Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Ashore for the Winter

Neat trails through the woods
Well, for the first time since we've owned Mr Mac, nearly 15 years, we're spending more than a couple of months living ashore. Every summer we attend conventions for promoting and selling our books. When we're in the states, it's simple enough to leave the boat somewhere safe, like a marina or mooring field, while we travel to conventions. For three years, while we were cruising the Caribbean, we hauled the boat in Trinidad in June or July, flew home for work and visits, then back in September to cruise again. This year we sailed back to the states and hauled the boat. Having been in the water nearly non-stop for 30 years, she needs some TLC. So, we're spending the winter at my sister's summer house on Cape Cod. Yes, it's got heat, and I (Anne) personally love the cape in the winter. Chris is busy stocking up on sweaters and wool socks. We arrived in time for some beautiful foliage, and today it's actually close to 60 degrees - lovely! That said, we miss the boat, and look forward to moving back aboard in the spring. Til then, I'll have some landbound blogs, as well as updates on the work we're doing on the boat.
Colorful foliage instead of colorful coral reefs
Hidden pond

Chris bundled up while he writes

Wednesday, August 27, 2014


Cool church
We recently spent a weekend up in Baltimore visiting with friends Clarita and Paul. It's always great to get a local perspective. They took us to the Sunday-morning farmer's market (under the highway, so it's protected when it's raining!), where we ate warm, fresh little donuts, perused the local produce, and bought a cute little pepper plant. Then we went out and walked around Fort McHenry. It was here that Francis Scott Key watched as the the British (unsucessfully) attacked the fort, resulting in his penning of the Star Spangled Banner. We also got beautiful harbor views from the Under Armour Headquarters, which is housed in a refurbed Proctor and Gamble factory. The buildings are named after P&G products like Tide, etc. What a cool city!
Baltimore Sunday-morning farmer's market

Waterfront at the Under Armour headquarters, looking toward the Inner Harbor
Cannons at Fort McHenry

Monday, July 7, 2014

Chris’ New Release: Blood & Iron from Privateer Press

New release, new publisher. It was so cool last year when, at Gen Con, Chris was approached by the fiction editor at Privateer Press to write in their Iron Kingdom’s world. Uh…yes! The novella Blood & Iron relates the exploits of Phinneus Shae, war caster gone rogue, wreaking mayhem and running from the Mercarian league aboard the pirate ship Talion. Unfortunately, the infamous bounty hunter Ghostmaker has got Phinneus in her sights… Check it out! It’s already gotten some rave reviews.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

The War of 1812

 In Maryland, much of the War of 1812 was fought on the water. As part of the ongoing festivities commemorating the war-time history, Solomons hosted several tall ships. We saw two of them: Dove and Kalmar Nykel. Both very cool.
Dove docked by the Drum Point Lighthouse at Calvert Marine Museum
Dove sailor

Watch dog: only his outboard eye is open
Man-powered capstan

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Quick Catch-Up

Well, we’ve done a lot since my last few blogs. Mr Mac is actually back in the states for the first time in more than three years. Our welcome? Dozens of fast, rude powerboats and big sportfishing boats cutting us off and waking us as we attempted to enter the Lake Worth Inlet. Not a good sign. On the bright side, we were able to quickly get an emergency dental appointment for Chris, and we discovered the Palm Beach Sailing Club. A small but friendly place, the club welcomes transient cruisers. They were a great help to us in getting wifi to find a dentist, allowing us to use their dinghy dock, providing information on the surrounding area, and letting us take our first HOT SHOWERS in I don’t know how long. Next time we’re in the area, we’ll certainly avail ourselves of their facilities.

Anyway…since my Grand Case, we’ve been to the US Virgin Islands to provision and meet up with friends who are themselves leaving for distant cruising grounds: Kookaburra to the western Caribbean, and La Luna across the Atlantic. Then to the Bahamas, where we reveled in the unsurpassed water color and clarity, got in some excellent snorkeling, and met up with Nomad (formerly on Faith), and the crew of Windermere, who were actually ashore on Little Majors Spot by Staniel Cay. Then to Nassau to host Anne’s brother Greg and his daughter Terry for a few days, back to Georgetown to meet with our friends Joe and Kim, and finally across the Gulf Stream to Florida.  Busy, busy, busy. I'll posting more detailed info on some of these subjects in the near future. For now, we’re headed up the US coast to our base for the summer: Chesapeake Bay. We’ve previously passed through the bay, but never really explored it. Woo hoo! New cruising grounds.

Monday, April 7, 2014

I Also Love My Crustaceans

Unfortunately, you don’t really see many in the Caribbean. Most are small and/or cryptic—such as tiny crabs or shrimp that live within anemones or sponges, or critters that live deep in recesses—or nocturnal, only venturing forth at night. But sometimes we luck out and catch sight of someone out in the open. This is a yellowline arrow crab out and about in Rendezvous Bay (St. John, USVI), picking around for lunch with lavender-tipped claws. 

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Love Love Love My Digital Camera!

I may have said this before, but every time I get a great picture out of seemingly nothing, I have to say it again: Love my digital camera. I’ve got this thing about taking pictures of animals. The problem for most of my life (read: pre-digital cameras) was that I’d take my pictures, and end up with photographs of a boring landscape where I could usually (but not always) point out the little blob that was the subject of the photo. You could argue that I could have gotten a better zoom lens, but I’m into photos more as a remembrance tool, not to perfect the technical aspects. Also, it used to cost a pretty penny to have pictures (and even slides) developed, and the budget wasn’t big enough to luxuriate in hundred of shots. So…enter the digital camera. Not only can I afford to take hundreds of pictures a day (yeah for large memory cards!), and keep only a fraction, but manipulation to zoom in on the real subject is easy. This is especially relevant for my underwater photos, which I take while snorkeling, so I don’t have a whole lot of time to set up a photo, and I often can’t get real close to my subject. I thought about this recently when I came upon these photos. First we have the overall photo, rather bland, nothing striking. Then I zoom in on my subject, a saddled blenny. Not only is this distinguishable as an actual living fish, but you can even see the delicate fin rays and the variable colors of the eye. I can now make a positive ID, and check the species off in my book.
Not much to see here, right?

There it is! My saddled blenny, maybe a couple of inches long, from the center of the above photo.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Grand Case, St. Martin

Grand Case main street

Calmos Cafe - great food and wait-staff
What a great little place this is in the northeastern corner of St. Martin, on the French side of the island. Baie Grand Case is a wide bay, the beach lined with colorful buildings. Every Tuesday night the village has a street party. It was great! There were tables set up along the streets with vendors selling art, jewelry, t-shirts, toys, you name it. There was some really beautiful stuff. One man uses dozens of different woods to create inlaid pictures. One type of wood was textured in such a manner that it gave the impression of tree leaves. Just beautiful! Another did intricate model ships, the hulls covered with broken glass pieces to give the impression of flowing water. The restaurants were all open, but quite pricey. Besides, it’s a street party, so why not eat the street food that people were cooking right in front of you? We samples some BBQ ribs, a shwarma gyro, and a Grand Marnier/sugar crepe. There was live music in several areas, and the people watching was great. Some attended in shorts and bare feet, while others wore fancy clothes and heels. Everyone had a good time. Unfortunately, I hadn’t brought my camera. Another day we went to Calmos CafĂ©, right on the beach, to have lunch and use their wifi. Not only did they have great food and tables right in the sand, but also buff French waiters (no waitresses), topless during the day, though they went formal at night and donned t-shirts. But you know, the overall impression was informality, not sluttiness like some places that showcase waitresses (I’m thinking of you, chicken-wing restaurants). After your meal, they’d bring over a bottle of homemade banana-vanilla rum (absolutely delicious!) and share a shot with you. We had huge, juicy burgers (we’d been dying for burgers, though the waiter tried to talk us into having the triggerfish), with a potato-zucchini gratin on the side. Excellent! Not so excellent are the 30+ knots of wind that rush between the hills. One night something woke Chris, and he looked out to discover that our dinghy was upside-down…with the engine submerged. We hauled it up onto the boat, and he worked until 2am—rinsing it, pulling the spark plugs, and pumping fuel through it to displace any water that got into the cylinders. In the morning he worked on it some more, and got it back into prime running condition. Yeah!
Old salt mill, used when they harvested salt from the nearby salt pond
Pretty shop, selling beautiful model ships