29 June 2008

Strawberries and midnight sun

June 28, 2008

Nothing goes to windward like a Boeing 777, transporting us from heat and humidity in Trinidad to wool sweaters and hot chocolate in northern Sweden in the time it would take us to sail 200 miles. When we left Trinidad, the air temperature was around 33 degrees Celsius and the water temperature was hovering at 30 degrees Celsius. Here at the summer cottage in northern Sweden, the air temperature is around 18 degrees and the water temperature is 11 degrees. Needless to say, Hans won’t be catching any lobster this summer.

Despite the shock to the system, it is wonderful to be among pine trees, rocky beaches, the midnight sun and family. We arrived in Sweden on Wednesday afternoon and have been eating copious amounts of fresh strawberries, cheese and filmjolk (a type of yogurt made in Sweden). We’ll spend the next few weeks at the summer cottage (stugan); reading, eating good food, spending time with family and enjoying the midnight sun. Currently, the sun sets around 11PM and rises around 2AM, but it never gets dark.

We stopped in London for a day and, due to jet lag, groggily wandered around the streets of Central London. We spent the night with Sebastien, a friend of Hans’ from the UWC, and caught up on the past couple years.

Höga Kusten Bron (The High Coast Bridge) located two hours south of Holmsund.

Hans and his mormor (mother’s mother), Anna-Greta, enjoy strawberries, coffee and chocolate cake outside at stugan. The importance and perfection of “Fika,” the Swedish tradition of coffee served with small baked goods at least once a day but usually twice, can’t be overstated.

Roger and Karin (Hans’ parents) serve up strawberries with cream for dessert. There was no wind blowing from the water so we were able to move the table and eat right at the water’s edge.

25 June 2008

Relaxing in the sand, surf and sun

June 25, 2008

Our favorite beaches from Pasadena, Maryland to Chaguaramas, Trinidad.
In order from north to south.

Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina

Hope Town, Abacos, the Bahamas

Stocking Island, Exumas, the Bahamas

Dean's Blue Hole, Long Island, the Bahamas

Big Sand Cay, Turks and Caicos

Rio San Juan, Dominican Republic

Playa Escondido, Samana, Dominican Republic

Playa Rincon, Samana, Dominican Republic

Sun Bay, Isla de Vieques, Spanish Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico

the windward beach on Culebrita, Spanish Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico

the coconut beach, north shore of Tortola, British Virgin Islands

White Bay home of the Soggy Dollar Bar, Jost Van Dyke, British Virgin Islands

Macaroni Bay, Mustique, the Grenadines

Salt Whistle Bay, Mayreau, the Grenadines

23 June 2008

A boat out of the water: Whisper on the hard in Trinidad

June 23, 2008

Whisper out of her element: on the hard, sails and rigging removed and lockers empty in Trinidad.

We’re posting this blog update from a coffee shop at the international airport in Port of Spain, Trinidad. Our flight leaves in a couple hours to London, where we’ll transfer planes and arrive in Sweden on Wednesday. The past week since arriving in Trinidad has been hectic trying to get Whisper cleaned and prepared to be left alone for three months. After endless amounts of cleaning, scrubbing, washing and trying to dry cushions in between frequent rain showers, Whisper is clean well put away for her summer vacation from sailing. We had no time to explore around Trinidad, but we look forward to doing that when we return in the fall. Almost everyone we have met here has been exceedingly friendly and helpful.

Scotland Bay, a peaceful, jungle-y anchorage near the marinas at Chaguaramas. We had a great sail from Grenada, 80 miles in 16 hours. The winds were pretty light but the seas were just a small chop so we were still able to average about 5 knots under full sail. The last couple hours were at night with the full moon, beautiful!

In preparation for leaving Whisper, we emptied and cleaned every locker on the boat. Kristen climbed in the cockpit lockers and scrubbed them with bleach while Hans encouraged her while drinking a beer in the cockpit. There's something wrong with this picture!

Hans' turn to clean: we removed the sails and scrubbed them with soap and fresh water.

The sails drying.

Return of the gypsy boat: All of the stuff in the cockpit lockers is stowed on deck while we clean. After a week of cleaning, we managed to get rid of at least 4 huge garbage bags of stuff. Maybe we won't have to raise the waterline after all!

Kit Kat and Hans wait to be hauled out.

Kit Kat looks over at Whisper from her summer home on the sailboat Tilly Whim.

Posing in front of Whisper--all clean and ready for summer storage.

We're always mentioning how we're the smallest boat in every anchorage--this picture is a pretty good illustration: the blue boat on the left (Tilly Whim) is 36 feet and the one on the right is around 45 feet.

Hans fuels up on some health food at the airport before the flight.

12 June 2008

The Adventures of Capt. Cluck

June 12, 2008

A week ago, we returned to Whisper only to find that our lucky mascot "Captain Cluck"--a squeeking pirate rubber chicken--had been kidnapped! Based on their near total lack of integrity, we immediately suspected that we would find the culprits on S/V Someday Came. (For their version of the story check their blog linked on the sidebar.) We approached the youngest and most gullible member of the New Jersey crime family: Violet--age 2, a tough blonde with a killer smile that has fooled even the most skeptical detective. But after a brief interrogation she quickly spilled the beans: Captain Cluck was indeed on board!

Later in the day, Caroline, the 11 year old crime boss in training, delivered this ransom note:

"Who is this Pablito?" we asked ourselves. "And what does he want?"

It turned out that Pablito, (aka. Shannon, aka. Captain Morgan, aka Mr. Sexy Time, aka. Tillman Crime Boss) wanted two coconuts in exchange for Captain Cluck. There were several inappropriate threats issued over the radio suggesting that Capt. Cluck might be turned into Chicken Nuggets, Chicken a la King, Chicken Picata and BBQ chicken.

Undaunted we refused to negotiate with these kidnappers. When the Tillman Crime Syndicate next joined us in Salt Whistle Bay, we were ready. Tillman crime wife, Kathy, tried to appease us with yummy spaghetti and meatball dinner, but to no avail. Revenge was imminent. Unbeknownst to the crew sleeping on Someday Came we snuck up to their boat at 0300 in the morning and filled their dinghy to the brim with coconuts.

Ha! Victory at last!

The next morning we were given more ransom demands, which were ignored, and lo and behold Capt. Cluck was returned to Whisper before noon that day. He did, however, exhibit clear signs of physical and emotional abuse that he suffered at the hands of the Tillman Crime Syndicate: he now has a hole in his left leg, and he refuses to squeek as normal. We hope that a period of rest and recuperation will restore Capt. Cluck to his former glory. Meanwhile, the Tillman Crime Syndicate is retreating through the Panama Canal and across the Pacific Ocean to avoid the wrath of Whisper.

In the Grenadines

June 12, 2008

The last two weeks have been the reward for all the windward sailing we've been doing since we left Maryland in the fall of 2006. The Grenadines are as beautiful as everyone says: clear water, white sand beaches, palm trees, fantastic snorkeling, easy sailing and great friends to explore with. We had a tearful farewell this morning to Uliad and Someday Came, two boats we've been sailing with for the past month. They are headed to Panama, through the canal and around the world. We had to resist their multiple arguments for Whisper joining in their wakes, literally, since we'd be sailing at half their speed. Meeting friends while cruising is definitely bittersweet: it's wonderful to make such great friends, but at the same time, very hard to say goodbye. The friendships you make on the water solidify very quickly, more so than we've found on land. So we know we'll see each other again, but when? and where?!

From here we sail to Grenada and then Trinidad. Whisper gets hauled out on June 20 and we fly out to Sweden on June 23.

A vegetable stand at Mustique.

Kristen tries to emulate the rich and famous on the beach at Mustique.

One of the nicest anchorages we've found yet: Salt Whistle Bay on Mayreau. We were anchored in 8 feet of water and could swim to the beach in minutes.

We met up with a Brazilian boat, Paje, who helped us out with kite-surfing. It turns out we're not incompetent: our kite (or the lines) are not set up properly and therefore refuses to launch. A project to fix next season. This is Hans using Paula's kite.

We went for a sail on Someday Came. Wow! There is quite a difference between a 27' boat and a 54' boat!
Later in the day, Caroline from Someday Came joined us on Whisper for the 3 mile sail to the Tobago Cays. She was a great skipper. We tried to negotiate keeping her on board as our autopilot, but when we found out she doesn't do dishes we decided to keep looking.

Hans found "the ultimate hammock location" in the Tobago Cays. Doesn't his life look hard?

The Tobago Cays.

Kathleen and Steve hanging out on Someday Came.
Shannon, Kathy and Hans enjoy our farewell dinner last night on Someday Came.

02 June 2008

The fabled Grenadines

June 2, 2008

After one month of anchoring off volcanic, black sand beaches, Whisper is once again anchored in shallow, clear blue water off a white sand beach with palm trees. We celebrated yesterday by spending the afternoon on the beach with Someday Came and Uliad, lounging in hammocks, collecting sea glass, swimming, snorkeling and ending the day with soccer and dodgeball.

We have about two weeks to spend in the Grenadines, island-hopping and anchoring off coral reefs before we sail to Trinidad where we leave Whisper for 3 months. We fly to Sweden on June 23. Our plan for the fall involves sailing back to St. Martin and finding work there for a year (or more?), however there was some serious peer-pressure last night from Someday Came over pizza to join them in their quest for a circumnavigation. Sounds tempting…anyone want to crew for the Pacific crossing?

We spent our last night in St. Lucia anchored between the Pitons, an anchorage we'd been looking forward to since we first came up with the idea to go cruising in the Caribbean. The scenery is spectacular. Hopefully the pictures can convey some of the scale of the mountains.

Hans checking out the Pitons as we sail into the anchorage.

Someday Came anchored close by.

Kit kat contemplates: if there is food on top of the Piton...how long would it take me to get to the top? And would the climb up be worthwhile?