Thursday, April 3, 2014

A Penny Saved is One-Sixth of a Penny Earned….

(**DISCLOSURE! –This is an older blog that I didn’t post on time – I have been remiss…I will try to catch up and get you on track with where we currently are - which is in Culebra, Spanish Virgins today!)

We’re still in Trinidad, but we are planning on a short trip back to Florida to visit friends and relatives ….and doctors and dentists…. I have a list three pages long of what I would like to check on or get when we’re back in the states. I was just getting used to substituting new Island foods and products for long-loved USA ones…. I felt like a true islander. But tempted with the lure of the familiar, my list is growing. I’m probably going to need a small loan to purchase everything on the list, so I have started by saving Trinidadian pennies.

The exchange rate is $6.25T / $1.00US! That makes 6 Trinidadian pennies equals one USA penny! Trinidad pennies are so UN-valuable that locals just throw them away! When I first arrived here I kept seeing all these pennies on the street. At first I picked up the ones with the “heads” side up – for good luck. Then one day I went into Port of Spain with some girlfriends and everywhere in the streets were pennies. Every time I came out of a store and looked down – there were at least 6 – 10 pennies right there on the ground! I just couldn’t ignore it anymore and started picking them up and keeping them!
Walking to the bus in Trini
Eccentric? …. Maybe…. But I have never been able to tolerate waste, and this just perplexes me as to the sheer quantity of pennies that are discarded on a daily basis. So I have started making it my mission to collect them and I will see how many I can accumulate in the next month. My friend Ann Miller (M/V Ann Louise) thinks I’m so funny, that she has taken to being the “Penny Fairy” and scatters pennies along my dock when she takes her morning walk! She can make fun – but Benjamin Franklin would have loved me, if he were still around!

The money exchange in the islands is one of the reasons you needed to take math in school! Every time I shop, I have to do a mental calculation of the cost of the item. At first I thought everything was so expensive….a carton of milk is $12! (TT) “Wow – that’s a lot! - I think – then I mentally divide by 6 and – whoa!.... It’s only two bucks US! When I go to the local grocery store, I panic when it totals $180.00 (TT) – but then I realize that’s only $30 bucks!  I’m starting to get used to it now – just when we’re planning on leaving! Then back to EC or Euros – which are a whole different calculation! I could use my iPhone calculator or my currency converter – but I think it’s really best to keep in the habit of doing the mental arithmetic. After a year cruising and rarely knowing what day it is, brain usage is becoming imperative!

We hear from other cruisers about which country is the best for flying to different destinations. Luckily, we have learned that going to Europe – especially the UK is less expensive from Tobago, and Trinidad is less expensive than Grenada when returning to the US. Of course that’s always changing… but it helps to hear from other cruisers experiences.

The latest catastrophe was with our Washer/Dryer unit. I was giving Cap a haircut out on the dock and forgot to get his electric razor for trimming – so I went back inside to get it and found smoke billowing out of our laundry unit.  “FIRE!!!!!!”  I shouted to Cap, and he jumped up and ran in. We thought our dryer was the problem. It was stopped mid-cycle and so for the next hour we proceeded to clean out all the lint from the dryer hose. This is no easy task as it is located in some big hole with a tiny door and you have to be double-jointed and about 3 feet tall to get into it and reach the hose.  Of course this is a job that is sure to cut and scratch Cap. He starts bleeding right away. This is what happens with “jobs” on a boat. After we have every last shred of crap cleaned out of the dryer, we gingerly turn the circuit breaker back on and turn on the dryer …..And Lo and Behold! It works!  The two of us are jumping for joy – another problem – SOLVED! We go make a cup of tea, as we are both exhausted. As I am sitting sipping my cuppa, I remember I had wash in the machine too! I’d better go put it in the dryer…. But when I open the washer, I find the load has stopped mid-cycle and the tub is filled with water. I turn the dial back on and…..Nothing…. That’s when we realize – it wasn’t the dryer – it was the washer that was smoking!

So I bail out the water and take the wash to the Laundromat. We talk about it and look up numbers for repairmen – but after a little research, we realize our washer/dryer is over 25 years old and that they no longer even make the parts for it! We decide to avoid trying to repair a relic and opt for scanning the internet to find a replacement.

 Cap with W/ D at Customs
removing the old W/D
This takes about three days! Long story short – they don’t make any of those units in the same size as our old one – and none will fit the spot we have for a washer/dryer! When I try to commiserate with my sailboat friends about this dilemma – they all look at me as if I had two heads! Most sail boaters don’t have a washer or dryer and do their laundry in a bucket – like the pioneer days! So no one is feeling very sorry for me…. Cap and I finally find a separate washer and dryer that fit our existing space without needing extensive carpentry, and immediately put an order in with Fanny at Marine Warehouse, in hopes that they can get it on the next shipment, that would arrive before we leave for the states.
Installing new W/D!
Oh no – that would be too easy…. So it will arrive just when we are away and who knows how that will work out…..I sure hope it doesn’t get lost! We will have 3 days to get the thing installed and working, before we have to leave the marina. This could go smoothly-or- it could be a complete disaster – depending on ….luck!  
Well - finally we've got our mojo back! The removal and install couldn't have gone smoother and we are so happy with this brand!
 Voila! My beautiful new Ariston W/D!
And my even more beautiful family! This was from our visit back to Florida last November 2013.

Granddaughter Grace, Daughter Lavinia
Youngest Daughter Georgina and David
Lavinia and Jennifer at Ringling

Grandma with Hannah

Eldest Daughter Jennifer and I at Ringling Museum
Matthew, Cintia, Grandma and Hannah

First Mate and Cap taking our walk in Miami

Sunday, October 20, 2013

When I’m Sixty-Four…..

Ugh! I'm really 64?
Yes, this is the year folks! 64! I woke up and looked in the mirror and saw a beautiful 24 year old – but of course I didn’t have my eyeglasses on!

It’s just so hard to believe that I’m actually sixty-four years old! It seems all my life I’ve wished to be older – when I was 16 – I wanted to be 18 so I could drink legally in New York. When I was 18 I wanted to be 21 – the magic age of independence. When I was 30 I wanted to be older and more sophisticated – and maybe drink martinis. When I was in my 50’s I wanted to be 62 and retire from all the hoopla of the rat race. Even now – I’m looking forward to NEXT year when I no longer have to spend half the entire cruising budget on health care! I will qualify for Medicare!
…But then I realize I’m in the last semester of my life and maybe I should start taking this trip seriously. Maybe I should stop wishing and start doing.  And so here I am….finding myself on a little ship floating through the Caribbean with the man of my dreams and the colors of the rainbow and the smells of the jungle and the feel of the trade winds touching my skin and blowing my hair and freeing my soul.

I have so many wonderful memories of this life – my childhood family – my marriage family – my schooling and higher education – my work career – my loves – my lusts – my passions. I am no different than you – with hopes and dreams and fumbles and foibles.  But these memories of our travels here – in these beautiful turquoise waters – have been some of the best so far.
Leaving Longboat Key dock

Those of you who have kept up with our blogs know something about our experiences. We started in Sarasota Florida – said good-bye to our wonderful friends and family and cruised off to a life unknown, on foreign lands and strange customs. And it’s been wonderful and freeing and scary and intimidating and easy and difficult, and everything in between. We had a goal of reaching the southernmost end of the Caribbean chain of islands – to Trinidad – 2157 nautical miles from the start – to take a “rest” and harbor our little ship and ourselves from the potential trauma of hurricane season.
We’ve been here in Chaguaramus, Trinidad since August 27th and plan to restart the trip north by mid November. Below is a small photographic retrospective of our voyage to date. When I look at the hundreds of pictures I have taken since starting this voyage, I can only smile with my heart.  I feel truly blessed to have the luxury of time and serendipity to experience this beauty at our own pace and in our own parameters. Cheers to another decade or three of this wonderful and mysterious life!

Key West
Approaching Key West

Partners in Key West

Dolphins riding our bow

Nassau, Bahamas
Chubb Key Marina, Bahamas

Allen's Key Bahamas
Staniel Key, Bahamas

Wild Pigs Swimming at Big Major Spot, Bahamas

Chat 'N Chill Beach, Georgetown, Bahamas
Galliot Cut Sunset, Bahamas

Warderick Wells, Exeumas

San Juan Puerto Rico
Dominican Republic
Breakfast on the Aft deck
Ocean World Marina - Domincan Republic
Anchorage in Dominican Republic near Samana
Ann & Bill with us at Las Terrenas, DR
Salinas, Puerto Rico
Cap and Roberto at Cerro de Nandy
Dancing at Guavate, Puerto Rico
Puerto Bahia, Samana, Domincan Republic
Resting with M/V Ann Louise at Mona Island
Ann and I in Dominican Republic

Maho Bay, St John, USVI

Whale Skeleton at Warderick Wells
Cap and our neighbor Sara in St Kitts
Carriacou Hikers

Rainy Day in Carriacouo


Leverick Bay Boat Races, BVI

Mayreau anchorage, Grenadines
Sloops in the Carriacou Regatta
Haul Out in Carriacou
On to Grenada!

Carriacou Hikers

Hiking Vista on Carriacou

Cruiser friends at Saturday Barbeque in Carriacou

Meeting Paul & Sheryl Shard from Distant Shores!

Through the Bocas (Dragon's Teeth) to Trinidad
Partners at her Trini anchorage in Crews Inn

Beautiful trip to Asa Wright Nature Center

Meyka and Judy at Asa Wright

Beautiful Asa Wright Nature Center

Maracas Beach, Trinidad

Lavinia enjoying the anchorage!

Anthony arrives for a visit to Trinidad!

 A Visit to the Pan Yard

Cap and Antony exploring Scotland Bay, Trinidad

 Celebrating our Journey's end and my 64th Birthday!

Stay tuned for the next chapter........!