Our Last Days In Grenada

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By the end of September, Howard was well on the mend, so we felt ok about going home. We first said another goodbye, this time to our friends Nick and Lori-Anne, who were flying back to the U.S. Parting ways with friends is definitely one of the worst parts about cruising.

As I mentioned, it was Scott’s first visit back to the U.S. in two years. Once the boat was settled in a slip at Port Louis Marina, we flew home and ran him around like mad, spending time with family, visiting friends, old neighbors and the gang at Hendersons Marina.

Scott arrived back to a very needy cat. Howard had a hard time in our absence, and consequently, so did our incredibly great friends who fed him while we were both away. In addition to the weeks in and out of the clinic, we haven’t left Howard for more than two nights since we first brought him home. He was glad to see his Dad.

I stayed on for several more weeks at home, spending more time with friends, and stuffing myself with fresh produce! All of these fall veggies are available to us in the Caribbean, but they’re just not the same quality.

I spent time with my sister and brother-in-law, in their neighborhood of Eastport, just across Spa Creek from Annapolis, where many of the houses were decked out for Halloween.

I was also lucky enough to be home for the 20th annual “Slaughter Across the Water,” a tug-of-war match stretching between downtown Annapolis and the Eastport peninsula; that’s a tug, across the water.

The “friendly” competition began in 1998, when the residents of Eastport got fed up with a Public Works Department project that closed the bridge leading into Eastport from Annapolis. Over “a couple of pints and a some scribblings on cocktail napkins,” the Maritime Republic of Eastport was born. The newly-born MRE then proposed a tug-of-war to the townspeople of Annapolis, and a yearly tradition began.

Every year since, on the first Saturday in November, an 1,800-foot rope, half solid yellow and half yellow and black, is spooled out across Spa Creek, and carefully piled onto the deck of a boat that marks the center line. (Not being able to be on both sides of the tug, or on the water, I borrowed some online photos)

Competitors pulled in seven different match-ups, with money raised going to local charities and philanthropic causes; this year’s Slaughter Across The Water resulted in a Eastport taking the event, winning four out of the seven tugs. The event has become a day-long festival with music, crafts and a chili cook-off.

In mid November, I flew back to Grenada. Scott had moved Sea Life from the marina, and was now out in the anchorage off of St. Georges harbour. Once I had unpacked, we planned a short visit to Petite St. Vincent, one of Grenada’s nearby out islands, before clearing out of the country to head north.

We mad a last minute grocery run to Foodland, located on the carenage. Conveniently, they have a dinghy dock right across the street.

As I mentioned earlier, produce can be challenging in the Caribbean. Check out these tiny heads of cauliflower and cabbage, that Scott can comfortably hold in one hand. The cabbage is marked in Eastern Caribbean dollars, which equals roughly $1.20 usd.

We headed back to the boat, to unload our groceries. As we drove away, something strange caught our eye just beside the dock. We had walked right by this man, asleep across the rocks.

The next day we made the short trip over to Petite St. Vincent. I’d come back with a “travel bed” for Howard. The soft sides allow him to snuggle in, and keep him from moving less while we’re underway. It was a warm day, so a cold sports towel was in order.

Before long, we arrived at Petite St. Vincent, a private island with an exclusive resort.

The water colors were gorgeous, and we were able to anchor off to ourselves, not having had this much room around us in months. We soon had a visit from a yellow footed booby, who spent some down time on one of the paravanes.

The next day, we set off in the dinghy to explore the coastline, and get a peak at the resort, which spread’s out across the island.

Back at our anchorage, we now had a neighbor…a rather large neighbor.

Eager for some more clear water time, Scott took the dinghy out for some snorkeling and underwater exploration. Spear fishing was illegal in the area, but he couldn’t resist the urge for dinner when he came across some lobster. He bashed the poor things to death with the dinghy oar (hence, not using a spear or “official” fishing device), bringing back a speckled and a slipper lobster. Slipper lobsters are creepy, and look like giant pill bugs.

The entire island of Petite St. Vincent is private, but lowly cruisers are allowed to visit the resort’s beach bar, so we cleaned ourselves up and headed to shore for cocktails. We relaxed and enjoyed our drinks, looking back at Sea Life, with her big buddy, out at anchor.

At $15.00 usd a cocktail, one round was all our budget could afford, so we headed back as the sun began to set.

The next morning, we would head for Carriacou, Grenada’s nearest out island, to clear out. It was time to head north. First stop, the Grendine Islands. Here are more photos of our last days on Grenada.

“Shells Sink, Dreams Float. Life’s Good On Our Boat!”

 

 

 

Back To Bocas

Holy cow, I cannot believe it’s been almost a month since my last post!! I finished up my visit home with a day at the Fell’s Point Festival. Located just east of Baltimore’s “Inner Harbor,” the neighborhood of Fell’s Point has a maritime past, and the air of a seafaring town. And, it also has the greatest concentration of drinking establishments and restaurants in the city….a perfect place for a festival!

I was able to spend time with our former neighbors, giving me a chance to take a peek at the house, yard and pier we sold last year. I was only able to sneak a photo of the pier, at the left.

Our friends Eric and Mary were great neighbors, and it was nice to catch up with them, their daughter and grandson. The views of Shallow Creek were, as always, beautiful and peaceful.

My friends Amy and Joe, and Nan and Mike put me up for many nights while I was in town. A BIG thank you to them, for graciously sharing their homes with me. Both have awesome views of the city from their rooftop decks, just one of many things I love about Baltimore.

On one of my last nights in town, I met with friends to watch the Orioles try for a spot in the playoffs. Unfortunately, they didn’t get past the wild card game, but it was a great final night out.

From there, it was back to Annapolis, and my sister’s house. She and my brother-in-law also allowed me to drop in and out of their lives during my visit. They are invaluable with helping us manage mail, bills, and many other mundane details as we cruise; we cannot thank them enough!

My sister plays cello…scratch that, “electric” cello, with a group that plays in the Annapolis area, and also on Maryland’s eastern shore. On my last night in town, they performed at a record store in downtown Annapolis. I was shocked to see how popular records have become again!

They drew quite a crowd, and the store was packed with people. Please forgive me, but it  has to be said, my sister kicks ass!

So, that wrapped up my visit home. It was great to be back for awhile. I recently heard someone describe Baltimore as being like an old, worn shoe; a little scuffed up around the edges, but don’t polish it, because the scuffs tell many stories. All my Baltimore stories and memories are great ones, and I’m proud of my city’s “scuff.”

My trip flew by, and I had an awesome time, but all the running and doing had me pretty ragged by the end. It was time to board a plane and head for Panama, via Atlanta. I enjoyed some great sunset views from my window, along the way.

When I landed in Panama City, my trusty cab driver, Willie, was waiting as I rounded the corner out of customs. Hurray…as I was lugging quite a weighty load!

After an overnight in Panama City, Willie met me first thing the next morning and dropped me a the domestic airport. I arrived extra early, to beat city traffic, and was rewarded with an offer to take an earlier flight. I hesitated, knowing I had no way to let Scott know the change of plan, but decided to just go with it.

I took off just after 7:30am, and again enjoyed some great views, during the short flight back to Bocas.

We flew right past Isla Colon, and Bocas Town.

I waited for the plane to make it’s turn toward the airport, but it kept going. I was sure I’d boarded the right plane, but now wondered where this thing was headed. We landed at a remote airstrip, similar to that in Bocas Town, but it was definitely not Bocas Town.

As people began to disembark, I went forward, to ask the flight attendant what to do. I asked her about Bocas (dealing with language barrier), and she motioned that I had to get off the plane. It seemed that I had to change planes, but I wondered how I’d do that, with just a torn ticket stub.

As I gathered my things and headed for the door, an America couple ahead of me was asking about Bocas as well. A different flight attendant, with better English skills, told them to stay on board, that we were continuing on to Bocas next. Whew!

Soon we were off to Bocas, landing eight minutes later (really, eight minutes!). I easily got my bags, as only seven of us got off the plane, and a cab driver called to me as I came outside. He dropped me at the water taxi stop, and called for someone to come help me with my bags, that were as heavy as if they had dead bodies packed inside them.

I made the five minute trip across the water to Bocas Marina, was dropped at the pier, and lugged my way to Sea Life just before 9am, much to Scott’s surprise. Luckily, I caught him before he’d left to pick me up! We discussed having  a “plan B” in place for future situations.

So, I’m back to life at sea, or should I say marina life for now. I’ve caught up on sleep (getting 12 straight hours my first three nights back), laundry and cleaning and we’ve moved locations to a new marina (more on that to come). It’s great to be back on Sea Life, with Scott and Howard, and I’m looking forward to enjoying the area before we shove off to discover more of Panama’s Caribbean coast. Here are more photos of my final days at home, and flights back to Bocas.

“Shells Sink, Dreams Float. Life’s Good On Our Boat!”

 

 

 

A Trip Home

I left Bocas del Toro just over three weeks ago for a visit home, and have been on a whirlwind tour of family, friends, shopping and eating since landing in the U.S. My journey began with an hour long flight to Panama City, and some great views from my window.

The coastline gave way to hills and then more populated areas, and as we approached Panama City, I caught sight of the Panama Canal through the haze (at the top of the photo).

I landed at the domestic airport, and my next flight was out of the international airport. Not wanting to chance missing my flight, due to heavy traffic across the city, I chose to spend the night at a hotel. My friendly cab driver, Willie, dropped me off, and promised to fetch me at 5:30am the next morning, to beat traffic. After checking in, I decided that the neighborhood was not one I’d like to explore for food on my own, so I settled for a dinner of bottled water and pretzels.

Willie was waiting for me bright and early (or should I say dark and early) the next morning, and I easily arrived at the airport, checked my bags and went through security. With that done, I purchased two bottles of water and headed to my gate, only to have to go through security all over again!

At each gate, passengers are again required to pass through metal detectors (after taking off  shoes, belt, etc.), have their body “wand-ed” and carry-on bags x-rayed and, dispose of all liquids! Seriously?? I’d just went through all of this 300 feet earlier, what could I have made or bought in that time that would endanger the flight? I had to throw out both bottles of sealed water…$8.00 in the trash.

Of course I was welcome to leave the gate area, to get a drink, some food or use the bathroom, but I’d have to go back through security again, and the line had gotten much longer, so I chose to sit and wait. Once aboard the plane, we were promised the usual beverage service and a breakfast sandwich. Great! I was thirsty and hungry, as my pretzel dinner had long worn off.

Unfortunately, there was considerable turbulence for the first part of our flight. So much so that the flight attendants were told to sit down and strap in. I was less worried about the turbulence, and more worried about dying from dehydration. Finally, two hours into our four hour flight, we were served a small sandwich and a drink, in the usual tiny cup. I managed to get a refill, and when I headed back to use the restroom, asked for still more water.

After a stop in Atlanta, I landed in Baltimore and headed to my sister’s house, in Annapolis. Sally and her dog Cooper were there to greet me.

It was great to see her, and my brother-in-law, catch up and relax a bit. The weather was gorgeous, and I enjoyed a walk around Annapolis, referred to as the sailing capital of the world, and also home of the U.S. Naval Academy.

While taking photos of the mooring field, I did a double take. For a second, I thought Scott and Howard had come to meet me!

Look familiar?? Another 42′ Krogen was enjoying some time in Annapolis.

After sleeping off my two days and three flights, I met our friends Kirk and Gisela for lunch. They are our cruising “mentors,” having spent 15 years circumnavigating the globe on their sailboat. Scott and I learned so much from their experiences, and soaked up as much information as possible from them over the years. We spent hours catching up, as I relayed all that we’d experienced since leaving home.

Then it was up to Baltimore, where I made several stops for lunch, drinks and dinner over the next few days, before joining my football gang for the Baltimore Ravens home opener. I walked to meet them for breakfast, happy to be back in the land of row homes and roof top decks.

We arrived at our seats in time for the pregame festivities, commemorating 9/11, and then cheered the team on to a win. It wasn’t glamorous, but a win’s a win!

After a fun, but long day of football festivities, I drove almost three hours south, to my parents’ farm in Virginia. This time of year, the field corn waiting to be harvested makes it hard to spot the driveway!

It was so good to see my parents and spend time…and, to get some proper produce!

After loading up on corn and tomatoes at the local stand, Mom made crab cakes, with fresh back fin….de-lish!

Next up, Ocean City, on Maryland’s eastern shore, where my college roommate and I worked thirty years ago during summer break (Nancy flew in to go with me)! I have stayed in close touch with the family I worked for, and had a fun time visiting my OC family and friends.

After just a night at the beach, Nancy and I headed back to Baltimore, where I celebrated turning fifty! Nancy surprised me, by having our other roommate, Amy, drive in from Pittsburgh to celebrate.

Friends I’ve known since kindergarten (aka, birth), high school, Baltimore roommates and friends I’ve met along the way gathered for a terrific evening of fun and reminiscing. I couldn’t have asked for a better way to celebrate 50 years!

My friend, Steve, has mastered the steel drum over the past few years, and plays with several groups at locations all over the area from May through September. He happened to be playing nearby, and I took the opportunity to take some friends and surprise him. Steve is now quite the musician, and we thoroughly enjoyed the music, as well as his witty banter back and forth with the crowd.

Since I’d seen my Ravens play, it was now time for an evening of baseball. I met my friend, Dan, just outside of Camden Yards; Dan and I were roommates for nine years (yes, nine!). We had a great night together watching the Orioles. Unfortunately, my birds weren’t as lucky as my Ravens, and we lost to the Boston Red Sox. However, I still have fingers crossed that they’ll manage to get to the post season!

I traveled to see my friends Bruce and Hallie, and their family, who live just outside of Philadelphia. Bruce made us an awesome Indian feast, and as always, their children Colin and Lizzie kept me entertained. On the way back to Baltimore, I stopped for a quick visit with some of Scott’s family. After time with my equally entertaining niece and nephew, I continued back to Baltimore.

Scott and I spent a year at Henderson’s Wharf Marina, before leaving for our journey. We loved the marina’s location, in the historic Fells Point neighborhood, and met many great friends there. I spent a night and then next morning visiting, and stayed over with friends aboard their boat. The weather was beautiful, and I enjoyed the views from L pier, where we were docked, of the harbor and Under Armor’s world headquarters across the way.

While I’ve been heading in all directions here, Scott and Howard have had plenty of “guy” time in Bocas. Scott usually can’t hold Howard too long without getting chewed on. Howard goes into play mode, since he and Scott are adversaries in epic battles. Scott complains about this, and also comments that Howard doesn’t sleep with us at night.

All of that has changed now that Scott is a “single parent.” Howard now tolerates much more holding (despite still having epic battles), and they are sleeping buddies at night, much to Scott’s dismay, as Howard sleeps on Scott….careful what you wish for!

I have just under two more weeks here at home, to soak up U.S. conveniences and more time with friends and family, before traveling back to life afloat! If interested, here are more photos of my visit home.

“Shells Sink, Dreams Float. Life’s Good On Our Boat!”

Casting Off!

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Welcome to our big, nautical adventure!! I am posting later than I’d planned, and am still figuring out this site, and how I want it to look, so bear with me.

After two hellish years of a complete refit of our trawler (check out our Our Floating Home), we planned to set off on Tuesday, September 1st. I wish I could tell you that the last few months were spent leisurely visiting friends, and gathering last minute things. The reality was a manic state. We were trying desperately to finish as many boat projects as possible, while plugged into power, and close to West Marine, Home Depot, etc.  We saw many doctors, and had many test, making sure all is well as possible for the next three years. Things were ordered online, and bought at various stores in the area, making for full days of errands and doctor appointments.

We squeezed in as many friend and family parties and visits as possible during the last few months, in between errands, doctors and boat projects. Thanks so much to everyone, for being flexible and making time to see us! Time with you was a welcome and much needed break from the stress of our pending departure.

The final days were a flurry of craziness: On Monday August 24th, the clutch on Scott’s Land Rover went out, on the way to storage. It’ll take a few weeks to fix, so the shop will tow it to storage for us, once it is ready. That Thursday, Scott went in for an emergency root canal, an all day process. He now has what is essentially a dead tooth, so we have to figure out how to get a crown done somewhere before we cross to the Bahamas.

Friday evening, Scott woke up with severe pain in his left testicle (yes, we’re sharing all in this here blog). By Sunday, we were in the emergency room, after a phone conversation with an on-call urologist. Tests showed nothing wrong..ugh! He followed up with his regular urologist on Monday (a BIG thank you, to our friend, Colin, for being Scott’s driver all day!), and it seems that Scott has a cyst, inflammation and an infection in his testicle. He left with a strong antibiotic and anti inflammatory, which wreak havoc on his innards.

So back to the Tuesday the 1st. It was our “blast off” date for the last year, and Scott was going to keep to it, come hell or high water (or infected testicle)! Our weather was beautiful, the bay forecast was great..waves flat (something you almost NEVER hear) and our friends Perry, Stephanie and Paul, Amy and Joe,  and Ted took time out of their morning to come and see us off, which meant so much!!

Thank you to Stephanie and Pattie, for their great photos of our departure!

Day one was an easy four hours across the bay, to Bay Bridge Marina (except when I almost sunk our boat on a bay bridge piling!). We met our friend, Kirk, for dinner and had a wonderful visit. We were both in bed at 8pm…the last few months have taken a toll! Yesterday (2nd) we traveled to Herrington Harbor South, the marina resort where we were married (http://www.herringtonharbour.com/herrington-marinas/south/). We’ll be here until tomorrow am, when we’ll head to a slip off of the Potomac River, for a visit with my parents.

With Scott less than 100%, I’m thankful that our first week will be quiet and easy. He’s feeling better every day, and we’re grateful that we lucked out with all of this happening while we were still at home port….and not Guatemala!

PS…a BIG, BIG thank you to my sister, Sally, who helped me get this crazy blog idea up and running!

“Shells Sink, Dreams Float. Life’s Good On Our Boat!”