Sunday, December 13, 2009

Highlights from St. Martin.

After a week of fresh baguette every day, the effects are starting to show. Around my middle. And I don't care. There's something ambrosial about gently tearing off a hunk of fresh baguette, stuffing it with poulet roti, cheese that smells like unwashed feet, a bloob of dijon mayonnaise (from a tube!), and a spoonful of apple walnut chutney to top it off. Or spiced gouda for a change of pace. Even sliced tomato with lots of pepper.

The last bit of yesterday's baguette are toast for breakfast, and then it's off to Sarafina's bakery to start the process over again.

For a toast/bread addict, it's heaven, with some drawbacks. When preparing for bed, there's always a significant collection of crumbs to be sluiced out of the cleavage, and one afternoon, I spent two hours hanging about reading with a giant splodge of mayo on my left boob. Men notice nothing. Probably a good thing.

By the time we leave here, there's going to be serious bread withdrawal issues. A couple of weeks on a French island should be followed up by a couple of weeks in...say, Dominica, or the Bahamas: lots of hiking or swimming and poor access to baked goods.

The captain is doing his usual French wine tasting, with the usual mixed results. I maintain that there's a reason that they're only charging 2.99 Euros for a bottle of wine, and it's not because it's the next Yellow Tail. We usually leave St. Martin with a wide selection of wine good for cooking. We know now to avoid the French rum agricole in a box. ND still carries the box we bought two years ago, the stuff we use for killing fish. For several days after I caught the tuna(s!) on the way here, I wasn't enjoying my evening rum drink, cause I kept associating the smell of rum with the smell of dying fish flopping around the cockpit.

Some good work has been done since we got here, fuelled by carbs. Another trip up the mast to stop the wind generator while Randy connected our new batteries. After many months of watching the wind generator twirling about, turbulence from the main we figure, Randy devised a plan to tie a line from the fin/tail/stabilizer thingy at the back of the D400 and run it through a padeye on the mast and down the mizzen to be tied off where we can keep an eye on it. So while he connected the new batteries, I screwed in the padeye, tied the line on, tied a screwdriver to the line and dropped it down through the wind generator and radar mounts.

We are now totally rich in amps. The new batteries rock, and the wind generator is wildly efficient and pumping out amps to burn in these Christmas winds. The water catchers, fore and aft, are hauling in the daily and nightly rain squalls, and after almost two weeks, we're still probably 3/4 full of water. Nancy Dawson is in good shape for hanging around the bakery for ages yet. (One side-effect is that we haven't had to run the engine to charge the batteries, which means there's no hot water. A quick shower is often accompanied by those loud pseudo-operatic-type whoops.)

Friends Patti and John arrive from Toronto on Tuesday, and it is my express purpose in life to fill her just as full of bread as I possibly can. That may sound like a mean thing to do to a lovely woman that you've known for almost 45 years, but she'll understand.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

birthday champagne

Michelle and Charlie

connecting the wind generator

Hoooo-ray. Tuna #1

along with tuna #2 -my toe included so you are not deluded as to the size of the fish....

after a very long day in the cockpit - 12 hours Antigua to St. Barth

the sunny end of a squall with heavy rain

last view of the old dinghy - at this point, it had to be pumped every 1/2 hour. new vehicle in foreground, just launched!
New car smile.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Long stretch between blog updates, and I'm wondering if it's because I think I'm repeating myself, or because I really like doing nothing when the opportunity presents itself. Both, probably.

We're in St. Martin, as of the beginning of December. Three weeks or so in Antigua getting the boat put back together, and we found it really, really hot and buggy. I think where you launch is all tied up with the idea of work and expense, and when you leave, there's a sense of relief and escape. But Antigua is lovely in many ways, and I was sad to say goodbye to the fellas in the boatyard. They've been so good to us, but the new management has upped all the relevant rates about 20 percent, so we're looking for another place to haul ND next summer.

We shared the work/sweat/expense period in Antigua with good friends Michele and Charlie on Mi Amante. They were sweating it out alongside, ripping apart their engine/exhaust/everyotherexpensivebit for a couple of weeks, so we generally coordinated medicinal rum interludes at the end of the working day. People think that we just lounge about in the sun sucking back the rum, but the truth of it is that that's only a part of the day, and generally only after we've spent the day at our other jobs: pack horse, rigger, woodworker, painter, scrubber-of-all surfaces, lazy grumpy bag with dirty hair and hairy legs. Only late in the day do we spruce up (put on t-shirt), go out (boat next door), eat fabulous delicacies (stinky cheese, limp crackers) and regale each other with exciting tales (talk about boat shit).

Michele and I did get a trip to town to do total girl stuff, which is just regular shopping but without men sighing. The bus ride was great except for the driver excavating his nose nonstop all the way to town. Michele and I are totally in tune as far as the hotspots in St. John's. Shoul's kitchenware, toys, housewares, miscellaneous crap you wouldn't believe - now that's fun. I bought a thing called a "Decoration Hand" (hard to describe! hard to envison purchasing! visit Lake Annis next summer and you'll see it! Which child shall I will it to?), and Michele was very tempted by something called a "Moveable Stick." (Rolling pin. I could get a thousand jobs translating for the Chinese. From Chinese to English to real English.)

There was a charming moment when the little boy in front of me in the checkout line bought quite a few small plastic toy binoculars. I asked if he was having a birthday party. "Oh no! These are for me and my friends to help us when we play hide and seek!"

I've been up the mast again (and there's just no dirty joke left in that phrase) and earned another pair of shoes and right on cue, found a great pair of Teva sandals in my size, about 80 percent off at one of the cruise ship stores. While I messed with shoes, Randy gawked at the fake boobs and poofy lips that came off the cruise ship. It would be entertaining if it wasn't just so WEIRD.

Also, we went to the dentist and had our teeth cleaned. For about a quarter of what it would have cost us in NS. And the dentist was movie-star drop-dead gorgeous. So that was fun. Funner than the dentist usually is.

After all that, we were glad to embrace a weather window and head north. First passages of the season are always a bit fraught for me, and I'm cranked fairly tightly the day before, but there was a beautiful moon when we left at about 4:30am, no barfing, a beam reach, one petite tuna around 8 am, and another fat fella before lunch. He was a bit reluctant to give up the ghost, and for a 1 1/2 lb fish, he managed to spray blood all over the cockpit, up to the winches. After about 5 ounces of our best rum agricole to the gills. Poor fish. I felt bad, but not bad enough to barf as I cleaned it all up. Then we caught a barracuda, in really, really deep water. Such a pain in the butt - we dragged him until he was tractable, then Randy set him free, but he was on the green squid with the double hook, so there was a lot of chat that accompanied the procedure.

But there was tuna for dinner, two nights, and it was brilliant! Full of healthful protein, we headed straight to Island Water World and spent an arkload of dough on a new dinghy. Are we excited about this or what. Poor old soggy Sally, we just left her there. The IWW guys said they would give her away to some completely desperate person without good sense. While we were in the mood, we also bought new batteries, a new handheld gps, and various bits. They have firehose which makes for great chafing gear. What a good idea, eh?

I'll post photos asap: wifi in Marigot Bay has been unreliable.

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