What I Did On Summer Vacation

As the United States gears up for the frenzy of Black Friday after sharing a feast of Thanksgiving with friends and family, we cruisers are just finishing our summer season. That’s hurricane season to the rest of the world.

I’ve taken a hiatus from the blog, mostly because of where I spent my summer vacation. Most insurance companies who take the risk to insure cruising vessels will tell you, that in order to stay safe, the boat needs to be north of 30 degrees N or south of 50 degrees 10 minutes N. This all translates to somewhere in the Chesapeake or farther north. Or in our case, south of Grenada. So glad we chose south of Grenada this year and our thoughts are with all those who weathered Sandy’s fury. What do insurance companies really know.

Trinidad is lovely, it’s hot and wet, but the people are fantastic and it’s an industrialized nation with oil and natural gas as their main source of income. Let’s not forget the rum and bitters the citizens are so proud to share. Once the home to the United States Navy, the culture is rich in big band pan music. A mixture of slaves, brought in by the British to work the sugar, coffee and cocoa plantations, Eastern Indians and natives, the culture is a hodgepodge of food, music and traditions.

One thing the citizens of Trinidad are not, is internet savvy. Thus, my absence during this season. The good news is I’ve accumulated a plethora of stories to share. I’m looking forward to catching up with my readers.

Do tell what you did on your summer vacation.

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Gems Among the Stones

How often do you stick out your hand and introduce yourself to your fellow humanity? How many times have you found the diamond in the rough because you did?

It was the summer of 2008. We were still new to cruising with a bit of seasoning tossed on top. We weren’t yet comfortable with stopping at all the boats in an anchorage to say hi, but we did.

Little did we know, after four years, what kind of influence the crew of Liahona would have on our lives. Before we knew it, we’d agreed to meet them later on someone else’s boat to watch the local sailboat races. Thus we added another new crew to our list of friends.

Over the years we’ve met many cruisers and added many gems to our collection, but I can’t think of any that shine so brightly. When asked what makes them special I have to say, it’s their knack for helping to expand everyone else’s circle of friends.

They seem to know how to introduce you to just the right people that will help you along the way. They were instrumental in pushing us to leave the comfort of the East coast and making sure we had the right information to make our journey south a smooth one.

Recently, they put together a hog roast in paradise and invited their friends which of course expanded our circle of friends exponentially. In the process they introduced cruisers to a small Tiki bar and the proprietors. Every afternoon we’d gather to sip a cold drink and socialize with the locals and each other. Will we come back to this anchorage on our travels? Will we grace Black Boy and Debbie’s restaurant again? You bet.

I’m really glad we stopped by that boat on that particular day. I hope we can touch the lives of those we know in similar ways.

How often do you introduce your various friends to one another? How small can we make the world because we not only want to share ourselves, but our friends as well?

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Feast or Famine Part 2

Dieting isn’t about not eating. It’s about eating the right foods.

Mostly, what I’ve learned through the years is that less is more, but more often is better. Once your body knows it won’t go hungry, it has no need to store “fat”. Therefore dieting is simple, right?

HA! I know how to stock a pantry, I know fruits and vegetables, especially vegetables are unlimited on the diet intake charts. Starches, including bread, pasta and rice need to be monitored closely. Keep your protein consumption down to no more than the size of a deck of cards and stay away from sweets.

Again, simple, right?

I can also tell you, as wonderful as today’s canned meats are, there’s nothing like cutting into a juicy ribeye steak. My mouth is watering, even as I type this.

Insert dream cloud and you have my luscious steak, a giant baked potato (whoa, insert sweet potato as it’s healthier), some steamed broccoli and of course a sliver of cheesecake for dessert.

Excuse me as I go clean the drool from my chin.

This isn’t the diet of a cruiser in the islands unless of course you’re lucky enough to be dining on a mega yacht and can afford to fly in the entire cow in from the Midwest.

I’m learning to adjust, but it’s a slow process.

1) Grocery stores are more like glorified convenient markets stateside. Something like mom and pop shops with limited goods. All meat is frozen and placed in deep freezes. Mostly it’s a scary proposition in the best of circumstances.
2) Bakeries abound in the islands and are too tempting. Chocolate Croissants, Baguettes, Pizza. None of that whole wheat, healthy stuff, just good old fashioned doughy bread. My mouth is watering again.
3) Cheese, especially good French cheese (and wine) are in good supply. Can a person survive on bread and cheese alone? Some days….
4) Whereas, bananas and pineapples are plentiful, there’s also an abundance of fruits and vegetables I still can’t always identify, let alone the proper way to prepare the local fare. Can you say soursop or callaloo?
5) The heat and humidity make it unappealing to fire up the stove for much more than morning coffee.

We’ve been in the islands long enough to realize we need to adjust. We’ve tried our hand at what the locals eat with mixed reviews and we’ve made do with our stores aboard. Somewhere there’s the best of both worlds. I will persevere and take this crew from a state of famine, to one of feasting. I just need some more time. I guess we’ll stay in paradise until I figure it out.

Where have you been forced to adjust? How often does life send you curve balls that need your attention?

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Feast or Famine

Life of Riley

Cool drinks with little umbrellas.

Sailing into the sunset for excitement and adventure.

We feast on a lifestyle that most only dream.

So why do I write about feast and famine?

Because life isn’t that simple no matter where you are. It could be that the weather decides to drop copious amounts of moisture, when the ground says enough. The opposite is also true when the skies have nothing to offer up.

What about fortune and misfortune? In today’s economy we’re lucky to have a job and able to put food on the table with a bit left over for a rainy day.

All this and more are real and what we have to live with everyday. In my world there are plenty of feast or famine swings of the pendulum. More recently the famine includes communication. Lack of internet is very real in the islands. I don’t think I’ve gone this long without good internet in all the time we’ve been sailing.

Just think…. No Facebook, No Twitter, No Email and most importantly, No phone calls.

Could you turn off the electronics for a week or more? My life has been off-line for almost three weeks with just barely enough look into the cracks of life outside the islands.

What have I done in the interim? What can we all do when the fates turn the tables on us?

We make do. It’s scary being without the normal and cut off from the outside world. Not because life doesn’t move on. It does. But we’re forced to discover a bit more about ourselves. We dig deep into the depth of who we are what we were before all the social media took hold.

Believe it or not there’s more depth to life when you shut out the world, or face a challenge. How else can we learn and grow? Sometimes famine can turn into a feast when you slow down and look.

What challenges have you had to face recently and how did you deal with the challenge? On the flip side, can you see the benefits of the change?

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Projects Meant to Show Respect

We’re in the islands now. That means we have to respect a multitude of cultures and countries, all within a few days travel of one another.

For US citizens this can be a pretty simple procedure, but one thing you want to have aboard are each country’s flags.

I’m handy with a needle and thread, so I opted to make my flags. One thing I didn’t count on was the amount of clouds we’d have most days. See getting my sewing machine out, means we drain the batteries pretty fast. This isn’t one of those appliances meant for a boat, thus a power hungry monster.

When the sun shines the Captain and I are all about finishing the flags for countries down island.

This is a look of an entire day consumed by flags.

Have you ever wanted to complete a project, but life conspires to throw a curve ball?

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Charity Begins at Home

I’m a big fan of giving of myself. I’ve volunteered all my life for one cause or another.

It always amazes me how one little problem in life can turn into such a worthy cause. Author Brenda Novak has signed onto the war of juvenile diabetes since her son was diagnosed. Now a whole community of authors and businesses have come together to help find a cure for this life altering disease.

I’m taking a break from regularly scheduled programing for you to peruse a worthy cause and get something in return. Please join me in supporting a cure.

Brenda Novak’s Annual Action for the Cure of Diabetes 2012

Has adversity changed your life into something worth fighting for?

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Changing Directions, From East to South

Life is funny, scary, delightful and downright hard.

For the last six months we’ve been taking the thorny path to paradise. This trip has been anything but boring. We’ve seen new places and people. We’ve survived 8-10 foot seas, pounding into the wind and waves as well as dead calm passages.

All this to make the Leeward and Windward Islands, those rocks of paradise that make a chain from the Virgin Islands to South American in the Eastern Caribbean.

Now we find ourselves running out of time to explore these islands. Our insurance company and common sense tell us we need to be south of a certain Latitude before hurricane season takes hold.

In the past it was about getting far enough north to be out of harms way, now we must head south. It’s okay, we’re in no hurry to race out of paradise and there’s always next year.

How many times do you set a goal, take the action steps necessary and run out of time? Do you give up or do you re-adjust? How many times a year do you change directions?

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