Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Moving On

Well, I'm officially unemployed. The government here won't approve my work permit and I suspect good old Chicago style politics. I think someone on the island got wind that Spice Island was going to begin offering woodworking to their customers and somebody didn't want that and perhaps that somebody has the ear of a government official. Oh well. Being from Chicago I'm used to this sort of thing. Being new here I didn't have the advantage of getting buddy buddy with an alderman or committeeman. But, as my brilliant daughter says, "Oh, too bad. Now you'll have to go to plan B: SAiLING AROUND THE FREAKING CARIBBEAN!

So, in that vein we now make plans to head north starting around April 1 and explore places we either missed or really liked and time it so as to return here in August. One big thing that has to happen is that we MUST get a new windlass. WHICH I ALREAD DID. Get this. I saw a guy in the tiki bar who was anchored by us who I noticed had a manual windlass. Since I know these are cheaper than the electric kind I asked him how he liked it. Well he loved it. He said all the boats he's ever owned have had this windlass and their great. It's a Tiger made by Simpson Lawrence (but no longer). Then the guy next to him who I know from being here for awhile says, "Hey, I have one of those stored in a locker that I'm no longer using and I'd be willing to sell it". What a strange coincidence! Long story short I am now the pround owner of said windlass. I got it for $250 whereas an install of a new electric windlass would be about $2500. Nice. And, just like I like no refrigeration, paper charts and so forth this just gets it's mechanical advantage the old fashion way: You use a long stick! It will need a couple coats of paint but it works great.

The more interesting part will be the installation of this thing. Windlasses should be installed so that the angle between the incoming chaing and the vertical drop in chain is less than or equal to 90 degrees. That was the problem with the old windlass. It was located IN the anchor locker a full foot below the deck level so that the chain came in at an angle much more than 90 degrees. This caused the chain to jump off the gypsy (I DO love that phrase) and ultimately ruin the motor. So, I'm raising this windlass to deck level. I'm cutting the triangular anchor locker door and mounting the windlass on the pointy part. Steel channel will go under this piece of lid and through holes in the walls of the anchor locker. That and some mounting plates and epoxy for the edges should complete the install. I'm really looking forward to trying this beast the first time. Anchors AWEIGH!

To celebrate being unemployed we bought some new cocktail glasses. Mismo of course still thinks she can hide in a thimble and crawled in to the empty box. Here she is thinking no one can FIND me! Yeah, except your head is out one end and your giant ass out the other! She is as always quite entertaining.

Monday, February 16, 2009


Well, I'm still waiting for word on my work permit. Today I'm going to set a time limit of April 1 to know one way or the other. In the meantime we're going to start making plans to (perhaps) sail west along the islands north of Venezuela. Venezuela itself is to be avoided because they hate us but you can skip along the islands of Los Testigos, Blanquila, Orchita, Roques, and then on to Bonaire. These island are about a hundred miles off the coast of Venezuela. You can stop at them without checking in (true for Los Testigos. . . I need to check on the others) as long as you don't over stay your welcome. Three days in the case of Los Testigos. I know Los Testigos has no airport and no cruise ships go there. Perfect!

This is all a nearly due west sail so should be a nice down wind ride. THAT'S appealing!

Bonaire will be decision time again. We can either soldier on and maybe make Cartagena in Columbia for our September haul out or make a long run north back to Puerto Rico straight across the Caribbean sea - probably about a 3 day passage.

Anyway we've already bought the chart that we need:
This should work!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Cooking for a Living

This is where all the 'magic' happens aboard Horizon Yacht New Horizons. It's a 39 foot Bavaria and the galley is in the salon starboard side so no hiding from the guests while preparing food. No putting dropped food back in the pot!

I had my game plan ready - a 7 day menu with 7 breakfasts and lunches and 4 dinners. The guests were a honeymoon couple and they decided to eat out 3 evenings to taste Caribbean island food as well. My dinners were good old fashion baked chicken, bbq steak, fish, and spaghetti. Nobody starved and better yet nobody got sick.

Here is the honeymoon couple: Lisa and Tim also known as Timmy. They are from London and this 7 day charter is one of 3 weeks vacation for them. After the charter they are staying 2 weeks at an all inclusive resort on Grenada so they really know how to live. A lovely couple who were very excited to sail, snorkel, kayak, play cards, laugh at jokes and in general have fun.

This is Captain Andell, a 14 year veteran of the charter fleet world who really knows the islands (no need to refer to the charts since he has them memorized) and has many entertaining stories to accompany the 7 day tour we took from Grenada to Bequia and back.

This chart shows the route from the northern tip of Grenada at the bottom of the chart to Bequia Island near the middle of the chart.

After snorkeling the underwater statues near St George's we headed into the Lagoon where we spent our first night at anchor. Nice and calm. The next day's sail was quite sporty with a significant heel to the boat so it was good to have a good night's sleep beforehand. Although the main halyard kept playing its tune on the mast throughout the night which kept Lisa mostly awake. What's music to one ear is a pain in the neck for another. Halyard pulled away from mast at night from then on.

Just because it's your honeymoon doesn't mean you get to sit on your arse all day.........
Tim and Lisa did their fair share of trimming sheets while tacking and jibing our way around the islands. Faster Timmy.....faster!

New Horizons moored at the Anchorage Yacht Club, Union Island. A good place to replenish ice, buy a few fruits and fresh baked bread, and have dinner out on the island which Tim and Lisa did. Nice and clear this night and we were able to see many constellations including my favorite - Orion.

The Bavaria 39 is a well laid out boat with a large forward cabin including head and 2 aft cabins with a head in the salon to share. On this boat there is no freezer however and so a cooler is kept in the cockpit with ice and drinks.
After a day and a half this is all that's left of the Heinekens. Sorry Timmy........only the labels remain! (Not really.....many more bottles in the cockpit locker, but it was a funny joke).

Just off Union Island is Happy Island - a man decided to put conch shells around a small sand dune which caused the sand to continue to pile up. He continued to add conch shells which caused the sand to continue to pile up until this island was formed. St. Vincent took him to court over ownership but the guy won. St. Vincent owns the land that is officially documented on the charts and since Happy Island isn't on the charts, they can't own it. And so the guy is very happy on Happy Island where he has a house and runs a tiki bar for visitors.

After Union Island we sailed to Bequia - a nice beam reach all the way. Andell said, "Ok Lisa it's your turn". Really? Of course. She was a natural helmsman. So much so that she got promoted to co-captain in no time.

Tim also had his turn at the helm.
Until ---- it was time to sail through a very narrow reef. Yikes! Don't worry -- no problem!!

The blissful couple kayaked many places - Salt Whistle Bay, Bequia, Tabago Keys - and sometimes even rowed in sync with each other.

It only took a few days to fall into a routine. Breakfast was always around 7 - 7:30; lunch around noon (depending on how the sailing was going); and an appetizer and dinner in the evening.

One evening Andell drew lines and marks on a tablet of paper, had 6 coins - 3 small and 3 large, and taught us how to play the game that he invented. Lisa picked it up right away and never let Timmy win. Andell would say 2 or 3 moves before even the winner or looser knew: 'You win' or You loose'. Well he did invent the game so of course he knew what was going to happen on the next moves. Your turn to play Sue - not against Andell - he always wins!

We sailed 7 days straight and around the 3rd or 4th day Tim was getting relaxed and really enjoying the ride when.......

the Big Kahuna hit! We snagged George the Baraccuda. And just in time. The menu called for fish for the next night.

Here's Sailor Sue with the catch of the day.
Tim caught it, Andell cleaned it, and I baked it. Never had barracuda before. It was light and flakey and not 'fishy' at all. As Lisa would say, "Very lovely".

However, George didn't give up easily.....

As Andell was cleaning George and ready to make the final slice to free the fillet from the head and body.....OOOOPS......the whole half of fish dropped into the sea!
Oh, Andell it's ok. Don't worry we'll have something else for dinner.
Bloody hell we will....not after all that work.

Throwing off hat and sunglasses and donning snorkel and fins, he quickly found the remains of George and so there was plenty of fish for all.

It's true that I cooked more in 7 days than I have in the past month. But look at all the fun we were having and the beautiful places we visited.

This photo is at the Tabago Keys where Lisa and Tim snorkeled and saw 7 or 8 huge turtles. Nice.

While they were snorkeling Andell decided to leave the mooring ball and anchor instead. What a surprise they had when they headed back to the mooring to find the boat 'missing'. SSSSWWWWTTT (that's the sound of a whistle) Hey guys - we're over here now. Just as Andell was about to dingy over to them they spotted us and headed over. No problem.

The last dinner ashore Tim and Lisa treated Andell and I to dinner at Palm Beach Restaurant on Petite Martinique. Terrific food and a fun water taxi ride from our anchorage at Petite St Vincent.

Our last day was a long, rock - and - rolling one. We sailed down the east coast of Grenada in 8+ foot swells and confused seas. It was rough and hard to hang on. But in the middle of it all Lisa snagged a huge barracuda and hauled her in.

Tim had a turn with a smaller barracuda....

and Andell put both of them (the fish not Tim and Lisa) on the stern 'swimming' in the water to stay fresh.

The last night was spent at the 'lagooniest' anchorage ever - Hog Island on the south side of Grenada. Very - very - very calm.

Early on Tim and Lisa taught Andell and I how to play Black Jack (very similar to Uno) and we played this game almost every night after dinner. Everybody usually had a turn to win during the course of several rounds.

This last night Andell hadn't yet won. He kept saying, 'Just one more'. And so it wasn't until almost midnight when he had won 2 in a row and then agreed to call it a night.

You never know what's going to happen when traveling and sailing with 3 people you don't know. As it turned out we all got along very well. Tim and Lisa were great sports and now are salty sailors. Andell was always calm and cool and ever-ready with an interesting story to tell. We all laughed until we stopped.

Now when people ask me what the 'C' stands for on my hat I say - CHEF.

Monday, February 09, 2009


As regular readers know we are in Grenada. I was hoping to work here and in fact did for several weeks thinking that my work permit was on the way. That has not come through yet and so we thought it better if I stay away awhile while it either gets sorted out or not. Since Wednesday Sue has been working on a charter as cook. The boats I knew in this harbor have sailed away. Everyone knows I'm no good at just living on a boat and not sailing her. Work made it all do-able. So, I while away the time reading, writing, working on this and that. Sometimes a story catches my interest and I write a bit of silliness as I did yesterday about "close-knit" communities.

Now I love getting comments. Especially now. But what does the comment, 'What??????" mean? Which part? The satire? The part about the Chicago Tribune now being a tiny advertising rag? The story itself is true and from the Trib. Me not believing that every community with bad news is "close-knit" (and should that be closely-knit?)? Well, I'd love to comment back but I don't know where to go with "What??????" So, Anonymous, feel free to elaborate or just wait for the next bit of silliness. Shouldn't take too long.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

A Tight Knit Community

I don't know. Is it just me or does it seem like all the bad stuff happens in 'tight knit communities'. And, what does that even mean? (the following from the formerly big city newspaper, the Chicago Tribune).

Authorities say John Weatherspoon, 34, of the 18000 block of Edwards Avenue, was killed at about 10:20 p.m. after he and his wife had returned home from a shopping trip. The boy allegedly came out from behind a door with a knife in his hand, stabbed Weatherspoon in the neck and then fled on foot. A neighbor said she heard the woman scream over Weatherspoon's moans.

He died about an hour later at a south suburban hospital.

The killing has sent new shock waves through the tight-knit south suburb of 16,000 residents, which was already reeling from four other slayings in a little more than a week. Previously, there had been only three homicides in the last decade, said Mayor Dwight Welch.

What happens in a 'tight-knit community' that doesn't happen in one that is more loosely knit. Or one that even had dropped a stitch here and there. How about one that wasn't knit at all but instead was made out of Titanium? Think about THAT!

Well, all I know is every damn hurricane, tornado, mudslide, wildfire, volcano, mass murder, nazi invasion, locusts, flood, baby in the well, tsunami, or republican landslide has happened to 'tight-knit communities'. Maybe it's time to loosen the ties that bind a little.

Sue will be back on Wednesday and these posts may return to normal. Stand by!

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Come Mr. Taliban. . .

I read a headline that said that the Taliban had executed a Polish Engineer. Those nutty Talibans. I thought we got rid of them just after 9/11. So a little reading ensued....(italics from Wikipedia)

Well, as you may remember, they ARE a fun bunch. Here's the short list of things they outlaw:

pork, pig, pig oil, anything made from human hair, satellite dishes, cinematography, and equipment that produces the joy of music, pool tables, chess, masks, alcohol, tapes, computers, VCRs, television, anything that propagates sex and is full of music, wine, lobster, nail polish, firecrackers, statues, sewing catalogs, pictures, Christmas cards.

I have to say that I'm with them on the human hair and lobster (especially served together) but firecrackers? Who doesn't like firecrackers? Crazy.

Sewing catalogs?


Possession was forbidden of depictions of living things, including photographs of them, stuffed animals, and dolls

Imagine the trouble you'd get in if caught with a photograph of yourself with your dog Sparky while holding your favorite doll (Elvis of course) and stuffed animal.

The women got the worst deal of all:

Women in particular were targets of the Taliban's restrictions. They were prohibited from working; from wearing clothing regarded as "stimulating and attractive," including the "Iranian chador," (viewed as insufficiently complete in its covering); from taking a taxi without a "close male relative"; washing clothes in streams; or having their measurements taken by tailors.[54]

Employment for women was restricted to the medical sector, since male medical personnel were not allowed to examine women. One result of the banning of employment of women by the Taliban was the closing down in places like Kabul of primary schools not only for girls but for boys, because almost all the teachers there were women.[55]

Women were made to wear the burqa, a traditional dress covering the entire body except for a small screen to see out of. Taliban restrictions became more severe after they took control of the capital. In February 1998, religious police forced all women off the streets of Kabul and issued new regulations ordering "householders to blacken their windows, so women would not be visible from the outside."[56] Home schools for girls, which had been allowed to continue, were forbidden.[57] In June 1998, the Taliban stopped all women from attending general hospitals,[58] leaving the use of one all-women hospital in Kabul. There were many reports of Muslim women being beaten by the Taliban for violating their version of the Sharia.

Yeah this is one fun bunch of guys. Now what in the hell would provoke a bunch of guys to start a club like this? I want to be a fly on the wall where these guys decide that they do NOT want their women to look stimulating or attractive. What's with that? Maybe these guys always got turned down when asking for dates (try bathing!). Just shows to go you how twisted things can get when it comes to religion.

Interestingly they ruled Afganistan (or maybe it was Scotland) from about 1996 -2001. Only 3 countries recognized them in that time: Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. Hmmm, notice anything? There it is again, Saudi Arabia, the nationality of nearly all of the 9/11 terrorists. The same country that the Bush family is so buddy buddy with. Now count the letters in Saudi Arabia. OK, I already did. It's 11. How many letters in John Kennedy? 11! Conspiracy theories have been based on less!

I rest my case.

You know if they'd treat women like equals and stop beheading people they might want to come to America. You can have the craziest damn religion you want here in the good old U.S. of A and you won't have to pay taxes. It's pretty easy to avoid lobster and human hair here. Satellite dishes do tend to intrude but you don't have to own one. You might occasionaly run into a woman who looks stimulating or attractive though (hmmm, maybe better settle in Fort Wayne then). So, come on Mr. Taliban come to America. Enjoy the good life and you can hate Americans close up!

Friday, February 06, 2009

Moving Anchor....

I'm into my second day with no crew as Sue is off cheffing on a charter. Mismo's here and while she's rotten company, at least it's better than no company at all. I was up at 4. Internet is fast then and I get reading and writing done. Then at 7 I here the thrum of larger engines. Oh no. . . my worst fear. The Coast Guard is out moving boats again out of their "channel". The quote marks are because there is no marked channel. They just like to come out every couple of weeks and move a dozen or so boats out of their pretend channel. Why they don't lay a few buoys is beyond me. I guess there's no fun in that.

So here I am with no windlass and no crew. Coast Guard guy tells me 'Big boat coming in. You have to move NOW!' Seems like he means it this time and he didn't even swear at me so I go for it. Luckily there is very little wind for a change. I can haul the chain by hand without driving the boat forward. I do have the engine running however. When I get right above the anchor I go back to the helm and drive forward a ways to pop the anchor loose. Now I'm hauling a little faster so as to not drift into anyone but it's no problem with the light breeze. I manage to stay on this western shore but re-set the anchor and drift back nearer said shore and hopefully out of the 'channel'. The wind is so light it is hard for me to tell if the anchor set well. I'm trying to slip back between a couple of boats that didn't have to move. I get enough chain out and set the snubber. Drive backwards at about 1200-1500 rpm to set the anchor. Looks good!

After a little breakfast and some straightening up I return topsides to find myself nearly on top of one of the boats I had been between. Damn! He has two anchors down so doesn't swing like the rest of us do. I should have allowed for that and gone nearer the other boat.


I don't like how close I am so now that the wind is up I'll probably get Kerry on Bellagio to help me move to the other side of the harbor or somewhere. I may also lose the wifi signal if I have to mover too far from the anntenna. So this could be goodbye for awhile!

OK, I hailed Kerry and he came over and we move Enee. Much better. Now I'm too close to his boat rather than a boat I don't know so well! That's progress! We're fine with it and it is such a bitch to haul this nasty chain that I'm not for moving again. A fine day ensues. Great weather. I read and relaxed. In the evening I went to Bellagio (Kerry and Kathy's boat) for burritos ala' Canadian...that means moose meat I guess. Good fun with them and their visiting friends from Saskatoon. Saskatoon. To me that should be a musical instrument! Yes, I play the saskatoon.


Happy 35th Grenada

Well, one more February birthday I guess. GRENADA! Feb 7 is their 4th of July. In 1974 they split from England. This island used to be attached to the mighty Brits but in 74 they sliced it off and towed it to the Caribbean. Residents of what was formerly know as "Scotland" said they were just sick of the stinking weather.

On On! *

*Grenada motto

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

A Rising Star in Photography

Hey gang, That lovely person on the left (well the only person up there actually) is my daughter, Leah. The photo is one of hers of downtown Chicago. If you'd like to see more of her photography go here. You can leave individual comments on the pictures. Leah would really love any constructive criticism.

(and yes, she gets her looks from ME!)

musings from the unemployed

I'm still waiting for my 'work papers' here in Grenada and in the meantime, well, I guess I'm laid off. So, random thoughts etc..

Zimbabwe removes 12 zeros from currency

Brilliant! Just remove the zeros. It could work! Maybe this is the way out of our financial mess. Just get rid of the zeros! OR. . .

Since the government owns the money printing presses how about printing, say, about a trillion dollars, put it in a big bag (Oh, I just heard Tupelo Honey in my head) and GIVE IT to whomever we owe! There.

U.S. becomes top wind producer
this is too easy. . .

Hamas leader praises Iran's help in Gaza 'victory'

Death toll to date: 900+ Palestinians (400 women and children)
14 Israelies

wow, If this is victory I wonder what losing looks like?

Two men found in cooler want to stay in Australia

(CNN) -- Two men found floating in a giant cooler off the Australian coast say they want to stay in Australia and don't want to go home, immigration officials said Friday.

Let's see, how the hell do two guys end up floating around in a giant cooler? Maybe they both went after the last beer shoving the entire cooler into the sea. Yeah, I can see that happening.

Contest Time:
Write a clever caption for this picture and win a free ride on my sailboat (you'll have to come to Grenada to collect). Put your entry in the comments section. Good Luck!