Later we carefully wrapped our new galley faucet in clothes so it wouldn’t get scratched and Tom put it in his carry-on bag. 

A few days after our return home to sv Honey Ryder, Tom installed the new galley faucet and we have been enjoying it ever since.  It is perfect!!  AND no watery mess on the counter behind.  YAY!!!!  I would like to think I learn from history so despite the high quality of our new fantastic faucet, I wanted to be sure I knew how to take care of it – chrome plated brass.  To my surprise – no paper or fibrous towels.  D-oh.  On the old one, we usually wiped it down with those blue & white fibrous, disposable towelletes.  Recommendation is to use a soft, natural towel, no harsh chemicals.       

The installation?  Don’t forget in 2013, Tom cut a big access panel behind the galley sink area in the settee seatback.  See here if you want a reminder.  This made removal of the old and installation of the new much easier.  

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Norman's 4th Annual DDI Lime

China box

Saturday Sept 23rd
DDI Lime - Down island Lime - I don't know why there are two DD's but there are.
Down Island - Chachacare is the last of 5 little islands that make up The Bocas Islands that lay west of Trinidad.  It was the location of a leper colony that only just closed in 1984.  BTW - according to Wikipedia, President Trump visited it in 1999 during the the Miss Universe contest and contemplated building a casino and resort (of course) but didn't.  And yes, there are a ton of jokes ripe for the picking in the previous sentences - Trump and leper colony being the key words here!!!  You're welcome.  Have at it!
Lime -  (v) hanging out/socialising in an informal relaxing environment, especially with friends, for example at a party or on the beach., or even just on the porch or such.

Norman is a local Trini that is a fixture and apparently also a quiet mover and shaker at the Trinidad and Tobago Sailing Association.  Every year for the past 3 years he has thrown a DDI Lime.  We had the opportunity to buy tickets to this event.  I say tickets because this is a tad beyond your normal relaxed lime.  It is a pig roast with all the fixins - 1/2 pig in a China Box, massive amounts of BBQ chicken hot off the grill,  traditional starchy Trini sides of potato salad, macaroni bake and rice(?)  Trini's LOVE their starches!!!  Unlimited food AND drinks!
Willie and Sabrina on the ride out

We caught a ride in style on mv Shadowfax (thank you Rico and Jackson) along with fellow cruisers.   We arrived early and got anchored.  Typical of most Trini events - the cruisers were WAY early.  The party was just being set up ashore.  No matter, it wasn't long before we were bobbing in the clear waters of Chachacare.

More boats arrived and soon it was a full blown lime.  The sky was somewhat cloudy with a few light showers.  That was fine with Tom and me because after a summer at 38 degrees of latitude, our tender skin was not yet used to 10 degrees of Sun that is here in Trinidad.
Tom on the ride out

More boats arrived.  We sent scouts ashore to recon the progress.  "Soon" it was reports.  More limin.  Finally, we dinghied ashore.  The chicken was ready, the DJ had the tunes cranked and the drinks were flowing.  We started limin with all the locals.  So many interesting people.  More drinks and chatting.  Then a few proper toasts to Norman.  Then the smoked pork was done.  OMG - it was fantastic!!!  A chef chopped it into small inch bits and topped it with chopped green onions and a light sprinkle of soy sauce.  As fast as he dumped it into a large pan, we all scooped it up by fingers, hands and cups.  I looked over to see a group of locals limin in the water up to their waists - a drink in one hand and a cup of pork to nibble on in the other.  More chatting with various locals.  Fascinating stories.
Sarah and David

Our captain didn't want to stay too late as he preferred to dock while there was still a bit of light.  We bid everyone ado and pulled up the anchor.  In typical Trini fashion, the party was just getting started.  Most would limin into the early hours of the next day, staying overnight.
Mark on the aft deck

We had a blast.  Hopefully we will be around next year for the 5th annual!   

People are People - Venezuela Fishermen

Venezuela fishing boats

Oct 1st 2017
Thursday we planned a little lime at the pool in our marina.  Sv Tango and Sv Kelly Nicole.  I got up there just before the sky opened up dumping massive amounts of rain.  It also blew.  The others including Tom decided to wait it out on their boats.  However, I was not alone.  A group of four locals took refuge under the covered area, along with two Venezuelan fisherman.  I shared some channa (snacky food) with everyone.  The locals knew a little Spanish and began chatting with the fishermen.

The rain eased so the locals departed.  The fishermen knew very little English.  My Spanish is non-existent.  *Silly me....I took French in school despite growing up in a very Hispanic town.  Sigh.  However, soon we were trying to converse with much gesturing.  One of the first things we discussed was our presidents.  They said "President Maduro.....he loco."  I quickly countered "President Trump....he mucho loco."  We all three shook our heads sadly in agreement to both statements.  That out of the way, we continued to talk on a limited basis - person to person.

They work on one of the larger Trinidad fishing boats.  They started in January 2017.  Each time they leave Trinidad, they head up to St Vincent to take on bait fish and then out into the Atlantic.  They are usually gone for 25 days before returning to port.  The turn around is short before they head out again.  They are in port now a tad longer as the boat needs painting.  They will stay with the boat and fish through November.  Then they will return to Venezuela for the month of December.  Come January, they will start over again fishing.

They are both married, with two kids each.  Remember......very little English and near non-existent Spanish and yet.....we were communicating, sharing, learning.  Tom arrived as well as Stephan and Annika off sv Tango.  We offered the fishermen some cold beers and more channa to snack on.  Stephan and Annika had spent several months in Brazil when they crossed the Atlantic.  They knew a little Portuguese and started communicating with the fisherman via a combination of Portuguese and Spanish.  We all had another round of coldies.

After a bit, they disappeared to their boat, saying they would return soon.   When they came back, they had a HUGE bag filled with big, frozen fillets of cleaned fish - tuna and Mahi mahi!  It was at least 15 lbs of frozen fish.  We were blown away at this generous gift.  They just smiled.  Tom took it to sv Honey Ryder to put in the freezer, pulling out half for our Swedish friends.  When he returned, he brought a 4 page English to Spanish translation guide I bought this past summer. The youngest of the fisherman was very interested in this.  He used it to ask additional questions, as did we.  The gesturing continued as well along with head nods, smiles and laughs.  Did we understand everything they said?  No.  Did they understand everything we said?  No.  It didn't matter.  We simply enjoyed what we could understand as well as the process and effort.

We have seen them since a couple of times since - "Hola" we say.  "Hello" they say.   

Note -  The above picture is of Venezuela owned fishing boats.  These are very different in design than the regular fishing boats we are used to seeing.  These are wooden, low waterline and usually carrying a crew of 8 or more.  They often dock near sv Honey Ryder, rafting up side by side by side.  As we sit in our cockpit, we can't help but observe a little bit of life onboard these vessels.  It is fascinating.  It should be noted that the fishermen I mentioned above are not on vessels like this but instead a traditional, steel type fishing boat.  They are rare.  Generally those crews are Asian with American captains.

On The Front Lines Of Climate Change

Picture via FB Gallery Cafe in Carriacou

Sept 29th 2017
I am going to be political.  If you don't want or like that, don't read.  I am only going to publish limited comments if I receive any, and I will pick and chose comments I do publish.  This is my/our blog and I get to do that.  If you don't like it, write your own blog.

So much debate, truths, lies, controversy, and emotion surrounding climate change.  We are not going to talk specifics.  I just want to say that if you don't believe in climate change and you visit the Caribbean, keep that opinion to yourself.  These people are living climate change every day!  A few island elders have shared this first hand knowledge with us personally.  If you do visit and it comes up, perhaps instead of debating and trying to express YOUR side, maybe just listen.  Ask questions, gain another perspective based on experience. 

The Prime Minister of Dominica flew out of hurricane ravaged Dominica - where his own roof was ripped off during the storm - to address the United Nations on climate change.  His speech was articulate, passionate and from first hand experience aka the front lines.  You can read it HERE.  I hope you do.

Finally, I saw what I think is a brilliant response to most climate change debates.  I am only sorry I don't remember where or who posted this.  It went something like this....."Regardless of whether you think/believe climate change is real or not, shouldn't we want and strive towards clean air and water?"  Yes, yes we should.  End of debate.

Cat 5 Hurricane Marina - Weeping for Dominica and Others

Toni and Jeff - see the framed pic on the counter?

Sept 29th 2017
This is Toni and her husband Jeff.  We met them in May 2017 in Dominica.  She is from Trinidad, he is from Dominica.  They met in Hawaii.  They came back to Dominica to start their life together.  They have two small children.  They built a lovely three story house.  Out in front of their house is a small roti/doubles/snack shop.  The land is family land on Jeff’s side.  He father grew up in a tiny 2 room house on that very land.  There is a framed picture on the counter of the snack shop of his father as a child at that house. Their plan is to live in the middle floor and make the top floor two separate apartments to rent out.  The bottom floor would be a market/wholesale place catering to visiting cruisers.  
Their house and business

We got to know them a little bit while we were in Dominica.  Lovely, warm people.  She and I have communicated via email a few times since.   She wrote to me in June to asking if we had safely arrived in Trinidad.  I wrote back saying we had and gave her a short update.  Mid summer I emailed her asking how they were doing.  She responded that they had gotten the market/wholesale area open on the first floor and they were excited for the coming cruising season.  Then hurricane Maria took aim on Dominica.  I emailed her right before.  I didn't really know what to say other than something like "We are thinking of you,. Be safe.  Good luck and please try to let us know you are ok after."  It felt like a weak and empty thing to say but it was all I had.  She emailed right back thanking me for my concern and letting me know that they were prepped and waiting.  Ugh! 
Our hiking guide Ian.  He lived right on a river in Portsmouth.  I hope he is ok. We don't know.
Maria decimated Dominica.  She also went on to ravage St Croix and Puerto Rico.  Report began to trickle out but very slowly.  Very few came out of Dominica.  Eventually, more reports and then pictures started surfacing.  Our worst fears, near total destruction.  I think something like 95% of all structures have sustained some sort of damage.  I need to remind you now, that Dominica was hit by tropical storm Erika two years ago.  That storm brought record rains that in turn caused massive flooding and numerous mudslides that took out over half the roads and hundreds of homes.  33 people died in TS Erika.  The country had only just recovered.  
Taken in 2016 from TS Erika in 2015
It is also important to remember that Dominica is it's own sovereign country with no strong motherland behind her.  Additionally, Dominica is one of the poorest countries in the eastern Caribbean.  Without a large, international airport, the tourist trade that most of these islands depend on doesn't happen on the same level in Dominica.  Despite that challenge, they have come a long way in developing not only a small tourist trade but ecotourism.  A perfect fit for all the natural beauty that is Dominica with 7 extinct volcanoes, 360+ rivers,  hiking trails, the boiling lake, whales and so much more.  
Middleham falls 2016
The cruising community LOVES Dominica.  Nearly everyone stops there while sailing north and south each season.  While several islands got hard hit this hurricane season and many are suffering, this fondness and the above facts are the reason that much of the cruiser related efforts at hurricane relief is focused on Dominica.  Martinique cruisers, Grenada cruisers and Trinidad cruisers have all mobilized with locals on each island to collect needed items and money.  Yachts and a tug have been loaded and have sailed for Dominica.  Additional will be following.  At great risk to themselves and their vessels, I might add. 
sv Endorfin II on the way to the Boiling Lake 2016
As cruisers, sometimes we get lucky and come to know locals on a personal level.  That is one of the magical things about this life, the wonderful people we meet.  This gives us a personal connection to a place and let's us get a glimpse into another culture.  When a natural tragedy or other strikes in that far off place.... like the Caribbean, we can no longer say "Oh, how sad for those people."  Instead we are invested, we know that place personally, we have a connection.  Our acquaintances/friends are there.  They may/are affected.  It pains and worries us.  Often we are called to response action somehow.  These connections and understanding of another place and people make this world a better place.  Especially during the bad times.  One race = the human race.  
Greg our boat guy in Roseau 2016.  I hope he is ok.  We don't know.
There are also additional cruiser efforts for other islands and individual causes and individual families.  We all know someone that was affected this hurricane season, some worse than others.  I just thought I might explain why it may seem like the cruising community is so focused on Dominica and to a lesser extent, Barbuda.  That tiny island is part of the sovereign nation of Antigua and Barbuda.  Again, hit head on by cat 5 Irma and again, no strong motherland behind her.  All 1800 inhabitants of Barbuda were forced to leave their island.  Did you get that.....they had to completely leave the island because the destruction was SO complete!  It is the first time in 300 years that the island had been without people.    
Famous guide Seacat making lunch at Boiling Lake in 2016.  I hope he is ok.  We don't know.  His house is right on the water.
Back to Toni and Jeff - We waited and waited to hear from her.  I scoured the internet for information on the damage in Portsmouth where Toni and Jeff live, hoping for some sort of update.  As I mentioned above, communication out of Dominica was very slow in coming with many, many areas completely cut off from the outside world or even from the government of Dominica itself.  Finally, this week on Wednesday Sept 27th I emailed Toni asking "Are you all alive?  Are you ok?"  I let her know that relief efforts had started in Trinidad, Grenada and Martinique...."Help is on the way.  Hang on"   She responded back late in the day they were alive and ok!  *I am tearing up now as I write this.  So emotional.  It seems they are US citizens (probably when they lived in Hawaii) and therefore were able to evacuate on Monday Sept 25th to Trinidad, several days after the hurricane hit.  She said their house and business was damaged but not nearly as bad as many others.  She added that Dominica is in real trouble.  "They need food and medical supplies now!  People are or have run out of food.  The main hospital in Portsmouth was damaged and needs supplies."   We were SO relieved and yet heartbroken at her report of the conditions.  She said they will stay in Trinidad for two weeks and then head to Texas to stay with family there for a while.  She didn't say when they would return to Dominica.  Think of all the thousands of people that were not able to evacuate.   
Young guide on our Boiling Lake hike 2016.  I hope he is ok.  We don't know.
I mentioned above how it felt weak and empty saying "Thinking of you.  Be safe.  Good luck and please let us know you are ok when you can".  It's more than that, you feel helpless to do anything - before, during and after.   Social media has been filled with images, reports and stories of all the destruction.  Most of us hit the cry emoji and make a comment, something along the lines of "heartbreaking"  but those are the same.....weak and empty.  Make no mistake - it is a horrible thing to have to send an email out with the subject line "Are you alive?  Are you ok?"   I think everyone was just so shocked and stunned.  We didn't know what to do.  But relief efforts soon fired up.  Links to organizations to donate money to or specific GoFundMe.  As well as the the above cruiser/local relief efforts to gather food and supplies to send.  

The people of these islands are strong.  They will rebuild.  This I know.  But they need help from all of us.  ALL of us!!  One race = human race!

Lately - Here and Now

boat work bucket

Sept 29th 2017

So much has happened lately.  I know I still need to finish out this past cruising season, however that will have to wait.  I am just going to jump in now with the latest.  Ready?

In June we left the boat in Trinidad again for hurricane season.  As I have mentioned before, it is technically out of the "hurricane zone" but there are no guarantees in life.  WELL....this hurricane season the African wave train fired up WAY too early.  Normally it fires up in September.   Nope, not this year.  Mid June waves started rolling off Africa.  Weird, but we all just assumed they would curve north like they usually do.  However, we did stay vigilant, checking National Hurricane Center every morning.

Sure stayed straight, not curving but heading west, heading right for Trinidad.  And it kept coming, and kept coming.  Argh!  So one week before we were set to fly back stateside, we were not only prepping the boat to leave but also prepping for a tropical storm or worse.  And while many of the activities of prepping for leaving the boat and prepping for an actual storm are the same, this storm also took away time from additional things we like to do to prep and getting a jump start on boat projects.  Argh!  For added fun, Tom re-injured his back and was out of commission.  I wasn't even sure if he could get on the plane in a week.  Big fun!  But I kept him medicated aka doped up aka sleeping 23 hrs a day so he wouldn't move around and make it worse and so his muscles could rest/heal.  It worked.  We made the plane and he didn't suffer too bad.  The tropical storm did hit but we were prepared, in part thanks to dock friends ( thank you Mark and Terry) and luckily it wasn't too bad where we are berthed.  Of course it hit at night.  I saw sustained winds of 35 knots with a high gust to 39 knots.  I know, I know.....that is nothing.  But for a girl from Kansas who is used to tornadoes and knows nothing of hurricanes, it was still a tad nerve wracking.  The best part was that the potential damaging westerly swell never arrived.  YAY!  The storm went away, we flew stateside.  HUGE thanks to fellow Caliber 40 owner Super Bill for playing Sherpa and taking Tom's carry-on bag for him.
Stateside hurricane apartment we rented

We spent June 22nd to Sept 20th stateside.  Work and fun.

Hurricanes in 2017 so far have really sucked so far.  Harvey hit Texas.  Irma grew to cat 5 and wiped Barbuda clean as well as smashing St Barths, Saint Martin/St Maarten, BVI's, USVI and then Florida Keys and parts of mainland Florida.  Right behind was hurricane Maria.  She slammed into Dominica as a cat 5, then on to St Croix and Puerto Rico - two places that were staging much needed relief supplies for the USVI and BVI's after Irma.  So much devastation and destruction.  Homes, businesses, boats, lives lost.  It is truly heartbreaking.  Relief efforts are happening but too slowly and resources are stretched thin.  More to come in another posting on this.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Alive and Well - Life is What Happens

Sunrise in le Marin Martinique

July 6th 2017
No, we are not dead.  Yes, we are still cruising.  Well....not at this exact moment but in general.  Why hasn't the blog been updated?  Lazy?  Yes.  Writers block?  Yes.  Life?  Yes.  What is the worn out phrase...."Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans."?  While that is not our normal mode of operation, we did get caught a bit in that this season.  But more later on that.

I personally blame social media.  When we closed up land life in May 2013, I caved and joined social media in the form of Facebook - ugh!  I very much have a love / hate relationship with it.  It has allowed me to stay connected with cruising friends carried around the globe on the winds of adventure and exploration, as well as re-discovering friends from years and years ago.  It also let's me check in with land peeps and even chat over coffee.  All good....for the most part.  *I personally find it weird how everyone is a "Friend" now but in reality we don't truly know many.  And whatever happened to the term "acquaintance"?  I like that term.  But I digress......The down side of social media for me is distraction and the nearly complete zapping of clear and often creative thoughts.  At least for me.  I do much of my initial writing on the blog early morning or even in the middle of the night.  However, no matter the time, someone I know is ALWAYS on Facebook, or has posted fun pics of the days adventures, or there is some interesting posts in various groups I follow, or funny jokes, or political (fake or not) topics.  SO much.... info/stuff/nonsense/crap that catches and distracts my attention.  I try to focus on writing but I get side tracked with a quick question to a cruising friend about anchoring where they are (and we are headed) or a hike later that morning or whatever, then BOOM....time has past by and all thoughts for a blogging are gone.

We are currently stateside for a visit.  While that usually means crazy, hectic and COLD (every retailer or public indoor space in the USA is 60 degrees which is Arctic cold to our Caribbean thinned blood!), I plan to re-focus, buckle down and get you all caught up on our adventures.  I miss blogging aka communicating (one sided) with you.

SO....please tune back in and always, thanks for following along.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Dinghy Seat Cover and Storage Solution

Oddjob does not have a forward storage compartment.  Nick Nack did.  Many dinghies don't.
Inside OddJob - bow

Instead, they have seat covers with built-in storage.  A good, alternative idea.
Big pocket in front

I have been keeping my eye out at all the dinghy docks for design ideas so I could make one for OddJob.
I took pics of designs I liked and then hit the web.  There is a Facebook Group called Sewing On Boats - SOB.  Seriously, that is the nickname.  Ha!  I searched there for good ideas.  Sure enough, my fellow SOB's had designed and sewn some of their own.  I found one I really liked.  Jan had done a terrific job on hers.  I commented and asked a few questions.
Smaller pocket, long, skinny pocket and two drink holders

Soon we were chatting on FB Messenger - me in Martinique and she in The Bahamas.  She answered all my questions, sent more detailed pics and guidance and gave me encouragement.  "Keep me posted on how it goes."
Design, layout and cutting phase

I wanted to use up some of the leftover fabric pieces I have.  However, I wanted it to look nice as well - not too hodgepodge.  I THOUGHT I had enough fabric.  It turned out I really didn't for my type of sewing...."D-oh!  Damn it!  I cut it too small.  Argh Sabrina!" 
Not much leftover

However, I pieced and patched, using the same two fabric colors - grey and black as well as good amount of webbing and was just able to pull it off.
Expansion when needed

Velcro'd when extra space is not needed

I had some old, used zippers from our old dodger/bimini but I decided not to use them.  I didn't think they would hold up in the harsh environment that the dinghy has to take.  Additionally, I simply didn't have ANY spare fabric to make zipper covers and such.  Plus.....honest truth is....zipper are not my forte.  They intimidate me.  Instead, I decided to go with Velcro.  I love Velcro.  I am the princess of Velcro.  
What is in here?  

As with ALL canvas boat projects, the size is weird, odd shaped and not symmetrical.  But that is standard by now....that all canvas projects will not be standard.  Does that make sense?  Anyway, I used a plastic drop cloth to design the pattern and check it before I started cutting on canvas.  This doesn't mean I still didn't do some swearing when I cut the fabric wrong/too short.  But, I was developing it as I went, working with the spare fabric I had.  Really quite tough doing it that way.
Drink holder

Additionally, I was doing all this on the water.  Oddjob is in the water working as our dinghy.  I could have hauled him to the beach but it wasn't really necessary for just the seat.  However, it still wasn't easy.  I sometimes feel bad when I see all the beautiful, perfect canvas projects that fellow SOB's create.  Why can't mine have more of a finished looked?  Then I noticed in the pics from fellow SOB that whatever they are sewing it is sitting in someone's garage/basement/dinning room aka they created it on land....where stuff doesn't move....where there is room to spread out yards of fabric absolutely FLAT.....where the wind doesn't blow your pattern/material around as you try to fit it!  Mind you not all, but many, many are created on solid land.
Long, skinny pocket for say.....a bamboo outboard handle.  Note the drain hole

Anyway, I used our bed, the cabin sole and our main table in the salon to design, pattern, cut and sew my dinghy seat cover.  It turned out pretty good.  Anyway, good enough for us as I always say.
One last look - webbing with quick release clips under the seat keep it all place