Sunday, March 9, 2008

Seven days

Our time in the Caribbean is flying by. Anyone concerned that we’d run out of things to do need not worry. The words “I’m bored” have not passed my lips since Cielo became our home. That said, I’m sure some are still wondering, what we actually do all day down here in paradise, so I thought I’d keep a (brief) daily log for your enlightenment and (hopefully) entertainment.

We spent the day getting ready for the overnight passage to The Saints (a group of islands that are part of Guadeloupe). Kevin cleared us out of Antigua which took a bit longer than usual as we had to explain that we came in as two, but were clearing out as four. Marina made muffins for the next day’s breakfast (or a midnight snack) and I made a pasta salad for lunch in case we were still under way for lunch on Monday. We spent the afternoon/evening polishing all of the metal on Cielo’s topsides and then took some time to study the charts before hoisting the anchor at around 10 p.m.

The overnight portion of our passage south was uneventful with good wind and moderate seas. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the final hours of the passage Monday morning. We were soaked by squalls and waves that broke over the rails for several hours. If you’re interested to know what this feels like, just set your washing machine to cold and then hop in and sit inside while a loved one runs it for about four cycles. (You should feel free to wear a rain coat and snorkel mask). When we finally arrived, we managed to muster enough energy to go for a hike and then into town (the only one on this group of islands). While wandering around, we encountered the best gelato any of us has ever eaten. No seriously, it was that good. Prior to ordering I’d considered just getting a cup of coffee as I wasn’t that hungry. Somehow I ended up with two giant scoops (cinnamon and nutela) and left stuffed, but vaguely sad that I hadn’t ordered more.

Perhaps in an effort to work off all the ice cream, we spent today in constant motion. We got up early to hike up to the top of the main island, approximately 1,000 ft. It took us over an hour of straight uphill to get there and then another hour and a half to hike down the other side. In the afternoon we snorkeled along the shoreline and saw tons of starfish and a sea turtle. Spear fishing is legal here, so Kevin and Marcelo were out looking for dinner. They were unsuccessful in finding a fish big enough to be worth eating, but luckily since they’d gone out the night before, we had baked fish for dinner.

The vast majority of the day was spent trying to find free, reliable internet at a place where we could charge our laptops (this is the ultimate triumvirate in island internet). It takes us so long to find this access that we miss lunchtime which means all of the restaurants (and the best gelato place ever) are closed when we finally set off to find something to eat. We finally find a snack bar where Kevin and Marcelo proceed to order a fried ham, egg, sausage and cheese sandwich. We are all surprised when neither of them gets violently ill on the wet and bumpy dinghy ride home. Note to reader, if the prospect of spending multiple hours a week trying to get online (or find a laundro-mat, grocery store, hardware store, post office etc), does not appeal, the cruising life-style may not be for you.

Today is boat project day so by 6:30 a.m., all four of us are on deck and Kevin is giving a lesson in how to sand varnish off of teak. From 6:30 a.m. to 1: 30 p.m. we are sanding and sweating and pondering the virtue of a boat without teak. We decide to take a break to grab lunch in town and once again arrive too late to be served. Happily, one restaurant owner takes pity on us and we’re able to eat a proper lunch before again gorging ourselves on gelato (cinnamon and rum raisin this time). Feeling high on sugar, we race to the nearest store to pick up some food to take to the cruiser pot luck we’ve been invited to. The thing starts in an hour, so we’re a bit pressed for time and this is not like the states where you have tons of pre-made food items at the grocery. I mention to Kevin and Marcelo that I’d seen a 5lb can of tuna the previous day in the store and for a moment, we consider whether we could get away with popping off the top, mixing in some mayo and bringing it as an appetizer...perhaps with some forks? Instead, Marina manages to pull off a spinach quiche, which is the hit of the party.

Teak, day two. We sleep in a bit later this morning, but are still at work by 8:00. The work is just as sweaty, though today we work straight through until dark. Note to reader: if sanding teak in the tropics does not sound like fun, the cruising life-style may not be for you.

Marina and I have wrangled an invitation to use the giant fore deck of the catamaran anchored next to us for some early-morning yoga. We consider the potential market demand for a floating, mobile yoga studio on the dinghy ride home. Kevin works on (more) boat projects and successfully sews his first grill cover while Marina and I bake cookies, banana bread and biscotti. Our home economics teachers would be pleased and proud, I’m sure. Just in time for dinner, Kevin’s makes cocktails…a delicious and dangerous proposition. Sure enough, after two I’m asleep on the settee. Not a bad way to cap off yet another active, interesting, occasionally frustrating, but never dull week.


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