Monthly Archives: December 2016

Caribbean – Underwater

Nov 27 to Dec 2

As usual, it was a a challenge to find time to sort photos once I returned home to my normal life, so it’s taken a while to select a few from the hundreds I took with a waterproof camera on my recent Caribbean trip.  I never missed an opportunity to go snorkeling; I love watching life beneath the surface. As I bobbed, I tried to steady my camera and take pictures of moving fishes, most turned out blurry. Twice I donned a BCD, buoyancy compensator device, a vest which keeps a tank of air firmly attached to my back, and I descended fifty feet to the sea floor, once to a sunken tug boat and once to a beautiful coral garden, where I was mesmerized by the sea life.

Caribbean – St. Maarten

I spent an amazing week cruising around St. Maarten in the Caribbean on a 52’ catamaran, with seven fellow passengers, Harley, Nancy and their friends, with a crew of two.  I almost had to pinch myself to confirm I really was in the land of turquoise waters depicted in so many advertisements, a place I’d dreamed of getting to, maybe, someday.

As the week progressed, the warm moist air, rhythmic rocking, and frequent swims, washed my tensions, and psoriasis, away. I landed more relaxed than I’ve been since I spent three weeks on the Big Island in Hawaii a half dozen years ago. That feeling is fading, now that my cell phone is back on, but I’m savoring the memory.

Nov 26, 2016

I flew with Harley and Nancy from Fort Lauderdale to Philipsburg, on the Dutch side of Sint Maarten/Saint Martin, where we met our fellow passengers and got a ride to Marigot, on the French side of the island, where our ship was docked.

 Nov 27 to Dec 2 – At Sea

My cabin was entered via a DeLorean-type hatch adjacent to the dining area on the port side of the ship and I was awakened just before dawn each morning to the click of dishes being set on the table. (I remember that left is port because both words have four letters, and since port is reddish, I remember that the lights on that side of a ship are red, making the other side starboard and green.) About half the space in my cabin was taken up by a double bed, surrounded on three and a half sides by walls and a couple cabinets, one containing a life jacket, though I’m not sure I’d want to run back down the stairs to retrieve it if the ship was sinking. The other half of the cabin was comprised of more cabinets, a few square feet of floor, and a tiny, smelly head, a.k.a. bathroom, so small that water fell on the toilet when the shower was on. I only use it once all week, instead rinsing off with a sprayer on deck each time I climb out of the very salty sea.

When the dishes clicked, I coated my body in sealife-safe sunblock; one day I missed and acquired a streak of red on my back. I put on shorts and a sleeveless top, something I own only because of prior vacations to warm locations, and ascended to the aft deck, i.e. the back of the boat. My feet stayed bare, better to grip the textured surface of the ship. I enjoyed a cup of tea and watched the sunrise. After breakfast, we received a short briefing from our captain about the day’s activities – typically sail-or-motor, snorkel, lunch, sail-or-motor, snorkel, watch sunset, eat dinner, and if the sky is clear, watch stars; the sequence varied daily. Though on a sailboat, we motored more than sailed, usually due to the wind – too much, too little, or wrong direction.

Soon after we reached each destination, the steps were lowered, a floating line dropped, and the “pool” was open. I snorkeled often and dove a couple times – see next blog post for underwater pictures. Sometimes I floated on a noodle at the end of the swim line, drinking tropical cocktails, and conversing with fellow passengers, new friends.

I spent much of my time on the top deck, sometimes remembering to duck when walking beneath the boom. I downloaded pictures and keyworded them daily, otherwise I’d lose track of all our stops. One day I learn to play Farkle, a game with six dice. Meals were yummy, grilled fish, crispy Caribbean salads, and fruity or chocolate surprises for dessert. Once we ate dinner on shore and the sounds of the sea were replaced by noisy frogs, who outnumbered the crickets, and my body swayed as if it was still on the boat.

At night, in my cabin, I read one page of my book and fall asleep. Though the ship is partially powered by solar energy, the generators kick in each evening primarily to convert salt water to fresh. I blessed the quiet when they turned off, but missed the air conditioning. My feet cooled quickly one night when rain fell on them, followed by the sound of footsteps along the deck and the snap snap snapping down of the hatches. I used a blanket that night and slept soundly until the dishes clicked and I arose to another day in paradise.

December 3

I got up early to catch a 9:00 a.m. flight which was delayed an hour and a half while we waited for a part to be delivered from Puerto Rico. The flight to Miami took three hours. I had just enough time to clear customs, use the restroom, buy food, and board my next plane, for a six-and-a-half hour flight back to San Fran. This is my first trip since my dog, Zelda, died and I missed her welcome home greeting. I also missed the warm weather; we had a cold spell (by S.F. standards) and I shivered for a couple days.

Fort Lauderdale

I spent three days in Florida with Harley and Nancy, whom I met in Cuba last year, before departing on a Caribbean cruise.

Nov 22 – Flight to Florida

I enjoyed seeing the diversity of the geography across our country on a non-stop flight to Fort Lauderdale. Harley and Nancy picked me up and took me to Mai Kai, a historic bar-restaurant filled with Polynesian themed artifacts; it felt a bit like the Tiki Room at Disneyland and I kept expecting the totem poles to break out in song.

Nov 23-25 – Thanksgiving in Florida

 Each day we toured part of Fort Lauderdale and the surrounding the area, including Hollywood, named after the city in California where a few of the old seaside bungalows still remain, though high-rises are rapidly approaching, and the gardens of the Bonnet House, it’s remaining 35 acres now surrounded by Fort Lauderdale; we glimpsed one of the small moneys that live in the trees.

We celebrated Thanksgiving in Lauderdale by the Sea, a town of human-scaled buildings with a darling beachfront. I joined a large gathering of Nancy and Harley’s friends in a backyard under a sprawling mango tree, my first Thanksgiving in shorts and sandals. In addition to turkey with all the fixings, there were plenty of side dishes and, for me, unusual desserts, such pumpkin bread pudding with rum sauce and mango key lime pie.