Sailing in Retirement

Our post-retirement choice to spend much of each year sailing has to be one of the best decisions we have ever made.  We love to travel while learning about the culture, cuisine, lifestyles, flora & fauna and history of our destinations.

Our daughter, Marilla, says we look like we photo-shopped ourselves into this scene. NOT TRUE!!!

We treasure the opportunities to meet new people who appreciate events from uniquely different perspectives than ours.  This takes time.  Bringing our second home along affords us endless destinations and our own timeline.

Duhkxy attracts a great deal of attention

We also love being under sail – the quiet, wind-powered, motion of sailing on tranquil days and the challenges afforded on blustery days and high seas.  Neither of us get seasick (knock on wood).

Be advised, boat maintenance is part of the package.

In addition to endless cleaning and polishing, boat malfunctions and repairs are as much a part of the experience as the excitement and leisure.  Get together with other cruisers and the conversation will invariably touch upon each other’s current boat problems and often great stories of past mishaps and near disasters.

Once again, our refrigerator, on its coldest setting, is struggling to keep the temperature near 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10 degrees Centigrade).  This after having the refrigerator on three occasions found to be low on coolant, re-charged, and checked for leaks (none found). We also installed a new compressor and ventilation.  A funny thing about this is that two cruisers we have become friends with are meeting with the same refrigerator serviceman after us on consecutive days for exactly the same recurrent problem.  A third sailing couple we have befriended managed this same recurrent problem for two years by recharging the fridge themselves until the leak became large enough to be found and repaired.

Best to know your way around electronics and computer technology

Our plans this morning were to sail beyond Petite Martinique into the great depths of the Atlantic Ocean and catch some mahi mahi, tuna, or what have you.  We are approaching the end of our monthly WiFi data allotment so George decided to “quickly” install a couple of updates to our navigational software (wind, speed, direction…).

1.  Find thumb drive and move data to other device

2.  Download software updates – Monitors do not recognize data 

3.  Troubleshoot – solution, must use Foxfire to download

4.  Download Foxfire and software updates.

Here is where it gets interesting

5. B&G monitors in the cockpit are glued in.  Access requires disassembling ceiling in head; invariably this type of work disrupts most areas within the cabin.

6. Install updates – One USB port did not have enough space for thumb drive.

7. Download to smaller thumb drive (thanks Herbert) and complete data installation – Success!!

8. Instruments show no data – Troubleshoot – on phone with B&G technicians – 3 in total – success!!!

Decide to replace ceiling clamps broken by over zealous workmen who installed traveler

Discover ceiling clamps are glued in. Replace with alternate type of clamp and put ceiling back in place.

3:30 pm – We will go fishing tomorrow.

It is sometimes frustrating, but for the most part it is all part of the “adventure”.

The refrigerator is still not working properly.

Trigger Fish and Fishing Bats

Trigger Fish

After spending a fun-filled week in Tyrell Bay we returned to Sandy Island and were astonished to find that our most favorite, as well as everyone else’s favorite, mooring was open. Life is good.

Getting ready to swim to shore I was dangling my feet off our swim platform and felt a very painful stab on my ankle. I caught a glimpse of the culprit – a trigger fish darting to the underside of Ice Floe. As many times as I put my hand or foot into the water, the fish darted out in attack-mode. I took a couple of photos from above the water.

My attempts to get a shot under water were met with immediate and swift attacks and many failed shots save these below that I managed to get before he/she banged headlong into the camera.

Silly triggerfish

There are 40 varieties of triggerfish and most are strikingly beautiful.

George and I have observed many over the years, but this is the first time we observed the characteristic aggressive behavior they are known for. Generally, it is felt to be associated with their defense of a breeding territory. This territory is conical from the bottom to the top so it is advised that if being attacked you move horizontally, rather than vertically.

Fishing Bats

One evening George was lifting our dinghy for the night. It had gotten quite dark and he had his headlamp on. As the light shined over the water he caught a glimpse of something large flying over the surface of the water. He called me to the bow and we both watched as several darted back and forth presumably scooping up the many small fry that frequently jump from the water. At the time we knew of no night fishing birds, and the flight pattern was typically bat-like so we immediately Googled “fishing bats”

It was a challenge getting a photo of the nasty triggerfish, but it was impossible to get my own of the Greater Bulldog Fishing Bat we observed that night – so I borrowed one from the internet.

They are decidedly not cute and if that is not enough, they are a very large bat. Their bodies are just shy 5 inches in length and they have a wingspan that can exceed 2 feet. They use echolocation to detect water ripples made by the fish and use the pouch between their legs to scoop the fish up and their sharp claws to catch and cling to it. They are found from Mexico to Northern Argentina and also most Caribbean islands.

We have been living in Grenada since December 5th, 2019 and rarely a day goes by that we do not observe or learn something new.

Celebrating Biden’s Victory in Grenada

If you could see it through others’ eyes

As the United States Presidential election approached, conversations in Grenada frequently strayed into opinions about the candidates, and speculation about who would prevail. We have not met many American cruisers who support Trump, although they do exist. When we spoke with a like-minded American, various outrages were voiced and then someone would suggest the unpleasant topic be dropped. The most interesting discussions were those with Grenadian citizens and people visiting from countries other than the US.

The electoral college was a frequent topic when speaking with non-Americans, and many people were incredulous that the presidential election would not be decided by the popular vote. My explanation was that the electoral college was intended to give a fair share of voice to each state. Many would concede that they could understand some value to the process, but still far preferred their country’s use of the popular vote as the sole determinant.

As to the candidates and who would win – the great majority of non-Americans thought Trump to be without morals and foolish. They were confounded by his continued popularity in the Unites States and judged the US harshly, as a result. A disappointing number of opinions shared were that Trump would win. Disappointing, in that the view expressed was a condemnation the intelligence and morality of Americans.

Ice Floe and we are back in the water

Ice Floe was returned to the water bright and early November 2nd and we spent most of the day stowing things we brought back from our apartment, and otherwise getting her ready to sail. To be truthful, George spent most of the day in this pursuit. I made contributions when I could tear myself away from the pre-election news and texting with my brother and sister.

George and I slept well on the boat on the eve of the election with near certainty that Biden would win. The following day and for the balance of the week I was consumed by the need to follow the frequent changes in who was ahead in key states, and fretful over how close the vote was turning out in key states.

Saturday – The Grenada Hash and a new president is elected.

George and I hopped on the bus taking us to the Grenada Hash (a rigorous run or walk through the hilly interior of Grenada) with light hearts as shortly before, the results in Pennsylvania had just been called for Biden, thereby securing his successful run for president. We completed the Hash, and if not for a very steep slope toward the end, we would, for once, not have come in last. George had tied Duhkxy’s leash to a stump at the top of the incline that helped getting down the embankment and those that followed were pleased to use it, as well.

We took the bus back to Whisper Cove for a lovely dinner to celebrate the outcome of the election. We could not help but notice a young woman (American), who we learned is a full-time cruiser, dressed in such a way as to leave no doubt to the joy she felt in Biden’s election.

The lovely, lively, delicious, restaurant at Whisper Cove Marina

As we shared our happiness at the outcome of the election I mentioned that I had told George we would not put up a new American flag at Ice Floe’s stern until we had a new president. The young woman said she had made the same pronouncement to her shipmate.

We saw no cheering crowds, no dancing in the street, fireworks, or other displays of celebrations. Just a quiet sigh of reiief, a joyous sense of hope, shared by a couple of Americans who found themselves in Grenada for this historic election, It was more than enough,

How did we become sailors?

Interestingly, it all began one Christmas. For over 20 years our Christmas Day tradition consisted of doing absolutely nothing other than opening and playing with presents, eating lots of our favorite foods and snacks, almost all of which had been prepared the day before or brought by Santa, and napping. We cherished this day, that like no other, we lived almost entirely “in the moment”, without distraction of chores, work, or any outside influences.

As Christmas of 2007 approached, our younger daughter, Marilla voiced her feeling that Christmas was no longer fun. Our older daughter, Allison, and her husband Mike now had two families they shared Christmas traditions with and the truth is, George and I had been feeling guilty knowing we were no longer enjoying the holiday as we once had.

We began looking for a vacation we could enjoy during the Christmas Holiday, excluding Christmas Day, itself. We knew we wanted to go somewhere in the tropics with warm turquoise waters and beautiful. beaches. Our search led us to an adventure in the Exumas where we rented a houseboat. George’s Mom and Dad had a large houseboat that had left us with indelible pleasant memories of lazy summers on the Long Island Sound. We knew it would be a perfect vacation to share with them.

This three generation vacation included George’s Mom and Dad, our two daughters, our son-in-law, and George and myself. It remains one of the most enjoyable family vacations we have ever had and set us on a path we did not recognize at the time.

Several years later we decided it was time to take a second houseboat vacation. Sadly, we discovered that the Bahama houseboat business had folded. We could find no other houseboat rentals offered on open water in the tropics. Our fruitless search for a perfect houseboat vacation led us to advertisements to rent sailboats. Hmmm.

We appreciated the slow, almost silent manner in which canoes transported us across lakes and along rivers. Canoeing complemented our interest in observing nature without leaving footprints. We felt certain we would love sailing. Our son-in-law was becoming quite interested in sailing and was taking lessons. We decided to take sailing lessons and get certified to bareboat charter a catamaran. The idea was not far fetched as George had grown up boating and was (is) very knowledgeable about boating and the sea. We completed xxxxxxxxxx and, while I barely passed the exam, George got a perfect score and was pre-qualified to Captain a catamaran under a wide range of conditions / locations.

Our younger daughter left for college and our weekends were now our own. Soon-after we were proud owners of a pre-owned Flying Scot that we could trailor to the north end of the Chesapeake – just two hours away. We also got busy planning our next family vacation that would now be a four generation vacation in the Virgin Islands on a catamaran.

Our home in Pennsylvania was not close to any significant body of water and with our children’s busy schedules we never considered owning a boat other than canoes and kayaks. Looking back I can see a number of influences that collectively moved us in the direction of sailing.

jhfklhjf

We’ve moved

Blogger to WordPress

Hello to all,
Our blog platform has switched from Blogger to WordPress.  In theory, this should not create any change in the manner in which you access this Blog and all the Posts that have been published will be there.
You will see some changes:

  1. If you want to continue or start receiving emails with new posts, you may need to sign up again.  On the home page you will find a column on the right that in the photo below with a big red circle.  Just add your email address and click the follow button.
  2. The Blog’s Homepage and Posts page have the posts organized by date (Archives) and “Destinations” on the right side of the page also identified with a red eclipse. If your interests lie mostly with a particular destination, you can select it and those are the blogs it will bring up.
    1. A new destination will be added soon – Sailing the French Canals
  3. The transfer of some of the photos introduced some distortion that I may or may not be able to fix in the future.
  4. A few past blogs are still missing – should be restored in the next several days.

To access the Blog directly, you can still use www.gowiththefloe.net

If anyone has any difficulty, please do let us know.

United We Stand

Divided We Fall

The flag of the United States flies off Ice Foe’s stern to identify our boat’s place of origin.
Glancing up at our flag, I thought:
“How symbolic of the destructive divisions that we are experiencing in the United States”
  • raw
  • messy
  • irreparable?

We are a proud nation, but prefer to forget that it was built along with the systematic, near, extermination of Native Americans, the enslavement of African Americans, and the extinction of untold numbers of species.  Rather than repair our nation, I believe it is time to remake it.  We cannot undo what is done, but that is no excuse not to learn from it.

How has it come to this?

Have we let our nation – the land of opportunity – devolve into the land of opportunity for a select minority or do we delude ourselves into thinking this is new?  If not new, I question how much of our current inequities exist by deliberate design?

  • Does it seem just that our public schools are largely funded by their district’s community?  Should children from a disadvantaged community have inadequate school supplies, larger classrooms, and teachers with lower wages?  Why has this paradigm for school funding existed for so long?
  • How about safe public drinking water?  Priviledge or Right?  C’mon!!
  • Why did my occupation allow me to essentially deduct from my taxes nearly all my and my family member’s health expenses, while a single Mom working two jobs could not?
  • On the topic of tax deductions, why can real estate moguls deduct enormous sums of income from their taxable income based on the depreciation of their properties, while their properties are in fact appreciating in value?
  • Why are monies earned through investment taxed at a much lower rate than those earned as wages?
  • How many hundreds of ways have the privileged persuaded our lawmakers to write into law practices that create and perpetuate inequities that benefit themselves?
  • Is it true that our lawmakers vote on their own salaries and the specifics of their health insurance plans?  If so, does that look like a conflict of interest to you?
  • Would illegal immigrants flock to our country if employers did not hire them?  Why not just expand the number of work permits for these same people to come and work legally?  A good-faith effort to hire US citizens should of course be conducted first.  Those from other countries could come legally via a work permit and be protected by our fair wage and safety laws.  Oh, I get it – is that why??!!
  • Just pretend I skipped another thousand other questions I ponder over that seem to foster, magnify, and perpetuate inequities that are neither new, nor the focus of our attention.

Is it just me?

Have you considered the possible – probable likelihood that the division of beliefs and stifling anger growing between diametrically opposed factions in the US  has come about also by design.  Every issue is discussed as though it is black and white – there are no shades of grey.  Our two predominant political parties are at war.  Are you not tired of being manipulated?  Can we not agree to differences of opinion, but acknowledge that facts are facts?  There can not be your facts and my facts unless we both have taken the time to discuss each other’s truths, and investigate the validity of our source of facts.

United we Stand!!

Covid-19 What You Need to Know You Know and Don’t Know

Quarantining in Grenada

George and I remain in quarantine on our Sailboat moored off Sandy Island, Carriacou, Grenada.  We currently do not have a means to return to the United States.  Travel between most of the Caribbean  islands is not possible due to restrictions each island has put in place and the Grenada airport is closed.
Our situation is not dire.  We are comfortable and the Grenadian government has been gracious in providing a means for us to obtain food and necessities.  Should means become available to return to the United States, we will need to assess whether we would feel safe to do so.
I am a scientist, now retired –  but the scientist in me still is struggling to decipher from the limited information we have, contradictory advice and predictions we receive, what I know and what I don’t know to be factual.  I believe you would be wise to be certain of this as well.  The information we receive is more than tainted by political beliefs, half-truths, and best guesses.

What I “know” about the extent of the disease

  1. Summaries of the number of infected individuals and number of deaths attributed to Covid-19 infection are posted daily at midnight GMT (8:00 EST) by country and by state. https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/country/us/
    • These numbers can change after initial posting as actual dates of deaths for some come later.
    • These numbers are subject to each state’s conventions for defining a death attributed to Covid-19.  For example, in some states, all deaths of individuals testing positive for the virus are counted.  In some, deaths with clinical symptoms characteristic of Covid-19 are also included.  In an extreme divergence from the norm, deaths in Alabama, including those for which the individual was Covid-19 positive, are reviewed by a physician who makes a determination of the cause of death.
    • The veracity of these numbers is compromised by the extent of testing and what was known about Covid-19 symptoms at the time of death.
    • Determining specific cause of death is challenging with individuals known to have significant pre-existing co-morbidities and a virus that compromises the function of multiple organs and causes blood clotting

Graph 1.  Number of reported deaths attributed to Covid-19 per day in the United States

These data are depicted on a logarithmic scale (on the vertical access, each incremental increase is a 10-fold increase).  When an increasing trend on a logarithmic scale is linear (straight), the rate of increase is said to be logarithmic.  Logarithmic, in this instance simply means the number of deaths per day (the rate of death) is steadily increasing with time.
The graph below depicts the number of deaths reported each day in the United States as reported on 29-April, 2020.
Graph 1.  https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/country/us/  (29-Apr-2020)

What does Graph 1 show?

  1. Through much of March, the daily number of deaths attributed to Covid-19 was doubling approximately every 3-4 days.  Had this rate been sustained, by mid-April the total number of deaths would have been approximately 1 million.
  2. Something changed around the end of March that slowed the daily number of reported deaths in the US attributed to Covid-19
    • My Guess –  large numbers of citizens or the most-susceptible citizens embraced social distancing
  3. From April 8th until April 29th, the daily number of reported deaths attributed to Covid-19 has oscillated between a high of 2683 per day and a low of 1156 per day with no appreciable trend up or down

Graph 2.  The Cumulative number of reported deaths attributed to Covid-19 over time.

These data are cumulative, which means each days total number of deaths is added to the previous day’s total.  This graph is depicted on a linear scale.  References of the cumulative number of deaths over time for several other countries are provided for comparison.
Graph 2.  https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/country/us/  (April 29, 2020)

What does Graph 2 show?

  1. Despite the fact that the daily number of reported deaths attributed to Covid-19 stopped increasing around April 8th, as depicted in Graph 1, the total cumulative number of deaths has been steadily increasing, from a total of 17,691 on April 8th to over 61,655 on April 29th.

Has the number of reported infections decreased over time?

The graph below depicts the daily number of reported infections in the United States increased throughout March and began to stabilize in early April.  It is very difficult to draw conclusions concerning this trend as guidelines prohibiting wide-spread testing and limitations in the ability to conduct tests is likely to have influenced the data, but it is suggestive that the number of highly symptomatic individuals (most likely to have been tested) has stabilized in the same approximate timeframe as the number of deaths have stabilized.
This should not be construed to suggest the number of infections are not increasing.  For the entire month of April, the number of newly documented Covid-19 infections in the US oscillated between 25,000 and 35,000 per day.
https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/country/us/ (29-Apr-2020)

One more thing I believe I “know”

In the early March to end of March timeline the majority of reported deaths attributed to Covid-19 came from New York State as depicted in the graph below.  Throughout April, the reported number of  deaths reported each day has appreciably declined.
As we know from the first graph in this opus, the daily number of reported deaths attributed to Covid-19 has not changed over the month of April.  This can ONLY mean the number of reported deaths attributed to Covid-19 have increased outside of New York.
https://www1.nyc.gov/site/doh/covid/covid-19-data.page  (29-Apr-2020)

Mythbuster

You hear people often say, “Covid-19 is less deadly than the flu and we don’t quarantine for that.”
The data for the total number of deaths annually due to Flu vs Covid-19
Annual Flu deaths deaths in the US – 55,672 (source https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr68/nvsr68_09-508.pdf )
Covid-19 deaths, to date – 62,672 with unknown duration of the “season” (source https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/ ) up 1017 since I started writing this post

My Conclusions

Social distancing has very significantly curtailed the number of deaths and anyone with characteristics of the most susceptible should remain quarantined.  Anyone else who can remain quarantined without due hardship should do so as we do know deaths are not only occurring in those deemed most susceptible.
Deaths are increasing steadily as of April 29th at a rate of approximately one to two thousand each day and confirmed, newly infected individuals are increasing between 25,000 and 35,000 each day.
States other than NY are increasingly driving the numbers.
Projections of just how many deaths will occur due to Covid-19 are more dependent on our own behaviors than the virus itself and I do not believe any model can predict that.

Missing Children

All the Children

I have been engrossed in the news concerning missing children for the last several weeks.  The fate of the Thai soccer team members that went missing in a cave broke my heart.  I could not imagine the anxiety and desperation their parents, family members, and friends were going through.  The multinational support effort was a healing salve. Like the father of one of the trapped boys who said “I know they will be found alive and well – there is so much support here”; I, too, was sure of a happy ending.  I continue to wait and hope all will be safely rescued, knowing no possible effort is being spared.

In contrast, I have found no reason to be confident that the immigrant families, whose children were taken from them when they crossed into the United States looking for something they believed this country could provide, should be confident of a happy ending.  I recall reading a judge’s comment that noted if you are arrested you get a receipt for your wallet – they took the kids and have no record?

I miss my children, when we are apart.  I know I will see them again.

Our first grandchild, Riley, sent George and me the following note we received last evening.
I love you so much! I miss you too! See you in France! can I be in the Go With Tne Floe?
I LOVE YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!😃💝💛💜💞💚💟😺


Yes, I said to Riley.  Of course you can be in the Go With The Floe.
Riley (dry)
Riley (wet)

Riley in Cassi braving frigid waters and crashing waves coming over the wall.

George and I are the proud parents of Allison and Marilla – two smart, caring, and amazing young women.  They married two smart, caring and amazing men, Mike and Mitch.

Allison and Mike
Tristan

Allison and Mike have two smart, caring, and amazing children – Riley, who you already met,  and Tristan.

Manzi
Marilla and Mitch

Marilla and Mitch are focusing their maternal / paternal devotion on Manzi (also smart, caring and amazing)

George and I also have one niece, Susan – a smart, caring and amazing young woman, and two nephews, Brian and David – smart, caring, and amazing young men.  Last but not least, David married the smart, caring, and amazing Brenna.

Susan
David and Brenna with David’s Mom, Marilyn
Brian

We miss them all.  We know where they are. We know (as much as they are willing to tell us) how they are and what they are up to AND, we know we will see them again.