Wednesday, May 24, 2017

1981 (2) - Candide

Bees Waxing Eloquent.
I found a photo of an island bus and altered it in Photoshop.

To go to the beginning of this book, Tropic Moon: Memories, click HERE.

We were anchored near several French boats in the Iles des Saintes.  One afternoon, after William and Katherine had left, some people from the yacht, Candide, came by in their dinghy with fish they'd just caught.  Despite my limited French, and their limited English, we understood we were welcome to some of the fish, as they had extra.  One of the men reached into his bucket and handed a fish up to me, where I was standing on deck.  I was a little squeamish about taking it, but thought - what the hell, it's just a fish.  I hadn't realized it was still alive….  When I took the fish in my hand and it began to wriggle, I let out a yelp and tossed it into the air.  The man leaned backwards and made a really neat catch but, in doing so, he fell out of the dinghy!  I was horribly embarrassed and tried to apologize, while their toddler set up quite a wail.  Ed handed down our bucket.  They placed a couple fish in it, and passed it back to us. 

Ed had the messy job of gutting and scaling the fish.  While the fish were tasty, we wondered if it had been worth all the trouble.  (We lived on a boat for fourteen years, and didn’t do any fishing ourselves….)  The next day I baked banana bread, and made an extra loaf to take over to Candide.  I learned they were on their way to Florida, via the Bahamas.

English Harbor, Antigua.  Internet Photo

On our way north, we saw the red-hulled Candide again in English Harbour, Antigua, when the crew motored past Tropic Moon in their dinghy.  We recognized each other, smiled and waved.  I was rather surprised when they showed up later that day with more fresh fish!  We had an invitation for dinner, so I explained we couldn't use the fish that night.  (There was no refrigeration or icebox on Tropic Moon.)  They asked if we had friends who might want them.  It was obvious these people had speared extra fish to bring over to us, so we hated to say no.  We decided to bring the fish along to our friends, who were house sitting, and had the use of a refrigerator.  Ed worked an hour cleaning the three fish, which he carried over in a bucket of seawater. 

We presented this offering to our hosts.

David said, "We hate fish."

Jill added, "But the cat will love them!" 

We hoped, after all Ed's work, that the cat enjoyed his meal.

Monday, May 22, 2017

1981 (1) - Iles des Saintes Encore

Acrylic Painting, 16" x 20",  Street Scene, in the Iles des Saintes.

To go to the beginning of this book, Tropic Moon: Memories, click HERE.

After the holidays, we continued living in Maya Cove.  Staying in one place for a while meant more boat work, and Ed decided to have a new stainless steel bow pulpit made for Tropic Moon.  Ed went to Mike Masters, at Nautool Machine, Ltd.  Mike had fashioned our new propeller shaft, as well as constructing the support structure for Ulysses, our wind vane.  Ed lent a hand with the bow pulpit; he’d long had an interest in learning machining and welding.  Ed offered to work full-time for Mike, like for a year.  Mike turned Ed down because he wanted to hire a master machinist.  Mike flew up to Canada to interview some people.  Ed was disappointed but, in any case, we needed to make another run south.

The photo that provided inspiration for the painting.
I substituted flowers for the laundry on the fence.

In March 1980, when we were cruising down island, we met William and Katherine Slater.  They were vacationing at the Hotel Bois Joli in the Iles des Saintes.  (Perhaps you remember my writing of "quiche, Vivaldi and stars"?)  We had kept in touch with the Slaters, and were aware that they were returning to the Hotel Bois Joli for spring break this March.  In their last two letters, they’d mentioned they’d like to see us again.  We decided to make the passage down to the Saintes to rendezvous with them. 

View of the town.  Note small airport runway in the right of the picture.

We planned to sail direct from Tortola to the Saintes, and anticipated a long trip of about four days, since a good part of the passage would be beating to windward.  It was about 225 seagull miles in distance.  I guess you could say we lucked out (at least, in my opinion!), because we left Tortola early morning in a calm.  We decided to motor due east toward St. Maarten, to get as much easting as possible out of the way before the wind returned. 

Fourteen hours later ... when we were only two hours shy of St. Maarten, where we had decided to put in for the night rather than continue motoring, the wind finally picked up.  We raised the sails, fell off to starboard to fill them, and headed S-SE along the island chain, directly toward the Saintes.  We were becalmed again in the lee of Guadeloupe (we always got becalmed in the lee of that island), and spent a good part of our second night motoring.  We arrived in the Saintes, which are just south of Guadeloupe, at 9:00 a.m., only 50 hours and 250 miles after leaving Tortola.  As a matter of fact, the only tacking we did on the passage was in our approach to the Saintes. 

A poster I made from a photo taken from
the veranda at the Hotel Bois Joli.

We had anticipated having a day to settle in, and clean up the boat before William and Katherine arrived.  As we were dropping our anchor, the small hotel ferry passed us on its way to town - with them aboard.  All four of us waved and called out greetings.  I had horrid misgivings that we'd arrived at the end of their vacation, instead of the beginning, and imagined we'd have to wait till afternoon for them to return to the hotel to find out. But in less than an hour I heard a pounding on our hull and looked down from the deck to see William afloat below.  He came aboard.  We learned they'd just arrived that morning - and would stay for ten days.  William was so excited to see us that once they had finished picking up food in town for a picnic lunch, he left Katherine trailing behind, and hurried on foot over the hills back to the hotel.  He quickly changed, and swam out to the boat.  Katherine showed up about a half hour later. 

Street Scene.  Detail.

Our ten days together passed quickly.  Someone (usually William) went into town each day to buy food for lunch.  Picnic lunches on the beach included French bread, pate, tomatoes and bananas.  We all went into town on Mardi Gras Day to watch the island’s small parade.  Twice they came to Tropic Moon for dinner.  The first time, I fixed chicken cacciatore on macaroni, a salad, French bread, and an apple pie.  The second time I cooked French onion soup and eggplant quiche, with a salad, and banana bread for dessert.  Other nights, we enjoyed dinners with them at the hotel.  It was fun to share their vacation with them - sailing one of the hotel's sunfish around the bay, swimming, and studiously working on our tans.  William called it a fantasy time.  Both he and Katherine hated heading back to their university teaching jobs, and the winter weather around Toronto.

Friday, May 19, 2017

1980 (32) - Christmas in the Cove

Snoopy's got all the presents wrapped!

To go to the beginning of this book, Tropic Moon: Memories, click HERE. 

We were happy to be heading back to Maya Cove for the holiday season.  Perhaps because boat people are far from family, and what used to be called home, everyone joined together in their celebrating.  We shared parties, dinners, and gallons of rum punch.

Christmas Eve, Dana and Evelyn, who lived in a house overlooking the anchorage, invited the Cove people up to their home for a party.  Their house was beautiful – and what a view!  The islands lining the Sir Francis Drake Channel stretched in both directions, surrounded by miles of unbroken sea.  The road up the hill to their house was so steep; Dana provided taxi service – in his Land Rover, with 4-wheel drive, in first gear.  I still held my breath! 

About 25 people were at the party.  Dana and Evelyn served drinks, and everyone else brought food.  Gerry, on Travel, and I, each made two quiches so there would be some for everyone.  There were other main dishes, salads, and deserts.  It was a lively, friendly evening.  When we got together with boat people, we seemed to share a sense of fellowship I never experienced at any land-based cocktail party.
Tropic Moon's Christmas Tree

I had decided we should have a Christmas tree on Tropic Moon, and crocheted one out of green yarn.  It stands about two feet tall.  I decorated it with strings of seed beads, and hung small shells and other beads.  I used techniques I’d learned at a sculpture crochet workshop I’d taken in Ann Arbor.

Christmas week involved lots of visiting back and forth among the boats.  A couple we’d met at the party – Ray and Mary Jo on Runaway – came by one day.  They had two kingfish they’d just bought from a fisherman, and invited us for dinner.  They marinated the fillets, wrapped them in foil with sautéed onion and garlic, and then cooked them on their grill.  Yum!

Our Christmas tree on the cockpit table.  Ulysses is at the stern.

On New Year’s Day, Runaway and another sailboat, Catspaw, rafted their boats together, and held an “Open Boat.”  Gail and Walt on Catspaw served Hot Rum Toddies, and Runaway provided colder drinks.  We munched on Christmas pastries and Mary Jo’s home baked bread.  When evening came, the cocktail party types headed home.  Ed helped Ray set up the aerial for his color TV.  Those of us left on the boats settled in for some serious football watching, as St. Thomas was broadcasting the Rose Bowl. 

Everyone quickly learned I’d gone to grad school at University of Michigan.  I had the gang cheering for the Wolverines - all except for one fellow named Chuck who had attended college somewhere in the state of Washington.  Chuck got very quiet during the second half of the game.  During the proceedings, Gail emerged from her galley with a large pot of steaming chili and another pot of cooked macaroni.  Mary Jo came up with loaf after loaf of delicious beer bread, the good food sustaining us through the excitement of the game.  Having Michigan finally win the Rose Bowl was, for me, the perfect ending to a special holiday season.

Kermit and Friends