All we do these days is make plans for getting home before the hurricane season starts down here. I was going to write about these plans, but they are mutating too fast for me, faster than shifting sand trickling through my fingers. We’ve now gone well beyond Plan C, D, and E. I started this while we were still in Antigua, but now nothing from that post is relevant. Lots has changed, but nothing really has.
We left Antigua last week, on Thursday, to sail through the night to St. John, in the USVI. We arrived on Friday afternoon. My medications are waiting for me in Red Hook, and Bob is taking the ferry there now to get them, as I write this. We tried to make landfall there on Friday afternoon, but it was so rough in the harbor that I did not think I could handle Pandora while Bob picked up the mooring lines. We have been in Caneel Bay on St. John since then.
I was frightfully sick on the passage here, and that has given me quite a concern about making the much longer passage home. People love to tell me that everyone gets better after three days at sea. I’m sure that’s true most of the time. But what about those three days? How is Bob supposed to get through three long days without help? The 2-night trip to Antigua in early March was a terrible burden on him. He had no help from me at any point on that trip. And it happened again on the way here. I’ve been sailing with him for 45 years now. We’ve made some long passages and we’ve covered a lot of ground between Maine and Florida on the east coast of the US, and on to the Bahamas. I don’t just get mildly sick; I get incapacitated-ly sick. It’s a risk to have me onboard. That is weighing pretty heavily on me. (I have a huge stock of different seasickness meds, trust me!)
The day we sailed to St. John, capital of Antigua,–not the island where we are now– to clear out, we saw this ship carrier in the harbor. You cannot imagine how much I wanted this to be our plan! Just take Pandora to Newport, and let us go! The cost of $20,000 to take her was a bit sobering. Still, I was tempted. Bob was not.
Here you can see boats lining up to wait their turn in the crane. Too bad Pandora couldn’t get on line.
The stress of worrying about this is taking its toll. I feel I am burden onboard, but no one else can get down here to help Bob. What to do? We talk to our weather router off an on over the months we are down here. Last week when Bob told him how sick I was with the following seas on our way here, he suggested that we consider the ‘northern route’ home, which would take us far out to sea, east of the Bahamas to make a straight shot to the Carolinas or even all the way to Connecticut. This route has more easterly winds and would put the wind and sea state coming across the middle of our boat, which is called a beam reach. This is the route Bob always takes each year. But that terrifies me. It’s so far from anything. Once again this morning we called the Venerable Chris Weather Router to ask if there was a way to get home in flat seas. This may be a possibility. The ‘southern route’ would take us north of Hispaniola (DR and Haiti) and into the Old Bahamas Channel. The winds and waves would be from behind, my least favorite direction, but if we pick a window when there is very little wind, the sea state should be flat. We’d have to motor most of the way to Florida. Horrors to real sailors like Bob, but that sounds pretty nice to me. Bob is in favor of doing whatever makes me less fearful. He is on a hunt for some diesel cans so we can carry extra fuel. Wouldn’t you know that all those sailors who sheltered here before we arrived bought up all the diesel cans at every store within walking distance in both Red Hook and St. John. I’m amazed that any of these chandleries are still open. (But that is another story)
In my distress over how I’m going to get home, I have returned to some of my projects that were so boring to me weeks ago. Now I relish anything that will take my mind off what lays ahead. On my small tapestry I have finally made it past the pillars in English Harbor. Really, I have no business weaving buildings. I need to imprint that on all my bobbins–No Architecture!! Now I’ve started the octopus that wraps around the little postcard scene of Nelson’s Dockyard, so I’m having considerably more fun.
I’ve joined in a couple of Rebecca Mezoff’s “Change the Shed” get togethers on youtube through live streaming. It’s been one of the best diversions I’ve been able to find. I weave my own tapestry while she weaves and talks to the weavers who send her questions or comments through live text messages. It’s fun. Lately I haven’t had enough connectivity to do it, and I miss it!
St John has some nice distractions too. There are lots of turtles here, and they are not nearly as shy as most sea turtles. One of them checks us out throughout each day. We must be sitting on top of his favorite patch of turtle grass. In fact, in Caneel Bay you may not anchor because anchors and chain tear up the grass that is so necessary to the turtles. There are moorings here, and now that the island is a bet less crowded, we were lucky to get one.
Our mooring is just off the beach of a derelict resort that was started by the Rockefeller family back in the 50s. It made it through all those decades and then was destroyed in 2017, by Hurricane Irma. Now, only 2 1/2 years later, it looks like it’s been out of commission for many years, not just a few. A local resident told us that the property’s 99-year lease will be up in two more years. There’s a rumor that a big resort company has bought the resort and will rebuild when the lease runs out.
The view from Pandora right now is quite spectacular. It’s hard to imagine that you can have tough decisions ahead and a hard trip home while sitting in such a place.
It took me a full day to get over the trip here, but as you can see, I am relaxing while I can, before we have to head out again.
I am working on a sweater design that Purl Soho offers on their website, called End to End Pullover. The yarn is also theirs, called Linen Quill. It is a blend of merino, alpaca, and linen. It is about the weight and grist of Shetland jumper weight, but so luscious due to the alpaca, and heathery, due to the linen. I’m enjoying the feel of it, and the Caribbean blue, even though the knitting has grown boring. I am almost half done.
I’m not sure that I use my nostepinne correctly, but I wanted to knit from a center pull ball. I have to drape the skein on our navigation chair, which is a bit too small. Of course at home I make balls with a ball winder and it goes at least 10 times faster.
My balls always turn out like eggs!
And I am baking and cooking, like everyone else on the planet right now. Even though I have a pound of yeast in the freezer onboard, I miss making sourdough. I thought I’d find out what wild yeast in the Caribbean would be like. It’s very healthy! It must love the salt air and warm temperatures. Playing with sourdough also has been a little ray of contentment during my worrisome days.
And the best balm for my fearful days has been the connection with friends who are checking on me daily. It’s been so therapeutic for me to know that friends are thinking of me. Somehow that is always such a sweet surprise! –to hear that people take the time to think about me when their own lives have a full share of worries. I feel wrapped in the love of people who are routing for Bob and me to have a safe trip home. Thank you immensely!
I don’t think I’ve ever commented, but have followed along for at least a few years. Count me among the people who are rooting for you and Bob. Hang in there — and take good care.
HI, I am reading your blog for quite a while now, and are praying for you and your husband to return home safely. I live in Pretoria, South Africa which is a challenge. My husband and I are both over 60 so we are in serious lockdown and going to buy fish at our fishmonger is like an big outing at the moment. Masks and gloves are the order of the day.
Aww Brenda, so sorry the trip did not go as planned
But then what does lately. I hope you find a safe
Calm seas way back to Ct. glad you have projects to
work on. Be well!
I have been wondering about you and it has been reassuring to see you pop up on Rebecca’s live time. Glad you are safe and hopeful for a more comfortable trip home. Rebecca has cut back on her live broadcasts, she was on yesterday and will be tomorrow, but she will not be doing this every day anymore. I am sure it is draining to do everyday.
Godspeed and know there are a lot of us cheering you on.
Sue–as soon as I’m home I hope to participate more often in the Design class. I bet the daily “Change the Shed” will be over by then. Connectivity is a problem all the time down here, so I’m thankful I got join in the few times I did. In all the years of sailing down here, I have not met another weaver, so connecting with weavers online is real life line for me!
Is there any chance you could anchor the boat there and fly back?
Get the boat again at a later date.
All of your options sound scary to me. What an adventure you are having.
We are just sheltered in place here on Cape Cod. Afraid to open a door or a window, much less be out at sea.
Be safe and please tell how you made that bread.
Wish you a SAFE journey. I sure you try ginger root for your nausea at sea. Wish there was something that would work for you. Love your sweater color choice, the weaving is spectacular.
Hay Brenda, so good to hear from you. You know everyone is thinking about you both. The pictures are beautiful, shows how looks can be deceiving. Happy to see you’re keeping fiber busy; love the tapestry and have the patterns from purl soho but haven’t bought any yarn. Feeling guilty about buying yarn, you know why. Got into crocheting lately and an just swatching a cotton slub I have for a summer T-shirt. Have you tried expressions fibers? Really pretty yarn and free patterns. Be safe and stay in contact. Hugs
My dear friend, please know I think about you and Bob every day and I am sending prayers your way. Safe travels!!!
Hoping for a smooth trip home for you and Bob. What are the circles on your tapestry? Are they magnets to hold needles?
Hi, Emily! The magnets’ main function is to hold my cartoon in place, but a side benefit is that I can store my needles on them as well. Thanks for looking!
I am with Greenwich Power Squadron and have seen Bob’s talks on some of his trips. I have done oftshore and understand a little of what you are going through. You are very lucky in being with such an expert as Bob. Listen to him and you will get through this. Let him choose the course and just try to get through your seasickness as you can. My mantra with seasickness is always ‘this too will pass’. My guess is he can do it with little help, and needing to worry about you won’t help. Easy to say, difficult to do. I send you very best wishes. Susan Ryan
Thank you for responding. Bob has loved presenting to the Power Squadron! I know he’s a real sailor. I just need to be able to help out on night watches because he can’t go without sleep forever! I hope I’ll be more helpful this time around.
I remember you saying how much you love the opposite sky from the sun at dawn. I have a westerly view out my studio window and think of you whenever we have a beautiful sky at sunrise.
I am so moved by this! …that you think of me when you see the western sky at dawn. You’ve made my day!
Just read your post. It was great to see your photos, both of you & Caneel. The first time I went there I was 16 years old and it was paradise ! I finally returned there when Theo was very sick, after 6 months in the hospital and as many surgeries. I knew it would heal him …and us. My husband could not believe that I had booked a place that had no air conditioning or telephones or television ! Between the soothing waters, quiet breezes, and friendly turtles we all healed. And we returned every year. It looks as though you are moored off Scott Beach. Paul once dragged me to the middle of that bay, to snorkel to a huge brain coral to see an 8 foot shark he had just seen. Or course it was waiting there when I got to it. The fish were our friends, we watched barracuda grow from young fish to fearsome looking yet shy silver beauties. We marveled at the rainbow colors of the Parrot fish which start life as females and sometimes change over to males. We watched the neutered male donkeys on the island father many darling babies. And the delicate deer lick the morning dew off the grass. It is a truly magical place. So try to enjoy your days there. Use it to gather up your strength to face your trip home. If you feel fear…just tap your heels…like Dorothy…and remember…there’s no place like home. And you will return. Safe trip…love…Sue
These are such beautiful memories! I’m touched that you took the time to share them with me. I’m glad I’ve had a few extra days here so I can imagine your family here in the hey day. I realize now that I never met Rachel, but I can picture Theo perfectly. I think of you often!
Hi Brenda. I enjoyed reading your long blog and seeing the pictures. But of couse I sense your concern and trepidation about the future trip home. I know you. and Bob will find a way. Since the weather up here in New England is mostly miserable., I think your boat wants to linger in the beautiful sunshine down there. Art and I enjoy long walks here in the Berkshires and have discovered several new places. I am working a bit on Zoom with clients in NJ, and keep trying to finish many bits and pieces of projects. I too find cooking soothing and we have been eating better than ever. Our last parent group never took place as planned because of covid19. Perhaps we may all be able to assemble after you have arrived home….safe and sound! Best wishes, will be thinking of you, hugs, Rhoda
Thanks for getting in touch, Rhoda. It’s wonderful to hear from you, and in spite of the wet, cold spring weather in New England, I can picture you and Art taking some beautiful walks in the Berkshires. All the zoom meetings taking place have meant the world to me, since I now get to participate in meetings that I would have missed otherwise. Maybe we can do a zoom parent meeting! Miss you.
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