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Posted on January 6, 2017 | 0 comments

All In A Day’s Work

All In A Day’s Work

The bay at Grand Cas catapults to the top of our favorite places as a dinghy delivers fresh (and HOT) croissants and baguettes this early morning. Goodbye gluten-free diet. We return to Ft. Louis Marina to…

Fuel, do laundry, learn to make a bed on a boat, rent a car, run errands, e.g., FKG to replace the halyard, watch FKG measure and actually install the halyard on the same day (FKG is tied with the baguette dinghy for number one service provider), measure for a new sail bag and trampoline, wash the decks, wash the window shades, clean the windows, get a lesson from pilot Jim Moore on cleaning plexyglass, forget to close the hatch and saturate my side of the bed, strip the newly-made bed, dry bed linens, make my bed a second time, do another load of laundry, knock over water bucket in galley, dry and re-clean galley floor and storage compartments in floor, meet Auston and learn the art of cleaning and restoring stainless steel on a boat, borrow his power rotary buffer to buff out refrigerator doors, realize how cool it is to operate a power tool and add that to my Christmas wish list, admire the new red halyard, admire the new yellow main sheet (because after all, if you’re replacing one, why not replace the other–just $$$), spend more money at Island Marine on new dock lines and a bunch of stuff that ends put being the wrong size but now looks interesting on the salon table, do more laundry, tour our neighbor’s charter FP Saba 60/70 and wishing we were one of their clients now being served an island drink instead of dripping sweat with grimy fingernails, clean fingernails and thoroughly enjoy the monthly wine tasting event offered at the marina, continue drinking wine with dinner across the street at our favorite restaurant, Plongeoir, who treats us like regulars who have been coming for years, back to the boat for a Sapphire Blue nightcap, and fall into my beautifully-made bed. I love sailing.

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Posted on January 5, 2017 | 0 comments

When Is Home Home?

When Is Home Home?

Following more discussion about why the GPS alarm rang, we finally let the mystery remain a mystery and took the dinghy to shore so we could hike.

This was our first excursion with the new outboard to “ride” the dinghy up on the beach. As the beach drew closer and our attempts to raise the outboard did not, we headed back to Gemeaux to read the manual. You know, if all else fails, follow the instructions. Second attempt to land was a success and we hiked up the island of St. Barts, which gave us a panoramic view of the Ile Fourchu bay below, the island’s capital of Gustavia in the distance, and even St. Martin far away on the horizon.

We cooled off with a swim and snorkeling and headed back “home” to St. Martin. Speaking of home, I decided Gemeaux will become “home” when three things happen–

  1. The salon table is no longer a work bench.
  2. We stop referring to “he” did this and “he” uses that when talking about the original owner as though we are borrowing his boat; and
  3. We go through an entire day knowing how everything works.

Later I would realize that the salon table always will host a variety of projects and there will always be something new to learn. This is how “home” is redefined.

Dotting the shoreline of St. Martin is one super yacht after another, including the Maltese Falcon, a high tech square rigger with about 20 sails–an impressive sight! Gemeaux’s AIS serves as our personal Wikipedia for identifying boats and all their facts and figures. It keeps up constantly entertained. We delay our return to the civilization of a marina and instead anchor in the north end of Grand Cas, where we can dinghy to Calmos, our new favorite bar that we discovered with Matt and Cara, which is situated on the water’s edge…literally on the edge–water laps at our feet as we enjoy margaritas on the picnic tables.

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Posted on January 5, 2017 | 0 comments

Midnight Alarms

Midnight Alarms

Sound asleep just past midnight, the GPS alarm rang notifying us that the boat had moved more than 50 feet from our original position. The mooring ball that we’re affixed to allows us a 40-foot swing so anything beyond that meant we potentially were drifting out to sea, into another boat, or crashing into the rocky shoreline.

With only a sliver of moonlight and the soft glow of neighboring anchor lights, Allen jumped out of bed to determine if we had broken free of our mooring ball. Night vision binoculars proved essential to confirm where we were relative to the shoreline and neighboring boats. At the point Allen woke Jim I knew there was a problem so I joined the triage discussion in the galley now fully underway. Of course on this boat, we have a multitude of electronic devices and part of the confusion was that they were not in agreement of any boat movement. We appeared to still be secure on the ball but had the ball moved? Not likely given that it’s attached to a concrete block at the bottom of the sea. But why would our trusty GPS alarm sound? GPS failure? Garmin no doubt would deny that possibility.

Now, we could see activity on another boat, which appeared perilously close to another vessel and was quickly motoring to another point in the bay. As is the case with most Jim Moore/Allen Roberts discussions, the triage discussion at this juncture turned into a far more technical conversation that this sleepy head could not keep up with and certainly had little to contribute. I returned to bed, trusting the shipmates to solve the immediate problem and any other global crises.

Allen eventually returned to bed but it was a sleepless night as GPS alerted us two additional times. In the morning as we caffeinated our sleepy bodies, we continued the discussion and speculation. Allen dove on the mooring line and confirmed all was good. It continues to be a mystery. Yawn.

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Posted on January 4, 2017 | 0 comments

Climbing the Mast

Climbing the Mast

When two of the three crew suffer from sever acrophobia, there’s no question who will be charged with climbing the mast for any repairs. Meet the boson chair—a sling that you sit in, securely affixed to the halyard, and raised up the mast by the two acrophobiacs.

Yesterday, the drone provided a good view of the top of the mast to confirm the broken antennae swinging around needed its bolt repaired. So this morning, when winds typically are friendlier for mast ascents and I confirmed that just a simple wrench was required for the job, I became a boson. I made sure that plenty of fancy knots were used to cinch me to the chair as I was hoisted 70 feet into the air. I don’t have any fear of heights; in fact I rather enjoy the thrill and always the view. Today, the climb afforded me a spectacular aerial view of the boat and ocean bottom in these crystal clear Caribbean waters. But I digress. I’m on a mission so I stayed focused on the task at hand. I wrapped my legs around the various wires and mast as Allen hoisted me to the top. Once at the top, the repair was pretty straight-forward and my fun ended far too soon as I was returned to the planet.

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Posted on January 3, 2017 | 0 comments

Securing the Mooring Ball

Securing the Mooring Ball

Part of sailing lessons involve learning how to attach our sailboat to a mooring ball. Simple enough. Little like threading a needle in the wind while standing on one leg. Allen slowly drives the boat towards the floating ball bobbing up and down in the waves and Jim and I hang off the front of the boat to catch it. Jim has a line from the boat and I have the boat hook. Allen, of course, can’t see the ball as we approach it so we yell back at him on its position. Keep the boat steady and straight. And just like that, the ball goes under the boat and we’ve missed it. Jim and I promptly launch into a conversation about how to modify our approach for round #2 but as conversations often go with Jim Moore, we digress into a discussion about the construction of the ball and everything else rather unrelated to the immediate task at hand. Meanwhile, Allen is still back at the helm waiting for an update of the ball. We eventually secure the dang ball and celebrate our success with island drinks and a conversation about communication, which of course in sailing life ends up being much more important than just attaching to a mooring ball.

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Posted on January 2, 2017 | 0 comments

Quiet Mornings

Quiet Mornings

It’s 6:00am. The light of the new day and cacophony of distant roosters wakes me. I can tell already that I will be an early riser in this new life. Last night’s storm left a beautiful arrangement of deep gray puffy clouds now trimmed in pink and orange as the day breaks. A special gift of a rainbow colors the sky. Neighboring anchored boats are quiet; every once in awhile I notice a soul sister as still as I am—drinking coffee and taking in the morning. I’m curious about her story and wonder if we’ll meet sometime in our journeys.

Allen joins me just as the sun begins to rise. He catches me up on all the world events based on his 3am New York Times read–fast becoming a nightly habit. Human interest stories, politics, and almost always some new report about our new president that generates much discussion and reaffirms our decision to be far far away. Our little biminy café provides a glorious view of this island paradise and a refreshing breeze. But mostly what I notice so different from our traditional morning newspaper ritual is the conversation. Silent reading is replaced with lots of discussion, learning, sharing, and laughter.

Corporate jets begin flying overhead, super yachts arrive, and the sun is guaranteeing another hot, humid day in this tropical paradise. Time to start the day.

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