Thursday, 29 January 2009

and Antigua?

This comment was left on my previous entry. Something seems to be going seriously wrong in the eastern Caribbean...


Australian's Death Triggers Antigua Outrage

In the midst of preparation for the 42nd Antigua Sailing Week, the largest and most spectacular regatta of the Caribbean, the island is in uproar and yachts are leaving in droves, as the yachting community grieves in anger about the shooting death of Australian 38-year-old yacht skipper Drew Gollan.

Some yachts have already left for neighbouring islands including St. Maarten, Nevis and St. Barts.

During a meeting convened yesterday at a local entertainment hotspot yachtsmen and residents alike openly and aggressively expressed their frustration at the incident that claimed a colleague’s life.

Some of those gathered hurled expletives and chastised the police and those in authority for allowing rough elements to infiltrate the community.

'Some of the yachts have already decided to leave, others are considering it. Some have left,' one yachtsman’s angrily shouted.

Another member of the yachting community announced that he had just received a phone call notifying him of a captain’s meeting in St. Maarten, where a decision was taken that 'no single boat will return to Antigua.'

Reportedly, based on the discussions from that meeting, directives were given for the yachtsmen to moor their vessel in neighbouring islands.

One captain said he has been coming to Antigua for over 20 years and because of this incident, he will be pulling out of Antigua and added that he does not plan to return until the crime situation is brought under control.

Another boat captain, who said that he lives here, said he was given instructions to leave Antigua as well. He said he will not be returning until next year.

John Duffy, President of the Antigua and Barbuda Yacht Association said despite the tragedy he was hoping that the skippers would stay, but said the decision is solely theirs, adding that he understands the risk in keeping their boats in Antigua.

He said something urgently needs to be done to protect the industry, now at the brink of collapsing.

Tourism Minister Harold Lovell, who was present at the meeting and obviously overwhelmed by the situation, tried to offer some comfort to the yachtsmen.

He asked them not to leave and promised that everything is being done to bring the perpetrators to justice.

While expressing sorrow at the prospects of having to leave, one captain said that he cannot afford to put his crew at risk and told the minister he will leave today.

The Caribbean lies on the critical route between the gigantic drug suppliers of Colombia and the world's biggest market, the USA. Drugs are said to be the cause of much of the crime in the Caribbean. Cruising sailors have set up their own Caribbean Safety and Security Net to try to deal with the ongoing issue.

Drew Gollan's partner, Alena Sitkova, who was also wounded in the incident, said that Gollan had died trying to protect her and their baby daughter Carolina, when they were attacked by a would-be robber. He sustained three gunshot wounds to the chest and was dead on arrival at the local hospital.

The couple had been planning to settle in Hervey Bay in Queensland where Gollan had been previously employed as a Whale Watching skipper.

And this comment in Yachting World is fascinating...

$20,000 reward for conviction of Antigua killer

The owner of the 163ft Perini Navi ketch Perseus has put up a reward of US$20,000 for information leading to the conviction of the killer of his captain Drew Gollan who died last week in a shooting incident in Antigua.

John Duffy, president of the Antigua and Barbuda Marine Association issued a statement to this effect together with news that an unnamed skipper had offered an additional US$10,000 for the capture and conviction of Gollan's killer and that ABMA had agreed to oversee the fund.

In a further attempt to prevent yachts leaving and to reassure yachtsmen and other visitors that more was being done to ensure their safety, Antigua's National Parks department has pledged part of its rental income to investing in CCTV security cameras in and around Falmouth and English Harbours. Local police intend to instigate foot patrols to carry out regular 'stop and search for vehicles and persons carrying illegal weapons and drugs'.

The Marine Association also said in a press release: "The Dockyard police station will be manned permanently. Zero tolerance will be applied to both dealers and users of illegal drugs - without exception."

Sources in Antigua have told Yachting World that drug abuse among the local yachting community is widespread, something that needs to be eradicated to cut demand.

Yachting World/David Glenn, 28 January 2009

Avoid Guadeloupe...

This is a worrying report that I just picked up from TBH has been predicting that the current world economic crisis will lead to great civil unrest and after Iceland, and the riots there, I believe him.

I must say that I had not thought the Caribbean would be one of the next places to suffer but seems it is. I wonder what is happening on the french islands in the pacific?

Yachts leaves Guadaloupe as strike hits

The general strike in Guadeloupe running in tandem with the situation in Europe took a dramatic turn for the worse yesterday and I regret that it will be necessary to remove the entire Swan charter fleet from the island base in Pointe a Pitre.

Three of our captains are long term residents of the island and they strongly support this action - they feel it has become necessary to do this to preserve not only their own safety but ensure the continued integrity of our Caribbean operations.
Two yachts have already left but two captains are waiting to see how the situation develops as they have domestic responsibilities which would make leaving the island for any length of time difficult. But they will leave if they have to.
Racial tensions have been building up in Guadeloupe over the past week and the absence of food, water and power has created a politically charged and dangerous social situation.

A serious crisis has been evolving this week to the extent that the local population has little food and water left. Inevitably this will put pressure on a situation that could quickly evolve into civil unrest.

The deteriorating situation during this current week has not been well reported locally in the Caribbean or internationally. Following a crisis meeting at the Guadeloupe Prefecture today the authorities are now mobilising the police and armed forces to cope with a strike situation that is predicted to last as long as one month.

Our captains had been staying on their individual yachts as they had not been able to travel to their Guadeloupe homes safely - most forms of transport, including private cars, are now at a standstill due to the lack of fuel in the country. Armed gangs are blockading routes and white French nationals are suddenly being randomly targeted, causing many residents to begin to fear for their safety.

The captains are predicting a good chance of severe civil unrest next week - under these circumstances we were compelled to move the fleet 20 miles south to Les Saintes a) where it is safer and b) where most shops and businesses are still open - this is only an anchoring area with no marina facility. If things do not improve in Guadeloupe very quickly we will then temporarily relocate the fleet to Antigua.

article gives a little more background to the root of the unrest.

Wednesday, 28 January 2009


...and down again!

yes today was the day. Finally we were physically and psychologically prepared to attempt to replace the wind instruments at the top of the mast.

It was a nice cool and calm morning. TBH prepared all that was necessary for the event whilst I went through my limbering up exercises. Well for me that consisted of three cups of coffee and an egg muffin with bacon...much more satisfying than all that bending and stretching.

Getting TBH comfortable in the bosun's chair I started to haul him up. Not for us the electric windlass method, I have a rule that the day I can no longer manage to wind him up using the mainsheet winch is the day we no longer go sailing offshore. His reasoning is that the electric windlass is too valuable to risk burning it out! Make of that what you will.

Safely secured by two lines, mainsheet and spinnaker halyard, I winch steadily and slowly. Stopping every 20-30 turns to take up the slack on the spinnaker line and make it off on a cleat, just in case of an accident with the primary line.

We did try using one of those fancy climbing kits once. At great expense we purchased a harness(ex large), a length of VERY expensive climbing rope, and two clever metal thingies that slide along the line as you climb. Now TBH used to be a potholer, ok I'll wait whilst you stop giggling, and reckoned he knew a thing or two about climbing ropes etc. It was a long time ago and he was ,shall we say, somewhat smaller.OK a LOT smaller.Out came the kit and he starts to climb. 15 minutes later he is still firmly on the deck! The rope was stretching so much he never went if you want to make an offer the kits all here!

So to get back to this mornings event. Armed with my peg bag, stuffed with Dremmel tool, spare parts, leatherman I get him to the top. Hum not too bad only slightly out of breath and no chest pains! Result!

Usually I ask him at this point how much he loves me, and negotiate for a new outfit etc. The unspoken threat being that I may leave him there.....

Ten minutes later, "OK let me down". Oh dear that's not good news. Turns out the fitting left up there is so corroded we will have to resort to glue and/or epoxy. Blast that means at least two more ascents to go.

Looking on the bright side I'll have to keep eating the egg and bacon muffins to keep my strength up!

Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Wave thoughts...

Thought you might like Sam Davies, competitor in the Vendee Globe, ideas on waves! I understand where you are coming from Sam...

Monday, 26 January 2009

A week is a long time...

...well certainly it is in politics!

It can encompass a lot of change on a boat too. We have filled up with diesel. That's a good feeling. I equate it to starting the winter with a good big log pile outside the door. Always made me feel very happy!

We carry 320 litres in our fuel tank and then another 80 litres in cans on deck. That gives us either sufficient fuel for 200 days running the refrigerator etc or some 1000 miles motoring capacity. It has always been adequate for our needs. So we are ready to face the coming months and at a price of 22Q a gallon(U.S.) we have saved some 20% as the price has` dropped over the last month or so. Now that doesn't happen often!

The propane tanks are full 4 x 20lbs giving us a capacity for around a years cruising...

Food lockers are nigh on full, well I'd better be honest they are bulging at the seams. Friend George who returned from Australia last week to his boat here at Mario's kindly picked up a list for me from the city which was much appreciated. Although I am wondering how to use the Spam!

So slowly we are preparing to move... I scrubbed out the galley this week too. Boy was it in a disgusting state. Taking the dinghy off the top of the boat let the sunlight in and revealed the appalling state of my housekeeping. My excuse is that only boring women have immaculate homes.

Curtains are coming down to be washed and cushions cleaned. It's all quite scary really. I have even started to clean the exterior of the boat.

George came over to lunch yesterday and we really enjoyed his company, as well as the excuse to cook roast beef and yorkshire puddings. I was delighted with the old Ausssie cookbook that he gave me. Apparently it was one that his mum used as her culinary bible. Lovely old recipes and advice for the housewife. A recipe for gruel and one for casserole of kangaroo. Mmnn delicious!

So the cleaning continues. Good for the soul TBH tells me...

Friday, 23 January 2009


I was amazed that the quartet at the Inauguration were playing and I was right to be surprised. Turns out they weren't, oh well...

Reported in this mornings Times newspaper:

It's not exactly Watergate but Barack Obama's inauguration was back in the dock today after it emerged that the quartet of classical musicians who ushered him on to the steps of the Capitol were faking it.

A spokeswoman for the congressional committee, which organised the inauguration, the biggest and most costly in history, told the newspaper that the musicians could not have played live in Tuesday's sub-zero temperatures because of the risk of broken piano strings and cracked instruments.

Wednesday, 21 January 2009


I thought I would share with you a posting that TBH just made on , his response to "pick yourself up..." This site is always interesting and informative about the current world crisis.

Interesting stuff huh? Cruising isn't always what you imagine, well not for us anyway....!

Thank you James for your words on Torture. I think President Obama addressed this when he said, "we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals". His speech did not need specifics because it was a small masterpiece of reframing (see

One must be at ease with the unfamiliar and the con¬tradictory to navigate change and create newness. Change agents must learn to live with the unknown, untamed, for a while. Those mentally accustomed to vagueness, complexity and ambiguity are better prepared to produce original ideas and cope with newness. Familiarity with paradox is necessary to survive the never-ending surprises of our rapidly changing world

There are many ways to cope with paradox. You can accept the conclusion but explain why it is unacceptable, reject the reasoning as faulty, reject one or several premises explaining why they seem acceptable, misunderstand or deliberately refuse to consider the paradox altogether, live humbly or peacefully with the paradox unresolved, or transcend the frame of reference that is making the situation impossible.

Zen masters employ paradox in the last of these ways. Zen teachers formulate "koans", questions that are designed to be impossible to answer, because they want their students to learn to reject the question. The koan is intended to annoy the learner so much that in a sudden moment of illumination, of "satori", they come to see that all rules can be broken, all boundaries transgressed.

This lesson is vital… for we may damn ourselves eternally if we fail to reject certain questions. This is the terrible message of the book and film "Sophie's Choice".

Waiting in line at Auschwitz, Sophie is told, "You may keep one of your children, the other must go."
"Don't make me choose, I can't," she begs.
"I'll send them both. Make a choice," the soldier replies.
"Take my little girl," Sophie cries. "Take my baby."
And thereafter she is inconsolable; even the son she kept with her dies in the camp.

In particular, beware oversimplification. Simplification is deceptively appealing in its apparent lack of ambiguity.

In those few words – "we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals" – President Obama denounces the double-bind into which the devious framing of the issue of Homeland Security had placed Americans.

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Inaugural thoughts.

As President Obama concludes his inaugural address to the USA, and the world, I return to the warmth of my boat. There was a small group clustered around the TV to listen and watch this amazing historic occasion. As an outsider even I had a lump in my throat as I recalled the long generational path that brings this bright and articulate man to the steps of the White House. What must he have felt like, what echoes of family history and childish experiences must have whirled around his mind in the dark hours of last night. I wonder whether he slept at all!

If you haven't read his book, Dreams from my father, I highly recommend it. I have it on the boat and am amazed how many Americans I have lent it to in the past few months.

My son, in London, just texted to say that Obama had been sworn in. The world is watching..

I scrape in to the category of 'baby boomer'. Well only just! It is, maybe, my generation that have the greatest challenge to grasp. The children of parents who had seen much deprivation during one or even two world wars. The children of a generation who worked hard and saved for their retirement. We have been indulged, promised the world, the moon and even the stars...

And as the order of the world we are used to changes, as the life that we have taken for granted alters before our eyes I wonder how well we will rise to the challenge? Seems to me it will get ugly before it begins to heal...

But as TBH reminds me often the only resource we have is ourselves. The ability to learn, change, adapt and grow are the very root of life. Bit like cruising isn't it! Just as you think you have learned something along comes a new challenge and back you go to the beginning again, ah me!

As I sat listening to the speech I was struck by the surroundings that we are in. The sun filtering through the palm trees. Edgar Allan Egret, the resident white egret, flew in to stalk elegantly along the dock and Inez and Fito ,two of the staff members, paused under the shade of the Flamboyant tree to pass a comment or two about the gringo's watching the TV! I wonder what they were thinking? This small cultural bubble that sits on the river, in the jungle, in Guatemala brings a weird perspective into the lives of it's inhabitants . That's the frustrating thing about travel, you never really get to know what's going on in the mind's of the local's. Probably a good thing on reflection!

Mind you it's a damn sight warmer here on the Rio than it is in Washington. Did you see the wonderful 'Fagin' style gloves that the pianist was wearing during the quartet's performance? And how the hell did YoYo Ma get his cello to stay in tune in that temperature. Brrrrr......

Monday, 19 January 2009

Fuel and frugality.

Hallelujah! The sun is shining at last. I almost thought that we were never going to see it again. It feels like the first day of Spring!

..So I have started to clean the topsides of the boat, which are truly disgusting. They have gone so green and slimy it is like paddling around in a smelly old pond. Yuck! anyway managed the first wave this morning, plenty to do yet. TBH took advantage of the fine weather to take the dinghy upstream to collect 4 cans of diesel. We haven't filled up since we returned from Cuba so it was interesting to see that the price is down to around $3 a gallon, that's excellent news as we need to take on board about 12 cans, that's approx 60 gallons. Should keep us going a while...

The sun has bought out all the new visitors to the marina and coffee time was positively crowded this morning. I see the staff moving boats around and cleaning them off like crazy, must be another new influx of owners due soon. Made me feel less sluttish as some of the boats were definitely a whole lot greener than ours!

During the rain I have been trying out a batch of new recipes. With the doom and gloom of the recession I decided to look at some more frugal ways of feeding us. Back in my past I lived a very self-sufficient lifestyle for a number of years and thought it would be fun to resurrect some of the things I used to cook then. As a single mum with three small children money was always tight and had to go a very long way.

So yesterday I took a piece of pork loin that I bought from the launch that delivers from Casa Guatemala. It cost 22Q that's about $2.60. I plastered it with seasoning and olive oil and popped it in the oven to roast for 40 mins. I am happy to roast when the weather is as cold as it was yesterday, makes the boat really cozy! Instead of veggies I decided to cook lentils, haven't done them for ages. Took 1.5 cups puy lentils, the greeny brown ones that hold their shape, gave them a good wash and set them to simmer along with a couple of bayleaves on the stovetop. Once done, about 20 mins, I drained them, retaining the liquor. Melted a spoon of butter and sauted a finely chopped onion. When they were nicely golden returned the lentils to the pan, added 150mls of the liquor and simmered for a further 10 mins. They were delicious and with the thinly sliced pork a delight for lunch. In fact that was enough for 4. Pretty good huh!

Today I had a go at making 'sliders' a sort or gourmet mini hamburger. Last time I went to Puerto Barrios I got a pack of small bread rolls and they needed eating up. So took 1lb minced beef, 1tsp chili powder, small sprinkle of ground cumin, 1 egg, salt and pepper. Mixed all together and divided into 12 small balls.

Warmed the rolls and cooked the mini burgers for 2 mins each side on the griddle. One burger on base of roll, crumbled some leftover blue cheese on top , grilled till cheese melted. Drizzled a little olive oil on the bun top and placed on the burger. Mmmnnn really tasty. TBH preferred the ones with plain cheddar on the top but I thought that was pretty unadventurous!

Oh and just in case you think we are being really greedy there is a big batch in the fridge still waiting to be cooked...

Saturday, 17 January 2009

What can I say?

I am disgusted and saddened by the inability of the world to make a difference. For all the rhetoric condemning the Israeli's contempt for world opinion where has it got us? Fine words blow away on the wind, actions speak louder....

Friday, 16 January 2009

Reading in the rain.

Well it was inevitable I guess. We take the sun awning down to clean it and now we have had nothing but rain... So that mean's lots of leaping up in the middle of the night to close hatches etc. C'est la vie!

It really has been chucking it down here, and chilly too. Ambient temperature has been in the mid 70's, that's 15 degrees colder than usual. I have rooted out blankets for the bed and indulged in a daily baking session to warm the boat up. There's no pleasing some of us is there, it's either too hot or too cold.

The weather having put the kibosh on most boat jobs there is plenty of time to catch up with the reading. The new influx of boaters has bought a much more interesting selection of books to the shelves. I am currently reading a selection of essays by Willie Morris, a writer from the deep south of the USA. It's fascinating to hear about an insider's perspective of a part of the world that I have such a superficial knowledge of. Since we have been here the majority of the boaters we have met come from the South and Texas, Willie's writing helps me understand a little more of the customs and prejudices that mould them!

Willie was a Rhodes Scholar and attended Oxford University. His essay on life there viewed by a Southerner from the USA helps me also to understand how we, as Brits, are perceived by outsiders! Fascinating stuff.

Tuesday, 13 January 2009

Blue Water, a movie.

Not many films get made about sailing, let alone crossing oceans as a cruiser but here's one.

Part one is available to watch here,

Blue Water is a feature documentary about crossing oceans. One of life's great adventures.

The maker, Richard Gooderick, asks that if you enjoy the movie you make a donation to

Ellen_MacArthur_HI-RES CMYKEllen_MacArthur_HI-RES CMYK(2)(2)Ellen_MacArthur_HI-RES CMYK.

Seems like a fair deal to me

Monday, 12 January 2009

Another week, another plan...

The population of the Marina has almost completely changed over the last week or so. Suddenly the bookshelf is full of interesting books and the incidence of 'Norah Roberts' novels has plummeted dramatically- hurrah!

Conversation over morning coffee now ranges from anchors to politics to cookery to movies and back again . Interspersed with some naff humour and toilet jokes. All is right with our little world again!

It's raining and there is a cold front coming. We are vacillating about our plans. Nothing new there then! I am desperate to get away from the dock but we are still busy with the early stages of launching TBH's new product. I know I must be patient but boy it is trying. I keep reminding myself that we are very fortunate to still be out here cruising after 8 years, and still wanting to do more. It is a small price to pay that we must stay put for a while. After all tropical Guatemala is a light year away from the freezing gloom of the UK.

I have found another cookery book fiend here in the form of Carol from Windquest. I am greatly enjoying exchanging cookery books with her and as a result TBH has been savouring some tasty new dishes...not doing anything for our attempt to reduce the waistlines though...

Thursday, 8 January 2009

Duck's delight.

Mario's marina plays host to an eclectic bunch of characters. But none(well okay there have been a few!) are quite so strange as the latest addition to the population...Armando, the black bellied whistling duck...

I kid you not! The place has degenerated into a dating service for depressed ducks! And boy is this guy depressed. Little Armando has the misfortune to be a member of a strain of duck that doesn't really think it's a duck.

For a start they like to nest in trees, and poor old Armando has been left here with clipped wings. No tree climbing for him for a bit. Not only that, this particular breed like to mate for life and the fates have dealt this duck a dud hand. There are no other Black Bellied Whistling Ducks for miles and, as he can't fly there's no chance of meeting one. Oh and by the way they don't really like the water either, and he doesn't quack but whistles. One fucked up duck!

Poor Armando has taken up residence under the kitchen by the water's edge where he eyes up any visiting bird life. You can almost see the little guy's brain working as he tries to figure out why this feathered friend can't be his mate... well mainly 'cos they don't look anything like him duh! Poor old Armando no-mates!

There's a little heron, bit of a sort of bossy bitch bird who has taken him under her wing ( sorry couldn't resist that!) . She scolds him from her tree stump perch but also protects him from the bullying of the more aggressive native blackbird. Little Armando sports a rather neat mohican hairstyle which twitches with interest whenever the cormorant is diving close to the shore. He really does seem to be confused by the whole business of life as a duck.

Cruisers being what cruisers are, well especially one particular kind who try and adopt any small children and strays that get close enough, he has been provided with a crate for a home and sacks of corn and all sorts of unimaginable luxuries.

Cindy suggested to two of the staff, who live in the nearby village, that they take him home to find a mate. After a long and complicated conversation in Spanish she was told in no uncertain terms that this was Armando's home and we should get him a mate. Needless to say they knew just the place to buy one...Oh dear bonding has set in in a big way!

He is a cute little thing, not really big enough to warrant getting out the recipe for duck a l'orange, but you never know...

Monday, 5 January 2009

Sky blue, with sparkles!

Thank goodness the hormones are beginning to get whipped back into some sort of order! Don't you just love that girls....I know that when God created man she was just having a joke but I do wish more attention had been paid to the endocrine system of us girlies, what a cock-up she made of that little piece of design!

Still, as in all things, hard work and distraction seem to solve most problems and I have begun to take the preparation of the boat in hand. Over the weekend the 'marquee' (massive sun-awning) came down and we have sent it up to the laundry for it's annual clean up. No mean feat when it has just come through its 4th tropical rainy season.

That of course has exposed the sadly neglected decks....yuck. Still no point cleaning those up until we have finished putting all the hardware issues to rights after our time here. Yesterday out came the running backstays and TBH reattached them in their rightful place. When we put the boat 'up' for the season we take off as much line as possible to protect it from UV and make sure there is as little green growth as possible!

Now we can get at the mast again( marquee down) there is no excuse to not get up there to replace the wind instrument and check on the rigging. We had planned to go up this morning but events rather overtook us. TBH's new venture seems to be developing well and as the world returns to work after the holidays his inbox was a bit full...

With three offspring, all rabid entrepreneurs, there is a never ending demand for our opinions, help and proof reading. They all seem to have started the New Year with a bang and we are delighted to be able to be of practical help to them!

So far this morning we've read two scripts, scanned the news for relevant items of interest, checked the weather, done the banking, worked on some email responses and made breakfast.Checked the website, (one offspring's venture), given opinions on 3d imaging software, looked at ideas for a new website... Oh and run the engine to cool the fridge, had coffee and watched CNN and it's only 9.30am....

Hey I'm not moaning - I'm loving it! Maybe depression is actually just another word for boredom. Without doubt the remedy lies in my own hands. Don't you just hate that!

Bring it on baby!

Sunday, 4 January 2009


Oh dear I really am having a bad couple of days...

I am feeling so depressed by the Israeli/Palestinian situation, the global economic crisis, the state of the boat, my cats health...

I need to get back out on the water, sailing the boat, swimming in the ocean, feeling the wind on my face...

I will repeat to myself at frequent intervals 'the glass is half full, NOT half empty!

Ignore me, normal service will be resumed shortly. must be the hormones playing up!

Thursday, 1 January 2009

Happy New Year!

I believe in getting into hot water. I think it keeps you clean.

G.K. Chesterton (1874--1936)

Definitely my mantra for 2009!