Issues in Paradise…or the Ying and Yang of Life

Boaters have all kinds of sayings and phrases for the life we lead aboard.  We know that non-boating people think we’ve sailed off into the sunset on gentle breezes, blowing from just the right direction….like that popular song by Chris Cross.  Here are some of the things that sailors know to be true:

–that Murphy’s Law reigns more supreme on the seas than on land.  If something can go wrong, it will definitely go wrong–and in spades.
–that one year spent cruising on a boat puts the equivalent of 10 years of wear and tear on a boat that is used for weekends and short vacations of coastal sailing.
–Life on board is an endless series of boat repairs in exotic places.
–Life onboard is a strenuous game of ‘Whack a Mole.’  (What’s this, you ask?  check here for a good description)

So I will start this post with some lovely photos of our current paradise, Grand Case, St. Martin. This is the dinghy dock where we come ashore.  It’s not always this peaceful, but aren’t we lucky that this was a perfect day?

This is the sunset we viewed over margueritas on the deck of a beach bar.  I know, you are thinking, SEE?  Just what you’ve been saying all along….

When you get ashore in Grand Case, you are greeted by a charming French seaside town.  Lots of restaurants and shops.

–not to mention tropical gardens enhancing such lovely buildings.

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Even the trash is exotic.

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The pretty Catholic church in the center of town.

The beach is as charming as the village–all those colorful umbrellas remind me of  beaches on the Mediterranean.

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For luxury, you can’t do better than eating in one of the French restaurants along the waterfront.  For Valentine’s Day dinner we chose Ocean 82.  They even make their own flavored rum with vanilla (grown nearby), caramel, and ginger.  I really must give this a try–flavoring rum, that is– when I return home.

It was a beautiful location for watching the sunset, with rain on the horizon, while eating a terrific dinner with our good friends from Kalunamoo!  See the rain shower in the distance?

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I have had a great time ashore in Grand Case.  Here’s some of my swag.  There is a quaint housewares shop call MerSea with wonderful designs from Denmark.  I could not resist the bird fabric used for the travel bag….and our new live aboard, Louis!

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Isn’t Louis adorable in his sailor garb?  He comes with his own bunk with mattress, pillow and blanket.  He is making his way into our affections.  Eventually he will live with Tori, but for now he is having some sailing adventures with us!

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Another incredible bonus of being here is having sting rays and turtles swim right around our boat.  At this time of year there is also the possibility of seeing humpback whales with their calves.  We have been treated to the first two, but haven’t seen any whales yet.

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What you don’t see is that there is often quite a swell coming through the anchorage, so only the hardiest sailors–like Bob– find this a quiet anchorage. I am not part of that club.  And while my photo of dinghy dock was taken on a  peaceful evening, the waves are often crashing on the beach where the dinghy dock juts out into the bay.  That means that you will be landing and taking off from a dock where your dinghy is bouncing wildly as you try to get your supplies just purchased and your self into the boat without too much ill effect.  Being ashore is definitely luxurious but getting there and leaving again is dicey.

Now shall we move on to the repairs we now need in this exotic place.  We’ve only been down here for two weeks, and this is the list of what has been damaged or died from the harsh elements of sea life:
–Damage to main sail during 4-day gale as Bob sailed to BVI, being repaired at sail loft on shore.
–Broken batten on sail, which could not be repaired, so awaiting new batten being flown in from Boston, delayed due to winter storms in New England
–VHF radio with very light signal
–Non-functioning SSB, diagnosed by local electronics guy but not solved at all–nada.
–Dead windlass (that’s the thing that picks up the 100 or more feet of anchor chain which no one human can continue to do by hand day after day.  This is a BIG deal.  Looks like we need to buy a new one.  At least this is in stock in the local chandlery.

And I have suffered a little damage myself, but no hope of repairs until I return home.  The block and tackle on the dinghy davits hit me in the mouth about a week ago.  I was looking the other way, then turned my face right into it!  I was also talking…no surprise….so I got it right in the mouth, on my two front teeth.  I have a chipped front tooth now.  Then a few days later I was doing something in the kitchen so simple that I cannot even describe–just leaning over the counter trying to find something in our deep freezer.  We have very high fiddles on our counters to keep things from rolling off on to the floor in a seaway. Around here you can have a seaway in the anchorage, and that’s what happened.  Somehow I was thrown off balance a bit and the big fiddle bruised my rib.  Now that’s a fun injury, isn’t it?

These are the very big projects facing Bob right now.  We cannot leave until each of these has been addressed and corrected.  So, we may not get out of here for some time to come.  Yes, it’s lovely here, and I’d rather be here than on Pandora in New England right now (though warm and snug in my house is a strong contender).  We are certainly NOT gliding along from island to island on a zephyr, drinking our umbrella drinks.  In fact, although we get to experience such dramatic scenery and wildlife,  and interesting cultures on our travels, living aboard is still very much like living on land.  Each day brings its own demands and challenges, and in fact, procrastinating on boat chores has somewhat bigger consequences than neglecting chores at home.  Boat has more challenges for sure than my cushy land life, but it does have its rewards. One of those is magnificent views.

2-17-17a 021 I don’t expect much sympathy!

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