Wednesday, May 7, 2014

March 5 2014: off my mooring, at last!

Monday, I came across this line in my to-do list: "raise jib and see how much of the furler channel is free". Since the wind had died to a nice breeze, I snagged the opportunity....and the jib looked good. Then I tied the furler base between the pulpit stanchions to keep it from twisting....and, suddenly, the furler worked pretty darned well, rolling and unrolling the jib in moments.

Hmmm....So....the jib looked really good (other than numerous stains) and furled easily. Wind was REALLY good: not too strong, not too weak...and from the north-east so I could sail out of the harbor easily. Raised main to see how that felt....very nice.

After sitting on the bow for ten minutes, frozen in indecision, I couldn't take it any more and dropped mooring and took off....and moved without trouble past all the boats.....very sloooooooowly.

 Sailed a mile to Johnson Bay and dropped anchor where I thought the depth good, then went to work on cleaning the bottom. I don't know WHEN the oysters/scallops were last cleaned off, but there were a lot of pretty mature ones (up to 1.5"...maybe better). There were also some anemones that had sprouted up. A blue and yellow angel fish and a host of less colorful smaller fish gathered to nibble on the broken shellfish as I worked.

Once I had done about 3/4 of bottom and started to shiver, I raised the main (with some struggle: too much friction in the works..maybe the sheave on top of the mast needs replacement) unfurled the jib, and pulled the anchor (and it came RIGHT up! Nice to have the anchor roller repair work so well!). I sailed right out of Johnson Bay and headed to Haulover, hoping to buy a drink from Peter and celebrate my sailing firsts (first on this boat, first solo on a large boat, first in Caribbean). 

A nice shower poured down for ten minutes, so I closed the hatches and took some shelter below the solar panel above the helm.

Finally I reached Haulover, but saw no sign of him....and the wind SUCKED that close to the windward hills, puffing, swirling, and I headed back, but ducked around the point to the west and into Hurricane Hole, a place I've never been, and spent an hour sailing around there, occasionally getting gusts that heeled me well over (things clanked below: my house! What just fell over?!), then ran downwind, wing-on-wing, for Johnson Bay.

Although it seemed a bit cool, once I anchored I dropped into the water and got back to work, a single jack keeping me company, nibbling at the life I knocked loose. In half-an-hour, I emerged dripping and shivering, rinsed with a bucket of cool fresh water, then put on long johns, jeans, and jacket. I must be getting to be a typical tropical wimp!

After I warmed, I paddled off to look at some old moorings where I thought I saw goose barnacles. Sure enough, I found a nice bunch and detached a cluster with my thumbnail. I also harvested some oysters I'd been reluctant to eat in the murky water of Coral Harbor but felt fine about taking from these waters where one can see fish 20' or 30' away. Also collected what, judging by the byssus threads, I believe is a mussel. Tossed them all into a pot and steamed them. The mussel tasted fine, the oysters had the wonderful taste of good oysters, and the barnacles shrank to near nothing...but still tasted like crab. Two out of three ain't bad!

Now I sit on a square cushion/floatation device, back to the mast, face to the wind, the headlamp lighting my keyboard as I record the day's events. I find that my longing to sail, my desperation, my now gone. I like the boat, I enjoy the way it sails, I can do it single-handed, I am at peace about heading back to CA for a while. I will probably sail all day tomorrow, look at my maps and see if I can find park moorings in Hurricane Hole and other places, and try tying down some of the things that slid about or fell over today. This was a good start! And I hope to enjoy the quiet and lack of sodium vapor lamps here compared to the glare of my mooring in Coral Harbor. Night, y'all!

I awoke Tuesday morning to yoga on the deck under the stars, followed by a cool sunrise: blue sky, clouds, rain (far left), and a weird hole burned in the clouds. Now I am sunburned and back at my mooring after the second day of sailing....including sailing up to Angel's Rest (Peter's bar) and buying a celebratory drink....and sailing home.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Feb 21, 2014: noticing good stuff at 3am....

I've been forgetting gratitude exercises! I woke in the night and walked through my dark cabin, leaving the light off because I know my way around the space and the things within. And I thought:
"I love walking through the dark cabin at night and using my hair as a cat uses it's whiskers, brushing it across the ceiling and feeling bumps and bolts....Hey! Why havaen't I been paying more attention to all the things I enjoy? I realize we are programmed to notice the negative, but let's try...."

I love cooking in my little kitchen, learning to pop corn or make up a tasty curry without "curry powder".

I love eating on deck under the moonlight or while I watch the sky change colors as the night falls or dawn breaks.

I love lighting my kitchen with a single 6-watt LED and getting nice light as powerful as a 30 or 40 watt incandescent.

I love making progress: figuring out what I need, ordering it, tracking its progress through the mail, unwrapping it, and finally installing it and seeing it in place.

I love doing yoga at night on deck, with the wind, the shore lights, the stars and moon and clouds, and the motion & sounds of the boat adding to the experience.

I love a downpour filling my water tank, knowing that I have more water for washing and cleaning.I feel rich when my tanks get full!

I love seeing new things when I go hiking or snokeling. Last time I saw a hermit crab in a 13" snail shell, a cow-nose ray (that circled me lazily), and a barracuda! Also saw a multitude of land hermit crabs and watched termites repairing a tunnel while a sated lizard drove off others of his kind who might eat them.

Hey, this is pretty good! Sure, there are problems that come up, doubts and loneliness and depression, but there are also plenty of good bits. We shall see what happens next. This morning I may hitchhike to Starfish market in Cruz Bay to get some groceries. I know it may not be the most efficient use of time, but it is fun to meet people and I really want to get some more turmeric and veggies to make another chicken curry!

OK, I'm back from Cruz Bay, sans turmeric. I went to all three grocery stores and found a decent price for Ben and Jerry's "Coffee Coffee Buzz Buzz Buzz" (wrapped it in a warm jacket and got it home at the perfect softness), decided I will wait a bit to get more broccoli (I am absolutely unwilling to pay $10/lb, no matter how nice and fresh it looks, when I can get some on my next trip to St Thomas for under $3.), and found there seems to be NO turmeric in town, even at the St John Spice Company! Now I will either need to borrow some from Peter, next door, order some online, or get some on my next trip to StT. And I had a great chat with a fellow named Anthony re life, sailing, a lobsterman who spent 12hrs last July strapped to a buoy, etc. And it is only 9:40!
Now, time to work on engine, etc! Let's see if I can figure out how to make it crank....

Feb 8, 2014: shells, view from on high, first fish

Well, it has been an interesting, productive, enjoyable, and depressed week.I've been off twice with Peter in Angel's Rest, his house/boat/bar, to take out some friends and do some business. I go along to sight-see, snorkel, and chat. This last time I came across a turtle with two remoras the length of the entire turtle: one latched on top and the other swimming below. I swam alongside for about a hundred yards until it finally realized I was trying to herd it and cut across in front of me. Very cool.

I climbed the mast (with Peter's help) to check on just why the jib furler is giving trouble. Got some nice sunrise pics from up there and found that the furler needs work....or replacement.
I FINALLY got around to rebuilding some of the cabinetry in my kitchen. This is pleasing.

The local diver, Dick, finally came by yesterday and dove for the CQR anchor the previous owners said was down there....and it is now hanging from the side of my boat, shedding sand and mud from the chain and line. Well worth the $50 to have a second anchor!

I washed a couple covers for my cushions at the dinette and, while they are far from perfect, they are much improved.

I caught my first fish (a snapper) and found my first legal-sized conch! Too bad it is not conch season....but Peter has some nice shells. I also caught some nice pen shells, but could not bring myself to eat them, so just used them for bait.

All good stuff....but I also find myself overwhelmed with the list of things I want/need to do if I am going to make this boat a solid and safe craft for long distance work. The list is overwhelming at times and I really dislike cost and uncertainty!

Over a drink last night, Peter suggested just working on cheap, simple stuff that gives me satisfaction and taking a little sail up the bay and anchoring there for a few days to shake off the stagnation. I guess this is what he has found works. We shall see.....
In the meantime, I am sitting below and the wind is whistling through the rigging, making the boat toss its head to and fro. Nice. Perhaps I will take a nap, then get working on more things on my endless list!

Feb 2, 2014: more sunrises, hermit crab, sand collars

I am really enjoying simplicity, collecting my own water and power, sleeping under the stars, making progress on the boat. And finding more dogs to greet now that more northerners are down here.

On the down side, I find more and more items to worry about and deal with (and, yes, I know how to phrase that correctly, but it is just awkward!). And, despite my efforts to force myself into social situations, I have fallen upon wifi that works in my boat and find myself staying aboard for days rather than going ashore. Not only that, but I've gotten more efficient at shopping and do not make nearly as many trips to local grocery, much less Cruz Bay or St Thomas. All in all, I'm finding things growing a bit more isolating.

On the other hand (yes, I know that is three, but I'm special), hanging with Peter when he motors Angel's Rest a couple miles to Hanson's Bay or Vi's Beach and chats with old friends and new acquaintances is quite fun....and I am forced to spend social time, despite my urge to stay home and read and eat.

And Monday morning, a week ago, Peter and I took his house/boat/bar to Johnson Bay where he spent the day cleaning the bottom and painting and I went off and explored the coral barrier beach (where I met many hermit crabs), paddled the lagoon, and snorkeled over grassy shoals, looking at coral heads. Found little staghorn corals trying to grow in the grass and a couple anchors and lines that people had apparently forgotten. Also found sand collars that are quite unlike the ones produced by moon snails on Cape Cod, but almost certainly the same purpose.

And I took a nice walk to Waterlemon Bay a couple days back and saw my first turtle! I nearly passed it by, half hidden under a coral head in fifteen feet of water, but with a bit of mental post-processing of the images, realized what I had seen and turned back. I watched it for about five minutes as it shifted around, perhaps nervous, perhaps scratching belly or back. Then I swam off and left it in peace. On that same dive I also saw a moray eel and wonderful spider-like shrimp. Later in the day I saw another turtle near my boat in the harbor and, the next day, saw live pen shells and a very active sea star that writhed and wriggled across the sea floor like an octopus. Cool stuff!

Now I need to get the jib functioning so I can take my first sail! Maybe tomorrow....or maybe this morning. Already cleaned and lubed the winches, so I am getting close.... Soon I'll be able to sail away into the sunrise....