Friday, 2 September 2011

Goodnight Irene, come on down Katia!

Goodness time does fly when you are busy dodging hurricanes!

September is the BUSY month where these whirling dervishes are concerned and Irene kept us on our toes as she headed towards the eastern seaboard of the U.S.A. We took down the main sail (Needs some repair work anyway), took down the dodgers and the bimini. Secured everything else. Filled up with water, diesel and petrol. Ran the engine to get the batteries charged and....settled back with a good book whilst the chicken roasted in the oven!

As it turned out Irene made her turn to the north and we were left with just a day of 25 knot winds as she passed well to the east of us. But what a mess she made from North Carolina up to the Canadian borders. Boy are we thankful that we never made it that far North this year.

And now Katia is lining up, too early to see which way she will go but we won't be putting any canvas back up until the end of this month.

I am having great fun with my cooking, more to follow soon. TBH is mostly left sprwled on the sofa replete after yet another gastronomic experiment. Yesterday was Country terrine with a potato and green bean salad, really yummy!

Monday, 15 August 2011

Living in style!

The son has just returned from filming in Turkey. He had to slum it for a couple of days on a 446 foot motor yacht as guest of the owner! It's a tough life...

Meanwhile back on the range...we have been fixing leaks in our dinghy! After 12 years of hard use the heat has started to take it's toll and every morning we are greeted by a somewhat flacid rubber duck perched on the cabin top. TBH is awaiting delivery of some glue and then we should be buoyant again.

Put's life in to perspective huh!!

Thursday, 4 August 2011

The Fresh Market

What a treat! I have just been taken to 'The Fresh Market' a gourmet supermarket here in Savannah. Oh Boy...
I had to be forcibly restrained from spending the entire month's budget on fresh baked basil foccacia, lemon pound cake, fresh racks of lamb and soooo much more!
I just ate one of these, it was truly scrumptious. Naughty me didn't save even one tiny crumb for TBH!

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Emily commeth...

Bit of deja vue going on here. Emily is the hurricane we narrowly escaped in Trinidad some six years ago and here she is possibly after us again!

I am not going to panic, I am NOT going to panic!!!

Monday, 1 August 2011

Exhaust and self-sufficiency.

Like all jobs on the boat fitting the new exhaust pipe turned out to be a far bigger job than we had planned on!

We knew it wasn't an easy one. We've done it once before and the access is, to be blunt, f...g appalling. Plus the pipe has to make a 90 degree bend. Then you have to take care not to pull the engine off it's mounts. And this time we are at anchor, in the hurricane season, in an area know for it's volatile weather. Not my ideal scenario. Can't think why...

Of course the entire boat has to be turned upside down, beds disrupted in the search for tools, saloon destroyed whilst the pipe is thtreaded through, galley out of commmission whilst TBH assumes positions of eye watering complexity as he struggles to insert his body into spaces designed for a 2 foot child with 6 foot arms! Do boat designers EVER try and envisage the problems that some of their design features cause us poor boaters?

Using an ingenious arrangement of ropes and pulleys we managed to complete the task in the allotted one day, and that included replacing a large aluminium elbow that connects the engine to the pipe. Fortunately we had a spare aboard as the old one pretty much disintegrated in the pulling and shoving that was going on.

My quest for greater self-sufficiency on boat is progressing in leaps and bounds. It's so easy in this land of stuff to provision that it's important to remember that soon we will be more than a short stroll from a good supermarket, without a decent refrigerator. So the canning is very important. Meats, veggies, wonderful Summer fruit, it's all making it's way across the stove. The herbs are back in production and I have a nice range of pots in a specially constructed holder in the galley. Sprouting seeds are starting up and the bread making is going well...

Next it's time to sow the selection of lettuce and green leaves that will be ready to pick in about three weeks, they are supper once we are away from civilisation again. I gow varieties that are cut and come again and usually manage to provide us with 1-2 meals a week. There is something very special about fresh veg once the stores have been depleted!

It's 4 months now since we last plugged in to a power source. The batteries are doing just about OK, really is time to replace them I think....

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Mad dogs and englishmen...

Quite an extraordinary thing, it's raining here, and during the day no less!

So we have walked down to the library where there is internet access, for free, air conditioning and secondhand books for sale.

The place is buzzing, all the computer stations(10) are taken. A group of kids are being entertained in one corner with songs. People are browsing the latest editions of the newspapers and periodicals. Amazing for a small provincial library.

...Oh and we are the only people to have walked here! They don't seen to do walking in Georgia! Not that I can blame them it is god awful hot and you daren't rest for long or swarms of bitey anty things get chomping on your ankles. Still we're mad dogs of Brits and always head out in the midday sun.

The exhaust pipe is inhabiting the aft cabin like an overgrown anaconda, tomorrow is the day to attack that little project and I am canning green beans and grape tomatoes. Not at the smae time you understand!

Monday, 18 July 2011

Time, Opera and cooking.

Goodness we have been busy this week. Time is passing very rapidly and we really have to get a move on if we are going to get north before the winter sets in...

TBH has finally kicked all the leaks into touch, yeah!! Now we are servicing the windvane steering gear and still have to fix a new exhaust pipe to the engine. The old one has developed a rather nasty leak.

Whilst he is busy with the mechanical and technical side of life I have been preparing for a few weeks with no stores, no Publix, boo hoo. I have been canning meals so that we are not reliant on the refrigerator which is a bit hit and miss these days. Whole chicken breasts, spaghetti bolognaise sauce, chicken curry, pork tenderloin. I have made mango chutney and peach jam. Feeling pretty virtuous I can tell you.

Mary, my new best friend, has been a gem. Driving me to the Farmers Market, letting me take over here washing machine. It even washes with HOT water! We haven't had that experienece for years, everything is looking so clean it's spooky!

During the week Mary and husband Bill took us off to the local cinema where they were showing a HD recording of The New York Metropolitan Opera production of 'La Fille du Regiment'.It was superb...made us a little sad at all the 'cultural' events we have missed since leaving England. Only for a minute or two though!

My job this week is to find some charts of the areas that we are heading towards, challenging stuff here!

Monday, 11 July 2011

Counting my blessings.

I must admit to feeling somewhat overwhelmed this week.

It's been a difficult month, my health problems, lots of sailing, an ever growing list of jobs on the boat that need doing. It had got to the point where I woke in a sweat in the early hours worried about every small potential problem that my unconcious mind could imagine...

Then on the YBW forum somebody asked what a morning at anchor was like...

This morning was wonderful, dolphins and calm and muffins and a good cup of Twinings tea. The boat is afloat, we are doing what we dreamt of for years. Aren't we lucky I thought to myself.

Sometimes I just need a good shake to remind me that we are the most fortunate people that I know. By 10am ALL the kids had rung to chat and we were on our way out to catch up with a myriad of tasks.

remind me not to moan again, well at least for a little while!

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

The week of the ants.

Well really it's been the week of repairing the damage the ants have caused.

Our aft cabin has been leaking like a sieve. We knew that we had a serious ant problem from the Rio in Guatemala but thought that we had got to the root of the problem. No way. During our trip up to the USA the drips in the aft cabin became steadily worse until it was more like a gush. After many long weeks of attacking the little blighters with every chemical I could legitimately purchase we have finally got down to repairing the damage..

The little sods have chewed holes right through the fibreglass decking, creating a sieve!!! TBH has stripped off the roof lining, dug out all the crap and fibreglassed and epoxied all the damage. Today was the ultimate test. Him lying below decks with a headtorch whilst I poured water over the offending deck area. Yes!...well er no actually. Just one small drip but we will deal with that as soon as the water dries out again.

Amazing that I haven't read about others having this problem and am wondering if it's because we have so much wood on board that they were attracted to us in the first place.

So if you see an ant on your boat beware, the little blighters can cause a lot of damage..

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Hospitality Savannah style.

Hurrah! No anchor dragging for nearly a week now, no tangled lines either. Maybe we have got it right this time?

Life in Savannah has been surprising in a number of different ways. We have been overwhelmed by the kindness and generosity of the people here. From offers of cars to free dockage and everything inbetween.

Bill and Mary, an ex-cruising couple, have really taken us to their hearts. They have insisted on driving us to any place that we want to go, TBH has made visits to West Marine, Home Depot and, of course, the local breakfast joint. Mary drove me to the local farmers market at the weekend,that was a real treat. It's the height of the fruit season here and the famous Georgia peaches and blueberries were a real bargain. Needless to say I have been cooking and canning ever since!

They have made their wonderful washing machine(one that does a hot water cycle) available and prepared us delicious meals. Aren't we the lucky ones!!

TBH has been down cleaning the bottom of the boat which was covered with the most disgusting gloopy stuff, it looks like big tadpoles in egg sacks, yuck! Anyway it's all off now and hasn't come back yet! One or two big repairs to make, a leak in the aft cabin and an overhaul of the monitor self steering and we are off again to parts northerly, and hopefully cooler!

I am almost healed now and feeling better than I have for years, maybe I'll take up mountain climbing next!

Monday, 20 June 2011

High winds and anchors

Well life was just getting back to normal when the Gods decided to visit the weather furies on us! Last week we had a night of high winds and rain, bit nasty but not too bad then Saturday night blimey!

From nothing to 60+ knots in a matter of moments at around midnight.TBH was up on deck and as the boat lurched violently to one side I was dressed and up with him in a matter of moments.
The strength of the wind and rain made it really hard to breathe, let alone see. Haven't experienced anything like that since our brush with hurricane Emily back in 2005.

We had three anchors out, it's narrow here so we had the 65lb CQR on the bow with 100 feet chain out; the 45lb CQR on the aft with 40 feet chain and 40 feet octoplait and a 25lb Danforth off to one side with 40 feet chain and 40 feet line. It wasn't enough, all THREE dragged and we were fast approaxching an unplanned visit to the marina!

TBH went forward with a couple of fenders, by now we were 10 feet off a large motorboat. I got the engine started and threw it into reverse. Holding my breath as we slowly stopped the forward motion and inexorably began to inch backwards away from the marina. All the while lightning was crashing around us, unbelievable stuff, flashes that lasted for minutes at a time, if you get what I mean! Cracks of thunder, explosions as trees, buildings and more suffered hit after hit. Sirens wailing as the emergency services obviously struggled to cope with a deluge of calls.

Within an hour it was over, we escaped unharmed and without damaging ourselves or anyone else. We reanchored in the river and finally fell into bed around 2am. I was freezing and needed the duvet to get warm again. Man what a night!

You always, well we always, feel that we must have made terrible errors when we drag and suffer traumas but as we awoke and began to look around we realised that we had got off very lightly! There were boats stranded on the marshes, docks overturned, trees down, canvas shredded.....

Yesterday we upped anchor and went north half a mile of so where we reset everything, this time trying a Bahamian moor with the kedge on the aft on a REALLY long line to, hopefully, act as a slow brake but allowing us to swing with the wind. We think that was the main problem on Saturday, being held broadside on to the gusts, maybe this will help! We may find out tonight as there is a forecasted chance of heavy storms again in the area....

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Florida, the Gulf Stream, Surgery and Savannah!

As you can see from the title of this entry life has been far from booring!!

In fact, in many ways, it's been rather too exciting....
Still let us begin at the beginning.

Our trip from The Cayman's to Key West went well,no wind at times and then too much from the wrong direction but hey it's sailing right? TBH has mastered this saily business pretty well and we managed to do a couple of long tacks in order to enter into Kay West early on the morning of 11th May. We didn't even see Cuba as we passed at night and then too far off shore for a sighting.

We sailed right into the anchorage at Key West, got the hook down and made our way shorewards prepared to survive our confrontation with US Coastguards, Border patrol and any other security agency that was bound for our boat. What a let down! Not a soul was interested. No teams of hardcore guys in dark glasses with sniffer dogs and bulging weapons! Just a mild request to present ourselves at the airport to see customs and immigration.
We did as we were told and after parting with $19 we were good for 6 months in the good old US of A!

On top of that our taxi driver, J.R. no less, took us under his wing guided our forays around Key West and even had us over to his place for dinner one afternoon!

There's many a tale to tell but internet time is limited and I have to get this down before you all think we have disappeared from the face of the earth.

Two glorious weeks later and off we go again, this time bound for Georgia and the ICW. We found the Gulf Steam and zipped along at speeds previously unexperienced on our little vessel. Highest was 13 knots!!!! The boat, and us, are still in shock at that one.

One night of distant squalls that I insisted we alter course to avoid and before we knew it we were making our entrance in St Mary's Sound to the ICW. Wow! It's like the canal system on steroids! What we weren't really prepared for was the isolation of the place, no riverside restaurants, no marina's, no towns. Just miles and miles of salt marshes, wide blue skies and countless dolphins,yes dolphins, it was a big surprise but wonderful bonus.

We motored and sailed, depending on the depth and width of the waterway. We decided to head for Savannah, provisions were getting low, fuel was needed and we had a contact here.

Then I went ill. I mean really ill, agonising stomach pains, incoherent ravings and all the rest. TBH was a star. He single handed us ,navigating and steering(no mean task on the ICW) through shallow waters and narrow creeks until we made it here, Savannah. By this time I was not only raving but had gone a wonderful shade of yellow! We got to a hospital and within a couple of hours I was under the knife....Yup that middle-aged woman thing the Gallbladder. Which, thank goodness is no longer with me!

TBH meantime had found an old shrimp dock up a back creek that had a kinda marina now and had got the boat alongside. The great American spirit had swung into action and he was beseiged with offers of help, free dockage, car loan, meals....

Four days later I am back on the boat, healing nicely and recovering from every cruisers worst nightmare , the medical emergency!

Thanks to all who wondered what had happened! We will remain here a couple more weeks, hoping for no early hurricanes, allowing my wounds to heal and then head North again....

Saturday, 30 April 2011

Hallo and goodbye.

Well all we need now is the right weather window and it looks like Monday or Tuesday may be it...

The fuel and water tanks are full, we are just doing a bit of provisioning. The charts are ready the route entered in the GPS. All the laundry is up to date.

I have been checking entry requirements for the USA and hope(!) I have them right.
So farewell again for a couple of weeks until we ready land again, somewhere in Florida we anticipate.

Thursday, 28 April 2011

Shake, rattle and roll.

Well we are waiting for a weather window in order to continue our voyage north. Of course as soon as you think the time is right in comes the wind- from the wrong direction!

A couple of nights ago a really nasty Southerly swell came rolling in to our anchorage making life onboard very unpleasant. Almost putting the rail in the water on each roll. We took to the sea berths and spent an uncomfortable and sleepless night trying to brace ourselves against each lurch whilst listening to the contents of each cupboard clatter wildly in the movement.
It was a little scary too as our mooring buoy was in pretty shallow water and the beach was rather closer than we would have liked. And just to add a little spice there was an old wreck close by too. It didn't make for comforting thoughts! As soon as the sun rose we were off, notified 'Port security' the all seeing movement authority here, and headed to the other side of the peninsula.

Actually it turned out to be more of a trip than we had thought, winds up to 20 knots and then a shallow entrance through the reef. It certainly was worth it though. We are now quietly at anchor in a very exclusive neighbourhood. All multi million dollar homes coming down to the waterfront that now have a wonderful view of our knickers dying in the rigging! Ah well we like to think that we bring a little realism to these folks lives...

Today we have walked over to the nearest mall.let me just say that there is a Sotheby's real estate office here and a La Prairie beauty salon and you'll realise that this place is well out of our league! Still it's nice to look....

Forgot to bring the camera to the coffee shop so you'll have to wait for pictures, some of them are great. The water quality here is superb. Best we have ever seen.

Thursday, 21 April 2011

The Land of Stuff.

The Caymans appears to be the ultimate consumers paradise and it has left me gasping for breath!

Just a short walk from where we dock the dinghy (free of charge on the Government Wharf) is a large USA style supermarket. It actually makes me go all hot and faint the moment we walk inside. Thank goodness that there is air conditioning or I expect that I would be lying on the floor at regular intervals. So much to choose from that usually we come away with very little. It is fascinating how so many years in central America has altered our buying habits!

As we woke this morning there were 5 cruise liners anchored just behind us. Their passengers already being ferried, at 8am, ashore so that they could spend, spend, spend. From the jewellers to the production line diver experiences to the pirate ship tour of the bay. Most of the occupants of these ships don't seem to know what to do when they get ashore, they wander aimlessly from store to bar and back again.... Sad really.

The water here is wonderfully clear and on a quiet morning, wave wise, it is possible to look directly to the ocean floor some 12 feet below the boat and see the individual fish swimming around. It is mesmerizing and on those days breakfast tends to be a little late. Yesterday 12 black and yellow cuttlefish drifted past and there were a couple of lovely blue fish swimming around the anchor. It is very impressive that the quality of the water here is so good with a town just ashore and many liners visiting every day.

We won't be staying here very long for a couple of reasons, one is that it's VERY expensive and the second is that the hurricane season is fast approaching. We need to head north before that starts in earnest, 1st June. So we are currently looking at the weather ready to depart for the USA. Another world of stuff!

Cooking is a joy with wonderful ingredients to buy. Fabulous beef from the USA at good prices so we are working hard to rectify the lack of red meat in our diets and gorging on steaks and beef. Sunday we had a real english roast. Roast beef with yorkshire puddings, roast parsnips(our first in 6 years), roast potatoes, broccolli and carrots with rich brown gravy. Slurp, sorry that's the sound of me dribbling!

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Hello sailor!

I can finally say that again as we have completed our first ocean passage for rather a long time. And it was hell!!!

I demanded a helicopter to take me off the boat at regular intervals and gave the boat away a number of times until....we got here. and then like childbirth it was quickly forgotten in the euphoria of land fall.

But I get ahead of myself. We left Guatemala on the 22nd march the first time, yup that's right, the first time.
Everything prepared for a 500 mile passage to windward and off we went. Straight into a nasty storm of over 35 knots straight on the nose. We were expecting 20k from the SE and got 35 from the NE. Ah well such is sailing!
It was OK until the engine ground to a shuddering halt with a lot of cursing from below decks from TBH, I was on watch, we switched everything off and looked at each other with resigned despair. Oh well it's a sail boat we'll just have to do a whole lot more tacking.

That proved to be easier said than done. The wind continued to rise. We now had two reefs in the main and just the staysail up. The waves were short, steep with no back on them which meant that we were slamming into the water on every 3-4 waves. Really nasty stuff. It's like tobogganing down a concrete mogul run, yucky!

By now we were only 20 miles off the barrier reef of Belize and getting concerned about our safety.
TBH went below to get some sleep and as I picked up the next weather forecast, deteriorating conditions, I decided that we needed to turn back. I gnawed on my nails as I waited the four hours for him to get some sleep. Finally he woke and immediately agreed with my decision. In light of the forecast, our position and lack of engine the wise decision was to return to the safety of the anchorage we had left from 3 days previously. We could repair the engine, get some rest and then set out again. The relief was tangible i can tell you.

We turned the boat around, reset the sails and settled back for a 36 hour run to safety. then of course the wind died! Totally and utterly! Not a breathe from any direction!

We wallowed in the swell, tried to be laid back, read, cooked, ate, talked, slept and then as TBH looked over the side he saw a BIG yellow fished net and rope, all around us! So that had been the cause of the engine failure, the whole boat was wearing the marine equivalent of a fishnet stocking. Doh!

As the rope cutter did it's stuff we gingerly fired up the engine again and voila! Off we went.

Two days later we left again this time clawing our way along the Honduran coast into the wind in an attempt to get as far East as we could. I cannot say that it was an enjoyable trip, on the nose winds again, short steep seas. Not pleasant. We even had rain showers. That's just not on I thought!
We stopped for the night to shelter from a strong East wind only to find that the bloody thing swung to the west at 1am leaving us on a dangerous lee shore. we went again. Finally arriving 24 hours later in the shelter of French harbour on the island of Roatan.

We refueled, re-provisioned, topped off the water, met up with some old mates and set off again. Determined to make our destination this time come he;ll or high water. 330 miles to Georgetown, Grand Cayman. And we did make it. Even though we had to motor sail ALL the way. A big blow to our diesel budget, we have used a years supply to make this trip, not a good carbon footprint.

We made a dramatic entrance into the bay here in 25 knot winds, reefed down and dodging the dollops of spray that were crashing over the boat. What a relief to hear the sonorous voice of the Port authority welcoming us in dulcet English tones.

What bliss! And now we are kicking back, enjoying the well stocked supermarkets, the restaurants, the bars and sorting out the post voyage mess.

It's great to be here in the Caymans!

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Ants and anticipation.

I find my emotions oscillating quite wildly this week. Perhaps I can put it down to my 'age'!

As we prepare to sail to pastures new I begin to experience the nervous anticipation of the passage. It's not that I am fearful but rather that I have a VERY vivid imagination...quite honestly I do think it's a bit of a woman thing.

TBH is relentlessly masculine(thank goodness, no pink crocs on this boat) and is busy changing oil, running repairs and gleeful anticipating offshore life.

I, on the other hand, find myself distracted by the awful situation in Japan, thoughts of mortality, will the ants take over the boat and so forth. To explain-we have discovered an infestation of ants in the aft cabin and heads. I am assured by those wot know about these things that it is not a serious problem. We have removed and are currently replacing one piece of headlining, hope we have staunched the leaks that ensued and are poisoning the shit out of the little bastards but still I worry....I can be found late at night patrolling the boat with a flashlight and can of ant WMD (weapon of mass destruction) a can of Raid! Certainly the numbers are massively reduced but I can't get over the fact that I feel I have 'let the boat down' Sigh.

We are provisioned, the tanks are full of fuel, the propane bottles full, charts prepared. Today I checked the lifejackets, prepared the safety harnesses and started scrutinizing the weather charts to look for the next window. Gulp!

Friday, 11 March 2011

The power of water.

Yesterday we were sailing up river, coming across a lake, when totally out of the blue, well murky grey, a squall caught us with all the canvas up. We lurched over, nasty moment! fortunately everything was well stowed and after furling the yankee off we went again.

Looking over my shoulder 10 minutes later I saw one of those evil black systems that make you gulp.
Get the main down I suggested to TBH,
You sure he said.
Absolutely I replied!
Within another 10 minutes the system was on us. From a 10 knot head wind we had some 40 knots up the bum, driving rain and zero visibility.

Thank goodness we had the dinghy on top of the boat. I am a bit obsessive about that, we never tow it anywhere. I have seen far too many nasty moments to risk it and boy was I right yesterday.
We crept slowly along the river bank, fortunately I know it well after all this time but it still amazes me how quickly you can become disorientated in low visibility.
The wind howled, the rain was like needles through my shirt. Good old TBH dashed below and got the oilies. A gods send as I was beginning to get pretty cold.

The whole thing lasted about an hour . Nasty and chastening. It really caught us with our knickers down,

..and then we woke this morning to the dreadful news from Japan. How do you begin to cope in a situation like that?

Our daughter was in Tokyo at Christmas staying with her boyfriends sister. I gave thanks that she was not there now. Her hosts had flown out from Japan just yesterday for a holiday.. in Hawaii! They telephoned home this morning to say they had been evacuated to high ground in preparation for a tsunami. What can you say?

Mother Nature is a powerful force.

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Lovely Piratey story from the Daily Mail

 The REAL pirates of the Caribbean: Divers recover 17th Century cannons belonging to bloodthirsty buccaneer Henry Morgan

  • Six guns possibly from The Satisfaction found off in river in Panama
  • Notorious Welshman's flagship sunk in 1671 by the Spanish
Archaeologists have revealed that six cannons that belonged to the bloodthirsty British pirate Henry Morgan have been recovered from a river in Panama.
Swashbuckling adventurer Morgan sent three ships and a crew of 470 men to capture the Castillo de San Lorenzo el Real de Chagres, a fort that guarded the approach to Panama City, the capital, in 1671.
But the notorious buccaneer and his men were sailing up the Chagres River to join them when his flagship, The Satisfaction, and at least three other vessels crashed on Lajas Reef, sinking in shallow water.
In this undated photo released on Monday Feb. 28, 2011 by PanamaĆ­s Institute of Culture
Fire power: Archaeologists examine the decayed cannons that are believed to have come from fearsome bucaneer Henry Morgan's ship, the Satisfaction, which sank in Panama in 1671
Members of Morgan's force paddled upriver and walked overland to reach Panama City, leaving theire wrecked ships to looters.
Now a group of Panamanian and foreign archaeologists say that cannons  found at the mouth of Panama's Chagres River, the site where Morgan's flagship was wrecked, may have belonged to the pirate.
'Every school kid learns about Morgan's activities, but we have never seen any of his materials,' archaeologist Tomas Mendizibal told the Los Angeles Times.
Notorious pirate Henry Morgan. Weird fact of the day: Notorious pirate Henry Morgan was so offended by a book that described him as 'bloodthirsty' and, much worse, a former servant, he sued the publisher for libel.
Swashbuckling: Morgan was born in a small Welsh village and went on to become a notorious pirate
'If these are indeed his cannons, it would be a first.'
Henry Morgan was born in the small village of Llanrumney in south Wales and went on to become legendary buccaneer who battled the Spanish for control of the Caribbean.
Although he is said to be a pirate he was actually working for the English Commonwealth to secure trade routes to the New World.
The wreckage in Panama in 1671 proved a personal setback as the city was later burned down and looted in violation of a peace treaty between England and Spain.
Morgan was forgiven by King Charles II was later sent to Jamaica where he became a planter and respected member of the ruling class before he fell ill and died in 1688.
But in Panama, the legend of the swashbuckling buccaneer has lived on and he has become one of the best known pirates in the region.
Divers led by top archaeologists have mapped the site of the wreckage on the  the banks  of the Rio Chagres since 2008.
The cannons were measured and photographed in 2008 and studied by Dr. Ruth Brown, formerly with the Royal Armouries in the UK and an internationally renowned early cannon expert.
Divers recover cannons belonging to pirate Henry Morgan
two archaeologists recovering a cannon that scientists believe may have belonged to British pirate, Captain Henry Morgan, at the mouth of the Rio Chagres off Colon, Panama.
Weapons: Experts said the size and shape of the cannons appear to be a close match with the characteristics of small iron cannon of the Seventeenth Century
The size and shape of the cannons appear to be a close match with the characteristics of small iron cannon of the Seventeenth Century. A more detailed identification of the cannons will take place after they are treated and years of encrustation and corrosion are removed in the laboratory.
Last week they finally confirmed that they had recovered the cannons from a shallow reef damaged by treasure hunters, whose blasting and dredging had exposed the fragile iron cannons to possible damage and loss.  This led to the decision to recover the cannons.
Henry Morgan pirate
Mission: Henry Morgan sent three ships and a crew of 470 men along the Chagres River to capture a fort guarding the approach to Panama City
The archaeological survey was coordinated by the Waitt Institute with collaboration with Panama's National Culture Institute.
Mr. Raul Castro Zachrisson, Secretary General of Panama's Instituto Nacional de Cultura said: 'Panama's National Institute of Culture (INAC) is committed to the preservation of our cultural heritage. We strive to maintain it in the present and bestowed for the benefit of future generations.
'I am honored to be a part of this important historical find and look forward to a continuous working relationship with all the institutions and professionals involved in the conservation of our sub aquatic cultural and natural resource

We have been to Panama, anchored under some of the old forts, read the tales of pirates, and privateers so a lovely story to bring home the history of the place.Not too sure of the accuracy of the map of where these were found though! Still damn the facts lets go with the romance...

Sunday, 27 February 2011

Wonderful day...

Just had a wonderful down wind sail. Those don't come along very often in our experience!
After a swim in the pristine waters of our anchorage, just surrounded by tons of birds we left on a leisurely trip.
With the Yankee out and roaring along at 4-5 knots for three hours of blissful sailing. TBH positioned himself at the mast, in the shade, and sat back to enjoy the scenery and watch the wonderful set of the sail. She did look superb, must be my helming I kept telling him.We even anchored under sail, things were going that well!

We snacked on freshly made shortbread and drank gallons of lemon squash.
Now we are relaxing after a supper of sticky sweet and sour ribs.The wind is still blowing pumping up the batteries and the sun is beginning to set. Great day...

Saturday, 26 February 2011

Happiness is...

Waking to a flat-calm anchorage.

Time to bake with no bouncing of the boat.

Time to swim without being slapped in the face by waves.

Wind that blows up after noon, turning the wind generator and making lots of lovely electricity.

Rain that falls after dark in sufficient quantities to keep the tank full of fresh clean water.

Full tanks to have long heavenly showers at the end of another idyllic day.

Wind that drops well before midnight so there is a nice flat anchorage to fall asleep upon....

It's been like that here for the past few days, can't last though can it???

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Totally awesome muffins.

To celebrate the success of the engine repair I made a batch of muffins this afternoon as a thank you to TBH.
A new recipe to me and one that will most certainly be repeated over and over again. I cannot begin to convey the lightness of crumb, the intensity of flavour, the sheer 'orgasm on a plate' sensation of eating these little beauties.

Strawberry and sour cream muffins.

2 1/2 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups chopped fresh strawberries ( 1/2 -inch pieces)
1. Set the oven at 400 degrees.
2. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
3.  Cream the butter and sugar  until light and fluffy. Add the egg and beat until combined. Blend in the sour cream and vanilla.
4. Stir in the flour mixture just until combined. The batter will be thick. Gently fold in the berries.
5. Divide the batter among the muffin cups; it's fine if the batter rises above the cups. Bake the muffins for 14 minutes. Let them cool in the pan for 5 minutes. Turn them out, right side up, onto a wire rack.

No pictures 'cos we wolfed the whole lot down..We are currently comatose on the sofas and have decided not to have supper this evening!

Monday, 21 February 2011

My wonderful husband....

...has mended the engine(we think)!!!

What a man, what a paragon, what a star. I could go on but I'd have to pass out the vomit bags and you'd all hate me for ever.

Yesterday he set to with a purpose. Out came the box of electrical goodies, screwdrivers, pot of vaseline, can of switch cleaner. On went his headtorch, off came the clothes and down on the floor he went.

Oh the power was mind boggling. A rippling torso smeared with sweat and grease. Got my blood racing I can tell you.
First he cleaned all the relevant connections on the engine side. Then he took apart the consul in the cockpit and cleaned all the connections from the temperature gauge. THEN we fired up the engine.

He stayed prone on the floor beside the mechanical beast listening to the note, feeling the outer temperature and watching for any leaks.
I braved the heat of the sun to stare at the temperature dial, watched the water outfall from the exhaust and listened for any change in  tone of the engine sound.

Twenty minutes and holding, thirty minutes and I am starting to go cross eyed but the needle is holding firm. Every five minutes or so a concerned face peered out of the hatch to ask if all is OK. I answered with a thumbs up.

Its really hard to stay focused on a sound for forty minutes but despite the distraction of bungee jumping off the nearby bridge and waterskiers around the boat I didn't let my concentration falter.

Forty five minutes and holding, could this be it? Could success be ours? After an hour the gauge was still showing it's usual temperature and not a trace of a flicker. I let out my breathe. Wow looks like he may have done it!

We await today when we start up again and see what happens, fingers crossed.

One tired but happy husband....

Saturday, 19 February 2011

Tenacity and Tart.

It's a frustrating time here. For the umpteenth day in succession TBH has the engine in bits. I hate it. the mess. The worry.

First an impeller blew, that's not too bad. It was replaced quickly and on we went.
Then the engine started to overheat. Well so the gauge said, in wild fluctuating swings of the needle..
I, of course, panic, every time.

There began the current epic struggle.

So far we have replaced the engine thermostat. We actually bought two new ones and then found the original was fine so put that back in place.
Still the overheating begins after 40 minutes or so of engine running. Next we cleaned and inspected all the contacts, dirty but cleaned up well. Still the overheating starts.
Now the fuel filter is to be changed....
The thing is we don't think that the engine really is overheating and we are running out of options,grrrr.
We removed the thermostat completely and low and behold no overheating. My hair is being pulled out in clumps.

TBH continues with his usual tenacious determination that he will find the problem and solve it. Thank god he is like a fierce terrier in the face of a challenge is all I can say!

I am doing my bit by providing tasty and tempting culinary marvels to reward his struggles,nothing like a bit of dog training(choc drop rewards) to keep this man focused!!

One of the delights is this Strawberry Ricotta Tart. Makes the boat smell like a very upmarket French patisserie as it is baking and it tastes even better..

Make a shortcrust pastry and blind bake in a tart pan then..

1 cup ricotta
1/3 cup reduced fat cream cheese at room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
6 cups strawberries hulled, and sliced on the thick side
1/2 cup strawberry jam
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
2. Mix your ricotta, cream cheese and sugar together. Add the eggs one at a time, beating until smooth after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl occasionally. Stir in the vanilla.
3. Pour the filling into the prebaked tart shell and bake in the middle of the oven for 30 minutes, or until the edges have puffed up and toothpick comes out clean. Cool to room temperature on a rack, then chill in the fridge for 1 hour.
4. Just before serving, put the strawberries in a bowl. Warm the strawberry jam in a small sauce pan over low heat, then toss and coat the jam over the strawberries. Arrange the sliced berries on top of the tart and serve immediately

Friday, 18 February 2011

Danny MacAskill strikes again..

..we may have been out of touch for a couple of weeks but son James is very much at the forefront of the latest internet news.

He has a new documentary going live on 20th February about the amazing cyclist Danny MacAskill... You can see the trailer here.

There is a nice piece on the front page of the Telegraph this morning as well...,

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Videocam view from Townsville, Queensland.

If you follow the link on the screen it will take you to the live webcam, that is until it goes off line. until an hour ago(1200GMT) we were watching a cam over the centre of Townsville, that then went off line so this is the next one i could find, not such a great view but hey this is amazing to be able to access live streaming video from the other side of the world during a Cat 5 hurricane. Blows your mind!

Am also watching the twitters from an amateur Meteorologist who is bunkered down in Cairns. They started to feel high winds just over an hour ago...
Live streaming video by Ustream

Cyclone Yasi, horrific...

My thoughts are with the folk of north Queensland tonight. With just over 10 hours to go until the projected landfall of Yasi I cannot imagine the fear and trepidation of anyone in that part of the world.

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Chinese night

You know sometimes, just sometimes, I think that TBH and I may be spending too much time together...

Take last night, deprived of our regular eastern fix it was determined that we needed a 'cultural immersion' evening. Do you ever do those? No I guess not. It takes a bit of a sad old git to understand the desire to transport oneself to exotic places when you are already sitting in a REAL exotic location.

Be that as it may the desire came over me and I was off..

Being a complete foodie there was no place to begin but with the food.
Pretty obvious really.
So out with the recipe books, on with the internet and a delightful trawl began through the worlds culinary masterpieces. It so wonderful to be able to pull up a recipe, any recipe I can imagine.
 Then of course the down to earth bit when I realise that I don't have, and have no hope of buying, many of the ingredients needed for the more exotic dishes. Right now there isn't a tin of cornstarch to be had for love nor money and kaffir leaves, well you can forget that!

From time to time TBH peers over my shoulder to see what I am looking at. I know he's there 'cos a puddle of drool starts to pool on my left shoulder, yeuch. He's a terrible dribbler , say no more. Guess that could be termed too much information. Sorry!

Anyway to get back to the important issue here, food.
Chinese was the chosen theme. I already had some super spare ribs in the fridge and planned around that. What else  is in the fridge? Aha some ground pork and theres a bowl of rice left over from yesterday. Bingo!
From that moment my voice took on a singsong quality. Weird. TBH even said that my eyes narrowed but I think he's exaggerating...

Sticky spare ribs, lion pork balls with a chilli dipping sauce and special fried rice. I did contemplate lemon chicken as well but that was a step too far in terms of quantity.

First step is to marinate the ribs, longer you leave them the tenderer they get, well within reason.  wouldn't want any that had been marinating for days, nasty.
I mix together soy sauce, rice wine, chinese five spice, honey, salt and pepper, tomato puree and mustard. Cut the ribs into smaller pieces mix with the ribs and set aside.
So on the night of the deed the ribs get popped in the oven at it's highest temperature for 1-2 hours,keep a close eye on them to make sure they don't burn and turn regularly.

Then onto the lion pork balls. This is a new one for me. they have this name as the balls are rolled in rice, making them look like a lions mane, well that's what the book said!

Mix a pound of ground pork with 1 tsp chinese five spice powder, 2tbsp chopped fresh coriander, a spoon of flour, 2 cloves crushed garlic and a tbsp rice wine. Form into walnut size balls. Actually before doing this you need to soak 3ozs sushi rice, the sticky stuff, in water for two hours.
Roll the balls in the drained rice and then steam for 20 minutes until cooked.

Whilst they are cooking mix up a special fried rice, any kind. I use what ever is lurking in the rack. last night it included bacon,red pepper, carrot, spring onion, ginger and broccolli.

TBH set the table, including chopsticks! He also selected the entertainment, a mystical Chinese film- Hero starring Jet Li.

So the scene was set, TBH dressed in his Chinese silk smoking jacket(don't ask), me in my satin Chinese pyjamas and the evening commenced.
God alone knows what our neighbour made of the discordant Chinese music coming from the boat and my dulcet tones shrieking ' Waaaa yurrr name? 'at TBH in a fake Chinese accent.....

The film was stunning. The cinematography quite breathtaking and outstanding soundtrack by one of my favourite composers, Tan Dun....

Anyone up for the next event? TBH fancies Italian with Cinema Paradisio!

Monday, 17 January 2011


Bananas, those yellow sweet fruits that we all know. My time in Central America has taught me a LOT about bananas, the different kinds, how to cook them, where they are grown and so on. I have driven through vast banana plantations in Costa Rica, picked fruit from the side of the road, haggled over bananas in the market. I mean here we are in one of the original Banana Republics!

What I have also learned is the story of the exploitation of the indigenous populations by the big Corporate boys who along with the CIA overthrew Governments and manipulated nations, all through bananas!

The history of the United Fruit Company  is well documented in the book BANANAS  by Peter Chapman.One of the most interesting stories that I have read about the intrigue, money and power that circles around this seemingly harmless yellow fruit. Yet fortunes have been won and lost in this game, political power wielded and nations exploited.For most of the twentieth century United Fruit dominated a dozen countries, it was more powerful than than many states and a law unto itself....

 The Dole company now dominate the market, a US company that has attracted the attention of the worlds press with a court case bought on behalf of a group of Nicaraguan banana workers.

The documentary Bananas, directed by Fredrik Gertten follows the story.

Today bananas are the worlds fourth major food after rice, wheat and milk! I no longer see them solely as a fruit but as an instrument of power and corruption. Put's a whole new slant on a banana split I can tell you.....

Thursday, 13 January 2011

Monkey Bay Marina...

...cruisers and other animals.

TBH and I are not very social animals these days. It's quite a surprise as most of our previous lives were spent 'moving and shaking' in the social whirls of life. These days we tend to say that we are not stand offish, just socially independent! Don't think anyone believes us though...

So we don't really get in to conversation with a lot of the other cruisers, beyond the niceties of a quick good morning or polite decline of invitations to potlucks and other 'group' events. It's not personal just the way we are.

It probably doesn't help that we are in work mode these days too. Not busy doing boat jobs or planning passages (well only in my mind). It means that we don't have a lot in common right now with the folk that surround us.

One of the reasons we enjoy Monkey Bay Marina so much is that there is no bar, no restaurant, no pressure to 'join-in' activities. I find that all a bit too much like practice for the dribbly farm! There have been more than a few social bullies on the Rio this season, the ones who 'insist' that you really will enjoy whatever it is they are planning to organise next. Yuch!

But every so often somebody pops up who enthralls me with their conversation. One of the recent additions to my 'passion for life' category is Joe. Joe is a big guy, tall and well built with surprisingly delicate facial features, a neat clipped white mustache and a twinkle in his eye. Married to his high school sweetheart Cathy for 51 years they are here on their sailboat Sundog.

Now Joe was a biologist before his retirement. he worked in Alaska and his great passion in life was the  Char, a surprisingly interesting fish. I sit mesmerized as Joe guides me through the geological upheavals on our world that have let to the division of the species of the Char. His explanations of the adaptability of this fish fascinate me. And just as delightful is to hear the passion in his voice as he describes the research that he undertook.

Most mornings I wander across to the palapa that sits over the river, right now the mimosa tree that abuts it is alive with hummingbirds, flitting from bloom to bloom gathering nectar with their needle like beaks. I can sit for hours watching them at work. Joe has taken some wonderful photographs of the animal life here at Monkey Bay and kindly has allowed me to reproduce them. You can see how lucky we are to enjoy surroundings like these.

The hummingbird is a variety call 'rufus tail' , that refers to the colour of the tail and it is a common variety from Mexico down to Venezuela. being from Europe I find it all very exotic!

You can actually hear the sound of the wings humming as they are flapped at incredible speed.

Amazing! In case you can't work this one out it's a snake swallowing a rather large frog. Joe said that the frog nearly got away a couple of times but ultimately became just another lunch....

Monday, 10 January 2011

33 million can't be wrong!

What a joyful piece of film, made me smile, a lot. Hope it does you too.

Happy, happy Monday morning everyone...

If you want to know more visit this site

Friday, 7 January 2011

Jeanne Socrates

Oh my god the poor woman...

You may remember that I have followed Jeanne for some time on her quest to circumnavigate without stopping. Her first attempt came to an abrupt halt just 100 miles short of completion when she lost her boat, Nereida, on a beach in Mexico.

Jeanne is no spring chicken but she certainly wasn't going to accept defeat. A new boat was commissioned, built and launched and off she went again! This time thwarted by a series of mechanical problems(worrying in a new boat).

Recently off she went again, can't keep a good woman down! I was horrified to hear yesterday that she had been knocked down and lost her boom, amongst other things, just off Cape Horn. Thankfully she is safe, albeit battered and cold. The photographs of the boat make your heart bleed...

Here is her blog entry for the last couple of days, makes you realise what a treacherous place the ocean is.

Wednesday/Thursday 5/6th January 2011

Wednesday 5th January

The NW winds of 30-35kt of Tues evening were up to 36kt, gusting 41kt, by midnight with seas of 5-6m, occasionally with sections of breaking crests. Hit by waves often and frequently surfing to 11-12 kt..... By early morning, it seemed to have calmed down a lot, with a weak sun trying to get through a thin layer of cloud and wind down to 24-30 kt. Among the prions I spotted a white-chinned petrel and there was a pair of black-browed albatross. Checked in to Patagonia Cruisers' Net with Wolfgang - asked him about ice situation - he felt it was OK and in chatting to someone else, it seemed that within 200 miles S of Chile, there was no problem.

By midday, with occasional waves hitting us and washing the decks, I was beginning to feel decidedly concerned, with the wind back up to 35-37kt, forecast to increase, and big seas to match, we hove to with triple-reefed mains'l and stays'l. Changed the running backstay over and centred the mains'l kies, some rain. We were well heeled, and there were plenty of big seas...and suddenly, near 2.30pm, while I was fortunately leaning against a wall in the head, all hell let loose - and everything that could move was re-located to a starboard side of the cabin.... Water was pouring in from under the sliding hatch and there was chaos everywhere.

Slowly we righted and soon after I looked to see what damage there was - clearly there was some - no instruments, for a start!.. but I could not budge the hatch to open it - try as might...! I had to climb out of the aft cabin hatch to access the cockpit - which I'd already seen enough of to realize the boom was broken in half and the canopy/dodger over the companionway was missing, along with its framework ..... there was safety glass everywhere. I soon realized why the hatch wouldn't slide open - the halyard bag full of heavy wet lines, was lying on top and was soon removed along with several lines lying loose... Going down below, I noticed the perspex hatch was cracked in half vertically - a worry if we should ever get pooped. Next, I got the instruments working - a connection in the aft cabin had been hit by flying/sliding objects...
In brief, I didn't know where to start... Tried to clear up a bit on deck - not much I could achieve there... down below - impossible to clear up wet things ( all pillows and bedding were sopping wet at their end.. still beam on to oncoming seas... not good ... another knockdown imminent??- I tried eveything I could to get us to head downwind... a bit of genoa plus some stays'l... downed the remaining main as much as I could.. tried to tie it but that got dangerous in the big seas running, so was forced to abandon that... Later decided to reduce all sail since series drogue shouldn't need any - furling line on stays'l broke - sail unfurled totally and flappes madly and violently - whole boatvshook with bthe violence... not good ... what to do? Had to lower it - and keep it inboard and low and together in the strong wind, not easy... As it flapped, it caught the pole and broke it in half .. Things were going from bad to worse...!

Once finished on deck, I returned below to the awful,dripping, wet mess there - even the chart table lid had clearly been flung open and its contents had been thrown across to the galley, to mix with spilled items there, including toiletries from the head - wet paper all over everything else... impossible to deal with and not drying in the cold, damp air. Decided I'd better let the authorities know of my plight - not yet life-threatening but not good... Here I was in the Southern Ocean ... and fore-reaching south in the dark at over 2 knots!

- - - - -

To cut a long story short, the Chilean Navy and Falmouth CG both got involved - it was lovely to get the friendly, helpful Falmouth phone calls - an English person at the other end of the phone - no language problems!!! Helping with all that was Bob McDavitt initially - deeply appreciated, Bob - and the American Maritime Mobile Net on 14300 kHz - Bill (KI4MMZ) in particular, with Fred (W3ZU) helping with relay. Good for my morale was chatting to the Pacific Seafarers Net also.

A fishing vessel, Magallanes III, came along, ready to tow us to safety ... the winds not expected to ease much until next day...and seas later...

Conditions were pretty strong then and for a time after - no sleep until early morning (3hrs). I felt another knockdown was only too likely since we were beam on still to the seas - makes for feeling very vulnerable! The only ray ogf light was my realization that we had an engine - I tried it in neutral - it worked!! Slight problem was two lines I'd seen overboard - one I retrieved but the other was jammed in something - the prop?? ... or the rudder??

Thursday 6th January

Been a good day since waking up to clear skies & bright sun after 3 hrs sleep this morning - and then getting engine going OK. Removed wire on gear shift cable with some difficulty - but I finally won out and was delighted to find there was no problem with the propellor, having thought a line might be caught around it. (There's a sharp rope-cutter on propshaft near to the prop so it could have been cut away) End result was no tow was needed.. sigh of relief on my part - no worries about additional resulting damage..! The fishermen, who'd been not far away all night, didn't seem to mind too much losng the income from a tow and sent me their best wishes!

I'm making a straight line for the Horn now - the sunny, clear skies of this morning have slowly clouded over and there's invariably an albatross of one kind or another not too far away. Swell has slowly been dying down - hardly noticeable now - just an occasional one bigger than usual.

When I retrieved my series drogue, my suspicions were confirmed ... Looks as though the fishing vessel, when approaching and circling us in the night, cut the line with its prop - of 125 cones, only six are now there with a very reduced length of line... and no chain, of course...!

I've been contacted by Falmouth CG and the Chile Navy by satphone, and have had regular radio contacts on 14300 over the day - all very supportive and friendly - very many thanks to all of them. (The Chilean Navy phone me for 4-hrly position updates from Puerto Williams!)

I'm also looking forward now to rounding Cape Horn in daylight and in good conditions! The reason for heaving to in the strong winds and big seas of Wednesday was to let that system pass so as to be on the shallow shelf near the Horn in reasonable conditions - now and for the next two days. Should be at Horn around 1400Z on 7th and in to Beagle Channel early on 8th Jan. - have slowed down to avoid arriving too early in morning but lookd as though I'll need to anchor for a few hours at least.......

24hr DMG to noon UTC: Wednesday: 140 Thursday: 69ml (supposedly hove to!) (See maps showing track & position via links on my website 'Travels' q

At 1200 Wednesday UTC: 55:40S, 072:34W. Cape Horn 180 ml; Chile (nearest point) 58 ml ; N.Z. (S.Island) 3916 ml 222T; Mexico (Cabo S. Lucas) 5080ml

At 1200 Thursday UTC: 56:33S, 071:15W. Cape Horn 137 ml.

Saturday, 1 January 2011

Happy New Year

2011, amazing! Let's hope it's a great year for us all...

We sailed to an isolated bay yesterday. haven't anchored here before but it's wonderfully peaceful. Not a sign of life on the shore and loads of curious turtles surfacing around the boat.

We saw the new year in on deck under the most amazing canopy of stars, truly magical.

Now we are have a lovely time reading and catching up on small jobs on the boat. Life is good, hope yours is too.