Annual Summary of 1996

After a second full year aboard we are feeling like seasoned cruisers. Experimental fresh fruit rum punches, cutting each other's hair, the continuing backgammon contest, and fixing everything that breaks (everything breaks) are now routine. Nina sold her house, so our only home floats. Following are some of our 1996 memories:

Puerto Rico (January - March): Flew from New England snowstorms to rejoin "Arctracer" in Boqueron. Guests in Salinas: Dorothy & Dan, Hilary. Rainforest hikes in El Yunque, searching for coqui tree frogs. Old San Juan forts, galleon ballast cobblestones, Ponce De Leon's house, Rio Camuy caves, Arecibo telescope, rental car trips, elegant nouveau cuisine, tipico food, horrid "Velveeta" enchiladas & Burger King, bags of oranges, tamarind juice, pinchos (kabobs). Fast sail to Vieques, phosphorescent bays, frigate birds, tropic birds. Isleta Marina in Fajardo for bottom paint (3 colors) after 2 years. Stocked boat with staples more expensive on other islands. Nina's Mom aboard, sailing across the Virgin Passage.

Virgin Islands (April): Roofs in St. Thomas covered with blue tarps due to Hurricane Marilyn. Big tourism: cruise ships, fleets of charter boats, Foxy's, Baths. Great snorkeling, clear water, identifying more types of fish. Hiking to petroglyphs on St. John's Gorda Peak, bicycling around Anegada. Champagne breakfast aboard "Led Free" with Hugh & Nickie. Beautiful comet, first of two full eclipses of the moon this year.

Leeward & Windward Islands (April - June): Upwind Anegada Passage, then many wonderful reaching sails in trade winds. Guests Helen & Steve in St. Martin & Anguilla. Wrecked boats & horror stories from Hurricane Luis in St. Martin. Snorkeling over hurricane-damaged reefs, trolling successfully. Expensive French islands, but great food, wine, bread, & topless bathers. British-French battles of Nelson, Rodney, Diamond Rock, The Saintes. GPS died, but it was unnecessary in these islands. Climbing volcanoes in rainforests of St. Kitts & Nevis. Dominica's Valley of Desolation, boiling lake & hot sulphur baths. Montserrat's volcano covered us with ash as we sailed past. Boat boys harassing cruising boats to earn a few E. C. dollars. Fresh nutmeg, bluggoes, breadfruit, breadnuts, "plenty fish."

Trinidad & Tobago (June - September): Grandchildren Sara & Nico aboard for a month, sailing to Tobago & back. Celebrating Nina's 50th birthday with Agu & Jennifer in Scotland Bay. Jennifer driving us to Pitch Lake, fine hotel & up mountains. Porpoises, good fishing, snorkeling, jellyfish, howler monkeys, parrots. Friendly Indian & African Trinidadians with their special "English." Channa, shandy, cheese pies, rotis, "buss-up-shut," pastelles, rocks. Winston Nanan trips to see oil birds, scarlet ibis, hummingbirds, motmots, oro pendula. Fish-eating bats, butterflies, turtles laying eggs. Gaspar Grande cave trip with Ken & Betty of "Liberator." Blue buses, good dentists, Divali celebrations, World Cup soccer. Steel band concerts & contests, parang songs, Indian drumming. 3000 cruising boats just below hurricane alley (9 in 1996). Stories told by boat-builders, circumnavigators, & adventurers.

"On the Hard" (August - December): Replaced toe rail, replaced some frames, patched steel hull. Dudley of "Folkloric" and many Trinidadian workers. Grinding, sanding, cutting, drilling, welding, sandblasting. Horrendous messes to live and work in, dirt everywhere, noise. Hot & rainy, mosquitoes, no-see-ums, ants, cockroaches, stray dogs. Lunches from the roti lady, peanut punch, flood-lit nights. New topsail yard, staysail boom, repaired square sail yard. Friendly Rastafarians, sympathetic onlookers, other working yachties. Microballoons, epoxies, paints, dangerous chemicals. Replaced all standing rigging (shrouds, stays, mast loops, etc.) Varnished exterior wood (17 coats) including masts, refurbished dinghy.

Holidays: Relaunched December 23rd, throwing away boatyard clothes & shoes. "Thanksgiving" dinner Trinidad style, sorrel drinks for Christmas. Quiet, beautiful, tropical Christmas in Scotland Bay with Margaret & A. G. of "Jeanne II" and boerewors (South African sausages made by Margaret.) Lovely sail to Trinidad & Tobago Yachting Asso. (TTYA) anchorage on December 31st.