November 2013 ~ Grenada

Chronological Order

Day 1173 ~ Three Year BirthdayNovember 30th, 2013

Busy day for everyone. Dan and I tackled the top again in the morning. All the glass is down now and another lesson was learned. When we left the last layer in place about 3pm it looked nearly perfect. When I went back to check on things about 4:30, I found that the sun had moved (it does that, you know?!) and exposed one section to direct sunlight for the better part of a half hour. The heat had caused ripples or lumps to appear where air underneath had expanded and lifted the wet glass up from the surface. 

It looked terrible and easily could have been a disaster if a larger area had been exposed. As it was, the affected area will be concealed under the solar panels and, working desperately with whatever I could get my hands on like rocks, buckets, etc, I managed to flatten out the most egregious bubbles.

Dan went for another Hash outing (hard core mountain trek/run/race thing) and managed to catch a ride back before dark.

Kids did what kids do when their friends have all left and there is a puppy around. They took him swimming, floating on kneeboards and running in the grassy field at Clarke's Court Bay.

It's been three years today since we splashed at Grenada Marine. We're a little wiser now, at least in the ways of water and boats. I guess what it really boils down to is this, "Knowing everything we know today, would we do it over again?"

In a word, yes!


Day 1172 ~ Flipping OutNovember 29th, 2013

This is the touchy part. The top, finished on one side, but completely undone on the other, is very fragile. I was secretly glad of Nana's delay as the winds have been consistently stiff. With 130 square feet of sail area, once we tip it up, things could get nasty fast.

Out at sea the winds are likely steady, but get broken up and then accentuated by local mountain and sun-on-land effects. We have noted that they are generally light just at dawn and then kick into high gear as the sun climbs so we got and early start. Not as early as hoped, but we were on station by about 7:15a. The sun was well over the rocky crags to the East and the light morning breezes had freshened a bit, but we went for it anyway.

Thankfully, it went smoothly, and our 12 hands, some smaller than others, managed to get it turned and in place with no damage to the top and only minor damage to fingers (Lisa did get pinched right at the end).

I really goofed in a few ways on the first fiberglass placements. I neglected to duct tape the underside of the joints between the nydacore panels and, naturally, some epoxy dripped through. This wouldn't have mattered much, except we had placed the joints over the wood frame supports and now we found several of the wooden cross members well laminated to the nydacore. As a result, I spent several hours cutting and eventually ripping them free; one board completely ripped apart long-ways. It was ugly. Amazingly, though, found that epoxy does not stick to the top, or underside, of duct tape. The few joints we had managed to tape, peeled away cleanly leaving no prep to do before a brief sanding. Lessons learned.

Daniel and I worked more on the hard top, putting fiberglass and epoxy on the other side. Just a week left to finish so we gotta get crackin'. We are definitely getting faster at laying glass and, with patient squiggly work, it lays down very well. We're finding that the FGCI epoxy wets out better than the MAS. Fewer dry spots, better handling, a "slicker" feel to the goo.

Nina undertook her shopping duties. What started as an experiment in independence has now become a regular affair and, I must say, it helps tremendously, saving me 2-3 hours each trip.


Day 1171 ~ Turkey and SmilesNovember 28th, 2013

I started out the morning by cracking the whip on the the "artists" in residence. Time's a wasting. I thought Nana's enthusiasm for the project might have waned now that it felt a little bit like work, but was pleasantly surprised when she was excited to get started again.

Back under the bridge, it wasn't long before Nana realized how large the top really was and decided she could use some help. So Nika picked up a brush and started adding little flourishes and filling in some of the rougher vines. Before long, some of the vines were hers and Nana's jealousy for the space faded in light of the sheer volume of paint required.

They worked pretty diligently, I must say, and after another hour of painting the top was pretty well filled in with artwork.

Dan, Lisa and I finally did what I have been meaning to do for months, just ride local buses around the entire island. It sounded like a good idea, but felt something like a marathon of roller coaster rides. Hot riders with sweaty neighbors. Lisa took lots of pictures, we found some decent local ice cream and, in the end, Dan thought it was well worthwhile. We certainly did see some terrain. Well, blurry terrain, anyway.

We made a pretty good imitation of a Thanksgiving dinner. It tasted great after all the tacos and spaghetti of late. Thanks to a pressure cooker, it all came together pretty quickly. After dinner and on a spur of the moment, we decided to make it Christmas too. The girls opened their gifts from Grandma while she was present to see all the smiles.


Day 1170 ~ Anna Gets StartedNovember 27th, 2013

Nana's desire to be "like Michaelangelo" and paint a ceiling, took off today. Despite potential delays, her little plywood sample showed so much promise that I roused her up early for "work" (and let her skip math). Nika offered to help as well. Gee, I wonder why.

We rounded up our paints and brushes after breakfast and headed over to the bridge. I forgot to bring a camera, but Nana was soon on the top painting away while Nika and I worked from underneath, grinding sand and sticks into our clothes as we crawled around jamming in scraps of bamboo and left over lumber pieces to support the weight of the artist working above our heads. Until the second side of top is fiberglassed, it's still pretty fragile.

Well, after only about 40 minutes of painting vines I could tell Nana was tiring. I pushed her a little to complete at least half of the top so we could wrap it up tomorrow.

After lunch, I headed over to Secret Harbor to work. With everyone leaving, Pippin is proving to be a great distraction in the transition from kid plethora to playmate famine.

Later in the afternoon, Lisa and Daniel went to look at a boat for sale for a friend of Lisa's who is interested in the sailing life.


Day 1169 ~ Impossible PerfectionNovember 26th, 2013

Another "usual" boat day. It's amazing how many usual days there are in an unusual dream. I managed to get the underside of the hardtop painted. I mixed in a healthy quantity of SharkBite, a generic grip additive I found for one-third the cost of the "real" marine stuff. It felt the same to me.

I don't expect we'll walk much on the underside of the top, but the additive lends some texture which, I hope, will hide the fact that I just didn't have the patience to fair and sand the darn thing for a fourth time. It gets better each time, but my skill just isn't such that perfection seems possible; I guess this is why professional fiberglass guys remain employed. Nana tried her hand at some rollering as well. She has this crazy idea about painting vines on the thing. Go figure.


Day 1168 ~ Grandma Turns 60November 25th, 2013

Lisa and Grandma did noodling in the morning while the girls dove into lessons. It's amazing how the promise of kid play helps focus things. I puttered on the hardtop while Dan, Lisa and Nina headed over to Clarke's Court to check out Jenny's weekly fruit offerings. They came back well stocked with fresh squeezed juices and more.

Despite raining daily in the mountains, it's been fairly dry in our little corner of the bay so Dan and Nina headed over to Whisper Cove to buy a load of fresh water.

The afternoon saw me hacking away at "real" work thanks to Secret Harbor's fantastically free internet. Nina hung out with the kids from Cape while the rest of the girls, including Lisa, took Pippin for a swim.

Grandma's birthday was technically November 11, but we decided to re-celebrate it with her in person. She turned 62 and doesn't look a day older. I have serious doubts that my DNA is of that caliber. The girls say they are finding short gray hairs in their pasta.

The winter winds are finally kicking in. They howled in the rigging all night and the wind generator was dumping in the power.


Day 1167 ~ Alone at LastNovember 24th, 2013

Moana Roa headed out today for points north and then, eventually, Panama and Australia where home awaits them.  It's unlikely we'll see them again so, as a going away hurrah, they invited us over for a pancake brekkie aboard their boat.   Beau, turned twelve, so he was serenaded with a real "cake": a towering stack of American pancakes topped with grape jelly and M & M's.  Oh, and candles.

I brought some Swedish pancake batter to top off the offerings.  There were no leftovers.

The boat life is a transient one.  We would most likely stick with the other kid boats but Grandma and Dan have to fly back home from Grenada, so we'll hang out here for another couple of weeks.

Between cakes, we discussed the hard top project and Steffen, from Maria Rosa, mentioned that he had a Honda 3kw generator that he'd be happy to drop by our work site later today.  "It hasn't run in 2 years, but if you can get it started, go for it."   What could we say but, "we'll give it a try".   The thought of hand-sanding 130 square feet of hard top just doesn't sound too appetizing.

Laurel from Globi came over to play dominoes with Nina and Nika.  It was lively session with plenty of triumphant "Ah ha's!".

Dan and I did a little more filling and faring on the top then Lisa, Nina, Daniel and Gramma went to Secret Harbor for laundry, downloads and volleyball.  Nina is really stepping out now with more confidence, playing sports with strangers and having fun at it.  Cape kids walked over from Prickly Bay to play as well.

We're pretty much it for kid boats remaining at Hog Island, other than the four year 'round boats whose kids go to school on land.  They really only have time on the weekends but, thankfully, Grandma is here!


Day 1166 ~ Hashing It OutNovember 23rd, 2013

Busy day today.  What If and Pollux left at 8am...again, for a second shot at heading north.  We're down now to just a couple kid boats left, Globi and Moana Roa.

Dan and I worked on the hard top until about 1:30pm when Laurie picked him up for the weekly Saturday Hash (an international non-competitive running social club).  

Kids did their chores and made arrangements with their friends.  Zoe and Nina from Iza came to get Nika and Nana around 11am from some play time at their boat.  Nina took the dinghy to Secret Harbor at Noon to pick up her friends on Cape, whom she first met in St. Maarten about ten months ago.  We met them again in Trinidad and now they are back in Grenada.  They hung out, had lunch and played dominoes on our boat until the day charter boat left the beach, then it was into Sea Pearl and off to play.  Nina has finally met her bossy match.  The boy from Cape hopped aboard, grabbed the tiller and started barking orders.  Nina just went with the flow and, from time to time, tried to get a word in edgewise.  It was fun to watch her head swirl with all the thoughts and feelings Nika and Nana have to live with each and every day.

I took the peace and quiet to catch up on computer work.  Big deadline on December 1, launch or die.

We had Travis from Moana Roa with us since the rest of his family is doing the hash.  Travis, like me, just doesn't get excited about corporate mountain marathons.

We enjoyed some leftovers topped off with generous helpings of banana and apple crumble.  Dan and the hash crowd returned about 8:30pm, reeking of beer.  It turns out the Hash club's goals include, "Developing a serious thirst and satisfying it with beer."  They baptize virgin hashers with beer, dumping it over their head or spraying it from cracked open cans.  Dan never saw it coming and Moana Roa didn't bother to forewarn him.  Oh, and don't go with a new pair of shoes.  If you do, they'll fill one with beer and make you drink from it right then and there.   

Note to self.

All the college frat house traditions aside, Dan loved the hike, which was 5 miles of winding mountain trail with stunning views and sheer drop-offs.


Day 1165 ~ Island Tour with GrandmaNovember 22nd, 2013

A friend of Moana Roa flew in Wed. night and will travel with them to the BVIs for Christmas where she'll switch with another friend who will continue on from there with them to Panama.  They didn't want to rush off from Grenada without showing her the island so invited us and our visitors along for an island tour with our favorite taxi man, Joe.

They opted for the chocolate factory and Seven Sisters waterfall, places we'd already hit when we first arrived, so I stayed behind to catch up with clients.  Nina opted to take the shopping bus to provision for us and then take the opportunity to play with What If and Pollux kids while they were back for a couple days.   She really missed having her sisters in tow.

The tour group managed to hit the chocolate factory just before the cruise ship masses arrived by bus load and taxi.  Afterward, they hiked to the waterfalls.  Gramma tried the trail, but it was just too steep, muddy and slippery for her so she turned back and visited with Joe while the rest continued to the falls and enjoyed a swim in the chilly, fresh waters.

The tour group returned about 5pm where I picked them up.  A huge tin of lasagna soon had the tired hikers tipping back in their chairs, eyelids heavy.


Day 1164 ~ Dan Cracks the WhipNovember 21st, 2013

Island Water World shorted me a sheet of Nyda-Core, so Budget assured me they would deliver a new sheet today at Clarke's Court Bay Marina at 8:30am.   I wasn't going to hold my breath there, so grabbed the computer and headed over to get some work done until the white Budget trucked rolled in, which happened about 9am, surprisingly close to the target.  It only took me two minutes to load the panel into the dinghy and hold it down with dive weights.

By the time I came back, the driver was in the bar.   If they moved that fast delivering goods, they'd have nothing to do most of the time.

Kids did their lessons and Gramma and Lisa went noodling (water aerobics).  

With the final panel in hand, Dan cracked the whip and strongly suggested that we put in a good day on the hard top or else it won't get done before he has to leave.  So, when your help is more motivated than you are, it's tough to say no.   We put down the first strip of fiberglass in about and hour.  It went pretty well, despite the 15 - 18 knot winds which kept trying to lift the fiberglass strips up like a kite.  We came back for a quick lunch, then, at Dan's urging, we went for the whole enchilada and glassed the remaining two-thirds of the underside using 4.5 gallons of epoxy total for one side.   That should be 9 gallons for both sides, closer to estimates than one has a right to hope for.

Kids did the usual mass play while Dean dinghied over to Prickly Bay to pick up two new shrouds from Turbulence.  They were, amazingly, ready on time and on budget.


Day 1163 ~ A Near Miss for KrisNovember 20th, 2013

Lisa and Grandma were off noodling.  What If and Pollux upped anchor and chugged out of the bay about 7am.  If all goes well, we'll catch them a few hundred miles north by mid-December.

The girls were doing math and language.  Dan and I were ramping up our motivation factor to move the hard top frame from the boat to shore.  The radio crackled.

"Day Dreamer, Day Dreamer, What If."

There was a certain tone in Kris's voice that just sounded different.  Like she had been yelling a lot, or really worried.

"Hey guys, how's it going out there on the big water?"

"We are okay, but we lost a shroud."  (A shroud is the thick cable that hold up the mast.  Catamarans have three.  Like three legs that hold up a stool, three shrouds/cables keep the mast, which is just resting on the deck, from falling over and counteract the forces of the wind.  If you lose one, it's like losing a leg from the proverbial stool.)

"Is the mast still up?"

"Yes, amazingly, it's still up.  We have it temporarily secured with a halyard.  Is there a calm place to anchor near you guys?"

About an hour later they motored back in to the harbor.  The girls had the dinghy, so Dan and I took to Sea Pearl and paddled double time to What If to scope out the damage and see if we could help.

Their shroud is a 3/8" 17-strand stainless cable.  Of the 17, 11 had snapped off.  The remaining six had held firm keeping the mast from toppling like a rootless tree.  Kris described the sound like a sharp boom, ("not quite like a piano string breaking, but close") followed by a terrible whacking sound as the 11 strands spiraled downward and flopped around in the lively motion of the waves while slapping the mast with metallic fingers.

Why those 11 broke, and the other six didn't will always be a mystery, but they undoubtly saved What If untold damage of a falling mast, plus the potential cost of serious damage to life and limb.  Sailing, as all come to learn, really is a contact sport.

While Dan and I trailed safety lines, Dean winched Kris up the mast where she removed the shroud at the top.  We looped up and tied it off with zip ties.  Now they get to plumb the depths of the local rigging industry for a replacement.

I have asked around for a covered work area with no luck so have decided to work under the nearby abandoned bridge.  If I could get the project done in a single week, I am sure it would be fine, but if it bleeds over a weekend then a ton of boat traffic will show the project off to hundreds of people.  There may be trouble after that, hard to say, but looking around at all the other projects going on, the boats just pulled up on shore that are under repair, it seems reasonable that no one will care.  There is an element of risk, but sailing has certainly extended my capacity to look risk unblinking in the face.  One might say, "foolishly in the face".  I guess we'll find out.

Kids did lessons, Lisa and Gramma went noodling and then over to the fruit market.  Dan and I took the hard top frame to shore and got it leveled and fastened down, then, with some parts still to be delivered there was nothing to do but return to the laptop world where shrouds never break and bridges are a networking term.

Dan and Lisa went for a water run once the sun got low.  More people aboard means more water.


Day 1162 ~ Getting StartedNovember 19th, 2013

This entire hardtop project may prove to be a futile attempt at improving the boat, but in any case I am not committed. Dan, still recovering from some jet lag, likes it slow in the morning. I had already talked to Roger, a local who runs the beach bar, yesterday and he agreed to loan me some old lumber he has lying around.

I was up early, so headed over to Roger's Bar. After the wood was dunked clean of ants, I stacked them in the dink and headed over the bridge. This is either a really bad ideal or a really good one. I seem to have a penchant for these kinds of ideas and situations. Boats, cabins on the beach and even crazy projects like building a hardtop under an abandoned bridge. Perhaps medications are called for.

With a couple of old ratchet straps, a handful of screws and a screw gun, it only took half an hour to have a decent set of saw horses in place and cross braced. It should work out fine, provided my using space under a bridge doesn't offend the wrong person.

Dean and Kris came over to say good-bye. Well, actually, the best cruiser parting is "until next time" since there is, almost always, a next time. They have even run into people they met while sailing in Mexico 18 years ago.

What If's plan is to leave first thing in the morning with Pollux and start picking their way north. We hope to meet them in Antigua for Christmas, about 300 miles north. They intend to island hop their way, but we'll probably have to rip north as fast as possible to catch up once the hardtop is complete.

Moana Roa hosted a firelight kids book reading. They are starting Lord of the Flies. Doing so on an tropical island with a crackling fire at your feet adds a nice touch.


Day 1161 ~ The Case of the Missing PizzaNovember 18th, 2013

Monday, Monday. I know we are supposed to be laid back out here, absorbing nature's lessons and the like, but the reality is that often life is as hectic as anywhere else.

We did lessons on the morning. Lisa and Gramma tackled their morning water aerobics class. Dan and I bussed to town for more parts and pieces. The dinghy was in high demand as Grandma and Lisa had dental appointments in the early afternoon (dental care being about 1/4th the cost of stateside work).

Kids played in the afternoon and then we all washed up and hiked over the mountain at Secret Harbor to Prickly Bay Marina's two-for-one pizza night. It was the usual bedlam of kids, cruisers and more. Numerous pizzas were ordered, and many came, but ours just never seemed to materialize. Eventually, after nearly 2 hours of waiting and watching everyone else eat, we found out that ours had been delivered to another table a long, long, long time ago. The manager promised replacements immediately but, after another 40 minutes, we discovered that they were again mis-delivered. At that point, we gave up and just left. The kids were happy, having scavenged plenty, but Lisa and I needed a late snack to make it to brekkie tomorrow.


Day 1160 ~ Boys and their ToysNovember 17th, 2013

Being Sunday, Swedish pancakes were on the menu and the local nutmeg syrup tops them off to a tee.

The Harley driving sailor I had met at the beach yesterday loaded his bike aboard this morning. We watched in amazement as he winched it up slowly, then down the aft companionway. Boys and their toys. I guess everyone needs something to love. Shiny chrome has the handy advantage of never talking back, getting its feelings hurt or requiring you to expose your soul. Convenient, comfortable.


Day 1159 ~ Getting Ready for GrandmaNovember 16th, 2013

I started the day tweaking the hardtop frame to be sure all was square and true.  Overall, it came out pretty accurate for a first run.

Against my better judgment, I took the Saturday bus to the city.  During the summer, this would usually have 2-4 people and move along quickly.  Time got away from me so I had to radio ahead for Patrick to wait.  As I rushed up to the bus, I realized my mistake.  It was crammed with bodies, room for only one more, mine.  This was going to be a long, warm morning.

To add icing to the cake, or salt to the wounds, we ended up behind a LIME cellular promotion flatbed truck stacked 10 feet high with huge speakers powered by a sizable generator.  Locals are drawn to loud noises like flies to fish.  So, marketing here inevitably involves large quantities of sound.   No music, just thumping sound.  We were stuck then in traffic, behind this screaming monster for nearly 20 minutes, the "music" so loud you couldn't have a conversation with the guy sitting right next to you, even while yelling at each other.

Nothing to do but sit there and take it like a man.  Eventually, we passed the truck and made our first stop at the Merry Bakers.  This Scottish couple arrived in Grenada about 10 years ago and found there was not a decent croissant to be found.  They put down roots and decided to fix that problem on their own.

We were just re-packing the sardine can when the boom boom truck rounded the corner.  "Hurry up," yelled driver Patrick, but to no avail.  By the time we made the four point turn to get facing the main road, the headache factory rolled past.  Sigh.

Downtown, I found a few fruits, rock figs, star fruit and plantains, then headed for the fish market.   These ladies are something else.  I wish I could capture the smell, the flies and the slimy aprons which create a timeless aura of fish markets which transcends time and distance.  Something tells me the Istanbul fish market, while certainly larger, has many of the same flavors.  Yum.

I purchased about half of a 10 pound tuna and managed to get it bagged up with some ice.  Then it was hurry up and wait for the rest of the gang.  And wait.

While I was cooling my heels in steamy St. Georges, Lisa tidied up the boat for Grandma's imminent arrival.   Seems like a job that's never done.

I finally returned home about 1pm.  All four bags in which I had packed the fish leaked a nice stream of bloody goo into the other, dousing all the other items in the sack.   Took ten minutes just to wash it all down and another 20 to fillet the fish and clean up all the bits and pieces.   I slipped Pippin a few scraps, placed in his bowl, of course.  He chomped them down with obvious relish and returned to the bowl time and again just to check and see if any more tasty treats had mysteriously arrived.


Day 1158 ~ Framed for DustNovember 15th, 2013

Girls started the day with lessons.

What can a guy say, when the motivation strikes, you must answer the call.  It was a nice calm, cool and cloudy morning so I decided there was no better time than now to build a framework for the new bimini hardtop.   Nydacore is really floppy stuff, so it will need to rest on a frame that is roughly the right shape while the epoxy and glass are gooped on.

What If had loaned me their jigsaw; not the ideal tool perhaps, but it did work, and made a fair bit of sawdust in the process.  Lisa was, er, impressed.  In just an hour and a half it all came together pretty nicely.  Turns out there there is more arch to the bow end than the stern end of the frame, which complicated things a bit when I realized we were dealing with a fully three dimensional shape.  Symmetrical side to side, but front and back are quite different.  

Following in her bold footsteps of last week, Nina went on shopping bus solo again, list in hand and money in pouch.  She takes her responsibility very seriously and it is a genuine help, saving Lisa and I a couple of hours.  A local fruit smoothie adds icing on her cake.  She tried golden apple today.

Once the groceries were stowed, the kids went off to play.  I had high bandwidth work to do so zipped off to Secret Harbor while Lisa stayed behind to do some sewing projects and clean.  Later, the girls and Pippin went with Derek to Clarke's Court to watch cricket.  Nina, despite being the only girl who wanted to play, tried her hand at the traditional British game and enjoyed it even scoring four runs.  You go woman!

Near sunset, the whole crew was back on the boat for dinner bubbling over with tails of "romping in the tall grass" with Pippin and scoring cricket wickets.  Nana has adopted a nearly full time Aussie accent.  It's a dead ringer.


Day 1157 ~ Lumber TruckingNovember 14th, 2013

Rain squall came and the noodle bus never showed up to take Lisa to her water aerobics. Guess no one wanted to get wet on the way to the beach. After it passed, I took the dinghy over to Whisper Cove to catch the bus back to town again to complete my hard top orders. Everything is soooo slow here, but after a while you don't really notice. I was more organized this time but still ended up waiting 30 minutes for a bus to town, then caught the wrong one back and had to walk a mile and a half to reach the dinghy.

When I returned, the girls told me that Kris and Lisa had "gone to get your stuff". I zipped back over to Clarke's Court Bay Marina just in time to see Kris putting the final lashings on my lumber order. She had turned her orange dinghy into a pickup truck.

Girls headed out to play so I worked aboard in the blessed quiet.

Pippin watched Lisa head off to a make-up afternoon noodle with Kris. Lisa, the no-dogs-on-furniture law enforcer had only been gone 30 seconds when Pippin slipped quietly over the back of the cockpit bench and curled up in the forbidden corner. His little black eyes popped open in dismay when I leaped up and give him a sharp "No!" while placing him back on the deck. We stared each other down for a minute and then he wisely decided to walk around the proper way and take a snooze on his bed.

Smart little devil.


Day 1156 ~ Bureaucracy BunglesNovember 13th, 2013

Dog walk in the morning, then the usual lessons.  Nina took me to Whisper Cove to catch a bus to town.  Spent a miserable 6 hours chasing rabbit trails, backtracking from bus stops and going through an average of 5 employees per business visit to find the hardtop parts I needed.    

For example, I needed a long radius two inch PVC 90 degree corner.   I know they make them, I and I was fairly sure they had them in Grenada having seen some somewhere.

I skipped the Hubbard's front office entirely and went straight for the back warehouse.   There I found the pipe, and some fittings, but no 2" long radius.   "You must go inside, they have samples of everything there." I was told.   

Incredulous, I headed for the front showroom, where, in fact, they did have a bunch of fittings on display.   But no long radius.   I asked the lady behind the counter.  "This is all we have." she insisted. 

So, back to the sun drenched, glaring concrete of the yard and back to the plumbing section.   A fender bender accompanied by lots of island yelling was the perfect diversion to dodge the "go the front" yard guy and make for the back 40.   I slithered into the cool, shady plumbing building and wormed my way all the way past the first guy to the one sitting at the desk surrounded by stacks of wrinkled yard receipts.

"Do you have a 2" PVC long radius 90 degree fitting?"

"Of course, they are right over there in big box."

The guy I had dodged coming in was clueless.   "Where?"   The manager sprung from this chair and, walking with vigrous strides, scaled a 6 foot homemade ladder and there, in a huge box on the second level, was all the long radius 90's a heart could desire.

But they didn't give them to you there.   No.   First you have to go up front and pay then come back. 

And so went the day.   Persistence paid off again and again against the ingrained island bureaucracy, leftover from an era when every decision, no matter how minor, had to back to the top for approval.  "Well the computer says we have 5 gallons of epoxy, but I can only find 2."    (they were on the very top of a shelf above the deck paint, we eventually found).

Lisa got fruit at Le Phare Bleu.  Birthday gifts made for Michael.  Party for Michael at 2pm.  Water, beach play.  I worked in the peace left behind.


Day 1155 ~ Lovely VistaNovember 12th, 2013

While the girls did lessons, I took the Tuesday shopping bus.   It makes all the stops, which mean it's a long drawn-out process, by the time I returned the girls were off playing with the gang.

Gordon had invited us up to his house for dinner.    He picked us up about 4pm at Whisper Cove marina.   Nikah on Field Trip generously offered to dog sit Pippin, so we have our freedom for a few hours.

Gordon is renting a place that is situated on a steep crest facing east.   Lovely mountain trade winds blow through the house day in a day out, the perfect, natural, air conditioning.   Lovely views of the south of the island and the sea beyond.   A most enjoyable evening.


Day 1154 ~ Rude AwakeningNovember 11th, 2013

While the girls tackled their lesson work, I puttered over to Clarke's Court for the Monday morning fruit run that Jenny makes.  In addition to baskets overflowing with her own organic produce, she makes fresh squeezed juices from guavas, starfruit and golden apple.  A 750ml wine bottle full of fresh squeezed organic juice will set you back a whopping $5 EC ($1.80).  This same thing in, say, a Whole Foods in Bellevue that would tip the scales at $9 and sell out each day.  It's really that good. 

I had worked most of Saturday and put in several more hours this morning to get my new design samples off to the client by 8am Alaska time this morning.  When I had heard nothing back by 5pm this evening (noon, Alaska time), I started to get that sneaking feeling that something was terrible wrong.  Had I been fired and was the only one who didn't yet know?   

Then Lisa looked at the calendar, "Hey, it's Veteran's Day".  No way.   A quick google check and, sure enough, it's a holiday today.  Kind of lose track of those things on a boat.  So all that effort was a bit of a wash.

Lisa and I zipped over to Secret Harbor for gas and to meet up with Pippin's foster vet student.  She checked Pippin's leg (he's been limping) and gave us some dog treats and shampoo.  Field Trip is back from their trip to the states, so we ended up hanging out there and catching up a bit.


Day 1153 ~ Growing up in GrenadaNovember 10th, 2013

Pippin is progressing quite well and seems to learn rather quickly.  We've been training him to relieve himself on the trampoline and, so far, he's managed to take a couple trips up, unprompted, to do the business.  Pollux left today for a week long family reunion back in the states.  

Moana Roa offered to watch Charlie, their cockapoo.  In preparation, their kids have been trying to spend more time with the dog all week.  One task is dog walking so our girls coordinated Pippin's walk to coincide with Charlie's morning stroll.  Before I knew it, there were a mass of kids (8) following 2 furry streaks all around the trails of Hog Island.  I mean the kids, and the dogs.  We ended up walking all the way across the island to the far beach as both hound and human were having a blast.

Zoe and Nina from Iza came over to play in the afternoon and adore the dog who remains center of the girlie universe.   I guess they just need something to love.

I picked up Gordon and Val at Clark's Court at 4pm.  We met Gordon three years ago while staying La Sagesse during the initial boat yard time.  Gordon grew up in Grenada on a plantation his owned by his grandmother.  "When I wanted a new pair of shoes, I would walk around the plantation picking up nutmeg and then walk to the local processor who would pay cash for it.  I'd give half to grandma, and keep the other half.  When I was a kid, money really did grow on trees."


Day 1152 ~ First Doggie DayNovember 9th, 2013

Chores, lunch, William's (sv Maria Rosa) birthday party.  With breeze and eventual quiet, I stayed home and did computer work on the boat.

The kids returned and Pippin, to our surprise, stayed near his kennel while we ate in the cockpit, never once begging for a scrap or even showing interest in people food.  To add icing to the cake, he went #1 and #2 out on the tramp, where Kris from What If (who has had three dogs on boats) believes is the best place to get the business done and will train him for the transition for going outdoors when he lives in a house.  First day and only one accident. I guess it could be much worse, but then, when the little guy tips the scales in at about 5 pounds, how much mess can he really make?

Perhaps that's not a question you want to say out loud.

Lisa headed in to shore and ended up visiting and showing Pippin to the Pollux family. Kids were invited to Pollux later to watch an Aussie movie; the adults got to catch up with each other and swap sailing stories (is there anything else to talk about?).  Fifteen kids came, pretty much the sum total still around Hog Island.   It was a room packed with sunburns, no-see-um bitten ankles, bleached hair and smiles.


Day 1151 ~ Growth StepsNovember 8th, 2013

Started the day with math lessons while Lisa did her aqua aerobics 'noodling' class with Drill Sergeant Pat (former Marine boot camp trainer).  "Double time now!"  She came back like a whipped puppy.

Speaking of puppy, ahem.  Well, I finally buckled.  After 10 years of hearing about how wonderful dogs are and how every family should have a man's best friend, etc, I actually started to entertain the possibility.  The thing is, in the abstract, having a dog does not sound good.  In the specific, though, when little Pippin is staring up at you, it's another matter.  He's small, doesn't bark and comes with all his shots and paperwork from the animal shelter that rescued him after he was hit by a car (or something).  I finally agreed to let Nana foster him for a two weeks.  I do have ulterior motives.  Nana's a little flaky, and having something on which to focus on and for which to be responsible should help pull her in the right direction.

Speaking of growth, Nina offered to do a shopping trip to town on her own.  I was a little surprised, but realized for her as well things are changing.  The big scary world is more manageable, the transportation is all arranged so this was an ideal time to allow her to make a real contribution to the family and stretch her own wings at the same time.  We walked through the shopping list in great detail, she wrote it all down and I sent her off with 450 EC (about $200).  Kris from What If was on the same shopping bus, picked Nina up on her way past.  If this was the Old West it would have been an 18 year old boy on a horse and goodbye forever.  Scary thought.

So, while Nina strode out into the big bad world of sleepy Grenada, Nana and Lisa dinghied over to Secret Harbor to pick up Pippin from the veterinary student who was fostering him.  I have given Nana a two-week trial period to see how Nina's and my potential allergies shake out.   I have warned Nana that giving him back will be a heartbreaker, but I don't think she really knows what I mean, seeing only the potential for 14 days of doggy bliss. 

Nika and I waited behind.  And waited.  Nika was climbing the walls with excitement.  She hasn't agitated nearly as much for a dog, but her room is plastered with mini-posters of golden retrievers.  I think she is on-board with the general idea.

At last, they returned, and Pippin was the center of the universe for a few hours.  I had to convince Nana to have some lunch.  "You still have to eat, Girl!"

Nana was deeply torn about whether or not to play with her friends and 'abandon' Pippin for the afternoon.  She was eventually convinced to go play for while and give Pippin a break.  He promptly stretched out for a long nap.   Northern dogs curl up when they sleep, Caribbean dogs stretch out, waaaay out.

Our former potential buyers had elected not to share the survey with us, so we are still flying blind as to why they bailed out on the deal. We have impressions, of course, but no facts. Surveyor Bob was careful to respect the confidentiality of his clients but agreed to meet me for drink at Whisper Cove Marina this afternoon and share some advice on how to get our boat sold.

Good news, and a relief to learn that there is nothing fatally wrong, "Just the usual stuff for a 22 year old boat." That'll have a guy sleeping better at night.


Day 1150 ~ Another Grinder in ParadiseNovember 7th, 2013

Usual morning lessons and noodling class for Lisa.  Everything hits the fan at once, it seems; clients from whom I haven't heard in months are all asking for things at the same moment.  Sun spots?  So, I ended up dancing with the machines from 7am onward.  I guess it's time to pay the piper for all those months this winter hanging out off of remote volcanic islands and thinking only of boat chores.

Kids played 'til about 4pm when they came back early to get ready for pizza night at Prickly Bay Marina.  Nina had organized nearly 30 of her friends and their parents.  We all dinghied over to Secret Harbor and then walked over the hill to Prickly Bay Marina, about a 10 minute walk when you know the back trails.

Plenty of boat talk and crispy thin pizzas that are pretty close to the real thing, I must say.  It rained a bit on our way back, but cleared off by the time we puttered home under a glittering curtain of stardust.

You can live on land for a year and have two or three of those moments of transcendent peace and beauty.  Out here, in the real world, they sneak up on you several times a week and remind you about what really matters, and what really doesn't.


Day 1149 ~ Birthday 9.0November 6th, 2013

I began with client crises at around 6am; when it rains it pours.  For every day I make more than $100, our trip gets longer.  Intermittent rain showers throughout the day, but not enough to really fill the tanks.  We captured a few gallons, maybe.

After lessons, kids lunched and then went to the beach for Emily's (Emily Grace) birthday party.  Yes, another birthday party on Hog Island.  I mean, you would think every single kids has to have a birthday, but wait....

It works well though, having the kids gone all afternoon.  I managed to get the computer set up in a more productive spot, with a backrest, imagine that, so work popped right along.


Day 1148 ~ Lift-OffNovember 5th, 2013

Lessons as usual.  Lisa went on the shopping bus while I put out client fires that have been increasing over the weekend.  She returned with a huge bag of fresh local fruits, piles of guava, passion fruit, grapefruit and more.   When we do finally move back to the "real world", that's one thing I am going to sorely miss.  The produce in your average box store is, well...

Many Alaskans are pilots, about one in 57 (national average is about 1 in 400).  So, inevitably, I knew a few and, having always harbored secret flight fantasies, I could pretty much go up anytime I got that little tickle inside.  If I paid for gas, there was always a willing pilot looking for more air time.

There was one crisp fall afternoon when a friend and I were buzzing alongside the mountain range which marches along Anchorage's western fringe.  From our vantage point, you could see an amazing number of McMansions nestled in the folds of the foothills.  At the time, the nestings set against fall color in front of snow capped peaks were something to see.  Fools' gold, I now know.

As we neared Turnagain Arm, the ocean finger which draws Anchorage's southern border, we heard a call on the radio.  A Korean Air, seven-four-seven was asking for permission to take off.  It was duly granted and a small speck glinted as it rose over Kincaid Park and banked westward.  We, too, were climbing up to gain some altitude over the water, just in case.  The tower called us to be sure we had a visual on the streaking metal monster still well below us and far to the right.

And monster she was.  As her gear folded up and the flaps relaxed she seemed to leap forward.  Over the deafening buzz of our little prop-driven craft, a rumble could be felt in the bones.  The Boeing leveled off and, now clear of the noise abatement zone, kicked things in to high gear.   She crossed our vector about a thousand feet above us, heading straight for the mountain tops but on a trajectory to clear them by a wide margin.

We buzzed along, like a lawn mower in a ball field while this beautiful bird, freed now of her gangly legs and Earth-bound attachments took flight towards a deep blue horizon.  We were spellbound. "Wow, that's an airplane!" I finally sputtered into the mic, "Did you see that climb?"

"I know pilots say their job is boring," my amateur pilot friend replied, "but that has got to be fun".

When I walk into the produce section of any local box-mart I feel that same small lawn mower feeling.  The stuff on the shelves did grow somewhere, but where?  And how very long ago?  Lisa's bag of freshies, free of 4 digit coded stickers and replete with skin blemishes was fruit the way it was supposed be.   There's really not any comparison.

Kids went to play in the afternoon with their friends and I stared at a screen the rest of the afternoon.  Joy.


Day 1147 ~ Farm Girl Lost in SpaceNovember 4th, 2013

Lessons, lunch, I went off to work at Secret Harbor.  It really is a best kept secret.  It's virtually empty all day, quiet, no music playing in the background, with a soft hum of trade winds sliding through the decoratively painted rafters.  No wait staff comes to 'suggest' you buy something.  You just plug in and the wifi is open and reasonably fast.

Having surfed their free wifi wave for a few days now, I decided to leave lunch undone and order something.  I wanted roti, but found it was only available on Thursdays so settled for basic burger.  They did a fair job of it and work carried on well.

Kids went off to play, but Nana stayed behind since she took 3 hours to do 5 math problems.  Our poor middle child was born out of her place and time.  She disdains shoes, strongly prefers to eat with her hands, lick her plate clean and just can't see why numbers matter at all when there is clay to mold and visions to be painted.   She does have some artistic talent, so her convictions aren't without some merit, but I feel compelled to force civilized standards on her a little longer while assuring her that, no, she doesn't have to take math in college and, no, she doesn't even have to go to college if she really just wants to love animals and walk around barefoot.  As long as she can pay the bills she's free to do what she wants, after she moves out.  But it's that second to last clause, the 'pay the bills' part, that I am thinking she really doesn't quite grasp yet.   So, meaningless math continues.

Nana finally finished the rest of the two-page load at 3pm.  Lisa called around and rounded up some of the old (and new) Hog Island crew for Mexican Train dominoes until sunset.


Day 1146 ~ Jumble 2.0November 3rd, 2013

After an early Swedish pancake start to the day, we all packed up some more boat junk and headed off the Secret Harbor Jumble sale, sort of like a boater's flea market.  Last month's had an impressive array of goods, old and new.  This time around, however, things were a little sparse.  But we caught up with some boat friends and enjoyed a bit of socializing.

The girls teamed up with the yacht Iza, Nika and the their youngest Nina playing aboard while Nana and the oldest accompanied Lisa to a local dog show.   For some reason, I just didn't feel compelled to go and see "all those cute little dogs!" 


Day 1145 ~ Garden FreshNovember 2nd, 2013

It's Saturday so the girls enjoyed a day off from lessons.  

Lisa, Kris and Tom (Emily Grace) took the local bus into downtown St. Georges to do some curriculum shopping.   Lisa returned with a large bag stuffed with fresh local fruits: star fruit, guava, rock figs (mini-bananas), passion fruit and grapefruit.  The boat smells like a flora garden.

I caught up with emails after the girls went off to play and then tackled some blog updates and client questions.   Sitting at a computer with sweat running down face is so enthralling, I can tell you.


Day 1144 ~ Old FriendsNovember 1st, 2013

Started the day with the usual math complaints and victories.  Progress is made, if ever so slowly.

Nina, enticed by the smoothie payoff, joined me on the shopping bus with Trevor.  It's old hat now.  We know where every little things is, like shopping at home.  "Get the tortillas, next aisle, halfway down, left side...."

Fruits are between seasons here.   The citrus, oranges and grapefruit are just coming in, while many others are now out of season, mangos and guava are hard to find.  Bananas?  There's always bananas.  Even though they taste like they are dipped in honey and sprinkled with brown sugar, after a while they lose their appeal.  

I was studiously working the cubicle when I heard "Day Dreamer, Day Dreamer" on the VHF.   It was M/V 'Emily Grace', a family from New Jersey whom we first met in January 2009 while cruising in the Bahamas.  They had just started with the modest goal of cruising the Caribbean for five years.   As it turns out, they have now circumnavigated the globe and are nearly back where they started only to have crossed paths with us again, of all people.   It really is a small world, at least from the boating community point of view.  The world itself, now that's a whole degree of large that somehow never sinks in until you want to start crossing parts of it at traditional speeds.