Saturday, 28 February 2009

Pass the vaseline.

How sad I thought as I read an article by Elaine Bunting in a copy of 'Yachting World' that Lucy bought out for us. "The days of vaselining eggs" are over she states! These days, Elaine says, galleys are sophisticated and provisioning is much the same all over the world! I don't know where she goes sailing but that certainly hasn't been my experience.

Maybe on the superyachts that she test drives for her magazine they have big freezers and all the gadgets but many of us out here 'doing it' still have minimum refrigeration, low power availability and a need to keep food for long periods of time.

There are destinations where buying food is simple and the variety of choice large but that is certainly not universal. If I want to confine my cruising to mainstream yachting ports I am pretty sure that there will be somebody catering to the dominant U.S or British taste for products, at a price. But get away from those centres and life is very different.

Small tienda's on the Columbian border stocked tomato paste and little else. Obtaining a chicken in the Eastern San Blas was a mammoth operation. Cuba still has food shortages. The ships chandler's there called me in great excitement one morning as they had butter! TBH returned to the boat with a kilo of fresh churned golden butter in one lump packed in a plastic carrier bag. An hour later I had it divided and packed in usable size portions in brine in jars. It lasted months and was delicious.

Maybe we are becoming outdated in the way we cruise. However I know that once we leave the dock, fully loaded we have the ability to be totally self-sufficient for 12 months. Now that to me means we really can go bluewater cruising!

Bon appetit, pass the vaseline!

Thursday, 26 February 2009

Time moves on.

It's been a busy few days.

Monday began with my workout winching TBH to the top of the mast in the ongoing wind instrument replacement saga. Success as the borrowed Dremel tool took off the corrosion and he was able to epoxy into place the new holder for the actual piece of gear we are ready to install. I was due to winch again this morning but have decided that tomorrow looks like a much better option! I know, I know procrastination and all that........

Yesterday we both joined the marina van for the weekly trip to Puerto Barrios, for the last time probably! Our fellow travelers, Cindy, Tom and Kim with the able assistance of Marco managed to strip the supermarket almost bare, collect oil filters, computer parts,batteries and sundry assorted goodies. We even fitted in a visit to both MacDonald's,for breakfast, and the excellent Chinese restaurant in Morales, for lunch! Returning with arms full of fresh roses from the stall outside the Post Office, a good time was had by all.

Last night my sleep was rent by the sound of gunshots going off a bit too close for comfort. haven't heard any of those for a while. It appears that the dock guard here saw an unidentified dinghy close to one of the boats in the storage line, no sign of a person. He fired a warning shot whereupon the 'empty' dinghy started to head for open water! Another shot was fired and the Navy called. They finally made it here 45 minutes later, not what you would call rapid response! Anyway they evidently recovered a dinghy but, strangely enough, no sign of an occupant. Serves to remind us that we should maintain vigilance here on the river.

So the boat is stocked, the final jobs getting crossed off the list and with TBH's dental treatment coming to a close early next week we should be out of here. sadly we won't make it to St Maarten for Heineken Week but then that's what plans are for isn't it, to be broken!

Saturday, 21 February 2009

A week is a long time...

Well the week is over, Lucy is back in the UK, it's raining...again and I am a bit of a glum Mum!

We had a great week and Lucy ran us ragged demanding that we join in all the touristy things on the Rio. Sometimes it's good to have visitors. Not only does the boat get a really good clean but you look at your current location with fresh eyes and appreciate again the reason why you are here..still!

We visited a set of Mayan ruins nearby, not really my thing but interesting. As we approached the site our driver told us the coaches cluttering up the road were also headed the same way. Our hearts dropped at the thought of an entire cruise liner also vying to look at the exhibits. But there was a silver lining, they had some excellent English speaking guides with them so we tagged along and learned far more than if we had been muddling around on our own.

We shopped and ate out, and played countless games of dominoes, which of course I won!
The last couple of days have been taken up with accompanying the offspring to Guat City, seeing her off and returning to the Rio. Of course she had the trip from hell, vowing to never fly American Airlines again. Technical issues in Miami meant a late arrival in New York and a bag that has not yet made it to the UK.

Meanwhile we are in full departure mode...not! Mostly looking at lists and gulping as we realise all the things we meant to achieve and have not. Still it should not come as a surprise to us after all there's still over a week to go before we intend to cast off the dock lines...and a week is a long time!

Sunday, 15 February 2009

High speed living.

Hard to believe that it's a week since I last made an entry here. So much has been going on and I am having trouble keeping up with the increased speed of life since Lucy arrived on board! Certainly makes me realise what a laid back easy going way of life we lead these days...

We headed to the city on Wednesday morning bright and early. The weather was perfect and Guatemala showed herself off in all the vibrancy of an early Spring day. The mountains clear and crisp against the blue sky and even the fields looking green and verdant considering we are officially now in the dry season.

The longer I spend at sea level the harder I find the trip inland to the city. Zooming along at speed and climbing to a height of 3000 feet I am starting to think that I am experiencing some sort of altitude sickness! I start to ache and feel a bit woozy as soon as we arrive in the city and it abates as we get back to the Rio. TBH says it's just getting older...

Lucy's flight was due in at 10.10pm but it was late, no surprise. She was pretty tired after over 24 hours traveling but bounced out of the arrivals door looking great. It's lovely to see her again.Being a mum I have difficulty adjusting to the fact she is now almost 23, not the 3 year old that I still believe her to be and within minutes find myself back in the parenting roll! Stay close! Have you got sun cream on? Bless her she copes well with my orders..

We stopped at Pricesmart on the way back, no opportunity to stock up is ever passed by ,and even coerced Marco, our driver, to stop at Pollo Campero ( the Guat version of Kentucky Fried Chicken) for lunch. My cup overfloweth(as well as my trousers!).

So Lucy is here on the Rio, safe and sound and demanding 24/7 entertainment. Blimey I had forgotten how much energy youth has! We have been into Fronteras, booked a trip to some ruins and were all set to head down river on the boat when TBH was struck low with a recurring dental problem. Poor lamb was in awful pain yesterday and can't see the dentist until Wednesday. I have rifled through my medicine chest and have him on antibiotics and pain relief but he is only functioning at around 70%. Bless him he is so rarely laid low and I hate to see him suffering. So we won't be going down river and Lucy and I will take a lancha so she can get some of the flavour of this extra-ordinary place that is the Rio dulce.

Monday, 9 February 2009

Ducked out...

but spotted by the eagle eyed marina crew!

Hope Cindy doesn't mind me reproducing her blog with the latest update!

Monday, February 9, 2009
Gloria Update
We have heard Armando whistling and Gloria answers back. It appears that she is across the little bay and has been spotted by the locals. We are not inclined to go and get her. She and Armando were having problems and perhaps a cooling off period is in order. Inez and I agree that, Amor es "dificil" (love is difficult).

So we know that Gloria is alive and well. We shall see if she decides to come back and back a go of it with Armando.
Posted by SV Dragonheart at 11:10 AM

Daughters and ducks.

There is great delight on board our little boat as our youngest daughter Lucy announced that she is coming out for a visit...on Wednesday! Didn't give us much notice but what the heck. I am delighted that she is prepared to travel all the way from England to spend a week with her aged parents. Aren't I a lucky bunny.

So we are preparing for her arrival amidst all the other jobs that are backing up due to the incessant rain. Boat is a mess again but I am beginning to come to terms with the continual upheaval. Sometimes you just have to accept the way things are, gulp.

One of our ducks is missing! Gloria has gone AWOL. Seems she either didn't like Armando enough, the 'bossy bitch heron' did away with her or maybe she just swam off?
No evidence or a 'dastardly' deed so my money is on her making a break for freedom. I suggest that if another wife is purchased for the confused bachelor she is penned in for a couple of weeks first!

More cruisers planning to leave today for the islands. It's going to be pretty empty by the end of the week...

Saturday, 7 February 2009


Nothing on a boat is ever straight forward. Just as we were congratulating ourselves for completing the changing of the timing belt as well as installing new fuel and oil filters, and changing the oil we realised that the engine fan blower has quit. Bugger. This clears the engine fumes from the cabin and vomits them out through one of the 'swallow's nests' in the cockpit. It's probably just a loose wire but tedious never the less.

Our main GPS quit picking up satellites and before buying a new unit TBH decided to see if there was a simple fault. There was, well sort of! The wire from the aerial to the unit has been damaged and needs replacing. Simple? No! It involves emptying the main lazarette, removing the paneling in the heads and navigation station before a new wire can be run up to the aerial on the pushpit. AAgh!

See what I mean nothing is ever simple. Mend one fault and discover three more seems to be the rule of sailing!

It's raining again and still cold. So cold at nights that I have unearthed the duvet that we last used in Europe and put it on the bed. Tropical heat! Anyway it's encouraged me to get on with washing the curtains, cushion covers and other sundry bits. Lordy they were dirty... Some major sewing to be done soon as some of the curtain linings are badly damaged by the sun.

It's all a bit depressing but I am holding on to the fact that we have promised ourselves to be off the dock by the end of the month. It will all be worth it...won't it??

Thursday, 5 February 2009

Fighting drugs in the sailing world.

Good for you Mr Duffy! It's about time somebody stood up and spoke out loud about the high incidence of drug abuse in the yachting world. Well done.Mind you it's not just Antigua.I am constantly shaken by the ubiquity of drug abuse in the Rio Dulce, Guatemala.

Drugs 'endemic' among yacht crews claim

When it was revealed that Drew Gollan, the 38-year-old superyacht skipper shot dead on Antigua in January, was thought to be in possession of a quantity of drugs at the time of his death, it prompted local yachting industry luminaries to comment on what they regard as an endemic problem among yacht crews in Antigua.
John Duffy, president of the Antigua & Barbuda Marine Association, is calling for regular drug testing to combat the situation.
"I have continually stated that if there was no demand there would be no supply and that a large amount of crime is drug related," said Duffy. "For too long drugs have been freely available to yacht crew - you could go into some bars are order a beer and a 'charlie'," he claimed.
"There was a culture here that the yachting industry was so important that you couldn't do anything to upset them which included turning a blind eye to the drug dealing," he continued.
"The unfortunate consequence of that was the drug dealers were given a free rein and other criminals would see the yachting community as easy pickings. All that now has to change," he told Yachting World.
"Some yacht management companies drug test crew before they are employed and carry out regular drug testing, " he said. "This ought to be standard procedure for all yacht management companies and yacht crew employment agencies.
"If a skipper can be using drugs when in charge of a multi-million dollar yacht then the company employing him must have been acting irresponsibly if they did not test him," claimed Duffy.
"I am not saying that Antigua has been at fault for not enforcing the anti-drugs laws but the blame and responsibility does go a lot wider and others have to play their part," he said.
He also reiterated the fact that a zero tolerance policy for both suppliers and users will be enforced from now on, something that is supported by yacht skippers. "Some have even suggested that a local drugs testing clinic should be available. It is an initiative we (the ABMA) are looking at closely along with ABSAR (Antigua Barbuda Search and Rescue) who also act as the local paramedics."
Duffy is not the only one to highlight the use of drugs in the yachting community and to claim that this is fuelling the problems of drug related violence. One leading yachtsman who wanted to remain anonymous claimed the demand for drugs among crew had "become huge, and of course some bad guys from town are taking advantage with the supply."
He felt that the answer to the problem should start with the owners and management companies of yachts and that drug testing should be mandatory. He said that this would help eliminate demand, "and the bad guys would go elsewhere".
"More police will calm the area but the problem will not go away until the demand goes away and more police will change the nice free and easy atmosphere of English Harbour," he said. He emphasised that he thought the responsibility lay with captains and owners.
Another leading businessman in the Caribbean yachting industry said: "The Maritime and Coastguard Agency, agents and captains all have a very dirty act to deal with here. Rogue pilots are quickly dealt with in the airline industry - superyachts should be treated no differently."
He also claimed that some high profile captains, some of them commercially Class 1V rated, receive drug and alcohol addiction counselling. "Because of this lamentable truth many crew rest in the secure knowledge that drug use will never be properly addressed and stamped out," he claimed.
The police, security services and Crime Stoppers on the island reacted quickly after the Gollan death, for which a man is now in custody charged with his murder, and the Marine Association issued a statement with details of measures they hope will soon be in place.
Requests for more patrols and stop and search authorisation have been made to the Prime Minister Spencer Baldwin and the island's Police Commissioner Thomas Bennett and the zero tolerance policy on drugs is already in place.
There is a plan to install CCTV equipment, Tourist Police Patrols are being stepped up and the island's Crime Stoppers van is making more regular visits to the English and Falmouth Harbour areas.
The local community is being urged to contact Crime Stoppers on a local number 800 TIPS (8477) or go online to if they have any information about the Gollan killing or any other crime. The site offers an untraceable service to ensure anonymity.

Yachting World/David Glenn, 5 February 2009

Diesel and Ducks.

The patient(our engine) appears to have come through surgery with a clean bill of health. What a relief! After two days of assuming some very strange positions on the sole of the cabin TBH told me it was time to turn the engine on... Nervously I turned the key and away she went. Listening carefully the old familiar rattles and knocks did not seem to have altered, quick look over the stern to confirm that water was flowing from the exhaust and a while watching the temperature gauge. All seems well. Thank goodness that job is over. It's one of those massive mental challenges that take a lot of surmounting! After all get the timing belt on incorrectly and that's it NO engine.

We have become increasingly paranoid about letting anyone else work on our boat. So many times we have suffered at the hands of inept mechanics and technicians. We would rather learn the skills required to keep our , relatively, simple systems working ourselves than be held hostage in the hands of others.

Armando, the tree whistling black bellied somewhat confused duck, has a mate, Gloria. Sadly it does not look like a marriage made in heaven! He has become aggressive towards her and Valentine's Day can't come too soon for the pair of them! The staff spend spare moments anxiously watching the antics of the connubial pair...As Inez put it, slowly, slowly he will win her round! Hmmnn I'm not too sure about that, isn't looking too promising to me.

So today TBH will change the oil in the engine, change the oil and fuel filters and then we can get all the tools back into their 'sea-going' positions.I am looking forward to getting going again. Back to the ocean and away from people!

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Snow, rain and services.

Snowing in England, raining on the Rio...and another cold front making it's way past us. Not a great morning here.

Watched George motor past at daybreak on his way to Panama and then New Zealand. Quite an adventure in a smallish motor trawler. We shall miss him and his wonderful irreverent Aussie humour.

TBH is about to commence open heart surgery on our engine. It's a job that needs doing every 3 years or so. A massive service which involves changing the timing belt. Delicate stuff, get it wrong and the whole thing is FCK'D!So everything will be turned over to ease this task. That means the entire boat being in uproar for a day or two. Still so long as I end up with somewhere to sit that's all I ask..actually that's quite a lot as the tools are spread around the boat. And they always seem to be under the seat that I am currently occupying.

Sunday, 1 February 2009

Saying goodbye...

Once again we have had to say goodbye to friends as they sail away to pastures new. John & Inga and Carol & Jim have departed in the past 48 hours and our lives are the poorer for seeing them go. Both boats are heading back to the USA. George leaves in the next day or two bound for Australia. We are going to miss you guys. If you see Calidris Alba, Windquest or Venture out there on your travels say hi, they are great crews all three!

Tonight the U.S. contingent are over in the bar whooping and hollering at the Superbowl final. Just leaves me cold! Cultural division, certainly! Reading in the press today I gather that the ads and half time entertainment are considered more important than the game. Go figure that one out...

TBH, star that he is, spent today completely rebuilding the forward heads. Ever since Cuba it has had a problem and today he buckled down to solving it. Which of course he did! For those of you who have not had the great pleasure of meeting TBH let me just say he is an absolute genius! Along side a phenomenal mind he is really really practical, sigh...So as a thank you I cooked roast beef, yorkshire pudding, roast potatoes and carrots for lunch. Washed down with a glass of Chilean Cab Sav. I hope he is a happy man tonight!

Son James is off filming on the moors of Devon for three days tomorrow, Britain is forecast it's worst snows for years and he is covering a three day expedition. Hope he packs his thermals. Snow is already falling across the country and the airports and railways are closed...

It's raining again here which will at least rinse off the decks that are almost clean now after TBH's gentle ministrations with a sponge. It's teak so is treated carefully...I could get jealous!