Reality Check

For the past couple of weeks I have been consumed with hearing from folks who’ve just received copies of Archie Brennan’s autobiography/memoir. I’ve been holding my breath on the copies sent to far away places, like Australia, and also following those in the US who pre-ordered the book at Schiffer Publishing and at Amazon. All is going well. It seems like a lot of people have ordered. I sure hope the publisher thinks sales are going well.

Meanwhile, real life continues. Bob and I are spending the winter onboard our sailboat Pandora, after an 18 month hiatus due to the pandemic. This year we will not visit quite as many places in the Eastern Caribbean due to rising cases on some islands. In spite of our best efforts to stay safe, we have been in Guadeloupe now for a week and learned that this island’s Covid cases have been rising dramatically. We first landed in Guadeloupe at a small village on the northeastern coast called Deshaies (pronounced DEH’ eh, or DAY’ A for those who love diphthongs!). I wasn’t particularly worried there because the village is so small. There is an 8pm curfew all over the island these days, so restaurants close up around 7:45 so everyone can get home. We ate a few lunches out because of that, and we did some touring in the area during the daytime.

One day we took a shuttle bus to the nearby botanical gardens that we visit every time we are Deshaies. Luckily the shuttle bus was empty except for the driver and us. One of the highlights of the gardens is their restaurant. Our friend Tom, aboard Rally Point, joined us for the day.

Of course, the main highlight of the gardens are the gardens!…and the birds! They have a wonderful array of parrots in the gardens, both in an aviary well are out in the open (perhaps their wings are clipped). There is also a fenced in area of flamingos. This year the flamingos have great color.

We are staying more connected to our cruising friends this winter, traveling together to different ports. Is this because we all missed each other last year? I’m not sure, but so far we have stayed in a traveling clump. Since the evening curfew makes dinner a bit challenging we have enjoyed a few lunches with our friends. I love this spot in Deshaies called La Mahina. It’s painted white with Mediterranean blue trim and has such lovely views out the unglazed windows!

A few days ago we sailed to Pointe de Pitre, the capitol of Guadeloupe. We’ve never been to this port before for two reasons. It’s a huge port, and it’s industrial. On one side of Pandora we look at a lovely shoreline with only one dwelling and a mountain in the background; to the other side we see a busy port with cranes and containers and ships loading and unloading. The city of Pointe de Pitre is quite large. It’s not our best choice, but we are trying to be careful!

The highlight of Pointe de Pitre is the river that divides the two islands that make up the island nation of Guadeloupe. It’s a navigable river for most smaller vessels, but the two bridges that span the river are no longer operable as draw bridges, so that has closed off travel on this river. The chart below shows the Riviere Salle is in the middle of the two wings of the butterfly that make up Guadeloupe. There is a red triangle showing the entrance to the river where we began our journey.

Cruising sailors can still take their dinghies along this river, along with paddle boarders, kayakers, and small power boats. Luckily the local coast guard patrols these waters to keep speeds down. During our visit up the river, the coast guard stopped two jet skis who were speeding past us.

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We made a day of exploring Riviere Salee with couples from three other boats in our group. The river and the small canals and byways along this river reminded us of so many places. Traveling through mangroves we remembered our winter in Cuba, yet some of the byways actually looked like lakes in the Adirondacks on a summer day. It’s a beautiful area.


As we explored a number of small byways, I was intrigued with the sky and mountains in the distance. It was a wonderful experience! In the middle of the day, we stopped in a larger open space to tie all our dinghies together at the bows, which made sort of a 4-petaled sunflower raft-up. We opened our picnic lunches and relaxed and talked.

It’s quite a contrast to explore these little tributaries off the river and yet be anchored in such a big industrial harbor. Getting back to our boats in the large harbor during the afternoon strong winds was no simple feat. That’s the thing about living the simple life–there is always a price to pay for the good times. Sometimes that price is pretty high.

I’ve been trying to turn my attention to projects. I’m on the last leg (no, really the last arm) of a sweater I’m excited to finish. It’s quite a simple design, from Purl Soho, that is knit from cuff to cuff. In past sweaters of this design I have knit the entire sweater in one piece, but this design is knit in two pieces: a front that is cuff to cuff, and a back cuff to cuff. The two pieces get put together by picking up stitches along the selvedges and doing a 3-needle bind off. Doing this 3-needle bind off gives a smart edge to the seams which you can see in the photo below. I am going to add a long gusset to the side seams, using a technique from one of Vivan Hoxbro’s designs from years back. I don’t remember the name of that knitted jacket, but I enjoyed the clever way she joined the center back. I will pick up stitches at the side seams and do a double decrease at the underarm every other row until I get the A-line shape I want. This has been a slow project because it’s all just garter stitch…ad infinitum. But the finishing details could make it a quite a lovely design. I hope so!

End To End Pullover | Purl Soho

The color I’m using is a slightly different blue than shown here. It’s more blue, less green, but still a warm sort of barely turquoise. I’m almost to the last sleeve which should go quickly.

I’ve made progress on the basket, but it’s still not done. I probably have two more sessions of weaving to finish it. I’m saving that indulgence for a perfect day. It’s so enjoyable to weave a basket!

If I don’t make a plan for a small tapestry soon I’ll be lugging my frame loom home empty! I don’t want to do that! It was hard to get all my supplies onboard this year because I didn’t do it before Bob left to sail to Antigua. I didn’t want to decide what to bring so long before I’d actually be here. But packing two large suitcases of supplies, and schlepping them through JFK twice (due to flight cancellation) was SO not fun. I need to make good use of the supplies I lugged all the way here and with such inconvenience! Wish me luck.

This is my reality right now: living in a tropical paradise, with a good dose of hard work. Today I am doing laundry which will hang out on our clothes line in the cockpit. I know I’m lucky to have a washing machine onboard. Without that, laundry is quite a big chore that I might enjoy describing someday…but not today. I will knit and try to conjure something for dinner on our tiny stove that is now having problems. Bob worries that if I cook too long our last solenoid on our propane tank will melt, making cooking even harder to do. He installed the last spare solenoid a couple of weeks ago, and hasn’t been able to buy more spare solenoids in any of the chandleries along our route this winter. He’s hoping for luck in Martinique, or we may be relegated to cold meals! Fingers crossed. It’s time to hang out the laundry.

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