Friday, March 30, 2012

Cool New Blog Features

Okay, I just found these features to incorporate into the blog. You’ll find both at the bottom of the blog post, under the “Posted by” line. The first is “Labels”. This allows me to categorize each post according to content: Cruising, Boats, Nature, etc. In the right-hand sidebar is a cloud of labels, so if you want to look at posts in a particular category, just click on that word in the cloud. The size of the word indicates the relative number of posts in that category; the larger the number, the more posts. The second feature is “Location”. Click on this, and a map will pop up, showing you the location the blog refers to. Try it out!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Underwater Movie, But You Don’t Have To Watch It To Enjoy

Why? Try turning up the sound on your computer, closing your eyes and clicking on the start button (position your arrow over the start button first, unless you’re really bored and want to try to find it with your eyes closed). What exactly are you listening to? Humpback whales! We went snorkeling north of Pigeon Island, St. Lucia. The terrain was so-so. But we dove down and were surrounded by whale song. It was fantastic! I nearly passed out trying to see how long I could stay under. Sometimes you could hear it faintly from the surface, if you stayed real still and kept your ears underwater. But below – I kept expecting the whales to loom out of the distance, they sounded so close. It’s times like this that make all those dang floating-hydroid stings worth it.

Access the video at

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Little Dipper Restaurant in Woburn, Grenada

Chris relaxing with a local Stag beer while we wait for lunch

We don’t go out to eat often, and when we do, it’s usually lunch at some local place. We try to avoid the typical marina/tourist places – they take too big a bite out of our budget. The great thing is, there are lots of places where you can get a delicious, inexpensive meal. In Grenada, I read about the Little Dipper Restaurant, which was perched on the hillside just above our anchorage (directions for cruisers: dinghy in to Whisper Cove, walk out to the main road, take a left and walk down the hill a ways). We went for lunch one day and enjoyed not only the spectacular view of Clarkes Court Bay, but also a huge plate of food—chicken, carrots/beans/squash medley, potatoes, salad, and breadfruit—for the reasonable price of $9 US each (which actually is more than we usually pay). The food was all fresh (we’ve gotten previously frozen veggies in some more expensive places) and prepared while we waited. We didn’t need dinner that night!
Mr Mac is anchored by the hilly island on the left

Well-Dressed Damsel

 A species of fish we see often while we’re snorkeling is the yellowtail damselfish (Microspathodon chrysurus). The juvenile is stunning; one to two inches long, deep blue in color with fluorescent blue spots. They virtually glow in dim light. With age, the spots fade until they’re only visible along the top of its head and back, and its tail turns bright yellow. They’re always something fun to look for when we’re underwater.


Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Exciting News in the Mr Mac Boathold!

It seems that the influence of our nautical lifestyle has been a boon for Chris’ writing. The fourth and final Scimitar Seas novel is at the publisher, and will be released this summer. These books have won a couple of national awards, and garnered acclaim for being “…refreshingly different” (as reviewed by Ed Greenwood, creator of the Forgotten Realms, for those of you familiar with Dungeons and Dragons). Check them out at

Now Chris has signed a contract for a pirate novel with Paizo.  In addition to putting out great products for role playing games, they also publish Pathfinder Tales, a line of books set in the Pathfinder world of Golarion. Chris will be joining a fine line-up of authors who have written Pathfinder Tales. We are so very excited!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Check out the New Website!

Background for new website. All the photos except for the schooner are ours!
No, not this one. This website is very automated and easy-to-use. But Chris’ writing website needed an update, so I’ve spent the last month or so learning how to use WordPress, designing the site, and filling in content. Earlier this week, it went live. We went with a nautical theme, since he’s currently working on the nautical adventures in the Scimitar Seas books. Check it out at, and let me know how you like it. Feel free to click the Facebook Like buttons!  Also, read the sample chapters for all the books, and download the free mp3 files for Cheese Runners.  Have at it! Of course, if you find any mistakes, empty links, etc., I’d appreciate it if you let me know.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Close Whale Encounter

Humpback calf approaching the stern of Mr Mac (the Pitons [St. Lucia] in the background)
So very, very cool. Motor-sailing up from Bequia to St. Lucia, about a mile off of the west coast of St. Lucia, we looked over and saw a couple of whales a few hundred yards away. White fins gave them away as humpbacks, a mother and calf. Cool, but it gets even cooler. We put the engine in idle to watch as they slowly swam along. The mother sounded, and the calf apparently decided that this it was its chance to check out the nearby visitor. That, of course, was us. The calf came right toward us, went around the stern, then back again, only about thirty feet away. It was fantastic! Chris got a little nervous about what the mother might think when she surfaced to find her calf so close to us, so we started up the engine and set off again. Highlight of the day!
Only about 30 feet away. Fantastic!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Windward versus Leeward

Island have both windward and leeward sides; the windward side is the one facing the wind, and the leeward is the more protected side. Most anchorages are on the leeward side, for obvious reasons. It’s the height of the cruising season now, which means that there are scads of charter boats (as well as non-charter) crowding the anchorages. So we’ve gone windward on our last couple of islands: Mayreau and Canouan. Both these islands have nice reefs off of their windward shores, which blocks most of the swells and waves. Since the wind is blowing right at you and the island is at your back (a lee shore), you’ve got to be sure of your anchor holding, but we always double check it to make sure we’re firmly stuck. And boy, is the extra effort worth it! Here are some pictures of the anchorages, with huge swaths of sand flats, great reefs, and tremendous underwater visibility.  And the best part; no one else is here! It was quiet, it was peaceful, it was dark at night, everything our last leeward anchorage wasn’t.
Crowded anchorage (leeward)
Our Canouan anchorage! (windward)
Our Mayreau anchorage - the other boat was gone before nightfall (windward)