Thursday, 30 May 2013

Best laid plans

Well, I would love to report that our first day at sea went well,but we haven't left Montego Bay harbour. Yesterday I was busy with last minute preparations which included hauling up groceries onto the boat, moving heavy sailbags around and chopping vegetables for curry plus cutting up the zillon small mangoes we had been generously given. Later in the evening, when picking up a friend's small child, my back let me know it had had enough with a small twinge. By the end of the night it was full fledged pain and today I have been fine if flat on my back but it has been a struggle to move more than that. So no sailing until I am more useful on the boat!

Will keep you posted.
PS We will get out of Mobay, promise.

Monday, 27 May 2013

Be Prepared

Boy scout salute!  We are prepared (well, mostly.)  So prepared that we were going to leave tomorrow, but have postponed it a few days because of the weather and now we are sittin' around with nothing to do...  (Okay, I lie again.)

We have worked our way through the primary to-do list and are now on to secondary boat jobs, those of the "nice-to-have-but-not-necessary" quality, including sewing cushion covers and making mosquito netting.

In the photos below, you will see the rain through the windshield of the boat (we were on the mooring, but we've been getting some heavy rain in the afternoons here). The second picture shows the inside of the boat's electrical panel, as the Captain was re-wiring. The other pictures are our solar panels, which are now rear-mounted instead of on the side rails of the boat, and the dry goods provisioning shopping trip, which nearly broke the bank, but means we will have food for months and months before we need to buy another can of food.

Watch the top of the blog as we will have a couple of links to maps of our trip that track us along the way.

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

My independence

In one of the many books I've read or flipped through in an attempt to get my head around this "sailing" thing, it said that the two things a woman on a cruising boat can do to ensure her independence are: a) learn how to use the dingy on her own, and b) learn some of the local language.

So there has been a lot of dingy rowing in my life these last two weeks.

And in Spanish: to row a boat -> llevar una barca remando 

It used to be that when the Captain and I went in the dingy together, he rowed and I harassed him about the direction we were going, or gazed at the stars, or watched for fish.  Now, we row together, side by side on the bench, each with one oar.  Oh, the romance, the romance.

Another accomplishment of my independence that took place recently involved the J22 sailboats.  You've heard lots about these boats on this blog, as I've raced in them for the last year and a half as crew.  On Saturday, the races were designated as "ladies on the helm," which meant that the boats that are all usually skippered by men had to find a willing victim to steer the boat.  And that was me!  I was very nervous, since these boats use a tiller instead of a wheel like Diva, and the wind was probably around 15 knots when we started, but I figured out which way to push the tiller to make the boat go in the direction I wanted and the wind died down a bit after the first race.  Out of 6 boats, I had two third place finishes and a second place.  Not bad for a novice!   

Trip update: Jobs are still getting crossed off the to-do list in preparation for our trip.  The departure date is Monday, May 28th, weather permitting.  Destination: still planned for Cartagena, Colombia.

The pictures below are from our sail to Negril, two weekends ago.

While sailing down to Negril we went through a rainstorm, but the sail back was BEA-U-TI-FUL.

The sunset turned all our sails pink!

And gave Cpt. Phil and Nigel are rosy pink tinge too.  Nigel is going to come with us as crew to Colombia.

And then the pink turned to orange, then red, then the sun sank out of sight.

Thursday, 2 May 2013

Swarf dwarfs, dirty heads and pointy sharp things

Last post I wrote that I would update you all on our next destination for the boat.  Well, I still don't know too much about it, except that it is currently Cartagena, Columbia, and that we are aiming to leave Jamaica near the end of May.  Will post more once we figure it out.

However, what I can tell you about today is the fascinating world of boat chores.  We have been preparing the boat for our 'grand voyage,' but somethings got sped up because we are also sailing to Negril (west coast of Jamaica) this weekend with another couple on board our boat, in convoy with some other boats from the Yacht Club ( To imagine our boats going down to Negril think Spanish Armada - ok, the Spanish Armada with three boats.)

So, as one does when one has company arriving, I cleaned the head today. (That's the boat bathroom for those of you not up on your boat speak.) And, as I was scrubbing away in my underwear, (too hot for clothes) I realized that the brush I was using for the floor was the same brush I'd used a couple of days ago to clean the anchor chain, when we'd pulled it out of the muck and came back to the Captain's mooring. I couldn't decide which was more disgusting - the yuckiness from the head, or the yuckiness from the bottom of the ocean - fish waste or human waste? Don't even get me started on cross-contamination...

On a related note, I had to wait to clean the head until the Captain had installed our new triple clutch!

The clutch allows us to take out and put away the main sail from the cockpit.
This was because: a) I am also assistant engineer and had to hold the screwdriver a couple of times; and b) the clutch was installed just above the head and required drilling through the ceiling.  We decided that cleaning after the drilling was done was a smarter move.

Speaking of drilling, there have been some minor battles for space between the drill projects and the knitting projects.  They do not play well together, even though they both are sharp and pointy. Maybe because they are both sharp and pointy?  I finally relocated the knitting project to the back cabin, where there is no drilling going on. ("Yet!" says the Captain, with a threatening grin on his face.) 

Other chore details of note: yesterday meals were cooked around the oil pump hanging out in the galley (boat speak for kitchen).  Who knew you could make pancakes and change engine oil at the same time?  And your word for the day: "swarf."  No, not Jamaican patois, but english for the shavings that come from drilling holes in metal. A useful tip - aluminum swarf just sticks to the bottom of your foot, stainless steal swarf gets in like a splinter and tries to work its way to your heart and kill you.

Last chore note: I am also Chief Pineapple-Cutter.  Behold my masterpiece.
So, just in case you started feeling sorry for me back there, here are some beach pictures from last weekend to cheer you up!
We went to a not-so-busy beach, but ended up with a crowd of kids that wanted to play with the one we brought.
Our crowd also included several dogs that belonged to the owners of the resort and made us theirs for the day.
The crowd included this VERY sweet puppy.

Me and the Captain, chillin'
Our friend Jeff, the blond kid belonged to the resort, and Jeff's daughter Alexis is hiding behind the pink lei.

A shot of the Captain.  (I'm aspiring to get as good as my sister is at portraits - thoughts Erika?)

Blended mixed fruit juice with a hibiscus from the garden, and yes, a little rum too.