Saturday, November 26, 2011

Jump Up

There are different kinds of ceremonies held annually in Christiansted, St. Croix. Yesterday was Jump Up, where we saw the most people ever on the streets of Christiansted. Jump Up is a carnival kind of a party held four times a year, there are bands and musicians playing along the board walk and the street corners. Street vendors selling different merchandise and food, and the Mocko Jumbies dancing around. A Moko Jumbie is a dancer that walks on stilts (pillars) attached to their leg. The Moko Jumbies we saw were really tall, they were standing on 8-10 feet stilts. They have been part of the Caribbean culture for 200 years.
The hot dog vendor crew
And then there was a hot dog vendor and our friend Ryan was craving for one, so we stopped there. Standing there reminded me of my time in that business, selling hot dogs and brats on the street of Gothenburg in Sweden. I did that for a few years, employed over 10 people and made a pretty successful business. In 1995, during the World Championship of Athletics in Gothenburg, we sold around 15,000 hot dogs and brats in 8 days! It didn’t take long time before I was behind the hot dog stand in St. Croix, grilling and serving customers. And It all came back like it was yesterday, I took over the grill for an hour and served at least 30 hotdogs, and Kelly, Ryan and I ate 6, free of charge. The lady that was running the business wanted me to work for her, if I’m here next time I will work a full shift for you, I said.   
The night was full of excitement, we ran into almost everyone we know on the Island. Rain poured down a few times and one storm lasted for an hour. It didn’t even cross our mind if we had closed the hatches on the boat or not! As we got off the dinghy and walked onto the boat, we see everything drenched. All the hatches were open. We had to sleep in the v-berth on wet cushions and that was a lesson learned. November is the rainiest month in the Caribbean and it has poured rain at least once a day for the last few weeks. Every time we leave the boat, all the hatches and windows have to be closed, even if we leave only for an hour. But yesterday we forgot. Now floor mats, rugs, and sheets are hanging out side in the cockpit, just like a typical gypsy home.

Love from Jump up    

Monday, November 21, 2011

The World Awaits

It is astonishing to get visited by a big white, spotted stingray everyday. He is here below our boat swimming in these waters as if he owns them. He has been here the longest and this is his home more than ours. Thank you Mr. Ray for visiting us and letting us stay in your home. How does it feel to see a Falcon flying around, and sit on the spreaders of different boats every night and occasionally make noise at sunset? It’s breathtaking! The Falcon and Mr. Ray are some of our Earthling neighbors. Others are the live-aboards at this anchorage, whom seem not to move or sail their vessels much. Like the old man that is so weak that he can’t even row to shore, or some of the boats around that don’t even have a mast, or a boom, or sails. Then there is “Mendocino Queen”, which is owned by Allen and Kate from California, and they have been sailing and cruising around the world on and off for 20 years. I can see cruising around the world for that long. We have been invited to Mendocino Queen but unfortunately have been so busy working on the boat that there has not been enough time to visit them.
Projects are never ending, and you can be working on your boat for years before you feel it's ready to set sail. Since we got down here to the Caribbean we have been working on the boat as a full time job. You mention it, wiring, reinforcing, sanding, cleaning, caulking, varnishing, painting, installing, changing, eliminating, polishing, and many more doings. Still, we haven’t installed the solar panels since they seemed lost in the mail and we don’t have them yet. Neither have we gotten all the tow rails sealed. There is still so much to do on Earthling before it is ready to sail off again. Sometimes you just have to get up and go, otherwise you might never take off. I could still be in Chicago dreaming about this adventure if I wanted everything as perfect as I desire. Sometimes we get so caught in the moment and comfortable in one place that we lose sight of our goals and missions. It requires a certain courage to break ties loose, pick up your anchor, and move on, like a Gypsy does! We are the Gypsies and in a few days it’s time to leave this beautiful home and anchorage to a new destination. The rest of the world is waiting and we will be there.

Love from Christiansted

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Protestant Cay Anchorage

The boardwalk in Christiansted. 

It has been raining on and off for the past few days, which put us behind on our deck work. But it's all good, there is plenty of work to do inside. I made new shelving and connected some new instruments such as a battery monitor and fixed the oven and so forth. Kelly has been sewing new pillows and canvas storage pockets. This non-commercial mooring field we are in is wonderful! It's right in front of the boardwalk, protected by an island, & has great water circulation. It's 8-10 ft deep and you can see the bottom. Last night the full moon was reflecting off the ocean floor. 
This is one of the cleanest mooring fields in front of a big city in the Caribbean so far that we've experienced. Although, things will still grow on the bottom of your boat. Not so much on Earthling, but lots on the boats around. Tony has been letting us use this mooring for the time we are here. On the north side of where we are is Seaborne Airlines,  seaplane landing strip. On the east we have the little island of Protestant Cay, with a hotel and bar on it, and on the south is the town of Christiansted. 

Full Moon over the beach
 at Protestant Cay.

Kelly describes our life here in a poem: 

With a full moon as my only light,
Reflecting off the ocean floor,
My deep thoughts are about this beautiful world. 
We only know but one. 
On land these thoughts mean nothing. 
The soft whispering breeze running across every little hair on my body,
so warm and comfortable. 
Why can't we all experience this?
The peaceful rocking of the boat at anchor, 
swaying back and forth.
As you close your eyes it makes you feel a weightlessness. 
The sounds of the calm land breeze, sweeping across us,
Making harmonious music between halyards on the main and ripples in the water. 
I'm at peace within. 
The lights from afar on shore twinkle, 
But not as good as the stars. 
In and out, on and off.
Love from Protestant Cay

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Varnishing time

Starboard handrail and trim
Port hand rail and trim
Storing your boat over hurricane season or winter can sometimes cost you more than living on it. Especially down here in the Salt waters where everything corrodes. Currently our outboard and stereo system is out of order. The stereo is half fixed, it worked for several hours last night. Humidity and salt must have corroded something in the unit. A boat needs constant maintenance and if you put things on hold, they might cost and require more work in the long run.
The last couple of days we have been sanding, varnishing, and sealing handrails and trim. This project is time consuming. First you have to take the rail off, then clean the old caulk, sand the wood trim, apply one layer at a time of epoxy, mask, and then put new caulk and screw the pieces back into deck, sand the epoxy, and apply one layer of varnish at a time. Phew! All this hard work will pay off when the wooden rail will looks like new after it's done. We are applying 3 coats of epoxy and 3 layers of varnish.  The epoxy should protect the wood from moisture better than anything else. This is the first time I'm using the epoxy and varnish combination and I think it will have great durability.
So far we have just done hand rails and the trim on the starboard side. There is an equal amount of work for the wood on the port, bow and stern of the boat. The good news is that if we apply a couple layers of varnish once a year, we would never need to go through all the steps again next time. Compared to some classic boats, Earthling don't have lots of wood work, teak deck and floors. If you are going to purchase a boat and you fall in love with the wood work and teak deck, keep in mind that keeping up with the wood maintenance might break your back or pocket over the long run. And next time you see that beautiful shinny wooden ketch, remember that the owner put lots of love into her!

Love from varnishing world