From some Cruising Friends

(This may not post correctly due to me using the wrong format. I fixed what problems I noticed. If anything is goofy, please come back and I will try to repair it ASAP.)

Darramy on tour No 25: Vanuatu Cyclone Pam and Aid Work

April – July 2015

Hello Hello,

More Darramy tales!

Home not so Sweet Home

After a lovely time in NZ for over 3 months and a visit home to see family, friends and Sue’s new Grandson Henry. We arrived back in Fiji in mid April and prepared Darramy for sea once again. We had watched news clips of some of the devastation that had taken place on the some of the Islands in Vanuatu caused by cyclone Pam in March. A grade 5 cyclone, (They don’t get any worse). This made us think about changing our plans for this year. We have had such a fantastic time in the Pacific for the previous three years, Sue and I both felt we would like to put something back, and maybe Vanuatu would be the place to do that.

Pam left her mark

After contacting all the usual large aid organisations and getting fobbed off, we discovered there were a couple of small organisations that were interested in what we could offer. We settled for “Sea Mercy” who although small they had the motto of giving “Health Care and Aid to Remote Islands” in our area of the Pacific. We had come across one of their medical boats last year in Fiji, so we volunteered our services to them in Vanuatu. Now medics are not our specialised subject, but we understood there were many more things that were needed besides health care. In some islands the whole infra structure had gone. Roads or tracks blocked by fallen trees, often completely washed away. Water, sanitation and shelter were a big problem.

The well known aid organisations (NGO’s) and governments of first world countries were quick off the mark to offer initial relief. All in all they seemed to do a good job, but after the first couple of weeks the NGOs apparently seemed to want to grab territory, and put their own mark on their area. We understand it became quite political, but eventually the Vanuatu Government managed to regain some control over the NGO’s, after all, it was not their country. We were still in Fiji at this time hearing various stories of what was needed, what people should take to assist. Fortunately it was not every island in Vanuatu that was devastated, Vanuatu was still open for business, don’t forget, tourism is their main source of income. But the information was very mixed and confusing. We spent time trying to source fruit and vegetable seeds, as we were told all the crops were washed away. Well after a week and what felt like I had obtained a degree in biology, we gave up it was just too hard, too many regulations, controlling imports etc. In the end we had a collection in Vuda Point amongst the Cruisers, and came to Vanuatu with some cash towards buying what we needed when we got here.

Fijian Send Off

Well we eventually got a weather window for the 550 mile passage to Vanuatu, so we left Fiji, with only two days of the boat visa left to run, and a little tear in our eyes. It had been a good place to be. We even had a farewell Fijian song sung to us by the marina staff as we departed from the Marina. (how cool is that)?

Four days later we arrived in Port Vila after a good sail, but not even a bite on the fishing line! We met the other Sea Mercy boats, two of which we were going to be with “Buffalo Nickel”, (Stan and Val) and “Persephone” (Brian and Sandy) both US flagged boats. We also met with three other Sea Mercy vessels, of whom we knew. They had just finished a three week medical/aid rotation in the southern Islands of Vanuatu. It was useful meeting up with them as they were able to give us much needed information about what they had experienced, and also an understanding of the culture and customs of the Vanuati people which is very different from our own.

Meetings are not for all of us!

Aid stuff starts arriving

We were straight into a few meetings which although useful, and probably necessary, were not what we were there for. We managed to get through our own meetings quickly and do the hands on stuff, Val took on the secretarial role to report to Sea Mercy and liaise with other NGOs, Sue and Sandy researched, the education side and the needs of women and children, as we had been given to understand that schools needed assistance, and this society was male dominated, and the females were not always on the top of the list of priorities. It did not take long for yours truly to get tired of “send me an e mail”, it seems that nothing can happen these days without everyone e mailing each other, what happened to lets just get on with it? Seems to slow everything down, and you spend half of the day at the computer screen.

Our destination was the Shepherd Islands, where the Governor of the Shepherds had asked Sea Mercy to assist on the remoter Islands. At last, right up our street.


More goodies, we left the children!

Stan’s little dinghy, large loads!

Brian, Stan and I took to procuring hardware to take with us, as we had three boats with various amounts of space to carry needed supplies. Whilst Sue went shopping, buying things for the women’s groups. Sewing supplies, material, and school supplies. There was also lot of gear donated from Australia by small organisations, and we were able to source much needed stuff from that, also going to the local hardware store for roofing nails and simple but essential building tools and supplies. Large rolls of tarpaulins anything that could be used to give improved shelter until rebuilding took place.

So, we loaded up our boats to the gunwales, and set off, we had various briefs to follow, one was from the World Health Organisation (WHO), and that was to assess outlying medial centres, and drop off lighting and water purification systems and much needed medical supplies for the temporary medical shelters that they had had erected on two very remote islands. This is the nearest yet we have come to drug running! You may recall we did some money laundering in Columbia years ago! Yes, we know how to live!

So we had a fast sail up to Emai in blustery conditions. Emai, looking at the chart seemed a good place to be based, with a reasonably sheltered anchorage from the prevailing winds.

Consulting room

When all three boats arrived we went ashore to meet the local Disaster Relief committee. They were please to see us and wondered what goodies we had for their communities. Well we could not tell them that as we did not know their needs, and did not want to build their hopes up by making promises we could not keep. Also we had to remember we had other places to visit, so we did a once over on the island the next day. It soon became apparent that the school side of things were fairly well cared for, apart from a few supplies everything was functioning reasonably well. We went to the medical centre, which definitely showed signs of need. One of the problems we discovered was water storage, no natural supplies of water here, just storage tanks. All supplied by guttering off the roofs. Problem: many roofs damaged, and no guttering thanks to Pam.


We also learned that a couple of the community fishing boats had been damaged, so they could not go out fishing. One in a remote village 8km away, The village used to sell the catch and make some money, but the usual problem no boat, no fish, no money. Now I could see where we could help. Can it be repaired was the question. We need to see so we all piled into the back of a truck and of course the two Brian’s ended up in the load area, whist everyone else got in the cab! It was ok we got with the local guys and had a good laugh.

Main road Emai

After 6k, the track was blocked by fallen trees that they had not yet cleared. We began to realise the devastation caused by Pam. It is hard to imagine the track had fallen trees over it for 8 solid km. Exactly like making a clearing through a jungle, just to access one village. We had to walk the last 2 km along the beach. We found our little village, and it really brought home to us all how bad it was and still is for these people. One house left standing, just debris every where, they had a tent provided for storage, and a couple of tarpaulins dropped off by NZ aid. The boat was up amongst the trees a fair distance from the shore line.

Chief George and family

So we met the chief George, and went to see the boat, It was aluminium, and although a bit bent and battered. We three blokes thought we could probably get it sea worthy again, we agreed to return the next day which was a Sunday, a religious day here, but we were given dispensation to work on the Sabbath as it was a good cause.

Important to involve the locals in our task

Buffalo Nickel had a super big tender so we loaded it up with all our supplies needed to do the repairs and aid things we were going to leave in the village. Instead of the long truck ride, we went by sea. When we found the village we had to unload our stuff and get ashore. Thankfully, some of the islanders were there to help. We had to anchor the boat then pass tools and supplies down a line of people who kept everything above their heads in the swell that was running, and carried it all ashore. We had then to dive in to get ashore to start work!

Boat repairs Sea Mercy style

Amazingly, nothing got wet apart from our clothes! At the end of the day we achieved more than we set out to do. We repaired the boat and had a naming ceremony. The boat was named “Sea Mercy” (good for our photo shoot)! We also repaired the village generator, put up some tents for those people who having to share living space in the one house.

The village team

Stan, a vet by profession, did some medical stuff on a chaps injured foot. We then had to reload the tender, a reverse of the mornings unloading and head back to the boats before it went dark. This was a really rewarding day, the village was very grateful, we felt we had done good work, and our efforts had enabled a small village to begin functioning again. We all gelled together well, and worked as a good team, even though the two American’s had a strange way of describing some tools which led to a bit of confusion and much hilarity. (Why did they insist on trying to ruin a perfectly good language)!

The night ended with a BBQ that the ladies had arranged.

It’s gutter repair time


Wheel chair user gets that sinking feeling!

We had many days similar to that one, we spent the next day repairing or putting up water catchment systems at the medical centre, attaching a sink to the wall, and generally trying to bring some normality back to their lives. There are many things still to be done on Emai, we could only just scratch the surface. We found another damaged community fishing boat in another village. Also there were plastic water tanks that had been delivered by an NGO, sadly there were no taps on them so they were just lying about unused. When you consider it is coming up to the dry season, they need the water. We started asking questions through Sea Mercy as to whom had supplied them, the NGO’s said they did not know, it was not one of theirs it all went very quiet.

It seemed sad to us but also annoying to think someone had delivered them and as they were, they were no use, a total waste of effort by all involved. We began to see more and more of, not sure if you call it incompetence by the NGO’s, certainly inefficiency, they apparently were on a lot of the islands with clip boards making notes, but here we are now over three months down the line, and besides the initial burst of activity all the people have seen is more people with clip boards making even more assessments.

WHO medical tent and lights

Tangoan children all smiles

Old School

New School

We sailed to Tongoa another island to visit and check on the temporary clinics put up by the World Health organisation, and deliver medical supplies and lighting, and fill in crazy questionnaires (probably thought up by some fellow in an office who had no idea what life in the real world of disaster areas was about). The first clinic was really good, but then as we travelled on unmade roads we saw that there were very few houses left standing without some cyclone damage, but every village we travelled through the inhabitants all gave us a cheery wave and a big smile. Their spirit was amazing to see, and despite the fact that many had lost nearly everything, they still carried on with a positive attitude and, I say again a lovely smile. We found the other clinics, well, they were in a sorry state one was completely unusable, but sadly, so was the tent put up by the WHO. So the villagers had to walk about 5 miles to the next clinic for any medial needs. The final clinic on the island we visited had the WHO tent up, but they preferred to use their existing building which although damaged was usable. We showed them how to connect up the lighting, but we realised that if we did not install it for them, nothing would not happen, so Brian and I set about installing the lighting system, although basic would enable the clinic to function more efficiently. Oh, I forgot to mention each clinic had been issued with a new generator. At this place I don’t think they had even started it up so we had to show them how to use it, I found a whole bag of tools and spares that they had not even opened. When I asked why had they not used the tools supplied to them? They said they thought it belonged to the dispensary committee, and not them, so would not use it. Maybe I went against their custom, but it was going to get dark, and we had to get back to the boats, so I found a couple of villagers who appeared practical and armed with some tools they helped to install the lighting. At the end of the job I asked them all to put their hands in the air, this they did and I switched on the lights. Explaining the old Chinese proverb “many hands make light work”! We left them all smiling under the bright lights.

Bright lights in ward 34

Heading home at the end of a busy day

Fred, transferring our load for Buninga

We made it back to the boats just before nightfall. The weather was not being kind and we spent an extra day waiting for the strong winds and big seas to abate before heading to Tongariki and Buninga with more deliveries. Meanwhile Buffalo Nickel had headed off to Epi (another island) to pickup more supplies for Emai. We agreed to meet back at Emai in a couple of days. Persephone and Darramy set off for Tongariki, in the still strong winds. Persephone made better time than we did on Darramy, and by the time we had arrived Brian and Sandy had done 2 loads ashore. Well when I say ashore, they anchored the dinghy and dropped back on a rope to near the shore line where the waves were breaking. A team of local men waded into the surf and carried the loads on their heads often their bodies were completely submerged, but they kept the load dry. We arrived and used Brian’s dinghy to unload our supplies. Another extremely rolly anchorage that night, and the following day we were due to go to the next and final island Buninga. We had already checked out the landing place and it did not look good. The village was up a hill, and it seemed we would have to land first just to get assistance. Fortunately a local boat from Tongoa came into our anchorage to drop some people off, and we asked them if they were going to Buninga, the boatman Fred said yes. Before he knew it we had talked him into taking all our deliveries to Buninga, so that would save us having to put ourselves and boats at risk on such a dodgy landing and anchorage.

Within half and hour we had transferred all our aid stuff to Fred and were on our way to the smooth waters of Emai. It is always good to get back into a quiet and smooth anchorage. After three nights of rolling we were all knackered.

Who sent Stan to fetch a bottle of water?

The last few things to unload

The next day Stan and Val returned from Epi, and we had a busy afternoon getting their boat unloaded. They had managed to carry 4,500 litres of bottled water, 50 cases of tinned tuna and quite a bit more as well. It took 12 dinghy loads to get everything ashore. The locals all joined in and we left them with everything piled up on the beach. We were coming to the end of our Sea Mercy Rotation we had nothing left on board.

Finally unloaded over to the shore crew

The six of us had a final supper, and then the next day Persephone set off for Australia to continue their cruising, while Stan and I went to fix another community fishing boat in a village. This was a fibre glass boat, and a bit beaten up by Pam. We had no fibreglass on board, but the Green Peace ship Rainbow Warrior had been in our anchorage, delivering cement and building supplies to the Island.

Rainbow Warrior. (No Frenchies allowed)

I had previously spoken to them on our SSB radio net, so called them on the VHF and they generously offered some repair stuff. I went over in the dinghy, and was invited onboard this well known ship.

(This particular one is a replacement for the previous one which was blown up by those naughty French in New Zealand a few years ago). I was invited to stay for lunch but sadly had to decline as I knew Buffalo Nickel was due back at any time and needed to be unloaded.

Stan and I went ashore the next day to repair the fishing boat, by this time I had a nasty tropical infection on my ankle, and was not in the best of humour. However after circumnavigating local politics, we managed to repair the boat so they could go fishing. We named the boat “Mercy Warrior”

Nearly the end!

T’was only a small scratch

We headed back to Port Vila to pick up some supplies for ourselves, have a much needed rest and see a Doctor about my ankle.

But those water tanks and no taps really had got to me. So in Port Vila, we located all the parts needed and bought them. This was funded out of the rest of our kitty and a few donations from other cruisers.

Bring on the rain and fill me up!

Job well done

Subsequently, Sue and I have returned to Emai and shown them how to fix all the taps on the tanks. Thus enabling them to store over 30,000 litres of water. Good result!

Although we say it ourselves, this was a very satisfying end to a hard and tiring four weeks.

Question: Would we do it again? To right we would!

It may appear that I have a bit of a downer on these large organisations, I know we can’t do without them. Their initial response in humanitarian aid is vital. But having seen the end results, I just wish they could get their acts together a bit more. That person on the street corner in your home town with a collecting box is doing a great job, but what percentage of the collections gets to the disaster victim, how much is wasted?

So if giving a donation look at organisations similar to “Sea Mercy” there is a place for everyone and they seem to make your donation go further.

Any way for us we are going to stay in Vanuatu to enjoy some of the northern Islands for a while, do some diving, I know there is a water cistern to be repaired in the Maskalin Islands, so will be picking up some sand and cement in Luganville. Then I think we will head towards Australia via New Caladonia for the cyclone season, who knows we may even see in the New Year in Sydney Harbour. Oh, what about Indonesia I hear you say. Maybe next year!

So as usual it’s TTFN

(Delete as applicable)

*Best Wishes* *Kindest Regards* *Love and Hugs* *Cheers*

Brian and Sue

You can view this and all our previous travelogues of the last ten years on our OCC site.

So try this link, you will see travelogues 1-20, keep scrolling down and see No, 21,22,23, 24and now hopefully this one No 25. Click on the blue print and hey presto: (Boredom unlimited)! A small charity organisation that gets a big job done.

This was sent to me by a Swiss cruiser in Vanuatu:

Yesterday we met some French people who work here since 2 years. It was interesting to speak with them about Pam. They said: We have had 2 cyclones: One was Pam and the other was the big “help-organisations”

They came from different places: more than 1000 people, big discussions, no efficiency, Friday pm they stopped their work….because…. weekend!!!!!”

The Dream Team!

See it not just me!



It is with sadness that Robn puts her HEIDI on the market

Recent research has caused me to lower the price to



New blue info 5 paragraphs down added 25 Feb. Older edits near the bottom. This must drive you crazy, but I will be adding things frequently over the next few weeks. If you are at all interested, please check back. I will change the date to reflect my additions.

Here is a preliminary report from memory. Robn returns to the boat in a couple of weeks. Better info then. Contact us at svalegria AT hotmail dot com.

One puzzle that we are wondering about: People seemed to say that the boat should be empty when the new buyer sees it. Having lived aboard her since 1990, and voyaging since 2001 – from Sequim, WA down to Panama, across the Pacific, down to New Zealand three times, up into the N Pacific, across to Guam and the Philippines, down to Jakarta, across the Indian Ocean to South Africa, around the Cape of Good Hope, and on to the Caribbean with full itinerary and details available if interested. She has a lot of important spare parts and miscellaneous boat bits on board. It seems silly to dispose of these important items when any new owner that knows anything will want them. Any thoughts on that?

I (Robn) am very fortunate that in 1969 my parents took me and my two younger brothers on a 5+ year circumnavigation aboard a 52′  Rhodes Ketch. I was 20 at the beginning of that trip.

Some History added 25 Feb

While on that trip, I met Gerhard (a German) in Tahiti. He had also begun his circumnavigation, from Germany in 1969. We continued to sail west, finally getting married and living ashore, building our own home in Washington State. We then sold our house and bought HEIDI in 1990,  moved aboard her, and began to ready her for another circumnavigation. She has been my only home, since 1990. Sailing was/is in our blood.  In Sept 2001, we were finally able to retire and set sail from near Seattle, in the NW United States. We coast hopped to Panama. then zig zagged around the Pacific, including Guam and 3 trips to New Zealand. The condensed itinerary is available here:  

My husband passed away in December 2010 and I sailed HEIDI to the Caribbean and have been actively sailing HEIDI there since then. Often singlehanding.

I met David in 2014 and that is the only reason that I would part with HEIDI. We do not need two boats.

Heidi, a 1978 Hans Christian 34′, is presently in Trinidad, on the hard.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHeidi at Pago Pago  (Usually clicking on the photo makes it larger and detailed)


>Whats the price you have in mind?

A fair market price. We are studying comparable boats online. I had been thinking 70,000 USD because I see boats not nearly as seaworthy or in as good condition asking much more. However, recently, research has caused me to lower it to US$64,900.00. Offers considered.


The engine is a Beta “BV1505,” 37.5 HP Diesel, about 2000 hours, installed in 2000.
Two Racor filters w/bypass. Use one or both, can change one while running engine on the other.
Exhaust shut off valve for use in high seas
Dripless shaft seal new in 2011
Optima Starter Battery (Spiral Gel Cell
3 Optima House Batteries 65 AH each = 195 AH.  New in 2008. Previous set lasted 12 years and tested still good after replacement. Turned out the lost performance was probably due to a corroded connection on the solar panel reducing the input but not discovered till later.
100W solar power: 2 x 50 W panels by Siemens, installed 2001.
Shore power converter not used since 2001.

Sails: 2 Mains, 1 storm main, 1 cruising spinnaker (with sock), 1 genoa, 1 yankee, 1 storm jib, 2 staysails.

2 CQR type SS anchors
chain (90 meters?), rope, snubber.
spare anchor line.
Manual windlass
1 Fortress Aluminum Anchor
1 dinghy anchor
1 Anchor Buddi (lead weight to roll down chain to improve scope)
5 fenders, plenty of docking lines

Achilles Dinghy inflatable, with 8HP mercury outboard. Both new in  Dec 2008
Autohelm wind vane w/ auxiliary rudder.

4 man life raft new in 2011
EPIRB new in 2011
Drogue (cone type sea anchor) that is the size recommended for the boat.
2 Drogue lines 300 ft each.
3 bilge pumps. (1 automatic, 1 emergency, 1 hand gusher.)
Life jackets, harnesses (3), jack lines, spot light, 4 fire extinguishes, man overboard pole w/horseshoe buoy, horn, sledge hammer, radar reflector, bosun’s chair.  Flares – outdated but have been stored very well.  (even plugs for dorade vents if bedding down in a hurricane! Never used.)

AIS transmitter/receiver
Garmin GPS 128
handheld Garmin GPS 12
GPS antenna for computer
Acer laptop with Open CPN, CM93 world wide charts, other navigation software.
Handheld VHF
Kenwood 2005 SSB receive only
a 2nd SSB receive only
Hummingbird Fish finder/depth sounder
Speedometer – light not working
2nd compass

2 burner kerosene stove w/oven by Taylor

Sewing machine (household from 1977 but it has gone through 14 layers of Sunbrella! Possibly not included – not sure I want to part with it!)

Car deck w/ usb mp3 player (no CD).

Assorted hand tools including DeWalt 12 Volt drill and flashlight w/ 2 batteries and charger (2014).

H20 pressure pump and galley foot pump. Salt water galley pump.

Porta Potty – Thetford 135

Jerry Cans: 2 diesel 5 gal, 1 gasoline 5 gal, 3 water 5 gal, 2 kerosene 2.5 gal, dinghy gas tank 3 gal.

A lot of assorted spare parts and materials.



Heidi has been traveling the world since 2001 while being carefully maintained since our lives depended on her.  She has been our (my) only home since 1990.
Major projects:

abt 1999 replaced Stb Samson post with purpleheart.
2000: new engine (replaced salt water cooled Volvo 34 with the Beta before heading to tropics)
2001: new rigging and solar panels
2002: water tank leak repairs.
2003: new VHF and antenna, new speedometer after lightning strike. No other damage sustained. Bottle brush added. Major paint work, New awning and sail covers.
2003: Auxiliary rudder repairs.
2005: New wiring for navigation lights (both masthead and pulpit), other work on mast including paint.
2006: Replaced port diesel tank (black iron) with epoxy/glass and re-plumbed fuel lines.
2007: Removed bowsprit for caulking access, discovered some rot and replaced the entire bowsprit with kauri. Re-glazed all port lights.
2008: New dinghy/outboard. 90M new chain – not much work done this year.
2009: replaced bow stem chain plates and inner fore stay after the former broke. Blister repair job (first sign of blisters after 1990 job) including one new layer of glass and lots of painting, – unfortunately not taken further up – there are blisters above the water line recently. Also a new awning.
2010: 2 way AIS added. New cushions, new fenders
2011: New life raft, new EPIRB, new docking lines, some new running rigging
2012: New wood for overhead in salon & galley, w/new LED lighting, interior paint and varnish, misc. wood work. New galley cabinet and stove surround. Replaced 2 chain plates (aft shrouds – one showed hairline crack). Re-bedding of forward haws holes.
2013: replaced upper shroud chain plates, new 90M chain. Forward chain plates (shrouds) still original.
2014: re-caulking and refastening teak deck. New engine damper plate. Port Sampson Post replaced with Ipé. New dinghy floor boards.

This list is from memory and is not all inclusive.  Lots of additional smaller jobs have been done over the years and items added or replaced.  Sails are mostly from my brother-in-law’s sail loft in Germany – Diekow Segel. They are now making sails for the German Tall Ship, Gorch Fock.

Actual repairs due to failure have been relatively few thanks to the pro active work. The only failures over the years that come to mind are the leaking diesel tanks (One was replaced in 2006, the other (black iron) is beginning to leak); the broken twin bow chain plates (as a result they were replaced in 2009); and the auxiliary rudder shaft was replaced in 2003 after it bent when a bolt came loose.

Current projects include refastening the deck. It has gradually gotten thinner over the years though it’s still a half inch thick, so I need to finish setting the teak plugs deeper. Restitch mainsail cover, new slip covers (for upholstery).

Future projects: Topside blisters and paint , replace stbd diesel tank.
Replace the last two old chain plates and perhaps the genoa tracks.


Someone asked if Heidi had a bridge deck. Yes. The cockpit seats go all of the way around. In the photo of Mieze the cat, supervising  the cook making dinner, the slightly open door you can see to the left of Mieze, opens to the back of the engine instruments which are at the front end of the cockpit just below the forward seat. I would guess that the seat is just slightly higher than the top of the sliding door.

All of the shrouds, including the lowers are attached to chain plates at the gunwales, not the cabin side. There are permanent shrouds that act as back stays for the staysail.

Inside, beginning near the bow, there is the anchor locker, followed by the V berth, then the head and hanging locker, and then the salon, with a U-shaped settee on the port side, for seating around the table. And if you lower the table it can be used as a double bunk. There is a straight settee on the starboard side.


Continuing aft on the starboard side, is a short closet, and aft of that is the Navigation station, and aft of that is the quarter berth. The galley is on the port side just aft of the salon.

You can access the engine by lifting up the steps and opening a hatch there, and/or by removing some of the four panels from the quarter berth, and/or by opening the hatch in the port cockpit seat, and climbing down in. If you’re going to be doing a lot of work on the engine, the large box between the companionway stairs and the bulkhead can be lifted out of the way, rather than just using the hatch in front of the box.  Beta is well designed for easy maintenance including a mounted oil removal hand pump.

In the photo with the cat, you can see the four galley drawers between Mieze and Gerhard’s blue jeans. This is the only Hans Christian that Robn has owned, so she does not know about other galley arrangements.

I found a little information on

I don’t know how accurate it is. The difference that we noticed is that Robn changed the Volvo for a Beta, 37.5 hp in 2000. And it has about 2000 hours on it now. The main boom was also shortened by about 6 ft, increasing the aspect ratio and reducing the chance of bumping into it with your head. When Robn gets back to the boat, she can take some better pictures. But here are a couple we found on the computer.

This photo shows a view from the stern (in Borneo) with the black outboard, shows the companionway and other details.


The original hatch on the forward end of the cabin, was a poor design, and leaked where the Plexiglas joined the wood. Robn and Gerhard redesigned it, with the Plexiglas going all the way to the edge, but covered with the teak trim. That stopped the leak.

But if I start listing all of the improvements that Robn and Gerhard made over the years, this letter would get pretty long.


Dave & Robn

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOn passage past Cape Agulhas and Cape of Good Hope. 2011


I am back onboard. Here is the full list of my planned maintenance. I got behind on the cosmetics when my husband died in 2010 but have kept up on the essentials.  With this list I would be caught up on all systems. It is, of course, always possible that more stuff will be discovered during the work. That is the nature of boat maintenance.

 1. pulpit (to be installed this last week of Feb) and wiring bow nav lights which are on the pulpit.
 2. Chain Plates (at least one of the two remaining has a stress crack and since the others are already done. . .)
 3. Set  new, shorter, teak deck screws deeper, bung, and caulk. (Teak still 1/2″ thick). If you’d rather remove the teak for some reason, then there would not be any point in doing this – I happen to love the teak.
 4. Ceiling Trim –  not much work here as the trim is already varnished, just needs to be cut and drilled. Trim is not essential, of course, but these wood pieces are in the way until installed.
 5. Paint and Varnish. Teak can, of course, be left au natural, so again not necessary, but the fiberglass would sure look prettier with the job completed. All of the painted teak was varnished and in great condition BEFORE painting. Thus, we assumed that if we wanted to go back to varnished teak, that we could just remove the paint. The paint is NOT into the pores of the teak.
 6. Galley sink drain – didn’t have a chance to buy a new one in USA. They are not leaking but they are substandard materials (already starting to rust) installed last year by a “professional” and I want it re-done right.
 7. Stair tread re-glue – truly not needed yet but it’s bugging me. The old glue is liquifying and slowly seeping – making for a few sticky spots on the companionway.
 8. Engine heat exchanger clean. Reinstall water impeller.  Grease winches and seacocks. Bottom Paint. (All regular standard maintenance.)
 9. Replace mast head nav light (working fine but not LED so draws more power that an LED. While my LED anchor light is too dim – I’ve been putting this off waiting for LED nav light prices to come down.)
 10. A couple grease fittings on the steering system need to be cleaned. The last time I tried to add grease to the nipples (last spring) they weren’t accepting any. This will lead to problems at some point if not dealt with.
 11. Auxiliary rudder bearing and control lines. I replace the control lines (Kevlar) before every long passage and as needed in between. The bearings are developing some slop so I’d feel more comfortable with them replaced before too long.
 12. Re-caulk bolt: There is a small sometimes leak with one of the mast step bolts. A few drops twice in the past couple years.
 13. Replace dodger and possibly awning. Again not necessary, but I don’t like to wait until they are.

 Things that a buyer might want that I don’t:

 Refinish topsides – there is a band of up to approximately 6″ of tiny cosmetic blisters (max dia less than 1 cm)  above the water line. Everything good below the water line (redone in 2009/10 at which time there was no hint of needing to go higher). I had planned to do this but I consider the other stuff higher priority. Heidi has been out of the water since Oct 2014, for my flight to Turkey. The blisters have disappeared, so I have 4 months of drying the hull already accomplished. There are people in Trinidad that are said to be very good at doing this sort of work. Before I launch would be a VERY good time to do it, but I will let the new owner decide, IF they buy before I want to launch!

 Refrigerator, speedometer, wind instruments, auto pilot, water maker, electric windlass, etc.. These are popular items these days but would require an upgrade in the power generation and more maintenance. I’m personally happy with a minimalist life style.



One of the jobs Robn has planned is to redo all of the exterior paint. She was planning to do it last summer, but got interrupted. If the new owner wanted to go back to varnish, or even wanted to have the paint a different color, or different kind, then it would save Robn a lot of work to not have to paint it before she sells it. It’s just that a freshly painted boat, looks so much nicer, and she has already purchased all the materials. She just needs to have time to get around to the various jobs.

As the saying goes, “Cruising is just doing boat maintenance in exotic places.” I will be going to help her in a couple of weeks. As soon as I can get my things done here in Turkey.

By the way, I don’t know if you’ve looked into the cost of flying to Trinidad, but when I was pricing flights between Turkey and Trinidad, flying through New York, Washington DC, Houston, or Miami, and then flying from there down to Trinidad, was a lot cheaper. At least from Turkey. Although I think there are some direct flights from Europe, etc., to the Caribbean in season.

We like using

However, some of the cheap flights like Pegasus, Atlas, Condor, Thomas Cook, and so on, do not always show up there. So, I find a website that tells what airlines serve Trinidad or wherever I am going, and then I look at the individual airline websites.

One site shows the following for “POS,” the airport you want:
United,    jetBlue , American Airlines, Caribbean Airlines, British Airways, US Airways, and Copa.
shows these:
Albatross Airlines
American Airlines
British Airways
Caribbean Airlines
Copa Airlines
Linea Turistica Aereotuy
Sunwing Airlines
Surinam Airways
United Airlines

In theory, the whole point of using,, etc. is that they check all the possible combinations. In practice that is absolutely not true. I think they wanted US$5,000.00 or some ridiculous amount for Robn to fly from Trinidad to Turkey and back. And it was not a fast or direct flight. Long layovers.

Fortunately I knew that Turkish Air, had a special going between Turkey and certain US cities, and I eventually found a combination, with relatively fast connections that totaled less than US$1,500.00 and routed her through Houston, which allowed her to do some other chores during her travels. But it was not easy. However the reason that I have been able to cruise for so many years, is by being willing to do a little extra work to save money.

Make certain that the site(s) you use tell you the TOTAL, FINAL, price. There are many ways that dishonest sites can sound like they’re giving you a real bargain, and then you find out that that does not include things like the tax, which is commonly one third of the cost of the ticket. Some airlines charge you for reserving a particular seat, and many charge for meals. Some airlines charge for any luggage over 5kg. I might have that much weight in my pockets. Robn has been on a site that quoted a good price. However, that price required that you get their special credit card for US$75.00/yr. So,  buyer beware. But, the sites I mentioned, tend to be honest, at least in the past.

If you have Frequent Flyer Miles, try that. My last Seattle to Antalya flight, I was able to fly First Class, with three 70 pound suitcases INCLUDED for a very nice price. Who would have thought that Dave would ever fly First Class?

As many boats discover each year, the hurricane season is like playing Russian roulette. There were a lot of tragedies last summer. It is my understanding that Trinidad has been very safe so far, which is the reason so many boats spend the hurricane season there.

Depending on where you live, you may find it very advantageous to keep your boat in Trinidad and commute back and forth for the sailing season(s). I have seen slightly better fares between New York and Trinidad, than New York and Tampa. And there is no comparison on the sailing choices.

Many people have figured that out.

I have some more photos that Robn sent that I need to add. I will do that soon.

Ginger and the White Death

Ever since I was little, I have had trouble with motion sickness. Mal de mer.

This has always been annoying, for everyone concerned. But, it became obvious that I needed to deal with the problem, when we left on our first long trip, in 1977. We were a month too late leaving that year, and we waited in Neah Bay, WA, for a weather window to go to San Francisco. But there weren’t any. It looked like we could be stuck there till Spring. So, we finally just left during the tail end of one nasty set of weather, with the weather guessers promise, that the next cataclysm would not arrive for a couple of days. At which time we would be further down the coast, and well offshore.

The Pacific Coast from San Francisco north to Canada, especially near Neah Bay, is a graveyard of sailing ships, that were too close to the coast, and could just not escape being blown ashore. So we went out about 100 miles at the furthest.

When the oncoming gale hit, I was worse than useless. I was a liability. I’m sure that the only reason that I was not thrown overboard after about a day of uselessness, was that I’m too heavy. And they could not get enough people around me, inside the cabin, to carry me out and toss me over. Being big is not all bad.

Happily, it did not occur to them to just dismember me into more manageable, easily carried pieces.

I became an expert on anti-nausea medication and even woo woo treatments.

On that subject I would say the two most important things that I learned, are that Stugeron 25 mg, is for almost everyone that uses it, a miracle drug. But, you should start taking it the night before if possible. Because if your digestive system shuts down, as it tends to do in the early stages of mal de mer, the Stugeron cannot get into your bloodstream, and does you no good whatsoever. You can however sometimes get relief while you are already at sea, if you appreciate that this situation looks like it’s developing into a Stugeron time, and take it as soon as you realize you’re going to need it. This will often work. AND, after two or three days at sea, you can usually stop taking it, because you now have your sea legs. All the other medication that I ever tried, prevented sea legs from forming. So as soon as you stopped taking it, you are puking again.

The second thing is WHATEVER you decide to carry for protection, try it on land, when you are not unusually tired, or feeling funny in any way. Everything is wonderful in your life. Then take the normal doses for perhaps 36 hours and see if anything changes. Some useful medications practically give you narcolepsy. You just can’t keep your eyes open. So how are you going to stand a watch?

Back in the 70s NASA came out with a prescription combination of an upper and a downer, that the astronauts used. Naturally I got my doctor do give me some. Unfortunately, I discovered that I, and many other people, find that it MAKES them have vertigo on land! It makes you feel queasy.

The other man on board and I had taken it shortly before we left, and we didn’t throw up, but we felt really miserable until we got to the next port and stopped taking it. We were storm bound for a couple of days, and then the weather guesser said that we had a weather window, so we took our pills, and started getting the boat ready for sea.

But when we got up on the cabin top to take off the sail cover, we could see GIANT whitecaps, looking a lot like the Rocky Mountains, all down the saw tooth horizon. Not our favorite kind of weather especially when the wind is straight on the nose.

Happily the captain decided to wait another day, so we went for a walk. And both of us noticed that our pills made us feel VERY wobbly.

This was not the same as land sickness. That is when you have been at sea for several days and come back to shore. Living on the boat seems perfectly normal, but when you step on land, it feels like the sidewalk is going up and down.

This was different. Our heads were spinning.

I had a almost identical experience with scopolamine patches.

But, for me Stugeron 25 mg, works fantastic. It’s chewable, with a kind of neutral taste. No sleepiness. Just makes me immune to the motion. Do you want me to change the oil? Sure. Hand me the roll of paper towels.

But, the reason this all comes up was, that when we are in the states I buy a pound or two of crystallized ginger. This really helps settle my stomach, when I have the occasional small concern. So, I like to keep it around.

And, yes, I know about the little electric bands that are advertised to protect you from seasickness. I have some friends that used one when they were caught in almost a survival storm, in the Gulf of Mexico. She said that she had it turned up to the, “Grill a Buffalo” setting. Full military power. And then she lay in a fetal position on the cabin sole for about a day. Feeling absolutely miserable the whole time. Punctuated by every few seconds, she would get this profound electric shock, that would make her twitch all over. Electric chair time.

She said that it probably works for the seasickness. The main thing that was worrying her was the certain knowledge that she was about to die a horrible death. But she survived. And they still sail all over everywhere. Another learning experience.

The NSAID’s that I had to take for my dislocated rib, really messed with my digestive system. As soon as I stopped taking the proton pump inhibitor, my stomach began to bother me quite a bit. Since I REALLY wanted to stop taking the darn proton pump inhibitor, I would use occasional doses of crystallized ginger, to get through this transition period while my innards healed. Combined with frequent meals of carefully chosen foods, to give my system something to do other than dissolve itself.

That meant that I now was low on crystallized ginger, with no plans to return to the US just yet. So, I figured, they have ginger in the market here. How hard can it be to make my own? Actually it was not hard at all.

The fiddly part is peeling all the ginger. It does not grow in the shape of a smooth monolith, like a quart jar. And, of course, I want to ONLY remove the peel, so I tried to be very careful. Especially after I broke my only ceramic vegetable peeler.

I found several recipes online, each of which was quite different, but basically the same. So, I peeled and thinly sliced some ginger. 500 g, about a pound. And then I boiled it for about 40 minutes in water.

And then the idiots that wrote the recipe, said throw away the water! HELLO!! Haven’t you heard of ginger tea. That’s what that water is. In fact it’s like superstrong ginger tea. Atomic powered ginger tea! Even I have to dilute it. But I’m not about to throw it away. Put a little in the water that I use when I cook rice. But, keep it to use.

This resulted in me having about 350 g of boiled ginger to which they wanted me to add 350 g of sugar. Known in health food circles, as The White Death!

Being, at least mostly, a Good Boy, I have probably only eaten a gram or two of White Death in the last year and a half. But, this is for a good cause. I was creating medicine, and not a delivery system for White Death.

So I cooked it for about the time they said, but I noticed that the sugar syrup was getting much thicker than seemed like a good idea. I’m no brilliant chef, but I know that when you have boiling sugar water, that is starting to look quite thick, that when it cools, that you are going to have hard candy. And my previous crystallized ginger was leathery and chewy and tender.

So, I aborted the instructions, and they said to put it on a cooling rack, that you have sprayed with Pam or some similar nonstick spray. Naturally, I have neither one, but it seemed really simple. The crystallized ginger that I have always had is coated in crystals of sugar, White Death. So I just finished out some of the ginger. Encouraged it to drain as much as I could, and then dropped it in a bowl, with a thin layer of sugar in the bottom and kind of tossed it around to get it coated.

Then I would fish it out and put it on a plate to cool. Which brings me to the main reason I felt compelled to write about this interesting experience.

We have hundreds of wonderful, charming, interesting friends in America. And some of them, while we were homeless in the USA, trying to help Janet, wanted us to housesit for them. And some of those people had cats. And most of those people had litter boxes.

The similarity to fishing the pieces of ginger out of the sugar, and servicing the litter box, struck me as quite startling. Fortunately, I usually have pretty good control over what sort of memories I associate. Otherwise, that might’ve been the end of my crystallized ginger right there.

By the way, I tried some after it had completely cooled, and I pronounce it to be every bit as good, as the stuff from Whole Foods. Although, if I could buy some, I would rather buy it than make it. I’m a cheapskate, but ginger is expensive to begin with, so the price of the finished product from Whole Foods, did not seem a bad trade-off at all.

Be careful with crystallized ginger though, it is a very efficient White Death delivery system. You did today. Wear it tomorrow.

Simply ignore them

As a sailor, with a ‘think outside the box’ kind of attitude, it seems obvious to me that people traveled across the oceans and explore the world a very long time before Columbus.

I first contracted this particular affliction, when someone gave me a book by Barry Fell. But, now days if you Google it, you can find a great deal. Try Googling:
Scientists Debate Who Sailed to the New World First

But, you can spend days reading about that stuff.

The reason I interrupted you today, was that I found, what I consider to be a very important quote from this next link. You will notice that the page it refers to, is full of typos. It was computer transcribed from a tape, and no one proofread it. Like ‘tire,’ where they meant ‘the.’ I felt right at home.

“You see, people sometimes bring to our attention things that are uncomfortable to think about and that lead to uncomfortable conclusions. And if we cannot explain them away, the thing to do is simply to ignore them. The question is, how long can we keep ignoring them?”

If it were not quite so long, I would embroider it onto a piece of cloth and mount it on the wall.

I think it applies to global warming, which IMHO is absolutely not debatable, but we can argue about whether humans have anything to do with it or not. It can apply to health care. Like taking a couple of capsules of dried nettles, works so much better to control my hayfever, than the drug company antihistamines, and have no side effects. Like, when I sprained my back quite badly, and I was in a lot of pain, my chiropractor fixed it, literally as fast as you can snap your fingers. But Western Medicine, says that we need several days of bed rest, some muscle relaxants, and some pain pills. And, be aware that there may be permanent damage.

There are far too many things being carefully ignored these days for me to list them all. Make your own list.

Dave’s commandments:
Number one, Love.
Number two, Keep An Open Mind. And then, be careful what you ignore.
And to reverse Gandhi’s quote, Number three, ‘Learn as if you were to live forever.’
Number four,’Live as if you were to die tomorrow.’

See also

And MANY more.

All the while, be sure to keep an open mind. Humans make mistakes. Humans falsified data. And many researchers forget that humans have a sense of humor.

I remember reading about an anthropologist, who was gathering information about the belief system of people that lived on a remote island in the Pacific.

In this two-way exchange, a native thought it ridiculous that the white person believe that human gestation was nine months.

The native said, “How in the world can you say that that is true? Vaea’s wife just had a baby last week. But Vaea returned from a 14 month ocean voyage, yesterday.”

The anthropologist realized that he was having his leg pulled, just before the native began to get a big grin.

The person relaying this story assumes that much of the data that scientists collect in this manner may be byproducts of a sense of humor.

Another story is about an anthropologist in the American Southwest, who had found a very old Indian, that knew a lot about ‘the old ways.’ He was literally of fountain of knowledge.

But, sometimes when he was asked a question, he would excuse himself and go inside his lodging for a few minutes, and then come back with the answer. Did he have to pee often? Prostrate trouble?

To shorten the story, the punchline was that ‘wise old Indian’ was referring to a well-worn copy of a tome, written by the very same anthropologist, many years ago. His method was discovered, when he brought the book out on the porch and suggested, “You seem very interested in our people. I really appreciate that. You honor us. You should buy a copy of this book. I refer to it all the time.”


What’s in a name?

A friend sent me this photo, which reminded me of another dog that I knew.

(You should see a photograph of a dog, that says, “Hi! My name is Stopthat. Sometimes they call me Getbackhere.”

The dog at the marine railway that we used in Guaymas, Mexico, was “Deja Lo!” Which means “Leave it alone!” As in, “Stop that you stupid dog!”

He was a nice dog, but I suppose that he heard “Deja Lo!” so often when he first arrived in the boat yard, that he thought that it was his name.

Many years ago, in Texas, a man was building a boat. And, people would ask, “What are you going to name her?”

He always replied, “‘Damned if I know.”

When he launched her, he christened her, “Damfino” and thought he was so clever. Until the first time he tried to use the Marine Operator to make a phone call. (You used to be able to do that in the USA. They were fun to eavesdrop on.)

Captain: “Hello. I’d like to make a ship to shore telephone call.”

Operator: “Fine sir. I will be glad to help you with that. What is your call sign?”

Captain: “WXY1234″

Operator: Thank you. What is the name of your vessel?”

Captain: “Damfino”

Operator: “I am sorry, but I need to know the name of your vessel. Can you please ask someone?”

Captain: “That IS the name. I am the Captain and owner.”

Operator: “I am sorry, but I really do need to know the name of your vessel. Can you safely read me what it says on the stern of your vessel?”

And so on. Like, “Who’s on first.”

I told this story to my friend John, when I was in high school, and he liked it so much that he almost use that name on one of his boats.

John’s most recent project is a very large steel vessel, that really should be called a ship. He named her, “Notayot” as in “not a yacht.” She is the big blue one, below.


I wish him well with his radio traffic. And everything else, for that matter.

A wonderful power boat is for sale!

We first met Bruce Butterfield in Papeete in 1978. He worked all over the world, as captain on large commercial ships for many years. We got to visit with him again briefly in Hawaii in 1979, when he was captain of a tanker that was visiting there. He retired a few years ago, to the busman’s holiday, of cruising in first a sailboat, and then Desert Venture.

My mom and I even got to rendezvous with Bruce and Angela in Seattle in 2010 for an all too brief meeting. I have not been aboard Desert Venture. She was not in Seattle on that day. They had needed to drive back in to get some things, and we met at a restaurant. But, I am confident that she is top-of-the-line in every facet.

Any boat, particularly a successful cruising boat, is a whole collection of compromises. That is in absolutely no way, a bad thing. It is absolutely essential, that in all of the countless choices, one must choose the very best compromise for each particular purpose. Every part, hose, bulkhead, every atom of the boat, could be more economical, in order to save money and use it where it really matters. It could be more corrosion resistant, or stronger, or more beautiful, or lighter weight. So, what I think everyone is seeking, is the very best collection of compromises for their purposes. That is the way you try to approach perfection.

I just bet, because I know Bruce and Angela, mostly through correspondence over the last 35 years, that you would find Desert Venture to be an exemplary vessel. This is what a very experienced professional mariner, chooses when he goes to sea for fun.

If you know anyone who would like to buy an outstanding vessel, or you just want to have a peek at one, here is their link:

I’m sure that you will enjoy reading past entries in their blog. Both for just the pleasure of it, and also to see how carefully they have maintained Desert Venture. It may also be useful to see a woman who enjoys cruising so thoroughly.

Back in the 1980s, Janet often crewed on a similar sized powerboat that cruised between San Diego and the Pacific coast of Mexico each year. One year there was another woman crewing with her who said that her mom had written a book, with the excellent title, “One Man’s Dream : One Woman’s Nightmare.”

Far too often, that is the way men and women think of cruising, whether on a powerboat or sailboat. It’s a pink job, blue job kind of thing. It has destroyed many marriages.

By the way, the author of the, “Dream/Nightmare” continued cruising as a couple for many years after writing the book. Janet read it and pronounced it a great book.

But, cruising as a couple, certainly does not need to be that way. Many thousands of women love it. Angela is an excellent example, who writes a great blog and will significantly increase the chances that other women will see the enjoyment that she has experienced.

One of Janet’s favorite quotes was, “The difference between an adventure and an ordeal, is attitude.” It has long been my opinion that everyone needs to work out, for themselves, how they want to spend their time. They used to call it, “finding yourself.” Sadly, many people never seem to accomplish that.

But, Janet and Dave, Bruce and Angela, and thousands more, really enjoy messing about in boats. We certainly have to put up with things that no one enjoys, but the pleasures are many, and they are very satisfying to the soul. It is extremely fortunate that it is not for everyone. If you think the anchorages can be crowded now, what would they be like if every fool were out here.

But, the Desert Venture blog, gives you an excellent perspective of life aboard your own personal, petite luxury liner. Nice work if you can get it.


More about the joys of sailing and travel

I also thought the following might be of general interest.

Today I got an email from a friend from high school who paid me a very nice complement on my writing skills. I responded withthe following. Which was written to answer HIS email to me, so sounds a bit odder than my usualy ramblings. But, hopefully you will understand. His part begins with >

>First he complimented me for my writing…

Many thanks for the kind words on my writing skills. I appreciate the praise and I’m very glad you enjoyed it. Actually, I had a terrible time in English class. And the computer does my spell check for me. Otherwise, it would probably be beyond humorous, spelling wise. It would be getting into the stage of, “What word do you suppose he was trying to spell here?”

I assume that in high school they were trying to improve our reading skills with the reading assignments they gave us. However, it seemed to me that most of the books were very difficult reading. I still remember, “Heart of Darkness.” Very, “negative reinforcement” for me at that time in my life. I didn’t really discover how much I enjoyed recreational reading, until long after I got out of school.

Even then, since I’d had such a bad introduction, it was slow to get started. I had actually been reading with my newly discovered interest for a couple of years before someone innocently asked, “What authors are your favorites?”

It took me a moment to understand that, he was trying to gently point out that, if I like to particular author’s book, then there was a good probability that I would like other books by the same author.

What a great idea!

So, you see how naïve I was.

But, back to sailing.

There are lots of exceptions to the following rule, but, it seems to me, that most people that are cruising, are pretty egalitarian. We all have in common our love of cruising. And, so quickly become friends. Regardless of financial or social status.

There are, of course, other yardsticks to measure status in this community. Where you’ve been cruising. How long you’ve been cruising. Have you circumnavigated? Sailed the Northwest passage? Stuff like that.

But, over the years, we have met and become good friends with people that barely had to nickels to rub together, but were certainly not dead-beats. And friends that had three million-dollar yachts, with a LOT of money left over to enjoy life with.

Certainly, not everyone out here cruising is friendly or nice or anyone that I would really want to meet. But, the vast majority are.

>Even though I’ve rarely sailed, I certainly understand the “bug”. I’m also beginning to understand the downside(s).

>But to me, a MAJOR part of the enjoyment is the learning process. For example, physics, chemistry, math, languages, etc.

Thank you very much for reminding me of the pleasures of the learning process. I forgot to mention that in my letter. And it is such an important part of the joy I get from cruising, that I will go edit my blog post, as soon as I finish with this. I completely agree! I certainly am not interested in every single thing in the universe. But I have very wide tastes in what does interest me.

I frequently wish that I had one of my friends that is expert in a particular subject with me. I might be sailing past a rock cliff, that has a very peculiar geological formation displayed. Since the cliff is a cross-section of the land behind it. I would like to ask my geologist friend, “What the hell made that?” Because I’m sure that there is an interesting and fascinating story there. If I just knew how to understand it.

Or when I see an interesting tree, or bush, or plant, or insect, I wish I knew more about it. And usually, I am again reminded that, “I bet that there’s a whole galaxy of information here that goes right over my head. Edible or medicinal plants. How this insect interacts with the other animal and plant life in the area. And so on. I wish I knew more.”

And, I have questions about the dark side, such as, “Which of these plants are poison ivy??” I have figured out that cone shells (a particular class of seashells) have a deadly stinger, so don’t just go frolicking along like you thought you were still in ‘Mr. Rogers Neighborhood.’ And the ‘stone fish and ‘lion fish’ and which sharks are dangerous in this location.

Earth is such a fascinating place to live. It certainly a good thing that it is so big. Otherwise we would’ve totally ruined it much faster. I sure hope some adult supervision shows up that can teach us to be better occupants.

I always liked the joke, which is now, perhaps 40 years old. It was an eviction notice from God. She didn’t like what the present tenants were doing with the earth. She wanted to evict us. She had some better tenants.

>I have acquired a habit recently: I wonder if I have missed something! So I’ll scan a map (or my world atlas) that I have looked at hundreds of times in the past, looking for something I may have missed. Or I’ll walk every shelf in my small branch library, looking for new subjects that I would like to learn about. Etc. “Irrational”, but fun.

I also troll through libraries, stores, groceries, hardware stores, looking for things that I have missed. Eating my way around the world has been a lot of fun. Janet and I used to really enjoy seeing how new places prepared their food. They often had totally new and alien ingredients, but they also often combined old ingredients in new, and amazing ways.

For example, here in Turkey, they have a whole class of food, that I believe is correctly called pekmez. Basically, they take fruit juice and boil it down to something very much like molasses.

That is a double edged sword. In that it becomes far more similar to molasses than you would think. So, the many different kinds of pekmez all have relatively similar flavors. Even though they are made from pomegranate juice, grape juice, etc.

I am told that carob pekmez is quite good. But I have not recognized it in the store, because the Turkish name is unrecognizable to me. I need to print out the various Turkish names and search more carefully.

As more examples of different ways of doing things: the Turks often eat pekmez and tahini (finely ground sesame seeds. Really sesame seed peanut butter.) for breakfast. Or, they will have just a hearty lentil soup as their breakfast, accompanied by what is the Turkish equivalent of ‘French’ bread. A third, extremely common breakfast, is, one hard-boiled egg, a large tomato sliced, a large cucumber sliced, some ‘Farmer’s cheese,’ a variety of fantastic cured olives, some kind of jam or marmalade, and some more Turkish ‘French’ bread.

America is getting much better about olives. I remember when the only olives I had ever known were green olives with pimento in the middle instead of the seed, and black olives that had virtually all of the flavor and the seed removed.

I was quite pleased to get to Europe, where it would be common to walk into a store and find, perhaps 40 to 80 kinds of bulk cured olives in open vats, and who knows how many more that were packaged in jars, cans or special plastic packaging.

The Turks have a whole class of foods, called meze, that would be vaguely similar to appetizers in America. The Spanish have a whole class of foods, called tapas, that are even more similar to American appetizers. Or what the British call ‘starters.’

The mezes are usually vegetarian. The tapas often are, but be more careful. One I particular remember, was that they would take some mild Padron peppers, that were physically like a jalapeno pepper, but usually very, very mild. Like perhaps in Anaheim pepper.

They would sauté these, whole, in olive oil, just a bit. Not till they were soft and squishy, but not for only five seconds either. They would then sprinkle coarse salt over them, and put them on the table.

It was kind of like Russian roulette. Spanish roulette? The Spanish obviously have a sense of humor. You would eat these things, and they had a very nice flavor especially prepared in this matter. But, there were two or three very hot ones, somewhere on the plate. It was never any secret when someone found one. There would be a lot of careful, but forceful breathing, perhaps wiping your eyes, and the prayer that that was the last hot one in the batch.

Google >spanish tapas peppers salt<

I’ve been an ovo-lacto vegetarian since about 1972. And Janet preferred that diet, but, wanting to be polite, when we were invited somewhere, she would eat whatever was put in front of her. Up until about 1995, when she decided that she, also, was going to limit herself to ovo-lacto vegetarianism.

So, we used to spend hours walking through ethnic supermarkets, buying strange and mysterious things, that did not contain meat, and taking them home and trying them out. Of course, this did not work out very well because we usually had no idea how to wisely use the product. But it was fun nonetheless.

I still do things like that, but it was a LOT more fun with Janet.



Wikipedia can help you understand all of the above. And of course, the Google search engine is is still pretty fantastic. However, I feel like it is gotten a lobotomy. It seems to me to be just a faint shadow of what it was only a few years ago. It used to be FAR more useful. Now, at least in my universe, it usually brings up a huge amount of junk that I have no interest in, and definitely has nothing to do with what I searched for. Many of the words that I am searching for are nowhere to be found on the webpage I’m sent to.

So, on several levels, I am incredibly lucky to have been born when I was. The biggest thing was that I got to know Janet, of course. But, I was born at a time that I was old enough when it became much easier to sail around, here and there, and a sailboat. But before humans had totally trashed the planet.

“Paved paradise and put in a parking lot.” Is peanuts compared to the poisoning of the oceans and other nightmares that have occurred during my lifetime. So, I would say, “Get out there and do it now! We are definitely on the downhill part of the Bell curve.”


‘Interlude Update’ from friends of Alegria

I am trying to preserve the format of the email they sent me and I hope I can. I liked it a lot. Frank & Linda are American friends that we first met in Rome and spent several Winters with, in Marmaris and Finike. Let’s see if this works.   David  on ALEGRIA
Spain to The Canary Islands Dear Family and Friends,Dear Family and Friends,We have arrived in the Canary Islands, our jumping off point to cross the Atlantic Ocean on our way to the Caribbean. Many sailors refer to the Atlantic as “The Pond” but, for us the 3,000 mile crossing will take about 24 days and that is one heck of a pond. Our last newsletter was sent from Valencia, Spain, and we would like to comment on some places we visited between Valencia and The Canaries. Americans can only get 90 day visas when they arrive in the EU and then they need to leave for a country outside of the EU if they want to stay longer. After a bit of research we decided to go to the principality of Andorra which is in Europe but not in the EU, and therefore does not follow the Shengen visa regulations. We rented a car and drove the 3 hours to the compact, alpine “country” of Andorra. In the winter it is a skiing paradise while all year it is a destination for buying duty free. There was a happy Disneyland atmosphere about Andorra which swept us along in a river of people from one shop to the next. The entry stamp in our passports took up a whole page with the words, “Andorra, The country in the Pyrenees Mountains”. Above those words is a caricature of a lipstick imprint. After seeing that comical stamp in my passport I was feeling certain that we would not be legally allowed back into the EU. Or at the very least we would be fined by immigration police at our next port. However upon our exit at the Andorran/French border we luckily were met by 5 friendly immigration police, who after much deliberation, agreed to give us a new entry stamp into the EU. After becoming legal again we sailed from Valencia along the Spanish coast to Gibraltar and visited several small seaside towns along the way. We took our time and savored some beautiful weather and great sailing. In Cartagena, Spain, a week long festival captured our attention and we stayed to see many hundreds of men, women and children parade through the city in Roman and Carthaginian dress. Mock battles were fought, plays were put on, bands played, and as thousands watched, hundreds in period dress put on a great show. Food and drink was plentiful; we drank our share and ate pork ribs as if it were to be our last. Also while in Cartagena we met two young Frenchmen who were kayaking from Gibraltar to Istanbul. They are following the coastlines of the countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea and by their calculations it will be a 10,000 mile trip. During this very challenging trip they will be taking water samples of sea water to document a new algae that has taken root in the Mediterranean Sea and is causing havoc with some sea life. We heard about their adventures when they joined us for dinner one night. Their web site if you would like to view their adventure is

As we sailed westward along the Spanish coast we eventually reached Gibraltar and became familiar with its unique geography, history, and present day ongoing squabble with Spain over ownership rights. Our boat slip at the marina was a hundred yards from the airport runway. We had front row seats for take offs and landings. As a matter of fact we had front row seats to everything. Gibraltar is so small in area that no place is far to walk to. The “rock” still has the Barbary apes. Although they are now so well protected from humans that a person caught feeding a peanut to an ape can be fined $1,500 dollars. To escape the confines of Gibraltar, we rented a car and went to visit Spain’s Alcazar and Cathedral in Seville. Our little rental car zipped us, and our friends Bob and Nancy, there in a couple of hours through countryside that looked like rolling hills in Southern California. Along the way we had just enough rain to nicely wash away the dirt on the windshield. Once we arrived in Seville we parked the car in an underground parking lot where we emerged in front of a McDonalds at the exact time we thought of lunch. While we rarely eat at McDonalds, the food is predictable even abroad and sometimes that is what our American bodies need.

The Moorish Palace of Alcazar is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is considered a must see as is the famed Alhambra in Granada, Spain. The Moorish architecture is something to marvel at with all its graceful arches and intricate stucco detail. The gardens are laid out in a relaxed, balanced manner that invites a sense of serenity. Geometric patterns are the hallmark of Muslim art. The perfection of this thought can be found in mosques. All mosques have no paintings or mosaics of living things so as not to distract the worshiper from prayer.

Another UNESCO site in Seville is the Cathedral of Saint Mary of the See, the largest cathedral in Spain and the third largest in the world. It is magnificent in size, ornateness, and graceful interior design. The walls are filled with paintings, statues, mosaics and all sorts of embellishments in silver and gold. The cathedral that is seen today was built hundreds of years ago within a mosque that was built by the previous Moorish rulers. What an interesting dichotomy of worshiping God. One religion tries its best to create visions of the unknowable, and another religion believes the unknowable is too perfect to humanly recreate. The huge tomb of the historical celebrity, Christopher Columbus, has a prominent spot upon entering the Cathedral. Amusingly, the Dominican Republic does not accept these claims by the Spanish for they say that they have the remains of Columbus in their city of Santo Domingo.

After a few days stay we left Gibraltar and sailed to Rabat, Morocco. During our one month eye opening stay in Morocco we had the good fortune to talk to Moroccans about their culture. One Moroccan family invited us to their home for the Celebration of Eid al-Adha, a three day feast. The feast day commemorates God’s test of Abraham. In the Muslim world, on the first day of the feast a ram is sacrificed and the liver and heart are removed, barbecued, and eaten. On the following day the carcass is butchered and divided 1/3 for the family, 1/3 given to friends, and 1/3 given to the poor. The family that invited us sacrificed 3 rams because of their wealth and status.

Our travels in Morocco took us to the celebrated cities of Casablanca, Marrakech, Meknes and Rabat, the capital. The trains were fast, clean and well organized; and they were inexpensive. All the major cities of Morocco are similar in that they have an ancient walled city (a medina) within the modern city. These medina have their various sections, e.g. metal shops, leather works, ceramics, clothing, etc. which are called souks. Sometimes the walkways of the souks are so crowded that one is constantly in contact with someone else. My first experience with this mass human contact gave me feelings of apprehension. But soon, we learned to flow in that sea of humanity. Bargaining is the name of the game in these souks and tourists are at a definite disadvantage. Such give and take on the price is a game that is skillfully played by those merchants. The talent is in their blood, their genes, their culture.

In Rabat, we took a Disneyland like tram from our marina to the Kasbah. We walked along the impeccably clean, maze-like walkways admiring the unique entry doorways. The doors are so beautifully designed and maintained that one can’t help but go on a picture taking tour. In Marrakech we watched the cobra snake charmers in the main square. The snakes would rise up, spread their hoods about their heads and look exceedingly nasty. We kept our distance. Nearby were men with monkeys that onlookers were invited to have on their shoulders for picture taking. Another picture taking opportunity was the possibility of climbing up on an absolutely perfectly groomed and gorgeously dressed Arabian stallion.

Having a coffee in a sidewalk cafe or tea and pastries and watching life parade by was a pleasant way to spend a couple of hours. Or even better was enjoying lunch in a lush garden served by three smiling waiters who genuinely looked pleased to make us feel welcome. Also in Marrakech we spent a couple nights in a riade which would be the equivalent of an Italian pensione or B&B. Dinner was served on a landscaped rooftop with minarets doting the skyline. The squab dinner was sinfully good and the cook blushed when we complimented her talents. Another night we tasted her lamb tagine with herbs and spices, a specialty to North Africa. It was another memorable meal.

In Casablanca we walked the shaded avenues, viewed the largest mosque in Morocco, and got lost looking for the famed Rick’s Cafe as portrayed in the movie “Casablanca”.

We send our love,
Frank and Linda


Happy Thanksgiving & Happy Hanukkah

It is 830 in the evening here. I apologize for being so late writing this, but things have been pretty busy. The Thanksgiving celebration went extremely well! I think there were 55 people attending. Everyone ate far too much. Just like a traditional Thanksgiving, right? You just don’t mess with tradition.

We had many really great people working hard to bring it all together on time. Three separate households on land, volunteered to cook three large turkeys. Getting up at four in the morning to start the cooking.

It looked like about five guys, volunteered to carve the turkey so that the serving line could move quickly. Some very imaginative and resourceful people use their skills to decorate the tables with festive boughs, various improvisations, and even harvest season napkins. Now what are the odds that you would find napkins colored with predominantly oranges and browns, with pumpkins and cornucopias on them in a small town in Turkey?

She bought all they had, and it was almost enough for everyone. She also found some other excellent choices.

And countless other behind-the-scenes choreographers and worker bees and amazing facilitators did lots of stuff that I don’t even know about.

The bar that owns the meeting room, really outdid themselves trying to make everything exactly the way we wanted it. His whole family was involved in bringing out extra tables and chairs, and rearranging them. They were opening the folding glass walls of the venue, when we thought we needed more room. Then closing them, when some clever folks figured out an even better seating arrangement.

It was like a potluck in that each couple brought food. Fantastic food. Many of them, careful to make vegetarian versions, for yours truly. The leftover Turkey and rice and some of the other ingredients are going into a gigantic turkey soup for the Sunday barbecue. There are some really fantastic cooks out there. 55 of them at least.

Even though I’m late with this message, the time zone difference is to my advantage. I sincerely hope that all of you had, or are having, a fantastic Thanksgiving with family and friends and lots of laughs in good times.

And, to my many dear Jewish friends, I just saw this on the Internet:

“This year, Thanksgiving Day is also the first day of Hanukkah1 — an extremely rare convergence that will not occur again for 79,043 years! The last time it happened was in 1888. So for Jewish Americans, November 28 may be doubly festive this year.”

So, I hope that you all have a wonderful Hanukkah!

And that every single one of you, regardless of religion, race, creed, socio-economic status, hair color, and whether you have a boat or not, have a great time doing doing whatever you like to do, and/or being able to not do what you don’t like to do. I think that should cover it. If not, just edit the above, and pretend that I said it.

My friends that were crossing the Indian Ocean and their sailboat, very recently arrived in South Africa. A few bumpy days near the end, but that is behind them now. They are already having a great time.

You do the same.



We had our first Sunday barbecue in a long time. There were perhaps a couple of them during the summer, but from now on until spring, there will probably be one every weekend. The Marina provides a fairly large charcoal fired barbecue, and I think they provide the charcoal. But I’ve never organized it, so I’m not certain. Most people bring some sort of side dish that they share, and then they cook something or other on the barbecue.

In the Saturday market there is at least one big tank truck, full of live fish, that are farmed somewhere nearby. Those are very popular. As are all the other usual pieces of flesh.

And the usual examples of people not paying attention and burning the fool out of whatever it was that they were trying to cook. It’s all taken in good humor. And people help each other a lot.

There is usually a lineup at the barbecue, waiting for a little space to cook their piece of whatever. So, I’ve never used the BBQ. It seems to me to be so much simpler if I just bring some sort of vegetarian offering. Which I hope will be well received, and usually is. And then I partake of the other shared offerings that are vegetarian. Generally there are quite a few.

Some of the pillars of the local long-term Marina community are usually selling beer, wine, cakes and desserts. This raises money for the Marina clubhouse or the, “help the stray animals of Finike” project.

Quite a few of the people make cakes and desserts and donate them to this cause to sell. So, you never know, what they will have. It is always good. And frequently make she sort of weak in the knees to taste it. There are some really good cooks out there.

I was told that it a couple of letters ago there were several French boats in the Marina that tried to out cook each other each Sunday. Since their divine creations were usually shared with the BBQ crowd. Most people thought they died and gone to heaven.

But the main attraction for me, is to visit with people that, are in the Marina, but I don’t get to see very often, because it’s a big Marina, and they are busy with their own chores.

Quite a few boats prefer to keep to themselves. And some people that come to the barbecue, prefer to do the same thing. Not sharing their special dish with the whole group, but just with their subset. The people at their table. That seems perfectly fine to me. Why not embrace having everyone do what they want to do?

And sometimes, a language group, will have their own barbecue, or picnic, at another location on Sunday. Or use the communal barbecue area on a different day of the week or different time of day. This might be all the German speakers, or a group of boats that have known each other a long time. Or whatever.

As the Marina manager in Portugal said they used to think of marinas as a parking lot for boats. And then they realize that no, it is more like a hotel. But, as they gradually got more observant and had more experience, and learn more things, they realize that they were wrong. That the best Marina, is a community. And if they encourage that and facilitate that, they have a lot more customers, and the customers have a lot more fun, and come back year after year, or encourage their friends to come.

Fortunately many marinas are figuring this out. And, they are not certainly not all equally good at it. But Finike Marina does a great job.

Since this was the first barbecue of the season, and probably only about half of the people are here right now. We didn’t expect a huge turnout, but it was difficult to find a place to sit. It pays to get there early. And some people even brought their own folding chairs and their own folding tables. But I think everybody had a great time. And we look forward to next weekend.