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Thursday, September 29, 2011

AND WHAT A MONTH ..............



The memories of ARITA left behind in CURACAO and the sailing we did through the Caribbean Sea are all beginning to fade ........ We need to get back there real soon .... The hectic pace of city life is good for a while, but then it gets to be a little scary ...... The big event was the expected delivery of Laurie's grandchild, her first, a baby girl to be duly named "SOPHIE RYAN" ........



And right up to the very last Lauren-Anne was doing five mile walks and fooling around, doing the 'Captain Morgan' and 'Heisman Trophy' stances ..... Brave little trooper she is ...... All of this in good stead, for the baby popped out in record time, with only an hour and a half in labour .......'Kid on the run' you might say ..... A bit like a 'Drive-by, drop-off' type of thing ...... We were allowed into her room about 30 minutes after the event, to witness 'Princess SOPHIE' with dark long hair and mother looking like it never really happened.......... Amazing to see ....



The expectant mother and the baby never leave the room, once the baby is born, which is really neat ...... The hospital room looks like a suite in a fancy hotel with cable TV and music, and all the trimmings of a nice apartment..... Only the bar fridge was missing .......



And the proud father, young Tony, endured it all with grace and charm ......... And ever so glad it all went smoothly and painlessly ........



The 'Queen of Florida" meantime is now in an entirely different role ....... It is a giant leap from sailing in the tropics to suddenly being 'grandmother' ......... Still she gets to alternate between the two and that can't be bad, can it ? ......



Three days later and they are out and about .......... Right there is the magic of being healthy and staying healthy, and doing all that physical excercise before-hand ....... No need to go to extremes and do the rice-paddy thing, though ...... You know,.... Swing the babe on your back and go right on planting rice .....



And five days later, with her little bundle of joy curled up in her arms, the new parents are adjusting to life's new routines ......... Like the new catch phrase in one of the TV shows, as the husband rolls over in the middle of the night and says " I'll pay you a million dollars if you get up and change the baby's nappy ...."

I have been keeping 'out of harms' way' by going each day to my pal, Tommy White, the sailmaker, whose premises have slowly filled up with all the purchases for our new yacht "SOUTHERN COMFORT" ..... Mostly ebay purchases arriving daily to the loft .....
THANK YOU, TOMMY ...... He's a champion guy .....



Hundreds of bits and pieces like auto-pilots, mast rails, winches, filters, refrigeration compressors, all the stuff to do a complete overhaul and renovation of a thirty year old yacht ...... Should be fun, if it doesn't scare you half to death ......



The generator on "SOUTHERN COMFORT" is worn out so logically it needed replacing and so we purchased a new one ......... You know small, about 9KVA, enough to run all the goodies like fridge and freezer, microwave, four air-conditioners and the water maker ....... But what arrived was a unit big enough to power a small city ...... Somebody dropped the ball somewhere ...... We sorted it out eventually, and our new YANMAR GENERATOR is packed in our crate ready to be sent to PUERTO RICO, where we will do the renovation ..............



Even managed to get a specialist to weld the stainless steel exhaust pipe for the generator before putting everything in the box and screwing it shut ...... It will sit here until we first sail to Puerto Rico on "ARITA" .....



You remember those wonderful people Timo,the boat builder and Annemieke, the artist in CURACAO, with their houseboat and their beautiful yacht "BLUE MARLIN" ....... Well, Timo took a group of six young men for a cruise to the islands of 'LOS AVES' in Venezuela, a beautiful bit of paradise for a ten day sailing holiday ........ And early one morning a sudden squall came up out of the west with such force, that it dragged the anchor and put the "BLUE MARLIN" on the reef ......... And within half an hour she was a total loss ......... Our hearts go out to them, for we have seen the photos of the labour and the love that it took them to build this fine yacht ..... But having spoken to TIMO he is unperturbed ....." We will do it again and this time better", "We will go on and move forward" ..... What a guy, this boat-builder, this builder of mountain paths, this lover of life, this 'Island Man' ...... Good for you, Timo ...... Never say 'die' .... He is so inspirational ........ That's TIMO with the white cap behind the six 'buccaneers' as they were leaving Curacao .........



Speaking of 'dying' ......... Laurie's mother passed away the day before "Sophie" was born ..... Laurie's mother had been cared for in an Alzheimer's residence for years and her passing was really a blessing for everybody ...... So sad, to see a person virtually comatose day in, day out ....... And there's nothing anyone can do ......She was 83 ..... We took her ashes to the beach, a place where her happiest days were spent ........ For she and her late husband lived right on the beachfront in Jacksonville, Florida .....



This was a joint-family affair ...... For the siblings spread their mother's ashes in the ocean together with those of her late husband ....... A ritual that is probably as good as it gets, for now their remains are eternally together in an endless ocean .......



'For in water we are born and to water we should return' ...... And the ocean takes all comers ........



Anyway, you see what we mean by 'What a month we have had' ...... So, to return to a more even keel, here is a stainless steel horse ........ Bright and very shiny ..... Now in the past we may have neglected to polish our own stainless steel on board ARITA from time to time .... But in the future, whenever we do it again, both on ARITA and on SOUTHERN COMFORT, we will definitely think of this stallion, and whoever keeps it polished ...... We fly back to CURACAO on the 4th October .....WOW ..... What a month it has been ...................... Timo will pick us up at the airport ........ saying "Sorry, mate" just doesn't cut it ........

Monday, September 12, 2011

"SOPHIE" WATCH .........




Nice flight from CURACAO, where we left " ARITA " with three anchors down, to the USA and to Laurie's home state of FLORIDA....... Made even nicer because for once we didn't have to do the usual, like "Take off your shoes and your belt, Sir" ... "Empty your pockets, .... Yes, take the laptop out of its case" ..... "Take your sunglasses off your head please, Sir" ..... "And your wristwatch too, please"... "Now step forward" ....... No, we had to do none of that ....... Amazing, and we were getting on an American Airlines flight too, direct for Miami ...... Thinking the whole time that Homeland Security had come to its senses at last, but ours was the exception and not the norm ....... The same stuff is still in full swing ........ Still we made it safely to Miami and stayed with Caribbean cruising friends Dudley and Becca who have the yacht 'ALTAIR' for a night of reminiscing and laughter, and a little wine ....... Or maybe it was the other way around ........ By morning we were on our way to collecting our brand new solar panels ....... Bit of struggle to get four big ones into the rented car but Laurie, the "Queen of Florida" found a way by folding the back seat down and sliding them in .......... Huge panels, that should give us a nice continuous 45-plus amps when the sun shines on our new yacht " Southern Comfort " ................



Great to see a whole warehouse full of solar panels ....... So many to chose from ..... And some as big as a dining table ............ Power for the future ....... Our four with piano hinges will fold out in a sort of parabola, to face the sun and fold in again if stormy conditions prevail .... The birth of Lauren-Anne's baby (That's Laurie's baby's baby) is the reason for our FLORIDA visit, but we might as well do some shopping for the new yacht " SOUTHERN COMFORT " while we are here ......... Lots of renovations are planned to modernize the systems ......



Our next stop was to spend time with sailing friends John & Marianne King who are also cruisers with an awesome yacht "PURA VIDA", a wonderful AMEL, one of the World's best designed cruising yachts ..... John now manages a very extensive edible fruit-tree nursery and our visit there sure made us take some wonderful pictures of palms, tropical fruit trees and early morning flowers .....



Now that's what we call " A pair of swinging mangoes " ........... You might need to back your truck up to the tree when loading these, once these are ripe ........ The whole tree in its nursery bag is only four feet tall ....... These are already bigger that the 'Queensland bullock-heart' mangoes that I grew up with, back in Oz ....... Classic genetic engineering ..... Hope they are sweet, as well as large .... We will be back in CURACAO when that happens ........



Succulants like these very small Aloe Vera and some more palm species to enjoy, like this 'bearded' palm ................



And how could we not share these beautiful 'Bird of Paradise' and these purple tipachina flowers with you .....



It is very hard for us not to share the beauty of that first Florida morning with you .... Like this magnificent 'Royal Purple' flower, a 'Tipachina' we think ....... But we need to drive on to Jacksonville in the north of Florida ...... Young 'Sophie' is busting to get out .......



Now here's the thing ...... Princess 'SOPHIE' is coming ...... That's obvious .... And in the closet are so many clothes in readiness for the great event that the 'Royal Wardrobe' simply defies description ........



We take a 'quick salt-water fix' to see the blue ocean again at Jacksonville Beach in Northern Florida, and the sea is beautifully flat ...... So are the beaches ............ Fun to see, and great to smell the ocean again ...... What a glorious summer's day ....... People are all a-gog at 'mother and daughters' on surfboards, competing for prizes .................." Sisters of the Sea " ..... Photographers out there to get the long distance photos ...... Florida's coast is shallow and waves break a long way out ........ They built a pier to get out there ....



Counting the days to "Sophie's" birth, and it is wonderful for Laurie to be here to share this moment with her daughter ............. The World's 7 billion population is about to increase by one ............... We know this blog is supposed to be about sailing, sunsets and palm trees and things, and we'll get back to that real soon ...... At least we managed to get the palm tree part in ............ And within a month we will be sailing right across the Caribbean Sea back to the Virgin islands ....... Hurricanes permitting ...... Currently they are marching through the Caribbean like a regular procession ............... NASTY BUGGERS .............. Don't go near them ........... Take our word for it .............



LATE UPDATE ................. September 17th ..... Delivery minus 18 hours or thereabouts ....
video
Husband Tony bouncing his wife Lauren-Anne around on the exercise ball ........ Is there such a thing as pre-child abuse....... Today looks like it is going to be 'SOPHIE DAY' ........ Now 'D' minus 17 hours .........