Sunday, April 1, 2018

Learning to Kiteboard

The last time I had this kind of curiosity was 35 years ago.  I bought a "Crit 630" windsurf board and brought it out to Fire Island, NY where a bunch of friends and I rented a summer share house.  While the others were on the ocean beaches, my favorite spot was just off our house on the bay side.  It was there that I "honed" my sailboarding skills, first by just pulling the sail up and then falling over, and later on by hooking in to my harness and racing the ferry back to Bayshore. 

So it was no surprise that kiteboarding would now attract my curiosity.  Two years ago, Sam had brought his kite on to Pratique when he crewed for me.  Later on that season he told me he spent a few weeks on Cas en Bas beach in St. Lucia on the windward side, where he found Kitesurfing St. Lucia, run by a very cool lady named Beth.  It was time to try it!

Cas en Bas Beach is "chill."  (I have been dying to use that word in this blog!)  For no other reason, it is worth going there just to hang out at Marjorie's and watch the scene.  It has to be a lot less raw than in the earlier days, when Miss Marjorie set up her beach bar. Nothing but sand, wind and some interplanetary debris!

Nice day at Cas en Bas Beach for learning to kite!!

I wait for my lesson to begin.  Dog is unimpressed.

The first two lessons were mostly in the shallow water learning kite control and how to body drag with the kite.  

A very patient Beth showing me the ropes.

I think I can do this!!!!

But the dogs remain skeptical . . . .

Beth is thinking it may be time to try it with a board . . . 
. . . .but the 2 local guys are more interested in talking about giving the photographer a price for a fish!!

I did great, so I get to ride the jet ski back!
My third lesson in Cas en Bas was devoted to getting me up on the board.  It was really windy and a bit rougher than I would have liked that day.  I went out with one of Beth's local instructors who was great following me around on the jet ski, and picking me out of the water, running me back upwind, and trying the whole thing once again!

"You can do it!"

Cue the theme from "2001: A Space Odyssey" when the ape rises!!!

I AM UP!!!!!!!!!

By the way, all of these photos were taken by Susan who was great behind the zoom lens during these three days.  Great job, Susan, especially since one second after these two shots I was upside down in the water!  Susan also overheard my somewhat amused, somewhat concerned instructor telling Beth at the end of the lesson, "Ya, mon. Dat guy crashed a lot".

"Hey, am I a club member now???"

The new puppies on the beach were also impressed!

"Did you see that guy trying to kite?"

Later in the season I had two more lessons, one at Frigate Beach in Union Island where they decided I needed more practice learning to body drag and self-rescue (very important skills for independent kiting, but not for "just wanting to get up") and one "group lesson" at the Club Med in Martinique.  Neither of those two places were as fun, engaging and focused as the Cas en Bas experience!

Next time maybe one of these Union Island kiters will be me? 

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Fast Forward in Reverse: November 2017 to Almost Now!

OK, I'm gonna try a new way to do this blog. I am not going to "retro-post" the last 6 months.  Instead I am going to tell you that it is March 17, 2018, and Susan and I are aboard Pratique, in Tyrell Bay, Carriacou, Grenada.  All is well.  OK, just one "retro-post." Here's how we got here:

1.  Down the LI Sound, out New York Harbor, down the NJ coast then up the Deleware Bay to Chesapeake City.  Thanks to our crew and future OB owner, Robert Mann.  Then down the Chesapeake with stops in Annapolis, Galesville, Solomons, Mill Creek, Reedville, Deltaville, Back River, and Hampton VA.

2.  Salty Dawg Rally Nov 2017:  Great crew of Carl D'Amato, Matt Johnson, and Jeff Sowell to Falmouth, Antigua!

Matt, Jeff and Carl

In Jolly Harbour!
3.  Exit Matt, Carl and Jeff.  Return Susan.  Sail Antigua (Five Islands, Nonsuch, Falmouth, Jolly), Guadeloupe (Deshaies, Ilet du Gosier, St. Francois, and Les Saintes), Martinique (St. Pierre, Fort de France, Trois Ilets, Grande Anse D'Arlet, Petite Anse D'Arlet, Le Marin and Ste. Anne), St. Lucia (Rodney Bay, and Marigot), Bequia, Union Island (Clifton, Frigate I.), then back to Bequia, St. Lucia and Martinique.
Christmas in Deshaies

and in Ste. Anne

Talya and Susan at New Years party in St. Lucia

Happy 2018!
Capella in Marigot Bay, St. Lucia

4. Back in Martinique, our daughter visits us for a week in Martinique!  While we anchored and docked in Anse Mitan we enjoyed Carnival, the Jardin Balata, Anse Saline, Anse D'Arlet, and St. Anne/Marin.
Carnival in FDF

5.  Then on Feb 26 Susan and I sailed back to Bequia.  Highlight of that leg was catching a 52" Wahoo off St. Lucia!  And who can forget the "worst north swells in Admiralty Bay in 40 years."  Thank goodness for south facing Friendship Bay!

I catch a thazar!

6.  The Southern Grenadines!  We made it, and it was worth the wait.  So now that we've caught up to the present, I'll retro-post just one more entry on this amazing cruising area, next.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Summer 17

After the Bermuda trip we took it easy, staying at home in Providence and doing some local trips.

We visited our friends Steve and Elena at their summer home in Goshen. However, all we have is a shot of this baby cow:

Goshen CT Calf

Enough of the non-nautical theme.  We next went out to Block island and Eastern L.I.   A few classic B.I. shots:

Susan's mom Louise drove out to Greenport to spend some time with us.  Nice day sailing!

I'll end this blog with some more "non-nautical" photos.  First, we had a solar eclipse this summer, and we saw it two ways:  The first was through a welding shield courtesy of the guys at the marina.  No photos of that.  BUT, we also held up the pasta strainer against our seats, and got this:

Pasta strainer
Lotsa little pasta strainer eclipses!

Next on the highlight reel is my birthday (big round number).  Here are some dessert shots:

My dessert at Gracie's 

My cake at home party, courtesy of Tiffany!

And finally, to really celebrate, I had a partial knee replacement!!  Not easy finding new doctors in a new state. I really looked hard and long to find one, until one day I was picking up Chinese food at a local take out place and this bus passed me:

MAKOplasty!!!  That sounds like something I want!
So, I did it!!

Thanks, Dr. Marchand!
Kinda makes you want to go back to the calf shot, right!

Next:  We prep for another trip south!

Friday, June 30, 2017

Spring 2017 Commissioning, Maintenance, and The America's Cup

Wow, that was a quick winter!  Now back to Pratique, it's time for commissioning fun!  Fast forward and she's back at her Cove Haven slip:

New bottom paint, new wax, new canvas, new carbon foam batteries, new boom vang springs and some other hardware, all in time for our June trip to Bermuda to see the 35th America's Cup Finals.  For the passage to Bermuda, Matt and Tim signed up, and they brought a Maine friend, Carl D'Amato.  Great 4 day passage to The Rock.

Tim, Matt

And Carl!  Yummy ceviche snacks!

We spent a few day in St. George's, then went around to the Great Sound.  Just as we turned into the Sound, we got a solo fly-by:

"Thanks, guys!"
Each day of races, we'd check the course map they'd issue late morning, then motor out from our anchorage near Hamilton, to the course.  This strategy proved to be great, as each race we had great viewing angles and front row position.

In addition to the AC Finals, there were other highlighted events including a Superyacht regatta outside St. David's, and J-Class races.  Spectacular!

The  Maltese Falcon

After Carl, Matt and Tim flew out, Susan flew in with our friends Josh and Tiff.  More great race viewing:

Josh, Susan and Tiff at the bow watching Team Emirates fly across us

In between races we toured the whole island by scooter, including the Royal Naval Dock Yard, Hamilton, Horseshoe Bay beach, St. David's Lighthouse, and of course the Swizzle!

Susan behind the camera at Horseshoe Bay

Back at the America's Cup finals, you can see here that Oracle is slightly ahead of Emirates Team New  Zealand.  This particular photo has great historical significance, and kudos to Susan for capturing the moment--because 99.9% of AC Finals photos will show Emirates ahead of Oracle.  So enjoy the moment:

Oracle racing to the finish, ahead of Emirates!!

The eventual winner, Team New Zealand:

They say "Nothing sails to weather like a 747," so I said good bye to Susan, Josh and Tiff who flew back to Providence.  I sailed back with Dick Sweeney and Alec Brecher, two guys I originally had the pleasure of meeting back in Cove Haven through Josh and Tiff.  These guys know how to sail and have a nice time on passage!



It still freaks me out that they are not related to each other!

All in all, a great June trip to Bermuda.  Thanks to all who made it happen!!

Monday, December 19, 2016

Winter Decommissioning

For the first time since her launch, Pratique was going on the hard for the winter.  We had to learn a new decommissioning routine!  We did what we could, and Cove Haven unstepped the mast and on the hard she went.  

We traded in our ocean foulies for some winter gear.  Off to Killington for the season!

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Back to New England, and On to Nova Scotia

We visited Anguilla for a few days, and then Susan flew home to RI.  Two new crew, Matt Johnson and Tim Walters joined Sam and me for the return passage.  On the way back north I made sure to stay on a course that would allow us to divert to Bermuda should the weather warrant.  Sure enough, a front was coming with predicted gusts to 65kts.  On to Bermuda!  We waited out the storm for a few days, then proceeded north again.  We crossed the Gulf Stream with the help of the "Iron Jenny," and pulled out the early May in New England gear.

Tim, Matt and Sam

Keep the hot coffee coming!
Our summer trip was next! Susan and I planned to sail to northern Maine, then cross over to Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, spend a few days there, then round Cape Sable and head north eventually arriving in Cape Breton to cruise Lake Bras d'Or.

At the beginning of our usual overnight passage from Cape Cod to Maine we saw a group of whale watching boats off Provincetown, and decided to investigate. Through the fog this boat emerged:

So we hung around to watch the big show:

For the next hour traveling north, we saw many other whales in the distance:

Pretty spectacular, but we had to move along . . . .

After an uneventful night we arrived at Mistake Island Harbor.  This is a beautiful, isolated spot well north of Bar Harbor, which I had been to before.   Just as gorgeous as before:

Pratique alone in Mistake Island Harbor

Low tide, slippery when wet!
The next day we sailed across the lower Bay of Fundy to Yarmouth, N.S.  As if a switch was flipped, it turned mostly cloudy and cold, so we decided to enjoy Yarmouth until the weather changed.

Welcome to downtown Yarmouth!

Commercial fishing boats in Yarmouth
Despite all the commercial boats, there wasn't a lot of fresh fish to purchase locally.  Plus, Canada closes their waters to lobster fishing this time of year.  Fortunately, lots of meat was available:

Good weekend to visit a Canadian fishing capital!!
Local Raymarine autherized dealer?
Wait, is it cold because we are frozen in time?  
Pratique waiting at anchor for the weather
At least the birds are happy!
After three days we decided it was time to reconsider our plans.  Cape Breton would have to wait for another season . . . .

After a cold overnight crossing we dropped anchor in Bar Harbor Maine, at a familiar spot just north of the sand bar.  We went crashing to sleep, and when we woke up at noon it was 80 degrees and sunny!  Oh, one more benefit to returning to Maine--Lobstah!

Lobstah's back on the menu!