Posts Tagged ‘caribbean’

New Moon March 4, 2011

March 4, 2011

Aloha Beloveds,
I do hope that this time around the lunar cycle has filled you with more love, more bliss, more kindness, more compassion, more joy. It has been that for me. This is a long entry as I have been passionately embracing the water world and cruising life on this S/V Seabound.

Whitewolf and I have been so blessed to be aboard S/V Seabound. We are learning and remembering the ropes of being on a boat. I can finally tie some knots that I feel secure will hold. Besides sailing, there are so many systems to be aware of..refrigeration, engines, amperage in the batteries, pumping out the head(toilet), bilge pumps, zincs on the bottom, scraping the bottom…and then there is navigation, GPS, reading charts, catching mooring balls, anchoring on and on it goes. Yet all of this is “the how “to live on the sea. I am soaking up knowledge like a sponge. I am so full of excitement and passion for this cruising life. We hope to own a catamaran with some others by next year. More on that later.

Puerto Rico Adventures
We have taken a few trips around Puerto Rico by car. We went from Salinas in the south where the boat is anchored to Aricebo on the north side of the island. We went through huge bamboo forests, rivers and the green verdant mountains to visit the largest radio astromony dish in the world. It was very fantastic. Many interactive displays where I learned heaps about the stars, the planets, the galaxies. Then onto a huge cave that had some of the biggest stalagmites I’ve ever seen. Inside we all felt the elementals, heard the crickets and felt the ancientness of this magnificent place.

Taino Indians
Researching on the internet for Taino petroglyphs near Aricebo, I found out about a cave beside the ocean, We had an adventure finding it as it was in someone’s back yard who had handpainted signs on the road telling us to see the Indio cave for a $2 car parking charge. We arrived near sundown and hurried to the path behind the house to the roaring of the ocean. There on the cliff was a ladder tied to the rocks which we gingerly descended into a cave like area with the waves coming in and out that was covered with ancient petroglyphs. The Taino Indians who migrated up from South America about 3,000 years ago, were a peaceful, loving, gentle people who made wonderful pottery and baskets, played ball games, had ceremonies and carried an oral tradition. They carved petroglyphs in and around water sources which are in abundance still in Puerto Rico. In the fading light we felt like we had gone thru a time warp into another world viewing the ancient birds, people and faces in the rock.We met some wonderful young people there whom we shared the sundown conch ceremony. One of them Bepo, a muscian, later in the week showed us around an ancient site of ceremony and lodging of the Tainos-where we met some very old trees as well as a cork tree, walked some sacred ceremonial grounds and viewed more petroglyphs. There was also a musem that gave us some knowledge of the Taino people.

Swimming Hole
As it was hot day, this merlady wanted to go swimming. So Bepo took us on a search for a swimming hole he had gone to 16 years before. After talking to a few folks along the river who warned us to be cuidado, careful, we found it. It was a precarious hike down to the pools and then a very careful entry into a lovely cool refreshing pool of water. An even more careful way out for if you missed your exit you could go tumbling down over the next set of rocks into a waterfall. This was a special place as on a few boulders along the water were two more Taino petroglyphs, a face and two spirals connected together. The river has very strong energy here as folks had tried to dam it up years ago but had to cut holes in the structure to let the waters through. A very special place indeed.

Puerto Rican Family

Bepo invited us to his family home. We left our car on the side of the road and jumped in the family car to a gripping descent to the house. This decline made some of San Francisco streets look tame. In fact Bepo told us that one rainy evening coming home he actually slid down the hill to his house. We were greeted by the family dog, his mom and stepdad. I had brought my banjo and we proceeded to share music. Turns out his step dad is a well known face in the Puerto Rican folk music scene and we were treated to many wonderful songs. I shared some of mine and everyone sang, clapped hands in time to the music and played the percussion instruments I brought as well as some they had. I encouraged his mom to do a kazoo duet with me. Yes even the dog howled with the music…not sure if that was a compliment or not.

Whitewolf departs
Before Whitewolf left, S/V Seabound took a short journey with a stop at Adam and Eve island where we all ran around looking like Adam and Eve. Though the next day everyone except the captain,had a few red places to nuture. Whitewolf looked very confident sitting behind the wheel guiding us back to Salinas so that he could take off for California the next day. Our cook, jokester and buddy will be missed.

Bound for Vieques, St. Thomas and St. John
After getting our bottom cleaned, provisioning up with papaya, avocado, star fruit, a local root vegie and other delectables we motored out of Salinas to Patillas and a weather window to head east to St. John and St. Thomas. With the prevailing winds from the northeast and east, we were looking for as calm seas as possible. With a wakeup at 7 am from Vec saying let’s go we donned our sunglasses, sunscreen, and smiles and set off for Vieques singing gleefully. Seas of 3 to 5 ft. with about 20 kts of northeast wind and mostly sunny skies in the 80’s made for a delightful trip to Vieques even going into the wind the whole time. We saw a breaching humpback whale, turtles surfacing and flying fish on the way.

Vieques, Spanish Virgin
Vieques was mainly a military base for the US and though the military still has a presence it is much less than in the past. Although as we pulled into a bay on the farthest southeastern shore, we were greeted with signs on the beach and a buoy in the water telling us not to anchor due to possible undetenated ammunition in the water. Whoa..

Vieques Underwater Delights
We backed up into a cove nearby where snorkeling from the boat on a close reef I saw my first eagle ray of this trip. Oh my a flying angel of the sea whose black back is dotted with white like stars. Magnificent 4 ft wing span gliding effortlessly and gracefully thru the water with at least a 4 ft long skinny stinger tail. Then in a crevice between rocky crags was a lobster condo. That afternoon snorkeling in the turtle grass near the island in the mangroves, viewed a queen conch with her eyes looking at me from under the shell and saw my first octopus…a small light olive green creature moving sinuously amongst the grass. I watched it until my hands were numb from cold even with my 1.5 ml water suit on.

Vieques Phosperesence
We moved to a bay where at night in a still warm evening I eased into a phosphorescent wonderland. Creating patterns in the water with my hands and fins, I could create swaths of brilliant white sparkles. I could look up in the night sky to see the milky way above me and look down to the milky way I could create in the water. Below me on the bottom perhaps 12 ft down, I would see intermittent luminescent round glows with occasional darting silvery movements I think were fish. I giggled and played like a kid in a new playground. It was such wondrous fun.

St. Thomas, a busy place
We waited for a weather window to continue east. In 6-8 ft seas with again the wind prevailing from the east we headed to St. Thomas and the busy busy port of
Crown harbor. After fueling and watering up, we anchored by the red buoy number 6 across from the opening to the marina where some million dollar yachts were docked as well as cruisers needing some parts and repair. We too had a boat part to get, a belt for the bilge pump which Vec special ordered from St Croix. We would sit on the stern at sundown and watch the movie-huge cruise ships going out or in, tourist pirate boats coming back from a day’s adventuring, tenders and dingys buzzing back and forth from the anchorage to the marina dock , tug boats tugging barges, container ships loading, catamarans and monohulls anchoring as well as commercial jets ,seaplanes and helicopters zooming overhead. A cacophony of lights and sounds filled our senses. We provisioned up at the local Pueblo grocery and then got treats at the marina store which had goodies for the yachts. Here I could find rye crackers, shrimp salad and smoked salmon. Don’t know why I didn’t take advantage of the 50% sale on cavier? We met the local boaters hanging out on the wharf some of whom had lost their boats in last years hurricane. Hulls still abandoned and forlorn on the shore. I even went ashore one night to dance wildly with the crew of the yacht Joy Star to the one man band at the marina. What a difference from the last quiet peaceful anchorage in Vieques. Snorkeling was delightful in clear waters even right off the boat, one of my favorite ways to swim.

St, John, the national park island
With colder weather and high winds, we decided to take the ferry to St. John, go to the park headquarters and get information as to where would be a good place to snorkel out of the prevailing east winds. Beth and I also used this day of touristing to buy presents, get our hair braided and try on expensive jewelry. The park headquarters was as usual full of friendly faces and lots of information on mooring, snorkeling, hiking etc as well as had a fantastic collection of great books. I went for a hike to the top of the hill to view Cruz harbor and the cactuses along the way. As I sat on the bench overlooking the harbor, I watched a anole lizard drop his orange dew flap and court me. Wow

Speaking to local folks working, we learned that here as well as many other places in the USA, the local people are struggling to survive. Working more than one job to support his family the ferry ticket taker seemed a little bitter that he didn’t have the time to go to the beach. I did notice that all the folks to St. John and the beach were all white and the workers on the ferry were black. That seemed a theme here in these islands.

Flavor and a little history
By the way the flavor of St. John and St. Thomas is so different than Puerto Rico. Here we have the laid back pace where a “good day” before asking a question will reap a polite response. The slang and rhythm of the language spoken amongst the black inhabitants has a quality and flavor of “the Caribbean.” These were the islands of the sugar plantations of the Danes in the 1800’s. These islands were bought by the US in 1917. St. John became a national park in 1956 with lands donated by a Rockefeller who was a cruiser and wanted all Americans to enjoy the beauty he saw when sailing the island.

Snorkeling, Cruising St. John
Looking at charts, the Garmin GPS, reading the pamphlets of the park service back onboard Seabound, we made a tentative plan to head to the southeastern end of St. John. East winds about 22 kts. with 6 to 8 foot seas met us as we motored thru the chilly cloudy sometimes squally day to Salt Pond. Here we took a mooring and jumped in to a delightful snorkel on jagged rocks in the middle of the bay. Lots of fish in brilliant hues of blues, yellows, sliver…long skinny sliver needle fish, big beautiful brown and yellow angel fish, square large eyed porcupine fish Long color changing trumpet fish, swimming amongst undulating sea plumes, rods and purple fans. Waves breaking over the rocks made bubbles appear in the crags and crevices of the rocky underwater seascape. The best of all was the sighting and following of sea turtles so calm and trusting they would breathe right next to you and dive to the sandy bottom to continue eating. Heaven

Flying Hearts
Whenever I hear that whisper inside on a beautiful place on the earth to create a flying heart art piece, I do. Three more flying heart portals exist now bringing the total to 73. One on Adam and Eve isle near Salinas called to be made in the cover of the mangroves out of bark and stones.Two more made their appearance on St. John. One high above Cruz Harbor where the anole lizard courted me and another on the shore of Salt Pond. At sundown these and the others are linked to pour love and light to our planet. I am always honored to carry this ceremony wherever I go. Blessing the waters is another ritual I have
continued to perform.

Learning about myself
Nothing like being in a small living space with others on a boat for a few weeks to get an opportunity to look at yourself= the qualities you like and dislike. I’m laughing more at the ways I respond to situations. Sometimes I get discouraged that I still get angry as a response. Trusting my instincts more and being more at inner peace. I feel stronger and more I tune with my joyful wonderful spiritual nature.

Only a few more days before I return to Florida to reunite with my folks, Whitewolf and the dogs. I am cherishing every snorkel in the crystal clear waters behind the reef here in the Spanish Virgin of Culebra. Lots of star fish here in reds and whites where we are anchored as well as queen conch eyes staring at me. On the island, the pace is slower and laid back. Wandering thru the streets of the sleepy town of Dewey, I stop to watch and chat with 92 year old Jose who sits in his front porch chair bordering the sidewalk carving a sailboat. He has a kind and easy smile which erupts into laughter often as I listen to some of his story of being on the sea in some of the places I have just been to in St. John and St. Thomas.

New Moon Magic
Under a blanket of stars, on a mooring ball behind the reef in Cuelbra, cozy in our aft cabin with a single votive candle in a round heavy metal container, Beth (boat sista) and I honored the new moon by calling in our ancestors and spirit helpers. We sang a few songs, opened our hearts and atuned to the other sister circles celebrating this nite. I could feel surging thru me the beauty, power, sweetness of women around the world.

Such a mystery this life is- always presenting opportunities to change and grow, laugh and sing, listen and smile, ever spiraling into the moment of each breath, Breathe easy my friends.

Alicia Merlady