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.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Hurricane butterflies

The wind patterns shown in this website are things of beauty. I love to imagine the flows sweeping me across the oceans: freedom and open vistas! Of course, there are times when little details focus attention: the current one is a counter-clockwise vortex sweeping across the ocean like giant tornado. Here is a screenshot of tomorrow afternoon's forecast:
Coral Bay is above and slightly left of the C in "Christianstead". Anegada hides in the yellow around the eye...
 Hurricane Irma bears down upon the Virgin Islands as a category 5. The boat I own, boats of friends, homes of friends, and lives of friends hang by threads, often almost literally (if you consider mooring and anchor lines as threads). Current forecast has the hurricane passing to the north, but has Dorado, sitting on mooring, experiencing winds of 85mph for four hours tomorrow afternoon and evening. Will it still be on the mooring in the morning light?

If I were still there I might have set sail a few days ago and just sailed south, far from the path of the storm, or south to Christianstead where the winds should not exceed 40mph. If my friends did not have their hurricane dance cards filled, perhaps they could have put it in a safer place....although those are mostly completely full and the forecast winds are not the best for those hurricane holes... so, my mooring line may be better than being anchored in a hurricane hole.

All I can do is ask for my extra anchors to be set (Dickie says he will do it if he has the time) and cross fingers. The forecast winds should not bring big waves into the harbor, so any boats that break free SHOULD be fairly simple to pull free as long as the storm surge does not put them high and dry.

The islands a hundred miles farther east are already feeling winds of 175mph. Tomorrow Anegada, flat and unprotected, will get hit almost directly... perhaps the few hundred residents can go to different islands or find a bunker, but I fear for them if there is a big storm surge as the island is only 28' at highest point.

OK, everyone! Find something solid and hold on! Good luck! See you all on the other side!

9:40am September 6: update: webcams & weather stations all seem to be down. Well, I guess I can't watch minute by minute.... and will probably be the better for it.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Water fun in Michigan sun!

OK, I know I spend a lot of time talking about Cape Cod and the Caribbean, but now I'm living in Michigan. Can't I find fun here? Other than sunset walks and swims, playing with numerous dogs, and hypothetical sunrise walks in the dunes? Well, sure...

Just last weekend, for example, Cynthia and I rented a canoe an hour north of here on Saturday and spent a few hours paddling an estuary/marsh/stream. We saw four or five bald eagles, many turtles (including one we caught as it made a dash through the duckweed), many marsh flowers, and a few fish.

On Sunday. we went for a little sail on Silver Lake on a hobie 16. Not much wind, but so delightful to get out on the water on a sailboat again! Cynthia handled sails and tiller, Tio relaxed, Lucy's ears and fur streamed out behind her as she kept watch, and I acted as official photographer. The dogs REALLY loved the walk on the beach on the far side of the lake, but they enjoyed the sailing as well.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Splicing lines

Many, many years ago, when I was a lad of perhaps eight or ten, I spent a week or two at my paternal grandmother's house and, for the first time, spent some some extended time with my cousins Billy and Ted. I mostly spent time with Billy as he was a bit younger than me and still fun, while Ted seemed absorbed by things suitable for his advanced age (he was a couple year older than me!). However, Ted did show me how to make a few simple splices in three-strand twisted lines and I absolutely delighted in it and use it often to this day.

This last visit to the Cape found "replace mooring buoy" on my list. I purchased the buoy and line and snagged my nephew Alex to show him the ropes. One thing lead to another and we ended up rebuilding the whole upper end of the mooring, with Alex doing most of the splicing.

At the end, he even made a dog leash, using a dinghy clip that does not get fouled with sand,

 and thought about setting up a roadside stand to sell them to people walking their dogs.

What a delight to pass this on!

Thursday, August 10, 2017

No sunrises? How about sunsets....

One thing that delights me on Cape Cod is my sunrise walks. I walk past the cars parked at the lighthouse, filled with people watching the rosy skies with a cup of coffee forgotten in their hands, down the stairs and across the dew-soaked sands, to the lapping waters. The salty scent, the building breeze, the cries of the hungry gulls... these wake me and stir me to life like an invigorating massage to my soul. The rosy light brings a magic to the shores and the early hour means that they are nearly all mine.

And, if I get warm, I can take a quick dip in waters where I KNOW I am not the top of the food chain. I MISS this!

What to do? The family cottage here does provide a nice sunrise...
but no good walk unless I wake early enough to get across the lake to the public side. This may be possible... I'll need to try it next time we are there.

How about sunsets? We live about a mile from Lake Michigan... so I've been walking there most evenings for this last week, in time to see some sunset,

pet some dogs, chat with dog owners, take a quick swim that leaves me delighted, and then drip my way home. Not the same, but pretty darned nice.... and I don't need to worry about salt getting onto my shoes,  phone, and camera!

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Foggy beach walk

I love a sunrise walk on the beach, but we had many days of fog during my recent time on Cape Cod.

The beach has become far shorter due to the recent break south of the Chatham Lighthouse in March this year. It used to be about 90 minutes round trip, now is under half that. The shoreline shown by Google Maps does NOT come very close to that shown by their satellite view (internet)...
which does not come close to the android Google Maps satellite (shows the March break), And no, I did not park there, merely marked it as the end of the dry sand so I could check the beach extension on my next visit.
which does not come very close to reality: geologic time runs very very fast on the barrier beaches: chart-makers throw up their hands and simply print "Use Local Knowledge".

As one walks down the beach, the sound of the waves that make their way in from the ocean becomes louder and louder, a gentle susurrus.
After a few minutes, eye-glasses become unusable as the gathering minuscule droplets of water make seeing foggy, then impossible. The dark grayness of twilight lightens to a pinkness, telling one that the sun is, indeed, rising.
And sometimes the gray will close in again and sometimes it will clear away and leave behind a glorious sunrise.

The most recent time I walked, I photographed razor clams.

I have never before found them sitting partly exposed, but this seems to be the way things are at this particular break in the beach. Most curious. I usually can collect one every few minutes, but could collect a few per minute here.

Is the sand too dry for them to burrow down? Is it too unstable for them to maintain a burrow they can slip down easily and does burrowing through sand frequently take too much energy? Curious.

What to do when the beach is gray?
Go ahead, walk there anyway!