Monday, October 31, 2011

Back In The Saddle

Earthling is launched and it feels great. The bottom is clean with a new layer of paint, the top part of the hull is waxed, the zincs on the prop are changed and all the through hulls are inspected. We have lots of mosquito bites on our legs and arms, since Earthling was stored by a swamp! But when she was launched and as soon as we left the marina and got to our anchorage, it was all worth it. There is a lot of work involved to keep a vessel maintained, especially when you have very limited access to resources. When this is the case, you have to do it yourself.  And if you are not handy or rich then forget about it!

Our first overnight anchorage by Norman Island, BVI was quiet, beautiful, calm, and excellent weather. It was a little taste of this adventure before we had to get to work on the boat again.
The first passage from Norman Island to St. Croix involved some 8-10 ft waves and wind gusts up to 27 knots, a few wash-overs and we are salted again.  Now we are in our Caribbean home, St. Croix. We call it this mostly because our friends Tony and  Ellen live here and St. Croix is also part of the US.  As we are pulling into the anchorage area in St. Croix, I'm taking down the main sail and Kelly is behind helm, and next to us is Ron & Karyn on Equinox... these are friends we met 8 months ago in Turks and Caicos. What a small world! Tomorrow we are invited for dinner aboard Equinox.

We will be staying here in St. Croix for the next few weeks to work on Earthling, which involves installing new equipment and repairing. The biggest project is sealing the toe rails and stanchions. This project is estimated to take 7-10 days.

Aboard we have had visitors since we got here. The 2 visitors have been keeping us entertained and they made us throw some of our food away. They must have helped themselves to the boat during the last 4 months. These mice were on the boat before we got back and they thought we were visitors! I like pets but so sorry, not mice. A couple nights in a row we couldn't really sleep peacefully because as soon as we went to sleep these guys would come out and play around in the galley and jump around up and down the stairs. Finally,  we had to get a mousetrap and capture these creatures and feed them to the fish.

The last few days it has been windy. They call them the "Christmas Winds", which is good for us because the wind generator is keeping the batteries charged. No need for fossil fuels to generate energy!

Love from St. Croix

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Barnacle Bottom

Bottom paint is the paint applied to the part of the boat that is always in the water. Many things can grow on that part of the boat. On Earthling's bottom we had an barnacle bed growing after we left Luperon in Dominican Republic. This caused the motor to over heat and slowed us down at least a knot in average. It took a few weeks of underwater scraping till it completely was cleaned. On the propeller there was an barnacle an inch wide! First time I looked at the barnacle bed, the bottom of the boat looked like a breathing dinosaur, it was so gross and disgusting, but it had to be cleaned, and I was the one to do it! I was so disappointed that the paint we applied less than a year ago didn't survive this situation. I guess you have to use paint with a lot of 
poisonous chemicals in it to not get any growth on the bottom. But then again, the very strong paints are banned in many countries, and this is probably hurting the nature! This is a dilemma many boaters have. For the last 3 days we have been scraping off the oyster bed's residue and light sanding and then it's ready to paint. We heard of other boats that had the same experience in Luperon. A lesson learned to not anchor for a long time in isolated mangrove areas. If you do, make sure to keep her bottom clean. 

Love from Spanish town        

Friday, October 21, 2011

Back to Earthling life

The weather in Chicago is getting cold and it is time to get back to Earthling life. I love friends and family in the U.S and Iran but I couldn't wait to get back on Earthling and live a stress-free and simple life. Chicago layover was supposed to be only one week but some of the land life responsiblities (work, taxes, business, papers) needed attention so I had to stay 10 days longer. 
Left: Marty Right: Roy 
A few days ago I attended the memorial service for my friend Marty Hastings. Marty was my sailing father in Chicago. He was one of the people that helped me a lot with this adventure. A few years ago I told Marty that I was going to set sail from Chicago with the goal of sailing around the world. Marty believed in me, he helped me with the purchase of Earthling, repairs, and new equipment. The last four years I have been racing on Marty and Donna Hasting's boat, Joie De Vie.  Marty also joined Earthling down in Florida for a week. His positive energy will always be behind my sailing adventures and I will always remember him. Marty will be missed. May he rest in peace. 
Full Moon Party
I missed the Full Moon Party in Tortola last week, which is a big deal down here in the Caribbean, but I happened to attend one of the coolest full moon parties in my neighborhood by Foster beach with my friends Hiba and Asma. It was so amazing to experiance the Rastafarian "hippie" Caribbean Culture in Chicago. Chicago has lots of culture and diversity, you'll find all kinds of ethnic restaurants and that's something I admire about this city, especially with my background.

Kelly & I are with Earthling now on Virgin Gorda, BVI. We are getting her ready for the 3rd leg of this voyage. After a new layer of bottom paint and wax, she will be ready to be launched. We will sail to St. Croix next week and stay there until we're done installing all new equipment and do some repairs. We are looking forward to meet our cruiser friends and other new people in the next months to come.

Love from Virgin Gorda 

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Farewell Iran

Tabatabaei House, Kashan
The Iran trip came to an end and time went by so fast. I've traveled within Iran and got to do some things that I like. It feels like I haven't had time to absorb everything yet. I’m glad I take lots of pictures and that I write about my experiences so I can go back to it and relive it.

One amazing experience during this trip, which has been a dream of mine for a long time was to Para glide. Para gliding is flying in a kite off a mountain. We drove 3500ft up the Alborz Mountains on the north side of Tehran and flew down like an eagle with the city below us. I've realized I really enjoy to fly, I must been a bird in the past! I would love to do more Para gliding and get certified. 

Furthermore, I got to do a little project in my parents cottage close to Astaneh Ashrafieh in Gilan. Since I am a water person, I thought our orchard needed a little fountain. A fountain in a little pool would create a sound effect of water running down the stones and it would be a great add on to our home. The fountain project was a good learning experience. I made a 2 feet tall fountain wall with different size river rocks that I collected. This project will be 100% completed next time I visit my parents.

Fin Garden
 I also had the opportunity to give a day visit to "Kashan" with my close friend Peggy. Kashan is located couple hundred kilometers ( 120miles) south of Tehran. Kashan's history goes back to few thousand years as well as many other cities in Iran. Recently in Kashan archeologists found a human mummy, which is estimated to be 7000 years old. This city has many beautiful old architecture. In Fin garden you see water running from a well through creeks among tall pine trees with a classic persian home in the middle of the garden. Kashan is a place worth to see in Iran.

Iran is such a beautiful country with so many resources. Iran lies in a strategic geographical location and it has been the connection between east to west. This land and it's people has been under many different powers and ruled by many different government. This country has been taken advantage off and robbed so many times throughout history. Few weeks ago news released that $3billion is missing in the central bank system. Last week CEOs from 3 major banks resigned. Iran has become an extreme materialistic society. You are judged by who your parents are, what kind of car you are driving, where you live, what you do and how much you own. I have been trying to detach myself from this materialistic world and live only by my needs. I like beautiful things and comfort, but I don't want to find happiness with the things under my possession. I simply have nothing to show, it's just me! In Iran you can't just be you, you have to be somebody else!

People on our planet right now live in controlled societies. We live in a police world and the degree of that is really high on the scale in Iran. Today the situation in the Middle East is in chaos. All the countries in this region are very tense and concerned. In Iran the communication system is controlled. News and social websites like, BBC, Blogspot, and Facebook are filtered. The phone lines between major cities in Iran get interrupted and internet gets shut down during special events. Subconsciously, people in Iran are under constant fear. People are worried about their future and their children's future. People are worried about health care, work, and education. It's kind of part of the culture to be worried.

When you practice compassion, you can feel other people's pain or happiness. In some situations I think I feel worse than the other person since they don't really know in what degree of closed society they live in. For example, when I see a 10 year old girl covered head to toe in black "chador" I feel sorry and wish she could live just a 10 year old child life and had the opportunity to live in a less controlled world. Many people in this society are used to the system and don't realize the little cubical they live in. We all live in a cubical. Our cubical world has different thickness. The walls are very thick in Iran. I hope we can break these walls and let some light in and find peace and freedom. As an Earthling we don't need any borders between the countries on our planet. Everybody should be able to go wherever they like to whenever they like to. When we are not allowed to cross a line then we are more eager to see what's on the other side. I feel bad for many people in Iran and other countries in the world that can't get permission to go to other countries and see the world outside.  When the amount of resources available on our planet is equally distributed between everyone and it’s in harmony with nature then we can live where ever our hearts take us. Then we would not fight, kill, steal, lie, and we all would live better lives in a better world. I am looking forward to that day in my life time.
Love from Iran
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