Thursday, November 30, 2006

Pics from us sailing in the Bahamas

Who is that frog girl?

On the beach at Allen's Cay, there is a population of lizards that live there and no where else in the world. They are, as you can see, very bold. They are also very beautiful.

The girls and I sailing the dingy, it was really good fun to sail, but the rig was slow. May re-rig it to something a little speedier.

Here we are in a race, obviously the concentration is amazing. With us is Mike from Twice in a Blue Moon, his wife Pat took the picture, along with all the photos above. They are great people. (and have to come and visit us soon, that means YOU)

A pic of us sailing in Georgetown in the Bahamas, photo is by friends off "Ketch Ya Later'

Well, a short glimpse of our former life.... Not many yet of the Spanish adventure, we'll all have to wait and see.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Spanish stamina part 3

11:45, more people have arrived, and they are still going strong. I am amazed that this is not the biggest nation of obnoxious bitchy people in the world. I would be....How do they do it?????????

Spanish stamina part 2

11:10, more people just arrived......

Spanish stamina

One of the things that amazes me the most about living here is the sheer stamina of the Spanish, or at least of the Catalans we dwell amongst. Granted, after last evenings festivities, I am not exactly feeling spry and lively, but these people are amazing. It is Wednesday night, at 10:25 and there is a party building up downstairs. We can hear their doorbell ring, so we know people are just arriving. There are thee guys who live down there, all in their mid-twenties, and a couple of girlfriends are kicking around. They all get up and go in the morning. They will probably all go out in about half an hour, this is what usually happens. They do this several nights a week. We haven't figured out their schedual for when they get in, but it is at all hours. Someone frequently around 3 am and then someone gets in usually at around 6am.
We asked X's cousin about this, and this is normal. Most clubs don't open till 1am, and close at 6. The "after-hours" clubs start up at about 6:30. It brings the thought of raising teenagers to a scary level. As the cousins put it, the problem is not that they go out, its that they never return.
The school kids are the same. They don't go to bed until at least 10 pm on weekdays, and get up for school at the usual time. Weekends, they stay up till 12 or 1 am. These are grade school kids, you know 6 or 7. And the siesta? No such thing as far as I can see. Kids have a two hour lunch, first hour eating, then an hour playing outside in the street. Now I know what I would be like and what my kids would be like after that.......

The flip side of the coin on this is that it is a culture that truely enjoys their children and has no desire to pack them off to bed as soon as they can. do they do it? wasn't the shrimp......but......

Yes indeed a nasty night was had. It wasn't the shrimp as no one else foundered. Thank goodness, the image of all of us jostling for space at the one and only loo doesn't bear comtemplating. At least on the boat there was plenty of room on the rail, although I now remember I was the only one who ever needed it.

Nasty night, better in the morning, although achy and tired and yucky.

'Nuff said.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Is it the shrimp, or is it me?

Families gone and we are eating leftovers like crazy. We don't have a fridge, and while it is cool here, it is not that cold. Cooked up shrimps for dinner, they were frozen this morning and I cooked them this evening, feeling unsure as they had been out on the counter all day. Cooked the living hell out of them, and am now suffering from a bout of psychosomatic queasies. No one else is complaining, so I am assuming it is entirely me. Indeed I know it is. Nonetheless it may be one of those mornings when you wake up and give thanks that you were NOT up in the night on the cold bathroom floor emptying the system of nasties. They were very tasty though.
Hope for the best.

Pics from the kids

My older daugter thought this up, designed it and took the picture. Not too bad on the whole.
Quite lovely I think.

As you can see, the children's table manners are as always, perfect. Especially at birthday parties.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Lost in Ikealand

Well,.....went on a grand road trip to IKEA with my Mom today. Got beds for the kidlets and all the trimmings, you know sheets and duvets and duvet covers. We haven't had sheets for the last two and a half months that we have been here. See the ode to the sarong for the solution to that problem. The kids are finally off the inflatable camping matresses as well. They are very comfy, but there comes a time..... they are a little chilly.
We had an entertaining trip. I had been to the store only once before, on the bus. The map on the website was hopeless. However we figured we'd be fine, and we were, although we had an exciting 30 min. tour of the semi-industrial outskirts of Badalona, a suburb of Barcelona. Found it and motored through, no problem. Check out and there is always a ***gasp*** as the total rang up. Seemed high, but..... Off to Carrefour for sheets. it was only about 200 meters away, but you cannot get there from here. Completely. The road out of the parking lot was one way and lead inexorably onto a highway we didn't want, found our way back, and after a few more tries, huge numbers of one way streets, we made it. Lines were long, but it was otherwise fine. In the parking lot, we start discussing the cost of IKEA and I mention that mine seemed high, so we get out the reciept, and sure enough I had accidentally bought a 60 Euro duvet. That's is about $80 campers. That is an awful lot for a duvet. Well back we go. We manage to get there on the shortest route with some fierce concentration and a couple of exciting lane changes. I even manage to return it with my halting Catalan. Indeed, I am DEEPLY flattered that the woman asks me if I am Italian!!!!! My Catalan is still miserable, but at least I sound like I speak a romance language! WOW ! Pathetic I will acknowledge but there it is.

Lunch, swedish meatballs and lingonberry juice of course, and we find the duvet I wanted for a more reasonable price, 17 Euros, some sweet delight had left the duvet in the wrong space of course. I was the foolish soul to pick it up.

Took us only 45 min to find the highway. You would think something that big would be easy to find, but no. One way curving streets everywhere. Got home and crashed out. Kids happily sleeping in their new cozy beds and X has a lamp to read by. Life is good.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Sea beans

I wear a necklace all the time that is a brown cord with a smoooth shiny brown bead on it, quite large. It is a sea bean, a hamburger bean to be exact. They are the seeds of vines that grow in the amazon forest, and some say in Africa, although this remains unconfirmed. They, like most beans, grow in long pods, some of them up to two feet long. The pods fall from the vines into the rivers and float away. Gradually, the pod decomposes, and the beans are released to float away. Many arrive on the windward beaches in the Bahamas, having been carried by wind and tide so far. They cannot germinate in the Bahamas, there is almost no soil and it is very very dry. A far cry from their origins. The Bahamians pay little mind to them, but for the cruisers, they are prizes. There are several different types. The hamburger I wear is smaller, less that an inch across, and has a ridge around it's middle of lighter brown. Picture a hamburger and you've got it. There are also heart beans, larger and darker, which we have been amazed to see in quite a bit of jewlery here. Cruisers generally view it as too large for this, but there are quite a few necklaces for sale with quite bulky beads. We asked a vendor and they get them shipped in from Brazil.
Knickerbocker beans are smaller and sand coloured so quite hard to find, although we have seen them for sale as game pieces in a mancala game in Barcelona. Bay beans, do grow in the Bahamas on a suprisingly slender grass. They are smaller and resemble dried beans you might get at the grocers, although they are a lovely light woody brown and naturally shiny. If you find one there, you've found a lot. The rarest are button beans, or mary beans. These sea beans are small and brown and have an indented X or cross on one side, resembling a buttong on a duffle coat, of if turned, the cross. They are very unusual, and the story goes that on some of the islands, they are handed down frommother to daughter as help during childbirth. I have only ever seen one when a friend found it while we were all together.

When walking the beaches finding a sea bean is a bit of an effort, especially at first. Like mushroom hunting, which I did last summer with my brother-in-law from Poland where they are mad for mushrooms, you need to develop an eye for what you are looking for, and until that appears, you will walk past many treasures entirely unseen. The beans are light and float high and get blown far up the beach, so they are rare to find at the water level, if you do, they have washed ashore at just that moment and are obviously meant. They are exciting to find, in a beach bum kind of way, or like in childhood on an easter egg hunt, although here you aren't sure anyone hid the eggs so the finding is more exciting. The bit I love most is how warm they are in your hand when you pick them up. Hot and toasty lying in the tropical sun for so long. Some days you hit a beach where no one has been and you find many, 30 or 40. We have friends on Long Island who found 80 one day, but they were the first hunters on a beach after hurricane season and the picking was amazing. One or two is more normal, and a great day is 5 or 6 on a likely beach. Over time you end up with quite a few, and we have a small selection on our dining room table along with some shells and lovely rocks we have found.
Beach bum fun, and it is.
My necklace reminds me of the fun of hunting the beach for them while my kids hunt and play, and the friends we've hunted with and taught and of the amazing journey the beans have made, growing in the Amazon, floating the Caribbean Sea riding currents and blown by the wind and then washing up the beach to lie heated by the sun on the beach. It was also made by friends and given to us by them, making it sweeter still.

Family and gifts

An amazing thing happened today, my husband's cousin, who is Catalan, along with his wife and two of his daughters came over for lunch with my family. They are fantastic people. They brought a crate of clementines, not those mincy boxes you buy in North America, I mean a crate. They brought wine from a friends winery, olive oil from a friends press and trees, and fresh oysters and langustines (sp?????) . They were needless to say utterly delicious. The oysters and langustines they had bought that morning from the finshermen where they live.

We had an absolutely luscious lunch. Better still, and this is the amazing part, they brought gifts. Spongy toys for the girls, my great aunt got almonds, one set sweet and one set salty, but here's the ringer, they were from their trees, they had smashed off the casings and opened them without damaging them, and then prepared them, boiled, blanched and seasoned. The crowning gifts were for my husband though and require a little explanation. He and his family left Spain for Canada 45 years ago, when he was a child. They flew and were very limited in what they could bring. One of the things that got left behind was a toy rocket that my father-in-law had carved and painted when my husband was a child. It had since been lost. The whole family was sad about it and my husband remembered it wistfully. My husband's cousin gave him a framed photo of himself as a baby with the rocket. The rocket stands about a foot and a half tall and its registration numbers are my husbands initials and his day of birth.
Can you guess how they topped this? They had found the rocket, and they gave it to him!!!! Only time in 14 years I have ever seen my husband well up. It was amazing I cannot believe that they found it. They store that his mother used to run has been forced to close this week due to some zoning changes, when they were cleaning it out, the new owners found this and contacted my husbands cousin.....
Small miracles do happen. When we get a photo, we'll post.
Family can be truely wonderful. It was a magical day.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

This is a picture from our life in the Bahamas. This is a traditional sailing boat, made of wood, raced by Bahamians. This was at the Family Island Regatta in George Town. We got to race on the boats and it was amazing fun. There are previous posts about it. As I said, when pics come in I'll post

Sea glass

Spent the afternoon at the beach with my sister, her husband and combined, our four children. Typical sort of day. My kids refused to eat lunch before we left, and so were told that they would not get anything to eat while we were out and would have to wait until we got home again, whenever that happened to be. Well, this became a much nastier and more neatly reformed form of torture when my sister announced that her kids hadn't eaten and they were going to the restaurant. Now a beach restaurant in Spain serves a great deal more than rot-dogs and coke. We had GEORGEOUS bread, my sister had a paella with huge shrimps and three other kinds of shellfish, my brother-in-law had steak and luscious looking fries and grilled veg, and the kids had lovely pasta with rough grated cheese. All the while my poor children were forced to watch. I did bring some water. I hadn't intended to be quite that mean, but as we had all made our beds so to speak......

After lunch we went down to just the coolest climber and the kids were in heaven. It had buckets on pulley systems with rotating crane arms, and tubes you could pour the sand into and trap doors to let it out and the kids played for three hours. All the while my sister and I , she is an MBA grad and I have, shall we say, different priorities joked with them about their managment worker relations, and top-heavy organisations and succession planning problems. Finally invited to mediate between management kids and worker kids, I showed my true colours and declared myself neither worker nor manager but instead a dead beat and went off sea glass hunting.

Now for those of you unaware of the beauties of sea glass, it is the polished and rounded glasss thrown up by the waves. Usually white or clear, green and brown. Beer and liquor bottles. Rarer is blue and rare to virtually non-existent is red, yellow and orange. It is fun to look for. I was never much of a beach person until I spent three years traveling in a boat in the Bahamas, but it is a bit like an easter egg hunt, and there is always another egg if you just keep looking. Better still, I've a friend who makes jewlery from it and sells it in Martha's Vineyard and Boston, so I don't have to clutter up my life with the goodies after I am done. Happiness all around.
They are so lovely too. Glistening jewels on the beach in such interesting shapes, some two-toned glass even. The pieces where I am hunting here are generally small, but beautifully and deeply coloured, with an unusual number of reds and oranges and yellows. Exciting to find, fun to hunt for and a gift for a friend all rolled into one.
.....Sea beans in another post......

Friday, November 24, 2006

Reasons to celebrate

Well, the family is here and it is pretty busy. Never did so much grocery shopping in my life. Everyday and frequently twice a day. That's what happens when there are 17 people to visit. The family has decided to get together consciously to celebrate life and milestones, rather than to get together at the funerals. This event is the 95th birthday of the family matriarch. Came over on the Queen Mary II and flew down, and will fly back to London for 10 days there before returning home. Much of it solo. Here's hoping.

It has been fascinating getting to know my family again as an adult. Having not seen most of them for 9 years, we worked that out tonight, it is an all new relationship. Quite fun. Lets hope they come and visit often.

On another topic, one of the challenges of living here is knowing where to buy what you want. I've been searching for sheets at a reasonable price for a month now. I will grant I am a little fussy about sheets, but as I spend up to a third of my life in them, and they aren't cheap, and your usually stuck with them for a good decade, pickyness seems warranted. Where the hell do I find them though? Hmmmmm......... Long live the sarong. Don't know how people get by without them. Scarf in the cold, shawl in the cool, skirt or dress in the hot. Sling for a baby or toddler, headscarf in a church or a mosque, blanket for a tired child, yoga mat, beach seat, the list goes on and on. They are cheap, dry quickly, pack small and wash in almost no water..... I sound like an ad. Currently my largish collection is serving as bottom and top sheets for us all, as well as occasional garments. Another reason to celebrate. A little silly I'll grant, an ode to a sarong.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Settled in and blog beginnings

Despite the many entries, this is a new blog. Had an old and poorly managed one, so I moved the entries over here. Most are aimed at friends who new us, and are full of heady sailing jargon as we have lived on our very small boat for three years before moving here to Spain. We'll see what happens from here on in. Very late at night, and I will leave it at that. Posted many today already. Pics to come. Post some from our sailing days, and then gredually from our lives ashore in Catalonia.

Our first days in Spain

HOLA,Well folks it has been an vastly eventful few days. For those of you we haven’t been in touch with lately, we have moved to Spain (finally), X’s papers came through and the job still existed. We are in a small town north up the coast from Barcelona. We got onto the plane on the 6th, and the darling children did not sleep AT ALL for the entire flight, though that is not strictly true, I think D slept for about 20 min on the first flight. Milan airport was horrific, X flew through Frankfort, but the girls and I went through Milan, don’t ask why, it’s a bit complicated. In Milan, we had to go through security again, but several transatlantic flights had arrived at the same time, and they only had 4 security isles functioning, so we were all jammed into a long unairconditioned hallway, packed in, someone had barfed on the floor and it hadn’t been cleaned up and a large number of people were butting the que. Not my favorite thing to do with two children who haven’t slept and whose bodies think it is 2:30 am. We had two hours between flights and I seriously doubted we would make the next flight at all, but we did thankfully. Again the children did not sleep, and we arrived in Barcelona. We had to take a bus out to and back from every single flight which definately increased the hassle factor. There is nothing gracious about air travel anymore. Barcelona airport was easy to get through, conveniently located loos and fast to leave. Then we had to wait 4 hrs for X to arrive. The children fell asleep on me and slept and slept as my legs went numb and my butt didn’t. N at one point sat up and teetered on the edge of the bench with her eyes closed as I tried to get her to lie down again before she fell off on her head on the marble floor. She has no memory of this. The time for X’s arrival came and went with no sign of his flight making me a touch uneasy, but as I was trapped under sleeping children I could not check the board. Eventually I got them up, poor dazed things, and we staggered through the crowd to discover we were in the wrong terminal, oh joy. Off to find X, whose flight has now been on the ground for over 40 min. Got him and got all the bags in the cab and off we went to where X will be working, and then onto the local hotel. That was the 7th.
Up the next morning bright and early, now the 8th, and by the end of the day we had a brand new Spanish bank account, and we had signed a lease on an apartment, had the keys and we were moving the next day. Had dinner at the apartment on our brand new plates, with our brand new cutlery and we also had a new kitchen knife and two georgeos pots. The agent had taken us to buy the dishes and also drove X to Mataro, the nearest big town where he purchased inflatable car-camping beds. A double and two singles. To the hotel to crash, exhausted. C up early the next morning, now the 9th, everyone else are sleepy heads. So C did the first load of luggage. This town is nothing if not hilly, it was quite a haul up to the apartment. The place is right downtown, slightly behind the main church. We have a three bedroom second floor flat with balconies front and back and a large terrace. The rent is more than we had planned to spend, but it is nice. The kids each have their own room, and we have lots of room for guests (though no beds or sheets or in fact pillows). Everything is handy if you don’t mind a hill and it is lovely, we even have a view with the Med in the distance. No tables or chairs however, so in the spirit of innovation we have reverted to the 70’s and I am reclining on a mock bean-bag chair made of sleeping bags and sail bags. We spent the 9th cleaning everything in sight, the place had been empty for a while and was grubby. The landlord is planning to paint it for us around the end of the month, which is badly needed. We also went to the grocery store, X did two trips, to get the rudiments of food, and again crashed exhausted.
Today, the 11th? 10th? I am not sure anymore, Sunday anyway was much less pressed, I got up early and watched everyone head off for church and saw the sun coming up over the church and the mountains, which are both large, bells ringing this morning. Went around the corner and bought bread baked a couple of hours ago, and came back, then we all went for a walk up into the hills. There is a big castle right behind us, almost invisible from the trees, which belongs to the local marquis, and we were up in the national park that is behind us withing 10 min, even with getting lost and walking at kid pace. Found a lovely shady spot with a georgeous view, very few people around, and the kids had a ball, we even found some pine nuts and smashed them open and ate them. Saw a cave like some odd old hermit might have lived in once. This is a pretty town, over 1000 yars old, and very active and lively. We seem so far to be doing fine. On the way back from the walk we saw a restaurant that offers cooking lessons two nights a week, I may go if it works out. Language lessons and cooking lessons all in one. I may go in with X though to book it. The catalan is tough to understand. X just came back from a run, he should get good legs here running up and down the mountain all the time. There are no level streets near by to speak of. He was a little destroyed, his legs are pretty tired I think. Tomorrow is a big Catalan holiday, everyone is getting their flags out so we’ll have to see what that is like, and then X starts work the next day, and the kids start home-school. We’ll let you know how it all goes.

George Town to Toronto, May 06

These men are getting ready for a race. Note how far over the stern the boom hands, and how small the boats are by comparison. They don't turn very smartly unless the fellow on the main sheet and the man steering are communicating well.

The end of our cruising this year has been filled with news of our friends’ problems with their boats. We met a couple in George Town who had all the toys and bells and whistles, but couldn’t afford them, and would not stop trying to repair them, so they ran out of money and patience and went home. Friends on a boat Twice in a Blue Moon are sailing back with no motor, after missing a much anticipated part of their trip due to engine problems, despite their very high level of competence at repair. Another family we know had to replace their engines, which so bankrupted them that they are selling the boat. Other friends lost a forestay, a rather vital string to keep the mast up, but managed to jury rig and get home, although they now face some rather extensive repairs. Sad notes to end the season on, and another reason why our diesel is probably not going to be joining us again in the future.We made very fast time up from George Town, we had favorable weather every day to Bimini. Crossing the banks, the weather started to drop as forecast, and we motored until 11pm, dropped the hook, did the dishes, and by the time we were done, it was good and windy. Anchor up and off we go. My birthday was spent steering across the banks to Bimini. Wind was too strong to anchor, but not strong enough to make us really fly. Anchored off the E side of Bimini around 4pm. The wind was blowing right up the harbour mouth and it was not a go to our eyes. It was fine around the back though and would have been easy to leave in the dark. We sailed direct up to West Palm from there, doing 8 knots at times with the Stream behind us, we were disappointed to get down to 6 and a half. So that was all around rather amazing. We then continued quickly up the coast, stopping at Peck Lake and in Manatee Pocket. We got held up for a day off Indiantown marina due to forecasted thunderstorms, tornados, waterspouts, hail and 50 kn winds. Didn’t happen, and we set off the next day for the invasion of the love bug.
This Florida cutie comes out in May to mate, and the larger female leads the smaller male around attached at the bum facing opposite directions, landing everywere. They remain attached for quite a while and fly and walk all over the place. Quite a feat. The wind died in the middle of Lake Okeechobee and we were the only land around. They descended with a vengance. N baled out first, icked out by the numbers. D woke up and discovered the situation and went below next, followed shortly by yours truely who saw no reason for BOTH X and I to be out in this ickyness. X claimed he didn’t mind but really there were hundreds in the cockpit alone. Bleah. The heat was also intense, so when X needed me on deck to drop the jib, I just dashed up in my undies. BIG MISTAKE. I went to drop the jib, but the halyard was invisible under the bugs. X did that while I went back to steer, squealing about all the bugs on me and laughing at myself at the same time. Finally went below. Eventually we got to Clewiston and the spoil islands near it, and the bugs started to leave. D and I spent a vigorous half hour sloshing bucket loads of water over the decks ridding us of the majority of bugs. This was good, because the wildlife on Okeechobee is well worth seeing. We say tons of alligators. No one wanted to swim, and birds galore, coots and guillemots, and pelicans, and nesting osprey. It was spectacular. There was even a tiny alligator in the lock with us on the way out of the lake. He was little and probably did well in there. No competition, and the fish have no where to hide. We motored a few miles further and dropped the hook for the night.We motored to Glades boat yard the next day, the engine staggering during the last quarter mile because we hadn’t transfered enough gas to it that morning. Gave her a drink and all was well. We got pulled right away and the dismal task of putting her to bed began. All went well in the yard, we pulled the exhaust off the diesel and threw it out. The prop and shaft will not be wet next year and we probably won’t have the diesel either. However, we were disturbed when they went to put her into the storage yard. Part of why we like Glades, is that instead of the boats being placed on stands, which are independent posts, there are a pair of I-beams with welded mounts. Much stronger. When they went to move her we discovered that they were going to put her on these stands, and indeed she had been on them last year. Not only that, but they were planning on putting her in the swamp at the back that had been filled only a month ago. We are not happy. She is currently on stands, but not on fill, and our background thought of getting a trailer is becoming firmer. This is supposed to be a bad hurricane season. Plans continue to change elsewhere. X did not have the job at Quantum that I had thought he might, so he is looking for work, and feeling fairly confident about it. Also, and I have written this before, there has been movement on X’s Spanish citizenship. He received a birth certificate with an annotation that he is requesting his citizenship, along with forms for a passport and to appear on electoral rolls. So this looks good, although as my Dad said, he will probably need some form that we don’t have and will require an application in triplicate to Madrid. There is also the question of whether the job offer is still available. So once again, our plans are up in the air. I start work the middle of June, and we are currently staying with my parents until our usual place in a friends basement is open, and the kids are making good use of the pool at their grandparents. No ‘gators here.My apologies for my poor communications this year. I’ll try to write more often

Headwinds in the Bahamas, jan 06

We’ve all been having food fantasies lately. We’ve been out remote for over a week, unexpectedly, I’m not quite at the stage of counting a squirt of ketchup as the days veggies, but it’s approaching. When you know EXACTLY how many cloves of garlic you have left it’s getting thin. There is a restaurant a few islands up so we can go there to buy veggies if we have to but we’re ok so far and hope to make Nassau tommorow. We last did a big grocery shop in Miami, well before Christmas. Then we went futher south in Florida and had out Christmas there. It was very good. I had bought a four foot tall artificial Christmas tree, and we put it up Christmas Eve day. It was decorated to the nines. We had garland wrapped around the lifelines and a wreath on the backstay. Plus an origami Santa scene, Santa in his slay, four reindeers, including Rudolph, and two trees stuck to one of the bulkheads. Santa came, and there were lots of gifts and lots of good food. We even had Tourons, those special Nougaty type things that appear at Catalan Christmas. Then to crown it all, friends of ours with two girls the same age as N and D arrived in the harbour. We hadn’t seen them since last March so that was quite a treat and they had a great time playing together before the big Christmas feast.
Christmas eve day, the kids decided that Christmas dinner had to include meat. Cow to be specific, and I quote. So, since they get very little meat, and even veggie N was decisive on the subject, X went to the grocery store. Hour and a half walk one way. He got the meat, and some apples, bread and eggs, but not much else. Oh and he had to get himself a Christmas present. I had planned, for a combined Christmas and birthday present to send him for a return flight on Chalks, and airboat that flies commercially between Florida and the Bahamas. These are the planes that actually land on the water on their canoeish shaped underbellies, rather than floats. X is fascinated by them, indeed he took more pictures of those planes than of his family. I wanted him to get a chance to ride in one. There aren’t many left. The week before Christmas we discovered there was one less. Seems a wing snapped off in Miami harbour on take-off killing everyone aboard. X isn’t going to be flying with them, and I had nothing for Christmas. Though we now have a new morbid running joke about me trying to off him for the insurance money. So he was delegated to pick up one of a selection of items I wanted to give him. He chose the fancy coffee maker, go figure. What with his coffee maker and the cow and some apples, it was not exactly a big stocking up visit. That was the 24th. We crossed to Bimini on the 28th, I think, and spent a couple of days there. We left on the 31st anticipating making Nassau by the 3rd or 4th. Favourable forecasts. I had picked up a few veg in Bimini, but it is more expensive than Nassau, so I didn’t go wild, only a few days. We had headwinds. On an 80 nm passage that takes two days and we only had one day of gas, we turned back. Nice harbour at the top of Gun Cay, met some nice folks and some kids, and there were some semi-tame sting rays that would swim up to the shallows to be patted. I know, I know, what were we thinking but after you’ve seen enough folks do it and you stay really still… Anyway, we got away with it. Finally left 4 days later and went across to Fraser’s Hog to wait out some weather before we could go to Nassau, then moved over here, Bond Cay, to wait out more strong easterlies. May manage to go tommorow. They aren’t sure if it will be SE or NE, NE is a go, SE is our course. We’ll see.

The other really exciting thing is that X finished the sailing rig on the dingy. He actually got it up and running in Florida, and I took it for a trial run. We had two glitches that needed immediate work, and some tweaking. The mast step was too shallow and the mast kept leaping out and tipping over, NOT very go fast. And the rudder kept floating out of it’s gudgeons. We need to install the rudder clip. Between the rudder flaoating off and the mast tipping over it was busy, and probably a bit like a day in Pete Goss’s last venue, but X fixed both problems and the girls and I had a glorious sail today. She is quite a sweet little boat. We junk rigged her and the mast is a little short for the size of sail we made, ovesized for light airs. We got the mast in Florida in the place we had X-mas. There was a rowing club there, and X went up and chatted with them and came away wth a broken sweep oar for a mast! Rowers rule! We had a great sail. She is not the most weatherly boat I’ve ever sailed, but the girls were steering and we need to tweek the various lines that shape the sail quite a bit. We elected to mount the mast about a foot and a half aft of where it is designed to be and it has messed up our sheeting angles. However it maintains the integrity of our water tight bow bouyancy compartment and gives a small person a place where they can recline. Once we tweak the trimm lines I think she’ll do better, I wasn’t exactly worried about any gusts today, we were fairly effectively spilling the wind. I had also used the wrong halyard and it didn’t go quite as far up as it should have, so it looked like a big rice sack a bit, but that is also traditional with junk rigs. The kid’s droved and were quite adept. I was delighted. They had to adjust to how much more quickly she reacted than Oreneta. X didn’t go for a sail, but I was thrilled. Brings more distant points into easier range as well. Not going to go anywhere we can’t easily anchor, and row back from. Possibly not so easily. But wow what fun.
Hopefully we’ll make Nassau tomorrow, and I can send this off.

Under way again in Florida, Dec 05

We made it out again and we are currently in Florida. We had the worst time trying to get the house rented, and finally at the eleventh hour, almost literally, the job got done. Then the tenants moved in. Turns out the washing machine was broken, something in the furnace broke, the hot water in the kitchen sink was leaking, and there was a huge leak in the roof of the front porch. Urgh. Got most of that repaired, although not the front porch roof yet, and we left. Thank god. We flew into Ft. Lauderdale, packed our stuff into the trunk of the car we had rented, and headed to West Marine, the marine stuff superstore. Spent lots. By the time we left, the trunk was so full it sprang open if you turned the key and there was a fair amount of stuff in the car with us. Then to the foam store to buy new matresses for X and I. We sleep on the couches in the main cabin of the boat and the cushions had gotten so thin and uncomfortable last year that sitting for more than a few min. was quite horrid, and sleeping wasn’t much better. When we came to put the boat to bed in June, we knew that if we kept the old mattresses we would be too cheap to buy new ones and we’d suffer through them for another year, so we chucked the old ones out. Hence we had to get new ones. They weren’t cheap, but boy are they comfy. They were also quite hilarious to try and fit in the car. We had planned to carry the matresses on the roof, but it was raining and the store had no bags. Hmmm. One lay under the kids feet, they were then sitting with their legs raised higher than their bums, and the second we finally curved from the back shelf up the rear window across the ceiling, and then back down between X and I. The kids were not comfortable. We plied them with donuts and they were appeased. Then we stopped and bought new pillows, sheets to cover the new matesses….. Finally, bursting at the seams we made it to the boatyard. Then we started work. We had a closer look at the bolts holding a copper bar onto the bottom of the boat as a grounding plate in the event of lighting stike. They had corroded away so badly that some of them did not even have a head. Hmmmmmmm. And it was American thanksgiving in the middle of Labelle Fl, a long way from any marine store. Fortunately, one of the guys in the yard had dissected an old british marine head, and low and behold, it had some of the required bronze bolts. Then three guys from the yard went into Ft Myers to go shopping, looking like any group of teenagers headed to a boxing day sale at the mall. Bless them, they found the other bolts we needed, so we could launch on the Monday after thanksgiving as schedualed. We had friends to meet North of West Palm on the 4th of Dec, so we had something that cruisers should never try to keep, a schedule. This brings undue pressure that is hard to manage in an unpredicatable boat life, mother nature and the god’s of small engines hold the daytimer, and it all goes more smoothly if you can accept this and not try to plan too closely.Launched. All well, the outboard was a touch tempermental, but X got it running. We had pampered it as much as we could in the boatyard, and it had run and started well.
In amongst all of this, we got together with some friends from Labelle, who we had met in the boat yard in the spring. They have a big steel boat they’ve put a huge amount of labour into and she is now a thing of beauty. They very kindly had us for dinner on thanksgiving, and what a feast. We even had swamp cabbage, which is the edible part of a cabbage palm. Terrie cooked it up with bacon (?) and NO MILK. Apparently this matters and is hotly debated. Then we were introduced to the joys of “black friday”. This is apparently the friday after American thanksgiving, and starting at about 5 am tons of stuff goes on sale at incredibly low prices. Loads of people turn out and it is something of a tradition in and of itself. Terrie and some of her friends were going and had seen a GPS we needed on sale and agreed to pick it up for us. We also discovered a new sport, punkin’ chunkin’. You can even look this up on the internet, they have websites. Robert and his father have developed a compressed air canon which shoots pumpkins or watermelons HUGE distances, like 2 or 3000 feet. Amazing. With any luck we’ll get to see one go off in the spring when we get back. Terrrie and her son had come by to say bye on Monday evening, and had brought the GPS and a big box for the girls, to be opened when we are losing sight of land. We had a nice chat and the kids played, along with another child Nikki who was there with his mother, a long term single hander, who last time she came to this side of the Atlantic came via Greenland and Labrador!
We got up Tuesday morning with the sun to make tracks for the coast, and the engine started, died and absolutly w o u l d n o t start. Nothing. We tried every trick we knew, and while we are not experts, we do have few skills. Then it began to rain, in ernest. X was ashore most ofthe morning trying this and that, calling people up and seeing if they have any ideas and then trying them out. Finallly at lunch I went ashore to find a professional, located Harlan in Clewiston, and borrowed a car from folks in the boat yard. Thanks to them (hope the smell of gasoline has left their car), Harlan fixed it for 20 bucks! Great, back to the boat and start it up and it runs. Took off the next day, The engine actually working although she died in a lock, and again heading into Lake Okachobee. Lost a fender and retrieved it, starting the engine again in the middle of this, saw tons of birds, and alligators, and got part way around the lake up to where the route divides: go around the edges, or across the middle. We have always prefered the edges, so we proceeded. 15 miles, to the birdge which was closed. Went back 15 miles and tied up for the night.Crossed Okachobee the next day, very rough and unpleasant headwind, then the lock at then other end of the lake has a design flaw, it opens directly onto the lake, so we had big waves in the lock, and worried about our mast hitting the lock walls. All clear. Lots of sunken boats in Stuart, on the Atlantic coast, the results of Wilma, and we met friends in Manatee pocket and stayed up late eating Chistmas cookies and catching up. We moved on south to meet more people, where we are now waiting for a cool, rainy and very windy patch to pass so we can move on further. Kids on a boat here too so everyone is happy.Well that' s my story for now.

The third annual voyage of Oreneta, dec 05

Hello all,
We are off again, finally. We’ve had a few hurdles to leap on the way out of here. Indeed in some ways it was rather hard at times. The biggest one was that the house had not rented. Sound familiar? Not only does that not allow us to go, but it costs us quite a bundle while it sits vacant so this was fairly important to get done. Fortunately we got it rented just now on the 8th, and the new tenants take possession on the 15th. I am deeply relieved on that note.The boat also sustained a direct hit from Hurricane Wilma, and a number of boats went over in the yard we store Oreneta in. Fortunately ours was still standing and nothing fell on her. Indeed she is so small, I had more of an image of her sailing through the air like in the Wizard of Oz rather than meerly falling over. Anyway, there was a week or so there when we weren’t sure we had a boat to head out on, but we found out later, and at this point we know that there are no major external structural problems, which frankly goes a long way. I haven’t e-mailed in ages because I was feeling a little blue as the weather turned colder and colder, and there was no end in sight. Also there is an element of waiting to write because you might have news soon.
Halloween here was a huge success, the children were vastly excited. D was a witch, and a very cute one at that. Although I think she intended to be a bit edgier than she was in the end. N was a person carrying her chopped off head, which was quite successful, she was quite freaky and ghoulish and alarmed small children which was what she was aiming at. They got GALLONS of candy, which they are still eating despite my “get it over with” policy of gorging yourself at any opportunity after a meal is eaten. They are having a grand time with all that. I think they will be OK about leaving school. There are aspects of it that they like, the friends mostly, but there are chunks they don’t. Chiefly the long hours at school and for N the volume of homework. On the boat, they acomplish as much in about an hour and a half or two hours as they do in a day, plus homework. Life is busy here getting organized to go, there isn’t that much to do, but I am working as well, and X doesn’t get home till nearly 7 so I am a little short of time I can get things done in. Not for long though, I’m looking forward to the sanity of being away again.
So, that’s my story for now.

life update, Aug 05

Hello all, No news for a bit, I have been suffering from tunnel vision getting the course finished, and it is now done. I finished work today!!!! Actually that is a bit of an exaggeration because I have quite a bit of work facing me in Sept. but I am no longer a full time wage slave. It all went well, they relaxed, the course went off well. They were a really nice group of women, it was really in a lot of ways a treat to work with them. In Sept I have 5 days of lecturing to a new group of students, and I have to go and supervise my 13 in their various teaching positions. If we are still here in Oct I’ll do it again, lots of lovely money. Although the related hassles are considerable. The kids don’t start school until 9 am, and then have to be picked up at 11:40 for lunch, dropped off again at 1:00 and the picked up at 3:40. Not a schedual that makes it easy to do anything in a city so big it takes 45 min to get anywhere. Mostly the nightmare is the babysitting. X will have to go in late every day I work, and lunch will have to be with whomever I can arrange, although on some days I will be able to get back in time. Work went well, they are hiring me back, and that’s good, we are carrying less debt than we have in a long time. Plus they are all really nice people, and I have enjoyed working with them all. The current tenant is staying on in our house until Nov 15, which is good because he is a good tenant, but a pain as it will be much harder to re-rent the house. Also we think we left our keys on the boat, and the tenant is away on vacation which makes it hard to show. Ah well. Hopefully it will re-rent quickly. At least we have some financial leeway from the money we earned this year.I am fairly seriously considering signing up for a MA, independent study, with Lesley University in Cambridge Mass, I would study environmental education, possibly focusing on women as movers in the environmental scene. I can do course work on the boat as so much of it is field work in different ecosystems. I could also do the work from Spain. We STILL don’t know what is happening there. The job offer has been renewed, and the consulate is still saying any day now… X has gotten in touch with his cousin in Spain who has gotten in touch with a “procurator” who, when everyone returns to work on Sept 6 will look into it for us, so we still have no idea, but since the job is there, and the Spaniards are looking optimistic, we may actually make it. The kids are even enthusiastic. One of their friends went to France last year for the year, and has come back completely bilingual, and they are (maternal joy here) JEALOUS Yipeeeee! So all systems are primed, if we can just wrest the citizenship from the Spanish gov’t. The kids have been at camp for the summer and are heartily sick of it, although it has been largely fun for them. They want to go back to the local school they were in last fall, I hope they have as nice a time as they did last year. The kids they met were really nice. My sister is going to show up on Sunday, we haven’t seen her in a year and a half, and on top of that she is bringing her husband and two sons, 3 and 1. The little one we’ve never met, so we are all pretty excited.That covers most of the news, sorry for the communication blank, but I simply had to get my head down and get the work done.

Hi ho, caught me on a down day, Aug 05

Life is OK, X and I are both feeling rather tired of the work schtick, blah, tired of getting up in the morning, tired of dressing up for work, tired of working through lunch every day to get it all done because I have to get the kids from camp. Blech. Anyway, it’s all OK, mostly it’s good, I was up too late last night which is probably why I’m feeling flat. A good night’s sleep will see me through a lot. Life is basically good, saving up lots of pennies which is grand, and I am enjoying stretching my brain a bit more, lots of great books to read, and arguments to teach. That has been great, I didn’t feel it after our first years sailing, we were on such a steep part of the learning curve, but last year was easier, which was fantastic, but I am noticing that I didn’t feel as challenged. I like the steep part of the learning curve and the challenge that goes with it. So that has been interesting and invigorating. Mostly I miss the boat, close on 2 hrs driving per day to get to work. Grrrrrr. We still aren’t sure what we are going to be doing this fall. We have been offered the possibility of working in Spain, again, and it looks as though the papers may appear, we’ll have to wait and see. If not, we will be back down in Florida in Oct or maybe Nov, depends a bit on how hurricane season shapes up.The possibility of going to Spainn, where I would not be working full time, and I would have good computer access, along with my promotion to teacher trainer, has made me toy with the idea of academic graduate degrees. I actually had very nearly completed a masters at the local outfit, but they have now decided that since it has been so long, instead of the 8 out of 10 credits that I had, I can use 1. This had led to thinking about alternative plans at other Universities. Lesley college in Boston is one that has come up, and since I have to start from scratch, I am even considering a Ph.D. program. HMMMMMMM X seems to think it is tenable, we’ll have to see. My folks think I should get an MBA, they would, but I can’t picture it somehow, and they are a dime a dozen at this point, and I am not at all sure it will lead in a direction I want to go. That will take some serious convincing. Blurgh.
Reading a new book right now, “Reading Lolita in Tehran” have you ever read it? I’ve just started, but it’s pretty good. The other one I am enjoying is Sacred Balance, by David Suzuki, this is an awesome book. I don’t know if you have heard of him, but he is one of the great and big names in the environmental movement in Canada, a genetecist by training no less. He is worth reading, despite his advanced science background. On a more domestic note, the girls are both looking forward to going to school, I’m a little suprised as they have been in camp all summer where I work, and they are getting kind of done with it. My sister is flying into town next weekend, she lives in Poland with her family. I haven’t seen her in a year and a half, and she is bringing along her three year old, and also her one year old who we have never met. Should be fun.

Working like dogs, July 05

We are back and established at work and camp. I am a teacher trainer running my own course for infant toddler Montessori teachers for the summer. Everyone around me is very uptight for involved and highly jargon loaded reasons and I am struggling to cope with them all as I simply cannot work up the nervous tension they seem to expect, nor do I want to. Unfortunately this only makes them more uptight as it makes me look a little cavalier in their eyes I suspect. We are ultimately just on different wave lengths. They are nice people, just more worked up, and much more tired. The kids are in the camp offered by the school, N thinks it is OK, although I don’t think either of them loves it, D definately hates it, an it is an unpleasant battle evey morning to get her there and she is peeled weeping off my leg every day which is less than pleasant, but it is only for a few weeks anyway (…later she has settled in and is happier, only took three weeks) The girls are otherwise doing well, although they have been getting all sorts of germs which we haven’t had to deal with in a long time and I for one am not enjoying. That all sounds rather dreary, but were OK, keeping our heads down and going along. Sounds like some quote from an ignorant hockey player after a losing game, but it is at some level true. Life is fine here, just not what I would be chosing to do.
Had a harsh and delightful day yesterday, got e-mail from the Tuamotos, two boats in Grenada, one in Norflok and also friends in Alaska, all while I was at work all day. Probably explains the dour tone of the e-mail.It is not so easy adjusting to life on land, I find the constant noise bothers me, and I am not very good at that urban-multi-tasking-keeping-16-balls- in-the-air-at-once-thing. That may be a function of leaping into work and we are also setting up a new course so there are fewer predictables. I’d rather be sailing.The saving grace for us is that we know that we are going to be going again, Spain has not emerged yet, but is looking like a good possibility, and the boat is the other option. I’m not sure which I would pick, the boat I think, but the chance to go live in a village in Spain is very cool, and definately something to leap at, just wish I didn’t have to give up cruising for a few years. We only just got out. X is back at work at Quantum, and we are waiting around, working hard, making money and seeing how our life is going to unfold for the next bit. We haven’t gotten the Spanish citizenship yet, there is a reason that Man~ana is a Spanish word. “Any min. now….” Anyway, X’s buddies in Spain say the loft is very busy, so the chances are reasonable. We just spent the day up at a horse barn which was very cool with some friends who have a three year old thoroughbred they are training for dressage work. That was great, a whole world I simply don’t know the words and rules for. Kids had a great day, lots of horses and dogs and rasberries. Then went back and had dinner together. Nice day over all.We’re hoping to make it out to Martha’s Vineyard in late Aug. to visit some cruising buddies who are washed up on shore there. If we don’t go to Spain, we’ll get back on the boat again which would be great, I like that lifestyle a lot better, although Spain would be intensly cool. We’ll have to see.

Back in TO, June 05

Hey Ho,We are indeed back in TO. It’s OK I guess. We were lucky with the weather when we put Oreneta to bed, although it was making me antsy. Tropical storm Arlene was headed our way, and we were concerned that the entire 5 days we had on the hard to do the work was going to be filled with pouring rain. Makes it a little difficult to get the salt out of everything and get it dry so it doesn’t mildew. Got it done though, the sun shone. We met some nice folks from LaBelle. They gave us a lift into town to do all 9 loads of laundry. I did another 6 of clothing when we got back. It does seem astonishing on a 27 foot boat that there could be so much. They also gave X a lift into Ft Meyers to get the rental car so that we could all get in for the flight. So with a big thanks to them and the weather it got done. Flew back via Atlanta. Feeling rather ambivelent about it all. Though seeing my family has been very nice. We are still in cruiser mode and have been rather slow getting in touch with folks, but it is going to be very busy when I start work, and we want to ease into it all a bit I guess. X got work at Quantum TO and he has now been at work a week, and I start tommorow, and the kids start camp tommorow. N is OK with it, D is not so sure, but it is inevetable. We’ve even been out sailing, on my Dad’s boat, which has been very nice, but I’m sorry to say I got seasick. Urgh. Didn’t actually barf anyway. We have moved into the basement apt we were in last summer, which is fine. We are used to it, so we could settle in fairly quickly. Work is going to be stupendously busy, but I should get it all done in the end. Should be pretty good course I hope. I’ll let you know as it goes along. No news from the Spanish consulate of note, X phoned and was told “any second now, Mr Macia…” We’ll see. Then we have to see if the job is still open. So we are working and waiting. Wish we were sailing, but life is good.

A rainy day in West Palm, June 05

Spent today soaking wet and hypothermic, possibly the only person in FL frozen to death. We have had to jump through quite a few hoops with our entry into the US from hte Bahamas because we didn’t have all the right papers, one of them had actually expired, unbenownst to us, (our own fault) so we have spent a week and a half figuring this out, including a fifty dollar fedex to get the proper piece of paper from TO. Thanks to an extremely helpfull and un-red-tape man in the system here we got it done. He was incidentally a fire-fighter at the world trade center. Must give you perspective on which bits are important, and which are red tape. The climax of the process saw me heading off this morning to his office, later than planned as we were given a large frozen hunk of mahi-mahi last night, but were having dinner on another boat, and couldn’t eat it at the time. As the mean temp here is somewhere in the mid-eighties, that baby was not going to keep in our icebox and fridge free boat, so… instead of heading off at 7:30 or 8, as planned, I didn’t make it till 9:30. Breakfast was pretty tasty though. X rowed me to the dock, and I walked to the bus stop and waited a mere hour for the bus. Must have just missed one as they come every hour on that route. X and the kids stayed on the boat. It is way too hot here for it to be fun to stand on the side of US1 for a bus.Well, while I am waiting there the meanest, lowest, blackest clouds I’ve seen in a while are rolling by. This is saying something as we’ve been here for a week now and 2 to 5 thuderstorms are rolling by a day. Not entirely comfy on a sailboat. Anyway, the bus gets there before the rain starts, and we wiz off down the road. Well, when I step off the bus, I just about get blown down the street. Some windy down there bye, I figured at least 35 knots as I am having touble not blowing down the sidewalk. Remember here that X and the kids are on the boat. Urgh. So I am not entirely happy. 20 min wait for this bus, and the heavens open. Tropical rain, like someone dumping buckets over you. There is of course, no bus shelter. Next bus comes, I get on dripping, and the rain stops about 3 min. later. OF COURSE. The bus is intensly air conditioned, and I am now shuddering with cold. Get off and walk to the building to do the paper work, AC here is also nothing to laugh about. I am now at the blue fingers and lips, uncontrollable shivering and shuddering stage. Fortunately the man is deeply efficient and I am back outside within ten min. Then I have to run for the bus, and it is not raining. Shuddering eases off, only blue and chattering teeth, but the bus brings that all back with it’s near artic AC. A pair of ladies got on this bus, both a good 60lbs overweight, complaining that they were lazy not walking to where they were going (about ten min) but they were too fat. If they weighed 20 lbs less they could, but they were too fat. They then hauled out a chocolate bar each. Gotta wonder. Anyway, got off the bus, frozen and shuddering, and sat to wait for the next one, only 40 min this time. Light rain and I was posed with the entertaining question: stay under the tree and avoid the constant light wetting, but get drenched with every gust from the leaves, or stay out in the rain. I varied the routine. Next bus. Got colder. Go to get off this one and it is POURING again. Wade off into it to the grocery store which is cooled to the mean low temp of Greenland in Jan. Wait in the shelter of the mall for the rain to ease up. Never does. Wander out to the beach and bridge where I am too meet X. He’s not there, no suprise considering the rain, wind and lightning, but I have a little shelter under the bridge, so I stick it out. I am wearing a long sleeve blouse and a sarong. Getting colder here again. Then the tide starts to rise and I lose my shelter. Decide that there is a time to spend money, head back up to the mall, and purchase a D-R-Y t-shirt and a cheapo raincoat. They let me change in the staff bathroom, that’s how pathetic I look at this point, but that t-shirt going on was one of the nicest things I’ve ever felt. Back to the beach to meet X, now resembling a giant pile of blue bagged garbage, as I have tucked all of me under the hood, bag and head inside the collar. Life is better though now. Holding my own. X eventually shows up when the rain and most inmportantly the lighting eases up and back we go. X and the girls are wearing almost nothing and sweating while I am in a jacket and long fleecy pants. Cocoa next. Then a nap, then a ton of food. Missed lunch in this. Much better. Ahhhh. Another day in paradise. Got the paperwork all organised too. Took less than ten min in the office, and took me from 9:30 am till 3pm. Nice.X, N and D had also been having an exciting time. The wind picked up to an estimated 40knots, and 3 ft waves in the anchorage. We had our 10ft X 9 ft canvas sun awning up. X is taking it down by cutting the lines and N is gathering it up and sitting on it in the cockpit. One of the poles may have given it’s all during this and be of no further use. Then he veered out another 30 ft of anchor rode, it’s very deep, yet a little crowded, so it’s a little tricky getting enough scope. He also hooked up the second anchor should the need arise. Friends of ours on another boat started dragging, they were at the library and no one was aboard. X could do nothing for them as the kids were on the boat and I wasn’t and the conditions were not great for rowing, fortunately the anchor was plowing a furrow, rather than imitating a kite, so they weren’t moving too badly; although aparently at one point the wind shifted and they were immediatly to windward. They have a largish steel boat so that was a little uneasy, but all was well. It’s never dull.

Waiting in Miami, Fall 05

Hello hello, We’re still in Miami waiting endlessly for weather to cross the gulf stream. We’ve been having a pretty nice time and meeting some interesting folks. We are doing well on the whole, although we are heartily sick of Florida. We’ve been hanging out waiting for weather to cross over. There was one window ages ago, which we missed because we got news that a certificte that X needed from Spain for the citizenship process had arrived, and so we skipped that one to organize that. BIG MISTAKE. Anyway, we came on down to Miami, and have been stuck here, and in the vicinity for 6 weeks of so. There was one other window, and we found out the day before that we had an mail package coming, so we regretfully waited for it to arrive. It didn’t come for another ten days. Arrgh. Anyway, still no windows since then. We’ve met many more kids on boats this trip which has been great for the girls. Indeed there is a 7 year old on a boat in the anchorage where we are now, along with people we have met a couple of times previously. The cruisers are all going to have a get together tomorrow at an island in the middle of the bay that is a park, bring your drinks, and a snack, and a raincoat. There are a lot of people here waiting. The whole thing about Spain: that we might be moving there, and that we are waiting for X’s citizenship papers to come through so we can go. X got the job offer and everythng, although I don’t know how long they will wait for the process to continue. The job may disappear if the consulate takes too long.

We're in Florida now

Hello all, We’re in Ft. Lauderdale, in the mooring field by Los Olas bridge. We were here last year when we came back from the Bahamas. I think I last e-mailed after the Family Island Regatta. We went on up to Nassau, taking about 10 days over it, swam most days, and had to wait in Allen’s for weather. We stayed there for a while, swung over to Rose Island for a break, and went down to Potters Cay for veggies, breakfast there next time. Lots of little shacky sort of street food stalls, I love those sorts of places. We had a gorgeous fast broad reach over to Chubb, but it stayed too windy to continue on up onto the banks as we had hoped, so we stopped at Chubb. Called the Spanish consulate in TO while we were there as they told the man when he was in TO two months ago, that his Spanish citizenship would be ready by then. It was not. We were told that we were, “moving too quickly” (10 months ?!?!?) No apologies or anything. So we still don’t know, but at this stage I cannot imagine the job is still available. Ah well. We were at Chubb for three days waiting for good weather, then Chris Parker, the weather guru started talking about hurricane Adrien that was going to hit Central Am. and on up into the Bahamas, maybe by Sunday. Most likely as a tropical depression. E 15 - 20 kn suddenly looked pretty damned good, so off we went at 6 am, sailed and sailed and sailed. There’s nothing wrong with the banks except that they go on altogether too long. We rounded N rock, once again unlit, in the dark, again. Do any other idiots try this? We actually saw the thing this time, which was
heartening. Dropped the hook around midnight off Bimini beach on the west side. It doesn’t sound too bad here, but it was very rough, and went on FAR too long in one shot. Even the husband got sea sick for a couple of hours, the rest of us had been feeling grungy all day. We had a wonderful time in Bimini though after sucking up the yucky banks crossing. We didn’t go inside, instead we stayed anchored off the beach. After we had breakfast, the man rowed the girls and I in, and then had a desperately needed nap. He looked fairly destroyed that morning. The girls and I bought candy for their allowances, and some groceries, and then played on the beach for hours. The younger girl and I EACH FOUND A HAMBURGER BEAN!!!! THe eldest had found a heart bean there in Jan as well. There was also BUCKETS of sea glass. We could be very picky and probably found 10 pieces of blue glass. We could have literally gotten gallons, but how would we have carried it.
This morning, Sat. the 21st, we left Bimini at 4 am with a forecast for W 5 - 10, seas 2 ft or less. It was flat calm, and the waves never kicked up, although the wind came in NW, and we had a dreamy crossing. No one was sea sick. We had a lot of freighters, but they all waited for daylight. It took an hour longer than the other times, but I’ll take that for calm weather. Now we’re tied up at Los Olas in Ft. Lauderdale, and had ham and turkey cold cuts for dinner from 7/11, it was truely delightful. Really. Tired, and we have a ton of errands to do and then we’ll head N towards Glades to put the boat up again.

The man's limbo's on stage!!!!!!!

Hey folks, We’re here in Nassau now, after cruising moderately quickly through the Exumas, took one week, nice sailing every day, and stopping in time to swim every night. Stopped at Black Point where we hadn’t been before and the principal there is keen to have cruisers kids attend school, we didn’t this time as we only had a day, but maybe next year. We know some kids who did, and generally enjoyed it, but were disturbed by the use of corporal punishment in the school, which is quite common, although the cruisers kids were assured that, “they didn’t do it to new kids.” I loved it. The kids found a mug. Some cruiser must have brought their coffee with them, and then kicked it of the six foot high dock, into eight feet of water and written it off. Not my kids. After much wheedling we found ourselves in the dingy under the dock, pushing the mug into shallow enough water that we could reach it. The kids were delighted and now bicker over who gets to use it.
May has also spawned mega-yachts in the Bahamas. They are coming out of the wood work, I am on the verge of asking to check one out, as we have seen some of them so often that if they were other cruisers, I would go over and introduce myself. Talked to the guys hanging around the dock in Black point, their boats had done well at the regatta, although their class A boat, the biggest class, had been knocked out of 1st place when another boat collided with them tearing their mainsail from top to bottom. They figured it would be sent to King and Brigid, our skipper and his wife who are along with their other activities, are sail makers for the fleet. Brigid said that they made the sails for most of the boats that raced. The sails are made out of quite heavy canvas, and while more pleasant to handle than Dacron, must make fairly heavy bundles to feed through a machine. The racing is actually pretty dramatic, by our count at least 4 boats sank over the regatta. They basically cannot gybe as they heel over too far, and the crew cannot get the pries out in time to balance the boat, and so they heel so far over the water comes into the boat. The boats are decked, but there are quite large holes, we might call them the pits, that fill the hull neatly. The ballast is all internal loose pigs of lead, so when they sink, a bunch of guys have to swim down and grab a sixty pound pig and swim back up again until enough lead is out to allow the hull to float. They hold the races in fairly shallow water where they can. The boats can also add and reduce the amount of lead in their boats from one race to another. As well as the sinkings, our boom broke, and was repaired overnight, and we were in a rather dramatic four (probably) boat collision, no damage to anyone. Red Stripe's main was destroyed, one boat’s mast broke when the topping lift from another boat snagged the top of the mast and just kept going. These are huge boats and weigh A LOT and are going very fast. We were doing a solid 7 to 8 knots and probably more. Biggest damn dinghies I’ve ever raced. King Eric, our skipper in some of the boats at the Family Island Regatta turns out to be quite a big deal in Nassau, as well as on the race course. Turns out King is called King because he is the musical king of the Bahamas and has been for decades. Along with having an OBE, he has an ongoing show in Nassau, called King and Knights. It is a show geared to tourists primarily, unlike a lot of his earlier musical set ups, which were purely him and his band playing. This is a variety show with dancers, musicians, a fire eater, limbo, and steel drum playing.
King and Brigid had invited us to join them in Nassau for dinner and the show, so we duly phoned them when we got there. It was arranged that we would meet them there, at the Nassau Beach Hotel where the show is staged, and see it all. The kids were transfixed. The dancers came out first, then a fire eater, rubbing the flames up and down her arms and legs, holding the flaming torches in her mouth, and then she went for audience participation. One woman lit her cigarette from the flame she was breathing in her mouth -no torch here, just flame coming out her open mouth. This not a woman who needs to blow on her soup to cool it. She got the man to drop his head back and try to hold the torch in his teeth. He was hilariously reluctant, and didn’t let her get too close, even though she tried too shame him that he was his daughters hero, and he couldn’t disappoint them. The youngest wouldn’t watch. It think they agreed with him that it wasn’t brave, but stupid. The next act was limbo, the guy, Don, had actually raced with us as well, and was pretty good. That bar was very low at the end. He also got the eldest and the man (!!!!!!!) on stage doing the Limbo. Never in all my born days did I think I would see the man on stage doing the limbo. He’s not very good honestly but it was very funny. The eldest had a natural advantage as she is only a bit over four feet tall. Hilarious. They didn’t let up on him though. The next act was a guy playing a steel drum, and then singing the two unofficial Bahamian Nat’l anthems, The first is about a young man trying to get married, and he meets a girl, tells his father he wants to marry her, and daddy says no, don’t tell anyone, but she’s your sister, your Mommy don’t know. This goes on five times, till finally the boy tells his Mommy what has been going on and what his father has been saying and she says, Go, marry who you want, your Daddy’s not your Daddy, but your Daddy don’t know. Apparently the real humour in this is that this is quite a common situation. The singer claimed to be the Daddy, and B, who has known him for years, believes him. The other song was the BIG BAMBOO long and hard, etc etc, the song goes on and on about how the “big bamboo” solves all problems with the woman yadaa yada yada. One line was I brought my woman two coconuts, and she says what do I do with nuts, I need the big bamboo. Appropriate gestures are needed. The kids were confused. Then he goes around the audience asking men and their women about their BIG BAMBOO: the husband got nailed here as well. This seems to be a Bahamian theme, VitaMalt is said to put “lead in ya pencil, mon.”
A singer came on next, and got the man to sing into the mike, and then the dancers got him on stage at the end, although all four of us went along with a lot of other folks for that venture. Never ever did I think the man would do even one of them, but all four, or five. An amazing evening. Truly astounding.

OK I'm going to make you jealous

New blog on this spot, but I am moving old posts from a previous blog over. This one was from May 2005. We lived on our very small sailboat for 3 seasons in the Bahamas travelling from Canada at the start. These are a series of posts from our previous life. The boat is named Oreneta. I'll add pics when I figure out how.

Life continues to be fun and cool. We stayed in Joe’s Sound for ages, and didn’t get weather to go to Conception Island once we were ready, so we returned to George Town for the Family Island Regatta ( I am so glad it worked out this way) which was profoundly cool. We got to sail on the boats in the races!!!!! The man got to do more than me because he ended up getting his foot in the door with three seperate crews the first day, and we had no childcare set up. It was accidental, but limited the amount of time I got, but I got on one of the big A class boats, Lucayan Lady. VERY VERY VERY COOOOOOOOOOOOL The first day out the boom broke, it was honking, and we got into a collision with at least three other boats, it got pretty confused, we aren’t sure how many. no one hurt, and those boats are very strong. No damage. Actually kind of exciting, for all but King, the owner/skipper. In true Bahamian fashion though, no one was very uptight. Sailed in. King managed to fix the boom, split length wise at the gooseneck, and repair the shroud and we were out the next day. “workin’ da pries, mon” and all he had needed was a nicro-sleeve. (The pries are the boards that stick out the side to balance the boat.) The boat did miserably in the standings, but I personally didn’t care at all. The crew could make a boat sail, but did not understand how to make it go fast. King did, but had to argue with them for everything, and not always successfully and always slowly. That was a touch frustrating, and on the last day I stopped being the polite, socially conscious Canadian chick and stepped in and did a lot more. They didn’t seem to mind. It was, definitely, the absolute highlight of the trip this year for me. Want to do that again, for sure.
On that note, still no news from Spain. I have to be in TO by June 15, so we are now heading back to Fl to store the boat. The man’s citizenship should be ready soon, so we should know about Spain in a bit, probably in the next month or so. If it doesn’t pan out, we’ll get back on the boat and maybe head down island a bit. We’ll see. If we’re on the boat again, you can be sure I will do everything I can to be in G-Town for the regatta. King was asking us to stick around for other races in the series which would be WAY COOL, but not this year. Ah well.