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Thursday, February 28, 2013

Great Balls of Fire!

Delighted crowds along the shore at the Caribbean's family-friendly
version of Burning Man -- Aragorn Studio's Full Moon Party. 
The Full Moon Party, Trellis Bay, Tortola BVI on February 25, 2013.

More coming soon.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Buckethead: Water-Wise & Thoroughly Undignified

Your Galley Wench soaking her head in a bucket.

My hair sucks… shampoo.  That is not a good thing for a-couple-gallon-a-day – total -- water miser cruisers like us.

Wayne, with his fine, straight and slightly sparse hair does not have this problem.  For him, just a few seconds of drizzle in the shower to wet, then again to shampoo, then again to rinse and it’s good to go.  One quart or less and he has clean, soft hair that’s dry within 15 minutes of his shampoo,

Rinsing.  Yes, this is as awkward and uncomfortable as it looks.
But my kinky, overly prolific, snarly, graying and formerly color-treated not-so-crowning-glory always takes its sweet time to get fully wet, shampooed, rinsed and dry.

The solution?  Wash less often, usually after a swim so I get a head start on at least wetting my hair.  Pony tail my unruly hairy mess more often between shampooing. 

When I do shampoo, for me, the only water-wise solution is to be a buckethead.  I hate it.  Wayne loves it.  These are the photos I can show he took, exploiting his vantage point.

Why?

  1. The easiest place to do it is in our cockpit, buck naked.  Score one for Wayne.
  2. Since I’m buck naked in the cockpit, it’s often breezy and / or a little more public than I’d like.  So I generally place the bucket on the cockpit floor, get on my hands and knees, and dunk and rinse away. Score another for Wayne.
  3. As a result of the dunking, I naturally to rear my rear up and down, too.  Score another one for Wayne.


These days, a  good hair day like this only happens
after enduring the buckethead routine.
Bottom line?  It’s a pain in the a-- (and knees), and takes way too long.  But it does get my hair clean, using gallons less of our water than any other method, except using someone else’s shower.
Anyone willing to volunteer an ample supply of fresh water in the form of a hot shower with great water pressure? Wayne won’t be as happy….

Tough luck, Wayne.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Come Here, Fishy Fishy

Master of fish feed ceremonies, the guy in the white
shirt holding the bait, knew how to gather and
work a crowd.  He told us the tarpon about to be
fed could reach up to 10 feet!

Saba Rock Resort is a pint-sized rock of an island alongside Virgin Gorda that packs in plenty. 

Saba Rocks’ mooring balls include a fill-up of up to 250 gallons of fresh water, prompting a rare voluntary choice to pay $30 for a mooring ball, rather than anchoring for free. Fresh water is expensive in the Virgin Islands.  I wish their tiny water-filling dock took a cue from their generous dinghy dock; we did not sidle in smoothly when we came to fill up our water tanks.  Ooops!

They know their audience; Saba Rocks offers a cruisers special on their room rates, touting their king-sized beds and hot showers.  In a future post I’ll write about the joys of sleeping in a v-berth, and I am being sarcastic about “the joys”! 

Dad and son check out the hungry tarpon; the one
circling at Saba Rock were 3-5’ long, weighing in at
40-60 pounds. 
Saba Rocks evening fish feeding coincides nicely with $3 Painkillers (more on Painkillers in a future post) for Happy Hour, providing the perfect tourist attraction.  It worked for us and we were not alone.

Toes tease tarpon with fish food.  Gutsy gal!  
The dinner crowd was wowed by the
size of these Caribbean lobsters.
Thanks to no pinchers, the restaurant
allowed kids to hold them.  Great for
the kids though we’re betting
the lobsters were less than enthralled.
The ringleader for the fish feed was a master showman, cajoling volunteers to feed the fish, while at the same time teasing that lawyers held little sway in the BVI, should accidents happen.  The fish were tarpon, though he claimed the ocaisonal toothy barracuda might join the feeding frenzy.  To me, tarpon moved like big, fat, lazy house cats.  Like housecats, they could transform in the blink of an eye, leaping like greased lightingning for the right, tasty morsel.  The raced, bumped, thrashed and lept with alacrity.

Free vintage Ferries to nearby attractions and necessities make it
easy to visit Saba Rocks, or stay.  The vintage theme carries
into their gift shop display of vintage outboard motors and
this race boat in their restaurant / bar.

Monday, February 25, 2013

A Picture Is Worth 1000 Words


Picked up what I was willing to bet were these beets
in Dutch St. Maarten.  If they are beets, they’re part of
tonight’s dinner, to be served with blue cheese on top;
a nice, simple side dish.

“Or at least one word in English,” quipped the ever-witty Wayne. 

This was after his “What the heck is this... HAK?” regarding a bottle of red violet stuff I picked up in Dutch St. Maarten.  I'd just pointed out to Wayne what looked like a beet to me on the left hand part of the label image.

Truthfully, I kind of enjoy the challenge of provisioning in places where I don’t speak the language.  And I’ve guessed right on what’s inside, at least so far.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Leggy Extra Protein Oatmeal

Notice the little webby connection suspending
the oatmeal in the upper right hand corner
of the bag?  I kept this oatmeal package sealed,
from store… to trash
.

Expecting and experiencing are different.

We expected critter invasions of our foodstuffs at some point, but experiencing the invasions each time was a surprise.

Invasion #1:  Spicy Surprise?
We’d lived on our boat a few months when little moths began greeting us in a flurry of flight each time we opened our food storage cabinets.  Eventually I traced their incubator to a brand new bottle of paprika. It was hardly what I’d expect moths to choose for their crucible of life. I hastily discarded the bottle.

Boomerang from Invasion #1?
We are currently experiencing what I believe is the second, smaller wave of their gestation.  I’m betting this time the survivors laid eggs into the cabinetry woodwork, as I’ve seen no infestations in any open food packages.  If their regeneration continues, we’ll consider a bug bomb, however I’m not enamored with the concept of irradiating my living spaces with poison.  Though annoying, I prefer judicious use of a flyswatter and hands, for as long as they work.

New Unwelcome Guests for Breakfast
Fortunately, I’m pretty alert when I wake up.  Alert enough to notice the Caribbean origin oatmeal package I was about to unseal was unusually clumpy.  Closer inspection through the still sealed plastic packaging revealed a tiny wormlike critter inching alongside the webby oatmeal clump.  I left the package sealed, waiting for the next available trash site.

I’m all for supporting a vibrant ecosystem, but my tolerance for what forms it takes in my galley and food cupboards is very limited.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Squatters & Slackers: Avoiding Temptation


It cost a minimum of $125 / night for
the owners of these sandals to so
easily set foot from their mooring dock onto
terra firma.
One of my brother’s favorite jokes as a kid, was to make nose prints, pressing his face flush against swanky restaurant windows.  His big, brown soulful eyes
stared hungrily at the diners, seeing if he could break their composure.  Our folks fed us well; this was just a lark for Bro.  I didn’t follow suit, even though it totally cracked me up.

Cute sign, but we were not tempted.
Clear water.  Nice walking beach an easy dinghy ride in.
Some of the little huts are the roof of a beachfront café.
The $18 burgers did not tempt us; the $175 Valentines
couples dinner at the other island restaurant, was
even less tempting.
As a so-called adult, I carry the tradition forward, with a little bit of a twist.  I relish in dropping anchor for free in bays where mooring balls cost $65 a night, and docking $125, plus $70 for electric hookup.

Here’s a comparison between us, the “Squatters & Slackers” to the “Well Heeled” on Peter Island, British Virgin Islands.





Peter Island:  Highbrow or Lowbrow? An Awesome Experience, Regardless 


Squatters & Slackers (aka Budget Cruisers)
Well-Heeled Sailors
Notes
Staying
Anchoring is free $0; our power comes from our solar panels.
$65-$195 / night
Mooring ball $65, docking $125, +$70 if electric hookup
Meals & Drinks
$15
do-it-yourself (DIY)
$200+
Cooking for ourselves vs. eating out, 3 meals
Internet
$0
$0
Open WiFi;) – free!
Convenience
No, dinghy onto land
Yes - excellent – all there if docked
Very small amount of $ for dinghy gas
Pampering
No
Yes
We can do each other – not the same
Walkies
$0
$0
Only cost is motivation!
Massage
$0 (DIY – “Do me, Wayne”)
$210 featured massage
Wayne’s good!
View
$0
$0
Awesome!
Total
$15
$475-605

Overall Experience
We create our own paradise
Paradise:  Easy but expensive
Any questions?
  

Mooring balls in this bay, just around the corner from
our anchorage, cost $65/night.
I told Wayne about I was looking up the cost of a massage on Peter Island “just for yucks” (click here to learn more about the lovely Peter Island Resort) for this post.   He said, “Your cost of the massage is simply to lay down and say ‘Do me.’”

Ceramic map of Peter Island as seen in the higher end resort
restaurant on Peter Island.  We anchored in Deadman’s Bay,
on the NE part of the island, just in from the Island
Deadman’s Chest.
Wayne washing the sand off his feet for free
at the outdoor shower on Peter Island’s Resort.
We figured the resort would prefer we not sully
their walkways.
I may not be rich in cash, but life is good.  Thanks, Wayne.  I love you, darlin.'

If we anchor again at Peter Island, as long as the WiFi's still free, we'll buy a burger and a drink to say thanks.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Beach Bauble Bounty In St. Barts

Tantalizing beltline of perfect shells on St. Barts aptly named
Shell Beach.

Jillions of jewels – which I had.  Creepy crawlers – which my brother had.  Easy-bake ovens – I envied my neighbor’s.  We did not entirely keep up with the Jones, or the Woolcinskis, in that case.  Nor did we own an automatic dishwasher then, to the horror of the folks who bought our home.

For context… shells were small, but still stunning.  Sigh…
my feet have not yet returned to this state of
cleanliness since their Saba mud slathering
(click here to read about that).
Those of you in my age bracket understand that giddy era.  It was back when kids were encouraged to play with scalding hot metal devices to create all sorts of useless crap.  Back in the era before we flooded our homes with cheap Chinese… everything… it wasn’t that uncommon to spend much more making it yourself – for fun!  Dangerous chemicals for home use were in vogue…. Like Dad’s home-made fiberglass van camper shell conversion, which grossly overstayed its welcome during its construction phase in our garage.

Even for non-shell-hunters, St. Barts Shell Beach is
a great beach to play at.  Boats were anchored, but a bit rolly.
Ah… but Mom will undoubtedly take a trip back on memory lane with the word… Lucite.  Despite that 70s craze, and mom’s shell-embedded molded lucite trivets and other craft knick-knacks (fortunately she did not follow the toilet seat making trend), we were unable to make a dent in the boxes and boxes of shells.  We’d collected the shells – cowries, coffebeans, olive shells, coral tubes, sand dollars, sea urchins -- over the years of low-tide beachcombing at LaJolla’s Shell Beach.  Not sure what hapless soul finally took them off our hands.

Okay, I did take a few more than these.  But not many!  Honest!
In spite of, or perhaps because of those precious childhood memories, I find myself incapable of passing up the treasure trove of nature’s bounty at Shell Beach, St. Barts.  Mostly, though, I looked, and took pictures, and only about a dozen small shells. Okay, a little more than a dozen, but not many more.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

My Lobster’s Name Is… “Dinner”


Wayne suggested I look these guys in the eyes, decide who
looked the nastiest, point to it, and tell it, “You!  You, you
mean mother f-----.  You’re mine!  You are going to die
and I’m going to eat you for dinner!”
“Would you like to select your lobster?” our waiter asked.

“No,” I responded.  He recoiled, slightly.  “I do not want develop a personal relationship my lobster.  I just want to eat him.  Please pick me out one of the smallest ones you have,” I begged, mindful of our budget ($50/day for the two of us combined for everything), even for a belated birthday dinner (click here to read about my "Raincheck Birthday").  The lobster cost $19.95 a pound.  He found me a 1 ½ pound lobster, a perfect match for my appetite and a rare budget-busting splurge.

Sure, Portlandia is one of favorite spoofs. The restaurant episode revealing the intimate menu resume addendum of “Henry the organic chicken” is one of my favorites (click here for it -- note -- may not be viewable outside the US).

While we didn’t eat at any other
seafood restaurants on the
island, we don’t agree with
the vote. We were happier
with the more casual
meals we ate.
Instead, I heartily embrace the “I’m usually a vegetarian, but…” Portland localvore’s (click here if you’re not sure what a localvore is) philosophy.  She named her rabbit and future dinner “Pro” for protein.  If I had three chickens, I would name them, “scrambled,” “over easy,” and “sunny side up,” even though I’ve been a vegetarian from time to time in my life, and may be again.

Back to my celebratory lobster dinner….

Yes, lobster is a hands-on kind of meal.  But the only intimacy I wanted with my lobster is savoring its sweet taste on its way down my hatch.  I don’t take that lightly.  While I don’t know if my lobster lived a full and happy life, I do know it was a decade or more since I last ate lobster, and this would be my first Caribbean lobster.  Unless I learn to catch, prep and cook these cranky crustaceans myself, it might be that long again before I indulge again, given my primarily haute ramen budget.

We didn’t make it back to the casual sidewalk beach BBQ cafes
of French St. Martin’s Grande Case.  That’s where I’d rather
experience my first Caribbean lobster, unless of course
I catch one myself.
Our celebration site was SkipJacks, which proclaimed it was “Voted St. Maarten’s Best Seafood Restaurant.”  Several folks we talked to in St. Maarten declared SkipJack’s was their favorite restaurant.

Maybe my hopes were too high, especially since I’d rather we ate at one of the picnic tables in Grande Case (St. Martin, the French side of the island), at a sidewalk beach BBQ cafe.   Timing just didn’t work out for that.  Timing I suspect was the issue at SkipJack’s, too.  We arrived at 4:30, a little before the dinner crowd.  After several minutes of trying to catch an employee’s attention, our waiter looked almost reluctant to seat us. I surmise we further sealed our fate by overlooking the fancy priced-cocktails and respecting our beer budget, literally.  Worse, both we and our waiter knew he’d be getting a minimum of a 15% tip (we’d heard the voluntary norm on the island is 10%) regardless of the quality of his service; the menu noted it was built into the bill.  Our waiter never cracked a smile, nor did the rest of his demeanor give us the impression he was happy with his job, or us.

Basic Caribbean lobster dinner at SkipJack’s.  Notice Caribbean
lobsters do not possess the big meaty claws you’d expect
on a Maine lobster. I prefer Caribbean lobster’s taste and
texture and loved the BBQ style preparation.
That said, my BBQ & Creole-sauced lobster was pretty darned delish. It tasted sweeter than any other lobster I’d eaten.  Its meat was flakier, more crab-like than the dense almost rubbery lobster I’ve eaten before. I love crab (click here to read about my cooking adventure with crab), also a rare treat.

We topped it with a relatively small, humble slice of key lime pie.  We rarely order dessert, It set us back $8 (plus tip), but for Wayne, less enthralled with his BBQ rib dinner, it was the best part of the meal.  It was bursting with flavor.

Our $81 and change bill – mandatory minimum 15% tip included -- was painful for us.  Worse, our credit card company billed us $103!  We revisted SkipJack’s who verified by showing us their daily bank tally their charge to us was “only” $81. As mysteriously as it appeared, it did get corrected.  We all agreed it was a bank or credit card error, not a SkipJack overcharge.  We wish the gal who helped us check the bill had been our waitress when we ate there. I believe the meal would’ve been a much better experience.

But I do need to find a cruiser-viable key lime recipe as good as SkipJack’s.  Any suggestions?