Archive for December, 2011

Having Fun

December 30, 2011

After spending many weeks working hard to get Rosie ready to cruise, I took a break. I had a great time visiting family and friends while Eric and crew sailed Rosie south. I started my trip by visiting my niece, Nancy, her husband Cory, and their daughter, Sumer, in Clarkesville, TN. The big event of the trip was Nancy’s baby shower. After the shower I spent a few days hanging out with Nancy and little Sumer, while Cory went to a job interview in North Carolina. We shopped, played, and just rested. It would have been nice to stay through December to attend Cory’s Purple Heart Award ceremony for his service in Iraq, and a few days later, his college graduation. I would loved to have been there, but I needed to move on if I was going to make it back to the Caribbean where Eric was waiting, unsupervised.

Cory receives his Purple Heart

My neice, Sumer

Next Stop – Michigan. Since my brother-in-law Mark was out sailing the Atlantic with Eric, I had a chance to spend some time with my sister Beth. I also had the use of Mark’s car. Thank you Mark.

Beth and I spent a day at the Detroit Institute of Arts to see a special exhibit “Rembrandt and the Faces of Jesus”. The exhibit follows the evolution Rembrandt’s portrayal of Jesus in the 1600’s as well as some paintings of events described in the bible. In the 1640s Rembrandt became the first western artist to portray Jesus as Jewish, using a model from the neighborhood in which he lived at the time. It was really fascinating to see the transition of the face of Jesus based ancient Greek sculpture and Renaissance imagery to the Jewish face of Jesus. They also looked at how the events in Rembrandt’s life paralleled the scenes he chose for his paintings of Jesus. It was very interesting.

Many years ago, I was maid of honor at the wedding of my good friends, Tom and Maureen. Their daughter, Colleen was married on November 19th. Yeah I was in town! I was there to attend the rehearsal dinner and help them celebrate Colleen and Michaels wedding, eating fabulous foods and deserts, imbibing on fine wine, seeing old friends, and dancing the night away.  They still throw a great party.

My friend, Maureen and her son, David

Tom and Colleen

Some time between the wedding and Thanksgiving, Beth and I were able to get in a sauna. I just love taking saunas at their house. We keep it as hot as we can stand it and stay as long as we dare before taking a cold shower and sitting in the cool November air until we are cold. Then we do it again, and again, thats three times, according to Finnish custom.  Its a lot of fun,  amazingly relaxing and does wonders for your skin.

The next big event was Thanksgiving. For many years my brother, John, and his wife, Kay, have hosted our family at their farm. We all brought a dish, and as usual, Kay had a fabulous spread. The gathering was small this year, but it brought back so many good memories of all my brothers and sisters and nieces and nephews getting together. We were warmed by the wood stove, and ate delicious food from their vegetable garden. John gave hayrides behind his tractor, pulling us past the garden, through the Christmas trees he was selling, and around the barns. John and Kay are selling the farm, so perhaps next year Thanksgiving will be at the new house they are building on the lake?

It was a busy weekend. The following Saturday Beth and Marks daughter Kristy (the 17th of my 19 nieces and nephews) turned 21. Are we getting old or what? And I was there for her first legal drink, a mojito. We celebrated at a vegetarian restaurant in Ann Arbor, absolutely fabulous. She continued the celebration, with her friends while we older folks, that would be me and Beth, wereearly to bed.

21 st birthday dinner

Kristy sips her first legal drink

On Sunday afternoon my family went to a golf lodge in Howell, Michigan celebrated the 40th wedding anniversary for my brother Mike and his wife Pat. They were married on November 27, 1971. That would be when they were 21.

Forty years of wedded bliss

I also had a chance to spend some time with my brother-in-law Steve and my sister Margie, who has been struggling with an aggressive form of MS for 20 years. I’m thankful for Steve who has taken care of Margie and has been there for her the whole way. They met in college and were married young. He is still her number 1 fan. Any time I get to spend with her is time I cherish. Its always difficult to see another person, much less one you love so much, suffer with such a terrible disease.

And finally, on the Monday before I left, the girls from the old neighborhood got together to celebrate yet another decade. I am so blessed in my life that I have known these women since we were very young children. These are my oldest friends and they are so much fun. It’s great to get together.

(l to r) Kathy, Terry, Maureen, Celia, Me and new friend Dina

 Next: Back to the Caribbean

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The Boys Are Back In Town

December 16, 2011

So what’s happened since we got back to the Virgin Islands? Too much for one blog entry, so here’s the story of the guys’ post-cruise activities…..

Vacation (aka Geographic Bachelors Do the Virgins)

Having read the last post, you know the trip from NC to the USVI was challenging. Great crew work made it happen. Dave and Mark made travel plans to allow for a delayed start and a slow passage, but the weather cooperated so we got started on time and had a fast trip. That put us in the Virgin Islands with over a week to kill. We recuperated for a day in Christmas Cove, St. James Island (between St Thomas and St John) and started chilling down into Island Time. All that is there is a reef/rock pile to snorkle around, so this was a good start.

Haven From Tourists

The next day we motored upwind to Coral Bay and anchored in Coral Harbor. The settlement is populated with a lot of people who have escaped from pressures of everyday society. Love City (more like Love intersection) is just around the bend. The only Bee Gees music you will hear here is before they degenerated into disco. If you were born in the 40s or 50s you might have a clue. If you are younger try St Thomas.

The hub of activity is Skinney Legs bar/restaurant and the ajoining gift shops and mail/shipping outfit. We visited Skinney Legs and then took a bus across the island to the main town – Cruz Bay. It’s an amazing journey. $1 US buys you an amusement park ride with an incredible view.

The next day was Thanksgiving. A local fellow borrows the restaurant and hosts Thankspigging. It’s mostly a big potluck although someone cooked a whole pig in the middle of the yard behind the restaurant. There is an amazing amount of excellent food. By pure luck we were there in time to collect some fixin’s and Dave put together a nice salad complete with his secret dressing. It turned out this was the only regular salad, so it was a great addition to the buffet.

And how did they signal the buffet was open? Arlo Guthrie and Alice’s Restaurant came on the PA system.

Thankspigging buffet at Skinney Legs

We pigged out.

As the feed wound down and people started to drift away, a few folks pulled out some instruments and put on a little jam session on the back steps. What a nice way to end the day.

On the Road Again

Once we finished digesting we decided to move on. Dave had a hankering to go to the Baths on Virgin Gorda – one of the British Virgin Islands. We asked around and found that you could loose your boat if you got caught doing a daytrip to the BVI without checking in, so our first stop was Road Town, Tortola, just north of St. John. We picked up a mooring and I left the crew on board while I checked in with Customs and Immigration. Except for having to wait while they processed in a bunch of ferry passengers, the check in process went smoothly. We planned to stay no more the three days, so we could check out at the same time we checked in. We spent the rest of the afternoon wandering around Road Town, but didn’t find too much of interest.

The next morning we headed for Virgin Gorda and the Baths. We motored upwind to the Baths and grabbed a mooring. Then we dropped the dink in the water and headed in. There is a dinghy mooring line a little way off the beach, so we tied up there and swam in. .

The Baths at Virgin Gorda

The Baths are a couple beaches separated by lots of BIG rocks. You can snorkle around the rocks off the beach and wander through the rocks from one beach to the other. Other than being overcast and crowded with cruise ship passengers, it was all pretty cool.

View of Compass Rose from the path through the rocks between the beaches

You can’t stay overnight at the Baths, so we headed back west. The plan was to go as far as we could and still find a spot to stay the night before it got dark. We ended up in Great Harbor, Peter Island.

The next day we headed back to St John. Our first stop was Cruz Bay to check back in, then we headed around the north side of the Island to Francis Bay. We were interested in doing the snorkling trail at nearby Trunk Bay, but when we dinghyied over we found the trail was closed because the waves were too rough. Back we went to Francis Bay. Mark snorkled a little along the rocks at the edge of the bay, but the overcast took a lot of interest out of the swim.

The next morning we had a favorable wind and sailed to Charlotte Amalie, St Thomas – just about the only sailing we did. We cruised the harbor and saw lots of interesting vessels.  One of the more interesting ones, was the replica of the HMS Bounty.

HMS Bounty in Charlotte Amalie harbor

We later get up close and personal with the Bounty, but that will be covered in a subsequent post.

Tired of boat food, we dinked in to Crown Bay Marina and had dinner at the restaurant. The next day was Mark’s last day on the island, we took a cab into Charlotte Amalie, the main town on St Thomas. Normally we would take a safari bus, but we needed to make sure Mark would get to the airport on time. This is a Duty Free port and the waterfront is full of tourist shops, jewelry stores, and liquor stores. We spent the morning doing the tourist thing, and then headed back. Yogi, the taxi driver, dropped Dave and I at the marina and took Mark to the airport. He also promised to pick Dave up at the marina at 6AM the next morning, which he did.

Watching a cruise ship pass Honeymoon Bay as it leaves St. Thomas

I then had half a day to convert the boat from the boys’ dormitory to a comfy home before Jackie arrived….

Paradise

December 1, 2011

Jackie flew in yesterday. It’s truly paradise now.