Monday, March 12, 2012
Friday, March 2, 2012
June 27 - A "Dark and Stormy" Start
Big thunder and lightning this morning woke Suzi and me up at 4AM. I rolled back over feeling good as we were still tied to the Moorings' marina dock. The alarm woke us for good at 7am, but it was still raining. I made percolated coffee, cut some fresh fruit and toasted raisin bagels to start a rainy day. The girls showered on the boat to get use to water conservation ... Gray and I ventured to the supermarket to pick up a few more provisions. More coffee before the last land based "head" visit for a week was in order before I "topped" off the water tanks. We were ready to go!
I started the engine and got a bit nervous as the dock was filling with workers and charterers getting other boats ready. I had a straight shot out of our slip, but a big "cat" was just off my starboard where I needed to make a left. I didn't have much room for error and the growing audience was sure to notice any mishap. I had Suzi forward ready to fend us off with the boat hook if I got too close, but all worked as planned and we motored out of the dock and into to harbor (10:30am).
Once we passed the final green buoy to enter the Sir Francis Drake Channel, I turned into the wind and raised the main. The previous day I plotted a course of 212M to Norman Island, so I turned the wheel and made our course. I engaged the auto pilot and began to experiment with the sail trim. We were on a port tack and reaching. All seemed to be working well until the boat began to round up into the wind. Before I knew it we were heading close hauled on a course of 135M and I could not seem to get the boat to fall off. I disengaged the auto and made a tack, but I still could not get the boat to make my course. I began to get concerned so I started the engine and was able to get us back on course by motor-sailing. We unfurled the jib and were making 6.9knts. I cut the engine again and self steered for fifteen or so minutes before engaging the auto once again. All seemed good as we headed toward the Indians and Pelican Island. It was a nice sail as I began to get comfortable with the boat after the rounding up incident with the auto pilot (I later learned that sometimes the auto pilot, especially if it is not "tuned" properly, can get overpowered in breezy conditions and following seas as the boat yaws as the auto cannot anticipate wind gusts or waves. If it does not "correct" the course quickly enough, you round up.)
The Caves was also the site of our first casualty - water proof camera crapped out (major disappointment). Dinner? Maybe Willy Ts for Suzi and me once the kids are put to bed. Instead, we dined on board Blue Tide and it was great (Cajun Chicken curry with white rice).
Willy Ts beckoned and Suzi and I arrived (kids in bed) for a couple of "Dark and Stormy's" to "end" with what "started" our day. The reputation and lore of Wiley Ts did not disappoint ... We saw another charter group, including a woman (who seemed to know her way around the bar and behind it) her husband and friends that were enjoying themselves in a very uninhibited way ... While behind the bar and trying to cue just the right Led Zeppelin song for her liking, she ordered a body shot ... Took off her shirt and crawled up on to the bar and laid on her back. The bartender (after looking at me and shrugging his shoulders) placed whip cream and cherries on, well use your imagination. Then her husband (I assume) promptly gobbled everything up while she giggled. She was ALL tan, so obviously did not have any concerns about revealing her private areas (footnote - upon arrival back in the USVI, the body shot couple was staying at our resort and recognized Suzi and I ... They seemed very embarrassed and avoided eye contact as I tried to say "Hi, remember us from just a few nights ago?").
Friday, February 24, 2012
Well, it has been quite awhile since I last wrote and I have a lot to write about; thus, without further adieu I bring part one of a trip report from our BVI Sailing Vacation – June 2011 (please excuse lack of proper grammar as this is taken verbatim from my journal):
June 25 - An Early and Tired Start
Late to bed and up early for a 6:30am departure from the Tulsa International Airport; a tired start to our vacation, as always ... 12.5 hours later (including 2 connections and 4+ hours in layovers) we were in St. Thomas, USVI at the Morning Star Marriott - 7:30pm and getting dark already (eastern time zone, but no observation of daylight savings). I was trying hard to decompress and get in vacation mode, but not yet "feeling" it.
The ferry ride was uneventful, but I was excited to see the islands that I have been studying for the past 4 months. On the way in through "The Narrows" I was able to identify where we were by referencing my iNavX chart on my iPad and using land formations - this gave me a bit of confidence as almost all BVI navigation is by line of sight (but you still must identify the correct island). Customs was a breeze and I wondered - why even bother? Bags were not scrutinized, we were not scrutinized - but I'm not complaining as the whole process took less than 15 minutes and we were at the Moorings marina by 1:30pm, a full 2.5 hours ahead of my carefully thought out schedule! Can you tell I'm not on "Island time" yet?
We were assigned to "Blue Tide", a 40 foot Beneteau monohull with a dual helm. This was a bit intimidating as this was my first charter and the biggest boat I had ever been on was my 30 foot Catalina. Andre performed our boat briefing and then I went to see Michael for the Skipper's meeting. The boat briefing is where the "real" information is exchanged. It is a time where you learn all important aspects of the boat's systems and where they "feel" you out to make sure that you know your way around the $$$$k boat they are releasing for your unsupervised week long journey. The Skipper's meeting, on the other hand, is worthless ... almost. You cover information on possible itineraries, different anchorages, where to drop your garbage and possible re-provisioning places - the type of information that should be well studied or known from previous experiences. If you don't know it by the Skipper's meeting, then you will be overwhelmed with information and not recall a thing. At that point, Blue Tide was then "officially" released to our possession and I was told we were free to go at first light.
As we settled on Blue Tide and stored our clothes in our respective cabins, I helped Suzi check all our boat provisions and store all food and beverages in various parts of the boat. Hopefully I will remember where we put the wine! Then, Suzi washed all fruit and chopped the veggies - what a head start for the week (later in the trip, we wished she would have pre-mixed Bloody-Mary's and cut lime wedges ... difficult tasks while underway - heeled and bouncing through waves). Instead of dining out for dinner, we had smoked Gouda cheese and crackers, a salad and lasagna baked in the on board oven.
Gray to bead early ... Kiki and Suzi are watching a DVD ... I'm on deck finishing a glass of wine ... writing, thinking and feeling like I'm almost on vacation and island time!
Tuesday, October 25, 2011
Monty and I provisioned the boat for our first night sleeping aboard Mike’s Ericsson 30. It was mid-April and the Texas Gulf coast air was pleasant and comfortable. We went out for a bite to eat with Mike and got to know him a bit over a few drinks. It was an early night; however, as we planned for an early morning start with some class work and to get familiar with the boat’s systems before we embarked on our 70nm sail to Freeport.
Friday, September 16, 2011
My two kids, like many, are involved in extracurricular activities. Vary rare is the day where they just sit around at home watching television or playing video games. To say that their schedule keeps my wife and I busy is an understatement. Since we both work fulltime, we not only have to keep our respective business calendars, but coordinate with the kids’ calendars too.
One of their main activities is competitive tennis. For those families not indoctrinated in the nuance of junior tennis it may be hard to fully comprehend, but I know there are other sports where such a competitive endeavor requires not only a serious commitment from the child, but also from the family as a whole. This is the case for our family. The sacrifices that we must make for them to compete at a high level is not only our immediate family, but also our extended family who do not see us as often as we would all like, because our weekends and holidays are spent traveling from tournament to tournament in cities across the country near and far.
Shortly after Christmas 2010 (spent at a national tennis tournament in Tucson, Arizona over 1,000 miles from our home), my wife and I began to look at our calendars for the first six months of 2011. We tried to identify “open” weekends to go to the lake and see family. It was frustrating. As we looked towards late spring and summer, it was even worse as that is heavy tennis season with all the major tournaments scheduled. By the way, there is no “off” season in tennis. We saw a brief open window at the end of June and early July. It would, however, mean that my daughter would miss a major tournament in which she did well during the 2010 event. Missing it this year would cause her national ranking to drop.
I was conflicted about telling my daughter she could not play, but I decided it was time for us to take a family vacation. A vacation separate and apart from the stress of a tennis tournament where every day is scheduled around match times, warm up times, eating and going to bed early to start it all over again the next day. We needed a “real” vacation - a vacation that we would all remember for the rest of our lives. Suzi and I slept on it and the next morning, early February, I booked flights to and reserved a bareboat charter in THE BRITISH VIRGIN ISLANDS. My Quest to Sail continues!