2008.01.31 Hope Town

"red skies at night
sailor's delight"

Well today is the last day of the month…duh!!!!really.. well I mean the month that David promised me he would not shave to humour me, I have always wanted to see what he would look like with a beard and although I just love it, all I’ve been hearing from day one is a count down to when he can shave…. Tomorrow will tell!!!! I might throw the razor overboard tonight, now that's a thought!!!

We had not gone for a walk on the beach for a few days, we have been working on our bright work still but are starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel… she is almost all scraped, sanded and scrubbed to a lovely natural blond teak colour….we are seriously tempted to let her go naturally grey, after all it’s good enough for us why not for Soli.

Today we took a break from work and went for a long walk on the beach…it has been quite windy (Northers they are called) and the beach configuration changed from flat to slanted at a pretty good angle which gives our legs a good workout, fortunately after having lunch at “On da beach” we walked back and hopefully exercised our muscles on the other side…one needs to keep things even after all….the surf was breaking on the reefs and in some places on us…I always get the few rogue waves that soak my skirt and I still don’t learn …the colours of the water and the sky are still so magically beautiful that the wonder of it all does not wear off.

We heard on the “cruiser’s network”, a program of info and contact put on by the cruising community on the VHF radio that tomorrow morning (very early) will be a very special time as far as the position of Venus, Jupiter and the Moon… they are going to be so close and bright… we have zero light pollution here so the galaxies are absolutely gorgeous at night.

We went to pick up our propane tank at the Harbour View groceries… the lady said our tank was back from Marsh Harbour but it was still in the Boston Whaler so I should go and get it and come back sometime next week to pay because she was not sure how much it was!!!! This is a very different way of life…we went to the post office yesterday to pick up a small package(parts for my glasses) which my optometrist had sent by express..well the package got stuck in Marsh Harbour (bigger island) and they would not send it on to Hope Town because they needed a signature… the wonderfully nice post mistress talked to them for 20 minutes and finally made a deal with them… SHE is going to MH by ferry on Friday and will pick up our package and bring it back here….

We have still not done much sailing… went racing a couple of times but basically we are living aboard a floating condo with power, fresh water (at 25 cents a gallon) available wifi (most of the time) so we can function pretty well… David spends a lot of time “in the office” and in touch with business by phone and emails… we have 3 laptops (his, mine and Soli’s) and a Blackberry that works beautifully….so we do not feel isolated in the least…if we decide to go further south that may change….time will tell.

Jacqueline is getting itchy to move and I feel pretty much the same way… Heinz is still doing the never ending varnish job on L’Equipe…no wonder we don’t want to hear of varnishing Soli .. we do not have the commitment that he has… “we’d rather be sailing!”

Today Rudy Malone, the owner of the Hope Town marina where we are staying went fishing and we got 2 pounds of very freshly caught mahi-mahi… there is nothing like the taste of fish that was still swimming a few hours ago… poor little thing! Giorgio that was for you!

Tomorrow I have an appointment for a pedicure and foot massage $15!!! I am going to the same nice lady who cut David’s hair and hopefully her daughter will cut mine next week.

Time to make supper…talk to you later….


Hope Town 2008.01.27

Today is a very special day for, although being a number of other people’s birthdays, it is particularly my Mother’s, who is celebrating her 94th today. Happy Birthday Ma !!

We called my sister and brother in law to wish him a happy day yesterday and their son whose birthday it also was today. There were 15 family members sitting down for lunch, too bad that we were unable to be there. We heard that it was a beautiful day in Salisbury although chilly when compared to here! That said it has not been so warm here today with rain and increasing winds as another Norther passes over the island. We shall not complain however !

On Wednesday (23rd) last week we went racing once again, although on this occasion did not take “Solitaire 1” but sailed on her sister ship
“Breezi” with Rolf, and Matt, who did the actual sailing. He is the head instructor for the Hope Town sailing Club’s active junior squadron, so we thought that we had a good secret weapon.

It was a light air day and thus not one that the boat is particularly suited to and although we were fifth across the line at the finish, Rolf ended up being presented with the “most sportsman like sailor” award which is the polite way of saying you were “dead last” !!! I didn’t feel quite so bad about our similar poor showing two weeks previously….. Obviously there is something very wrong with the club’s handicapping system !!!

Talking of racing we had some excellent shots of “Solitaire 1” during the race taken by one of the race committee. It is not often that one sees good shots of one’s own boat so these were especially appreciated.

Apart from this excitement, what have we done ? On Monday we took a trip into the big city of Marsh Harbour and went to the airport to pick up spare parts for the engine which had been flown in by Yellow Taxi from Florida. A visit to the Bahamian customs – a look at our cruising permit - $10.00 stamp duty and we had our oil filters and zincs. Since we were in Marsh Harbour Catherine had a list for Maxwells, the supermarket which was next on our trip into town. A quick tour with me exhorting Catherine to “remember we have to carry this” and we were out of there with my rucksack full of engine spare parts, salad fixings, and bread, and towing our little shopping cart on wheels also full, but in fairness to Catherine not overly so.

The next stop was the Batelco office to buy more minutes for our Bahamian telephone and whilst there we met up with a couple that we had last seen in Green Turtle – Jim and Beth from “Madcap” from Ottawa. We caught up on our news and then left to walk back to the ferry terminal, whilst they were making final preparations to depart for Eleuthera. The walk to the ferry was done in about forty minutes where I blessed having a super comfortable rucksack and being able to pull a shopping cart with big wheels. So back to the boat.

Another big event this past week was that the mail which we had had forwarded from the bank arrived at Hope Town post office. I went in and the post mistress, said that it had been there since the 18th (7 days from Montreal, which we thought was excellent) and she had tried calling us on the VHF radio but we had not replied. It was nice to get our mail, several magazines and a number of Christmas cards for which we thank everyone. We are next looking for some spare parts for Catherine’s glasses – one of the nose pads fell off, and was lost . She called the optician in Montreal and they have mailed us two new ones.

Such is the minutae of life here on Elbow Cay. It has been raining quite hard today, and for here, has been cold today, so we have been boat bound, that means that tomorrow I shall have to bail out the dinghy, and likely pump it up too, before we can use it . The dinghy is the bane of my life and I have to confess to disliking it intensely. We have still not got the inflatable floor to stay inflated properly nor yet the keel. As soon as we return to the USA it will be packed away and we shall be buying ourselves either a Caribe hard bottom or an AB hard bottom and to heck with the expense !! A strong, reliable dinghy is an absolute must when cruising and our Zodiac is neither strong nor reliable. The hard bottom RIB dinghies will be heavier to lift aboard and will not pack into such a small space as our present one but we shall manage – we have an electric winch to give us a boost if needed and the final alternative is to hang it off the stern on davits.

Our plans to this point remain fluid – shall we stay here or shall we move on – it remains to be seen, we just do not know !!

All for now with a final happy birthday and congratulations on making it to 94 to my Mother !


2008.01.20 Hope Town

We said a fond farewell to Suzanne yesterday as she was off to Montreal… she is playing postman …she will post a couple of cards for us.

They had been forecasting a cold front with very high winds and rain… every boat in the harbour was battening down in readiness for this big blow which so far has not materialized…. It’s cooled off, there is a nice breeze about 15 - 25 knots and overcast and we have had light drizzles but that is it so far!….

David was looking forward to a day off from bright work but since the weather is not cooperating with HIS plans I think he is about to go and do more of this wonderful, scrubbing and sanding….
In an email this morning, PA mentioned TUNG oil as a nice treatment for our teak …we had never heard of it so of course Google to the rescue, now that we are enlightened and convinced... we would like some please!!!!

Last year I added bread making to the list of boatwife duties… this year I have not yet made any…. The wonderful ciabbatas we bought and froze in Savannah have kept us supplied this far…I have just started the last one last night, one with yummy olives....but if we don’t find any in Marsh Harbour (next island over, Little Abaco Cay) the bread flour may need to come out of its locker ….

As I am writing this (and David has finally gone outside, braving the elements, to scrub the teak…labour of love!) there is a delicious smell coming from the galley… we are making Sour Orange Marmalade…
Now, do you remember I said nothing grows on the island.. well I lied, there are a few of these sour orange trees, they are full of pips but very good for marmalade…. Jacqueline gave me instructions and assumed that I knew, as any fool would, that it is to simmer UNCOVERED… of course I did it covered and it now bubbling away some more in the hope of acquiring a jelly consistency… in any case it smells and tastes delicious even if we have to eat it with a straw!

An other one of my new duties is mustache/beard trimming… some of you may have noticed (I know CJ and PA did) that good to his promise to me D has not put the razor to his face since Jan.1st… he has been complaining that it is itchy, that he feels dirty etc but even Jacqueline and Suzanne said it was starting to look good and feel soft… not sure I wish to share ….In any case I used my little embroidery scissors (I do NOT embroider… there is a limit !) to trim the hair that was growing too close to his mouth, he now likes it much better … although he keeps saying that it is coming off Jan.31, that was the promise…one month to see what it would look like! So it might be a subject of a poll but I reserve final decision (actually unfortunately the pirate does!) and the odds are that it will be removed soon after the deadline has passed!


2008.01.16 Hope Town

Happy birthday Allan... glad to hear about the new wheels and that the kitchen renovations are on schedule more or less....send pics please!!!!

What exciting things have we been up to? not much really... sorry to be so dull.... will probably lose our readership especially since one of our most faithful reader, Suzanne, in on board L'Equipe thus week!

We did have a lovely evening on Monday.... we had been invited to supper by the crew of our sister ship Briezl, Susan & Rolf.

They have a beautiful home on the beach, which they just finished building last year with huge windows covering most of the wall facing the beach and sea....

Susan understandably enjoys meal preparation in her land galley, the view is magnificent ... they are also very much into restoring native vegetation to their garden and the beach and are also growing a small vegetable patch.... it is amazing how everything has to be brought in from the main land....including SAND to build with and earth to plant in ...no wonder so little food is grown here!

We brought some goodies to share, a duck liver we had purchased in Perigord, when we drove across France with Danielle and Robert last October and a Chritmas pudding we brought back from the UK along with butter and brandy sauce...it was all much apreciated as we enjoyed the delicious supper prepared by Susan...

Rolf had picked us up at the marina in his gig and the next leg of the trip to their house was by golf cart....no one has cars on the island and on our side of the harbour there are no roads at all...so boats of all shapes and sizes are the only way to get around. Rolf also got us home safe and sound, negociating the shoals in the dark ...think he's done it before!

Yesterday we went for a long walk all the way down to the South end of the island and had lunch at the Abaco Inn....fish of course need you ask ....Giorgio you would love it here!

Then we walked all the way back on the beach where we spotted a small sand shark patroling ... we think we will keep our popsicle toes out the deep water for now!

Parts of the shuttle were recovered in the area...sad testimony to such a tragedy.

We need to dinghy over to the next marina now to fax a copy of our cruising permit to import some spare ...talk to you later!


2008.01.13 Hope Town

They say happy people have no stories and that may be why we have been posting sporadically to the blog…time for a little update though…wow no posting since the 3rd!!!

Our big project this year has been to attend to the bright work on Soli which is looking somewhat sorry, and H&J keep looking at it and shaking their heads in disgust….did I tell you that cruising with the Webers can be very pleasant but the tradeoff is trying not to feel guilty when Heinz (the teak freak as he is known around here) is forever varnishing pristine L’Equipe… The sun’s UV rays are quite damaging… think about what they are doing to our skin!!! Yes CJ we are using sunscreen and wearing hats!!!!

So we have been applying a solvent , scraping, sanding, scrubbing and the teak is coming up nice and golden but there is still a lot to do….I remember finding a file on our computer named “ Catherine and David’s dream boat” with all the features we wanted and did not want in our next boat and in first position it clearly stated “NO EXTERIOR WOOD”…we somehow forgot to look at it when we fell in love with Soli!

Last Wednesday (9th) there was a regatta organized by the Hope Town Sailing Club… we decided to participate, especially since we knew there would be a sistership in the race…. Soli had been at the dock since Dec.15th and was getting fat and lazy and is probably growing some stuff on her bottom (happens to the best of us!!!)also we were anxious to really try the new genoa sail that Hood made for us.

So at 9 AM we registered at the club, attended the skipper’s meeting… it was a nice course, 6 legs for a total of about 10 miles…We got off to a good start and were the FIRST boat of the fleet to round the first windward mark… then on the next leg it was as if we were anchored, now we know we never do as well on downwind legs but this was really bad…wonder if it is the 250 feet of ¾ chain in our anchor locker (about 500 lbs!) that slowed us down or maybe the wine cellar!
Heinz and I made a good team and did some very neat tacks but although we did well on the upwind legs those 2 downwind ones killed us… we then found out they had given the two Sabre 402 a handicap of 67.5 so with corrected time we both finished in the last two positions which was really unfair to Briezl since they had crossed the finish line in fourth position.

No matter, it was a glorious sail, a nice even 15 knots breeze, brilliant sunshine and the magical colour of the Abaco sea… who would dare complain about a lousy handicap in paradise!

The real fun (?) part was about to begin… by the time the race was over the tide had gone down and we now had to negotiate a very shallow passage back into Hope Town harbour… Almost as soon as Heinz said to David “I think you should be closer to the green” we were hard aground, now a wing keel such as Soli’s allows for a reduced draft which is a good thing…but when you are aground with such a keel it is very difficult to get off… in this case it was impossible and the tide was still going out… the owners of Briezl were just passing by in their gig and we handed them a line attached to our halyard and they pulled and heeled Soli over until we were off the shoal… about 50 yards further we were aground again… a team of 3 Carib dinghies, engines revving at full blast, tried to pull us off without any success… a nice young man in a gig with a big engine came by and we did our halyard thing again and with 4 boats pulling we were off again …. David was not a happy camper, Heinz had never seen that side of him….when I see D light his pipe in the middle of the day I know he is in a bad way!!!
We then attended a get together at the club and met a lot of very nice people… there is a thriving and very active community living here. We are invited to Susan and Rolf’s (Briezl) house for dinner on Monday along with J&H and Suzanne (J’s sister who just arrived from Montreal). Oh, and I forgot … we received a prize for the most sportsman like sailor… other words for DFL!!! They are now saying that since we are “live aboards” they will adjust our handicap for the next race!!!

Yesterday the owner of our marina, Ruddy Malone, got married to a lady from Nassau, so as we were slaving away on our teak (no sanding…too noisy) we witnessed the whole ceremony and were treated to a very musical afternoon …mostly good stuff from the 80s and 90s…. “You are the wind beneath my wings” still makes me teary…

We have a very nice dock neighbour, Joe, who is an avid and successful fisherman…he goes out most days and has come back and shared some delicious mahi-mahi and wahoo with us…he delivers it to our boat in nice clean filets in ziplock bags.. how spoiled are we? We had the wahoo last night, just delicious baked with a light coating of panko,but we are saving the mahi-mahi to share with L’Equipe!

We are going to lunch at the Harbour Lodge today and for a long walk on the beach with the crew of L’Equipe… it will be so nice to get to know Suzanne better….I did not see her crown when we met yesterday but she surely must be royalty judging from the way J scrubbed and polished everything on board to prepare for her arrival.

The "crocs" clan!!!! I know, Karina, it's only for old folks... well if the croc fits wear it!

The sisters are having a beach bonding session.

Suzanne & Heinz having their board meeting.

Heinz found a plastic bottle...not a Weber...pity!!!it will do nicely for spare solvent though.

Mirror mirror on the wall who is the fairest of them all... Heinz trying D's Tilley hat for size...suits him don't you think?


2008.01.03 Hope Town - Xmas pictures from the UK

While I am cocooned in our bunk WEARING A TURTLE NECK SWEATER and waiting for the b---y wifi to load …it probably will not, I thought I might come and chat…I am desperately sorry not to have been able to upload pictures on the blog but OII (Out Inland Internet) of which we are the proud albeit unsatisfied subscribers will not let me!!! Trouble in paradise you say, well actually that’s about the only thing wrong with Hope Town …it has gone from iffy wifi to never never land wifi!
David would tell you that right now he is not too thrilled with the weather but I would never dare complain about it when I hear about the record snow falls up in Canada (and in ORLANDO FLORIDA we heard today!!!)…. Having said that Wendy is loving it, just got the family ski season passes ….good for you guys… Catherine & Mike have just returned to Quebec City today and I am sure they will jump on their snow boards as soon as they can…. Mike congrats on being awarded the Alexander Graham Bell scholarship …not just another pretty face!

Now to update you a bit on what we have been up to since our return home.
I am pleased to report I had no jet lag… I put this down to the 2 G&Ts the nice flight attendant gave me… I slept like a baby… Thanks to my Mother in law for introducing me to yet another vice!!!

On Monday 31st we went to lunch at Capt. Jack with the crew from L’Equipe … it was so nice to see Karina (the daughter we share with Heinz & Jacqueline since we miss our own kids ) …she also brought our mail from Montreal which was good.

For New Year ’s Eve we were invited aboard L’Equipe and the Weber team was in full flight… the sumptuous banquet, that was served on board, had their other guests, Phillip & Janet astonished at their prowess… not us … we are used to being spoiled! All kidding aside it was just delicious and we forgave them for going fishing without us since we could enjoy the sweet grouper, they caught with Truman, in the bouillabaisse as well as fresh lobster tails….did I forget to tell you we were spoiled !

After dinner we were invited back for dessert at Phillip & Janet’s… they have a lovely house on the island where we enjoyed Vernon’s famous Key Lime Pie and some bubbly….we then went to the water front and were treated to a remarkable fireworks display at midnight…. We then enjoyed a parade of locals ..It is called a junkanoo I believe …the music and dancing were great, the costumes fabulous!

On the 1st Karina came to visit… actually to give me a pedicure….so now I have popsicle toes …we gave her mince pies with brandy butter which we brought back from England (she was surprised to find out they had no meat content whatsoever) and we were back at CJ’s (Capt. Jack not Catherine Junior) and had a fix of grouper burger… I never tire of eating it….

On the 2nd we took the ferry to Marsh harbour as it was time for Karina to fly back to Germany.. We did not feel too bad for her as she is going skiing for a few days with a friend… we took the opportunity to go to Maxwell’s for a little provisioning of fresh stuff …the bosc pears were very nice looking and larger than in Montreal but they were $1.29 a piece so I bought TWO!!!

So here we are back in the cocoon of our bunk…. The North wind is howling outside gusting to 35 knots …David did some business this morning which is a very nice way to start the year…. The Blackberry is working beautifully, which allows him to be “in the office” all day!
This evening we invited J&H to a spaghetti dinner…. Some of us have to keep simple comfort foods in the loop …especially with the weather…. I hope the wind dies down some before this evening as they will have to brave the waves to come to Soli by dinghy … it can get quite wet!!!!

Hope the weather improves by tomorrow so we can go for a long walk on the beach …we only had a tease of it on Monday and I need to walk all the Xmas and New Year’s cheers off !!!!