Thursday, September 24, 2009

Blogs of Interest

Sailing blogs can be somewhat addictive. I know I have some favorites that I always go to. We want to mention a few that we think you will enjoy. Each of these boats and their crew are on different journeys so you'll get a taste of lots of great adventures.

This picture was taken back in July when Merengue, Fine Line and Beach House were all anchored in Tyrell Bay, Carriacou. Steve and Ann (left) on "Fine Line", a St Francis Catamaran are on their way to the ABC islands (Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao) via the off-shore islands of Venezuela. You can follow their trip at Geoff and Pat (right) on "Beach House", an Endeavor 42 are sailing the eastern Caribbean. Check out their blog at

The last blog is from a couple we met briefly in Montserrat, Trish and Robert on "Bristol Rose", a 43 ft ketch. We toured Montserrat together and it was fun to watch Jim and Trish, the 2 avid photographers as they sought out the best shots and talked photography. Trish and Robert are from Australia but have been living in the United States. They are retired now and are returning to Australia on Bristol Rose. You won't want to miss seeing this trip. Check out their blog at

But don't stop visiting us! We'd miss you!

A Woman Scorned

Martin's Marina in Mount Hartman Bay has been Merengue's home for the past 7 weeks.
We left her in this protected marina when we traveled to the states. It's a quiet marina, only 3 other cruising boats docked here when we arrived.
Here's the view of the marina from the hill.

Merengue at the dock with all her canvas stripped off in case a storm came through while we were gone. Luckily, that never happened.

Back in Grenada and we're trying to get the boat back in order. We thought we'd take the opportunity to do a few projects while we're at the dock.
We decided to paint the bottom of our dinghy. You can buy a flexible, anti-fouling paint for dinghies and seeing how we always seem to have a tropical reef growing on the bottom of ours, we thought we'd give it a try. We've been carrying the paint around for the better part of the year because we never wanted to be stuck on the boat for several days while the paint dried. This was the perfect time and place for this project.

Look at these pictures of the stern of the dinghy before we painted it. The white square is the spot where cardboard was taped to the dinghy during shipping. It's been off for almost a year. It doesn't appear that there is any residue but still nothing sticks. Why can't they make bottom paint out of that stuff!

Docking in a marina means we have electricity to run power tools. I ran a sander over the rungs on our boarding ladder and then gave them several coats of Cetol. It's much easier to do this project on land then hanging over the back of the boat. It looks really pretty when it's done!

When we returned to Merengue, we thought we'd spend a few days getting the sails and canvas back on and take care of a few projects. It seems as though Merengue had a different idea. They say a boat is like a woman. She needs love, care, a gentle hand. She can be a demanding mistress. She doesn't like to be ignored! Apparently Merengue felt ignored. Things that worked fine when we left, suddenly didn't work.

Our solar panels were not charging our batteries. When Jim investigated he found this burned out solar controller. No problem. We can plug into shore power while he's doing the repair. This didn't work either. Apparently Merengue's battery charger is designed for 60 cycles only and the power at the marina is 50 cycles. Now we can't charge our batteries! Next came two trips to the marine store to buy a new controller. It took two trips because the first controller we purchased didn't work! Next, the refridgerator didn't seem to be cooling properly so Jim added some freon. Then we got up one morning to find the water intake for the toilet was clogged with weeds. Jim thought that as long as he had the hose off he would replace the pump that we knew was on it's last leg. He starts to put the new pump on and it doesn't fit. I guess they decided to design the new ones with a turn in the system so now our hose doesn't fit. He has to put the old one back on until he can make a trip to the hardware store to buy an elbow. Hours of work and nothing to show for it! Work always seems more pleasant with music playing but when we went to turn on the radio, it didn't work. It turns out the fuse holder had cracked. What else was going to go wrong! All these things were in working order when we left the boat. You know what they say about a woman scorned. We didn't turn our back on you Merengue! We love you! We would have called if we could! Enough is enough! Please forgive us!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Fun in Milwaukee

We spent a wonderful 5 weeks back in our hometown of Milwaukee, WI.

It was hard adjusting to life back on land (Yeah right!)
Bill and Jim in the pool, a theme that was repeated daily while we were there.

Wendy with her niece Natalie.

Summer in Milwaukee is packed full of fun events from festivals to concerts in the parks, state fair to baseball, you name it, Milwaukee has it. We were able to enjoy much of the fun!
State Fairs across the country seem to be a competition to see what can be deep-fried and put on a stick. Here I am waiting for my deep-fried macaroni and Cheese on a stick. It was fabulous!

Jim getting starry-eyed over the Maple Syrup entries at the fair. It is one of his favorite food groups!

When in Wisconsin, eat the cream puffs!

Next it was Irish Fest, our favorite of the ethnic festivals held at the Summerfest grounds on the lakefront. This was the band Rising Gael. Fantastic!

Jim shares a beer with Natalie.

Wendy, Kyle, Maggie, Connie and Jill get a lesson on how to play the bohdran, the traditional drum played in Celtic music.

Then it was up to northern Wisconsin for a weekend re-union with college friends. The weather turned cold and rainy but it couldn't dampen the spirits of this crazy bunch. We had a great time telling old stories and re-living the fun we had.
The sun came out the next day so Tim took us for a leisurely boat ride around the lake. We love the Caribbean but there is also something special about a northern lake. There were loons calling across the water and eagles soaring overhead. It's one of our favorite places in the world.

When in Lake Tomahawk go to see a snowshoe baseball game. These teams play in the winter on snowshoes but many years ago they decided to put some sawdust on the field and play for the tourists in the summer. You should see these guys hit, run and field the ball while wearing snowshoes.

This was a special game because Andrew Zimmerman from the Travel Channel show "Bizzare World" was playing in and filming the game for his show. It's supposed to air on October 27th so check it out. You might even see Tim, Jim and I in the crowd scenes if we didn't end up on the editing room floor.
Driving back to Milwaukee, we decided to stop in Stevens Point to visit the Point Brewery. Jim and I graduated from UW-Stevens Point and cut our teeth on Point Beer so this was another trip down memory lane.

Back in Milwaukee and a visit to the South Shore Yacht Club where we set sail from 3 years ago.
Our thanks to the crew from the S/V Tardis for taking us out for a sunset cruise.

Jim & Jan

It was fun to sail Lake Michigan again.
Bailey really enjoyed living in luxury again. This was her favorite morning spot where she could gaze out the door and watch the world go by.

In the afternoon it was a nap on top of this pile of pillows or maybe in the back of a dark closet. She had a few bursts of energy too as she explored the yard for mice.

We'd like to thank everyone for showing us such a good time. Thanks to Muff and Reed and the Hasbrook Lake gang for traveling many miles to come see us. Thanks to Mike and Marcia, our cooking buddies, for the many wonderful dinners and good times. Thanks to my cousins for hosting a great family reunion while we were home. Thanks to my mom, my brother Mike and niece Natalie for all the time you spent with us and to my niece Sophie for traveling to see us. Thanks to all the other family and friends who made time for us. We loved seeing all of you!

And a very special thank you to my sister Connie and brother-in-law Bill who opened their home to us. You always make us feel so welcome and at home. We had a wonderful time with you both. Love you!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Mother Nature Again!

Mother Nature was at it again on Saturday! No, it was not a hurricane, tropical depression or anything remotely close. But it was something potentially as dangerous. Fog! A thick blanket of fog surrounding Chicago's O'Hare airport. No flights in, no flights out. We headed to the airport at 5:00 a.m. and boarded our flight before 7:00. Shortly after, the pilot came on to tell us that Chicago was fogged in and we would be waiting for an OK to take off which probably wouldn't happen for an hour or so. The flight attendants set about making coffee and serving juice, water and trail mix. One hour stretched into two, then three. The crew did their best to make everyone comfortable and at about the two hour point, with no end in sight, the pilot started the process of trying to get us back to the terminal and off the plane. This became difficult when he learned that due to the fog in Chicago not only were flights not leaving but Chicago inbound flights were being diverted to Milwaukee. Gates were stacked with 2-3 planes and many more were sitting out on the tarmac. Buses were being sent out to take people back to the terminal. We were just about to be taken off after being on the plane for almost 4 hours when the pilot received the news that the fog was lifting and the plane could leave shortly. Everyone back on the plane! However, at this point we no longer wanted to go. We had already missed our connections and it was unlikely that we would make it any further than Chicago. We are traveling with Bailey, our cat who would have a tough time if we ended up being overnighted somewhere. We would also have to come up with a litterbox for her. We asked if we could just get off the plane and re-book our flight for a different day? The pilot said no problem but wasn't sure if they could get our luggage off. While we waited for other passengers to be shuttled back to the plane, the pilot arranged for our luggage to be pulled off and taken to ticketing. We re-booked our flight for Monday and will be on the same flights we had booked originally, traveling from Milwaukee to Chicago to San Juan and finally to Grenada.
I have to mention that contrary to what you usually hear about in these situations, the airline seemed to be doing everything possible to make the passengers comfortable. I guess it isn't newsworthy unless something goes wrong. We were flying American Airlines and the entire crew and the ticketing personnel could not have been nicer and more sincere in their attempts to make us comfortable and to meet our needs. They did their best in a difficult situation. So, if Mother Nature is willing, we'll try it again tomorrow. Sailors don't like it when the wind is coming from the direction they want to go. We have a saying that nothing goes to windward like a 747! Well, apparently not in the fog!