Monthly Archives: July 2013

Joint pain

Mark offered to help us do some mainsail adjustments and secure a batten that was inching out of its pocket. This required pulling the sail off the mandrel and with my wrist still not up to snuff we needed another pair of hands.


Off came the sail, the batten got secured, the end of the sail got retied and before long we were ready to wind the sail back on. Mark, always interested in how things work, was looking over our furling system and noticed a screw missing in the universal joint that connects the boom furler to the mast. Then he saw another missing screw, and another. By the time we had gathered around him he discovered the whole joint to be completely farkakte. The jaws are bent way out, screws are sheered off — holy cow! We’ve been sailing with it this way!


Nothing we’ve experienced could possibly have done this to the joint, so we can only assume it was well on its way when we bought the boat and given that the whole joint is covered in a thick piece of leather we never inspected it closely. Nor, apparently, did the pre-purchase rig inspector we used.


We are once again so lucky that we discovered an equipment failure before a disaster happened and we’re so happy for Mark’s keen curiosity and sharp eye. We’re going to have to convince Macushla to follow us around the world to protect us from ourselves.


We found a couple of the sheered off screws in the boom cradle and fished them out, took a load of photos to send to the company so we can order the right bits, covered up the mainsail to protect it from the sun and retired to the cockpit for a relief beer. Whew! Of course this means we won’t be sailing anywhere until we get a new universal joint installed.




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The view from the back porch


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Prehistoric Poetry

It was like coming face to face with a live dinosaur or something from another age. Except for the scale of the thing it seemed utterly helpless. The size alone and the heavy breathing made you look around for an escape route off the beach…pronto.

Was it due to the fact that we’d been traveling all evening in a ten-passenger mini-bus crammed with 14 full-sized circumferencially-challenged cruisers cheerfully singing 99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall? Or could it have been the spooky stumbly disorienting trek in the dark, a half mile or so down the beach with a couple dozen red flashlights dancing a light fandango across the sands? I don’t know, but I lack the skill to describe the impact of making my way toward the gathering gaggle of red flashlights on the otherwise pitch black beach and coming face to face with this prehistoric behemoth prostrate while she periodically flicked sand with her ten foot “flipper span.” I’m not sure what this 1400 lb. Leatherback was doing with her rear flippers but it seemed to be working, albeit very slowly.

Two thoughts simultaneously enter my mind: this animal is not designed nor equipped to do this and It’s no wonder it’s on the extremely endangered list.

Earlier that day the staff, patrolling the beach, gathered a dozen or so hatchlings to release during the cover of night because during the day frigate birds eat them like popcorn. It seems that leatherbacks prefer a particular beach profile, kinda low, not too deep with shifting wet compact sands covered with dry sand but this leaves the nest vulnerable to heavy wave action, which Levera beach certainly can have so the staff has to often move nests that are threatened.

So, as I say, I’m face to face or should I say face to butt, thinking about extinction, using proper tools for each task, and holy mother of god look at the size of that thing, all the while planning an escape route outta there, just in case, and suddenly a nearly full moon rises out of the Caribbean Sea bathing the surreal scene in that blue light that Hollywood does so well. Just off the beach was a small perfectly cone shaped island called Sugarloaf. If it were French they’d call it…well you know what the French would call it, but lets just say it was magic…pure magic and indescribably beautiful.

We were encouraged to touch the thing. I felt we’d already imposed enough on a mother’s most intimate moments with 150 of her newest babies but at least I wasn’t sticking my hands down…there catching and counting her eggs as they drop like some poor researcher had to. Maybe she was being punished or did she just lose a bet?

After the mother had rested for a while — they rest frequently — she became quite animated and started beating the sandy beach flippering sand every which way in an attempt to camouflage her nest. Then she huffed and heaved herself in a slow turn and headed slowly lurching toward the sea. Out of the corner of my eye I could see a tiny hatchling in the moonlight on a parallel course. Two creatures, one as big as a Fiat 500, the other smaller than the palm of my hand, both disappeared into the soft ocean waves. Pure poetry.


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Night watch with turtle

Shortly after we arrived in Grenada some friends invited us to join their “turtle watch” tour, where you travel by bus to the far northeast corner of the island and with any luck see an endangered leatherback turtle nesting on the beach. We really wanted to go but the cost was a little steeper than we wanted to spend and we were planning to buy new chain. Turtles went on the back burner.

As the month wore on we decided we’d regret not taking the opportunity and besides, much of the tour fee goes to the conservation non-profit here in Grenada which we’re happy to support. We learned that the last tour of the season was coming up and we put our names on the list.

As it turned out, a lot of people waited till the last minute and we ended up with two van-loads of rowdy cruisers stoked for the two-hour evening drive to Levera Beach. Jack and I staked out the front seat next to Cutty, the driver and tour operator, for a better view of the island while we still had daylight. Cutty quietly pointed out places of interest as he drove and answered our many questions about Grenada while the mob in the back sang and joked. We were happy to finally get to the Ocean Spirits headquarters and get out of the van.

Ocean Spirits staffers gave us a briefing on what to expect and the ground rules for the watch, and warned us that it was the very tail end of the season and we may not see a nesting mother but that we may see hatchlings making their way to sea. Then we went into a very small exhibit with a few photos so we’d know what we’re looking for. There was also a huge model of a leatherback turtle and one of our group asked if that was a representative size. “Ha!” I’m thinking, “for demonstration purposes only.” But no, the guide assured us that was an average size of an adult. I was skeptical.

Once again we piled into the vans and drove a little further to the beach preserve area, lined up, fired up our red flashlights and followed the guides down the beach. It wasn’t too long before we met up with a researcher with a bucket containing 8 or 9 little hatchlings they had rescued during the day. They patrol the beach all day long, mostly to deter poachers but also to scoop up any turtles that hatch during daylight hours before they get eaten by frigate birds. The researchers then release them at night when they have a better chance of survival. We watched the little guys slowly make their way to the sea, sometimes turning the wrong way, sometimes falling into an impression in the sand. Each time the researcher gently got the little guys going again and we all cheered when they finally reached the water and disappeared into the waves.

Before all of the babies reached the sea one of the staffers lined us up again. “Mama on the beach!” she hissed, and we all followed excitedly. It was pitch black except for our weak red flashlights and as we walked along the dune above the beach my feet kept getting tangled in the beach grass and vines until I had to stop and put my flip flops back on. Eventually we could see the red lights swarming up ahead against the edge of the soft sand. When we reached the gathering we both gasped. Oh. My. God. We were totally unprepared for the size of her. She was well underway in the nesting process and only the top of her huge shell rose above the level of the sand.

[I apologize for having no photos of this incredible experience. What kind of people embark on a world tour with two iPhones and a mini point-and-shoot camera?? A better camera is on the list but something else always takes up any spare cash we have. You’ll just have to use your imagination.]

We sat in a semicircle around the turtle, keeping out of her line of sight, and watched as she used her massive back flippers like giant blades to dig down into the sand and then flip it back behind her. It all happened in very slow motion, and she rested after every flip. We could hear her great gasping breaths from the exertion.

When she was ready to start laying two researchers arrived. One held the back flipper aside while the other lay prone and reached deep into the nest, catching and counting each egg as it was laid. She laid 105 eggs with yolks — those will become turtles — and another 26 smaller ones with no yolks, to help cushion and protect the yolked eggs. As she was about to finish the staffers let us touch the turtle’s shell and front flipper. Then the researchers quickly measured and marked the nest, and measured the turtle and checked to see that it was tagged. The turtle started the long and painstaking process of filling in the nest, tamping down the sand, doing her best to hide the location.

Jack and I sat on the edge of the dune to watch these massive front flippers slam down onto the beach then flip the sand behind her, and we realized that she was very slowly turning to the right every few minutes, filling in the hole that she was actually in. You try it.

Before long, the turtle was actually facing us. We knew we weren’t supposed to be in her line of vision but she had turned so much since we sat down and the process was so slow and arduous that we hadn’t realized we were now face-to-face with this massive beast, within about six feet of her head. We sat perfectly still as she rested between efforts. She took a deep breath, lifted her head and looked straight at us, not moving for what seemed like a minute. “Wow,” Jack said, under his breath. I squeezed his hand. My heart was racing.

The turtle breathed in again, ducked her head down and resumed the sand flipping and turning, and the staffers motioned for us to move around behind her again. As she came up to the level of the beach I was struck again at how huge she was, much taller than she appeared when she was down in the hole. She was as long as Jack is tall, and probably a meter high. She heaved her bulk across the sand toward the water.

Just then we saw a number of our group gathered in a circle about 20 feet away. Someone noticed tiny tracks in the sand leading to the water, followed them up the beach and found a hatchling inching its way to the water’s edge. We were torn between watching the tiny hatchling and watching the mother, both heading to the sea. We stood silently in the middle wishing them a safe journey and a long life. I felt privileged to have witnessed them.

On our way back down the beach we encountered several more hatchlings on their erratic way across the sand. We didn’t need to be reminded to watch our step as we walked.

The drive back was much quieter than the trip there. It was about 1:30am when we got back to the boat. We were so glad we went, and especially glad we waited until the last minute. To be able to see both the nesting mother and the hatchlings was a beautiful experience.


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The view from the back porch


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Second verse, same as the first

Have I mentioned lately that our freezer is trying to kill us? It’s a built-in chest with a thick and heavy lid that’s held open by a lift spring but in this humid climate the spring gets frosty sometimes which knocks it off column, causing the lid to slam down with a bang, or a scream if you happen to have a body part in there when it happens. Both Jack and I have had our bell rung a few times, and last week I didn’t get my fine-boned arm out of there before the monster struck. I was sure in the moment that my arm was snapped in two but it wasn’t, and I figured a day or two of icing and Advil would get me back to normal.

It didn’t, and even the addition of an Ace wrap did nothing to improve it. Making falafel was painful. Opening a door was painful. And raising the dinghy was really painful. Jack wanted me to go to a doctor, then Mark chimed in, the crew of What If registered their votes and I finally had to agree to get it checked out. I know approximately where the hospital is, right on the waterfront in St. George’s. One night while we were anchored there we got disoriented and mistook it for a cruise ship but that was after a few painkillers.

We decided on a much earlier start than our Day at Customs and we got the bus into town about 7:45. It was a Nissan minibus with a cracked windshield, a sign noting a 19-passenger limit and a massive driver we’ve nicknamed Crash. The seats are worn so smooth and slippery that I was helplessly flung from side to side as we cornered the hilly roads at speed, unable with a lame arm to hang on. At one point I slid so violently that I knocked Jack across the width of the van and into the lap of a young woman occupying the jump seat on the other side. Awkward.


We got into town and tapped on the roof to indicate we wanted to get out, but the driver ignored us and we rode all the way to the bus terminal, a few blocks further than we wanted. I was checking my map to confirm which way to walk when Jack asked two ladies how to get to the hospital. They pointed to another bus stop marked ‘H’ and told us it costs $3 EC for the shuttle. We had just paid $2.50 EC to ride all the way into town from Woburn Bay so I thought another $3 was excessive and started walking. I tend to walk fast when I get cranky and at this point I may have left Jack in the dust. I followed the route I was familiar with and headed toward the waterfront where I asked a policeman how to get to the hospital.

“Do you have a vehicle?” he asked. I told him no and he sighed and told me to follow him. We walked through the gate of the police yard, back toward the tunnel we’d just walked through from the depot.

“But I thought it was over there,” I whined, and I pointed back toward the water.

“This is a shortcut.” I looked behind me to make sure Jack was following but I couldn’t see him. We got to the other side of the yard and the policeman pointed toward a flight of steps beside the tunnel.

“Follow that man,” he said and I could see a white shirt just starting up the steps. I looked over my shoulder and finally saw Jack limping and panting through the police yard.

“Let me guess,” he gasped. “Back through the tunnel.”

“No,” I said and I pointed up the steps. “Short cut.” We started up.

We’re from Pittsburgh and we know steps, but soon we were both wheezing and groaning in the hot sun as we climbed to the top then followed a switchback road until we reached the hospital grounds. Shortcut my ass. The $3 shuttle was looking good. Jack wisely held his tongue.



Once again the signage was lacking and it took some wandering around and a lot of questions before we found our way to what we hoped was the intake for emergency. The door was at the far end of a small room where patients with broken limbs had their casts cut off by a dour man in a white shirt, so while we waited in line we were being dusted with plaster and serenaded by the swhizzzzzzz of the power tool, and in one case by the screams of a young girl who was convinced he meant to cut her arm off.

Eventually there were too many people squeezed in there so we were told to wait outside until the intake nurse called us.


After a while the nurse took us one at time to another tiny room where she filled out a card with name, age, complaint and address. That last one is always a challenge but she didn’t bat an eye when I said I was living on a boat at anchor in Woburn Bay and she wrote “Woburn Bay” in the address field and told me to go back outside until they called my name. The waiting area was getting full but you couldn’t complain about the view.


While we waited a uniformed guard brought in a handcuffed prisoner with his arm in a cast and he went to the head of the cast-removal queue. A little while later another prisoner with a broken limb was hustled in and out again. This was getting creepy.

Finally a nurse appeared at the Plaster Room door and called three names, one of which I took to be an approximation of mine. The other two patients and I followed the nurse through the Plaster Room, through the intake room and into something more recognizable as a hospital ward. We were each put into an exam room and I settled in for a long wait.


Not more than five minutes later a woman came in and introduced herself as the doctor and I explained what happened to my arm. She gently felt around my wrist, asking me to tell her where it hurt. I told her it didn’t hurt to touch but when I move it, particularly when I rotate it, I feel a shooting pain up to my elbow. She nodded and said it sounded like tendon damage, then said she would order an X-ray to rule out a fracture, then prescribe treatment when she saw the film.

She gave me a slip of paper and showed me out the back door, down an alley, past the ambulance bay, along another alley to an unmarked door. I was to have the X-ray there and bring it back to the exam room. I hoped I’d remember the way back.

Inside the X-ray office I gave my slip of paper to the receptionist who wrote another slip of paper and directed me to the cashier. I paid $30 EC, got a receipt and took it back to the receptionist then sat in the waiting room.



Again I barely recognized my name when the technician called me. He pointed to an unmarked door and when I entered, I gasped and said, “Oh my god,” under my breath. Two trash cans were overflowing with used bandages. The paint was peeling off the walls and the room didn’t appear to have been cleaned since Easter. I nearly made a run for it, but just then the technician came in with a film plate and set to work lining up the X-ray machine, gently positioning my arm for the two views he took. He was kind and competent and I was out of there in minutes.

A few minutes later I was called back again and the receptionist told me the doctor wanted to see me. I was shown into an office even tinier than the Customs Office. I had to sidle very close to the doctor at his desk in order to get the door closed. He had my X-ray on the viewer and asked me to describe what happened to my arm. I told him about the freezer lid and pointed to where it collapsed on me. He said he wanted to be sure they had filmed the right thing because — and he pointed at the X-ray — my bones looked fine. And they did. Beautiful, unmarked bones. I breathed a sigh of relief, mostly because I didn’t want to ever have to go to the man in the white shirt to get a cast taken off.


I thanked him and took my film back outside, retraced my steps through the concrete alley maze to the exam area, handed the X-ray to the nurse and sat in the hall to wait. I could see the doctor take a look and she came to talk to me.

“Your arm is not broken,” she said and confirmed that I had injured the soft tissue. She told me to go to a pharmacy and buy a wrist support, the kind with straps. “We don’t have them here,” she added. I’m to wear the support for at least two weeks and to try not to use my arm. I thanked her and she directed me to leave by the back door again, and I wandered around until I found Jack still sitting by the Plaster Room.

“I’m done,” I told him. “It’s not broken. We can go.” I was very happy to get out of there, especially after Jack told me several more manacled prisoners with broken limbs had been brought in. What in heaven’s name are they doing to them?

We took the now familiar road from the hospital past the fort and down to the waterfront below, then back through the tunnel where we searched three pharmacies for a wrist support but there was none to be had. I guess it’s back to my Ace wrap for the duration.




All in all I was completely satisfied with the care I received. The facility was considerably less than the sterile environment we’re used to and would it kill them to put a few signs up here and there? But I was shown nothing but kindness and competence and I have no doubt I’ll be back to normal in a couple of weeks. Or at least that’s what I was thinking until we flagged down the first Woburn Bay bus we saw only to discover it was Crash again in his 19-passenger terror machine. Miraculously we made it home without further injury.


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A rite of cruisers’ passage

We’ve been lost without our Spot Messenger. It’s become a ritual for us whenever we move to a new place to hit the button and update our location on the blog or especially to track our progress on passages. So when ours died without warning a few weeks ago we were pretty happy that the company said they would replace it for a nominal fee even though we were out of warranty. We were advised to have packages sent via the Post Office and we’d have an easier time getting them through customs right there. Unfortunately the Spot people sent our replacement unit through UPS which went to the airport. Big difference. They also declared a customs value of the cost of a new unit instead of what we actually paid for the replacement. This matters, too.

We planned an early start to the day knowing it could take a couple of hours to navigate the bureaucracy and collect the package. We were on the bus out of Woburn Bay before 9 am, changed buses in the lagoon in St. George’s and arrived at the airport about 9:45. We asked at the information desk where we should go and the lady looked at our papers and pointed to the Liat Airlines check-in counter.


We showed our papers at the counter and waited while the clerk fetched a supervisor who looked at our papers and said, “Why did they send you here? You need to go to customs.” And he pointed toward the other end of the building.

By the way, there are barely any signs in this airport. No signs for customs, no signs for baggage or ground transportation or any of the other useful signs you find in other airports. We kept asking people who kept pointing this way and that until we found a security guard who told us the customs office was beyond a security fence and that we’d need a pass to get there. We found the security office and learned that only one of us could go. Who was the package addressed to? Me. Ok then, you can go, the guard told us and he pointed to Jack. “You go sit down.” I was on my own.

I walked to the gatehouse where the sleepy guard pulled a large handwritten logbook off a dusty shelf and paged through to the last entry. I wrote my name and signed it and he pointed to a low building where I was to go. There were two doors, one marked Customs and the sign said I should knock before entering, which I did. It was the smallest office I have ever been in. Squeezed into the tiny space was a desk, a filing cabinet, two chairs and a uniformed officer.


I said hello and gave him my papers. And then came the bad news.

As a vessel in transit we can receive “ship’s stores” for the minimum customs duty but we have to have a C-14 form which we can only get at a yacht entry port and must be signed by the customs officer at the port. The nearest port with a customs officer is two more bus rides away, then two more bus rides back to the airport plus the duty — I was starting to add this up in my head.

“How much is the duty without the C-14?” I asked. Mr. James took out his calculator and starting figuring the duty based on the full price indicated on the declaration form. I pointed out that what was in the box was a replacement unit for which I hadn’t paid full price. I pointed at the fine print at the bottom of the waybill where it said “warranty replacement no charge.” I pulled the old dead Spot out of my bag and explained that this was a dead one and what was in the box was to replace it. I was ready with a printout of the email from the Spot people telling me how much they were charging for the new unit.

Mr. James held up his hand and said sheepishly, “I feel your pain. But I have to go by what the form says” and he tapped the total key. $137 EC. Crap.

“And how much with the C-14?”

Tap, tap, tap, total. $13 EC. Plus the cost of an agent. Agent? Yes, apparently I can’t do this on my own because the information must be entered into The System and only agents can access The System.

I was starting to hear the theme from the movie “Brazil” in my head.

As I was mulling all of this over Mr. James waved to someone passing his office door. In came another uniformed Customs officer and Mr. James explained my dilemma. There was a little back and forth, most of which I couldn’t understand because my ears haven’t yet gotten used to the local dialect. After a few minutes I got the sense that something good happened, I shook the new man’s hand and he left.

“What just happened?” I asked.

Turns out that was the boss and he was on his way to the port of entry and would get me a C-14 and bring it back. It wouldn’t take long. Ah, how nice! I thought, and sat down to enjoy the air conditioning. Mr. James was friendly and interesting and I didn’t mind the wait at all, but as time went on I thought maybe I should give Jack an update.

I walked back across the gravel lot to the gatehouse and woke up the guard to tell him I’d be right back. He didn’t seem to mind. Jack was in that happy zen place he goes to when he has to wait somewhere and he brightened as I walked up.


“Don’t get excited,” I said, “we’re not even close” and I brought him up to speed on the process. By the time I got back to Mr. James he had the C-14 form and we filled it out and I signed it. Then he told me to go across the hall and talk to the agent. That office was just as small and jam packed with three clerks behind a narrow counter with a pile of computer equipment, printers and fax machines at one end. I gave them my papers and one of the men dialed a number on his cellphone, spoke briefly into it then handed me the phone.

“Hello?” I said. The voice on the other end was rapid and incomprehensible. I hate when I can’t understand people, especially when they’re speaking English. I asked him to repeat things several times, then shook my head apologetically and hand the phone back to the clerk.

“I’m so sorry,” I said, “but I can’t understand him.” Eventually between the agent on the phone and the clerk I understood that the agent’s fee was $150 EC. What!?! This is a tiny package, I told them, not a big shipment. They seemed unmoved. I told them I had to think about it because the fee was more than the customs duty for using no C-14 and no agent.

I walked across the hall and reported the fee to Mr. James. He was shocked but said they had no control over the agents because they are private enterprises. He went over to talk to the clerk, and before I knew it, both Mr. James and the clerk were squeezed into the Customs office with me and the cellphone was again thrust into my hand.

“Hello?” I said. Again I listened to the agent and tried to comprehend what he was saying. Apparently he was offering to lower his fee to a somewhat less extortionist $87 EC. I told him that was still too much and I repeated that it was a tiny thing for which I paid nothing and I shouldn’t have to pay this much to get it out of customs.

Finally he asked how much I thought I should pay.

“Fifty,” I said. And he agreed. I handed the phone back to the clerk who conferred for another minute or two and told me the agent would be there about 11:30. It was nearly 11:00. I went back out through the gatehouse without waking up the guard and updated Jack.

Back in the customs office Mr. James shared his thoughts on Grenadians, IT, marketing, and a host of other topics and before long it was nearly noon. I ran across the hall to the agent’s office and asked the clerk for an update. He made a few calls and tracked down the agent, then told me they were waiting for a code from St. George’s and did I know that the office closed from noon to one for lunch?


“What code?” Mr. James asked when I reported back to him. But it was noon and nothing could be done until one so I went back through the gatehouse to Jack and we had lunch at one of the food kiosks outside the terminal building. I was back a little before one o’clock and resumed my conversation with Mr. James. Finally the agent arrived with the receipt for the $13 EC customs duty, papers were passed back and forth, I gave the agent his $50 EC fee and the $13 for the duty and we all shook hands.

“That’s it, you’re done!” said Mr. James.

“But where’s my package?”

The agent pointed to one of the papers in my hand, then to a man dozing in the corridor. I handed him the paper and he disappeared into a warehouse and came back with our little package.

Meanwhile I asked the agent for a receipt for his fee. He pointed toward the terminal building and Mr. James said to go down where you check in for flights. We went back to where we started, to the Liat Airline check-in counter and talked to the supervisor again.

“Why do they keep sending you here?” he asked. We gave up and went out to the bus stop.

We were home by three o’clock. It only took six hours.



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The view from the back porch


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Field trip

Marce was feeling kind of punk so I was elected to find my way into St Georges Harbor to pick up the official customs clearance papers for our replacement Spot, and if the spirit moves me to bus out to the airport to begin the process of prying the Spot out of customs custody.

We had not tied up to Woburns concrete town jetty yet. They can be a little rough sometimes but they say if you’re looking for a bus that’s where you have to go. Not all of these southern Grenadian harbors are accessible by road but apparently Woburn rates a road and a bus stop, so our sense of isolation may be somewhat over the top, just like calling Woburn a town might be pushing the iridescent lime green two story waterfront shack a bit over the top. Using the word town may be overstating but using the word bus stop definitely implies something more than Woburn reality. It’s a one lane chip and oil that intersects with a one and a half lane chip and oil, but it’s here I decided to wait.

Now dear Escapees, it always takes me a second or two to figure out which side of the street to stand on to catch a bus because they persist in driving on the wrong side of the street. Just then a passing teenage girl said, “mister, you need to wait on the other side but get in no matter which way de bus goes.” Now I’m a trusting sole but when the bus pulled up going the wrong way I paused. I got in and toured a slice of Grenadian life in the outback.

When I finally started to recognize some features of St George’s I knew I was in for a spot of walking but I got fairly close to my destination and walking around town is fun.


“Christ of the deep” faces the harbor in honor of Grenadians who helped save passengers of the 600 foot Italian cruise ship Bianca C that burned in this harbor in 1961.


You were wondering where all of these went.

Looks like no soup today.

After picking up the papers at the Grenada Yacht Club the manager said the airport customs is closed on the weekend and from Woburn you’d have to bus into town on a #2, take a #1 out to the airport but not all #1’s go to the airport so you have to ask the driver. You’ll have to negotiate with the custom officer because they set the customs duty rate; what you pay is up to them. Then take a #1 back to town and get on a #2 but not all #2’s go to Woburn so you have to ask the driver if he’s going to Woburn. Or alternatively take a cab, $50 EC one way for about five miles of driving.

I wrote it all down.

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That’s the sound of the chain gang

We awoke this morning to a stench that neither of us could describe. This is the kind of dilemma that would naturally bother Marce more than me. I find that her finely honed olfactory is skewed more toward detecting the offensive spectrum, and she’s good at it. There’s a small river or creek that feeds into the head waters of Clarkes Court Bay, which is where we are anchored, that if you dinghied up you’d find a small shack rum distillery. They discharge every Monday. Sometimes I think the locals sit back and wait with a sly smile on their faces.


Across the Bay is Clarkes Court Bay Marina run by Bob and that is where Budget Marine wanted to deliver our new expensive Italian anchor chain. Bob said just pull right up and the wheelbarrow is around back. I told him I’d give him our old rusty chain. Nice guy, that Bob.

Marce called Budget and they said sure, we’ll be there in an hour. An hour! We have three hours worth of work to do but you can’t say no so it’s back to Escape Velocity and a frenzy of activity to up anchor and run over to the T dock and tie up, something we hadn’t done in so long we’d forgotten where the docklines were.



Luckily the day before at his birthday celebration in a charming little open air restaurant called Little Dipper up on a steep hillside, our dear friend Mark from Macushla foolishly volunteered to help and was soon knee deep in some heavy lifting.


EV didn’t give up her old rusty chain without a fight. I pulled every foot of nasty old chain, in reality only four years old, out of the chain locker, unbolted the bitter end, and passed the chain over to Mark to be wheelbarrowed down the dock for Bob.


The new chain was inspected and piled up in the wheelbarrow, once again with Mark grabbing the heavy handles, a terrible strain all the way down the dock.


It was at about this time that we found out that the beefy stainless steel anchor swivel that was bolted to the anchor was not interested in being unbolted. Upon closer inspection we found the swivel was no longer serviceable so a temporary shackle was pressed into duty.


We measured the new chain and marked it in 25-foot increments.



After changing the chain gypsy back to the old one, which I’ve been assured is the correct one for our new silvery expensive Italian chain, I pushed the up button on the windlass and wound in 275 feet of new chain out of the wheelbarrow on the dock into the chain locker on EV in a couple of minutes. Only a long distance cruiser could be excited about this.

We’d decided to re-anchor down the bay to avoid stench, flies, and no wifi, in no particular order. If you’re reading this then we were successful but the jury is still out on any improvement in anchoring efficiency.

We capped the day off at Bob’s happy hour with burgers, fries, and Caribes. It seemed like a family reunion when crew after crew of fellow Mantas and other friends started climbing the three steps into the octagonal bar. Hugs, hardy handshakes, manly back slaps, and lots of smiles. Great fun. Wish you were here.



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