Just to show I am still alive…

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That is me – deep in thought – what shall I do now….

I did work on the boat some.  Got the sander out, rigged a safety harness so I didn’t drop it in the ocean… like some other things that I won’t mention, and got out on the dingy

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and sanded the rub rails (hard to describe but they are on the side of the hull, an extrusion of fiberglass with wood on top, that protects the hull from pilings, dolphins (groups of pilings) and/or other boats.

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Here’s picture of new visitor.  But, he’s been here several times before.  About my age, I guess, alone, and wandering the virgin isles.  Presumably, like me, he doesn’t go south along the leewards and windwards.  And, like me, he’s a bit of a recluse.  I’ve dingyed by his boat before, but couldn’t even get him to pop his head up.

 

P.S.  If you don’t leave a comment I don’t know you read the post.  So far, apparently only one has read this post.  Although I appreciate that faithful reader, I feel I should wait then for more readers before further posts . . .

New Post coming . . . soon?

Well, really there isn’t much new down here. I’ve yet to do a few things I want to; explore a good coral reef – that is one with lots of fish (needs to be near ocean shelf which means the ‘weather’ side of an island). Hopefully in a few weeks. I bought a new underwater video camera and am planning a short trip to the island of Vieques to pick up a plastic kayak that I can load on this diver friend’s car in order to get out to the Atlantic side of the island and out to reefs.

I haven’t discovered any new living ‘experiences’, or let’s call them my ‘awkward’ moments – haven’t tumbled into the ocean or through out an untethered anchor or dropped a laptop.  Nothing you would enjoy reading about.  Had a big male manatee with a cow grazing the kelp bottom nearby.  He was huge.  But, he didn’t come close enough for pictures.  He was so big I’m now hesitant to get in the water and scrape the hull, that so desperately needs it.  I should pull anchor and move over to Dakity anchorage where the water is so clear, over a sandy bottom. So there’s unlikely to be any manatees or big fish – barracuda, tarpon, etc

I doubt I will go further than these ‘virgin islands’.  They consist of the Spanish VI; Culebra and Vieques, the USVI; St Thomas and St John (St Croix is too far south), and the British VI; Tortola, Virgin Gorda, Anegada, and Jost Van Dyke, along with over fifty other smaller islands and cays.  The BVI’s have a reputation for excessive cruising fees and immigration costs.  Plus, like most of the West Indies; it’s very crowded. But, I might cruise up there. It’s just a ways beyond StT and StJ. I could see them when I cruised there a couple months ago. 

The next group, starting with St Marin, are south of a passage about as big as Mona – you remember the infamous Mona and how she tried to turn me into a landlubber for life.  Besides the passage there are many reports of thefts and problems with locals and local governments. This has discouraged me cruising further south.

My next adventure, if you’d want to call it that, is the 2014 hurricane season.  It is upon me.  Boats are thinning out as cruisers either put their boats up in dry dock (the wealthy ones), lay over at a hurricane hole (big mangrove area like near Salinas) or sail south below the hurricane zone.

But, I’m going to stay here. I really don’t want to go back to Salinas – so many bugs and boats.  And, I do like Culebra. So here I’ll stay until there is warning of an actual hurricane and I have time to sail over to the hurricane hole near Salinas.

So should a hurricane, over 70 mph winds, or a Tropical Storm, with winds 50-70 mph, come my way, and I survive, I should have quite a story to tell.

Logs, pictures, whatever….

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Handsome John Alden Schooner

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Isletta Marina – Isletta means tiny island
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Isletta Ferry – same size
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Fishing boats east coast of PR

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Self portrait

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Nothing really new. Rented a car and went to Costco, near San Juan. Rick and Sue went along. Spent more than I should. You’d think living on a boat in the Caribbean where 90%of the time I’m only wearing shorts and I eat whatever I can find it would be cheap living. The boat demands a lot. Nothing major but stuff to make it less spartan. I’m past spartan living. I’m old. Give me comfort. Well, a little bit anyway. Recent purchases include cushions for the cockpit and a wind scoop for the forward hatch. Foam for cushions is ridiculously expensive since it only takes a little oil to make and the process is relatively simple.

Met another cruiser with a boat nearby name Paul Knapp. Very interesting fellow. See his website http://listeningtowhales.com/www.Listeningtowhales.com/Welcome.html.

April 16th – 20th Wednesday to Sunday

Oops! Here we go again. Forgot to keep up. Not much going on though, so easy to forget. Winds been blowing last several days, 15 – 25, gusts to 35. I’m pretty protected here, but still I get concerned for the anchor dragging or problems with the ground tackle (anchor, chain rode, shackles and deck lines).

Puerto Ricans tend to take long holidays, so boaters have been coming and going a lot all week. Some unusual ones along with the locals (see Other Photos).

One oddity had been going on since I’ve been in this anchorage. At the end of this bay are mangroves. Mangroves are trees growing in shallow sea water. They come out about 300 feet from shore. There are channels through the mangroves. That makes them popular for pulling into and tying down your boat to the mangrove roots during a bad storm. So I wasn’t overly surprised at sailors in their dingies inspecting the channels for possible use during a storm. But, the number and variety of boats going in those channels is excessive – 2 or 3 a day, sometimes more. There aren’t that many boats coming into Culebra. So what are they doing in there. I’ve been in. There’s nothing to see. The channels are about 20 to 30 ft wide and 3 to 5 feet deep. There is one thing strange. It’s a road side viewing platform that looks out onto one of the channels. Why? Like I said, there’s nothing to see. I keep imagining these boaters are going into this viewing platform and meeting people in cars. It’s very hidden. But there’s a public dock and launch at the other end of the bay. Something nefarious going on I’m thinking. To many boats to be just inspecting the ‘hurricane hole’.

April 15th Tuesday

Interesting. At the same time as yesterday a big rainstorm came in. The Canon PS 510 HS is great. In really liking it. Best camera in years and under $300.

April 14th Monday

The Memorial was at 7pm. About that time a huge rainstorm came in, not just a squall. It poured about an inch an hour with wind gusts and heavy mist while I was taking the dingy across the bay to a dock near the Kingdom Hall, about 3/4 mile. I had a rain jacket and an umbrella, but I got soaked. Before I got across the bay there was a couple inches of water in the dingy (it tips back). Going over the waves and swells in the dark, rain and mist was a bit awkward

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More Notes . . .

Just a few notes.  I will bring my daily logs up to date, if my memory is working…, but here’s some notes I made over the last week or so;

There are no seasons here.  There are a few months of weather about 5 degrees warmer.  There’s a few weeks of strong steady winds.  Those two are quite a bit of time apart.  So there’s the hot season and the windy season. If it weren’t for calendars and computers that’s all I’d know.  And there can be bad storms in the hot season, so I’m told.  There’s rainy periods but I’d have to live here a few more years to realize when they might come.  They don’t last too long so I don’t remember when they were

 

Clothes are getting to be an issue. For one thing the carribean sun is rotting them. 

I’ve gone through two pairs of sneakers.  For a long time I had to try to get the big toe on my right foot from poking up through the canvas.  It wore the hole because it just sticks up when I walk.  I think it’s a self-defense mechanism from being stubbed so many times.  But I finally got across in the ferry, found the publico (bus) (took two trips) and got another pair at Walmart.

 I only have two pair of sport-type long pants.  Oh, I’m wearing long pants when i go to town because I’m noticing some spots.  Anyway, I can’t wear slacks. I do still have done pride left.  Why did I bring slacks?  Did I imagine hanging out at some swanky resort?  Probably.

So, when I was hitching up my baggy no-longer-fit pants my finger went right through the fabric and made a big hole.  

Now I suppose I could sew it up.  I’ve done it before.  Some years ago.  But just threading the needle is a chore.  Then there’s the blood stain from poking my finger.  Or I have to get up and go soak the clothes in cold water – See? I have learned a few things in my 60 plus years.  But, sewing ranks right up there with raking leaves as one of my least favorite things to do.

So, instead I either wear my shirt out, to cover the hole, or pull the belt for my hip bag, or whatever they’re called, to cover the hole.  I think it’s best I can’t see the hole – it’s on the side – because my under wear is probably hanging out in plain view.  But, my pants aren’t on backwards anymore.

Another problem is washing.  Today I bought some spot remover.  On the way back from town chariot-riding my dingy I came across Rick and Sue on their way in to do laundry – they’ve been down in Vieques the past week.  

I proudly mentioned to Sue I bought some spot remover so I could at least wash the collar of my shirts.  She looked at me with an expression that sort of made me feel like a savage from the wilderness talking to the church lady.  After a moments thought I realized I should probably be washing the whole shirt.  I compromised and washed the collar and the under arms.  Well, the sink in the head is really small.  And I have to make trips to town to get water and hook up the pump and it’s so exhausting some times.  But, I resigned myself to washing in the galley sink next time.  it’s almost as big as household sinks.  Yes, I could go into town to do laundry, but did you read what I said about the water trips?  And there’s only one washing machine at the gas station in town and my under wear, t-shirts, shorts and sheets use it up. 

These are some of the other parts of living on a boat I hadn’t mentioned.  And there’s more.

Living on a Boat

“There is nothing – absolutely nothing – half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.” ― Kenneth Grahame, The Wind and the Willows

Living on a boat is not like living in a very small house.  Not like in an RV or trailer.  Unlike being in a house, there are constant reminders of the natural world around you.  I’ve mentioned the boats, the birds, manatees, turtles and always the fish, but there is still more.

For one the boat is constantly in motion.  Even at anchor the boat moves.  It sways back and forth as the wind pushes from one side of the bow to the other.  It is a very pleasant slow movement.  But, one that is not beyond notice.  I often anticipate it.  I may be looking at some object, but need more light.  instead of moving into the sun I just look out the cabin windows and see which way the boat is moving and judge how long before it’s movement will bring the sun in to where I am.  I’m not in a hurry.  I can wait.  And, the boat gently glides over and fills my lap with sunshine.  This constant movement gives me such a feeling of being alive – being aware of where I am and what is happening around me.  

Another aspect to this life is the weather.  Particularly here in the West Indies.  The weather in the tropics is constantly changing – that is from clear to cloudy to rain to sun and always the wind.  But, the wind is seldom at a constant speed.  It blows and subsides and blows again.  Sometimes harder sometimes softer.  (I won’t mention the occasional storms in this narrative…)  Usually the wind is warm, except in winter when it sometimes feels cool, but never is it cold.  But, I hear it.  I feel it.  It gently blows through the open ports along the bow then goes through the boat and out the aft hatch to the cockpit.  It is around me all the time and gives me that constant reminder of where I am and the sea life that I am living.

Rain squalls took some time to become accustomed to.  But, now I mostly enjoy them.  Mainly because I know they will be so short.  Often only a few minutes at most.  And, like the wind, the rain is never cold.  You can see the rain squalls coming over the horizon.  Usually it’s just a single dark cloud, maybe a few clouds together moving always westerly.  During rainy weather there may be a dozen or more a day.

Winds can be strong.  At times even threatening.  Picking a good anchorage makes a lot of difference in my comfort level.  When I was anchored out by the southern end of Culebra, at a place called Ensenada Dakity, I was exposed to the sea and winds.  The swells were reduced greatly by the reef about 100 yards off shore, but nothing broke the wind.  During rough weather it was so strong at times, eventhough I had complete confidence in my ground tackle, I still felt threatened by the wind.  Not really afraid.  I knew logically there was nothing to fear.  But, it can be so loud and when the boat jerks under its power it feels quite violent.  

When I moved far to the inside of a small bay nestled up to the mangroves and under some low hills to the east the winds mostly blew overhead and it was so much more peaceful.  The same threatening winds now became even enjoyable. 

So, if I ever get too complacent here I will head out once again to Dakity, or a place like it, and let the full force of the Caribbean weather wake me up and get my blood flowing again.  In the mean time I’ll suffice with these gentle reminders of the sea and the wind and the sun in this West Indies home alone on a boat.