Saturday, October 28, 2017

Visiting the scene of the Irma/Maria attack... and finding some good.

Here I am, back in MI with Cynthia and the little monsters. Lucy is trying to get into my lap (and I don't mind), but she insists on both my hands being on HER rather than typing and will not give up, so I have sent her off. I love her affection, but, well, "time and place".

I arrived back in MI last night at around 9pm. Wonderful to be back where there are NO mosquitoes and midges and I can enjoy cuddling with my gal and her pups rather than sweating under bed nets and layers of DEET, itching from the mosquitoes and midges that have managed to enter, thinking of going indoors where rain can't follow (but where it is even warmer).

Going to St John was hard. It brought to mind times as a teen when I used to take bees from their hives in fallen trees: they always seemed depressed amidst their fallen home, as if not quite knowing how to deal with their world turned upside down, but trying to keep on and rebuild a life. There is SO much destroyed and damaged that it is really hard to know where to start. The curfew, from 7pm to 5am, makes sense to to keep people from crashing on the somewhat navigable roads.... and I certainly had times that daylight was the only thing keeping me from hitting a telephone pole across the road or some other obstacle.

Visiting our boats was even harder. Larry and I had hoped that our boats might be salvageable, but each of us found the damage far worse than we had expected.

We first visited Gigi, hoping for a neat hole that could be repaired without too much trouble..... but found everything on the starboard side had been ripped loose: bulkheads, doors, counters, tanks, ice box, cushions, and a large piece of the hull... all floating and jammed into a mass that resisted efforts to find his new stove and mainsail, items he had never laid eyes upon.. and was unable to excavate on this final visit to Gigi.
Even the Rtic cooler he and I had bought together had been smashed. In the end, after hours of work, we managed to salvage a fender, solar panel, a couple halyards, and a portlight. We hope Eliot, a salvager Larry spoke with, can dispose of the boat, taking the mast and rigging as payment.

Dorado, her red bottom high and dry on the gravel beach, looked like one of the best prospects for an easy salvage...
but I opened the fore-hatch and a stench greeted me: although the hull is watertight, she filled through a couple high holes and sat for a month or so with four feet of stagnant salt water inside. I stuck a foot into the nasty water and snapped off the new pump I had installed last spring on a through-hull and let a couple feet of water out, then did the same with a deeper outlet the next day.
Eventually I DID manage to find my dive fins, stanchion bases, safety harness, many tools, epoxy, Rtic cooler, french knife, and dive socks... and "The Buddha's Brain". Also found Cynthia's dive camera, weight belt, mask, underwater flashlights, wetsuit, reef books, and some clothing.

I plan to come back when enough boats are out of the way that I can get mine off the beach. Maybe I will salvage the mast and winches for another boat. Maybe I will fix her up so someone else can enjoy sailing her... but the price of a new engine alone makes this unlikely. We shall see....

I left some stuff aboard Dorado, brought some home, and left the knife and cooler with Ted as he will probably really enjoy them.... and will be staying on the island for the foreseeable future with his delightful pup, Ophelia.

Ted was kind enough to put us up, along with his friend Kim. We helped him out a bit on cleaning up a house he cared for and enjoyed chatting and cooking and hanging out. Things I enjoyed were coffee & sunrises,

nice starry nights, dark nights and wide beaches (thanks to the storms), beautiful views,
and warm swims.

The high point of my trip was getting to know these three great folks better. Turns out we are ALL left-handed, so I like to call us the sinister quartet...

Current plan is to move on and get another boat and sail back there, living aboard and sailing north in the spring and back south after hurricane season. We shall see: plans change.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Harvest time!

OK, I'm sitting in the Atlanta airport, waiting for my connecting flight to St Thomas: good time to write a post!

'Tis the season for fall fruit, the season of harvest, the season of plenty, whether we are talking kiwi fruit in a Berkeley back yard
or, here in Michigan, giant pumpkins
or wild (and very tasty) pawpaws we found growing near a river (granny smith apples for comparison).

There is a certain delight in seeing all this abundance and, especially, in the stuff we forage, like the tasty apples that drop, untasted, from a tree on Cape Cod and which make a wonderful pure apple sauce, even without a touch of sugar or cinnamon or other any other adulterant. Too bad we missed out on the cranberries on Cape Cod this year....

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

A photo essay of Coral Bay as it is after Irma and Maria

I see so many familiar boats, places, people....but as if after a war that has turned it all upside down. "Gone with the wind."

You can see Dorado, with it's bright red bottom, Gigi and her big sister aground on the point, Silver Cloud still miraculously afloat with Elliot, Sarah, and the dog aboard.... but no rigging. So sad.

Here are some photos that she took that touch me a bit.....
Breathe (the one farthest right, with the yellow stripe and wooden mast), a sweet boat that has always been moored near me...

My friend Rob's boat (the blue on with the stern underwater), on which he has been working since I met him.... and making final touches last winter.

Marty's boat, with the green bottom and, miraculously, the sailcover still in place... (and mine right behind it)

Angels' Rest (all that I can see are the blue pontoons)

Gigi, my neighbor Larry's boat..... along with the ONLY other CSY in the harbor...

And, of course, Dorado. How in heck will I get her off the shore? And will she float? And do I need to pay to pull the others out of the way? Hmmm...
Well, we shall see if I amend this post farther...

Monday, September 18, 2017

Dorado found!

This morning Cynthia spotted Dorado ashore in this satellite pic (from She spotted the bright red bottom.... and the unpainted rudder is proof that it is the correct boat. Exciting!


Sunday, September 10, 2017

Link to my facebook page

This blog is for cool, interesting, and inspirational stuff. I'm posting the whole sad St John, Coral Bay, Virgin Islands stuff on facebook instead.

Happy birthday to me. *sigh*

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Some scenes of carnage from Hurricane Irma

Apparently this is a before and after from Jost Van Dyke:

And this is a fleet of catamarans in a hurricane hole. This did not protect as well as hoped, clearly..


Probably could have been worse if it had tracked just a bit farther south...

The hurricane has tracked about 40miles south of the expected track and they eye is just barely north of Coral Bay on St John. If it had gone another ten miles south the north edge of the storm, with the strongest winds, would have blown straight into the unprotected entrance of the bay. Even so, we expect our boat, any others on moorings, and many in hurricane holes are probably all trashed.

This is sad, but stuff can be replaced. Far sadder is imagining the destruction of the places we have loved visiting and the possible loss of our neighbors' lives. We hope that they have taken refuge in the concrete houses so ubiquitous on the islands. Tomorrow we may see what opportunities are available for helping out.

Coral Bay is right about at the "I" in "British Virgin Islands" at bottom left of the eye.