Mar 23, 2015

Playing With The Big Boats

   We aren't talking Mega yachts, we are talking SUPER yachts. Through our friends Scott and Brittany from Windtraveler, Eben got the invite to be racing crew on the 180ft ketch Parsifal. Even though we were at the complete opposite end of the Virgin Islands, there was no way that we were going to pass this up.

   It was a tough passage from St Thomas to the Virgin Gorda Sound. Nothing impossible, but with some strong winds directly on the nose, this seemingly small trek was taking forever. We decided that for our security, sanity, and comfort that we would split up the trip over three days, meaning Eben would miss the first two days of the race, but be there for the last two. It was a fair compromise to keep everyone on board happy.

   We reached the Sound safely and were happy to be back in these stomping grounds. Although it is Hoytie-Toytie land we really enjoy it here. It has a little something for our entire family (beaches, kiteboarding, and happy hour!)

   The next day Brittany woke us up way too early because she was just informed that the boat the boys would be sailing was departing an hour before schedule to reinstall a sail that had torn the day prior, and that they needed all hands on deck asap. So Eben left our boat unshaven and without breakfast to go take part in his first day of racing. Unfortunately for him it rained most of the day, and because he had left in such a hurry his foul weather jacket was forgotten on our boat. He got thoroughly drenched, but still enjoyed his day. The regatta wasn’t for any sort of money-prize, but more just for the fun of racing boats this size. 

    To give you an idea of the size of this boat, picture this. It has 9 full time crew, and 10 crew that come in for racing. That jib sail they tore weighed 1500lbs and took a forklift to get it into the sail loft to fix. To fill this boat with gas takes 8 hours, yes that’s a full work day. And it’s fenders are bigger than Arias!

   Eben loved the experience, the people he got to meet, and man did he ever sleep well at the end of both those days.

This is what it looks like when the racing buoys are bigger than you

The girls had their binoculars out and where checking for Papa's boat

There she is, 180ft of wow.

Eben and Scott, working hard
Not sure this is what he was supposed to be doing!

Look how heeled that boat is!

There they were again, checking him out and asking me if his boat won (they didn't)

There's Eben, waving to us

On the last race day, we were invited to go check out the boat. This is how the girls entertained themselves as the big boat docked.

My beauties looking so small on this ship

Mar 19, 2015

Creepy Bugs Everwhere

   I have to admit (out loud) that I am a complete wuss when it comes to bugs. I really don’t like them. There is something creepy about the way they move, the way they have six legs, and the way they always seem to sneak up on you. They give me the heebie-jeebies. I am enough of a wuss that even seeing one on our boat, most of the time I will just stare at it, not having the nerve to approach and kill it. Our daughters are better bug killers than me. Embarrassing to say that my 2 and 5 year old are braver than me in this domain.

   You can imagine how nuts I have been going with this ant infestation on our boat. And infestation may be a strong word, but that’s how it feels to me. They are not everywhere. They sneak out in the dead of night and wander around. They are not the cute little ants that many boats have. No, ours are big carpenter-looking ants. They don’t even march in line. They are brave little soldiers that solo wander around our boat in the most random locations. (For some reason they seem to be attracted to our toilet seats, so I now do a triple-take before resting my tush down for a pee.) We have tried several different types of pesticides to kills these mofos but apparently they are indestructible. They must somehow be related to nuclear cockroaches. But I keep at it, sweeping up the little messes they leave behind and sprinkling different killing agents in the hopes that one day I may win the war. I have begun to come to terms with the fact that we have ants. I don’t like it, and I will continue to try and kill them, but I acknowledge their existence and our forced cohabitation.

   But yesterday another bug decided to play with my sanity. Weevils! We were sailing, more like being tossed around by the ocean, and our “panty” door flew open sending all of our bags of pasta flying to the floor. I ran down below to clean everything up, and as I picked up one of the bags I could see the little critters running rampant inside the bag. It was completely disgusting! I quickly scanned the other bags and found one more with the pests in it. So I put both those bags into garbage and saved the rest of cleaning up until we were calmly moored in Caneel bay. That’s when I discovered the horror of it all. These tiny bugs, that look almost like ticks, we crawling inside bags of noodles, on the shelf, and on the outsides of the packaging of our other dried goods. Apparently the rocky sailing trip got them all stirred up and they started to wander, everywhere. I took everything off the shelf and thoroughly cleaned the entire thing. Then I inspected all the other food, put back what was fine, and trashed anything that looked compromised. Eben told me, hey we can just boil them out, scoop them off the top of the water and then eat the noodles. I was already disgusted at that thought, but when I saw that these bugs actually burrow into the noodles and eat/live in them, there was no way I was going to eat anything they had touched. YUCK! 

  Eben jumped online and researched what we can do about these critters. For future reference, they like flour, rice, and noodles. You can freeze any of these products right after buying them, which would kill any potential eggs. But one site said you had to freeze them for 4 days! With our very tiny freezer we just can’t make that happen. It recommended keeping all your goods in bins with lids on them, and adding Bay Leaves to them, which is a natural deterrent. So, being me, I may have gone slightly overboard, and placed something like 4 leaves per container. That ought to keep them away.

   After I felt good that I had rid our boat of these pests (cleaned the shelves, thrown out all packaging and compromised food, and washed all the food bins) I sat down for lunch. As I ate something tickled in my shorts, and what do you know, one of those weevils found its way on to me! I swatted it away and Eben came to my rescue, killing the little sucker. Having seen them burrow into noodles, I will now have nightmares of them taking on tick-like behaviours and trying to burrow into me!!!

   I am sorry if my “bug killing” is offensive to any insect lovers, but ewww; I can’t handle them and will continue to encourage my daughters to kill any critter that is on our boat that may try and touch me in my sleep.

Bins and Bay Leaves for everything now.

Sorry I didn’t get any pictures of the weevils. The last thing that crossed my mind while I had those bugs all over all in our bags of pasta was to take pictures. 

Mar 15, 2015

Our New Ride

   You know those dinghies that you see at the dock, the derelict looking ones. The ones that have the tubes half deflated, water swishing around the inside, and you worry if the outboard engine will stay above the water line. That’s what our dinghy was starting to look like. I am not joking. We were having to pump air into it every time we wanted to use it. (Eben is a bit obsessive and would count every pump, and it was nearing the 160 a side.) At first, when the dinghy started ailing we joked that it was our daily workout having to pump it back up. But when it got to the point that we would go to the beach for a few hours and when we went to leave the dinghy was flat again, it wasn’t funny anymore. Eben most often ended up pumping it back to life (because he felt I pumped too slow!), which meant he ended up being a sweaty mess before we even got to go anywhere. 

   Eben is an expert dinghy repair man. He has all the tools, the materials, and the skills. We used to get people coming to ask us for his help and knowledge. But this dinghy, it was beyond repair. This dinghy was gifted to us 2 years ago, but we think it was actually from the 80’s. It came to us already in need of much time and love, which Eben carefully poured into her. But after 1.5 years of cruising with is, and 6 months of sitting on deck in the DR, the poor thing got old. There was nowhere left to patch on it, the air would come hissing out of every seam. It was time to let her go in her old age.

   The thought of buying a new dinghy hurt, in the bank account type of hurt. We needed a big one, one that could support our 25hp outboard, meaning 10-12ft. Those are up in the $4000 range. Not something we were looking to spend on this sailing season. But they Eben had an amazing idea. Here we are in the Virgin Islands, charter boat central. All these charter companies rent out their boats, meaning they have to keep them in tip top shape. Once something starts to look old or worn and is beyond repair, off to the graveyard it goes. Even if it is still in perfectly good working condition, just a little less pretty to the eye. So I contacted every charter company in the area asking if maybe they had any used dinghies they were looking to get rid of. And a couple of them did!

   Through a random series of events we ended up on the Moorings (charter company) docks for a night. Our first thought was to check with them, since we were there in person. After clearly stating that they “Are NOT in the business of selling dinghies” they showed us two that were no longer being used. It was a long debate for us. One had many patches on the top side (from rubs and scuffs) but looked newer. The second looked older, but had a couple patches on the bottom (harder to fix) and needed some fibreglass work. We also knew of another company that had one for sale in a different island, but we had not yet laid eyes on it. So after a lot of going back and forth, and back again, we settled on the first of the two we saw. They offered to do a couple small repairs to it and then it would be ours, for $500!!!!! (well it was $450 + $50 to the guy doing the repairs). That is hugely discounted to what we first pictured we would be paying when the other dinghy started failing us.

   While we were at the docks Eben also hired one of the employees (on his lunch hour) to fix our outboard which had seized on the bar and we could no longer swivel up. Who would have thought that after three days on a dock we would be leaving there with a New-To-Us dinghy and a fixed outboard engine! They even offered to throw out our old dinghy for us. Which was awesome because we were wondering what we were going to do with that piece of junk.

   I can happily report that it has been a few weeks since we got our “new” dinghy and we have not had to put in a single pump of air yet!!!! Eben has also decided that he is going to make a pair of chaps for it, to keep it protected from the UV and so we don’t rub on the existing patches too much. We want this dinghy to have the fullest life possible.

   (Maybe I can get Eben to make a pair of chaps for himself too! LOL!)

The old dinghy that worked so great for many years, and then didn't.

row after row of Moorings boats

Necesse in the mix of the Moorings

There she is, our new to us dinghy

Mar 8, 2015

Turning 32 In Good Company

   Eben is absolutely horrible with dates. He usually can’t even tell you what month we are in. So that inevitably leaves me to be in charge of everything and anything that is calendar related. It has gotten to the point that if anything with a timeline needs to be addressed, his family and acquaintances with email me instead of him, to make sure that it is dealt with. But lately, with all the cruising, I have started loosing track of time too. Ask me what day of the week we are, and 8 times out of 10 I will have to shrug my shoulders.

   I knew my birthday was “coming up” but kept telling myself, in a couple of weeks. So I was quite surprised a few days ago when I woke up and noticed we were March 1st. Meaning my birthday was no longer “in a couple of weeks”, it was in 3 days! The first thing I did was let Eben know. Because although I wasn’t expecting anything at all, I didn’t want him feeling like a dink that he forgot my birthday. From that point on I was in the dark. “Surprise” mode had started and I was no longer to check any of our text messages or ask too many questions. It’s easy enough for me because I don’t like ruining my own surprises. I was never that kid at Christmas that was trying to open the presents early. I like the not knowing.

   Surprises are never easy to keep under wraps, especially when you have two excited little girls that absolutely want to tell you how much fun you are going to have. With their little slips, and the accidental slip of a friend one night over drinks, the pieces of the puzzle started coming together. But I still didn’t have the grand picture.

   Here is how my 32 birthday went down.

I woke up to a cake made of crepes and nutella! After scarfing those down I was kicked off the boat while Eben and the girls did some finishing touches on some homemade gifts while I spent my time on the beach writing back to all the facebook birthday wishes (thank you everyone <3) and getting my tan on. I got back to the boat in just in time to put the girls down for their nap and have so adult birthday fun (wink wink), and then Eben made me poutine for lunch. If 32 continues like this I may put on a few pounds! I also got to start opening gifts. This was the year of jewellery, alcohol, and sweets. I am one happy lady. The girls had each made me some hand painted shell necklaces. And Eben and the girls made me this beautiful shell necklace filled with broken shells and apoxy (see pics) and later on I received another necklace that Eben made of coconut to match my earrings. During lunch the “plan” was revealed to me. Eben had rented out a floating bar for the evening and we had friends coming in from everywhere to join in the party. We had our buddy boat there (sv Asante). We had a boat sail over from St Thomas, braving the 23knot winds on the nose (sv Mary Christine). We had another leave their boat and take a ferry over (sv Mirador). And we even had some unexpected visitors (sv Serenade and sv Slow Flight). Not only did all these people show up for the party, which was a gift in itself, but they came bearing gifts, wine, and cupcakes!

    At 6:30pm we all congregated on the floating bar for appies and drinks. The kids ran around and did their own thing while the adults all had good conversation and fun. The bar itself, Angel’s Rest, is something worth seeing. It was built by Peter 8 years ago and serves as his home and his income as a bar. 

  I am so grateful to have these amazing friends that came out to celebrate with us. Friends that were willing to brave the weather and go out of their way to join us. In the sailing world that shows a lot. Everyone that showed up helped make this night special, and at the end of the night all the girls helped show me that 32 is going to be a crazy year too (with a leap of faith off the roof of the bar. Totally not allowed but permitted for this special occasion.)

And then the party started on Angel's Rest, the floating bar.

the bar has a hole straight to the water to make a nice table view

this is Peter, the owner of Angel's rest

Jody made me cupcakes!

so fortunate to have these two ladies in my life

barge party!

how our drink tabs were recorded, on the counter with marker

the kids sat and told stories as the night wore on

And to finish off the night, the girls jumped off the roof (Brittany and I)

Eva's jump

Marie and Jody

and lauren

Thank you Peter for letting us celebrate at your bar, and for letting us be crazy!