Sunday, April 25, 2010

Cruising: An Extended Vacation?

How do the days on Irie look like, the last few weeks? Well, I would say “all but enjoyable”. If you don’t count the evenings. But, that’s why I wrote “days”…

It’s that time again, where being in one place too long and working from morning to evening, without taking any days off demands its toll. I suggest that the first person who even comes close to suggesting that we are on an extended holiday, better run (or swim) away, before I give him or her an earful, or worse!

We are making progress with our list of boat projects. All the stainless steel is cleaned, a blocked hose miraculously cleared itself, the fridge pump works all right again, our crappy sailbag is finally adjusted to the sail after lots of running back and forth, the rusted, grimy grill has new parts (and they all fit), the bad part of the anchor chain is replaced by rope (no money for a whole new chain), Mark fabricated a new snubber (line that connects the chain to the boat to prevent abrupt shocks), replacement blades for our crumbling wind generator blades arrived, and I can keep going on here for a while. A boat, however, is a boat and that means new problems have to show up.

After getting hauled out of the water in Philipsburg about a month ago, we assumed the engine problem was fixed. Well, not so much… Mark just discovered our saildrive oil is turning black again and nobody knows why or how to fix it. Research online (“black saildrive oil”), pointed Mark to one of my earlier blog posts, meaning it is a rare thing and nobody else writes about it! I obviously couldn’t give him the information he needed. The other engine that is giving us trouble is the one from the dinghy. It dies each time we slow down. Hopefully we can fix it or have an experienced opinion before it totally leaves us transportation-less.

Mark spends most of his day behind the computer, dealing with customer issues, credit card issues, you-name-it-issues and the business in the States. I’m not so sure how he will keep that up once we leave St. Maarten and are ready to cruise again. (Will we ever be totally ready to cruise and enjoy again, running a business from the boat?) Twice a week, we advertise The Wirie on displays in bars and about every other day one of us makes an announcement on the Cruiser’s Net (VHF channel 14) here in the area. This lead to most of our sales and we are happy to see all but three Wiries gone at this point.

Runs back and forth with Darwin, to the stores, to do laundry, to pick up packages, to get fuel and water, and to help people out, together with household chores, keep us busy the rest of the time. I worked another two shifts at Lagoonies and Mark managed to do a bit of consulting work. The busy days end, more than not, with a few friends, either in a cheap bar (Happy Hour at 5 pm), on Irie or on somebody else’s boat, sometimes with talented friends playing their instruments. Familiar faces have come and gone. St. Maarten is a focal point in the Eastern Caribbean.

Mark’s back never healed. The pain has gotten better over the months, but he learned to deal with it. Luck had it, that we ran into a pleasant guy we met in The Bahamas more than two years ago. His name is Tom and, he is currently cruising with his -my aged- girlfriend, Karmen. We hit it off and had a few nice evenings together. A particularly interesting fact about Karmen, is that she is an ex- chiropractor. And, out of the kindness of her heart, she assessed Mark’s back problems, gave him a “cracking” and some exercises to work on. Since she was in the right mood anyway, she decided to give me a quick surprise session as well, so now we are both “adjusted”!

A few other factors that play with our moods are weather and noise. After a very calm, hot winter season weather wise, the wind picked up for a few days. As with everything else, that’s good and bad: sailing is possible (in certain directions) and electricity gets created, but… every dinghy ride in the lagoon was a wet and salty one. The same is true for the bright sun: solar panels and laundry happy, my sweaty, achy body not so much. The noise factor fluctuated as well, because of the volcano in Iceland. Fewer planes screamed above and we were enjoying the relative peace! We need the VHF radio on to hear calls for Irie, but it is annoying as ever because of the busy ferry traffic to Anguilla and one of the French marinas using the same station as a calling station. Try writing a press release, or anything else for that matter, while the radio is constantly blearing at you.

I think I have about covered all the “living in the lagoon basics” now and feel better already! Tomorrow, Mark’s brother Tim and his wife Kristen brighten up our stay with their visit. We plan on having a vacation with them, doing what most cruisers do: sail, swim, snorkel, eat good food (well, we actually always do that), enjoy the Caribbean weather, a good book and walks on the beach and be happy. “All is Irie, mon!”