St Martin 2018

Feb 3, 2018 – Time has run out and there is no tooth crown.

Waiting to depart Jolly Beach

Off to St Martin at 1:15am Monday morning in what should have been almost perfect conditions. It was 13hours of lumpy bumpy. We anchored in a rolly Simpson Bay when we arrived Monday afternoon. The next morning, we took the 9:30 Bridge opening into the much calmer lagoon.

Sunset from Simpson Bay

some big beautiful ships docking

Randy dropped the dinghy to take us into clear customs and Immigration. Our boat registration was out of date!! I thought they were going to  kick us out – send us back out  into that shitty shitty Ocean – that’s it! I’m done! Book me a plane. Polar vortex here I come! Seasickness doesn’t just make me want to barf, it makes me a little crazy too! Poor Randy, poor customs officials – everyone assured me they weren’t kicking us out. Just get a copy of the updated registration before we leave. Relax; here’s a Kleenex; everything’s fine; don’t worry. Such nice people.

Cleared in and hoisting the St Maarten, Duch Antilles flag!

Island Water World in St Martin is like a candy store for sailors. They have some of the best prices in the Caribbean which is why we came here to replace the dinghy motor. After much research and debate, we settled on a Nissan 18 hp. And of course there are bits and parts and pieces that we must have, replace, replenishing.

The wind is usually much less in an enclosed place like a lagoon. For a week the wind howled through here like a banshee (not sure what that is, but I hear they howl loudly). I can’t imagine what it was like outside. The first few days of it,  we felt obliged to stay on the boat to make sure we (and our neighbours) were tightly hooked. Our spot in front of Palapa Marina gave us a good view of some big boats docking.

Sunset from Lagoonie’s dingy dock

Once we were comfortable with our anchor, we were able to find a few good restaurants and bars with wifi, some shopping and boat chores to keep us busy.

Friday looked like perfect wind to sail back to Antigua. Thursday we cleared out of the country, took the 5:00 Bridge opening out into the Bay and anchored for the night. We just got our anchor set and the bridle attached when I looked up to see a very big motor yacht (I mean like 200 feet big) anchoring just to our starboard. They only stayed for an hour or two – probably eating dinner – then upped anchor and left. We got a good up close view of her though- pretty boat.

Big bot anchored close

Even closer as they picked up anchor

Sunset from Simpson Bay before leaving for Antigua.

Once there was just light enough to see where our anchor was, we raised anchor, headed into the wind to raise the main sail – up, up, and…….WTF! The topping lift line broke and its wrapping itself around the back stay. Turn the boat around, re-anchor, send a shout out to see if we can get someone to climb the mast and untangle us.

Jakob from Pyrate Fish to the rescue!

Oh boaters are wonderful people! Jakob, a young man from Pyrate Fish, radioed to say he’d be happy to help. And another gallant fellow James (whose boat name has escaped me – started with an “E”- it might even be Escape) came to lend a hand.

When Jakob said he was like “Monkey Boy” he wasn’t just kidding. He climbed that mast (strapped in of course) faster than Randy could pull the halyard up! Jakob checked that everything was in its proper place up there and down he came. He closed the mast steps with his feet – Monkey Boy in deed!

Closing mast steps with his feet as he descends –

So, all squared away and off we go – a few hours later than planned but we expected to be anchoring in Jolly Beach Bay in the dark anyway. We know it well and it’s wide open – no big deal. The wind is not coming from where it was predicted. Maybe when we get past the island….nope. Well let’s see if it’s better to sail to Nevis first. Change course, better, not great but better. Calculate timing- Nevis in 7 hour. That would be dark in a strange harbour. Nope, not comfortable with that. Do we bash for 13 hour to Antigua? Or turn around and try another day? Turn around!

Broken bits

And pieces of the broken topping lift

We motor back to Simpson Bay where we are a little early for the 3:00 Bridge, so we anchor again. At 2:50 we lift anchor, go through the bridge and anchor again (You’d think I should be getting better at this but it still makes me nervous). We settle in and get ready to launch the dinghy. It’s already too late to clear in. Shelley and John Sanford-Davis stop by to say hello. We’ve only ever spoken to Shelley and John on the internet, but have many mutual friends. It’s so nice to finally meet them.

 

 

 

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A Month in Antigua

Well, the plan was to leave and visit some more islands. But things move slowly (sometimes painfully so) here. Randy broke a tooth December 22. So, went to the dentist. He needed a crown, and so the process began.

I arrived December 28. We got organized, waited for the temporary crown, visited with friends, got measured for the permanent crown. While we waited we finally got off the mooring ball and anchored at Five Island Bay. One of our favourite spots.

Back at Five Islands Bay Jan 2018

The first day there I was able to try out my Christmas gift from Randy. Even as an adult sometime there is some assembly required! Randy kindly inflated my Stand Up Paddleboard and I was off!

First paddle on my Christmas present from Randy

Our friends were with us, so lots of fun get together and good food. Like us they are anxious to be on the move.

Fiona

The weather was great for sailing and a big blow was on its way later in the week. So off they went – we’ll catch up soon!

The Fraser’s leaving for Nevis

We had word that the crown was in ! So we came into the marina. So Randy could take a bus to town the next day. In the meantime we met friends at Jolly Beach for sundowners. Mmmm, Rhum Punch!

January 2018 The sunset at Jolly Beach never gets old

Our plan….get the crown, wait out the blow in the marina, rotate the anchor chain, and be on our way in a few days.

Not!

The crown attached to the mounting no problem but the tooth was too high, Randy couldn’t bite. The dentist filed it. The dentist filed a hole in it! More measuring and pulling, poking and prodding. All of which this dentist manages to make very painful – He might be the inspiration for Orin Scrivello DDS, in Little Shop of Horrors. And we waiting some more; probably just as well Randy’s mouth needs time to heal.

We took the opportunity to go to the Windward side of the island while the wind was building. They weren’t 18 ft yet, but the  waves were still pretty cool and any ships we saw were bouncing away.

Big waves at The Devils Bridge

Unfortunately, Randy’s allotted time in Antigua is coming to an end and more bad weather is on the way. Will the tooth get here in time? Will we get out in time?

 

 

 

Happy New Year!

 

Happy to be together in Antigua to ring in the new year.

 

For New Years Eve, we got together with friends –  Chef Randy did his magic on the BBQ.

The guys keeping an eye on the BBQs

The ladies having a cocktail

 

Randy has been busy fixing things. The oven is working again. He and our friend Sid replaced the element in the water heater – great not to have to run the engine or the generator to have hot water for dishes.

The dinghy had a very dirty bottom, so got a god scrubbing. It’s all in tip top shape to start our season traveling the Caribbean islands.

 

 

 

Art in the North

After quite a few weeks and Thanksgiving in the Windsor/Amherstburg area, we traveled back to Northern Ontario.  Motorme stayed in Jellystone park and we took TJ Toad to give him a good run. The ride was a bit bumpy but not too uncomfortable. The Fall colours along the way were great to see.

Autumn sunset on Lake Lauzon

In Elliot Lake, we visited with family.

Cigar box guitar for Dan

I was really excited to get to Blind River because Nancy and had I signed up for an Art Workshop for the weekend.  Sheila Currie teaches the class. She is a local artist who does beautiful watercolours and multi-media art pieces.  This very interesting round barn was right beside the place we took the workshop. I had to take a picture of it as the sun was just breaking through the morning mist.

Round Barn in Sowerby

Sheila demonstrating the next technique

By the end of the first day we had produced three partially finished pieces of art using a multitude of materials.

End of day 1- Three partially finished multi-media projects

After class the first day we were invited to wine and cheese at Sheila’s on Big Basswood Lake. Her studio and gallery are inspirational – so many beautiful paintings! It makes a girl wish she had walls!

Randy was looking forward to the butter tarts! He and Mugger got some work done and went to town to get buttertarts, visit some friends and have a pint at The Riverside Tavern.

Oh the Butter tarts!

By the end of the second day we had three finished paintings and lots of new techniques and ideas!

Everybody’s finished paintings

Mine

An uneventful, but long ride brought us home to the campground in Amherstburg.

 

Us; Safe in Canada – Moorahme; OK but Scary Weather

It has been a crazy year for weather.

Our hearts are breaking for the beautiful people in the Caribbean islands that we have come to love. They have suffered not one but two cat 5 hurricanes within weeks of each other. It sounds like our friends are safe and making the best of a bad situation. They say, the lessons they learned conserving water and energy on a boat has helped. But living without clean water and electricity is really tough.

We are relieved to report that Moorahme seems to have come through Irma and Maria OK. We haven’t seen her ourselves and will feel better when we do. But our friends in Antigua say she looks fine!

We were glued to the tv and computers as Irma came within 40 miles north of where Moorahme is up on dry land in English Harbour.  Then again two weeks later as Maria cut a swath of distraction 80 miles to the south. Randy did his homework and chose the place we felt would keep her safest. After all,  Admiral Nelson kept the British Fleet there for most of the 18th century.

Windsor had its share of bad weather too. Many areas were flooded, including Courtney’s street.

Flooding in Windsr

Off to the north east for our next trip.

Randy’s cousin Irene and her love Brian invited us to their wedding in Campbellford. There were a whole lot of Lawson’s in one place!

Randy & Cousin Irene at her wedding

With cousins Brenda & Al

& second cousin Ariel

My son lives in Canada’s capital city, Ottawa. The area has tons of museums as well as green space with hiking and biking trails!

Westley Clover Park is a lovely campground just 15 minutes from downtown Ottawa. It’s nicely treed and has great hiking trails nearby.

Maman- Ottawa Art

Passing by the parliament buildings

At Mckenzie Kings Estate in Gatineau

A walking stick bug

Pretty veggies at the Byward Market

The canal system also has a great walkway along its banks.

The Rideau Canal

On our way home from Ottawa, we stopped in Belleville at Birdy’s Restaurant. Our friend Tina owns and runs it. The menu had so many good things on it we both had trouble deciding. Tina sat to visit and had lunch with us. She made some recommendations that helped narrow it down but we definitely want to go back next year and try more. If you’re anywhere near Belleville Ontario, make it a destination. Belleville is very pretty and Birdy’s is delish!

Jig – some more

Crossing the Mackinaw Bridge in a car is a little scary (it was also freaky on the motorcycle) but crossing it in a 38 foot motor coach is an experience . Randy says his knuckles were white all the way across!

Catching up with Jim and Rhonda was great. They toured us around their section of Michigan. We ate fresh black cherries – spectacular! Had ice cream in Ludington – Mmmm!

Ice cream in Ludington

And generally had so much fun I forgot to take pictures!

Back to Ontario – yup, cross that big ol’  bridge again. We visited with friends from New Mexico  who have a beautiful island on Lake Lauzon. It was a bittersweet reunion as Army , the family patriarch and all round charming man, passed away this year. But we shared lots of good stories and great food.

Sunset on Lake Lauzon

 

Back in Windsor, we decided that not having a vehicle was inconvenient, so we bought an old Jeep TJ. She bounces like a rabbit on even the slightest bumps! she’s fun!

TJ Toad!

It has been a crazy year for weather. We spent a lot of time watching the weather and the hurricanes. Off to the north east for our next trip. Randy’s cousin Irene and her love Brian invited us to their wedding in Campbellford.  There were a whole lot of Lawson’s in one place! My son lives in Canada’s capital city, Ottawa. The area has tons of museums and lots and lots of green space with hiking and biking trails! Westley Clover Park is a lovely campground just 15 minutes from downtown Ottawa. It’s nicely treed and has great hiking trails nearby. The canal system also has a great walkway along its banks. On our way home from Ottawa, we stopped in Belleville at Birdy’s Restaurant. Our friend Tina owns and runs it. The menu had so many good things on it we both had trouble deciding. Tina sat to visit and had lunch with us. She made some recommendations that helped narrow it down but we definitely want to go back next year and try more. If you’re anywhere near Belleville Ontario, make it a destination. Belleville is very pretty and Birdy’s is delish!

Jiggity Jig – first verse

Home again home again!

We got Moorahme put away and hopped on an airplane back to Ontario.

South

After short visits to St Thomas and Windsor and much searching on the internet  for a Motor Coach, we drove to Kapuskasing to see one that looked good in pictures. It looked great in reality! We liked it and it passed safety checks etc. We stayed the weekend with Ron and Claire, the (former) owners, while we sorted out the paper work. Then drove her back to Southern Ontario. Or rather Randy drove the coach and I followed in the rental car.

Our Summer Home

One of our sailing friends called it Motorme-  we’re gonna go with that!

Camping for a few weeks at Willowwood Campground ( the old Jellystone Park) was fun. And we were able to visit with some friends and family.

North

Elliot Lake was having its 60th anniversary and the high school reunion. So we headed north. Our friends, Jeff and Shelly (or, as we like to call them,  Sheff and Jelly) organized campsites for us  at the municipal campground. The campground is close enough to town that lots of friends and family came to visit. A few of the people from Randy’s graduating class got together Friday evening. They are such a friendly group they made me feel so welcome!

Class of 75

Saturday there was a breakfast at the high school. Everyone who preregistered got a name tag with their grade ten picture on it. I wondered why everyone recognized Randy right away until I saw his photo.

Oh My God, It’s Randy Lawson!

 

In the afternoon noon ther was a parade, then music and dancing at Collins Hall. Lots of people that Randy worked with were here. They were not always so quick to recognize him. ( He must have cut his hair by then, hehe).

We also had a chance to visit with Randy’s sisters which is always nice.

Then it was on to Blind River. We spent the first night as invited guests parked in the parking lot of The Riverside Tavern. Tuesday night is always a get together of local musicians – so much fun! Then a few nights at Shae’s house parked in the driveway and getting in some good visiting.

Next, on to Robert and Nancy’s beautiful log home just outside Blind River.

Parked at our friends house.

The second weekend in July Blind River Community Days takes place. There’s a beer tent, rides, cotton candy (yay) and music.

This year as part of the Canada’s 150 th Birthday, Glass Tiger played in the park. Randy’s nephew Kris, his lovely wife Chantel and their adorable little boys joined us at the concert. It was a tad chilly but the boys kept us amused.

These cuties, our great nephews Kayden and Colten, at Glass Tiger concert.

Bill and Lynne live in Algoma Mills and invited us to camp by the lake at their house for a few days. They had another visitor just after dinner one evening. A male fox stops by on occasion for a hotdog or two.

Randy turned 61 while we were there. He doesn’t like a fuss about his birthday and he wanted to BBQ his amazing steaks for his b’day. So he cooked a delicious birthday dinner for all of us! Ya gotta love a man who loves to cooks!