Monday, December 31, 2012

Hiking on Hassel Island, St. Thomas

Chris looking out over the harbor at Charlotte Amalie
Informative plaque

Hassel Island is located in the main harbor on St. Thomas at Charlotte Amalie. There are several historic ruins here, and the park service is developing a nice trail system around the island. It’s close to where we’re anchored, so we dinghyed over one day to stretch our legs. The ruins of the Creque marine railway, which was used to haul sailing ships out of the water for repairs, are being restored. There’s also a hilltop battery where cannons were mounted by the British as defense against the French for the channels into the bay. Aside from the war-time ruins, the island has the remains of the original family homestead of the Hazzels (not spelling change over time), as well as interesting flora and fauna.  The iguanas here were funny; when we rounded a bend in the trail, they’d take off at top speed, sometimes on their rear two legs, sounding like elephants lumbering through the brush. Of course, the beautiful vistas were to die for.

Look at the beautiful stonework around the door

Boy, you don't want to fall into the bromiliads with these spines!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Chris Makes the Top 100 in Amazon Author Rank

In a previous blog, I noted that Weapon of Flesh (Kindle version) has been selling great this month, making the Top 100 list for Action & Adventure Kindle books. Well, as of this morning, Chris’ Amazon Author Rank was as follows:

Woo hoo! Like the Bestseller book lists, this rank changed hourly, so it may not last if sales fall off, but just to be here is a privilege, and certainly a boost to our writers’ self-confidence.

A request: If you have read and enjoyed one of Chris’ books (or our co-written trilogy), please go on Amazon and write a review. It doesn’t have to be long and involved, just honest. We don’t know for certain how reviews affect the way that Amazon promotes books, but we do know that Weapon of Flesh had the most reviews of all Chris’ books, and it has the best sales. Thanks!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas!

Tropical sea urchin-man instead of a snowman, in Christmas Cove

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Yacht Spotting: Nirvana

Isn’t this one a beauty! We spied Nirvana on the dock at Yacht Haven Grand in Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands. Just launched in February 2012, this 88.5-meter (that’s 290 feet for the metrically challenged) motor yacht is already for sale. For a mere 230,000,000 euros (about $303,000,000 US), you get a swimming pool with an adjustable floor, a helipad, and a cinema, not to mention the his-and-hers bathrooms and spa pool in the master suite. Unbelievably, all this accommodates only 12 guests. I didn’t find out how many crew it takes to run the yacht and coddle those guests…

Friday, December 21, 2012

Creature Feature: Tube Worms

A forest of multicolored Christmas-tree worms

Fan worms on a coral head
Marine worms are abundant on reefs, and I thought it apropos to the holiday season to feature the worm above: the Christmas-tree worm. All the worms pictured here are segmented worms, called polychaetes (Latin for “having much hair” because the worms have bristles). The body of the worm is tucked down into a tube that they build on the surface of a rock or burrow right into a coral head, though sometimes the tubes stick up above the substrate like long stalks. But what catches your eye when you’re swimming by are the beautiful arrays of feeding tentacles. These tentacles stick out of the tube to catch food particles in the water. This is called filter feeding. You see here a variety of feeding tentacles, from the single layer in the fanworm, to the fantastically fluffy-looking in the feather-duster worm, and the colorful spirals of the Christmas tree worm. They’re like little flowers blooming on the reef, except that no flower does such a spectacular disappearing act; when you approach too close, the tentacles disappear into the worm’s tube in the blink of an eye.

Feather-duster worms
Close-up of the feeding tentacles

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Weapon of Flesh on Kindle Bestseller List!

Kindle sales of Weapon of Flesh—our perennial bestseller in both paperback and ebook formats—have really taken off over the last month (more on this in a later blog). So what a great feeling this morning to see Weapon of Flesh on the Kindle list of Top 100 Paid Best Sellers in Action & Adventure Fiction! Some of the other names on the list? How about George R.R. Martin, Clive Cussler, and Tom Clancy. Great company to keep. These lists are updated hourly (Weapon was at # 73 when we saw it), so titles come and go, but to have reached that levels of sales for Weapon of Flesh makes us very proud.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Christmas in the Tropics

Being from New England (Anne), I was used to white Christmases. So how to get into the holiday spirit in the tropics? Granted, the stores here started putting their Christmas wares out before Halloween, but that didn’t do it. Christmas tune on the maxi taxi in Trinidad – nothing.  Lighted boat parade in St. Thomas – nope. What I have found that works year after year is this little version of I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas. Instant holiday cheer when I listen to it. Check it out for yourself here. Happy holidays!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Creature Feature: Brown Booby

No, not that kind of booby! These birds are more common than seagulls in the Caribbean. The juveniles are all brown, but adults have a white belly. They feed on fish and squid, which they catch by plunging into the ocean from above. They’re pretty spunky, and we’ve seen them defending their catch from frigate birds that apparently were too lazy to catch their own dinner. Brown boobies build their nests on the ground, which unfortunately subjects them to predation by non-native predators that have been introduced on many islands. This adult booby was on a rock at Christmas Cove, near St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands. It didn’t care that I swam up and took pictures of it. It even seemed to be posing!