Friday, September 12, 2014


Short post today just to express my opinion.

Africa is lost.  To save our civilization I feel we must stop ALL migration of EVERY animal, including humans, from leaving the continent today.  All commerce of every good that leaves the continent must be stopped at once.  We must completely cease all physical contact with the continent.  Digital communication and air drops of needed supplies can be safely arranged but are probably useless.

The weakest point of such a barricade is the Suez canal.  We can hope the Sahara desert will protect northern Africa but still I suggest concentrating at least one million men on the eastern side to repel EVERY moving thing.  NOTHING must leave the continent.  Next weakest point is Gibraltar, followed by the ninety or so mile gap between Tunis and Sicily.  A naval presence large enough to stop all waterborne traffic must be deployed.

We must act today to get troops and vessels in place.

I hope this record survives what I fear is our inability as a species to act with coordination, purpose and determination in a timely manner.  

Monday, July 28, 2014

The Last Night on the Water - Bequia to St. Vincent

Soon after we were securely anchored to the bottom of Admiralty Bay, Capt'n Chris went home to Trubador for several hours and then returned in time to show us some of the night life available ashore in Bequia.  

My elbow was not working as well as my shipmates so they both had managed to down one more Rum Ti than I while the Capt'n was away.  Naturally the task of driving the dinghy ashore fell to me.  The extra Rum they carried in their bellies could have contributed to a wet tour of the town.  No way would it have led to a disaster; the water was only four to seven feet deep.  It would take serious effort to drown. 

Mostly, the challenge involved missing the rich boy toys scattered all around the place.  The boats can get ridiculously  huge.  I mean, really, does anyone need a hundred and twenty foot schooner or a hundred and eighty foot yacht to have fun in the Caribbean? 

You bet they do!  If I could afford it, I'd have one of these monsters so I could haul around a couple dozen buddies to help celebrate the new oil well turning out to be a gusher.  

Actually, once again I've overstated the danger.  The biggest challenge was pulling the rope to start the outboard engine on the dinghy without falling into the water.  There was no way we were going to run into other boats if we couldn't start the engine.  

Capt'n Chris, still grading our performance, sat in the bow and watched as I, being the most sober sailor in the harbor, held on to Joe while he pulled the rope.  He was successful the first time he pulled but managed to fall on top of Doc, who was in the lowest point he could find.  I quickly fought my way to the top of the pile and held the tiller hard over so we would go in circles until everything got calmed down.  After a short while all three of us were still dry and at our stations for the trip ashore.  

Capt'n Chris was taking notes much faster than his crew was getting underway.

Soon after the dinghy was brought under control and everyone had secured their seats, we turned towards land and brought the power up.  The controls work much like a motorcycle - the throttle, located at the end of the tiller, is turned much like the one on the handlebar of the bike.  Of course, there are no brakes..............

We managed to find a pier without incident and clambered onto it.  The first order of business was to lock the engine to both the boat and the pier using a quarter inch stainless steel cable, and then we locked the boat with a second cable.  Only then could we wander away and have a look around.

It seems the main business of the entire town involved the selling of Rum drinks to tourists.  A second source of income looked to be that of feeding drunken sailors.  There were a ton of places, some really unique, where we could drink and eat.  This one, The Whaleboner, had bar stools made from the whales vertebrae and used rib bones to trim the bar!  Originality counts for a lot here, and the natives are creative as the devil.

We wandered around, exploring the sights, until the sun started to go down.  Then we used the stone paved path that runs the entire length of the curving harbor to a restaurant the Capt'n recommended.  This picture of that path as the sun was setting is one of my favorites from the entire trip.  I have no words to describe the beauty of the islands and sea.  The best way, I guess, is to say I need to return to see it again.  

It was completely dark by the time we finished our meal, and time to return to the boat.  Yeah, that's a heck of a bunch of empty glasses on the table.  And, finding the right hull in an ocean of sailboats was the most difficult task we faced that day, even counting the squall that earlier blew out our jib.  I'm happy to report we made it back aboard completely dry and without help from any official Navy or Coast Guard personnel. 

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Day 6: Union Island to Bequia

Our planning session the previous night did little to help us determine how long it would take for us to make the passage to Bequia.  The weather forecast winds from the northeast and our course was to the northeast!  A sailboat has the ability to head into the wind a bit, but there is a zone, usually 45 degrees to either side of directly into the wind, where a boat may not sail.  (At least not most boats - there are newer designs that CAN sail directly into the wind using hydrofoils.  But these new tech toys are used almost exclusively for racing and cost tens of millions of dollars,) We would not be able to determine how fast we could sail until the morning dawned and we could feel the wind in our faces.

NOT PART OF THIS STORY BUT WORTH A MENTION.   This is a photo of one of the America's cup racing sailboats that uses a sail (airfoil) when sailing directly downwind, a combination of airfoils and hydrofoils when sailing with the wind on the beam and that uses its' hydrofoils to sail INTO the wind.  On all points of sail, even running (which will confound most physicists), the boat is capable of speeds much in excess of the actual or apparent wind.  Speeds of 55 miles per hour are common in winds of a mere 20 knots!  More info on how they work:    This might get a little technical for some, but it is the most lay person oriented I could find.  This really is fascinating stuff; the first new idea in sailing for the last couple thousand years or more!


Since we did not possess Larry Ellison's money and boat, we decided instead to get up early enough to have our teeth brushed and the engine fired by nine AM.  That would give us seven and a half hours to get the skipper home for dinner. For sure we could do that, even with the wind directly from our next anchorage.  The passage was just about 30 miles long.  With the wind on our nose we could veer 30 degrees off and motor back for a maximum of two hours east from where that course would take us.  Still lots of time to get The Skipper home in time to make his wife happy enough to welcome him. 

I just reread that last paragraph and feel the need to apologize.  For all you navigationally challenged folks, sorry.  Deal with it.  For all you navigationally adepts - hang in there; I know I've simplified things.  One hour @ 6 Kt and 10 degrees off course will  put a guy one nautical mile off course.  If he can motor back at 51/2 knots without straining the engine then he can get back in ...............hell with it.   You figure it out.  Doc says it'll all be OK.

We, being among the navigationally challenged, did just that.  Said the hell with it.  We figured things would work if we got up at 8:00, did what we did every morning, and readied the boat to head into the wind to raise the sail around nine.   

A friend has asked that I explain "heading into the wind" to raise the main.  About all I can say is the main sail produces most of the power needed to drive the boat.  If it is at any angle at all to the wind, it is producing power.  However, if it is in line with the wind as it freely flows over the boat, it will just flap about and make a bunch of noise.  While it is in this condition, one guy, with the help of a winch, can raise it.  This is hard to explain if you've never raised a sail, but believe me, a sail that is producing power is not a thing to be taken lightly.

I've been blown overboard by grabbing a parted jib sheet (broken rope attached to a corner of the sail closest to the front of the boat) and the only reason I can relate this tale is I was strong enough to hang on till the breeze blew me above the deck, where I let go.  A Dacron sail and a fresh breeze are not things with which one can trifle.  They will kill you and take no notice.  It happens.  Heading into the wind, while the sail is not producing power, is the only time a mainsail can safely be raised or lowered, and it's best to raise or unfurl a jib on a broad reach, the wind at your back, where that sail is in the windless lull created by the main.  At that time it is producing very little power and is safe to handle.

 It was hard to leave our beautiful and safe anchorage on the lee side of Union Island, at Chatham Bay.   Last night's view from a bar stool of the rock falling to the sea at the south entrance to Chatham Bay was just as fair seen from the boat this morning.  But,  it was almost 9:00, and that was the time we had determined we must be on our way.   Joe turned the key to fire the engine and checked to make sure cooling water from the exhaust was burbling from the aft port side of the boat.  With the engine running and it's alternator providing enough voltage to run the freezer and refrigerator, I turned them on.  Ice is expensive in this part of the world and every opportunity to cool these appliances must be taken.  Most charter companies want the engine to run for an hour in the morning and an hour in the evening.  This allows the batteries to be kept in a charged condition, helps keep perishable foodstuffs from, well, perishing, and insures a Captain who is by nature frugal (a cheapskate) will motor to and from his anchorage.

We had become a well coordinated crew by this point and as I was turning on the appliances, Doc was hooking up the halyard to the head of the mailsail, stowing the lazyjacks and undoing the sail ties and cover that had protected the main from harm overnight.  Both of us finished at about the same time, me below decks, Doc above, and then both of us went forward to raise the anchor.  Doc opened the chain locker and prepared to engage the electric winch.

The winch uses a one and a half horse motor.  The boat has a fifty horsepower engine.  Of course it's better to use the boats engine to motor toward the embedded anchor than it is to use the winch to pull the boat to it.  During this particular weighing of the anchor it was my job to tell Joe when and where to drive the boat to the anchor using hand signals, and it was Doc's job to release and stow the snubber and to make sure the chain was taken in and safely flaked in the locker.  Joe's job was to drive the boat.  All of us were fully capable of performing each task required to get the boat underway, and we took turns at each station.  Capt'n Chris had done his job; we were an able crew.

After the anchor had been secured to the deck, we motored seaward close by the northern headland of the Bay.  When there was enough open seaway, we turned back into the wind and raised our main.  Turning back, we unfurled the jib and were on our way.  Not bad - we had the anchor on deck at 9:05 and both sails were producing power by 9:30.  We were a little behind our schedule but it was no big deal.  I've saved the good news of the morning for the last - overnight the wind had shifted and was blowing a little more from the east.  If it held its current direction, we could make the passage close hauled on a single tack!  Maybe it would be possible to have the Captain home for some afternoon delight before dinner!  He had spent a week with us and the week before with a different boatload of goof offs.  I'm sure it was time for some home time.

We ran the boat wing and wing, the main to port and the jib to starboard til we gained the point.  As we turned, the main was brought in and the jib was set to port.  Now close hauled, our course was determined more by the knot meter than the compass.  That instrument let us know even more quickly than the luffing sails when we were steering too close to the wind.  A difference of five or seven degrees would almost instantly take two knots off our speed.  More than that would start the sails flapping (a loss of power) and we'd lose way altogether.  It was great fun to see just how close we could run and maintain 5 1/2 on the knot meter without dropping to 4 and a half.  Of course Joe was the best, next came Doc, and I was the least proficient.  Seems I was more in tune with my surroundings than the instrument.  I was enjoying the sea.

To me, close hauled is the best point of sail.  The boat heels over (tilts), the bow pounds into the waves (lots of spray in six foot seas) and God is beside me.  The lines are straining; you can feel them working.  The sails are full and tight.  When not at the wheel or otherwise engaged in handling the boat, I most enjoy sitting on the lee side as the boat heels, where I am closest to the water as it rushes by.  I'll let my hand drift into the water and feel its force.  Then I'll turn to the Lord, who is beside me, and thank Him for the ride. 

Capt'n Chris emerged from the cabin just in time to remind us we were supposed to be keeping track of our position.  "Where the hell are we," he said.  We looked at each other, then looked around at the other each others and finally figured out we had no clue.  "Uh, on the way to Admiralty Bay??" I offered.

"Where on the way." he asked.  Doc said "Just a sec." and scrambled into the cabin to retrieve a compass and chart.   He took a couple of bearings, noted the time and location, marked the chart with a circle indicating a fix, and handed it to the Captain.  "We're right here."  It was enough to remind us that part of our test depended on being able to fix our position every hour.  From then on we were careful to do so.  Later, we discovered the Captain had a secret GPS device and could pinpoint our position to within five feet.  He checked each position we marked on the chart by taking line of sight bearings, one after the other, with his GPS.  I guess all of us were close enough............

About half way through the passage I noticed a squall to the east, the direction the wind was blowing, and mentioned it to the other guys.  No one seemed to be overly concerned so I let it pass with no further comment.  After all, Doc had the helm and with Chris demoted to a mere passenger today, that made him Captain.  Half an hour later I was wishing I had been a little more vociferous.  I knew better than to just let it ride.  Forgetting that I was the only one of our crew (other than Chris, who was only a passenger today) who had had open ocean sailing experience, I put my faith in the judgement of sailors who had not experienced a squall.  It was easy to do, I had come to trust their ability over the last week.

When the squall hit us, we were flying the main at the first reef point, which was well.  Our jib, however, was all the way out.  We should have reefed it at the first sighting of the squall but did not.  Remembering previous squalls, I was fearful the boat would be damaged.  "Head up!," I shouted to Doc.  "Head up!''  He didn't do it and we really needed to pull some power out of that jib. "OK, then, bear away," I yelled.  He held course.  Capt'n Chris, hearing the commotion on deck, climbed the companionway and started screaming "We're gonna die!  We're all gonna die."

It was enough to clam us down.  I shut up, Doc continued on course and Joe hung on.  The squall passed and the only damage done was a two foot tear in the jib.  The sheets had held, which was my main concern.  Oh well, the jib needed some work anyway, and the charter company, who also conveniently owned a sail making shop,  didn't send anyone a bill.  Got lucky is all I can say about that.

Several hours later, as we approached Admiralty Bay, our path was lighted by a rainbow shining directly above our anchorage.  It was a little before 2:30 as we rounded the southwesterly point of the island of Bequia.  We debated sailing into the wind for a hour or so before furling the jib and motor sailing into the Bay but since it was my turn at the wheel I elected to do the easy thing.  We furled the jib and fired the engine.

An hour later we were in sheltered water and dropped our anchor.  Capt'n Chris hopped into the dinghy and headed to his home on the water and his bride, right on time.  After a while, he returned. Here he is, on his way back to Andato.

The day was not yet finished but all of us were ready to relax and clean up.  It had been a great week but all of us needed a couple of hours down time. 

Friday, June 27, 2014

Pictures from a Shipmate

I've been operating with a handicap while writing much of this series of posts.  My camera was out of juice for a day or so until I noticed one of the guys had brought a gizzmo which allowed his to be recharged using 12V DC current.  He graciously allowed all of us to use it.  Also, for several days, my camera went missing.  All told, there were three and a half days I did not take pictures.  Joe, the diver, came to my rescue today.  My mailbox was full of images.  I'll share a bunch with you folks.

This first picture was taken as Doc prepared to cast off the last of the lines securing us to the dock in Blue Lagoon, SVG, where the voyage began.  I'm watching and standing ready to catch the doubled line when he tosses it.  Andato's engine is fired, the transmission is in neutral; all in readiness to begin the adventure.  At right we're on our way!  Joe is ready to take over for Doc in case of a heart attack or Rapture.  For sure the good Doctor will be the one called by the Lord to be taken away; Joe, Capt'n Chris and I will be left behind.

Here are a couple that were taken at our first port of call, Admiralty Bay,  Bequia, SVG.  Of course the first was taken as the Sun rose over the mountains on the east side of the bay, from where the wind also arrived to fill our sails.  The lower one is typical of the spectacular setting Sun we witnessed every night.  Pictures can not capture the glorious sight but it is forever etched behind my retina.  I call it to mind by closing my eyes, clicking my heels three times and saying "There's no place like Bequia....."

Our senses were on overload for most of the entire trip.  If ever you have an opportunity to visit this part of our beautiful planet, DO IT!  If you are uncomfortable with the idea of sailing yourself, there are companies that will provide qualified Captains and crews to sail the boat.  All that is required of you is a pair of open eyes and the ability to get out of your favorite chair at home.  Seriously, it's worth whatever sacrifice you may have to make.  Give up grocery shopping for several months if that's what it takes.  There is a ton of canned food in lots of food banks across the country: do what it takes to see the beautiful world God gave us.

 Doc's not gonna let that wheel get away from him on our way to Tabago Cays.  Looks like he's braced for a hurricane but in reality he's just recovering from being goosed by Capt'n Chris, who for some unexplained reason is riding the transom.  Oh yeah,  Now I remember.  We had forgotten to haul the swim ladder up from last night's showers.  Dragging it in the water was knocking a half knot off our speed.  Knowing only a bunch of flakes would leave it down, the Capt'n decided to stow it himself.  I'm sure he thought it was the best way to prevent a man overboard situation.

My standard stance was not much more relaxed at the start of the trip.  I was much more used to a tiller as was, I believe, Doc.  Both of us became more comfortable as the days passed.  Joe, on the other hand, was a natural.  He could steer a steady course, eat a sandwich and take a leak all at the same time.  Some guys have it, others don't.

As we approached the Tabago Cays from the west, there was a narrow channel which we negotiated under power.  The lighter blue water to the left in this picture is a bit too shallow for our 6 foot deep keel.  The Capt'n steered us in: he trusted me to get us out in the morning.  It was the only time I had little faith in his judgement.  I was sure I'd put us on the beach.  I was  wrong.

We anchored at one of the most popular destinations in all of St. Vincent and The Grenadines, the marine sanctuary.  Boats flying the flags of twelve different nations were visible from our deck.  I never realized just how many people from around the world were actively involved with cruising the world's oceans.

We  next sailed southwest to avoid the open Atlantic and passed between Union Island and Palm Island, where we turned to a mostly southerly heading in order to gain Petit St. Vincent.  Like Palm Island, it is privately owned and is home to a pricy resort.  Being the least exclusive of the two, cruisers are allowed ashore to buy drinks at the palm-thatched roof bar a hundred yards or so from the dock.  The rest of the island is off limits to the less fortunate of humanity.

I have a mind to come back to this island one day with a Ninja Warrior kit.  I'll don black clothing, paint my face to match a moonless night and engage in a bit of unnoticed trespass.

After docking the boat and buying ice in Petit Martinique we turned to the north and started the trip back to Bequia and then the Blue Lagoon in St. Vincent, where we would finish the voyage.   The first stop on the way was Chatham Bay on the west side of Union Island.  Joe just had to be sure his finger covered part of the picture, the only mistake he made during the entire voyage to date.  (If you don't count not putting enough mayo on my sandwich)

Joe's contribution to this tale is now up to date, and I'll add his camera work to the posts that follow as the story unfolds.   Once again, sunset's are magnificent in the Caribbean, and Joe's camera captured another one, this time from Chatham Bay.


Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Day 5 Petit St. Vincent to Union Island

The day started well; all four of us managed to climb from our berths.  Then things went downhill.  The OJ that usually started everyone's day was noticed to be a bit warm.  All at once it hit us, our ice was gone!  It had completely melted and now was a pressing concern.  Doc Sam reminded us of last night's discussion.  It was most imperative we become illegal aliens.  Nothing else would do.

It's an easy sail from our anchorage at Petit St. Vincent to Petit Martinique, just a bit more than half a mile away.  There was no problem at all getting the boat and our bodies from where we were to where we could find plentiful, cheap ice.  And, once we tied up to the lower fueling dock in this picture, all we needed to do was walk to the yellowish building (behind the red roofs at the upper dock pictured) where some really nice people sold it.  The problem arose when we stepped ashore to buy it. 

Petit St. Vincent is an island located in the nation of St. Vincent and the Grenadines but Petit Martinique is an island located in the nation of Grenada!  Legally we were required to clear customs before stepping on Grenadian soil, but the closest port of entry was on the western side of the island of Carriacou, several hours away under sail. I can not say much more than somehow the ice found it's way into our cooler without incriminating at least one in our party, so that's all I'm gonna say!

There was a stiff wind blowing from the northeast which allowed us to practice docking the boat for several hours so that's what we did.  First Joe, then Doc and, finally, I docked it.  We were under power and Capt'n Chris took the opportunity to test our skill.  He asked us to practice backing the boat away while the wind was trying to push it onto the dock.   Boats tend not to back well; the turning prop "walks" the stern towards the direction the prop turns.  Our prop walked the stern away from the dock, which pushed the bow into it.  This also turned the boat so it's port side was presented to the wind, which tried to blow the bow completely around.

Finally, we guessed what the Capt'n was doing.  He had given us an impossible task and we had to come up with a better way.  We rigged a spring line which we used to help push the bow away while slowly motoring forward.  HA!  Another challenge met and mastered!  We were getting pretty confident with our abilities by this time.  One other lesson I took from these docking maneuvers was just how heavy the boat was.  I've never seen fenders flattened the way that boat could squeeze them.  My 26 footer could easily be pushed off a pier by just shoving off with my foot.  Not only was it impossible to do in this boat with waves and a wind blowing it in, it was dangerous.  If I were to slip while trying to shove off and get my leg between the boat and the pier, the leg would be lost.
The day had been a productive one, we'd sailed from one country to another, maneuvered the boat in close quarters for a couple of hours AND replenished our supply of ice.   It was getting late in the afternoon and our next anchorage was calling.  We motored out, headed up and raised the main.  The jib soon followed and we headed northwest to Union Island, our trusty dinghy following behind. 

The sail was made on a single tack,, the 19 Kt wind blowing directly over our starboard beam.   It took a bit more than an hour to make the seven mile passage to just beyond the southwest horn of Union Island.  There we furled the jib, dropped the main and motored northeast directly into the wind and into Chatham Bay.

  I made this picture larger so the many cafes and bars located along the beach could be more easily seen.    The amount of noise at night was amazing.  Every one of the joints had it's very own stereo system and all of them thought the volume of their business varied as the volume of the music did.  Nightmare!  But, in all fairness, I have to say it all shut down at 10:00PM.  We anchored and used the dinghy to go ashore to spend some time on the beach and have a couple of beers and dinner.  It was nice to get off the boat for a while and have someone else cook the meal.  

Here's a picture of the crew sitting down to dinner at the quietest place on the beach.  From the left there's Doc, Capt'n Chris and Joe.  I'm holding the camera and our boat is the first one to the left of the whitish column.   I can't remember much about the meal except it was spicy and there was lots of it!  We had a great time ashore, probably the best evening of the trip. 

We motored back to the boat and the Capt'n told us to get some sleep.  Tomorrow was the big day.  The practical portion of our Bareboat exam was for us to get him on board his boat, anchored in Admirality Bay, Bequia, by 4:30.  We were to wake ourselves in the morning, ready the boat in time to get him there, plot our courses, take hourly bearings and locate us on a chart as we sailed, anchor, start the dinghy and put him alongside his floating home before his wife's homecoming dinner for him got cold.  All of this without any help or advise.  Doc wanted to know if we were expected to kiss his wife for him - after all, we should get some sort of remuneration for all the work, and got flailed with the cat-o-nine-tails for an answer.

The Capt'n went to his cabin for some rest and the three of us started working the chart with dividers and parallel rulers.  BRING IT ON!

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Day 4 - One more time. (I WILL get this right) Tobago Cays to Petit St. Vincent

One of the best parts of being an old fart is the ability to claim senility.  That ability, sprinkled often in my later years, has saved me time and again from many things including speeding tickets and public embarrassment.  Once again I claim it as an excuse.  I'm senile.  There.  I said it.

One of my accomplices wrote the other day and told me we really didn't spend the night at Palm Island; all we did was eat lunch as we sailed by the place.  Further, he reminded me I was fortunate not to have tossed my dentures overboard along with that lunch because of the previous night's overly large portion of Rum Ti's.  Thank the Good Lord someone can remember what really happened to this particular boatload of drunks - I'd hate to have the voyage unchronicled in the record of mankind.  I stand corrected, but unashamed.  Sue me.

Most of the last post is a true account of events so long as you don't count spending the night at Palm Island.  And the boat boys.  And the hollering directly off shore from the richey-rich guys.  So, we'll start today's adventure with me tossing my lunch.

"Sorry, guys, but I have to put my teeth in my pocket.  Dang near lost them overboard just now," I said after emptying the contents of my stomach into the aqua-colored ocean.  "You lucky drunks get to see me the same way my woman does in the morning."  Of course the blame for this sudden loss of calories is not my fault; it matters little that I had too much to drink last night.  Lee didn't use enough mayo on the sandwich and it went down a little funny.  It's his fault.

We continued south for another four miles, passing Mopion Island, where the famous umbrella sits all
alone on the beach, and turned to the east and our anchorage at Petite St. Vincent.

Please take the time to look at this link if you are unfamiliar with the engagement umbrella, it's beautiful.

  Our anchor was dropped just two hundred feet from the boat dock at the resort located on the island, we secured the mailsail and rested.   Capt'n Chris had again showed his invaluable experience.  Several other boats arrived later and were told to move.  Seems the resort's supplies are restocked on Wednesday nights and boats that had anchored closer to the dock than we had were told to move.  Believe me, that's not a lot of fun.

Once the boat is secured to the bottom for the night, glasses are filled.  It's a magic something that happens all by itself in these islands, and magic in any form is not to be discounted.  Weighing anchor and moving is sure to bring disaster in one or another form if instead of downing the newly filled glass, you do not offer it to Neptune.

We were soon approached by the local boat boys, (this is where we did in fact meet Mr. Fantastic from the first Day 4 post)  and learned the price of ice delivered to the boat.  Our supply was sufficient for the evening and we declined his offer.

Two hours later, we recognized the error of our ways and hatched a plan whereby we would become illegal aliens in the morning!  Dang!  I can't wait!  I've often considered just what it would take to make one leave his lawful residence and cross international borders without permission.  Now I know it's all a matter of cheap ice.

Rum Ti Recipe
one part sour, two parts sweet.
three parts strong, four parts weak.
five drops bitters, add some spice.
it's much better when cooled with ice.


Friday, June 13, 2014

Day 4: Tobago Cays to Palm Island

Today's voyage was to be a short one, about seven miles or so.  And, we would motor out of and into our anchorages so there would be only 90 minutes or less under sail.  Bummer.  However, Capt'n Chris had plans to keep our day full.  Right after breakfast and clean up the boat detail, he sat us down and handed out the test questions for our ASA103 exam.

Ugh.  I mentioned to him the fine print in the school contract where it stated only some would pass the 103 exam.  "Isn't it a bit soon for that test?," I asked.  "Quit your bitchin!," was his reply.  "All three of you are ready for it and we still have a few days to get the 104 stuff out of the way after you guys ace this one."

Cool!  It appears the warning "not to expect to come away from this week at sea with a Bareboat Certificate" did not apply to our boatload of goof offs.  Capt'n Chris sounded positive we would wobble off the boat with a piece of paper that would enable us to rent quarter to half million dollar yachts from almost anywhere in the world!  So what if the insurance cost 30 bucks a day extra.  Sure enough, the Capt'n collected the answer sheets, scored them, and told us we had all passed!  Two certificates in hand, we were ready for anything the wind could blow our way!

Before hauling in the anchor this time, we consulted the charts to figure out where we were going.  Well, actually, Doctor Sam, being the most intelligent of the three of us, reminded Lee and I of yesterday's fiasco.

Palm Island was only seven miles away and we should have been able to see it.  But one of the Tobago Cays islands was between our anchorage and our destination.  We'd have to plot a course west to sail into the open ocean. westsouthwest to pass between Union Island and Palm Island, and then turn east to our anchorage, which was located on the south side of the island.

The pictures of Palm Island are ones I dragged from the internet - I feared my phone was somewhere at the bottom of the ocean at this point of the journey but luckily it was just at the bottom of the boat.  It was located as I was checking the floor of my cabin for my cleanest used underwear a little later during the sail.

Again, it was an easy sail with 18 Kt. winds from the NE.  First at our backs, then off our beam and as we assumed our easterly course, we dropped the jib, fired up the engine and motor sailed into the wind until we reached our anchorage for the night.  Those east to northeast winds are almost certain to blow  every day in this part of the world.  It makes for fantastic sailing in the Caribbean and is a constant delight.

It was early and Mr. Fantastic, in his bright red motor launch, zoomed alongside to see if there was anything at all we needed from ashore.  You'll find these boat boys in every port with any sort of shore facilities, everywhere in this area.  The boats are all brightly colored, all of them have catchy names for themselves, and they even offer freshly caught shellfish and early morning delivery of newly baked bread!  They make their living checking with the cruisers in the boats as they arrive, buying and then delivering whatever the yachties need.  Of course there is a steep markup involved, but everyone knows about it.  The songs some of them sing advertising their specialties are fun to listen to.  I found all of them to be reasonable, low key salesmen; much easier to deal with than stateside panhandlers.

Palm Island is a destination resort for people with deep pockets and allows boaters to come ashore only to buy drinks from a dockside bar.  No way can the unwashed (literally)  masses mingle with their wealthy clients.   We kept our distance, yelled and cavorted in the water, used the last of our ice in freshly cleaned glasses filled to the brim with product from a distillery founded in 1703, snorkeled, bathed and went to our berths in a great mood.