28 March 2012

Someplace Else

Big excitement - we have LEFT THE ABACOS. In these past few days, as we prepared to leave my mom's backyard for the Last Time (for this season, at least), we became more and more excited about being on our way to Someplace Else. We have been in the Abacos for just over three months now, and we find that we have become a bit settled.

 There is much to be said for this sense of place. We swing into familiar harbors with the greatest of ease. We know what time Standard Hardware closes in Marsh Harbour and how early they start serving Grabbers at Guana. We have become accustomed to sailing in shallow waters and checking expiration dates in grocery stores. We say "TC" instead of "Treasure Cay" and "Marsh" for "Marsh Harbour." We roll our eyes when we hear boaters on the VHF say "Kay" when they mean "Cay," which is pronounced "key." More eye rolling at the newbies who call for "Salt Spray Marina" (when they mean "Sea Spray Marina") or "Green Turtle Cay Club" (actually just "Green Turtle Club"), or who try to hail fuel docks that we know are not open, or who put out a call for "Man-O-War Harbour" because they want a mooring buoy (who specifically do they expect to reply?).

Yes it's true, we are starting to feel like "insiders." In our TC 'hood we know we can count on Cramston Simonette to solve our cell phone problems, Rosie and Jenson to rent us a car, Nikia to be behind the counter at the convenience store, and Florence to make The Best Coconut Bread. Neal is the water guy. My mom (along with most second-homeowners) pays Neal to refill her one-gallon bottles with "purified" water. Neal can carry eight gallons from his store to the golf cart in a single trip: eight full jugs by their handles, four in each hand. We've also learned to count on Greg Cash to help my mom keep the house standing, Trevor (one of Florence's sons) to be enterprising (he's the one who finally removed the pilings that prevented us from docking in mom's backyard), and Johnson to be the finest entrepreneurial teenager in TC. We're gonna miss all these peeps. 
Mom's first sail on Joy.  'Bye, Mom!

And yet. We feel compelled to go Someplace Else. Not only because we have to clear out of the hurricane box. Not only because we are looking forward to getting some JOY upgrades in Marathon, FL (energy management, refrigeration, hard bimini). Above all, we're ready to seek out some new adventures. In the Abacos, we've combined mini-adventures with taking care of my mom's house and hanging out with my mom. All well and good, but my mom is a tough and independent old broad, and she will carry on smartly without us.

 So now, after a rolly, breezy night sail in the Big Water, we are back in the shallows (nine feet as I'm writing this) in the lee of the Berry Islands. We will walk around the settlement at Bullocks Harbour and the Great Harbour Marina, and we won't know where anything is, or who anyone is, or how to get anything done. Nice work if you can get it. More to follow, on our last days in the Abacos and our passage.

 P.S. Happy Birthday, Rachel!!

24 March 2012

Home Is Where the Cats Are

Quick recap:  We have three cats on board.  Isabel is a 12-year-old barn cat.  Tucker and Percy, half-brothers, are 8-year-old Ragdolls.  Is it an IDEAL SITUATION, having three middle-aged cats on a round-the-world cruise?  No.  But then, neither was it IDEAL to have an 11-year-old along for the ride when my parents took ME, back in the day.  Whatterya gonna do?  Ya got family, they comin'.

Tucker, His Handsome-ness
Tucker is the dog-cat.  He follows us around like a dog and loves to make friends with complete strangers.  Back in Milwaukee, he used to come with when we'd walk our old dog, Floey, around the block - plodding along the sidewalk, thud, thud, thud, with his big feet.  When Tucker was young, we tried to convince ourselves that he was an "old soul" - very wise and all-knowing.  Now we think he is a bit, shall we say, simple-minded?  Any noted mental deficiencies might have something to do with oxygen deprivation - he has a few respiratory "issues."  Sometimes he breathes like Darth Vader.  Sometimes he has violent sneezing fits and slings huge snot globs in all directions.  But we don't hold it against him.  We call Tucker our Morale Officer because he is such a lover.  In anchorages, like Marsh Harbour, dinghies circle around for a closer look when they see him on deck.  Helps us meet new people.

Queen Isabel: Hey dad, I know, why don't you pet me...NOW! 
Isabel is the cat-cat.  She acts like a CAT.  She is scared of people, except for us.  With us, she is demanding and imperious.  She is her daddy's girl, and when she wants Ean's attention, which she frequently does, she is relentless.  She is oldest and the alpha-cat, so she gets to be First Mate.  Like any good non-commissioned officer, she doesn't hesitate to let us know when we are doing something dumb.  She has 43 distinct meows and some stretch to twelve-seconds long.  Most of these catalogued meows carry clear tones of disapproval.  She also has several facial expressions that communicate various shades of "dis" - as in disapproval, disgust, dismay, disrespect.  She HATES HATES HATES the dumb boy cats, who are often the recipients of her glares.

Sweet hairless boy - Percy the Pink
Percy is our baby-cat and resident trouble-maker. Too clever for his own good.  Wants to be the alpha-cat, but can't quite swing it (yet).  Percy caused us great heartbreak when he disappeared into the wilds of Treasure Cay and didn't come back to us for 24 days.  When we found him, his coat was solidly matted and full of sand spurs.  In this picture, soon after he got shaved by the vet, he is sleeping on what we call the "electro-lap" - a low-power heating pad.  It's not quite as comfy as a human lap but more consistently available.  Percy is "on alert" - especially since his Treasure Cay Trauma - and he likes to do laps around the deck, keeping an eye on everything.  When we're underway, he studies the water moving against the hull.  He is our most observant cat, so we have made him the Chief Lookout.  MUCH more to say about Percy the Problem, but I'll leave it for another post.

Here are some specifics about cats on a cat.  (We've been asked.  So we answer.  If you are not a cat owner/lover, don't make the jump.)

12 March 2012

To My Adoring Public

Our 100th post.  Our first feedback!

A reader commented.  She likes our blog.  She said so.  She looks forward to reading it.  One thing, though.  She thinks some of my sentences are too long.  Or too many of my sentences are too long.

10 March 2012

Scanning...everything BUT the horizon

In case you were wondering how folks who chuck it all and go to sea decide what to bring with them, we can say now from both personal experience as well as the tales told to us by others, usually not by a means that enables them to be anywhere near as brutal as they'll ultimately need to be.  It's a weird thing, when you think about it.  Not living in the relatively confined space that is a yacht, even one on the "Wow, that's your first boat?  That's big!  How big IS it, it seems REALLY big!?" end per se, but living with all the things necessary for regular, everyday life plus ocean going travel always near at hand.  Put another way, our cooking oil and engine oil are stored about 5 steps apart, our life jackets are filed next to our laundry, and I can get from the cockpit where I was watching the sun set with a cigar and glass of whiskey to my tool box to grab a screwdriver and then to the stupid, f**king, STILL leaking water heater under the starboard aft berth in 7 seconds flat.  All of which is to say that any method by which one can reduce or eliminate a category of their inventory is well worth considering.

01 March 2012

And the winner is...

Apparently, it was Oscar night earlier this week (I think it was this week).  A movie that we haven't seen--and I'm told no one's heard--won best picture.  Of the other nominees, the only one we have seen or even heard about was "Moneyball" and we have no idea who was nominated for any of the other categories.  Not counting the golf cart drive in in Treasure Cay, there are no movie theaters on Abaco.  I do miss going to the movies.  Then again, I'd miss going to the movies if we were still in Milwaukee because other than emergency grocery shopping, we wouldn't leave the house until spring. (And, no, I don't care how supposedly bizarrely warm this winter has been--we're chilly even here sometimes.)

We have, however, been keeping ourselves amused with a "best of" competition of our own devising, namely house speciality rum punch drinks.  Concocted from a secret recipe of the same five or six ingredients, rum punch drinks are the signature libation of all establishments that cater to visitors.  The best ones completely camouflage the taste of rum with tropical fruit flavors so that drinking several dozen at a time seems perfectly reasonable, the more so the more one has had.  This visit, the nominees were:

Hard at work sampling one of the nominees.

Bilge Burner, The Jib Room, Marsh Harbour
Tipsy Turtle, Green Turtle Yacht Club, Green Turtle Cay
Tail Curler, Curly Tails Restaurant and Bar, Marsh Harbour
Guana Grabber (blended and frozen), Great Guana Cay
Tranquil Turtle, Bluff House, Green Turtle Cay
Mango Millenium, Mangoes, Marsh Harbour
Blaster, Pete's Pub, Little Harbour
Nipper, Nipper's, Great Guana Cay