The good news since my last post is that Irma turned north (as it is supposed to do!) and Rascal--in Curaçao--is well out of harm's way. The bad news? Looking more and more like Miami will take a direct hit from a Category 4 or 5 hurricane (after pummeling the BVI's, USVI's, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, and Cuba, among other islands.) All the 'spaghetti' models like this one below (showing probable courses) end up averaging a direct hit on Miami that will continue north through the heart of Florida. Could change for the better tomorrow. Hope against hope that all the computer modeling by tomorrow will follow that lonesome orange track (the one most easterly) out to sea!
I don't know anyone named Irma and don't want to meet anyone named Irma--especially a hurricane! Linda just got a notice from NOAA to put us on alert that Irma is very dangerous and heading our way. Rascal is in Curaçao--tied to a dock with multiple lines and fenders and approved by our insurance company as hurricane ready--which means nothing if a category 4 plows through. We'll see. The good news is that there hasn't been a serious hurricane in Curaçao since 1877. The bad news is "So what?"
After our 3-day, 400 mile journey from the Eastern Caribbean to Western Caribbean, we arrived in Bonaire--one of three islands making up the "ABC's" (Aruba, Bonaire, and Curacao.) And what beauty. Linda winched me up to the top of our main mast and I was able to get a terrific view of the town of Kralendijk and other boats on their moorings.
Got this selfie while at the top of the mast. Linda and I both wear earphones (connected by bluetooth) so we can talk. The earphones are especially helpful when we're anchoring. Among cruisers, the earphones are called "marriage savers," named because you can talk calmly with each other and not scream epithets (for the whole anchorage to hear) when one of you messes up...
The water was about the clearest water we've seen in the Caribbean anywhere. Rascal is on a mooring (anchoring is not allowed) very close to shore. Easy to see where it gets deeper.
Not a big deal to the friends we've met who have sailed (or are sailing) around the world but it was a BIG deal to us. Linda and I sailed 400 miles from the Eastern Caribbean to the Western Caribbean over three days--specifically from Grenada to Bonaire. It was the furthest we'd sailed alone without other crew. We took 4-hour shifts and had a relatively uneventful downwind sail--until the last leg when we had 25-35k winds, 8-10 foot waves, following seas, and an occasional rogue wave over the transom that filled the cockpit.
To avoid pirates, we kept far north of Venezuela. (As Venezuela implodes, we're told, pirates are operating further and further out to sea.) We jogged north for awhile before dropping south for the last 75 miles or so...
At sunrise we rounded the bottom of Bonaire and came into the bay at Kralendijk. We found a mooring along the coast and settled in.
We have been hanging out in French Martinique the last six weeks or so since we returned from the Argentum Conference in early May. There is a language barrier, of course, especially if you travel inland away from the marinas. So Linda introduced me to an amazing app called Google Translate. Yes, you can type in a word or phrase and get the translation but better still...You can point your SmartPhone camera at a sign, a menu, or any text and it will translate the words while you're looking at it! An example is the sign below. Yes. It is a McDonalds (which I have never set foot in while here) but what does the sign actually say?
Here in Martinque this guy is a famous artist. He was commissioned by the LE MARIN Marina to paint something on a ramshackle shed at the end of one of the docks. I saw him halfway through. He created this beautiful mural using only spray paint. The finished product is below. Pretty amazing to see him at work. (Note the scuba diver on the right...That's me!)
....I'm thinking of the Texas A&M Class of 1942
While going through my father's papers and books (after he passed away in April at 96), I found his Texas A&M yearbooks. In the yearbook of his senior year (1942), he made a note of his classmates who were killed in action in WWII. There were 2-5 on almost every page. (These were the young men who died at Guadalcanal, Iwo Jima, Okinawa, Anzio, Operation Overlord (D-Day), Battle of the Bulge, etc., etc...Here are three sample pages...
March 17, 2017. Linda and I rose early this morning and, with our friends on S/V Jetlag (Gerald and Bridgitt from Switzerland 🇨🇭 , Rascal and Jetlag had a 'brisk' sail from Martinique 🇲🇶 to Dominica 🇩🇲 --about 36 miles. The winds were 20-30 and the seas were 6-8 feet. We got in the groove and averaged 8 knots.
We were greeted by "Mister Bean" of SeaCat who led Jetlag and Rascal to our reserved moorings very close to shore. After we were settled, he took us over to Roseau to check in with customs and immigration after which the four of us went for a walk in downtown Roseau, the capital of Dominica. Beautiful.
To get to some of the most beautiful waterfalls on the planet, we had to hike upstream for about a mile. We had to cross the river several times, wading sometimes, swimming others , climbing upwards. The boulders before us were as big as houses. This was the first time I can remember that I had to concentrate on each step. When we got there it was magnificent. The falls were deafening and they pushed out a 20 knot wind with heavy mist.
Per the request of a couple of friends, here is another tour of S/V Rascal.
Rick and Linda Grimes bought a sailboat and left the U S of A for the Caribbean in 2015.