Sunday, December 29, 2013

Grand Send Off from Plunkett Cooney Friends

What a wonderful retirement party! Many people played
a part in preparing this fun event for Dennis.
On a beautiful fall night in September, good friends and colleagues from Plunkett Cooney law firm, where Dennis has spent the past 43 years, gathered for a wonderful send off! Mary Catherine and Steve staged a beautiful party in their backyard. Everything was delightful: decorations, food, drink, gifts and most of all friends wishing him well. I think he was a little overwhelmed by the generosity and kindness expressed that evening. One of the most clever gifts was money. Not just money as we know it, but rather money in the currencies of many of the Pacific Islands we will be visiting! I am sure this took some doing to gather the various currencies. Very clever!

Mary Catherine pulled out all of the stops on this one!
A number of other partners and their families played a role in staging this party. One of them was the Conger family who created some music CDs with a great collection from all eras. It played all evening and we were given the CDs. They will be great in our new entertainment system on the boat. His daughter planned the decorations and her boyfriend painted a wonderful picture of S/V Trillium which is at the cottage (actually I should say: our home - boy that sounds strange!) It was too large for the boat but fits beautifully with the color scheme up there.

And with the help of her hubby Steve and other
Plunkett Cooney friends. It was a beautiful evening.

We received a set of towels embroidered with Trillium on them. They are the best! Absorbent and quick drying. I think I need to commission Elaine to make a few more! Even though they are a type of microfiber, they act like chamois cloth. I love them. Dennis also received several good books and if he gets into the series, we can download them onto his Kindle. Neither of us have made time to read at home, so we are hoping to do more on the long passages and at peaceful anchorages! We also brought along the wines and champagne and other gifts so we can toast our friends as we enjoy them.

Loretta showed up with the map and "Where in the
World is Dennis" looking like Waldo! What fun!!!
It was really funny when Loretta showed up with a huge map of the world so the Plunketteers can follow us around the world. What was funny was the character at the top of the map. They had placed Dennis' face (from an early PC photo) into a Where's Waldo body! What a way to be remembered, Dear!

Loretta joined us in the Caribbean for a week of sailing. It was fun having someone from home come along. We invited others to join us somewhere in the world. No other takers yet - only a couple of our kids: Heather and Addison joined us in the Caribbean and Nick will sail with us from Las Perlas, Panama to the Galapagos where is girlfriend, Daphne, will join us.

The World ARC Itinerary was a popular discussion.
Dennis gave a brief description of our planned journey and thanked his colleagues for their friendship and years of working together with like minded firm goals. I am glad he has the sailing thing to do or he would have continued practicing law until ... he got it right? Just kidding. He is a good and honest lawyer.

He recently started smiling and one of the crew asked him why. He replied: "I am not going back! I don't have to go back this time." I think the time is right for him!

I love this painting of S/V Trillium! What a talented
young man who painted it for us is. Sorry we
never got to meet him and thank him in person

The perfect message as we leave
Plunkett Cooney after 43 years and
follow our dream.

Monday, December 23, 2013

From BVI to St. Martin / Sint Maarten

It has been so rainy with high winds all the time.
Dennis recently read about some mariner's warning not to set off on a Friday. Then we promptly left the dock - on Friday! Dumb!
I think the warning was worth heeding. As its prediction came true: problems!

We had a real rough ride as we motored all the way to St. Maarten (the Dutch side). This seems to be the only way to get here as there is either high winds on the nose or no wind. I was praying for the later, but got the high winds. The seas started out at 3-5 feet and climbed to 6-9 at times.

To make matters worse, I got sea sick. It always happens to me on this leg. I am not sure if it is because it is a wild ride and when night falls, I lose it. Or if I lose it because it is on my mind. Either way I hate it! It makes it hard on Dennis because I don't take full watches. I need to lie down and keep my eyes closed.

Leaving the BVI for Sint Maarten
It is also hard on me when he is resting on the low side and I have to hang over the high side. Not fun. Not only does the wind get me, but also the salty waves in face. I totally forgot to pre-medicate for this trip. We were so busy trying to provision and get out of Nanny Cay that it never crossed my mind - until it was too late.

It was an 18 hour trip at 4-6 knots of slogging along. Simpson Bay looked so inviting when I could finally see it ahead. However, the wind was still blowing in the upper 20s so it was really rocky at anchor. As Dennis prepared to go to Customs and Immigration, the dinghy motor died and left him drifting in the bay without oars. The reason for stopping here was to buy oars! Ours disappeared sometime over the summer and we didn't realize it until we got to the islands. Fortunately, I remembered the name of a large motor yacht anchored next to us, so I called them on the VHF to rescue my Captain!

I did not want to hit one of these big girls!
Can't afford their repair bills nor ours!
With that, it was time to go in through the draw bridge and get a slip at Simpson Bay Marina. That was another challenge: they wanted me to back the boat in though several turns in the fairway. NOT! Not only am I not that great at backing up, by the boat was hard to control in the high winds. I was moving among huge multi-million dollar boats and did not want to crash. I admitted aloud that I was scared!

We also had a hard time understanding exactly where they wanted us to go. Sometimes the accents get in the way. Especially when everyone smiles and nods as if there is shared understanding when it is clear the me, there is not.

This is a lovely IGY Marina. We have a reservation in the IGY Marina in Guadeloupe and the World ARC starts from Rodney Bay Marina which is also an IGY Marina. The services are top notch. It is a good place to be somewhat out of the wind while we continue to fix the motor and repair the sail which suffered a rip on the way down. It never ends! But we are still having fun and haven't strangled each other yet (as Addison predicted)! But we will be in Guadeloupe by 12-28 so don't worry Loretta. We will be there.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Still in the Virgin Islands!

Well, the best laid plans of mice and men ...
Thankfully I hoisted him up and down safely!

Our plan to vacation sail and have a leisurely trip to St. Lucia has not gone well. We have spent a lot of time completing our checklist on the boat. Some of our new electronics and power equipment needed a sea trial, which was the Caribbean 1500 Rally. At least we learned what still needed attention and have had time to deal with it.

There are always projects!
We are only allowed to be in the British Virgin Islands for 30 days at a time so we left and went to St. Thomas for a week. We managed to pick up our sail and other items we needed as well as relax a little. It seems that when we are at the dock all we do is work on the boat. It is a little harder when we are hanging on the hook in a harbor like Charlotte Amalia.

Interesting Christmas decorations.
It was a good time to do some reading and explore the island. We needed our third Hepatitis A/B shot so we found a clinic in Red Hook. Getting there was an interesting trip. On St. Thomas they have a nice Safari service. The open air vehicles will pick up and drop off anywhere along the route. Each ride is $2 and you go as far as you need. Some nice native men told us that it is only $1 for seniors. Humm. The driver didn't share that!

It was strange seeing Christmas decorations in a land of sun and sand. I can't get my head around the holiday season without the context of snow! When I heard Christmas carols in K-Mart, it took a minute to register!

We were anchored near the path of the Christmas Parade of Boats so we had a great view. This was the first holiday festival we have had this year.

We spent a night in Caneel Bay on St. John as we came back to the BVIs. It seems that no matter where we plan to sail, the wind is directly on our nose! After checking in at Soper's Hole, we stayed on a mooring ball for a night.

Back at Nanny Cay, it was the task of finishing up a couple of issues. One of which is the new antenna for the satellite phone seems to be defective. So much for new stuff! Now one will be sent to us and we will have to figure out how to install it. Actually, there has been a lot of hands on learning that will be helpful as we visit more remote places.
I love the evening sky.

The wind has been absolutely wild! It has been in the 18-30 knot range with gusts into the high 30s. Trillium loves to sail in 17-22 range, especially if the angle is good. Now our challenge is waiting for the Christmas winds to settle a little so we can head south.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

A Fun Thanksgiving Week with the Girls

Both girls adapted well to the motion of the boat
Heather and Addison came to Tortola to have Thanksgiving on the boat. I know they did not know what to expect. And, frankly, I wasn't sure how they would react to this new lifestyle. It turns out that I wasn't far off.

Heather thinks I am out of my mind and cannot understand our choice to live on the boat for a few years. She tolerated the experience, but really did not enjoy it. There were too many things that drove her nuts, like hitting her head on many things, the close quarters, some of the smells (one of which was a problematic head), the tiny galley, etc. She admitted that she is a Ritz girl and she was not speaking of crackers! I give her credit for being a good sport so Addison could have a fun experience.

We built many sand castles this week.
Addison was a little more enthusiastic, but then she loved swimming and playing on the beach.
 She and Grand D were quite a pair in the pool. She thinks he is the best swimming instructor in the world! He had her putting her face in the water, floating, swimming across the pool and even the length of the pool without swimmies. I had her jumping into the deep end and even doing a racing dive, which was more like a belly smacker, but she was very pleased with herself. She advanced her swimming skills greatly this week. 
First night in the top bunk.

They both declared that we are going to strangled each other before we are done with the trip around the world! I don't think so.
We watched movies before bed each night. The girls played musical beds like Goldilocks until they found one they liked - sort of!. They started out with Addison in the top bunk in the crew cabin with her mom below. She had been asking to sleep on the top bunk for sometime.Heather hated the closed in feeling of the lower bunk. The next few nights they moved to the settee in the saloon -both of them sleeping at right angles to each other. Finally they ended up in the V-berth. I even offered our king size berth to them but they declined. 

Our youngest skipper sailing with Flat Stanley!
When it came to dealing with the boat, Addison was a natural. She quickly grasped the "one hand for the boat, one hand for you" rule and became an instant pro at getting on and off and moving around. Heeling overdid not seem to bother her either. She took a few turns at the wheel, was great at getting in and out of the dinghy (which I still haven't mastered with grace), and going up and down the companionway. She understood the reason we go down backwards. Actually, I had her practice that on our attic stairs at home before we moved.

She fell in love with this little island doll.
We sailed from Nanny Cay, Tortola to Great Harbour, Jost Van Dyke and anchored out for two nights. A day on the beach with lunch at Foxy's was the highlight. Unfortunately, we had too many daily  and overnight showers this week. When it rained, it poured! On our sail back to Nanny Cay, we experienced a downpour with winds in the 30-37 knot range on the nose. I sent the girls below. Not pleasant, but like most squalls here, it was heavy but quick. Heather got tired of the nightly "Chinese fire drills" to close the portholes. It seems that her bed always got wet. She much preferred being in the marina with the air conditioning running and the hatches and portholes closed.

The beach swing under the almond tree was a hit.
We declared Addison a real sailor when she took a buff shower on the aft deck in daylight! I haven't been that brave yet - or maybe I am just choosing not to shock other sailors! We loved watching her write about her experiences for homework each day. On the page asking about the best thing about her vacation, she said "seeing her grandparents." That's enough to make your heart melt! I am so glad she was able to spend time with us here so she can have a visual of what we are doing. The hard part was saying goodbye again. She wanted to stay with us or have us come home with her. Not seeing the little ones for a year will be tough on all of us.

And so was the hammock - even though it dropped a nut on him!