Blast From the Past
Updated: Oct 20, 2021
Welcome to my NEW Blog --- more about that later -- Let's start with a bit of a refresher:
WOW, what a whirl of summer we had. Mark and I started with 5 weeks in Spain (and a little of Portugal) visiting with Ann and her great family, meeting up with Claire as she moved to Spain, and then touring on our own through mostly southeastern Spain, making it up to Madrid. We decided that, as much as we enjoyed ourselves, four weeks was probably enough. Lesson learned.
We came back to the U.S. to our annual marathon of doctor visits and got to visit with Karen in her new spacious house and then drove east to stay with friends Lee and Sharon in New Hampshire – just because we could. Then came a great week in Traverse City with the Kaplan and Overmyer clans and special guest; Andrew. (Are we exhausted yet?) Sailing, swimming, ice cream, and of course, Grandma Hoenke’s meatloaf, all in spite of pretty chilly, dreary weather.
Meanwhile, two big decisions were being made. One, the Kaplans decided to not return to Spain for their third year, and two, Mark’s brothers decided to sell their shares of the TC house to Ann. We think that the new house arrangement will see Mark and me staying there most of the summer rather than driving around the country like vagabonds. The Kaplan decision meant that the kids were enrolled in school before our TC vacation and that Ann and Michael had to go to Spain to empty out their rented house, sell their car and other stuff, and ship the “important stuff” back to Denver.
That’s why Mark and I spent September in Colorado babysitting, chauffeuring, cooking, and doing home maintenance and repairs. We had a good time getting to know the kids better (how well can you know a teenager?) and watching them in their day to day life. The only bad part was when Maya got sick. Friday she was running around and having a good time, Saturday she was lethargic, Monday she was at the vet and Tuesday she was gone. We keep telling ourselves that 14 in Dog years is 98 in people years and she was having fun until the end, but we still miss her bright face and wagging tail. October took us back to Cincinnati for a week of babysitting while Karen and Mark went to a wedding in Mexico and three weeks of playing with the little grandkids, including Halloween, of course.
Finally back to Trinidad and our home. Roxy was a welcome sight, even though her interior was a huge jumble. Before we left for the summer we had contracted to have all the exterior and a lot of the interior wood stripped and re-varnished. Preparing for that, we had moved all the cushions onto our bed and covered them with sheets and we had moved all the books, decorations, and tools out of their places and into some kind of storage spot. Now, not only was everything out of place, it was all covered in a dense layer of sanding dust. Oi! Three weeks later we are still fighting the dust, but she really looks beautiful, inside and out. Oh! And one of the things we hid was all of my plastic “stemware”. 7 champagne flutes and 8 red wine glasses. They don’t weigh anything, but they are a pretty bulky mass, right? Well, we can’t find them. We know they are here somewhere, but search as we might, we have not found them.
Our time in Trinidad was pretty busy. Lots of small jobs to do, a couple of big ones too. The list grew longer before it started getting shorter. Dinghy repair, dusting, bicycle repair, dusting, faucet installation (yippie! I finally have my new faucets!), propeller maintenance, dusting, bottom paint, resealing the cabin windows, and so on. Mark didn’t get the new radar installed before we left. (I’ll keep you posted on how long that takes.) We didn’t take any of the fun Trini trips that we love, but we did find time for the Thursday night pot-luck and the Sunday Mexican train dominos. Most of our old sailing buddies had already left the yard and were “up Island” already, so new year, new friends. That’s how cruisers roll. Time to splash and dash. (Launch the boat and sail away.)
I haven’t posted for a while because I’ve been having trouble with the website and the web host. It was bad enough when I could post text but no photos, then I couldn’t even log onto the account. I figure that I’ll get it sorted out – somehow (I don’t even know how to contact the web host) so I might as well write as though I’m about to post. If you are reading this then I’ve worked them out and can log in again. If not, well, it’s time well spent for when I write my memoir. (I never did get this all straightened out, which is why I've moved to a new site.)
We have had a wonderful season. We started out in Antigua with friends on Allegro, Oasis, and Kalunamoo and met Moya Mreeya. Allegro left us, and eventually Pandora came back from Christmas in the States and now we had a floating party. Some times all five boats left on the same day, some times one or two left and the others followed soon after, but one way or another, we all stayed together from Antigua to Guadeloupe, including Les Saintes – 5 small islands off of Guadeloupe that includes a lovely little tourist town, some great snorkeling, and a couple of pretty beaches. In Les Saintes we met another boat, Anafi, and now our party was SIX boats, each with two people on it. Imagine dinner reservations for 12. And then splitting the bill. From Guadeloupe we all went to Dominica and then Martinique.
The advantage of traveling in such a large group is that everyone who has been there before has his/her favorite thing on an island. So even if you’ve been to that island 6 times before, you do something new because this other person wants to do it. We (yes, even I) took walks/hikes and tours, we shopped in different areas, we tried new things. And that is what all this travel is about – right?
BUT, all good things come to an end. Monday (March 2) we were sad to see Kalunamoo go off to St. Lucia as we stayed in Martinique, but Roxy moved from Ste Anne to le Marin – they are different parts of the same bay, but separated by reefs and miles, so they are different worlds. We visited with our friend on Soflitelle and did some (not as much as I could have) provisioning. In so doing, we left Oasis. Pandora and Anafi followed us in and we found Diva, Salty Dawg friends we met in Antigua, before they head off to Bonaire, through the Panama Canal, and on to New Zealand. Meanwhile, Moya Mreeya is at the marina with engine trouble (and will be there for a few weeks). Today Pandora set sail for St. Lucia, Anafi left for northern Martinique, Oasis is still in Ste Anne, and we are in central Martinique. We are as leaves in the wind.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Friends: the happiest and saddest part about cruising.
November, 2020; Falmouth, Antigua After a late “splash” (putting the boat back in the water), we sailed directly to Antigua to meet up with our Salty Dawg friends and start our sailing season, arriving the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. We always enjoy Falmouth. There are lots of things to do, and if there are people you already know and like, what could be better? Making even more friends, so there will be even more when you come again. When we arrived Allegro and Kalunamoo were there, along with some of this year’s Salty Dawgs to meet. Parties on the beach, Sunday dominos, hikes up very steep hills (I promised myself I would walk more, grumble less this year), sundowners on Roxy, and rubbing anchors with the rich and famous. One night we found ourselves without plans and Mark was getting antsy without and social activities so, as we have done in the past, we knocked on a couple of hulls and met folks on two boats. The one drink and a nibble turned into all night drinking and eating (as it usually does) and a great time. There was one boat anchored kind of away from the rest of us on the beach and it was rocking and pitching all over the place because of where it was sitting in the current. We watched from onboard our very stable boat and felt sorry for them. Then someone said that the boat was Delos. That meant nothing to me, but evidently I was the only one who didn’t know about their YouTube feed and follow them regularly. Evidently they have picked up a lot of sponsors over the couple of years they have been doing this (come on guys, comment a lot so I can get sponsors for Roxy!!) and they have a fancy dinghy, beautiful boat, and who knows what toys on board (we did see an electric foil board that was really cool, especially when ridden by a good looking young man who knows what he is doing). One day I took the dinghy to pick up my laundry (I don’t do all of it by hand) and recognized the dinghy next to me as Delos’. The guy who had been on board was picking up four others, including the young couple who owns the boat and their brand new (2 months old?) baby. After they piled everyone and everything into the dinghy and sped away I realized they had left a bag on the shore. (It reminded me of a visit from Clara and George 30+ years ago.) Not being 100% sure it was theirs (really?) or wanting to put this beautiful duffle in my watery dinghy, I picked up my laundry and zoomed (I don’t really zoom) to their boat before going to mine and told the man in the cockpit it was there. He uttered a mild expletive and raced after it. The next day Mark took the opportunity to stop by and welcome them back as I made sure they got their luggage. As with Clara and George, it was all his clothing. I was very glad to meet Baby Sahara and have no idea of anyone’s else’s name.
The Wizard of Oz I haven’t discussed it with Mark yet, but I’m considering remanding the boat OZ. Of course, that would make Mark the wizard of Oz. (I’ll be Dorothy, of course. “There’s no place like home”) I’d like to give you a list of all the things aboard that he has Gerry-rigged and/or fix, but there isn’t enough cloud space. Some of the things he fixes are problems that he caused – like the time he raised our flag without checking the knots and then spent an hour trying to get it (and the halyard it was raised on) back on deck – but most of the time it’s something that just broke or wore out. And not just things one would think of, like the engine or solenoids, but everyday things like the pump that empties the shower sump (and why doesn’t that just drain out of the boat by gravity? Why does it need a sump?). If only I could click my heals and fix the bilge pump! How many times can you chase down a leak before you give up? (Yes, and how many times must a man fix an outboard before he hurls it into the sea?) But now the wizard has met his match. Three years ago we added an electric refrigeration system that runs on little enough energy that our solar panels manage it quite easily. At the time the salesman suggested that we remove the Old refrigeration system and free up all that space. Not my master or redundancy! Well, once again his prudence has paid off. The freezer unit isn’t working. It runs, but it doesn’t cool. This may be the first time we have had a technician onboard outside of Trinidad. For the time being we are running the generator once or twice a day to keep our frozen foods frozen. UPDATE ON THE MYSTERIOUSLY MISSING STEMWARE: We found the glasses on December 10, a full month after returning to Roxy, in the drawer with all our chart books.
Just sail Cade's Reef from Jolly Harbour to Falmouth.
January 4, 2020 Happy New Year everyone. We spent New Year’s Eve in Falmouth, Antigua and partied in English Harbour. Lots of friends, not too much drinking, and fireworks galore. We even managed to stay up past midnight without a nap. Quite the accomplishment for a cruiser. After almost a month Falmouth, we decided to sail the east, windward, side of Antigua. It has lovely bays and is protected by reefs, so it’s a great sailing venue with protected anchorages full of flat water. We had never cruised there, so off we went. Today we are anchored off Maiden Island in North Sound. There is only one other boat here (quite the change from crowded Falmouth). Mark and I decided to go snorkeling (which is why one goes to the east side). There is a reasonable reef – alive, which is good – and there are some fun features and fish to watch, but the thing that made this swim memorable is Ollie. As I was swimming along all of a sudden I saw this tiny yellow trimmed, silver fish (1 1/2 – 2 inches long) right in front of my mask. I cupped my hands around it and it just stayed there. That was fun. Then it left. A few minutes later it was back. I knew it wasn’t going very far from me, but I had no idea where it was, even though I turned around to look for it. Eventually I swam over to Mark. Then the little fish swam over to Mark and I could see that it was swimming just under his torso and occasionally darting up to his face, or off to a side and back through his legs. Then it came back to swim under me. It was with us for the entire time we were out there – 45 minutes or so – even coming to the dinghy with us. It was tempting to catch it and bring it aboard. If only we had a fish bowl!! I named the fish Ollie.
March 18, 2020 The Corona Virus has the world in a spin. I don’t know how it is effecting you, I’m not sure I can imagine what it’s like to be living on land right now. Schools are closed, stores are closed, public entertainment is closed, Europe is under “stay at home” orders, and it seems the stock market is tanking as fast as possible. For her birthday, our daughter watched YouTube videos. For us, it’s different, but the uncertainty is real and maybe more palpable. We were in Dominica in mid-March when the international reaction went hyper. People we expected to meet next in Antigua were now sailing to Trinidad as fast as they could so they would be there already if Trini closed their borders. At least be able to get back to the U.S. for the summer. (They didn’t make it in time.). Friends in the middle of engine repairs are stuck as all the tradesmen are not allowed to come to work and they can’t do it themselves; the chandleries and stores with parts are closed. People are wondering if their transport crews from the U.S. will be able to help them get their boats back north for the summer or if they will be without a crew? And then what? Island after island is closing the borders for everyone, including small boats. Trinidad, Martinique & Guadaloupe, St. Lucia, and more. The British Virgin Island have a 14 day quarantine in effect. If you leave the port where you are now, will you be allowed to enter the port at your destination? For us, we were expecting an unusual year to start with – but not this way. We almost never have visiting guests, but this year we have two, and in quick succession. The second week of March our friends Kurt and Judy Overmyer (Yes, our daughter’s parents-in-law) came for a week with us in Dominica, and another week on the island on their own. Then our daughter Ann and her family are due to join us at the end of March. When we first heard about restrictions, Kurt and Judy just figured they would be stuck in paradise for an extra week, and wouldn’t that be grand. But then it became clear that this is going to be a lot longer than a week. And what if they actually got sick? So then they started, not panicking, that’s too strong a word, but being very concerned. Judy spent most of Sunday trying to figure out if they could just leave as quickly as possible. They got pretty close. Delta would change their ticket from San Juan to Michigan easily, and AirBnB was waiving all cancellation fees, but the small airline that is taking them from Dominica to Puerto Rico couldn’t put them on a different flight. By that afternoon it was pretty clear that they were stuck in paradise. So, relax and go snorkeling. After their week with us, now Mark and I were faced with a decision. What were we going to do? Ann’s trip is to Antigua – two islands north of Dominica. Will they even be allowed to fly into the country? If they are allowed, is it wise? If it’s not wise, will they come anyway? How would I kill myself if they came to Antigua and I was in Dominica? But in all seriousness, to me, it came down to a question of “which island do we want to spend the next two months?” We love Dominica – for a while. It is short of “provisions”. Yes, you can find fruit and vegetables everywhere – even while just walking down the street – and there is meat – lots of chicken – but if you want something specific, well, maybe not. I don’t mind substituting and changing things around for a while, but eventually I want to know that I can get what I want. Toothpaste? Colgate – no Crest. Beans? Black-eyed peas or kidney? I know; first world problems. But I’m a first world girl. Mark would be happy to stay in Dominica – I think. But instead he decided to make me happy, and as I write this, we are heading to Antigua. And it’s a pretty lovely sail. Smooth Sailing
As we entered Antiguan waters I radioed a friend in port. She told me that we couldn’t check in with customs as we usually but had to go to the capital, where cruisers don’t go because it is full of cruise ships and it’s a smelly commercial port. So we went there, anchoring about 11:30. After a quick lunch we went ashore. This was the rest of our day:
11:45 climb from the dinghy to the pier
1:30-2:40 stand in front of customs – with captains from about 20 other boats – the biggest crowd I’ve been in in months.
2:40-2:50 health department
2:55-4:30 stand in front of customs
4:30- Enter customs and fill out forms
6:00 – Leave customs
6:03-6:20 port authority
6:30-7:45 Dinner and a large scotch
April 21, 2020 It must be tough dealing with lockdown orders at home. Sitting on the same chairs and couches, in the same rooms, in the same house, walking in the same yard, watching the same TV show. Not going to the gym. Not to the park. Not to the mall. Not to your friends’ houses. No birthday celebrations. No anniversary dinner. I get it. Now do it on a boat. Our yard is very wet – and salty. Our couches are upholstered in this water-release fabric that gets really scratchy after a while. And inside gets really hot. Believe it or not, I’m not really complaining. This lockdown thing has given me all the excuse I need to sit on my butt and vege, but even I am getting tired of it. That said, I know that we made the right decision coming to Antigua. We have it pretty good here. We are allowed on shore (out of your house) from 7:00 to noon every day. The grocery stores are open from 8 – 11:30 and are reasonably well stocked – depending on when the last delivery was (but that is how it always is). The marine supply stores are open then too. And as of this past Thursday we are allowed to hike, run, walk, exercise ashore during those hours, as long as we maintain “social distancing”. We can change which anchorage we are in if we let the Coast Guard know when we leave and when we anchor. We are not allowed to sail to Barbuda though – it’s too hard to police both islands. The beaches are closed, so the locals have a hard time if they want to swim, but they manage. As cruisers we are able to swim pretty much whenever we want. The Coast Guard comes through a couple of times a day to make sure we are following the rules, but other than that we aren’t too well policed. We are lucky. We have friends locked-down in Martinique. The French islands closed their borders on March 18. Their quarantine is much more sever than ours. The stores are open 8 – 4 (and yes, they do have baguettes, wine and cheese) but every time you leave your boat – or your house – you must fill out a form – name, address/boat name and location, passport number, where you are going, what time you left, what time you will return, etc. A friend told me that someone they know (right from the horse’s mouth here) was fined $650 for having his form filled out incorrectly. As much as I love the French islands, I’m glad I don’t have to do that. In St. Lucia you are not allowed to swim, even off your boat and there are NO liquor sales. In Puerto Rico boaters are not allowed to come ashore except through one of 3 marinas and can only do so for essential services. Cruisers in Trinidad have to be in one bay – Chaguaramas – which is an industrial port, making it the dirtiest bay we ever encounter. Those whose boats are on land can’t really get out of the boatyard except to walk to the marine store right outside. I just wish we had WiFi. Then I could make phone calls and we could watch Netflix and Mark could be happy reading right-wing websites all day. We are anchored right in front of a brand new, beautiful resort. This morning I took our dinghy ashore (and was immediately met by not one but TWO security guards) and asked if it would be possible for the resort to share its WiFi with the six boats anchored in the harbor. The guard who spoke with me (the one dressed in very official all black, complete with a taser) said that he would ask the management for me. I don’t hold out much hope, but it sure would be nice. Now I’m going to paint my toenails. Because, why not!!
April 23, 2020 Well, good news. The government has expanded the hours that we can leave our homes so now we are allowed on shore from 6 am – 6 pm (that’s 06:00 to 18:00). Also, now the restaurants are allowed to open again – for take away only. If only there was a restaurant in Deep Bay. When we go swim off the boat we have some resident fish. The first thing you see is a school of hundreds of these tiny fish – maybe half and inch long – that are clear, at first you don’t see them, you just see glimmering in the water. It is so fun to watch schools of fish – they swim together like a well rehearsed marching band, bending and swaying. Then, if you swim toward the back of the boat and look very carefully you can find about 15 tiny Sargent majors; a fish with 4 yellow stripes. Usually they are 3 – 5 inches long, but these guys are also about a half an inch. They look sort of like a small swarm of bees. A couple of days ago Mark was snorkeling and found an octopus. So today we went back to the cove where he’d seen it so I could see it, but we didn’t find it. However we found some other great things. We saw a little ray and I found a great sea urchin shell – which got picked up by the wind and smashed on the deck of the boat once we got back – and Mark found a terrific puffer fish – it’s multi-colored which is a first for us – and he got it to start to puff. I also found four squid. At first I didn’t know what they were; they were all black and looked like kelp or something waving on this rock, but there isn’t kelp here, so I knew that was wrong. I kept trying to figure out what they were and they dropped their color for an instant and then I knew. I’ve never seem them black before. All in all a fun swim.
I would add more from the old blog site but the WordPress has eliminated them. I sure hope this host works better for us.