Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Okay, The Plan

Anchored Tony Gibbons Beach Admiralty Bay, Bequia
St Vincent and the Grenadines
13 00.6'N 061 14 4'

Still in Bequia. The seasonal weather pattern is starting to transition into a more summertime feel. The past week we've experienced rain and squalls which is not the winter time norm. Looks like I may stay for another week as a tropical wave/trough feature is going to enter the eastern Caribbean, bringing with it stronger squalls and rain. My anchor his good and buried in the sand just off Tony Gibbons beach and I'd rather visit the beautiful Tobago Cays National Park just to the south in clear and stable weather. Now the picture was taken by Team Adamo leaving Rum Cay in the Bahama out islands in January 2008. Seems like a lifetime ago. But to fully appreciate the photograph just double click on the image to expand it full on.

In terms of the upcoming hurricane season I batted around the idea of heading to Puerta La Cruz Venezuela and mooring in one of the beautiful high end marina's that encompass Puerta La Cruz. I crave marina side living and I really wanted to do some inland travel to visit the Northern Andes Mountains and Angel Falls. Plus PLC is totally safe from a hurricane strike. I've decided against going to Venezuela due to the chaotic nature of Huge Chavez and the lack of any kind of consistant information pertaining to safety in Venezuela. Many many people visit and stay in Venezuela without incident and then others say be careful and others say forget it. The U.S. State Department website said that the VZ Gov't has never solved a murder. I can't get accurate information on how much the marina will cost because it is the topic no one talks about, kind of like marine heads as money is exchanged on the black market. I'm advised to bring mucho American dollars as the black market exchange rate is so good I could stay in a high end resort marina for $200 USD. Ok so maybe this is why poor fisherman turned pirate hit cruising boats as they know "mucho" cash is onboard to feed the corrupt beast. I refuse to feed the corrupt beast and besides I haven't bought a drop of Citgo gas since 2004 because I can't stand Chavez and his politics. Even though the natural beauty of VZ is a serious turn on and I do like aspects of the latin culture, I'm not Dirk Pitt on one of Clive Cusslers NUMA capers. What a shame.

Trinidad is out. The murder rate is close to the highest in the world. So Grenada of Heartbreak Ridge fame is my choice. And it is an excellent one. Although hurricane wise it is pretty safe, but not totally. On average it gets hit once every 50 years or so. But it got slammed in 2004 by Hurricane Ivan. Ivan devastated the island. But the law of averages is on my side. Plus this year I am going to haul Christa out of the water at Grenada Marine and put her in a hurricane cradle system. The mack daddy of protection. So not only will I have the law of averages on my side, in the event of a strike I have the highest of protection. But wait, Grenada Marine fared very well during Ivan due to geography and as of May 1st 2009 I will have insurance! Maybe I never wrote about that, but I have been cruising without insurance, but no more. So I plan to haul Christa sometime in mid July and then head back to the states.

I have all kinds of travel plans and activities planned for my time in the states. I generally will be gone from Christa from around my birthday (July 20) to the last week in October. I'll return and get Christa ready to splash. It will be good to get Christa's hull out of the water to dry out. I'll save my plans for summer travel for another day. I'll jump to post 2009 hurricane season plan.

Sometime in late November or early December 2009 I'll leave Grenada and head rapidly back to Florida. The reasons are many and complex. I'll do my best to explain where my head is. First off I have no plans to sell Christa nor have I given up the goal of sailing further around the planet. One thing I have given up on is doing it alone. From the companionship standpoint, cruising in a boat really is something that should be shared. Pretty simple. From the aspect of management of the boat, having a first mate clearly is an advantage. I'm not just talking about sailing, but more from shopping, getting supplies and all the issues that flow from leaving one port and headed for the next. Sailing a boat, contrary to popular opinion is a lot of work especially long term. Please don't get me wrong I do not hate what I am doing and I am not exceedingly lonely. But I do miss my family and friends terribly. Another point on the solo sailor aspect. Ask anyone who has spent sometime on the water in foreign ports who have met long term singlehanders and they will tell you they are a different breed at best and downright weird at worst. You see them all wrinkled and old, sitting cross legged smoking a pipe on a well worn boat with "anti social" stamped on their forehead. To each his own, but I don't want that. But their are others pressing reasons as to why I'd stop sailing for awhile next year. And here it is......

I am stagnating intellectually. To the folks who may be grinding it out in traffic daily or reading this in their cubicle instead of working I do apoligize. But it feels like I am on permanent vacation to a certain extent and each beautiful beach and anchorage is blending into the next. I'm now leaping to the next island not with the intense desire to see next port but simply because I need to get south for hurricane season. For example my next stop Salt Whiltle Bay is supposed to be one of the most beautiful bays on the planet, but if you woke up on Christa and checked my vista of Tony Gibbons Beach you'd think why leave here? And so it is on most places I stop. I have the routine wired and the challenge of sailing single handed is now becoming a choir. My learning curve has leveled off. I found in my Coast Guard carrer the same mental pattern I am experiencing now so what is rattaling around in my head is not new. In a 3 or 4 year tour, my first two years would be great as I learned the job and put my stamp on what I was doing. My last 12 to 18 months of a tour was a slogg. In other words I intelluatually stagnated. The sole expection of this was my tour on CGC Washington (WPB 1331) of which I spent four years. But the difference was the command never let me stagnate. I learned just about every job on that ship. So something else has come up. And here it is.

The Post 911 GI Bill. This is the new and much improved college education program passed by Congress last year and will take effect this coming August. The benefit is simply to good to pass up. Generally the bill provides for full tuition in the state your a resident of plus between $1500 and $2000 for housing. In my humble opinion the benefit is so good that at some point the government will start to chip away at it. I'd rather get in while the getting is good. I've submitted an application to Dominican University of California just north of San Francisco for the fall of 2010. I love it out in California and still own an investment house in Sonoma which needs some attention. So the plan would be to live aboard Christa, go to school and work on rebuilding my house. I likely would go for a Master's with a focus toward becoming a teacher. Due to complicated funding associated with the GI Bill I may not be able to attend in California. In this event I'll do the same thing but attend school in Florida. So you can see that I am in a win win situation.

So where does this leave me nautical wise? I really don't know. But someday I will likely do more long term sailing, my love for the ocean is clearly not diminshed. But please don't stop following the blog, I still have between now and July to cover down to Grenada and then a very full summer of adventure and even then a trip back to the states. So plenty of action, commentary, pictures and videos ahead. Maybe this blog will morph into something else. Who knows? Any questions please ask.

Capt Chris