Thursday, January 26, 2006

day 2

Moving the Minnow from the Eastern Caribbean to Florida, Day 2
by Mike

The wind was light and the sea was mostly calm. Not glassy or anything, just
small waves and swells. It made for a very relaxing day.

The wind eventually died to almost nothing, so we motored most of the
afternoon and evening. We went by several other islands during the morning
hours. In the late evening the Virgin Islands were just coming into view
about 25 miles away. We could see lights from the islands, but no detail.

In order to arrive during daylight, we slowed down. We did this by taking
down the mainsail and leaving up the solent (small jib). That way we will be
able to see where things are when we try to park. Maybe we won't hit things
quite as hard.

Never having been there before, we are suspecting that it will be more
scenic during the day, too.

Today we were lazy on the Minnow. We didn't have urgent repairs or cleaning.
So we read a lot, played chess (see below for scorecard), and I cooked some
things. A chocolate pie, a chocolate cake, a loaf of bread, a
eggs-onions-potatoes-and-cheese breakfast item, chicken parmesan, rice, and
two gallons of tea.

Tomorrow we meet James, Mike, and Bob in St. Thomas.

Fishing Report:
We caught a barracuda and a tuna fish. We think it was a yellow-fin again.
We caught both of them in the morning and then got nothing the rest of the

Arts and Entertainment:
Serge and I played chess off and on today. We had four good games of chess.
Then Serge won the fifth.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

The Minnow from Guadeloupe to Florida, Day 1

After crossing the Atlantic with more than 200 other boats we dropped the
Minnow off at a marina in Guadeloupe. Guadeloupe is a French island in the
east end of the Caribbean. We left the boat there since it's easy for Catana
to do work on a boat on a French island.

And yes, after crossing the Atlantic, the Minnow needed a few boat repairs.
And sail repairs. Thanks to Patrick, Yannick, Thierry, Mathieu, and lots of
others, the Minnow is now in pretty good sailing shape again. They did a lot
of work, including removing the mast and some significant rigging
modifications. The also fixed lots of boring things like broken bed slats.

Guadeloupe is a really pretty island. And the people everywhere are very
nice (other than the sour waitress last night). Many of them don't speak any
English (including the sour waitress last night).

Of course I don't communicate all that well in English, or American, or even
Oklahoman. But in Guadeloupe it was easier to skip the McDonald's
drive-through altogether and take the time to park and go inside. That way I
could point at some food item on the wall and say "Coca Cola" and save about
10 minutes on average.

To further indicate the language barrier, I will tell this story. I stopped
to pick up a hitchhiker. He smiled and spoke a lot of French to me. I smiled
and spoke some Oklahoman to him. He smiled more and talked more using lots
of hand gestures. I did the same. This went on for a few minutes. Then,
after failing to understand a single word or gesture, we finally connected.
He hand motioned and shrugged "drive on without me, I'll find another ride."
Oh well.

This morning Serge and I got up early and got everything ready to leave. The
boat was ready and we were ready by 7:30am. All we had to do was turn in a
key and check out with the customs officer. But the marina office and the
customs office did not open until 8:00. So I cooked some pancakes (they were
good) and showed up at the offices at 7:58. And then I waited. Since these
offices operate on "island time" we finally got moving around 9:30.

The sailing was just about perfect. We started upwind. Then beam reached
some. Then we headed downwind some. Then some wing-in-wing. Then . we jibed
(and didn't break anything!). We sailed around the southern and western
sides of Guadeloupe. It was very scenic.

We stopped at pigeon island on the west edge of Guadeloupe to snorkel and
scuba dive. There were around 1 million colorful fish of various sizes.

We are heading to the Virgin Islands to meet Bob, Mike, and James. They are
bringing a dinghy, dinghy motor, two kayaks, marshmallows, and some wasabi.
Then we are all sailing to the Bahamas, then some on to Florida.

The next island on the way from Guadeloupe to the Virgin Islands is
Montserrat. This is a volcano. The charts tell us to stay at least two
kilometers from it. We went by it at night (about 3-4 miles away) and it
looked pretty normal in the dark. We were hoping to see lava or something
interesting, but we didn't.

BUT, there were two interesting things about it. One, the smell. When we got
downwind of the island there was a terrible, strong, burning, sulfury stench
for quite awhile. Two, they still have cell-phone service on the island.

We decided to sail through the night tonight since we are both chicken to
try to anchor or dock at night. And also, sailing at night in these
conditions is an experience that's hard to beat. We both like it a lot.

Fishing Report:
We caught a tuna fish. We think it was a yellow-fin. It was good for supper
and there's still some left for tomorrow.